Therapeutic Chokehold is a Tampa trio of early 30-something gents who aren't afraid to scream at you to get their point across. Musically diverse and loud as all hell, they reach out and grab your ears by the throat.
Thumbing through their playlist, you find their music is neither static or stationary. Each song steers you in a different musical direction: No Light is a thumping romp through Tool-style '90s alt-metal, Get Your Head Right is a piece of pure Pixies/Weezer pop, Piece of Mind is straight-up Red Hot Chili Pepper-infused funk and You Want Love recalls Nirvana.
Therapeutic Chokehold are Jeff Fox, guitar and vocals; Angel Lopez, bass and vocals; and Jay Gervais, drums and backing vocals. Fox and Lopez met with us on a cold December evening to enlighten us on their musical plight.
How long have you been working together?
Fox: As far as calling ourselves Therapeutic Chokehold, seven years. We've been playing together for 13 years.
What is it that has kept you together for 13 years?
Lopez: Well, that's on and off. He (Gervais) was in other bands, and would come back and jam with us. We've had several drummers.
Fox: We went through many, many auditions through the years.
A better question would be, what keeps him coming back?
Lopez: That's a good question. I wish he was here. (both laugh)
What is each member's strongest contribution?
Lopez: Jay's strongest suit is that he always comes back. (laughs) No, Jay's aspect is, he's grown a lot, he's a lot more open … way more open to input. Jeff, he's our energizer battery. He's the one that keeps the band together. He does a lot of hard work that me and Jay do not do. He looks for the shows, he's the one that does the recording. Jeff puts a lot of time and energy into the band. I think Jay sees the time and energy that Jeff's put in. I think that's what's made him more open and receptive.
Fox: What Jay brings, in my opinion, is energy. Let's face it; if your drummer doesn't have energy, you're just not that great of a band. You need that. Angel's always been like the Yoda of the band. We've been best buddies for so long. We've seen each other through a lot of hard times, so we've been there for each other. As far as the three of us, Angel plays the role of Dr. Phil. (laughs)
How did you come up with the name Therapeutic Chokehold?
Fox: A long time ago, in the very beginning, we started calling ourselves "Stash" or "The Stash."
As in a stash of weed, or a moustache?
Fox and Lopez (simultaneously): A stash of weed. (both laugh)
Fox: After that, we started calling ourselves "Plan-B," and then I was like, "We can't share the name with a morning-after pill and other various things." Then one day, Angel came to me and said a co-worker told him the words "Therapeutic Chokehold," and I was, like, "I love it."
Is therapeutic chokehold an actual medical procedure?
Lopez: I was working at a mental health place, and a person was going through a psychotic breakdown, and they pretty much yoke 'em up, and they refer to that as a therapeutic chokehold.
Fox: We tend to try to think of it as: We play an aggressive breed of music, but we try to have positive messages, even if what we say is a little dark.
Lopez: Even though it's screamed at you, it's still positive.
What are some of those themes?
Fox: Small-mindedness and the good 'ol boy network — people's inability to think. People who are stuck in the old way of thinking, instead of, "What's best for everybody?" I have a problem with abusive power. That pretty much fuels my rage.