What better way to welcome in the weekend than with a seriously heavy new metal band that aims to bring a bit of good to the world and “break the mold of a digital age where the music industry seems to be becoming increasingly formulaic.”
Chicago quintet Still World are an intriguing bunch on a mission to use their heavy metalcore music to communicate messages of social apathy, environmental awareness and human mortality.
The quintet of Scott Kelly (vocals), Dan Vallejo (guitar and vocals), Jake Carbonara (guitar), Tom Erb (bass) and Jensen Cameron (drums) released latest track Hollow at the start of last month, and it opens up with low-tuned guitar bursts that give way to an avalanche of diving guitar riffs under Scott’s intense barrage of screamed vocals – with an added element of eerieness added by a lingering synth in the background.
A pause for breath drops into a big singalong chorus of clean vocals, then unrelentingly dives back into another intense verse that ends on a huge smash of drums, then a “bleugh” noise that feeds into another chorus.
The second chorus ends on a repeating noise then a little bassline under screamed vocals, which continue under a barrage of low-tuned guitars and synth. Suddenly it all drops out, then the clean vocals return to take us into a final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the video below:
For you heavy music cynics out there, it’s not all screaming and shouting. Their previous release Without Me features largely clean vocals, and there’s an acoustic version of Pale Blue, from last year’s debut EP A New Beginning.
However, in fairness to the band, the heavy stuff is what they do best. The EP’s opening track Dying Light features a huge bassline that plays its role in a really cool heavy middle section that feeds into big high-pitched vocals. The big bass returns under chugging guitars that give way to a big atmospheric outro.
While Hell & Back and Dark Days step up the heaviness levels a notch with big booming low-tuned guitars and intense screamed vocals. The latter is a personal favourite, with big clean vocals over heavy instrumental backdrop answered by huge booming guitars making it super intense.
We had a chat with Scott to get the lowdown on this exciting new band. Read on below…
GR: Who are Still World and what’s the backstory?
SK: “I think back at the end of 2017, Dan and I started talking about writing some music together after our old bands had called it quits. We spent a couple of months sending some demos back and forth and finally decided to record some stuff. We knew of Jake from our local scene and he had a nice studio at home so we went over there to record and after a couple of recording sessions realized that we needed to get him more involved.
“So all of a sudden we had ourselves the makings of a band. Dan and Jensen had lived together a year earlier and when it came time to find a drummer there was no question that we wanted Jensen to take up that role. It actually took us a long time to find someone to play bass and we talked to a lot of people about the idea but nothing really came to be.
“We ended up booking a show to open for Crystal Lake and luckily we found Tom who was willing to fill in for the show. We practised for a couple of months and the show went off! I think I got a text from Tom the day after the show saying that he wanted to join the band. So it was a bit of a process and took some time but the process of bringing everyone on board felt very natural and I’m really glad for that now.
GR: We see you’re from Chicago, we’ve hardly met any bands from Chicago! What’s the music scene like over there?
SK: “We’re based in Chicago but, in some ways, we’re from all over the place. Jensen actually lives in Texas right now and he goes back and forth depending on the time of year and I moved to Chicago from Ireland a few years ago.
“The music scene in Chicago is really interesting! We don’t typically get recognized as a major music city outside of hip-hop and rap perhaps, people tend to think of LA, New York and Nashville when they think about American music. But there are a lot of awesome bands making noise in this city across a huge variety of genres.
“Music fans here really want you to earn their attention and trust but after you do that I think they’ll stick with you through it all. We’re a small band right now but there are still some people who found us at a show or online and they’ve been coming to every single show since then. In that regard, I think the scene is second to none.”
GR: You just released Hollow – we’re loving it! What should people be expecting from the song? What inspired you to write it?
SK: “Thank you! I’m really glad that you like the track! For anyone who hasn’t yet heard it, I would tell them to expect a song with a very dark undertone that is trying to bring both melodic and heavy elements to speaking to the subject at hand.
“When we wrote this track I had just spent a lot of time thinking about my grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago and the effect that her death had on the people in her life, myself included. The lyrics on this song are the most personal thing I’ve written to date and I really just wanted to remind myself and others that our lives are so short but we’re connected to so many other people. So make the most of it and spend your time with the people that bring you joy.”
GR: How would you describe the Still World sound to people that haven’t listened to you yet?
SK: “We’re a band of five very normal dudes. We really try and make an effort to take stock of what is happening in the world and in our lives and use this music as a way to voice our opinions and concerns towards those issues.
“We choose to do that with what is often, angry and aggressive music because that is often how we feel about what is happening in the world around us but we still try to employ melody and soundscapes into our tracks. Dan and I sometimes joke that we want Still World to be the metalcore version of a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. I don’t know if we’ll ever get there but we’re trying.”
GR: What influences you to write music? Any key themes or topics that you write about?
SK: “Growing up, and even to this day, I’ve learned so much about the world from listening to music. I really just want to be able to give back a little bit of that to people.
“Our lyrics most often speak to issues such as climate change or the blatant disregard that we as humans often have for each other. Even if it’s just between two friends who live in the middle of nowhere, I would love for our music to spark some sort of a conversation on how the world can be made a better place for everyone.”
GR: Which bands/musicians are/have been your strongest musical influences?
SK: “This is always a tough question. I think that each of our influences as musicians come out through our music in different ways. But if I had to give you a shortlist of bands I’d say: Architects, A Day to Remember, Counterparts, Silverstein. There might be too many to count.”
GR: What have you got coming up through the rest of 2019?
SK: “We’ve been spending the summer working on new music and it looks like we’ll be playing shows again starting in September.”