Interview: Indian Handcrafts (The story of a band’s first album)

This 2-piece from Ontario, Canada rose to prominence in 2012 when they released their debut album ‘Civil Disobedience for Losers’. With a style that leans towards stoner rock, the band also incorporate psychedelic flourishes to cosmic effect. Their recent support slots for Red Fang and Billy Talent have brought their music to a wider audience and 2015 is set to be an even bigger year for the duo as rumors of a follow up have been circulating. Drummer and vocalist for the band Brandyn James Aikins talked to me about the origins of the band, the response to the debut album and what the near future holds for the Canadian rockers.

The bands formation came about in an unorthodox fashion. The duo met whilst apart of another band but decided that their styles would suit better as a two piece. Aikins says “Not really you know, circumstances in the original band were not great. Some members were not happy with each other so during that time we decided to just play songs on our own for fun. Then the original band disbanded and we just kept going on”. This has led to their first outing as a two piece on the musically diverse debut album Civil Disobediance for losers. Aikins states that public reaction has been really good for the release. “It’s been pretty good, it’s been out since November 2012 so it has had time to simmer with people and it seems to be pretty positive all around which is all we can ask for really”.

On the topic of influences, Aikins states that the band are confined by one particular tag. “We listen to all kinds of music from heavy stuff to funk music and all kinds of stuff in between. Personally I am more into older music like old soul and you can see that in our music with the beats and stuff. We were actually talking about this the other night when we formed there were a specific couple of 2-piece bands that we thought were great and it made us think we could try something like that too. There’s No Age from L.A, Lightening Bolt and even the White Stripes”. Adding to this also expressed these sentiments by stating ‘the pair use a minimal toolset to build something suitably impressive, creating an album that’s as likely to expand your mind as it blows our your eardrums’ but Aikins suggests there were no preconceived ideas going into recording for the album. “It’s hard to say really. When we made the album our only goal was to make the album. But yeah in the studio you try to add a few more layers than you do live without adding too much. There is a few guitar overdubs in there. Dan really likes to experiment with guitar atmospheric sounds and we even do that live a lot too with loop pedals and pitchshifter kind of effects which really adds another dimension to it”.

They also worked with rock royalty in the form of Melvins drummer Dale Crover. Aikins recalls “Yeah it was awesome. They came in after we did our part and did some overdubs on a couple of songs. When we were down there recording we got to meet the Melvins guys for the first time, went over to Dale’s house for dinner and it was pretty awesome. They were guys we idolized growing up and to meet them you realize they are just regular guys like us. Really nice guys”.

Highlight of the album is the cosmic exploration ‘Starcraft’ which sees the band reach new sonic heights. Aikins says of his favourite from the album “Yeah ‘Starcraft’ is a good example of one we put all our style and influence into, it’s kind of a good mix of everything we do. It’s hard to say man, it’s a tough one. Lyrically I like the lyrics to Red Action. Musically I would say Bruce Lee was the most production we did on the album, there’s a lot of layers on that one”. But in a genre rife with rip off acts and poor imitations, it can prove tough to find new territory which hasn’t been occupied before. Aikins says “Yeah you know we are finding that now because we are starting to write a new album and trying to explore things that haven’t been explored in this day and age is challenging especially with just the two of us. There are certain limitations but it’s kind of fun to find new things within those limitations but yeah it is definitely challenging but we like a challenge”, further showcasing their unwillingness to conform to the conventional methods of song writing. Aside from their cosmic soundscapes though, Indian Handcrafts are a rock band at the heart of their music. They started the band for the fun of it as Aikins says “Yeah I know what you mean, that’s one thing about us we just started this band for fun and luckily for us it kind of just took off. We never tried to project any image and we can just stick with what we do and have fun”.

With the release of their latest LP Creeps, the group look primed for big things in the future.

10 Nu-Metal Albums That Were Actually Good

Out with the old, in with the Nu…

Despite being one of the more successful sub-genres in Heavy Metal, Nu-Metal has had its fair share of critics and detractors since it rose to prominence in the late 90’s. While a lot of the criticism is justified there remains musical relics of the genre that would suggest that it is a worthwhile type of music. Here are 10 Nu-Metal albums that were actually good but were stigmatized with the more superficial aspects of the genre.

