If The Kronk Men were a child, they would be turning 15 this year—an age that many bands, especially in small towns, never see. It's an angsty age, one that balances fierce independence with experience. That's the case for this local band that has been constantly gigging in every venue, dive bar and basement in Central Oregon,—filling the spaces with loud and sludgy post-punk heaviness for years—but is just wrapping up its first studio-recorded project. The Source caught up with the Kronk Men about the state of the local underground music scene, and what's next for the band.
Source Weekly: Talk a little about what the Kronk Men sound like for folks who haven't heard the band before?
Kronk Men: Audio catharsis, instrumental anarchy, if you are going to put us in a category, we would probably fall into post-punk more than metal.
SW: You guys formed in 1999 and have gone through several singers and lineup changes as I understand it? Tell me about the current incarnation of the band and how you got to it.
KM: The Kronk Men consists of the same three core members since our inception—Charlie on drums, Jake on guitar and Dirk on bass. We have had a couple of singers over the years, but have largely existed as an instrumental band.
SW: You guys have really been a staple in the music scene on-and-off for a long time. Tell me about how you've seen the metal scene change here over the years. When was it thriving? Is it thriving now? What could make it better/stronger? What do you see down the road for the Bend metal scene?
KM: We would consider there to be more of an underground music scene in Bend than what would be labeled a metal scene. This includes many bands that would be considered metal, punk, garage rock, etc., that all interact with each other on varying levels. At least that's how we've experienced it. But then again, we don't consider ourselves to be a metal band.
It was thriving more from the late '90s to about 2008—from our experiences—we weren't involved prior to the late '90s. There were all-ages shows at least once a month and many 21+ shows regularly. Venues and places to play were lost as Bend grew and development took over these spaces. A lack of all-ages shows has meant less chances for younger people get involved in the music scene. Having underground music in a smaller town has always been somewhat of a struggle. When you lose a place to play it has a huge impact on the community as a whole.
Bend's noise ordinance has SEVERELY limited underground music in Bend. When venues face stiff fines, there's a lot less of an incentive to have louder amplified music. This was not as much of an issue in the past.
There are quite a few bands that exist in the underground music community, but any music that is not bluegrass, Americana, indie rock, world music, top 40, or a DJ is not thriving openly in Bend.
SW: What would make underground music stronger in Bend?
KM: City and community support for underground music, all-ages shows and more venues 21+ willing to regularly play underground music.
Things for underground music in Bend are going to get harder if things continue on their current path of less venues and stricter ordinances. As the cost of living goes up here, it will only push out underground music and culture.
SW: Where can folks get your music? Or are you primarily a live band? Tell me about your latest release. Where did you record the new album, how long did it take you, what is different about it from previous Kronk Men recordings?
KM: For the most part we have been a band that you have to experience in person. We are currently working on wrapping up an as of yet untitled recording of a session that we did with Mike Lastra of Smegma studios in Portland. We have been working on it off and on over the past year. It is our first time recording in a studio.
SW: Do you think you're ostensibly the loudest band playing in Bend right now?
KM: We wouldn't know. The best people to answer that would be audience members.
SW: What do you hope the band will be doing at 20 years as a band...in 2019?
KM: Enjoying multinational corporate sponsorships.
The Kronk Men & The Intercedent
9 pm. Fri., Dec. 19
Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Dr. $5.