When Paisley Addams arrives at a new venue, people may brush her off at first. They don’t understand that she’s not just some girl who’s there to swoon over a man and sell his merch. She’s a badass bassist and one-third of local metal-makers Tripping the Mechanism.
The band’s guitarist Legion and drummer Cutter love to watch as folks take notice of Tripping’s secret weapon. “That turns out to be a large part of our amusement,” Cutter says. “We’ll show up somewhere, and they’ll greet me and they’ll greet Legion, but then they kind of don’t pay Paisley any mind. They think maybe she’s the girlfriend of one of us, so then when we get up on stage, you can see them checking us out. But when she gets on stage and blasts it out, we just kind of start giggling. I mean, she gets more into it than a lot of guy vocalists that we’ve seen and played with.”
Addams and Cutter have been married for over two decades. Just over 10 years ago, the couple moved to Charleston from Alabama, and before long, they’d struck up a friendship with Legion via Addams’ job. At first, it seemed like musically speaking they were on different planets. She’s a Tori Amos, Bjork, and Bikini Kill kind of gal, and Cutter loves his Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, while Legion listens to death metal and bands like Pig Destroyer. However, when the three began to jam, it was metal that made the most sense as a band.
As for their band’s name, Cutter and company were careful not to go with one that left them trapped in genre hell. “We didn’t want a name that pigeonholed us, like you can tell it’s a death metal band if it’s called Kill Your Mama or something,” Cutter laughs. “But if we want to play a little of this or a little of that, we want the freedom to do so and not have to adhere to what the name of the band is.”
In November, Tripping the Mechanism will record their second LP, the follow-up to 2013’s Start the Evolution. But on March 7, the band will celebrate the release of Postestas Virtus, an EP they recorded at the Jam Room in Columbia with the help of the studio’s Jay Matheson and Phillip Cope of Kylesa, a respected sludge metal band from Savannah. Postestas may only be a two-song record, but “Eye to the Skies” whispers, wails, and rocks for over eight minutes, while the five-minute “Unspeakable” is a great example of the good that can come from being a long-time Bikini Kill fan.
Cutter admits the band’s repertoire far exceeds the amount of recording they’ve done, but that’s to be expected since Tripping the Mechanism is also a hardcore gang of road warriors. The trio leave town every other weekend to play a show, and this summer, they’ll set out for cities like Tampa, New Orleans, and Colorado Springs. But the extraordinary thing about the band’s dedication to the road is the fact that Cutter and Addams are also parents to a six-year-old girl named Ilex.
So how does that work? Most of the time the couple has a babysitter, but every so often, they just rock out as a family. “Occasionally, we take her to a show or two. I have these big earmuffs headsets I’ll put on her, and she just sits behind the drumset with me,” Cutter says. “She’s a large part of our life, and we really dig her. We never imagined having her would be cumbersome in any way. We always knew we could work it in to what we do.”
Whether or not Ilex becomes the second girl in the band remains to be seen. “She bashes on the drums and fiddles on the bass,” Cutter says. “We’re hoping when she gets older she’ll be interested in selling some T-shirts, you know?”