Streaming: Saint Vitus Interview with Dave Chandler

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saint vitus

It was a decade ago now that Saint Vitus began their reunion. At that point, it had been 14 years since the release of their final album, Die Healing (discussed here), in 1995. The not-quite-fully-original-but-definitely-the-most-influential lineup was guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta, the last of whom would soon be replaced by Henry Vasquez (Blood of the Sun), who had drummed for Chandler‘s short-lived Debris Inc. outfit earlier in the aughts, and would ultimately pass away in 2010Vitus — who are arguably the most influential American doom band, and certainly the most influential the West Coast ever produced — were knee-deep in triumphant reunion tours by then, between Europe and the US, and they’d continue to roll out a packed schedule after signing to Season of Mist and releasing the long-awaited Lillie: F-65 (review here) in 2012.

From there, things proceeded in a fashion that can only be considered pure Vitus. A couple years of steady touring followed supporting Lillie: F-65 and celebrating their landmark catalog, until Weinrich got arrested in Norway in late-2014 for amphetamines, and the band seemed to come apart. Enter original vocalist Scott Reagers, last heard from with what was then a return performance on Die Healing, to take up the frontman role. More touring commenced and the band went on to issuesaint vitus saint vitus Live Vol. 2 (review here) in 2016. Already the proposition of a new studio album had been raised, but work was inevitably stunted by the departure of bassist Mark Adams — a quiet presence on stage, but a founding member and someone essential to the sound all along — owing to complications from Parkinson’s disease. A replacement was found in Pat Bruders of Down and Outlaw Order, and with a somehow-brand-new-but-still-half-original lineup, Saint Vitus once again took to the road and took on the task of their next record.

Saint Vitus‘ 1984 debut, Saint Vitus, is a genuine landmark in doom. A Calipunk answer to Black Sabbath at their gutsiest and grimiest, it has stood the test of time for over 30 years and only grown more relevant with each passing decade. That Saint Vitus in 2019 — ChandlerReagersVasquez and Bruders — should title their new album Saint Vitus (review here) is no coincidence. How could it be? And from the quintessential doomly roll of “Remains” and “Last Breath” to the pulsating energy of “Bloodshed” and the delightfully hardcore punk closer “Useless,” it is in every way a reclamation of Saint Vitus‘ identity as a group. Call it full-circle or don’t, but it’s a record that both embraces who they’ve always been and gleefully, mischievously screws with genre-based preconceptions, Reager‘s growls and soaring voice essential to the personality of the outing even as Chandler steps in for a spoken word take on the experimentalist noise of “City Park.”

I won’t take away from what Bruders and Vasquez do together as a rhythm section, and why the hell would I, but no question that having Chandler and Reagers paired up again gives the 2019 Saint Vitus a clash-of-the-titans-style feel, and for more than just Chandler‘s seemingly endless collection of pro-wrestling t-shirts. In every way, the tracks on Saint Vitus — which again united the group with producer Tony Reed (Mos Generator, etc.) — earn the banner of the band’s name under which they arrive, and for the fact that Saint Vitus has endured in one form or another for the last 40 years, their spirit of survival continues to be a middle finger raised high in defiance of everything, including, at times, themselves.

There’s a lot of doom out there, but there’s only one Dave Chandler, and I was fortunate enough to talk to him a while back, before the album came out in May. You’ll find the audio of the interview below. Thanks for checking it out if you do.

Enjoy:

Interview with Dave Chandler

 

Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus (2019)

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus on Twitter

Saint Vitus Tumblr

Saint Vitus website

Season of Mist on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Twitter

Season of Mist on Instagram

Season of Mist website

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GIVEAWAY: Download Viaje a 800’s Estampida de Trombones for Free

Posted in Features on August 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

viaje a 800 estampida de trombones reissue

This coming weekend, the kinda-reunited Andalusian outfit Viaje a 800 — who for my money are one of heavy rock’s all-time most underrated bands, period — will take the stage at SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal. With members having moved on to outfits like Atavismo and Híbrido over the years, the reemergence of Viaje a 800 is all the more a special event, and Spinda Records, which has overseen reissues of their first two albums, 2001’s Diablo Roto De… and 2007’s Estampida de Trombones, has rightly decided to celebrate.

Spinda put out Estampida de Trombones on vinyl last year and from the opening riff of “Los Ángeles Q Hay En Mi Piel,” the album’s moody sensibility and melodic/rhythmic intricacy comes through with a subtly progressive flourish. It’s heavy and definitively of Spanish folk lineage as much as it’s psychedelic and far-ranging, and yet, more than the debut, the second record had a dark streak in its guitar and hooks, something tense that carried through it as a thread uniting the songs. It’s not a vibe I’ve ever heard anyone do in quite the same way, and if you don’t know the album, you should.

Accordingly, here are 20 download codes courtesy of Spinda. Start at the top of the list, and if that one doesn’t work, just keep cutting and pasting until one does. If the last one doesn’t, well, I guess they’re all gone. You can still listen to the album via the stream below, but I think you’ll agree when you do it’s one you’ll want to have on hand, so don’t hesitate.

