Texasilainen Expander levittää autenttisen äärimetallin ilosanomaa. Neuropunk Boostergang on tuhannen bändin ja tyylisuunnan sulatusuuni, jonka analysointiin ei levyarvostelun mitta riitä. Audiovideo avasi kuuman linjan Yhdysvaltoihin ja tiedusteli yhtyeeltä: mikä galaksi, mikä valuutta.
On melkoinen temppu ujuttaa death metal, punk, grind, crossover thrash ja pari muutakin genreä samaan pakettiin ja vieläpä niin, että sekoitus toimii! Siihen kun ympätään monimutkainen sci-fi-juoni ja häiriintyneen rankka yleistunnelma, niin näillä eväillä mennään universumin laidoille ja ylikin. Koko komeus on leivottu sopivan puuromaisten soundien sisään. Virvelin jämäkkä läjähtely ja tomien kumina ottaa mittaa kitaroiden ja basson purskeisen äänivallin kanssa. Pliisua ei ole meno laulupuolellakaan, sillä kiihdyksissä olevan variksen raakkumiseltahan vokaalit pääasiassa kuulostavat. Muutamat robottiäänet tuovat toki kaivattua vaihtelua, mutta jotain hermostoa rauhoittavia suvantokohtia olisi jatkuvan paahtamisen sekaan toivonut. Onneksi sävellyspuolella on ulottuvuuksia ja koukkuja, joiden ansiosta levyn läpikuuntelu onnistuu (ainakin paljon rajumpaa metallia kuunnelleilla) helposti.
Koska moni raskaan rockin yksittäinen genre (hard rock, heavy metal, black metal, thrash) on mielestäni kaluttu loppuun jo aikapäiviä sitten ja raskaan rockin tähtitaivas himmenee muutenkin uhkaavasti, loistavat Expanderin kaltaiset, omaperäiset hybridibändit kirkkaina pisteinä rokkiavaruudessa.
Saimme intergalaktisen yhteyden kuntoon ja keskustelutuokio yhtyeen laulajan General Hamin kanssa saattoi alkaa:
Jari: Hello and greetings from Finland!How on earth you are going to answer short – in a couple of sentences, if someone asks, what are Expander`s musical influences? I am hearing a ton of bands in your music.
General Ham: Hails, General Ham, Expander’s Levogyre Mechalord receiving sonic field transmission. Firstly, we have to mention the great influence of fellow TEXAS bands like IRON AGE and POWER TRIP, which unfortunately at the time of answering this interview, both have had members pass on to the eternal plane. The underground metal scene around here may never be the same. Rest in Power Riley & Wade.
In the early days myself and Keymaster were really kind of just drunk street creatures pulling from the attitude of bands like KAT, NME, POISON IDEA and SLAUGHTER. When Swirly and Guzzler joined the band more noise-rock and punk influence came onboard, some references may be JESUS LIZARD and DESCENDANTS (only downstrokes are real!). You might even find some ZOMBI integrations on the newest record, as that band has been a long shared favorite of ours for almost 20 years now. The track “Cold Orbit II: Facing Worlds” would be influenced by a band like BOHREN & DER CLUB OF GORE.
We’ve all got a wide array of influences, so yes it is difficult to answer this in short.
We’ve all got a wide array of influences, so yes it is difficult to answer this in short. A huge vocal influence on me is Ben Ward’s performance on the RAVENS CREED album “Albion Thunder”. I just fucking love how huge and spiteful his tone is on that recording.
Jari: Do you all come from the same musical background? Or is there a punk rocker, heavy rocker, thrash maniac in a band? That could explain your music a bit more nowadays.
General Ham: I think perhaps myself and Keymaster are most plugged into the “extreme” or esoteric side of underground death, thrash and black metal. Guzzler is a real life cyberpunk living off the grid – I’m not sure he even listens to music – that’s why his riff style is so unique. Swirly listens to a lot of 90s noise rock and alt/grunge. No one person in the band really listens to a specific genre, we’re all freaks & nerds that like a lot of different music.
What is Neuropunk Boostergang?
Jari: What is Neuropunk Boostergang? Are you in that gang?
General Ham: I think the term “neuropunk” jokingly came about at a practice one day when we were laughing about how to describe the band’s “sound” since we get comparisons and descriptions from all across the spectrum. It sounded pretty cool and relevant to us so eventually we just decided to own it and put it into the context of an album. We are the Neuropunk Boostergang and if you steal from us there will be heavy repercussions, not only inside the war terminals versus your ManageHand avatars, but also in “real” life. We can reach any location via the timewaves.
Jari: Give me names of some not to famous bands, old or new, that you find interesting. I will listen to them.
General Ham: Maybe let’s focus on a few newer bands, because most people already know the classics but I think we all appreciate the band OKKULTOKRATI. They’re an (underrated) band that perfectly nods to the past while making a sound new and refreshing. Their album La Ilden Lyse is probably the best thing I’ve heard all year (2020). It’s earth shatteringly heavy but very classy and subtle, be sure to give it multiple listens under headphones.
I would say also listen to the band MEFITIS and their debut album “Emberdawn”. Some really compelling song-craft contained within, and it sounds truly ancient.
Jari: Are you old enough that you witnessed the 1980`s classic metal and thrash albums freshly, when they were published?
We’re not young kids but not quite old enough to have experienced the 80’s albums first hand.
