Flub's strange musical brew
The members of the Sacramento band Flub talk vampires, prog metal and playing Weirdo Fest.
Michael Alvarez is toying around with a lyrical concept for one of Flub’s new songs. It’s pretty weird.
The setting? Transylvania. The subject? A vampire, stalking prey. That prey turns out to be a family of three; the vampire chooses to feast on the mother, turn the father into a vampire and watch the father gorge on his own son.
“But he was kind enough to kill the mother first so she would be spared of seeing that tragic scene,” Alvarez explains.
So yeah. Happy ending.
All the members of Sacramento metal band Flub identify as weirdos in some way—even the name Flub is weird—so it’s fitting the band is slated to play Weirdo Fest on Saturday, August 29, with the likes of Nekrogoblikon, Will Haven, Alterbeast, Kill the Precedent and J. Terrible—an arguably weird mix of metal, hardcore and rap.
And Flub is in a pretty weird place right now. The band started in 2013 with just Alvarez and guitarist Eloy Montes. They made a three-song EP in one day with $175 and borrowed gear, eventually recruiting bassist Charles King, guitarist Viktor Hansen and drummer Jared Klein. In fall 2014, they released the EP Advent, a stellar collection of highly technical and experimental death metal, with surprising cumbia and fusion jazz influences.
But now, the Flub guys are hard at work on their first full-length record, due early next year. In Hansen’s words, it’s “a catchier, more melodic style, while at the same time maintaining the core elements that keep it heavy.” For Alvarez, it’s also just less aggressive.
“We already have some straightforward material that’s really in your face,” he says. “This album is a little more listenable—it’s not so brash and abrasive.”
With the past two EPs, Montes wrote the music and Alvarez wrote the lyrics. Montes says he’s slowly moving the band into a more collective writing style, which is resulting in a more progressive metal sound.
Still, expect to keep hearing that subtle fusion influence under Alvarez’s death growls.
“I’m really into Latin music, Mexican music and music from Central America because I grew up in that environment,” Montes says. “I just always had a thing for it, so I thought, ’Why don’t I incorporate it in some way that sounds metal?’”
You can mostly hear the cumbia in the bouncy baselines. Sometimes, Montes says, he’ll take the charango—a South American lute—and apply its rhythms to metal. He’ll sneak jazz into songs with covert chord substitutions. But occasionally his tinkering does hit the listener clearly, like during a groovy breakdown in “Last Chance” off Advent.
Since Flub hasn’t released anything since Advent, the band has a treat for fans before next year’s full-length. In early September, Flub will re-release its debut EP Purpose with much higher quality and a full band.
“It definitely sheds some light on the songs,” Alvarez says. “It feels like they’re now where they should have been.”
In the meantime, Flub will keep navigating and embracing its weirdness. Not fitting in perfectly anywhere is just fine, Montes says.
“It’s kind of funny because we play shows with the death metal bands, and we’re too proggy and melodic for the death metal kids. Then we play with prog bands and we’re too death metal for the prog kids,” he says. “We’re just trying to find the happy medium.”