Tag Archives: Nirvana

Winnipeg’s KEN Mode are in it for the Long Haul

Ken Mode

Photos by Scott Kinkade

It’s been a long and noisy road for KEN mode. The band was formed in 1999 by brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson (guitar/vocals and drums respectively) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, when they were barely out of high school. The original lineup was filled out by Darryl Laxdal, who would be the first in a long line of seven bass players.  KEN mode have always been unique, blending the harsh nihilism of noise rock bands like Unsane, Big Black and Today is the Day with the power and intensity of metallic hardcore. The band have been consistently labeled as “innovators” by both critics and fans, acclaim that usually creates a pressure to be constantly pushing toward ‘Something New.’ That kind of scrutiny has caused legions of other bands to fall apart, but KEN mode have stayed the course, largely due to the strong bond between brothers Jesse and Shane.

KEN mode may have changed labels—and bassists—in the intervening years, but they’ve never flagged in their dedication to their fans, their challenging music, or their desire to take a “creative outsider” approach. Their upcoming EP, Nerve, is a fascinating collection of older material (outtakes from the Success recording sessions with Steve Albini in 2014, demos, and so forth)—fan service of the best kind.

The name KEN mode comes from a reference made by Henry Rollins about the emotional intensity developed during Black Flag’s My War days. It stands for “Kill Everyone Now mode”—an apt tag for a band of teenage misfits making “Mammoth metallic noise,” as the Matthewsons have described their music.

Continue reading