It's hard to deny Orange County's current gap in metal. Yet that's what makes Huntington Beach-based quintet Painted Wives attractive. They're harnessing their doom, expressing the darker side of life, and rocking with abandon at a time when local metal acts are a rarity. Formerly known as Railroad To Alaska, Painted Wives have a new album due out next year and have the potential to reignite a largely dormant metal scene. The group hits The Wayfarer on Saturday night, where they'll perform songs from throughout their catalogue.
The name change came after catching a break, literally. Railroad To Alaska was coming off a handful of wins at the 2012 OC Music Awards and their trophy for Best Live Band had given them more than bragging rights, it won them four days in the Red Bull Recording Studio. Days before the recording session was scheduled to start, drummer Derek Eglit was heading home on his bike after rehearsal when an accident sent him flying over his handlebars and fractured his arm. Though the broken arm kept them from recording their new album, it also provided them with a breather. The initial disappointment wore off and they realized downtime was exactly what they needed.
"It was a big setback," Eglit says. "But it actually turned out to be a really positive period because we had some time to work on those songs some more. And we had been planning on changing our name for a long time, so this was an opportunity. That lull during my recovery allowed us to take a step back and focus."
When they resurfaced nearly a year later, they shed their former moniker and forged ahead as Painted Wives. Though the name changed, the members and tone of the music remained the same. Helmed by lead singer/guitarist Justin Suitor and flanked by bassist Justin Morales, guitarist Jeff Lyman, and drummer Eglit, the group emerged in 2013 with the EP, Obsessed With The End. The fifth member of the band, Ryan Williams, took on a larger role under the new name, though it wasn't onstage. Williams is the band's lyricist, and Eglit shares that his dark poeticism has become a more integral part of the songwriting process.
William's rise isn't the only change happening in the new incarnation of the band. They're moving forward with a more cohesive sound that's sonically more complex, and picked up artist Taylor Montague to handle their cover art. They're already tweaking tracks for their upcoming full-length, and recently released a video for Obsessed With The End's lead track, "Hollow Bones." With introspective lyrics and a sound that plays to audiences who covet Alice In Chains and Mastadon, Painted Wives are committed to carrying a torch that's been diming over the last few years. If the group's upcoming full-length can channel the same intensity as their EP, Painted Wives could be the catalyst in a new chapter of Orange County metal.
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"We're a metal band where there's virtually no metal," Eglit says. "Even people who listen to folk or indie or country, they still have angst. Everybody has some darkness. That's what metal and hard music expresses. That's what we're tapping into with our music, and we're hoping other people can have that release, and be able to thrash and let go."
Painted Wives perform at The Wayfarer, 843 W 19th St., Costa Mesa (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com. Saturday, September 12, 8 p.m. $5, 21+. For more information on Painted Wives visit www.paintedwives.com.