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Wednesday, March 31,2010

Turn It Down

A survey of Lansing's musical landscape

by Rich Tupica
Post-apocalyptic rock

Death, disease, post-apocalyptic misery and life in Lansing — that's the lyrical vision of Matt War, vocalist and bassist of Wastelander, a punk-metal band.


Since forming in 2006, the jeanjacket-clad band has received a burst of online buzz after the release of “I.C.B.M.,” its 2007 debut 7-inch on Bermuda Mohawk Productions (BMP) and “Wardrive,” its 2008 debut full-length on Planet Metal Records, which was recently re-released on vinyl.


Wastelander has kept busy since its first two releases. It's currently wrapping up its first tour around the United States, including stops in Chicago, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Boston. The last date of the tour is at Mac’s Bar in Lansing on Saturday, April 3.


The band, which also includes scene veterans Sean “Xaphan” Peters and Ian “Pit Viper” Sugierski, has a vintage metal sound that steers clear of current hard rock trends, which may come from War’s obsession with old VHS B-movies and the entire band’s knack for staying true to the classic thrash-metal persona.


“If there is any sort of concept to the band, it’s the things I’ve always been interested in: science-fiction, postapocalyptic stuff,” War said. “But it’s combined with influences of living in Michigan, which is the real-world postapocalyptic. It’s a way to combine imagery with reality and the music just fits. Maybe it’ll get to a point where I’m sick of singing about crappy ’80s movies like 'Mad Max' — but I doubt it.”


While the band has an edgy metal look and Celtic Frost-influenced sound, the roots of the band are not as hardcore. “It’s a very nerdy obsession, it comes from playing role-playing games,” War said. “It’s got the same thread that runs through a lot of Lansing bands, which is you have to make your own imagery and make your own fun — because it doesn’t exist here.”


Cale Sauter of BMP, a local label, is getting set to release an upcoming split 7-inch of Wastelander and Japanese metal band, Abigail. The “Nuke and Puke” single is set to be released in May (on “puke colored” vinyl).


Sauter said the band’s knack for themes is what drew him in. “Wastelander has a punk aesthetic. It also fits in with the doom and gloom, post apocalyptic ‘80s punk. They’ve also got a thrash and black-metal side,” Sauter said. “I like bands that hold to a certain theme. They have a thing involving the ‘Infernal City’ — which is what they refer to Lansing as. When you think about it, looking at Michigan right now, with some of the bigger cities, and the abandoned auto plants, it’s like you are looking at the apocalypse from the front row.”


Prior to Wastelander, War played in various punk bands since he was 17.


"It's been a really very slow progression over the course of 10 years," War
said. "The band I was in immediately before was called Harbinger, I was in that
band for two years. Before that I was in various punk rock and crust bands,
nothing really worth naming. Every band I've been in has achieved a degree more
of success than the last. It's nice to finally get somewhere."


Wastelander @ Mac’s Bar, 2700 Michigan Ave., Lansing


9 p.m. Saturday, April 3, 18 , w/ Black Bile, Cavalcade, Sauron


$5

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