When I interviewed Jon Chang for Giant Robot 56 in 2008, I was under the impression that there was no way I’d ever get to see his bands GridLink or Haiyano Daisuki. Jon was busy with his work in videogames and his family, and his bands are spread across continents. The mastermind behind the insanely technical, fast-as-shit otaku-influence brand of grindcore and thrash couldn’t guarantee a tour ever happening, so I settled for a phoner. Just like his music, Chang was intense, honest, interested in everything, and sometimes even humble. “People are lucky to make one or two great things in their life,” he told me. “The second Yamato film is amazing and the rest are good but don’t approach it. And Slayer made Reign in Blood and continue to make good music, but are they ever going to make another Reign in Blood?”
The tour still hasn’t happened, but the metal-minded folks Scion just sponsored a two-show weekend including Chicago and L.A. Free metal matinees with GridLink seem too good to be true, but they were true indeed. I arrived at the once-proud Sunset Strip venue just in time to see local crusties Phobia (above) their anarcho-punk informed style of grindcore is cool, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen them in their 20 years in the scene. I love how their hardcore followers not only know the lyrics and riffs but the samples that they play before songs.
GridLink is knows for their high-energy, no-bullshit shows, but even I was wondering how they’d pull off the hyper fast yet perfectly articulated music onstage. If Jon skipped a verse or two, no one would have known. But the axes were turned inside-out nonstop for the 30-minute set’s entirety. And that was no cheap, free show set, either. I’m pretty sure both albums were jammed in there with just a moment or two for Jon’s lungs to replenish their oxygen levels between jumping, headbanging, and squeezing the life out of his mic.
Philip K. Dick, Kurosawa, and Appleseed–some of that was jammed into the black T-shirted crowd’s heads between the ripping dual guitars, machine-gun blast beats, and bazooka like 7-string bass riffs. And then there’s the other topic. Jon told me, “It sounds kind of strange a lot of people probably don’t get it, but GridLink is about war. It’s about being there when 9/11 happened and witnessing its aftermath. Through the video games I work on, I know a lot of people who have been to Afghanistan or Iraq and keep going back.” So now the audience’s brains are busy decoding the information as their spinal chord cells in their necks are healing, reconnecting everything for another week at work, school, and life in America.
Witness the band’s power here and hope you actually get to see them play one of these days.