  1. Bionic Jive – Armageddon Through Your Speakers

Despite having possibly the worst band name in the history of mankind, there is something to be said for this 5 piece from Phoenix, Arizona because there lurks a little known gem of an album in their arsenal. Released in 2000, this corker went largely unnoticed amidst the Nu-metal-mania wave that hit in the early part of the century. Despite (inevitably) playing on some of the tried and tested clichés of the time it remains a hard and heavy hybrid of rap/rock for its full duration without much let up. Songs like ‘Ricochet’ and ‘I Shot Lucifer’ showcase the venomous interplay of both vocalists whilst also delivering intense grooves and industrial laden sounds. There isn’t much originality here but with an album that comes close to living up to its title, I’ll settle for it.

  1. Mudvayne – L.D. 50

Before changing their image and sound in the mid-2000’s to a more rock friendly and ultimately less adventurous one, Mudvayne showed great promise in 2000 with their debut release L.D. 50. Straight from the off the bands image (mental face paint) and sound went against the cookie-cutter state of the genre whilst at the same time displaying some of the genres greatest traits. This friction is what keeps the album barrelling forth from one explosion to another. ‘Dig’ burrows away with intense instrumental precision as frontman Chad Gray screams and trips over his own words with frantic excitement. From a technical standpoint this entry may be the best album on the list despite its exhausting duration. The sheer force that songs like ‘Death Blooms’ and ‘-1’ exude and the dark lyrical themes (particularly ‘Nothing to Gein’) throughout makes this an album that feels like it has a real sense of purpose in a genre that has produced its fair share of the opposite.

  1. American Head Charge – The Feeding

American Head Charge are a genuinely troubled band and it shows on The Feeding. Off the back of problems with chemical dependence they released this firecracker in 2005 with only one goal – exercising their demons through impenetrable walls of guitar and vicious vocal delivery. The band hit their song writing peak on this one as they exhibit a certain amount of restraint, not dissimilar to the quiet/loud dynamics of grunge. The band are just as qualified to write songs that race for the finish line like ‘Pledge Allegiance’ as they are with slow thumpers like ‘Take What I’ve Taken’, the latter of which being a standout. Their influences are broader than that of the genre as they venture into Industrial and Alternative territory, more often than not to fine results. A great overlooked metal album of the 00’s for sure.

  1. Soulfly – Primitive

Max Cavalera has always been a musician that wears his nationality on his sleeve and Primitive is case and point for that. Take the first song for example ‘Back To The Primitive’, an anti-establishment anthem propelled forward through a driving low end riff, Cavalera’s expletive filled growls and pounding Brazilian tribal drumming courtesy of an additional musicians line-up as long as your arm. This is indeed the most passionate the frontman sounded since his split with Sepultura. The song only sets the tone for the insane cries that permeate ‘Pain’ thanks to guest vocalist Chino Morino as the two frontmen partake in a screaming match for the violent sounding chorus. Things only get more volatile from then on in what has to be one of the heaviest albums to be considered Nu-Metal. The multiple layers buried beneath and seamless genre fusing are what makes this a highlight for the genre. And hey, Sean Lennon even makes an appearance!

  1. Limp Bizkit – Significant Other

One of the most original sounds to come from 1999 was from Florida based rap metal act Limp Bizkit. This effort attempted to further fuse their love of hip hop with hard metal riffs best typified in the angry declaration of ‘Nookie’ and the destructive ‘Break Stuff’. The production is a lot sleeker than the band’s debut album without compromising the more aggressive style they are known for. This doesn’t stop the band from exploring as they do so in songs like the reflective ‘Rearranged’ and the laid back hip hop stylings of ‘N 2 Gether Now’. It is when the band aim to provoke a reaction that they are at their most effective such as the slanderous ramblings of ‘Broke’ and particularly on the haunting confessional ‘Nobody Like You’ which features two great guest singer performances in Jonathan Davis and Scott Weiland. This is the album that launched their career and it is easy to see why.

