While many bands have bumped back the planned release dates of their new albums in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area deathcore five-piece Ardra stayed the course when it came to their debut full-length, the freshly dropped Unto Leviathan. “We and many others have worked so hard to bring this together,” the group said in a joint statement regarding the LP, which features the hard-hitting single “To Walk With Fire.” “We hope new art, music, and other discoveries can help you get through these unknown times.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to playing shows, the decision is out of the group’s hands, as the coronavirus crisis and resulting social-distancing restrictions have shut down the live music industry. With that in mind, we recently caught up with the group — vocalist Kenneth Draper, guitarists Mitchell Gehring and Scott Zinola, bassist Tim Ochoa and drummer Brian Zinola — to look back on some of the standout gigs that they’ve attended as fans and to look ahead, too, at their dream concerts.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST SHOW THAT YOU GUYS EVER ATTENDED?
MITCHThat I can remember? I think Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in an arena in either San Jose or Oakland. Still the loudest band I’ve ever heard …
SCOTT My first show was at the Bridge School Benefit. I honestly couldn’t tell you which was the first one I went to. Yet, I got to see Neil Young — of course James Taylor, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Tom Petty, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Tenacious D.
KENNY First concert was Puddle of Mudd, 30 Seconds to Mars and Revolution Smile at the Warfield in San Francisco in 2001. First show was in a movie theater in Manteca, California. Two bands played: Beauty and the Burn opened for the Word Kill. That was probably in 2002 or 2003. I still have TWK’s demo CD.
WHAT WAS THE WORST SHOW YOU EVER SAW?
MITCH I saw Underoath and The Chariot in, like, 2011 at The Avalon in Santa Clara. I just remember being super disappointed — not because the bands were bad or anything, but because the show was in a boring part of the Bay Area, and it truly felt like Underoath was going to call it quits. And actually that ended up being the last time I saw them until they reunited in 2016.
KENNY Knotfest 2015. A bunch of skinheads nearly started a riot at one of the smaller stages. The bands I wanted to see played early on the smallest stage. Took waaaay longer to get in than the year before and the lineup was just not as interesting as 2014.
WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST SHOW YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO?
MITCH Trying to remember … One that sticks out is Touché Amoré and La Dispute in 2010. It probably wasn’t the craziest show I’ve been to in terms of being out of control, but nonetheless it had the sense of gravity that crazy shows have. It was packed inside Cafe du Nord in San Francisco and I came out of there like I had taken a shower. This was at the peak of “The Wave” revival thing and it felt like every word sung had a special meaning to everyone there.
KENNY Decibel Tour in 2012, Oakland Metro. Cannibal Corpse headlined with Napalm Death and Immolation supporting. Other supporting bands were Cretin and Early Graves. This was one of those shows where every band was amazing, the sound was great, and the energy didn’t let up. I lost a shoe during Cannibal’s first song. When the pit died down, my foot miraculously found it’s way back into the shoe. Scott was there and he’ll agree that Napalm stole the show.
HOW ABOUT THE SMALLEST SHOW?
MITCHI recently saw Wristmeetrazor at Subrosa in Santa Cruz just last year. That was sick. Subrosa is a really quaint, skinny bookshop, so maybe 20 people max.
KENNY The one I mentioned earlier in the movie theater: myself and four friends made up most of the crowd.
AND THE BIGGEST SHOW?
MITCH Not counting the times I’ve seen Springsteen, probably Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance in 2007 at the Shoreline Amphitheater. The Projekt Revolution Tour was too cool.
KENNY It would either be Ozzfest 2005 or Knotfest 2014. Of all the big festivals I’ve been to, the most memorable would be Sounds of the Underground 2006, Shoreline Amphitheater. The Chariot’s bass player was wasted. As I Lay Dying blew out the monitors. I fell in the pit and scraped up my elbow. Some guys saw the blood and asked me to stamp it into this T-shirt they had. They were collecting signatures from the bands on this shirt for their friend who had apparently been arrested a couple days before the show. I stamped my blood into the shirt then they pulled out a golf-ball-sized chunk of hash and we got baked.
LOOKING AHEAD TO WHEN LIVE SHOWS RETURN — WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM SHOW?
MITCHMy white whale band to see live is the Receiving End of Sirens. I was going to see them this year, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped it from happening. If I could time travel, I’d choose to go back to 2003 and see Saosin with Anthony Green. No joke — I already have dreams about that.
KENNYAnnihilation of the Wicked-era Nile, Suffocation, Bloodbath — playing Nightmares Made Flesh in its entirety with Peter Tägtgren doing vocals — and Behemoth at The Philmore or Regency.
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