Category Archives: Interviews
By Simon Hadley
The Mexican band Violet Magick formed in late 2011 and released their Violet Demo soon after. It was a collection of vintage, “Satanic” doom metal that evoked bands like Saint Vitus and, of course, Black Sabbath. There was, however, one particular twist: The highly theatrical trio used phonetic language in place of actual lyrics.
A homage to Paul Chain Violet Theatre – and, to a lesser extent, early Death SS which Chain was a member of – the band have continued to evolve into the ultimate occult-inspired outfit. Decked out in purple – well, okay, “violet” cloaks – their rituals – live performances, to you and me – deal with the everyday issues of alchemy, parapsychology and the study of magic.
Referring to themselves as alchemical symbols, I caught up with bassist and vocalist, Mercury, via email.
How did you initially come up with the band’s concept and sound?
Mercury: The three of us are lovers of doom metal and obscure rock in general. After being really hooked for some time with the sound of the obscure Italian doom school, we decided that we wanted to form a band with this occult and horror inspired aesthetic that characterises the likes of: Paul Chain Violet Theatre, early Death SS, Black Hole and Zess.
Regarding the ideological concept, I can say that we are really interested by topics related with occultism and hermetism, so we naturally thought that this concept would fit the sound of the band perfectly.
The influence of Paul Chain runs heavily through these early tracks – Your Violet Demo even contains a couple of covers. When did you first find out about his approach to metal?
M: You’re right. I can say that Paul Chain is our biggest influence, and although the tape version of our Violet Demo has two covers of Death SS, they are from the era in which Paul Chain was the axeman of this legendary band.
Personally, my first approach with doom metal was when I listened to Black Sabbath at the age of 15: I felt completely lured by their ultra-heavy and obscure style. Besides that, at that age, I was not completely immersed in this form of heavy metal.
A couple of years later, I discovered Death SS thanks to a friend of mine. After that, it was matter of time to find the solo project of their founder guitarist ‘Paul Chain Violet Theatre’ and thanks to a Mexican fanzine called Under Fire, I later found Black Hole, the Black, Zess and Abysmal Grief – that’s how I got sunk into this kind of doom metal. Later on, I showed some of these bands to my band mates who were also victims of their musical spells.
The theme of Satanism, tongue-in-cheek or not, has a long tradition in metal. How important is it to what you guys are doing?
M: We see Satanism as another religion: We are not too much into it, although we respect it and also its followers. Regarding Violet Magick, we are more influenced by alchemy, spiritualism and occultism in general.
You refer to yourselves as symbols, and your guitarist has started wearing a mask on stage. Why do you feel the need to protect your identity?
M: I don’t have any need to protect my identity. When I’m on stage, I always tend to unveil my face. Our guitarist uses some kind of skull make-up to honour the Paul Chain imagery when he played in Death SS as “The Death”.
We refer to ourselves as symbols because we think that they fit the concept of the band. Those symbols: mercury, sulphur and salt represent the stepping stones of creation in alchemy. And as we are the makers of this microcosm called Violet Magick, we used them to represent us.
I noticed that you were recently praised by Ghost. That must have been a proud moment for you?
M: That’s right. I’m not sure if it was an official post or not, but in general we feel great when some other people out there take their time by helping us spread our violet gospel of doom. We appreciate every complement we receive from anyone who likes our band, be it from a big act such as Ghost, or from a fan.
Maybe they’re hoping to take you on tour?
M: That would be awesome. Although, I’m not sure about that, as none of us has had any kind of contact with them.
Staying on the subject of Ghost, their new album, Infestissumam, has been well-received by mainstream music fans. Is reaching non-metal fans a goal?
M: Ghost is a great band, and they started making a lot of buzz since the release of their first album. But, indeed, I think that Infestissumam has a more digestible sound for the mainstream media. In our case, we are not interested in reaching those kind of fans; we want to keep our style in a more hermetic way, knowing that not everybody out there is going to really catch what we are playing. But, for sure, the diehard fans of our influences will find us interesting.
Your demo has spread through message boards and social-networking websites like wildfire. Are there any plans to release a full-length album in the not-too-distant future?
M: We have noticed that, and we are really proud about that: We never thought that we could make a lot of noise without having a full-length album. For the moment, we are currently recording some new songs that may come out as an EP, and there have been some talking with the US label, Shadow Kingdom for a full-length release. So maybe we’ll release our first album next year.
Interview: Simon Hadley.
At first glance, the South is a boastful, yet, slightly idealist moniker. On closer inspection, it’s entirely justified. Rock and roll is, after all, in this young trio’s blood. Hailing from Dallas, Texas – the home of Buddy Holly among others – Texas is also the birthplace of: Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top. Blues-rock pioneers.
Like their Tennessee brothers, the Heavy Eyes – more of them later – the South’s early collection of smoky, easy-listening blues is steeped in tradition: soulful licks that wail and howl, to the sound of timely organ flourishes and world-weary lyrics.
Let’s start with the obvious: Who are the South?
RL: Right now, there are only two of us: We’re in the market for a new drummer. Sam, the bassist, and I [Ryan] have been best friends since we were 3 and 4 years old. We met in preschool and developed together into the people we are today. We grew up on the classics, and that’s why we have such a love for the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. We’re on the exact same page, and we’re looking for that third person who shares the same musical interests as us.
Your previous band, the American Spirit, had a rugged, ‘90s-esque sound. What made you make the jump from grunge to blues?
RL: I’d say that we just love the groove that you get into when playing the blues. No other type of music is quite like it. We crank the amps up and just ride a riff for hours in the garage. It kind of puts you in a trance almost. It’s really incredible.
Being a blues-rock band from Texas is saddled with pressure. Do you think your moniker will make it difficult to live up to blues fans’ expectations, or is it simply a case of being proud of your roots?
RL: We are very proud of our roots. Honestly, we don’t care if we live up to expectations of the standard blues fan. We make the music we want to make, and say the things we want to say, because it’s who we are. If people enjoy it, and want to get on board, I couldn’t be happier. But if they don’t like what we’re doing, they can find another band to listen to [laughs].
For the outside world, blues is synonymous with Texas. Were you aware of artists such as: Stevie Ray Vaughan and ZZ Top growing up? Also, how important is it to Texas to have a thriving blues scene?
RL: Absolutely. Stevie Ray and ZZ top were among our favourites growing up. Our dads listened to them as well, so naturally, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. And honestly, from where we’re from [Dallas] the blues scene is so incredibly underground, that it almost doesn’t exist anymore. Most of the music coming out of Dallas nowadays is hip hop or hardcore metal bands. It’s a really sad thing. That’s why we’re moving to Austin; where more of the old styles of rock ‘n’ roll are thriving.
Your self-titled EP has a very mature sound; making it even more impressive to think that you’re barely out of your teens. How supportive have family and friends been since the South really took off?
RL: Our families have always been very supportive of anything we’ve ever done musically. Have they really gotten the point of the long hair and bell bottoms? Not so much [laughs] but they still support us no matter what.
Passive Recordings recently promoted your support slot with Planes and Planets in Carrollton. For those of us who aren’t aware of Passive Recordings, who are they? Also, are there any plans to work with them in the future?
