Chopper – Vocals
Dave Styer – Bass
Paul Butterfield – The Other Bass
Dave Bogart – Drums
In a recent art piece of the band by Fletcher Booth for the cover of SLUG’s May 2007 issue, Chopper appears larger than life, an
old-fashioned Southern preacher in a suit and tie towering over an Indian woman holding up her child to be blessed. A tornado rages in the background on the prairie horizon while the other members of the band crouch underneath Chopper, engrossed in their instruments, their faces in shadow. Blackhole doesn’t need religion; they’re starting their own.
The art piece reflects Nick Cave’s And the Ass Saw the Angel, William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and even Stephen King’s Children of the Corn—capturing everything that’s unruly, twisted, overpowering and fascinating about the South, and religion gone wrong. But what’s most captivating about the piece is that the live experience of the band channels the same authority and fervor of a sermon while dashing all illusions of a heaven to the ground.
It’s Chopper most of all that nails you firmly to the earth. His brutal delivery tinged with a sliver of insanity unleashes raw, animal energy through barking, sandpaper vocals and bold prowling, not unlike the primal-hot delivery of Iggy Pop or Henry Rollins. The sludgy, sublevel riffs of Blackhole’s two basses sink into slowly rotating grooves like two tire tracks in a sandy back road. It’s a sound like stoner metal, but Chopper’s aggressive yowling and virile punk stance make Blackhole’s music something else—a conglomerate of NoMeansNo and Enemymine. They’re not bitter like Eye Hate God, but they have that same uncompromising, intimidating delivery. Chopper confirms, “I put all my energy and emotion into my singing; I’m not just up there trying to play a part; I put as much of myself into it that I can.”
Keeping the two bass sounds separate isn’t as hard as might be expected—the dueling basses are able to play in the same sandbox with aide of weaving bass lines, different octaves and two very distinct bass tones. It’s writing the drum parts, which traditionally lock with just one bass, which is the challenge. Dave Bogart says, “It’s a challenge playing with two bassists. Sometimes I need to lock in with one bass line. Others times I’ll have to lay back and grove with the other bass. And sometimes I’m bulldosing straight ahead while the two basses weave back and forth overtop.”
Blackhole released a self-titled album last year and plan on releasing a follow-up soon along with a split with Seattle’s Madraso. They played the Albuquerque Hyperactive Fest as part of the SLUG showcase and tour and played shows in Nevada, Arizona and Colorado there and back.
Molding and morphing found attitudes and sounds into a new monster, Blackhole is one of the most powerful bands Salt Lake City has spawned. They push boundaries and challenge their individual and collective limits. And they’re out to convert their audience with all the fires of hell and none of the pulpit-pounding. – Rebecca Vernon