Go get ’em:

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98xp-3skz
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y5j3-wa3k
y8gl-hbc9
tzu4-vw4t
ty5j-gweb
tt88-b4rw
jl4t-kqvr
6cp3-6ztd
nhfw-kzuh
lqd4-66mv
484q-yk98
eus7-bk6n
gwjd-c99j
3sgs-x86k
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jnyz-ycvw

Redeem at: http://spindarecords.bandcamp.com/yum

Viaje a 800, Estampida de Trombones reissue (2018)

Viaje a 800 on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Bandcamp

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When “He Looks Just Like You” Kind of Breaks Your Heart

Posted in Features on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the pecan on swing

I have him on the baby monitor. He’s out, which is good because it’s the middle of the night. The Pecan was out of his mind yesterday afternoon, climbing up his toy shelf from the side to get to the bluetooth speaker, climbing up the wine rack, blowing off dinner that was already the compromise position of a slice of pizza. He’s been asleep since about 7PM. He’ll be out until somewhere around 5:30AM. Then the day starts.

Three years ago last week, I was in the hospital in Boston. Not the friendly, carpeted, front-facing part of the hospital, but the behind-closed-doors, old-tile-floor-and-flourescent-lighting part where the nitty-gritty science of medicine happens. We’d been trying already to make a baby for years by that point, and this was the last resort. More doctors than I can count. The GP, the urologist, the fertility specialist, the people my wife went to who told her, “yeah, there’s no way you’re the problem here,” as if I didn’t already know between the two of us which was the one with the problem. No way that wasn’t going to be me.

As I lay on that hospital wheelie bed, I’d been diagnosed as azoospermic months earlier, which was a fancy way of saying “balls don’t work.” Many tears. Tears became kind of the running theme for us. Every pregnancy test. Every doctor visit that led nowhere. I’d put it out of my head for a while, go about my business when I could. There was no doing that while I waited to go in for surgery.

The procedure was this: they’d wheel me into the room, put me under general anesthesia, and as I understood and still understand it, cut my testicles open to see if they could find any hint of viable sperm for IVF.

There was no chance it was going to work. I mean, come on. I’d done everything. I’d gone on a diet to lose weight because my shitty Russian urologist said in his report I was “morbidely” obese — and oh how he bristled when I corrected his spelling. I’d been to see everybody, taken the hormones, jerked off into the cups for tests multiple times, had enough blood drawn to fill another version of myself, and jumped through enough insurance hoops to last me the rest of my life, which sadly it probably won’t.

Before they wheeled me in, the anesthesiologist came to see me looking like he was fresh off the back nine. “I’m guessing it’s not your choice to be here,” he said, intimating that my wife was forcing me. I was too terrified to tell him to fuck off as I properly should’ve done, but I just said, “No, man. No,” and did not speak to him again. It was a shame. His assistant had been kind of cool.

Last thing I remember before waking up with gauze all over my midsection was the surgeon — who was the same specialist who diagnosed me in the first place — coming in and saying a cheery good morning. They told me my blood pressure, but I can’t remember what it was. Then they put the mask on me and I was out.

There are still days I wish I’d never woken up.

What a way to go, right? There are insects who die trying to procreate. To expire during what was my convoluted last-ditch attempt at it seemed like it would be saving everyone a lot of trouble. My wife could’ve I’m sure found another, more viable, husband before she was out of the building — a catch, she is — and it’d just be like I went into a back room and never came out. Fine. Done.

There was a nurse there when I woke up. She didn’t tell me anything. I was groggy but already crying. I knew it didn’t work. Like I said, I knew all along. I went through with it because I needed to. It needed to be done. But I never thought it would work. Still have the scar, which is fun. Got to keep that.

They took me to a different post-op room and that’s where my wife came in. She pulled back the curtain and I said, “No. Nothing?” and she shook her head and burst into tears, confirming. Three years of trying to make a baby down the drain and we finally knew why. It was me. Hi! Me. Just me. All me.

A piece of me died that day, and left the rest to mourn it. Over the next few months, I did what any self-respecting suburbanite 35-year-old gentleman would do and developed an eating disorder. A couple of them, actually. I’d starve myself, maybe eat one meal a week that wasn’t protein powder-based, if that, and I’d pop laxative pills by the fistful every two hours. It was nice to control something. People on the internet said I looked good. I did for a while. Then I looked sick. Which I was.

Before we were out of the parking lot of the hospital, though, I said to my wife, “Okay, so we get donor sperm and get you pregnant.” It was the wrong moment to talk about it, maybe, but I had to be doing a thing other than going the next day to see Star Trek Beyond all hopped up on opioid painkillers. She said she’d already looked into it, and I knew then that if I hadn’t said it, if we didn’t do it that way, I’d lose her. Maybe not all at once, like she’d leave, but that over the years, our life together would disintegrate and what Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night called the “nation of two” would crumble away.

Her sister and her then-wife in Connecticut had two kids by the same donor. Good kids, whom I love dearly. My only niece and my second-youngest nephew. Fine. There was so much paperwork involved. “Imagine some people just do this by having sex,” I said to my wife, at what I’m sure was one of my more helpful moments, which I doubtless followed up by popping more pills.

Our son is beautiful and incredible and tiring and I love him like I’ve never loved anything. He’s worth it, and I’m privileged to know him. He looks just like my wife. And his cousins. Her whole family, the same nose.

