One of Tacoma's most popular hard rock outfits will reemerge on Sunday April 13with a makeover and a bunch of new tunes. The band formerly known as Mahnhammer will perform for the first time under its new moniker, Ex-Gods, during a free show scheduled for 5 p.m. at Tacoma's New Frontier Lounge.
“We will be the same sludge rock that you have grown to love, and the same sinister, cathartic noise that you need from us,” vocalist Micah Hembree wrote in response to questions about the band's evolving direction. “We will be playing some of the songs you are used to. But I believe that our direction will be more focused, and brutal.”
Mahnhammer had been inactive since the departure of drummer Kristen Lyon, who split over creative differences in November. Guitarist Shawn “Lanksbury and I had disagreements on the vision of the band,” Lyon said. “I wanted to go more in a straight rock fashion, and they wanted to go a little more avante.
“And, at the time, I was really busy in the middle of my transition, so I wasn't giving it as much effort as I should have,” added the drummer, who was known as Kris Lyon before last year.
Lyon started Mahnhammer with guitarist Dave Takata, who departed in 2012; and she decided to take the name with her. But the drummer insisted there were no hard feelings. “Those are some of my best friends in the world, I wish them all the best,” Lyon said.
New drummer Israel Hickey joins bassist Sean Horst in the retooled rhythm section. Guitarist Mike Crum rounds out the quintet. But more than the new name and new look, fresh tunes that the band has added to its repertoire are sure to generate the biggest buzz.
Mahnhammer went to Joshua Tree, Calif., last summer and recorded a new album's worth of material at Rancho de Luna, the studio owned by rocker Dave Catching. The producer is best known as a contributor to Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and Masters of Reality, among other popular acts, and for recording the Desert Sessions, a rotating cast of all-stars led by Queens’ front man Josh Homme.
Needless to say, recording with such a high profile producer was quite a coup for an indie band from Tacoma. But Hembree said the future of those recordings is up in the air as his band writes more new material.
Among the songs the band recorded last year are “Molecularize” and “It Can Be Found at the Bottom of the Lake,” which had already become set staples. When asked about the newest songs fans could listen up for, Hembree provided two more foreboding titles: "The Trip Had Been Good Until the Malaria Set In” and "Two Guys, a Bag, and a Shovel."
Sunday's bill also includes Tacoma punk trio Kramer and New Gods. The show is part of a three-day rock fest called Bleak Outlook, put together by promoter Brian Skiffington. Bleak Outlook will showcase 28 bands with shows taking place on April 11, 12 and 13 at the New Frontier, 2nd Cycle, the Aurora House and Fifth Dimension.
Find updates and schedules on the festival blog, http://www.bleakoutlooktacoma.blogspot.com.