Atala Set Jan. 26 Release for Labyrinth of Ashmedai

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

atala photo jenifer stratton

Among my regular supply of stock phrases I might employ on a given day, I feel like ‘in the hopper’ isn’t one I go to all that often. Nonetheless, that’s where Atala‘s third album, Labyrinth of Ashmedai, has been for at least the better part of a year if not actually a full year’s time. Recorded by Billy Anderson, it was originally set to see release in Spring 2017 via Salt of the Earth Records, but has now been given an official Jan. 26, 2018, issue date.

Makes life a little easier for me, since as I compile my year-end list for 2017 and the most anticipated list for 2018 one is finite and the other can pretty much just keep going at this point, but I honestly doubt the Twentynine Palms, California-based three-piece had that in mind throughout what’s almost certainly been a frustrating delay in bringing the record to public ears. Almost there, dudes.

The PR wire has the latest:

atala labyrinth of ashmedai

ATALA to Release New Album, “Labyrinth of Ashmedai”, on January 26, 2018

After years of turning heads in the subterranean metal scene, Twentynine Palms, CA-based sludge/doom metal group ATALA are rising above with the release of their most confident album yet – the full-length crusher Labyrinth of Ashmedai – out January 26, 2018 via Salt of the Earth Records. Pre-orders for Labyrinth of Ashmedai are available now via https://saltoftheearthrecords.com/salt-of-the-earth-records-store.

Conjuring grit-laced sludge inspired by their barren and often oppressive desert backdrop, ATALA grips the listener with reflective, crushing doom atmospheres dripping with stoner rock and experimental influences to boot. As with their last record, Shaman’s Path of the Serpent, Labyrinth of Ashmedai was produced by Billy Anderson, recognized for his work with colossal bands such as Sleep, Melvins and Acid King.

ATALA draws inspiration from their local environment, but not in the way other bands from the area do. “Contrary to popular belief, we aren’t from Joshua Tree, the tourist-trap,” starts guitarist/frontman Kyle Stratton. “Unlike our silver spoon-fed, trust-funded neighbors, we’re from the blue collar side of town. Twentynine Palms is a military base area – our surroundings inspire our music in a way that is pretty different from the way other local bands describe their own inspirations. It’s not all meditation and serenity out here.”

Stratton continues, “We feel more sullen in our outlook. Not only do we deal with weather reaching nearly 130 degrees, we see and experience the effects of true struggles – war, poverty, death, drugs, gang violence, prostitution and murder – quite often. Gun stores, casinos, churches, liquor stores, bars, wild animals and greed-based-politics just touch the surface of what our town offers. Without going into too much detail… it’s no easy life for us out here. Our music is a mirror that reflects the truth of our personal life experiences.”

Stratton says working with producer Billy Anderson gives ATALA a great advantage, because not only does he bring out their best, he understands their background on a personal level. “Billy was born and raised in Twentynine Palms, so not only does he understand our feelings of despair, he understands the heaviness we are trying to express musically. He helped mold us; he knows how to package heavy in a palatable way. You can hear his industrial stylings and noise contributions adding to the experimental vibe we have on this record. Because we are so comfortable with him, he is able to push us and bring us to a higher level.”

ATALA, Labyrinth of Ashmedai tracklist:
1. Grains of Sand
2. Tabernacle of
3. Deaths Dark Tomb
4. I am Legion
5. Wilted Leaf
6. Infernal

ATALA is:
Kyle Stratton (Guitar and Vocals)
Jeff Tedtaotao (Drums)
Dave Horn (Bass)

https://www.facebook.com/ataladesertrock/
https://atalarock.bandcamp.com/
https://www.atalarock.com/
https://www.facebook.com/SaltOfTheEarthRec/
https://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/

Atala, “Grains of Sand” official video

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Friday Full-Length: Acid King, III

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 17th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Acid King, III (2005)

And you’re welcome.

There are few joys in heavy rock as unfettered as a Lori S. riff. Some guitarists gallop. Some careen. Some cut steep angles. Some nod. And sometimes a Lori riff can sound like it’s being thrown down a flight of stairs in how it seems to tumble out of the speakers, but her perfect blend of tempo, timing, groove, construction, spaciousness, tone and the cyclical nature of her style gives her work in San Francisco’s Acid King an unparalleled molten feel. I won’t take anything away from her echoing vocals, Joey Osbourne‘s roll-ready drumming or what a succession of bassists from Peter Lucas to Dan Southwick to Brian Hill to Guy Pinhas to Rafa Martinez to Mark Lamb have brought to the group in terms of low end, but it is now and has always been the riffs that define Acid King, even dating back to their raw 1994 self-titled EP and 1995 debut album, Zoroaster.

