What’s in a name? Well, quite a bit, as very few bands truly live up to their self-applied monikers. Let’s take, for example, Def Leppard, who were neither hearing-impaired (the classic “deaf”), awesome (the “def” definition) nor über-feline. And again, there’s Panic! At The Disco, whose name conjures imagery of a bloody massacre at dance club—and would thusly be ascribed to some death-mongering metal act—only to find that their flimsy, saccharine pop causes more cavities than a salad bowl of Lifesavers for dinner.
But then we have those whose names on cover always lived up to the platter tightly shrink-wrapped underneath the cellophane exterior. Black Sabbath? Check. Motörhead? Check. C&C Music Factory? Uh, that’s debatable. Chino Hills-based Iron Mtn? Three check marks, please.
An impenetrable fortress of resonating riffs, astounding amplification and colon-imploding rhythms, instrumentalists Iron Mtn are your Class A tour-de-force of doom-fed metal. Founded by guitarist Bill Tuck (whose involvement in the local music scene dates back over two decades with bands like Pomona’s legendary Pillsbury Hardcore) and bassist Scott Carlson a couple years ago, the band’s live show is its main attraction. The stage turns into a veritable battleground, crammed with full stacks and a drum kit that provides the pulsating foundation for the reckless wattage, leaving audience members to defend their tympanic membranes with helpless earplugs. It all might appear as an intricately plotted battle plan from day one, but that’s not entirely the case.
“I listened to a lot of music on the doom-ier side and [Tuck’s] idea was to be a more straight-ahead Sabbath-y doom band, and that wasn’t exactly what I wanted, so we just went at it and it turned into what it turned into,” Carlson says. “We didn’t talk about how it should sound, it just developed.”
“I was a little perplexed at first, because it wasn’t the complete vision that I had,” adds Tuck. “But on the other hand, when you embrace a little diversity, sometimes it makes you better as a person because you learn more from it, as opposed to just being dogmatic about your approach, and now I’m really happy.”
Iron Mtn is an actual, difficult-to-scale summit in the San Gabriel mountain range (Tuck is a recreational climber), which overlooks its Inland Empire home base, a region that’s not entirely credited with the band’s success. “We’ve only actually ever played one show in the Inland Empire,” says Carlson. “We’re not against it in any way, shape or form, it’s just that the stuff we play, there’s not an abundance of opportunities for shows, you know. We find it easier to fit in on shows in LA.”
Fortunately, those in the area won’t have to trek across the urban concrete to catch the vocal-less act, as they’ll make their second IE appearance this weekend. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you walk in the door.
“It just doesn’t sound right if it’s not loud, you know. If you’re playing with combo amps, and you’re playing this type of music, something just doesn’t add up,” says Carlson. “And another thing is that sometimes people don’t give instrumental bands much attention. But part of it is, we’re so loud, that you can’t ignore us.”
And what about that band name?
“It’s also kind of a metaphor for the way life is in Southern California,” says Tuck. “It’s beautiful, yet brutal. Everything we have is great, it’s really nice, but to actually live here can be quite punishing. We have to put up with traffic, rude people, narcissism. But the reward is you’ll have a lot available to you.”
Iron Mtn plays Rhinofest 4 at Biacci’s, 775 N. Central Ave., Upland, (909) 946-0990, Saturday, March 8. For more info visit: www.myspace.com/ironmtn