Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bruxism - Gutting America (INTERVIEW) Written by Graham Beck

Bruxism - Gutting America (INTERVIEW)

Written by Graham Beck - Read the original here:

“Jazz upstairs - Metal basement. $5 for both shows.”
That’s what the sign read as I stood with my back to the bar and a Black Label in-hand. After fighting the cold, blistering Cleveland wind on the walk up to Now That’s Class, a dive bar on the city’s edge, I was ready for the warmth of beer and the brethren of my fellow bar-goers. The portly gentleman at the door unenthusiastically took my money, barely looking up from his IPhone game, as he says, “Metal bands are in the basement.”

Perhaps he didn’t take me for a jazz fan.

Stepping into the main concert hall, there’s a sense of history that vibes off of the room. It has a decent-sized stage to the left of the entrance door, enough to fit the five John Meyer look-a-likes and their equipment. A wide open room in front of the stage with tattered, red walls covered in band stickers and huge open ceilings above. The whole room just oozed rock and roll nostalgia. This is where the jazz band was playing. I only stepped in for a second to check them out but quickly left.
Don’t get me wrong, the quintet on stage seemed to have a good thing going on up there but tonight, I am not here for jazz. I’m here for my first love - metal. Tonight I stand among a crowd of about 10 to 12 hardcore, beer-swilin’, metalheads. Tonight my night is spent in the basement of Now That’s Class among the boxes and the stench, the dirty couches and the broken-down equipment. For tonight, Cleveland is graced by Fenton, Michigan’s own Bruxism.

I make my way down the dimly lit stairways past a long-haired fellow who seems to be upset really by the way he’s blabbering to himself. Entering the basement, I quickly scan the room over and gravitate towards the band. Drummer Gino Settimo stands in front of what would be the stage, if there was one, setting up for tonight’s brutalities.

Settimo’s hair got longer in the months that passed since our last meeting - his mustache more prominent. With his mesh trucker hat on, he looks like a Brooklyn fruit stand owner in a street market smack dab in the middle of the 70’s. Setting up his amp behind Settimo was guitarist/vocalist Zack Wood, giant beard-like muttonchops and all. Both Settimo and Wood looked a bit road-worn but still excited, like a kid on Christmas who’s been up too long but still wants to play with the brand new toys. They seem changed.

The first time I had been exposed to the car wreck that was Bruxism, just a two-piece back then, it was in the back auditorium of a church playing with a handful of other bands in front of a handful of other people. Their set was shaky and discombobulated; the songs were lackluster at best. Settimo would rant and rave from behind his kit exclaiming that the crowd should “fuck off and die” while Wood backed-up his drummer’s comments with his own thoughtful anecdotes. But then again it was grindcore, so what did one really expect?

“What’s up?” Settimo says with a giant smile, piecing the last of his kit together.
Why not smile? Bruxism has had quite a year. In the short time they have been in existence they’ve been signed to Placenta Recordings ( and released their first album
entitled EP along with touring the Midwest for the second time in 2011, appeasing grind fans from Marquette to Lansing, Chicago to Cleveland. So what’s not to smile about?

Only being together for a year and a half, one might think that Bruxism’s early success was almost handed to them. Not quite - but not too far off. According to Wood, his start into playing and the eventual inception of Bruxism came on the wishes of God...sort of.

“I ended up getting that Schecter that I have right now for free. Some crazy guy in the Guitar Center’s parking lot said ‘it was God’s will for you to have the guitar’ and he ended up giving it to me.”
“I was like, ‘Okay.”

But even before the encounter with the prophecies of a madman, Bruxism’s birth into the grindcore world started with the teat-suckling of metal heavyweights like Napalm Death, Gaza, Iron Lung, and “piles of demo tapes and shitty CDs.” Having surrounded himself in a blanket of extreme music for so many years that when Wood did get his hands on a guitar, it gave him the motivation to get better and better.
As the old adage goes, before you get the gold you have to trudge through the shit. (Or something like that.)

For young Zack Wood, that meant going through the trials, tribulations, and overall headaches of being in a band that wasn’t living up to his expectations. It’s hard to sit in a car when it’s stalled out. The first incarnation of Bruxism came in the form of a death metal band with no name. When Wood and then-bandmate Jared Cartwright went looking for a drummer, they didn’t realize that the guy they were looking for just happened to be in their own backyard.

Enter Settimo.

Beginning his career on drums at the age of 13, Gino Settimo credits, not only Derek Roddy (Hate Eternal, Nile) and Meshuggah’s Thomas Hakke as major influences on his playing, but Michigan’s Black Dahlia Murder’s Zack Gibson as well.
“I hate to sound like a kiss-ass, but I've always enjoyed Zach Gibson's drumming on The Black Dahlia Murder album Miasma. That was definitely a record that actually made me want to play drums when I was younger.”

In true brutal fashion, Wood and Cartwright went to the one place that one might expect to find a musician to fill the void in a death metal band - Facebook.
“We actually just started scrolling around Facebook and [ended up] just finding [Gino] and he posted all these videos of him drumming and we were like, ‘Woah, this guy lives in Fenton, are you kidding me?’ We contacted him and were like, ‘Are you for real? Is this a real person,” Wood laughs.

Settimo revealed in an online interview that the only reason why he posted himself behind the kit was because he knew that Zack was hunting for a drummer. After brief conversation and with bandmate in tow, Wood joined Settimo’s band Intestinal Delicacy.