That record would serve as the foundation on which in 1999 the band built a temple and named it Busse Woods (discussed here and here), which — as I seem to say every time I mention it at all — is one of the very best stoner rock albums of all time. It would be six years before the trio, which was then comprised of Lori, Pinhas (also known for his work in Goatsnake and The Obsessed) and Osbourne, issued a proper follow-up. No doubt the dissolution of Frank Kozik‘s by-now legendary imprint Man’s Ruin Records, which released Busse Woods and the subsequent 2001 split EP with Mystick Krewe of Clearlight, played into the delay, but in 2004, Small Stone Records reissued Busse Woods and in 2005, stepped in to offer III — Acid King‘s much-awaited and aptly-titled third full-length.

III was a Spring release, and I remember it seemed pretty close behind the Busse Woods reissue, which may have contributed to the impression that despite the stretch between the two (which seemed long at the time; ha) that the newer album was still operating in the shadow of its predecessor. Nonetheless, with years of hindsight to provide a looking-back lens now, III is an absolute masterwork of riffly meditation. From the fading-in fuzz that begins “2 Wheel Nation” and the unmitigated nod that follows through the patient execution of the singularly righteous “Heavy Load,” “Bad Vision” — which is precisely what I had in mind with the “down a flight of stairs” comment in the first paragraph above — the 12-minute centerpiece “War of the Mind,” the quicker “Into the Ground,” the hook reset of “On to Everafter” and the highlight drum wizardry in finale “Sunshine and Sorrow,” one would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend 46 minutes of listening time when it comes to groove immersion. Across the entire span, Acid King demonstrate plainly the sheer unfuckwithability of their craft and the utter injustice that their name isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Sleep and Black Sabbath for their pivotal contributions to the form.

Yes, I mean that.

One would be remiss not to note the collaboration between the three-piece and producer Billy Anderson as essential to their overall sound. Anderson, who worked with the band on Zoroaster and Busse Woods as well before helming III, captures the depth of tone and character in Lori‘s guitar and seems to put it in just the right balance with the corresponding bass and drums. The effectiveness on “2 Wheel Nation” is immediate once the song starts — it’s a groove that leaves no one behind as it takes to the road on some souped-up space chopper — and with “Heavy Load” following, the launch salvo for III is unmistakable in its preached message of tonal supremacy, but neither is it void of atmosphere. The repetitions are hypnotic, and shortly, “Bad Vision” snaps the listener back to at least a semi-consciousness state, but while one generally thinks of Acid King as being straightforward in their intentions and sonic impression-making, it’s worth pointing out just how much room is being created by Lori‘s riffs, by the crash of Osbourne‘s cymbals and the thud of his toms, and by the plummeting bass tone with which Pinhas anchors the marching procession. This is reinforced as “War of the Mind” gives III its most gorgeous sprawl, setting itself in an open landscape that seems to stretch like some Western highway populated at dawn by mission-bound hippies in some lysergic American daydream. Even as the lyrics call outright for freedom, the instrumental fluidity behind them seems to find it and bring it wonderfully, glaringly to life.

Is is possible for a band to be so widely hailed and still be underrated? III, which in addition to being concurrent to the reissue of the album before it also arrived at a just-pre-social-media moment of generational shift, would argue yes. Though they toured steadily between, brought together their first two outings in 2006 as their The Early Years compilation, and oversaw reissues of both III and Busse Woods in the interim, a decade passed before Acid King released their fourth long-player in 2015. Aligned to Svart Records and comprised of Lori, Osbourne and Lamb, the triumphantly chanting Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere (review here) brimmed with classic Acid King method and personality. With production by Anderson as well as Toshi Kasai, it found the band at their most world-conjuring to-date and marked a surge of international touring and general activity that continues to this day as Lori has revamped Acid King‘s lineup to bring back Martinez (who’s spent years on the road at this point as the drummer for the raging Black Cobra) on bass and new drummer Bil Bowman, replacing Osbourne in the band for the first time and leaving herself as the sole remaining founding member.

