Arts

Weiyun Lu leads a double life as both graduate student and musician. Photo: Parker Townes.

Mixing masters with metal is essential, Lu says

Software engineering and death metal might not sound like a typical combination, but for U of O graduate student Weiyun Lu, he couldn’t imagine living any other way.

Lu is pursuing a masters of computer science while also playing bass for local thrash and death metal band Accursed Spawn, whose first full-length album is being released later this month. The band has been active since 2010, with Lu joining a few years ago after the band had started on their first full-length album. He described his audition for the band as a “trial by fire” as he was invited to play a set with the group in Montreal as a test-run.

The upcoming album was recorded in Ottawa and mastered in Montreal by Christian Donaldson, guitarist of metal band Cryptopsy.

Lu says he listened to video game music growing up and was introduced to Japanese metal in high school. From there he got into Western metal, and he’s been playing in the Ottawa scene for almost a decade.

Lu got into the bass because of the instrument’s potential for counterpoint. He takes pride in not just copying the guitar line on bass but writing a unique piece of music that complements the melody.

“Anyone can write a cool guitar riff because you can do whatever you want. Once there’s already something there and you want to write something else that’s not already there but fits it and doesn’t clash with it, I find that’s a different level of musical creativity that really speaks to me,” said Lu.

Lu admits that balancing work and school isn’t always easy. He often brings his schoolwork with him to shows just to get a project done on time.

“I’ve taken my work with me to shows,” Lu said. “I’ve sat down and been revising a paper, got up and played my set, went back to schoolwork.”

It goes both ways though. Lu says that he’s been at academic conferences where he’ll be editing tablature in Guitar Pro between talks.

As a teaching assistant, Lu teaches a three-hour lab once and a week and prepares and helps grade tests. He doesn’t advertise that he’s a death metal bassist once school wraps up, but he admits that he’s been recognized at a show by one student.

“It’s kind of like two separate lives almost,” Lu said. “Definitely a secret agent, double life kind of thing.”

The band toured the east coast last summer and plays plenty of shows in Toronto and Montreal. They started looking for a label after they began recording their album, and now that they’ve signed they’ve been getting bigger shows.

Balancing graduate school with music isn’t easy, but to Lu it’s essential. The graduate work gives him a much-needed day job — Lu also works part-time at a tech start-up and is hoping to turn that into a full-time job soon — while music is both a passion and a creative outlet.

“It’s a very good outlet,” Lu said. “If I didn’t do the music thing I might go crazy.”

Accursed Spawn are playing their CD release show at Café Dekcuf on March 30.