  1. System Of A Down – Toxicity

Easily the most maniacal and frenzied album ever in the genre, this 2001 release has still not been matched for intensity.  What I can only imagine as being the music equivalent to feeling sick on a rollercoaster the album is never comfortable shifting gears fleetingly at will whilst somehow holding itself together by a thin thread. There isn’t one song that overstays its welcome either as the band just seem eager to steamroll towards the next song. On ‘Deer Dance’ lead singer Serj Tankian leads his choir in exercises in deathly cries and thunderous guitar riffs, rubberstamped by a pounding drum beat and on ‘X’ the song almost turns into a stutter fest vocally and instrumentally by the end. It also features one of the most well-known songs of the genre and certainly the most schizophrenic, ‘Chop Suey’. Definitely an album that transcended its genre.

  1. Deftones – Around The Fur

One of the most successful bands who moved away from their initial beginnings in Nu-Metal are Deftones. They would go on to develop a more atmospheric and considered soundscape but in 1997 the band had just started this experimental journey which helped to give Around The Fur a more textured canvas for their razor sharp riffs, throat tearing vocals and heavy drumming. Opener ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’ showcases their more straightforward metal side but the album opens up as it powers on. The first true spark of ingenuity is the attitude filled, spluttering strut of the title track which sounds completely different from anything from the band before then. Highlight of the album ‘Be Quiet and Drive’ also shone a new light on the band, one which was more personal and intimate (an early indicator of the direction they intended to go in) and veered away more from the more Nu-Metal traits. Their follow up White Pony would take their experiments further but at this point in their career they were making some transitions and judging by the outcome they certainly paid off.

  1. Hed P.E. – Broke

One of the most genre defying albums to come out of the scene, 2000’s Broke took this rock outfit from Huntington Beach, California from performing in small clubs to playing at Rock AM Ring. The album excels because of its heavy groove based foundations which act as the perfect backdrop for frontman Jared Gomes to spew his vitriolic teachings (usually overly sexualised and inappropriate) throughout the course of this dystopic party. Songs like ‘Killing Time’ and ‘Waiting To Die’ demonstrate the bands ear for a catchy guitar riff and songs like ‘Feel Good’ and the faultless ‘Bartender’ display the group’s ability to stitch Hip-Hop and Metal together with relative ease. The standout track on this gem filled LP is the nightmarish ‘I Got You’ which features one of the most sinisterly anthemic choruses to emerge from the scene. This is not just one of the most underrated Nu-Metal albums but one of the most underrated metal albums since the turn of the century.

  1. Korn – Korn

The album that started the genre is quite a reputation to live up to but Korn’s landmark 1994 self-titled debut hasn’t dated at all. In fact it sounds refresher when compared to the many bands afterwards that attempted to boil Korn’s sound down to a particular formula. Listen to this album and it is quickly clear this is the exact opposite of what this outfit did with this release. Songs such as the opener ‘Blind’ and the flat out creepy ‘Clown’ exhibit a band that find their release in the darkest of places and they certainly aren’t afraid to go to those places either. One of the most disturbing metal songs of all time ‘Daddy’ leads the album out in all the gloom that the album was building to. There isn’t a dud and the standard is kept up to an incredible high throughout. Unlike a lot of bands in the genre, Korn let the instruments bounce off each other stopping any reliance on one aspect of the band. Fortunately the line-up more than had the chops and then some to create something new and fresh. They have created a landmark album in music history for their efforts. Unmissable.

  1. Slipknot – Iowa

Without a doubt one of the harshest sounding albums of the current century, Iowa took the bands nihilistic sound to greater extremes whilst displaying a better-rounded song writing method. The album often threatens to cave in under its own weight but is resuscitated by lead singer Corey Taylor’s screams of anguish. ‘Disasterpiece’ almost grinds to a halt towards the end of its 5 minute exercise in brutality. The nine piece create an intoxicating rush on the relatively melodic ‘My Plague’ and on ‘Everything Ends’ all things apocalyptic are celebrated in this pessimistic rant aimed at just about anyone that will listen. Slipknot have never dug subtlety and this couldn’t be more evident than on one of the highlights ‘Gently’ in which the band conjure up their inner demons in a heavy metal onslaught with clattering drums,  crazed vocals, jagged guitar lines and industrial SFX. The standout of this collection is the no nonsense ‘Left Behind’ which careens towards the edge of insanity vocally but is held together by the consistent momentum of the instruments before climaxing in despair. This is what Slipknot do best and on Iowa they hit their peak. If hell had a soundtrack this would surely be it but with Iowa hell never sounded so much fun.

