Former Mae Guitarist Thrills with New Band DEMONS
Lead singer, guitarist, and mastermind Zach Gehring comes from the backdrop of local pop punk heroes Mae to front his new, harder project, DEMONS. Gehring’s new lineup is far from the piano driven, theatrical pop punk so tightly conducted and constructed that helped define the era – the same sounds he’s revealed to have “a nagging desire” to stray away from for quite sometime.
Gehring has been open about admitted creative differences in Mae that stemmed from his yearning for a harder sound. Such hunger is illustrated throughout Mae’s hit album, “Everglow.” Throughout the record, a tough bassline set by Jon Anderson fights alongside Gehring’s equally tough guitar riffs against much cheerier vocals.
After seeing Demons open for Fucked Up! at Work|Release a few months prior, it’s clear that Gehring achieved his goal by letting his creativity run wild to form a totally different band. This is fully assured after taking a listen to his new project, DEMONS, and the band’s first EP, “Great Dismal.”
The new project is far more carefree than the dramatic productions of “Everglow.” The tracks on Great Dismal are less constructed but still precise; all band members doing their own thing while remaining on the same page.
This time around, Gehring shifted from somewhat behind the scenes to up and center. The minute he begins to sing on the first track, “There Is No Reward,” it becomes clear in his vocal style – as if the instrumentals had yet to do so – that this isn’t Mae.
His monotone yet angsty vocals throughout “Great Dismal” are almost a polar opposite to those harmonic pipes of his former bandmate, frontman Dave Elkins.
While the emotion is toned down in Gehring’s voice, the excess is pumped into the backing instruments. Drummer Drew Orton doesn’t merely tap the drums, but each strike’s power lingers. His complicated drumming style is not lost in the sea of guitars, effortlessly breaking through the noise. Orton makes it clear he doesn’t need a solo to showcase his skill throughout the EP.
Gehring’s desire for a more grunge-influenced sound puts more emphasis on all guitars. Throughout the EP, the reverb of guitars played by Gehring and Chris Matthews are drawn out and let go. In some tracks, like “Lenora Slaughter,” the reverb is manipulated and used in a fun and unexpected way, showcasing the guitarists’ artistry.
The guitars and drums work together to compliment each other and Gehring’s vocals. Throughout “Godless Girl,” a song riddled with sadness and anger – a brew which bubbles up and settles throughout – an apathetic-toned Gehring sings desperate lines that are felt instead through a rollercoaster of ineloquent reverb. Slow guitars go into sonic overdrive with no warning, with even harder drums following Gehring and Matthew’s lead.
Gehring has found an outlet in which he can channel what he was looking for all along. His creative abilities are powerful, and those of which were before bursting at the seams are now allowed to fully come into fruition.
Gehring is no longer fighting against a vision that is not his own, but embracing it with a crew who seems to be on the same page.