Random acts

Of note

A rugburn by any other name … : Local rockers The Rugburners may soon be changing their name. The proposed change comes in the wake of major stylistic changes within the band. Fans of the group can submit suggestions to newname@therugburners.com.

Zombie-Glam No More … : North Carolina-based horror-glam-rock headliners The Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13 have officially broken up. Front man Wednesday 13 has left the band to focus on his other group, Murderdolls (with Joey Jordison of Slipknot and Tripp Eisen of Static X). For more information, visit the group’s “grave” site at www.frankensteindragqueens.com.

Front-row reviews

What: Estedy w/Holiday Rd., Crank County Daredevils and Junior Varsity

Where: Asheville Music Zone

When: Sunday, July 27

There’s something very off-putting about watching a hardcore-rock, metal and punk show before the sun has set. It just doesn’t feel taboo enough to come together — the illusion of the dark, creeping unknown that arrives with nighttime revelry simply doesn’t exist on a Sunday afternoon.

The crowd still managed to make a decent go of it, moshing and screaming their hearts out in spite of the bright, post-Bele Chere blue sky.

The last time I reviewed local punk band Junior Varsity it set off a month-long e-mail war between the band and myself that ended in a stalemate. Holding on to that prejudice, I feel it’s important to point out that the group has not visibly improved since their re-debut at Mamma T’s several months back. The crowd seemed to agree.

Next up were old-school heavy-metal shredders The Crank County Daredevils. With all their hard-driving, guitar-rock sound, solid playing and tight arrangements, the Daredevils also failed to connect solidly with their high-school-age audience. (The fact that many of those attending were still in diapers at the time the group’s now-retro metal style was popular is probably to blame for the lack of enthusiasm.)

Third on the bill was Asheville-based melodic-punk group Holiday Rd. Despite some incredibly sloppy moments early on, the performance was largely enjoyable. (Their set’s chaotic feel came partly from an unrehearsed guest-vocalist appearance by former Balowski Family singer S. Ian Jones.)

Rounding out the show was local heavy-rock group Estedy. I’ve never been a fan of the group’s oppressively weighty musical style, but I was fully impressed with the sheer power of their performance. The six-member-strong group produced near tidal waves of sound.

Local vocals

It was a real challenge to get the guys from Down Break to crack a smile. At first glance, they come across as the very epitome of tough, jaded heavy-metal players, with overly tattooed skin marked occasionally with intimidating piercings — in short, they present themselves as the kind of guys you’d dread having on your enemy list.

But talk to them about their music, and stern scowls eventually become begrudging smiles and snorting chuckles; one-syllable answers gave way to deep, personal reflections. The two members of Down Break present for the interview, guitarists Shaun Blanton and Gene Rice, let their guards down just enough for me to glimpse what was on the other side.

Mountain Xpress: Describe your music for those who’ve never heard you.

Shaun Blanton: I guess it’s pretty much groove metal, sort of like Machine Head or Down, with a little Corrosion of Conformity, but we put a little bit of a Southern twist on it so that the older crowd can enjoy it a little bit. A Pantera fan could enjoy us, as well as maybe a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan.

Gene Rice: We try to always add something to it that can appeal to every metal fan, not just one style.

MX: Tell me about your first gig as Down Break. You’ve all been in other groups before, so how was this different?

GR: It was nerve-wracking. We had been practicing a long time, and I was trying not to mess up. I was nervous, and shaking like crazy.

SB: I’d had prior stage experience, so it wasn’t too nervewracking for me. It was my first time playing guitar on stage, but I actually found it to be more comfortable than playing drums. [When you’re] playing drums, you have more responsibility if you mess up. It messes everybody up. The thing about having two guitar players is that if one messes up, you’ve got another one there to cover for him.

MX: What is it about playing heavy metal that works for you? Why not jazz, or funk, or rap?

SB: Don’t even get me started on rap [laughs]. I don’t know, I like heavy music — the way it’s aggressive. You can get out further. For people like us, where we have a lot of pent-up aggression, it helps with easing tensions in yourself, I guess. GR: I can always find something in it … something to get you through the day.

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