Classic Albums Revisited: Sepultura – Roots

The 1990’s saw the emergence of grunge as the public became desensitized somewhat to the glitz and glamour of metal music throughout the 80’s. Metal veterans were also running out of steam through this trying time for the genre, leaving way for a more modernized interpretation in the form of nu-metal. One band saw this as an opportunity to reinvent the wheel by not only fusing groove metal with their usual thrash style but also by incorporating their native land’s tribal drumming to dazzling effect. The result was the landmark 96′ metal album Roots.

It is apparent right from the first sonic blast of ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ that this is a different Sepultura from the previous excursions of Arise and Chaos A.D. While brilliant albums in their own right, Roots showcases how powerful a force the Brazilian titans can be when they slow down their frantic pace and give their riffs time to envelop the listener. This change of pace also lets each instrument breath, helping to give the album a fatter and fuller sound. Songs like ‘Attitude’ and ‘Cut-Throat’ demonstrate that the band can change gears if they need to, something which they perfected on ‘Refuse/Resist’ from Chaos A.D. ‘Dictatorshit’ is pure unadulterated thrash punk, making the use of producer Ross Robinson’s raw approach to the recording.

The album is at its strongest though when it lets the drums dictate the course of the songs, providing a propulsive backdrop to the clatter of guitars courtesy of Igor Cavalera. The change of emphasis also suits the spiritual nature of the album, giving a more considered approach which fits the mantra-like concept of the record. This is best showcased on the chant frenzy ‘Ratamahatta’ which sees everything come together as the drums propel the vocal shrieks into unknown territory, the exclamation mark being the vicious low-end riff supplied by talisman and singer/guitarist Max Cavalera. This is a song with no apparent limits as it constantly barrels forth to near dizzying heights before imploding in on itself. This is metal music at its most dynamic.

On Roots the atmospheric vibes act as a fifth member in the band. World influences were not a common fixture in the genre before Sepultura made it a defining part of their sound, something which again Robinson should be applauded for vigorously encouraging. His uncompromising style helped to perfectly mesh together the meditative sounds of the Xavante tribesmen with the light guitar interplay of the band on the beautiful ‘Itsari’, further helping to flesh the album out. This attention to detail is something that was not as prominent on previous releases and just helps to give the album more texture whilst displaying a deft touch not commonly seen in such an extreme form of music. It’s an aural assault but it’s one that has direction and intent. This is also true for the songwriting itself with each song being perfectly structured so much so that even people who don’t commonly associate themselves with the genre would be hard pressed not to move their head to an absolute earth splitter like ‘Straighthate’.

Admittedly all of this would be irrelevant were it not for the tireless fret work of Max Cavalera and Andreas Kisser. While thrash heads are sure to scoff at the change of pace, it’s hard to deny the stone hard impact of slow movers like ‘Lookaway’ which features Jonathan Davis of Korn and Mike Patton of Faith No More who each deliver a throat ripping performance a midst a swathe of menacing scratches (courtesy of DJ Lethal) and hellish guitar figures. Not to out perform the Brazilian frontman though as he turns in his best vocal performance of his career at least up until that point.

Cavalera delivers his best performances when he is singing with passion about a topic he holds dear to his heart. One of the highlights ‘Endangered Species’ finds him contemplating the end of humanity with apocalyptic cries for answers. “Are we going to see another day? Are we going to make it all the way? Are we going to see the light of day? Are we going to make it till the end?” he pleads on the heavy hitter while on ‘Ambush’ he makes the defiant statement that he will go down fighting for his country reaffirming the influence his homeland has on not just the music on Roots but the lyrics too. This common thread helps to tie the whole thing together into one cohesive piece, providing the perfect arsenal for Cavalera to rail against the establishment on the majority of the 16 track strong album.

Missteps are few and far between with my only criticism being that one or two songs meander slightly at times. This is but a small blemish on an otherwise stellar album. Despite its short time in existence, Roots went on to influence many metal bands including the nu-metal genre (don’t hold that against it) and is a staple album of the 90’s. While some older fans may be sceptical of the experimental direction the group went in with it, i would urge any doubters to give this classic another spin as I think this is the best work the group ever produced in their short but fruitful history. It tears up the rule book and throws it out the window while also delivering catchy hooks combined with mean riffs. Cavalera puts it best on ‘Born Stubborn’ when he defiantly states “these roots will always remain”. I couldn’t have put it better myself Max.

