Somewhere in the deep recesses of the early 90’s- nestled in California and hidden beneath the mainstream Nirvana-fuelled grunge frenzy- lays the formation of the gothic-hardcore-punk band Antioch Arrow, a highly influential band originating in San Diego. The group would help define a still thriving independent California music scene that is hard to pinpoint in terms of any one concrete label such as “punk”, “experimental”, “hardcore”, “post punk”, or “no wave” (or any of the many genres people are quick to ascribe to musicians), but more so is an amalgamation of it all.
The initial lineup included Aaron Montaigne as vocalist, Marc Mann on bass, Maxamillion Avila (then referred to as Ron Avila or Ron Anarchy) on drums, and Aaron Richards, Jeff Winterberg playing guitar. The band’s first release was a split with Candle, followed by the release of “The Lady is a Cat” in 1993. The sound was solid, spastic, and fast—undoubtedly hardcore. Andy Ward would replace Richards as guitarist for the bands second album, “In Love with Jetts” (1994), bringing an experimental, avant garde style that added a different, more unconventional element to Antioch’s initial sound, providing odd, unique twists that stood unrivaled.
While the band can be characterized as having moments of noisy harshness, there is an element of theatrical drama in Antioch Arrow’s music as well, most notably in their last album, “Gems of Masochism”. Though initially released in 1995 by Amalgamated Recordings, the album was re-released by Three One G Records in 2005 after a history of prior representation by infamous and fellow San Diego independent label, Gravity Records. Where the band had more of a classic hardcore feel in its earlier albums like “The Lady is a Cat” and even with “In Love with Jetts”, their final release seemed to evolve into something even stranger, distinctly taking on a different style which, Montaigne noted in an interview with Vice, was not particularly well received at the time.
Tracks like “Dead Now” are full of dark, swirling piano playing that mysteriously weaves itself in amongst the bands more typical assertive bass lines and solid drumming. “Too Bad You’re Gonna Die”, for one, introduces haunting organ-style synth playing that picks up the pace of the album while still maintaining the overall romantic, gothic mood. Topping the somewhat cabaret-like instrumentation off are Antioch Aaron’s vocals, full of everything from come-hither intonation to rolled-tongue pronunciations to whispering, fused with something throughout that is hard to put into words but that distinctly leaves the listener feeling as if madness hides not far below Montaigne’s (comparably) more serene, melodic surface.
Though “Gems of Masochism” would be the band’s last documented installment, band members have been involved in a number of other musical projects since. Maxamillion Avila, for example, had also played simultaneously with another well-known band, Heroin, alongside Montaigne. He was also a part of Final Conflict, as well as Three One G’s Holy Molar and Get Hustle (additionally featuring Mann and, previously, Andy Ward). Mac Mann and Montaigne are more recently involved in a band called Dangerous Boys Club, situated in Portland, Oregon. Jeff Winterberg has additionally pursued a career in photography, releasing a book that documented different aspects and experiences from the underground music scene of which he’s been involved in for decades.