By Noe Gutierrez
In a one word description, Brain Vat is aggressive. Brain Vat is a collaboration of four local desert musicians including Brad Garrow on guitar, Frankie Ramirez on drums, Sheridan Carnahan on vocals and David Gonzalez on bass. Garrow and Ramirez are seasoned veterans of the desert metal scene who were teenage band mates in the 80’s in the bands Solid Steel, which included Mikey Doling (Snot, Soulfly, Invitro, Channel Zero), and Rapid Fyre. Garrow later went on to form the bands Enrage, Ultralord and most recently Wizenfyrebutchenkreped aka ‘WFBK’ with Carnahan. Multi-instrumentalists Carnahan and Gonzalez are also band mates in the desert thrash band Dekreped. This mishmash of intellectual metal has accumulated at the bottom of the barrel.
“I wish I could take my brain out and put it in a jar,” is the conclusion made by Carnahan in determining the band name. Ramirez recalls the unique name given, “Well, as I remember, our singer Sheridan, was working on lyrics and just randomly sat back and said those words. The name evolved from there.”
Ramirez was born and raised in Indio, California. He began playing drums at the appropriate age of 15 and was heavily influenced by his late friend Jon Coty. Ramirez lauds his fellow musical comrades, “David Gonzalez is a great guitar player. We persuaded him to put down the guitar for a minute and pick up the bass and write some killer tunes with us, he’s awesome! Sheridan Carnahan is a great vocalist and also a kick ass drummer, which makes it much easier to write songs having versatile musicians in the band. Brad Garrow is a great guitar player, riff writer and the lifeline of many of the bands he has played with.”
Given the length of time Garrow and Ramirez have been at it, they have a wide-ranging interpretation of the metal scene here in the Coachella Valley. “There are more metal bands around then before. The thing that really sucks is that there aren’t many venues that want to book metal or hard rock bands these days. It’s like a knife in the back for the scene. We just think more venues should be a little more open minded about hard rock and metal. There’s more out there than just punk. No offense but we would like our share of exposure.”
Garrow and Ramirez are two decades ripened on Gonzalez and Sheridan. With this “seniority” comes the potential for some sort of generational gap. Not so with Brain Vat according to Ramirez, “Well you know, there is about a 20 year age difference between us and Sheridan & David. They both love punk. Brad and I are a little more old school. We put it all together and come up with some good stuff.” Influences that are evident in their music are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Snot, Pantera, Slayer and Randy Rhoads.
I make light of the veteran status of Garrow and Ramirez to prove a point. They are in the prime of their life and still maintain a passion to pursue original metal. They do not deny their mortality but embrace it. “We would like to just keep writing and recording songs and playing live whenever we are able to,” Ramirez states. “We’ve been spending the last few months focusing on the completion of the album. Brad is putting the finishing touches on it as we speak and now we would like to perform live a lot more.” The new album was recorded at Garrow’s own Dead End Studios.
Brain Vat’s next performance is at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday 7/23/13. They will be performing along with Ventura County’s Wooden Nomad. The show is free.
What’s next for Brain Vat? According to them, no one knows. “The unexpected! Wait and see.”
By Noe Gutierrez