After a recent resurgence, Denver’s longest-running crossover thrash band, Clusterfux, is still making some of the meanest music in the Rocky Mountains. Originally getting together in 1995, during the height of the then-new subgenre, the guys behind Clusterfux reactivated the band in 2017, after former drummer and friend Colin Carey passed away. As vocalist Josh Lent explains, reminiscing about the good times together injected new life into the band.
Plus, there’s still plenty to rage about nearly thirty years later. The band’s themes center around social and political issues as well as personal reflection, and the lyrics of some longtime Clusterfux songs have even been updated to take on modern-day horrors. “Right now [we have a song] about Lauren Boebert. It’s just, ‘Lauren Boebert, Lauren Boebert, Lauren Boebert, fuck you!’ That’s it,” Lent says with a laugh, adding that it’s a new take on an older original.
Crossover, which combines elements of hardcore punk and thrash metal, has always been politically conscious thanks to bands such as Nuclear Assault and D.R.I, which weren’t shy about criticizing or parodying the sociopolitical climate of the late ’80s and early ’90s. More recently, the Trump era has provided “plenty of lyrical fodder,” Lent says. “It’s completely therapeutic. It’s a way to process it."
Clusterfux, which consists of frontman Lent, his brother Justin and Joe Piker on guitars, drummer Joe McCumbee and bassist Van Fischer, most recently released new music with the EP Blood in 2022, the band’s first release since a 2020 compilation. The five-piece is playing Lost Lake on Friday, February 3, with Cobranoid, Chew Thru and Certain Punishment.
Lent recognizes his place as a lifer in the crossover scene, which he says lacks others who were around at the subgenre's beginning. “What happened to everybody? They used to draw anarchy A's and listen to Crass, but now they’re watching Fox News and [Sean] Hannity. I just can’t get my brain to understand that, but it’s true," he says. "The numbers are smaller now. Where are all the folks our age? On the one hand, I couldn’t imagine myself doing this at this age, but at the same time, this is who I am. I can’t stop. … When we tried to quit, we couldn’t really quit. We started making different music [in different bands], then we eventually put the band back together. It’s in your blood. It’s who you are."
Obviously, it's more than just rebellious music to those like Lent.
“For some of us, it’s the lifestyle — you can’t shake it. You’re still buying records. You’re still going to shows. You’re on YouTube watching concert footage from forty years ago. It’s everything that you do," he explains. "You’re just immersed in it."
He and his brother immersed themselves even further in 2014 when they founded Chain Reaction Records, the Lakewood vinyl shop and independent label. But Lent isn’t necessarily looking for his roses with Clusterfux. He knows “respect is earned,” and he's realistic about the band’s breadth.
"We’re all older, [with] a lot less ego; we’re not really trying to prove anything. Just make music that you like and you feel proud enough to share with others,” he says. “We were talking about whether we should go out and tour. I don’t know, man. I don’t know if I can sleep on somebody’s hardwood floor anymore. I don’t want to be the old weirdo playing some all-ages youth center in some small town and you’re in your fifties. There’s some frustration behind that. You long for the days when you were younger, and you see some of the stuff the younger guys are doing nowadays and wish you were part of it. But you've got to go home and feed your own kids and go to work and pay your mortgage. You just start looking at things differently.”
One aspect of crossover that hasn’t changed over the years is how inclusive the scene and shows are, which is something that Lent makes sure to continue at Clusterfux gigs.
“Hopefully, people can expect to have a good time. I hope they feel welcomed and safe. Everybody’s invited. We want a diverse crowd — young and old, people with their kids, all different kinds of people — and thrash around a little bit. Jump up and down, run into each other, bang their heads, bang their fists, whatever makes them feel good,” he adds. “Construction-working people, cowboy people, heavy-metal people, punk rockers, hardcore, whatever. Everybody’s invited. The one rule is, don’t be a dick. Let’s just have a good time.”
Clusterfux, 8 p.m. Friday, February 3, Lost Lake, 3602 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $15.