The Banishment of Mr. Scary

From “Dream Warriors” to dream punk, former Dokken guitar icon George Lynch unveils another side to his style with his new trio

The Banishment (Art: Ron Hart)

Vocalist Devix AKA remembers his astonishment when he was invited to audition for The Banishment and he found out who his bandmate would be if he got the job: “I heard ‘George Lynch’ and I’m like, ‘George Lynch of Dokken?’”

His surprise is understandable, given that Lynch was indeed a member of that hard rock band for many years, becoming one of the most celebrated guitarists in the ‘80s metal scene.

Lynch’s past doesn’t seem to have much bearing on The Banishment, however. This is a multi-genre and multi-generational group: Devix is a Millennial, Lynch is a Baby Boomer, and multi-instrumentalist/programmer Joe Haze is somewhere in between, and they play an amalgamation of industrial, punk, rock, and even some hip hop beats, fused together into a unique style they call “dream punk.” They released their intense, innovative debut single, “Lost Horizon,” in December and have a launched an Indiegogo campaign to help finance their first full-length studio album.

During a recent conference call with all three members, Lynch explains how this new phase in his career actually makes sense despite his longstanding status as a stellar metal shredder. “Essentially, I’m just a jam artist – and I’m being really honest about that,” he says. He started playing guitar in 1964, during a musical era that he describes as “a big jam session, that’s all we did. We didn’t have songs and setlists. We’d have these 20-minute exploratory musical journeys that were just all cueing off each other. So that’s how I learned, and I still have that – so whatever kind of music that I am dealing with, that’s my approach.

Old school Mr. Scary (Art: Ron Hart)

“So on this record, I was really responding to the environment that I was in, with Haze being a much more modern programming-focused engineer and creative person,” Lynch continues. “I had never worked with anybody like that. So I just sort of forgot everything that I’ve learned up to that point compositionally, and thought, ‘I’m going to be wide open to whatever happens here, and I’ll feed off of what Haze was putting out,’ which was these massive awesome programmed drum beats and really scary cool synth sounds and riffs. And it was really exciting, actually. I was trying to play heavier and stranger and just whatever was called for.”

Lynch and Haze formed The Banishment six years ago. They met through the L.A. scene, where Lynch was long established, and Haze had made a name for himself playing guitar with Lords of Acid and producing and engineering a diverse array of artists ranging from Sublime to Gladys Knight. Drawing from their wide range of experience, they came up with an utterly unique sound for The Banishment – so unique, in fact, that for years they failed to find a singer who could understand what to do with it.

“Honestly, I don’t think most people knew what to sing over this stuff. That was something I heard a lot – most people were just like, ‘What is happening right now?’” says Haze. Lynch agrees: “It’s a very hybrid style of music, so it was tricky even determining stylistically what kind of singer would match what we’re doing, ideally.”

Fortunately, mutual friends introduced Lynch and Haze to Devix, who got over his shock at Lynch’s involvement and nailed his audition. He was offered the vocalist position, Lynch says, because his singing “wasn’t polished and it was angst-ridden and it was just industrial enough and punk enough and unique enough to fit with the music.”

It was a life-changing moment for Devix, who admits that when The Banishment came along, he was “on hard times,” living in his recording studio because he could not afford an apartment. His gratitude to his bandmates is obvious as he tells them, “You guys picked me up off of the street. It was pretty wild. It was something to work on while everything, seemingly, was falling apart.”

For their part, Lynch and Haze are grateful for Devix’s contributions to the band – not only with his singing, but with writing lyrics and vocal melodies for songs they’d written during all those years when they were forced to work as a duo. “We really weren’t sure what we were until [Devix] really encapsulated what we were,” Lynch says. Haze concurs: “He’s definitely the glue tying all the songs together.”

Calling their sound “dream punk” was another contribution from Devix, who describes it as a mixture of musical influences that “all comes together with the idea of letting go and allowing it to take you over and become the art.” All three members agree that “Lost Horizon” is the perfect example of this distinctive hybrid style. 

The Banishment’s eponymous debut will be out in 2021 (Photo: Facebook)

Hoping fans will agree that they’ve come up with something special, The Banishment have set up an Indiegogo campaign to fund the recording and release of a full-length debut album. Through this campaign, fans can pre-order the album (including digital and signed vinyl and CD options). Other items for sale include guitar effects pedals that the band used for recording, paintings that the members created, and even one of Lynch’s guitars (autographed, of course). The campaign ends in late January. 

“We’re just basically trying to bypass the [record] labels. I think it’s really wonderful to appeal directly to fans who want to support our efforts,” Lynch says of this campaign. “It’s actually kind of cool from my perspective to be involved in something so ground level. I love that because that’s what keeps you hungry, at least for me. I’ve done a bunch of records in my life, and I like being challenged.”

If they raise the funds they need, The Banishment members are excited to share the rest of their songs with the world. “Even though we started this project a while back, it’s still fresh,” says Haze. “When I pull up the tracks, I’m still excited about it. It’s actually catchy and it’s listenable. It’s not something so esoteric that you have to drop some acid to check it out. We’re just like controlled chaos, if you will.”

 

AUDIO: The Banishment “Lost Horizon”

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Katherine Yeske Taylor

Katherine Yeske Taylor began her rock critic career in Atlanta in the late '80s, when she interviewed Georgia musical royalty such as the Indigo Girls, R.E.M. and the Black Crowes while she was still a teenager. Since then, she has done hundreds of interviews with a wide range of artists. She has written for dozens of magazines, including The Big Takeover (national), Aquarian Weekly (New Jersey), Stomp & Stammer (Atlanta), Creative Loafing (Atlanta), Jam Magazine (Florida), Color Red (Denver) and Boston Rock, among many others. She contributed to two books (several entries for The Trouser Press Guide to the '90s, and a chapter for Rolling Stone's Alt-Rock-A-Rama). Additionally, she has written liner notes and artist bios for several major acts. She currently lives in New York City.  

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