Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images
Juanes & Metallica's Lars Ulrich
Metallica's Lars Ulrich Surprises Juanes With Person Of The Year Award At 2019 Latin GRAMMYs
The Danish metal drummer surprised the Colombian legend with a special presentation:at the 20th Latin GRAMMYS: "Tonight, we've come full circle. I proclaim myself a Juanes fan"
The day afterJuanes was honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year, there was another special surprise waiting for him in Las Vegas. After the show aired a Juanes tribute reel and the Colombian singer/songwriter delivered showstopping performance, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich walked out on stage in a red suit and black cap to present his fellow musician with the honor.
¡Que emoción! @Juanes Persona del Año 2019 #LatinGRAMMY pic.twitter.com/ErzEAWp9wX— Latin GRAMMYs (@LatinGRAMMYs) November 15, 2019
Juanes, a well-documented Metallica fan, was visibly moveed by seeing his hero on hand to pay homage.
Ulrich, for his part, was quite honored himself, mentioning that he knew Juanes was a fan of Metallica when they first met years ago in Mexico, but "Tonight, we've come full circle. I proclaim myself a Juanes fan!"
A flattered Juanes accepted the award from Metallica's co-founder, admitting, "You guys changed my life man," as Ulrich exited the stage.
"I used to be a metal man. I still love metal music," Juanes told the Recordiing Academy back in 2014 at Austin City Limits Festival. "I used to have long hair and I am a very big Metallica fan, and Slayer, and Sepultura, and Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath."
Juanes personal Metallica moment at the 20th Latin GRAMMYs closed out a memorable week for the singer, as his fellow artists came out en masse the previous evening to perform at the Person Of The Year celebration, including Cami, Alessia Cara, Paula Fernandes, Fonseca, Juan Luis Guerra, Mon Laferte, Morat, Ozuna, Draco Rosa, Rosalía, Alejandro Sanz, and Sebastián Yatra. Other guests included Jesse & Joy, Fito Páez, Pablo López and guitarist Orianthil.
Juanes Honored At The 20th Latin GRAMMY Awards' Person Of The Year Ceremony
Photo: Brian Rasic/Getty Images
5 Revealing Facts About Metallica's 'St. Anger': 20 Years On, The Controversial Album Sounds Better Than You Think
Get beyond the snark about the snare sound and the lack of guitar solos, and 'St. Anger' sounds like a refreshing mid-career reset for the heavy metal lifers.
Since its release in 2003, there's been a consistent (pingy) drumbeat of chatter about Metallica's St. Anger.
The quixotic snare sound — which bassist and producer Bob Rock claimed he spent about 15 minutes crafting — is central to the St. Anger discourse; a Google search for "metallica st. anger snare" yields about 661,000 results. As for why the eight-time GRAMMY winners uncharacteristically nixed guitar solos? That question yields millions of hits.
Then there's the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster, one of the most uncomfortably revealing portraits of a rock band engulfed in a mid-life crisis. Memorable moments abound, but for one scene alone — drummer Lars Ulrich's Middle Earth-looking dad hearing a take, and telling his son to "delete that" — the film is a must-watch.
Given the controversial status St. Anger has accrued, it may seem like the metal community may want to, well, delete it. While your mileage may vary, this hotly debated album shouldn't be consigned to any internet-snark dustbin.
Listening with the benefit of temporal distance, tracks like "Frantic," "Some Kind of Monster" and "The Unnamed Feeling" sound raw and alive — perhaps of their time, given its adjacency to then-ascendant nü metal. Ultimately, they conjure the sensation of a reset, rather than a capitulation to trends.
Today, St. Anger seems to hew less to the reputation it's engineered, and more to Rock's characterization of the thing: "To me, this album sounds like four guys in a garage getting together and writing rock songs. There was really no time to get amazing performances out of James. We liked the raw performances… we just did it, boom, and that was it."
To mark the 20th anniversary of St. Anger, here are five facts about the album.
Metallica Started The Album In An Old Army Barracks
By 2001, Metallica hadn't released an album of original material in almost five years, since 1997's Reload (a follow-up to the previous year's Load).
While these sessions ground to a halt due to personal upheaval and frontman James Hetfield heading to rehab — and the band later continued work at a new studio in San Rafael, California — this no-nonsense setting befitted the unvarnished quality of the music.
Bassist Jason Newsted Left The Band Early On
Newsted was the second bassist for Metallica, after the tragic 1986 death of Cliff Burton. Newsted's departure came the month they began St. Anger, which destabilized progress on the album.
"Due to private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love, I must step away from the band," Newsted said in a statement. "This is the most difficult decision of my life, made in the best interest of my family, myself, and the continued growth of Metallica."
