Mar 21, 2023
A Soundtrack for Navigating Hell
Louisiana metal has a distinctive presence in the South—one which is loud, savage, heavy, and full of sludge. Better than a morning cup of coffee, the music of 4Mag Nitrous not only hits you with a distinct sound that knocks you on your ass, but their stage presence is larger than life, too.
If you need a soundtrack for navigating the hell that is Baton Rouge traffic, the music of 4Mag is it. Their latest offering, “Electric Conception,” was released in 2021 and is THE perfect music for cruising the road at a snail’s pace in and around the city, and on into outlying areas down I-10 and I-12. You must listen to it on full blast, though, with the windows down.
Pioneers in defining a sound and scene beginning all the way in the 90s with other projects that each member was involved in, such as Leak, Blower Mower, Slaves of Freedom, Mutehound, and Routine Fiend, the men of 4Mag Nitrous have been a constant fixture on the southern metal scene in one way or another and are establishing themselves as the OGs of untamed southern metal.
Aggressive, loud-crunching guitars, brutally heavy riffs, and striking melodic vocals round out this band, and if Pantera, Slayer, and Motorhead had a band baby, it would be 4Mag Nitrous.
Formed in January 2000, the band was on a mission to play the truest form of southern metal, and they have succeeded. Nitrous has gained much recognition by extensive playing and are currently played on 175 radio stations and heard worldwide via XM/Sirius satellite radio. These guys have solidified their place amongst the metal elite, and it’s time for the rest of the world to take notice.
4Mag Nitrous's music has also been featured on the Discovery Channel's series Monster Garage, along with the compilation CD and DVD for both seasons. They have also licensed songs for the A&E series Dog the Bounty Hunter, and in 2010 signed on with Lionsgate Films to license music in six upcoming films. Having performed on nationally syndicated music television shows like Louisiana Jukebox and SXSW Music Showcase, these guys continue to make an imprint all over the southern region of the U.S. In 2005, 4Mag Nitrous charted at #17 on the CMJ charts.
The band is comprised of Joel Cangiolosi (vocals, guitar), Ben Michon (guitar), Josh Klipstein (drums), and Kib (bass).
We recently caught up with the guys to ask them a few questions about the upcoming album they are recording, amongst other things we were just dying to know more about. So, grab a Snickers and kick back as we introduce you to a little bit more about what makes these guys tick; afterwards, go download their entire catalogue. I promise, you will thank me.
MaM: I know you guys are currently writing and recording new material. What is the direction of the new album, and what music are you currently listening to that is influencing the writing and creative process?
Kib: We write what we have fun playing and music we like to hear that we’re NOT hearing. There’s some of our songs we all agree are more fun to play, so, of course, the new stuff naturally follows that direction. We tend to like to play heads down & haulin’ ass! We like our songs and shows to have a lot of energy and to have music that, when you’re driving, you subconsciously push that gas pedal all the way to the floor! I would never want anything to be heavy just for the sake of being heavy. It needs to have feeling.
Joel: I’ve been currently listening to a death pop duo called VOWWS, Monster Magnet, and Ice Cube. All over the place, I know. (laughs) I try to stay away from the same genre of music that we play while in the writing process.
Ben: Lately I’ve been listening to Eminem’s last two albums quite a bit, as well as ‘Sometimes’ by City and Color, ‘Still Standing’ by Goodie Mob, and ‘Déjà Vu’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. The new songs we are writing have more of a thrash element to them than our last effort, in my opinion.
Klip: As far as I know, the new album's direction is faster and more aggressive. I actively am trying not to listen to too much music while we write this one, although it seems to be more old-school thrash when I do.
MaM: Joel, give us a brief background history on past music endeavors. You have always been a fixture on the local music scene for as long as I can remember, and I’m getting old, so that has been a long time. Also, who are your vocal influences? Your vocals are insanely melodic for being metal.
Joel: My musical journey started with a band called Big Daddy while I was in high school. Then in college, I had an original band called Sement. Then I moved on to a cover band called Bone China. Then we formed 4Mag and I played until 2004 when I moved out of state. Next was Lagerhead, Blower Motor, and finally back in 4Mag in 2017.
It’s interesting that you asked me about my vocal influences. I was really hoping to just play rhythm guitar, but Kib talked me into getting on the microphone. I’ve always just thought of myself as just a guitar player, so honestly, there’s not just one singer that I have been influenced by. But don’t get me wrong—there are plenty that I enjoy hearing.
MaM: Ben, you, too, have been on the scene for a very long time. Give us a brief background history on past music endeavors. Also, your guitar tone is insane! Who are your guitar influences? What equipment do you currently use, and what is your favorite type or types of guitars to use and why?
