Twin Cities’ band proves their metal at festival

Cara Spoto

From 11:15 a.m. until 4:50 p.m. Saturday, 13 of America’s heaviest rocking bands took turns playing 20 minute sets on Ozzfest’s second stage.

At 12:30 in the afternoon with the mid-day sun beating sunburns upon the hundreds of fans gathered on the fest grounds, Twin Cities-based heavy rockers American Head Charge drilled their jacks into the monitors and fisted their strings, while lead vocalist Martin Cock grabbed the mic, and leaned into the crowd:

“Show me your metal fingers,” he demanded, and a sea of arms were obediently lifted, lining the blue horizon with proudly flexed middle fingers.

With a stage energy and musical prowess that rivals many bands on the tour, American Head Charge are showing some of the west and east coasters they share the bill with this year that the Midwest has a metal scene to be reckoned with.

In their current form, American Head Charge have been together for two or three years, but founding members Martin Cock and Chad Hanks have been making music together for over six years. When the dust finally cleared from the festival grounds, I was able to catch up with Martin and Chad and talk about, among other things, the emerging Twin Cities heavy scene and the changing face of “heavy metal.”

 

The Lens: How would you describe your music, outside the relative term of “Metal”?

American Head Charge: I don’t know if I can put a label on it – it definitely has its metalness, but it definitely has its melodic side. The main thing we try to do as a band is not limit ourselves to any particular genre. We always want to push ourselves to be new and progressive.

 

TL: What would you say your major influences are?

AHC: Hopefully, one of my main influences is Faith No More and I was always really impressed with Ministry. Musically, I like all kinds of music, there’s the bands that have directly influenced me like Ministry and Faith No More, but then there’s Public Enemy, who I think are one of the most brilliant groups in the world. I don’t really limit myself to what I listen to – I don’t like country, but that’s just because its kind of boring, but I’ll listen to anything else if its interesting or has something I haven’t heard before.

 

TL: It seems to me that in the last 10 or so years quote-unquote Heavy Metal music has really metamorphosized. Different vocal and rhythm styles are constantly emerging. How do feel about the new styles? Would you say its going through a transformation?

AHC: I think it is. When you get down to it, it’s all rock and roll. Some of it’s metal, some of it’s more rock and roll and some of it’s more rapcore. Music all comes from the same place. Sometimes I steer away form the metal label, just because the way the industry and a lot of people look at metal as kind of this moronic, brainless noise and banter coming out of the guitar cabinet. I think what five, six, ten years ago what people would have called heavy metal has kind of just grown into what rock and roll is now, but there’s definitely still bands out there, where you go, “that’s metal.”

 

TL: You guys are local, would you say the Twin Cities heavy rock scene is pretty healthy?

AHC: Yeah, I think it really is. When we first started playing out four years ago, there was kind of this dwindling hair metal going on, kind of like Hesher’s scene – like Great White 10 years too late and speed metal bands. You know they say that the Midwest is five or six years behind the coast, and it was apparent to us ’cause we’re both from the West Coast. In L.A., I could go and see a band that sounded like Killing Joke, here I could only see DSI cover bands and, like, Dokken.

The point is that there was like this hole. At the time when we started playing we were doing pretty abstract music – we were listening to a lot of Mr. Bungle and Primus, just trying to explore and figure out what our thing was. But then we kind of got into a niche, and then all these bands started to pop up. I don’t know if we had a lot to do with it, but I think we might have had a hand in it, you know, opening up people’s minds to it. We played a CD release show at First Ave., we begged and begged and begged and they let us do it in the main room. I think there was like 760 people there – twice as many people as we were used to getting. The booking guy was just blown away, and I think that really opened different clubs and bars to the fact that you can do this kind of show and have people show up.

 

American Head Charge’s new album will be out by the beginning of August, and they are planning to have a show at First Avenue when the Ozzfest tour ends in mid-August. Check out their Web site at americanheadcharge.com for more information.