Plenty of musical do-it-yourself bands have been inspired by punk legend Mike Watt’s most famous piece of advice, “If you ain’t playin’, you’re payin’.” But not even Watt himself has embodied this slogan quite like the high-decibel sludge metal duo Jucifer.
Originally based in Athens, Ga., Jucifer is comprised of guitarist/vocalist/wife Amber Valentine and drummer/husband Edgar Livengood, who have been on tour since early 2000. The hardworking, hard-rocking couple drive around the country, playing shows every month of the year while living out of the RV in which they store their instruments, amps, clothes, dog and eardrum-busting wall of speakers. This Saturday, they’re bringing their live act to Mohawk.
The band’s nomadic lifestyle is certainly not for everyone. “It takes a certain kind of mindset to live in an RV,” Livengood told Mike Evans in an interview the band released on YouTube last September. “You have to be organized, and you have to have a good working relationship.”
Jucifer’s eagerness to expand on the typical metal aesthetic, which is most apparent on their 2008 release L’Autrichienne, has kept them afloat in the sea of ’90s sludge and won them support from hip critics (including Pitchfork staffers) and metal-head plebs alike. Allmusic’s Greg Prato was especially enamored.
“For those who (understandably) feel that metal has become increasingly one-dimensional in modern times,” he wrote. “L’Autrichienne proves Jucifer is in a class all by themselves.”
But after buying tickets for their upcoming show, shop around for a pair of earplugs. Prato has also called them “by far the loudest duo in all of rock.”
Fans of Jucifer’s studio recordings, which showcase Valentine and Livengood’s diverse tastes and careful attention to production details, are not always fans of Jucifer’s shows, which usually consist of the band turning their edifice of amps and speakers up to 11 and blasting the front row to the back of the club. The converse holds as well. Why does the band feel the need to crank up the volume live? “Because it’s awesome,” Valentine explained to Alternative Control in a 2011 interview. “It’s like if you could ride a tyrannosaurus or something.”
And as is the case with T-rex riding, Jucifer shows have an element of danger to them. With a massive wall of sound backing up the band’s brutal playing, there’s a good chance that audience members — especially any ectomorphs — are going to be blown away.