There have been plenty of misleading names in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. The Violent Femmes never slayed anybody. The Killers have never gone to trial. Led Zeppelin never owned a dirigible. But back in the ’90s, Charlestonians might have been forgiven if they had gotten the wrong idea about Children’s Choir.
At a time when every other band on the scene wanted to be the next Hootie, the wildly inappropriately named heavy metal act refused to live in the reflection of Darius Rucker’s cracked rear view.
“We were definitely doing something that wasn’t really going on, that wasn’t really popular at the time,” says bassist/vocalist Kevin Isaac. “But doing any other thing wasn’t something that interested us.”
Today, the band’s music is still far from fashionable, leaning more toward the head-banging proto-metal of Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath than the electro-emo-tinged thrashings-about that populate the Warped Tour.
But even among like-minded bands who trace their lineage back to Helmet and early-era Metallica, Children’s Choir is a bit of an anachronism. Isaac has watched OzzFest and MayhemFest morph over the last 10 years into something different than what he plays with his brother Richie (on guitar) and Paolo Licciardi (on drums).
The apogee of the Children’s Choir career arc came sometime in the mid/late-’90s, when the group regularly shared the Music Farm stage with KMFDM, L7, and Corrosion of Conformity. The band also tore up the East Coast, playing opening gigs for the likes of Marilyn Manson and GWAR. Isaac’s departure for Washington, D.C., in 2000 marked the end of regular performances, but the band has since reunited a few times in Charleston.
Listening to their recordings, there is a tone of triumph in Isaac’s bellowed lyrics, which often assume the low syllable count of a good hardcore refrain.
In the old days, a Children’s Choir concert was a curiosity within a jam-band scene. Today, it’s less clear where the band fits in. But Kevin Isaac is still talking loud.