The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed of Rosetta

Posted in Questionnaire on May 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

rosetta matt weed

One decade after the release of their Translation Loss debut, The Galilean Satellites, Philadelphia’s Rosetta stand on the cusp of their fifth long-player, Quintessential Ephemera. Released in association with Golden Antenna Records, the new album follows 2013’s independently-released The Anaesthete and the 2014 Flies to Flame EP, as well as an original score produced earlier this year for a film about the band, Rosetta: Audio/Visual, and is the latest in a line of deeply creative outings furthering the band’s stylstic meld of atmospheric metal, sludge, post-rock and ambience. Noteworthy also for being their first full-length with the lineup of vocalist/noisemaker Mike Armine, guitarist Matt Weed, bassist Dave Grossman, drummer BJ McMurtrie and guitarist Eric Jernigan after having brought the latter on board in 2014 (he doubles in City of Ships), Quintessential Ephemera continues Rosetta‘s workman-style approach to progressive, fluid and exploratory songwriting, their commitment more to going places they’ve never gone than to any particular genre or other.

Weed took some time out recently to respond to The Obelisk Questionnaire and you’ll find his answers below. Please enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed

How did you come to do what you do?

Hard to say, since I’ve been in one band or another with our drummer BJ for over half my life. I picked up a guitar when I was 14 and it has always been a kind of territory that I explored, rather than an object I tried to master. So I’ve always written music by default – it was much harder to learn music written by other people. I went to school for totally unrelated stuff and that was probably a good thing, since academic study tends to destroy one’s enjoyment of a thing. I’m a bit of a robot in personality anyway, and music was one of the only ways I could ever access, understand, and communicate about emotion. The verbal language of emotion is either mystifying or outright off-putting to me, but playing an instrument I always felt like I had access to a more truthful way of communicating with people.

Describe your first musical memory.

My parents played a lot of classical LPs on a really crappy integrated turntable/amp system from the ’70s when I was a kid. My dad liked Romantic composers like Brahms and Tchaikovsky a lot, and my mom played the piano in the house, often old hymns. I would sit at the piano and play individual notes to see which I liked. I liked the A two octaves below middle-C the best. I would wail on that note for long periods, sometimes chanting over it (I was about four or five), but my family never complained about it. I guess that was my first foray into drone music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

In high school, when I was still training on violin, I did a program where high school kids got to sit with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and play together. Each pair of stand partners was one PO member and one high school student. It was remarkable mainly because I was a “just-okay” student of the violin, but while I was on-stage with such serious players, my technique just seemed like it magically improved, instantly. I had no idea I could play like that. It wasn’t objectively great but it was an order of magnitude better than I was normally capable of. I never forgot it, because it was proof to me that everyone does their best work in collaboration; one person who develops skill and takes risks has a beneficial effect on everyone he or she plays with. Likewise, being lazy or self-satisfied drags down everyone around you.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

There have been several extended periods where I really struggled with the idea that having integrity and good character is more important than success. I was brought up believing that (my parents were neither achievement-oriented nor overly accommodating), and I still do. But it’s easy to make that statement when you have enough to eat and can make rent and people are regularly affirming the work you do. Society says that integrity matters, but then turns around and judges you exclusively on indicators of wealth, prestige, or social significance. That would probably explain why so many truly awful people are among the most successful. Especially in the world of art, you need to be profitable, popular, or critically acclaimed. If you’re none of the three, you must not be very good at what you do. Then you feel pressure either to adapt your work to the market or to quit entirely. But neither of those options demonstrates integrity. I’m not sure it’s possible to resolve that conflict, ultimately.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Laying aside questions about marketability, it seems like it’s a progression of greater risk-taking. You try something new and then ask, did it communicate what I wanted to say? Was it satisfying? Did I learn something in the process? If it didn’t work, then you go back and try again. If it worked, then you jump off from there and take more risks. If you’re not taking risks, then you’re not making art, you’re producing a commodity. But taking risks necessarily means failing sometimes.

How do you define success?

