“We take all kinds of pills that give us all kind of thrills, but the thrill we’ve never known. Is the thrill that’ll getcha when you get your picture, on the cover of the Rollin’ Stone” – Shel Silverstein.
For (hopefully) many followers, reading the above lyrics for celebrated Chicago poet Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Cover Of ‘Rolling Stone’; in all likelihood most would know the folk rock version by New Jersey’s Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show – nevertheless a certain recollection could potentially appear in a myriad of readers’ minds. This flashback would feature the actor Jason Lee as Jeff Bebe, the theatrical yet talented vocalist for 1970s rock band Stillwater who leads his band in a sing-along to the aforementioned track in a busy New York restaurant after the outfit are informed by rock journalist William Miller (played by Patrick Fugit), that the group will be on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. This scene is taken from the Academy Award winning film Almost Famous and should be considered a must-see; even the Hollywood Reporter in 2014 ranked the movie as the 71st greatest of all time.
Frontierer a mathcore band from the UK, Europe and the USA are not an outfit that will have an Academy award next to their name, at this point. They do have an association however, with Rolling Stone. For a genre that would receive little to no attention from major publications, the ultra-complex group were actually sought out by the monumental magazine CRAZY (see: Ben Fong-Torres). To enhance this accomplishment, it must be noted that the quintet were independent and birthed by the mastermind of the five-piece; the guitarist, producer and creator Pedram Valiani who birthed this whole project from a bedroom. Not just one feature either, the magazine continued to push the group with their every release.
No, it wasn’t the cover, but it was in context unbelievable. As guitarist Dan Stevenson explains from his home, this achievement is due to the immeasurable abilities of Pedram Valiani; although this crowning moment was thought to be inconceivable and became a reality, it wasn’t without an incalculable work ethic.
“He has an incredible eye for detail. And like all respects of everything he does like his day job, like his relationships with his friends, like an incredible eye for detail. So I think in many ways, he is a great producer, because he would push you so hard.” Mr Stevenson says with absolute admiration. “But I think if you didn’t know him that may come across as quite confrontational and challenging to work with. He produced records for Pupils Slice and that has turned them into one of the biggest kind of mathcore bands of the last year. The songs he got, were not the songs that came out of that record. So that’s the kind of level that he puts into his work. As for me contributing to Frontierer, he has kept it, so I know it has been good. So I can take the way that he talks but he’s very blunt and direct. People that don’t know him can be offended by that.”
The idiosyncrasies and thirst for impeccability is in all likelihood why the quintet became so prominent. Vocalist Chad Kapper actually applied to be the band’s frontman via a MySpace message; side note: He is American. Nevertheless, playing in an extreme music outfit has its challenges; regardless of the fact you are featured in a publication that for their first issue, the cover was John Lennon, a tour of the heavy music enthusiast region Europe has its setbacks as can be seen in the YouTube documentary.
“I mean, so whilst I was at the early phases of Frontierer, I was a professional tour booker.” Mr Stevenson clarifies – “I booked bands all over the UK in Europe. So that was fine to take on that workload. But the problem is, that Frontierer is not exactly palatable. And unless you know the band and love that style of music, a lot of people aren’t overly keen to book it because it’s a risk.”
“Imagine a Tuesday night in the Czech Republic in the summer, where nobody is around. Who is going to book the band? On that tour, from a trail of noise, we had a couple of shows that were like, genuinely dispiriting. So we had one in Salzburg in Austria, where we genuinely played to one guy that walked into the venue by accident. And all we could do was laugh. We were all literally just in stitches and laughter; it was like band practice. And then we had another one in Bratislava, where it was a disaster. There is a clip in that documentary of me just like fuming with rage and pissed off after that show. But you know, it’s all part of the learning experience. And I wouldn’t change it. You know, you always gain something out of those shows, too.”
Although this conversation presents loss for the most part, there is a lot of gain and prosperity. Frontierer are headed to Australia with knowledge of us Aussies loving the extreme (more on that in a moment). Mathcore has a devout following undoubtedly, the jazz fusion with heavy music and unbridled energy that is more frightening than fascinating, in the best way possible, is a sensational spectacle that NEEDS to be witnessed. With that in mind, surely Dan has experienced some rather strange fan interactions?
