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The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets is a rock band from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Their music largely consists of often tongue-in-cheek homages to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, specifically the Cthulhu Mythos.

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
DarkestOfTheHillsideThickets-at-PAX-2008.jpg
The band at the 2008 Penny Arcade Expo
Background information
Also known asThe Thickets
OriginChilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
GenresPunk rock, horror punk, power pop
Years active1992–present
LabelsDivine Industries
Websitehttp://thickets.net
MembersToren Atkinson
Merrick Atkinson
Warren C. Banks
Mario Nieva
Jordan Pratt
Past membersChris Woods, Devon Presseau, Chris West, Bob Fugger, Troy Zak

Contents

HistoryEdit

Band formation (1992)Edit

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets formed in January 1992[1][2] after meeting at Fraser Valley College in Abbotsford, British Columbia.[3] Lead singer Toren Atkinson and lead guitarist Warren Banks formed the band so they could open for local group Mystery Machine.[2] Even though they "had no musical training or experience"[2] they were able to create a three song set list and play the opening act for their first show.

The band's name is drawn from a phrase in Lovecraft's story The Tomb: "I will tell only of the lone tomb in the darkest of the hillside thickets".[2][1] Atkinson and Banks decided to create a band around the Cthulhu mythos because it was a topic they were interested in, and it was a unique "niche that [needed] to be filled". [4]

In their early years the band produced three demo tapes: Gurgle Gurgle Gurgle', Hurts Like Hell!, and Cthulhuriffomania.[5] Most of the songs were later re-released on other albums.[5]

Cthulhu Strikes Back (1995)Edit

The band's first CD release was Cthulhu Strikes Back.[5] Cthulhu Strikes Back was re-released as a Special Edition in 2003, containing two new songs. [5][6][7]

Great Old Ones (1996)Edit

In 1996 the band released Great Old Ones.[8]

Spaceship Zero (2000)Edit

In 2000 the Thickets released Spaceship Zero: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.[9][10] The singer Toren said the album was "heavily inspired by the science fiction movies and reruns we’d all grown up with like Lost in Space and Angry Red Planet".[11]

Let Sleeping Gods Lie (2002)Edit

In 2002 the Thickets collaborated with Wizards of the Coast to release Let Sleeping Gods Lie - an all-Cthulhu Mythos themed CD. The album was used to promote Wizards' new d20 edition of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.[12] The album contained twelve previously-released Thickets tracks, and had a special tie-in with the Call of Cthulhu game rules. If the CD is played during a roleplaying session, the game contains rules for die roll modifiers that take effect depending on what song is currently playing.[13]

The Shadow Out of Tim (2007)Edit

The Shadow Out of Tim is the Thickets' second theme album, after Spaceship Zero. The title is a play on words from the H.P Lovecraft short story The Shadow Out of Time. The album is an adaptation and a rock opera based on Lovecraft's story.[4] The album recounts the tale of a marine biologist who found his body had "been possessed by an alien intelligence" and works to find out what happened. [4] The album was released at the Summer Solstice (June 21) 2007.[14]

Among the songs recorded during The Shadow Out of Tim sessions were "Shhh...." and "(We're Gonna) Kill the Chupacabra (Tonight)." They were not included on the album as they "didn’t fit in with the [album] narrative".[15] Both we're later released on The Dukes of Alhazred.[16]

In 2009 the Shadow Out Of Tim song "Blackout" was nominated for the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards for Hard Rock/Metal Song of the year.[17]

PAX, Child's Play, and Rock Band (2008)Edit

In 2008 the Thickets were invited to play at the Penny Arcade Expo.[18] Their performance at the event led to their previously unreleased song "Shhh...." being included as a downloadable track in the PAX 2008 Collection for the video game Rock Band.[19][20] The song was also included on the "Child's Play CD 2008" compilation.[21]

The Dukes of Alhazred (2017)Edit

In March 2016 the Thickets launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund creation of a new album.[22] The album successfully funded later that year.[23] The album was released in 2017 with the title The Dukes of Alhazred.[16] A Stranger Aeons review said "If you like some catchy rock with your cosmic horror, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are your guys!"[24]

MembersEdit

The original three members of the band, at the January 1992 formation, were Toren Atkinson, Warren Banks and Quentin Rogers. Quentin, though, never appeared on any of their releases, nor played at any of their public performances. The first bass player to appear with the band at a show was Devon Presseau. The band has gone through several bassists and drummers since its inception. Thomas R. Falk has toured and played with the band as a second guitarist. The discography below details band member history.

