Absence Of The Sun

MaineList Article: Absence Of The Sun

Absence Of The Sun

This week was our all hardcore / metal band lineup for the “Local Music Roundup” summer concert series held every Thursday at Club Mirage in Old Orchard Beach. We invited four really great local metal bands to perform, including; “Ruin”, “Kipe”, “Ballistik”, and an all-teen group rising on the local scene known as “Absence Of The Sun”.

Who is AOTSMy first impression of this band came from their myspace page, a pretty cool logo, a few basic photos, an assortment of rather intense original songs on their player, and a couple of live video clips from recent performances. I had been hearing the band’s name tossed around more regularly on WCYY Radio, and remembered hearing stories about the band’s ability to draw a crowd. I thought I even remembered hearing someone say something about Absence Of The Sun pulling in more fans than any other band on the WCYY Rave ‘n’ Rage Concert that happened about a month ago in Lewiston.

Before I decided to book this ultra-heavy group of teenagers, I did a little research. I spoke with a few guys that I respect on the scene, including Mark Curdo from WCYY, who defintely would have forewarned me if there might be any reasons not to go there. But Mark actually had a few good things to say about the band. I also brought it up with a few of my other friends and it seemed that anyone who had ever heard of the band, would consider it a smart choice. So, I sent out an invite to the band, and they quickly responded to accept the gig.

Teenagers Love AOTSI thought it would be appropriate to include other really heavy bands on the lineup, so I sent out a bunch of invites to many bands of similar style. The four bands that did this gig all did fantastic jobs with their performances. The weather really wasn’t all that great, but I don’t think that was the #1 reason why the room didn’t fill up. First of all, it’s Old Orchard Beach on a poor weather night, before the tourist season really kicks in. But, even that doesn’t explain the lack of support from local fans.

I noticed a few teenagers hangin’ round outside, listening to the band from afar. Although the teens were not allowed into the bar, they seemed pleased with the tones that were coming from it, which better explained the reason why the bar didn’t fill up. The majority of fans for this music style aren’t old enough to get in! The teens that I saw bopping their heads to the beat, or air-guitaring to the song’s fast rhythms would make approving rock faces to let everyone around know… These guys kick ass! It’s too bad it couldn’t have been an all-ages show.

Hacky SackI met with Absence Of The Sun as they were bringing in their equipment early that evening. Once their stuff was where it needed to be, they formed a big circle, and I think it was me who suggested we play some hacky-sack. I mean, it felt natural. Here I am, standing in a big circle of teenagers in Old Orchard Beach on the sidewalk. I guess for a moment, I thought I was gonna be able to keep up, but I quickly realized how long it’s been since I’ve kicked a bag around like that.

“We play hacky-sack all the time”, one of the band members said as he waited for his turn to kick the ball in the rather large hack-circle. “When we go on our road tours, it’s one of the only things we can really do while we’re waiting.”

Someone made a joke about the hardcore metal band looking like a bunch of hippies, but everyone just laughed. In a way, I felt right at home with these guys. When I was their age, this was exactly the kinds of things I was doing with my time. Trying to book gigs anywhere and everywhere, shredding guitar riffs, playing hacky-sack in Old Orchard, horsing around and play-wrestling with guys in my band, and just laughing and having a good time. Wow, what a flash-back! The long hair, the metal concert T-shirts, the ripped jeans, I needed to get a hold of myself. This isn’t 1988! Or is it?

Some InfluencesSome of the guys rambled off some band names that they felt would be worth mentioning as influences, and I admittedly just sat there scratching my head. How come “I” don’t know who these bands are? I mean, “I” was that kid who knew the name of EVERY metal band. I could play every riff by every shredder no matter what foreign country he came from. Then I remembered an old “Bon Jovi” lyric… “It’s all the same… Only the names have changed.” And I smiled, realizing for once, what those lyrics might have really meant.

Ok, I’m not ready to admit that I’m getting old (yet), but I will say this. These guys are very talented, and at such a young age. It reminds me of myself, sure… But I didn’t play big stadiums when I was a teenager. And I certainly wasn’t out there touring the countryside either.

I can’t blame myself for not doing those things either. Not all things have remained the same over time. Technologies are something that are constantly changing. And thanks to modern technological breakthroughs and the dawn of communication bands like Absence Of The Sun are capable of bringing their music outside of the local bubble. It’s great to see it happening, and lately, I’ve been seeing it happen to more bands, more often.

Mark (lead guitar)“We have a huge list of promoters all over the United States, from the East Coast as far west as Oklahoma, and from Michigan down to Florida.” Explained Mark, the band’s lead guitar player.

Mark’s technical abilities on the guitar seem to stand out, at least for me. You can hear him cranking out speedy arpeggios, hammering down the fretboard, and just tearing up the strings. For a guy who’s only been playing for five years, I’d say this half-Filipino teen has a grasp on what’s he’s able to do for the band.

