Monday, July 5, 2010

The Tanks

The Tanks are masters of disguise, pro-level Magic the Gathering players, as well as a bass and drums trio from Iowa City. Although their exact style is hard to pinpoint, influences can be seen in bands like Shallac, Karp, Lightning Bolt, the Vidablue, and most importantly the Jesus Lizard as well as the band Smoke and Smoke. Mix in some black metal riffing and hardcore punk blasting and you're getting close to what the Tanks sound like.

The Tanks formed out of the band International Waters from Dubuque. Bassist Adam Luksetich and drummer Kevin Ayers moved to Iowa City while guitarist Jon Rolling stayed in Dubuque. Practice was getting increasingly more difficult to have as Jon didn't want to make the drive to Iowa City each time to practice, so he left the band. Adam and Kevin continued writing new music as just a bass and drums duo, but Kevin Koppes, who seemed to always be lurking around, (usually at the Magic (the Gathering) shop that Adam and Kevin Ayers would hang out at) eventually joined the band on mouth. Thus, the Tanks' first incarnation was formed. After seeing Smoke and Smoke open up for Les Savy Fav in Chicago, Adam and Kevin Koppes decided that's the direction they wanted to take their newly formed band in. Also, to make things less confusing, Kevin Ayers changed him name to Steve Bennett (yes, this is a Simpsons reference) because there can never, ever be two Kevins in one band.

In the Fall of 2004, the Tanks began practicing in a barn just outside of the city that had previously been used as a meth lab, a good influence on the development of their distorted, teetering-on-the-edge-of-fuzzed-out bass riffage and seemingly non compos spoken word vocal stylings. Soon enough, Kevin would be dressed up as a professor and the Tanks would be playing two weekend dates with Brian Tones of Cedar Rapids at the Busted Lift in Dubuque and then at Gabe's Oasis in Iowa City the day after. One of their first memorable shows was at the Whoa Boat in Iowa City with Vine and the Archer and Off With Their Heads from Minneapolis. During the Tanks' set, Kevin was electrocuted twice by exposed wires in the ceiling, so all-in-all it was a very good show.

This was a time when the Tanks started to develop their live show, and as many people know, their live show is a reason to see the band. It's really an odd juxtaposition, seeing a Kevin, a guy with a football player's build, a guy that can put you in the Gable Grip and never let go, dressed up as a nun and parading around in front of a bass player who is shredding and headbanging and a drummer that is doing insane one-footed blast beats. Since the beginning of time, Kevin has been donning a costume for every Tanks show, wearing numerous different outfits over the years. It sounds lame, and it kind of is, but the Tanks know that as well and they embrace it.

After getting themselves familiar with their new sound, the Tanks, in February and March of 2005, went to record their demo. It was recorded in two days at the Chicken Coop in Iowa City by Bronson. Shawn Reed, then of Raccoo-oo-oon, did the art and screen-printed the design on to the CD itself. The demo was astutely titled "Pull the Trigger, Bear" as it was released in a trigger case and the art was bears. It was released at a show at the Record Collecter in Iowa City where red kool-aid was available.

1. From The High Wall
2. This House is a Firetrap
3. Tight Pants Picks a Fight
4. 3D Glasses
5. Your House in Tupelo

Click here to download.

The Tanks stuck to playing around Iowa until August when they embarked on the two week long midwest "Hot and Sticky" tour in their van, the Dakkon Black Blade. By the end of this tour, Dakkon was in shambles and "Bon Jovy" was spraypainted on his side. On the way to a show in Cedar Rapids, Dakkon broke down. AAA was called to tow the band to the venue, then, after their set, they towed them home to Iowa City. Dakkon was no more, and by this time time, Andy Visser of Road to Ruin was bugging the Tanks to get a full length out on his newly founded label Floodwater Records.

In the Fall and Winter of 2005, the Tanks traveled to Des Moines to record their first full length with Mr. Scott O'Gara at Smoking Guns Studio. The day before what was to be titled "Summon Creature" was supposed to be sent out to be pressed to CD, the Tanks enlisted the help of a small, nameless child with a very active imagination to do the artwork for the album. The album was released on Floodwater Records and on June 15th, 2006, a record release show was again held at the Record collector. Green kool-aid was served.

1. Blood In My Eyes
2. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 1
3. Jesusphish
4. Where We Call Home
5. Bennettown Massacre
6. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 2
7. Seven Minutes in Heaven, Pt. 3
8. Jim Lahey is a Drunk Bastard
9. How I'll Quit Gambling
10. Fuegotrampa

Click to download.

In January of 2007, the Tanks embarked on a two week long tour that would turn out to be Steve's last with the band. The Nordic Frost tour, appropriately titled because winter is cold, hit major midwest cities, and the band spent time in Columbia, OH recording the song "Pick A Fold" with Cooper from the kraut rock band Cave. This recording was not to be released on a split 7" with the band Warhammer by Samuel Locke Ward. I don't know if you caught that, but this 7" never came out, so don't look for it.

In the summer of 2007, drummer Ed Bornstein, currently of Be Kind to Yr Neighbor, would come to be the fill in drummer for the Tanks. For the month of July, the Tanks played shows all around the north east coast as well as playing shows in Canada. After a few months of being home, Luke Tweedy, who runs Flat Black Studios, approached the band about recording a full length. The Tanks were skeptical; they didn't have enough new material to fill up enough time for a full length, and these recordings would cost money. On top of that, they really didn't have a solid drummer. Instead of recording, the Tanks decided to tour a bit more.

