Friday, November 22, 2013

Interview with Patrick Chumley from Axis

I first discovered Axis via the general gold mine known as Stuck in the Past, and have been following them like a hawk ever since. Combining the best elements of 90’s legends such as Harvest, Buried Alive, and Turmoil, Axis utilizes a damn-near perfect combination of heaviness and intelligence within their song-writing. In fact, I would go so far as to say they are my favorite current hardcore band.  

This past January I had the privilege of booking them and aside from being super nice guys, their live performance left my jaw (and the jaws of most people around me) on the floor. Their drummer in particular was an absolute monster. Watching him demolish his kit pretty much made me never want to pick up a drum stick again, haha.

Anyway, I’ve been chatting with their guitar player Patrick Chumley on and off ever since and decided it was time to pick his brain. Read this shit, and then proceed to get your hands on all their material. If you’re anything like me, they will re-define what the car-mosh on the drive in to work looks like.  

So I know most of you guys have been in a lot of different bands that have played a lot of different styles in the did you come together as the juggernaut (yes you should be thinking Crown of Thornz here) known as Axis?

I will attempt to give you a very brief history. Jesse and I were playing in Meantime when we had the idea to start Axis. Meantime was sort of losing steam and fizzling out and we wanted to do a faster "Turmoil style" band to stay busy. We wrote a demo with me playing guitar, Jesse on drums, Jesse's brother Shane on bass and our friend Josh (Bodies in the Gears of the Apparatus) from Tampa did vocals. We played for a few months around Florida with this line up. Shane quit to be a dad, Jesse moved to bass for a bit then quit too for school, then our good friend Mikey (Meantime/Years from Now) filled the spot.

Our current drummer, Tommy (who we knew from No Harm Done) was playing in Boxing Day at the time. We asked him if he wanted to be in a heavy band, so he joined and this was the "Rites of Passage" line up. We played too many Florida shows, did a few tours, recorded the Weight of the World split then Josh left the band shortly after.

When we got tired of being a four piece, our friend Dylan (Harbinger/Shovelhead) moved up from South Florida and he joined to play second guitar. Mike (Same Mistake/Years from Now) joined to do vocals; we played fewer Florida shows, and toured some more. He quit for personal reasons, and Mikey quit to focus on his job about the same time.

Jesse came back to play bass this time, our friend Rafael (Shovelhead/Prayer Chain) joined to do vocals, we recorded the SDF split, did a month long tour this past summer and we’re now solidified with our current line-up.

In the couple years you have been a band you've gone through I believe three vocalists now. What's been happening with the front man slot and how did you guys wind up with your current throat shredder?

Our first vocalist, Josh was with us for a while. We had a good run. Eventually he and the rest of us had different ideas of what we wanted to be as a band and were going in different directions. We parted ways and moved on.

Mike joined and he was a good fit for us. He was with us for about a year, did a couple tours. He was going through some personal stuff and left the band to handle those things. He is still a close friend to us and plays guitar in a faster Kid Dynamite style band with Tommy called "We're Not Dead".

Rafael joined after Mike left. He has an absolutely ridiculous voice and is an awesome dude. He came in, recorded with us and basically went beyond whatever expectations we could have had.

It's hard to replace a frontman especially when you've gained a little steam. People associate them as the face of your band; it's difficult to establish an identity when you've got turnover in that department. I feel like I'm in Shai Hulud sometimes. I really feel like this is our most solid line-up yet.

This year you've spent more than your fair share of time on the road with an East Coast/Midwest run in January and a bunch of dates out West and back this summer. What were some of the highlights; best places to play, favorite local/regional bands you hooked up with along the way?

This past winter was fun; it was our last tour with Mike. We hit a couple of Midwestern spots we hadn't played before. I am pretty positive everyone but Dylan got really sick and stayed sick. We played a house show on top of a frozen mountain in Roanoke with Losin' It and the brakes in the van went out (that was fun). Royal Oak and Long Island were probably the best shows. Jukai is sweet.

