Metal Noam: Heavy Music + Heavy Politics = Killer EP

Just as there are many roads that lead to metal (adolescent anger, an ear for complex music, etc.), there are multiple avenues by which a curious mind might encounter Noam Chomsky, one of our era’s great-thinking heavy hitters.  Students of linguistic theory will certainly encounter his work, which in the middle of the last century incited something of a revolution in our understanding of the human ability to generate and utilize language.  Anyone delving into American political thought will sift through Chomsky’s writings and lectures in which he expounds upon ideas he calls “libertarian” and “fairly traditional anarchist.”
In the spirit of Chomsky’s ideologies and with his blessing, Witch Mountain drummer Nate Carson has participated in the creation of AVRAM, a Chomsky-themed metal project that wraps various heavy approaches (black/thrash aggression, trad/hair balladry, and doomy trudging) around audio clips of the controversial linguist making poignant, striking comments about American society and its expectations.  At just over 13 minutes long, the EP is cutting and thought-provoking and, above all, fun as shit.  Songwriting, performances, recording…  All of it rounds out a perfect, succinct statement.

Decibel asked Carson a few questions about the project, so you can peruse his responses while getting a first listen here.  And make sure to catch more AVRAM updates at  Fists up!

How did the original idea pop up?  What’s your connection to Chomsky’s philosophies and these clips in particular?

Our guitarist Amanda Machina has had this idea for years. She went so far as to contact Noam and his publicist and got their blessing. Then she slowly started looking for musical nerds that would help fulfill her diabolical scheme.  I had studied Linguistics in college, so I knew about Chomsky’s heritage in that field. And I had the split 7″ he did with Bad Religion which covered his strong political views. Amanda, bassist Darryl Moton, and myself have all been fans of his work for a long time.

Who helped develop the idea and the recording?

It was Amanda on all guitars, Darryl on swinging bass, and myself on the drums. We kept it just the three of us until it was time to get some help with the recording.

Where/how/when were the songs recorded?  Were they ideas written specifically for the spoken clips, or did they already exist?

We had been compiling our favorite speeches for a while, but the music itself was written separately. Then the clips were adjusted to fit the music. We made sure that none of our edits ever changed the context of his message. He’s always saying these really dire, apocalyptic things and that really suits heavy metal themes well.

My brother Merlin Carson came over to help us track in Amanda’s studio. The remarkable thing is that we were basically still composing the songs as we recorded them. Merlin literally set up some mikes and we started recording. No muss or fuss. It’s crazy this stuff sounds so good–though we all have pro gear, Merlin brought a great selection of microphones, and of course Billy Anderson did the mix. That was the real coup de grace for this project. Justin Weis mastered, so the back end has a really nice polish.

Whose cover art is that?

Our good friend Sam Ford drew the cover. He’s in the band Wizard Rifle, and is well known for his album covers for Black Cobra, Witch Mountain, Monarch, and others. Really brilliant artist.

Was this a one-time kind of thing, or do you feel like there’s something to follow up?

This is meant to be a one-time project, however I think Amanda and Darryl and I would love to collaborate again on something else. We have a great chemistry.

Anything else I should be asking?

I guess the only other thing that’s key is that this is a non-profit project, in keeping with the spirit of Noam. Once we cover the basic expenses of producing this, the net proceeds will go to a cause of Noam’s choice, or as we affectionately refer to it, “The Noam Chomsky retirement fund.” Dude is old!