Meet Gaytheist, the Portland power trio that's been generating big buzz across the Northwest blogosphere of late.
Seattle's Good to Die Records (Absolute Monarchs, Dog Shredder) just dropped the up-and-coming outfit's second album, “Hold Me … But Not So Tight,” a blistering blast of punk-metal mayhem and bizarro humor that's over way too soon at a mere 27 minutes. And the band - singer-guitarist Jason Rivera, bassist Tim Hoff and drummer Nick Parks – is headed to the New Frontier Lounge where it will play its first Tacoma show, with local favorites Argonaut, on June 1. We caught up with Rivera, the band's primary songwriter, to mark the occasion.
Tacoma Weekly: I guess I'll be the 100th writer in a row to focus on the name first.
Rivera: (Laughs) That is true.
TW: I'm guessing you either want to piss off the religious right - or maybe homophobic atheists.
Rivera: No, neither, really. I just really, really liked the name; and I had no problem using it because I identify both as gay and as an atheist.
TW: Aha! So the name is not so much a pun as a literal description. What were some of the rejected names?
Rivera: We were gonna call it Hemperor - “emperor” with an “H.” But the problem was I have a hard time saying it. And then, when I looked up Hemperor, the name was being used for a line of beauty products made from hemp.
TW: Looking at your promo pics, you look quite dapper with the tie and suit. Nik (Christofferson, the head of) Good to Die Records, tells me you actually dress like that onstage.
Rivera: A lot of times, especially when it gets hotter, I just wear trousers and suspenders and a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and no tie. But if it's cold, I'll wear a suit and bow tie onstage.
TW: That does not seem to be the typical uniform for your style of music.
Rivera: (Laughs) It's just how I dress all the time. My older brother is a total, traditional metalhead – full on long hair, denim, everything. But, by the time I was ending high school, I had decided that I didn't like the look. I like everything about metal and punk and hardcore. I just don't dress the part.
TW: What would you say informs the sound you developed? What kind of stuff were you listening to?
Rivera: (Tumwater post-hardcore band) Karp was probably the No. 1 influence on this band, because Nick's drumming is so insane. It reminds me a lot of the style that Scott Jernigan had in Karp where it's just so huge and full, even if the riff's just kind of hangin' out there. He can make a two-note song sound incredible.
TW: Lyrically, where do you draw from?
Rivera: It's mostly character point of view songs. ... I just tend to sing about whatever strikes my fancy at the time, whether it's political or fantasy or science fiction or just day-to-day things. The only thing I'm maybe actively staying away from is swords and sorcery and stuff like that. I love that stuff; I just think everyone else is singing about it enough to sing about something different.
TW: I haven't dissected all the lyrics, but one of the new songs appears to be about pooping on everything, and there's a love story or something in there. What's up with “Poocano”?
Rivera: [Explains the name is lifted from Bizarre Magazine and “Jackass 3D.” We'll spare you the rest, which is even grosser than this.] I decided to make the name literal, where it's literally a volcano that's just erupting poop everywhere. … The main characters in the story are the ones who created the poop volcano (and) they hold each others' hands at the end, 'cause that's their love story; they killed the town together.
TW: I thought there was a metaphor I was missing. Let's see if I can get that past the copy desk. Is this going to be your first time in Tacoma? I see you've played some shows with Argonaut before.
Rivera: We played with Argonaut end of last year, for the first time, in Portland. Then we played with them on their record release (for “What's Your Perfect Day?”) up in Seattle. It was really fun. So I spoke to Argonaut … and I told them I'd like to bring up some friends from Portland. So we're bringing our friends Minoton. They're stoner-comedy-fantasy rock, so all their songs are about Dungeons & Dragons, and the music's all very Fu Manchu/Black Sabbath, but the lyrics are ridiculous. The singer, Brady, usually laughs when he's singin'. He cracks himself up a lot, so it should be pretty interesting.
Argonaut and Gaytheist in concert