Sustainability. I don’t just mean that in the financial sense. I’ve never made any money from the band and I probably never will, but I’m happy for the band to support itself. Money hasn’t ever been a goal, it’s just one means to the end of being able to keep going for as long as there is music we want to make. But there are other dimensions to sustainability, like avoiding personal burnout and cultivating new audiences, not getting stuck in unproductive habits, becoming more disciplined people as time goes on. During periods where Rosetta was broke and almost unable to continue, money always loomed as the largest dimension. But once we went independent and the band more or less began to pay for itself, I started to see a lot of different ways it could be derailed that had nothing to do with money. I think success would be a situation where we had what we needed and were spending more time creating than problem-solving.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

A No Doubt show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2002. Yes, it was for a girlfriend. Someone puked on my shoes.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A drone record made with a guitar and found sounds from my house to a four-track tape recorder.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Every year my wife and I try to go on a wilderness backpacking trip to some weird remote location. I always look forward to that. I feel most human in situations where I have to submit to the law of nature, rather than using technology to bend nature to my wishes. Real life seems totally unreal by comparison.

Rosetta, Rosetta: Audio/Visual Original Score (2015)

Rosetta’s website

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Rosetta on Twitter

Rosetta on Bandcamp

Golden Antenna Records


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Six Dumb Questions with Akris

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 7th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

akris (Photo by Tiffany Kaetzel)

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a while since the last time I did a Six Dumb Questions interview. Right around the time Virginia’s Akris released their 2013 self-titled debut (review here), actually, and in fact these questions were sent out back then. Akris at the time were the duo of bassist/vocalist Helena Goldberg and drummer Sam Lohman, but that was soon enough to change.

Last weekend, Akris made a return as the three-piece of Goldberg (who’s also ex-Lord and Aquila and performs solo), guitarist/vocalist Paul Cogle (also Nagato and Black Blizzard) and drummer Tim Otis (also Admiral Browning), bringing together known entities from the MD/VA underground in an unknown form. Their performance at Sludgement Day this past weekend marked a new beginning for the band, and they’ll follow it up with other regional shows before heading out to the West Coast for a run of shows alongside the much-loved Snail in July and August.

With new material in the works, plans to record with Chris Kozlowski at Polar Bear Lair this summer and a later release through Domestic Genocide Records — who seem to have opted for the more acronym-styled DGR — who also put out the first album, Goldberg takes on the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions: Akris

1. Tell me about writing the self-titled. I know some of those songs were around for a while, but how did everything come together for the album?

One of the most important things about this album is the dedication to Mark Williams and all my friends in Hickory, NC. Mark ran shows out of his house, The Killing Floor, and I have been playing shows there and at other venues in Hickory since my first tour in 2007. Unfortunately, Mark and several other friends of mine that I made over the years in hickory passed away. Because of the unending support, hospitality, and kindness I have experienced in this town, I care very deeply about my friends there and will always be drawn to come back.

The album was recorded between the Fall and Spring of 2012-‘13… We actually decided on having the songs be in chronological order, with the oldest songs being first (“Fighter Pilot,” the first track, was actually written back in 2007) and the most current songs at that point towards the end. “Suffocate” was written specifically for Mark, who passed away in the Spring of 2012. At the time of recording, the last track, “Part of Me,” was the most recently written track, having just been completed in the Fall of 2012. Actually, the current set is comprised in a very similar way to the album. There are a couple older songs written back in 2007/2008, a couple songs from the album, and a few brand new songs.

2. How was it for you recording with Chris Kozlowski? How long were you in the studio and how did the recording process work?

We absolutely loved recording with Chris! We had an amazing time at the polar bear lair; I think the entire process was over the span of a few months. Chris and I hit it off from the first time he did sound for Akris at a Krug’s show years ago in Frederick (I think it might have been a SHoD), and I’m happy to call him a very good friend. When I think of the recording process of this album I remember lots of laughs and various hijinks.

3. You’ve obviously put time into creating your bass tone, and it’s such a huge part of the songs. What gear did you use on the album, and was/is there something in particular you were trying to get out of it sound-wise?

I am a big supporter of Sunn equipment. My rig for the past few years is pretty much all Sunn and Earth, with bass and guitar rigs running simultaneously. We wanted to emulate the live sound as closely as possible, so we used two Sunn Model T’s, one through a 2×15, the other through an 8×10. One was more of a clear booming bass tone, the other was more distorted at a mid to treble range. When combined, the sound was very close to my live show rig.

