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Death metal and balloon art, an Edmonton band's unique and popular combination

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How do you recruit a balloon artist to a metal band? You suggest it out of the blue at a rehearsal and someone in the band happens to know a guy. That's how it worked for one Edmonton group.

Balloon art and metal music aren't things people normally think of together, but that's part of the reason Edmonton death metal band Axe Womb likes mixing them together.

"(People) definitely don't expect it," said Mike Brule, the drummer for Axe Womb. "We've gotten tons of positive reactions about it, people are just stoked every time they see these things come out."

The group formed when some members of the metal band Ravage Red wanted to experiment with a different sound.

During a rehearsal, when they were talking about ways to differentiate the bands, one member suggested getting a balloon artist. Everyone immediately loved the idea and the vocalist happened to know one who was also a metal fan.

"We figured it'd be a nice breath of fresh air … mosh pits are very cool and all that, everyone running around, for some people that's not their cup of tea," said Lorenz Lindgren, a guitarist for Axe Womb. "So a balloon actually is a great way to interact in that facet."

"Usually you don't get into things that are much darker than say, like the scariest scene in a Pixar film," said Jason Kordyban. "Balloons are generally colourful and round … giving that juxtaposition with the extremity of fairly brutal death metal, it's something I just had to be a part of. You can't turn down that opportunity."

Kordyban plays guitar and always wanted to be part of a band, but never imagined it would happen this way. He originally learned to make balloon art as part of his wife's face painting business.

During the shows, Kordyban plays the part of Babyface the evil clown, handing out balloon axes.

"As soon as you bring the balloons out and you start handing them out, everybody comes up to the front of the stage, there's a whole new energy, everybody's got them waving them around, getting involved just being silly," Kordyban said. "Everybody's 10 years old again, it's fantastic.

Jason Kordyban with a balloon axe he made on Wednesday May 8, 2024. (Matt Marshall/CTV News Edmonton)

"You might see a fellow who's been into the music a long time and sees it thinks it's a bit gimmicky … my goal is to get an axe in his hand and a smile on his face and just get him to kind of loosen up a bit and just join in the silly spectacle that is a mosh pit of balloons."

Axe Womb started out as a fun side project, while Ravage Red was the more serious musical commitment. They didn't expect people to enjoy the direction they went in this much.

"Now people are more excited to see Jay out there than they are to see us on stage, which is so cool," Brule said. "It's immediate crowd interaction. You can be playing in front of a dead crowd where it's just tough to get people into it, the second you throw these balloons out there people just get right into it, following right along and just start going wild with them."

"Now, we're trying to incorporate a bit more, trying to get some things to happen during certain parts in the song," Kordyban said. "The last show had a bit of stage decor, had some other props to try to get some other gigs going and I got a bunch of other ideas."

This summer the group plans to spend time recording in a studio and release an album.

"The music will speak for itself, that is something that's important to us, we don't want to put out a bad product," Brule said. "But in terms of a live show, (balloons are) an absolute must at this point now it's just part of the band."

"It's really inspiring, as far as being a balloon artist goes, to be able to do these unique things that I've never seen anybody else do before," Kordyban said.

Axe Womb is planning to perform live again later in the summer and the fall, once the album has been recorded.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson

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