Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dough Boy by Day, Heavy Metal Rocker by Night

On a gray, rain-filled afternoon when many in the local musical community were buzzing
about the upcoming Aggressive Music Festival in Glens Falls this weekend, Noah Carpenter
was pre-occupied with other things.

The guitarist for Skinless - the lone area band appearing at the big two-day music festival -
was busy making pizza. A lot of pizza.

'I'm part-time rocker, part-time dough boy,' says Carpenter, whose 11 years in Skinless has been supplemented by eight years of tossing dough into the air and painting it with cheese
and tomato sauce at D'Andrea's Pizza.
The footnote does not go unnoticed on the band's Web site in a posting that reads:
'I swear the pizza business keeps Death Metal alive.' The sometimes surrealistic duality
of Carpenter's two jobs doesn't go unnoticed either.

'One day I'm here making pizza and the next I'm rocking out in front of thousands of people
on stage in Japan,' he says.
'When I stop to think that we've been all over Europe and to Japan and through the U.S.
a half-dozen times, I really appreciate the opportunity the music has given me,' says Carpenter, who makes his home in Saratoga Springs.
'We started out by playing in a small basement in South Glens Falls, and last month we played at a festival in France for 10,000 people.'

Carpenter grew up in South Glens Falls, where he started playing in a band he formed with some high school buddies. In 1993, Skinless made its debut.

'The first place we played was Freddy's on Elm Street (in Glens Falls), a bar right around the corner from the civic center. I don't think it's even there anymore,' he says.
Attending the show was Sherwood Webber, who grew up in rural Argyle.
Within a year, Webber would join up as the band's lead singer and Carpenter's co-writing partner. Troy native Joe Keyser was brought in on bass guitar and drummer Bob Beaulac rounds out the quartet's current lineup.

'The first couple of years, we would play around Glens Falls and places like the QE2 in Albany. After a few years, we started climbing that ladder, playing out of state and then out of the country,' Carpenter says.

After issuing their debut, 'Progression From Evil,' independently in 1998, Skinless hooked up with Relapse Records for the release of their second album, 'Foreshadowing Our Demise.' Then they hit the road with Hatebreed and Six Feet Under on a tour that eventually led to an appearance at the massive 2002 Beast Feast in Japan, where they were on a bill with Slayer and Pantera.

The group's latest release, 'From Sacrifice to Survival,' came out in 2003, and elevated the
band to a higher status among the extreme music movement. Describing their sound as an 'annihilating combo of gargantuan grooves and high-tension breakdowns,' the band's recent appearances have included headlining New York City club dates and a high-profile slot
at June's two-day Fury Fest in Le Mans, France.

Despite its popularity, death metal fans know they won't be hearing their favorite bands
on rock radio stations, and have always had to seek alternate ways of keeping up with
the goings on in the world of their music.

The coming of the Internet age has made communication easier for the bands and their followers alike, Carpenter says. The days of blindly mailing concert flyers and demo tapes
across the country in search of a sympathetic ear have been positively affected by the click
of a mouse and firing off an e-mail.

While a busy tour schedule has brought Skinless around the world and inspired new fans, it
has also kept the band far from home, and limited the amount of time of working on new projects. It is one of the things they're looking forward to doing after this weekend's local
festival appearance.

'We're trying to settle in and focus on writing new material,' Carpenter says. 'When we're rehearsing (for a show) we're pretty much working on the songs we'll be playing on stage.
We want to take some time and focus specifically on new songs."

In the meantime, some of their earlier work has been re-issued with extra added tracks like 'Milk and Innards' and 'Pool in the Stool.'

Ask Carpenter what's behind the imagery of some of the song titles as well as an insight to
some of the graphic monikers used by fellow bands, and he will tell you that Death Metal
is about both being grotesque as well as about being a little silly.
This weekend's concerts have all the makings of both.

'The Civic Center is where I saw my first concert; Rainbow and Iron Maiden were playing.
I was 8-years old, and now that we have gone and played all over the world, we're coming
all the way back and returning to the civic center,' says Carpenter, marveling at the full
circle of it all and perhaps, the dreams of an 8-year-old boy delivered. He was probably one
of those kids that was pretty fond of pizza growing up, as well.

by Thomas Dimopoulos
originally published in The Saratogian, July, 2004.

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