Going To Hell In A Leather Jacket does metal and electronica right
Going To Hell In A Leather Jacket is just as sinister and face-punchingly loud as the project's name would suggest. Under the guise of combining metal and electronic aesthetics, Victor Polanco conjures up a one-man army of abrasive noise and sly dance beats, all with an industrial crunch. While there are many solo acts that come armed with prerecorded tracks and guitars, Going To Hell In A Leather Jacket is distinguished by Polanco's varied and dynamic range; his performances veer from volcanic guitar screeches and slinky, even sensual, ambient, while not forgetting that music is supposed to move you. Often you are left wondering how anybody could make the noise Going To Hell In A Leather Jacket makes, let alone one seemingly well-dressed, shy guy. As Polanco prepares for another performance at the Replay on Thursday, Dec. 13, we caught up with the musician by email for some insights on his monstrously entertaining project.
What initially got you into developing this project?
Just the love of electronic music and metal. I felt compelled to write my own stuff after hearing hard remixes from Justice and Soulwax. I just wanted to hear abrasive guitars with hard dance beats without being chained to a turntable or a laptop. I want to move on stage!
How long have you been performing?
I've been performing off and on for about 12 years now. I haven't been performing consistently though; my first show as Going To Hell In A Leather Jacket was last December. The last time I was on stage before that was back in 2007 when I was playing bass for a metal band.
For the uninitiated, how would you describe what you do on stage?
My backing tracks go through the club PA and I play my guitar over it. It's a simple setup, and allows me to roam the stage without the fear of hitting people with my guitar. I'm just some lonely guy on stage that's really into his own music.
Doing things solo, you pack quite a punch. What are some of the challenges working solo? What are the advantages? What does doing things solo give you that working with a band doesn't?
Doing things on your own can be dangerous because there's no one present to veto ideas or to provide valuable input. It's hard to step outside yourself and catch your own mistakes. People generally aren't self critical so you really have to be honest with yourself and sacrifice the ego for the music. However, it's great because you don't have to compromise with anyone but yourself, and it allows you to complete songs quickly. I feel like the writing process is streamlined when other musicians aren't involved.
Tell me about your songwriting process. For a project that is ostensibly a simple mix of metal and heavy rock and electronic music, your tracks are surprisingly varied and detailed.
For the hard stuff it usually starts out as a beat pattern and a riff, that's the skeleton of the song. Everything else comes after I discover what I want the song to be. I just let the flow and feeling of it guide me to the next detail. I feel like I run on autopilot when I write so I can't take credit for how it comes out. The ambient sections always start out on a synth, but the process is the same.
Gearhead question: You can get loud (painfully loud, but in a good way). What gear do you use to create such a torrent of noise?
I love gear questions!! I have a typical metal setup. I have a guitar with high output EMG pickups, a Marshall cabinet with four 12-inch speakers rated at 30 watts each, but the soul of the machine is my Peavey 6505. It's basically designed by Eddie Van Halen. It's a high gain amp with an amazing tone. I have it tweaked so my tone on stage is crisp, deep, and piercing. It's a monster live.
Your music combines electronic and near-metal levels of thrashing. How much of your performance goes along with your track and how much is improvised? Seems to me that your approach gives you the best of both worlds — specific order from the beats or loops, and organic, free-flowing riffs.
I always make it a point to give myself some freedom on stage. Most of it is written along with the loops, but there are sections that I entirely improvise live, just little solo runs or odd little fills. The energy live is just what happens. I'm a metal-head, but I utilize a punk approach to playing electronic music. You have to see it.
Going to Hell in a Leather Jacket w / Sundiver at 10 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the Replay Lounge.