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It's been just more than a year since Phoenix grindcore revivalists Landmine Marathon inked a deal with Prosthetic Records, so the first thing I wanted to hear about when we sat down for an interview recently was how their lives had changed since signing a record contract.
Surely, there would be wild stories involving paparazzi, groupies, stretch limos, and piles of cocaine, right? As it turns out, signing with a label isn't the golden ticket to nonstop debauchery that I had pictured.
"We saw some piles of coke on tour," guitarist Ryan Butler offers, sensing my disappointment, "but they weren't ours."
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If anything, the signing has had the opposite effect. Sure, the band has a slightly bigger budget these days, but they're spending money on responsible stuff like new gear and a new touring van. They're even saving their receipts, what with tax season looming.
"We've had to become a grownup band a little bit more, instead of the DIY punk thing we've been doing for the past 20 years," Butler says.
Fortunately, growing up doesn't mean Landmine Marathon has softened their sound. The band's forthcoming third album (and first since signing to Prosthetic), Sovereign Descent, is another uncompromising throwback to grindcore's heyday of the early '90s, rife with pummeling blastbeats, bone-crunching riffs, and singer Grace Perry's throat-shredding growls.
The album is slated for a March 16 release, but Valley fans can snag a copy this weekend at the band's release show. After that, Landmine Marathon hits the road for a pair of high-profile gigs at the Scion Rock Fest in Columbus, Ohio, and the South by Southwest festival in Austin. While many bands would beg, borrow, and steal for a SxSW gig, Landmine Marathon managed to land one without even trying.
"It was a complete surprise," says bassist Matt Martinez. "I got an e-mail one morning from South by Southwest saying, 'You've been accepted.' I didn't even know we were submitted. The label submitted us. They submitted a bunch of bands from the label because they wanted to have a Prosthetic showcase, but we didn't know about it."
They admit they were hesitant to accept the invite to the notoriously indie-rock-leaning festival, but they've made a habit of winning over crowds who aren't necessarily filled with extreme-metal enthusiasts.
"It's kind of fun to play with bands you don't fit in with sometimes, especially when you're heavier than they are," Butler laughs.
Like its two predecessors, Sovereign Descent was recorded and produced at Butler's studio, Arcane Digital Recording. Using Butler's studio was obviously more cost-effective than hiring an outside producer, but recording his own band was not as easy as working with other bands, Butler admits.
"It's harder, because obviously I want it to be the best that it can be because it's mine," he says. "Everybody else is kind of like a gig, compared to a passion. It's harder, but it's worth it."
It also allows the band to take its time, which, in Perry's case, is fortunate. While she typically tries to downplay her burgeoning "metal goddess" status, Perry admits to some diva-like tendencies in the studio, such as spending up to three hours per song on vocal tracks.
"I don't know if I'm anal-retentive about it or just nervous as hell — or an accumulation of everything — but it freaks me out," she says. "I've only recorded with Butler. I couldn't imagine it with anyone else. It would cost a million dollars."