Hard-Core Metal band is a promising upstart

September 22, 2010 — by Emily Williams

Death metal. When many people think of this style of music, they think of excessive loud noise and “emo” music. What people don’t realize is that there are many types of hard-core metal bands and not all of them fit into the stereotype.

Flint Ironstag is one of those bands that embraces the technically challenging style without a death metal blood and guts flair. According to Flint Ironstag’s lead guitarist, junior Marshall Westall, those emo bands give hard-core metal a bad reputation.

“I hate [the blood and guts lyrics], honestly, I’d rather write deep lyrics that are about human feelings than ‘I’m going to kill you!” said Westall. “There are songs like that and that’s not the stuff we want to write. Maybe that style for guitars but never vocals.”

Flint Ironstag formed at the end of last school when six guys with the same interest in music decided to create a metal/hardcore band with screaming vocal, distorted guitars and double bass drums.

The band consists of Westall; alumnus Ian Guner on screaming vocals and key board; senior Brandon Pierce on clean vocals; Sam Cokes from Los Gatos High School on bass; Allen Locket from Los Gatos on drums; and Westmont High School alumnus Chris Tognetti on rhythm guitar.

The band was originally created by Guner and Pierce. At first they started slow, practicing about once a month. But now they practice every Saturday.

The band’s first gig is on Nov. 27 at Nickel City, an arcade in San Jose. Flint Ironstag is joining forces with another Saratoga band called Revive the Lifeless to release a joint EP or Extended Play which is a recording smaller than an album, but larger than a single. Flint Ironstag hopes to get to the studio to record by the end of the month so that they can get even more gigs through the agency PinUp productions.

Westall created a Myspace page and a Facebook fan page for the group over the summer. He said that most of their fans so far are friends, but he hopes that once they play at a few gigs and record their songs, their fan base will expand.

Flint Ironstag doesn’t play covers; instead, they write their own music. The band currently has three songs fully written and a few more are in the works.

“Frankly for a band, covers are a cop out because you don’t have to write stuff and writing is what makes you a real band,” Westall said.

When they are writing, the songs usually start on the piano or guitar. Westall and Guner bounce ideas off each other and each band member writes his own part. Pierce, Westall and Guner all collaborate on lyrics.

“My friends tell me that the guitar bits I’ve written sound cool,” Westall said. “I’m just hoping that once we get the rest of the instruments and the lyrics finished and recorded, people will still like it.”

Their influences include bands like Parkway Drive, Structures and Emmure, but Flint Ironstag has a style all its own.

“I think we are pretty original, because when I write stuff I like to mix a lot of styles together, and I know a lot of the other guys are the same way,” he said.

Marshall draws inspiration from different types of bands and then he takes things that he likes about a band and combining it with other things to create a unique, technical guitar sound.

“The purpose of this band is for a group of guys who share the same taste in music to be able to make their own music and have fun creating it,” said Pierce. “Oh, and possibly get big and eventually make a career out of it.”

Although still fairly new, the band would love to eventually get a record deal, but becoming professional is a long shot at best for a high school band.

“I mean [becoming professional] is the hope, but with high school bands, even if you do get anything going on, people can’t really do it because of schedule conflicts,” said Westall. “If we can get our stuff recorded quickly enough, get a few gigs, maybe something will happen, but it’s high school.”

Although they are passionate about their style of music, the musicians are aware that not everyone will be a fan of their hard-core metal style.

“I know in this genre, people really love it or hate it and it’s just those screaming vocals that people tend to really hate,” said Westall. “It’s kind of like you get an angry emotion towards it. It either pumps you up or makes you really hate it.”