As dark as it can be, there is a distinct line of exuberance that runs throughout a lot of extreme music. While genres like grindcore and death metal might commonly be associated with brooding stoicism from the outward appearances of fans and musicians, there’s an undeniable sense of catharsis that comes from the music itself. Subverting that image, it becomes less of a jump to go from the sonic assault of Obituary to the unapologetic party anthems of Andrew W.K.
Growing up in the Michigan hardcore and avant-garde noise scenes, Andrew W.K. cut his teeth by playing drums with grind miscreants, Kathode. Born from the ashes of legendary Dearborn punk bands Ottawa and .nema, Kathode played a brand of blasting noise not dissimilar from stuff you’d find in the early Earache Records catalog.
“I had been wanting to play drums in a band that played those drum beats,” the party rock icon told Exclaim! “I had been playing with a friend who had interest in that approach as well on guitar, but he didn’t want to go as far as I did with it; didn’t want to commit to it as much, understandably so. He had lots of other commitments and was making lots of other music too.”
He continued, “We practiced one day with a gentleman who was in .nema and he was also of the same mindset, really wanted to commit and write music that was focused on this type of delivery where the blast beats lasted for a longer period of time in the sections of the song. Things were less dynamic, I suppose, but it ended up getting pretty contrasty and dynamic in the end. “
Kathode self-released a demo in 1996 as well as a 7” on Japanese punk label Denied A Custom Records. The band did a split with Japanese death metal / hardcore / rockabilly hybrid Voidd in 1997 before splitting up.
“I don’t remember how long it went on. It was a relatively short-lived band but it certainly took up a big portion of my mental space so it seemed like a long time when I look back on it.”
Check out footage of Andrew W.K. blasting away at a Kathode show from 1996 at the link below!