When finding new bands and music, the joy of discovery can often be tinged with the sadness that relatively no one else is paying attention to some groups. Thankfully, we here at It Djents have the opportunity to rectify that with our Weekly Featured Artist series! Today I’m bringing you a band that you should get to know as soon as possible: Chicago’s own Scientist. This act is mixes post-metal, sludge, black metal, grunge and more to create a sound that is accessible but still not uncomplex. Since their inception, they have been quietly putting out some amazing music. Their latest LP, Barbelith, dropped April 13 and it’s a genuine highlight in an already incredible year for heavy music. In the time since it was released, Barbelith has been in my ears almost daily and what better way to share this band with the world then feature them here on our site!
I got in contact with Scientist’s Eric Plonka (guitar/vocals) and Barry Kotarba (vocals) and asked them some questions about the inception of the band, the new record, and their plans of the future.
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It Djents: Could we take a moment to discuss the inception of Scientist, and what brought you together as a band?
Eric Plonka: ‘Well, waaaaay back in 2011, myself and our drummer Justin Cape started a little project and started doing shows as a two piece instrumental band. From there, we picked up other musicians along the way (Patrick and Matt) and eventually ended up as a four piece relying on part-time vocalists until we eventually found our current full-time vocalist Barry (from Boatman’s Toll). Hopefully, he is the last member!’
ID: Clearly, Scientist has a lot of sonic influences, but where do you find inspiration for your lyrics? There are some deep, existential moments in many of your songs.
Barry Kotarba: ‘For this album in particular, I happened to be in the process of reading Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles and was able to focus in on some of the philosophical and transcendental concepts he explored in that comic series, and kind of apply them as metaphors for some things happening in my life at the time. The album isn’t a retelling or reinterpretation of the book by any means, but the book provides some of the concepts that really let the album congeal and solidify.’
ID: I know being objective about your own material can be tough, but after putting out multiple releases, do you feel that Barbelith is where you’ve been headed all along?
EP: ‘The whole timing of it and how things came together last minute seems as if it was meant to be. At least I’d like to think so. When I say last minute, we literally hired Barry as we were prepping for the studio…. he just kind of fell into our laps and it just worked out.’
ID: You’re based in Chicago, you kept the production of Barbelith close to home, and you released the record yourself. What are the ups and downs of this DIY approach?
EP: ‘Well, I guess it’s never REALLY the smart play to release a record yourself if you don’t have to. In our case, we had to. Soooooo, the downs are… mostly monetary and the ups are a hardy pat on the back for a job well done!’
ID: What’s next for the band?
EP: ‘Well, we’re really looking forward to writing a new record as a complete band for the first time in our history and moving forward.’
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It’s not difficult to tell the guys in Scientist are a light-hearted bunch. While this doesn’t necessarily come through in the songs and lyrics that they perform, that boundless energy is pervasive throughout their music. If you haven’t yet given this band a listen, now is the perfect time to get familiar with their discography and their latest album. Their intense but deep songs will keep you coming back again and again. While their touring schedule is still somewhat limited, seeing this band live would be a magical evening I’m sure. Let’s help them grow so they can hit the road in grand fashion in the near future!
Eric Plonka – Guitar, Vocals
Justin Cape – Drums
Patrick Auclair – Guitar, Vocals
Matthew Milligan – Bass
Barry Kotarba – Vocals
You can find all of Scientist‘s releases over on Bandcamp, including their latest effort, Barbelith. You can also follow them on Facebook for more info, updates, and news about the music and appearances!