The current line-up of the band consists of vocalist and lyricist Toren Atkinson, guitarist Warren Banks, guitarist/bassist Mario Nieva, drummer Jordan Pratt (former drummer for the band Mystery Machine), and bassist/backup vocalist Merrick Atkinson.

Side projectsEdit

Outside the band several members have other artistic side projects. Lead singer Toren Atkinson co-hosted a science/comedy podcast named Caustic Soda.[25] Drummer Jordan Pratt, former bassist/video director Bob Fugger, and former guitarist Chris Woods formed and co-hosted comedy podcast Speedway Squad. Upon Fugger's departure, Pratt and Woods were joined by Thickets guitarist Warren Banks to create a new podcast, Horsetrack Hooligans.[26]

Outside of the band, Toren Atkinson is also an artist, having illustrated books for role-playing games including Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu (and Delta Green), as well as the Lovecraft-inspired collectible card game Mythos. Warren Banks and Toren Atkinson also co-wrote (along with contributions by John Scott Tynes and Monte Cook) the roleplaying game Spaceship Zero, published by Green Ronin Publishing.

CostumingEdit

A large part of The Thickets live shows involves the band members wearing "imaginative and bizarre" stage costumes.[4] The outfits are usually Cthulhu Mythos-themed. The band has gone through various iterations over the years, from plush gug and fungi from Yuggoth outfits to the red jumpsuit/astronaut motif for their Spaceship Zero concerts, to their Satyr costumes, and most recently, their early twentieth century nautical styles featuring mustaches.

Musical styleEdit

Lead singer Toren Atkinson classified the Thickets' music as "rock and roll" and "power pop".[27] Toren notes that they try to be creative and original with their music and ideas. "One thing I’m proud of ... is that while we don’t necessarily take a Lovecraft poem or story and directly put it to music ... [our songs are] steeped in Lovecraftian lore. We make ... the Cthulhu Mythos our own by putting it in a more punk-rock milieu and a distinctly new, and often tongue-in-cheek, place".[11]

In "The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft", Gary Hill described "One Gilled Girl" from Great Old Ones as "The Ramones take on H. P. Lovecraft".[28] Hill describes several Thickets songs as having "thrash and punk influences merge".[28]

Several reviewers have specifically called out praise for the Thickets' song lyrics. A review in The Unspeakable Oath said "the lyrics really are what sets this band apart".[29] For his part, lyric author Toren Atkinson said "I like to challenge myself when writing music. I love playing with language".[11]

Toren notes that he tries to use the Thickets' music to spread knowledge of Lovecraft and other related topics. "I try to use our music to promote literacy and that includes scientific literacy, but I don’t let that goal get in the way of our number one mandate: goofiness".[3] "Trying new things and being fun is our core ethos". [4]

Creative processEdit

While the singer Toren admits to writing "95% of the band's lyrics",[2] he attests that the rest of the Thickets' creation process is a group effort.[2] "Usually when we practice, one or more of us will come with some melodies and riffs we’ve cooked up over the past couple weeks, and we 'jam it out' until we either get a song or we get sick of it".[2] He also notes that the band uses deadlines as external motivation to create: "As a collection of lazy procrastinators, we will usually 'throw our hat over the fence' by booking time at a recording studio. Then we have x months/weeks to come up with an album".[11]

Toren notes that they also reach out to the Thickets fan base for help when they need special subject expertise. "For example, for "The Math Song" and "Dies Ist Unverschamtheit" I had a brain friend help me with the algebraic equation and the German lyrics, respectively. On The Shadow Out of Tim, I put the call out ... for help with writing the Middle Egyptian lyrics".[2]

