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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Mark Holcomb of ÆGES

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ÆGES was founded by Larry Herweg (Pelican, San Angelus), Mark Holcomb (Undertow, Shift, San Angelus), Kemble Walters (Juliette and the Licks), and Tony Baumeister (16, Cutthroats 9).

The band specializes in the kind of groove-based hard rock that fans of Helmet and Torche could definitely get behind. Songs like “Wrong” (check its video below) and “My Medicine” find ÆGES dropping one meaty guitar riff after the other. Noisecreep got its hands on The Bridge, the band’s soon-to-be released debut album, and it hasn’t left our iTunes play queue in days.

In honor of their album coming out this month, Noisecreep asked ÆGES guitarist Mark Holcomb to take part in our ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.

Age of Quarrel, Cro-Mags (1986)

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“My mother was upset that i was listening to the Cure. Let her here the Cro-Mags! I got this record when i was 14 and it changed everything. I had been listening to a lot of Hardcore when I got this but the power on this record floored me! this came out in 86, I got it in 88. From the streets of NYC with tattoos and band members names Harley Flanagan and John Joseph looking scary and tough. Imagery that you couldn’t fake! They are for real! scared the hell out of me! but i could’t put it down!

The record starts out with three click of the drum sticks and a fill and into “We Gotta Know.” Best opening to a record ever (maybe tied with the opening track from Bad Brains’ Quickness album)! It is lean and mean all the way through. No drama or theatrics on this record, just raw power from front to back. And John wrote intelligent lyrics with social commentary. This is what hardcore is. I would not be who I am today without this record!”

Slip, Quicksand (1993)

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“I pretty much only listened to hardcore and the DC Discord stuff for five years. It was getting kinda redundant, listening and playing it. Didn’t know where to take my “power chords.” Then Slip drops. I knew as soon as i heard it that it was all about to change. Not just for me but the whole hardcore scene. The birth of post-hardcore. I think i must have listen to JUST this record for the whole year. This record is so slick, So tight and precise. They really nailed the hook! This entire record is groove. Alan on drums and Sergio on bass are so locked in, driving through the whole record. Tom’s solo’s sound dissident and evil but perfect for the heavy rhythm under it! It still has a great heavy sound but instead of writing hardcore songs they we just writing songs — great ones. I started down-tuning (drop D) my guitar and also started to try to write songs, not just fast parts and mosh parts. but songs with a hook and a groove. This album changed the whole way I played guitar and approached writing music.”

Drive Like Jehu, Drive Like Jehu (1991)

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“So this record comes out around the same time as Slip and pulled me in the complete opposite direction. The record came out in 91 and I got it in late 92. I bought this and Jawbreaker’s Bivouac with a Christmas gift card at Tower Records. I opened Jawbreaker first (already had it on tape). Listened to that for a few days before opening up Jehu. I had never heard them before but was a fan of Pitchfork. Honestly wasnt expecting much but everyone was raving about them. Blown away! How did they make this record? How did they come up with theses songs? What are these guys listening too? In my imagination it had to be these guys just playing together in a room coming up with songs as they go along. Like “I’m going to put this guitar around my neck and slam my fingers into the fret board and we’ll see what happens”. There is no way! This was done on purpose! With intent to blow everybody’s minds! I LOVE a good heavy guitar tone and it sounds like they are playing with their “gain” on about three (instead of 11). Unbelievable. I wish i could say it changed the way i played guitar, but it was just too good to try to duplicate. nobody has done it since (well the Hot Snakes of course). Its a masterpiece! I played it for a family member recently…He didn’t get it.”

Ride the Fader, Chavez (1996)

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“This was my introduction to drop A tuning. So I’ve been a Chavez fan from their first 7″. Wasn’t sure whether to pick Gone Glimmering or Ride the Fader. I chose the latter because of the first and last track on the album. I’ll get to those in a second. Both of their LPs came out just before I moved to NYC to join Shift. I loved each record but they really got to me as we were out on tour. I think i listened to one of those records everyday on the road. Just kept getting better and better!

And now to that drop A guitar… take that E, pull it down to A and get off! Play what you want and that A will get its point across. So full and rich! And it sounds so good to play on the higher strings with that bottom end there. This was the first time I really tried to write with the high strings, up till this point it was all power chords and heavy grooves. they made me want to be a better guitar player and showed me how to play in different time signatures. The opening track, “Top Pocket Man,” has such an amazing guitar riff. The other reason i picked this album over the other is the last track. I’ve been told the song was a message to other crappy bands. “You must be stopped!” With a riff like the one on that track, can you blame them for saying that.”

White Pony, Deftones (2000)

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“For a few years i really didn’t want to play or listen to that much heavy stuff. Wasn’t sure if I wanted be in bands anymore. A good friend showed up to my job and put this record down. He said, “Just go home and listen to this and call me tomorrow,” and then left. I know it sounds dramatic but it really happened that way. I’ll never forget that. What a perfect introduction to White Pony. Now its pick up that guitar and start playing again!

In my ears they pulled together all of the previous bands i spoke about. They are as heavy as the Cro-Mags. They write great hooks and grooves like Quicksand. Chino’s vocals behind a band going off with such intensity reminds me of the intent of Jehu. Lets try some heavy riffs with low tunings and add some math, Chavez. Every record they’ve done is epic and dynamic. Dont know what else to say about them that you don’t already know.”

ÆGES’ The Bridge will hit stores on April 17 via The Mylene Sheath. Pre-order the album at this link.

Watch ÆGES’ “Wrong” Video

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