Detroit Michigan otherwise known as The Motor City or commonly referred to as Detroit Rock City, has a very long prosperous history of having fertile artistic soil, such a high yielding productive history in fact that it is known as the birth mecca for so many amplified aggressive, ground breaking, head bashing, neck spraining musical artists that are now commonly referred to now as legendary and historic. The history of these pivotal avant-garde bands has been so well documented, that if for whatever reason you the reader find yourself unaware of these artists, then you should seriously seek an education in music history. Detroit Michigan has established itself as the fundamental breaking city for new aggressive innovative sounds and the band Plague Years is no different.
Plague Years, a relatively new band I suppose by the lack of info provided, comes out of the Motor City, with it’s foot applied heavily on the petal and thrust violently to the floor. Feeding all cylinders with it’s energetic adrenaline intensity and raw head crushing form of Thrash?… Yes, you read correct, Thrash Metal, along with deadly elements of Death, and Hardcore, makes Plague Years of force to be recon with.
With the soon to be unleashed “Circle of Darkness” full-length on Eone Music. I decided to dive in and discover a tad bit more about these young lads, so here’s a one on one with Eric Lauder guitarist and his amigos who are collectively known as Plague Years.
BM: When I read on your bio, and it described your music as Thrash Metal influenced, along with other subterranean musical genres such as Death Metal and surprisingly Hardcore. I instantly found myself turned off and disillusioned by those descriptive words. Especially the Thrash descriptive.
Being that I was fortunate or misfortunate enough to have witnessed the birth, rise and fall of that magical era. I have since over the decades witnessed, especially here in Southern California the upsurge of young inspired yet disappointing bands whose sole purpose is to mimic, replicate, blatantly steal, and clone themselves after their favorite Thrash Metal artists. Some of these young bands have even gone as far as to name their groups after Thrash Metal artists popular song titles etc.
So you see, I have been somewhat contaminated and biased towards the labeling of new up coming artists as Thrash bands or Thrash influenced. It makes the grey hair behind my neck cringe with horror. Yet as I mentioned prior this was not the case with your band and upcoming album. So tell me why the label Thrash for Plague Years?
Eric Lauder: I understand, it is really hard to mimic something that came out organically for the first time.
BM: Yes exactly!. You cannot replicate that energy and magical moment in time, along with the lack of attractive young women as there is now. There were no hot gals in the early years of thrash, unlike presently, totally the opposite. The Extreme Underground Scene including the Thrash scenes has such an abundance of hot young ladies in skimpy Thrash sexy attire.
Anyways sorry for the rant, again why the label Thrash!? You guys remind me of a Negative Approach crossed over with the young deadly Slayer, not the Slayer when they got money and fat sound, I mean the hungry, aggressive Slayer. I very much like how your band encompasses the elements of anger, sincerity and, aggressiveness along with the fact that the music is hard, heavy and grabs you by the throat. So again where’s the thrash?
Eric Lauder: Well I feel that there are a lot of thrash elements in our music, for instance the first two tracks off the album are super thrash driven, our first track “Play The Victim” pretty much encompasses heavy riffs and a fast tempo throughout, just thrashing….. The second track “Witness Hell” is coming off that same wave in the beginning but then it has a dose of a Death Metal vibe. I would say there are definitely a lot of thrash elements in our music amongst others as well.
You know when the new wave of thrash was coming back, most of the new bands had this modern tight sound, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it lost something. I have never really been a fan of a tight recording sound, it comes off as really dry…… Not that there aren’t albums that I love that sound like that, but it has never been my personal style when playing. I always favored my sound to be dark and eerie, not so like production sounding.
BM: The new record is coming out on Eone correct?
Eric Lauder: Yes that is correct, we got signed to Eone back in April. Our album will be out on September 18th, we are joined by some great bands on this label, such as Crobar, Sodom, High on Fire and Creeping Death to name a few.
BM: Wow, you really are in good company on this label.
Eric Lauder: Oh yes indeed, I feel we are in the best hands that we can ever possibly be in at the moment.
BM: Your band has a very mature sound to it, meaning it appears that you gents have broken your cherries touring wise, are you gentleman road tour dogs? Whether in this current group ‘Plague Years’ or other prior groups?
Eric Lauder: So Mike (Mike Jurysta, drums) and I started our journey in music together in high school. At that time we were way into the Metal that was coming out then, as we were growing up obviously we had been listening to bands such as Slayer, Metallica and all that kind of stuff, but I personally feel once you kind of go on your own musical journey, you find yourself discovering new things and new more aggressive music.
