If you like what lead singer Pat Martin describes as "hardcore in your face" metal, you will love this four piece, as-hard-as-your-ears-can-stand metal group, Industrial Strength. Hailing from Fort Wayne, Industrial Strength packs clubs and packs punches with what they proudly describe as the heaviest metal around the area.
"When we first got together we decided that we wanted to play what no one else around here was playing," said Pat. "I mean, we figured we can’t be the only four guys in Fort Wayne that like this."
Everyone told them it was impossible. They stayed true to what they loved, pushed on, and were pleasantly surprised to find out everyone was dead wrong.
"In our wildest dreams we never figured on the great fan base we have in this town," said Pat.
Pat described Fort Wayne as a town that is mostly college rock-oriented, except for The Backdoor crowd, which is mainly a steady stream of punk fans.
"Basically," he said, "for a hardcore band to be coming out and playing Piere’s and everywhere else, it was incredible. When we had our CD release party at Piere’s, we had over 600 people show up on a Wednesday night. We were also the first band at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill to have a mosh pit on a Sunday night. They had to move the tables and everything. I’ve gotta give it up for our fans, I mean they just slam. They are mosh pit gods. We have steady fans that are always there when we play, they never miss a show."
Industrial Strength is Martin, 28, on vocals, Adam Bricker, 28, on guitar, Sam Mayberry, 26, on bass and Joe Heathman, who will be celebrating the big 3-O soon, on drums. In March, Industrial Strength put out a CD called Blunt Force Impact, which has had some local radio airplay. The CD has eight of the band’s original songs on it.
"The thing I get off on," said Pat, "is when I am onstage and I look down and people are singing along, they didn’t just buy the CD, they really listen to it. Our fans, bar none, get an A+. We played Chicago; the kids are cool and all that, but in Fort Wayne people go nuts. Bands we bring in from out of town are amazed at our Fort Wayne fans. Our crowd is really receptive to the bands we bring in. I have to say our crowd here is awesome."
Industrial Strength is updating its website, www.globaljams.com/ind_strength, to include a video. They currently have a band bio on the site, Morbid Gallery, at which you can check out some band pictures and download three songs.
The band has played in Indianapolis, Chicago, Muncie, South Bend, cities in Ohio and Michigan and locally at places such as Buster McNasty’s, Piere’s, Peanuts, Legends, Checkers and The Backdoor. The Backdoor recently decided to limit performances to punk rock bands exclusively. This prompted Martin to fix up his practice space, and fashion it into an all-ages club.
"It’s bigger than The Backdoor, and will give the thrasher kids somewhere to hang out," he said. Located on Calhoun Street, with plenty of parking around back, Pat plans on holding a show or two there every month. The Death Shed, the name he chose for his venue, also will allow some hardcore bands from outside the area to come into Fort Wayne to play.
Martin seems to have a good attitude about keeping the music scene alive in Fort Wayne. He recently offered half of the band’s earnings to a club that had them play. He told them to take the money and upgrade their P.A. system with it.
"We’ll help anybody, we don’t care," he said. "They let us play there, we help them. We look like a bunch of mean dudes, but we help anybody."
Industrial Strength has been together since December 1998. Guitarist Adam is influenced by bands such as Slipknot, S.O.D and Hatebreed. Joe said his influences are Obituary and Testament, although his favorite album is Moving Pictures by Rush. Sam listens to Sepultura, Pantera and Machine Head and said his favorite albums are 1916 by Motorhead and Don’t Know How to Party by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
Through their music, Industrial Strength tries to impart to their fans a message about sticking to your guns, never giving up and never taking any grief for being who you are. They invite members of the audience to come up on the stage and join in.
"Don’t be scared," said Heathman, "come on up and join in."
"We try to always have an opening band," said Martin. "When you jump around, when you get into your music, you’re dying. I mean, we’re not standing up there going ‘hey, yeah, love and peace,’ not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I run around, so I’m dead, you know?
"We usually play anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half," he added. "I think it would be cool to do a show with a punk band around here. I don’t know too many, but The Beautys are good, and I like Lowlife, and Spitface 30 [are] great. I think if some of the punk bands around here got together with us we could do some slamming shows — I mean slamming. We’ll play with anybody. You can play the spoons and I’ll play with you. Playing with a punk band could open each others’ crowds to one another. Like when we played at The Backdoor, the singer of Lowlife was right up front jamming, and it was cool, ya know?"
I asked Martin about his hardcore music, in terms of how some people think heavy thrash music is satanic.
"There is nothing about us that is satanic what-so-freaking-ever," he said. "Actually, we write more political lyrics, kinda like punk bands do."
What about those hand symbols audiences tend to give to thrasher bands, in which they shake a hand at the band, pinkie and index finger up. "Is that like, hey yeah cool, you devil rocker, you?" I asked.
"The devil horn thing?" he said. "I think that is just like, right on! You rock!"