RL: They’re really nice dudes trying to promote good music and local artists. I always support people that try and spread local music to people that don’t take the time to go out and find it. At this point we don’t have any set plans to work with them in the future, but we’re always down to work with anyone doing something for the good of music.
You recently covered ‘Voyek’ by the Heavy Eyes, and they’ve been pretty vocal in their support. How did you find out about the Heavy Eyes, and are there any plans to tour with them in the future?
RL: We found the Heavy Eyes on YouTube about a year ago, and we can honestly say that they were the band that totally got us obsessed with the heavy blues genre. Since then, we’ve seen them live and had a couple chats. Totally nice dudes and their music deserves to be listened to. And no, not really, but we definitely wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if it arises. We’d love to play shows with those guys.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
RL: The classics of course, like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. But for the most part, we listen to underground stoner and hard rock [bands] from today, as well as the past. We love listening to bands that never got enough credit such as: Pentagram, Blue Cheer, and Red Dirt. Here’s a list of the other bands that have been taking over our lives for the past year or so: Graveyard, Witchcraft, Kadavar, Witch, Electric Wizard, and the Sword.
El Camino by the Black Keys is being touted as the best rock album of the year. Are you fans of the Black Keys? Also, how important have they been in bringing the blues-rock sound to a wider audience?
RL: We dig the Black Keys. Some of their new stuff sounds like it’s a little bit more geared towards the public, but it’s still good. I especially love their old music. Their album Thickfreakness is very good. I think they’re pretty important in that respect. It’s nice to see that rock ‘n’ roll is making its way back in the charts.
Finally, when we can expect the follow-up to your self-titled EP?
RL: We don’t really have a set date for the release of our next record, but I can tell you some of the basic details: It’s going to be called Hallow’s Eve and its going to have a distinct Halloween sound to it. We’ve already begun writing songs for it, and ‘Mrs. Absinthe’ will re-appear on it. I’d say you can expect it to be released sometime next summer.
Listen to the South’s self-titled EP below:
Interview: Simon Hadley.
Chocolate Love Factory are a playful bunch: You’d have to be to proceed with such a moniker. Since their 2010 demo, Biscuit Music – with its chocolate-related cover art – to their debut single ‘Rat Bag/Texty Texty’ – again, notice the confectionary theme – the Northern Irish trio of: Rory Dee (vocals and guitar), Pearse McClelland (bass) and drummer John Quinn have been blurring the boundaries between grunge and stoner: explosive, blistering grooves that rumble with angst and melodic sensibilities.
Let’s start with the obvious: Chocolate Love Factory. Where did the name come from?
Rory Dee: It’s a truly legendary story. We’d got our first gig, and I’d been struggling with a name. I was thinking of going for something like one of Nirvana’s early pisstake names; just until we had more time to think about it. I had ‘Coughing Coffin’ and a few others that were pretty awful.
Then the promoter emailed again, saying she needed all our details, as she had to get a write up in the local paper. My girlfriend was sitting there, and I asked her what she thought we should call the band and, swear to god, Chocolate Love Factory were the first three words that came out of her mouth. We both laughed for a wee bit, and then I was like, “Yes”’. And so, the stupidest name in rock history was born (thanks love!).
Were you surprised by the initial, online positive feedback, to the ‘Rat Bag/Texty Texty’ single last year?
RD: Yeah it was class. We didn’t know what to expect. We thought they were good songs, and well recorded, but we were just doing what we wanted to do: not sparing a thought for what our audience would be. There were a few cool reviews of it and stuff, and then we were listed in Live4Ever’s best of 2011 list, halfway through the year. It was encouraging to see things like that.
But aye, releasing that in one of the big-ish venues over here, the Spring & Airbrake, was pretty awesome too. A truly memorable night, with all the bands we’d played with and loved during that previous year on the bill, and a load of people came out. It was cool to see all the hard work that went into promoting it paying off. Even looking back at some of the videos from that night, the crowd reaction was awesome.
Having followed your output since then, Octavia – the band’s first official EP – and now, ‘Motivator’, embraces grunge aesthetes: raucous choruses moulded into melodic punk-rock. Has it been a conscious decision to move away from your desert-rock roots?
RD: No, not at all. We like to move forward in the most natural way possible; through jamming and not really thinking about stuff too much. Wherever our guitars want to take us – we’re just the mediums. I want it to be true expression. Also, the addition of Pearse [McClelland] on bass has definitely brought a lot more energy to proceedings. He’s a wee punk at heart.
The new EP isn’t gonna be filled full of ‘Motivator’s – it’s really varied – although, yes, I think the desert-rock sound has definitely taken a back seat on this one.
Pearse McClelland: It was a conscious decision to spend more time and care when writing ‘Motivator’ and the other songs. It’s different from anything we’ve done before, but it’s fun to try something different. Maybe the next EP we do will be free style jazz!
RD: John [Quinn] would go mad for that shit like!
RD: Personally, I become enamoured with things for years. First it was Nirvana and the whole grunge thing. I have a huge catalogue of rip-off Nirvana songs I used to write for ages. Then I started this band while I was obsessed with QOTSA; trying to be them for a few years. It feels like another new phase coming on right now, but it’s not clear what it’s inspired by just yet. A microcosm of a load of new stuff I’ve discovered over the past while. Our own sound maybe? You’ll have to decide yourself!
AU Magazine recently described you as: “one of this small country’s [Northern Ireland’s] best in riff-fuelled rock.” This must fill you with pride.
RD: Oh yes, it’s always cool when you don’t get slagged in reviews! We have a lot of respect for the guys at AU, so to hear them praising us like that is pretty sweet.
PM: When there are bands like LaFaro and The Rupture Dogs around here, who consistently write awesome riffs, then yes, that’s pretty fucking cool!
RD: I know. When there are bands like Lantern for a Gale knocking about here too, it’s a class comment to receive.
I noticed that you played a ‘homecoming show’ in Moy at the end of last year. How supportive have friends and family been since the Love Factory opened?
PM: They’ve been great for us to be honest. I don’t think we’d have the same enthusiasm for what we do, if it wasn’t for them.
RD: Yeah, some of the videos of that night are insane. My wee brother brought down a pile of his friends, and he says it was a memorable night for them all. It was a memorable one for me too: the first live airing of this band in my little hometown. My dad actually got to see us for the first time that night. He really enjoyed it, and that felt good, because he’s one of my biggest supporters, along with my wee brother. To have them finally seeing the show was a special moment. It’s because of friends and family, that we’re allowed to lead a life of complete excess, and keep the whole circus travelling!
Having exhausted the local club scene, are there any plans to cross the water next year?
RD: Yes absolutely! We’ve just had a few set backs getting ourselves together in that regard. We’re itching to get over the pond to play in the UK (and beyond) , but we’re all working pretty shitty jobs, trying to survive at the minute – we just don’t have that extra cash available right now to invest in a van. We’re looking for new jobs, and if we can start getting a bit more money from the band, we’ll be over in a shot.