4. How did bringing Ron “Fez” McGinnis from Admiral Browning in on vocals for “Vomit Within” come about? Tell me about writing that song musically and lyrically.

I usually don’t think about my lyrics too much; I almost feel like I just hear the sounds of the words first and just let them come out. It’s always interesting to actually go back and think about what I wrote! A lot of my lyrics involve death and spirituality, and the beginning of that song definitely references that (“There’s a shadow next to me/Sits beside me while I bleed,” etc.). Later in the song I think I was letting out a lot of anger and frustration in particular with dealing with death (“My brother, you fuck, I loved you too much,” for example). As far as Fez‘s vocal contribution, I trusted his musicianship enough to just let him do whatever he was inspired to do. He had the idea for the spoken word part at the beginning of the song and wrote the part while listening to the track in the studio. I am very excited to have him be a part of it!

5. What happened with Sam and how did you bring Tim and Paul into the band? How has working with them changed Akris? Will it affect your ability to tour?

I absolutely loved playing with Sam between the Spring of 2011 to about the Spring of 2014. Unfortunately, circumstances in his personal life made it impossible for him to continue. Tim Otis is one of my best friends, and I have been a big fan of his drumming since I moved down to the Northern Virginia area in 2008. When it became evident that Sam would not be able to continue playing drums for Akris this past January, Tim officially joined the band. Soon after, the decision was made to have Paul Cogle join on guitar. This was obviously a huge decision because I have been playing in a two-piece band for almost 10 years. However, I have been a fan of Paul‘s music and guitar playing for years, ever since I first heard Nagato. Paul is also a very good mutual friend of Tim’s and mine, and it has been an absolutely amazing, positive experience preparing our new set over these past few months. I am truly honored to call both Paul and Tim bandmates and friends. The three of us have worked out tour plans for the rest of the year, which include three shows in May local to the D.C./VA/MD area, a New Jersey Meatlocker show June 12, a West Coast tour in August with my longtime friends Snail (on Small Stone Records), and a Southern tour in September.

6. Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We will be recording new material at the Polar Bear Lair again in July to be released on DG Records next year. I cannot express with words the love and gratitude I have for our label. There have been many ups and downs over the past couple years and they have truly stuck with me through thick and thin. To have the support of people who believe so strongly in me is an incredible blessing that I am thankful for every day. My current bandmates and label have helped me to find courage in my darkest times through love and strength, and to continue to push the envelope and the limits of our sound.

Akris, Akris (2013)

Akris on Thee Facebooks

Akris at DGRecords

DGR on Bandcamp

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The Midnight Ghost Train US tour Diary, Pt. 3

Posted in Features on May 4th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

A moment of respite this time around as The Midnight Ghost Train guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss checks in from the road in the latest installment of his US tour diary. The trio — Moss, bassist Mike Boyne and drummer Brandon Burghart — have a day off in Albuquerque, New Mexico and use it to check out filming locations for the show Breaking Bad, and Moss also gives some thoughts on B.B. King, who was revealed last week to be in home-hospice care.

Eight shows left on the tour. Here’s Moss:

the midnight ghost train breaking bad

Mea Culpa 3

Had a fun and interesting week. Played Albuquerque, Midland, Austin, and Lafayette. On our way to Pensacola right now.

Had the day off after our Albuquerque show so we used it to check out the different spots that Breaking Bad was filmed in. We are huge fans of that show so it was cool to find the actual filming locations, Including a candy store owned by an old lady that not only made all the meth for the first two years of Breaking Bad (made it out of rock candy) but also makes porn candy, like chocolate dicks and vaginas. Yum. It was probably the most fun we have had in Albuquerque. Last time we were there, a gigantic protest was going on against the police or something. We went over to check it out, hoping to see some crazy shit, but we ended up getting too close and we got the backlash of a bunch of tear gas. Did not feel very good.

