Monday, October 2, 2017

interview: Obscurus in Everett, Washington state, U.S.

Where do metal bands play shows in the Everett area? Some of the more known places are Tony V’s and The Anchor Pub, but now we should add Obscurus to the list. Obscurus is a venue that many metal bands in the state of Washington have been playing recently. This publication sent them some questions to introduce the venue to more interested people in the area. David Shriner from Obscurus answered the questions and somehow his answers came out both informative and hilarious. This is what happens when you take the bull by horns. You can ride it for a few seconds, but you may get kicked in the teeth, too. Thanks, Dave.
When did Obscurus open its doors?
Obscurus hosted its first test show on Feb 13, 2015 and opened officially on Feb 13, 2016 as a very small word-of-mouth operation that did about 6 shows that season. In that first year I had no clue what I was doing and my 3 years focusing on preparing Obscurus instead of focusing on recording, performing and supporting shows meant I was starting at the bottom again so there wasn’t too much action but it was fun. I didn’t even have the bathroom until the last show of ’16. I had a hole in the ground called the Gender Neutral Peehole. We naturally support equality here and at that point our nation was confused about gender issues and needed to label bathrooms so I made sure everyone knew everyone was allowed to use it.
What motivated you to start in Everett?
The venue came about by chance, our landlord had things go wrong with a tenant and offered a deal on this house as a rent-to-own. The garage was a carport at that time and I had a need to practice so we finished closing off the walls and I started prepping this place figuring I’d do some small noise and metal shows here and there. The place was a mess when I moved in and I got impatient waiting for my landlord to do it and I started hauling stuff to the dump in my van and burning tons of bulldozed sheds and fences and clearing garbage outside, the cleanup alone took almost 3 years. I never should have done that, I should have whined and complained until he had his crew do it with a dump truck in a fraction of the time. But years later I finally had a primitive little cave to do some loud obnoxious shows, and I did, with my horribly under par PA and ghetto budget Christmas lights and other cheap lights I could afford over the couple years of cleaning and building. I was surprised how happy the musicians were with everything and the bar was immensely raised when Miles booked the first DIY Industrial Minifest in Sep ’16.
I think I only did one show in 2017 before I got asked to host a tour and was emailed a rider with a bunch of stuff I needed to get to host Haex. I had no experience with pro sound and saw this as a good list of what I needed to buy to make my PA legit so I quit smoking weed for a couple months and starting working on that gear. I was able to get everything but the monitors, those got donated by Abraham Moses of Prisonfood, Pentup Release, Squall and many of the great noise/experimental shows that have happened locally over the last couple of decades! Since we’ve done as many as 25-30 shows since then it was definitely worth it. If I didn’t move into this house than I don’t know how likely it ever would have been for me to own a venue of any kind.
Can you tell us about your music activities before Obscurus?
I am local to the Pudget Sound, raised in Bremerton, left for Snohomish County in 2004 and made the change from gutter punk and troublemaker to a fresh start in discovering more metalheads, local musicians and shows. I had only been a musician for less than a year so I was excited to find that there were people making black metal other than the 3 people I found in Bremerton over several years (in all fairness, I didn’t like people and wasn’t looking to meet as much as I was looking to get drunk, that’s the fate that brought Pendergast Forest and I together). The Seattle scenes were brutal as hell to newcomers though and since I sucked as a human it didn’t work out between me and the metal scene. My bandmate (Hornsvalder) and I did nothing but drink, play black metal, goregrind, and demented noise and go shows. We started selfreleasing our stuff as Below the Earth Productions in 2006 and did as many trades as we could.
After a couple years we got asked to play our first show as Von Sargeth, it was out in the woods at a Mutant Fest, later that fall I found the Wooden Octopus Skull Pfest and discovered the vibrant local noise, power electronic and ritual performance scenes and started hunting down noise shows like they were going extinct. The noise scene took us in and we started playing our f## up s## as Hymns of Despondent Solitude and hosting our own renegade black/death metal and noise shows out in the woods. After he and I split in 2009 I ended up jamming with friends from Drakul and Nihilistic Terrorist and ended up being pretty much entirely absolved in a local extreme metal scene for a couple years playing in Unhalted Genocide, G.R.A.V.E.S., Lore of the Cannibals and Blood Etchings. That run ended in early 2012 so I tried to do a couple solo shows, one as “My As###’s Jealous of the S## That Comes Out of My Mouth” a hybrid goregrind and sketch comedy act and again for my first solo black metal appearance as Sermons on a Moonless Night. I recorded a few albums that summer and in the fall we moved into Obscurus where everything else was put on hold, I was such an addict of playing music that I refused to hook up any gear until this place was opened, otherwise I wouldn’t have finished.
Going to a show is fun for fans, but I am pretty sure that for you it can mean stress, lack of sleep and possibly losing money. How are things going so far?
The behind the scenes aspect of running shows is definitely different, I like the fact that I’m involved with about 80% of the bands that play here running the light, effects and sounds aspect of the show. Being an introvert hanging out with often complete strangers for hours, then having to run the door, ask people for money and check their ID’s is weird. I’m a really poor conversationalist, I’m barely comfortable talking to most of my friends, but as a musician posted once something like ‘when the doors close and the lights come on it’s like you’re transformed to a different dimension,’ all the worries about the show are gone.
What are your plans for Obscurus down the line?
As far as an overall assessment of where Obscurus is at is that it’s a losing venture, without the Below the Earth Production distro and me paying to support it, the venue itself barely pulls in $40-50/month. The business model is setup to take care of the bands and the fans in the hopes that they will bring more people back and be such a place that people would be more open to coming and hanging out even at genres they’re not familiar with or would otherwise never see. I was hoping to steal the ‘people show up for the atmosphere even if not for the product’ aspect of companies like Starbucks. I’ve been surprised to find out it hasn’t been as easy as I thought. I still have much to learn, and plenty of investments to make before I can say I did my best, I’m going to keep trying to get better and I have committed to funding a shortened season in 2018 from the end of March or early April – Oct. Hopefully next year will be the year that gets us the local support we need to be successful.
I’ve been very fortunate and grateful to have had some people step up and help book multiple shows here and wanted to say thanks to Miles Jones of Necropolis Presents, Abraham Moses of Pentup Release, Julio Palomino of the North End Roar, Lain Hiro, John Hoarfrost, as well as all the people who came out to support the shows, bought from the BTEP Distro or donated to the venue! Big thanks to you for running such a long time zine and reaching out to us!

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