by Geoff Teach
The process of placing bands into genres has never been easy. The general, blanket-terms are usually easy enough, but once you’ve got a band placed into either “Rock”, “Punk”, or “Heavy Metal”, there are still many further subgenres beneath. Armored Assault’s vocalist, Andy “Pindy” Pindelski, certainly finds it difficult. Speaking of his own band’s sound, he says, “It’s easiest to describe it as ‘Progressive Thrash Metal’, which we hate just because everyone is ‘Progressive Thrash Metal’ today. I think it’s pretty tough to place us in a genre just because we don’t really stick to one. We have some old-school sounding thrash but then we will have some heavy, sludgy blues. I think it’s very groove-based ‘Progressive Thrash Metal.’” It is truly amazing how befuddling it can be to try and properly categorize a band, even to the band itself. In an attempt to help Pindy out, I believe I will take a stab at it, be bold, and decry Armored Assault as a “Stoner Metal” band.
Now, before you immediately dismiss this appointment as folly or disagree, please listen to the band themselves. “We have a ton of influences from all kinds of genres, of course. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Mastodon, Gojira, Baroness, Chicago, Todo, Alice In Chains, Between the Buried and Me, YOB, Neurosis, Strapping Young Lads, Devin Townsend, Clutch, Vital Remains, Protest the Hero, Queens of the Stone Age, Napalm Death, Lamb of God…this could honestly go on for hours. I think the best thing is that we don’t just listen to metal. People need to be more open-minded to music. There is so much music out there that people put off completely,” says Pindy. Bassist Elliott Moser adds, “Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, Rhyno from Mudvayne, and Flea.” Out of the artists listed by Pindy and Elliott, there are at least three bands officially categorized as “Stoner Metal” (Mastodon, Baroness and Clutch), and another few who have had many confirmed drug-related references in their songs (Chicago, Mudvayne, and Queens of the Stone Age). Additionally, there’s Pindy’s reference to being “open-minded”, and his many confirmed endorsements of the greenery at live shows certainly affirm his and his band’s proclivity for the leaf. Finally, Armored Assault’s fan page on Facebook says that the band was born on April 20th, and those with any knowledge of the counterculture know what this date implies. For those with no knowledge of the counterculture, April 20th is National Smoking Day, and that’s not in reference to tobacco. To this outside observer, all the signs point to “Stoner Metal”, and I highly doubt, no pun intended, that Armored Assault would disagree much with my conclusion, if only because arguing isn’t fun when you’re…wait…what are we talking about? Oh yes, now I remember, the rest of our interview with Armored Assault!
Armored Assault live at the Double Door performing Wandering Soul
(Armored Assault is: Andy “Pindy” Pindelski (Vocals), Elliott Moser (Bass), Tommy Bellino (Guitar), and Mark Suttner (Drums). Mark was unavailable for the interview.)
RIC: So how did the band come together?
Pindy: Well most of the guys met in high school. They started jamming together and playing shows. I joined the band after my buddy Chris Mezyk introduced me to Tommy, and my old band played a show with them. The band I was in wasn’t really going in a direction that I was interested in, so we went our separate ways and I started jamming with these fools.
RIC: How did the name of the band come about?
Pindy: The name “Armored Assault” actually came from a video game. Before that, we were called Panic Chamber and Razor Blade Smile.
RIC: There are so many different micro-genres in metal today. You guys stick with a straight ahead, classic thrash sound and add a bit of a progressive element with some of the dynamics and timing. How did you develop your sound?
Pindy: I think it is really developed by what we all bring to the table. We all love metal of all kinds, but are influenced by other genres, as well, that we like to show in our music. Obviously we love metal, but everyone in the band loves classic rock and progressive music, too. We have also been jamming together for quite some time so we have a bit of a groove when we work together on music.
Elliot: We started off as a death/thrash metal band in our high school years, and as we got older, we’ve been influenced by different genres such as prog, classic rock, blues and we started blending it all together.
RIC: How do you typically write your material?
Pindy: We jam. A lot of times, Tom or Elliot will come up with an idea for a song and we work off of that. Tom, Elliot, and Mark will add ideas, and I usually just work on the lyrics.
RIC: When did you first realize you wanted to create music?
Pindy: I personally have been playing in bands and making music since I was in eighth grade, and have been constantly jamming and performing with people since. I don’t know exactly when I realized this is what I wanted to do, but I have always loved seeing live music and then I just started performing. I actually first went on stage back in second grade. I helped my brother for his high school musical and was one of the kids in “The King and I”. Granted, I had little to no lines and never did theater again, but that was the first time I can remember being on stage performing.
Elliot: I was mostly into sports growing up. I didn’t start writing music until I was sixteen or seventeen. The first time I saw Black Sabbath at Ozzfest was when I truly wanted to be in a band, and have been doing it ever since.
RIC: What was your most memorable gig? Who were you playing with, what was the venue, and what made it so memorable?
Tommy: Getting to open for Devin Townsend down at MoJoe’s in Joliet was pretty killer, but I think finally getting a chance to share the stage with Jungle Rot on my birthday at Bada Brew in Crest Hill tops them all. We love those dudes. We got shitfaced, and from what I can remember, we had an awesome time.
RIC: What can someone expect from your live shows?
Pindy: Awesome thrash metal and a fun time! We love playing music, so whether there are ten people or a thousand, we are going to have fun and rock the place!
Elliot: Intensity without taking ourselves too seriously. No bullshit. No acting tough. We just like to be ourselves on stage.
RIC: What are you guys listening to right now that you would recommend to your fans?
Pindy: I have been jamming to Clutch and Baroness lately. I love vinyl and have been picking up way too much lately so I am listening to some albums I haven’t listen to in a while, and some I picked up but never got the chance to listen to. As far as new albums, Devin Townsend Project’s “Epicloud” is unbelievable.
Elliot: The new Devin Townsend is awesome, and Propaghandi’s new album is pretty sweet, too.
RIC: Any bands you want to give a shout out to?
Pindy: Shout outs! Jungle Rot, Reign Inferno, Speedfreak, Miles From Exile, Rumors of War, Kastasyde, Trials, Without Waves, En Masse, Crusader, Bill Ura Dik, Waste Basket, Centaurus, Wastegate and Air Raid.
RIC: What’s next for you all? Plans for touring? Recording?
Pindy: Right now, we are looking for a lead guitarist, and we are finishing the shows we have booked so we can start recording our first full-length album. We are doing all the pre-production on the album right now, and we are pumped to get back in the studio and get something new out there to everyone.
If Armored Assault’s first EP, “Dead Before Dawn” is any indication of what’s to come, this music critic is just as pumped as the band is for the new material. “Stoner Metal” or “Progressive Thrash”, Armored Assault is definitely a band to keep an eye on; their crisp tracks and fresh take on music is something that all metal-heads in Chicago should check out.
You can reach the band at the links below for music, show dates, and any other information that Pindy and the guys see fit to post.
Armored Assault’s Wandering Soul is featured on the September 2012 Podcast