In December of 2007, brothers Michael Brigham (lead vocalist/guitarist) and Andy Martin (drummer) formed a band, which at the time, was known as Wrath. Because of a Chicago band with the same name, they decided to come up with a name that's more fitting. With a help from a friend, they landed on Conniption, meaning a fit of rage and hysterics.
While in the middle of recording tracks for "A Method To Madness," their first dip into the recording process, they brought in bass guitarist Cody Dziuk and lead guitarist Bill House. From that point forward, they aimed to blend a sense of New Wave British Heavy Metal, American Hard Rock and Thrash Metal.
Conniption has opened up for a variety of bands including Testament, Metal Church, Iced Earth, and Flotsam & Jetsam, as well as playing the Wisconsin State Fair and Summerfest. They've also performed as local support for Megadeth, Trivium, Opeth, GWAR, Cannibal Corpse, and All That Remains as well as headlining local shows.
While touring throughout the Midwest since their formation, the band continued to work on their next albums, both of which were released in 2013. "Kamikaze," which took a little more than two years and a lot of time and money, was released in May and only seven months later, they recorded and released "Time Has Come."
For the next couple of weeks, they'll be on stage putting on an energetic show of thrashing and head banging at different spots in Wisconsin. After their show at the Eagles Club in Green Bay, they'll be making their way to The Metal Grill in Cudahy on March 14 followed by a gig at The Rave on March 18.
Before the shows, OnMilwaukee.com chatted with Brigham about the band's musical influences, their albums, favorite gigs and their involvement in charity work.
OnMilwaukee.com: What bands did you like to listen to? Have any of these bands influence you in certain ways?
Michael Brigham: A lot of classic rock. Especially me and Andy, it started with oldies and then we had classic rock in there, too. For me, I heard Iron Maiden and that kind of changed my world. Then next I started to listen to Metallica, Megadeth, Diamond Head, Metal Church and all these groups that were more thrash metal. There's a lot of everything. We all listen to different stuff as well like classical and stuff like Pink Floyd is a huge influence to because it gives us a psychedelic edge on some of our songs.
OMC: When you guys first started out, you wrote a handful of songs for your first album "A Method To Madness." What was your experience like recording the album that you’ve been quoted as describing as "a glorified demo"?
MB: (laughs) Me and Andy wrote the record and then recorded our parts. As soon as Bill and Cody joined, we basically said, "Hey, we only have a few months and then we're going to record." They just wrote on top of our stuff that was already done. It was a cool learning experience, but it really wasn't us all writing together. A lot of the writing was done when I was in high school so it was more brought afterwards. It is what it is, but in all intended purposes, it was really just to get our feet wet with the whole recording process.
OMC: To my knowledge, there was a little over a five year gap between "A Method To Madness" and your second album "Kamikaze." Yet there’s only a 7-month gap between "Kamikaze" and "Time Has Come." Why was there such a long time gap between the first and second? What were you guys doing during that time?
MB: A lot of that was due to money because we spent a lot of money on "Kamikaze." We went through a couple different versions of it and stuff like that and really got it down and as we were finishing up recording, we started writing the next one and released it later that year. For a few years, we didn't have anything besides that glorified demo, then in 2013, we had two albums. I will say, though, that in 2009, Rock It Up Records out of Germany signed us just for our glorified demo so that was really cool. They sold that all over the world.
Part of it was figuring out how we write songs together. We had to find a formula for that and we wanted to do it right. "Kamikaze" is basically a double album. It's an hour and fifteen minutes or an hour and 20 minutes, which is easily a double disc anywhere. That was just because there was a lot of material that we wrote during the time.
OMC: What was the inspiration behind both "Kamikaze" and "Time Has Come"?
MB: For "Kamikaze," we had all of our influences together that we still had and all the songs are different colors and different styles of playing. We melted it all together and to me, it was a feel like "Night At The Opera" type thing from Queen where it's just like a lot of different styles put together and different emotions kind of thrown together. We obviously want to keep that for every record, but "Time Has Come" was, as well call it, straight to the point. We still had those different emotions and different styles that separate them, but we cut the sad a little "Time Has Come" versus "Kamikaze" for which we had so much that we wanted to say.
