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Glass Ox Make Their Own Way

The Des Moines band Glass Ox during a live performance. Their latest EP, "Temptress," was released earlier this year.
Courtesy of Tanner Heinrichs
The Des Moines band Glass Ox during a live performance. Their latest EP, "Temptress," was released earlier this year.

The Des Moines band Glass Ox are a part of Des Moines' heavy metal scene. They released a new EP called "Temptress" in January.

If you’re not exactly sure what “heavy metal” music is, it’s okay. The members of the Des Moines band Glass Ox, who are often considered to be part of that city’s heavy metal scene, aren’t really sure they fit in either.

“I don’t know if heavy metal fans would consider us ‘heavy metal,’” said Bo Becker, the singer, guitarist, and main songwriter for Glass Ox. “It’s more of a vibe, or something. I definitely don’t sing like a classic heavy metal singer. Maybe if we didn’t have any guitar solos, we wouldn’t be considered a heavy metal band.”

“We always get thrown into the metal category, which I’m fine with, because that’s what we all love,” said drummer Javi Rodriguez. “None of us can really pinpoint what we are, but that’s also what makes it fun. We can kind of throw in elements of all these different genres that we all love, and that’s what makes our sound.”

Bruce Bales

“We’re unmarketable in many different ways,” said Becker, with a laugh.

Becker is a veteran of several Iowa bands, including Modern Life Is War. He began Glass Ox in 2014, as his solo recording project. In 2018, Becker began collaborating with Rodriguez and bassist Mythias Keahna, and they worked well enough together that Glass Ox became a full-time band. They released an album in early 2020, and were eager to play shows before the pandemic hit.

“We were so new, and still figuring each other out. Obviously, we liked each other, and we were meshing really well. Mostly, we were just wanting to play shows,” said Rodriguez. “People here in Des Moines had already known about Glass Ox, so the deal was to write songs, play shows, and re-introduce the band with new blood. Those first few shows went really well, and they were pretty well-attended. People dug what we were doing.”

“Des Moines definitely has an established heavy music scene, “said Becker. “In terms of local shows, they’ve gone really well, with lots of people at them. We’ve played with lots of different genre bands, too.”

Once COVID-19 became a pandemic, and shows came to a halt, Glass Ox continued to safely meet up at Becker’s house to play through their music. Becker also continued writing music, which he sent to Rodruguez and Keahna.

Soon, they had enough songs for a new EP, and they were able to record the songs almost entirely in their homes. The result was “Temptress,” released in January 2021.

“What we put out is kind of representative of how we had to work,” said Becker. “Two of the songs are completely instrumental, and one of them has a lot of keyboards. It’s not something we would have written together: it’s definitely more of a home studio thing.”

“I don’t know if that’s normally going to be our process, but I kind of liked it,” said Becker. “It was convenient, and we didn’t have to pay for a lot of studio time. It’s almost like baby steps out to doing a real record.”

“I think we were more fortunate than most bands out there, in that we didn’t really stop,” said Rodruguez. “It was a really good feeling to be able to say, ‘Hey we’ve got these five songs, let’s put them out.’ We weren’t relying on these recording studios that weren’t taking anybody, or didn’t feel comfortable having people in.”

Glass Ox are already at work on their next full-length album, and are hoping to play some shows soon, but they’re also willing to wait and see what happens. “We don’t want to be super spreaders,” said Becker.

“Temptress” is available at Bandcamp and Spotify.

Tony Dehner is a Studio One Host