The Ax Rock musicians hanging out in a dark, dank basement? No way! Andrew R Tonry

THE MASSIVE CRACK AND THUD of the Ax comes from only two members—Adam on drums, Chris on guitar. And though they have last names (Jelsing and Pierce, respectively) they're first-name kind of guys. They've played together for almost 10 years, yet they still have trouble putting a name to their sound.

"We're not metal, but we're not mellow," Adam says.

"We're not math rock, and we're not pop," Chris adds. Stoner rock? "We don't really smoke pot, so no."

What the Ax achieve are the best parts of all that. Heavy but not heady, they chug but never meander. Some songs have vocals, some don't. There are bits of Melvins, Federation X, and even some Nirvana, but the only real constants are Chris' raw guitar and Adam beating the holy shit out the drums.

And though the Ax have played some 40-odd shows in Portland, odds are you haven't heard of them—but it's not for lack of talent.

"I feel weird about selling myself," Chris says. "I don't want to seem egotistical."

Asked if they ever approach labels or promoters, the two just shrugged. "I never really thought about it," Adam admitted.

Humble almost to a fault, all the Ax really care to do is make music for themselves and their friends. "If there were no shows to play we'd still always be down here in the basement," Adam says.