St. Anger Represented Intense Catharsis For James Hetfield
As Hetfield put it, St. Anger was a valve for which to release intense psychological pressure.
"There's a lot of passion in this. There's two years of condensed emotion in this," he told Metal Edge magazine at the time. "We've gone through a lot of personal changes, struggles, epiphanies, it's deep. It's so deep lyrically and musically… It's so hard to talk about, you really need to hear it."
Accordingly, St. Anger is nothing if not visceral — and two decades haven't sanded off those sharp edges.
As St. Anger's Recording Wound Down, Robert Trujillo Joined On Bass
While producer Bob Rock recorded the bass parts on St. Anger, his instrumental involvement
would prove to be transitional; Robert Trujillo joined Metallica on bass in February 2001.
Having played on all ensuing Metallica albums, 2008's Death Magnetic, 2016's Hardwired… to Self Destruct and 2023's 72 Seasons — all of which were warmly received by critics — Trujillo is now the longest-serving bassist in Metallica.
Critics Were Polarized, Then As With Now
While some contemporaneous critics knocked St. Anger as everything from "an ungodly mess" to having "underwent more processing than cat food," not everyone characterized it that way.
Allmusic called it a "punishing, unflinching document of internal struggle"; Rolling Stone said "there's an authenticity to St. Anger's fury that none of the band's rap-metal followers can touch."
As for the band themselves, they've seemingly come to accept St. Anger, warts and all.
"There are things I would like to change on some of the records, but it gives them so much character that you can't change them," Hetfield said in 2017. "St. Anger could use a little less tin snare drum, but those things are what make those records part of our history."
Unflinching, daring and unpolished, St. Anger is one of the ultimate "line in the sand" albums in heavy music history. Whatever your perception of this ugly-duckling entry is, take its 20-year anniversary as an opportunity to revisit its fury with fresh ears.
How Many GRAMMYs Have Metallica Won? Ahead Of New Album '72 Seasons': 6 Questions Answered
(Top) Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Astrida Valigorsky/WireImage, Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic (Center) Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy, Frank Hoensch/Redferns, Munachi Osegbu, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for CMT, Dave Benett/Getty Images (Bottom) Dave Benett/Getty Images for Givenchy Beauty, Jim Dyson/Getty Images, Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
15 Must-Hear Albums Out In May: Jonas Brothers, Summer Walker, Paul Simon & More
From Sparks' offbeat 'The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte' to the heartfelt storytelling on Lewis Capaldi's 'Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent,' and growth set to R&B from Lola Young and Arlo Parks, check out 15 albums dropping this May.
Spring is in full bloom, and with it comes a slew of inspiring records and unmissable tours. May brings upon us the return of giants and some promising newcomers, and whether you like the country music of Parker McCollum or the Mexican pop of AQUIHAYAQUIHAY, this month's releases offer something to please every taste.
This month, the Jonas Brothers finally make their awaited return with The Album, while Ed Sheeran completes his math symbols series with Subtract. Paul Simon will turn dreams into reality with Seven Psalms, and Tuareg collective Tinariwen will continue their desert blues exploration on Amatssou. Early aughts pop-punk outfit the Exploding Hearts will get a remastered, expanded reissue, and dance music maven LP Giobbi will make her studio album debut with Light Places.
Below is a guide with 15 must-hear albums dropping May 2023. Read on for known names that might reignite your passion, and budding acts who will make your curiosity flourish.
Ed Sheeran - Subtract
Release date: May 5
Completing Ed Sheeran’s series of albums titled after mathematical symbols, Subtract (stylized as -), will feature 14 cuts that deal with the singer’s "fear, depression, and anxiety" throughout the hardships that shaped his past year, according to an Instagram post.
Sheeran added that his wife’s tumor diagnosis while pregnant, the death of his best friend Jamal Edwards, and a 2022 plagiarism trial "changed my life, my mental health, and ultimately the way I viewed music and art," prompting him to scrap "a decade’s worth of work with my deepest, darkest thoughts."
Produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner, Subtract is billed as an acoustic album, ranging from "pared back, folk-leaning textures to bolder, full-band/orchestral arrangements," which can be seen through pre-release "Boat" and lead single "Eyes Closed."
Jonas Brothers - The Album
Release date: May 12
The Jonas Brothers’ sixth studio album has been teased since 2020, but after several delays (including the COVID-19 pandemic), the The Album will be unleashed into the world. The trio told Variety that the follow-up to 2019’s Happiness Begins "features elements of classic ’70s pop and Americana with a modern edge," and was inspired by another sibling trio — the Bee Gees — as well as rock bands the Doobie Brothers and America.
