Violin Apocalypse Now

Judgement Day turns violins and cellos into death metal weaponry, while hapless Green Day slaggers sound off.

In “weird street musician” terms, Anton Patzner is undoubtedly worth three minutes and 75 cents of your time. Perhaps you’ll bump into him on Telegraph, brandishing a violin and joining his cellist brother, Lewis, in thrashing through string-metal jams entitled “The Hour Is at Hand” or “Pitfires of Hell,” replete with teeth-clenching and head-banging fury.

People tend to notice this sort of thing. “I can tell we draw way more of a crowd when we’re going nuts,” Anton reasons. “If we’re playing every note perfectly and we’re just standing there, people don’t pay as much attention as if we’re going nuts, even if we’re playing sloppy. People listen with their eyes a lot of times on the street.”

Anton says “the street” with the wizened, all-knowing lilt of a guy who has spent a lot of time entreating random passersby with bluegrass, jazz and, most recently, tongue-in-cheek badass classicist metal. “I love playing on the street,” the 24-year-old declares with wide-eyed, instantly infectious enthusiasm. “It’s really fun for me. I don’t expect everyone to appreciate it, but the people that do stop and listen, I feel like they’re stopping because they actually like it. So my mom was like [high-pitched mom voice] ‘You should take Lewis out to play on the street.'”

Lewis, twenty, introduced his brother to the splendors of Apocalyptica, a pack of Scandinavian dudes famous for their four-cello Metallica covers. The Patzners started shredding on streetcorners (check for video clips), drew a few stunned crowds, scored a few legit club gigs, added Jon Bush on drums, and christened themselves Judgement Day. The trio’s largely garage-birthed debut CD, Dark Opus, is a technically impressive, highly amusing, and genuinely righteous shredfest so convincing the liner notes are compelled to include the note “THERE ARE NO GUITARS ON THIS ALBUM.”

Minor local fame ensued, but Anton parlayed that success into a huge break: Playing a few guerrilla tunes outside a Cursive show at SF’s Great American Music Hall last year, Judgement Day drew the attention of Cursive’s own cellist, who struck up an e-mail correspondence with Anton, and eventually offered him a minor gig with a labelmate of hers. No big deal. Next thing you know, Anton is spending four months on the road with Bright Eyes. USA and Europe. In a ten-piece ensemble fronted by Mr. Bob Dylan 2.0 himself, Conor Oberst. “He’s not so brooding,” Anton says of the indie deity. “I feel like he kinda has this mysterious act that he puts on onstage, and he acts kinda shy and stuff, but he’s way more laid-back. He’s not the weird emo guy you think he would be.”

Oddly enough, discussing the just-concluded Bright Eyes business leads Anton to wistfully recall his other touring experience, sleeping on concrete floors and enduring ten-person crowds and canceled gigs with his old band Walpurgis Night. “In some ways, it’s not as much of an adventure,” he says. “I feel I don’t have as many great stories from the Bright Eyes tour as I do from the other tour, where everything went wrong.”

Perhaps he’s ultimately more of a street-level guy. But now Anton’s back, and Lewis has returned from his big-shot music school in Baltimore, and Judgement Day is thus once again upon us, descending on iMusicast Friday night with Anton’s other band, considerably more wussified emo-poppers the Audrye Sessions. He excitedly contemplates taking Judgement Day on a two-level national tour: Actual clubs by night and random streetcorners by day, where unwitting pedestrians are free to headbang — or grin — along. Because despite the macho tunes and the Patzner boys’ classically trained finesse, they get the joke, too.

“We put a full choir at the end of our album!” Anton notes of the tune “Finis Omne” with a mixture of glee and sheepishness. “Which is definitely obviously over the top, but at the same time, I spent a lot of time writing that choral arrangement and translating the Book of Revelations, getting the Latin version of that and picking out words. And I feel like I’m really proud of how that came out. It is over the top, but I feel like it’s also cool.”

Brain Stew/Jaded

When announced last week that Green Day was pulling its back catalogue from Lookout! Records due to unpaid royalties, it triggered lots of earnest, heated, intelligent Internet discussion. After all, the move has crippled — and may very well deep-six — the label, which immediately suspended all upcoming projects and releases and cut its nine-person staff down to three (and those folks are the co-owners).

This sordid affair also attracted the requisite amount of crazed Green Day-slagging yahoos. As we sift through this unfortunate situation to parse What It All Means and Who Is Ultimately to Blame (kindly keep an eye on this space), let us pause to acknowledge those PunkNews messageboard henchmen who’ve already figured it all out. All spelling and punctuation has been left unsullied:

• 3 employees? SELLOUTS.

• If that is the true story, than Green Day can burn in hell

• GREEN DAYS COMMODITY IS YOUR DISSENT 😉 carpetbagging peoples jobs at a tiny indie label to squeeze a few dimes of royalties out of it 🙂

• i don’t see how Lookout was riding on 2 Green Day releases. but if Lookout gets fucked over big time cause of GD, then bitches are gonna die.

• What the fuck, Green Day far for need more fucking money. Just who the fuck do these assholes think they are … Care about indergrond and the world my ass. … I bet the merch they sell is made in sweat shops …

• Minus 109325829359025 punk points for green day.

• Whatever floats Green Day’s boats 😛 lol Green Day still rocks!!

• how is lookout any different from Enron?

• green day? … eh … more like Green FAG HAHAHHAHAHAHA Lookout! … more like … FAGout! HAHHAHAHAHHAHA 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours … more like … 1,069/Queered out Queery hours HAHAHHAHA Kerplunk! … more like … Kerplunk! we like it in the BUTT HAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA

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