One of my biggest heroes and inspirations in music is B.B. King, I learned this week that he is at home in hospice care preparing to die. This breaks my heart. Without him there the midnight ghost trainwould be no TMGT. I’ve seen him live a countless amount of times, he is the reason I decided to play music. I wanted what he had. That soul and passion he has on stage is unlike anything else. My wife and I actually saw his last-ever performance. The day after we saw him he collapsed and canceled the rest of the tour. I can’t begin to explain what his music and his soul has done for me. I grew up with his music, going to his concerts with my dad and just being completely in awe of the experience. Some of the best moments in my life. My favorite live album of all time is B.B. King, Live at the Regal. If you haven’t heard it, buy it. Nothing out there comes close to the magic on that album. I just hope he is comfortable and safe and well, and goes in peace. He is a true bluesman and a true performer. I strive at every show to have just a fraction of the soul he has.

I appreciate all the kind get well words and wishes for me for my upcoming surgery. I’m a tough son of a bitch so I’ll be okay and ready to rock soon after the surgery. But first thing’s first, we got a tour to finish and nine more shows to blow the roof off the fuckin’ place.

The Midnight Ghost Train, Cold was the Ground (2015)

The Midnight Ghost Train on Thee Facebooks

The Midnight Ghost Train at Napalm Records

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Death Alley Interview & Track Premiere: Into the Heart of Black Magick Boogieland

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on April 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

death alley

[Please note: Click play above to hear “Black Magick Boogieland.” Death Alley release Black Magick Boogieland May 19 on Tee Pee Records. Preorders are available through Tee Pee, on iTunes or on Amazon.]

It’s had many names, but ultimately, Black Magick Boogieland is a familiar idea. For Sleep, it was their Holy Mountain. For George Clinton, his Mothership. For Motörhead, a certain card out of the deck. It’s that thing or that place that represents who a band is or where they feel they’re coming from, existentially as much as sonically. For Amsterdam four-piece Death Alley, the last year and a half has found them locked in recording dungeons, finding birth and rebirth onstage and in the studio, hitting the road hard, reveling in good times and pulling together through the strange moments that seem tiny at the time but ultimately help us all discover who we are.

Death Alley‘s Black Magick Boogieland — almost impossibly — lives up to the righteousness of its title. Yes, it’s over the top at times and it knows that and sees the value in it, but most importantly, it’s a work that finds cohesion in the black, the magic(k) and the boogie. Of the various times I’ve written about the band on this site, almost each one finds them with a different genre tag, from protothrash to retro heavy punk to heavy rock and roll. Truth is, they’re all of those things, and the multi-faceted sound of their debut, from the reworked versions of “Over Under” and “Dead Man’s Bones” which were also the A and B sides to their first single (review here), to the 12-minute space-rocking closer death alley black magick boogieland“Supernatural Predator,” is tied together by the energy with which the material is delivered and the won-over knowledge of what they want to accomplish stylistically and in terms of their songwriting.

Born out of the demise of three acts — punkers Gewapend BetonThe Devil’s Blood and Mühr — Death Alley brings elements together from each into a served-raw blend of fist-pumping, sonically-weighted classic-styled heavy. The album is neither metal nor punk but has elements crucial to both, and when it pushes beyond the roughneck shuffle of “Bewildered Eyes” and “The Fever” into the groovier roll of “Golden Fields of Love,” somehow it not only makes sense, but becomes utterly necessary. The elements at root in its creation might be primitive, and Black Magick Boogieland might seem that way at first listen as well, but there isn’t a level on which one might approach the work as a whole that it doesn’t fulfill, pulling you back to when rock and roll was irony-free, guns blazing, ass shaking and seemed able to hit you directly on a skeletal level.

To herald their debut’s May 19 release through Tee Pee Records, I spoke to all four members of Death Alley — vocalist Douwe Truijens, guitarist Oeds Beydals, bassist Dennis Duijnhouwer and drummer Ming Boyer — about some of the moments that have shaped the band to this point, among them playing Roadburn in 2014, touring hard alongside their soon-to-be labelmates in The Shrine, recording the first single with Guy Tavares (Orange Sunshine) at his Motorwolf studio in Den Haag, bringing in Beydals‘ former bandmate, ex-The Devil’s Blood vocalist Farida Lemouchi, to sing on “Supernatural Predator,” and more, and the result is one of the best conversations I’ve had the pleasure to host here in a long time.

All told, it wound up coming awfully close to 6,900 words, so there’s plenty to dig into, but I think the story (and stories) these guys have to tell is well worth the time. The complete Q&A is after the jump. I sincerely hope you enjoy.

