When we asked local musicians, promoters and scenesters to name the loudest original rock band in Tampa Bay, The Weapons of Ass Destruction won hands down. Earlier this month, at The Garage in St. Pete, the quartet lived up to its earsplitting rep.
Several audience members familiar with TWOAD relocated outside the venue's front door when the band's guitarists plugged into their massive Marshall speaker cabinets. Others in attendance were caught off guard by the waves of noise that filled the room like rushing floodwaters.
"Somebody that night asked for her money back because we were so loud," said Hugh Williams, the band's drummer and elder statesmen.
The other musicians in TWOAD are Victor Ulmer (vocals/guitar), Travis Parker (lead guitar) and Martin Rice (bass). The four men range in age from late 30s to early 50s. Friends before they formed TWOAD last year, the musicians have played in a variety of local bands. "We like to think of ourselves as a sausage of rock 'n' roll and punk all ground up with our own dirty skin pulled over it," Williams said.
TWOAD's performance at The Garage lasted about 30 minutes, and you could feel every second of it. Despite the torrents of noise swirling around their skulls, not one member of the band wears earplugs. Does Williams' wife, who was at The Garage snapping pics of her hubbie's band, worry about him going deaf? "No worries from her — when our hearing goes, we'll just have to play louder," Williams cracked. "She likes the volume. She says the volume makes her tingle."
But the musicians insist the deafening sound level is not a gimmick. No, they explain; it is necessary to achieve certain tone qualities on their electric guitars, which they play without pedal effects. "We play that loud at practice and really just like the volume," Hugh said. "It's just the volume we feel comfortable at."
On stage, the musicians scrunch up their faces in rocked-out elation. The lyrics are unintelligible, but the sheets of noise pouring out of the speakers smack of uncut catharsis.
"This band is a bunch of guys who have all played a while who just want to rock hard," Rice said. "It's a stress relief for all of us."
The Weapons of Ass Destruction don't have any recorded material yet. If you want to know what they sound like, says Hugh Williams, "Just listen to a jet engine." If you'd like to find out where they're playing next, go to myspace.com/twoad.
Urban Explorer's Handbook 2007
Sensory Overload Edition