By Brian Tucker
Starved Out, a band together less than six months, recently released their EP Hunger Pangs, a charged and politically themed album of music they describe as Sludgeviolence. In the process of developing the band’s sound the moniker, a combination of sludge metal and power-violence genres of music, sprang to mind.
“We incorporate a lot of other elements into our music as well that are not found in these genres,” singer Sam West said.
For the band, whose members are in their 20s, the genre name is effective, an apt description of music that’s both hard hitting and memorable. Hunger Pangs is a demanding, in your face album that’s manically energetic. Its crushing guitar work, popping percussion and coarse, intense vocals deliver songs about a culture being bought and sold and ultimately left by the roadside.
“The concept for Hunger Pangs is a kind of dystopian cautionary tale warning against the dangers of political extremism,” West said.
Starved Out is a relatively new band, with members in their 20s?
West: Yeah, we’re all in our 20s. Eli (Marsh) is the band elder at 28 and Andrew is the baby at 23.
Were band members friends in school or was it a meeting of like-minded players wanting to make music?
Sam: Andrew and I are brothers and grew up in Atlanta. I met both James Starling and Eli via Craigslist musician ads. Once I ended up moving to Wilmington but was never able to really get anything together. Eventually, I got fed up with not playing music and made the time to commit and things started to come together.
We are all multi-instrumentalists and that has really helped with our cohesiveness as a group. We have only been playing as Starved Out for four or five months now. We all also bring very different tastes to the table but we all have a love for things dark and heavy. I think the eclectic nature of our personal tastes can be heard in our songs.
Themes of your songs can exist in varied music genres.
West: It’s all about creating an atmosphere and experience that can become as immersive as the listener desires with a twist of the volume knob. The heavier elements of our music accompany the content of our songs rather nicely in exploring the themes of this sort of broken future.
What was the first song the band wrote? Did that song help create a template?
West: We kind of wrote three songs all at the same time. Technically, “Workforce” was our first song. When we first started it was just Eli and I and that was the riff we were working on until we hooked up with James. Due to some weird scheduling issues the first few weeks of practice were with either Eli on guitar and me playing drums or with James on drum and me playing guitar. So during those formative weeks Eli and I worked on “Workforce” and James and I put together parts of “Soul Solicitor” and “Dialectic.” Once we all got together it was clear that we had something worth pursuing.
Heavy handed or groove heavy, Eli’s guitar work scorches song to song.
Eli: As far as the variations in our songs I think we’re still trying to figure out how to make all of our various influences work together. These were the first songs that we wrote together, so we’re still figuring what works best for us. I tried to take a minimalist approach to my guitar playing and the way we structured the songs so we can bring in all of these influences, while still having a cohesive sound and not biting off more than we can chew trying to jump from droning noise to thrashy hardcore.
What is that sound bite at the beginning of “Workforce”?
West: The intro clip for “Workforce” and the clip in the outro of “Soul Solicitor” are both from Barton Fink and follows the general themes of the EP. While the film is open to interpretation, Fink’s rant about the realms of the common man, and Charlie’s homicidal rage at the end of the film (and EP) are both relevant to the themes explored therein. The song is the mad ranting of a libertarian capitalist leader on his propensity to use humans as resources. The album starts at this political extreme and by the end of “MDM,” has swung completely left. This sort of narrative ties the EP together thematically.
The synth that accompanies certain tracks, did that exist from the beginning or come later?
West: The synth was part of it from the beginning, but we didn’t incorporate it until we had a few songs firmed up. It really helps tie things together on the EP and in our live performances in terms of conveying the intended atmosphere. Each synth track that is at the end of every track on the EP is actually the intro to the next song. We did it this way on the record so those who don’t care for the synth tracks don’t have to hear them. When we play live it all just bleeds together. The sound never stops…you know…unless we break something.
Was Hunger Pangs recorded locally?
West: It was recorded locally by Zac Nobles. It took us about a month to finish it due to studio sessions being plagued by technical issues beyond anyone’s control. We finally made a Frankenstein computer from my machine and parts from Zac’s computer. We did the entire record at his and my house.
Being forced to take this much time with something so short really helped us to really make it sound the way we wanted. Zac is really good at what he does as well, that really helped make the process easier. We use some not-so-standard DIY recording tricks that really helped to fill out the sound.