Read more »

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The Midnight Ghost Train US Tour Diary, Pt. 2

Posted in Features on April 28th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

When last we left them, Kansas heavy blues rockers were deep into the Pacific Northwest on their current US tour. This past week has taken them further south, through California and into the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico. Last night they played in Albuquerque, and today, guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss — joined in the band by bassist Mike Boyne and drummer Brandon Burghart — continues his “Mea Culpa” tour diary for The Obelisk.

The Midnight Ghost Train‘s third album, Cold was the Ground is out now as their debut on Napalm Records. Their tour runs until May 16, at which point apparently Moss will undergo surgery. More in the diary:


Mea Culpa 2

Driving through the desert right now towards Albuquerque, NM. The past few nights have been excellent shows and good times. Like I said in the last post we went to the Giants and Dodgers game on our day off. That was a lot of fun and relaxing. But relaxing never lasts long. I like it that way. I don’t like to stand still for long. If you have seen us on stage I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

The other night in San Diego we had a great show. It was a last-minute add but it was a blast. I think they put something in the drinks in there though ’cause everyone was insanely wasted. Made for an interesting night. I don’t drink so it’s always quite amusing to see the insanely drunk ones at the shows. But it can also get a bit annoying especially at the merch table. One guy wanted to buy all three of our vinyls, a hoodie, two shirts, a tote bag, a hat, a poster and two bottles of our TMGT hot sauce. I get everything out, all ready for him. The price is somewhere around $150 and he opened his wallet and only had $20. Then he actually tried to see if I would let him go with all that stuff only paying $20. No way in hell. He would not let it go, started yelling, “Why can’t I just pay $20, this is bullshit I thought you guys were cool. I promise if you let me go with all this stuff for $20 I’ll tell everyone I know about your band.” Absolutely not. We need to make our money.

For those of you that are unaware, this is how we make our living. This is our job. So we don’t give anything out for free, ever, and don’t make deals. I don’t care how cute of a girl you are, I don’t care how uncool it makes me, you pay full price. If you really like a band enough that you want to buy their merch, than you should respect them enough to pay for it, and pay the price that they ask. We go through that every night. But this guy just for some reason got under my skin. Maybe because he held up the merch line for 10 minutes while he was bitching and arguing. “Sorry you gotta go, there are people with money behind you trying to buy stuff.” I guess some people just don’t get it. I’m sure other bands out there feel that frustration.

So I’ve got some bad news. I’ve been battling with some pain the past few months that has made life very uncomfortable. I went to the doctor and found out I have two hernias that have to be surgically repaired immediately. So as soon as this tour is over I’m going in for surgery. Not excited about that. After this tour, we have one month off before we go back over to Europe. So I just hope that during that month off I can fully recover from the surgery, and there are no complications so I can be rip-roaring and ready to go for our European tour. In the meantime, I’m not able to lift anything. Doctors said I can’t lift anything over five pounds during this tour. Now that’s just crazy. But I have been staying away from lifting amps and really heavy stuff.

The guys have been a huge help moving stuff around for me. It sucks. I feel worthless and helpless. But I was warned that my hernias are at risk of becoming strangled, which can kill me, so I’m taking it as easy as possible. What really sucks is the uncomfortable pain that I’m in the entire time on stage. But I’m a fighter and I get through it night after night. Just hope that after this surgery I recover quick and well enough for our European tour. I’m so thankful I got good band members to help and pick up the slack for me. We still get off stage in less than two minutes, and we still get everything done quick and on time. It’s just tough to have to adjust to not carrying anything. Hope this surgery is as easy and as quick with recovery time as they say. ‘Cause there is much more rocking left to do.

The Midnight Ghost Train, Cold was the Ground (2015)

The Midnight Ghost Train on Thee Facebooks

The Midnight Ghost Train at Napalm Records

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The Midnight Ghost Train US Tour Diary, Pt. 1

Posted in Features on April 22nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you want to count their time in Europe, The Midnight Ghost Train have been on tour since February supporting their third album and Napalm Records debut, Cold was the Ground (review here). Their current US tour began on April 10 in Indianapolis and will continue through May 16. Guitarist/vocalist Steve Moss — joined in the band by drummer Brandon Burghart and bassist Mike Boyne — has started a tour diary that will run here through the end of this stint and who knows for how long after. If the last several years have shown anything, it’s that The Midnight Ghost Train never veer too far from the road they’ve taken as their home.

