THE SHOWDOWN - No Respect For The Demon’s Cry

October 12, 2010, 8 years ago

By Aaron Small

the showdown feature

Prior to the release of THE SHOWDOWN’s new album, Blood In The Gears, extreme floods ravaged the band’s home state of Tennessee, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage and killing more than 30 people – a natural disaster that affected members of The Showdown personally. Guitarist Josh Childers recalls the torrential downpours.

“Most of us live in Nashville. I woke up at eight o’clock in the morning – somebody was pounding on the door. I thought, ah whatever. I heard my roommate get the door and start screaming and yelling. I was like, what? I grabbed a baseball bat and jumped up out of bed in my underwear, thinking somebody was trying to rape her or something. As it turns out, there’s a creek out back of our apartment complex and it had come half way across the parking lot at that point. I had to go out there and get my car ‘cause it was parked right next to the creek. I actually got in the car and when I started it, I was up to my waist in water – really bizarre feeling! Another foot and it would have been in our apartment; it didn’t actually get in there. But I do have friends who had second story flooding; a lot of people lost everything. Nashville really came together. There were a lot of charities that came into being really fast and for the most part, now you can’t even tell there was a flood here. It could have been a lot worse for me, definitely.”

Having overcome the obstacle of Mother Nature, Josh and vocalist David Bunton faced another hurdle in the form of their own band – or lack thereof. Since the release of Back Breaker in 2008, Josh and David are the only remaining members with the rest of the guys dropping by the wayside. “We did two or three years with the initial lineup, but after that it seems that people keep falling off,” admits Josh. “It’s one of those things. We tour a lot and it’s just not for everybody. You don’t really make a whole lot of money playing metal unless you’re at the top echelon. Some of these people wanted to start lives, most of them are married now – or at least engaged. They’re doing their thing. There’s no bad blood or anything like that. We still love all those dudes and when we see them it’s always a good time.”

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Producer Jeremiah Scott, who worked on all of The Showdown albums except Temptation Come My Way, joined the band as bassist. When Bob Rock worked solely as producer for METALLICA, the results were stupendous. However, he played bass on St. Anger – without a doubt, the worst album of their career. Thankfully that same fate did not befall The Showdown. “I’d never even made that connection, but that’s really funny,” laughs Josh. “We’ve known Jeremiah forever, even before we did A Chorus Of Obliteration. He’s Mr. Metal. He’s a lifer. Technically speaking, he plays better than any of the other bass players we’ve had. He’s an easy dude to get along with and he gets stuff done. That and he has his own studio which makes doing albums a lot cheaper for us.”

Admittedly though, Jeremiah’s perspective did change once he officially joined the band “He engineered the first record and co-produced Back Breaker with us. This time around, he was a lot more involved in general. He did some of the writing, a lot of the guitar riffs. I’ve always written everything before. Handing some of that off to him and Patrick (Judge), our other guitar player, was a little nerve-racking for me. I was in the middle of a move and had some writer’s block for a minute there. But they know what The Showdown sounds like. They were fans before so there was no reason for me to worry.”

Despite the fact that Yogi Watts plays drums on the album, Isaac Harris has since replaced him. According to Josh, “Yogi’s a really dynamic drummer; he keeps tempo really well, but he’s pretty much a rock drummer who learned how to play double bass. So we prefer Isaac. He used to be in a tech-death band that actually opened up for us at our Temptation Come My Way CD release show, that’s the first time I ever saw him. I hadn’t heard from him since then, but Dave got in tough with him when Yogi quit and he came down to Nashville to jam. Isaac grew up listening to our first drummer Andrew Hall, he really likes the way that guy played so it was an immediate fit. He’s 19 years old, full of energy and enthusiasm. He’s not an old jaded man like the rest of us.”

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PANTERA influences are plentiful on Blood In The Gears, but none more obvious than ‘Bring It Down’. “For sure. I believe Jeremiah wrote the majority of that one. When I heard it for the first time, I knew it was going on the record. It’s our take on ‘Fucking Hostile’ essentially. It’s definitely a live favourite too. It’s a lot of fun for us.” The old saying about wearing your influences on your sleeve holds especially true for Josh as he has the Vulgar Display Of Power album cover tattooed on his left arm. “Yeah, we wear it on our sleeves. I actually have an …And Justice For All tattoo as well. We’re definitely not ashamed to be a metal band. We’re tired of hearing metal bands say they don’t ever listen to metal. I love heavy metal!”

