The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir (THGTC) is a savannah-based metal band that takes their name from their practice space, which was once a church.
The band draws influence from multiple sub-genres such as hardcore and thrash metal, citing influence from prolific bands like Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan and The Jesus Lizard.
It all started when drummer Tanner Hamilton and bassist Sleve were playing in Heavy Books, which they described as an indie psych rock band with shoegaze elements.
The two musicians shared common ground in the type of music they wanted to approach, and began writing songs with a much heavier sound. Not long after, THGTC’s guitarist Arron Givens of Hot Plate joined the band.
Givens noted that during the time of joining THGTC, Hot Plate had “sort of broken up” due to their drummer moving to Atlanta. While browsing Facebook he came across Sleve’s post for a guitarist and pounced on the opportunity.
“We were just advertising noisy power violence, black metal, or just loud, fast aggressive music. He [Givens] responded, and the three of us had a lot of fun writing three songs pretty quickly,” explained Sleve.
When the trio began working on songs, vocal duties were split between Hamilton and Sleve. However, hey noticed that parts of their songs were becoming too difficult to play instrumentally while also providing vocals.
THGTC decided that they were in need of a lead vocalist and front person in order to give their lyrics the attention they deserved.
“When you have somebody who’s free from having to worry about playing an instrument, it adds that extra layer of complexity and focus to the vocal parts. So, we decided to look for somebody,” said Sleve on their decision to find a vocalist.
Nat Lacuna had been living in Savannah for around five months. During that time their tattoo artist Temple Cantrell told Lacuna about various local shows and events happening in town.
Cantrell who was a member of a metal and hardcore Facebook group passed along THGTC’s post about needing a vocalist to Lacuna. Through Cantrell, Lacuna was able to get in touch with Sleve and auditioned for the band.
All four members agree that their chemistry was solid there by cementing the band as a four-piece outfit.
“Nat is an incredible creative source and when they get on stage, they are just an animal,” said Hamilton.
The band has written and recorded their EP All American during the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Although the situation prevented them from playing live shows, it allowed them to channel their focus on their EP.
“I think I can speak for everybody when we say that sh-t f-ing sucked, because we started right before lockdown. What that allowed us to do was really hone everything in, especially All American. I think we recorded that in like two days,” said Hamilton.
All American received a redux thanks to the help of Chris “Scary” Adams from the band Black Tusk, a staple of the Savannah metal scene. Scary helped the band record the redux version of their EP.
Music with a message
Like many bands that fall into the metal genre, THGTC is not timid about professing their discontent and frustration with the current times.
Heavy music is a conduit for raw emotion, and although they agree that it can be a challenge to digest for the uninitiated, they aim to make it accessible for anyone looking to dive into the scene no matter what walk of life.
Lacuna, who identifies as trans, stresses the importance of having a platform to share ideas that many people might not be receptive to.
“Heavy music has a strong sense of community, but sometimes it can be very close minded in certain pockets. The hardcore scene can be very much tough guy, bro-dude, jock stuff, and none of us are like that,” remarked Lacuna. “We’re very left leaning politically, and very much about social progression, equality, feminism, justice for the abused, along with equal treatment for disabled people, homeless people, people of color and LGBTQ folks.”
The band also aims to put on engaging live shows with the hopes of showing crowds something unique.
“It’s all about the live performance really, at the end of the day. We love writing music, and it’s really important to be pushing our boundaries as composers and songwriters. But it’s in service to have a great live show that sounds really good,” said Sleve.
Looking toward the future
Currently, the band are gearing up to release their new album Slow Murder later this summer, and are releasing a music video, directed by Our Home Films, for their new single “Cow Tools” on Monday, June 6.
The album will be released on Graveface records and mixed by Jonathan Nunéz, the guitarist from Miami sludge metal band Torche.
The band is excited to be incorporating new experiment elements into their already unique sound through the use of harsh noise and synthesizers.
“We really lean into a lot of the textural sort of layers when we go for the more drone style stuff, interludes and whatnot. In our songs, you know, we rely on a lot of feedback and delay pedal you know, trickery and stuff.” said Sleve.
After the new album is released, the band is planning to spend time working on small short releases like splits and collaborative efforts with other bands.
The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir will be performing at 12:30 p.m. on June 11 at the Ships of the Sea Museum for AURA Fest.
After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the annual AURA Fest (All Underground Rock All-day) returns to the Georgia Ships of the Sea Museum on June 11. The festival is open to all ages, and is a day-long showcase of local, regional and national metal and hardcore bands. This year 11 bands will be performing, including local and regional favorites such as The Holy Ghost Tabernacle Choir, Depressor and Second Death. AURA Fest will also see larger headliners like Impending Doom and Lorna Shore tear up the stage at Saturday’s fest
The event starts at 12:30 p.m. and will have food trucks, beverages and other activities for festival goers to enjoy. Alex Arango sat down with three bands to get the lowdown on this year’s fest and what audiences can look forward to. More information about the festival and tickets can be found at aurafestsavannah.com