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Striking Chords for the Planet: A Heartfelt Conversation with Tar Creek

Prepare for a high-energy dive into the world of hardcore music as we sit down with Oklahoma's own Tar Creek. With their powerful sound and relentless passion, this band is making waves in the local scene and beyond, delivering a raw and unapologetic experience.

Can you tell us about the origins of your band and how you all came together?

Tar Creek formed when all 4 of the original members were attending UCO. Damon (bass) and Tyler (OG guitar) were actually random on campus roommates, and Damon and I (Ashton, vocals) have the same major, so we had classes together. Jared (OG drummer) was introduced through mutual friends at school, and Tar Creek was born. Through a couple of lineup changes (all on good terms), Tar Creek is now as follows: Ashton Lippel - Vocals, Damon Gipson - Bass, Deacon Crabb - Guitar, Walter Peñate - Drums.

What's the story behind your band's name?

So Tar Creek is the nickname given to a government superfund site in the northeast corner of our home state, located in Picher, Oklahoma. Essentially, the government mined the lead and zinc needed for bullets during WWI & WWII in the Quapaw Tribe area of NE Oklahoma, SE Kansas, and SW Missouri. Afterwards, they didn't clean up any of the residual lead and minerals, which eventually poisoned the town's top-soil and water supply. After decades of failed clean up attempts, the town was bought out, and citizens relocated, but it was too late. An EF4 tornado struck the town in 2008, killing 6 and injuring over 150, leveling all of their homes. All of this could've been avoided if the government and EPA would've taken action, but they didn't.

How would you describe your music and style in a few words?

Aggressive and emotional melodic hardcore.

What are some of your musical influences and inspirations?

We have a super diverse range of influences, which I think gives us a unique sound. It's hard to narrow down, but some of the top influences on us are Terror, Stick To Your Guns, Knocked Loose, Boundaries, Deftones, Worthwhile, Bullet For My Valentine, PeelingFlesh, Suicide Silence, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and a ton more.

Can you share some memorable moments or stories from your journey as a band?

In recent time, our first tour went about as good as it could have. We played 9 shows across 2 weeks, and hit a bunch of markets for the first time. It was great times in great cities, playing with great bands (S/O A Kiss Before Dying, FALL, SKUM, & Aversive Control). Some other big moments for us have been opening up for some larger scale heavy acts when they came through OKC during our first couple years as a band. Opening for Stick To Your Guns & SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Silent Planet, Sanguisugabogg. We have had an awesome ride so far, and we aren't stopping any time soon.

What's your songwriting process like?

Usually Deacon will bring a riff to the table, then we as a band will workshop a song together around said riff. Once guitar and bass are written, we program drums to get a general idea, then lyrics come into play. Sometimes Deacon brings full songs ready to go that we tweak, and Damon and Walter also bring ideas to the table that we flesh out, but it usually starts with the riff, and the magic happens when we work together as a unit to bring a song to life.

Do you collaborate on lyrics and music, or does one member take the lead?

Usually we all collaborate on the music. I (Ashton) will write rough lyrics and cadences to bring to the guys, then we refine and tweak them from there. Sometimes we collaborate on lyrics as well though.

Tell us about your latest album or project. What can listeners expect from it?

Not to sound cliché, but we have definitely kicked it up a notch in terms of heaviness with the next release. Maintaining a riff driven structure, we are tuned lower, chugging harder, and we want to expand upon our vast range of influences and really let them shine through in our next release(s). Expect us to keep bringing that nostalgic early 2000's vibe, those melodic riffs and vocals, but articulated in a punchier, more driven way. We are sitting on a ton of new songs, and are taking our time to make sure we present them in the right way.

Are there any specific themes or messages you aim to convey through your music? Environmental conservation is a big one for us. Our entire first record Consumed is an exaggerated retelling of the story of Picher and what went down there. Aside from bringing light to the actual Tar Creek, we want to provide a message of strength for our listeners. None of us have ever been the cool kid. None of us came from money. Through loss, the struggles of life, and all other obstacles, we have persevered, and will continue to. Tar Creek is for the fat kids, the losers, the outcasts, the nobodies, and everyone in between. While all are welcome, hate is not, and we strive to provide a safe place in our music and at our shows.

How do you approach live performances and engaging with your audience?

Every live performance is an opportunity for us to let go of all the bullshit that is weighing us down in daily life. Whether it's a day job, classes, family issues, whatever, we look at each show as an opportunity to create a memorable experience for us and our fans who attend. Engaging with our fans is always so rewarding, because everyone always has a different story, and the music always resonates for a different reason, which we think is pretty fucking cool.

Any upcoming tours or gigs fans should look out for?

We are winding down for the year right now, but we have a handful of home shows over the next few weeks to close out 2023, and we are game planning tours for 2024, so keep your eyes peeled! We start hitting the studio this month, so we will be in recording mode for a while.

What do you hope people take away from your music?

We hope that people understand that we really love what we do. We write this music for us, not to follow any trend or to do what is cool. The music we write is unapologetically Tar Creek, and you're getting a piece of us with our music. We hope you find strength, hope, and community in our music.

Are there any artists or bands you'd love to collaborate with in the future?

Oh hell yeah! A Kiss Before Dying and Aversive Control out of Memphis, FALL out of Louisville, KY, Slander from Corpus Christi, and Mouth For War out of CO would all be so sick.

Can you share your thoughts on the current state of the music industry and any challenges you've faced as a band?

The industry is thriving right now. Post-Covid, the demand for shows is higher than ever, more kids are into heavy music than ever, and there is a serious upward trend right now. There will always be gatekeepers, haters, and assholes, which have been the majority of our struggles, but things are pretty alright as far as music goes.

What's the most important piece of advice you'd give to aspiring musicians or bands?

Just get in a room and play. Practice until it sucks, and then keep practicing. Play as many shows as you can without oversaturating, and start touring as soon as you can. And when it comes to releasing and recording music, TAKE THE TIME TO SAVE UP, AND INVEST IN WORKING WITH A GOOD ENGINEER. Nobody wants to listen to music that sounds like shit, and while sometimes the music does speak for itself, a good mix will go a really, really long way. Before I let you guys go are there any fun facts about everyone in the band? Ashton (vocals) is a dad, and commissions pyrography (woodburning) art.

Damon (bass) is an incredibly talented audio engineer, and can or has played almost any instrument with strings.

Deacon (guitar) is indigenous and helps teach Cherokee basket weaving classes at home in Oklahoma, as well as can play any instrument in the band, including harsh vocals.

Walter (drums) is a licensed real estate and insurance agent, and also produces dope EDM music on his own.

I really appreciate you guys taking the time to do this interview, and if any readers out there want's to keep up with Tar Creek and what they are working on check out these links:

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