Mark (continued)“I listen to bands like; “Children of Bodom” and “Shadows Fall”. Anyone could get good at guitar with influences like that!” Mark attempted to explain. Although I have never heard of either of those bands, I could only compare it with conversations I remembered having with older musicians when I was his age. For me, it might have been “Yngwie Malmsteen” or “Steve Vai”. What’s interesting is, Mark knew both of those names, and even threw out a quick burst of an Yngwie lick between songs during the band’s performance.

Each member of the band is generally between 18 and 20 years of age. They have been together for nearly two years with the current lineup, but the founding members started over three years ago.

“Originally, it was me and “Matt” on guitars and “Ep” on the drums.” Mark also mentioned that the three founding members all grew up and went to school together. “We added “Yjago” as our bass player later on who was playing with a band called “X and O” at that time. And “Ned” came from a band called “Lost For Millenia” who we met after playing some shows together.

A Good StartAbsence Of The Sun has already played in about half of the 50 U.S. States from the east coast to the mid-west, and has had the privilege of opening for a few bands that they admire, including; “A Life Once Lost”, “Suicide Silence”, “Walls of Jericho” and “God Forbid” in Maine venues like “The Station” in Portland. The band has also been interviewed by WCYY Radio, and was interviewed for a Pagan News Magazine out in Michigan during the Paganstock Festival.

With just one original CD recorded, and fewer than two years of working history together, I found it rather amazing to discover that the band has already undergone several unsuccessful attempts for management. “We’re still open-minded for new management opportunities.” Says “Ned”, the band’s front-man vocalist.

I was puzzled as to how a group of musicians who aren’t even old enough to go to bars yet could have already accomplished so much. I spoke with Ned, who helped me better understand some of those questions.

Ned“I’ve been singing since I was 16.” Ned explained, although he’s only 20 years old now, this still didn’t really help answer my questions. “I went to the Portland Conservatory of Music for “clean” singing lessons. I also picked up “The Zen of Screaming” DVD, which helped out a lot with those kinds of techniques.”

Well, obviously these guys know their instruments, and it’s clear that they practice, rehearse, and perform well. But what about the marketing experience? The exposure to booking and the dedication and commitment to finding gigs and the ability to travel?

“We send out like 300 messages or more a day, just to keep the booking flowing. We’re currently “Label Shopping”, trying to score a decent deal. So we have also sent dozens of Press Kits all over the U.S.A., and as far out as Finland and The U.K.”

Ok, so it’s hard-work, and a commitment to booking that seems to be paying off. When I was their age, my band spent our available time hand-drawing comic book style fliers, physically hanging them on poles around town, passing them out to people on the streets, visiting social places and networking, making telephone calls to friends and fans of our band, and seriously grinding ourselves down to nothing, just to get a few dozen people to one of our shows. Now, it’s possible for a band to spend that same kind of energy, and book a nationwide tour while selling CDs, T-shirts, and exposing themselves to 10’s or even 100’s of thousands of potential fans.

Fill-insI see a group of young adults who have a passion for what they are doing, and are hungry enough for success that they have become willing to do whatever it takes to rise to the top.

What really put me over the top was when Ned and Mark told me that the band has had stand-in players fill in, in a couple of situations. “Our friend “Stople” has filled in on bass before, and “Gilbert” has actually filled in for vocals. And “Nick Villacci” filled in on the drums once in the past too.” I’ve heard of cover-bands hiring fill-in players, but I don’t often hear about local original bands doing this. For me, this demonstrated the band’s commitment to their music. This is clearly a situation of; “The show must go on!”

Photo by Pumpkin Pete (P.C.Photography)I spoke with a few people while the band was performing. A good friend of mine, known to most as “Pumpkin Pete”, mentioned that he has been watching these guys since their earliest beginnings.

“If any hardcore metal band in Maine has a shot of doing something big, it’s these guys!” Pete boasted.

Pete is a local photographer who’s work has been seen by countless people across the Internet often accredited to his company; “P.C.Photography”. But he wasn’t at the show to shoot photography tonight. He was there to enjoy the music!

“I wouldn’t miss this for anything man!”

(Photo to left taken by Pumpkin Pete)

Pete actually helped me fix a problem I was having with my camera tonight, and took a pretty cool shot that I thought I’d post (for him) in this article. Thanks Pete!

AOTS in summary

AOTS in summary

I personally enjoyed the guys in this band. I thought they were all pretty cool. Their youthful contribution to the 4-band metal onslaught definitely brought an intense energy to the room. Ned started the show by yelling into the mic, commanding the room to stop what they were doing and get up to the stage. The funny thing about it is, the room was kind of dead. The only people in the room at the time were the other bands, the employees working the venue, and perhaps a couple of girlfriends. There were a half dozen friends and fans standing around too, but they were already up front and ready to rock.

Like any hard-working original band, Absence Of The Sun is always looking for new opportunities, more gigs, bigger crowds, and so on. “National recognition would be nice.” The band stated hopefully. So long as the band keeps pouring their passion into the music, who knows what could happen.


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