Typical of the self-deprecating, twisted and dark humor that Edmonton based power trio A Hundred Years brings to its blistering, percussive psychedelic badlands rock vibe, frontman/guitarist Jeremiah Simmons has no trouble referring to himself and his cohorts Kris Blatkewicz (drums) and Zach Baumann (bass) as “creepy dirtbags.” People look at the underfed trio with unkempt long hair weirdly, like they’re not the typical people walking down the street of a major Canadian city. And they’re not. But get these “creeps” onstage at the underground Studio Music Foundation Club—or any of the other hometown venues where they’ve played over 60 shows since launching two years ago--and they’ll blow everyone’s mind. Even into a state of Altered Reality, the name of their new 13-track set that just touches on the high octane intensity of these live gigs.
Listening to their grungy, raw, otherworldly (but more often than not, melodic, infectious and grooving) tunes, the fact that Jeremiah and Zach played in punk bands (and together later in a rock sludge metal group) and that Kris played in a grunge band should surprise no one. Kris posted an ad on Kijiji, the Canadian equivalent to Craigs List, looking for people to jam with. Jeremiah responded to the ad and, discovering a wild instant musical chemistry, the two began to write a very spontaneous type of desert rock music every day. They honed their original 20 minute space rock songs into a style they describe as “death metal…it’s just really slow death metal”—and started racking up the live shows in early 2012.
After playing at a New Year’s Eve gig for 100 people, A Hundred Years’ first official gig was at a funky dive bar called The Vault that January. They have done over 60 since, including shows at Edmonton’s The Starlite Room, the Mad Hatter Festival and even a Demolition Derby in rural Alberta. The band also competed and won “Road To Indie Week,” which led to a trip to play in the finals at Studio 37 in Calgary. “Our live show is the best part of A Hundred Years,” Jeremiah says. “We go crazy with energy and always give it 110%. People have told us we are possessed by demons while we play. It's fast, loud, and powerful. We have a lot of fun and it's very evident that we love what we do!”
The generous array of 13 tracks on Altered Reality, the follow-up to their debut set Into the Realms of the Unreal, was admittedly written in a strange part of the trio’s lives. Kris’ mother had just committed suicide and it left them in something of a dark, awkward bubble—though the drummer used the process of making the album as a much needed emotional escape. Jeremiah says a lot of the songs pay homage to not fitting into society and being something of an anthem for weirdos. Yes, perhaps it’s because they are creeps, just as the brooding, Doors-like “Black Bones” is about a sinister gravedigger with scary secrets. Other tracks include the jangling, seriously funked out rock fire of “Mermaid”; “Kong,” a tribal, swinging explosion about destruction; and perhaps the catchiest, poppiest rocker on the set, the whimsical dance whose only appropriate moniker is “Cockroach Mambo.”
“Our basic songwriting process is, we start jamming with kooky electric guitars and drums at Kris’ house and then at the end of the day we try to remember some of the best melodic content and I go home and flesh out a melody on acoustic guitar, and write the lyrics,” says Jeremiah. “We come from the land of cheesy metal so we decided to call it really slow death metal as kind of a joke. We have a very unique sound inspired by desert rock from California. We don't have desert in Alberta, but we do have the mystic badlands of Drumheller here, so as homage to the desert rockers like Yawning Man, Kyuss, and Fatso Jetson, we call ourselves ‘badlands rock’ as a genre of our own.”