She got fertilized in a Boston-area doctor’s office on one of those at-least-it’s-not-snow rainy days in January 2017. The woman, who wore a New England Patriots sweatshirt, offered to let me do the actual insemination, but I said no. Leave it to the professionals. Clearly if I’d been capable of such a thing, it would’ve happened already. Seemed unfair for me to step in at that point. Plus, I’d invariably screw up and make that paperwork a waste of time. We’d wasted enough time.

I cried almost every day, even for just a little. I cried while I didn’t eat. I cried shitting my brains out in the bathroom at Hasbro when I worked there. I cried writing. I cried all the time. Cry cry cry. It didn’t fix anything. Nothing did. Cry cry cry.

Before insurance would cover the final fertilization process, we had to go see a social worker who asked, “How are you going to speak to your child about where they come from?” and we answered firmly, “There are all kinds of families.” We seemed so sure of it, so righteous in our NPR world of forward thought and the up-front, nouveau moral righteousness of progressivism. Why would I feel shame about that? You mean because I failed at the thing that’s literally the most basic function biology has — to reproduce and make more of itself? Not me, lady! I read the Times!

Then it happened. Oct. 25, 2017, he was born by emergency C-section after 40-plus hours of labor. There was part of me that didn’t believe it was real, even afterward. Like, “Yeah, okay,” and then someone blows a slide whistle and the whole thing is a prank. Hasn’t happened yet.

I’m the “other parent,” genetically speaking. This has its ups and downs. When I think of myself, and even when I thought about making a baby in the first place, there aren’t a lot of traits I’d want to pass on. I can’t think of one. Say one good thing about yourself. I have nothing.

That’s the upside to having gone with the donor in the end. I’m off the hook, genetically. He won’t get cancer because of my family history. No doctor will ever write “mobidely obese” about him because of me. Men in my family die young. Aside from my grandmother’s brother, who is 95, my father is the only one to my knowledge who made it past 70, and I’ve already said that if I do, I’m going to eat ice cream every day, because that’s bonus life as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. But my son will. He’ll be better off without me in his bloodstream.

For all our “all kinds of families” talk — which is true, by the way — it all got kind of quiet after he was born. People see a man, a woman, and a baby together and they assume that the two parents produced the child. I let it happen. Not something you can really fault someone for, if you think about it. Maybe it bothers me letting it happen. Maybe I feel like I deserve the asterisk: Dad*. I don’t know.

He’s mine, one way or the other, but when someone says he looks like me, I’m back there, wrapped in gauze, wishing my life had ended. I’m back there trying so desperately to control anything about my body or about myself, even if what I’m controlling is its obliteration. All the better, really. Let me go.

Cry cry cry.

My favorite response is, “All white people look alike.” Sometimes I say, “Nah, he’s all my wife.” Every now and then I’ll break out, “Let’s hope not,” chuckle chuckle. Lately I’ve just gone with, “Yeah, well…” and left it there. Feels like a coward’s way out, so fair enough. Maybe if I had the hormones to put someone right, we wouldn’t have needed the donor in the first place. And people mean well. They don’t know.

I’m still grieving, even as I chase my son around the house trying to get him to eat his packet of apple sauce, or as I booby-trap his shelves to deter him from climbing them. Sometimes when I think of how amazing he is — and he is — and how much I love him, I wonder how it would be different if he was of my blood. But grief changes with time. It never leaves, but it’s different now than it was that day. You live with it.

We’ll try to acclimate him to the “all kinds of families” thing once he’s old enough to ask where babies come from, at some point tell him about his “special cousins.” He’s not yet two. It’s all comfortably in the future now. Until then, we’ll just sing Beatles songs and share beautiful photos on social media, like what’s normal anyway? Looks so easy. But it’s not, which I know because I still think about it every day, and because we’ve already gotten so quiet talking about it.

I don’t want to be.

Or maybe I do.

Thanks for reading.

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Exit Interview: The Mad Doctors Call it Quits

Posted in Features on July 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the mad doctors

Playing with and off conventions of punk, surf, heavy rock and more besides, New York trio The Mad Doctors have been a sort of gleeful anomaly. In the release info for what will serve as their final (as much as anything is final in rock and roll) release, the EP R.I.P., they use the word “weirdoid,” and I love that, because not only does it push “weirdo” to 11, but it has fun in the process, and from where I sit, that’s what the band have been about this whole time. They call it quits leaving behind a too-short discography of short releases, splits and the 2016 full-length, No Waves, Just Sharks (review here), and an aesthetic that seemed just to be finding its joy in the strange nuance of their songwriting, but their doing so hints that perhaps the point all along was the search, not the find. In any case, they were a good band. So it goes.

R.I.P. serves as vital emphasis on that point particularly; one more fuzz blowout from guitarist/vocalist Seth Applebaum, bassist Joshua Park and drummer Greg Hanson, who earlier this year also issued the Fuck Sean Hannity digital single, thereby earning a 1UP’s worth of charm points. I’ve done exit interviews before once or twice. A band breaking up can be a contentious thing, and as I’m not really into hearing dudes rag on each other or dig into “band drama,” it’s not something I always want to chase down, but with The Mad Doctors, that doesn’t seem to have been what did it. They just seem like they’re ready to move on. There are new projects in the works and they decided to put things to rest with the five songs on R.I.P. and some last shows. It’s hard not to respect that, and after a run that goes back to 2013’s Fuzz Tonic EP, they’ve well earned the victory lap. So here are the dates:

The Mad Doctors last shows:
Wed 7/17 – Brooklyn @ Windjammer
Thur 7/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Gooskies
Fri 7/19 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ The Brass Rail
Sa 7/20 – Detroit, MI @ Beaconsfield House
Su 7/21 – Chicago, IL @ Reed’s
Mon 7/22 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Hub
Tu 7/23 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
Wed 7/24 – Richmond, VA @ Cary St. Cafe
Th 7/25 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Lon Lon Ranch
Fri 7/26 – Washington, DC @ The Pie Shop
Sa 7/27 – Baltimore, MD @ Mercury Theater

I’ll say this about them: I never knew what a given offering from The Mad Doctors would offer — and that’s still true on R.I.P. — but I knew it would be a good time. I’m glad they had the awareness to pull the plug before it stopped being one.