Not sure how often updates are going to come in, but I’ll post them when they show. Enjoy:

The Midnight Ghost Train

Mea Culpa 1

Hey it’s Steve from The Midnight Ghost Train. So we were told to write about our time on this tour. Keep a sort of journal accounting for what we are doing during these long days/months while we are on the road. Here it goes. I’ll call these entries “Mea Culpa,” which is Latin for “through my fault,” which means if you don’t like these entries, well then it’s my fault.

So far this album release tour has been excellent for promoting our new album. The European part of the tour was very successful and now we are currently on the USA portion. We are about a little over a week into it. Tackled a couple cities in the Midwest and in the north and making our way down the West Coast now. Last night we played Portland. Not a very good turnout at all. Apparently it was supposed to be a sold out show but two bands dropped off and they had to scramble to get two other bands on the bill at the last minute. We don’t have a huge following in Portland so we were counting on these other bands to bring a big crowd. But they didn’t, big bummer. You can’t win them all.

Had to get one of our bass rigs fixed in Portland. Our buddies at Arcane Amplification are masters when it comes to fixing amps. But unfortunately they didn’t have all the right The Midnight Ghost Train 2parts and had to order them. So they kept the power amp and are gonna ship it to us somewhere during this tour once it’s fixed. Something is ALWAYS breaking. Whether it be amps, the van, guitars, or our hearts, haha. It’s always something. Money never stays in the bank account very long when you play music as a full-time gig. We are used to the constant guff.

We stayed in crack central last night in Portland. 3AM, crackheads banging on doors, walking around half naked screaming at each other and trying to score. This morning was ridiculous when we took our guitars out from the hotel room and put them in the back of the van. The crackies surrounded us, “Are you in a band?” “No we are not, get the fuck outta here.” There’s a tip for bands on the road. NEVER tell people you’re in a band, you will either get into a 20-minute conversation, them trying to find out everything in god’s name about your band, or tell you about their shitty band they tried starting 15 years ago, or they will just try to rip you off. So it’s better to just be an asshole and scare them away so they don’t try something. ‘Cause it will happen.

We are headed down to San Francisco right now. Tomorrow we have a day off so we are going to a Giants and Dodger game in San Fran. I’m a gigantic baseball fan so I love dragging the dudes to baseball games on our days off. Not into any other sports just baseball. It’s the only thing that helps me relax and take my mind off of this insane life that we chose for us. We suck at everything else so we knew we had to be musicians. Burned all of our bridges so we could never retreat and didn’t allow ourselves to have a backup plan. ‘Cause trust me, if I had a backup plan I would’ve taken it along time ago. So bring on the guff… We got nothing else.

The Midnight Ghost Train, Cold was the Ground (2015)

The Midnight Ghost Train on Thee Facebooks

The Midnight Ghost Train at Napalm Records

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Rynne Stump of Stumpfest

Posted in Questionnaire on April 17th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

rynne stump.jpg

Next weekend, Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, plays host to the three-night Stumpfest IV. The festival, organized by Rynne Stump, has become a staple of the Pacific Northwest’s fertile heavy underground, and this year is no different. stumpfest roper posterHeadlined by familiar names from the region like Danava, YOB, Big Business, Lord Dying and Sandrider, its reach has only expanded in its years of operation, and with a near-infinite supply of heavy acts to choose from in the Pacific Northwest at the moment — oh wait, six new bands just formed right this second — there seems to be no shortage of fodder for Stump and her compatriots to show their dedication to the cause. With NorskaSons of HunsGraves at SeaMuscle and Marrow, and others on the bill, Stumpfest IV retains a commitment both geographic and stylistic, and its admirable mission has earned it increasing acclaim each year.

Now eight months pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her first son, Stump somehow found time between final fest preparations and packing a hospital bag to answer The Obelisk Questionnaire, and her efforts are appreciated. Enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Rynne Stump

How did you come to do what you do?

