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The True Power of the Riff: Interviews with Necrot and Gatecreeper

Gatecreeper at Power of the Riff 2016 Photo by Jay Valena
Gatecreeper at Power of the Riff 2016
Photo by Jay Valena

The Power of the Riff hosted up-and-coming and veteran acts to capacity crowds at the Regent Theater in downtown Los Angeles over two sold out nights last December. The event was special for southern California’s purveyors of heavy music not just because it was headlined by Neurosis and Wolves in the Throne Room, but because it brought together a roster of bands from varied genres of heavy music. For a thorough overview of the festival, I suggest that you read and scroll through photos in Invisible Oranges’ coverage of both days of the event here.

Most attendees seemed to be at the festival for two or three bands in particular, usually the headliners or veteran bands. That’s equally fantastic for Incantation and Nails as it is for Bloodclot, who played their first-ever performance at the fest. But other smaller print bands left a strong impression at The Power of the Riff, too. I spoke to members of two of those bands, Necrot and Gatecreeper, about the inclusive nature of the festival and what it means for them to play alongside the seminal bands that inspired them.

Sharing the Stage

Oakland punk-death metal band Necrot, who have been profiled by Invisible Oranges here, see the benefits of the festival’s inclusive format. “We’re more of an underground, DIY kind of band so getting to play with some bigger names is good. But also [veteran bands] get something special from the underground. So it’s kind of an exchange,” said guitarist Sonny Reinhardt. That exchange brings a formidable crowd for underground bands to excite before the veterans perform. But it’s not just about those opportunities for bands like Necrot, who spend lengths of time touring and hours upon hours in the studio. “We’re not trying to gain anything from the festival. We’re here to have a good time and we’re grateful that they considered us to play. It could have been a different band,” said drummer Chad Gailey.

Gailey also sees the inclusion of varying styles of metal and heavy music as a huge upside of The Power of the Riff, which has a history of bringing pivotal heavy music to Los Angeles. “Getting to play the same night as Incantation was an honor. I thought the lineup was pretty diverse and let people see bands they might not get to witness otherwise,” he said.

Grace Under Scrutiny

Chase Mason, vocalist for Gatecreeper, agrees with Gailey. “I don’t think there’s anything on the lineup that’s so different that it doesn’t make sense. It all makes sense in a world where all extreme underground music is together.” said Mason. Ranges of apparel and shifting excitement in the crowd evinced the fan diversity at the fest.

Mason saw his band’s presence at The Power of the Riff as humbling above all else. “It was an honor to play with such influential bands,” he says, naming Incantation and Nails as the bands he felt most privileged to play beside. Always mindful of his shared goals with Gatecreeper, Chase went on, “We try to keep focused on what we’re going to play when we’re [at shows]. We deal with everybody with respect. We want to have fun but we keep in mind that we’re out there to play, play as best as we can.”

After a year of vigorous nationwide touring with Skeletonwitch and Iron Reagan, he says of Gatecreeper, “We have continued to learn how to conduct ourselves as a band, both onstage and off, which has led us to bigger and bigger opportunities. That Skeletonwitch tour really raised the bar for us.” Their album Sonoran Depravation released during the tour, and they plan to ride into 2017 on the momentum of their work from last year.

The Power of the Riff

For event organizers Greg Anderson and Sam James Velde, the festival headliners aren’t just there to sell more tickets. They are also great for opening the door to people to find new music or interact with others who are similarly inclined towards heavy music. Both Chase Mason from Gatecreeper and the members of Necrot fit themselves in the up-and-coming category of musicians in regards to this year’s The Power of the Riff. Both bring a sense of reverence to the event but still play with everything they’ve got because festivals like The Power of the Riff have room for everybody to come in and find something interesting.

Necrot are planning on heavy touring in 2017 to promote a new full-length album under Tankcrimes Records, which they expect to be out this summer. They will start with a two-week west coast tour this February with Phrenelith of Denmark. Check out and support Necrot through Bandcamp here.

Gatecreeper converts may be excited to know that the band will be touring with Nails and Toxic Holocaust this spring. “The tour [in 2017] with Nails and Toxic Holocaust will be bigger than anything we’ve done before,” said Mason. Here is a link to Gatecreeper’s Bandcamp.

-Daniel Palacio

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