Updated: May 28
I met Kurt in 1997. Dillinger Escape Plan was a new band. We didn't really know anyone in the "Scene" and, at the time, mixing metal and punk was not really highly accepted . Of course some of the hardcore and punk bands were influenced by the thrash and metal scene. But it seemed almost as if it had to be hidden. You never saw punk dudes wearing a slayer shirt and you never saw dudes with long hair wearing a black flag shirt. But Converge was tearing up the scene with a drummer who looked almost as if he came straight from a Head Bangers Ball video shoot (his name was Damien I believe), and some of their riffs were, unapologetically, some of the best slayer parts ever written. Somehow they figured out how to make it cool. We toured with them many times back in those days. This was a time before GPS or cell phones. Driving 9 hours to a show using the print outs from Matt Pike's map quest concoctions only to find out it was cancelled or only 10 people showed up wasn't uncommon. But it still felt like every time we played together something magical was happening. A small revolution in our little insignificant subculture.
Observing Kurt Balou during those days was really interesting. For lack of better words, he was fucking awkward. Things would come out of his mouth that were almost unbelievable. He didn't care about the cool punk rock fashions. He didn't try and fit it. But I always knew he was kind of a misunderstood genius. He just honestly seemed under stimulated. I mean the guywas working as a biomedical engineer in-between playing hardcore shows at VFW halls. Jump ahead 10 years. The underground metal and hardcore scene is just flooded with cookie cutter, over technical, computerized soulless records. But out of a mostly analog studio in Massachusetts called God City, something was happening. It was Kurt! He had opened a studio and was producing bands. All of a sudden I was hearing music that made me feel alive again. Music that punched me in the chest and left me gasping for air. Check out this video of Kurt explaining his process and how a drive to create is the only motivations that matters.
For more info on Kurt and his projects: https://www.facebook.com/KurtBallou https://instagram.com/godcitymusic/ https://twitter.com/GodCityStudio http://www.convergecult.com/