A lot of doing what the hell I wanted and not listening to other people or caring what people thought of me too much. Making my own decisions in life gave me the courage to take risks and be accountable for myself and my mistakes. Following my heart got me where I am and I wouldn’t change one damn bit of it. Of course it helped having parents and sisters who support me and accept my attitude. My father was a musician and he taught me music, how to listen to it, the language of harmony, and how to sing and perform. My mother taught me how to craft, create and to work hard. To not give up no matter what was against us. To never, ever let someone’s opinion of me affect who I really am inside.

Most importantly, if you are raised to be yourself and supported to be your unique self you will have your own life to be proud of no matter what!

Describe your first musical memory.

My dad waking me up out of bed when I was super tiny to listen to a record. I wish I remembered which record that was. He said to me, “Listen to the bass! Listen to the guitar! Hear that harmony, Zipper?” Then he took me outside to gaze upon the moon. This happened regularly in my house in my first years of life.

Also, performing at the Southern Indiana bluegrass festival Bean Blossom with my dad and sister Sara in my diapers that is a pretty intense first musical memory.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

There are too many to count! In addition to putting on Stumpfest every year, I am also a musician. Some of my best musical memories come from performing with my band leader Craig Elkins. To me, communication on a musical level is absolute! The energy, connection and elevation can take you beyond the moon! Plus, we just harmonize like angels together and we laugh at ourselves constantly. Song birding it up with Craig is the BEST!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Daily, our beliefs are tested all the time. How we recover from this defines our character and strengthens our bond to our own spirituality.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Artistic progression is the higher evolution of ourselves and our souls. Through it, we can lead others toward their own elevated states of being and influence a positive reaction.

How do you define success?

Finding the happiness in all things. Attaining grounded, self-assured happiness allows us to know ourselves better, laugh at ourselves, forgive and love ourselves. When we do this we can connect fully with others and to do positive things for the universe. That is success in my eye. The idea of Stumpfest was to gather old friends together to do just that, and we have seen success every year.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Everything we see shapes us; our experience, our perspectives, our minds, who we are and who we become. Although things we see can harm our fragile egos we can take every experience and make ourselves better from the exposure. I am thankful for psychedelics, which help us to see things in multidimensional perspectives. They open our minds beyond the plane of consciousness that we operate in daily and further connect us to ourselves, others and the great unknown.

There was one time I saw a bum masturbating on the side of the road and I could probably live without that.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

My partner Danny Carey and I are creating life right now inside of me. I’m eight months pregnant, and that was always top on my list… to create the human form is the ultimate! Also, making my own record. Committing and immersing myself totally to the struggle of that inward path is a huge, frightening goal for me.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

The birth of my son in June. I cannot wait to meet the product of Mr. Carey and myself. I bet he is going to be hilarious!

YOB, “Adrift in the Ocean” live at Stumpfest 2012

Stumpfest tickets

Stumpfest on Thee Facebooks

Stumpfest IV event page

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Roadburn 2015 Trip Pt. 9: Burning the Altar

Posted in Features on April 13th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

Thee notes.

04.13.15 — 14:58 GMT — Mon. Afternoon — Dubin Airport

I took notes all weekend. Like a jerk. About the bands, general impressions, things I knew I’d forget if I left it to whenever the next time I was able to write. The smell of the cleaner on the floor of the 013 in the morning, the smell of the beer on the floor of the 013 at night. That kind of thing. Last night as I sat in the hotel room, well after 03.00 but before I packed up my stuff to leave today, I took all of them, tore them out of my current notebook, and threw them out. My only regret is I couldn’t give them a Viking funeral while listening to Wardruna, but somehow I don’t think the overnight shift at the Mercure would’ve taken too kindly to it.

Woke up at 08.47, which was precisely 47 minutes later than I wanted. I don’t even remember the alarm on my watch going off at eight. I must’ve pressed the button to stop it before I even hit consciousness. Showered, finished packing everything except for whatever I inevitably left behind, and was out the door by nine to walk my shinsplints to the train station. No time to get the crust out of my eyes and it feels like there’s more shampoo in my hair than out of it, but at least I smell better than I did after the show last night. I’m somewhat less greasy.

