Fade to black?
Chico metal maintstays The Makai go on hiatus
I recently found myself in a strange Portland basement filled with tattooed, mostly bearded, thoroughly beered miscreants. The sound surrounding us was familiar, sinister, and far too immense for such a cramped space. Chico’s The Makai were already about a third of the way through “Embracing the Shroud of a Blackened Sky,” a song that brought all of the band’s powers together in one 30-minute opus.
That song—just released by itself on vinyl LP—might be the most epically metal way for a metal band to celebrate the end, as three members of The Makai prepare to bid Chico adieu (guitarist Ian Makau, for one, is headed to the Berklee College of Music in Boston) and the band goes on indefinite hiatus. The five-piece—vocalist Brandon Squyres, Makau and Zeke Rogers on guitar, drummer Jesse Schreibman and bassist Adrian Hammons (who replaced Jeff Worrel last year)—has been the heaviest anchor of the Chico music community for nearly a decade, bringing in dozens of out-of-town acts and playing shows with countless local bands. Of course, more important, The Makai brought together heshers, punks and indie-rockers to exchange fluids in one great mosh pit.
The Makai’s final Chico performance (at least in the foreseeable future) comes Nov. 5 at Café Coda, and will be a set that includes songs the band hasn’t performed since the early days. As Rogers puts it: “We’re probably going to play the longest set we’ve ever played and then fall over and die afterwards.”
The following is a look back on nine years of The Makai in the words of the members themselves.
The Makai going on hiatus.
Squyres: We’re taking this opportunity to maybe do things that we have been putting on hold because of our commitment to this band, and just step back from The Makai for a little while. I think it will be good for us to take a breather.
Makau: The tentative plan is to rendezvous in touring locations across the globe. Writing new music could prove challenging, but I don’t see it as impossible; it will just take us being a little more proactive. We’ve been rehearsing all our old songs for our final show and I think we’ve been (or at least I have been) reminiscing about the good ol’ days of The Makai. It makes me wanna get back out there again.
“Embracing the Shroud of a Blackened Sky”
Squyres: It’s a 28-minute epic song about the world falling into despair and a man trying to hold on to his last bit of humanity, until it all becomes too much for him. He begins embracing the chaos that his life has become, and assumes the role of death, thus destroying the last bits of life on the planet … more or less.
Making a 30-minute song.
Squyres: It was an idea we had all kind of joked about in the past, but for our type of music it always seemed like almost too daunting of a task. The whole process was about a year long.
Rogers: Just the sheer immensity of putting it all together, practicing and tweaking the changes and transitions and writing that many lyrics about the same topic … it’s not something I’d like to try to do again for quite a while.
Makau: It’s hard to say really. A lot of riffs … inspiration … tons of time on your hands … coffee!
Music you’d play if you weren’t in a metal band.
Rogers: Folk or maybe stoner rock.
Squyres: Something heavy probably, but I think I’d like to play outlaw country.
Hammons: Anything that’s challenging/fun/money-making? I don’t know.
Most memorable Chico show.
Makau: There were quite a few really packed Hell House shows that were a blast. I don’t think there are too many things more fun than playing a tiny room full of people rockin’ the fuck out.
Hammons: I think the last one at Monstros—our LP release—may have been my favorite. One of the few mosh pits I’ve seen at a show that I’ve played. That and everyone just seemed amped.
Squyres: I really liked the first CAMMIES awards show where we got to play on the Senator stage for the first time as The Makai. We had a lot of friends and family that hadn’t seen us before, and we had just won an award for Best Local Act. I also got to hold a bloody fake decapitated head in the air as fake blood dripped all over me, before I slammed it on the ground. That was pretty fun.
How you’d like The Makai to be remembered.
Rogers: As nice dudes who liked to shred face every now and then.
Squyres: As a band that people liked to see or play with. A band that even if they weren’t necessarily into our music they could recognize what time and effort we had put into this band and appreciate our dedication. I’m not sure I will ever have the same level of musicians at all positions around me at the same time again. I feel extremely blessed to have been in a band with them for as long as I have.
Makau: Six friends (current lineup plus Jeff) who toured, wrote some songs and had a blast. Hopefully it’s not over, but if it is, we ended on a high note.