When reporter John Kurucz isn’t crafting heartwarming community newspaper stories or nursing a debilitating nicotine habit in the back alley of the Vancouver Courier, he bangs the drums for local death metal outfit Gross Misconduct. The long-serving band, which originated in mighty Nanaimo 20 years ago, will release its third album on Friday. In between ciggies, Kurucz was kind enough to answer our questions about the dark arts, grooming habits and how often he plays the drums shirtless.
This is your first album in seven years, why so long?
The easy answer is because we are all from Nanaimo. We operate on Island time. The more involved explanation is because it took us almost three years to find a bass player. Most of the songs were written, but there was no one to tickle the four strings.
Calling yourself Gross Misconduct, one might assume you guys are a hockey themed band. How much does hockey inform your music?
Hockey helps me stay in shape to be able to perform, but otherwise has next to no influence. I’m the only hockey fan in the band. We settled on the name when we were unoriginal and uninspired teenagers. Now we are old and adverse to change.
There are lots of drummer jokes out there. What is the best one you’ve heard?
I resent this question. Please refer to the numerous studies (all scientific and peer reviewed, of course) that conclusively point out that drummers are geniuses in mind, body and spirit. That said, This is Spinal Tap perfected drummer jokes.
What is going to give you carpal tunnel first, drumming in a metal band or working for a community newspaper?
Drumming. I have hurt my wrists while drumming countless times. Twice this week so far and it’s only Monday.
What kind of musical injuries have you had?
Pieces of drum sticks breaking off and flying into my eyes. Bandmates inadvertently spitting on me. Beers thrown at me while on stage. Attacked by overzealous promoters/security. Both ankles and wrists have stopped working at various times, as have my upper and lower back. The only thing to come out unscathed has been my hair.
In your band promo photo, your hair flows like a cascading river of gold. What is your hair “routine”?
Thankfully the photo in question was taken before Vancouver’s humidity levels went through the roof. Fall and spring are nightmare territory. Frizz galore. I recommend a good leave-in conditioner but sometimes even that is not enough.
This is your band’s first vinyl release. Why vinyl? I thought metal was impervious to trends.
Vinyl didn’t seem to be a big draw when our first two albums came out in 2007 and 2011. I’d go to shows and see CDs and download cards on all the merch tables, but not so much vinyl. Now it’s the opposite.
Why did you call your new album Equinox instead of Solstice?
When I think solstice, I picture drum circles at Third Beach. We are not affiliated in any way with those turds.
Your press bumph says this is your “most sprawling and concise” album to date. How can something be both sprawling and concise? Isn’t that like saying something is both wet and dry?
Point taken. Sprawling referred to the amount of overall musical territory covered, concise was in reference to the all killer, no filler nature of each song itself.
How does one age gracefully while still devoted to the dark arts?
Naps. I love naps. A day doesn’t go by without a nap in my life. I nap twice on Saturdays.
What’s the biggest misconception about metal that you’d like to clear up?
That metalheads are unintelligent people drowning in negativity. Metal shows are arguably the most inclusive gigs a person can ever attend. I understand how our music can be jarring or unsettling to the uninitiated and maybe that’s part of the point. But at the same time, we have hearts of gold and love our moms.
There are photos on the internet — most of them circulated by you — of you playing drums shirtless in the past. Do you still play shirtless?
I still play shirtless from time to time. Not so much anymore since I switched to using in-ear monitors three years ago. The cord tends to get stuck to me due to the excessive amounts of sweat running down my neck and back. You’re welcome for that visual.
When you are interviewing school board trustees, or anyone for that matter, have they ever recognized you or acknowledged your metal pedigree?
I was riding my bike around the Seawall in the summer of 2016. It was a beautiful summer evening and I thought my day couldn’t get any better. As I flew by Sunset Beach I heard someone say, ‘That guy’s in Gross Misconduct.’ I was wrong. My day could get better and it did.
What can audiences expect when they come out to see Gross Misconduct play?
We’ve been together for 20 years and genuinely enjoy performing together. It really shows in the live setting. There will be no “Do you guys like beer?” or “I want to see a mosh pit in here!” We get up there, play the songs and be done with it. The music does all the talking for us.
What’s the most “metal” thing you’ve done this week?
We are going to release a kickass album that I’m super proud of.
What level of success would Gross Misconduct have to achieve for you to quit the Courier?
Death metal is often referred to as debt metal. You pay lots of money for a rehearsal space and gear maintenance while receiving very little money in return. I foresee many school trustee interviews and visits to community gardens in my future.
Gross Misconduct celebrates the release of its new album, Equinox, Nov. 2 at the Astoria.