When we think of the Caribbean region, our first thoughts are not about metal music. We imagine golden beaches, azure blue seas and so forth. In recent years a metal scene has started to really step out of the shadows. At Wacken Open Air, the band Lynchpin made the world aware of their scene.
Lynchpin hails from Trinidad and Tobago, an Island in the Caribbean region that is known for its music culture. Metal may not often be mentioned, but there’s a thriving scene. Lynchpin caught the international eye thanks to their participation in the Caribbean Wacken Metal Battle. Not only did it bring the small scenes in various nations together, Lynchpin became the emissary for the region after that.
A chat with Lynchpin about playing metal in Trinidad and Tobago, but also the hardships of going abroad and the lack of words to describe their Wacken experience (hint: there’s actually a lot of words).
Lynchpin: Heralds of Caricore
How did Lynchpin get started?
In 2009, Sievan realized that there was a drop in the local rock scene in Trinidad. It felt like the rock scene had no bands pushing and fighting for a voice. He met with Aaron, who was previously in local death metal pioneers Necropollis along with him and Overdose (Nu Metal), to discuss the creation of a new Band… a band with an attitude…. something to be in the face and forefront of local media and lead the local rock scene to new heights.
This was the Genesis of LYNCHPiN. Gerard was recruited soon after, coming of guitar duties for Vox Deus (another local mega band) and Jiggy, from Abbadon, for their technical abilities and unique personalities. All members have known each other for multiple years, in their other bands, and now combined their talents to make this new entity. LYNCHPiN was born in 2009… a new era… a new direction. A band and an attitude.
Last year you guys played Wacken Open Air. Can you tell us what the road to Wacken was like since it all started with the Wacken Metal Battle in the Carribbean, didn’t it?
Well, we played Wacken in 2016 actually, and yes it all started in the 1st ever Caribbean Metal Battle, Suriname. Wow, the road to Wacken…. phew… written words honestly cannot express how it all was.
A clear memory was the submission of the documents required for Wacken Caribbean Metal Battle, and then the wait. A wait without knowing when the announcement would be made for the 5 finalists. Thinking that there are 100s of bands in the whole Caribbean and we are one of only 5 to be selected?!? That was a feeling that I can’t express, helpless maybe? Since we had no control of selection process, it was quite amazing. It was Christmas season, very close to Christmas eve (I think) when we got the news that we were one of the 5 finalists!! We were in utter shock and glee, imagine, a CHANCE to perform in Wacken, but before that, in Suriname as one of 5 TOP bands?!!?! Surreal!
If people know us well, they would tell you that LYNCHPiN is a planning machine, LOL! We planned a whole lot for the Suriname competition, even getting 15 fans to move across with us, like carrying our home advantage with us! Well, cliche time: the rest was history.
We destroyed the Caribbean Metal Battle, but it made us realize how great the other bands in the Caribbean are. We made lots of new friends. But that feeling of being the first Caribbean Metal Battle Winners is something we still cannot fully wrap our heads around….
The key for us is that we came in first and history will always have us there as the first winners!!
So now, we had 3 months (max) to figure out how to reach Wacken. We staged a huge fundraiser called “LYNCHPiN vs the World” as local bands all came together to assist us on this journey. But not just local bands, also other bands from the Caribbean and metal battle supported us.
Particularly This Will Be No More (Aruba), who have become very close to us in LYNCHPiN.
With fundraiser money and personal money combined, we embarked on the long, historical journey to Wacken Open Air. It still feels amazing to be able to say this. We traveled from Trinidad, to Tobago, then to Germany (Frankfurt I think) via airplane and then on train to Itzehoe (upper Germany) and then via Car to Wacken grounds. Trust us, that it is a lot of movement with a lot of baggage. We camped there for 5 days (yes, in tents), walked on stage on the 2nd day and that was indescribable. Just a whole experience. Jeff Waters (Annihilator) introduced us on stage (which was incredible) to over 10,000 new fans.
And that my friends was the sound of Caricore being born to the world…
What does it mean for you guys to play at Wacken? Not just as a band, but also as metalheads from Trinidad & Tobago?
It was significant for all of us. It meant breaking the stereotype of Caribbean bands and what people perceive us to sound like. It also gave the whole region a new outlook on what we as people in the Caribbean can do.
I think it literally changed the rock scene in one step… now every serious rock band is planning to play outside and bring back experience and help upgrade here.
After that, you’ve done some more touring. How did that go? Got any mad touring stories apart from the insane amounts of traveling you guys have to do?
I think the mad tour stories and tied with the insane amount of traveling. Man, luggage and many people make traveling always hard… I think we remember running a lot… to trains… out of trains…. to busses… out of busses… it was a lot!
So, your last EP was from 2014. Are you working on anything new currently?
Yes! Our new album/ EP will be out in Summer 2018!!! It is to be a concept album of sorts. We are really excited about it. It seems like a mature step for us musically and content-wise.
How do you guys go about creating new music? Who does what in the process and how do you get started on a new song?
Honestly, all of us write. Sievan is mainly lyrics whereas the band is music. We always work on the theme of the song and what it is about first, so we have the atmosphere to build on. Well, that’s what we normally do…
What can people expect from a Lynchpin show? What kind of experience do you guys deliver?
It is an overall experience, graphically to performance to content. We try to push the fans to want to be a part of the show! That is really what we are good at, getting the crowd to die for the performance.
