Metal Action


Metal Beard celebrates its first birthday, and Capillary Action come home.


By Brian McManus  
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Jul. 14, 2009

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One Wednesday every month for the last year Benjamin Brand and his friends have put on a live metal show at Johnny Brenda’s, taking the most savage music from the darkened doldrums of Philly’s basements and putting it on full display in one of the city’s best rooms. It’s called Metal Beard, and you should go. 


Here we talk to Brand about his inspiration behind the night, how copper changes the color of your blood and the thrills of having an overseas pen pal.


Metal inspiration : “Started talking to Johnny Brenda’s about booking a metal show. They’d had metal shows there before and they liked the crowd. It was always respectful and they always drank a boatload, tipped well. I hadn’t heard of any kind of regular live metal night so we talked about making it monthly. It was just completely on the other end of the spectrum from all the kind of, you know, electro dance parties that had been just popping up all over the city. We provide an antithesis to that.” 


Metal logo : “I started to develop branding and graphics for it. The one logo that really stuck out for me was inspired by high-top Reeboks, which are, for me, probably the most metal shoe you can wear. Provided your jeans are tight enough to be tucked inside.”


Metal major : Graduated about eight years ago with a glass degree.


Metal side note : From the Rhode Island School of Design. Though Brand’s lived in Philly eight years, he’s yet to change his phone number. Metal. 


Teach us something new : “I went from glass making to bronze casting—just working with metal. You get home from the end of the day after you’ve been grinding down bronze and metal and you sweat blue from the copper that’s in the bronze that gets into your skin. Your shirt and your underarms are stained blue, your socks are stained blue. And there’s like a little blue river in the shower.”


Vikings or pirates? : “One thing that’s always drawn me to metal is I’ve never really been big into lyrical content. I was always more drawn to the riffs than anything. Bands like Death. Sabbath. Pentagram. Then there are just fun Viking bands ... like Amon Amarth, where they bring a full-scale Viking ship on tour with them.”


Most metal thing about you? : “My father was this salesman who did a lot of work with Scandinavian glass companies, and he got me into like pen-pal situations with some of his colleagues’ children over there. I would send them Metallica and Anthrax tapes and they would send me their stuff. Black Metal stuff. Being in fourth and fifth grade and getting stuff like Stone from Finland. Their riffs were heavy and they were singing about Satan.


Fri., July 17, 9pm. $10. With Solace, Backwoods Payback, Dirt Worshipper, Ol’ Scratch + Admiral Bowling. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684. johnnybrendas.com


Jazzy, chaotic, tropical, all-acoustic avant-prog-pop quintet Capillary Action’s Jonathan Pfeffer is a youthful live wire who does more before sunrise than you do all day. Well, maybe not. But he is active. Take, for instance, Capillary Action’s current tour: It started on Feb. 25, hop scotching the world with Les Claypool and Beirut. And they still have quite a few dates. As such, they’ve been out of the city for quite some time, and their show this week with Whales and Cops at the Church is an epic homecoming. Do it!


Tell us something that’s not surprising 
in the least : “We only get in fist fights when we go through the South. I think it’s just a rite of passage or something. It’s the kind of thing—
every time we’ve toured through the South we’ll get one show where they’ll just yell at us or heckle us, and we’re like, ‘Oh man, this sucks!’ Then those guys’ll come up to us after the show and be like, ‘I want everything on the merch table.’”


Prove you’re 22 years old : “We’ve toured for four and a half months straight. We’ve gone from Prague to London to New York to Seattle. Drove from Seattle to Portland to Denver in two days. Basically, this tour we were never in any situation long enough to get comfortable—headlining, opening, in between. So we would do shows with Beirut for 2,000 people and then the next day we’d be begging for a place to stay and playing for six people. We did a show with Beirut in Amsterdam which sold out—it was the biggest show we’ve ever had. It was really nuts, man. We’re used to playing places like the Danger Danger Gallery, lower-key spots. But at this show, there was a red line leading from the dressing room to the stage because you could get lost.”


Capillary Action’s second album So Embarrassing was just rereleased on a German label. Tell us something heartbreaking about it : “We have a song about a friend of my friend who was brutally murdered a couple years ago, Jason Sweeney. Basically, there were these kids that he was friends with who got pretty into heroin and theft. They were pretty strung out, I guess, and they set up this really fucked-up scenario where they lured him into this field with the promise of sex. Then three guys came out of the bushes and beat him to death with a hammer, a hatchet and a rock. They beat him to death for his money. The girl that lured him said, ‘Bring your paycheck and we’ll go to this field.’ My connection to this story is, the kids who killed him, the three boys, Jason and I, we all went to high school together and they terrorized me. The song is about living with fear and overcoming it.” ■

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1. JJ Anthony said... on Jul 21, 2009 at 09:32AM

“love the proof that their 22 yrs. old. sounds like they never stopped moving, that takes quite a toll on the body - plus they perform every night.”

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