General Ham: We’re not young kids but not quite old enough to have experienced the 80’s albums first hand. Well, I was born in 1985 so I could technically claim to be some ultra-cool child blasting Under a Funeral Moon or Bathory when I was 8 years old, but no haha, that was not the case. We’ve all had to grow into extreme music our own way through different recommendations and appreciate the Gods later in life. We’ve come to appreciate VOIVOD after getting several comparisons to them. Now, some of those records are on the Expander playlist regularly. Some of the classics we most enjoy in general though might be MERCYFUL FATE, MERCILESS, RIGOR MORTIS, RAZOR etc.
Jari: Dystopic feelings are easy to create, stupid corona-thing. Live shows, are there any at the moment?
General Ham: Nothing here at the moment. It’s really shitty. We all love going out to shows and it’s definitely crushing to morale. At least Keymaster and I would pay $100 to get into a hard hitting pit or stage-dive worthy show right now.
Jari: How do you see the future? Is live music, and album releases fading, or will bands come back stronger than ever, when the pandemic is losing it`s grip?
General Ham: I’m hopeful there will be an explosion of live shows again, after the pandemic is under control. Although it might be very hectic and competitive at first haha who knows. As far as I can tell, no one has really stopped buying and appreciating music, so that’s a good sign. Around Austin, TX almost all the current venues will have gone out of business by the time this is over, but I know Keymaster is looking forward to all the DIY opportunities that may arise from this. We’ll be looking to get a generator and take music back to the streets and yards. He’s explored some under-city network of tunnels that would also be a prime location for some real street cretin mega-marching activities.
We’ll be looking to get a generator and take music back to the streets and yards.
Jari: Have you been creative during the lockdown? Already working on a new record?
General Ham: We haven’t even been gathering in our practice space since the recording of NPBG. Some of us have other musical outlets but nothing really with plan for release, just personal exploration and outlet. We have been sharing a few riff ideas remotely, some of which may already be taking the shape of complete songs. There’s one in particular that’s sounding like a driving, futuristic force not dissimilar to the direction of the last track on NPBG.
Jari: How is to be a metal band in Austin Texas? Metal genre?
General Ham: The underground scene here is united between punk/hxc and metal bands, for the most part. Or at least it was at one point. This topic is hard to address with the passing of two important figures, that I mentioned earlier in this interview. POWER TRIP and IRON AGE more than any other bands in Texas, with their heavier-than-iron riffs and attitudes, best describe what it’s like to be a metal band in Texas. Legends that are larger than life. I just hope we can continue to represent Texas to the highest order and do right by those who came before us.
Jari: Butthole Surfers comes from Austin. Have you got any of their wacko-attitude in your doings?
General Ham: Haha yes, these types of bands we definitely share an attitude. I think we play music that sounds serious and aggressive but our personal attitude and band image is a bit tongue-in-cheek. We are individually not ultra-serious people and like to have fun. Check out the lore and images on the back cover of NPBG (vinyl version), for example.
And I think the world-building and lyrical aspect of the band is meant to be open-ended enough for the listener to decide how serious or not they want to perceive the albums. I saw a review where one person extracted very real and current political themes from the album, and others who had interacted with it more generally like a fantastical piece of science-fiction.
…one person extracted very real and current political themes from the album, and others who had interacted with it more generally like a fantastical piece of science-fiction.
Jari: Our genre has become a ”greybeard” thing. Do you see a new breed coming along, or is metal music slowly dying, when the bands are one by one retiring?
General Ham: That’s a very tough question. I personally tend to think that there will always be newcomers to fill the void, but it’s sometimes very hard to see them with the sheer, incalculable amount of new releases that are being pumped out day after day. My advice for anyone would be to branch out and enjoy other types of music, and ultimately the new, truly great metal music will bubble to the surface in the meantime. Then you can come back and enjoy them at your own pace, and unplug from this rapid consumer stream. Some legends and the magic of the “classic era” will surely never be replaced, but it’s up to all of us younger generations to create new magic that is looked back on in the same esteem. I believe that is happening, even if you want to argue that it is in smaller doses. Time and perception is relative and continually changing.
Jari: Do you know any bands from Finland? You made a Bathory cover, so I assume metal music from Sweden is familiar to you.
General Ham: Finland does have quite a few great bands. I have been listening to MOONSORROW all year. I’m a bit on a Viking/epic metal kick and this band is one of the best. It makes me want to hike glaciers again. I like the COSMIC CHURCH album “Ylistys”, it’s a black metal modern classic in my opinion, extremely cold, emotive riffs and passages. Also fukkin’ love the cyberpunk aspects of IMPALED NAZARENE. Amazing band.
Jari: Any ”last wishes” to Finnish readers?
Keep oiling those sparking joints and send your SiphonLark cell-fuels for rejunkulation to your nearest authority spire depots.
General Ham: Shout outs to all true Expandroids and lunkerheads, keep oiling those sparking joints and send your SiphonLark cell-fuels for rejunkulation to your nearest authority spire depots. The deepwastes are hurting but advancement on megacity walls will start when Cryptosteal (v1.3.0b) software brings all Obsoletors off-line. In the meantime, Expander will be linking up with the Moon Lord to restart the (2nd InfiniWarez version) of 2016 to bring the PARRALLELS back in balance with cold orbit stasis. Keep your crimelogs on your person for inspection through the endless computers and avoid the death canals. The never-beginning approaches. Jari, thank you for the netcomms and for spreading word about the Neuropunk Boostergang.
Jari: Thank you mr. General Ham!