I truly love music of all kinds. Look at my iTunes. I’m a musical schizophrenic. But, if I was forced into picking just one genre that really took the cake for me, well … in the words of the great philosopher Dee Snider: I wanna rock. What did you expect from someone who grew up listening to WKIT in the days before MTV was nothing more than a forum for spoiled California teenagers to whine about their boyfriends?
With that in mind, I’m pleased to introduce to you a rock ’n’ roll band: the Big Coffin Hunters, a four-piece out of Portland. Initially, I was psyched to write about them because of their name, a reference to Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, with which I have been unhealthily obsessed for many, many years now.
“I was reading the books, and I was talking about it to the rest of the band, and it stuck. We don’t have any King references in our songs, but the Big Coffin Hunters are pretty badass in the book,” said Matthew Morris, guitarist and vocalist for the band, who are playing next Friday, Feb. 27, at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono. “People who don’t get it aren’t sure if we’re a black metal band or a Christian band. Fortunately, we’re neither.”
Settling neatly somewhere amidst Queens of the Stone Age, Judas Priest and Social Distortion, the Big Coffin Hunters mix up the sick riffs of metal, the musical experimentation of stoner rock (look up that term if you don’t know it) and the attitude and image of punk and rockabilly. They emerge with a pretty sweet rock ‘n’ roll sound. Morris, along with guitarist Tim Yocum, drummer Chris Giles and bass player Paul Clukey, admit they aren’t doing anything revolutionary — but like that matters. It’s still awesome.
“It’s pretty much a blend of the past 30 years of heavy metal and hard rock music,” said Morris. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. But we do put our own touch on it.”
Morris explains that his appreciation for all things rock makes his band’s sound both a tribute to and a personal take on several decades of music.
“Personally, I’ve always been a big fan of Megadeth and Metallica. Everyone in the world that plays electric guitar is influenced by them,” said Morris. “But I also really love bands like the Reverend Horton Heat, the Supersuckers and the Misfits. Sometimes we play a cover live of Judas Priest’s ‘Breakin’ the Law.’ That kind of thing.”
The Big Coffin Hunters have released two albums; “Platinum Hinges for Pine Boxes,” released in 2006, and “Drive Another Nail,” released last November. The new album was more of a collaborative effort than the first, with songwriting duties handled by all four members of the band.
“It’s a different level of writing and musicianship for us,” said Morris. “I’m very proud of both, but ‘Drive’ really turned everything up a couple notches. Longer songs, and it’s more intricate and intense and heavy. I think it feels like more of what we want to say.”
Though they’re easygoing guys, the Big Coffins Hunters aren’t just content to play music and go home and drink beer. They’ve got something to say, and they say it through their music.
“I think [our songs] really reflects our viewpoints, lyrically. We’re generally pretty happy-go-lucky dudes, but we of course have some aggression to get out,” said Morris. “We funneled some animosity into the record. We talk about our distaste with the establishment. It made everything just heavier.”
The Big Coffin Hunters will play with The Divine Ruin, Afterblack, Rebel Angel and the Exclusive starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, at 103 Ultra Lounge in Orono. Tickets are $10 at Bull Moose Music locations, and the show is open to ages 18 and older. For more information, visit www.bigcoffinhuntersmusic.com.