That is when I found myself influenced heavily by Death Metal. Then our journey took us to discover Hardcore and Power Violence bands, but ultimately we decided that we were going to write and play in a more Thrash Metal influenced band.
After so many years of writing music and band member lineup changes, we finally found the right chemistry and that is when recorded and released our EP and then followed up by our album “Unholy Infestation.”
BM: Another thing that I like about your new record, despite the aggressiveness is the fact that you incorporate the verse, chorus, and harmony very well.
Eric Lauder: Well thank you, that was something I really wanted to incorporate, that was always my main idea with this band, when we began. I wanted to do a Thrash influenced project that incorporated other elements of music at the same time. I wanted to create and write timeless music like Metallica and Slayer and so forth, for example, those bands and their music is timeless, because not only is it authentic but also because it is catchy, yet with balls.
Most people, if you mention to any Metal fan, verse, chorus, harmony without them really hearing it or really elaborating, they are automatically going to think that, well it must be typical pop or whatever, but then if you really go out and listen to it, all those Metal verses, choruses and harmonies are there. You just do not think of it in the same way, but they are there.
We definitely were very conscious of this when we began writing music, you can hear that verse, chorus, harmony on both of our records. As you mentioned before, how our music incorporates a veteran sound to it, even though we haven’t (Plague Years) been together long. Mike and I have been playing and writing music together for a long time.
When we released our EP (2017) our goal was to have it sound mature as if we had been together as a group, for a very long time.
BM: Are you as a group relatively new in regards to writing and recording?
Eric Lauder:As ‘Plague Years’ yes, but we are all veterans in regards to playing music and touring in other groups. When we got signed to the label, we started touring. We did a couple of small runs because we had to get ready for this recording. This year was supposed to be our year to really push the band and new album. When we were on the road prior, the band was receiving a really good response and feedback. It was really helping us tremendously, as far as being new and trying to get that exposure through touring.
BM: 2020 was your year huh?…Oooops looks like it just didn’t pan out with the world coming to an end and all, and then to top it off, you named your band ‘Plague Years’?
Eric Lauder: Yeah exactly, I wish it wasn’t so relevant. I wish our band name was not so relevant to today’s current events, not to mention, people who are unfamiliar with us and have not heard of our music are automatically going to think, “Oh they named their group due to the pandemic” When in reality we were ahead of the game so to speak.
BM: So has ‘Plague Years‘ toured out West? Or have you predominantly toured out in your neck of the woods?
Eric Lauder: We haven’t really had the chance to come out to California, all that was in the works for this year.
BM: The Hardcore influence in ‘Plague Years‘ also intrigues me, where does that influence come from?
Eric Lauder: I have always been a fan of the simplicity in Hardcore music, the power cords and stuff, not really getting too riff-y yet it still comes off as very aggressive in a almost Metal way but really on the border with both genres.
BM: Do you think ‘Plague Years’ despite all the different musical influences, will find itself encompassing in this current musical direction that appears on the new album?
Eric Lauder: I have always enjoyed bands that have a surprise, unpredictable element to their music. For example artists whose albums have songs that you find yourself pleasantly stunned by a tune on the album that is surprising yet awesome. I have always been a fan of stuff like that, but it is a real gamble, it is either hit or miss, you know what I mean?
It is either going to sound bad ass or it is going to sound like a filler track. I wanted this record to have those surprising elements to it, making it unpredictable and yet refreshing sounding with each track. I wanted this album to have the super fucking fast Thrash elements to it, yet also have the straight mid tempo one, two beat vibe along with the slow and dark sounding elements as well. I wanted this album to have such a diverse sound and style to it where it musically goes into different directions yet it all comes together with the same dark sound and vibe to it. I wanted this album to feel from track to track to have a different musical vibe to it yet it all comes back wrapped together nicely with a heavy edge.
BM: You have achieved this very well, a track which comes to mind is the track ‘Evil One’ for example.
Eric Lauder: That is a good example, when I wrote that song, I knew that tune would throw the listener in for a loop. Most Thrash bands would not write material in that vein. My thoughts when I was writing that song was, “I am going to go out on a limb here” I knew our audience would either accept a left curve song like that despite it not being a so-called a Thrash tune, but nevertheless it is a heavy, aggressive song.
And yes it most definitely is…
Plague Years new full length ‘Circle of Darkness ‘comes out on September 18th 2020 on Entertainment One. A must have , even for a bitter angry Thrash Veteran like myself.
Interview By Jimmy Cabbs