Produced by Jon Bellion (who is also the album’s only featured artist), most of its tracks were performed at the Jonas Brothers’ fifth and final Broadway show on March 18, 2023. However, expectations remain high as the album release will be accompanied by a yet-to-be-announced tour.
Kaytraminé - Kaytraminé
Release date: May 12
Fusing the talents of top-rated producer/DJ Kaytranada and rapper Aminé might have been one of the most ambitious efforts of 2023.
Although they have been frequent collaborators since 2013, including Kaytranada producing three songs out of Aminé's 2015 mixtape Calling Brio, this is the first time they unite forces for a whole record as Kaytraminé.
The project's first single, "4EVA," features the Neptunes' Pharrell Williams on vocals and co-production. Judging by its vibe, it seems like summer already has an official soundtrack.
Parker McCollum - Never Enough
Release date: May 12
2021’s Gold Chain Cowboy set Parker McCollum on the path to becoming a country music star. The major label debut followed two self-released albums — 2015’s The Limestone Kid and 2017’s Probably Wrong, and ended up winning New Male Artist of the Year at the American Country Music Awards — as well as a double-platinum single, "Pretty Heart," and a gold-certified single, "To Be Loved by You."
McCollum continues to look forward with Never Enough. Among its 15 tracks, there is the first time he ever said "beer" in a song, as well as singles "Handle on You," "Stoned," "I Ain’t Going Nowhere," and "Speed." The singer is also extending his tour through the summer, with the participation of fellow country artists like Larry Fleet, Randy Rogers Band, and Flatland Cavalry on some dates.
LP Giobbi - Light Places
Release date: May 12
Boundary-bender musician, producer and entrepreneur LP Giobbi believes in "letting yourself get lost and finding out it’s exactly where you were supposed to be."
The statement, and title of her debut studio album Light Places, follows lyrics from the Grateful Dead’s "Scarlet Begonias": "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places / if you look at it right." Giobbi, who is also a confessed Deadhead, said that the lyrics are one of her father’s favorites, "and almost a philosophy for the way he lives and taught my brother and me to live."
Produced almost entirely during flights while she toured the world with her "one-woman jam band" DJ sets, Light Places expands Giobbi’s classical jazz training into buoyant dance rhythms, and features collaborations with DJ Tennis, SOFI TUKKER, Caroline Byrne, and more. As a preview, she recently released singles "Can’t Let You Go (feat. Little Jet)" and "All I Need."
AQUIHAYAQUIHAY - NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO
Release date: May 12
The forerunners of M-pop (Mexican pop) and a self-professed "anti-boyband," AQUIHAYAQUIHAY are known for blending traditional Latin genres with R&B and hip-hop. The 20-something quintet are set to release a new album, NO ME BUSQUES DONDE MISMO.
Formed in 2016, AQUIHAYAQUIHAY released their debut album, DROPOUT in 2019 and signed with DJ/producer Steve Aoki’s Latin underground label, Dim Mak en Fuego. The group dropped two EPs in 2021, titled :) and :(.
Although the sounds and influences in NO ME BUSQUES have yet to be revealed, the band released two preview singles, "Duelo" and "B-day," a TikTok teaser, and announced a Mexican tour in June.
Summer Walker - Clear 2: Soft Life
Release date: May 19
"Y’all ready for some new music?" Summer Walker asked the crowd during her set at April’s Dreamville Festival. The question was preceded by the announcement of her upcoming EP, Clear 2: Soft Life.
Clear 2 is a sequel to Walker’s first EP, 2019’s Clear, which was released just nine months before her breakout debut studio album, Over It. Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, the LP earned the biggest streaming week ever for an R&B album by a woman, and set the singer as a force to watch. Her 202 sophomore album, Still Over It, surpassed its predecessor and debuted at No. 1 on the same chart.
"This one — I want it to be a lot longer so I can really get that sound out," Walker recently told Billboard about her upcoming EP. "I make what I got to make for the radio, but I’m very excited for [Clear 2]. Hopefully, my budget will be permitted."
Lewis Capaldi - Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent
Release date: May 19
"If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it" seems to be a saying that Lewis Capaldi currently lives by. The Scottish sensation said in a press release that he doesn’t want to "create a new sound for myself, or reinvent myself," and therefore his much-awaited second studio album, Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent, will follow his usual emotionally-driven delivery.
The album was recorded with a minimal set-up, consisting of only a "small interface, laptop, speakers, and a Shure SM7B vocal mic," as well as the same team who worked on his first album, 2019’s best-seller Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent: TMS, Phil Plested, Nick Atkinson and Edd Holloway.
