Comets On Fire
Guitarist Ethan Miller and bass player Ben Flashman formed Comets on Fire in Santa Cruz, Calif., in 1999. They enlisted drummer Utrillo Belcher and electronics dude Noel von Harmonson soon after. With Miller's wholly over-the-top style of guitar playing (one-half Randy Holden of Blue Cheer, one-half Munehiro Narita of High Rise and the rest from another planet), von Harmonson's squalling use of an Echoplex and the rhythm section anchored by Flashman and Belcher's Keith Moon-esque spazz-drumming, the band became a fast favorite in the underground scene for their ear-splittingly loud and powerful live performances. Alternative Tentacles and Ba Da Bing! both put out very good records for the band, but it wasn't until longtime collaborator Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance ) joined on "second outta hand guitar" and Sub Pop signed them, that they started to receive national recognition as one of the very forerunners of heavy music in the '00s. Their debut for Sub Pop, Blue Cathedral, garnered tons of critical praise, showing up on many indie lists as one of the Top-10 records of 2004. In 2006, they released Avatar, which found the band successfully growing beyond their "turn it up to 11" tendencies and messing around with melodic use of keyboards, slower tempos and more, actually intelligible, singing from Miller.