11/01/17 By: Addie Hayes, Editor/Lead Writer Regional Music Journal
2017 has been an epic year for Tulsa band Less Than Human. In a short period of time, the young musicians have amassed an enviable list of accomplishments. They have gone from performing at house parties to opening the side stage at Rocklahoma, opening KATTFest 2017 and providing direct support for Limp Bizkit at Festival of the Lakes in Indiana. Less Than Human won two very crucial battle of the bands this year, which will offer them future opportunities. Twin brothers Chase Adsit on vocals and Colton Adsit on bass, along with guitarist Brittany Graves and Drummer Josh Marraccini sat down with Regional Music Journal for an interview after completing a set at The Vanguard in Tulsa.
Off stage, Less Than Human are a very respectful, polite, intelligent and articulate group who has remained level headed despite the events of the past year. On stage, they deliver an assault to your senses with aggressive, extreme metal, stunning visuals and an overall charisma you can’t ignore. The contrast is amazing to see but it is one of the reasons they have won new fans every time they perform. There is a genuineness to the band that you don’t often see in the music industry. They hold strong to their roots as a small band who played at friends’ house parties, and express gratitude for the successes they have reached so far.
Frontman Chase Adsit gave us a brief history of the band, “I think it’s safe to say we’ve been going for about two years, almost three years now, in the Tulsa scene. That’s kind of where we started. We started as a house party band, just doing a bunch of fun gigs around houses. I don’t know, we were friends, growing up, just like family; and this is something we love to do and without each other I don’t think any of it would be possible. The four of us, it’s a core group, there’s a certain magic about it.” The closeness between the band members translates into their stage presence. Performing at small house parties not only helped them develop as musicians and build a stronger bond, it also taught them how to relate to a crowd and pull people into their world.
In the beginning, the band was a five piece with an additional guitarist playing lead guitar. When the fifth member left the band, Brittany Graves stepped up to the challenge, “well, I was just the rhythm guitarist, when the other member left it was a lot to live up to.” Graves continued, “because he was really good, and I just had to pull my shit together and step up. But I’m really glad that he left, because it made me step up and I got confidence and I can write badass songs now. We work so much better together. We have more fun and it’s just a better atmosphere now. We can improv and play together, and it’s actually really helped us. In the year that we’ve been a four piece we have been more successful than we ever have been.”
Another aspect that emerged following the departure of the previous guitarist was the use of theatrics in the stage show. The stage set, makeup and costumes play a big role in the way the audience reacts during the live show. While the band was interested in using theatrics in their live set, it was an unfortunate accident that ultimately forced the decision. Chase Adsit explained, “at a show I ruptured my Achilles tendon during the second song of the set, played it out, was in a wheelchair for about half a year. I’m lucky to have a very, very supportive group. They wanted to keep doing shows, that’s the first time we opened for Mushroomhead, and we decided to build a podium. That idea came from a guy named Bradley Lestarge from Basses Loaded. We talked, ‘what kind of theatric can we tie into it’, so next thing we know, I’m gonna go with a political theme, Less Than Human. Building upon that, Josh, Brittany and Colton, they weren’t just gonna let me be up there looking like a jackass by myself. So they decided to dress up and they had their own personal themes, that change in between shows.”
Colton Adsit continued, “for us theatrics just made sense, because essentially in the roots, in the beginning, we’d dress up. But the additional guitarist we had, that wasn’t really his thing, and you start looking kind of silly when you have four out of the five dressed up. We kind of just dropped it, but after Chase ruptured his Achilles tendon, it was really a make or break moment for the band. We had a big national act coming up and he was in a wheelchair and we just lost a guitarist, and we took it upon ourselves. We were like hey this is the direction we want to go, and we’ve never regretted it.”
Josh Marraccini added, “I wouldn’t go back, I wouldn’t go back to regular, it makes us feel like it’s a different person on stage, with the makeup.” Audiences respond to the theatrics in a positive way, as witnessed by the successes the band has collected this year. In the future, the band will likely evolve the look of each member, Chase Adsit said, “Colton, Josh and Brittany, they have different outfits…they’ll throw on for the show. Mine has been the reoccurring theme of a politician. After an album or so I will switch things, I will go ahead and evolve into the next thing; and it’s just whatever is going on in current times that I feel like needs to be talked about.”
