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Suck it out

Poison the Well extracts the poison and is doing quite well (pun intended!)


Jay and Silent Bob have to be around here somewhere, - right?
  • Jay and Silent Bob have to be around here somewhere, right?

Starting over can be a bitch.

Just ask hardcore/metal act Poison the Well. Over the past few years, the band seemingly went through Van Halen-like drama: label trouble, band infighting and internal business issues.

Little did the guys know, their knight in shining armor would be bald and whiny. His name: Billy Corgan.

Everything changed for Poison the Well more than a year ago, when the band recorded "Soma" for a Smashing Pumpkins tribute album. Decidedly different from anything the outfit had done previously, the notion of not recording a quintessential hardcore effort something the group had done numerous times, including 1999's somewhat genre-defining The Opposite of December proved liberating.

"The past three or four years has all been transition," drummer Chris Hornbrook says over the phone from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "It's just kind of it is what it is.

"Life is an ever-changing situation, but it never stays in one spot. And it's funny because humans are creatures of comfort, so it just seems like those things don't really work too well. I've come to accept that's what life in this band is about."

But the question remains: Did Poison the Well go too far? On its latest album Versions, diehard fans may find themselves choking on musical styles that are decidedly different from the hardcore sounds on the band's 2003 disc, You Come Before You.

"Where we're coming from [on the old records] is more of a hardcore metal-influenced record, with weird doses of Brit pop and small hints towards other things," Hornbrook says. "The new record is just an overall aggressive, pissed-off record. It has elements of hardcore, but it also has rock elements with hints of blues, country, punk rock. It's kind of all over the place, but it's like one cohesive unit that works together."

Um, wait. Let's go back. Did he just say country?

"Yeah, whether it's for the best or worst, who cares?" Hornbrook says. "It's kind of like, it felt right; I don't mean country like in the sense of shitty country, like Toby Keith or any of that bullshit that's out today, but like hints or elements of it."

Considering Poison the Well's recent existence, the members' desire to shake up their sound is understandable. Like a white-bread teenager who turns his college freshman year into a pharmaceutical world tour of experimentation, the band loosened up in making its first album without longtime guitarist Derek Miller, whom Hornbrook paints as, well, a tyrant in the studio.

"When we wrote music with Derek, he was always going for something, and if anyone came up with ideas that didn't really mesh with what he wanted to do, they were automatically disregarded," Hornbrook says. "Whereas this time, we felt like there were way less constrictions. Not as many gates."

There, just under the surface, the old Poison the Well emotions still linger. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"In the end of the day, you have to be happy with the music you make," Hornbrook says. "I feel like we're doing that. Whether the kids like it or hate it, at least I know this record was special."

Poison the Well with Fear Before the March of Flames, Portugal The Man and Heavy Heavy Low Low

The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.

Friday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $12; visit or call 866/468-7621.

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