Acidic and grimy are just a couple of ways to describe Chain Gang Grave‘s sound on their debut full length Cement Mind. But, even that is a bit of a limiter. Death rock, death metal, sludge, noise, punk, and hardcore are the genres covered across these nine tracks which, on paper, sounds ludicrous but the way this two piece approaches this amalgamation is nothing short of astounding and electric. The production trudges through the sewers and that’s just part of this album’s glory; it’s nasty yet holds a ton of fuck you punk energy, its fangs are sharp yet wildly off kilter. This is one of those albums that comes along and kicks your teeth in but never lets go. What more can you ask for? Just ahead of this beast seeing the light of day we had the chance to pose our set of Profile questions to guitarist, bassist, and vocalist Andrew Lanza and the results can be found below. So, dig in and get your fill. Be sure to snag a copy from the links provided within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
I started playing music (bass, poorly) in junior high school with some friends I knew. I started playing because I wanted to emulate the bands I looked up to. I have achieved the success I had hoped for creatively, but by every other metric, absolutely not.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
The time I gave a copy of one of my old band’s CDs to a very well-known post-punk musician and then continuously hounding them on Myspace to put us on his band’s show in New York. Somehow, it worked out, and we opened the show.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
I don’t listen to much new metal aside from bands I happen to see at shows opening for bands I already like or friend’s bands, so it’s hard for me to comment on the current state of things. I have little idea what’s going on in the scene at large and I rarely pay attention to it, for better or worse. The shutdown of shows for the past year has only deepened my lack of awareness about the scene.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
There is a weird rightward shift in some sections of metal and punk (and I guess society in general) that really bugs me. Watching some people I know abandon progressiveness and instead embrace some real dark, nihilistic ideas. This stuff works its way into my lyrics quite a bit.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
My dad (RIP) would constantly listen to metal like Black Sabbath, Led Zep, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, and Metallica in the car and around the house when I was a kid. I distinctly remember him watching my face react to “Iron Man” with a huge, almost mad scientist-like smile. I was probably being fed metal and hard rock from the time I was in the womb, so it was a done deal from the get-go. I mostly got into the harder stuff in high school when I met Jason (Markowitz, the drummer of CGG). My family has always been supportive of me and my metal.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
Give bands a chance based on their music – not their social media numbers (ahem). Pay attention and really try to understand the album you are writing about.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
To get the CGG catalog and especially our most recent recording issued by a cool label. To get back to playing shows. Ultimately, I want this band to leave a body of work that I can be proud of when it’s all said and done, even if we were underappreciated during our actual existence. My other passion is illustrating, and my IG handle is @scratched2death.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently?
I just discovered the band Spaceboy thanks to my tattoo guy, Chris. Obsessed! Been jamming the new Eyehategod record quite a bit. As for newish bands, I like the new Regional Justice Center and last year’s Couch Slut record.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
Hopefully we find a label to release our record in a physical form. We hope to play shows as soon as it’s safe to do so. Other than that, we’re going to keep writing and recording at home, as we have an absolute glut of improvisations ready to be molded into the next Chain Gang Grave record.
Summarize your band in exactly one word.
Many thanks to Andrew for his time!