EVERYBODY has a theory about how the Northwest became the preeminent home for heavy rock in the US. It could be the often-gloomy weather, or our penchant for cheap beer, or our strange desire to summon Sasquatch from his woodland home. Andrew Chapman, vocalist for sludge-metal quartet Princess, thinks it comes down to location.
"There's something about our distance from everywhere else," he says. "A lot of bands don't tour here so we don't have to deal with big egos. We're building a music scene for ourselves. That makes it easy for it to be rad."
Whatever the reason, it's a boom time for rock fans in Washington and Oregon. And bands like Princess keep the home fires burning hot.
Formed in 2010, the Seattle band—Chapman, guitarist Roddy Chops, bassist Samantha Wilder, and drummer Gator—was built off of the sonic foundation lain down by hometown heroes Melvins and the U-Men, but have since experienced a rapid growth in power and dynamism.
Last year's Selling Sulphur EP (out on Portland label Made in China Records) is steered by Chops' fusing of Iommi-like riffs to angular noise, but kept steady by Chapman's withering howl. As you might imagine, the live Princess experience is even more intense, thanks in no small part to the singer's agitated stage presence.
"I used to get so nervous that I'd throw up before every show and couldn't even face the crowd," Chapman says. "Then I started climbing through the audience and climbing on the walls. Now, the more people show up, the more I really explode on stage. It's a lot easier for me to be a bad singer that way."
It's all mighty, meaty stuff for a band with such a delicate moniker. Don't call it "ironic," though—think of it in terms of Chapman's tendency to write songs about, as he puts it, "women who kick the shit out of the world."
"I don't tap into songs about biting the heads of pigeons and mass destruction," he says. "There's no sincerity there. Plus I like thinking about women with swords, and they are badass."