The inevitable shift in dynamic there could potentially mean a significant change in Acid King‘s overall chemistry, but with the band having taken six years between Busse Woods and III and 10 between III and Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere, I’m not inclined to predict when their next LP will show up, what shape it will ultimately take, or who will be involved in its making. What matters is that as Acid King approach their 25th anniversary since getting together in 1993, they’ve perhaps never been so ripe for appreciation, and while their catalog over those years isn’t about to challenge Hawkwind in terms of its sheer numbers, each of their albums remains a landmark accomplishment at a level few bands could ever hope to reach.

As always, I hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Yeah, closing out with Acid King is pretty much me doing myself a favor. After a week of being literally shit on, I kind of feel like I earned it as much as I ever consider myself as having “earned” anything. Either way, I decided pretty early on this week that III would do the job and it’s been a pleasure to dig into it over the last few days, go a little deeper in listening than I sometimes do with this stuff. I woke up early this morning to come downstairs and get started. Alarm went off at 4AM. My idea of a good time.

The Pecan continues to grow. Predictably, he’s become a baby of many names, among them “Rocketass” for his propensity to wait until I’ve got his diaper off to unleash fecal torrents. The Patient Mrs. and I gave him a bath last weekend in the kitchen sink and he also pissed on my Vitamix that I use to make the protein shakes that are now what I eat for dinner roughly six nights a week, so yeah. Took me a couple days to forgive that in theory, but the reality of the situation is I don’t even care anymore. He’s yet to produce anything that can’t be wiped off or put through the wash, etc.

I’m sure we’ll get there. I’m just saying we’re not there yet. In the meantime, lack of sleep? Diaper changing? Trying to get him to take a bottle? Whatever. These are good days. Fatigue is a small price to pay for that.

He’s three weeks old now, and The Patient Mrs. continues to be wonderful as a mother. Never a doubt she would be, but to actually see it manifest as reality is humbling and only further underscores how fortunate I am to exist in her presence, pretty much ever, let alone on the ongoing basis of our relationship, marriage and so on. Stupid lucky. The Pecan has been a little fussy the last couple days — Wonder Weeks says he’s on the verge of a sensory breakthrough, which should be fascinating — and she’s been running point all the way. I’ve cooked and cleaned and done that stuff, but to see her momming it up is fantastic. I love her so much I want to bash my brains in.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in the US — a holiday with a troubled historical foundation but probably my favorite in terms of how it brings loved ones together in a spirit of shared appreciation for each other. We’re getting together with my family and The Patient Mrs.’ family in Connecticut for dinner. I’m already anxious about being around that much food — hi, I have an eating disorder — but even if I end up bringing the blender and the protein powder south for the day, I think it’ll be a good time. I’m looking forward to it.

Not sure how it will affect the timing of posts, but here’s what’s in the notes for next week anyway, subject of course to change without notice:

Mon.: Snowy Dunes album review; Borracho announcement/track premiere.
Tue.: Low Orbit track premiere/review; Pillars video premiere.
Wed.: SubRosa Subdued track premiere. Fuck yes.
Thu.: Maybe a podcast? Don’t expect much, if anything.
Fri.: Maybe Frank Sabbath review. Depends where I’m at post-holiday.

There you have it, and there you have it.

I’ve started to put together the next Quarterly Review already for the end of next month/the beginning of January, as well as the best-of lists, so keep an eye out for all that stuff as we move into December, and we’ll have the best albums poll up as well come Dec. 1. Be ready. I want to make it the best one yet, and last year’s is going to be tough to top.

If you’re still reading, you’re great. Thank you.

Have an excellent, safe weekend, and please check out the forum and radio stream.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

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CHRCH & Fister Release Split LP Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Do you love atmospherically switched on and utterly skull-cleaving extreme doom? Sure, we all do. One should therefore take note of tomorrow as the release date of the new split between Los Angeles soulcrushers CHRCH and their bet-we-can-write-an-even-longer-song scathing compatriots in Fister. Because, you now, with the cleaving and whatnot. Issued through respected purveyor Battleground Records and Crown an Throne Ltd., it’s just two tracks, but that’s frankly all you need and even franklier probably all you could stand anyway from these two litmus test outfits pushing the limits of hyperbole-worthy viciousness. Get it, get doomed.