Ideally though, I don’t want to release our new EP until we can properly promote it with a tour. That might delay the EP until the new year (until we get our shit together!). But also in a way, I’m glad we haven’t made it out on tour yet. Only now, do I feel our live shows are really coming into fruition, and I think we’re starting to show our potential as a live act.
Just having the right songs to put together in a varied, entertaining set; the proficiency to pull off what we want to, and also the introduction of honey – meaning I don’t lose my voice half way through the show! The set feels pretty good at the minute. I’m pickin’ up good vibrations!
Staying on the subject of touring, you recently shared the bill with Junior Johnson. How would you describe his sound?
RD: He’s a great guy, with a bloody lovely voice! He’s got very bluesy sensibilities and is a very talented guitarist. We were all mesmerised by his performance up in the Cellar Bar the last time we played, and we will definitely be hitting him up for a support slot in the near future! He’s also accompanied on a few songs by a guy called Dermot McBride: a complete legend of a man, who knows how to spin a good yarn!
Rory, as anyone who’s witnessed the band live will testify, you’re a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. What’s the most personal song you’ve written?
RD: It’s probably ‘Herbal Sham’ off Octavia. It might not make a lot of sense to some people, but it was a cathartic experience writing that song. The lyrics came easily enough, because they were centred on one silly little situation that was blown out of proportion, in my silly little teenage mind. The music itself was something I worked on for the best part of a year.
I came up with that lovely little arpeggio bit at the start, while lying in bed with a guitar one day: recorded it and thought it sounded really special. Then it was something I’d always come back to and work on. It kept changing and it took ages [for it] to feel right. But I’m happy with how that song turned out. I wrote and recorded it all though, so the band have still to completely understand it’s ridiculous proggy structure, but I’m hoping one day we can do it live!
Finally, as chocolate connoisseurs: Cadbury, Nestle or Thorntons?
RD: That’s a tough one! It’s probably Cadbury for me, although Thorntons is a very close second!
PM: Aw here! Cadbury all the way like!
John Quinn: Nestle, just ’cause I hate you guys.
Watch the video for Chocolate Love Factory’s latest single ‘Motivator’ below:
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Gretchen Garretsen.
It’s difficult to think of another hard-rock trio with ties to the Red Planet. The Deserts of Mars’ self-proclaimed brand of ‘Mars metal’ has been thrilling Texan audiences since their live inception, while the release of Transmission, the band’s debut full-length, has received positive feedback from the underground rock community.
Here, Tony Salvaggio (bass and vocals) reacts to their rising online reputation, as well as revealing the secrets behind the ‘Mars metal’ sound.
What is the definition of ‘Mars metal’?
When we first coined it, we were trying to find a way to describe a growly, aggressive, riff-based sound that isn’t pure metal or stoner; and is equal in being both aggressive and melodic.
We sing about space (and all of the things that make cool metal songs) so ‘Mars Metal’ became the way we [the band] describe what we are doing. It just seemed to stick for us. Of course, you can’t tell people that right out, as you need a way to describe your sound that is relevant to what is out there. So it’s either desert or stoner, or we stick with Lemmy’s famous quote: “We play Rock n Roll!”
As debut albums go, Transmission has the polished maturity of a band who knows their way around a studio. Did any of you have any previous experience behind a mixing desk, before Deserts of Mars?
Thanks! Well, I’ve done lots of demos for bands that split up and Bob [Hoff] went to school for recording. Billy [Garretsen] has been doing home recording stuff for quite a while as well, so we were familiar with the studio. However, the big thing [for us] was that we didn’t want a demo, as we wanted a solid recording that we could be proud of.
From there, we were lucky to enlist Mark Dufour, who I knew from when he engineered a demo my wife and I did for a darkwave/goth band we formed a long time ago. I tracked him [Mark] down because I knew he was good – and he rocked on both the engineering/recording and production side. He [Mark] is a rockin’ sound guy (he is also the engineer for the band Ghostland Observatory who is pretty popular) and we actually had to share his time with them during the recording.
He [Mark] worked hard to go beyond even what we initially set out to do. That’s why he also gets the ‘navigation and propulsion’ credit in the album. We set goals and executed on them, and I think it shows in the finished album.
Before the release of Transmission, you were making a name for yourself as a powerful-sounding live band in Texas. What kind of feedback have you been getting from local audiences?
Overall the reaction has been really great. At each show we’ve got a few more people banging their heads and buying CDs, or telling their friends about the band. That is really cool. We have also been fortunate, that we’ve gotten a lot of people who appreciate the variety and melody of our set – so we get some crossover fans who may not be into the heavier doom or stoner acts (even if I wish they were).
The funniest reaction we get is from people who have heard tons of our demos, or know lots of people in bands (Austin is kind of oversaturated sometimes) and they say things like: “Wow! This sounds like a real album!”
At first I wanted to go: “Um, it is, what did you expect?” but in reality, what they mean is: ‘It doesn’t sound like a demo, and I would listen to this in my car a LOT.’ So far, the buzz has been really positive, and I’m hoping we can keep that momentum!
Are there any tracks from the album that you enjoy playing live more than others?
I always love playing ‘Cities on Fire’. It is so immediate and to the point. I love ‘Mad Max’, ‘Fist of the North Star’ and all things apocalyptic – so that one is fun every time. I think Bob [Hoff] digs ‘Dreamcrushers Inc.’ and Billy [Garretsen] changes his mind from time to time. I still enjoy playing all the tunes (even ‘Send More Gasoline’) which was the first song we wrote in late 2006. I love playing with Billy [Garretsen] and Bob [Hoff], so (as long as that’s happening), I’m happy!
Although you have done a stellar job in promoting Transmission yourselves, have you had any contact from any record labels, either at home or abroad, looking to sign you to a permanent deal?
So far, no label interest like that has come about. We’re still very much ‘DIY’, which is really cool, because we control our destiny. It does get hard doing all the promotion and maintaining things all over the net (as well as booking ourselves), but that is part of the course.
I think we’d be very careful about labels at this point, but I don’t know if I would rule it out. The cool thing is that with: CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and cool sites like yours, you can reach international fans without a label. I’ve had people write to us from Germany, just because we were on the sidebar on some stoner rock sites, and the stats on Last Fm show lots of international interest. That’s rad. Of course, the challenge is always, ‘how do you reach all your potential fans?’ and ‘how do you balance all the band stuff with having a full time job?’ We’re working hard to do it all right now.
What kind of relationships do you have with fellow Texan hard-rock bands, and are there any of these bands that you would recommend to our readers?
We always try to be cool to everyone in the scene and pay it forward no matter what. The bands we have been playing with lately are Valley of Fire and Corporate Elvis. They are super cool guys, and we love playing with them. Also for Chybucca readers, I would check out: Fur King, The Roller, Burning Avalanche and Honky. I just saw Fur Kings with Honky and Karma to Burn, and it was a fantastic show!
Also, in the Austin scene (but not in the stoner-metal arena) I’ve been digging One Eyed Doll and Descendants of Erdrick (we all work in the games industry so a rockin’ video game tribute band is super cool), as well as, Matches for Memories and Waiting for August (some cool alternative bands). I like a lot of different stuff, so it’s hard to pin down just a few bands.
