BY GRAHAM BECK
Back in the late ’90s, there was a movement within heavy metal music that took elements of rap and hip-hop and infused them with the heaviness of metal, creating a sub-genre that stirred as much interest as it did debate. It was a movement where pseudo-psychological parental issues were as prevalent as red baseball caps and it seemed like every band had a DJ as a band member. This anomaly was referred to as nu-metal — heavy metal’s cousin, twice removed. Remember nu-metal? Those funny days when band names were purposefully misspelled, putting Z’s where S’s should go? Remember those crazy days when musicians had fun little nicknames like Munky, Fuzz, Trauma and TiLo. Remember?
Well, New Philadelphia’s Mind Pulp remembers, and they are keeping their brand of “rocka-hillbilly-funknasty-metal” alive and well. And people love it. Combining the early angst and anger of Korn’s Jonathan Davis and the machine-like grooves of Static X (without the technical musicianship) with occasional illusions of grandeur, Mind Pulp has carved a quaint little niche within Ohio’s metal community. Technicalities aside, Mind Pulp possesses the heart of a lion, the drive of a Mack truck, and the ability to make more references to balls in one radio interview than Dan Savage does in an entire advice column.
Forming in 1999 and enduring personnel changes, Mind Pulp rose up as a five-piece, with drummer Brent “Animal” Mathias and bassist Craig “Whoop” Schwartz at the helm, incorporating a “melting pot of influences” in their music. While it might not be the expansive range that one would think of when thinking of a “melting pot,” Mind Pulp did thicken up their sound by adding guitarists Doug Wright and Nick Bronner, along with vocalist Chad Heck. Instead of changing with the trends of time, Mind Pulp stays the course, playing the stripped-down, simple metal that they know and love so much.
Mind Pulp is currently in the studio recording their first full-length album, and what they lack in originality they gain in production value – at least in comparison to their earlier work. “Tell Me Why” sounds like a lost track from Korn’s first album, which is really the only Korn album worth listening to. Mathias’ drumming is as steady and solid as anything you might hear from Static X, but without the electronics. With both guitars successfully keeping themselves out of the spotlight throughout the track, Heck screeches in Mudvayne-like fashion: “You throw it away. I won’t throw it away this time.”
“Tell Me Why” goes on to unveil a breakdown of Limp Bizkit proportions that would make even Fred Durst keep the faith. In the lesser of the two tracks available, “Blood Clot” is somewhat catchy, yet marches along with typical peaks and valleys but never seems to go anywhere.
In their defense, adding something new to any genre is hard to do in this day and age, when it appears that everything has already been done. And perhaps for Mind Pulp, that’s all right. Gaining a solid following opening up for heavyweights like Slipknot, Kittie, Soulfly and Ohio’s own Mushroomhead, Mind Pulp’s fan base doesn’t seem to mind if they add anything or not. Some bands don’t feel the need to invent, but rather improve upon their music and just have a good time.
Vocalist Chad Heck explains: “We dedicate almost all of our time to this. We get pride and a sense of accomplishment out of it. But we like to have fun. If you aren’t having fun and it feels like a job, then it’s time to quit. None of us picked up our instruments to make money or be famous. We do this because we love it, and we want people to feel the same way when they see us.”
With shows lined up throughout the summer, including a slot at Rockapolloza in Jackson, Mich., the dudes in Mind Pulp seem content enough to do what they do and leave it at that.
Like the dinosaurs, the nu-metal bands of old once ruled the popular metal scene, if only for a little while. Bands like Korn, HedPE, and Static X came on like a fist to the face of popular music and made a lasting impression around the globe.
Mind Pulp knows this all too well and is determined to pick up that black flag and continue marching, unscathed. So throw on your oversized skater pants, grab a friend and grab a beer, and hit the front of the stage and let Mind Pulp reminisce you into oblivion.