Let’s face it: it’s a good time to be a political grindcore band in the US. I mean, lyrical content is just falling in your lap, as is inspiration for cover art. Take one gander at the front of Phobia‘s new album, Lifeless God, as a case in point. The California grind band, now in operation for approximately 200 years (or, since 1990), has always tackled political and social issues head-on, and the new album is no exception to that, even though vocalist Shane “The Pain” Mclachlan says that the state of America in 2017 was more timing and coincidence than direct influence.
“I mean, we were set to track anyway, it was all worked out with everyone, and with the election, state of politics, the drama, it was just perfect, being a politically charged band, that it gave us the capacity to really challenge certain issues. From a lyrical standpoint to even cover art, all this really made this record just that much more aggressive and important to an era where there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. I feel this record all fell into place at the right time for sure; I feel we haven’t had this vibe sense [1998 debut full-length] Means of Existence and I’m hoping this record can inspire some people and be important.”
The album finds the band dealing with a significant lineup change, which is nothing new for Phobia (Mclachlan is the sole original member who has stayed with the band for all these years); what is interesting is that it’s the return of drummer extraordinaire Danny Walker (Intronaut, ex-Exhumed), guitarist Leon del Muerte (Impaled, ex-Exhumed; del Muerte formerly played bass in Phobia) and original guitarist Bruce Reeves.
“Well, Phobia is more like a circle of friends,” says Mclachlan. “Collectively speaking, we all believe in the band and what it’s all about. We all enjoy playing together and have our roles and all this has to be done with timing. All members have other bands and projects, so people get busy, take breaks… whatever the case, the band goes on. I’m really excited that Danny did another record; love writing with the guy, as well as Leon. Both have recorded, toured, and put a lot of time into the band, so there is a good amount of history, but most important, they’re good friends of mine. Bruce is a co-founder of the band when we were just little dickheads; now we’re big dickheads (laughs).”
Mclachlan says Reeves brings an old-school Phobia sound back to the band that maybe they’ve been lacking; one thing the album doesn’t lack, however, is attitude. Take, for example, the short power violence song “Fuck Power Violence.” Wait, what? Could an old-school grind band from California, who have worked with Slap A Ham Records, possibly have a beef with power violence?
“No beef with anybody,” laughs Mclachlan. “I just hate that phrase, and I have one question: where’s the power and where’s the violence?”
Grind fans, keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming Phobia/Extreme Noise Terror split 7”, and order Lifeless God here.