I’ve been walking over and over a question in my mind for a few weeks now. I’m stuck on it. Here’s how I got there: My favorite genre of music is, obviously, heavy metal in all, well, most, of its forms.
I am writing at this site, after all. But metal isn’t all that I listen to, and I’ve often been asked the question “What do you like besides metal?” In fact, I’ve been asked that question enough times that not only do I know the answer—hip hop—but I’ve got a pretty rote explanation drilled into my head about how it was I came to love those two kinds of music and what they have in common. Working class origins. Aggressive lyrics. Evocative storytelling. Yadda yadda.
But every so often I get the question a second time. “What do you like besides metal and hip-hop”. It’s worth pointing out that the person who asks this question is invariably a totally insufferable human who isn’t really looking for a good answer, doesn’t care what my real answer is, and just wants to talk about, I don’t know, Florida Georgia Line or something.
I get stuck on that question because the answer I usually get is a far less articulate “I don’t know… Eighties… stuff?” Post-punk. Synthpop. New Wave. You get the drill. These are all distinct kinds of music that I’m horribly scrambling, but for the purposes of this article, they constitute a cloud of material that all encapsulates one place in pop culture. There’s a common ground between that stuff and metal too—I really only like the one or two things in music and I just want different flavors of it, in my heart, I know this somehow—but I have no rote, concise answer for what it is.
I’m not alone in my enamoration with the metal-post punk bridge. Not only are there a lot of ‘metal’ bands who basically sound exactly like eighties throwbacks, but there’s a long history of metal bands covering that stuff. Fear Factor and Queensryche have both covered U2. In Flames have now covered Depeche Mode twice. Arsis covered “Sunglasses at Night.” Converge covered The Cure. so many bands have covered Joy Division that I can’t list them all. This isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Warfare covered “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood when it was a brand new song. So, what gives?
Enter Jason Corbett, singer and guitarist of Vancouver outfit Actors, whose new album It will Come to You will be released on March 9. Loosely, the band plays eighties-style post-punk, but Corbett is a vocal metalhead, someone who dabbles in the same connective tissue between the two genres that I do. I spoke with Corbett about his influences, and how he parses out the common ground between heavy metal and post-punk.