Threatpoint plans epic release show
First Posted: 9/29/2014
The members of Threatpoint look like army generals planning their next method of attack, assembled in the very bunker-like basement lounge area of JL Studios in Olyphant. Vocalist Chris James is busy pouring over credits for liner notes on what will be his band’s second CD, “Careful What You Wish For,” while the remaining members are torn between huddling on a sofa listening intently to the final mixes of the CD – volleying critiques back and forth between producer Joe Loftus, and finalizing flyers for the band’s CD release party Friday night, Oct. 3 at Bar on Oak in Pittston.
This is nothing new for Threatpoint, though. In the years’ time since their debut disc, “Dead to Rise,” was released, this has been a band hell-bent on total domination. The Scranton-area band’s career is firmly in their own hands, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Nobody owes us anything,” said drummer C.J. Krukowski, during a break in the action at JL Studios. “We work for everything we have.”
“If you’ve been coming to our shows,” Chris James added, “whether there are 100 people or 1,000, we give the same show. We put the scrims up, blow the smoke, have the banner up, we’re running around; you always get 100 percent.”
James quotes a fitting Threatpoint lyric that’s emblazoned onto one of their t-shirt designs: “Stronger than death, baby!”
These guys aren’t exaggerating. Since their debut album was released, Threatpoint’s epitomized the indie, DIY ethic, rising from near obscurity to landing major opening slots for national bands like the metal “supergroup” Adrenaline Mob and Megaforce Records act IKILLYA – who will in in turn open for Threatpoint at Bar on Oak, as well as playing major venues like New York City’s Webster Hall, and everywhere in between. They’ve even customized their own bus for more extensive touring – a recent look at the band’s schedule saw them trekking off to gigs in Virginia, Ohio, and New England – the latter where they’ll open for British thrash legends, Onslaught.
“Wait until they hear this new album,” bassist Ron Martin said, speaking of taking Threatpoint’s fresh batch of tunes to prospective crowds. “I haven’t seen anyone that’s heard us and has a negative comment – and they’ve only heard the first album.”
It is, in fact, on the live stage where this band thrives. Threatpoint rarely has a weekend off from playing, but the grueling schedule has polished their performance to the point where heads are really beginning to turn in their direction. A great example of this was back in March, when the band took home a win in a multi-state “Battle of the Bands” competition in Alderson, West Virginia. The local boys are seemingly making good no matter where they roam.
“All these shows, the kids come out and they just tear it up,” guitarist Alex Olivetti said of the live Threatpoint experience over the past year. “The NEPA Metal Meltdown at Diane’s Deli was killer, we did the Finger Lakes Metal Fest in New York, the Annihilation Festival in Virginia was another one that we’ve done that was intense – we’ve met a lot of new bands and gained a lot of new friends.”
Their merciless command of a live crowd is evident, but why the focus on new music not quite a year after the first album was released? Especially when you consider “Careful What You Wish For” was in the planning stages for months prior to the final September 2014 mixes.
“We’re hungry, man,” James said. “And, when we write, we write for live.”
“Playing the same seven or eight tunes off of the first album just isn’t cutting it for us, it gets boring,” Martin said. “You want to give the same crowd that’s seen us over and over again something new. The idea is just continued progress and to keep moving forward.”
“We wrote about 30 songs for this album, so we had to sit down and think ‘How do we cut some of this?’” James said. “It’s tough, because we feel that there’s no filler. We’re already looking ahead to the next album. This is old had by now – I’m thinking, ‘Where are we going to go from here?’
The band tossed around thoughts on what the most noticeable musical growths are with their mew material.
“Chris’ voice,” Krukowski is quick to list. “Everybody says that.”
“Definitely the vocals,” Martin concurs. “The music is definitely more technical, faster. The groove isn’t compromised, but the songs have really matured.”
“We now know the destination with our songs; where we want to go,” Krukowski said.
“It comes from learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Olivetti said. “We’ve really honed in on that. It has a lot to do with how many shows we’ve played. Before our first album, we hadn’t played out yet.”
“When we started recording this stuff , we had some bass tracks laid down,” James said. “When Ron came in, we wiped them all out – he really brought it. He also added a fretless bass, which not a lot of bands do. Ron’s honed that craft – Joe’s worked with him here at the studio on that. It’s a different feel that adds a lot to the sound.”
“There’s speed, thrash, death, so many different elements in here that you really can’t pin us down, and that’s what’s so cool about it,” Martin adds of the band’s music, which upon first listen, has a noticeable uptick in crispness to the guitar tracks, always heavy bottom end, and a boundless, almost progressive vision that never loses its way. The band likes call the unmistakable sonic qualities of their riffs, “’dem chords.”
This new disc was Martin’s first recorded work with the band, and he also contributed a great deal of writing and arranging for the record, joining up with Threatpoint not long after the first album was released. Shortly before press time, the band had another notable change, and announced a new guitarist to join Olivetti’s ranks in metal tandem – Dave Visbisky, formerly of local act Death Forge. In true Threatpoint move-forward-or-die style, Visbisky had to hit the ground running.
“The first practice we had with Dave,” James begins, “I said ‘Play something that you’re going to write,’ because I’m thinking that far ahead. The first thing he came down with, he and C.J. just locked into this groove – it’s like Dave was meant to be in this band. C.J. had this double bass thing going and Dave was in the middle of this melodic riff; they were just locked in. That’s probably one of the first ideas we’re going to work on for the next album – a glimpse of things to come.”
Talking to Visbisky, you get the impression he fits like a glove.
“We tossed the idea around about me joining,” he said. “I thought I’d go check out a live show, maybe travel out of town with them to see how they act as a unit. I ended up having such a good time, and they were happy with me – I’d been working my butt of trying to get the songs together. I did my first show with them in Allentown on September 5 and we’ve been going strong ever since.”
Threatpoint is not a band that is content sitting idly by and waiting for opportunities to come to them. They say that the pure physical nature of playing music is ingrained into their DNA.
“We took off last year from Thanksgiving until January, and it was weird,” James admits. “We were rusty when we got back together and we were jonesing for that first show. When you’re not doing it, you miss it. I just feel like we’re doing something with our lives, instead of sitting playing Xbox or something. I love telling the guys at work what I’m doing for the weekend – ‘I’m leaving tonight to go out to Ohio. We’re going to drive all night and open up at this festival tomorrow. Doesn’t that suck for you sitting at home on the couch with your beer’ (laughs).”
Threatpoint is a band that, in the end, is all about their fans.
“We love very one of ‘em,” Krukowski said without hesitation.
“We’ve earned every one of them,” adds James.
“If we’re not playing to them, nobody cares about us. That’s the bottom line,” says Krukowski.
“Come and get in the pit,” he further offers to fans about the upcoming CD release show. “Wall of death on October 3. We are going to remodel the Bar on Oak!”