Over the coming weeks, Already Heard will be highlighting a variety of bands set to play the Slam Dunk Festival in May.
On their latest album, ‘Every Trick in the Book’, Boston, Massachusetts’ Ice Nine Kills showcase their brand of elaborate metalcore and post-hardcore through soaring theatrical melodies, complex orchestral arrangements and a fiery rhythm section. Lyrically, the band use literary classics Dracula, Romeo & Juliet, Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde, and Animal Farm as influences by highlighting their more wicked side.
As they prepare for their Slam Dunk Festival debut, we spoke to vocalist Spencer Charnas about five albums that has influenced him over the course of Ice Nine Kills’ ten plus years.
1) Les Miserables – 10th Anniversary Concert (Original London Cast)
I was maybe 10 or 11 years old when my parents took me to see a production of Les Mis in Toronto. At that point in my life I was pretty closed-minded to anything that wasn’t hard, fast and loud. I was 100% dragged along to what I expected to be a real bore fest of a night. Little did I know, that musical would change the way I thought about music and opened me up to what I still consider to be some of the most profoundly moving melodies and lyrics I’ve ever heard.
I can put on ‘On My Own’, One Day More’, and ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ and still get the same chills and goosebumps as the first night I heard those brilliant compositions. The influence of Claude-Michel Schonberg’s writing can be heard clearly on INK songs like ‘Nature Of The Beast’, Me, Myself & Hyde, and ‘Tess-timony’.
2) Brand New – Your Favorite Weapon
In the late autumn of 2001 I was attending a very small Starting Line/Further Seems Forever show in a function room at Mass Art college in Boston.
The Starting Line is who I was most excited to see but they ended up cancelling their appearance to finish up work on what would turn out to be ‘Say It Like You Mean It’. Little did I know, the unknown band from Long Island that opened the show would end up becoming one of my favourite bands of all time. Brand New took the stage that night to a crowd of maybe 25 people and completely floored me with their insanely infectious hooks and devilishly clever lyrics.
After the performance I went to their merchandise table and picked up what would become one of my go to records for the next 15 years, ‘Your Favourite Weapon’. As a songwriter it really showed me the power of word play and that catchy riffs may come and go, but good lyrics are what makes fans stick around for years.
3) Finch – Say Hello To Sunshine
Yes, ‘What It Is To Burn’ is the Finch record that most fans hold closest to their hearts, but for me, it was 2005’s astronomically-underrated follow up, ‘Say Hello To Sunshine’.
This is the album that took the band from great to important. Grossly ahead of its time, the album was embedded with odd time signatures, fast tempos, unusual screamed vocal patterns, completely unpredictable drumming and a haunting atmosphere that seemed to be Danny Elfman inspired.
I remember specifically telling the band in person that this was one of my favourite records of all time. Their response was, ‘Really? We don’t get that a lot…’ That hurts me.
4) He Is Legend – I Am Hollywood
Everything about this band and this album was daring, risky and cool as hell. They had incredibly vicious heavy elements mixed with subdued almost stoner rock vocals with a Seattle 90s tinge.
The frontman looked like he would fit in more at a Doors show in the 1970s than fronting a heavy band, but for some reason that incongruent look made the band that much more interesting. With lyrical content ranging from literary references to almost Cobain-esque abstract metaphors, they stood out among a pack of groups that all seemed to be doing the same thing.
It was this album’s audacious style that reminded me that rock & roll is not supposed to be safe and encouraged me to think outside the box regarding my own compositions.
5) Midtown – Living Well Is The Best Revenge
I was already a fan of Midtown when Living Well Is The Best Revenge’ was released in the spring of 2002, but in my eyes, this was the record that crowned them as pop-punk royalty. Everything from the huge production of Mark Trombino, to the perfectly executed vocal performances of all three singers, to some of the catchiest melodies I’ve ever heard, this record should have made them bigger than Fall Out Boy.
Unfortunately, label problems, under promotion and other exterior factors kept this record from achieving the commercial success it so deserved. I stand behind the statement that the song ‘Like A Movie’ has the best bridge of all time, regardless of genre.
’Every Trick In The Book’ by Ice Nine Kills is out now on Fearless Records.
Slam Dunk Festival 2017 takes place on the following dates:
Sat 27 The NEC, Birmingham
Sun 28 City Centre, Leeds
Mon 29 Forum, Hatfield (SOLD OUT)
Tickets can be purchased here.