It’s Casual: Heavy In The Best Way

I’m suffering all sorts of computer maladies right now, so a quick note about Saturday’s show at 3 Clubs featuring KARMA TO BURN and IT'S CASUAL.   IT'S CASUAL hasn’t played in awhile, so I’m looking forward to a show with the new drummer.  Through a complex and top secret effects and amping arrangement, Eddie Solis’s guitar tones are the essence  of heavy.  Are they metal?  Don’t know.  Lately it seems like the bands I listen to or interview are loosely categorized as “heavy metal,” but their proprietors are much more willing to jump on the “heavy” band wagon only.  

Case in point: I’ve been listening to a lot of FU MANCHU.  Scott Hill, the leader of that venerable institution, is not a metal fan.  He doesn’t dislike it, he just doesn’t listen to it.  Same with COLISEUM.  During our interview, Ryan Patterson was quick to point out that he, like Hill, is primarily a devotee of hardcore.  Which brings up the distinction between “heavy” and “heavy metal.”  I’m pretty sure I could write book on this idea, but nobody would read it, and my computer wouldn’t last long enough anyway.

Suffice it to say for now that there is a line in the sand.  Some great bands know the Black Sabbath catalog up and down, but not much about the Judas Priest/Iron Maiden branch of the tree.  I’m not sure where Solis fits in (we have had some in depth discussions about Def Leppard, so he’s probably not a purist like Hill), but his music conjures up Blue Cheer, Sabbath, and, most importantly, Greg Ginn.  Ginn is definitely the lynchpin in all these bands coming from hardcore into “metal.”  His later style  n Black Flag took the tone and aggression of his early fast playing and drenched it in heaviosity.  His guitars were modified to be either “off” or “on.”  Nothing in the middle.  Ginn had a degree in electrical engineering, so he knew what he was doing.  But man was some of that later Black Flag awesome.  I’m thinking of the opening lead and chords on “Slip It In.”  Solis reminded me of “The Process of Weeding Out” too.  Both of these tunes have salvos from Ginn that don’t feature the fastest or most intricate playing, but the urgency and tension of the guitar tone as against the rest of the song are about as heavy and angry as anything by Slayer or anyone else you can name.  Sometimes it comes down to tone, feel and the “space between the notes” as the jazz or blues guys say.

IT'S CASUAL obviously have a humorous and social commentary element to their music.  But for every witty observation that Solis has about the state of this town or the state of this human race, there’s an underlying anger shining on through, as he implores us to do things like: take public transportation; quit having so many kids; take in a meal  at the Pantry; drive carefully on those death trap freeways that surround our city; and, most importantly, take a look around at what is going on in this town, and don’t take it lying down.  A gangly UCLA grad had similar concerns in the late 1970’s.  If  you listen, you can hear guys like Solis or Hill channel that spirit right through their amps. The frosting might be a bit different, but the meat remains the same.