Retrospective: DJ Lethal Interview

As hip-hop has infiltrated the mainstream airwaves in recent times it has been incorporated into various music genres. Since Aerosmith and Run DMC’s terrific single ‘Walk This Way’ which saw the merging of rock and rap, rockers and rappers alike have sought for ways to create that same intoxicating effect in their music over the years. One man who hasn’t settled for one or the other has seen this first hand. DJ Lethal has been a significant figure in the music world from his time with 90’s hip-hop outfit House of Pain to his hugely successful time with Limp Bizkit. He talked to me about his time with House of Pain, his current relationship with Limp Bizkit and what the rest of 2014 holds for him.

DJ Lethal

There has been a lot of speculation about a debut album from you, can you fill us in on any details?

‘I mean I’m like Dr. Dre, im trying to beat Dr. Dre’s Detox album. When he drops his I’ll drop mine (laughs).  No I got a couple of things coming out, right now I’m just regrouping life. But yeah definitely going to put out some new stuff this year’.

You’ve managed to defy genres since day one working with rock, hip-hop, metal acts to name but a few. What is the secret to being so musically flexible?

‘You just gotta be flexible. You know I take it as a challenge and being able to cross genres is a challenge. I love challenges so naturally I’m going to take that challenge on and smash it’.

What is your relationship like with Limp Bizkit currently?

‘Everything’s cool man, we talk and stuff. 17 years of the same thing, I’m just ready to move on man it’s that simple’.

Do you have any future plans with the band?

‘Not at the moment. Not unless they come up with some good music’.

I’m interested in your time with House of Pain. How did it compare creatively to Limp Bizkit or any of your other projects?

‘I was really young you know and everything was brand new. It was easier I would say working with the guys from House of Pain because we were all best friends. Then coming into Limp Bizkit at first was kind of awkward you know. Dealing with five guys compared to two guys that I’d known forever is different but yeah I had a great time with both’.

What album or song that you have been apart of would you say you are most proud of?

‘Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again, House of Pains third album. I love that album. When I made that album I was thinking about impressing producers, I didn’t care about impressing the world. I just wanted DJ Premier to hear it and think ‘Lethal has some beats’ you know (laughs). I just wanted to make a great record’.


As a big fan of Sepultura I’m interested in your appearance on the ‘Roots’ album. How was it? 

‘Effing amazing, it was crazy. It was for a song called ‘Lookaway’. Jonathan Davis and Mike Patton are on the track, I worked with the Sepultura guys on a couple of tracks. I love Max Cavalera and Soulfly, I mean that’s family right there’.

 What are your views on guitar music at the minute?

‘I love it! My DJ’ing was sparked by Tom Morello, that’s why my stuff with Limp Bizkit was more guitar orientated. My father was a guitar player and that’s why I try to be innovative and run my stuff through a Marshall cabinet on stage and using wah wah and stuff like that. Like the way Tom Morello wants to DJ and scratch I was trying to be different and be like a second guitarist in the band’.

Where does your heart lie. House of Pain, Limp Bizkit or other?

‘You cant compare, I love both you know but I’m glad to be apart of both. It’s amazing to be apart of one band that’s successful but to be in two bands and also La Coka Nostra a third, it just shows you I’m not a f***ing fluke or a duck head (Laughs)’.

(Laughs) Brilliant. What does the rest of 2014 hold for DJ Lethal?

‘A lot of touring, a couple of new projects and some more Guinness (Laughs)’.

(Laughs) Not going to complain there! Thanks for taking the time out to talk DJ Lethal, all the best.

‘Thanks William, Lethal out!’

For the full unedited version stay tuned for the ‘Eclectic Electric’ radio show coming soon!

