After ten years as one of Colorado’s most popular punk bands, Pinhead Circus took their final bow at Tulagi’s in Boulder on May 25, 2002. At the same time, the next band to rise from the ashes, Love Me Destroyer, was already dusted off and ready to go. Taking their name from a song by Electric Summer, a band they toured with and befriended in Japan, all four of its members were beginning to realize the truest musical parts of themselves.
Scooter, the vocalist and songwriter for Love Me Destroyer, started the group with two previous Pinhead members, Corby Walsh on bass and Dave Barker on drums. Guitarist and vocalist Chip Dziedzic came to LMD from Jedi 5 in Arizona, a buddy band Pinhead Circus had played with for a number of years. In an ironic twist of fate, both bands had broken up within days of each other. So Scooter’s call to Chip was perfect timing, and he promptly packed up and left Dallas for Denver.
This year the guys in LMD have been busy writing and recording their indie label debut, Black Heart Affair, which was released this past September on Symbiotic Disharmony. This is the first CD to come out of Symbiotic, a new co-op label experiment put together by Virgil Dickerson from Suburban Home and the guys at 8 Houses Down Studio, including Jeff Merkel, Matt VanLeuven, and Chris Fogal, as a launching pad for local bands with lots of good music but little money.
Black Heart Affair was recorded, mixed and mastered at the studio, then pressed, distributed and marketed by Suburban Home (with the exception of the drums, which was recorded and engineered at the Blasting Room in Ft. Collins). Since all the costs involved were internal, they were able to release the CD at no cost to the band. As the CD sells, Symbiotic takes a percentage of the sales for the life of that CD. In the end, everybody wins, and the environment of working in a CD-by-CD basis as opposed to a contractual commitment of X number of releases, works perfectly on both ends.
When asked where the theme behind the album came from, Chip grinned, “I’ll just speak for myself. Part of my motivation to be successful is revenge against everyone that doubted us, everyone that shit on us – from ex-girlfriends, to ex-band members, promoters, everybody.”
In just looking at the song list, “Scars Make Good Stories”, “Crusher”, “Beautiful Switchblade Knives” and “Suffocation”, it’s obvious that Chip tells the truth. One thing is for sure, they’ve buried any pop punk influences from their past. “I’m over it,” Chip says, “I’m over the pop and the emo, the ‘Now I’m sad, now I’m angry,’ thing.”
What does come out of the speakers when you throw in Black Heart Affair is a fast and furious tidal wave of deviant agro rock and metal, wound tightly with barbed wired blasts of speedy punk; vocals that are both brash and harmonic; and an energy that could come off as fuming or celebratory, depending on your mood.
While Chip is a big fan of metal band Killswitch Engage, Scooter digs the classic metal from the ‘80s. Scooter laughs as he recalls when he was enlightened on the musical knowledge of some of their fans. A fifteen year old kid approached him at a show, asking if they had ripped off an Iron Maiden riff on the song, “Fingers + Tongue”. “I didn’t know whether to be offended or shocked,” said Scooter, since he didn’t expect a fan of that age to even be familiar with that band. But he admitted that yes they did, and responded with, “And I’m glad that you know that.”
The process for creating their songs has continued as it has in the past, in the collaborative fashion. Only now, the group is free from some of the inhibitions imposed by previous band members. Scooter states, “Basically, the stuff I’m writing today is essentially the same stuff I was writing when I was in Pinhead Circus. The difference is, Trevor would say, ‘That’s too heavy,’ or ‘That’s too metal.’ So he would always veto the music coming out the way it did. Now it seems like that sound is a little more encouraged.”
“Yea, with me on your side. Pump up the metal!” Chip adds, “Now we can do whatever the hell we want. There’s parts on the CD that I guarantee neither of our old bands would have ever thought about.”
Scooter nods and continues, “The thing that got me motivated on stage when I was in Pinhead Circus was envisioning killing everybody in the place. But the music never brought that across. You’re not going to really kill somebody, but if you have that aggressive side to you, when we write music now it gets it across.”
Chip gets into the cliché topic of most songs, “How can you pour your heart and soul into something, on stage or off, if it’s about how your girlfriend dumped you? I mean, everybody’s been through heartache in their lives. We just put it in a format of, ‘I want to kill everybody in the fucking room ‘cause I’m fucking pissed,’ instead of ‘I’m gonna go cry in my room and cut myself.’ We just put it realistically instead of how the pop punk bands make it sound.”
