We Have Guns is a five piece twin guitar assault machine bent on destroying zombies, thrashing, blacking out and exposing the darker parts of our society with fury and truth. Formed in 2007, We Have Guns have grown an insanely loyal following around Oregon, playing anywhere from house parties and clubs to opening for Hell Yeah and Acrassicauda.
Abolishing any sense of pretentious ego, We Have Guns also has a strong connection to all the heavy metal bands in Oregon. WHG included members from over 30 bands from the Oregon Underground metal scene, including original fans and friends of the band on their debut album, which will be unleashed at the WOW Hall Saturday September 24th, 2011. The self-titled album has been in the works for many years, and has been a labor of love, taking the band from Eugene to San Francisco in 2010 for what they refer to as the "lost recordings."
"We originally started recording the album a couple years ago here in town at Central Node Productions, but we were given what seemed to be a grand opportunity in San Francisco," says vocalist Carl Sundberg. "But that opportunity quickly turned into a perilous journey into madness, with run-ins with the law, a near-death experience when our truck nearly collapsed in a blizzard over the pass costing hundreds of dollars in repair, and ultimately, when the producer, whom I'll refrain from naming, completely botched and sabotaged the entire three day trip. There's nothing worse than a drunk, lying amateur, and that's what we ended up with in California."
They left San Francisco completely broke and empty-handed, having recorded practically nothing in the three days they were there. But the trip solidified the bond between the band and from that point on, they became tighter than ever before. Their focus brought them back to Central Node Productions, where they meticulously recorded and mixed the album with producer Matthew Feltes over the course of many, many months. While recording, they managed to get over 30 of their fellow musician friends from many metal bands throughout Oregon such as The Athiarchists, Northwest Royale, Only Nightmares, Monday with a Bullet, New World Sinner, Vial Experiment and many more, plus longtime fans and friends of the band to come into the studio to track "gang vocals" and "party sounds" for a number of the songs on the album - which can be heard on “Dead Rising”, “Brethren” and “Blackout Party”.
The music on this album was conceived mostly by guitarist Tobby Lugo, who put the band together as a side project years ago while he was still the drummer in Grynch. "I never thought this would turn into what is has," says Lugo. "It's been a crazy trip seeing this band come together as powerfully as it has."
Most of the songs, riffs or ideas stemmed all the way back to Lugo's teenage years, but all of the members of WHG contribute to the songwriting process. "The Tale of Travis Walton" for example stems from an insane bass riff that James Smith wrote many years ago.
"I would play that riff for other bands I was in," says bassist James Smith. "But nobody could even understand it, let along do anything with it. But I played it at Guns practice one day, and it became a full fledged song."
All of the lyrics are written by Carl Sundberg, who joined the band less than a year after the initial forming.
"They used to practice at me and [drummer] Damon's [Scobey] pad," Sundberg says. "And one day, I just picked up the mic and started screaming obscenities, something silly I called 'Wizard Sleeve Steve" and apparently I impressed them enough with my insanity to be asked to join the band."
Shortly after that, they replaced their lead guitarist with the virtuoso Issa Koberstein, completing the current lineup. "I came in to play a solo on one song," says Koberstein. "But apparently they were so impressed with me that they decided I needed to be their lead guitarist. So here I am."
The lyrical content consists of everything from zombie apocalypses to religious genocide, the war in Iraq, drug addiction, alien abductions, self-reliance and the nature of the country, brotherhood and blacking out. The songs are at once philosophically outward-looking but intensely personal.
"These songs have literally saved my life," says Sundberg. "I can only hope that they mean something to someone else. And I can't wait to get this album in people's hands. From the response so far from close friends who have already heard some of it, the response has been spectacular. I can only imagine that will grow once people can hear all the songs accurately and in the comfort of their own life. I think these songs speak truth that people can relate to, in many different ways."
Once the album is released, WHG plans to play as much as possible throughout the northwest, and next summer they plan to do a full-scale west coast tour. The band is hoping to break the curse of many local bands by staying together for a long time. They have already written eight new songs, with at least 20 in the works and are already thinking about their second album.
"The new Guns material is much more diverse," says drummer Damon Scobey. "Everyone's writing songs this go around. Issa has some haunting riffs, James continues to make us all work harder with his mathematically impossible bass lines, Tobby's still got a backlog of songs he's bringing in, I've got at least 10 songs ready to go and even Carl's written a song or two. It's been a fun ride."