Preceded by singles "How I'm Feeling Now," "Forget Me," "Pointless," and "Wish You the Best" — of which the last three topped the UK Singles Chart — it looks like Capaldi’s right to bet on his tried and true formula, with enough skills to spark curiosity from the audience, over and over again.
Paul Simon - Seven Psalms
Release date: May 19
Seven Psalms is Paul Simon’s fifteenth album, and his first of new material since 2016’s Stranger to Stranger. According to the six-decade-spanning singer, the project came to him in a dream and was inspired by the Book of Psalms.
Including seven acoustic tracks that are meant to be listened to as one uninterrupted piece, the album also features British vocal group VOCES8 and a participation by Simon’s wife, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell.
Seven Psalms is said to be a departure from any of his previous work, which encompasses the illustrious Simon & Garfunkel albums Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sounds of Silence, and more. An accompanying documentary, In Restless Dreams, is also set for release.
Juanes - Vida Cotidiana
Release date: May 19
While Juanes found immense success in 2021 with his cover album Origen, winning Best Pop/Rock Album at the Latin Grammy Awards and Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album at the GRAMMY Awards, his latest original work dates back to 2019, with the LP Más futuro que pasado.
Considering the events the world went through, 2019 feels more like a century ago. Therefore, Vida Cotidiana (or "daily life," in Spanish) arrives as a testament to the Colombian star’s reflections and changes during this turbulent time.
The 11-track collection also marks Juanes’ return to rock and Latin American folk foundations, while examining "love, marriage, family, and his country," according to a press release. So far, he released three lovelorn advance singles off the album: "Amores Prohibidos," "Gris" and "Ojalá."
Tinariwen - Amatssou
Release date: May 19
Amatssou means "beyond the fear" in Tamashek, the native language of the Tuareg collective Tinariwen — which, in turn, means "deserts." Known for their sociopolitical resistance and commitment to portraying the struggles of Mali, Amatssou stands as a fitting title for the band's ninth studio album.
Recorded inside a makeshift studio tent in Algeria, the record was produced in L.A. by GRAMMY winner Daniel Lanois) and features country musicians Wes Corbett and Fats Kaplin, furthering the collective’s link to the musical style. In a press release, Tinariwen are said to "have always been a country band, albeit a North African take on that most North American of genres."
Tinariwen will embark on a U.S. and Europe tour starting on May 27 in Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. They will also perform at festivals including Glastonbury and Roskilde.
Arlo Parks - My Soft Machine
Release date: May 26
Contrasting with her delicate voice, British singer/songwriter Arlo Parks said in a statement that her sophomore album, My Soft Machine, is all about "the mid-20s anxiety, the substance abuse of friends around me, the viscera of being in love for the first time, navigating PTSD and grief and self-sabotage and joy." In summary, it’s a record about "what it’s like to be trapped in this particular body."
With an exceptional talent to transcribe raw emotions into contemplative, spacious music, Parks has given a taste of what to expect from this release through the singles "Blades," "Impurities," and "Weightless." She will also celebrate this moment by touring Europe and Asia in the following months, including performances at Spain and Portugal editions of Primavera Sound Festival
Lola Young - My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely
Release date: May 26
"And I like to think that I'm growing up and that I'm learnin'/But I've no idea what's underneath," reflects the south Londoner Lola Young on "Stream of Consciousness," the lead single for her upcoming album, My Mind Wanders and Sometimes Leaves Completely.
Following up on her 2021 EP After Midnight, the release is said to reflect Young’s "journey towards being a woman and figuring out who I am." Through her poignant lyrics, the 21-year-old gives a glimpse into the joys and pains of love in the 2020s. "I swear it don't hurt / You're looking at her / I'm looking at you," she muses in "Annabel’s House (From The Train)."
Nominated for the Rising Star Award at the 2022 BRIT Awards, she also revealed in an interview for NME that the album will be "slightly different" from her previous work, featuring more retro, alt-rock, and indie influences with a "raw edge."
The Exploding Hearts - Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered)
Release date: May 26
The short-lived but still impactful Exploding Hearts will get a brand new chance of reaching more fans this spring. Their 2003 album of power-pop classics, Guitar Romantic, is being reissued to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Soon after the album release in 2003, three members of the band tragically passed away in a van accident while returning home from a gig in San Francisco. Surviving members King Louie Bankston (who passed away last year) and bassist Terry Six maintained their legacy through the duo Terry & Louie. Now, Six partnered with the band’s original producer, Pat Kearns, for the album reissue, and plans to play tribute shows in the upcoming months.
Guitar Romantic (Expanded & Remastered) will feature unreleased material, like conversations from the members, a King Louie Mix of "I’m A Pretender," and an unheard version of "So Bored."
