That’s a certain strain of loud and fast music — call it hardcore, grindcore, crust punk or the like —that will always owe a bit of gratitude to late 1980s-born U.K. band Doom.
The band’s doomy, black-hearted, crust-punk and metal blend of music on albums like War Crimes (1988, Peaceville Records), along with its death metal-style logo and skull-with-gasmask iconography has influenced countless bands, yet drummer Tony “Stick” Dickens says that they don’t take any of it too seriously.
“I still laugh to myself that it’s happening, so no,” Dickens says when I ask if he expected Doom to be so iconic some 30 years later. “One of my fave songs is one we wrote in the first-ever practice we had — “A Dream to Come True” — and we still play it.”
Dickens joined Doom shortly after it began after “drunkenly hassling” founding guitarist and vocalist Brian “Bri Doom” Talbot in 1987 at the infamous Mermaid Pub in Birmingham, England, until Talbot agreed to let Dickens drum. Over the decades the group has been through a few lineup changes and suffered the tragic loss of one-time vocalist Wayne Southworth in 2005, but is currently rounded out by longtime members Denis Boardman (guitar) and Scoot (bass).
“Our sound has changed over the years, or rather we’ve honed it, slightly different tuning. [But] I can’t say we’ve particularly progressed musically. We got it right the first time. . . . People expect Doom to be Doom, so if we get the urge to do other stuff, we do it outside the band,” says Dickens.
As for the lasting influence of the band, that has surprised him as well: “I used to get a lot of fanzines saying ‘for the fans of Doom, you’ll love this’-type thing and I used to buy it and think, ‘Really?’ Thing is, I don’t really see our influence in the music, more in the artwork, but I’m probably too close to see it.”
One such band that could be considered a spiritual younger sibling to Doom — though with its own unique stamp on the genre — is grindcore act Phobia. While Phobia first got together in the ’90s in Orange County, frontman Shane Mclachlan now resides in Tempe, Arizona, with his 7-year-old child.
The two bands — Doom and Phobia — will come together for a show in Ventura at The Garage on Saturday, Oct. 13. They’ve played together before in Toluca, Mexico, at the Obscene Extreme Fest, but this will be Phobia’s first performance in Ventura.
“We tried to play Ventura [once] but cops came and broke it up before it even started,” Mclachlan says. “This was years ago.”
One of Phobia’s first records, Means of Existence (1998, Slap a Ham), covered the desecrated American dream, capitalism, hunting and other social topics with a heavy, foreboding sense. It includes audio samples and lyrics that still feel relevant today. Even though he says he was a “little kid” when he wrote it, Mclachlan is still proud of the record. “It holds up well to this day. I feel it captures an era and a movement when it was at its strongest.”
Mclachlan is somewhat surprised to still be playing the music of his youthful band all these years later. “We had our first practice in Santa Ana, and we just kept it going, never thought we’d still be doing it actually, but I guess if it’s in your blood you’re going to keep grinding.”
These days, Phobia is busy working on a new EP, which Mclachlan hopes will be released early next year, as they are currently in the process of finishing the (signature screeching) vocals. “It’s really in tune with what all is going on in the scene today with social media bullying, lies and deception,” Mclachlan explains. “I feel the music scene lost its depth of communication, the music community has been absorbed and engulfed into a web of misled lies, and everyone is to be judged without a trial. So its covers all that, and it’s important!”
While Doom isn’t in the recording studio currently, it is contributing several live tracks to a benefit compilation for marine-life conservation nonprofit Sea Shepherd. And while they all are busy with day jobs, Dickens says that bandmates may still find time to record new music at some point. Sticking to their DIY roots has been a priority, and they’ve been able to do so over the last few years with Doom’s own Black Cloud label, on which the band releases original music before it goes wider to bigger labels, most recently 2013’s Corrupt Fucking System.
When asked if the current political climate is good fodder for new Doom music, given the band’s past socio-political references, Dickens says, “It certainly gives you a lot of subject matter to write about, but it doesn’t necessarily make for good music to listen to. But looking at the news these days, it’s almost a farcical comedy. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so serious.”
Doom and Phobia perform with No Divide on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8 p.m. at The Garage, 1091 Scandia Ave., Ventura. For more information, call 805-647-9681 or visit www.facebook.com/TheGarageBarVentura.