SoCal band Amen cranks up the noize factor
DUNNO ABOUT YOU, BUT AS YOUR FRIENDLY LOCAL subterranean outpost of the liberal media, we’re always on the lookout for the next loud and blasphemous rock ‘n’ roll band that’s guaranteed to piss off Mom, Dad and various school authorities, along with the usual right-wing scolds and bluenoses.
So let’s talk about Amen, a swinging (as in fists) new combo from L.A.
For starters, singer Casey Chaos has impeccable taste in automobiles—he drives a ‘69 Plymouth Road Runner with a 440 c.i.d. mill under the hood. This is important; one can often gauge a performer’s aesthetic approach by what he or she drives. If Chaos said he owned a Honda Civic, that might be a bit problematic. But a high-displacement Mopar is always a good sign.
“I got it up in San Francisco,” Chaos admits. “A friend of mine who manages the Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater, he said: ‘Hey, my neighbor’s got this amazing Road Runner, and he’s gotta get rid of it.” Even better.
Next, and more important, his band, Amen, rocks harder than calculus—albeit not in the baggy-shorts Limp Bizkit masturbatory sense, even though both bands use the same record producer, Ross Robinson. Nay; these five lads genuflect before the icon of Funhouse, as in the Stooges: “Iggy Pop is the most important person on the planet,” says Chaos.
He means it, if We Have Come For Your Parents, Amen’s second album, is any indication. A blistering maelstrom of testosterone poisoning, machine shop abuse and overamplified cat strangling straight out of the “Never Mind the Bollocks, We’re Not the Backstreet Boys” school of teenage hijinks, the disc, pretty much from the get-go, bends Britney Spears over and drives her to Frank Booth’s house for a supremely wasted weekend. Indeed, the model on the cover of the forthcoming album (due out on Halloween on I Am/Virgin Records), a young Lizzie Borden-type in a Catholic-school skirt and crown of thorns, hints at the sonic debauchery within.
And models turn Chaos’ crank—specifically, anorexics of the Calvin Klein persuasion. The New Jersey native, who grew up in redneck Melbourne, Fla., has a definite idea of who the bad influence on popular culture is, and it ain’t Marilyn Manson.
“At least kids can identify with music,” he says. “With music, if you’re isolated and alone, there’s all kinds of music you can find, and you’ll see that there [are] other people out there who feel the same way you do. Unfortunately, with people like [Tommy] Hilfiger and Calvin Klein and those type of people in the world—they’re the people who are setting up the boundaries between, y’know, like, let’s say the Columbine issue, where we have a group of kids who wear trenchcoats and listen to weird music—at least what the news says is weird music—and they get ridiculed because of the way they dress and the way they look.
“And that’s because of these icons,” he continues, “and all these people who are bombarding us with these images to buy, buy, buy and belong, belong, belong. And I just feel that it’s a really inhumane thing to do in today’s society.”
Small wonder the first track on the new album is titled “Calvin Klein’s the Killer.”
If Klein and Hilfiger work to imprison kids through mindless consumerism, though, then Chaos believes in the cathartic healing power of mind-roasting rock ‘n’ roll to bust down the walls. And the message is gaining traction.
“Word of mouth is getting around,” he says. “Last night, some kids came up to me that drove 300 miles to come see us. And that’s always an amazing thing, when you know you’re connecting. That was me when I was a kid, y’know?”
Amen plays BoJangles Saturday, Oct. 7, with Nothingface, Simon Says and Endo. The show starts at 8 p.m.