The Atomic Bitchwax performs at Blind Bob’s
By W.C. Ruffnel
There are a few defining moments in a person’s life — the time they are born, the time they decide they can or can’t play guitar and the time they start their first stoner rock band. For the members of the Atomic Bitchwax, it’s a second birth of sorts. Having cut their teeth in doom and stoner bands before, (Godspeed, Core, Raging Slab and Monster Magnet, respectively) bassist and vocalist Chris Kosnik, guitarist and vocalist Finn Ryan and drummer Bob Pantella are no strangers to thick-as-hell fuzz grooves, psychedelic riffs or rock ‘n’ roll spread liberally over a large chunk of everything you loved about the ‘70s, which is hopefully a lot.
The band’s origins are in the early 1990s where the original trio (featuring Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet and drummer Keith Ackerman) all forged ahead full speed in different and aforementioned projects. They eventually all decided to create the Atomic Bitchwax and become stoner-deities in their own right. Fast-forward to 1999 — Y2K was another lie away and Limp Bizkit’s rap-metal shitstorm Significant Other was topping the charts — there couldn’t be a more perfect breeding ground for the fuzz. The Atomic Bitchwax 1 was released and garnered fairly positive reviews and earned them quite the reputation for laying down the riffs. Merely a year later, the trio released The Atomic Bitchwax II, and hit hard and heavy with a more instrumental, jam-based approach. That didn’t stop them from releasing 2002’s EP Spit Blood – it did, however, spell the end for Mundell’s tenure with the band, which may seem somewhat fortuitous now as the best was yet to come.
Tapping ex Core guitarist and vocalist Finn Ryan to round out the trio, the Bitchwax crew headed straight for riff-rock stoner bliss — the jamming was toned down a bit and the crew got to creating the straight riffing and rocking, setting the trend they are best known for today. The Atomic Bitchwax III (2005) was seen as a rebirth for the group into a raw rock power trio of devastating sorts.
In 2006 the band brought its first live album, Boxriff. Engineered by Jack Endino (Nirvana, Zeke, Melvins, and uh, everything else from Seattle worth a damn in the ‘90s), and recorded during the III tour, Boxriff and the accompanying live DVD “Live at the Sunset Tavern” proved the band to be more than studio magicians – they were also wizards with guitars for scepters capable of casting spells across stoner audiences and garishly bestowing the riff upon them. After a lull (conceivably due to Keith Ackerman’s departure) of about four years, Pantella joined forces with the group and unleashed The Atomic Bitchwax IV, an album of crushing sonic proportions responsible for many a blow-blasting riff and many a head bang.
Blind Bob’s will play host to a show featuring the Tee Pee Records’ The Atomic Bitchwax, who also released a series of EPs and one album on all-that-is-heavy and stoner-or-has-riffs label, MeteorCity, Saturday, October 1. On the bill for this momentous rock explosion is the Cincinnati-based regional riff rock juggernauts Valley of the Sun, who recently wowed the crowds in Dayton during their tour with Swedish rock group Truckfighters (remember that? If not, for shame!), local rock champions and harbingers of the head nod Once-ler, and rounding out the bill we have the deranged pop-dance-metal of our favorite Dayton two-piece Electric Banana. If this sounds like a good show to you, it will be.
The Atomic Bitchwax will be celebrating the release of their newest (released in April on Tee-Pee records) album, The Local Fuzz. The album, described as “rush-like riff mazes,” contains one 42-minute song — 50 riffs played back to back. With that many riffs, it’s impossible to imagine this could be anything but a treat for anyone who appreciates early ‘70s Black Sabbath, Dio, Cathedral (all bands who Kosnik have toured with) or any of the member’s aforementioned or current projects. Fans of Pantella’s “side-band” Monster Magnet (you will best remember them from their 1998 hit song “Space Lord” off of the Power Trip album) need not worry — that band plans to resume touring in November for their new album, Mastermind. If this all seems like casual or nonchalant name-dropping, you best light up a bowl and remember why rock music started — it’s all for the riff, and it’s to be loud. October 1 should prove to be a night to remember, if you’re aware.
The Atomic Bitchwax will perform Saturday, October 1 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. in Dayton. For more information, visit www.blindbobs.com or www.theatomicbitchwax.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer W.C. Ruffnel at WCRuffnel@DaytonCityPaper.com.