Enjoy the interview and all the best to Applebaum, Park and Hanson on current and future projects:

The Mad Doctors – Exit Interview

Okay, so what happened? Why end The Mad Doctors?

Nothing happened, really. Creative projects just have ends. We were able to feel it coming and thought it was best to try to make the best of it and have some fun before we put it to bed. It’s better to have it end naturally rather than keep it going just for the hell of it. We had an amazing run – our adult lives are in many ways defined by it, we have made so many of our closest friends through it, we have seen so many places we otherwise wouldn’t have. And now it’s time to see where else the road goes.

When did you first start to feel like things with the band were drawing to a close? Obviously you’re still in it, but did it become the band you wanted it to be?

It has been about a year, maybe a little longer. It was mostly a lack of inspiration to write new material. It kind of felt like we had explored all the things we were excited about sonically that made sense with this band. Around this time, we had a few meetings to try to get the creative juices flowing again and see what we hadn’t tried (one of these attempts turned into “Aggro”) but most of the time, it ended with lukewarm tunes that just didn’t fit us. Sonic interests had changed, tastes had changed and we just felt like it was time to figure out a good way to put it to bed. So we came up with the idea of doing one more record and another tour to support it, a few goodbye shows and end on a high note.

Did you know as the new EP was coming together that this was it?

Yeah — we went into the recording process with the plan for it to be the last release. Thankfully we all still love each other and playing in the band is still a lot of fun so giving it some time wasn’t a problem at all but we have been sitting on the news and it’s exciting to be able to do it one more time.

You’ve toured, played fests, recorded albums, splits, the whole thing. What are you leaving undone?

Really, the only thing we wanted but haven’t done is tour internationally. It’s a bit of a bummer but we all have jobs and commitments to things locally so an international tour just wasn’t in the cards but we definitely wish it had! We had talked about Europe, Australia, Asia – we have had some good love from around the world – just good excuses to travel and see new places – which is always how we viewed touring in the first place. For another band, I suppose!

Best memory — live, in the studio, whatever. What specific moment will you look back on most fondly?

I mean, it’s impossible to pick one memory but when pressed, I definitely think one of the more magical moments was something that happened on a recent tour. We were playing a basement in Harrisonburg, VA that only had one light – a standing lamp that our friend (Jake from Illiterate Light) was whipping around, giving us a “light show.” Well, in the middle of one of the songs, he accidentally broke the bulb and we finished the song in darkness. Honestly, not the first time we have played in total darkness for one reason or another but after the song, we asked someone to turn another light on and we were told there wasn’t another light to turn on. So Jake turns on the flashlight on his phone and five or six more people in the front row take the cue and do the same so we finished the set by iPhone light and it was a moment that was totally awesome.

What lessons will you take from your time in The Mad Doctors as you move forward?

We learned all of the ropes in The Mad Doctors. Everything. How to book shows, how to book tours, how to not fight with band members, how to talk to each other, how to keep out of each others’ hair on the road, how to not take a bad show as a sign that your band totally sucks, how to embrace the moments of pure magic, how to maintain relationships in close quarters, how to play our instruments. It’s immense how much we have all taken from this band.

What’s next for you guys? Any new bands or projects in the works?

Always lots of stuff! Seth and Josh are doing Seth’s psychedelic soul band Ghost Funk Orchestra, who is doing quite well (and has a new LP coming out in August called ‘A Song For Paul’), Greg is in another garage punk band called Lumps, who is working on their second LP, Greg and Seth have a recording project called Power Children that’s like revved-up biker rock as well as their super-sometimes (like they play once a year) surf punk band The Fucktons, and Josh is always working on his solo drone/sludge project Sludge Judy (which Seth plays drums in). So – yeah, we’re definitely not done making music together in other forms and we’re all keeping active and happy with lots of music!

The projects:
https://ghostfunkorchestra.bandcamp.com/album/a-song-for-paul-2
https://soundcloud.com/ghostloadsound/power-children-night-time-is-the-fight-time
https://thefucktons.bandcamp.com/album/spring-cleaning
https://sludgejudy.bandcamp.com/

Seriously though, reunion tour in a year?

