Amplified is a weekly column focusing on new and emerging artists. Got a band that fits the bill? Email [email protected]
A band that’s been on our radar for a little while now is Cleveland shredders Olathia. They’re a modern take on super-melodic thrash, dynamic but with loads of room for shreddy guitar work and vocalist Chris Emig’s old-school, classic inspired vocals in the vein of Doro and Dio, to name a few. Emig has nothing but love for the most metal city per capita in the United States, and offered up a “Scene Report” on the community that’s helped her band thrive:
Being from Cleveland, you can really get out there to other markets. Cleveland is a home base hub for metal in many senses, logistically being that we’re near Philly, Baltimore, Toronto, you can go so many places pretty easily, which is badass. Cleveland has a lot of underground metal going on right now. We currently have 15 college radio programs that focus solely on metal, and that’s pretty killer. It’s a great way to hear things you won’t hear anywhere else. College stations put on a ton of shows as well, so they support the scene in all aspects. One of our favorites is the annual Auburn Food and Metal Drive. What’s crazy is, it’s not even a metal club, it’s the Beachland Ballroom, which is a great club that focuses on major acts. They don’t necessarily do much metal, but they’re a friend of our community.
Cleveland has a really rich musical history as well, going back as far as the James Gang. Of course there’s Nine Inch Nails and modern stuff like Ringworm, they’re one of my favorites. They just bring it, and that’s something I and the rest of the band take to heart too. Leave it all on the floor, and then give it a little more! As far as up and coming bands, there’s a band called Deadiron that I really dig, really old school traditional metal. They’ve got a great following and put on a killer show. There’s also a technical death metal band called Solipsist that’s just insanely talented. The guy who sings in that band also has a studio here called Brainchild Studios. Lots of bands around here record there, we’ve recorded in that space, and we’ll be working with him again.
If you’re coming to Cleveland, you of course want to play the Cleveland Agora. There’s so much history there, the stage setup is just how it should be. You feel good being on that stage. Along with that, that place is haunted as fuck. One of our roadies swears up and down that he’s seen screaming faces in the bathroom mirrors. I don’t doubt him because of how freaked out he was!
Places to go:
What’s great about Cleveland too, is you can show up and load in your gear, and you’ve got some time to kill before soundcheck or doors, there’s plenty of food and beer. I don’t know how many bars we have, but there’s a fucking lot! It’s like Seattle where there’s a Starbucks on every corner. Lots of cool dive bars, which I love. Some craft places, too, if you’re into that. Your best bets are West Side Market for some beer and great, cheap food. There’s also the Greenhouse Tavern. Their chef/owner Jonathan Sawyer is crazy talented, he does an annual “Metal As Fuck Dinner.” Metal is very much embraced in the culture and businesses here. I don’t know if it’s because we’re a steel town with hard-working people and the energy and drive that goes with all that, but it’s a great thing for us.
There’s so many great venues here, and that’s got a hand in whether or not a show is good, but what really makes them special is the people. We played at this venue south of Cleveland called the Empire, which is where we recorded our video for “Hellhound.” We’re doing the show, and I see this little dude out in the audience. He’s probably 10 or 11 at most, just rocking out and loving it! After the show, he comes up to us, and he drew us this picture of a dragon with all this blood coming out of his mouth with the band’s logo! It was so cool, it reminded me of growing up when my sisters and I would spray paint band logos onto our bedsheets to hold up at the big arena shows. I love that he wanted to be creative in his own way and show his appreciation. There’s lots of drunken memories and fun, crazy stuff that happens on the road, but the people stick with you way more. That little dude was awesome!
What the future holds for Olathia:
As for Olathia, we’ve got one record out called Hunters, and we’re working on the next one, which should be out early 2017. We’re touring all over, we’ve got some great things coming up. in July We’re playing the Mansfield Reformatory [Historic prison used in filming of The Shawshank Redemption] for the Ink And The Cloak Festival, which I’m really excited about.
Stream Olathia’s debut album below, and check out their video for “Hellhound!”