A knife in the road

Machetes are fucking cool. Originally used as a tool for hacking through thick vegetation, the machete has also been used to hack through thick human limbs, brandished by warring tribes, revolutionaries and otherwise oppressed peoples throughout history. It was even Friday the 13th villain Jason Voohries’ preferred weapon due to its utility in decapitation. Graphic? Yes. But that’s just the way Chad Michael S. of Machete Avenue likes it.

“I like violence. I’m not too sure why,” says Michael S. “Most of the population loves violence­–it’s just entertaining.”

Given the success of television shows like 24 where Jack Bauer punches throats and stabs kidneys weekly, Michael S. couldn’t be more right. Keeping with the blood-and-blades vibe of their lyrics, the duo has identified themselves as Machete Avenue, fully aware of the reputation that precedes them.

“Most people think we’re a metal band, which is what we wanted,” explains Chad. “We want people to be surprised with our music.”

As any great warrior knows, the element of surprise is invaluable. Judging by the strategic selection of Underground Operations Records as their label, Michael S. knows this too. His acoustic duo is an unlikely addition to Underground, whose roster is dominated by politically-charged punk rock and metal bands. Ambushing critics with their unexpected musical style, Machete Avenue have repeatedly fallen victim to unfavourable reviews at the hands of writers wanting something heavier.

“It’s actually pretty funny,” laughs Michael S. “One reviewer was so choked that it wasn’t like [label mates] Hostage Life or Protest the Hero, so he gave us one out of 10. I checked back later and he’d re-done the interview, given us 9 out of 10 and said, ‘I listened to it a little more, and after you give it a couple listens it grows on you,’ and talked the world of us all-of-a-sudden.”

While their sound may be mellow, it’s unwise to underestimate Michael S. and Scotty Avenue–the second half of the Avenue. Even without machetes, the boys can hold their own in a scrap. The two noble young warriors found themselves defending the honour of a fair maiden–drunkenly–outside of a 7-11 during their first tour south of the border to play at the infamous Troubador in Hollywood.

“This guy was being really rude to this girl,” explains Michael S., “Words were exchanged and then his friends came, and then we were fighting people, and then these two cops on bikes rolled up. They called in the paddy wagon, threw us in the back, and put us in jail for the night. They were really nice, though. I don’t know why–maybe because they were on bikes. One of them reminded me of my mom. I told her that, but she didn’t seem to like it very much.”

Fortunately, Michael S. and Avenue weren’t charged, which could have meant their deportation. Escaping L.A relatively unscathed, Machete Avenue is now crafting their first full-length album, slated to hit stores in the fall. Unlike their latest E.P., The First Cuts, the new album includes various instruments, rather than just guitar. This decision has forced them to consider adding another member to their crew to maintain consistency between live performances and the album.

“We talk about it every day,” says Michael S. “We still wanna keep our show raw, but then have the polished CD. But to see us live then would be totally different than the CD experience. We’re just not sure yet. The whole idea was to get away from having a bunch of different people to worry about. This way it’s just me and my best friend. We hop in our little minivan and go across the country. It’s simple, and we like it.”

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