Like the towering mounds of toxic waste from which it gets its namesake, the music of Oklahoma City noise rock quartet Chat Pile is a suffocating, grotesque embodiment of the existential anguish that has defined the 21st Century. Between a dying planet, ever-increasing socio-economic disparity, and a general quality of life in a tailspin, one can’t help but muster a chuckle at this self-destructive dumpster fire of reality. It’s self-parody in its bleakest form and within that nihilism something undeniably alluring that four slacker Okies would channel into a sound that has captivated the underground and beyond.
Formed in 2019 and adopting the aliases of Stin (bass), Captain Ron (drums), Luther Manhole (guitar), and Raygun Busch (vocals), Chat Pile generated an immediate stir amid a burgeoning Midwest noise rock renaissance and beyond, releasing two EPs, This Dungeon Earth and Remove Your Skin Please. Between these two widely acclaimed recordings and word beginning to circulate about the band’s unhinged live show, Chat Pile’s brand of crass, crushing, and poignantly cynical noise rock did more than just fill a niche. It, in fact, built its own from the ground up, culminating in the band being signed to San Francisco-based dark experimental record label The Flenser in 2020 to release the band’s highly anticipated full-length debut.
This debut record would manifest in the form of 2022’s God’s Country, an album that would cement the band’s name among the highest echelons of the contemporary extreme music discussion. Poignantly depicting the weight of our assured, late-stage capitalism-induced apocalypse into aural form, Chat Pile’s debut captured the ugliness and absurdity of modern existence in the nine-track package of some of the most confronting, intense, and yet nevertheless resonant music released in years. Besides receiving universal critical acclaim and numerous accolades including Pitchfork’s Best New Music and countless year-end lists, including Rolling Stone’s Best Metal Albums of the Year and SPIN’s Best Albums of 2022, the release of God’s Country marked a paradigm shift in Chat Pile’s story.
From the very get-go, there was an immediate allure to the idea of four otherwise ordinary guys all coming together, smoking copious amounts of weed and recording some of the heaviest, bleak, and harrowing music to ever emerge from the American heartland, if not the world. For as oppressively bleak as its sound is, Chat Pile provides a distillation of the universally relatable modern dread felt by countless people every day. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why the band exploded in popularity the way it has following the release of God’s Country.
Chat Pile has been anything but dormant following its breakout debut, rounding out 2022 with the release of its original score for the film, Tenkiller and a slew of tour dates that included its inaugural, yet nevertheless largely sold-out East Coast run of live shows. Mirroring the bang it capped off the previous year with, Chat Pile made an explosive entrance into 2023. In just the first six months alone, the band served as support for Lingua Ignota’s final run of shows, released Brothers In Christ, a split EP with fellow “Flyover-Country” noise rock outfit Nerver, and made its fiery international live performance debut at Roadburn 2023.
On one hand, it can be read as rather extraordinary as how in just a mere handful of years, Chat Pile went from four regular dudes from Oklahoma forming a punk band to one of the defining acts in the present zeitgeist of extreme music. On the other, its meteoric and continued success could be argued as all but inevitable from the very start, as Chat Pile’s portrayal of the horrors comprising our everyday existence makes the twisted, otherwise uncompromising brutality of its music relatable in ways we’re afraid to admit but know are unequivocally true. Rock music has historically doubled as the voice for the generation and in the case of Chat Pile, that adage not only applies but holds an immense implication for what the future holds for us. In the meantime, as these four Okies would want, let’s revel in the absurdity of it all.