Phobia: an unholy alliance of crust punk and grindcore


A lot can change in 20 years.

Just ask the band Phobia.

The act, an unholy alliance of

crust punk and grindcore, started in 1990 at Orange County, Calif. Now only

singer Shane McLachlan is the remaining original member. Through innumerable

lineup changes and record label affiliations, the entity has endured. Even

their rampageous blend of speed metal and safety-pin-in-the-nose sneer is

largely unchanged.

McLachlan described himself as

an brash teenager influenced by seminal metal

and punk bands like Napalm Death and Discharge. He admitted that early on he

was mostly emulating his idols. He wanted his band to sound just like them.

"That's what I needed –

the adrenaline of it," he said during a recent phone interview.

Not everyone in their part of

the world was ready for that. McLachlan said Phobia was definitely in the

minority at first. Death metal, and especially grindcore, were not in vogue


"It was kind of a shocker for

some people, the speed we were playing at," McLachlan said. "And we were pretty


He remembers playing backyard

shows and people throwing trash at them.

"I just gave them the middle

finger and told them to fuck off," McLachlan said. "Here I am now."

It probably didn't help that

Phobia originated in Orange County, Calif., one of the most affluent areas in

the country. But McLachlan says the OC often depicted in TV shows and movies is

"the farthest thing from how I grew up. That's like saying all people from

Indiana are hicks or part of the Klan. The OC has this stigma that it's all

rich, but we have gangs and violence. There's drug problems and social

dysfunction. It doesn't matter if you live in a rich neighborhood; you can

still be an addict."

McLachlan had his share of

problems. The uber-tattooed frontman is a recovering alcoholic who has been

incarcerated numerous times. Now 39 years old and a father, he's a long way

from his rabble-rousing youth. His lyrics have always had a political and

social bent, but McLachlan is less concerned about finding fault with authority

now than he is leaving a better world for his children.

"In order to challenge your own

thoughts, you have to live life," McLachlan said.

Not that Phobia has abandoned

its principles. McLachlan still gives voice to anarchistic values.

"It doesn't mean going around

blowing up buildings," he said. "It's about self-preservation and living for

yourself. That's pretty much how we are."

Besides, in today's media age

it's tough to speak out about much of anything without being branded something


"There's so many social problems

in this world today," McLachlan said. "It's out of control. Sometimes it's

better just to keep your mouth shut. But people like me have big mouths. I've

always gotta be talking shit about something that's going to piss somebody


Ultimately though, McLachlan

doesn't want to be so opinionated that he's turning off potential fans or

preaching to the converted.

"Protest is important, but to me

it's not always the most important thing," he said. "We are musicians, we like

to have fun. Music is entertainment. For us it's mainly about meeting people,

playing music and having a good time."

Times have changed in other

ways. While young bands today have to carve out a niche in a much more crowded

workplace, McLachlan doesn't think most of them have the integrity that he and

his peers had.

"We went up against much bigger

odds," he said. "Back in those days you'd get your ass kicked for being a punk.

Nowadays you can go to the mall and become a punk. Being punk rock is socially

acceptable now, but back in my day it wasn't."

Phobia is still going strong.

The band recently issued a live album and a couple split releases with

Extinction Mankind and Gadget. An EP is in the works. They're still recording

and touring, but McLachlan has no concerns about the music scene he helped

foment after he decides to retire.

"There's always new bands doing

new things," he said. "There are kids starting out now who are brilliant at

what they do. Scenes die out and come back; happens all the time. That's the

way it's always going to be."


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