Pacific Northwest black metal crew leads an expectedly sunless existence
The members of Portland, Oregon, black metal quartet Uada are particular about presentation, refraining from phone interviews (“It is against our policy,” singer and guitarist Jake Superchi wrote in an email) and appearing with their faces obscured by hoods in press images, both preserving a degree of anonymity and giving the group an aura of menace.
Considering the care taken in constructing this public face, it shouldn't surprise that Superchi entered into Uada with a clear musical vision, intending to take the current sound and atmosphere of black metal, as he explained it, and corrupt it with the various genres he absorbed coming up, including classical, folk, goth and that 1990s Pacific Northwest export: grunge.
“Nirvana and Alice in Chains were the two [bands] that really changed my perspective on music at the time. It was extremely human and, much like black metal, riddled with mental illness,” Superchi wrote (the musician's answers were edited for grammar and style). “At such a young age, it was impossible to fully understand the depth of a heroin addict's darkness, but the pain, the depression, the anger and the bleak contemplation of existence was something I could feel transcending through the music.”
Uada's second album, Cult of a Dying Sun, from 2018, wallows in this darkness, building on slicing double-guitars, pulverizing drums and Superchi's anguished, sneering growl.
Superchi further credited Nirvana with serving as a gateway to these more extreme sounds — “‘Smells like Teen Spirit' … was raw, and demented and painful,” he wrote, allowing that it turned him away from the more frivolous sounds of '80s glam — though he also traced part of this twisted dive to fundamental human nature.
“I suppose the term ‘extreme' would be a subjective thing, but … I think the attraction is just a part of human nature, honestly. It's in our blood,” wrote Superchi, who will join his bandmates in concert at Ace of Cups on Thursday, April 11. “We as an entire race have survived through many extremes and hardships to get to where we are today. So I see these as remnants of survival instinct, or self-hardening tactics.”
Superchi said Uada has attempted to avoid political extremes, though, writing that the band's motives and agenda don't fall on either end of the political spectrum — a response to questions about 2018 “booking complications” brought about by allegations of Nazi affiliations, which the band has categorically denied.
The allegations can be traced to a statement Uada issued after the 2016 cancelation of Montreal festival Messe Des Morts, which had booked Graveland, a band with National Socialist Black Metal ties, and was shut down due to Antifa protests, some of which were violent. Uada's statement, which Superchi said he stood behind, criticized Antifa's actions, adding that Uada was a “band with zero political, religious or cultural bias.”
“The statement has somehow managed to trigger both sides of the spectrum,” Superchi wrote, “and I think that really shows people only hear or see what they want to.”