The PR wire delivers humbling brutality:

chrch fister split

On November 17th 2017, the stunning new split by CHRCH & Fister will be released The album consists of two tracks and will be released on limited edition vinyl via Crown and Throne Ltd and Battleground Records.

CHRCH have been hard at work crafting their particular brew of sound since late 2013. There is no image or campy gimmick to uphold, only the humble continuation and glorification of those fundamental musical elements that first built and then sustained the genre and it’s offshoots over the course of decades.

This purity and honesty comes across in a striking manner on the band’s debut ‘Unanswered Hymns’, a sprawling roller coaster of an album that plumbs the heights and depths of emotion, whether be it sorrow, loss, or redemption. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Patrick Hills at Earthtone Studios in Rocklin, CA, the recording exudes a warm, organic tone that draws the listener in to music heavily influenced by traditional doom, psych rock, drone, and ambience. CHRCH cannily wields dynamic songwriting, musicianship, and raw power to spin a spellbinding tale of occult darkness that clashes with illuminating melodies and riffs drenched in grimy reverb. Minimalistic, indulgent, or straightforward, the music of CHRCH is simply whatever the listener wants it to be.

Fister, coming off their recent reissue of “Gemini” on vinyl (Encapsulated Records), their split 7″ with TEETH (Broken Limbs Recordings), and of course their last 12″ “IV” (Crown and Throne Ltd.), continues to incorporate heavy influences from the black and death metal genres into a depressing sludge spewing heaviness that many have attempted, but few have mastered.

CHRCH: Eva Rose, Chris Lemos, Adam Jennings, Ben Catchart, Shann Marriott Jr.
Fister: Kenny Snarzdk, Marcus Newstead, Krik Gatterer

https://www.facebook.com/chrchdoomca/
https://www.facebook.com/fisterdoom/
http://crownandthroneltd.bigcartel.com/product/fister-chrch-split-12/
https://www.facebook.com/crownandthroneltd/
https://crownandthroneltd.bandcamp.com/
http://www.battlegroundrnr.com/product/chrch-fister-split-album
https://www.facebook.com/battlegroundrecords/
https://soundcloud.com/battleground-records

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Avon Announce Details for Dave’s Dungeon; Album out Feb. 23; Preorders Tomorrow

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 16th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

avon

Oh, the radness. Sheer desert radness. If you want a sonic touchstone for Avon‘s Heavy Psych Sounds debut and second album overall, Dave’s Dungeon, I might at least on first impression point you to the bouncing desert jangle of Fatso Jetson‘s work in the ’90s when it comes to opener “Yello” or the rush of the sub-three-minute “Red Barn,” but that doesn’t at all account for the flute-laden acoustic psych of “Hero with a Gun,” the hypnotic repetitions of “Space Native” (are those sampled seagulls I hear?) or the classic ’60s element that James Childs‘ British-accented vocals brings to the material overall.

I’m still making my way through the record as I write this, and it’s not out until Feb. 23, so there’s plenty of time for a proper review to take shape, but by way of an early heads up, I’m digging the hell out of it so far, the songwriting and performance is top notch and this one has the chance to be a real gem. So keep an eye out. Preorders start tomorrow.

The PR wire brings cover art and some more background on the tracks. Dig it:

avon dave's dungeon

Desert rock trio AVON share details about second album “Dave’s Dungeon” to be released on Heavy Psych Sounds!

California-based heavy rock trio AVON (with ex-Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age drummer Alfredo Hernandez) unveil all details about their upcoming sophomore album on HPS Records in February 2018.

AVON is heavy rock trio formed in California by Alfredo Hernández (former Kyuss, QOTSA), James Childs (Airbus, Little Villains) and Charles Pasarell (Waxy). Their heavy desert rock is psychedelic, raw, melodic and meaningful. Their musical bond comes from years of playing in their respective bands often together in California’s desert cities, Los Angeles and on many European tours.

Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by James Childs, “Dave’s Dungeon” boldly follows debut LP “Mad Marco”, and showcases the band’s evolution towards more rawness, defiance and certainly packing a punch. The group is on fire! “Yello” kicks off the album clearly showing the band’s roots in punk rock delivered with an “in your face” clarity. Meanwhile, “Terraformations settles you into a machine-like “robot rock” ride, telling stories of human conquest and immediately providing the listener with classic Hernandez drumming and Childs’ distinctive guitar style, bound with solid bass riffing from Pasarell. Next in line is a more in-your-face yet personal punk track about gigging at the “Red Barn”, a famous venue in the Californian desert. “Hero with a Gun” shows the band’s talent for dreamy instrumentation, melody and production, conjuring thoughts of California on the big screen.