So metal in the Caribbean is something that was pretty unknown for a long time. Now, having played at Wacken, that might change. What is the scene like in Trinidad & Tobago?
It is small, but maybe the biggest in the Caribbean scene! Suriname has a lovely growing one also. Still, in Trinidad, we have Soca and other local musical genres that are most dominant in this country. Our rock/ metal scene has always had its ups and downs in terms of size, so it’s on the up for now. We always think that this is the plateau of the rock scene here in terms of numbers. We want more, but we’re unsure of its possibilities.
Is everything readily available for you guys (like record stores, music equipment, rehearsal spaces, and venues to play at) or is it a big DIY thing?
DIY aways!!! Equipment is best shipped! There are no record stores who sell metal exclusively (except maybe the rare in-house merchant). Rehearsal spaces are also always a situation; as one comes, one goes!
How did metal music come to your country and what bands were instrumental in its development? Can you sketch out some of its history?
We’ve always had western influences here, from music to dress to culture (we unofficially celebrate Halloween here, for e.g.) because of our historical involvement with England and the United States, so I suppose it’s only natural that rock and metal appeared here. With the international popularity of Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles (The Beatles actually came to Trinidad once!) and The Rolling Stones etc. people here started getting into it – however these genres were (and still are) seen as foreign, so there wasn’t a very big movement around it. There were no more than about 10 bands in the 70s and 80s, and most were cover bands. The band Touchdown then debuted in the 80s and, with their connection to a successful soca/pop band – Fireflight, achieved great popularity both within and outside of the traditional rock community. The combination of Touchdown’s success and record shops beginning to supply rock records, due to their demand, lead to a surge in rock interest and the formation of bands between the late 80s and mid-90s. Bands like Smith Tuttle and Big Eyed Grieve had more of a grunge sound, while Orange Sky, Jaundis-I and Jointpop began blending rock with regional sounds like calypso and reggae.
The heavier side of rock and metal also started showing up in this period, through cover bands like ‘Infernal Death’ and ‘Tribal Darkness’ and original bands like ‘Bleed’ and ‘Lucifix’ (which actually contained members of Orange Sky!). Later on, in the late 90s/early 00s, the Black/Death Metal bangers Necropolis and heavy hitters Face of Death carried the torch. Nu-Metal also came on the scene with Brown Fox and local legends Incert Coin who, with Orange Sky, are perhaps the two most popular local bands to date. The mid-90s to early 00s really saw a boom in original bands performing heavier music, that many see as the highlight of the scene, with the aforementioned bands being joined by the likes of Tamper Evident, Alexes Machine, Cobolized, Vox Deus, Spectral Vibes, Anti-Everything, Krucifix, Overdose and many more. These bands all paved the way for the scene today, and a few are seen as icons in our rock and metal history. Because of our small population, you rarely see more than two or three bands playing the same or similar genres of metal, but it also means that we have a very diverse range of rock and metal sub-genres, from pop-punk and punk to death and djent.
Apart from bands and record stores, 3 milestones were instrumental in the development of our rock scene: 1) Emmet Hennessy having listening parties and jams at people’s homes in the 70s 2) The launch of the radio programme ‘Total Local‘ and the ‘Mike Ross Underground/MRU‘ on 95.1fm almost 20 years ago, which had a huge impact on the modern popularity of rock and metal, with Mike Ross bringing these genres over the radio for 2-3 hours every Thursday, when no other station would, and 3) The launch and development of the website ‘The Bandfield‘ by Dexter Banfield, which catered specifically to local rock & metal bands, events and supporters, with its messaging board helping to bring the scene closer than ever before
I would like to thank Maarten Manmohan for my knowledge of the history of metal here. Maarten actually did a study on it and he’s one of the main reasons I have so much info on the topic!
Which bands from your part of the world should people really check out (and why)?
There are so many relatively unknown bands in our region – Trinidad may have the largest number of bands but the other Caribbean islands are producing some great bands and music also.
The main reason I would tell anyone to check out these bands is the same I’d give for checking out any ‘big, international’ band: depending on your taste in metal, I think you’d enjoy them because they make great music and have recordings that you can access. These are only a handful of bands, as I don’t want to overwhelm you lol, but please let this be an introduction that will hopefully lead you to many more of the great bands we have around the Caribbean.
Mindscape Laboratory – Trinidad – djent
Bound to Oblivion – Trinidad – djent/modern heavy metal
Incert Coin – Trinidad – heavy rock/nu-metal
Feed the Flames – Guyana – Heavy Metal
Aeons of Disorder – French Guiana – Groove/Death Metal
The Supernormal Band – Trinidad – Rock with ‘Trini’ flavour
This Will Be No More – Aruba – djent
Asylum – Suriname – Heavy Metal/Metalcore
Do you feel that bands take something from Trinidad & Tobago in their metal music? Some sound, feeling or themes?
When we were in Wacken, we were told that we are definitely not death metal or deathcore. They said it’s more of a Caribbean groove with death/ black vocals, so we coined it Caricore! So, yes we do!!! Themes… maybe in terms of our realities here with crime etc.
What future plans does Lynchpin have at this moment? What can we expect in the future?
Working on recording and releasing the new EP and heavy touring over the next years. Breaking new ground and barriers for the Caribbean
If you had to compare your band to a type of food or dish, what would it be and why?
Actually thats easy… Pelau! We are a mixture of everything that influences us and is great together!
The band kindly linked some recipes if you’re interested in tasting some Pelau.