February 16th, 2012 | Published in Stage and Street
Defiler’s Jake Pelzl doesn’t seem to mind if people aren’t taking his first hit song seriously. Culled from his band’s first release, the digital-download Pangaea, “Cryomancer” chronicles the tumultuous thought process of an average guy who’s just been dumped. The betrayal and anger are manifest in the music video (available at http://youtube.com/defilerband1), which shows Pelzl raging after being served a Dear John letter from his girl–but the vocalist acknowledges his vitriol is usually tongue-in-cheek. The song’s vengeful tag line “I want to see you cry” quickly became the subject of Internet memes (see the band’s page at www.facebook.com/defilerband), and the video went viral. Now Defiler find themselves at the cusp of a North American tour with hardcore veterans Wayne Static and Polkadot Cadaver.
The Cleveland Sound spoke with Pelzl by phone on the eve of their first visit to Ohio; Defiler opens for the Static-X front man at Peabody’s Down Under on Friday, February 17th. The affable screamer was eager to discuss his thoughts on “Cryomancer,” and how the song does—and doesn’t—define him.
“Basically, I got one of my buddies and we wrote a bunch of songs to record an album in Summer 2010,” said Pelzl. “Then we kind of just got a band and shot the video. And that video was the one that has like, a million views now.”
The surge in the clip’s popularity drew the attention of ace heavy metal producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall), who remastered Pangaea for physical release on Stillborn Records. Artist Mike D (Killswitch Engage) even provided a new cover illustration, ditching the image of a Japanese temple for a tried-and-true flaming skull. A second Defiler album is in the works, but the band hasn’t made any public announcements about being signed just yet. For now, Pelzl and company are just thankful for the attention and opportunity to road-trip with some of their mentors.
“We left for the tour on February 2nd and drove from our hometown—Castor Valley, California—all the way to Atlanta, Georgia,” Pelzl said. “The first show was on the sixth. Our set is only 20-25 minutes, depending on the night. But I think that gives us enough time to get in there, show our faces, let people know who we are.”
Pangaea is an angry, heavy-hitting disc, with tracks like “Obscurans,” “Noctivigant,” and “Ahzrukhal” seething with youthful defiance. But Pelzl’s lyrics are as much as exercise in comedy as tragedy. A latent sense of humor permeates the album, which also includes Jim Carrey-inspired songs like “No, It’s a Cardigan…But Thanks for Asking” and “Hands Like a Disco.”
“We don’t want to be known as a super-serious band that can’t have fun with what they’re doing,” Pelzl said of Defiler’s songwriting approach and performance ideal. “Because that’s what it’s about—having fun.”
“No, It’s a Cardigan” was borrowed from the buddy farce “Dumb and Dumber,” admits Pelzl. But its parent album (named for the solitary land mass that existed eons ago before splitting into continents) focuses on the possibility of evil.
“There’s a lot going on with the lyrical content,” Pelzl said. “It’s the idea that, what if someone like Adolf Hitler or Jim Jones were to have taken over the world when it existed as Pangaea? What would it be like today, without having any oceans to divide the land and contain all that evil?”
“It’s a riveting thing to wrap your mind around.”
Joining Pelzl at Peabody’s will be longtime Defiler guitarists Ethan Lewis and Tony Bigley. Touring bassist Chris Pikul will provide bottom-end support with drummer Ian Poole.
The vertical-haired Static-X guitarist is touring in support of his first solo CD, Pighammer, available now on Dirthouse Records. Polkadot Cadaver released its second effort, Sex Offender, last year. Tickets for the Peabody’s gig are $15 / $18 DOS. Doors open at 7:00pm.