On a rainy Friday evening, I sat down with the members of 4 Man Massacre in the Boise Weekly office conference room. Guitar player Bryan Harvey, drummer Josh "Chaka" Menchaca, bassist Jeff Utter, vocalist McKenzey Beshears and the band's manager, Hilary Wilson, met in high school. Since then two of them graduated, two of them dropped out and one of them still has his senior prom to get through. Young but determined, the band is readying for their first full-length album release and a summer tour.
Excited about the new CD, the release party (where they'll be sharing the stage with the Briggs, the Unhallowed and Wilson St. Pub & Sluthouse band) and being interviewed, they were all talking at the same time, but it wasn't hard to get a sense of 4MM.
The band has been together a little over a year. They are a horror punk band and want it made clear that they do not play psychobilly. They are all Misfits fans and model their sound after the iconic group, going so far as to include a Misfits cover at each show. They don't, however, want to be a Misfits cover band, the just want to bring that particular brand of music back. And, they're working hard at doing just that.
4MM has played about 40 shows (the number would be higher, but one member of the band is often grounded for not finishing chores) and in that time have honed their sound. The music is fast and hard and the lyrics are fittingly shocking (remember, they are a horror punk band). Harvey and Utter write the music and Beshears writes all the lyrics.
Beshears is an interesting front man. He is a small, quiet guy seemingly content to let other members of the band do most of the talking, but his singing voice is rough and forceful and belies his young age. Beshears' lyrics are voiced through a guttural roar and some of the songs are so explicit, even hardcore hard-gore fans may blush when they make out just what 4MM songs are about. Though some the messages are misogynistic, Beshears singing is unique and a perfect overtone to the band's overall sound. Beshears said that when he writes a song, his goal is to shock, and shock he does. A long with penning the band's lyrics, he's also an artist. He designed the band's logo and is currently working on drawings for a comic book the band wants to collaborate on. But, before they can start on that, they have to get their new CD out and on the shelves. That's where Wilson comes in.
Not many local bands have managers and it's especially surprising to find a band with members as young as the 4MM guys savvy enough to know what a manager can do for them. The fact that Wilson dates one of the members of the band may someday come back to haunt them (Yoko, anyone?), but she's been instrumental in setting up a distribution plan (with Creepsville Entertainment) and pounding the pavement to get 4MM and their music in front of as many people as possible.
As a fan of old-school punk myself, I really like their music. Harvey's guitar sounds are heavily layered, sounding almost looped at times. On songs like the CD's title track "Terror on the Rise," Harvey's playing calls back the shredding sounds of those before him who played the Hollywood clubs in the early '80s.
Utter and Menchaca make up the rhythm section. Utter is big guy and a big Misfits fan. His enthusiasm for what he does is contagious and he is an integral part of maintaining the band's signature sound. Everyone in the band gives Menchaca (the youngest member of the group) kudos for his stick skills. Originally set on being a bass player, Menchaca said he was a nervous wreck the first time the band all rehearsed together with him on drums. As a metal head, he wasn't sure he'd get the hang of horror punk beats, but with determination and support from the band, he's come a long way.
I really do like 4MM's sound. Their songs are a nostalgic headtrip for me and I enjoy hearing some of the sounds of yore reincarnated. If you are an angst-ridden teen yourself or if, like me, you were a teen in the lost '80s, eschewing bubblegum rock and easy listening for mosh inducing music, check out 4 Man Massacre. But, do it quickly. As we ended the interview, Beshears took me aside and said, "There's one more thing I want to add. I want people to know that we plan to annihilate the world one venue at a time."
The CD release party for Terror on the Rise is June 22, at Grove Street. Cover is $8 and the show starts at 7 p.m. Check out 4MM's music at www.myspace.com/4manmassacre.