There are few bands that inhabit the universe of heavy dissonance. Alongside like-minded comrades such as KNUT and BOTCH, KEELHAUL dish out a unique blend of chaotic potency. Blending the fury of rock, metal, and hardcore with the subtleties of 70ï¿½s prog rock, they create a multiheaded, bipolar beast. After being thoroughly impressed by their latest record, Subject To Change Without Notice, APESHIT got in touch with drummer Will Scharf to find out more about this underrated unit. What we find is a band making noise out of instinct rather than premeditation.
APESHIT: Little is known about KEELHAUL aside from what you guys sound like. Can you give me a brief history of the band?
Will: I met Chris (guitars/vocals) in a basement at a party in Cleveland Heights about twelve years ago. There was a jam session going on and I liked what Chris was playing, so I asked to hop on the drums. It was cool. We made arrangements to get together after. We rented a practice space and started a ï¿½project.ï¿½ I got a call from CRAW about two months later asking me to join the band and go on tour with them for a couple months. So the Chris/Will-thing kinda got put on hold. About two years later, (Chrisï¿½ other band) ASPHALTï¿½s drummer quit. So I started playing with him again. About then CRAW decided to stop touring. Danaï¿½s (guitars) band, LA GRITONA, had broken up and he moved back to Cleveland about six months earlier and started playing with Chris and this drummer, Jim. Right around when CRAW decided to lay low, Jim quit. So I started playing with Chris and Dana. We reworked a lot of the stuff that those guys had been working on, and brought back some of the older stuff from me and Chris. Blah blah blah. We needed a bass player. Had a couple guys play with us, but it wasnï¿½t blowing our skirt up. Then one of us (Chris, I think) talked to Aaron (bass/vocals) whose band, ESCALATION ANGER, had just called it quits and asked if heï¿½d be down. He was. It was a no-brainer.
APESHIT: How did people react to you guys when you first appeared on the scene?
Will: Iï¿½m not really sure. I think they were confused. I was too busy being retarded. But we got a lot of really good reviews and all that gay shit, if thatï¿½s what you mean.
APESHIT: I find the bandï¿½s sound to be quite eclectic when compared to the extreme music world as a whole. Where do you think KEELHAUL fits in?
Will: Somewhere north of a corndog, under the appletree.
APESHIT: Who do you consider to be your musical peers?
Will: Anybody over 90 years old.
APESHIT: I donï¿½t think that there is a pre-made label that you could really put on your style of extreme music. There are so many different elements of metal, hardcore, and rock. How would you guys describe it to someone who is unfamiliar with the band?
Will: I dunno. Iï¿½m not very good at self-promotion. I would say weï¿½re unsettling, annoying, and if you put our stuff on at a party, most people would be pissed at you.
APESHIT: Speaking of the different elements of your sound, how you do you guys go about finding a balance between them when you write?
Will: I donï¿½t know. Do we have a balance? Itï¿½s not really something we actively pursue. If anything, I think weï¿½re a little UNbalanced. We just try to play what we think sounds good, without being predictable.
APESHIT: A lot of the material on Subject To Change Without Notice as well as your past releases sound like they were formed during jam sessions. Is this how you guys come up with a lot of your material?
Will: Iï¿½d say itï¿½s about 50/50. I tend to be the nerd in the band with the tape deck by his side, saying, ï¿½Letï¿½s play that again fellas so I can get it on tape.ï¿½ Then four years later, I might dig out that tape and bring it to practice so we can relearn the riffs. Then forget ï¿½em again until the next year. Weï¿½re not very efficient. Other times someone might come to practice with one or more riffs, and kind of put ï¿½em on the table. Then we all try to figure out ways to make them go together. Riffs and ideas usually only appear once or twice in a song, and our arrangements tend to shy away from traditional ï¿½4 of this, 4 of thatï¿½ kind of stuff. There are other ways we come up with ideas but Iï¿½d have to kill you. Can I see that beer can?
APESHIT: Vocals are used very sparsely on the new album as it is predominantly an instrumental work. Why did you guys choose to do this? What role do you feel the vocals play in the new material?
Will: A minimal one. We put them on because Hydra Head told us that if we didnï¿½t come up with a hit single this time, our career would be over like easy eggs. Clear Channelï¿½s payola ainï¿½t cheap.
APESHIT: I have yet to find the lyrics to your songs. Can you please elaborate on what lyrical topics you guys cover on Subject To Change Without Notice?
Will: I have no idea what theyï¿½re rambling about. Something about a window?
APESHIT: What is the driving force for you guys to play music?
Will: Weï¿½re too dumb to quit.
APESHIT: Is there an underlying philosophy behind KEELHAUL?
Will: To put off adulthood as long as possible.
APESHIT: How you do guys define success for the band?
Will: Being able to afford a six-pack and a corndog after we get back from a tour.
APESHIT: Where do you guys see the bandï¿½s sound going from here on out?
Will: I have no idea. According to people that review us and post on webboards, weï¿½re getting farther away from rock and more into random weird shit. So probably further in that direction. Who the ï¿½fï¿½ knows.
APESHIT: The possibilities seem endless. Will there be a continual progression or are you content with your current sound?
Will: It seems a lot of people are pissed that we didnï¿½t rewrite ll. I think if youï¿½re not constantly trying to reinvent yourself or whatever youï¿½re doing, youï¿½re kind of just coasting. If youï¿½re content with what youï¿½re doing artistically (not that I would call what we do art, necessarily), itï¿½s probably time to quit.