From the icy depths of, um, Dallas comes Kólga, a band that mixes black metal with surf rock and performs in custom-made sea monster masks and Hawaiian shirts.
"I've always been a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft," says singer and guitar player Glib Mongo, aka Jason Mullins. "So, I wanted to start a surf band, and somehow Dick Dale and the various strains of black metal and H.P. Lovecraft became intermingled in my brain, and it became this thing."
Kólga started as a bedroom project when Mongo was fiddling around with some of those ideas on GarageBand.
"That was the seed of it," Mongo says. "I was just, like, this is such a cool concept. Like my brain just went, Wow, I can do so much with this, you know?"
"Space Beach Massacre," which can be heard now on Bandcamp, is the band's only released single, but it gave Mongo just enough to get band members on board and venues interested in booking the band to open for the likes of Bit Brigade and Agent Orange.
"In black metal, there's a lot of single string picking where it's rapid fire," Mongo explains. "When you look at it, it sounds very similar to the surf rock. So, it's just taking that same guitar picking style and adding minor chords to make it darker."
Mongo isn't a fan of gimmick bands, but with a band so drenched in nautical horror, he felt the need to keep the theatrics at their highest.
"I paint animatronic dinosaurs, and one of the guys who used to work with me as a sculptor helped us make the masks," Mongo says. "I just wanted to take it to another level, which is what I'm really interested in. I'm making this a kind of performative art thing. There's a million bands and everybody does the band thing, but to me, it's more fun if you add monsters."
The band's stage masks — a snorkeler, a shark, an anglerfish, a kraken and a surfer zombie — are inspired by the B-movie horror films that inspire the lyrics along with Lovecraft.
"I'm supposed to be the surfer zombie, but I don't know if that really translates," Mongo ponders. "I think I need to get some fake kelp.
"Did you ever see Creepshow? Remember the one ["Something to Tide You Over"] where Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson come back and there are those shriveled-up, shrunken zombie things? That was the one where I got the inspiration."
Even in its short time as a band, Kólga has already been to the brink of collapse once before, playing what they thought would be their final show in the fall of 2019 before coming back in January.
"We went down into the Mariana Trench, and we were looking for elements of primordial civilization, and we came back and we brought jewels from another dimension, and we are adorning the universe with our entrails," Mongo says, knowing that nobody is buying it.
"Honestly, I was in like four or five different bands at one time and I felt kind of my brain going everywhere," he continues seriously. "I had to just step away from everything. Then you start realizing that the one thing that you've done for the last 25 years is kind of like the only thing you know how to do. I don't know why, I just always come back to this."
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Mongo admits he doesn't really like being in front of people, but then again he also loves it. One of the reasons he enjoys being in a band that pokes fun at the metal genre is that he's able to make light of the over-the-top performances of bands like Gwar and Ghoul.
"It's just the pretension of it," he says. "The whole thing is fertile grounds for brainstorming ideas about bigger stage production. I have a song called 'Feeding Frenzy,' and we would have a chum bucket and throw blood out on everybody and then have sharks that would come and dive into the crowd and start feeding."
For Mongo, the real downside of metal is that it really can be such a downer. It is for this reason that Kólga is fishing for fans who want to do more laughing than brooding at a metal show.
"I want people to have fun when they come to the show rather than dwell on the darker aspects of the music," Mongo says. "Take it with a grain of salt, have fun, enjoy yourself and forget about reality for about 45 minutes."