"These Bands Are Heavy as Hell": Dallas Drummer on Touring with Metal Band False

Stefan Gonzalez playing with False. They'll stop at Three Links this Thursday.
Stefan Gonzalez playing with False. They'll stop at Three Links this Thursday.
Manda Ziegelman
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In 2014, the Observer described Stefan Gonzalez as “leading the Dallas noise scene,” and he's still grinding more than three years later. Gonzalez, a versatile musician who plays free jazz with Yells at Eels and grindcore with Akkolyte, is helping out his metal buds in False, who needed a fill-in drummer for their tour supporting Thou with Cloud Rat and Moloch.

“Stefan was one of the very few who we knew could pull off what our drummer does live,” False guitarist Jimmy Claypool told the Observer via text message. “His energy and dedication to his art is contagious, and we’re grateful to have him.”

Son of internationally renowned trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez, Stefan Gonzalez has been immersed in the avant-garde world of jazz his entire life. By age 12, he was already drumming in the grindcore/punk band Akkolyte (with his brother Aaron) and jazz trio Yell at Eels, in which his father plays trumpet and his brother plays upright bass.

When you read reviews like the one Pitchfork contributor Jonathan K. Dick once wrote of False’s debut album, Untitled, which describes the “uncommon amount of excitement” surrounding the band's "very sparse catalog,” you begin to understand why the black metal outfit chose Gonzalez.

Black metal is fast, with piercing vocals, and often deals with themes of Satanism or the supernatural. It began in the '80s but gained steam as a genre a decade later in Norway. The Minnesota sextet False writes emotional — yet agonizing — hymns of war and vengeance that are as intricate as they are tinnitus inducing.

“I keep telling people that I essentially joined a gym because it is really hard work. But it’s very rewarding,” Gonzalez says. “This tour is called the Friendship Tour, and that is essentially what it is. It’s all these bands that are heavy as hell, but we’re having the best time.”

The bands will make their way to Dallas on Thursday for 1Fest at Three Links. Local groups Cognizant, Steel Bearing Hand and Wildspeaker  — all of which made our recent list of best metal acts in North Texas — are also on the lineup.

Former Kill the Client guitarist Jesse Fuentes founded 1Fest in 2012 a DIY festival focusing on

extreme music. It has since evolved into a national tour that has seen bands such as Eyehategod and Siege, as well as rapper Antwon, headline various cities.

The tour package’s headliner, New Orleans sludge titan Thou, made national headlines last week after stopping a woman from getting beaten behind a gas station. Gonzalez describes a similar event that happened early on in the tour in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Me and Niko, the bass player ... saw a guy kind of manhandling this woman, kissing on her, and they both seemed to be stumbling," he says. "Turns out, she was really fucked up, and she tried to get away from him and push him off of her.”

Gonzalez says he saw the guy run out to his car to pull it around the corner while another man waited with the woman, and that was when the two black metallers decided to intervene. “Basically, we went over and took her by the arm and said, ‘Hey, we need to get you away from this dude,’ and she said, ‘Yes, don’t let me go in the car with that man. He is trying to rape me.’ And so we intercepted her and brought her up to the porch. She had been drugged by one of these guys.

“It happened the first day that False left,” Gonzalez recalls. “It was really an unfortunate vibe to bring into the mystique of, ‘Hey, we’re going on tour. It’s going to be romantic the whole time.' It was pretty fucked up.”

1Fest, with Thou, False, Cloud Rat, Moloch, Cognizant and more, 7 p.m.-midnight Thursday, Three Links, 2704 Elm St., $15, prekindle.com.

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