OMC: How chaotic was that process of recording "Time Has Come" right after "Kamikaze"?
MB: We spent a lot more money on "Kamikaze" and spent a lot more time. "Time Has Come" felt like a live album because we just went in there, recorded it and we were out, which was great because "Kamikaze" took two and a half years recording. For "Time Has Come," it took like two and a half months and that's not an exaggeration and that includes mixing and mastering. It was really quick.
OMC: When on tour, you guys typically travel all over the midwest and haven't yet expanded beyond that. Why is that?
MB: We all have full time jobs, so taking time off and having family time makes it interesting. It's really just money basically. We do plan on taking a tour to California soon. Right now we're just making as big of a name for ourselves as we can in the midwest and then spreading further beyond that.
OMC: What has been your favorite gig so far?
MB: My favorite gigs are when we usually play at The Rave. We've played there countless times. I feel like it's kind of our home. There's always a crowd there, so it's fun. Some of our live recordings are done at The Rave that you can check out on YouTube.
One of my other favorite gigs was playing at the WAMI Awards last year. Before we knew we won, we played and we didn't even care if we won because it was so cool to play there. It was at the Appleton PAC and it was just incredible. It was beautiful and just huge. They liked us. They gave us six minutes. They gave everyone else a couple songs and we just played a six minute song (laughs).
OMC: You've performed at both State Fair and Summerfest last year. What was that experience like?
MB: That was great. State Fair is cool, but I like Summerfest besides the parking. We were lucky enough to play Harley last year so that was really cool. Hopefully we can do it again this year and we plan on doing both.
OMC: During a metal show, the crowd gets riled up and crazy things tend to happen. What has been the craziest thing that has happened at a show of yours?
MB: People getting hurt a little bit. We try not to let it go too far. We've had injuries in mosh pits, but we try to watch that and make sure everyone's cool and everyone in the mosh pit is only wanting to be there. We try to not encourage that too much. The craziest thing would probably be like people body surfing because you have to have a decent crowd to do that and they're obviously getting into it.
OMC: Is there a way in which you prep before you go on stage? Like do you get into a certain mindset?
MB: Andy stretches. I warm up the fingers by doing a few techniques and vocal warm ups are usually a good idea. And beer. Especially when it's cold, you gotta do a shot of Jack or something (laughs). We're usually not big drinkers before going out on stage. We will have a drink, but we take it very seriously. We take our drinking very seriously too, but we just do that after the show (laughs).
OMC: I’ve read that charity and fundraising events are very important to you guys and you all have connections to the causes you support. What are those connections?
MB: We've done some stuff for the Children's Hospital through a friend of a friend that works there. We did a show for the Children's Hospital too. We love doing stuff for cancer because every single one of us had a tragedy with a family member with cancer. It's very close to us. Anything we can do we put our time and efforts in it.
OMC: Moving on to your show next Saturday, what can can people expect?
MB: We're waiting for the new album before we play any of the new stuff but it's going to be at the same place where we recorded the video for "Let The Wolf Out." We expect to make it a great show. We have Heroes Lie, which is a great band, is going to be playing right before us and there's a wrestler, Mason Ryan I believe, and he's going to be there signing stuff because Heroes Lie did his theme song.
OMC: What's next for you guys after the tour?
MB: We're getting our next album together now and we're plan on making it better than the last one. That's always our goal and it's really the only thing we're trying to keep in mind. We always grow. We always get better. We always get more complicated, but in a more simple way. We don't want to go super progressive where we lose everybody but we want to get better as musicians and as songwriters. This one's going to be a little heavier and a little faster.
Colton Dunham's passion for movies began back as far as he can remember. Before he reached double digits in age, he stayed up on Saturday nights and watched numerous classic horror movies with his grandfather. Eventually, he branched out to other genres and the passion grew to what it is today.
Only this time, he's writing about his response to each movie he sees, whether it's a review for a website, or a short, 140-character review on Twitter. When he's not inside of a movie theater, at home binge watching a television show, or bragging that he's a published author, he's pursuing to keep movies a huge part of his life, whether it's as a journalist/critic or, ahem, a screenwriter.