When I interviewed Henchman I was fortunate to see them play at The Vault in Pomona. It was my first gig, with a live band that I admire, so I got carried away with the writing.
Skinnie Entertainment Magazine published the article, and Henchman became the first band I ever interviewed.
The Vault in Pomona. It’s a bank someone turned into a musical venue. The inside is what shows are all about. A stage you can fight your way to. A grim and gritty interior, one notch up from amateur community theatre, with bare minimum lights and electronics. It’s rough and primal, which served Henchman, a metal band straight outta Zurich, Switzerland, perfectly.
Henchman had spent all week performing at the Roxy in Hollywood, and then Anarchy Library in Downey a week before.
They opened up with “Right or Wrong," which had a Helmet/Tool/Godflesh clashing, crushing, big-metal-machine drone to it. Roger, with his lead vocals, alternated between sultry croons and throaty sonic howls. Deniz, who handles the bass and back up vocals, punctuated the chorus, while Jerome, who did the drums, kept it all together with a backbeat that could pace itself or just beat you to the finish line.
At one point Roger, who could sing as brilliantly as he could play, turned around and brought his guitar up to the amplifier in a theatrical tour-de-force, using the feedback, controlling it, hitting a note and then playing the sonic wail like a theremin.
I couldn’t decide what aspect of the band I liked the most, but the bass guitar became my favorite. It could bump and drive the music, or it could just thrum in an underwater way, where the notes come warbling from beyond, before all the music screams into a caterwaul that brings you to the next level, only to let you down onto your feet, until they hit you right between the eyes with their next song.
The last song, “Viva L.V.”, typified the band’s sound, personifying Henchman completely. It had a grinding, powerful, dominating, runaway locomotive, quality to it.
Afterwards, the band gave me some words. I asked for a demo and bought a shirt while the distant sounds of downtown Pomona honked, wailed around us.
They all grew up in the same area, were each friends long before the band, practiced and played for a while, until their old singer had to quit to go to college in 1996. The other members came back together after 3 years, and now here they are, on a 2nd tour in America, still proud and independent, with the with a full-length recorded album coming out this summer.
The album, Unmistaken, will be brought to you by Sylvia Massy-Shivy, who has also produced albums from Tool and Powerman 5000. Henchman pointed out that they were stoked to work with such a legend in music. When she asked if she could record their album, they agreed.
The band was cool, on and off the stage. They spoke freely, listing their influences (Helmet, Tool) and the music they listen to when not performing, which proved to be as varied and interesting as their own sounds-D.J. Shadow, Jack Johnson, Slayer, Ween, Moby and Queen.
While they classify themselves as heavy metal, they also admit to going beyond the category, and they do. Check them out when they go on tour this summer, and get your claws on their album. You can also hit up their website at www.henchman.net.