Before I moved to Kansas, I wanted to jam with a few specific people.  Dan Kapper was one of those people.  We’ve shared numerous worship experiences together where we really entered into the presence of God.  Though we haven’t jammed like this before, I think we could read each other’s musical ideas to know where the other was going.  Dan is a very gifted drummer, he’s always incredibly solid and knows how to adapt his drumming to various situations.  He also knows his strengths and weaknesses, and knows when to play and not play.  Dan is a great person too, you should probably get to know him, so you can understand what I’m talking about.  Anyways, enjoy the video, it’s the first of three.  This is a more rock oriented jam whereas the videos to come will be more experimental and chill.  

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here are the tour videos from our Summer 2011 Tour with our bros in Copernicus.  http://www.facebook.com/copernicustheband

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http://www.facebook.com/AegaeonUS

Aegeon

The Dissention

Some say the deathcore genre is overcrowded and maybe that’s true, but really it’s the strongest and hardest working bands that survive.  With Aegaeon, it sounds like they worked extra hard to get that good recording, and with “The Dissention” the production is outstanding and well-refined.  Awesome clarity and heaviness.  The song and riff writing is fairly typical of the genre, speedy blast beat sections, fast transitions, and breakdowns; but its the orchestration and sense of mood that sets Aegaeon apart from the hordes of other angry deathcore bands that infect and pollute our eardrums.  I’ve been listening to tons of music lately…make that tons of heavy music, and when I stated listening to Aegaeon I was instantly impressed with the bands ability to write intriguing music that keeps you interested all the way through the album.

Ok, another knock about deathcore or even heavy hardcore, what’s up with everyone playing a creepy three note lead line?  It was Impending Doom that I believe did it the best on “Serpent Servant” but now everyone and their mom is playing ambient and creepy three note lead lines!  That’s cool I guess, but I would argue that there are many more “musical” things you can do with the guitar and within the genre.  Which is why I was sort-of awestruck when I was listening to “Reshaping the Mulverse.”  There’s a ton of cool major seventh arpeggios coupled with thick orchestration during this song.  It even fades out into this epic Lord of the Rings worthy orchestral piece.  Very nice!  This band offers the genre so much more…well, than it probably deserves.  So, thank you Aegaeon!

If you’re going to buy a deathcore album in the coming days make it “The Dissention” by Aegaeon.  You can get it at their BigCartel store and on iTunes.

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“I think my elbow just hit someone’s face,” I thought as I moved to the outside of the pit.  It had been weeks since I’d been to a show and I was desperate to get out there and angrily flail my arms around.  I looked back and saw a large football player sized guy holding onto his face.  I felt really bad so I went up to apologize.  I’m a pretty skinny guy so he was totally alright and I would assume he experienced heavier blows during a high school football game.  He chose to express his love for heavy music with a large, full bodied head-bang while others chose to “slam dance” in the tiny pit.  The two worlds collided, which unfortunately sometimes ends up in a high energy contact.  The kids that go to the shows understand though, if you don’t want to get hit, stay out of the pit.  Keep things positive, don’t start fights, and encourage the people around you.  In fact, that’s why they go to the shows.  They want to be around positive people who won’t judge them.  It’s a place where they can be themselves.  They’re misunderstood by their teachers, parents and peers for the way they dress or the type of music they listen to, so a hardcore show represents that place to be free.  A place for you to be you and not be bothered, judged or interrupted.

It’s this sort of environment for a hardcore show that occurred on August 8th at the Skies CD release show.  It was like a big family gathering, but for people who like heavy music.  The show was also a final hurrah for Central Kansas metal veteran Knik Woods, former guitarist of For the Love of God and more recently, Copernicus.  No single person has effected the Central Kansas metal scene more positively than Knik.  He was a brother in Christ to some, a sort of father figure to others and still someone who gave great advice and always listened to you during a conversation.  Knik is a passionate believer, someone who loves the Gospel of Jesus and how it can transform and restore us.  You can read my interview with Knik at the end of the story as he reflects on some of his favorite moments in For the Love of God and Copernicus.