Retrospective: Henry Cluney (Ex-Stiff Little Fingers) Interview

The punk movement in the late 70’s infected many area’s of the UK after the Sex Pistols showed an unsuspecting public that you can write good songs without being good musicians. While not commonly known for its musical prowess, Northern Ireland was one of these areas. But while poppier Ulster bands like the Undertones were singing about teenage love (and ascending to the top of the UK charts in the process) another band from Belfast were tackling the more uncomfortable issues at the time, primarily the political problems in the country. Their debut album ‘Inflammable Material’ is considered as one of the classic punk records and one which does not shy away from the troubles. Guitarist and backing vocalist for the punk band Henry Cluney talked to me about what made the early incarnation of the band so special, his thoughts on the Undertones and his new music project.

Did you enjoy your time with the band?

‘Well I mean we started we had no specific aims or to go anywhere with it, actually we were a covers version band when we started. Then we started to do our own stuff but yeah I had a great time. We split up in 82 and that first section was by far the best. It was the best line up and things but yeah I loved it’.

Did the politics at the time have an impact on the music and why?

‘I mean the one thing that we always said was that we weren’t party political we were street political. We weren’t based on one side or the other. That was our problem with the Undertones because they would put out a song about the hunger strike but we wouldn’t do anything like that, that just wasn’t the way we were’. But yes it did play a huge part.

Do you think politically charged music is still as prominent today as it was in the late 70’s?

‘I don’t think it is but then I am not much of an expert of what’s around now. There are people doing it but it doesn’t seem to be getting the headlines that it used to get. I don’t want to say this but maybe it’s because it doesn’t sell anymore and people are so concerned in making things sound right to get on the radio. It’s definitely a priority thing’.


Why do you think bands like the Undertones tended to shy away from the troubles at the time?

‘To be honest and fair it just wasn’t their thing. We got accused of sensationalism and that’s fair enough, people have their own opinions. Not everyone wants to address that. I mean I love the Undertones music don’t get me wrong. I think its just a matter of what moves you when you write a song’.

Would you say politics and punk go hand in hand?

‘You know I always thought they did especially here in Northern Ireland. One thing from the Good Vibrations movie that really stood out to me was a scene near the end where Terri Hooley said “New York has the haircuts, London has the jeans but Belfast has the reason” and I think that was really the case. We had the same frustrations as people in London or England or parts or America but we also had the added nonsense of the troubles.  I think for us its a hard thing to ignore so yes I think writing about that sort of thing is a punk ideal’.

So were there any other Northern Ireland punk bands that you admired?

‘Oh I used to like Rudi, the Outcasts, Ruefrex because I was a Harp Bar regular at the time so I would always get to see them and its funny so many of them are out playing again. It’s good to see but it is funny sitting down with these old lads and thinking why are these old lads talking to me and then you realise they are the same age as you’ (laughs).

(Laughs) So which recording are you most proud of Henry?

‘You know ‘Inflammable Material’ I think because it best represented what we were. We did Suspect Device here and recorded with Downtown radio. To be honest that song and the ‘Inflammable Material’ album represented the whole ideal of what we were’.


 So are you still recording today and if so are their any political elements to it?

‘Funny enough I’m out touring with the drummer of Stiff Little Fingers Jim Reilly, something we call X-SLF. We are on tour at the minute and we are just about to go in and record. It’s the same idea yes but it’s not about the troubles. I would call it still very much along the same lines though’.

Last question Henry, where can we see you at next?

‘Well I have a website if anyone wants to have a look, its or As I say I am home now and we are playing the UK and Europe probably up until December so lots of places and I will be there’.


Thank you Henry for taking the time to talk.

‘Not a problem William, anytime’.

For the full unedited version tune into the ‘Eclectic Electric’ radio show Coming soon!

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Under the Radar  Indian Handcrafts Interview   Eclectic Electric

I’ve been blogging for over a year now and I think i’m getting the hang of it. I write about movies, but what about music?  Where do I go to learn about the cool shit you younglings are listening to?  How do you avoid the elderly who only love Iron Maiden? Lucky for me, my wee brother Will knows his shit.  Yes that’s right – the Boyd Blogging Dynasty™ is spreading its black leathery wings and infiltrating every part of the net.

In other words, my little bro has joined wordpress with cool music blog called Eclectic Electric.  His first post is an excellent interview with uber-cool Ontario, Canada band Indian Handcrafts.  Will is the go to guy for pretentious hipster indie-rock, 1970s German bands, and anything involving Captain Beefheart.  So basically anything you could ever need.

I want all of my readers to follow his blog…

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