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Vibe alive 

Bad Vibration’s Black Train is coming. Get on or be screwed.

Bad Vibrations’ Black Train is coming Friday at the Seahorse.
  • Bad Vibrations’ Black Train is coming Friday at the Seahorse.

There are some bands that wear their influences on their sleeve. To some extent, this is true about Bad Vibrations. Over the past two years, KC Spidle, Evan Cardwell and Meg Yoshida have developed a sound shaped by a variety of influences, culminating in their monstrous debut LP Black Train. The stewing pieces of Bad Vibes could be characterized as follows: Take the hulking riffage of Motorhead and combine with the out-there vocals reminiscent of Elevator at its trippiest. Overlay each song with a certain dark relentlessness that's somewhat nihilistic and preternaturally heavy---kinda like The Wipers. As influences, this is all very respectable.

And then...there's that hair metal thing.

It takes a little prodding, but after a beer or two, an offhand mention of Mötley Crüe makes Spidle's eyes light up like a kid on Christmas morning. The libidinous hit "Live Wire" off Too Fast for Love is a particular favourite, and there are others. "The other day, I was rocking 'Piece of Your Action' in a rented SUV," Spidle says. "It was wicked."

Spidle and bassist Cardwell go on to wax nostalgic about having their Appetite for Destruction records confiscated as teenagers. For Spidle, it's all part of a re-visitation of the music he grew up with----back when MuchMusic had shows like Power Hour.

"I remember seeing Nuclear Assault or Voivod videos for the first time and being blown away," Spidle recalls. "Metal used to be so badass to me back then. I still like it and have been slipping back into old patterns this year. I'm sure old metal has influenced our album more then I know."

In some ways, it's sort of weird and hilarious that the players in Halifax's most hypnotic dark-rock outfit dig these cock-rock anthems. Then again, there are earmarks of this style on Black Train, if you're looking for them: Spidle's squealing, epic solo on album opener "Leaving 1," for instance. "Yeah, I did more soloing on this album, I guess," he says. "This time around, I started to explore. I'm never quite sure of what I'm doing. Sometimes I sound like I'm losing it. But I guess that's the style."

The band wrote and recorded the bulk of Black Train in its practice space beneath Lost & Found. Cardwell describes the space as a windowless vacuum where time seems to stop: "We'd step outside after hours of playing, expecting it to be dark outside, but it would still be the middle of the afternoon, and there'd be kids running around laughing," he says. "Very weird."

It seems a lot of wild ideas could be hatched in this friendly dungeon. Along with the album's solid arsenal of dark-punk rippers, there's an experimental track called "Black Train," where Yoshida builds a chugging beat amidst squalling feedback that sounds like screeching railcar brakes. And there are also sludgy standouts like the Cardwell-composed "Muddy Waters," with an elastic, murky riff that could have been ripped straight from Nirvana's Bleach. ("I don't know what Evan's lyrics are about," says Spidle. "Probably about how much he despises me.")

Joking aside, there seems to be a level of connectivity between the members of Bad Vibrations that allows them to continue moving forward. The skills within the band enable them to do their own graphic design, promotion and recording, and Black Train marks the first vinyl release of its own imprint, Brotherhood Records (formerly Brotherhood Cassettes). Spidle is into the astrology tip, and says the band's makeup ---air, fire, earth---dictates that it's drawn to chaos but still able to maintain a solid foundation. In the end, it comes down to a singular common interest.

"It is fun to rock, we all agree on this," says Spidle. "And we wanna keep doing it until it no longer makes sense."

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