ShowsEdit

The Thickets have toured across North America a few times, performing with such bands as GWAR, Dayglo Abortions, MC Frontalot, Freezepop, BlöödHag,[30][31] Bad Brains and Nomeansno.[32][33] They played at Dragon Con in 1997.[34][35] The Thickets opened for They Might Be Giants at GenCon in 1998.[36] They were invited to play at the first annual H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in 1996, and returned to play at the festival for three years afterward. [37] They returned again to play at the festival in 2008[38] and Anime Evolution in 2010.[39]

DiscographyEdit

  • Gurgle! Gurgle! Gurgle! (1992, cassette).
  • Hurts Like Hell! (1993, cassette).
  • Cthulhuriffomania! (1994, cassette).
  • Cthulhu Strikes Back (1995, CD album) – Reissued 2003 as a Special Edition with two extra tracks.[7]
  • Great Old Ones (1996, CD album) – Re-release of material from Hurts Like Hell and Cthulhuriffomania, with a few additional tracks.
  • Spaceship Zero: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2000, CD album).[10]
  • Let Sleeping Gods Lie (2002, Special issue CD compilation).[12]
  • The Shadow Out of Tim (2007, CD).[40]
  • The Dukes of Alhazred (2017, digital download & CD).[16]

CompilationsEdit

  • Fraser Valley Champions (1994, CD compilation).
  • iMpact Music Volume 3 (CD compilation)
  • Collections and Conceptions for the Critically Confused (1994, CD compilation), Closet Rock Entertainment.
  • Raw M.E.A.T. Vol 4 (CD compilation)
  • Fight Prime Time (1996, CD compilation), Kathode Ray Music.
  • Tombstone Park (1998, CD compilation), Reanimator Records.
  • For Lucio Fulci: A Symphony of Fear (1999, CD compilation) – 11. "House Of Clocks".[41]
  • Weird Fiction Horror Comp (date unknown, CD compilation), Valiant Death Records.
  • Child's Play CD 2008 (2008, CD compilation), Penny Arcade Merchandise.[21]
  • Hymns From the House of Horror, Vol. II (2011), Rue Morgue – 1. "Shhh..."[42]

Soundtrack AppearancesEdit

VideographyEdit

  • "Diggin' Up the World" (Director: Bob Fugger)
  • "Worship Me Like A God" (1993) – Directed by Bob Fugger.[44] Played at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in 1997.[37]
  • "Colour Me Green" (1995) – Directed by Bob Fugger.[45]
  • "Walking on the Moon" (Director: Bob Fugger)
  • "Sounds of Tindalos" (Director: Scott Winlaw)
  • "20 Minutes of Oxygen" (2011) – Directed by Mike Jackson.[46]