Sparks - The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte
Release date: May 26
"So many people are crying in their latte" is the kind of musing about the contemporary world that only outlandish duo Sparks could have transformed into an engaging, nifty track. The lyrics come right off "The Girl is Crying In Her Latte," a preview single from their upcoming studio album of the same name.
Starring Cate Blanchett and her dandy dance moves in the music video, the track is proof that Sparks still have their finger on the pulse of culture, even after five decades of activity. "Veronica Lake," the second single off the project, keeps that same vein, bringing a modern spin to the narrative of actress Veronica Lake changing her hairstyle in order to protect factory workers during World War II.
The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte arrives after 2020’s A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, and will be their first release under Island Records in 47 years. The pop rock pair is also scheduled to tour multiple cities in the U.S., Europe, and Japan in the summer.
Behind Shania Twain’s Hits: How A Hospital Stay, A Balmy Porch And A Hair Nightmare Inspired Her Biggest Hits & Videos
Photo: Tim Saccenti
How Many GRAMMYs Have Metallica Won? Ahead Of New Album '72 Seasons': 6 Questions Answered
On their new album, '72 Seasons,' Metallica take inventory of their past while forging ahead into the future. Here are answers to six questions about the eight-time GRAMMY-winning band.
On their new album, 72 Seasons, Metallica circle the wagons and consolidate all the elements that make them… well, Metallica. Which, granted, many bands tend to do when they cross the four-decade mark. But for these eight-time GRAMMY winners, it's entirely a new look.
"There was this strange thing for many years in our band," drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich told The New York Times in 2016. "We were in such a hurry to move forward, and in such a hurry to move away from certain perceptions about us, that we kept chasing something that we didn't really need to chase."
Much like its predecessors, 2008's Death Magnetic and 2016's Hardwired… To Self Destruct, 72 Seasons eschews any detours they've taken in the past. The songs sprawl; guitar solos are firmly back; there are no NWOBHM covers or symphonic collaborations. The title is backward-looking in a different way — a reference to the years between birth and age 18. And the ouroboros nature of 72 Seasons applies to the lyrics, too.
"Full speed or nothin'," founding vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield barks in lead single "Lux Æterna," a direct quote of "Motorbreath" from their 1983 debut album, Kill 'Em All. In "Room or Mirrors," he quotes "broken, beat and scarred" from Death Magnetic. Those 42 years together — approximately 168 seasons? — are clearly on these four men's minds.
With 72 Seasons tantalizingly close to release, take a look back, just as Metallica do on record — and find answers to six key facts about the world-dominating thrash titans.
Who Used To Be In Metallica?
While Metallica has maintained its current lineup since 2003 — Hetfield, Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo — the band has some famous former members.
The spirit of their early bassist, Cliff Burton, hangs heavy in the rearview; he died in a touring van accident in 1986, right as they hit a zenith with 1986's Master of Puppets.
In a spat that honestly deserves its own article, Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine was the original lead guitarist of Metallica; he's credited as a songwriter on a handful of songs on Kill 'Em All and their celebrated second album, 1984's Ride the Lightning.
Other past members include their original bassist, Ron McGovney, and mid-period bassist, Jason Newsted, who left the band in 2001 to focus on his band Echobrain.
How Many Albums Has Metallica Sold?
Metallica have sold more than 125 million albums worldwide — 67 million of those stateside.
At press time, their best-selling album is 1991's Metallica, or The Black Album — the one with indelible hits from "Enter Sandman" to "Nothing Else Matters" — with a whopping 17 million sales.
How Many GRAMMYs Has Metallica Won?
As of 2023, Metallica have won eight GRAMMYs and been nominated for 18.
In order, those eight wins were for…
Best Rock Performance ("One")
Best Metal Performance ("Stone Cold Crazy")
Best Rock Performance (Metallica*)
Best Metal Performance ("Better Than You")
Best Hard Rock Performance ("Whiskey in the Jar")
Best Rock Instrumental Performance ("The Call Of Ktulu")
Best Metal Performance ("St. Anger"),
Best Metal Performance ("My Apocalypse")
Check out Metallica's complete GRAMMY stats here!
What Is Metallica's Biggest Song?
By the standard of the Billboard Hot 100, Metallica's most successful song was "Until It Sleeps" from their 1996 album Load — their sole top 10 hit, which peaked at No. 10 and remained on the chart for 20 weeks.
(As per the Billboard 200, their most successful album is The Black Album, which peaked at No. 1, hung there for four weeks, and spent an incredible 706 weeks on the chart.)
Song-wise, though, a look at more granular Billboard categories provides a clearer picture.
