The Memphis Hates You scene has always been pretty closely knit, and one reality of having such a small underground scene is that you get lots of varied bills," says Galaxicon singer/guitarist Ben Hutcherson, explaining how his band ended up joining forces with fellow locals Tanks for a dual record-release show.
"A sludge/doom band and a screamy rock band might seem like a strange pairing to some, but I think it'll be a righteously diverse bill," Hutcherson says.
Indeed, this Saturday's show at the Hi-Tone Café will not only serve as an unveiling of new material for both bands from the Memphis "heavy" music collective but also a good opportunity for any newcomers to take in two of the city's most interesting, distinct, and vital heavy bands.
Tanks formed in 2007 after the demise of a band called Amden that featured guitarist Chuck Howard and drummer Sam Hendricks. That duo hooked up with guitarist Nick Pyland and began to work on new material but struggled to find a permanent bass player until the addition of Alex Pilkington in 2009.
"His drive and love for music was a gnarly motivator in a band that had come to the occasional creative standstill," Pyland says.
Newly inspired, the solidified quartet worked up material and released a solid debut EP called Tracks in late 2010. But the band wasn't satisfied and continued to evolve and experiment with sounds and songwriting before eventually finding itself with another batch of new original songs. Enter local engineer Alan Burcham, who, along with producers Kirk Rawlings and Matt Qualls, offered to record Tanks' newest output.
"We recorded the music live in my kitchen. The vocals and piano were recorded at Alan's place (dubbed Secret Team Headquarters). It's the best experience we've ever had recording. Recording with friends is the only way to go," Pilkington says.
The finished product, a nearly 27-minute single track (with several movements) called "Loud Cloud," finds the band maturing in the best possible way -- mixing melodic punk and metal/hardcore influences with assured ease.
"We got serious about our songwriting," Pyland says. "We had a seed and wanted it to bloom."
Galaxicon, on the other hand, didn't form until 2009 but emerged from the same scene as Tanks. Similarly, the band struggled early on to find a consistent line-up or identity. But after losing key members of the group to relocation and other projects, Galaxicon came into its own as a heavy power trio consisting of Hutcherson, bassist Shawn Mullins, and drummer Paul Gilliam.
"We stripped it all down and decided to focus on writing tunes that made people bang their heads and raise their beer cans high, incorporating punk and U.S. black metal influences into our Southern-fried sludge stew," Hutcherson says.
Galaxicon's first official release was a split single on 10-inch vinyl with fellow Memphis Hates You scene regulars the Unbeheld, which came out last February. But the newly released Old Gods — which was also recorded by Burcham — is both the band's finest effort and first full-fledged album, with six tracks of sheer rock force clocking in at a robust length of more than 38 minutes.
"I think at one point we told Alan that we wanted the album to sound like 'a wall of nightmares,' and I feel that's a pretty apt description of the record," Hutcherson says.
Both Tanks and Galaxicon will have CD copies of their albums for sale at Saturday's dual release show — and hope to have the other formats (including cassettes and vinyl) available soon.
In the end, while both bands take a somewhat different approach to heavy music, the common thread that brought them together ultimately lies in friendship and ideology.
"While there are obviously stylistic differences between the two bands, I think that we're united by our rock-and-roll ethos. This show will be about loud amplifiers, heavy drumming, and having a good damn time," Hutcherson says.
"We've all been friends for a few years," Pyland says. "Even though we play different styles of music, it's going to be an awesome time." Tanks and Galaxicon
Saturday, July 7th
Doors open at 9 p.m., admission $5.