“Mace Face” is a pure heavy rock Avon standard that will delightfully punch its way through your heart! Side two explodes with “P51”, killer Maiden-style shredding and harmonics giving a frenzied picture of the classic American fighter aircraft. Kicking back in the desert with “Space Native” and realizing how big and lost one can feel, only to snap right back to reality with “On Fire”, agreeing to disagree in a nod to some schoolboy led heroes. “Dungeon Dave” obviously refers to the album title, and represents a very special, almost utopic place for the band when they were on tour in Europe. The album comes to a close with just three words: “Was ist Los?”, performed with their unmistakeable space rock style that will surely be a classic Avon mantra, simply meaning – what is wrong?

“Dave’s Dungeon” will be issued on LTD Solid Yellow vinyl, Black vinyl, CD and digital formats. Vinyl and CD pre-orders will be available from November 17th on Heavy Psych Sounds website.

AVON New album “Dave’s Dungeon”
Out February 23rd on Heavy Psych Sounds
Pre-orders start November 17th HERE

TRACK LISTING:
1. Yello
2. Terraformations
3. Red barn
4. Hero With A Gun
5. Mace Face
6. P51
7. Space Native
8. On Fire
9. Dungeon Dave
10. Was Ist Los?

AVON are:
James Childs – Vocals/Guitar
Charles Pasarell – Bass
Alfredo Hernandez – Drums

www.avonway.com/
www.facebook.com/Avonband/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
www.heavypsychsounds.com

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Six Dumb Questions with Great Electric Quest

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on November 15th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

great electric quest

With their 2016 debut full-length, Chapter I, San Diego-based four-piece Great Electric Quest set out to immediately distinguish themselves from their surroundings. While much of San Diego’s heavy underground shares an affinity for classic heavy rock, instead of boogie and swirl, songs like “1901” and “Beers in Hell” found a driving combination of classic metal, frontman Tyler “T-Sweat” Dingvell leading a charge with a throaty interpretation of what James Hetfield might’ve sounded like had Metallica released their first record circa ’73. Buddy Donner‘s guitar, Jared Bliss‘ bass and Daniel “Mucho” Velasco‘s drumming honed a sonic niche that could be either brash, as on the initial shred of “Madam Elbib” or “Egypt,” or patient and tinged with doomly atmospherics, like the rolling blues of eight-minute centerpiece “Cry of the Wolf,” or the dramatic side B highlight “7 Years.”

Especially for a first salvo, Chapter I‘s self-assured songcraft came across as genuine, and Great Electric Quest hit the road fervently to support. Already veterans of Psycho Las Vegas in 2016, this past Spring, they took off on their first coast-to-coast US tour, and in June, they made a stop in Denver to play the Electric Funeral fest alongside Acid King, Corky Laing’s Mountain and a slew of others. They’re currently wrapping another run, dubbed the ‘Beer Vikings Tour’ that has seen them partying their way across the West Coast in the company of Lords of Beacon House, with whom they’ve also newly issued a split single (review here) via Glory or Death Records.

All of this, of course, is prelude to the next album, and indeed, Chapter II is on its way, drum solo in “Of Earth I” and all. On that song and short, tight pieces like “Wicked Hands,” the scorching “Anubis” and the righteously post-Thin Lizzy groove-minded “The Madness,” Great Electric Quest work to draw together the different sides they displayed throughout Chapter I into a cohesive, singular approach of their own, as likely to shred out on “Of Earth II” as to underscore that same shred with acousti-Sabbath flourish and Dingvell‘s throaty echoes. As the range between opener “Seekers of the Flame” and closer “Heart of the Son” makes plain, Great Electric Quest are becoming an even more dynamic outfit than they were when they started, and they leave little doubt across Chapter II‘s span about their capacity to turn heads before they make them bang, roll, or nod. They are, simply, a band who demand attention.

