Call of the Void's Boulder Sludge

Gordon Koch, drummer with the local, intensely heavy grind-metal band Call of the Void, says that it’s not easy living, working and rehearsing in the metal wasteland that is Boulder, a condition that’s made all the more difficult by the fact that it wasn’t always that way.

“I grew up there, and so did Patrick [Alberts, guitar and vocals],” Koch says. “There used to be a really good scene back in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Something happened — the demographic changed, and the student population definitely did. After the early 2000s, the local live scene moved away from heavier music. There’s a lot of electronic, hip-hop and jam-band kind of stuff now. It was tough watching that happen. I tried desperately to keep it going. So having the band be from a completely devoid heavy-metal area is interesting.”

Not to be dismissive of Boulder in any way (we’ve gotten into trouble for that kind of stuff before), but it’s hard to argue with a native, especially after he seems to have hit the nail square on the head. Jam bands and electronic music might not be the only thing produced by the fair city of Boulder right now, but it's easy to think so after a quick glance around. For that reason, Call of the Void is a breath of fresh air — well, not so much "fresh air," but a breath of noxious, foul air (in a good way). The band proves that people can be surrounded by positivity and still make music that seems to be a total 180 from that happy vibe. Again, in a good way.

When we saw the band with Venom Inc. at the Gothic Theatre in January, Call of the Void threatened to out-evil the British black-metal pioneers. Sure, COTV looked positively conventional by comparison, but the lack of leather pants, big hair, studs and the like just meant that there was no feeling of campiness or theatricality when they launched into their ear assault. The whole thing felt real: Venom was playing around, but our boys most certainly were not.

“It was fun to play with them,” says Koch. “It’s nice to play the Gothic – it’s an awesome stage and the sound’s really good. That was our first show with our new guitar player, Nathan [Siegrist]. That was a good introduction to the band for him.”

The group has seen its lineup shuffled around more than once of late: Singer Steve Vanica resigned the position last year, leaving founding member Alberts to take on the frontman role.

“It’s been a slow but positive process,” Koch says. “Our singer, Steve, got tired of touring, and it's hard when you hit your thirties and have a family; you get a little sick of it. Patrick has done an amazing job. We did our October tour, the first with him singing, and we got a total positive reception.”

It’s been four years since the band signed with national (and world-renowned) label Relapse Records, and in that time they’ve put out two albums. They’re putting the finishing touches on an EP, and Koch says that they couldn’t be working with a better bunch of people.

“The crew are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” he says. “They handle the business really well and are really straightforward. There’s no one slimy and weird. They want to put out cool records, and they encourage you to do what you can to promote yourself and get on the road and make good music.”

Making good music is exactly what they’ve been doing, and, on Wednesday, they’ll embark on a twelve-date national tour that will include Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, not to mention dates in Chicago and Minneapolis with the mighty Pig Destroyer (Relapse label-mates). Koch is packed and ready to go.

“We’ve done this quite a few times, so the preparation gets less and less,” he says. “We didn’t really have to do too much merch-ordering; on our last tour we didn’t sell too much stuff, so I guess that’s the positive side. My house is full of supplies; it’s all piled up, so I know where my sleeping bag is, my cot and my pillows. We make sure we get the van stocked up and ready to go, and everything else is second nature.”

The tour kicks off in Colorado Springs before moving on to Cheyenne, Wyoming and then Denver on Friday. Koch says that they try to include a Denver date in every tour, though they don’t play many stand-alone local gigs.

“It makes the show more important for people to go to, as opposed to playing on a Thursday again,” he says. “We try to make a bigger deal out of it. This time, we’re debuting a new song that we haven’t played live yet. We’re bringing quite a few old songs back that we haven’t played in a long time, and then some of the beat-'em-up heavy standards.”

And that really does sound like a big deal.

Call of the Void plays with Ghosts of Glaciers, Abrams, and 908, at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 1, at Mutiny Information Cafe; 2 South Broadway, Denver; 303-778-7579; $10 donation.