The thing I enjoy about the metal scene is the realism of it. You say to a band “Hey, I’d like to interview you for a feature”, and they say “come on out to our van, we will smoke, drink some beers and talk”. That, to me is the brotherhood the other scenes are lacking right now.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Lowkey (Newark, NY) this weekend at Fusion in Syracuse, and got down and dirty with them. For those of you who don’t know them, where have you been? They got together in 2003 when metal was making its triumphant comeback. They have not changed their style, nor succumbed to big management… yet. Through many line-up changes, these guys have not stopped pushing one bit. The changes they say “were for the better of the band”, which I would have to agree with. They always impress, and out of a fluke of chance encounters, they have formed a solid metal orchestra.
The band currently consists of Sean Augustus, “Pickles” (Brian Belcher), Jay, and Matt Huff. The members are spread out over Upstate New York. As Matt explained, “the professionalism of the band is what has kept them together over the years, they have all done side projects in other bands that didn’t work out, but they are all very passionate about this band.” Lowkey has a little bit of thrash, “stoner” metal, and death metal mixed into one bag. What else is stashed away in the bag, I’m not saying. Among their influences are Lamb Of God, Godsmack, In Flames, Led Zeppelin, Deftones and even The Grateful Dead.
When they write a new song, it starts with a simple jam, and they build off it. Each of their members write their own parts in the process. The band mates also own Hage Entertainment together, which brings bands from the neighboring states to Upstate NY every summer to celebrate Hage Fest. This coming summer marks the 7th year in a row that they have at least 100 submissions to play. They started the festival for the sake of the scene. They wanted to help the other bands in the metal/hardcore scene to have some place and a crowd to play in front of and gain exposure. During the interview, they continued to let their very loyal fans into their van, to witness the interview, along with sharing a few beers and good times. I asked them about their upcoming release, Forward. With two albums already under their belts, Backstabber and Red Moon, Forward promises to be their most brutal release to date. They record at Nitro Blast Studios with the respected Jeff Barrett engineering and producing the albums. They have known Jeff for most of their careers in music. He has a knack for being able to capture the “Lowkey” sound. The Studio is located in Geneva NY, a backroom studio, described by the members of Lowkey as being “one of the best recording studios in the state.”
The boys in Lowkey shared with me some of the highlights of their last tour in 2012, as Sean said “crashin’ and ridin'”. With great support by fans, letting them crash at their homes and feeding them so they didn’t starve. But the most memorable moment was probably when Pickles crashed their brand “new” 1979 van. Luckily, no one was hurt, and they look back and laugh about the incident now. During their 2010 tour in Texas, a bartender after a gig gave them a case of vitamin water to help them survive on the road for a couple of days. Along the way they’ve meet some of their personal heroes, too. They genuinely appreciate their fans that sometimes send money on tours, and radio stations like The Metallic Onslaught that give them playtime. They’ve tried big management, but have found they like having complete control over what they do and how they do it. However for the right price they might think about making another deal. Jay says “he does this for the fun.”
Lowkey is a very tight-knit family that helps each other during the tough times and celebrates the good times. Be on the lookout for Forward to be released between March and April. They really strived to make the album as close as you can get to catching them live. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you can find them at www.facebook.com/lowkeyny and www.reverbnation.com/lowkeyny. For booking info go to www.facebook.com/hageentertainment.