"Master of Puppets" is their biggest track in the Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart; it peaked at No. 5. It's also their most successful song in the Rock Digital Song Sales chart, at No. 2; Hot Rock Songs chart, also at No. 2; Hard Rock Digital Song Sales chart, Hard Rock Streaming Songs, and Hot Hard Rock Songs, all at No. 1; and Rock Streaming Songs chart, at No. 3.
As per the Rock & Alternative Airplay chart, "Lux Æterna" leads the pack, with a peak position of No. 2. And while one can go much deeper into the Billboard archives for further information — and factor in non-stateside success — it's clear "Master of Puppets" comes out on top.
Does Metallica Have A New Album?
They certainly do. As stated, 72 Seasons will be released April 14 via Blackened Recordings. It was teased via four singles: "Lux Æterna," "Screaming Suicide," "If Darkness Had a Son," and the title track.
Early reviews are strong: Rolling Stone called it "some of the deepest, hardest-hitting music of their career." Opined Consequence: "It's the sound of a band having fun, laying into a ton of riffs and embracing its own legacy as metal masters."
When Is Metallica Going On Tour?
Metallica will embark on the M72 world tour starting in late April. The trek, which stretches in 2024, will bring the foursome across Europe and North America.
Check here for their complete tour dates, and be sure to take a dive into 72 Seasons — the perfect impetus to consider the metal heroes' past, present and exceedingly bright future.
How 1986 Became The Epicenter Of A New Metal Sound: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, And The Albums That Defined Thrash Metal
Photos (L-R): Max VanTilburg, Juliette Boulay
Chat Pile And Nerver On New Split EP 'Brothers In Christ,' The I-35 Heavy Music Scene & Metallica YouTube Rabbit Holes
In recent years, a seam of brilliant heavy music has opened up in the central United States. And Chat Pile and Nerver's new split EP, 'Brothers in Christ,' is a monument to this ever-swelling artistic community.
Chat Pile know they're odd ducks in their hometown of Oklahoma City. "It's either you're hardcore or you're shoegaze," the ascendant sludge-metal or noise-rock or whatever-you-call-it band's bassist, Stin, rues to GRAMMY.com. "Those seem to be kind of the two main options around here."
But it goes several steps beyond that. From singer Raygun Busch's idiosyncratic bark to their themes of mundane horrors to the sheer volume of memes swirling around their 2022 debut, God's Country, there's hardly an analog for this band anywhere.
On the other hand, Nerver are right at home in Kansas City, five hours northeast. The bludgeoning punk band, who released their whiplash second album, CASH, in 2022, are part of a rising tide of dark, heavy weirdos in KC. They're flourishing in many pockets up and down the I-35, which stretches from Duluth, Minnesota to the border between Texas and Mexico.
Birds of a feather: when Nerver played their first-ever Oklahoma City gig, Chat Pile were on the bill, and they became fast friends. Now, this nexus between two potent bands, regions and scenes — in what some dismiss as "flyover country" — is marked with a musical document.
Chat Pile and Nerver are out with a new split EP, Brothers in Christ, out Apr. 14 — a split-label release between Austin label Reptilian Records and Kansas City–based The Ghost is Clear Records. While Chat Pile's two offerings, "King" and "Cut," home in on their odder, mellower side, you'll rarely hear Nerver as heavy as they are on "Kicks in the Sky" and "The Nerve."
Ahead of the EP's release, Stin and Nerver’s bassist/vocalist and drummer — Evan Little and Mathew Shanahan — sat down with GRAMMY.com about how Brothers in Christ came to be, the emerging heavy scene in the central United States and their mutual love of Metallica deconstructions on YouTube.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
How did your two bands arrive in each other's lives?
Stin: It's kind of a funny story. I think the third show that Chat Pile ever played was this warehouse show in Oklahoma City. We were supposed to play; there were a couple of local punk bands. But then Nerver were on the bill, and so was Bummer. But Bummer bailed and Nerver ended up showing up, and we just met at the show and hit it off immediately, and we've been good friends ever since.
Evan Little: I think the I-35, as it usually is, was down to one lane, full of construction. We showed up to Oklahoma City super late and loaded in, and Chat Pile had just started playing. We watched them, and I don't think I had ever played Oklahoma City before. I don't want to speak for everybody, but…
Mathew Shanahan: It had been years for me.
Evan: We watched Chat Pile and were like, "Hey guys, that was a great set. Can we stay at any of your houses?" [Laughs.]
Stin: We've just kind of stayed in touch ever since then. We went on a mini-tour with Chat Pile, Nerver, and a band called Meth from Chicago, and we played five or six dates through the Midwest.
Evan: It was in May of '22, because we had originally planned on doing it in 2020, and then COVID shut everything down. Also, Minneapolis was in an uproar when we were originally supposed to play…
Stin: Oh, that's right.