The show started around 6:30pm with kids showing up in packs of 4 and 5, with energy drinks in hand.  Kids have been showing up like this to the Indian Rock Lodge in Salina for over ten years.  It’s a place for kids to host their own shows, with no ulterior motives, right in their own town.  Usually 60 to 100 kids show up to hear their favorite local pop-punk or death-core band.  Opening at the CD release show was Call Your Own, a pop-punk band from McPherson that continues to improve show after show.  Lots of energy from the drums and vocals with singable anthems for everyone to get stoked on.  After that was Dead Ends, a heavy hardcore band from Wichita.  Pretty straight forward brutal stuff here.  There wasn’t much movement in the pit yet.  There’s always that moment earlier on in the show, no one wants to go in alone.  These guys are still pretty new, it’s going to be great to see them play again, awesome riff writing and drumming.  Up next was In the Trenches, another heavy-hitting outfit, but from Hutchinson.  Most bands just have CDs, stickers and T-shirts, Trenches has “coozies.”  This makes sense for the self-proclaimed band that just “likes to party and have a good time.”  These guys were awesome to watch, I’d love to see them on their own turf.

A Sequence of Ghosts made a generous appearance at the show, wrapping up their long tour with one final show in Salina.  These guys are great people to be around, always super nice and helpful to other bands that want to be as awesome as them.  Their set was phenomenal and passion-filled!  I really hope they can come back and play a longer set next time they’re in Central Kansas.

Copernicus played second to last sound checking to “Disease” by Skies.  It was hilarious and everyone had a good laugh.  When they launched into their set people were finally loosened up enough and able to move around the room.  It was during their first song when I had my collision with the innocent head-banger.  After seeing Copernicus over a dozen times on the road, their set still sounded fresh and heavy-hitting.  They did a few things different from before and overall people had a blast jamming out to them.  They need a new van, so make sure you come out to the August 26th Copernicus benefit show at Indian Rock.  When it was time for Skies to play, the energy in the room was at its fullest as the crowd waited to hear “Disease” drop.  The band has undergone two member changes and had to run backing guitar tracks to make up for the lack of a second guitar player.  There are numerous bands that are doing this now as they either wait to make a decision on a new member or just prefer to have less members in the band.  It was Skies‘ first run at this and they handled it well pleasing the crowd with the full sound of two guitarists.

After the band finished up and started tearing down their gear people stayed to chat with the band members, grab a T-shirt and figure out where everyone is going for late night food.  It was another successful show at Indian Rock.  The kids got to see some great bands for a fair price and the bands got to do their thing in an environment of freedom.  There’s been talk about the scene dying, but if things keep going this way, there’s clearly no end in sight.  There’s always going to be misunderstood young people looking for a place to vent.  And its always music that brings people together more than anything else.

Knik Woods interview

I gave my friend Knik a call on a rainy Friday afternoon.  He’s really the person that encouraged me to move down to Kansas.  Maybe it was the great bands and the tight-knit groups of kids that actually go to shows, but it was really Knik’s passion for reaching out to kids that inspired me to seriously consider moving here.  And now that I’m here, he’s moving on and passing the torch to the next group of people that want to water the seeds he planted.  It’s sad, but he’s got to move to the next place in his life.  I’ll do my best to paraphrase this well spoken man.

When did you start “Metal Church?”

Knik: “Metal Church was actually started by Richie Wolf in the Summer of 2008.  Initially it was a ministry/outreach event at the Salvation Army (in Salina) but it had the potential to become something that would be taken over by the kids in the scene.  Something that was living and breathing.  We shared the gospel.”

At one point Knik’s band was able to play with Impending Doom and some other great acts like Your Memorial and Hands.  Knik told me that people were able to discuss the negative and positive aspects of the scene.  Apparently a girl got injured at a show and they were able to express their discontent and ways to take action so this didn’t happen again.

What was the most exciting time or event during your experiences in Salina?

Knik: “It’s hard for me to pick just one time but it’s probably the first ‘good’ Metal Church that we had with Hands and Your Memorial.  The gospel message that I shared was backed up by the music and lyrics of the bands.  Some of the kids were able to have an awesome spiritual experience and meet Jesus.  The Spirit was really moving that night, it was great.”

“The second was probably ‘FTLOG Fest’ because I was able to reconcile myself with our singer Josh.  We showed the kids that there could be restoration between two people by proving it to them.  It was a great moment.  That show was also at Indian Rock.”

