Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Brad Fletcher's excellent grind sludge metal adventure

 BRAD FLETCHER IS living proof you can go back in time. You can reconnect. You can be true to yourself in music. You can tour your old haunts and tour Iceland. Music, no matter what form, can take you back and propel you into the now.

Wait a second. Tour Iceland?

Brad lives in Quincy. He moved here in 2008, a year after his band in Weymouth, Mass., disbanded. They were called Continued Without A Finding. Brad works for Kohl Wholesale in IT. He plays bass and drums in a couple of area cover bands and loves it.

But his original music and his friends from back home are his true love.

Brad Fletcher (top) and his CWAF brothers.
"We all grew up in garages, playing crazy music," he says. "I just love playing originals. It's a totally different animal from doing the cover band thing. You need a tablet and the tabs to play all those songs. The originals? I know every word and every note. And it's like exposing yourself, the way you are creating something from the ground up."

CWAF includes guitarist Tom Walsh and drummer John Gillis. Eric Yetman joined as a guitar player last year - he was the lead singer way back in 2002. They describe their music as crushing grind sludge metal - really, really heavy.

In the 2000s, the band kicked around the Boston area and played weekend tours, and playing heavy originals was a tough road to sled. They got onto bills and tours and played wherever and whenever they could. Brad and his band learned from friends and other bands about professionalism - showing up on time for gigs, knowing the material, playing their hearts out no matter how many people showed up.

Tom and John moved to California is 2007. Before they left the band recorded seven songs for a self-titled debut album. It was cheaply done in a basement. Tom and John wrote the music, Brad the lyrics, and Brad sang. The project was long forgotten when Brad reconnected with his old friends last year. 

"Tom somehow got my number and he called me. I hadn't talked to him in 10 years," Brad says. "He asked about the songs we did. I told him I still had the recordings. And off we went."

Walsh founded 1635 Records to support heavy original music and to put out CWAF's album. The band got friend Chris Leamy to clean up the recording. Another friend, Karl Dahmer, did the artwork for the CDs and album (yes, album, as in record). Last July Brad went home for a visit and met up with his bandmates for the first time in a decade, and in October they had a practice.

"Just like riding a bike," Brad says.

Now they have a four-city tour planned April 18-21 in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. In October the band plays at a festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, and hopes to play a few other Iceland shows "in cities with names starting with an R," as Brad puts it. CWAF also has a June show in Weymouth, and the band is recording cover songs for another album. More original material is being created for yet another album, hopefully later this year.

Brad hopes to bring to the band to Quincy and the Midwest in about a year.

They even have a new single, mixed by Quincy's Jim Percy, and on April 17 they will play it on a livestream from the "home studio in Dorchester."

Song titles include Copulate, Lunghammer, Arm Of The Pig and Just Another Day In The Orifice. Brad has the Spinal Tap sense of humor - when asked about the Orifice song, he says, "Oh. That one? That's an instrumental."

Going home to play with his old friends is important to Brad, as is family. Last May, his parents and family came to Quincy to watch Brad's daughter, Alexis, graduate from Quincy University. That afternoon Brad's band, The Second Stringers, had a show at Mayfest in front of Dick Brothers Brewery. Brad's parents had only seen him play once - his first show, in 1993. They just weren't into the heavy stuff Brad was playing.

"But they were very supportive. They'd watch the kids so I could get out and play, things like that," Brad says.

"It felt great to look out there and see them all singing along," Brad recalls. "My dad was blown away. He said, 'I had no idea you could sing!'" 

The show became even more special when Brad's father passed away at home a few months later. "It meant a lot they could see it," Brad says.

So the excellent music adventure continues, heavy grind sludge style, bashing away in the bars and venues just like the old days. Brad and Continued Without A Finding are back, for the aptly named Prodigal Tour 2024.

"So much fun," Brad says. "It's hitting the ground running, non-stop, 100 miles per hour."



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