FilmographyEdit

Further details and creditsEdit

  • "The Sounds of Tindalos" and "Slave Ship" appear in the trailers for the video game Sword of the Stars, for which Toren Atkinson also supplied voices.
  • Chapter ten of Gary Hill's "The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H.P. Lovecraft" is titled "The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets: Lovecraftian Humor Set To Music".[28]
  • According to the introduction of My Tank Is Fight!, author Zack Parsons says he took the title from a song by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets (a verse of the song "My Tank").
  • The lyrics to "The Math Song" appear in calculations on a chalk board in an episode of the cartoon series Rocket Monkeys.
  • The Laundry RPG contains a scenario called "Going Down To Dunwich", quoting the two first verses of the song of the same name in its introduction.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b z (September 10, 2008). "Don't Tell The Jocks: Geek Dad Interviews Toren Atkinson". Wired_(magazine). wired. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Gates, Michael (November 13, 2009). "The Syncopated Call of Cthulhu: An Interview with Toren Atkinson, Lead Singer for The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". thickets.net. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Mussbacher, Ashley (March 5, 2012). "Q&A - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - The Cascade". ufvcascade.ca. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e Leeson, Kevin (December 1, 2006). "Interview with the Thickets (PDF)". Absolute Underground. Vol. 3 #1 no. 13 - December / January 2006-2007. Victoria, British Columbia: Hidden Forces Publishing. p. 18. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Atkinson, Toren. "Music - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". thickets.net. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "Cthulhu Strikes Back Special Edition". thickets.net. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Cthulhu Strikes Back: Special Edition (Media notes). Starring Jordan Pratt, Warren "Comfortable" Banks, Bob "Fence Walker" Fugger, and Toren McBoren Macbin. Featuring Merrickman Atkinson ... Cover painting Chris "Chappy" Woods S.A.D. ... This album dedicated to the memory of H. P. Lovecraft, without whom we'd be singing lame love songs. ... Copyright 1995 Great Old One Music ... Copyright 2003 The Darkest of The Hillside Thickets. Vancouver, BC: Divine Industries. 2003. Liner notes, back cover, CD front face.
  8. ^ "Great Old Ones (1996) - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". thickets.net. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "Soundtrack - Spaceship Zero". spaceshipzero.com. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Spaceship Zero Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Media notes). Vocals: Toren McBoren MacBin, Backing vocals: Merrick Atkinson, Guitar: Warren "Comfortable" Banks, Bass: Bob Fugger, Drums: Jordan Pratt ... Additional bass: Merrick Atkinson (20 Minutes / Frogstar) ... Cover Art: Chris Woods ... Copyright 2000 The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Vancouver, B.C.: Divine Industries. 2000. Liner notes, CD.
  11. ^ a b c d "Interview: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". innsmouthfreepress.com. October 8, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Smith, Mat (February 1, 2002). "Wizards of the Coast - In The Works (February 2002)". wizards.com. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on June 5, 2002. Retrieved August 26, 2018. when you pick up an autographed copy of Call of Cthulhu from our online store, you'll also get a limited-edition compilation CD by a band called the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.
  13. ^ Campbell, Brian; Perkins, Christopher; Smith, Mat (2002). "Chaos of the Thickets - Optional Rule for Call of Cthulhu d20". wizards.com. Wizards Of The Coast. Archived from the original on August 6, 2002. Retrieved August 26, 2018. limited-edition compilation CD: Let Sleeping Gods Lie by a band called the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Each track on the CD has its own minor effect on game play
  14. ^ ""The Shadow Out of Tim" Album Street Date is the Summer Solstice!". thickets.net. May 2007. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
  15. ^ Megashaun (September 29, 2009). "Popshifter - The Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets: An Interview With Toren Atkinson". popshifter.com. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "Dukes of Alhazred" (Liner notes). "All songs written by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets Copyright 2017. Toren Atkinson - Lead Vocals, Merrick Atkinson - Bass, Backing Vocals, Warren Banks - Guitar, Mario Nieva - Guitar, Jordan Pratt - Drums. Produced by Brodie Smith and The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Mixed by Brodie Smith. Mastered by Kim Rosen. Cover Art - Chris Woods. ". 2017. Liner notes. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  17. ^ "Past IMA Programs - Independent Music Awards". independentmusicawards.com. Retrieved August 24, 2018. Artist: The Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets. Category: "Song – Hard Rock/Metal (Nominee)". Year: 8th Annual (2009)
  18. ^ Gabe (July 30, 2008). "New - PAX 2008". Penny Arcade. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  19. ^ "PAX Pack DLC". rockband.com. August 29, 2008. Archived from the original on September 15, 2008. Retrieved August 24, 2018. contains tracks from ... lovecraftian doomsayers The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
