We sat down with the boys in PROFESSOR this week at their rehearsal space in Glassell Park as they took a break from practicing for tonight's show at Spaceland. We learned about their past, how they hooked up with the CHELSEA GIRL's Tuesdae to form HUNTRESS, a little math, and what that all means for the future of PROFESSOR. It's a busy time. They just released Off With Her Head, their first HUNTRESS recording, and played songs from that plus more at their successful debut show on Monday. They also made available for free their two PROFESSOR tour EPs from last year. But if they're feeling the stress, you could never tell. They're ready for the ride, wherever it takes them.
How did Professor come to be?
Sean: Ian, Blake and Greg knew each other in Pasadena since childhood and then they played in a band in high school together. I met Blake and Greg in Santa Cruz in 2002 and we started jamming.
Ian: Ya, and then I moved down there from Humboldt in 2005.
Blake: Brought wisdom with him.
Sean: The four of us started this band called TRIGGER RENEGADE. We put out an album in 2007 and earned our chops doing five tours behind it. Then Chuck Eddy named it his number three album of the year in Billboard, which was rad, but we never signed to a label. We then decided to change direction and do something more far out, more metal, more progressive, and more conceptually oriented.
Blake: With a better name, too.
Sean: So we changed our name to Professor, and got a better tour that Trigger Renegade ever had.
What’s the origin of the Professor name?
Blake: I remember how we came up with it. What’s the movie that has Duran Duran as a planet?
Blake: Ya, that’s Barbarella. And one of the characters names is Professor-something.
Sean: That’s not how it happened. [all laughing]. Definitely not. I have not even seen Barberella.
Ian: I’m pretty sure Sean thought of it. I was trying to get them to change it but I had never thought of anything that tight. We just needed to go down one path. It was riffs.
How did Huntress come about?
Sean: As soon as we got back from the second tour, we met Tuesdae at a Professor show that she had booked at Les Deux. We learned that she was trying to get her own original band started. So I said, why don’t you just have us be your band? We’ve been doing that pretty much non-stop the last four months.
So, how would you describe the difference between Huntress and Professor, other than the obvious difference in vocals?
Blake: There was supposed to be a bigger difference when we got started. We kinda took a half a step back inside of the box, not just total riffage all the time. We made a little room for some vocals and the structures are a little bit less out there.
The King Diamond/Mercyful Fate influence seems to be there in both bands. Is that off?
Blake: Not at all. Those two bands became my favorite thing in the world over the last year.
Greg: The biggest difference is that Blake probably wrote most of the Huntress set. Like, I’d say, 90% of it. And he’s been listening to nothing but King Diamond. And then with Professor, we all kind of write little riffs here and there, and that’s why it sounds like video game music, like Castlevania or NES, to me.
What’s up with the tour EPs you guys do?
Sean: Ya, we do a new EP for every tour. We write and finish the songs a day before we record them, and then we’re always finishing up recording the night before or the day the tour starts.
So, are they CD-Rs?
Sean: Ya. We would be burning them in the van everyday on the way to the next town. And then Greg would draw geometric symbols on them or write out complex calculus equations.
Greg: It’s the Proof of Euler’s Identity. It says e to the power of i + pi plus 1 = 0. It’s my favorite.
You have a math background?
Greg: Ya. I teach math and I’m working on a Masters in that.
Almost like a legitimate professor?
Sean: There is something to that with the name. I work at a college. I’ve always worked at colleges. Even lyrically, Professor is focused on science. The lyrics are not about sword fighting at all, or like triumph and battle…
Blake: Or pussy.
Ian It’s really intellectual, like about killing cops. That sort of thing. [all laughing]
Sean: There’s just one song about killing cops. [all laughing] Something we really believe in very strongly.
So how are you guys balancing all of this now?
Ian. Were have a hard time doing just one band, cause we all work jobs. We can only practice nine to midnight every night. But I’m super stoked on Tuesdae, and either way its fun and rad.
Sean: This shit’s hard, man.
Ian: We’re pretty fucking beat, so unless one band becomes successful and we can quit our jobs, I don’t see the time for doing both.
Blake: We didn’t know Huntress was going to turn out right. It could have turned out to be some sort of Disney metal kind of nonsense. And it didn’t and it’s something I think we’re all super proud of. But, we thought, if Huntress gets us paid that’s gonna free up all of our time to hang out and do our nerd shit that nobody actually wants to listen to. But then it turns out that we got to put the nerd shit in with the hot babe and the good voice and it all is working out real good.
Sean: We’re still taking Professor shows. And we have this one [tonight], which is gonna be awesome. Then we’re playing with Red Fang in May and the Gypsyhawk record release in June. So it’s not abandoned but the focus right now is following through with Huntress. I’d love to put out a record by both bands in in 2010.
How are people reacting to your involvement with Huntress?
Blake: People are cool that we know and that know her, but anybody that doesn’t just gets a big fucking question mark in their heads.
Sean: It just looks so suspect. This nerdy metal band that’s been doing van tours for four years has signed up with this bombshell wailer to make a bunch of cash. And, that’s like, half true. And people are turned off by the marketability of it. But anyone that has actually heard it or seen it has reacted really favorably.
Blake: The idea sounds terrible to me, too, man. I think the thing that we have pride in is that no compromises have been made. We haven’t been like, “Oh, nineteen year old girls might not like this.” The whole idea has been write the songs as heavy as we can and do what we do, and let Tuesdae do her thing, and you end up with something that can’t help but be somewhat successful. These cynics think that we’re really trying to get McMansions out in Georgia or something…
City of Devils: That is the promised land. [all laughing]
Sean: Ya, it’s great. Like the Huntress EP, that got put up last week has been downloaded 1100 times. The Professor EP has been downloaded nine times. That’s like the difference right there. Professor’s been around for years. Huntress has been around for four days.