Who knows? Honestly, we’re not saying we’re never going to play again but this is the end of the band playing consistently, especially for the time being. Maybe we’ll have inspiration and write more songs and pick up the mantle again. But until then, we’re going to have a few more bangers and give our necks and heads a rest…

The Mad Doctors, “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach” official video

The Mad Doctors on Bandcamp

The Mad Doctors on Thee Facebooks

R.I.P. tape preorder

King Pizza Records website

King Pizza Records on Thee Facebooks

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Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed of Mos Generator

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tony reed

The mantle of being the hardest working person in show business has been worn by many over the last century-plus, perhaps most notably James Brown, but if we’re talking about heavy rock and roll, Port Orchard, Washington’s Tony Reed makes a strong case for himself. The frontman of the long-running Mos Generator is also near ubiquitous in his studio work on the production side, recording, mixing and mastering bands far and wide. He’s taking part alongside Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Gary Arce of Yawning Man in the reincarnated Big Scenic Nowhere, and he’s just recorded the first Saint Vitus LP to feature Scott Reagers in over two decades. In August, he’ll tour for the second time in Europe playing bass for Melbourne’s Seedy Jeezus, whom he’s also recorded.

Oh, and for having what he calls a “mellow year,” Mos Generator have already released a hand-assembled live album through Devil’s Child Records and have a collection of studio jams on the way through Kozmik Artifactz. Reed is also learning to cut his own records, so expect much more to come. Like maybe that country rock project he’s got, Hot Spring Water! They’d be perfect for a cut 12″. He’s also been kicking around doing some reunion shows with Twelve Thirty Dreamtime, his band before Mos.

Clearly the man cannot be stopped.

Reed sent a raven recently with details on all of the above and a bunch more and, frankly, it was staggering. I didn’t even know where to start, but we went back and forth and what made the most sense to me was to get an interview together — as always, it took me forever to actually write out the questions — and give him the chance to talk about what’s going on with each of these things, say what he can say at this point and roll like that. With so much going on, some he can talk about and some he can’t, it was really the only way. Expect more news on a lot of this stuff as it continues to develop — the Big Scenic Nowhere LP, the Mos Generator jams release, record cutting, etc. — but the point is that, in all seriousness and all sincerity, I find Reed‘s singular level of passion to be deeply inspiring. He is relentlessly creative, and he doesn’t know how else to be. That kind of person is rare and with the consistent level of his output across such a wide variety of contexts, it’s only all the more impressive.

He talks about Mos Generator touring Australia with The Atomic Bitchwax early next year. I look forward to inviting myself on that run. I’d write a whole book about it.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed

First up, what’s up with Mos Generator for the rest of this year?

It’s been a pretty mellow year for the band. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the last four years and thought we would kick back for a bit. It looks like we will only play four shows this year. Two of them are with Red Fang and Clutch so we will be able to reach a new audience with the touring. Early 2020 we will be going over to Australia to tour with The Atomic Bitchwax. We’ve been out with them before so that was great news to hear we would be doing our first Aus tour with them.

In May Devil’s Child Records released a live album called Night of the Lords recorded in Manchester, England, in 2017 and later this year, Kozmik Artifactz out of Germany will release an album of freeform jams called Spontaneous Combustions. I just submitted the masters so hopefully it will be out by Fall. Like The Firmament and Lies of Liberty, Spontaneous Combustions is very different from our usual studio albums. I really enjoy adding new textures to the band and although we usually do a freeform jam section in our live shows, this is a whole album of them. All recorded in a six-hour time period.

You’re involved with Bob Balch and Gary Arce’s Big Scenic Nowhere project. You toured with Fu Manchu of course, and Gary is Gary, but how did you end up getting involved there, and will you continue to be a member of that band?

Bob contacted me to work on a song with him and I’m pretty sure it was a mix of touring with Fu Manchu and my contributions to his site PlayThisRiff that gave him the idea to contact me. We got along well on the road and we both work very hard at our craft.

After I finished the first song he just started sending more to see if I was inspired. I ended up doing vocals on quite a bit of the songs across the EP and the full-length. I also added Mellotron and synths to a few songs. A song I wrote has me on drums/vocals, Bob on guitar and my son Kylen on bass. How cool is that?

Bob, Gary and I have been talking about being the core lineup and continue to have guests come in. There are some really cool musicians playing on this that I am totally honored to be associated with. I’ve also started to call on people I know and respect to participate and everybody has been really cool. Musically there doesn’t seem to be any boundaries and that is great.

You’re also playing bass on tour again with Seedy Jeezus in Europe. How was that experience last time and how does being in the band differ from recording them?

I really enjoy hanging out with Lex and Mark. They know each other so well. They will have these massive blowup arguments that you feel might end the tour and right at its zenith, then it will be like ,“so where are we gonna eat mate?” like nothing ever happened. Total entertainment. I’ve got some great audio and video clips on my phone.

After recording two albums with them and doing the tour last year I feel like I’m part of the band. It was like that from the first time we met. Easy to get along with. I’ll be back over there to record the next Seedy full-length right before the Mos boys fly over for the tour.

You recorded Saint Vitus’ new self-titled album. What was it like having them in the studio again? Did you get Dave Chandler to put any mids in his guitar this time?

They were less prepared this time but everybody really worked to make a great album that ended having classic Vitus elements and some new textures. Henry and Pat both contributed to the writing so that gave the album some diversity while still sitting in the spot the fans are used to. Also, Reagers is a stud. Great vocalist and one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet. Always positive and professional without being too serious. Chandler kept his classic EQ settings. :)

Tell me about the record cutting project.

