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Savannah’s Sins of Godless Men hits stage again for first time in 2017

  • Sins of Godless Men (Photo by Laura Leigh Mulder)
 

Savannah’s Sins of Godless Men hits stage again for first time in 2017

15 May 2017

Sins of Godless Men like it loud and mostly fast.

Childhood friends Jeremiah Stuard (bass) and Greg Rettig (guitar, vocals) moved to Savannah from their native Indianapolis in late 2007, not intent on playing music, but starting their own businesses. They lived without playing music for about two weeks before they started renting a “closet” in 12 Below, a former downtown practice space.

“We couldn’t play it in the house, and we wanted to light it up,” Rettig said. “So we’d take it down there and just me and him, would light it up. I am sure it sounded like a**.”

Stuard and Rettig have spent a combined 13 years in bands together. In Indiana, they were mostly in punk and metal bands. In Savannah, they’ve ventured into a wider array of musical projects as individuals — for Stuard, Whaleboat and COEDS, and for Rettig, Ambrose, Blouses and The Wave Slaves — but kept the loud, fast, heavy music they love alive with their only current joint musical venture here, Sins of Godless Men.

Whatever they branch into, the two still come back to their bedrock project. Sins of Godless Men is somewhere in the post-punk ether, melding the rhythmic structure of punk, breakdowns from metal, including ripping hair-metal solos, and a touch of blues.

Rettig’s howling vocals, scratchy and coarse most of the time, are the band’s war cry. Stuard’s bass is amplified by three 15-inch speakers, four 10-inch speakers and one horn in two large cabinets. Rettig’s guitar rig has even more speakers. Together, they form a gigantic wall of sound.

Sins has been through three drummers since its inception. Duncan Laria, Donald Moats (who shared rhythmic duties with Stuard in Whaleboat and COEDS) and now John Edwards.

Edwards is a Savannah native who’s played in punk and metal bands in the area since 2003. While Sins is his only steady project, he fills in for several bands for tours. Most notably, he toured with sludge metal giants Kylesa the last time they ventured out of Savannah.

“We come from so many different backgrounds of music,” Edwards said. “I grew up playing hardcore and punk bands. When we’re writing, the way some of Greg’s grooves go with my old punk stuff in my head — it comes out weird. Which is what we’re into.”

“I have a very different background from all of that,” Rettig added. “I sneak in jazz and blues. Especially blues stuff. One of our songs has a blue jam at the end. ‘Man of Few Colors’ has a hair band solo at the end.”

While choosing a band name is often at least an interesting process for musicians, sometimes it can be extremely frustrating, and in hindsight rather fascinating.

After forming as Ben Grimm and Friends, they decided to call the band Howler. The name seemed to fit Rettig’s vocal styles and the band’s sound. Stuard got a message from CUSSES drummer Brian Lackey one day, asking why they were hitting him up for a show. Stuard had no idea what he was talking about. Soon after, they were asked about a show in Atlanta, which they didn’t book.

Rettig took to the internet and found that a Minneapolis indie-rock band had taken the same name and were in the process of booking shows in Georgia. Rettig sent a cease and desist letter to the band, which began a back-and-forth battle over the name. A consensus couldn’t be reached, and the Minneapolis band had financial backing, which they could have used to fight Rettig and Stuard.

They had already decided to call their first album “Sins of Godless Men,” the title of an old pop-punk band they had in Indianapolis. Instead of fighting with the Minneapolis band, they simply switched the name of the album and the band.

Sins of Godless Men was born in September 2011, and their first album was “Howler.” Howler, the band, went on to garner some success, playing major festivals and earning national press attention. They disbanded in January of this year.

“So now we have a song called ‘Death to Minneapolis,’” Stuard said. “If you Google Howler, you still find us. I ran into people who said, ‘You changed your name, but it fit you so well.’ I was like, I thought so, too. Sins is funny because people think we’re a straight-up black metal band.”

Sins of Godless Men will play their first live show of the year on May 19 at the Space Station at Starlandia, along with Florida post-punk rockers Indian Shores and Savannah punks Jeff Two-Names and the Born Agains.

Sins’ set will consist almost entirely of new material. The band is working on a follow-up to their debut release. They released the “Four Eyes” EP in 2013 and a single, “Knot and Rope,” in 2015.

After recording a full album of new material twice, they ran into some technical difficulties in the process and the songs have begun anew evolution. They decided to re-record the the new album a third time.

“We weren’t ready,” Rettig said. “We had the tape machine and listening to it, we decided to put it up … Our set is the new record with an occasional older song. But it’s pretty much the new record, minus one or two songs that will be on there as well.

“The art is done. We know what it’s going to be. We have to finish recording it and put it out. All of those things are in place, it’s just a matter of doing it. Our schedules are crazy.”

“Making sure we’re happy with it,” Stuard added. “At this point, if it’s not perfect, we’re not putting it out. We’re striving for perfection.”

IF YOU GO

What: Sins of Godless Men, Indian Shores, Jeff Two-Names and the Born Agains

When: 7:30 p.m. May 19

Where: The Space Station at Starlandia, 2438 Bull St.

Cost: $5; all ages

Info: sinsofgodlessmen.com

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