Falcon: the perfect bird for metal. Knives on face and feet, all-seeing evil eyes. It's a feathered, flying death machine that kills its prey without mercy. Haptics: the technology that makes your iPhone vibrate when you touch it. Not metal. Not metal at all.
A band called Falcon Haptics? Not exactly metal, either, but the Denver outfit offers up eight tracks of space haze on its debut record, Run to the Sky. Once you hear it, you'll say, "Yeah, the name fits," but you won't exactly know why.
“It’s so hard to name a band,” drummer Tyler Lindgren says. “Nowadays, I like to think of like 400 things, and 399 of them are taken and the other one sucks. You have to get creative. Especially in metal, where it’s so blood-drenched and all that stuff. It’s difficult to convey what you're doing without sounding like Led Zeppelin or Napalm Death.”
So the bandmates avoided a name like Intestinal Disgorge (actual band name) and went full nerd. That’s okay. They don’t play metal in the strictest definition of the genre anyway. The record pays homage to metal, but also desert rock and math rock. Singer and guitarist Nathaniel Marshall’s voice recalls Maynard Keenan if he possessed Dexter Holland's body and forced him to start a doom-metal band that couldn’t stop giggling. (Bassist Zechariah Churchwell came on board after the album was recorded.)
The fuzzy, medium-tempo songs occasionally segue violently into short bursts of crossover thrash- or death- and even black-metal territory. The music is reminiscent of punk bands like NOFX, who toss random reggae parts into furious melodic hardcore songs. Even when the tracks veer wildly from intoxicated grooves into furious blast beats, it’s kind of funny rather than jarring.
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Lindgren offers some insight into a band that seems like its members are sharing a bit of an inside joke. It comes with the territory for him.
“I also play in a metal band that makes fun of metal bands,” Lindgren says. “It’s called Goblin Cock. It’s a giant joke about how that genre takes itself way too seriously.”
Lindgren says he and Marshall have been recording what would be Falcon Haptics songs for years, and started re-tracking an early version of an EP and recorded a new batch of songs that would later form Run to the Sky. The two have collaborated on more math-rock-oriented music in the past and went for a looser sound on the new record. He wanted it to come across like it was made with pawn shop gear thrown up quickly outside and recorded with a distorted, blown-out palette.
“From the get-go, he brought these to me, and it was like we could make them sound really good or we could make them sound really good but kind of bad and ugly,” Lindgren says. “It fits with that kind of left-outside desert recording.”
Lindgren argues that newer metal and punk can sound too clean. He wanted to avoid that pitfall with the record. Falcon Haptics looked back to old hardcore and metal bands. The sound on those old records might have been rough around the edges, but that’s what imparted them with that certain je ne sais quoi.
“A lot of the new stuff — the vocals are AutoTuned to sound perfect,” he says. “It’s just meant to sound really pleasing so that you really just hear the song. Some of the older stuff is like, ‘Okay, we're just going to [hit] record.’”
The production definitely carries a punk-rock ethos with it, but the music is also technical, the work of people who know what they're doing. Lindgren is a touring musician and does mixing, producing and mastering for other bands. Marshall has a master’s degree in piano performance, so he’s not just abusing a guitar in a living room. He also composes classical music and scores video games when he's not doing this.
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“He’s a good kind of nerd overall,” Lindgren says. “That’s where all the technical stuff comes from. ‘I want to put something in the 7/8 time signature that people can still head-bang to.'”
With the COVID pandemic cramping the style of musicians everywhere, Falcon Haptics plans to continue as best they can. Touring and selling merch is how many bands make their money, except for the lucky few who get a song in a commercial or movie, so being stuck inside has been hard professionally.
“We’re going to continue to try to be careful and safe and keep people from getting sick and try not to shift down,” Lindgren says. “Concerts and venues are going to be the last thing open. Right now, it’s 'Do what you can do to be safe, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be creative.'”
Run to the Sky will be available on October 2. Pre-order the album at the Falcon Haptics Bandcamp page.