Well… my buddy Jeremy Deede brought up the idea of buying a record lathe. We found a guy in Germany that builds them so we contacted him and he told us he won’t sell it to us if we don’t take the class so I flew over to Germany a few weeks ago and took the 15-hour one day crash course in record cutting. I did get to bring home my first few attempts at it and they sounded better than I thought they would. We should have the machine and a whole bunch of blanks next week and I’ll start to get grip on making some nice cuts. After I get comfortable with it we are going to launch a site where people can have one-off records cut. Needless to say I’ll be making records of everything I ever wanted on vinyl. Exciting stuff!!!

What keeps you going, Tony? Every year you seem to have your hand in so much and so much going on. What is it that lets you do that? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff happening at any given time?

I discovered that I had musical ability when I was around 12 and ever since then I pretty much haven’t stopped. I’ve written and recorded more music than I can even remember. I’ve been going through 40 years of tapes and other recorded media that I am cataloging and saving and I’m finding so much music I forgot I even made. From ideas recorded on a boombox in 1985 to complete songs from even just a few years ago. When I think about how much time I’ve spent next to some kind of recording device with a guitar in my hand or behind a drum kit it’s staggering. I have so many musical endeavors going on (including my job) that it is sometimes hard to finish stuff. My dry erase board in the studio always has scribblings all over it. I like it that way. Leaving a legacy has always been important to me and that along with not knowing, and not wanting to know, anything else in life is what keeps me going. I’ve always been very prolific. I often wonder if that will ever disappear.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I’m putting a lot of time into a project called Hot Spring Water. It’s a country rock project in the style of early ’70s artists like Leon Russell, Graham Nash and Neil Young. Mykey and Mike were the rhythm section from Stone Axe and we actually started this project in 2011. A few months ago we added Bo Mcconaghie on guitar with me and started rehearsing for shows. We’ve played two shows and they have been really fun. It’s so much different than Mos Generator. Bo and I use six watt Fender Champ amplifiers so we have a six watt ceiling for live volume. It’s great! people can enjoy the show without getting their ears blasted. It’s also challenging because playing that clean and quite means your can hear every mistake. Challenges are good.

Tony Reed, Assembling Night of the Lords

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Here are 37 Yung Druid Download Codes — Have at It

Posted in Features on June 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

London heavy psych rockers Yung Druid released their self-titled debut album last month on Totem Cat Records. Preceded by the single “Take Me to Your Dealer” (video premiere here), which also serves as the leadoff of the six-track outing, it’s a moh-dern stoh-ner’s delight, with shades of the UK’s having-a-really-good-time-doing-this atmosphere that might generally manifest in a sillier, longer moniker, coupled together with a laid back approach in cuts like “Sleepy Eyes (Sonic THC)” and the Zeppelin-and-Sabbath “Underneath the Aching Sky,” with a ride cymbal drift in the latter that’s neither overstated nor under-present in the song.

Guitars are duly fuzz-coated to suit the giant-doober-smoking four-piece’s vibe on “Lung,” and even in the meandering daydreamy expanse of “Sleepy Eyes (Sonic THC)” and the melo-grunge roll of closer “Morning Come,” or the relatively minimalist spaceout jam in “Went into a Wooden Room” before it, they hold to a sense of patterning that speaks to their ability to cast forth an aesthetic that sounds loose but isn’t at all without a plan it’s working from but is entirely unpretentious in its execution. If you asked them, they’d probably just call it stoner and leave it at that. And yes, as regards character, I consider that a compliment.

While we’re talking about positive personality attributes, the band approached me with the killer idea of hosting a giveaway for a bunch of downloads of the album. My response was of course yes, obviously, and you’ll find below 37 free codes to let you get your hands on some tunes to make your day. No comment necessary — though if you wanted to leave one to tell the band thanks, I’m sure they’d appreciate it — and all you have to do is grab the thing from the link and enjoy. If you find afterward you need to own a physical copy — understandable — Totem Cat‘s got you set.

If the code you use doesn’t work, just do the next one down the line. When they’re gone, they’re gone:

yung druid self titled

Yung Druid download codes

Redeem at: https://yungdruid.bandcamp.com/yum

vpdx-uj6l
f9hp-jk8j
l3cr-yy7k
evjw-3fm9
gfg4-hqkt
ydu4-5tt7
tj5j-b2uv
2g76-whj9
atl2-c58t
7u2a-k3gc
xwmg-k4fx
hp8z-gq5q
4fnn-uz2t
qwdv-jzx7
ghq6-kgm5
34b2-gu9r
5pxd-uv6l
r6ce-v98j
d3hf-g87k
pael-3nm9
v9kj-7l32
6y36-5jdh
u2at-bgw5
lm9t-xuhr
qgt3-vpqd
bunm-6rgc
wla9-klfx
cp9k-gm5q
s72u-u62t
pwxa-j6x7
8se8-kym5
u97g-w4q9
vywn-cpgt
9kjm-x2r7
zng7-jdhv
nakx-yca8
56zp-7h32
gz28-5vdh
32my-byw5
dv8z-hfhr
pgzn-vaqd
r22v-62gc
xn47-ygfk
j5ed-b7v9
976s-xvzt
zl3c-eyy7

Yung Druid, Yung Druid (2019)

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So, I Went Down to Slomatics Rehearsal Last Night…

Posted in Features on May 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slomatics practice

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some cool stuff in my quickly-increasing number of years, but being invited to a band’s practice space is no small thing. Even putting aside whatever clichés you want about inner-sanctums or where-the-magic-happens or that kind of thing, the fact is that a band in rehearsal is much different than a band on stage, and the practice space isn’t just where songs are run through, it’s where a band finds and develops their sound to then go and refine it live or in the studio. It is a personal place.

