Abertooth Lincoln wins big at Rockstar Pro Arena

By Justin Kreitzer

Photo: Ashley Pooler of Abertooth Lincoln addresses politically charged topics, here burning a copy of DCP’s ‘Worst of 2016’ edition cover featuring Brock Turner


Dayton’s premiere progressive punk rock band Abertooth Lincoln has entrenched itself in the local music scene over the years on the strength of its wildly chaotic and energetic live show. So it’s no surprise it was chosen—along with fellow Dayton punk rock band The 1984 Draft—to represent the Gem City when Chicago-based ’90s alt-rock survivors Local H perform at Rockstar Pro Arena on May 9.

Abertooth Lincoln consists of vocalist Ashley Pooler, guitarist James Lampe, bassist Andrew Humphrey, drummer Mike Werthmann, and synthesizer/violinist Andrew Halsey. Earlier this year, they self-released a new EP, Selling The Urban Ideal. The dynamic EP perfectly captures their frenetic live energy and highly experimental blend of jazz, prog, metal, and punk rock. More importantly, Pooler uses her lyrics to address politically charged themes, like gender and sexuality, with a furious intensity that matches the music.

The range of influence in your music is boundless. Who or what are some of your less obvious influences?

Andrew Humphrey: I think the less obvious influences on our music have more to do with our lyrical content than the actual sound of the band. These influencers include filmmakers, authors, poets, etc. Think Hunter S. Thompson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Moore, etc. I think people might be surprised to learn how much deliberately bad music we willingly—gleefully—subject ourselves to quite often. There’s no way all the Zakk Wylde, Paul Anka, and Disturbed haven’t destroyed some parts of our musical brains for good…As for less obvious sonic influences: Alanis Morissette, 100 percent.

Andrew Halsey:  Some of my more obvious ones are stuff like ’70s-era The Units and Chrome, but for the more sound design oriented material, I tend to use some Xenakis or Merzbow as references [and] a touch of that no-wave dissonance you’d hear in Mars or DNA or Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, but on synth.

Mike Werthmann: I think the thing that might surprise people most is how different each member’s personal listening tastes are from the other’s, but still having enough overlap to have a cohesive musical vision. As far as specific influences people might not guess, on my end there’s a lot of Motown and reggae.

Your recent EP, The Urban Ideal, was released following the heated presidential campaign and also confronts locally tied issues. The song ‘Twenty Minutes of Action’ is about the Brock Turner case. What inspired the writing of that song?

Andrew Humphrey: Oddly enough, “Twenty Minutes of Action” was actually going to be about Trump when we first started composing the instrumentation for it. At the time, we were all feeling a little underwhelmed on that idea, as it felt like we didn’t have anything too unique to say about him. Some stomach-churning revelations eventually came out about the Brock Turner case during the lyric-writing process, particularly as it pertained to Dayton’s music community. This gave our vocalist the idea to change the subject matter of the song, and we all immediately felt like that was a needed and proper change. It’s hands-down the most serious song we’ve ever written, which was challenging for a bunch of weirdos like us. Our common satirical approach to lyrical writing was pretty much immediately thrown out as a possible approach. We knew the tone had to be crafted with the utmost respect to “Jane Doe” and survivors like her all over the world. We also didn’t want to pretend like we could ever write something more impactful than the letter she wrote to her attacker. This was probably the most time we’ve ever spent writing lyrics for a song.


One of the EP’s standout tracks, ‘Artisanal Popcorn,’ with its twisty guitar lines and catchy, shout-along refrains sounds like it would be an absolute blast to play live.  What is your favorite song to play live and why?

MW: Mine is probably “Artisanal Popcorn” because parts of it have been in the works for years, and that’s uniquely satisfying. And it’s got gang vocals. I also really like “Queer & Loathing In Rowan County” for the chant-along gang vocals and the chill-out part in the middle…I like people yelling.


Where are you in the creative process for your next release? 

James Lampe: A lot of musical ideas are in the works. I think it’s safe to say the political/social climate is disorienting right now, and we’re definitely not feeling short on lyrical topics. However, you don’t want to fall into a routine of repeating the same angry chant you’re hearing from everyone else. The idea is to say something new, to find a different angle with which to drive a conversation.


What do you think people can expect from an Abertooth Lincoln live show?

MW: To have a story to tell their friends and a secret to keep from their coworkers on Monday.


Abertooth Lincoln plays Tuesday, May 9 at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. in Dayton. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show. The 1984 Draft and Local H are also on the bill. For more information, please AbertoothLincoln.Bandcamp.com or visit RockstarProArena.net. 


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Reach DCP freelance writer Justin Kreitzer at JustinKreitzer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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