This past summer was awesome. It was the longest tour we have done as a band so far. We didn't get to go as far west as we originally had planned but we were still out for a month. The first half was with Will to Die from Tennessee, definitely check them out (you are moshing). Sammy is a terrific dancer. Our van broke down the first day and we had to ride 9 deep in an SUV from Tallahassee to Pensacola. We got shot at in Wilmington, did a shitload of cliff diving, got a lot of free food, got yelled at by a street performer with a colostomy bag, got the van saran wrapped and pretty much had a rave in Indianapolis. We played a barn with Antpile and that was awesome. Foreign Tongues and Raindance in Nashville was awesome. Discourse was cool. Kansas City, Fort Worth and Savannah were all awesome shows.

You guys just released a split 7" entitled "Least Violent Time in World History" with Self Defense Family. While SDF is known for being eclectic/generally not giving a shit about what anyone thinks, I was particularly surprised (and stoked) to hear you guys would be sharing the wax with them. How did your partnership with SDF/Harm Reduction come about?

A couple of us are really into them and we thought it would be cool to do something different with this release. Our drummer, Tommy reached out to Patrick on sort of a whim and they were down. Patrick and Jami (Code Orange Kids) were starting Harm Reduction and they thought this would be a good fit for it. It'll help to get our music in front of people that are unfamiliar or normally wouldn't have listened to it. That in itself is awesome, SDF is awesome and the art is crazy. I'm very happy with how everything turned out.

So you guys have a demo, a 7", two split 7"'s and a song on the AHC comp. Am I safe to assume the next release will be an LP or are you guys sticking to releasing new material in smaller chunks?

We aren't doing another small release for a while, that's kind of how things just ended up happening the past couple of years and we are looking to change that.

We've taken the past couple of months off to write songs for a LP, I'd say we are about halfway done and we are all very excited about it. The songs are coming out awesome and I feel like they're the best stuff we have written as a band yet.

Super excited to hear you guys are working on an LP. Now that you're halfway in, would you say that there are any new influences that are creeping their way into the material, either musically or lyrically? Is there anything different that you want to accomplish with this release that perhaps you haven't with your output thus far?

As for lyrically, I cannot speak for Rafael. I've seen the stuff he's been working on and I've total faith in his ability to write songs that are accessible and honest.

Musically, we've gotten comfortable writing with two guitar players now, being more eclectic, trying different ideas and I feel like we are better at songwriting in general. It's almost like we are becoming a way better version of ourselves.

Our older material was sort of our best attempts at emulating 90s hardcore; we have progressed away from doing just that. While our main influences remain the same (Turmoil, Drowingman, Kiss it Goodbye) and I'd say we definitely still sound "90s", our newer material has a wider range of influences than before. We are taking nods from heavy experimental stuff like Knut, Breach and some Hydra Head bands. And slightly more unconventional influences for a metal core band nowadays; noise rock bands like The Jesus Lizard and Shellac. Swarm of the Lotus is a huge influence peeking its head out in the new stuff. Dylan and I are kind of obsessed with them. I remember seeing that band play in Orlando like 8 years ago and thinking to myself if I ever had a band half as heavy as this I'd be in heaven.

With the new record, I want it to be (even if this sounds a bit quixotic) as complete and perfect (to us) as it can be. If we can come as close to that, I'll be a happy camper. We are trying to be a more serious band than we were in the past (be more productive, more critical, tour extensively) and hopefully this record will be a good catalyst for us to get to that point.

Your first label experience was a little sour working with Nothing in Mail (LOL), then On Point did the next two releases, you hooked up with Triple B on the comp and then Harm Reduction just released the new split. Is HR likely to be "home" now for the foreseeable future or do you anticipate hopping around a bit more?

They've shown interest in working with us on whatever we decide to do next. I think we are going to explore our options with the upcoming LP and see what kind of response we get but it is great to have them behind us with whatever we decide to do. It's been awesome working with HR and I could totally see working with them again.

