Profile: Chris Kelly of Prog-Tech Behemoths Alustrium

Alustrium

We use the term Behemoths to describe Alustrium as the music on their upcoming third full length, A Monument To Silence, is matching in stature. Their progressive slant on tech death is an absolute diamond in a crowded gem mine and their attention to making each song pop with life and bravado helps keep them at the top of the heap. Their previous two outings were no slouches, but here they are unstoppable on all levels. Creative, catchy, heavy as hell, and bombastic are all proper descriptors but the list could go on and on. Just ahead of the album’s release we posed our Profile questions to guitarist and vocalist Chris Kelly to get under the hood a bit and find out what makes them tick. Head below to see how it went down and DO grab yourself a copy from the links contained within.

Alustrium - A Moment to Silence

How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?

Most of us first started playing around a similar age (10-13y/o range) and began writing and playing together in high school. Some of us have had more “successful” musical careers than others (mostly in the context of other gigs), but as a band, we’re happy with where we’re at. The style of music we make is not the most widely marketable and many of us have limitations when it comes to touring, so we’re all aware that this will always predominantly be a passion project.

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.)

Outside of the usual pay-to-play growing pains that every young band goes through, I can’t say we’ve ever really had to put ourselves out for shows or anything like that. That being said, we’ve certainly had our share of hilarity on the road. One story that comes to mind is our first trip to Massachusetts.

We’d booked a one off, somewhere outside Boston. Typical local show, bunch of bands no one’s heard of, basically all playing to each other and whoever’s girlfriends decided to show up. I honestly barely remember the show. The story lies in what happened afterwards. 

Being from Philly, a six-plus hour drive home after a show was not a favorable option, so we polled the show’s Facebook group, to see if anyone was willing to put us up for the night. One guy shot us a message, saying he had some floor space and a couch, with plenty of blankets for everyone. Great, sold, thanks very much! We met up with him after the gig, he hopped into the truck with us and directed us back to his place.

When we arrived, what we saw was…remarkable…in the most negative way imaginable. We pulled into this gated parking lot, surrounded in barbed wire, loaded with a bunch of dead vehicles and puddles that, judging by their putrid smell, were made mostly of some liquid that was NOT water. The building ahead of us was what I can only describe as either an old hospital or factory of some kind – definitely did not look like a place one would be living.

Upon entering the place, my suspicions were proven immediately – this was not meant to be lived in. The dude led us through all kinds of hallways, all littered with old kitchen equipment and various, non-apartment-like items. Finally, we reached his “apartment.” In this context, the word “apartment” is being used in the most generous possible way. What it was, in truth, was this haphazard, room-within-a-room that was built in the center of the building and IT. WAS. DISGUSTING.

The floor space we’d be promised was a concrete floor. Unfinished, uncleaned and unfit for anyone to sleep on. The couch we’d been promised…did not exist. He was right about one thing, though. He had plenty of pillows and blankets; pillows and blankets that, in his words, had been used by “everyone.” Oh, this was also in mid-August and the building had no air conditioning.

As we accepted our fate and laid in our festering, communal bedspread, a constant dusting of strange debris floated down on us from the ceiling. A neon pentagram glowed on the wall in front of us. We lay awake, ripe with the essence of a thousand crust punks past, all silently asking ourselves the same question – “do we just go sleep in the car?”. Our vehicle was a Dodge Ram, which meant any sleep would have to be done while sitting up; an equally undesirable option. Eventually, Mike made everyone’s decision, with a single sentence:

“Guys…I’m not saying we’re gonna get lice….but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got lice.”

THAT’S IT, WE’RE FUCKING OUT OF HERE. Well, three of us were. Two members had already fallen asleep. We traversed the endless labyrinth of hallways, back out to the stench ridden parking lot, got in the car, rolled the windows down and sat upright as we tried to sleep…for the remainder of the evening. After we spent an hour or two laughing about what a horrible experience this had been, the utter discomfort of a muggy August night, with no breeze and the world’s worst smelling liquid just outside, made it nearly impossible to drift off. However, eventually, exhaustion won out. 

As the sun began to rise, our eyes slowly closed and we were finally able to rest. Roughly 10 minutes later, a fucking pigeon flew into the car, lost its mind, awoke us all in a panic, and sent us back inside, to drag our bandmates from their slumber and drive home, sweaty, exhausted and absolutely miserable.

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?

The best parts about metal, and music in general, are those that come from authenticity. The worst parts will always be the inverse of that. Especially in this scene, the listener can smell bullshit from a mile away. As long as the artist is making music they enjoy, nothing else matters.

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/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?

In terms of what makes it into our music, that would be more of a question for Jerry. That being said, the easiest way to sum up our general worldview is to say that Alustrium believes in basic human rights and that allowing people to be who they are, love who they love and live without fear is essential in society.

What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?

Speaking to my own personal experience, I believe I was in my early teens. My parents didn’t seem to mind when I started listening to Metallica or Iron Maiden, but once the screaming vocals became a thing, they definitely started getting nervous. I get it, though, it’s gotta be pretty startling to suddenly hear your 14 year old blasting demon noises from their bedroom.

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?

Review what you enjoy. Art is subjective. I think too many people are focused on the stuff they hate and shitting on those who enjoy it, rather than promoting what it is they love. The listener will always ultimately decide for themselves. They don’t need someone to spoon feed their opinions to them.

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.

I think I mentioned before that we’re honestly just happy where we are right now. We have no illusions of this band becoming some type of world phenomenon (though wouldn’t that be a twist?). Our goal has always been to just write and release music that we want to hear and we are incredibly grateful for anyone who enjoys it as well.

When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)

You know, part of me feels like I should withhold this, but I think it’ll be hilarious to see how death metal people react, so here goes. I barely listen to metal anymore. I’m currently in full blown rock n roll/dad-rock mode. The Darkness, anything Slash is involved in, lots of Alter Bridge, Halestorm, Shinedown, etc. I think Bring Me The Horizon’s poppy stuff is the best shit they’ve ever done and there are a couple Nickelback records I fuck with HARD. No shame. Come at me.

What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?

“A Monument to Silence” drops June 18 on Unique Leader Records. Please buy it.

Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)

Fortunate.

Many thanks to Chris and Alustrium for their time!


A Monument To Silence will be available June 18 on Unique Leader. For more information on Alustrium, visit their Facebook page.

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