The last few years have seen a steady proliferation of two-piece bands emerging from the fringes of the rock and metal world, with several high-profile examples turning this minimalist approach to making a racket into some kind of hipster cause célèbre.
Pleasingly, Black Country din-makers God Damn are a different matter: wickedly intense, relentlessly noisy and a million miles away from the polite fuzz rock of the modern era’s most notable four-legged outfit (you know the one), Thom Edward (guitars/vocals) and Ash Weaver (drums) are the most volubly metal-friendly twosome since Winnebago Deal, and new album Vultures screams the efficacy of this stripped-down format from the rooftops./o:p
“A two-piece is about as visceral and pure as you can get,” says Thom. “A lot of people have tapped into that and it’s a cool thing. People can say it’s a fad, but more people are starting new bands because of the two-piece idea, and I think it’s the new punk rock! Maybe we’ll get an organ player and another guitarist at some point, but this is cheaper! We did two UK tours before we got signed in a Passat. If people want advice, get an estate car. You don’t need a van!”
With a sound that frequently gives the impression that there are considerably more than two people involved in its creation, God Damn revel in the power of wild distortion, clattering rhythms and controlled chaos, as Thom’s frenzied guitar work veers from bludgeoning riffs to disorientating white noise, covering all sonic points in between, courtesy of a dizzying array of pedals and effects. Even so, he is happy to admit that the logistical challenges posed by being a two-piece can lead to the occasional calamity.
“I try to keep things simple, because if you have too many pedals it can distract from the performance, and you end up looking like Michael Flatley!” he laughs. “Pedals can be a comfort blanket, but they’re a curse too.”
Having already crossed the Atlantic to play at SXSW and at New York City’s notorious punk dive Niagara, God Damn have the wind in their sails and the release of the vicious Vultures promises to propel them even further. But while some of their two-piece contemporaries thrive on blandness and novelty value, God Damn have spikiness, both lyrical and musical.
“Around the time I was writing the songs, I was watching a lot of anti-capitalist stuff online,” says Thom. “I’m quite anti-capitalist in a lot of ways, but I also think we wouldn’t have a lot of great things without capitalism… It’s just that it’s out of control. So the song Vultures is about that. It’s about quantitative easing! I’ll probably lose a whole load of cool brownie points for saying that… but that’s OK. We’re not a cool band and we’re happy with that.”
VULTURES IS OUT NOW VIA ONE LITTLE INDIAN/o:p