band that wasn’t there
Tron bypass their local scene to become a national act
you had told me a month ago that Genghis Tron were from
Poughkeepsie, I wouldn’t have believed you. Funny thing
is, it’s likely someone living in Poughkeepsie would tell
you the same thing. Genghis Tron’s odd art-school, keyboard-soundscape
grind just doesn’t seem to fit in with the emo, metal-core
scene more typical of the city they started in. By the
time you read this, though, there will be no more confusion.
Genghis Tron will no longer call Poughkeepsie their home.
They’ve outgrown it, and they’ve never actually played
a show there except on the campus of Vassar College, from
where they all just graduated.
A recent MySpace ex change between the Fishkill band A
Kodak Moment and Genghis Tron might better explain Tron’s
relationship with Poughkeepsie.
A Kodak Moment: “you guys aren’t even grind YOUR SCREAMO
give up im ashamed to be from the same place as you guys
and all you scene fucks that listen to this go slit your
Genghis Tron: “thanks for the kind words And were ashamed
to be from here to we aren’t locals anymore though, we’re
moving out of our apartments today and will be in philly
from now on. . . ”
Despite their departure, I need to know who or what are
the mystery three-piece who call themselves Genghis Tron
and who haunt the Internet and the satellite-radio airwaves.
Since they supposedly reside in Poughkeepsie, I give Mookie,
the lead singer, a call. I’m told the three men who make
up Genghis Tron are Mookie (vocalist, theraminist and
lap steeler); Michael (keyboardist and electronic drum
programmer); and Hamilton (guitarist and drum programmer).
I ask Mookie if perhaps each band member has more than
one name apiece, and what he did to earn the name Mookie.
He informs me matter-of-factly, “Mookie is my real name.
I changed it several years ago.”
Who are Genghis Tron?
Genghis Tron are too cool for school.
That’s why the three-piece graduated this past weekend
and got out of Dodge. That’s why they didn’t even play
a show at Poughkeepsie’s Chance Theater or take part in
the city’s hardcore/metal-core scene, which lead-singer
Mookie describes as “hard to break into,” and “full of
Actually, they didn’t take part because they didn’t need
to. “We were writing music in our keyboardist’s bedroom,”
explains Mookie. “We made a three-song demo and sent it
off to some labels, and Crucial Blast signed us immediately.
We were signed before we played our first show.”
Mookie says that the band’s Atari-being-eaten-by-the-Trans-Siberian-Orchestra
sound comes from their disparate influences. “I personally
have been into noisier stuff, more aggressive stuff,”
he says. “Hamilton is into most of the metal, and Michael
was a DJ for a while and really brought the electronica
elements. Now we all listen to the same amount of metal
and electronica stuff.”
Despite—or perhaps because of—their mishmash of influences,
the trajectory of the band’s career has been meteoric.
After releasing a five-song EP, Cloak of Love,
in 2004, the band were soon touring the country and seeing
strong play on Sirius Satellite Radio. But the boys were
not exactly satisfied.
Fitting in somewhere between national acts like the Dillinger
Escape Plan, An Albatross, the Locust, and Mindless Self
Indulgence, the Tron throw a lot of people off. And there
are lots of stories floating around about people’s first
experience with the Tron. There is the typical “I heard
this weird shit on the radio and couldn’t stop listening!”
story. The “I was at an industrial dance night and the
DJ put on this stuff with weird beats and people were
dancing until the crazy guitars and screaming started.”
Then there’s the metalheads’ reaction: “Dude, this shit
is wicked heavy! Wait! What’s all this pussy-dancey keyboard
The band’s genre hopping and varied influences have led
to a particularly diverse reaction from fans of all sorts
of music, but do not always lend them a sense of seriousness
or credibility. The Tron set about fixing this on their
new album, Dead Mountain Mouth. “With our new album,
we wanted to shed any attachment to, like, a joke-band
gimmick,” Mookie comments. “We were sort of labeled that
a little bit ’cause of the first EP. We wanted to tighten
How did the Tron set out to show that they were not some
one-off joke, or a genre-splicing, wacky band like Mindless
Self Indulgence, a band to whom they are often, generally
unfairly, compared? They hired Kurt Ballou of disaster-core
stalwarts Converge to produce the album.
Converge are known for their off-kilter hate dirges, which
sound like a hardcore band falling down the stairs, and
while Genghis Tron have a similar sense of raging improvisation,
Mookie says that spontaneity is not something Balou brought
to their recording sessions. “Spontaneity doesn’t come
into our writing process,” he says. “The writing process
for us is real tedious. We have to program all the drums
first before we do anything else. Then we sit around the
computer and map out the song in our drum program, and
then we figure out every instrument pretty separate.”
Compare the Tron’s first album to their new one and it
will be immediately clear what Ballou brought to the sessions:
a whole lot of heavy and a whole lot of art. While Cloak
of Love jumps spastically between dance breakdowns
and guitar breakdowns, with deep synths riding the waves
of baby-eating guitar riffs, Dead Mountain Mouth
flows together in one tormented soundscape, like a robotic
rock opera spat through knives and distortion.
As different as Tron are, and as much as they stand out
from the upstate hardcore-metal scene, nationally they
are part of a growing trend of metal bands who are mixing
art and the absurd with their steel. Newer bands like
Between the Buried and Me, Cult of Luna, the Locust, Horse
the Band, and old stalwarts the Dillinger Escape Plan
and Isis are making art metal the standard rather than
the exception. But Mookie says as much as he respects
some of these bands, he can’t really see the Tron being
part of the established metal scene. “We’re not about
putting ourselves in situations where we would be pigeonholed,”
he says. “Lots of metal-core bands end up doing four-
or five-band package tours. I feel like when we start
to do that it is very easy to get pigeonholed. But we
do pride ourselves on being able to play shows with really
brutal bands like Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan,
and also being able to play shows with quieter or not
as aggressive bands.”
Despite being in a period of transition, no longer college
students, without a hometown, on the verge of the release
of their first full-length album, Genghis Tron may now
be more comfortable in their own skins than ever before.
“This isn’t a really lucrative job, being in a touring
band,” says Mookie, “but this is what we’re gonna be doing
full-time. We are touring this summer and in the fall,
and then we will set right in another album and tour in
the spring, and hopefully we will be recording again this
time next year.” The band who don’t belong anywhere may
have found their true calling: to be at home on the road.