My brilliant-ass college professor wife, The Patient Mrs., has been leading students on a study-abroad trip for this past week. We were in Dublin and got up north to Belfast on Tuesday. I’m along basically to provide childcare for The Pecan — now 19 months old and screaming brutally enough to make every black metal band you’ve ever heard sound lightweight — and the first thing I thought of when I found out we were going to be in Northern Ireland was, “I wonder what Slomatics will be up to?”

The Belfast-native three-piece are on the cusp of releasing their new album, Canyons (review here), through Black Bow Records, and their rehearsal space is in an industrial park tucked away in a corner just off the city-center, above Jimmy’s TV Repair (and Allegedly Etc.), in a room with show posters and old Terrorizer foldouts put up. Guitarist David Marjury was kind enough to pick me up at the hostel where we’re staying — that’s right: baby in a hostel; it’s going swimmingly — as he happens to live nearby, and we drove about five minutes to get to the spot through Belfast’s curvy, carved-by-livestock-then-industrialized streets, where guitarist Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey (who also plays in War Iron) were already waiting.

With the new record coming out, they obviously weren’t writing or working on anything new or anything like that, but they’re booked to fly to Siegen, Germany, next month to play Freak Valley Festival, so the task was to work out the set for that. Some debate ensued about focusing on new songs versus older material — I’m generally in favor of new — and they ran through the first half of Canyons in succession, with opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gears of Despair” leading to “Cosmic Guilt,” “Seven Echoes” and “Telemachus, My Son,” the last of which was a unanimous pick to feature at the fest. To the side of where I sat, a marker board was littered with potential setlists in what was clearly an ongoing conversation.

In between the songs, the banter was light and familiar. Chris had been all sinus’ed up earlier in the day, Marty had gotten his face scratched by a patient at work, Dave had some amp buzz that might’ve been input trouble, and so on. Everyone talked about family, and as I’ve had the pleasure to meet the band on two prior occasions, seeing them first at Høstsabbat 2016 (review here) in marker boardOslo and then again the next year at Roadburn (review here) in The Netherlands, I knew going into it they were all friendly guys and my persistent, painful awkwardness would potentially have some manner of offset by their hospitality. Sitting in front of a drum kit that was either spare or some other band’s, laughing at some story or other, I was glad to be right about that.

They played through “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” again from the new album, and one other — was it “Beyond the Canopy?” — and then dipped back to older material, which sounded very much like a refresher as opposed to stuff they were still working out how to present live. That difference was palpable mostly in ways it wouldn’t have been on stage, in things like body language and during-song communication between Marjury and Couzens, Harvey all the while devastating his already-cracked cymbals in go-hard-at-practice fashion while belting out lyrics with no less force than I’ve been lucky to see him do on stage.

Even without a mic, his snare cut through the extra-low low-end of the two guitars, and some of it was interesting to see him count through some of the ambient parts of the newer material, which indeed is even more atmospheric than what the band had on offer with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), as both Couzens and Marjury would periodically depart from the central lumbering riffs in which the band has long specialized to add keyboard-style effects that lent melody to the coinciding crush. I was glad that I make it a habit to travel with earplugs. The whole place seemed to rumble, or maybe it was just me.

All told, it was about two hours of time in the room, and while I don’t know what the final setlist will be for Freak Valley, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a powerful show. Slomatics have existed for 15 years at this point, and it’s clear Harvey, Marjury and Couzens have known each other for longer than that. Harvey had to call it a night, but Marjury, Couzens and I adjourned afterward to a coffee shop around the corner from where I’m staying — not the Nordic one with the espressos I’ve been habitually downing since we got into down, that’s across the street, but a different one that was also good — and spent some time shooting the shit about the band and laughing about family stuff, their embarrassing themselves in front of Goatsnake (I’ve still never seen them live, so not had the opportunity, of which I’d inevitably take advantage), the time Marjury saw Ozzy on tour for The Ultimate Sin, and whatever else. It was pretty laid back, even with the late coffee, and I was no less glad to be there than I’d been at the rehearsal space. These are good people.

Coffees done and work/baby in the morning, we said goodnight and I headed back around the corner to crash out and wake up to another day today. I’ll be honest and say it took me a while to get to sleep, not just for that last espresso, but just from the excitement of doing something like that. It doesn’t happen every day, and to be not just brought in, but actually welcomed by Slomatics was something special I’ll long remember. I’m here for another week, but it already made my trip.

Slomatics, “Mind Fortresses on Theia” official video

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Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNT SATURN

In the bleary-eyed early hours of 2019, when most heads were still clearing from the panicked revelry celebrating the march into an unknown and horrifying future, there came Kiss the Ring (discussed here), the debut EP/demo from Bellingham, Washington’s Mount Saturn. Then a four-piece and currently a trio seeking a drummer, the upstart outfit follows in the Pacific Northwestern tradition of putting the focus on riffs and melody, with guitarist Ray Blum and vocalist Violet Vasquez working in partnership to set a solid foundation of both throughout Kiss the Ring‘s four tracks, with bassist Cody Barton and then-drummer Tanner Scinocco locking down a duly weighted groove to counterbalance the spaciousness of the vocals and guitar.