Evan: George Floyd got killed. It was like COVID shut everything down, George Floyd got killed and my dad died all on the same weekend. So, s— just hit the fan, and everything went away. So we were like, "OK, maybe we'll try again in two years." And then it ended up eventually working out.
Stin: That was a really fun tour, too. That was a good time. And the funny thing, too, is I think from the get-go, we had talked about doing a split together. It just took a really long time for us to get our s— together to make it happen.
Evan: We were eager to do a split, and we met those guys around the same time. We lived close enough to each other to where collaborating would be pretty easy.
Stin: That's a good point, too. The proximity is kind of a big thing, because Chat Pile's based in Oklahoma City and Nerver is based in Kansas City, which is about five hours away. You guys have definitely traveled down a couple of times to come hang out with us.
And music aside, we've come up there and hung out a few times with you guys at different points, too. So, I think that helps. The collaborative part of it has been really cool and fun.
Evan: Even in the middle of the country, five hours is close.
Tell me a little bit about the OKC and Kansas City heavy-music scenes and where your bands fit into those puzzles.
Stin: In Oklahoma City, the heavy scene has changed so much over the years. It used to be relegated to more DIY, Maximum Rocknroll-style hardcore bands.
But after COVID shut everything down, this new hardcore scene has emerged across the globe that has more of what I would call a beatdown quality — that type of hardcore, and it's all people who are extremely young. But it's cool, because the scene is sort of exploding right now with that type of activity. You're seeing an explosion of bands coming around.
As far as more experimental, noisy stuff goes, there's not really a ton of that. I know people will call Chat Pile "noise rock" or whatever, and we're kind of the only band like that in Oklahoma City. It's either you're hardcore or you're shoegaze. Those seem to be kind of the two main options around here.
Kansas City, on the other hand, seems like it's got a lot going on. In fact, I would say it's one of the more exciting music cities in the country right now, at least with the type of stuff that Chat Pile and Nerver are doing.
Evan: There are a lot of really cool bands happening in Kansas City. A lot more noise-rock stuff. Like Austin was saying, we met Chat Pile when we were on tour with Bummer, and there seems to be a scene for loud, sort of darker bands happening right now. So, that's been great for us and allowed us to tour easier and play shows with similar bands easier.
Stin: Matthew, you turned me on to Nightosphere, and they only have a couple of songs out, but man — I can't get enough of those. They just put out a three-way split with Flooding and Abandoncy. One of those bands is from Lawrence [Kansas], right?
Evan: Flooding is from Lawrence.
Stin: Yeah, but still, it's that region. You guys have an embarrassment of riches in terms of all that stuff. Then, I would also say the Denton area of Texas has that kind of stuff going on as well, so it's sort of weird. I guess Kansas City's not really I-35, but…
Evan: Oh, it is.
Stin: OK, it is: cool. So, that switch of I-35 from North Texas to Kansas City: there's a little scene going on of cool, noisy bands right now.
Evan: Yeah, from Austin and Minneapolis. There's a bunch of good bands existing around one interstate. It's good. It's convenient.
Chat Pile. Photo: Juliette Boulay
Tell me about the tunes themselves — how they came to be, how you curated them to swim in the same bowl.
Stin: On the Chat Pile side of things, we wrote and recorded these songs after God's Country came out. So, the flavor of it is a little bit different than what is on the album. We're leaning more into the indie-rock side of our taste a little bit. We thought this EP would be a good place to put that type of stuff.
The other thing that was kind of crazy about it: like I was saying, it took us a long time to get our act together to put this out. Instrumentally, our songs were written for months and months.
It took forever to do vocals because our singer's partner has some health issues, so he wasn't even living in the state with us at the time. So, we had to wait a long time for him to contribute his part of the music.
Evan: For at least one of the songs on the split, we tried to include it on our 2022 album. We were completely fried from recording and decided, "Let's not push this; let's save the song for another day." And then, Chat Pile was like, "Go ahead, we're ready. We have songs written; we're good to go."
The other song, we wrote specifically knowing that it would end up on a split with them. I know we usually write as we write, and it's never that we write a song for a specific release that we're going to know all the context of beforehand.
We went and recorded both songs at the bass player of Shiner, Paul Malinowski's studio in the suburbs here. Zack Alvey engineered and mixed it. It was a very easy and pleasant recording experience, and the songs turned out good. I think both sides of the split ended up complementing each other really well. It all flows well together, I think.
Stin: I feel the same way. And what's funny, too, is I feel like it's you guys at your heaviest, and us at our most mellow.
Evan: There's a slow song and a fast song, and then two of you guys' weirdest songs.
