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I Died Trying and Close the Hatch split record release at McGuffy’s

By Gary Spencer
Photo: I Died Trying [above] and Close the Hatch celebrate their split release at McGuffy’s on April 6

Being a local, independent, grassroots underground musical act can be a pricy endeavor. While most homegrown artists clawing their way to national recognition aren’t being patted on the head by a sugar mama with a fat wallet in order for them to issue their music, many local musicians are still more than willing to invest their own hard earned dollars into releasing their art into some tangible form that can be enjoyed by friends and the public at large. Like-minded Dayton-based musician Stephen Barton has joined the ranks of many a Gem City musician before him by founding his own label, Red Moth Records.

“(I) started (it) in 2011,” Barton explained via email. “I was in a radio rock type band, working very hard with little turnaround, and like most radio rock bands (I was) looking for a label and financial support. Once it ended I decided it was time to do things myself – no more third parties, or at least when I can avoid it.”

While originally intended solely as an outlet for Barton’s current post-metal ensemble Close the Hatch, Barton soon expanded the catalogue of Red Moth to include other bands from Dayton and around the Midwest.

“It worked so well with booking and endorsements and touring that I decided to branch it out and sign more acts that I love and respect,” Barton said. “The label really came to life as a legit business in 2012 with three digital releases and a physical release (as well).”

This coming weekend McGuffy’s House of Rock will be playing host to a release party for the newest release from Red Moth Records featuring Close the Hatch and another heavy Dayton juggernaut, I Died Trying. A split release featuring the two heavy hitters came about naturally.

“Stephen approached (I Died Trying) about recording us and releasing it on his label,” said Tony Goff, guitarist and founding member of I Died Trying. “He was a big fan and supporter of what we were doing. He genuinely gets what we do, so it was a no-brainer.”

On a similar note, both Barton and Goff agree that the Close the Hatch and I Died Trying pairing was a perfect fit not just aesthetically, but thematically, too.

“(I Died Trying’s) topics and themes are as personal as possible,” said Goff. “(The lyrics) are just straight from the heart and people have latched onto that. I’ve always written about things I may not necessarily want to talk about or deal with, (but) it makes it real every time.”

“I have moved into much more honest and personal lyrical content, using the band as a purge of negatives – pain, loss and other self-related issues,” Barton adds. “I have a rather traumatic past like many folks and a lot of internal evaluations to handle.”

Close the Hatch tracked their portion of the split at a farm in New York in the summer of 2012. Close the Hatch’s portion of the split vinyl release is a two-song punch of dynamic and melodic post-metal that, at times, can remind an informed listener of bands like Isis, Pelican and Deftones. But for all the stinging harshness, these are well-crafted tunes with an underlying richness and beauty that seeps into your psyche.

Barton subsequently recorded I Died Trying’s one song contribution at his Dayton studio in the final months of the past year. I Died Trying’s track, “Somewhere Beneath the Sunshine,” is a noisy, sprawling epic chock full of zig-zagging guitar licks, heavy riffing, eerie dialogue samples and sludgetastic rhythms punctuated by both clean and shouted vocals. Clocking in at roughly 13 minutes, the song almost comes off like a metallic symphony. If you can imagine Today is the Day covering Pink Floyd, you might have an idea of what I Died Trying is capable of.

And this split vinyl release is merely a jumping-off point for both I Died Trying and Close the Hatch as both bands have even bigger plans going into the future. Close the Hatch has yet another split release with another Dayton band, Frank Grimes, coming out later this year followed by a short tour of the East Coast, as well as recording a brand new EP. I Died Trying is likewise putting together its own brand new record for release on Red Moth Records as well.

“(I Died Trying members) are writing our next release as we speak,” Goff said. “It is going to be a double disc release on Red Moth Records. We are taking (the music) even further in all the directions we are already known for and kicking down quite a few new doors as well.”

In the end, both Barton and Goff hope that other Dayton bands and music fans will support each other’s endeavors on wax and in concert.

“Red Moth Records is all about community,” stated Barton. “All musicians should have a little piece of that type of thing in their lives.  It’s not just about you and your band, it’s about all of us.”

Red Moth Records will be presenting the I Died Trying/Close the Hatch record release party on Saturday, April 6 at McGuffy’s House of Rock, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. Mephitic Husk and Cobrawolf are also on the bill.  Admission is free for patrons 18 and up.  Doors open at 7, music begins at 8 p.m.  For more information please visit mcguffys.net.

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at GarySpencer@daytoncitypaper.com


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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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