ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Milorganaut, Mind Harvester
X-Ray Arcade hosted the second Stand Up / Fight Back benefit on Saturday featuring local bands Milorganaut and Mind Harvester in addition to Sarin (Chicago/Northwest Indiana), Funerary Outlook (Green Bay), Wanderer (Twin Cities), Selenoplexia (Chicago) and Maul (Fargo). The series, organized by Kevin Pappas of It Is Dead, brings regional heavy music acts together to support different social justice causes; Saturday’s show benefited the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (MAARPR).
Milorganaut consists of vocalist/bassist Jay Linski, guitarist Dave Bruss and drummer/vocalist Stephen Bradford. Their sound incorporates elements of grindcore, powerviolence and sludge metal. The project started in 2012 from the ashes of previous band Slob Donovan, which had all the same members. “We started playing together around 2008-2009, and our last band was kind of slower paced and sludgy,” Bruss recalls. “That was all Jay’s artistic vision; he wrote and directed everything we did and it was an amazing project but we wanted to do something more collaborative next.”
Linski shares the story behind the band’s name. “I used to work at Menards after I graduated high school, and when you’re in the receiving department you’ll be in the garden center a lot, and I’d always see the bags of Milorganite but the way my brain would process it would be “Milorganaut.” I ended up using that as my handle on a message board for hardcore shows back in the day, and when we decided to recalibrate what we were doing as a band, Dave was the one who said that Milorganaut would be the perfect name.”
Milorganaut released their new record “Jones Island” back in May, the follow-up to 2015’s “Kaszube Isle.” Contrary to what things seemed like since they were not playing shows, the band never broke up – things just took a while. In fact, Milorganaut had actually written “Jones Island” shortly after completing “Kaszube Isle” but decided to sit on it for a few years, as Linski explains.
“We finished recording “Jones Island” in 2019 but the original label that was going to put it out backed out because we took too long; the guy was just really busy at the time and so were all of us so the timing just didn’t work out. It took until a little after the start of COVID when the guy who was originally going to put it out texted me asking if we had finished it because he still wanted to hear it, and he loved it and within a day had ultimately decided to put it out. I went back and reworked some things on it, and then after mastering we submitted it for pressing in the summer of 2021 – but we didn’t end up getting it back until May of this year.”
He continues about this record and the previous record’s themes around the industrialized Milwaukee peninsula. “I’m definitely one of those people who loves absorbing weird Milwaukee history. That strip of land I’ve always been intrigued by, and I’ve researched the sewer system and how the city was trying to use by-product as fertilizer and things like that. A lot of people say that Milwaukee is the biggest small town or whatever – and that is true – but Milwaukee’s also a massive place with so much history to it.”
“There was recently a colorized photo going around of the fishing village that used to be there,” Bruss adds. “It’s so wild to visualize that plot of land compared to what it is now.”
Milorganaut played their album release show at Cactus Club at the end of June, which was their first performance in seven years. “I was just so stoked to play a show with my homies, plus a bunch of buddies’ bands also played too,” Bruss remarked about how it felt. “It was packed, and at the end of the night the guy who put our record out handed me a wad of money and told me that I need to go run my merch booth (laughs). I came off of that show feeling on top of the world.”
Bradford adds, “We were on an eight-way split with Lifes and Sea of Shit, so having those two bands playing with us felt like a cool reunion and it was beautiful.”
On the band’s songwriting process, Bruss shares, “I’m not a great songwriter but Jay is an excellent songwriter, and I’m really good at coming up with parts that work with Jay’s direction. And then Steve’s the best drummer in Milwaukee so it becomes easy for us to throw ideas around.”
“There’s so many different ways to write a song,” Linski concludes. “You just take whatever course makes sense, even if sometimes you have to pick away at it for a while.”
Milorganaut are slowly working on new song ideas and hope to play more shows in the near future.
Mind Harvester consists of vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Palmer, bassist/vocalist Luke and drummer Stephen Bradford. Formerly known as Scathed, the band’s style they describe on Bandcamp as blackened crust and dark hardcore punk. They formed in 2016 and released their debut album “Already Dead” in 2018, deciding to change their name in late 2021.
“We had a different person playing drums who helped us get started and was on our first LP,” Palmer explains. “He’s moved to another state living his best life and we still love him – he’s our brother. Luckily Stephen graciously came in and it’s just been friends doing things with friends since. When me and Luke met, we liked a lot of the same bands that it seemed no one else in Milwaukee really liked, but when we asked Stephen if he wanted to do this – it turns out that he liked all those bands too.”
Palmer contends that the name “Mind Harvester” is an amalgamation of several ideas, saying, “I thought about the world around us and how the way things are now with social media…and the ways that we’re educated and how we choose to raise people…it seems like there’s a lot of ideas being pushed and some people are taking advantage of that and using it against the majority of us, growing these ideas into people and separating them from each other – harvesting those ideas that they’ve had.”
On what Mind Harvester’s songwriting process looks like, Palmer shares, “I write a lot of music and Luke writes a lot of music; the three of us talk a lot about ideas and concepts, and some of them get pretty out there. A lot of what comes out of me I feel is like a venting process where I’m looking at what I’ve observed in the world, even if it’s not my perspective but from what people I’ve talked to are going through.”
They released a single titled “Prevarication” this past January.
“We have a lot of new songs and we’re hoping to nail down a date to record soon,” Luke said about what the band’s working on now. “If that goes well then we’ll do some more. Things are en route but we don’t speak on them until they’re done.”
Palmer adds, “We have enough to do a split and a full-length so we’ve been trying to navigate everything. Our friends in Chicago have a crust band called ARID and we’ve been talking to them about the split, so we’re really excited about that.”
Mind Harvester return to X-Ray Arcade on November 28th.