Stin: We deliberately wanted to do the record with Reptilian and The Ghost is Clear. Reptilian is based out of Austin, and The Ghost is Clear is based out of Kansas City. We wanted to do the record through them to tie everything back to the locale — the regionality of the whole project.
Stin, how has it felt being memed into oblivion?
Stin: It's really flattering, honestly. Because when we started the band, we never in a million years imagined that people would care about the music we're making. That's been the story of our lives up until this point.
So, my thought is: if anybody's thinking about us, whether they hate our band or think we're funny enough to meme or anything, all that's cool with me, because I would rather have people pay attention to us. They say the opposite of love isn't hate.
It's complimentary, too. Some of the memes are really, really funny. Those are the ones that we tend to share. We've obviously struck a chord in some way with people, and it's resonating, and that feels good.
Jonathan Tuite [The Flenser founder/owner, who released God’s Country] seems to have this weird knack for grabbing people's imaginations.
Stin: His tastes are incredibly eclectic, and he has a way of finding bands that live in this Venn diagram. They all circulate into or converge into this depressive, sad sort of world.
But it's tongue-in-cheek at the same time.
Stin: Well, I think you can be depressed and sad and angry and still have a sense of humor. Some bands on the label are funnier than others, but I do think that despite the kind of depressive nature of everything, he does have a tendency to pick bands that have some self-awareness and can joke around about that kind of stuff.
As underground musicians, what role do the GRAMMYs play in your lives?
Stin: I would say none at all, other than I am very much aware that people were mad that Metallica lost to Jethro Tull for The Black Album.
Stin: OK, this is going to derail the question a little bit. But I absolutely love The Black Album, and sometimes I forget how much that album is imprinted on my psyche.
I've been reminded of it lately, because I've been going down this YouTube rabbit hole. There are people whose entire thing is they cover Metallica songs, but they do it in the style [of another album]. So, they'll take a song from Ride the Lightning and play it as if it were on …And Justice for All. They copy the style, the production elements… all of it.
There's this guy — I can't remember his name — but he's genius-level at doing this. The best ones are all the songs that get transcribed and played as if they're on The Black Album. I'm like, "Damn, maybe The Black Album is actually my favorite Metallica album," weirdly enough.
Evan: I've been in a YouTube rabbit hole of people replacing every snare in every Metallica song with the St. Anger snare. I think that's my favorite one. They should win a GRAMMY for that — the people who put that s— together.
Mathew: It was cool that Body Count won one not that long ago. That seemed cool. It was the same year that Power Trip was up for it right after [vocalist] Riley [Gale] died, and a lot of people were up in arms that Power Trip didn't win, which they should have. But Body Count still f—s.
Evan: I have no idea what's going on at the GRAMMYs — who wins or who's nominated. I can say confidently that I've never thought about it at all.
You're thinking about it now, buddy.
Evan: Exactly. When Stin told us this interview was happening, he said, "Get your tuxedos ready, boys."
Stin: It's funny, too, because whenever any type of awards show happens, my Twitter feed becomes insufferable for a day or two. It's like, look: awards can be fun. I'm sure it's fun to go, also, and put on your outfit. Look, my dad knowing that I'm doing an interview right now with the GRAMMYs — he can die happy now. So, there are many advantages to it.
Evan: I'm glad that Brendan Fraser won something. I don't know if they're all related, or what.
Where are your bands at in your trajectories? What are you primed to do next?
Stin: Chat Pile is working on a second album right now. It's slowly coming together. But in the meantime, we're gearing up to be way more of a road band than we've ever been before.
In fact, a week from today, we leave to go play Roadburn in the Netherlands, then we're going to play Roskilde in Denmark. Then, we have a weeklong tour in the UK. And then, we're going to embark on two coastal tours, which have not been announced whatsoever.
We're basically gearing up to do lots and lots of touring, and then hopefully, we'll have a second record out. We'll say the goal is by next year, but time will tell what happens with that.
Mathew: We're going on tour next month for 25 days.
Evan: If you live on the West Coast, come see Nerver.
Real quick, before we go: is there anyone you're excited about in your scene or an adjacent one that you'd like to shout out?
Stin: Hell and Primitive Man, to me, are making some of the most exciting music out there right now. I love Jesus Piece. I think they're amazing. I could actually see them being GRAMMY winners in a couple of years.
Evan: OK, I've got a really good answer. This band Missouri Executive Order 44 that just started here. Their whole thing is they play the heaviest music you've ever heard while dressed like bicycle missionaries. All the songs are about being Mormon, and it's a lot of fun to watch. Max makes everybody pray. It's a lot of fun. You guys should definitely give that band a GRAMMY.
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