Ed Gein Bad Luck
Published Jun 20, 2011After a couple of way-above-average and very unique technical, sludgey metalcore albums (the best of which was their last, 2005's excellent, and excellently titled, Judas Goats & Dieseleaters), the very underrated Ed Gein hit the road hard and then vanished. The Syracuse, NY band took some time off to re-evaluate and have returned with Bad Luck, a 22-minute disc that's surprisingly different from their previous output. Sure, opening instrumental "Intro" promises Ed Gein's angular, aggressive noise rock/metalcore, but once the very simple punk of "Wage Slave" drops, it's obvious something different is going on. While hardcore has always been at the root of the band, their previous albums had more of a punk rock vibe than sound ― Bad Luck is all hardcore, all punk rock. Gone are Ed Gein's sludge leanings and technical workouts, replaced with short, simple hardcore ragers that, were this Ed Gein's first album, might be pretty forgettable, but given this shift at this point in the band's career, basically abandoning a genre that became boring and giving the middle finger to absolutely everyone, it's extremely enjoyable.
To me, the album is so much more straight-ahead and punk rock/hardcore that it was kind of shocking. I know it's been a while since your last album, but what brought about this change?
Bassist/vocalist Aaron Jenkins: Short answer? We're old! [Laughs] But, seriously, like most things in our band it just kind of happened. We write songs that we like; we wanted to write more cohesive songs.
Was the shift in sound a reaction to the metalcore scene? Since your last album, the whole technical hardcore/metal thing just got buried into the ground, so when I heard this album being so vicious and straight-forward, it made me think it was a reaction to that.
That's not entirely off base. I think, at least speaking for me personally, the driving force behind Ed Gein has always been intensity. For some bands it's heaviness, for some bands it's technicality, for some bands it's "total brutality, dude!" or whatever. For us, it's intensity. Before we started Ed Gein, we were in a band that could much more easily be called metalcore, very late '90s/early 2000s metalcore. It was much more straightforward, long, drawn-out songs with lots of riffs tacked together. Ed Gein playing short, fast, spastic songs with a lot of weird changes was much more intense in contrast to what our previous band were doing. That and we were listening to a lot of bands like As the Sun Sets at the time [laughs]. But after a while that kind of crazy, screamy stuff just sort of seemed to become the norm. Things got saturated and it just lost its intensity, to me, anyway; it got watered down. I feel like, in contrast to that, our new songs are much more pissed off, much more straight to the point and much, much more intense ― no extraneous bullshit. I haven't thought about this until having to answer this question, but, yeah, I'd say, at least in my mind, that's the progression of things. And to jump back to your first question for a second, we've always considered ourselves more of a hardcore/punk band than anything, definitely as far as ideology and ethics go, anyway. That's the scene we came from and the one we identify with the most. I feel like our music has always been influenced by it a great deal too, but definitely this new album is much more so. It's not such a shocking change, because, to us, we've always been a hardcore/punk band.
The album is so pissed off. What are you so angry about?
Look around you. If you're not pissed off about a hell of a lot of things then you're really not paying attention to the world. This album isn't quite as politically motivated as some of our other stuff; it's more about day-to-day things: working like a dog for ungrateful assholes who don't care or understand that you're selling a chunk of your life to them, television/mass media/advertising brainwashing, middle-aged alcoholics with the emotional and intellectual capacity of 12-year olds. But, really, we're not angry people; we're kind of goofy dorks. I think writing songs about what upsets me about life keeps me grounded and keeps me from being swallowed whole by it. It keeps me from being an angry, bitter person. You can be angry without being an angry person. There isn't really anything more depressing and sad than someone who is just an angry person through and through. Writing this music helps keep me from becoming that. And we also have a song about collecting moths and a song about a crappy '80s movie featuring Charlie Sheen. So it's not all angry.
Why is the album called Bad Luck? And what does the cover art have to do with that?