In March of 2008, the Tanks had a three week long west coast tour booked and ready to go when disaster struck and Kevin suddenly had some other things on his plate he needed to take care of. Instead of canceling the tour, however, Adam and Ed formed a brand new two piece band called Foul Tip that would play all the dates booked in place of the Tanks. Brand new songs were written withing a week or two of leaving for tour. These songs were recorded at Flat Black with Luke Tweedy and released on a split tape with Pancho, also known as Iowa City's very own Grant Jackson.

Pancho side
1. Tap Your City
2. Milk & Mother Thistle

Foul Tip side
1. Gotta Shit
2. Spring Break Delay
3. Bro Zone
4. Fallen Heroes

Click to download

After arriving back in town from the Foul Tip tour, the Tanks wrote a few new songs and began recording for their full length at Flat Black after Luke Tweedy really pushed it on them. For the recording session, Steve came back to record drums for the band. Recording continued throughout the Spring, and the album would come to be called "Keep Breaking Down". Ryan Garbes of Wet Hair (and of an earlier writeup I did on Hugs) designed the cover art and the album was put out on 500 LPs and 1000 CDs by the Iowa City label Scenester Credentials. The record was released on October 29th, 2008 at the Picador with Wet Hair, Trash Dog, Datagun, and Stubb.

1. Command Divide
2. Action Daily
3. I Sense Injuries
4. Kingdom of Spite
5. Never Ghost Me
6. Pick A Fold
7. Just Mannequins
8. Kirby Loves Dudes

Click to download.

So, their second full length had been released but the Tanks were still drummerless. Soon enough however, the remaining Tanks caught word from Luke Tweedy of a kind of drummer-for-hire that was currently living in Wichita, KS. They approached Joe Ross, whom they had known since experiencing their first punk house ever in Sioux City way back on their first tour, about playing as a fill in drummer. Joe was then drumming for Weather is Happening, a band that was on its way out. Joe agreed to fill in for the "No Sex, No Drugs, No Problems" November east coast tour, and ever since then, everything clicked. After the tour, Joe officially joined the band and was now the Tanks' new drummer.

With Joe in tow, the Tanks went on a slew of tours. April of 2009 saw them hitting the west coast again for a few weeks, touring on Keep Breaking Down. In August of 2009, they did a week long midwest tour with Iowa City friends Viking Fuck. November of 2009 saw them heading back to the east coast on the "Hella Orbs" tour. Before hitting the road however, the Tanks recorded the "Miracle Baby" demo, songs that had been written since Joe joined that showed the new style that he brought to the band. This demo was recorded at Flat Black by Luke Tweedy.

1. Carpet Dope
2. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
3. Dandruff Genius
4. Triple Deathless
5. Black Vise

Click to download.

Adam didn't exactly feel that the Miracle Baby demo sounded the best it could sound, so before hitting the west coast again for a tour in April of 2010, the Tanks hit Flat Black to record the "Skipping Pills" demo. Again recorded by Luke Tweedy, this demo was released April 22nd at the Blue Moose at a show with the Monotonix. Artwork was obviously done by a pervert as it is blatant pornography.

1. Slung
2. Dandruff Genius
3. 24 Hr Revenge Fantasy
4. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
5. Untitled Man Vs. Nature Project

Click to download.

Some of the more memorable shows for the band have been mostly Iowa City shows. A towny bar called Kandyland once hosted a show the Tanks played that resulted in all of the Iowa City punks invading the bar and making the atmosphere seriously grimy. Another memorable show was the 2010 Mission Creek show the Tanks played with Grant Hart of Husker Du at Fake Gabe's. The show ended with smoke bombs filling the room and black lights being shattered. Success.

Future plans for the Tanks include tapping manna. More touring is also in the cards, obviously. As of now, a majority of their next full length has been recorded and is ready for release as soon as vocals (and tough guy guest vocals) have been recorded. Expect heavy.

If you want to head bang, whether it's fast or slow tunes, punk or metal or whatever, check these fools out. All's fair in love and the Tanks.

Check out the Tanks website here.
Purchase "Keep Breaking Down" from Scenester Credentials here.



Even though they still play shows every once in awhile, The Tanks have seemed to slow down, what with Joe Ross playing in two other bands, Slut River and Supersonic Piss, and Adam Luksetich playing in Big Box and touring Canadian super indie folk act Little Scream. That didn't stop them from recording their new LP called "Epic Loads" at Flat Black Studio with Luke Tweedy over the course of 2011. And guess what? Brendan Wells and I got guest spots doing vocals on this record too! Self released by the band in February of 2012.

1. 24-Hour Revenge Fantasy
2. Dandruff Genius
3. Triple Deathless
4. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
5. Black Vise
6. Stop Taking Pictures
7. Seductive In Camo
8. Slung
9. Thanks But No Thanks
10. Natural Man Vs. Unnatural Boy
11. The Quiet Song

Click to download.

It's finally out and Epic Loads is definitely a sick album. It took forever, demo after demo and tour after tour, but it's finally out. What a good record. Crushing fuzz, one footed blasters, and just an all around awesome catchiness makes Epic Loads totally worth the wait. Even after hearing these songs a million times live, they're totally fresh on wax. If you'd like to get a copy for yourself, get at Adam, adamluksetich AT gmail DOT com.