Another important factor in Less Than Human’s accomplishments revolves around their relationships with other bands in the extreme metal scene. One example is the band God In A Machine, Colton Adsit said, “they kind of paved the way for what we do. Because with them doing the makeup and stuff, when they busted out on the scene doing it, they were ridiculed and absolutely hated for it. When we started doing it, which was like last year, I mean, we’re not that old of a band, we had a better reception thanks to bands like Oldman, and PitterSplatter and God In A Machine. If it wasn’t for them, Oklahoma would hate us that much more.” Chase Adsit added, “we love you guys. Anyone that does theatrics or isn’t afraid to be weird, do whatever they feel like, put on a show, that helped us big time.”
Less Than Human has also built a relationship with Oklahoma City based band Voodoo Dolls, who are also a young up and coming act. The two bands have performed on the same bill multiple times. Marraccini said, “they’re really cool. We got to hang out with them and talk to them and stuff, after the show for the battle of the bands, then for Mushroomhead. They’re really cool guys, really down to earth.” Colton Adsit spoke in a little more detail about performing with other bands who use theatrics, “we love playing with theatric bands because it helps us not feel out of place. Because there for a while, we were trying to get shows and someone would stick us on a bill, something around here in Tulsa, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. People would either love it or hate it, but at the end of the day we fit better with a lineup of outcasts and misfits, we have more fun that way. The audience gets it, and those are the people we’re trying to reach.”
In early 2017, Tulsa rock radio station KMOD hosted a battle of the bands called Rocklahoma Madness. The winner would open the River Spirit Casino and Resort stage. Less Than Human won the contest and Chase Adsit remains humble about the experience, “we couldn’t have done it without everybody’s help, so thank you so much.” Rocklahoma was overall the largest festival where the band has performed, but wasn’t necessarily the largest crowd. Colton Adsit described the experience, “Rocklahoma, we helped open that one up, it was really awesome. There were tons of people there, but we started playing as soon as gates opened so we had a crowd of about 300 or 400.”
After Rocklahoma, the urge to take on another festival led Colton Adsit to begin a search for another event. He explained how the band got booked for Festival of the Lakes in Hammond, Indiana. “Well, how that all went down was, after Rocklahoma, we went back to our day jobs. Memorial Day Weekend is done, you know you had that long dreaded go back to work thing. So I’m sitting there at work and it’s like I’m withdrawing, like I need another festival. We had just got in some pictures that had been taken at Rocklahoma, and we had some footage of some shows. We had our demos but our demos have never been our selling point, point blank ever. We’ve always used ‘hey this is what we do live’ and that’s usually what captures people. The pictures that were taken at Rocklahoma looked really phenomenal. I put them in the EPK and I shot them out to a bunch of smaller festivals that were out of state. I wasn’t trying to go for Rock on the Range or nothing huge, just smaller ones, and Festival of the Lakes was one of the ones that got back with me that were already talking about accommodations. I was like ‘yeah that sounds like a cool deal’, the lineup wasn’t even announced yet. We had no idea who we would be playing with, it just sounded cool. It’s an outside amphitheater with the Great Lakes behind us and I was like yeah that would be a cool deal. Then a couple of weeks later they got back to us and said ‘oh hey, you guys are going to be direct support for Limp Bizkit’, and I was like right on that’s amazing, let’s do it, so that’s how we landed that.”
Festival of the Lakes put Less Than Human in front of the largest audience they have seen to date. Chase Adsit said, “that was wild, and there was about a 10,000 head count there.” As for the overall experience of the festival, Colton Adsit explained, “we have nothing but positive to say about the festival and its crew. Also Limp Bizkit and their road crew, everybody was super respectful, super nice; they didn’t care we were a local band out of Tulsa Oklahoma. They treated us like a national touring act, that level of respect is very admirable.” The band fell in love with Hammond, Indiana, as Chase Adsit expressed, “Hammond Indiana, if you’re listening, we love you guys, it was crazy, there were giant circle pits running.” While Marraccini added, “we got a really good reaction, we love Hammond, it’s like our second home”.
The band performed at KATTFest 2017 at the Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheater after winning a second battle of the bands, Battle for KATTFest. The annual concert hosted by Oklahoma City rock station The KATT put the band in front of a descent size crowd, Chase Adsit said, “KATTFest it was about 1500 to 2000. [It was] super, super epic, most of the royalty treatment came from the actual KATT radio station. We got to hang out with those guys and we love our buddy Turbo. He looks out for us quite a bit, we just hung out with him mainly.”
