Just when you thought you couldn't hear the "blue-collar Pittsburgh" cliché one more time, one local band is again broadcasting it ... at very high volume. Metalcore quintet Once Nothing describes its sound as "blue-collar metal," and the label comes across as sincere. "We all come from working-class backgrounds," says vocalist Todd Lowery. "None of us are rich, or will probably ever be rich," he says. "And people seem to like the term."
Yet fortune seems to be shining on the band. Early this year, Once Nothing signed with CI Records, which has released CDs and vinyl by The Pink Spiders, Violent Society, August Burns Red and locals The Juliana Theory. The result is the full-length, Earthmover: fat, metallic riffs welded to technical double-bass drumming punctuated by Lowery's fierce, bellowed vocals. While the record is slated for a July release, you can pick it up on June 10, when the band celebrates with a CD release show at the Lawrenceville Moose before hitting the road.
Lowery and guitarist David Burkes formed the band while both attending Mountour High School, back in 2000. After the inevitable lineup changes, the group has solidified into its current formation: Josh Branas joining Burkes on guitars, Stephen Lucarelli on bass, and Giuseppe Capolupo on drums. When they're not on the road, the members, who range in age from 19 to 26, are scattered around the Robinson, Moon and Bethel Park areas.
"We've always been a hardworking band," says Lowery. "We've always toured a lot -- that's what carries this band." Last year alone, Once Nothing played 250 shows; now it's embarking on a tour that will have the band playing almost every day between now and the beginning of August. Five of those dates will find the crew in Illinois, at the mammoth Christian music festival, Cornerstone.
"I grew up in the church and wasn't allowed to listen to secular music," Lowery explains. "But I liked heavy music and kept looking for the heaviest stuff I could find." That search led him to Christian metal and hardcore, the seeds of his own heavy vision. On Earthmover, you'll find songs like the high-test closing track, where Lowery sings, "Forgive me, Father for I have sinned. / Lucifer, I'll be down again. / Hold my head inside my hands / Is this part of some master plan?"
While Lowery says Once Nothing is "indifferent" to being labeled a Christian band, he offers the hope that whoever comes out to see them "can see a difference between us and a regular band."
Once Nothing CD release with Gwen Stacy, Failure to Fall, Belie My Burial and Horwood. 6 p.m. Sun., June 10. Lawrenceville Moose, 120 51st St., Lawrenceville. $10 (includes free CD). All ages. www.bridgeportent.com