VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton metal band Traverse the Abyss parodies rap, country, and more in ‘Faucet Mouth’
Over the past year, many musicians have shifted their focus from concerts to web content to keep their fans engaged during the pandemic. Last night, Traverse the Abyss was able to bring them both together in a unique way.
Joined by rapper Lucas Hex and hard rock band The Holtzmann Effect, the Scranton metal band took over The V-Spot for a socially distanced show that was also live streamed to their Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch as well as NEPA Scene’s Facebook page. Between their two sets, TtA premiered the music video for their new single “Faucet Mouth” for everyone present and those headbanging online before today’s official release.
“I felt last night went incredibly well. Everyone showed up on time and obeyed the bar COVID rules to enjoy some live music, and Ionic Development killed it with the quality of the live stream for everyone at home,” vocalist Eric Ross, who goes by Eric Abyss in the band, told NEPA Scene.
“It felt great being in front of an audience – definitely a more reserved set from us, but nonetheless a lot of fun.”
The brutally heavy nature of the track is contrasted with the hilarious video that reimagines the group – which includes guitarist “Iron” Mike White, bassist/backing vocalist Mike “Bnoc” Bieniecki, drummer David Wilczweski, and new guitarist Jamie Macheska – as rich rappers throwing money around, country bumpkins drinking beers on a pickup truck, and other genre stereotypes.
“We were just finishing our sessions at Novro Studios and we talked about doing videos for the songs. I think it was Iron Mike who originally said we should do a video all serious, but playing on First Act Walmart instruments like ‘Hello Kitty’ or ‘Paw Patrol,’ and then everyone was just spitballing random ideas. Then talk about doing a rap parody video came about during the heavy breakdown of the song, like imagine us in grillz jumping around to this, and we were all just starting to add more wild ideas on top of it, so we just rolled with it,” Ross recalled.
“That spiraled into the whole process of, ‘If we are going to do a stupid, silly, funny video, why not branch out and make it more influenced by videos like Blink-182’s ‘All the Small Things,’ Bowling for Soup’s ‘1985,’ and Eminem’s ‘Without Me?’’ We wanted to make a parody video poking at the different genres, so with our location, a country shoot would be good and not that difficult or out of the way to do, as in it was literally done across the street from where the pool/truck scenes were shot.
“We also had to poke back at our own genre as well since there’s so many metal subgenres. In the metal scene, I’m done up as a washed-up ‘80s rocker, Iron Mike is the crabcore kid, Bnoc as hardcore, Jamie was in a black metal band prior, so it was only fitting he did black metal, and Dave went for the pre-crabcore metalcore look.”
The parodies are all done in good fun, as their own personal playlists fluctuate just as frequently.
“So aside from poking fun at the other genres, we all listen to them. I’d say maybe not as much country, but we do appreciate the music, talent, and work that goes into creating music. Honestly, I feel that in most of 2020 and this year so far, I have been really listening to rap more than metal, speaking for myself and possibly Dave. Iron Mike’s playlists are really all over the place, to put it lightly.”
Some metal bands take themselves and their music very seriously, but Traverse the Abyss would rather show their true personalities and have fun on and off camera.
“I feel that it is important to show this side of us because it is who we are deep down under the aggressive music – a group of guys who like to have fun. I feel like it makes us a bit more approachable to our fans as well if we display we aren’t ‘Mr. Serious’ all the time. We talked several times about doing funny, silly music videos in the past but never took the leap. Most of our music videos are compiled from live shows, so this was fun to do something in discussion and really out of the box. Lately, not too many bands have done the funny music videos like I mentioned before,” Ross said.
“My personal favorite part of making the video was dressing up in the outfits. I tried to go over the top in each section that I could. In every scene change, I switched my hairstyle, facial hair, shoes, jewelry, and outfit. I have to say the country section is probably my favorite – everyone looked perfect for their parts, and no matter how many times I watch it, I crack up during that part. We bought blackout wax for our teeth and everything!”
Surprisingly, COVID-19 did not present any major issues with getting the filming done with Eric and Sarah Novroski of Novro Studios.
“Everyone’s schedule was open to work with due to the pandemic – more or less it was just hoping that the sky was clear and blue when we did the pool scene. The spot where we did the shoots was at one of the band member’s brother’s house,” he noted.
“Filming the video was fun – we had a blast. I think everyone involved did. It was just so ridiculous at all times when we were filming, and I couldn’t wait to get into character in the outfits. Just every time we would talk about the video, another idea would come up and we would all start laughing like idiots. We did the Hummer scene first, then the pool, followed by the country, just in time for golden hour, and metal last on a separate day in a warehouse. There was so much stuff filmed that didn’t make it into the video that we will definitely be rolling out some behind-the-scenes clips.”
