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Still mutinying after all these years

Internal Mutiny is so metal they book shows at goat farms and might be responsible for the death of at least one old lady.

The Ashland thrash band has revamped its lineup since I last saw them at a roller derby a few years ago.

However, the more things change, the more they remain the same, and the current squad holds tight to old-school trash ethos: Speed. Aggression. Repeat.

When I met with them for an interview at Musichead this week, I kept having to remind myself that they were still in high school. The bands they named as influences throughout our conversation were ones that I headbanged to some 15 years ago.

Slayer, Kreator. Exodus. Megadeth. Sepultura.

Equally unbelievable is that Internal Mutiny is among a handful of bands playing a metal show at CultureWorks in Ashland tonight.

You heard me. Metal. In Ashland. At a place called CultureWorks, which according to its website hasn't seen a reggae or, even worse, a world music band it didn't like.

But far be it from me to question the decision of a venue within my town willing to host local metal bands.

Internal Mutiny's current line up is as follows: Noah Killeen on bass; Dresden Hills on vocals; Harbor Engle on guitar and Chris Peterson, the sole member from that fateful roller derby show, on drums.

They had some enlightening views on the local metal scene, the horror that is cookie-cutter radio metal and why this area needs an all-ages venue to spread the gospel of metal.

Q: I'm assuming there's not a lot of thrash metal heard in Ashland High School these days?

Hills: "People listen to a lot of really crappy hip hop and dubstep."

Killeen: "Yeah, I listen to about 25 percent of what other people listen to. Not many people are listening to thrash metal, that's for sure."

Hills: "But we're bringing it back."

(Laughs all around)

Q: Are you comfortable with being sort of a throwback to, say, '80s thrash?

Killeen: "Oh, yeah. You don't hear thrash on the radio. None of the stuff we listen to is on the radio."

Hills: "People come up to us and ask if we like Slipknot or stuff like that. We say, 'Um, no.' We are into Sepultura and bands like that."

Q: You guys started out primarily as a cover band, playing Metallica and Slayer songs. What brought about the shift to original songs?

Engle: "I feel really uncomfortable playing other people's songs. It feels a lot better to see people moshing to music that you made."

Hills: "I'd say we have enough of our own songs to make a demo now."

Peterson: "All we need to do is put all of the songs and riffs we have laying around together and we'd have enough for an album. We should probably do that at some point."

Q: What is your mission?

Hills: "To get up there and make people feel like they are at a good show. We want everyone up on their feet moshing."

Killeen: "Actually, we played a battle of the bands once when they hired a cop just to watch us."

Hills: "Only our band! They were totally against moshing."

Engle: "We are also looking to sign with an independent label. We don't want to sell out or anything like that. That's not what we're about."

Killeen: "I don't really care about getting lots of fans or making money. I just love playing this music."

Q: Most high school bands break up and go their separate ways at some point. You guys planning to stick it out for the long haul?

Engle: "We are going to try to make something out of this."

Peterson: "We want to keep working and getting better, that's for sure."

Killeen: "We used to practice in a shed near some old lady's house. We'd jam for hours and she would come over crying, saying, 'You guys must stop!'" She died not too long after that."

Hills: "Thrash music might be the last thing she ever heard."

(Laughs aplenty)

What do other bands say when they find out they are sharing the stage with a group of high school thrashers?

Peterson: "They say, 'Those kids are bad ass. I wish my music sounded that good when I was that age.'"

Check out Internal Mutiny with local metal bands The Yearling and Portland's Heathen Shrine tonight at CultureWorks, 310 Oak St. in Ashland. Cover is $10.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.