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Hardcore metal band returns

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Converge

"Dark Horse"

Although Jacob Bannon of Converge has played around the world, the vocalist distinctly remembers the shows he’s played at the Picador in Iowa City.

“It’s the perfect venue,” he said. “I mean we don’t have something like that in Massachusetts. It’s amazing that you have a venue that is willing to do whatever kind of show that makes the most sense. If we had that, our community here would be drastically different.”

Converge will perform at the Picador, 330 E. Washington St., at 6 p.m. today. Admission for the all-ages show is $12 in advance, $13 at the door. Local bands the Tanks and Aseethe will provide opening support.

Beginning in October, Converge will join Mastodon, Dethklok, and High on Fire to play dates across the U.S. — including another Iowa show, in Des Moines, on Oct. 14.

Although Converge’s latest album Axe to Fall isn’t available in stores yet, it has received critical acclaim, calling the recording the best thing the band has done in its nearly 20-year-career — in fact, metal-music magazine Decibel gave the album a perfect rating.

But 34-year-old Bannon used his heavily tattooed arms to shrug off the positive press as if it’s nothing.

“We really don’t give a shit what other people think about the music,” he said. “We’re a band that has always been about forward movement. All we want to do is write music, play music, and share it with people. Nothing more.”

While the album is still classic Converge in sound, featuring complex drumming and Bannon’s signature yells, the band took a different approach to writing Axe to Fall through collaborating with a variety of fellow underground musicians.

“Usually, when a band invites guests into the recording process, they kind of show up and play what you tell them to play,” Bannon said. “We actually got them working with us in the song-refining process, bringing their own ideas to the table and expanding on those ideas and vice versa.”

Despite its status as a revolutionary hard-core band, he said, he makes more money taking on design projects than he does when performing on the road with his group.

“Doing design work is what subsidizes my living,” he said. “Without that, I couldn’t exist. I couldn’t run a label — I couldn’t be in a band.”

Bannon, who graduated from the Art Institute of Boston, designed the cover for Axe to Fall, which features numerous images of a woman’s face, one of which reveals an X-ray-esque view of the woman’s jaw-line. Axe to Fall’s liner notes contain a piece of artwork designed by him created for each of its songs.

Though the frontman said Converge’s live show will appeal to anyone who is interested in aggressive music and credits Iowa City’s diverse music scene, the musician said he even enjoys playing for audiences that aren’t so generous.

“By being involved in the hard-core/punk-rock/metal world, you’re always an underdog,” he said. “You’re always going to be misunderstood in some way. We just want to put ourselves out there, and hopefully, we’ll open up some new doors for people.”


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