Jungle Rot deserves respect

After watching death metallers Jungle Rot put on a brutal show in Detroit on Aug. 1, 2010, lead singer and guitarist, Dave Matrise and I sat down over a can of Coca-Cola to talk about life on the road and the ups and downs they’ve encountered over the years.

Jungle Rot has been around for over a decade. Formed in 1994, the Wisconsin death metallers know its business before pleasure. Dave Matrise says about band life, “We’ve been touring for so long everyone knows they have a job to do. We practice a lot and there's no partying before the show…that is saved for after.” 

Jungle Rot has played in Europe and when asked what it’s like touring there compared to the United States Dave comments, “People in Europe treat you with a lot of respect. It’s much more businesslike in the States. Everyone is out to make a dollar and that takes a lot of the fun out of making music. Sometimes you have to struggle with the club owners to get paid…they don’t like to pay you.”  They’ve toured with some big names in Europe and in the States: Cannibal Corpse, Vader, and Black Dahlia Murder to name a few. Dave says, “Those were some of the best times touring.”

It’s clear keeping a band together is hard work. “Many don’t appreciate the hard work and sacrifice we make.” says Dave. As I looked around the white van the band tours in, it’s easy to see the sacrifice they make. The guys go on tour all over the U.S. They sleep in the van, take turns driving, and their diet consists of bologna sandwiches and Coca Cola.  Dave is married and credits his wife with helping support the band and keeping things running at home while he is out on the road. Although he doesn’t have children, he does have three dogs which he considers his “babies”. Dave can’t imagine doing anything other than being a singer/guitarist/songwriter. He says his favorite part about being in a band is performing live, “It’s a rush to perform live. Nothing else compares to it….it’s a natural high.” When not ripping up the microphone and shredding his guitar you can find Dave hunting. Jokingly, Dave says, “I would be a full time hunter if I could.”

There is no doubt that Jungle Rot is intense, hardcore, and heavy.  Sodom and Kreator are the main influences of the band. Dave credits Kreator for his desire to play guitar. His dad bought him his first guitar as a teenager and he taught himself to play. Within two months he was writing songs. Dave reminisces that he still has that guitar to this day. There is no doubt it takes a musical giftedness, a special talent to be able to do that.

Dave and the bass player, Jim, are the main songwriters for the group. Most songs are about war and the atrocities that come with war. However, Dave now says they are trying to “get away from that negativity somewhat and write songs that are more positive”. However, the Detroit show was hardcore and intense. So if they are becoming more positive they are bringing it on hardcore and heavy.

Opening bands on their Driven to Conquer tour include Lightening Swords of Death, Pathology, and Woe of Tyrants. Jungle Rot showed no mercy in Detroit as the guitars shredded the amps. Dave’s voice couldn’t have sounded better. His voice was brutal and intense. However, not so brutal that it had that hardcore death metal brutality to it. The lyrics were still understandable… and that is a good thing for this band. The songwriting is great. Also, the guitar work coming from these guys was top notch. It was heavy and fast. James Genenz pounded the bass to the two ripping guitars of Geoff Bub and Dave Matrise. Although their previous drummer, Eric House, whom they’ve worked with for several years, left the band a few weeks before going on tour due to personal issues, that didn’t stop them from touring. They immediately found a new drummer, Tony Ochoa, who seamlessly worked his way into the band and performed so well you would never know he’d only been with the band for a few weeks. The drums were on target… the pace was lightning quick and the beat was heavy. They couldn’t have put on a better show. As a final note about the show, you’ve got to check out Geoff’s hair. He has some of the longest locks in the business. That hair was whipping around with such head banging fury… it looked incredible.

It was great talking to Dave Matrise. He is one of the nicest and most down to earth people on the scene. Furthermore, Jungle Rot is one of the most underrated bands on the metal scene today. Their newest album entitled “What Horrors Await” is out on Napalm Records… it’s a must have for any metal fan!