Besides the festivals in 2017, Less Than Human has also been performing regularly in Oklahoma City and getting a positive reaction from audiences. Colton Adsit talked about breaking into the Oklahoma City market and crowd responses to their show, “January, we played one show out there, then we opened for Waylon (Reavis) of ex-Mushroomhead, both of those were good responses. But it wasn’t really us playing to a larger crowd until the Battle for KATTFest. We’re still on the climb here in Tulsa to make a name for ourselves, especially in Oklahoma City, that’s just a new territory. I think [Battle for KATTFest] really helped expand us to a new audience. We had a lot of fans come from Tulsa to support us. We had the opening slot on the first round, which should have been a death sentence. But for some reason we were able to make it to the final round and at the final round we played for a good amount of people.”
As with any other band, Less Than Human feeds off the energy of the crowd during their performance. Chase Adsit explained how the band uses that energy to amp up their performance, “usually when we take off at the beginning of our set, there’s a lot of high energy. After the first song or two, that’s when we start to gauge into what the crowd is doing. There is no word to describe whenever we see the energy being given back to us. We try to match that, like ok, these guys are going crazy, we gotta get crazier. It pushes us to try even harder, there’s really no words for it. That’s when the dream starts becoming reality, it’s like you can see it unfolding, you can see on their faces they’re having fun, on our faces we’re having fun.”
Colton Adsit spoke about their early performances and how they learned to interact with the crowd, “I’d say the nature of that really spawned from the house party days. One of the things we used to do, we’d have our friends go over to places and clear out the living room and we’d put mattresses up on the wall. Not only does it sound proof, but when you’re moshing you bounce off the walls. People would go absolutely insane, and the crazier they got the crazier we got. It was like, come on let’s make this a party. I think the fans learned to pick up on that and they’re starting to expect it, and so they’re figuring it out. It’s less of oh we’re filming on our cell phone, and more, ok let’s get in the pit and let’s do this. It keeps the high energy and the momentum going.”
Less Than Human are learning a few things along the way as they perform with nationally recognized bands and see how they act. Graves spoke about instances with several bands and said, “one thing that we have learned is to be humble, and really your relationship with the bands is what is going to help. Be nice to everyone, like be nice to all the bands.” She continued to talk about specific instances, “I remember Psycho Stick, they were really cool. They took pictures with us, everything, and Waylon (Reavis).” Chase Adsit added, “there’s been some experiences where we’ve observed how some bands might have acted. We’re like ‘hey, let’s not take that road’. But on the flip side of that coin, there’s been bands that we’ve opened for and it was absolutely amazing. Just seeing how they conduct themselves and how they interact with their fans and it’s like wow, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what we aspire to be.”
As an independent band, the members of Less Than Human handle all business matters themselves. When asked about the challenges they face, Chase Adsit began, “it’s a lot to juggle, you have a lot of people that at first it’s easy and it’s fun. But after a while it does feel like job on stage and off stage. There’s a lot of people you have to manage and you want to do everything you can, but sometimes, it’s really hard for us to be everywhere at once.” Graves added, “and the social media part, because we’re on our Less Than Human facebook and our own Facebook promoting ourselves; we do that all day so it’s like even when you get off work you have to come home and you have to promote. Even while you’re at work you’re promoting, so it’s like 24/7 working without getting paid.”
Colton Adsit went into more detail about the challenges of managing a band, “I would definitely say you do not realize how much work and time goes into doing a local band. It really depends on what level you want to do. Because when we would do house shows and stuff, yeah, we’d get at the house, we’d rehearse, then it was like alright load up, go to our friends house then we’re gonna play for a couple of hours, and we’re gonna party, and that’s fine. But then when it starts evolving you keep taking steps, until eventually you do sit there and you’re going wow this is a lot to take in; and you have to kind of divide it amongst the band going ‘hey can you tackle this responsibility as I do this’, and it’s definitely a lot to take in. I wish there was a guide or someone to hold my hand through this. I know I speak on everyone’s behalf when I say that, because everybody’s got their own way of going about it and with us it’s just kind of, we were thrown into the mix and like oh let’s ride this wave. And it’s one crazy ass wave but we been hanging on for dear life, it hasn’t been graceful but we’re trying.”