The EP, preceded only by a single-version of its opening track “Dwell,” holds to a central method, but is varied in mood and approach around that enough to give its songs an organic sense of character, and as statements of intent go, it shows both a will toward progression and an ingrained penchant for songcraft, and it makes it clear that the band know where they want to reside on the spectrum of heavy and, most importantly for the longer term, they’re willing to adjust that balance as called for by their material and progressive intent.

I know you heard the thing, so I won’t prattle on, but just in case, there’s a full stream below from Bandcamp and tapes are newly available from Ice Fall Records. I wanted to get the basic background on the band and how they worked together to make the EP, and Vasquez and Blum were both kind enough to offer insight.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

Mount Saturn Kiss the Ring

Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

How did Mount Saturn get together? Give me the origin story for the band.

Violet Vasquez: So myself and my partner Ray knew we wanted to start making “doom” or something that strayed a bit from conventional metal together, and starting by jamming together in an old storage unit. I had never sung before in a band, but really wanted to give it a shot, and Ray had been playing guitar for a while but had no projects. It started as something to do. We tried out a couple of drummers, and then decided to just write together for a bit and see what we had to say as writers. We were discovering so much new music together at this time and weren’t sure what we wanted to sound like. We took our time, for sure. Ray ended up starting the band Crystal Myth with Tanner, who he had jammed with in another band briefly, and then Cody came along by suggestion of our good friend Autumn. Essentially, the members of Crystal Myth were coerced into backing the songs that we been working on, and lending their talents to the development of new ones. They both just wanted to play music, so it wasn’t too hard to convince them. We were eager to contribute to a heavy scene that seemed to be experiencing a sort of resurrection in Bellingham and it’s been really fun to do that.

Tell me about writing Kiss the Ring. How did the songs take shape? You’d done a version of “Dwell” earlier. Was that the first song you wrote together?

VV: The first song we wrote together was a song we don’t have recorded, called “Down” about a witch who employs a wizard to fight a dragon. Perhaps a little heavy handed on the DOOM elements in retrospect, and it was a bit too long admittedly at seven minutes, but I recall it fondly! As far as writing Kiss the Ring goes, we would bring the skeletons of ideas to practice and work it out. We jammed a lot, and some of the things we expected to go one way went another based off the input and style of our rhythm section. I think songs like “Dwell” became keepers because of this. Generally, though, we had really good chemistry in jamming and got a few ideas that way. Once I found a melody that I liked to sing, that jam became a song in progress and would take shape from there.

How long were you in the studio making the EP, and what was the recording process like? Is there anything different you’d like to do next time around? Anything you’d like to keep just the same?

Ray Blum: We took a weekend in July 2018 to go to a studio in Anacortes, WA, called The Unknown with hopes of nailing down a drum and vocal sound that we liked. Erik Wallace, our engineer, suggested the space because it’s an old church with great acoustics. To this point in the band’s life, every studio experience has been successively better than the last, as we gather knowledge and an increased understanding of what we think the project should sound like. It was probably a faster process than we would have liked it to have been, but we had drums essentially done on the first day, guitar and bass done the second and vocals on the third. As far as things I would change, I would have liked to have spent a little more time trying to vary tones from song to song, but I think that’s what every guitar player thinks about studio time. Working with our friend Erik Wallace of Shibusa Sounds (who recorded, mixed and mastered the whole thing) was a blast and definitely something I would like to keep the same. He pulled not only a good sound out of us; but good performances, which at the youthful stage the band was at, was integral to the positive response that the EP received. Next time, we’d like to really take our time and try to record more things live.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest is a huge hotbed for bands and all that. What influence do you take from your surroundings, whether it’s nature, other bands, whatever? What does being from the PNW mean to you?

VV: Mount Saturn would probably not be the band we are without the doom, the gloom, and Holy Grove. We love that band, they’ve inspired our inception in a way, truly. We love our often-gloomy surroundings, too, and there’s no doubt that fuels our moods and keeps us inside jamming or writing. Being from the PNW, we are also living in a pretty socially-conscious area, and I’d say I tend to definitely focus on those kinds of issues thematically. Half our songs are about issue of feminism and the fight for equality across genders, but issues of racism and classism are also on our minds, and on the minds of people we play with or those who come to our shows. Those themes, they’re not just fueling our lyrics, but our passionate performances, too. It’s a way to heal that pain and I think it’s why we’ve gotten a good response locally; people want to be healed and empowered by music.

You seem to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in terms of your sound and style. How do you see the band growing as you move forward?

RB: It’s tough to say how we think the band will grow musically moving forward at the moment. We’re in the process of replacing our drummer (Tanner left shortly after Kiss the Ring was recorded), and we can’t make any assumptions about future sounds until we have an understanding of what that new person may bring to the table. I would say that our influences have certainly shifted slightly away from purely doom metal and more towards psych rock but I would hesitate to guess how that will be reflected in the writing at such an early stage.

Will you tour? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

VV: You know, we would love to. We’re in the process of looking for the right drummer to join us so we can start writing a full-length and at least go down the coast a bit before the end of 2020. Wish us luck! Also, keep your eye out for our pals in Dryland who are about to release their first full-length. They’re Bellinghamsters, too, and we can’t get enough of them.

Mount Saturn, Kiss the Ring (2019)

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