From what I understand, you have already started writing and recording new music for a follow-up album. What can you tell us about the new tracks?
We’ve got one that we’ve been testing out called ‘Pieces of Mind’ that is in the ‘This Time’ kind of groove. The idea with the next batch of songs is to break the mould a bit, and try to keep moving towards where we were heading with ‘Strike’ (the last song we wrote before we went in to record).
We’re playing with the title Dark Matter for our second release – so that is kind of coming across in the new tracks. As the name implies, we’re working on darker, deeper and more aggressive stuff. The “Empire Strikes Back” of albums if we have our way. As usual, the bass riff tends to start it. Bob [Hoff] adds that awesome melodic element, and it all works with the drums. Billy [Garretsen] has added some more almost hip-hop or disco beats that you wouldn’t think would work with heavy rock, but it congeals back to our ‘Mars Metal’ framework. The idea is that we have our sound, and now it’s time to refine it and solidify it stylistically.
Over the last couple of years, there has been an explosion of bands that are incorporating the fuzzy, riff-heavy rock of ‘90s stoner into their sound. What do you put this sudden interest in the genre down to?
I’m not sure what’s going on, but it is terrible for my wallet! I think it’s partially a reaction to all the doom and gloom in the world, but there’s also lots of heavy rockin’ for entertainment.
You want to go to a show, headbang, and leave your cares at the door. I dig that it kind of spread from southern rock, to the Californian desert, and then to Sweden, and across Europe (I’m super psyched that Orange Goblin is playing here in Austin soon!). It’s cool that I can make a Deserts of Mars channel on Last.fm, and all of these [those] cool bands play on there.
My day is full of heaviness from all over the world, and whatever the reason that this heaviness is grinding its way across the Earth; I’m hoping we can be a part of it for a long time. Oh yeah, on a side note, doing these interviews, has also turned me on to cool people from where my great grandparents came from in Sicily. Chybucca fans should definitely check out Gustnado – this guy has made some super rockin’ stoner stuff.
Finally, have you got any festival appearances lined-up for this summer, and if not, where’s the best place for enthusiastic promoters to contact you?
We’re still booking shows around Austin, and we are also playing a cool video game-related Austin Game Developer Picnic. It’s this awesome annual picnic event for local video game pros at Richard Garriott’s (of Ultima fame) lakeside property, hosted by the local IGDA [International Game Developers Association].
As gamers and rockers, this is a cool thing for us. Good bands and good people rocking out and having a good time! We haven’t booked any festivals, but we would love to do just that. On my bucket list to play with are: Capricorns, Orange Goblin, Boris (in Japan), Flower Travellin’ Band, Mustasch, Witchcraft, and [or] Monster Magnet.
It may take a while to do that, but in the meantime, we always want to hear from people at email@example.com through our Facebook page and Reverbnation page (and of course our website ). We’re ready to spread ‘Mars Metal’ across the universe!
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Sea of Zyn.
How would describe In The Key Of Sinners?
When we realized we had an album in the works we made a conscious decision to let the songs drive the creativity. We didn’t set out with a specific style or sound in mind. From the album imagery to the musical and lyrical composition to the way we positioned the tracks, we wanted listeners to challenge traditional views and beliefs. Above all we hope it inspires listeners to think for themselves. It’s a labour of love which developed into a conceptual rock album.
How long after your formation in 2008, did you decide upon the In The Key Of Sinners concept?
We had been doing some local indie films, scoring together at first. That’s when we first realized we worked well together as a writing team. While experimenting with some new recording equipment, we cut a few rock tunes.
Our process always starts as a conversation before we even pick up an instrument or put pen to paper: The more philosophical and conceptual conversations we had, the more tunes we started. Within a year of adopting the SOZ moniker, the album was in the works.
You also cite your love of Detroit as an additional influence. What do you love must about the city?
We’re actually excited about the future of Detroit: It’s a big small town. In its rebirth, Detroit is attracting artists who are bringing with them a fresh and collaborative spirit. Head to the local pub and you’re bound to be sitting next to: a musician, painter, sculptor, graphic designer, etc.
Many have come to the city from places like: New York, Boston, Chicago, Munich, and London where they’ve been priced out of living. We’re able to find large, affordable artist spaces in a collaborative community that welcomes us and gives us an opportunity to flourish. Sure, there is the blight and decay so loved as a backdrop for news media, but there is also great, inspiring beauty here, on top of a rock and roll history unparalleled in the US.
The striking imagery of the albums cover gives an added dimension to the record. Who designed the artwork?
The original piece used to create the layout was done by William Barry Roberts. We were invited to a show where a few of his pieces were featured. We knew right away we needed to ask if he would be interested in our project.
William is a serious and critically acclaimed artist. We’re honoured that he agreed to be involved. After hearing the working demos he composed Vore III based on inspiration from the music. As we mentioned before, everything was done with a purpose. We’re really happy you mentioned the artwork, as it’s an integral part of the whole work. Check out William’s work here: http://williambarryroberts.com.
There are a lot of guest spots from local musicians on the album. How did you persuade so many musicians to contribute to your vision?
The album was fairly complete when we started to ask for guest players. We were able to explain the whole concept when we pitched it to them, which helped intrigue and inspire them to want to be a part of the project.
Eric Fischer (http://www.ericfischer.info/), John Piasentin, Art Peitsch, and Jeffrey (from SOZ) also play live locally as Radar Pilot. Glenn Bengry is an old friend, and he’s a talented horn player. We’re also friends and fans of Danny Methric (The Muggs) and Eddie Baranek (The Sights), two of Detroit’s local rock heroes.
We were really fortunate that they all came in, stepped out of their respective comfort zones, and pulled off outstanding performances.
Art did the backing vocals on ‘Idolatry’, John played the solos on ‘Light’, Danny played the solos on ‘Fearless’ and ‘Idolatry’, Eddie played the solos on ‘Deliverance’, Eric played drums on ‘Atrophy’, ‘Panacea’, and ‘Light’ and of course Glenn played the horns on ‘Poppies’ and ‘Deliverance’. Again, it’s a big small town.
Staying on the subject of local musicians, what can you tell us about Detroit’s rock and metal scene? Are there any bands that you could recommend to our readers?
There are many diverse bands in the city, and a good number of them are quite talented. We bounce around to see many acts, regardless of genre.
In the last two or three years we’ve seen some really good cross-genre shows put together; bands who you wouldn’t expect to see together, but all of them really talented.
One great thing about Detroit is that even when you go and check out a good local pop band there’s always at least a little grit and grime in them, and some of the grittiest bands will throw in slick Motown grooves. It’s a pretty sweet stylistic melting pot, and sometimes the fondue produced tastes phenomenal.
Some of our local favourites are: The Sights, The Muggs, Child Bite, Zoos of Berlin, Blanche, The Electric Six, Troy Gregory, Dennis Coffey, any of Timmy Lampinen’s (aka Timmy Vulgar) various punk adventures, and The Hard Lessons. Check them out if you haven’t already.
