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Basement King 

Fistula's Corey Bing unleashes an all-star project.

King Travolta singer-bassist-drummer Corey Bing has been called "the Dave Grohl of sludge." That description makes him wince, even though he masterminded the sessions for the underground metal project.

"I don't play all the instruments or anything," says the bearded Bing, smiling to match the grinning devil on his ballcap. "It's really unbelievable how many people want to be a part of this mess."

"Corey gets us all in a room and makes it happen," says Travolta's chiseled bassist, Bahb Branca, eager to offer credit.

Northeast Ohio's most prolific metalhead, Bing presides over a half-dozen projects that play variations on sludge metal. The aptly named genre's adherents are musical grandchildren of Black Sabbath: Whether they play codeine-slow or crank-fast, the common current is deep, bottom-end distortion.

In 2006, Bing and Branca have released more records than they've played live shows. Even if you follow local music and frequent the rock clubs, you probably haven't seen them play.

"That's never been an important part of what we do," says Branca. "We don't hang out at the hot spots. We are like we are because we locked ourselves away from everybody for years."

The two grew up in Litchfield, in the southern backwoods of Northeast Ohio, where they can turn a haywagon into a stage and make as much noise as they like -- even shooting guns and blowing up records with dynamite, common incidents at Bing and Branca's debauched outdoor party-shows for Fistula, their most popular group.

Enamored of that band, 16 drummer Jason Corley flew in from California to attend a Fistula bash. He arrived just as a rift was developing between Bing and Branca and their longtime drummer. Corley stepped in, making Bing's bands the foundation of his Corley Music label. He's issued six of Bing's eight releases for the year: a Fistula EP, three Son of Jor-El EPs and splits, a Scumchrist EP, and now the King Travolta LP.

The album's 17 players include locals Jeff Fahl, Mike Burns (both of Rue), and Scott Stearns (Diehard, Ultralord), as well as stoner-rock big dogs from Alabama Thunderpussy, Bloodlet, and Bongzilla. Mixed by Billy Anderson (High on Fire, Mr. Bungle), the disc hits the streets October 15.

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