“So I guess I can split that into like two different categories. So there’s like the live reaction when we play, it is wild. Particularly in mainland Europe, like Czech Republic in particular places like that, fans are so invested and they will go so hard. So that’s like one element of it, they always appreciate it and I think it’s really cool.” He admits with an infectious grin before continuing – “The mix of people coming to our shows is really opening up now as well. When we first started it was all guys with like neck beards and tattoos in their 30s. Now we have a lot more women, a lot more trans-people, there’s a lot more representation across our fan base now, which I genuinely love. It makes me so happy to know that this is inclusive, everyone is welcome. Our motto is: ‘Unless you’re a racist c**t and we don’t want you’. But otherwise, it’s amazing to see that.”
What is the other element?
“There is the other side of it, where there’s like the fandom which creeps me out a little bit only because I find it quite hard to wrap my head around in some ways. We played in Hungary one time and the further Eastern Europe you go the more ‘normal’ it is to give people a gift from your country; and that can be food.” Dan admits sheepishly – “So when we were in Hungary, Budapest I think it was, after we played the show, a guy gave a can of food to Pedram. Then he explained to us that it was like a cow’s intestine or pigs and it’s like a delicacy in Hungary.”
“Our band is almost fully vegan, our whole crew as well. So it is kind of like: ‘Thank you so much like this is amazing. Like we really appreciate it’. Though, it is like, what do we do with a pig’s stomach? And so unfortunately, that that kind of got left by the wayside.”
Assuredly you received more connected presents?
“We did receive many cool gifts. Okay, people will make us cakes. And some people made us pin badges and all of that stuff is amazing. I just can’t wrap my head around it because I feel like no separation with musicians and fans and stuff. Everyone goes to the toilet, everyone wakes up and feels sh*t. Everyone ultimately is kind of the same. So I don’t like the idea that someone feels that they’re so distant from us that we’re some sort of big deal or whatever. I find that difficult to connect with. I appreciate it nonetheless. And I think it’s really cool. But it’s a world that I’m not entirely comfortable in.”
It is a separation that can occur, but a marvellous kinship this writer discovered was Dan Stevenson’s adoration for experimental post-hardcore rock quartet Thrice. Having the good fortune of interviewing Dustin Kensrue the evident question had to be: Which is his favourite Thrice LP?
“Oh, it’s such a tough question. I mean, part of the reason that I love the band is that they continually push and change. They started as like a pop punk band turned, like, progressive alternative, this is so difficult. I think there is elements of Beggars that I am really still attached to some of the song-writing and the shift into that direction really was pretty monumental. So I think elements of that. But I also think: To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere – that record has such a place in my heart, again, attached to some personal struggles that I had, and I am so entwined with that record.”
For those unfamiliar with mathcore – Australia has actually had some brilliant interactions with the royalty of the sound. Georgia’s The Chariot thankfully toured our shores a handful of occasions, one such instance resulted in the quartet playing a house show in Western Australia which became viral for its intensity. Believe it or not, Mr Stevenson was in the nation at the time.
“I did go to quite a few shows. I was at the legendary tour The Chariot did. I was at that tour in the Melbourne show. It’s still fresh in my mind and it was like 11 years ago, but I remember the feeling in that room before they started. And it was what I’ve always tried to achieve with Frontierer – that feeling of panic and terror. Without even doing a thing, like standing still on a stage and creating that.”
To find the way to get the thrill without a picture on the Rolling Stone – try mathcore.
Frontierer kick off their Australia Tour on Thursday!
Frontierer – 2022 Australian Tour
with special guests Apate
Thursday, October 13: The Zoo, Brisbane
Blind Girls & Diesect
Friday, October 14: The Newcastle Hotel, Newcastle
Saturday, October 15: Factory Floor, Sydney
Arteries & Cultists
Sunday, October 16: The Basement, Canberra
Tuesday, October 18: Stay Gold, Melbourne
R U N & Nicolas Cage Fighter
Wednesday, October 19: Enigma Bar, Adelaide
R U N & Relapse
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