Frontman Jay Gambit tells Doc how the band makes everlasting despair sound catchy
“The ringing/buried underneath lifeless goals/No funerals/Sirens sing for nothing/Your entire gods have gone house.” Jay Gambit, frontman of Executioner’s Masks, bellows the lyrics to “No Funeral” in an ominous stentorian baritone, whereas Ryan Wilson’s drum programming drives beneath and Craig Mickle’s guitar chimes like a surging church knell. In keeping with the album title, Despair Anthems, the music is darkish, adrenalin-pumping, post-punk goth, giving off black clouds of bleak cheer. It’s a unhappiness that makes you wish to rise up and dance—or at the least elevate your palms and sway enthusiastically.
Even over the cellphone, Gambit vibrates with an infectious, morbid extroversion. “All people’s fucking unhappy on a regular basis now,” he says, laughing. “Even whenever you’re completely satisfied, you’re unhappy. There’s not a lot to be completely satisfied about anymore, in a system that’s fully crumbling round you. How are you going to be completely satisfied? Which is absolutely, I assume, the core of this file—that, yeah, the whole lot’s fucked. What are you going to do, fake that shit’s not fucked? Shit’s fucked. However you’ve received to get up on daily basis and attempt to stay your life and make a greater world round you.”
Gambit grew up within the ‘90s shuffling between New York and Florida following his mum or dad’s divorce. His household is Turkish and Russian-Jewish; he describes himself as having “darkish options, bushy brows—I’m a brown man.” Excessive steel’s viewers and performers within the US are largely white, and elements of the black steel scene particularly are famously racist. However that didn’t cease Gambit, who began out listening to bands like Skinny Pet and vaulted into a variety of different heavy music by way of the catch-as-catch-can strategies one used earlier than on-line music communities had been absolutely established. He discovered White Zombie as a result of a child in an anti-drug video proven in school was carrying an Ugly Music for Ugly Individuals T-shirt. An older woman he had a crush on wore a Gwar T-shirt and he went on-line to attempt to observe them down.
Within the 2000s Gambit was in what he calls “Jesus Lizard and Melvins worship bands,” taking part in grunge and sludge steel. However he received bored with negotiating artistic course along with his bandmates, so he began Crowhurst, a free-form experimental noise steel undertaking which he may do by himself or with no matter collaborators occurred to have an interest. He didn’t assume it was music that might be of curiosity to anybody else, however to his shock, Crowhurst grew to become fairly standard in indie steel circles.
Crowhurst had touches of post-punk and goth in its DNA, so Executioner’s Masks isn’t a lot a reinvention as a type of roots exploration, highlighting the extent to which The Remedy and Sisters of Mercy had been a part of Gambit’s aesthetic all alongside. Nostalgia doesn’t weigh the file down although. As a substitute it appears to free the band as much as mope with a purer power. “And the sunshine…fades out/And the sunshine…fades out,” Gambit declaims over the echoing, driving throb of “1988,” a track that sucks the blood proper out of the heyday of goth and licks its vampiric fangs with a very unironic wink.
“We weren’t making an attempt to create a giant expression that we had been going to labor over. We’re three musicians who’re pals and we wished to have some enjoyable and crank out a file,” Gambit says. And whereas Gambit, Wilson, and Mickle aren’t pop musicians, Gambit says he’s “a giant fan of hooks.” Wilson’s fundamental undertaking is dying steel band Intestinal Disgorge; the music may be very quick and distorted, Gambit all the time heard a bunch of catchy melodies buried down there within the gurgle and roar. “So I figured for those who sluggish that down and you actually spotlight a number of the genius riffs he writes—he would possibly write two post-punk albums price of riffs in a single dying steel track.”
Simply as Gambit can hear pop hooks in dying steel, so he can hear post-punk in alt-country. Probably the most stunning tracks on the file is a loving cowl of Scud Mountain Boys’ “Freight of Fireplace.” The unique is a rustic folks strum, all wistful lonesome harmonies and exhausted remorse. “Find it irresistible got here like a burning freight of fireplace” is a resigned acceptance of inevitable ache within the Scud Mountain Boys model. However Executioner’s Masks turns it right into a booming embrace of immolation. When Gambit sings “Find it irresistible dies similar to three days with out water,” he makes dying within the desert sound like the most effective revenge.
“Freight of Fireplace” is definitely the primary track Executioner’s Masks ever recorded. Gambit was obsessive about the Scuds’ Sub Pop Early Years compilation, and was listening to it time and again on headphones when Wilson despatched him the primary skeleton observe for the album. “And all I heard in my head was, ‘Find it irresistible got here like a burning freight of fireplace.’ It’s the identical melody in my head. Stylistically it’s worlds away. However in my head it’s the identical track.”
Gambit’s love for the Scud Mountain Boys is all of a chunk with the love for unhappy bands and desolate feelings that suffuses Despair Anthems. Gambit writes about dying and suicide and despair in such an open-hearted, enthusiastic manner that wretchedness turns into a type of solidarity. On the pounding industrial “Bury Me a Grave,” he sings about “consuming breakfast/dodging daylight,” earlier than viciously spitting out, “Quick a bullet I’ll keep/Nobody makes it anyway.” All of us pale blear ectomorphs are caught right here ‘until dying comes, and so long as that’s the case, there’s consolation in figuring out nobody escapes. Unhappy individuals can have nice tunes too. Executioner’s Masks is music for individuals who know that for those who’re going to groan, you would possibly as nicely groan collectively.