After 9 years, metal band says good-bye After close to a decade as one of Indiana’s most active and most popular metal bands, Paradox 44 will call it quits this weekend with a farewell show Saturday at the Emerson Theater. Over the past decade, Paradox 44 has recorded four albums and played hundreds of shows, helping fuel the metal boom in Indianapolis during the late 1990s and early part of this decade.
Founding member Mike V. and vocalist/percussionist Eric Davis cite an increasing frustration with the direction of the band, as well as the departure of drummer Travis “T-Bag” Leake in 2002, as primary reasons for the dissolution of the band. “It was the gradual disintegration of the basic structure that made us successful all these years,” Davis said. “We lost the chemistry between our members when our original drummer left. We’d always counted on that piece of the puzzle being there.”
Said Mike V., “When Travis left, it became really evident what an integral role he played in the band. When we were recording our third album, we realized he was the backbone of the band.”
Leake was also one of the group’s primary songwriters. He will rejoin the band for Saturday’s show.
Paradox 44 burst onto the music scene in the mid-1990s with their aggressive approach to nu-metal and their apocalyptic lyrics. Their first CD, World War Three, set the stage for future, equally pissed-off releases.
“We always did what we wanted to do,” Davis said. “We never gave a damn what other people thought. We certainly had our detractors, but if we thought something was cool, we did it.”
He pointed out that a majority of the group’s songs came from life experiences and living life to the fullest accurately reflected what the band was going through at the time of writing.
“I think we were always progressing in the band,” Mike V. said. “Not just the music was progressing but ourselves as well. On our first album, the songs were a lot less structured. But we started finding our niche. I think I made myself better as a person by venting through those songs.”
He said, “When we started, I think we were really angry. We had all of this stuff to get out of our system. It’s like we were taking a ball bat and beating the shit out of something. As we progressed, the music got more personal. There are songs about relationships that we lost. There are songs about people we lost.”
Their music had much more of a rapcore influence, as did many bands of the time. “That’s obviously gone,” Davis said. “But I think we came a long way from there. We came a long way. I don’t think we obviously set out to sound like someone else, but our influences progressed over the years as well.”
“I think we got more ballsy over the years,” Mike V. said.
Davis said the band’s best period came around the time of Paradox 44’s third CD, My Mind: The Weapon. “That was when we finally, as a whole, found our style. We were coming out of our cocoon. We had a manager and booking agent. It felt like people were finally getting what we were doing.”
“Even if people didn’t care for what we were doing, they respected us and wanted to help us,” Mike V. said. “They could see in our eyes how determined we were.”
It was around that time that the band appeared on the cover of NUVO and began hearing rumors about record labels taking an interest in them.
Then, suddenly, “It felt like someone cut the rope on us,” Davis said. The group split with its manager and Leake announced he was leaving the band for personal reasons. Things went downhill quickly from there, he said.
“We went from trying our damnedest to write good quality music and taking this thing as far as we could to just trying to stay together as a band,” Davis said.
“We definitely went into survival mode,” Mike V. said. “We were just trying to write music to survive. It was more like making a big musical ramen noodle instead of sitting there and sautéing a big meal.”
“It was too much of a struggle to maintain a constant equilibrium between what we wanted from the band and what our management wanted from the band,” Davis said.
Another reason for the band’s decision to split is the changing nature of the Indianapolis music scene, they said. “The metal scene is a lot more underground than it was,” Mike V. said. “It seems like hardcore is taking over. I can’t remember the last time I was at the Emerson for a hardcore show and the place wasn’t at or over capacity.”
Part of the reason for metal’s relative fall, they said, came from the fact that the genre has had relatively few heavy hitters in the past few years.
“I think that when Perfect Nothing decided to quit a few years ago, it sent the scene into a spiral a little bit, because they were definitely the cornerstone of the metal scene,” Mike V. said.
There were also several more all-ages venues for metal bands to play when Paradox 44 first got together. Now there’s only one or two, they said.
“We wanted to never get to the point where it seemed like we didn’t care,” Davis said. “We want to break up before that happens. We’d rather put it to bed gracefully than half-ass it.”
“We want to go out on our Black Album rather than our St. Anger,” Mike V. said, referring to Metallica’s most-ridiculed album.
After the show on Saturday, the band’s members will take some time off, although they’re already making plans for other projects. But wherever the future takes them, they said they will always be proud of the music they made for nearly a decade with Paradox 44.
“To me, the band’s legacy will go on forever, because I met my best friends in the world in this band,” Davis said. “And we played some good music, too.”
Who: Paradox 44 Farewell Show When: 7 p.m., Saturday, June 12 Where: The Emerson Theater Tickets: $7 at the door Paradox 44 timeline November 1994 Paradox forms as three-piece February 1995 Paradox plays first show ever June 1995 Paradox plays first Emerson Theater show October 1996 Paradox plays “Hell on Earth” show and present day members observe the performance April 1997 Records and releases debut four-song demo entitled World War Three as a three-piece July 1997 Eric Davis joins band as second vocalist February 1998 Records and releases demo, Force-fed Reality, featuring group as a four-piece March 1999 Records and releases first full-length CD, Victim of Society August 1999 Signs on with management/booking agent October 1999 Changes band name to Paradox 44 July 2000 Releases second full-length CD, Triumph Through Self-Empowerment July-December 2000 Band holds rank for several songs in top 20 slot on MP3.com metal charts for more than six months solid and racks up thousands of downloads October-December 2001 Records and releases third full-length album, My Mind: The Weapon December 2001 NUVO names P44 best hardcore/metal band of 2001 January 2002 Indy Star names P44 in top 10 best releases of 2001 February 2002 Management and P44 part ways in split September 2002 Drummer Travis “T-Bag” Leake announces decision to leave November 2002 P44 trains and performs first show with new drummer December 2002 T-Bag performs last show July 2003 Records and releases fourth CD, No Mercy for the Undeserving, to mixed reviews June 12, 2004 Paradox 44 performs last show ever at Emerson Theater with original drummer