By: Theis Duelund
Minutes after Fissure set up their gear in a musty Stanton rehearsal space, the fury begins. With his glasses balanced precariously on the tip of his nose, drummer Dylan Arseo's arms fly across toms and cymbals as though they're the tentacles of a drumstick-wielding octopus–though with surgical precision. Across the room, guitarist Leo Atreides and bassist Brendan Duff create via the amplifiers stacked behind them a massive wall of distortion. Atreides fires off riffs as if his guitar is a machine gun, his eyes following his fingers as they move up and down the neck. Alternating between high-pitched screeching and low guttural blasts, Oscar Rodriguez screams his lungs out.
Fissure deal in an ultrafast, aggressive variant of hardcore punk known as powerviolence, a homegrown genre pioneered by, among others, Valencia-based Infest. The music is performed at breakneck speed–songs usually clock in at less than a minute–and the lyrics seethe with anger and indignation. Powerviolence may be aggressive, but it has broad appeal, and it's enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, with high-quality output flowing steadily from garages and practice spaces across the suburban Southland.
"We started playing in March 2012," Arseo explains during a cigarette break outside Fissure's practice space, a lockout in a building adjacent to Squid Music on Beach Boulevard in Stanton. "I had just moved back from the Coachella Valley, and Brendan had just returned from living in Hollywood." The two held auditions for a guitarist and a vocalist, cycling through a couple of musicians before finding Atreides, who also performs with hardcore band Plagues, and Rodriguez, whom they had to chase. "First practice, it was just, 'Boom! These are the guys we want,'" Duff recalls.
In the past two years, Fissure have released two self-titled EPs, and they plan to record their first full-length album this summer. "I love playing that simple, fast beat," Arseo muses. "I was never really into punk for the sake of the movement. I've just always loved playing that beat."
"We'd be delirious if we thought we were going to be rock stars playing this type of music," Duff says. "Personally, I just want to keep doing this as long as it's fun."
"I couldn't care less about major labels," Rodriguez adds. "We're not exactly radio-friendly."
When asked about their favorite venue, the band resoundingly respond, "House shows!" Even though they've toured regionally, Gnarmageddon will be Fissure's first performance on a stage. "We're used to playing more intimate environments," says Duff. "We get run into a lot; our gear gets busted. That's kind of what our shows are all about."
A live Fissure show resembles a scene from Fight Club. Front man Rodriguez often has to wrestle audience members over the microphone, and they all take hits, even drummer Arseo. "We played a really crazy living-room show in Escondido once," Rodriguez says. "It was at this weird house up in the hills. Everyone was drinking outside. There were only five people in the room, but they went completely apeshit."
The craziest shows, they all agree, are the ones in Arseo's mom's living room in Cathedral City. "You ask people to respect the house and not bust up the walls," says Arseo, who recently set up another show at his mom's with two other powerviolence bands, La Puente's ACxDC and LA's Despise You.
"Some moms won't allow you to have five friends over," says Rodriguez. "Dylan's mom's okay with 200 kids going nuts in her house."
Arseo's mom also came to the show Fissure played with Infest last year. "She watched the entire Infest set from the sideline," says Arseo. "Afterward, she comes up to me and says, 'They sure have a lot of energy!'"
Fissure perform at Gnarmageddon at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Sat. Call for show time. $22-$24. All ages. For more info on Fissure, visit www.facebook.com/FISSUREHCPV.