Finally, are there any plans to use your local connections and take Sea of Zyn on tour?
Given enough interest and the right venues, we might put some live shows together, possibly kicked off with a limited edition vinyl release.
Words by Simon Hadley
Photos: Blue Aside.
Endorsed by Black Pyramid’s Andy Beresky, Blue Aside’s debut EP The Orange Tree is a heavy, daring and progressive blend of doom and hazy psychedelia. Here, guitarist and vocalist, Adam Abrams, discusses the Boston trio’s love of sci-fi storytelling and mystifying metal.
You describe The Orange Tree as a concept album. For those of us who are unfamiliar with its back-story, what is The Orange Tree about and where did the concept come from?
When we were writing for this project we found it easier to write songs based on a science fiction theme instead of random subjects.
Love songs, hate songs, political songs and whatever else do not invoke the interstellar atmosphere that we were trying to create. Crafting an alternate world helped me to visualize the music such as a science fiction novelist does when writing a book. I want the listener to create their own images as to what the music makes them imagine, while steering them in a direction with a basic theme. It would be nice to collaborate with a writer and develop this story into a novel.
When did you get approached by Hydro-Phonic Records, and what are they like to work with?
I emailed them the final mixes of The Orange Tree in the summer and they liked it and wanted to release it on CD and vinyl. Travis, from Hydro-Phonic Records, already had a vision of what the cover should look like by the first time we spoke: He is very hands on when it comes to the design and quality of the artwork. He wants to make each of his releases extraordinary; returning us to the days when opening a freshly purchased vinyl for the first time was something you looked forward to. Encouraging music fans to buy the record, rather than just downloading free, low-quality MP3’s.
Who are you your favourite bands on the Hydro-Phonic Records roster?
We are really into the Mountain Goat’s Smoke Filled Land EP and plan on doing some shows with them during our tour in July. Our other favourite bands on the roster are: Black Pyramid, Ramesses, Fistula, Stone Axe, Sun Gods In Exile, Eternal Elysium, Sardonis and Let The Night Roar.
You are in the process of recording your second album The Moles of a Dying Race. Is it a continuation of The Orange Tree, or is it a different concept altogether?
It’s a continuation of The Orange Tree. The Moles of a Dying Race takes place after the planet suffers from a shift in their sun’s orbit and the majority of the land is inhabitable. Beside The Orange Tree is a gateway where the rulers have learned to travel to and from other planets, through portholes between space and time.
They’ve cloned themselves as giant robots which are not affected by the intense heat and appear as monstrous beings from the view of the periscopes peering from the moles’ underground lairs. ‘The Traveller of Time and Space’ brings the portholes to their attention and the moles plan a revolt. The record concludes as they prepare for war, leading the way to the third part of the story.
Outside of the studio, you have been enhancing your reputation as a ‘must see’ live band. How do you transfer your studio recordings into the live arena so well?
We play the songs that will sound best live as a three-piece. Joe [Twomey] fills in a lot of space by saturating his bass with fuzz. Sometimes I will play the chords and leads simultaneously. All along we are both following [Matt] Netto, as he’s the driving force behind the live show.
You are friends with Black Pyramid‘s Andy Beresky, who has helped to promote you to a wider audience. Could you see yourselves touring alongside Black Pyramid in the future?
Yeah I could see us touring together sometime in the future. Black Pyramid is an awesome band, so that would be a great tour for us.
Staying on the subject of touring, are there any plans to support the release of your new album by playing a smattering of dates in Europe?
We plan on touring the states first, but we definitely want to hit Europe and the UK sometime in the near future.
Finally, before forming Blue Aside you played in a number of local bands including: Palace In Thunderland and Aeolian Race. Are there any plans to re-release The Apostles of Silence on an independent label, now that your fan base [as well as Black Pyramid’s] is on the increase?
The members of Palace [In Thunderland] have talked about releasing the Apostles of Silence. The album never saw a proper release after it was recorded. It’s a great record that’s all ready to go. With some cool artwork it will definitely make for a killer release.
Interview: Simon Hadley.
Photos: Peter McMahon.
Kyuss may be credited with bringing the Palm Desert Scene into the wider world, but without Mario Lalli and Gary Arce, the ‘desert rock’ genre would not exist. Yawning Man’s generator-driven parties are legendary – and rightly so – as their reverb-soaked grooves and extended jams, lay hidden beneath the sun-scorched sands of their highly-influential surroundings.
Formed after the release of Nomadic Pursuits, Big Scenic Nowhere is a continuation of Yawning Man’s ethos, albeit under a different guise.
Big Scenic Nowhere seems to have quite literally come out of ‘nowhere’. Where did the idea for this new project come from?
Mario Lalli : This project is just like any music that Gary and I create together, I think we just like thinking up cool names for bands. Really it came out of jams and recordings with Tony Tornay (who plays drums in Fatso Jetson).
Me and Gary just like to play and write. We also enjoy making music with different people. It just kind of happened naturally; we didn’t set out to realize a certain project.
As two of the founding members of the legendary Yawning Man, do you feel any pressure with fans comparing your new project with your previous work?
ML: It all comes from the same place, music is music. We never think about how people will respond. We just play.
Gary Arce : No not at all. The same core chemistry that made Yawning Man’s music so dark and scenic is still intact, It’s just under a different name. I know fans of Yawning Man will gravitate towards this.
From listening to your early demos, there is a mesmerizing laid-back charm to your playing. Do you have a preference for how you work? Do you go into the studio and just jam or do you take some time to write?
ML: We have done both of these things quite a bit, there is always a little of both going on. When I am playing bass and Gary is on guitar we feel this freedom to explore, float and dive.
Even when songs are reduced to key elements through practice and writing, there is always some spontaneous energy that takes it in a different direction live and in the studio.
From playing in all these different projects together over the years, is it almost like being a part of an extended family whenever you guys get on stage together?
ML: Absolutely. Me, Gary, Alfredo, Larry Lalli, Tony Tornay and Scott Reeder grew up musically together, and it’s something that never leaves you.
Playing ‘Catamaran’ with John Garcia at the Rock For Isaiah benefit concert must have been surreal. What are you thoughts on the Kyuss Lives! project?
GA: I think its great, as it puts things back into perspective musically in Europe. There are so many Kyuss sounding bands over there and you forget where it all came from. It’s long over due.
ML: That was fun. I think they will have a great time playing together again and people will appreciate the chance to see at least part of the chemistry of those friends playing. Josh is a huge part of the sound and vibe of Kyuss, Alfredo and Scott also, but it keeps growing and changing so who knows? Maybe they are writing some new songs?
You both recently got back from a European tour with Yawning Man & Fatso Jetson. How were the shows?
GA: Really positive feedback at the shows. I was bummed Mario couldn’t make it. Nomadic Pursuits is by far the best sounding recording we have ever done, but the response every time we go back gets better and better.
ML: I toured with Fatso ending with a performance at Roadburn, we had the most amazing trip. The great band Oaks Mary from Italy was on the road with us. We jammed and improvised together and we shared some great food and many laughs. It was perfect as so many people were enjoying the live shows, just great.
