Bart Lattimore has been blazing a trail in the local Charlotte country/folk scene as a singer-songwriter for the last two years. However, when a few friends were searching for a frontman for a new metal band, Lattimore decided it was time for a slight departure from his roots.
"I was playing at [drummer Joey Vernon's] wedding and he asked me if I wanted to sing for Vulture," Lattimore says after a recent band practice. "I had done a little metal project with another friend of mine but it wasn't anything like this. Usually I'm trying to move people's souls, but with this band I'm just trying to actually get people to move. I'm here to put on a show. It's all heart."
The result is a heavy, infectious brand of metal which changes tempos and speeds and includes dark, haunting riffs and blistering squeals. Vulture, which performs at Tremont Music Hall on Nov. 22, is a far cry from Lattimore's other, more introspective gig.
Vulture got its start when drummer Vernon teamed up with guitarist Joshua Taddeo after the demise of Vernon's grunge rock band, Mego. "Joey and I were talking one night about bands we really liked and bands we thought sucked," Taddeo says. "We both wanted to do something fun. We kept saying Motörhead. We want it to be like Motörhead, but more epic — like a giant Tesla coil that shoots lightning and burns people."
After the duo's first practice resulted in its first song, Taddeo and Vernon realized they needed a bass player. "We asked Travis Lakeman because he was in Mego with Joey. We never intended on having a singer, because it was initially going to be an instrumental project," Taddeo adds.
With its rhythm section of Vernon and Lakeman in place, the band set out to write its own brand of dark, power metal — think Mastodon on a heavy diet of the Scorpions with some Skid Row thrown in for good measure.
"I mean, we all listen to different things. For me, it was Iron Maiden," Vernon says. "That's how I learned to play drums — essentially by listening to Iron Maiden tapes and trying to play like that. But then it was punk and early death metal that influenced me. So, we just brought all that in with us."
However, they eventually realized the band needed a frontman, and Lattimore clearly sets the tone. Instead of singing country/folk songs about good times and heartache, in Vulture the 26-year-old now conjures up a world of wizards, dragons and sorcery set against the band's distinctive backdrop of old-school power metal, with a sludgier tone.
The band's songs, such as "Titty Wizard" and "Path to Pleasure Town," have also brought a little humor into its metal. Eschewing gutteral, "cookie monster" vocals, Lattimore blazes through his lyrics with a melodic freshness, sounding like Ronnie James Dio with a distinctly Southern, gentlemanly flare.
Vulture plans to enter the studio early next year and continues to write new material in the meantime. "A few shots of whiskey, a few beers and epic times — that's how we create Vulture songs," Taddeo says. Adds Lattimore, "It's drink-a-beer, start-a-fight, have-a-good-time rock 'n' roll."