Ben: I started playing guitar when I was a freshman in high school at 13 or 14, I think. My grandmother bought me a $50 acoustic she found in the classified ads because I had been wanting a guitar. I have had quite a few music endeavors over the years, probably too many to list briefly. The most notable, I guess, would be Slaves of Freedom, Mute Hound, Big Frank, Routine Fiend, Glitchell, and Chemical City Rebels. I am still currently in Big Frank and Chemical City Rebels.
My guitar influences include Kirk Windstein, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson, David Gilmore, Warren Haynes, Jerry Cantrell, Matt Pike, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, John Baizley, Pete Adams, Chris Wollard, and Chuck Ragan, to name a few. I currently play primarily on a Bogner Uberschall amplifier through an Orange 4x12 cab loaded with Celestion vintage 30 speakers. I run several different effects, primarily a Crybaby 535Q, Earthquaker Avalance Run, Electro Harmonix Micro Pog, and a Boss RC-1 looper.
I really don’t have a favorite type of guitar. Now that I think about it, though, I guess Gibson guitars would be my favorite, because all the guitars that I own are either Gibson’s or shaped like guitars Gibson offers. My favorite one is an early 70's Yamaha SA-50 that’s shaped like a Gibson ES335 that I bought at a pawn shop for $200 years ago.
MaM: How did the 4Mag sound come about initially? When did you realize, “This is it,” this is OUR sound? Details.
Kib: The main thing we go for as far as our sound is thick tones with a bottom end that growls. Each of us like so many different styles of music. When we write, each of us [is] sprinkling their own style into the pot and mix[ing] it all up. But the most important part of it is letting the song dictate the direction. We’ll try different versions of parts when we get to it, but most of the time, the parts will write themselves. You have to stand back, see how the parts are speaking to each other, and not just force something because you like it (because you wrote it). We know when something is good because we seem to all react to it with excitement at the same time. And when all four of us are smiling after we come up with something, we know it’s a keeper!
Joel: Well, our sound is still evolving. Now that we have Josh and Ben in the band, it has opened our scope of musical exploration. Both guys are very familiar with writing, so we’ve been working on our sound now that we have all the key members in place. As far as our early quest for a sound, I remember Kib saying he wanted a rumbling type of sound mixed with big rigs, cool cars, my painting endeavors, and our way of life down here. We mixed a concoction of our own style.
MaM: Klip, we must know more about your mad drumming skills. Give us some more deets.
Klip: I have always been a "metal" drummer in our neck of the woods in Ascension Parish. [I] started off playing percussion in [sixth] grade. By the time high school hit, I had started on a drum kit and played with some friends. I have played music with Joel for roughly 25 years and Ben roughly 20. Ben and I are currently in another band called Big Frank. I play drums and am one of three vocals for the outfit. Although we are on a hiatus for the moment, my third band is Wicked River Rising. My drumming influences range from Dave Lombardo to Dave Weckl.
MaM: Kib, you are a beast on the bass! Obviously, someone had to influence your playing style, so who would that be and why?
Kib: I was put in piano lessons at [four years old] and until I was 12, I played bass instruments in band in middle school, but when I was 14, I got a bass and started a punk band the same week. I loved The Ramones, The Dead Milkmen, and early 80’s thrash. I never played guitar; it was always the bass. From playing piano, I immediately understood the job of the instrument and made playing with my fingers easier. For me, writing songs on bass helps with coming up with solid, catchy riffs.
MaM: Guys, name one band you would like to share the stage with but haven’t yet, and why.
Ben: High on Fire because I think our style and theirs would work well together, and I love their music.
Klip: I don't necessarily have one band I would like to share the stage with but would like to play a large festival. It has always been a bucket-list item.
Joel: Currently, probably Gojira but my inner child would say Metallica or Pantera (original lineup). All these bands rip, and it would be a great opportunity for our band to jump on a tour with them.
MaM: With all you have going on, what are your future plans?
Kib: Hoping for new opportunities to share the stage with bands we love and new friends as we keep chuggin’!! NEVER STOPPING!!
Ben: Finish writing the new record, release it, and play as much and as far out as we can.
Klip: I want to keep writing albums and playing them live.
Joel: Keep writing and booking gigs. Concentrate on our music and not some hokey gimmick(s) that I see a lot of bands doing. Keep pounding on doors and knocking down walls!
If you want some good ole southern metal that fuses rock and everything in between, you’re gonna want to check these guys out. Their discography is impressive as a mofo. Also, too, to learn more about this intense band with the untamed sound, be sure to check out their social media links and website.
4Mag (Self-Titled) – 2005
Monster Garage (Comp CD – Season 1) – 2004
Monster Garage (Comp CD – Season 2) – 2005
High-Road EP – 2019
Electric Conception – 2021
Questions or comments? Want us to check your band out? Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cover photo courtesy of Gary Governale