HEAVY METAL & THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: Akron, Ohio Sludge Dealers Radian

Heavy Metal and the Global Pandemic is a new series that focuses on examining how metal bands are dealing with the COVID-19 world. Heavy Metal is unique as a genre for often writing songs steeped in dystopian imagery, the darker side of the human condition, and of course – death. However, these are unprecedented times for everyone, including musicians with an inclination for chaos.

Formed in the winter of 2017 by bassist Chris Chiera (ex-Sofa King Killer), guitarist Mike Burns (ex-Rue), drummer Jeff Sullivan (ex-Fistula), and vocalist Jeff Fahl (ex-Rue), Akron, Ohio’s Radian released their debut album, Chapters, last February. Earning critical acclaim before the music world skidded into COVID-19 and live gigs and touring came to a halt, the album has all the ingredients we’ve come to love about Midwestern sludge. It may be a while before we can witness their power live, but that’s no reason to sleep on the band.

From the press release:

Like matter in space knows no gravity; like the thunder above that shakes the Earth below, Radian exists unbound. “Chapters” was recorded by Dave Johnson AKA Big Metal Dave (Midnight, Axioma, Brain Tentacles) at Bad Back Studio in Cleveland, Ohio and mixed and mastered by Sean Sullivan (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck) at Sound By Sully in Los Angeles, California. At once gargantuan sounding and unsettling, Chapters delivers five heaving tracks of relentless hardcore-infused, doom sludge. “We just wanted to experiment with different tones and take listeners on a journey,” issues the band. “From heavy vibes to emotional vibes. They are chapters. Stories. Musical voyages as well as songs.”

We caught up with guitarist Mike Burns to see how the band has been dealing with the pandemic way of life. You can stream their single, “Hearts of Metropolis,” below.  You can purchase Chapters via Bandcamp. You can also follow the band via Facebook and Instagram.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your band, be it cancelled tours or studio time?

Mike Burns: It screwed us pretty bad, actually. We had tour Dates Starting May 1st to support the release of our debut album Chapters, all cancelled. We were supposed to get our records back from press mid-to-end April, now we won’t have them till early July. A hefty merch bill as we stocked up on shirts, stickers, and patches for the tour. Just sitting here. I understand we’re not the only band by any means in a similar situation. At first it was kinda a tough pill to swallow, but it is what it is.

Where are you sheltering in place and what are your circumstances? Are you alone or with family? How are you coping?

Mike Burns: I’ve lived in the same house for 20 years now and I live alone. I’m coping just fine and keeping pretty busy around the house along with playing a lot of guitar and writing new material. I’m content.

How are the members of your band staying connected?

Mike Burns: We keep contact through text message and phone calls. My drummer is married to my sister, so he’s family. We have still been getting together a few times a week to work on new material. We send shitty cell phone recordings to the other guys to learn. It’s been pretty productive so far.

Concepts of “virus” and “pandemic” are no strangers to heavy metal lyrics and imagery Is it strange that we’re now living in such a world? Also, have the current circumstances provided any inspiration for writing new material?

Mike Burns: Strange times indeed! Nobody has ever seen anything like this, so it’s natural for people to panic. I’m still convinced it’s propaganda, but that’s just me. I wouldn’t say that my songs over this time have any inspiration from the current situation, but I can’t speak for my vocalist. I’m sure he’s got something in there related to these times.

The absence of live music is no doubt affecting the audiences and communities who thrive on the experience of seeing bands perform. But, as performers, what’s it like for you not knowing when you will be able to return to the stage?

Mike Burns: It’s damn rite terrifying! That’s what we live for! I’m just keeping confident that we’ll be back at it very soon. It’s not like we’re touring arenas or anything.

Music provides solace for many in times of hardship. What have you been listening to in these strange and uncertain times?

Mike Burns: A lot of Mogwai, some Yob and Deep Purple. Not a ton of music listening during this time really.

Radian’s debut LP, Chapters, is available now via Bandcamp.

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