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Ben Hutcherson Of Khemmis

Khemmis Guitarist/Vocalist Ben Hutcherson Shares His Doom Cover Of Santana & Rob Thomas’ “Smooth”


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Khemmis guitarist/vocalist Ben Hutcherson has released his cover of Santana‘s platinum-certified 1999 single “Smooth“. That track saw Santana pair up with Matchbox 20 vocalist Rob Thomas and wound up revitalizing Santana‘s career.

Hutcherson has done away with the upbeat Latin-inspired rhythms of the original and instead turned the track into a doom-laden dirge, newly rechristening it “Opus Santanas“. It’s part of a new project Hutcherson has been working dubbed The Doctor Of Doom, in which he is giving similarly heavy makeovers to hit singles of the 1990s. To help fund that endeavor, he has launched this Patreon.

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Hutcherson told The Pit of the track:

“In the songs that I had gone back to, there was something interesting happening. Because fuck, I could make a grindcore version of ‘Smooth‘ by Santana, and say, Ha ha! And that’s it. But for better or for worse, I spent a long time reconfiguring that song. Just the arranging of it took days, and then figuring out how I wanted to play things, and take the feel of the song and translate it to its other form.

And I probably wouldn’t have done any of this if I hadn’t been locked in my house while a deadly virus rages outside. I suddenly had this time where I’m not going on tour this year, next year, fuck, ever again? So I could say, Fuck it and go get whatever straight job is available now in the age of the virus, or I could really double down on really being a musician.”

When asked why he has chosen to tackle hits from the ’90s in his own way, he replied:

“The whole thing started with this guy Glenn Fricker, who runs Spectre Sound Studios. He runs this annual contest — I didn’t know about it until this year — where he offers up some parameters, and says, ‘Pick a song from whatever, a genre or a decade, and turn it into a good metal song.’

And this year, it’s songs of the ‘90s. It can’t already be a metal song, it needs to be a pop song or a non-metal song of some sort. I was born in ‘85, so I got a little bit of the ‘80s, but I came of age in the ‘90s, and I don’t have nostalgia for that era at fucking all. Anyone who’s nostalgic for their own adolescence has to do some fucking work on themselves. If you peaked at 13, you gotta get some help.

So they announced the contest, and I put on Space Hog or the Wallflowers or something, and I thought, “God, this shit is just NOT GOOD.’ But my next thought was, ‘But these songs were huge!’ And that’s not to say that all songs that are hugely successful have something good in them, but a lot of them do! A lot of them were written by incredible talented people, especially full-on pop songs.

We hear this a lot of in metal — metal musicians say, ‘Well, anyone can pick up a guitar and write a pop song!’ No, you fucking can’t, because if you could you’d be a millionaire. Now, some of these bands didn’t have ghostwriters, they weren’t classically-trained musicians, but they had something. Something’s going on there.”

If you’re hoping that his deep dive into the ’90s may find him crossing over into the nü-metal genre, you may be left disappointed though, as he had the following to say of that era:

“One of the things is, I fucking hate nostalgia. Nostalgia as a concept involves the romanticization of things that shouldn’t be romanticized. It involves the rewriting of history. We’re living in a moment where sociopolitically, nostalgia has been allowed to drive so much of what’s happening around us — nostalgia for a time when things were great.

It fucking sucked then, and it fucking sucks now! Being nostalgic for moments in time decontextualizes what those moments were. Let me put it this way: I will fuck with the first System of a Down album. I will fuck with Slipknot. But I’m not going to act like the moment in American history that those albums came out of is somehow wonderful. I lived through it, and by looking back and saying, ‘Oh, it was actually like this,’ we downplay all the fucked-up stuff that was happening.

Sociopolitically, the ‘90s? Fucking garbage! Creative industries as a whole were just filled with bloat and regurgitation. My original idea was to call this series Nostalgia Killer, but I don’t know, I feel like anything with ‘killing’ in the title might be not a good move right now. But my goal is to kill nostalgia.”

You can find more from Hutcherson on the project over at The Pit.

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