Photo by Smitty Neal
From the dark and violent 70s, through to the Maksim Gelman stabbing spree, New York City has a colourful and bloody history when it comes to psychopaths slicin’ and dicin’ on the public transport system. With that in mind, it seems infinitely appropriate that the new demo from New York City rockers Chain features the tune “Subway Stabber,” a song about random violence in an enclosed underground subway car.
The song appeared on the band’s demo tape earlier this year, and has just been released on a new cassette on Heavy Chains, a Tasmanian label that's been earning a reputation for releasing quality hard rock and metal. Inspired by the dirty sleaze metal and hard rock of the 70s and early 80s, the quintet blast a good dose of Judas Priest, early Iron Maiden, and Carnivore-esque riffs—the kind that shake window panes.
Stream the tape below, and read a quick chat we had with vocalist Johnny.
Noisey: Was “Subway Stabber” based on the Maksim Gelman stabbing spree?
Johnny: I wrote the lyrics because I hate riding the subway. I stand near the door so I don't have to sit near anyone and just thought about lyrics for the song on the subway looking at people. It's funny that you mention Maksim, as some people I know who are into graffiti actually knew him. But the song wasn't written about him, just really about my own paranoia, and also because I watch movies like a maniac.
Your music draws from late 70s and early 80s metal. Of the New York bands playing at that time, who would you consider to be the most overlooked?
One New York band that is overlooked is Fallout. They were a band pre-Carnivore that had really cool synth and felt like it was characters from a Mad Max/Warriors ripoff playing heavy metal. And The Rods, Cities, and Riot for sure, but also hard rock bands like Sir Lord Baltimore and Dust.
“Downtown City Boys” is a cracker. The guitars go nuts.
The guitars go crazy because Nick and Al wanted them to. But yeah, we all worked together at one point at the Anchored Inn, and I wanted to write a song about how we drank all day and all the shit we had to put up with. The demo version doesn't have all the lyrics, but it's about not liking cops and drinking whiskey and some other stuff.
How did you hook up with Heavy Chains? When you started out did you ever think that you would end up releasing a record on a label from Tasmania?
Heavy Chains I guess heard our demo and contacted us. I was excited because nobody in NYC was picking up on us much, probably because our recordings are rough and we don't wear bellbottoms and tote bags. I really had no idea where we were headed or if anyone would like our demo, but I'm glad Tasmania likes it, because I heard that it's a heavy metal island.
The ‘Subway Stabber’ cassette is available now on Heavy Chains.
Catch Chain Oct 1 at Union Pool with Eternal Champion, Summerlands, and Crypt Sermon.