LMD has additional tactics to get out their aggressions off stage. “We had plans to start beating up bands,” Scooter says, chuckling. “It all started on the Warped Tour with Sum 41. They’re so small though. And they were the coolest kids in the world,” so they never followed through.
Dave adds, “Yellowcard could be the next band to beat up, or New Found Glory. They’re on the top of my list. And you can print that,” and the table erupted in laughter.
When it comes to lyrical inspirations and songwriting techniques, Scooter looks to Hunter S. Thompson, Bruce Springsteen, or even Prince, “I don’t give a fuck. I get it from all sides. This one guy came up to me at the Hot Hot Heat show and asked what I was doing there. What, I can’t go to a disco show?”
Capitalizing off their past experiences, LMD has plans to take this group in smarter direction for success. Scooter reflects on his days when Pinhead was on the Los Angeles based label, BYO, and how their lack of business savvy had negative consequences. “Every step of the way, we never really thought about anything professionally,” Scooter comments.
“We were just a bunch of kids, and it never changed,” Dave says.
The issue may be pinpointed to how BYO was used to supporting bands in their own backyard, and had no idea of what to do with a band from Colorado. “They didn’t understand that a band from Colorado cannot operate the way a band from L.A. can. I think it took them a while to figure that out.”
One issue was comparing how much other bands on BYO were getting for gigs, “They would say to us, ‘You guys have been playing for ten years. You should be able to get at least $1,000.’ There’s no way a band from Colorado can do that.”
Corby adds a bit of cynical humor, “Isn’t the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band from Colorado?”
Scooter rolls his eyes, “Well, okay,” as the others laugh, “Maybe THEY can get $1,000 bucks. But we can’t really ask our friends who are putting on a show for a guarantee. They would probably say, ‘Well, you’re not going to do the show then.’ Most of the time we get treated really well. If the show does well than we do well.”
Although Colorado bands my not have close access to the L.A. network, Scooter knows of numerous opportunities within our own home state to play gigs, and not just in Denver. “If you’re a band who is serious in Colorado, there are plenty of places to go – Grand Junction’s awesome, Greely’s awesome, or Ft. Collins. If you really wanted to, you could play quite a bit if you just put some work into it.”
Although LMD is starting from scratch in building a new fan base, they’re using their previous touring experience and connections to play out in surrounding states as well, from Nebraska and New Mexico, to the east coast and the west – or what Dave called, “The Pinhead Belt”, which included going to Phoenix, then over and up the west coast, then back home through Wyoming.
Recently the guys played at Jack Quinn’s, the Irish pub and restaurant in Colorado Springs, and was pleasantly surprised that the crowd took to their brash make of loud thrash rock and punk as much as they did the sweet alt country twangs of Lucero and Ft. Collins’ Drag the River. But what really shocked the group was when they placed 35th in The Best of the Underground 2003 poll run by John Moore at the Denver Post. “We had one song recorded on a comp and two songs on the Internet,” comments Scooter.
Chip adds, “Bands on there that have been around for years got like, 69th place,” asking fellow band members, “We had played what, five or six shows at that time?”
They all agreed that it helped to have promoters, writers, and others in the music “scene” that were on the judging panel who were also familiar with their band. But the results of that poll proved that LMD was quickly creating a buzz, and their new style and sound apart from their musical past was gaining momentum. As far as their fans go, having over 500 people at their first show at the BlueBird is not something a new band experiences very often, if ever.
“I don’t have any expectations of being rich or anything,” Scooter says, “I just want to keep the band touring and staying busy.” That may mean making financial sacrifices and leaving the safe confines of a steady paycheck. Scooter wants to do whatever it takes, even living in their tour van, “When it comes time to make a decision on paying the bills or touring, it shouldn’t be that way. You should do what you fucking love no matter what, you know?”
As I left Illegal Pete’s, the spot for our interview, the foursome were arguing about how to pull off an acoustic set of Love Me Destroyer madness, since they are supporting the Mike Parks’ dates in Colorado. Mike is the owner of Asian Man Records and recently released an acoustic, solo album on Hopeless Records. What they came up with is an all-acoustic set of Descendents covers called “Dudes on ‘Ludes”, that they’ll play on December 5 at Larimer Lounge and December 6 at Club 156 in Boulder. At the time we were going to print, their 32 Bleu slot was not yet confirmed. Before then, they’ll play with The Gamits and Doozer on November 28 at Larimer Lounge, a 21+ show at 10pm. Go to www.lovemedestroyer.com for more information on the band and their other gig dates.