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Judgement Day at Stillwater

Had the oeuvre of classical violinist Jascha Heifetz mated with early Metallica, the evil, doom-ridden spawn would very much resemble Judgement Day.

The San Francisco-based trio has pioneered the compelling new string-metal genre, which fuses violin and cello with machine-gun drumming and ample amounts of distortion.

Judgement Day will perform at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, at Stillwater, 1951 Highway 66, Ashland.

It began so innocently with brothers Anton and Lewis Patzner taking piano lessons at age 5.

"Our parents are classical musicians who play in orchestras in the Bay Area," said violinist Anton Patzner. "They really wanted us to play instruments."

Anton followed in his mother's footsteps by taking up the violin in the fourth grade. Lewis was drawn to the cello.

The brothers studied music in college, with Anton graduating from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Lewis traveling across country to attend the Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore.

"All of a sudden I got really burnt out on classical music," Anton said. "I got rebellious and started playing in rock bands."

He took a stab at guitar before realizing his violin chops were in demand in the Bay Area rock scene.

"People were excited to see a fiddle player on stage jamming," Anton said.

Lewis returned from Baltimore and the brothers took their act to street corners. On the fly, they performed hard and fast songs, stretching their instruments to the breaking point. It gained attention.

"Some guy approached us on the street and asked us to open for his band," Anton said.

It was a hard rock show that left the brothers scrambling for heavy songs and a band name.

"We had no clue what to call ourselves minutes before the first show," Anton said. "We tried to come up with the scariest, most epic thing we could think of."

Hence, Judgement Day was formed.

Anton's musical landscape is marked with classical violinists such as Heifetz, jazz maestro Stéphane Grappelli and rockers such as Led Zeppelin and Radiohead.

"We like all kinds of music," Anton said. "There are so many different genres that influence us."

The brothers adopted drummer John Bush, giving him one standing order: Play fast. Really, really fast.

They hold to their acoustic roots in terms of instruments, but have taken to funneling the violin and cello through various pedals for looping and distortion.

"I am experimenting with all kinds of looping," Anton said. "The weirder the better."

Meanwhile, the brothers pay the bills by touring with successful acts such as Bright Eyes and recording with former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash.

They recently celebrated the fifth anniversary of their first album, "Dark Opus," and have another in the works. It is tentatively called "Peacocks/Pink Monsters."

Through it all, their parents have remained supportive, Anton said.

"They tell us they like it, but I don't think you'd ever catch them listening to Judgement Day," he said.

Cover for the show at Stillwater is free. Visit www.stringmetal.com for more about the trio.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Judgement Day band members got their start in the music industry at classical musicians. - Photo by Riki Feldmann