From Athens with Loud

Life on the road can be a lonely existence. The nameless faces, questionable hotel rooms, miles of nondescript terrain, and countless one-night stands can all lead a band to break down. So what if you could bring all the comforts of home along with you, including your soul mate? This could be the makings of rock 'n' roll marital bliss, but it is also the real-life story of Jucifer. This Athens, Georgia-based couple has been on the road for the better part of their career.

Since 1994, singer/guitarist Amber Valentine and drummer Ed Livengood have perfected a dingy, sludgy concoction of heavy guitar-driven tunes. On their previous albums, Lambs and Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip, Amber's voice switches between a seductive whisper and a demonic growl that would put Linda Blair to shame, while Livengood beats out solid, animalistic beats behind her. "I guess we started touring in the mid '90s," Valentine recalls. "But as far as the 'endless tour,' it's been since the fall of 2002." The endless tour she speaks of is partly the result of the band's new home on the road, in the form of a camper. Right now, home is where they park it. Jucifer's sound also can be credited to the amount of power they are packing with them. Valentine uses up to 15 amps on stage, depending on the space.

The band's unique sound has gained supporters in some unlikely corners, such as Athens' own Michael Stipe. "Being a Jucifer fan does not mean you have to like your rock hard," Valentine says. "A lot of people tell us that they hate heavy music but they like us. So, we must have something different going on." As far as labels go, Valentine declines to comment: "I always try to weasel out of that one. I get someone who has heard us and have them do it. We are loud and gritty, but we're not like a metal band in the typical sense. I never know what to tell people except that it's really loud."

The duo has been touring in support of their latest release, I Name You Destroyer, on Georgia-based Velocette Records. Even with their endless touring and hectic schedule, they have managed to record an EP for possible release next year. After this leg of their tour they park the camper and tour Europe. Although being in a van for more than a year would make most bands claw one another's eyes out, Valentine puts it in perspective: "God, we never try to get away from each other. We like to be around each other, so it works out." And as for what to expect at a Jucifer show, Valentine has these words of advice, so listen up: "Wear earplugs, but go with an open mind."

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Terra Sullivan