The band already has a solid setlist of songs but they have held off producing an EP or LP. Colton Adsit explained the decision to wait to produce an album, “well, initially, when this started out, as Chase stated earlier, we were just a house party band. This was for fun, and it grew and grew, more people started showing up. Eventually we had to leave house shows to go to venues…nobody really seemed to want to book us, so it was a bunch of do it yourself kind of shows. Until other promoters were taking notice, and they were like ‘oh hey who are these guys?’. Then before we knew it, it just grew into this thing to where it came to demos or recordings. I was like, let’s put out some demos and if they really want to hear it, they’ll come to see us live. I don’t want a really high polished recording, I don’t feel like we’re at that level. But now it’s starting to get there, with the shows like KATTFest, and we’re getting played regularly on the local talent show, and it’s like ok it’s about time we start looking at putting out polished songs. Not necessarily an EP but like start with singles and then kind of see from there.”
Chase Adsit continued, “we get asked all the time, ‘where’s your album at dude, where’s your music, where’s your music’. It’s coming, it will happen, we love you guys, just please be patient with us. A lot of what has happened, in particular this last year, we didn’t expect any of it. This was again, we’re just that band that loves to have fun, just party and hang out and we love doing what we do. Then next thing we know, all these doors started to open, and we continue to push ourselves as a group. We’re like hey ‘can we do this, can we do that’, we take chances, I gotta give credit, like KATTFest, that all goes to Josh. Originally we were like, ‘that’s out in Oklahoma City, we don’t think we have the pull for it’, he was like ‘man you gotta have faith’, and ‘I feel it in my gut you guys should too’, and I think a lot of that, working as a group helps drive us.”
Marraccini said, “we’ve done a bunch of battle of the bands stuff, and it’s very stressful. It’s usually, we like it but it’s super stressful, it’s not always our cup of tea. But this opportunity was just , Korn is one of our biggest influences, we love them so much. I just felt like, in my gut, we need to take this, we can’t pass this up. I was like, we’re going to kick ourselves so hard for not taking this. Then I was right and then we played with Korn and yeah, you guys are welcome.”
When it comes to songwriting Chase Adsit began, “it’s kind of simple these days, now that we are a four piece. We really reinvented ourselves and now…everyone equally pumps in the amount of work and thought and heart into the music.” Graves spoke further, “usually we start off with a cool guitar riff or bass riff, or lyrics. We just improv from there and it turns into this big epic thing. We have a couple we’ve been working on we’re really excited to get them out there.” Chase Adsit concluded, “we like to challenge ourselves, we will ask ourselves, how is this going to translate to a live audience, will they get it. And is there some stuff that we will save for an album that they will have to listen to more than once to digest. Then there’s other songs that we know, it’s gonna captivate the crowd and we’re going to see the same energy that we always love to have. Our writing process is really simple.”
After a long year, Less Than Human is ready for a break so they can get some rest and write some new material. They also remind themselves of those who have helped them get where they are today, Chase Adsit said, “one of the things I’d like to throw out there is just a big thank you to DCF, TLP, and also KATT radio, because they gave the opportunity for local bands, not just OKC local, but Oklahoma…to participate in [Battle for KATTFest]. There was absolutely no animosity among any of the bands it was one of the most supportive local things we’ve ever been a part of, nobody was tearing anybody down, everybody was building each other up. All the other bands would watch the other bands sets, all the other fans were sticking around, and they might have showed up for this person, but they’re going to watch all of the bands, and it was a beautiful thing to see. The Diamond Ballroom packed full of people seeing nothing but locals, and the competition, and the way it was ran. I don’t know how it could have been any more transparent then what it was…so mad props and shout out to TLP and the KATT on that.” And the band always thanks the fans for helping them reach this point.
Less Than Human will be working on writing new material and hope to produce some of their older material that has evolved since the demos were recorded. They are definitely a band with the talent, drive and potential to break into the national metal scene. As their fanbase grows and they continue to perform on bills with national tour acts and perform at festivals, it will only be a matter of time before they get a big break.
The band’s final show for 2017 is opening for Dope and Hed Pe at the Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City on Thursday, November 2. They will be performing alongside fellow local artists Voodoo Dolls and Curse the Fall.
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