Massakren: Teenage Black Metal from Chicago — Exclusive Interview
While most guys their age are filling out college applications and planning for summer jobs, the members of Massakren are busy plotting out world domination. The Chicago, IL black metal troupe’s youngest player is 17 years old, while the eldest member is 21. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell that from hearing their music.
Massakren’s sweeping black metal compositions bring to mind greats like Dimmu Borgir and Abigail Williams, while Parker Jameson and Charlie Federici’s frantic guitar leads reveal a Malmsteen-ish quality. Formed in 2008, the prodigies promoted themselves on the web and were eventually discovered by Outlerloop Management (Dying Fetus, Oceano). Vocalist-guitarist Jameson recently spoke with Noisecreep about their debut EP.
We just watched the video for ‘Threshold’ and the first thing that jumped out at us was the musicianship. How the hell did you guys get so proficient at your instruments at such a young age?
Back when Spencer was about 11 years old and I was about 15, we set extremely high standards for ourselves as musicians. For us, it was music, or bust. We didn’t want to waste any time, so we practiced a lot. I listened to a lot of Paul Gilbert, John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, and all those other shredders. Spencer listened to a lot of Dimmu Borgir, Mike Portnoy, and Derek Roddy.
While we do draw influence from those players, more importantly, they inspired and drove us to become better players, as well as develop a signature style just like they each have. We just thought, “They can do that. There’s no reason I can’t do it as well.” Age never seemed to be a limiting factor.
At what age did you first discover black metal? Did you start off with a more mainstream style of hard rock first?
Initially I listened to a lot of ’70s and ’80s hard rock and hair metal. Mötley Crüe, Scorpions, Van Halen type of stuff. I was a big Rush fan as well. I discovered black metal and melodic death metal around the age of 16 or 17 as I was looking for more aggressive, yet still melodic, guitar playing. Once I discovered the world of Scandinavian and European metal, it was like finding a goldmine. It was exactly what I had been looking for, and I’ve just stayed immersed in it ever since.
Has your age gotten in the way of some bigger opportunities? Have bigger bands been supportive so far?
I don’t think it has. If anything, it seems to have garnered us more attention. And yeah, we’ve been getting a lot of support from all different sorts of folks in the music industry, which is great. It’s nice to know people enjoy our style.
Is there a strong local music scene in Chicago right now? Are there other up and coming black metal bands in the area?
I feel like the deathcore, metalcore, hardcore and “scene” type of stuff is way more prominent than metal. That said, I feel like metal, as a whole, is definitely on an upswing and becoming more prominent. The metal scene is a little less unified, but there is certainly a lot of demand. Not just in Chicago, but I feel like even in just the past five or six years that metal has been making a comeback. There seems to be more recognition and acceptance of the genre as a whole, which is cool.
You recently signed with Outlerloop Management. What do you guys have lined up for the rest of 2011?
Right now we’re working on solidifying a record deal. In addition to that, we are slated to take part in a national tour in September 2011 in which we have plans to consistently play as support for various other death and black metal bands for the rest of 2011.
Watch the video for ‘Threshold’