It seems like probably more than any other region, the South has seen a resurgence of 90's influenced bands over the last few years. I'm thinking of you guys of course but also Aversion with you down in Florida, Discourse up in South Carolina, Deathbed and Foundation in Atlanta, etc. I'm kinda hoping you guys become the new "wave" so to speak, haha. To what extent do you feel a certain affinity with those bands, or is it just sort of random that you guys have all been popping up around the same time?

I'd say it's a little of both. Some bands have just been pleasant surprises and others we have kind of developed alongside as a band. Foundation is definitely the oldest of those bands you mentioned, they played a lot of shows with Meantime and I'm sure they had something to do with us deciding to do a band like Axis when we did. They've always, consistently killed it and drawn from awesome influences.

Deathbed is another great southern band in that vein. It feels like they just popped into my radar one day a few years ago, then our encounters were a bit prolific. Really great dudes, I am glad they are doing stuff again. I think we are doing some shows with them in February. Look out for that.

As for other ones from the south doing similar stuff, there is Aversion as you mentioned. That band is a great band, as is their other band Homestretch. Some of our absolute favorites to play with, Peter Allen is a Heat fan though.

Blistered from Tampa is another band doing the 90's thing. Pretty heavy stuff. Check them out, they're gonna blow up. We are doing a week or so with them and Weight of the World at the end of the year.

And I feel like Antpile from Georgia deserves mention also. While not exactly metal core, they are definitely 90's influenced. Check them out if you are into screamo stuff like Joshua fit for Battle and Neil Perry. Ben/Connie is an enigma.

What would you say are the best and worst thing about hardcore right now?

The internet.

On one side, you've got an entire wealth of information concerning the history of hardcore at your fingertips. And it seems like almost every current band has a presence online for you to check out. It is an invaluable tool especially if you are new to hardcore.

When I was first getting into hardcore, I remember scouring HxCmp3 for new bands and watching videos on MIS-one. I went on the Daytona and CFLhardcore message boards for shows and met many friends through them. I had a shitty live journal where I'd chronicle the shows I attended. It was awesome. I've got fond memories of my interactions with the internet and hardcore back then, I'd equate the feeling to seeing your first titty in a scrambled porno on channel 99. It was a really important part of getting me into hardcore and it exposed me to a lot of aspects that would otherwise been less accessible at the time. I mean friends only a couple of years my elder had to utilize liner notes and mail order distros to discover bands, I had it easy. I am certain without it Axis wouldn't be where we are today, however humble of a place it may be.

There's also a dark side, it can be a never ending barrage of internet tough guys, drama, apathy, copycat bands and "hivemind" mentalities. There’s just a lot of bullshit. But I will make one point. A thing that bothers me is, I feel like the internet can sometimes discourage people from being pro-active in their local scenes. What you see online doesn't necessarily reflect how you should act or be a standard you should hold your scene to. Is your scene in "Small town, Florida" going to hold a candle to Boston's? Probably not. That doesn't necessarily mean it sucks ass and you shouldn't make the effort to contribute to it. Start bands, write zines or blogs, go to and book shows, be productive. Be the change you want to see, it can be really special. I'm not even trying to sound cheesy. If people hadn't have done these things in Daytona when I was growing up, I wouldn't be doing this interview. Use the internet as a tool to accomplish those things, not a deterrent or a platform to complain about what you've got when you see videos of some hype band playing Sound and Fury.

For you both as an individual and as a musician, what's been the most satisfying thing about doing Axis so far?

I'd say challenging myself to write a "better" and more creative song each time we write one. A few years ago, I really had no idea I'd end up being this excited to make music. It's a huge bonus that I get to do it with my best friends and travel the country playing it.

Bedroom Mosh, Car Mosh, Real Mosh When They Come to Your Town:
Video Evidence Suggesting Your Band Should Break Up:

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