They also recorded the song at Novro Studios in Shavertown back in August. It was inspired by one of their old tracks, “Diamonds,” from their 2016 debut album “The Gamble of Life.”
“The line is, ‘Their mouths are like faucets spewing shit and hate,’ and it always kind of stuck with me. So the inspiration comes from people just running their mouths in general, whether it is about us or another thing – once something turns them onto it or gets them going, their words and hate are like a faucet turned on and it just pours out. So the hook of the song is, ‘Everybody’s got something to say and we don’t need to hear it anymore, it’s nothing more than your words against mine,’ relating to all the senseless arguing people have been doing, especially being stuck at home,” Ross said.
The band was supposed to out of their homes and on the road, possibly on a leg or two of some bigger tours.
“For the past year or so, Traverse the Abyss has been working a new member into the group, writing, and recording, for the most part. When the virus shut everything down, we had to draw up a new game plan since we, like most other bands, planned on touring most of 2020, but it was a nice, unfortunate breather for us to sit back and draw up how we are going forward and execute. We now have a few singles recorded and a couple more just about ready to go in the oven,” he explained.
“The coronavirus affected us personally and musically by completely altering what we were used to with the band, which might not be the worst thing since we could clear our eyes and progress. Personally, the virus altered most of our employment, whether it was needing to find a new job or the amount of work/hours you worked doubled. Social life is pretty much Internet conversations for the most part. … So in a positive outlook, the virus made us work on more of our online presence as opposed to in person, which was something we needed.”
“Faucet Mouth,” which follows last year’s single “Ghost,” will eventually end up on an EP or album as they continue to release songs one at a time this year, which “seems to be the move now in the music industry.”
“Spotify only allows you to pitch one song to their editors at a time, and Spotify is probably the most used platform for listening and discovering music right now,” he said.
“The last single we released, ‘Ghost,’ is a song about feeling alone in a crowded room, the feeling of being dead inside. Numbness. We all ride the roller coaster of life, so we know firsthand the ups and downs. This song was written when I was down on the ride for sure. Definitely a different vibe from us, a bit more dark, ‘thrashy’ sound to it, I’d say. We have another track in the works that has a similar vibe for those who were digging that sound from us.”
Vinnie Archer, the co-owner of The V-Spot, is also a metalhead, so it wasn’t hard to convince him to host the band’s first show of 2021.
“The release party at The V-Spot came about with my fiancé teasing Vinny about when we can play at The V again. Bars are able to have small crowds inside as long as they follow the guidelines – stay seated 6 feet apart, must have meal/drink, and so forth. Usually they are booked far out, so when he mentioned he can fit us in, the light bulb clicked on. So I talked with him and we wanted to set up an event, not just a bar gig, but more importantly something that could entertain the people at home. Concert season ended early for everyone last year, and we figured this would be a cool way to debut the new video and what we have been working on, entertain a small in-house crowd and the world virtually, and bring some cash into our favorite place to play locally as well as eat. We all know entertainment and service industries were hit hard with the pandemic, so I hit up Ionic Development about doing a live stream for the event and the rest is history.”
Ionic streamed many local bands from the venue last year, including performances at the Steamtown Music Awards, where Traverse the Abyss was able to play a short set in the matching tracksuits that were later featured in the music video.
“It definitely was a bid odd at the SMAs last year without having a mosh pit brewing during our performance and all sorts of craziness going down, but it was still refreshing to get on stage and play a few songs. Definitely more relaxing than shows usually are, where you are feeding off the live raw energy of the crowd. More of the vibe of doing a live studio tracking while being entertaining in the process, but nonetheless fun,” Ross described.
“The matching tracksuits were part of us spitballing ideas for the video. Originally we wanted to do a ‘boy band’ scene, something like Backstreet Boys where we had matching outfits and made up a goofy dance, but that ultimately changed to hip-hop/rap since we had the Hummer to work with, a car scene like in Attila’s ‘About That Life.’ Funny enough, though, they aren’t even Adidas track suits – they were the cheapest knockoff thing we could find in everyone’s size in the ugliest color combination that came up on Amazon!”
Now that the release show is behind them, they plan on hitting the studio again to write and record more of the ferocious material their fans crave.
“No clue how the rest of this year or the following will play out, so everything is kind of by ear at the moment, so we are going to just focus on writing, releasing, and maybe doing some more funny music videos. A live stream with no crowd and cool lighting could be something cool for down the line when we can do a performance worth of brand new material,” Ross left off.
“If you like what you hear from us, be sure to follow us Spotify for when new music drops as well as on our social media pages. Stop by our website, traversetheabyss.com, to sign up for our mailing list for sneak peels, discounts, and more!”
Watch both TtA sets from the “Faucet Mouth” music video release party below:
by Rich Howells
Rich is an award-winning journalist, longtime blogger, photographer, and podcast host. He is the founder and editor of NEPA Scene.