It’s Only Rock-‘n’-Roll, but Micawber Likes It
Tell Micawber that rock-'n'-roll is dead, and they’ll laugh in your face. Not in the defensive or insecure way many lifelong rockers attempt to deny the changing of the musical tides; rather, they simply won't believe you because they live the rock-'n'-roll lifestyle on the road every day. Micawber drink beer, smoke the devil’s lettuce, and play high-energy shows sure to offend any squares foolish enough to enter their blast radius.
The Green Bay-based death metallers have three albums under their belt and most recently released Beyond the Reach of Flame via Prosthetic Records in May. Criminally underreported by the metal press, the album is a perfectly paced slab of modern death metal that goes everywhere you didn’t know you wanted it to. It will thrash and chug its way into your brain and wow you with airy melodic passages only to pummel you again with vile vocals and precise riffing. Beyond the Reach of Flame builds on the best aspects from the glory days of bands like Lamb of God and Revocation and mixes them with its own unique metallic brew.
Micawber has the personality to match their dynamic music, too. Fun-loving and always on the verge of breaking out into a bit, I spoke with Leighton Thompson (lead vocals and guitars), Tyler Lachowicz (drums), and Marv (bass) about their origins, current album, and plans for the future... all of which involve copious amounts of beer.
Rock-'n'-roll ain’t dead. It has evolved, and it’s Micawber!
-- Chris Butler
I got introduced to you guys with your new album Beyond the Reach of Flame. How long have you guys been a band?
Tyler Lachowicz: Too long. Me and Leighton have been jamming for ten years under the name Micawber. We’ve been friends since high school.
Has the lineup stayed consistent? Or, have you guys swapped members a lot?
TL: We got Marv on the bass here about seven years ago. And we went through a few vocalists at first before Leighton decided to just double up and do guitar and vocals. He used to just play guitar. Derek DeBruin, our other guitarist who is not here, Beyond the Reach of Flame was his first album with us. But he started touring with us about three years ago.
Does Derek play the lead guitar parts? Or do you guys trade off?
TL: They both do.
Leighton Thompson: Derek plays most of the leads, we take turns a little bit though.
TL: Yeah, Derek does more on the new one.
What's the story behind the name Micawber?
TL: One of our old guitarists came up with it. He actually just googled "cool words" and it popped up on a list. It's based off a David Copperfield character who doesn't have much but is always optimistic about the future.
Is that kind of an ironic name since metal bands are always poor?
TL: Yeah, exactly [laughs].
Are you guys big David Copperfield fans? I feel like that's sort of outside of the realm of an average metal band's interests.
LT: We should probably read that book one of these days. We've never read it! I've never read any of his stuff [laughs].
TL: Me neither!
I was surprised when I looked on Encyclopaedia Metallum because I saw that you guys have put out three EPs and two other albums at this point. But I hadn't heard of you guys at all until I saw you in Trevor Strand's The Obituarist column on Metal Injection. Do you consider those other EPs and albums part of the official Micawber discography?
TL: Yes and no. Our sound has changed a lot over the years. So, the last two albums yes, but those early EPs are not really close to how we sound now at all.
That makes sense. It was very hard to find them on the Internet, which is a shocking statement for anything these days. I found one song from an early EP which sounded like straight-up deathcore.
TL: Yeah, we were more like that back in the day.
Were all of those recordings DIY? Do you guys have any formal recording training? Or did you have to figure it all out as you went?
LT: We recorded those with a buddy here in town. We didn’t do any of the mixing or anything on those though.
TL: We released them ourselves but we recorded them at a studio.
So Beyond the Reach of Flame was your first release with Prosthetic? What has the biggest change been working with a label versus doing everything yourself?
TL: They have a lot more reach than we do as far as distribution is concerned.
Did they have a lot of input on the music itself? Did they have comments or ask you to change anything?
TL: No, none of that.
Marv: Oh no, we still did that all ourselves.
TL: They didn't even hear it until it was a finished product [laughs]!
Well I think that you guys made all the right decisions. I listed it on my list as one of my favorite records of the year so far on Invisible Oranges. Compared to your older stuff, even your last record The Gods of Outer Hell, still had some leftover deathcore and a bit of a brutal death metal influence going on. This time, it seems like you guys worked in a lot more melodic passages and shredding. Was there a conscious decision to change up your sound?
LT: That was mostly the addition of Derek to the lineup and working with different people.
Did he take over the writing completely?
LT: It's always been pretty much split. But he had a lot of new ideas and we all go with what we agree upon and like.
You did a great job because the album flows really well. It's a super listenable death metal album. No riffs overstay their welcome but there are still surprises. It almost reminds me of early Revocation albums. Would you guys cite them as an influence?
TL: Yeah, definitely.
What are your main metal influences? Or any musical influences?
M: Metallica. Old Metallica. Leighton likes Dokken.
LT: Dokken [laughs]!
I also really like the album art. At first glance it looks like a typical doom-and-gloom, destroyed-city album cover. But, I was staring at it as I was listening to the record the other night, and I noticed and really liked the portrait of the city before it was destroyed in the bottom right. Is there a story behind that?
TL: Dan Seagraves drew exactly what we asked him to there. What you picked up there is the painting is the city before it was in ruins to go with the theme of Beyond the Reach of Flame. The city is now past its glory days.
Is Beyond the Reach of Flame a concept record?
M: Not really. A lot of it was from working with Derek and video games. A lot of video game influence on this one.
M: Dark Souls.
I was playing Dark Souls 3 last night! I was in the “Untended Graves.”
M: Me too dude! It's so good [laughs]! I haven't gotten that far but it's a great game. I'll probably get pissed off at the game and break my TV before I get there [laughs]. It’s so hard!
How do you guys feel the new album has been received? Have you noticed a rise in attention?
M: It's been good man. People like it. All of our fans that we've had for a while now love it.
I'm a new fan but I think it's a huge step up. I enjoy the older stuff too but this one is a cut above. What bands that you haven't toured with yet would you most like to?
L: The Black Dahlia Murder man!
M: The Black Dahlia Murder. Black Fast, that'd be cool, those guys are great. Metallica [laughs]!
Metallica would open you guys would headline right?
M: No, we don't want to be the headliner. We want to get drunk as soon as we're done playing and fucking watch Metallica [laughs]!
The Black Dahlia Murder makes sense. I saw that their former bass player, Ryan "Bart" Williams, did the mastering on the new album and you guys seem like fun-loving dudes who like to drink beer which fits in with The Black Dahlia Murder's hard-partying reputation.
LT: Yeah -- rock and roll.
What is Micawber's mission statement? What's your ultimate goal?
LT: To rock-'n'-roll.
To rock and roll?
LT: To rock-'n'-roll man [laughs]!
M: To be on the road and get drunk in weird places and play rock-'n'-roll.
What are your plans for the immediate future? Are you guys touring right now? Have you guys already started tossing riffs around for a new album?
L: We started tossing riffs around already for sure. We have a tour in September with Ahtme and Lago. It's a lot of the east coast and midwest cities. Tour dates are all over Facebook and Twitter and all that, so you can check those out on there. We've got a few other tours in the works for the future as well that are in the works and coming up soon.
How would you describe Micawber's sound and ethos to someone who hasn't heard you guys before to get them to come out to your shows?
LT: Rock-'n'-roll man!
M: It's loud, it's fast, and your parents probably won't fucking like it. That's rock-'n'-roll. Well… your mom might like it. Your dad might like it too!
Become an Invisible Oranges patron.