(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
“Heavier punk or metal is aggressive and comes from a need to tap into that primitive feeling inside of you,” says Justin Mantooth. Mantooth is the house engineer at Westend Recording Studios, a state-of-the-art recording facility tucked into the West Plaza area of town. Westend boasts professional recordings from some of KC’s most well-known rock lineage, from Shiner to Frogpond to Season To Risk, and current groups like Shy Boys, Radkey, and Making Movies. On Monday, the studio released a compilation called Amplify KC Volume 1, featuring some of the city’s heaviest acts.
Eleven forceful tracks make up the album, ranging from noise rock to punk to metal to hardcore, skillfully recorded, produced, and mixed by Mantooth and mastered by Mike Nolte (Eureka Mastering). Read our Q&A with Mantooth and get it as a free download here.
The Deli: One of the goals of this compilation was to highlight heavy-minded artists. Why do you think these artists tend to be overlooked?
Mantooth: It's not for everyone. It’s less approachable than your electro-pop hipster thing might be to a casual listener.
The Deli: This compilation also showcases the production quality from Westend. Tell us more about the facility.
Mantooth: Westend owner Mike Miller has built a professional environment that has a vibe of a time before streaming and MP3s. A time when it was more about the music and not YouTube views. We try to push for "real"-sounding records rather than slick overly produced ones. I take full advantage of new digital tools, don't get me wrong, but my goal isn't to quantize performances into robotic perfection. One thing that may set us apart from other studios is that we still use analog tape often, something that isn't really happening in most studios today.
The Deli: How did you select these particular artists? Highlight a few of them.
Mantooth: We put the word out that we wanted to do this compilation and had bands submit to take part. From there I chose the bands I thought I could make a solid production with in a day’s worth of studio time. That wasn't easy to narrow down! I wish I could have recorded 20 bands, but you know it's a lot of work. I'll just highlight the first 3 tracks on the comp because I enjoy everyone on there.
Hyborian: These guys can play and write very slick songs yet keep it heavy. The mix of smooth vocals over raging guitars and big drums is just excellent.
Walking Oceans: Just listen to their entire track. It is a rollercoaster ride of badassery. Instrumental music that doesn't leave you wondering when the vocal section is going to start. Really good band.
Bluehealer: These dudes are young and they play like it. With no fear at all. They throw down. Taking somewhat simple chords and ideas and just thrashing them hard. They remind me of some of my favorite bands and I enjoyed getting that sound for them.
The Deli: What can we in the KC music scene do to support bands in the hardcore/metal/punk/heavy rock scene? What should bands do to get their name out there?
Mantooth: That's a good question. The biggest thing is go out and see bands live. Buy their merch. We live in a time when there are a million reasons to just stay home. We don't have the same attendance at shows that was the norm 15 to 20 years ago. I think one good idea is having more diverse lineups at local shows. We don't need to see 5 similar metal bands at 1 show. I played a show on NYE with Jorge Arana Trio, Sharp Weapons, Sundiver, and Bummer. All very different, but it went really well. People like to hear diversity and sometimes bills are stacked with too much of the same. And usually half of the lineup is terrible just to keep the genres the same.
The Deli: Name a few must-see KC bands that people may not know about. It doesn't have to be limited to bands on this compilation; perhaps even some that didn't make the cut.
Mantooth: All of these bands are bands I want people to know about. Bummer is a must see. They always bring the beef. Hammerlord didn't work out as far as being on the compilation, but they are great.
Check out Amplify KC Vol. 1 on Bandcamp!
This Emerging Artist is based in KC,
check out other talented locals we picked
for our KC Artist of the Month poll below!