Michigan natives Ivan Fargo, Charles King, and Kevin Beattie began their musical careers by screaming and shredding all over long-defunct eastside haunts back in the high school metal scenes of Chippewa Valley High School, Mount Clemens High School, and the surrounding areas in the mid-2000s.
With their new band Those Hounds, they've left the mathcore for the kids and opted for gritty rock riffs, power choruses, and adrenaline-fueled live shows, making the rounds around town in support of their self-released late 2014 LP Mother Earth Is Sick.
Mother Earth's eight songs manage to translate all the agitated dynamics of their live performance. You get abrupt starts and stops and a volleying of energy, which makes the music jump off the track. It's well built too — they understand rhythm and pop as a foundation for the noise.
In anticipation of their show this Saturday at the Loving Touch with the Messenger Birds, Yum, and Stikyfut, Metro Times caught up with the band in their practice space, the Sound Shop in Macomb, to talk about their many silent influences.
Metro Times: When did you form Those Hounds?
Ivan Fargo: We started jamming in a garage during the summer in 2013. We'd just kind of improvise, forming little bits of songs. Back then it was just me and Kevin; we were a guitar, vocals, and drums duo. Then in May of 2015, we added Charlie on bass.
MT: How were you playing those songs without a bass player?
Fargo: Live shows we would just play obscenely loud, with a lot of low end in the guitar signal. But, Charlie was going with us to shows. And he was always joking, "When are you gonna let me in your band?" And finally I said, "You know what dude, if you want to grab a bass and play with us I'm not going to stop you."
MT: Have you played together in bands before this?
Charles King: Lots. We were all in a band called I Speak in Calculus at different points, but that one was never at the same time.
Fargo: And that band sounds nothing like this band. It was technically death metal.
King: It was a bunch of pissed-off high school kids, a bunch of metal nerds. Where you sort of have an idea what the guitar player is doing technically, but can't totally fathom it.
MT: What's the story behind your LP title, Mother Earth Is Sick?
Fargo: It's a lyric from the song "Rats." I wrote it when there were a lot of bummer things in the news, the feelings of dread that stem from that. The full line is "Mother Earth is sick and so am I" because you see the state of the world around you and it makes you feel the same way.
MT: Do you miss your metal days of having mosh pits at your shows?
King: I'd prefer they dance. When you're 16 and you're in a band and you're making people fight, you're like, "Yeah!" But now if people are just listening, it's great.
MT: What are the unique things that each of you brings to the band?
King: Ivan's the primary songwriter of the band, and he has a lot of rock 'n' roll chops, and he can structure a hell of a song. Kevin's listened to a lot of metal and has a lot of talent as a metal drummer and he's fast. And before this band I was making a lot of noise music — ambient soundscapes. And now we hang out and pepper all of that in.
MT: How have your music tastes changed since the metal days?
King: They're not as mad.
Fargo: We've slowed down. Young Widows, Queens of the Stone Age, Death from Above 1979, Swans.
King: Lots of R&B influences too. Aaliyah, SWV.
MT: Does that come out in the music?
King: I wish. I think as a band there are a lot of people that we admire [for] their the creative drive. When people ask me who my favorite bass player is, I usually say Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth. She didn't even really play the bass, she would just like walk on it and hit it with a screwdriver. But I like that.
Kevin Beattie: I have a lot of influences but they don't come out in our music so much, as far as drummers go. If I listed them off, people would get the wrong idea of what the band is. But Bill Ward's the best drummer that ever was.
MT: Is Black Sabbath what made you want to play the drums?
Beattie: My uncle did, actually. He was in the music scene in the '70s, and I used to go to his house and think, "Man, I want to play the drums." He actually gave me the kit I play now.
King: I wish you would've said your uncle is Bill Ward from Black Sabbath.
MT: What's some of the feedback you've gotten from your shows?
King: No one knows who we sound like.
Fargo: People will say, "There are some parts that remind me of this band, but I wouldn't say you sound like them entirely."
MT: That's a good thing, isn't it?
King: Oh, it's amazing. I love it.
Those Hounds' music can be heard at thosehounds.bandcamp.com. Those Hounds perform on Saturday, Feb. 13 with the Messenger Birds, Yum, and Stikyfut at the Loving Touch; Doors at 8 p.m.; 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; thelovingtouchferndale.com; $5 all ages.
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