Yawning Man had to scramble to find a sub for me as I had health problems before the Yawning tour and could not go. It broke my heart to not be on that trip with two of my best friends in the world. They met a great young player and he did a fine job holding down the groove.
Like in all corners of the world, the “desert rock” scene has had a profound impact on the UK and has a lot of dedicated followers this side of the pond. Are there any plans to tour the UK in the near future?
GA: I would love to go over with Big Scenic Nowhere; it’s just a matter of planning it into our schedule and getting the right booker over there.
ML: We are planning a trip to Morocco to film a music documentary of us travelling through the country and playing outdoors in scenic locations. This will be in August and after that trip we will try to make more plans for the UK and Europe.
Gary, your signature guitar tone can be picked out straight away on any record that you’ve ever played on. How have you developed your sound over the years?
GA: I have probably had every guitar pedal ever made in and out of my hands at one time or another, and have mixed and matched different reverbs with overdrives and distortion pedals to find the 2-3 pedals that I really like.
I have them set at the same settings along with my semi-hollow stratocasters that at high volumes add feedback harmonics to my sound. I have a friend in the desert who worked with me on my gear over the years.
I would explain to him the sounds that I was looking for, and he would drop off hand built guitars, varying from solid bodies with humbuckers to semi-hollow with humbuckers and everything else in between. I have about five guitars now, all with different body mass.
From what we understand Mario, you have been jamming with your sons band Auto Modown. What can you tell us about the project and what kind of reaction has the project been getting locally?
ML: Playing with my kids is a dream come true. My son Dino is only 14 and the drummer Benny Macias is 16, but we have so much in common musically. I am trying to teach him the vibe of jamming and improvising right now and as we get that communication going, I think the music will really start to grow.
We have had a great response to the band. People are thinking: “oh how cute he plays with his little boy in their little garage band” and then we unleash fudgy nail bombs of rock power on their ear holes! They soon realize it’s not so cute. The young lads truly rock. I’m just loving it so much.
There have been so many great bands to have come out of the desert scene. From an outsider’s point of view, there seems to be a special pool of talent in such a small area. What makes the desert so artistically unique?
GA: We were cut off from the rest of the world for a long time, as the desert is two hours away from Los Angeles and the only thing between us was desert. We kind of developed our own world unaffected by trends and the flavour of the month. It was a close knit group of friends that loved music and the sky was the limit as far as creativity.
ML: I’m not sure, but one theory I have is that like other small towns the desert didn’t have so much going on to influence young musicians so everyone kind of had to do their own thing, remotely influenced by the outside world of: punk, rock ‘n’ roll scenes and other creative music scenes, but still “cut off” enough to brew in its own juices.
Mario, you were once part of a project called Across The River, which included Scott Reeder, and Alfredo Hernandez. Are there any secret gems from this project locked away that could ever see the light of day?
ML: We recorded a live performance in 1985 at a generator party in Malibu, CA. It was originally to be released by SST records but nothing ever came of it. Maybe we will remix it some day and put it out on Vinyl! That would be rad.
Finally, what is the secret to a long lasting musical relationship?
GA: Yawning Man has always been based on childhood friendships. When we play its more like hanging out with friends rather than looking at it like a business or a job. Music should be a celebration of friends and expression.
ML: I could make some witty joke here and many come to mind, but there are enough sarcastic answers to rock ‘n’ roll interviews to fill the bible twice. So I say, play for fun and friendship, and never take for granted all the great times you have spent making music and sharing radness with your bros.
Watch Big Scenic Nowhere performing ‘Catamaran’ with John Garcia below:
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Mississippi Bones.
Coming from the flat lands of Hardin County, how did you guys end up naming yourselves ‘Mississippi Bones’?
A few years back I was reading an article about an outlaw organization of hobos who were riding the rails of America, killing people and generally raising hell. One of the hobos in the article called himself “Mississippi Bones” and at the time he was serving a jail sentence for murder.
As I read the article, I thought “Mississippi Bones” was a great name for a band and when the opportunity arose, the name fitted the style of music I was writing.
According to your bio, you both grew up in Ada, Ohio. For those of us unfamiliar with the state of Ohio, what was it like to grow up in Ada?
We both grew up in Hardin County, but I grew up in Ada, while Jared grew up in Dunkirk, which is a corn field or two down the road. Ohio has a few really nice cities, but Hardin County is smack dab in the middle of rural Northwest Ohio. It’s a great place to grow up, but admittedly, there isn’t much to do, which is one of the reasons Jared and I both took up music.
When did you and Jared decide to turn Mississippi Bones into a full time venture?
Jared and I have known each other for close to 15 years. Doing something like this was always something we wanted to do, but we didn’t actually make it happen until the summer of 2009.
There are a lot of direct and also indirect metaphors used in your lyrics, as well as references to popular culture. When did you discover that you had a flare for song writing?
Jared is an avid reader, as well as a big fan of comic books and movies. The first song he wrote lyrics for was ‘The Venkman’ and I knew right away that we were on to something. I think he improves vocally and lyrically with every song he writes, so I’m really excited for people to hear the new tracks we’ve got written for the second album.
As well as southern rock there is also an element of grunge in your sound. Who are you biggest influences and were there any band’s that you were looking to emulate during the recording process?
I can’t say there was a specific band we tried to emulate when we recorded the record. If you listen, I think you can hear bits and pieces from bands that have influenced my writing and playing style, but I don’t think there is one specific band we’ve tried to pattern ourselves after.
As far as influences, I’d say bands like: Clutch, Crowbar, White Zombie and Guns N’ Roses are big. Throw in a little 90s grunge (Alice In Chains, Soundgarden) and some 70s rock (Skynyrd, Sabbath) and you’ve basically got the Bones sound.
What sort of reaction have you guys been getting from those who have listened to the record?
We’ve gotten an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the record. Not only do people seem to dig the songs, but they’ve also been really impressed with the quality of the recording.
We recorded the album with our buddy Josh Palmer at Zombietakeover Media and he does a hell of a job. We plan to record our second record with him and highly recommend his talents for anyone looking to record an album.
How useful has the Bandcamp website been in getting your sound over to a wider audience?
Bandcamp has been pretty effective. Myspace was also useful before they changed the site and made it unusable. We’ve also got a Facebook page and a website currently under construction. The Bandcamp site is nice because it’s easy to navigate and it allows us to stream our entire record.
Although, I’ve found that the biggest key to the online realm is not to rely just on one site, but to get your name and music in as many places as you can. If you do a Google search for Mississippi Bones, you’ll find dozens of links, which is due to my persistence in getting our music “out there.”
What is the best album that you have heard this year (apart from your own!)?
I’d say my top three albums of 2010 were: The Sword’s Warp Riders, Kylesa’s Spiral Shadows, and The Black Keys’ Brothers.
Are there any plans to take Mississippi Bones on the road?
Not exactly on the road, but we’ve hooked up with some friends who play and we plan to play a show or two in 2011. We’ll post all the information on our Facebook page once things are set in stone.
Lastly, is there a second album in the pipeline?
