Guy Kozowyk: Vocals
Mike McKenzie: Guitar
Gregory Weeks: Bass
Brad Fickeisen: Drums
“We’ve been in this band for over nine years,” The Red Chord vocalist Guy Kozowyk said. “We’re not the hot shit, of-the-moment band, nor are we the young guns. We’re jaded, bitter, old men and we wrote a record that is vicious and heavy because we have a lot to be pissed off about. I am too old to understand or respect a lot of what’s going on out there in music. And to be honest, I don’t want to get what’s going on because it sucks.”
Nothing like a little old fashion infuriation and disgust over the recycled, unoriginal and done-to-death landscape to get those creative juices pumping to explosive levels within a musician! While the heavy music scene is flooded and littered with trendy, ‘current’ fusion bands that string together electronics and mosh and pretend to be as brutal as fuck, The Red Chord aren’t having any of it. The music on their fourth full-length (and third for Metal Blade), Fed Through the Teeth Machine, is like a hulking hammer that rips and tears at the fabric of all that is trend-driven. But The Red Chord aren’t making music for that purpose; they’re just good enough to flip off trends and top the bands that perpetrate them. The Massachusetts band – which has downsized to a lean ‘n mean four-piece to counteract the bad economy function as a quartet without sacrificing any of their Rottweiler-like ferocity and tenacity – continues to focus on making extreme metal, for extreme people who want something lyrically and musically outside the box and forward thinking and don’t want some assembly-line, manufactured, “of the moment” band in their lives. Put simply: If you want to have your bones reduced to dust and your brain taken out scrambled and put back in by music, then The Red Chord are up for that task with Fed Through the Teeth Machine.
While The Red Chord have taken the stages at ‘mainstream’ summer tour packages like Ozzfest and Rock Star Energy Mayhem Fest, they have converted the unsuspecting, average kid at said concerts into fans, thanks to music that is pummeling as it is brainy. Fed Through the Teeth Machine finds the band staying the course.
“One of the things that I’ve become fascinated with the last few years, and since I was a kid, is making things not so obvious,” Kozowyk continued. “With [2005's] Clients, it had that weird twist and people knew it was about characters, whereas [2007's] Prey for Eyes was a springboard in another direction. I am not trying to mislead anybody, but I like to play with triple meanings. Like a ‘choose your own ending’ story.” For Fed Through the Teeth Machine, the Massachusetts band, haven’t lightened up on the gas pedal, musically or thematically. At all. “If you listen to certain songs or lyrics, you can have a discussion about politics, read one of the lines and you are going to think that it has something to do with political or social issues,” Kozowyk said. “Or you could be angry at your significant other and that same line might be about something entirely different. I don’t like the one dimensional formula that a lot of bands use. I don’t like the obvious or lowest common denominator. We’ve been a band a long time and there are a lot of bands that have jumped on the train of what other people are doing.”
The Red Chord, however, is not one of those bands. Instead, they are just doing what they’ve only done, only stepping it up a notch, rather than toning it down as they progress in their career. Before the blazing hot term ‘deathcore’ was christened by a handful of bands fusing death, grind, hardcore and metal, The Red Chord were making ultra-extreme music in that style, setting the stage, not going for the safe bet. Having been formed by a handful of death metal guys and a handful of hardcore dudes, it made sense for the music to evolve as it did, which was without intention to form some mixed genre. While the band can’t and won’t take responsibility for the deathcore explosion/trend, it is worth mentioning that a lot of bands in that sphere may have taken direct or indirect influence from The Red Chord. Despite having earned the respect of their peers and their fans, The Red Chord have almost a blue-collar lens regarding their own situation. “I did not want to not be the weakest link, since I am in the company of talented musicians,” Kozowyk said. “I also want to create something, lyrically, that sparks imagination and thought, and makes people question or think, and can get taken in a different direction.”
With Kozowyk crafting smart, thinking man lyrics, guitarist Mike “Gunface” McKenzie adopted a larger role. He wrote more material, as this was the first release to feature just one guitarist. McKenzie scribed nine of 12 songs and contributed some lyrical parts too, making the album a truly collaborative piece of work. “It just happened,” McKenzie said. “I was working on the music and I wanted to show a vocal placement to Guy, so I wrote the lyrics and ended up liking them, so we worked together on them.”
Gunface admitted that the band did the most pre-production ever for Fed Through the Teeth Machine and planned out details before demoing. “There was a lot more planning and we knew what we wanted to do,” the guitarist said. “Every album, we get a little more anal about it. Every time I do a record, it’s always more perfectionism. As you get older, you refine your mission statement and play to have fun. For me, it’s more about perfection still. We have a lot of conversations what the music should sound like and it gets us nowhere!” Fed Through the Teeth Machine is a self-produced affair, something Gunface is thrilled about. “This is the happiest we’ve ever been about the way our albums sound,” he said. “We did an amazing job with the production. I am never happy with our band’s guitar tone, but I am happy with this one.”
Despite having one less person in the lineup and making a few gear changes to allot for one less person in the live setting, the musical integrity of The Red Chord hasn’t changed or diminished. As if anyone thought it would. “We’ve had revolving door of members,” Gunface said. “I didn’t want to bring in a new guitarist, whether or not it was live. We had a different writers and lineups on every record and we’re not evolving if we are constantly changing members. The next step is to continue with same people writing now.”
The chaos that defines The Red Chord‘s sound is certainly present on Fed Through the Teeth Machine, and the band’s trademark lyrics abound. Gunface said, “It became a concept album by accident.” After watching How Stuff Works on the Discovery Channel, the band formed their concept and idea for the album. “Could it be about a dude talking about a zipper?” Kozowyk asked “And you turn it around and ask, ‘What does it mean to be Fed Through the Teeth Machine?’ Does it mean you started out doing a tour for $20 a night, getting chewed up and spit out? Where does it get you? That’s you trying to prove to people you are still attempting to do whatever you want. You are fed through a system, exploited.” There goes those double and triple meanings again. It’s what the band excels in and that’s making you think. Twice.
Kozowyk didn’t refrain from mining his personal life for his lyrics. “A lot of stories unfold on the record, which are applied to fake series of events, sometimes mirroring my life,” the singer said. “I bought my house, which used to be a ceramic factory, and I created weird characters. The family that owned my house…it was an old couple and the guy passed away and his legacy was that he ran a school for ceramics. People stopped caring. His kids should have been watching out for the legacy, but one was a junkie and a lifetime of legacy turned into junk. One of the stories created was about a crazy guy in a bizarre compound. His kids are messes, and he spends his time trying to turn himself into an insect, building a teeth machine out of dental components. It’s all weird mishap adventures.” Kozowyk admits the song “Floating through the Vein” begins as a conservative-minded romp about the economy, that twists and turns with references to both the former WWF wrestler The Ultimate Warrior and Kozowyk’s Alzheimer’s-affected grandfather.
It’s evident and abundantly clear that The Red Chord remain one of the forebarers of the uber-extreme metal scene. Despite the changing times, The Red Chord holds court like they always have. Fed Through the Teeth Machine asks as many questions as it answers, detonates like a land mine under your feet and shows no signs of wear and tear. The members of the band may be getting older and wiser but they still fire off riffs, blast beats and larynx-ripping growls like teenagers. The new crop of bands needs to take notes or watch out – because The Red Chord still reigns extreme.