Metal has always had a natural fit with fantastical landscapes that look like they were crafted by the hand of Frank Frazetta.
The Fort Worth metal group The Hack and Slashers, however, don't live in a world that looks perfectly suited for a custom painted van in the '80s or the cover of an early Ronnie James Dio album. They live just on the cusp of it, in one where warriors wield giant foam broadswords and the roll of a 12-sided die determines your fate.
"Basically, we wanted to start a non-serious band and I thought, 'What's the most ridiculous thing I could come up with? Hey, why not create a band that sings about Dungeons and Dragons?'" the band's guitarist, singer and lead screamer Jason "Slacker" Lacker says. "So it was a chance to marry two hobbies. It was more born out of absurdity, to figure out what's the most punk think you can do. What's more rock than rock and roll? Rock and roleplay."
The group, consisting of keyboardist Alex of Atchley, bassist Steven of Gifford and drummer Instant Lee will perform tonight at the Texas Theatre as part of the film house's screening of the long-awaited horror comedy Knights of Badassdom starring Game of Thrones' Peter Dinklage, Treme's Steve Zahn and Ryan Kwanten as three weekend warriors who accidentally unleash a succubus at an LARP (that's "live action role playing" for you noobs out there) tournament.
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The movie is a perfect pairing for The Hack and Slashers, who take a GWAR style of showmanship to their shows. They dress up as medieval metal heads, cast a giant die to determine the tempo or "outros" of certain songs and bring people up from the audience to fight each other with giant foam weapons. All the while, they belt out tunes like a punk infused ditty about tabletop gaming called Pay to Play, an epic metal ballad about a classic fantasy card game called Heroes of Asfar and the self explanatory There Are Elves Beneath The Cities of Our World.
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"We took it less out of the realm of singing serious songs about dragons and wizards and changing out to silly songs about dragons and wizards," Lacker said. "We're trying to promote the idea of tabletop gaming and the importance of wizards and dragons whereas your serious metal counterparts were trying to tell you serious stories about dragons and wizards." "Years ago, we had a song called Lightning Bolt using that clip from that YouTube video," Lacker said. "I think all of us have LARPed at one point but we realized it was too much exercise. So we do more tabletop gaming. You don't have to invest money in foam swords and drive hundreds of miles just to fight."
The group might be playing for laughs but they have scored some serious gigs in their time on the DFW music scene. They've played at places like the Double Wide Bar in Dallas and Lola's Saloon in Fort Worth alongside other nerdcore acts like MC chris and the Consortium of Genius of New Orleans. Lacker said they've even spent a good amount of time on stage with some serious music makers.
"One of my favorite local bands was The Doom U.K. and after they broke up, John Freeman started a band called the Dutch Treats and he was one of our biggest proponents and he helped us get show all the time," Lacker said. "So to be able to tell myself when I was 14 or 20 that you're going to be playing with this band that you really, really like and you'll be working with DJ Geeky C on your album, these are things that I just never thought would be possible."