  20. ^ Crecente, Brian (August 30, 2008). "PAX Pack Brings Nerdcore to Rock Band, Donations to Child's Play". Kotaku. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  21. ^ a b z (December 18, 2008). "Child's Play CD 2008: Music for Charity". wired.com. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  22. ^ Atkinson, Toren (Mar 16, 2016). "The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets 5th Album - Updates". indiegogo.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018. posted by Toren Atkinson Mar 16, 2016 "Wow! We're at 75% of our goal already!"
  23. ^ "The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets 5th Album". indiegogo.com. Retrieved August 26, 2018. 208% funded on May 12, 2016
  24. ^ Segers, Guido (May 10, 2017). "Review - The Dukes of Alhazred". stranger-aeons.com. Retrieved August 27, 2018. If you like some catchy rock with your cosmic horror, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are your guys!
  25. ^ "About - Caustic Soda". CausticSodaPodcast.com. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  26. ^ "About us - Horsetrack Hooligans". horsetrackhooligans.com. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "The Whisperer Interview - Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". thickets.net. October 17, 2003. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  28. ^ a b c Gary Hill (2006). "10: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets: Lovecraftian Humor Set To Music". The Strange Sound of Cthulhu: Music Inspired by the Writings of H. P. Lovecraft. p. 147-154. ISBN 978-1-84728-776-2. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  29. ^ Klepac, Christian (1997). "Cthulhu Strikes Back - Review". The_Unspeakable_Oath. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  30. ^ "Event Archive - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets with BloodHag and the Boss Monsters". artsvictoria.ca. February 7, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  31. ^ "Darkest of the Hillside Thickets w/ BloodHag". livevan.com. February 7, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2018.
  32. ^ "Past Shows for Nomeansno - Arts Victoria". artsvictoria.ca. Retrieved August 30, 2018. Saturday February 18, 2006. NoMeansNo, Removal, The Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets, New World On Fire, Taberfucks @ The Loft @ the AgRec Centre Chilliwack BC (All Ages) 6:00PM - 11:30PM
  33. ^ "NoMeansNo, Removal, The Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets, New World On Fire, Taberfucks @ The Loft". livevan.com. 2006. Retrieved August 31, 2018. Sat. February 18th 2006 @ The Loft @ the AgRec Centre Chilliwack BC (All Ages) 6:00PM - 11:30PM
  34. ^ "Welcome to Dragon*Con 1997". Dragon Con. 1997. Archived from the original on May 13, 1997. Retrieved September 1, 2018. Performers - Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
  35. ^ "Past Guests - DragonCon". Retrieved September 1, 2018. The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets [1997]
  36. ^ "Thickets getting bigger". Chilliwack Progress. Chilliwack, British Columbia. August 14, 1998. p. 33. Retrieved August 29, 2018. A local band has just returned from Milwaukee where they opened for They Must Be Giants. Science Fiction fans love the Darkest of The Hillside Thickets. Including 30,000 fans at the science fiction convention Gencon last weekend. 'It was the best gig we've done,' says Thickets member Bob Fugger. 'We had autograph signings and were interviewed by MTV.'
  37. ^ a b "The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival - Archives". hplfilmfestival.com. 2000. Archived from the original on May 17, 2000. Retrieved September 1, 2018. Musical Guests: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets ... 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
  38. ^ "Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon". hplfilmfestival.com. 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  39. ^ "Anime Evolution 2010 >> Music". animeevolution.com. 2010. Archived from the original on June 7, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  40. ^ The Shadow Out Of Tim (Media notes). Merrick Atkinson (bass & backup vocals), Toren Atkinson (lead vocals & melodica), Warren Banks (UK guitar), Mario Nieva (North American guitar), Jordan Pratt (drums & percussion) ... Date: 2007. Divine Industries. 2007. Liner notes, CD.
  41. ^ For Lucio Fulci: A Symphony Of Fear (Liner notes). "11. House Of Clocks - Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". 1999. Liner notes.
  42. ^ "Hymns From the House of Horror Vol. II". rue-morgue.com. June 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-06-23. Retrieved 2011-06-21.
  43. ^ Hothead Games (October 29, 2008). Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode 2. Windows. Hothead Games. Scene: Ending credits (1m 15s). "Some Things Man Was Not Meant To Know" performed by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. (c) The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Courtesy of Divine Industries, Inc.
  44. ^ Fugger, Robert (1993). "Worship Me Like A God - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". youtube.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018. Toren Atkinson: 'This is circa 1993, Chilliwack BC Canada. dir: Robert Fugger'.
  45. ^ Fugger, Bob (1995). "Colour Me Green - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". youtube.com. Retrieved September 4, 2018. The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets rock your world with an early music video from 1995ish. It was shot on a 16mm Bolex in a crowded garage one lazy afternoon
  46. ^ Jackson, Mike (February 19, 2011). "20 Minutes of Oxygen - The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets". vimeo.com. Steam Powered Films. Retrieved September 4, 2018. A sci-fi music video for the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, from their album Spaceship Zero.
  47. ^ Bloodsuckers (DVD). 2005. Event occurs at 1h 34m 21s. Slave Ship. Written by Atkinson, Atkinson, Banks, Fugger & Pratt (SOCAN 2000). Performed by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Courtesy of Divine Industries Inc. |access-date= requires |url= (help)

External linksEdit