GREENVILLE, NCMembers of the local grindcore music group Grimnir confirmed Monday that raccoons have forced the band to flee the garage of drummer Brian Bigelow's family home and relocate to the "crappy" attic.
"At first, it was just one of them, digging around near the garbage cans," said Bigelow, 16, hunched over in the attic to avoid a low-hanging beam. "Then there was another one. Next thing you knew, they were just everywhere."
Observers say three to four raccoons currently occupy the garage, owned by Albert and Janice Bigelow and converted into a practice space by Bigelow, guitarist Pete Stanislavsky, and bassist Marco Batista in September 2005.
"They kept scratching at the garbage cans and ruined a bunch of recordings," Stanislavsky said. "And they chewed through Brian's bass drum and built a nest in there. That cost us 80 bucks to replace."
Band members also cited 20 lost demo tapes and a chewed-up 12-pack of candy bars. They estimate the total loss caused by the raccoons to be more than $105.
Sources close to the band suspect that the ready availability of food, as well as shelter from the cold weather, attracted the nocturnal creatures, who allegedly infiltrated the garage by digging holes beneath the structure's base.
The raccoons reportedly began foraging near the site in December of last year, and while at first easily frightened away by the noise of Grimnir's Friday-evening practices, they were welcomed by the band.
"We thought, 'Cool, there's, like, wild animals in here while we're playing,'" Bigelow said.
Over the next few months, however, the animals grew accustomed to the noise, and became markedly more aggressive and territorial. It is also believed that they acquired a taste for Cheetos during this period.
"Next thing you know, there's a whole fucking family of them, with their little eyes glowing back at us from the rafters," Batista said.
Band members say their attempts to drive the raccoons awaysetting out mothballs and bleach, and throwing drumsticks at themproved ineffective.
Finally, after Stanislavsky encountered a hissing, teeth-baring male, dubbed a "boar," the band was ultimately forced to abandon the space.
"He tried to bite me,'" said Stanislavsky, who estimated the raccoon's weight to be "at least 50 pounds."
The band retreated to the Bigelows' cramped and dusty attic only after a compromise with Bigelow's father in which they promised to clean the space and play their music at much lower levels.
"Even after moving all that shit out," Bigelow said, "we can still barely fit."
Saddled with an 8 p.m. curfew, a strict no-smoking policy, and "sucky" acoustics, Bigelow and his bandmates said the ongoing raccoon problem has seriously undermined Grimnir's creative output. Yet longtime fans disagree, insisting that the conflict has fueled some of the band's strongest work yet.
"They've done some cool shit lately," said friend and classmate Dylan Holdness. "'Cord Chewer' fucking thrashes, man. 'Maskt' and 'Bastard Claaw of Mayhem' are pretty rockin', too. If they keep this up, they'll totally rule the Greenville grindcore scene."