Almost from the get-go, Wood and Settimo were unhappy with being in a death metal band that was seemingly going nowhere. With Wood playing bass at the time and Settimo on drums, the two were responsible for writing the band’s material while, according to Wood, the rest of the group did very little. The frustrated duo decided if they were doing all of the work anyways, why share the spoils? So they both walked away from Intestinal Delicacy to start what would become Bruxism.

With Wood now on guitar, the two began writing songs without an absolute goal in mind. They dumped most of the death metal past and began sculpting this new concoction of extreme music into something new. Keeping the band as a two-piece, they even played a show or two without a name. As practices went by, the material got stronger and more convincing but there still remained one question...what do you call it?

“We were looking for names or whatever and we couldn’t find anything that we actually liked,” Wood says laughing. “But Me and Gino, I think Gino has it, we both grind [our teeth] in our sleep and Gino texted me one day and was like, ‘Hey, I just went to the dentist and found out I have [Bruxism]. Do you think Bruxism would be a good name?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, that’d be cool.’ We didn’t question it, we just kept it.
That seems to be the nature of Bruxism going forward from that point; don’t question it, just go with it. This mantra has served them well in the writing process leading up to their debut album entitled EP. Titles like “Fuck Your Scene,” “Mindless Sack of Shit,” and “No Hope,” the listener gets a sense that Bruxism has chosen a harsher path compared to their death metal days. A path they were meant to be on.
“We just like to be 100%, like 110% honest about how shit is and, you know, honesty isn’t always the nice thing.”

Wood elaborates, “If a person is acting like a big moron, we’re gonna say, ‘Hey, you’re acting like a big moron and you’re a jackass.’ And if that person is acting like a retard, we’re gonna say, ‘You’re acting like a retard.’ We don’t want to just be not honest or not true. We don’t shit talk people, we just, we call them out. That’s just kind of how it is. Not a whole thing like we’re funny or anything. It’s like, Gino’s an asshole and I’m just kind of sick of everyone and all their bullshit. I’m not just going to walk away or not say anything. That’s just kind of how the assholeness or whatever comes.”

Having thicker skin about most everything has served Bruxism well out on the road, as they have just wrapped on their second midwest tour. Accompanying the now-defunct Nosferatu Man, Bruxism made the rounds through Michigan’s U.P., Chicago, and Cleveland, meeting new bands and new fans at every stop who have taken notice of the band’s growth over the course of the year.

“From the first tour to the second tour, we’ve seen a lot more people getting into it,” Wood says of their fans. “I think it’s because we’ve spent a lot more time writing our music now that we’re on a label and releasing bigger and better stuff now.”

Bigger and better, indeed. Bruxism just released their debut album on Jay Watson’s Placenta Recordings, which on it’s website boasts releasing anything from noise to grindcore to even unclassifiable (my favorite!). It’s no wonder Bruxism was able to call Placenta Recordings home. Wood and Settimo were just hoping that Waston would be kind enough to print their CDs, instead he brought Bruxism onto the label to release the album. Waston sent Bruxism over to record with Christian Rudes at CXD Media where they focused on making their album...”buyable”.
“I think the only pressure we feel is to make our releases actually buyable,” Wood jokingly confesses. “We sat down, riff by riff, like second by second, going through everything and making sure everything was as tight as possible. Still, looking back there’s still somethings we could’ve fixed but I think it was our best release so far and and our best recording so far.”

With the tours in the bag, the album doing well, and the recent addition of drummer-turned-bassist Nick Erikson (Nosferatu Man) to the lineup, it might be safe to assume Bruxism is becoming quite a name within the Grindcore scene. On the contrary. To Bruxism, there is no scene.

“My view of it is more of a community, not a scene,” Wood explains. “In a scene, people have to keep up with appearance, keep up with what’s hot and what’s not. I definitely think there’s a lot of community within Grind, Powerviolence, and the underground stuff just from the house shows and everyone we’ve met within just the past five months, we’ve met so many people and so many bands and we’ve played so many different places in Michigan.”

Wood continues, “I definitely think there’s a sense of togetherness and community within that and I don’t necessarily think there needs to be a scene in order for people within Metal or Indie or acoustic or whatever the hell you’re playing in order for people to get together to play a show...and enjoy music. I definitely think there’s a good sense of community in Michigan [metal].”
For Bruxism that’s where the music comes from. It’s not modeling themselves after any certain sound or any certain band but rather from seeing through the bullshit of life and surrounding themselves with like-minded people. Bruxism has their influences in and out of music, but more importantly they have their principals at heart and the balls to back it up.

So as I stand not two feet away from the mediocre PA speaker in Now That’s Class’ basement, watching Bruxism gear up for their set, I too am geared up. For in just a few minutes, this entire room will be exposed to a set full of fast songs, profanity-laced lyrics, someone telling me to “go fuck myself” and doing it all with a smile. The first note is struck - the fury begins and does not stop until the strings are broken and the damage is done. As they tear through song after ferocious song, I think back to that gig in the church and how far Bruxism has come. Growing from the sloppy sets and amateurisms that they once projected to this force of grinding nature that is now before me.

I don’t know if it was God’s will for Bruxism to exist or not. Either way America, it’s too late now.

Do you need yourself more Bruxism then you can shove in your pants? Find them at Bruxism's Bandcamp

If you want your band or your band's CD reviewed or just want to shove things into Graham's pants, write him at

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