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Welcome to the latest installment of U.S.A.: The Underground Sounds of America, our series that shines a spotlight on the most underrated rock, metal, punk, and hardcore bands in the United States. Each week, we ask one band member to answer five unique questions so you can get to know them better. Because if you aren’t already a fan of the artist featured below…you should be.
It makes sense that Noisem are from Baltimore. Given how filthy, relentless, and honest the trio’s chaotic death-grind sounds, it’s unsurprising that they hail from the city featured in the shocking crime drama The Wire. But more than its famed shadiness, Baltimore is known for producing hard-working musicians ready to make their output heard, and Noisem have proved themselves worthy of that reputation. Each of the band’s albums are tireless romps full of arch riffs, unhinged percussion, and ghoulish snarls, that have earned them opening slots for acts like Carcass and Gorguts. Not bad for three dudes from a city nicknamed Bodymore, Murderland.
“Baltimore is an interesting place to grow up given its location and history,” says guitarist Sebastian Phillips. “It's been known to have a corrupt law system, an ongoing drug problem and a large homeless population, and seeing how that affects the people of our communities definitely plays a role in what we chose to write about and issues we tend to discuss. Beyond that, the music scene here has always been thriving in some way or another, and the DIY punk scene here has always been welcoming to us.”
“It definitely sets the tone for a lot of the dark and ominous shit we tend to write sonically,” adds drummer Harley Phillips, “but the music community in Baltimore definitely has kept us in root with DIY, and given us a sense of humility and appreciation for all the wild shit that everyone creates.”
One spin of the band’s latest, this year’s upcoming Cease To Exist, will let fans know just how wild shit can get. Over the course of its lean twenty-one minutes, Cease takes listeners from the bustling craziness of all-out grindcore to the oozing, taloned evil of old-school death-thrash, to the point where one can’t believe this much virulent wickedness comes out of only three dudes. But a killer riff is only made better by the dark subject behind it, and Noisem’s focus on life’s seedier side gives their music a fierce momentum, as evidenced by the lyrics of their latest single, Downer Hound.
“It's essentially about going through drug withdrawal, from pharmaceutical opioids and benzos,” says bassist and vocalist Ben Anft. “How these drugs can take over people's lives and leave everlasting damage on their psyches, bodies, and futures. Doctors give ‘em out like candy at doses higher than most really need. In the past half decade, overdose deaths and use amongst our youth have skyrocketed. There is enormous stigma surrounding addiction, and there should not be. There needs to be more accessible, reliable treatment for those who are struggling, and serious drug law reform. It's a problem that can't be arrested away.”
Excited to have the sick truth rudely shoved in our faces, we contacted Noisem and asked them about the horror behind all things -- especially blowing a tire in Arizona...
1. Who are Noisem's five biggest musical influences?
Sebastian Phillips: The more obvious bands that come to mind would be Repulsion, Terrorizer, Carcass, and Slayer, anything fast and heavy really. But the one band we always listen to at home and in the van on tour is Thin Lizzy.
2. If you had to play one Noisem song for a newcomer to introduce them to the band, which song would it be, and why?
Ben Anft: I'd go with Putrid Decadence and 1132, they're especially good at smacking you in the face.
Sebastian: I'd probably show them 1132 or Eyes Pried Open, they definitely display most aspects of our style.
Harley Phillips: Needless to say, 1132 is probably the go-to.
3. If Noisem could put together a dream tour, who would be on it?
Sebastian: We've definitely sat around and thought about this one before. We would love to do a tour with Yautja and Gorguts.
Harley: Someone please make this happen.
4. Noisem changed from a five-piece to a three-piece since Blossoming Decay. Has that affected the band's sound or writing/recording process?
Sebastian: It hasn't changed the writing process at all. Typically every song is written by myself and I'll demo everything out in my home studio and send it to the boys for comments and revisions. I prefer to have whoever is singing write the lyrics.
Harley: That's definitely a constant with all the records so far. As far as songwriting goes there has been very little contribution musically beyond what Sebastian and myself have written.
5. What's the worst thing that had happened to you guys on the road?
Sebastian: There have been countless tales of triumph and tragedy on the road, but I think the worst and craziest might have been on the second Carcass tour in 2014, when we had two tires blow out on us one day after the other. We were still making good time after the first blowout but the second one set us back. We ended up meeting a Good Samaritan named Dan and his dog Tuesday who helped us get to the tire shop then drove along with us to make sure we made it all the way to Tucson, Arizona, for the first show of the tour. We made the best out of the worst situation thanks to Dan.
Noisem's Cease To Exist is available for preorder before its release on Friday, March 15th, on 20 Buck Spin.