Being late was unnerving, since I wanted to catch a train that left Tilburg at 09.07 to get to Schiphol Airport, which I knew would be trying. Always is. You’d think after doing something seven times in seven years, I’d be better at it than I was when I started. I didn’t even have the right direction. Seriously. I thought the train, if you were facing the front of the station, would be going left. It went right. Fucking hell. I found a Roadburner in a San Francisco Giants hat and asked, “Hey man, this train go to Schiphol?” He was remarkably helpful, and accurate, which counts double.

That first train had pulled out as I was walking up, but I knew there was another like 10 minutes later, so it was fine. I changed in den Bosch, as one does, stayed in the corridor of the train car and watched the countryside roll by. Some lambs, the occasional windmill, that river that I see every year and don’t know the name of. Arrival at the airport was uneventful. No balloons to congratulate me for making it, a complimentary cup of coffee, nothing. I checked in for my flights, first to Dublin and then on to Boston, and used the automatic bag checking system that looked like Soylent Green for luggage. I really hope my dirty t-shirts enjoy living in Cairo, because I’m pretty sure I’ll never see them again.

The flight to Dublin was uneventful, as was the hour I spent in “US Pre-Clearance,” which I somehow very much doubt will save me any time going through customs once I actually land in the States. The security guard asked me if I had any pipes or “zig-zags,” since I was coming from Amsterdam. I had to ask her what a “zig-zag” was. Rolling papers, as it turns out. I had ibuprofen and antacids and a laptop. Bemused? Yes, she was bemused. Not quite a-mused. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of Dublin, as in, leaving the airport and exploring the kind of gray but still somehow sunny world outside. No time. Too bad. My flight leaves in about an hour, so I just have a bit of time left.

I want and need to say thanks to my wife, The Patient Mrs., whom I’ve missed these last few days and whose love and support, really for the last 18 years but especially for this past year, has been what has kept me going. Thanks as well to Walter Hoeijmakers, both for this having the will to enact this wonderful, creative, vibrant, constantly-evolving festival and for being so welcoming in having me as a part of it in the minimal, note-taking way I am. I consider myself lucky to call Walter a friend, and some of my best Roadburn memories have nothing to do with the bands and more to do with hanging out and chatting music with Walter, Jurgen, Becky and the rest of the Roadburn crew at the 013, all of whom deserve appreciation as well. Thanks to my mother and my sister.

Thanks to Lee Edwards. Tired each morning, we sat across from each other and waited for the coffee to kick in, talking music, life stuff, both of us using idioms the other doesn’t know — I now consider it a personal goal to use the phrase “mad as a box of frogs” in casual conversation sometime in the next year. Lee’s as genuine and warm a gentleman as I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through music — and I’ve met some good people along the way, see above — and it’s an honor working with him on the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch Roadburn ‘zine for the second year in a row.

To the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch staff as well: José Carlos Santos, Kim Kelly, Adrien Begrand, Pete Green, Alex Mysteerie, Paul Robertson, Andreas Kohl (thanks for the help folding!), Becky, Jurgen and Walter (again). Thanks to Cavum for the fantastic art and Paul Verhagen for the humbling photos. I’d love to have a staff meeting one of these days.

I met a lot of really cool people this weekend. Many I’d seen before, but some new ones as well. In bands and out. Heard on more than one occasion, “Oh, you seem really busy,” and stuff like that. It’s true. When I’m at Roadburn, I do a lot of running around. I feel like while I’m there, I should be trying to do as much as possible. I don’t take time to go sit in Weirdo Canyon and have a burger — I barely stop to eat, most days — and while it’s true that part of me feels like I owe that to Roadburn, to put everything I can into my experience of it because so much work went into making it happen, it’s also how I enjoy myself. It’s what makes it special for me. These last few days have been an absolute blast. I’m dead tired and I expect minimal sympathy when I get home — after all, I went on vacation to a music festival — but it’s so worth it for the chance to be there, to experience this event and this culture, to see and hear things that I never thought I would. Year after year, I’m so grateful for the chance to do this.

Thank you most of all for reading, which is something I say all the time — I should say it every day, if I don’t — but really, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. For liking posts, sharing links, retweeting, commenting, or, you know, actually getting into it and checking out the words and the photos — it’s all so, so appreciated. I’m amazed and humbled. Thank you.

I’m gonna go get on this plane and go home.

Thanks one more time for reading.


JJ Koczan
H.P. Taskmaster

To see all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here.

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