No stranger to the lifestyle of Nick, Kirk, Corey, and Cayle—known collectively as Armed for Apocalypse—I arrived at their rehearsal space and Repetition Industries headquarters with a cooler stocked full of ice-cold Busch beer, their liquid mascot of choice. Over a few cold ones we discussed how to keep your Chuck Taylors squeaky clean. (*Magic Eraser…now you know.) We then dove into the early history of this sludgy four-piece band from Chico that has worked relentlessly to leave their imprint on the world of metal. There is an obvious intimidation factor—with a name like “Armed for Apocalypse” and the wall of sound that comes along with it—but I assure you, in their hearts, these boys are nothing but Heavy Metal Teddy Bears.

Having known each other for over eleven years, the metal soldiers in Armed for Apocalypse are a tight-knit family. Drummer Nick Harris remembers his introduction to Kirk Williams (guitar/vocals) and Corey Vaspra (bass/vocals) when Cayle Hunter (guitar/vocals) invited him to a show at the Brickworks in 2002—back when it was mosh pits and cheap beer, not extensive dancefloors and spiked slushies. “Cayle brought me to a show where Oddman, and Brain in a Cage played, and I was so jealous! These kids were fourteen years old!”

Their musical skills make sense when considering three of the four were introduced to piano, guitar, and drums by the tender age of five, with the other picking up the saxophone at age ten. With experience in over 17 bands between them, their training in the real world of writing, recording, and touring far surpasses that of most local artists. Whereas most of us are acclimated to simple, friendly, local reviews of our endeavors, A4A genuinely thrusts themselves into the world’s public eye, both by world tours and online sharing, which can be a bit intimidating.

“They have no attachment to it whatsoever, and they have no clue how much work and heart you put into it, so you have to be ready for that,” says Hunter. “If you can’t handle that, you should just not leave your garage.”

“So far, everybody has been really positive though,” adds Williams. “They all say it is better than the last.”

An interesting adjustment to being covered by foreign media is that they often have to translate what is being said about them. Even if it isn’t the most glowing review, their immediate reaction, as Vaspra puts it, is simply: “Wow…somebody is writing about us!”

July 23rd marks the release of their second record, titled The Road Will End. The title may leave you wondering what is next for the band, but they reassure us that it is simply their way of “recognizing the fact that all roads come to an end” and a reminder to “live life on your terms.” This is something that Armed for Apocalypse has set out to do since their inception. Despite recently signing a new record deal with Ironclad Recordings, they aren’t riding around in limousines with pockets full of cash. Not yet, anyway.

“I think the most [misunderstood] part is that people think if you have a record deal and you go on tour, it means you have money. I don’t really know where that comes from anymore. I think people mistake being visible for being famous,” expounds Hunter. “You have to be dedicated to it and you have to love it. If you’re looking for money or fame, you’re gonna be constantly frustrated. Our angle is to love what we are doing.”

armed for apocalypse

The dedication and teamwork of these four is obvious to friends and fans alike, which is exemplified by their constant road work.

“I don’t know any other adult males who would sleep in a truck stop or a parking lot, in the middle of Texas or wherever, and have like eleven dollars between them, and just be smelly and gross and hot and fucking broke…and just be happy,” Hunter explains. “This band, and all bands are a lot of work, if you wanna take them seriously.”

“That’s really a great way to learn a life lesson,” adds Williams. “If you’re chasing after money and security, you’re probably gonna be disappointed.”

“We have friends who have plenty of money, and they’ll look at us all jealous, and we’re like ‘Dude, you’re a fucking dentist, how jealous of us could you be?’”

An A4A bio from several years ago stated that being in the band “has been hard the entire time, but if it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.” This rings true for A4A to this day, as they not only recorded and produced their album on their own, they are also handling their own merchandising, including the printing of everything from T-shirts to beer koozies to skate decks.

“What’s cool is, all the shirts and everything in the bundles…it’s all us making it,” says Harris.

Vaspra points to the screen-printing equipment right there in the rehearsal space; “We actually had them set up to print not that long ago, and the ink is still fresh!”

Some might wonder what signing a record deal really means in this day and age. Considering the guys had already recorded the album on their own, is it simply publicity, promotion, and financial backing?

“That’s exactly it,” explains Hunter. “They hired a publicist, and booking agents are more interested because you have someone pulling for you. Getting someone financially vested in what you are doing, means that somebody else is working to get your name and music out there. It’s a partnership; it’s not like they’re telling us what to do.”

Basically, with a larger label, they would be just a number in a huge catalogue of acts, but with their current contract they will get the attention they deserve.

Many fans, myself included, have been anxiously awaiting the release of this record, considering it has been completed for some time. In hindsight it seems obvious that the delay was a result of them shopping the record in hopes of landing the right deal, and a properly promoted release.

“We were making sure we had people who were just stoked on the album; whether they had money or not, if they’re like ‘I wanna put that record out, it’s fucking badass!’ If you have that, it goes a lot further than someone who has a ton of money and is like ‘Well, let’s run it up the flagpole and

see if anybody bites.’ That works for some bands, but for us, we would rather have someone who legitimately loves our band.”

Another way the record label has helped is by producing a lyric video for their first single, “The Starting Line is a Trip Wire.” Not only is this a great way for people to stream the song for free, it also spares the expense of producing a big-budget video. The band agrees that when people know the words because they’ve seen your lyric video, “it makes them sing along and get more involved at shows and that’s fucking awesome!” Now don’t get me wrong, as an audience member, I definitely sing along when I see A4A live…I just typically have no idea what they’re actually saying.

According to their recent press release, The Road Will End “promises to be a complex study in heaviness. One-finger chords and single-string riffs, complicated by sophisticated voicings and even an occasional solo. No triggers, no wanky shredding, no posturing, no cowardice, no frills.” Having seen all four of them swing their heads in unison while rocking out live, I had to ask them to define “frills.” Hunter explains frills as “going beyond being natural. When you start doing things that aren’t you, just for the show, [things] that you’re not really feeling.” Their live shows are anything but unnatural as you can feel their emotional attachment to every single note. So, we may never see A4A in makeup or elaborate costumes, but perhaps we can all hold out the hope that someday we will

be witness to Williams leading the band in what he referred to as “synchronized squats.”

Before I could leave, I had one final inquiry that needed to be unveiled: “If Hollywood made a movie about Armed for Apocalypse, who would play each of you?”

Cayle: “How big is the budget? For Nick, I would say…well, who played Predator?”

Corey: “Oh man, I just wanna go with a classic for you, Nick. I want Denzel!”

Kirk: “Cor would be Spicolli-era Sean Penn.”

Corey: “I wanna see Steve Buscemi play you, Kirk.”

Cayle: “So, who would play me?”

Corey: “John Malkovich.”

Cayle: “Oh, because he’s bald…and he has a big dick or something, right?”

Kirk: “People would go see that movie, I think.”

Personally…I would set up camp outside the theater for days to see it.

Surrounding the release of their sophomore effort, the band has also launched their new website: a4aband.com. This is not only where you will find the aforementioned lyric video and future tour dates, but you can also choose from several pre-order bundles for the record. They will also be hosting two release parties. The first is an all-ages show at Café Coda on July 11th, at which your entry fee not only allows you to hear the new record in its entirety from front to back, but you will also receive a hand-numbered and signed, full-color Matt Loomis original poster from the show. The second is a 21+ show at LaSalles on July 19th, where you will also receive a special limited-edition item with paid entry. 

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