What were your hopes for the kids in the scene?

Knik: “What I really hoped for was that the kids that were ministered to would begin to reach out to those around them and take ownership of the scene.  That they would share their experiences that they had with the Lord with each other.  Unfortunately this never really came to fruition and after FTLOG ended we didn’t have as many kids getting stoked about Jesus.”

Knik really hopes that what was started by him and his peers will be continued and advanced in the local scene.  To keep the message of the Gospel alive in heavy music.  Knik is going to be missed and he will always be remember by those that he impacted.  Best of luck to you brother!

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Yes, it’s me, that dork with the huge computer. I’m at your wi-fi hotspot today. When I chose to get a Mac, I didn’t go for the sophisticated, portable look, I wen’t straight for the thing what would give me the most power for the cheapest price. And now my tired arm, and social status is paying for what my wallet couldn’t. But seriously though, it’s not that heavy to lug around. And maybe soon I can get one of those sweet iMac bags.  But yeah, this thing is going on tour with us so its going to see a lot of other great places, countless McDonalds,’ truck stops and coffee shops. It may seem like I’m practicing for tour, bringing my big computer out when we’re back home, but it’s really because out on the farm we don’t have internet. Right now I’m staying with our drummer J Michael who lives on a farm outside of Hillsboro. It’s a great place, the only bummer is that we have to drive at least 10 or 15 minutes to get online. A couple times we’ve chilled outside of J Michael’s aunt and uncle’s house on their back deck. It looked sketch, dogs were barking at us constantly as we sipped our Dews and surfed the net, did some e-mails, and of corse got on Facebook to stay connected with the outside world.

The photos that I’ve included are from two of our favorite spots. One is from The Well in Mcpherson. A beautiful coffee house and Christian book store. I can stay there all day and not get bored. I’m pretty much a regular now, most people know who I am. I’ve even showed a few interested people my computer. I’m pretty sure I’m going to send Apple a bill for my freelance sales work because I basically sold two more iMacs. I gave a detailed run-down of the specs, went to the apple website and explained the features and reliability. Maybe I should apply.  The second photo is of Nathan Holthus and I, the previous Skies guitarist, hanging out at an acoustic show at The Well.

The other photo is from a gas station in Hillsboro that has a fewbenches to sit on. The gas station is called AmPride. I think that’s short for American Pride, it’s an official wi-fi hotspot.  Most gas stations don’t do that. We definitely get the most awkward looks when we go here. The cops come in to get coffee and ask what were doing. Other people awkwardly glare at us as they grab their beer of choice from the fridge. It seems like these things shouldn’t be together in the same place. Desktop computers, intense internet surfing, alcohol sales, gasoline sales and the Hillsboro Police. Anyways, things turned out alright; we try and remain friendly so we can keep coming back.

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Hey friends, family and distant onlookers, I’m just fore warning you about my new and exciting tour blog!  You’ll be sure to hear about such schnanigans as stolen Justin Beiber cut-outs and 2am fireworks at Wal-Mart right here!!!  Yep, those were pretty much the highlights from the last tour.  I was caught on mall surveillance in a certain city in Arkansas removing a life-size Justin Beiber cut-out from a department store.  The intention was to display our amazingly cool band merch on the Beiber and see rapid increases in our sales.  We failed to foresee the jail-worthy consequences of our actions and received a phone call and Facebook message that if we did not return the Beiber soon, we would have charges pressed.  I really didn’t feel like going to jail for stealing a piece of cardboard shaped like the coveted teen idol that countless screaming kids across the nation adore.  So we took one last look at his lip gloss crusted face, shot a few sentimental pics with our phones and returned Justin to the mall cops.

I really hope to document our daily experiences on the road, the good, the bad, and the seemingly random things that happen as we travel the country to play underground shows for hopefully more than 15 people.  Feel free to post some comments or put it up on your Facebook wall if you find that day particularly interesting.  There’s going to be a “Free Chik-fil-A Meeter” so you can tell if we got fed that day as well as daily gas tank status and other great widgets.  So stay tuned, the tour officially begins September 6th in Salina Kansas.

If you want to check out Skies on facebook here’s the link: www.facebook.com/skies777