You can’t take the metal out of the Maimann

Kevin Maimann GigCity EdmontonKevin Maimann is a folkie with a metalhead inside screaming to get out – or is it the other way around?

There is little doubt that the 27-year-old Edmonton Sun music columnist is a metal fan. As a teenager he braided his hair like the dude from Korn. He says he doesn’t consider himself a music critic and in any case only writes about bands he loves – generally the heaviest of the heavy. He’s done pieces for GigCity on Death Toll Rising and Disciples of Power (and it’s nice he’s on the other side of the interview for a change). He once sang “lead growl” in a local death metal band called Ways To Kill.

His new solo music, in stark contrast, is acoustic, unplugged, mellow, even beautiful. It could fit the folk fest. And in fact he won a songwriting award from the Calgary Folk Festival two years ago. The only thing that gives away its creator’s dark metallic predilections are the lyrics.

“What’s so grim about the reaper?” he sings – with shades of Blue Oyster Cult – on the opening track of his new album Death Perception. There’s a song about a serial killer. There’s a song about zombies. There’s a song about the first woman burned at the stake in France for being a witch, condemned by some cleric she spurned, apparently, and the first line goes, “I love you, my dark one, I love you, my whore …”

There’s a song called 31 Days that deals with a guy who wants his girlfriend to break up with him. Maimann explains, “He doesn’t have the strength to leave her because he’s in love with her, but he knows he’s going to hurt her.”

Because he’s a werewolf, actually.

Death Perception Kevin Maimann GigCity EdmontonGet the picture? The CD release for Death Perception happens Friday, April 4 at Bohemia (10217 97 Street). “It’s a little heavier when we play live,” he says.

Turns out Maimann is a pretty good guitar player, with 10 years of classical guitar lessons forming his solid technique. The hooks on Pretty Things are driven by impressively intricate guitar work. Not too many solos, either. Hearing his pleasant voice, it’s hard to imagine he once sounded like the Cookie Monster. He says he’s not sure if he can do that metal growl anymore. Gone solo, Maimann started making the album by himself, and didn’t take it very seriously – two common hallmarks of Edmonton recording artists. And it just came out sounding like folk music. Goth folk music.

Maimann got into the habit of writing this way in Ways To Kill. He says. “As much as I wanted to do something on my own separate from what I did before, the metal influence crept its way in there. I guess I can’t help it. With all the songs on this album, I wanted to tell a story with each song, rather than writing about my feelings or whatever. They’re just fictional stories about creepy, scary things, all relating to death. I’ve always had a lot of fun with that stuff. I look for stories to freak people out. I just like to give people a bit of a jump sometimes.”

You can’t take the metal out of the man. Maimann also sings in a “gothic post-punk experimental” band (his words) called Look Away, which is planning to release a CD in May.

“I get a little of my metal out in that band,” he says. “No growling.”