It just seemed like a fitting title. Ed Gein have had pretty shit luck throughout our run. Plenty of good luck too, and plenty of amazingly good times. But more than our fair share of bad luck. We've had our band room broken into twice, we've had our van broken into three times, we've had our van and trailer stolen entirely, leaving us stranded in the middle of Ohio, we've crashed, we've been assaulted, we've had our van buried in ten feet of hard-packed snow and ice (our fault for parking it next to a garage with a tin roof all winter, oops), we've been pulled over by the police in Mexico for having a taillight out on our trailer (none of us speak Spanish; it was nerve-wracking as hell), I was electrocuted very badly on stage by a short in my bass amp and bad wiring in the venue. Jesus, I don't know, I'm sure there's more. A lot worse has happened to other bands, but it feels like we just had a gremlin following us around screwing things up all the time. We asked our friend Brendon Flynn from the band Freya to do the artwork. He is an amazing, amazing artist and his style is different from what we usually do visually, so we thought it would be cool to do something unlike what we've already done. Originally he was going to do the artwork for the vinyl and I was going to do the artwork for the CD, but I ended up not having time to do it. My life has been pretty wild over the past couple years; I bought a house, got married, etc. The idea was for both of us to come up with our own visual interpretation of bad luck, but because of my time constraints and stress level at the time it just made more sense to use Brendon's art for both. Brendon's interpretation was of bad luck as a kind of physical being: part black cat, part Death, a sort of god of bad luck. So the front cover is a cat-like skull/creature. The back cover is a more human-like skull/creature with the same cat eyes. The front and back cover sort of mirror each other. Then inside is a full painting of this bad luck god sort of stalking the Earth, which is how it felt, at times, to us, especially looking back on it ― this thing following us.
Why the delay between albums?
It just felt like time to take a break. We toured a lot, for a long time; we were getting burned out. And the way we write, it was really hard to write on the road. Some bands can be out on tour for months, come home and have almost a whole new album written; it just doesn't really work that way for us. We need to all be writing together in the same room to really get it. So that definitely slowed us down ― being on the road a lot, not being able to really write songs the way we like on the road ― and then just getting kind of burned out. It was good for us to take a break from each other for a while. We definitely needed to get our heads together and figure out our priorities. I don't want to say that it wasn't fun anymore, because it was definitely a blast, but it was becoming more like an obligation to be in a band. And screw that. Everyone already has enough obligations in life. The thing that is supposed to be fun and be an escape from all that shouldn't start feeling like an obligation too. We needed a breather. Jesse [Daino, drums] opened a really awesome coffee shop and roastery with a friend of ours from high school (if you're ever in Syracuse, stop by Recess Coffee). I needed some time to get my life together and re-evaluate. Being in a band is great, but it was taking over every aspect of our lives; you can't grow as a person that way. There are other things, other goals that all of us have that we needed to start putting our full effort into. The band needed to take a back seat so we could start building our lives. As I said, Jesse started a business, I'm working towards starting my own business, I got married and bought a house, Jesse got married and bought a house, Graham [Reynolds, guitar], well, Graham is working at the mall and being a totally awesome manager guy [laughs]. So that's why it took so long between albums and kind of explains where we're at now too. Ed Gein are not going to be coming through your town on tour 15 times a year like we used to. Probably won't be at all. Being in a band and writing music is awesome, and is still part of our lives, but it's no longer our entire lives.
Do you have anything exciting or newsy to report to us? New EP on the horizon, anything fans should know about?
No new EP yet. The possibility is there though. We're definitely just taking things one at a time and just seeing where things go at this point. Who knows what we'll be doing next? Not us [laughs]. Definitely no tour plans. We'll be playing a release show for Bad Luck on July 23 in Syracuse; it should be a good time. Other than that... we'll see.
Anything else you'd like to add? Thanks for the time.
Thank you for the time! And thanks to everyone who has made the last... man... almost ten years of Ed Gein so goddamn fun and awesome. We definitely miss all the friends we made on tour and all the bands we toured with. And thanks to anyone out there who still gives a shit about us. It definitely means a lot. (Blackmarket Activities)