The Showdown was seriously being considered for DANZIG’s upcoming Blackest Of The Black Tour, which now features POSSESSED, MARDUK, TOXIC HOLOCAUST and WITHERED. However, when organizers learned The Showdown was a “Christian band” signed to Solid State Records, their name was wiped from the slate. “It’s frustrating but I understand it. Danzig’s whole thing is evil. But we don’t consider ourselves a Christian band. If you ask each member individually about their beliefs, some of us are, some of us aren’t, some of us are in the middle. But even beforehand, when all of the dudes in the original lineup were Christian, this band is a job for me; it’s not a ministry. It’s kind of like having a Christian mailman. If he’s not a Christian, I’m still going to let him deliver my mail. You want to say something uplifting and positive, but I don’t want to alienate kids. We end up on a lot of Christian shows and it’s really frustrating for us… it’s basically a big tent revival on tour. If you’re going to do that, you’ve got no business selling t-shirts and making money. Basically you’re selling the name of God and I have a real problem with that! We’ve been back and forth in the band about whether or not to say anything about that in interviews, at the end of the day we just decided to be honest. Yeah, some of us are Christians and none of us have a problem with the Christian faith by any means, but losing out on opportunities because of being associated with some of these other bands is a little frustrating for us. I’ve always approached metal like, if you have a message that I’m into – awesome! That’s icing on the cake. But I don’t need the icing; I’ll still eat the cake. I can listen to something like BURZUM. I know he’s a racist. I know he’s an idiot in general, but I like some of the music so I tune the lyrics out. It’s metal; you can’t understand half of it unless you really want to.”

Singer David Bunton has said that Blood In The Gears features “different lyrical ideas that we’ve never really done before.” Seeing as Josh writes the lyrics, he offered the following explanation. “I got to be kind of a politics nerd for a while there, especially with the last election and the recession. I started being a little more aware of world events. I didn’t want to write another record whining about how this girl broke up with me. I wanted to be socially aware, but I think I might have been a little heavy handed with it. I would rather let people make up their own minds and actually start thinking outside the box, rather than espouse a particular message. But it’s a step in the right direction.”

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Blood In The Gears features songs that are very direct and to the point, such as ‘The Crooked Path’, which spells out everything society says that “you need” in order to live a happy life. Then there are other songs that require a little reading between the lines to realize Josh is comparing The United States to ancient Rome, as well as examining the effect an empire has on a culture. “There’s a lot of very obvious things going on in the world that, to me, seem so wrong you that you can’t not see it. I saw this thing on YouTube the other day, this woman who was a Senator or representative from North Carolina, was speaking out against the mosque that’s going down near Ground Zero (in New York City). She was basically interchanging the words Muslim and terrorist to mean the same thing. I don’t care whether or not you believe in the Muslim religion, you can’t just blanketly say all Muslims are radical terrorists. There’s billions of them and it’s just not fair. Because of the way America’s going right now, the view that most Americans have – especially those from a state as Conservative as Tennessee – is that if you’ve got brown skin and a turban on your head, you’re dangerous. Plus the stuff that the government is doing in The Middle East, to me it’s indisputably wrong. I’ve got buddies over there and I do not, by any means, disparage what they’re doing. I think they’re trying to do the right things with their lives. I think the leadership has put us in a never-ending war. It’s a real mess.”

Speaking seriously about lyrics based on the current political and socio-economic state of affairs is in direct contrast to the Blood In The Gears album cover, which depicts a biker jacket. Furthermore, the video for the first single ‘The Man Named Hell’ features motorcycles and the band performing outdoors at a field party. To top it all off, the album begins with the unmistakable sound of the revving of a Harley Davidson. The biker image is the complete antithesis of the content found within. “For sure. There’s definitely two sides to it. We very specifically did the video and the cover differently because like I said before, we don’t want to get too heavy handed with it. The bottom line is, we want to spread something good and a good time is about as good as it gets. Just because things are going wrong doesn’t mean that you can’t find something good in life that you enjoy.”

By incorporating the biker element, The Showdown is tipping their hat in tribute to Zakk Wylde and BLACK LABEL SOCIETY. “Absolutely. That’s one of the few bands that everyone in The Showdown agrees upon – we all love Black Label Society! Zakk Wylde is untouchable, there’s no doubt about that. I got to see him play with OZZY when we did Ozzfest in ’07; he just killed every single night. It was the best part of the tour. I remember I was doing an interview on the bus and Zakk was doing a signing right outside. They had this weird travelling circus going around with Ozzfest and the carnival barker out front was screaming about Satan and Fuck Jesus and all this stuff. A couple of times Zakk yelled at him to stop ‘cause it wasn’t cool, and the dude wouldn’t stop. He was in the middle of this big speech about not being a sheep and being a lion when Zakk slammed his beer down, walked over there, knocked over the dude’s speaker and chased him into the tent. It was awesome!”


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