As a matter of fact, there is. We’ve spent the last few months writing and have had a really good start to the second record. If everything goes according to plan, we should have the album out sometime in 2011. Again, we’ll post all the information and updates on our Facebook page, so keep checking to stay in the know.
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Dinosaur Eyelids.
Going with the tagline “alternative rock for a new generation” could be classed as brave, but also as a sign of intent. The New Jersey four-piece are putting the finishing touches to their second album, entitled Down A River, a release that – if it lives up to its billing - could be a genre-defining album in 2011.
Your motto is “alternative rock for a new generation.” Do you feel any pressure in living up to this billing with the release of Down A River on the horizon?
We don’t feel any pressure because there is literally no one representing this kind of music in the mainstream world. We grew up on heavy music and want to bring it back.
Is there is a difference in style between Winter Solstice and Down A River?
We spent a lot more time on this album. Our first album is a cheeseburger and fries, this one is an Old Country Buffet.
Your live performances have earned you positive feedback for local media and fans. Are there any venues that you enjoyed playing more than others?
Our home venue is The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ where we play about once a month. We also really love North Star Bar in Philly and Bar East in NYC.
What kind of feedback have you been getting from fans in New Jersey?
We often get compared to Soundgarden which is the highest possible compliment we could ever hope for.
What are you favourite tracks to play live off your first record?
The two songs that we’ve played consistently are ‘Carcinogen’ and ‘Generation Genocide’, which has really evolved over time. ’Waves’ was our closer for a long time, but we haven’t played it as much recently.
Since June 2009 you have played well over 40 shows. Are there any cool stories you’d like to share with us about life on the road?
We manage to get lost on the way to and from almost every show. It’s amazing that we’ve somehow always managed to get there on time. The legendary exploits of The Lids echo like thunder down the corridors of history. There are many involving drugs, farm animals, waffles and underage-hookers, but unfortunately those lawsuits are still pending.
Are there any dates in place for the New Year to help promote the new record?
We have a show on Saturday [January 8] at Desmond’s in NYC and our album release show at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ on Friday, January 28.
What are you thoughts on the current alternative rock scene and how do you think you can make an impact on this crowded genre?
The difference between alternative and pop is that alternative is supposed to be the music of the outsiders. What passes for alternative music these days isn’t really alternative at all. We haven’t heard music we like on modern rock stations in over ten years. There are a lot of great bands out there, but it seems they’re nowhere to be found on radio.
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Ojos Rojos.
Approximately 30 miles east of Los Angeles is the picturesque and residential town of Claremont; more recognisable for its historical buildings and higher education institutions, than psychedelic rock.
The release of Disappear has cemented Ojos Rojos as serious contenders to the shoegazing- psych-rock crown; an accolade which is currently being shared by their recent touring buddies, Dead Meadow, and Earthless. Their spaced-out collection of West Coast experimentalism and thick, driving grooves, has been swirling around the minds of those with a love of dirty psychedelia for the majority of 2010.
Here, George Serrano, one of the founding members of the four-piece, explains all:
As band names go, Ojos Rojos (“Red Eyes”) fits your experimental style perfectly. Who came up with the name?
Luis and I were thinking of something to name his jam band at the time and he said: “Ojos Rojos” and we started laughing. So when we got together we just kept that name…yeah it really fits us. We hate it sometimes too.
How long after forming did you first start laying down tracks?
Right away. We started recording songs in my kitchen and found some people who were into recording us better right after. We ended up recording an 11 song “demo” called ‘13’ that we self-released in late 2007.
The guys at Cobraside got a hold of it and were interested in releasing our newer stuff. A couple of tracks made it onto Disappear.
There are lots of integral, spaced-out passages on Disappear. How long did it take you to perfect and master these in the studio?
Not very long because we have no money: You just have to go for it and experiment. Our engineer was tripping at first, but got into it very quickly; it’s really fun going into a studio to record.
What are your favourite individual tracks on Disappear?
It depends on the day. We are kinda over the tunes in a way since we’ve been working on new material, but we love the record. ‘Step Outside’ is always our favourite: It’s a journey.
How important has playing live been in developing your sound?
So important because that’s where you really jell as a band, at the shows.
What was it like supporting acts such as: Black Math Horseman, Dead Meadow and Earthless? Are there any interesting stories that you’d like to share with us?
The interesting thing I can tell you is that they’re all very down to earth, nice people. We just fucking jam tunes and have a good time.
What sort of reaction did you guys receive in Ireland? Also, have you got any plans to return to Europe in the near future?
Ireland is amazing and they didn’t get us one bit! [Laughs] No really, it was a great time. We played some really small towns and met a lot of great people. We look forward to going there again someday. They called us “O-Joes Ro-Joes” not realising Ojos Rojos is Spanish.
Are we right in thinking that there is an early Ride influence running though the record?
Yeah we love Ride, but we really don’t have that much in common, except we love guitars.
It is amazing to think that Andy Bell went from being a key member of Ride to playing with Oasis. Are you fans of Oasis?
They made some cool tunes, but whatever.
Paul McCartney has recently re-released a 25th Anniversary Edition of Band on the Run. What effect has latter-era Beatles had on your psychedelic style?
I don’t know. We love the Beatles and some of their individual records, but when we make tunes we look more into the future than into the past. We’ve always been sick of all of the other bands!
What’s next for Ojos Rojos?
Recording our new material and playing shows. It’s always about recording and moving forward and being productive.
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Groan and Thee Claw.
With the release of The Sleeping Wizard in October, Groan have established themselves as the best doom-worshiping four-piece to come out of Britain in the last decade.
I spoke to Groan to find out how they are adjusting to life as Britain’s newest doom export, as well as their unhealthy obsession with Zooey Deschanel.
When did you guys first meet, and where did the name Groan come from?
The Riff Wizard: Groan was sort of around this time last year or possibly before that. I wrote ‘Witchy Woman’ in 2008, so it was a long time brewing. Then it was just a project idea to have an EP online with a guy called Bill on bass and a vocalist called Dave. But it never really happened with us having other bands and commitments.
Groan came about again by accident actually, because I was in another band and we were getting a line-up together. There was this one dude [and I didn't want to make him feel left out], so I was like: “Oh yeah I have seven songs partially recorded we’ll just use them.”
That was Bill again. I think we parted ways in April because it wasn’t gonna work. The rest is probably best told by the others.
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: I’ve known The Riff Wizard for a few years through mutual friends and attending gigs. I was the last member to join Groan and didn’t meet the other two until after the album had been recorded!
Mazzereth: The Riff wizard said he had a photo of me in a compromising position with Jesus Christ. If I did not join he said he would sell the picture to my lady partner, I had no choice. I did not want to be responsible for the fall of an entire religion. Not yet anyway.
Thor’s Hammer: I’d met Lord Mazzereth at a couple of gigs before, and he mentioned on a forum he was singing for someone new. I had a listen and wanted a piece, so I fired an email off to The Riff Wizard five minutes before setting off to Roadburn. Again, I met them after we had recorded.
Are there any bands that you consider to be more important than others, in helping to define your take on the doom genre?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: For me it has to be Black Sabbath. Everything that’s bunched under the doomy umbrella owes its existence to Sabbath.
