Photography by Aaron Salo
I hate being late. Especially when I have asked someone to carve out a couple of hours during their day to sit down and talk to me. Sitting in standstill traffic on 90 West was not my ideal way to start off this interview with Axioma. But, it did give me a chance to listen to their 2015 EP Opia twice through.
Opia is amazingly dark and beautifully intelligent. The 25 minute album flows from track to track seamlessly while also playing as a single cohesive piece with a long, winding dip in tempo and aggression about ten minutes in. Later, exploding into a hyperactive and truly frustrated closing movement which is both vocal heavy and rhythmically mechanical.
Listening to this album while imagining these guys sitting there wondering where the fuck I am made me slightly nervous.
If there is one constant in life it is that people in metal bands are the nicest people on Earth. Despite my being almost an hour late, Justin and Cougar were all smiles and super excited to talk to some kid they’ve never met before.
We sat down at a pizza-parlor style table that provided the option of playing Donkey Kong or Centipede, but in reality all it did was distract me the whole time. Despite Cougar’s heavy French accent I led with my go-to question, “Are you guys originally from Cleveland?” Immediately regretting how unprofessional I looked, we all laughed and decided the accent was just an Eastside one with which I was not familiar.
The majority of Opia was written by Cougar who has had to deal with some last minute member changes recently. “The reason I decided to stay in Cleveland instead of returning to France was because there are so many talented musicians here that are eager to play,” Cougar tells me. That decision was made in 2001 when Cougar’s band Morgue decided it was time to return to their native France.
Since then Cougar and the other three members of Axioma have been in a slew of bands in the city including Forged in Flame and Keelhaul. Such is Cleveland, everyone’s in two or three bands at a time and that’s how we like it.
Justin is a graphic designer and illustrator by day which explains the striking imagery associated with the band. His art alone helps Axioma’s fully self-promoted style of marketing. Justin explains, “It’s not like how it used to be. You don’t need a label to be known anymore. We are selling shirts and albums in South Korea.”
Cougar’s plan for the band is to “record the full length that is already written.” After that the band will hopefully take the show on the road across the U.S. and hopefully abroad in 2018.
The full length will be a little different due to the addition of bassist/singer Aaron. “The band meshed perfectly after Aaron joined,” says Cougar. Oddly at that moment Aaron walked in the door just to grab a beer before his other band played a show at the Beachland later that night.
“Some of the songs are longer and slower, which is nice that we don’t have to abide by any silly pop standards,” Justin tells me.
If you agree with the concept of forgetting pop sensibility and losing yourself in a world of spacious and evil instrumental breaks coupled with gut wrenchingly honest vocals that are always welcome and never boring or forced, turn off all the lights sit cross legged on the floor and blast Axioma’s Opia. It also works well while sitting on 90 West at 5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.