The Riff Wizard: Sabbath and Cathedral.
Mazzereth: Queen & Van Halen.
Thor’s Hammer: Pentagram, Sabbath & Spirit Caravan.
How did you end up getting signed to Doomanoid Records? Also, how supportive have they been in promoting your work?
The Riff Wizard: I sent them an email when we had very rough demos at the start of Groan’s second form really. Steve messaged back and the ideas just escalated from there.
You are currently playing small venues around the UK. Surely it will only be a matter of time before the likes of Cathedral and Electric Wizard start taking you on tour?
The Riff Wizard: The gigs we have played are more than I could dream of, so if by some fluke we get to gig with these bands, I will be happy.
From what I understand, the four of you are spread out in different parts of the UK, fulfilling different commitments. Has it been hard to keep the momentum alive during gigs, due to the individual distances that you have to travel?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: It’s tricky, but I think we’re proof that it’s entirely doable. Mazzereth has to travel furthest for rehearsals and he deserves a great big doomy medal for his commitment. We’re all really into Groan and all share the same ambitions with it. From the first day we met it was self-evident that we all knew what we wanted to achieve and how we’d go about it.
Thor’s Hammer: I open the Hotel Thor’s Hammer especially for whiskey and wine soaked jamming weekends in Sheffield. Because of how tough it is to get together, it always ends up turning into more of an event or a party.
On a similar point, have you got any tracks locked away that could make it on to your next album?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: We’ve got about three albums-worth of unreleased material. The Riff Wizard’s youth is matched only by his, if I can invent a word, ‘prolificness’.
I got an email from him about a week after The Sleeping Wizard was released with nine finished instrumental demos. Throughout the following week Mazz was sending us all these totally righteous lyrics that he’d written for these songs.
I think we’re going to take our time to refine these ditties and hopefully all get together in a studio somewhere towards the end of next summer to lay them down.
The Riff Wizard: Yeah, I wrote like 30-odd songs and started writing music again last night.
Has there been any contact from any metal-based festivals in Europe, due to the well deserved praise that The Sleeping Wizard has received?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: We haven’t heard anything yet, but I’m positive that we’d drop any previous plans at the drop of a hat to play some festivals next summer.
Thor’s Hammer: Southern Ireland is classed as Europe, right? We got offered something there but couldn’t make it. We’ll get our elegant asses to Europe sometime, I’m sure.
A lot of the themes addressed on your album tend to come from medieval myths and fairytales. Where did your interest in medieval Britain come from?
Mazzereth: For many, many years I have been interested in all History. I think it stems from sitting with my father when I was a little Mazzereth and watching lots of History documentaries. I guess I just got sucked in.
As far as fairytales go, I have always had a strong imagination and often as a child I would be happy playing on my own with toys and creating strange worlds. It was not as though I had lonely childhood, far from it, I had lots of friends. My father used to make marvellous wooden swords and shields and my friends and I would run about the village having big battles.
I also live near Stonehenge and Avebury Stones, so I think some of that cosmic energy must have been absorbed by my body. I don’t really get on that well with ‘normal’ life. I find it very hard to talk about Top Gear or X-Factor, so I enter the world of the Wyrde to avoid such dullness.
Having listened to The Sleeping Wizard countless times already, surely the Riff Wizard doesn’t need university to showcase his talents?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: Sadly, a copy of our album will get you laughed out of most job interviews. At the end of the day, even Cathedral have day jobs!
The Riff Wizard: The only talent I have shown at Uni is how much a northerner can actually drink.
When did the obsession with Zooey Deschanel begin?
Mazzereth: I think it started with the Film ‘Almost Famous’. Those big blue eyes punched me in the nuts and my life was never ever the same again.
Could Zooey Deschanel and doom live hand in hand?
Mazzereth: I think it can. I think Zooey is doom and doom is Zooey. I would imagine that Zooey would get down with ‘Doom over the World’ by Reverend Bizarre, or any pop-doom track.
Thor’s Hammer: She WILL love us.
Are there any other bands on Doomanoid Records that you could recommend to our readers?
Forest-Dwelling Fuzz Creature: Iron Void rocks my socks.
The Riff Wizard: Yeah… Iron Void are top notch!
Words by Simon Hadley.
Photos: Henry Gates and Sandra Villarreal.
The Peruvian experimental five-part released their third offering, Mecanica Celeste, back in October, an album that according to the Lima-based rockers is: “a unique take on psychedelia, conceived by manipulating traditional religious songs, textual ideology and poetry, with heavy fuzz guitars, swirling drones and spaced out wah-solos.”
With this album, Serpentina Satelite has brought their psychedelic teachings into Europe; picking up new fans along the way. Rhythm guitarist and vocalist, Renato Gómez, took a break from his busy schedule, to speak to us about their rising reputation.
For our readers who are not familiar with you work, how would you describe Serpentina Satelite?
We tried to get to heaven but ended up in space.
Who were your biggest musical influences when you were finding your feet as a band and growing up in Lima?
The list is way too long. Perhaps the most relevant for all of us in the band are: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Ash Ra Tempel, Spacemen 3, Loop, My Bloody Valentine, Amon Duul II, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Acid Mothers Temple and Iron Maiden.
How did the production and mixing process differ between Mecanica Celeste and Nothing To Say?
We have set more guitar and bass layers, more overdubs, as well as effects, keyboards, oscillations and what not. There is more use of vocals and text all through the record and we did some recordings with a choir. Some are part of the record, while others have not been released yet.
The sound of it as a whole is a bit different, heavy and subtler, but more intricate. There are many messages within the songs for the listeners to find as well. This time we’ve tried to include a wider set of references.
Judging by the positive reaction to Mecanica Celeste, are you thinking about capitalising on the album’s success, by getting back into the studio to record a follow-up album?
We would like to tour Europe for a while some time next year.
A longer version of ‘Sendero’ is yet to be released. Are there any plans to release the track? Maybe as a limited edition download perhaps?
‘Sendero’ is just the beginning or entrance into a way longer trip called ‘Black Meditation’.
Staying on the subject of potential releases, have you got any plans to re-release your debut EP ‘Long Play’ for fans who are curious of how your early recordings compare to how you sound today?
At the moment there are other priorities. I personally think that what we are doing right now is much more interesting than what was going on back then.
That EP, I see more as a demo tape than anything else. Over the years those songs changed dramatically when we played them live. Along the way we’ve learned a lot more about studio production too. Dolmo’s participation in the band changed our sound dramatically.
In my opinion, he was like the missing piece to complete this radiant puzzle. Now both guitars tend to be lines of endless aural parapets, criss-crossing each other back and forth.
How supportive has Rocket Recordings been in promoting you to a European audience?
They’ve done a great job promo wise, as we are receiving reviews all over Europe. They work with great distributors as well. Chris and Johnny are great people, we couldn’t be happier.
Has the thriving underground scene in Lima influenced your sound at all? Are there any home-grown Peruvian bands that you could recommend to our readers?
Yes. Perhaps the one band from Lima that has inspired us the most and you should all be listening to the very second that this sentence is over, should be Hipnoascension.