Moving out from the first record into the next, I wanted to get a sense of Great Electric Quest‘s processes, their time on the road and their time in the studio. You’ll find the last two Beer Vikings tour dates below, and then under that, the cover art for Chapter II by Adam Burke and a conversation with the whole band about their origins and more.

Beer Vikings Tour Remaining Dates:
11/16/17 ABQ, NM Burt’s Tiki Lounge W/ Undying Evil & Prey for Kali
11/17/17 Tempe, AZ Yucca Tap Room W Red Wizard, Greenbeard, Stone Witch, Old Fashioned Assassin, Dead Canyon, HVY

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Great Electric Quest Chapter II

Six Dumb Questions with Great Electric Quest

What’s the status of Chapter II? When can we expect it to show up? Was there anything you guys were looking to do differently or to specifically build off of coming from the first album?

Buddy Donner: Your asses is grasses, and Quest is the lawnmower!

Tyler Dingvell: Haha, the “status” is like an ice cold 12er that’s been on chill for about 20 min… It’s ready to be guzzled and enjoyed, we just gotta pop the top, or in this case finalize the label and release date…

BD: Yeah, we’ve got the final tracks! It took a ton of work and time from not only the band, but a whole Krew of our “Quest Family.” We are very lucky to have the friends we do with their talents in their respectful areas. The tracks are finally 100 percent the way we want them to sound, we couldn’t be happier. At this point we wanted to take some time to “shop for labels” and mastermind the release, but the tracks are done and ready to send to production once we’ve made our decisions on the business side of things. I wouldn’t expect the album to be released any later than Spring 2018. We’re fortunate to have such a dedicated Road Krew; we’ve been able to get a ton of work done since the release of Chapter I and we are only ramping up to push for bigger things to follow Chapter II.

TD: For me, Chapter II really feels like a first album. “It feels like the first time, like it’s never felt before” [singing]. Maybe it’s just nostalgic, but the way we have crafted these tunes and jammed them live before the release really feels like a first album… Chapter I was years and years of material finally recorded and this one was written all together in Glory or Death Studios with the same doods, around the same time, over many beers, bowls, and pulled pork sangwitches… haha. You can expect much more cohesion, production value, and of course, our legendary friend, Guns ‘n’ Roses alumni Teddy “Zig Zag” throwing down some keyboard tracks on choice tunes like “Of Earth” and “Heart of the Son.”

We’ve reached out to labels with whose artists we have become close friends, like Ripple, Heavy Psych Sounds, RidingEasy, Tee Pee, Rise Above, HeviSike, and Metal Blade, just to name a few. We just gotta figure out who is going to align with us the best for our vision going forward. We want to become a featured artist of the label and not just another blade of grass in a field of releases. We have a great thing going with our own label, Glory or Death Records, but we want to team up and take some things to the next level in 2018 and through this support system that has developed we should be seeing the shores of Europe with our next release. We are going to put a hell of a lot of effort towards performing, writing, touring, representing ourselves and label and we want to receive the same.

Tell me about your time in the studio for Chapter II. What was the vibe like while you were recording? How long were you there? What was the process like and how did it compare to working on Chapter I or the split with Lords of Beacon House?

TD: Well, simply put, recording Chapter I was like pulling teeth from the shark in Jaws and recording Chapter II was like the Cool Runnings record breaking bobsled run at the Olympics; minus the horrific crash, haha. The candle was burning at both ends for Chapter I and we would drive up to L.A., record until 4AM and then drive back to San Diego just to get caught in the horrific traffic caused by road repair through Camp Pendleton; it was a CF, as Ted, our 72-year-old Lyft driver in Austin two days ago would refer to it. He didn’t want to say “fuck,” haha. This album was great to write and record. It was fluid, we took our time, all the moving pieces worked together from tracking with Dan Frick, production and mixing with Jeff Henson and mastering with Tony Reed. It was fucking awesome to see the progress in overall sound as the tunes went through each process. Dan is one of my favorite people on the planet to work with and Jeff brought so much warmth and color to the tracks and Tony just set everything into place perfectly. Honestly, I’m fucking psyched on it and I am happy to say that it came out as something we feel proud of… Through my experience, that’s all you can really ask for as an artist. Being satisfied with the finished product.

BD: We recorded Chapter II with Dan Frick in Vista, CA, only minutes from home, which was a real pleasure compared to the two-hour commute for each session on Chapter I, which was tracked in Tujunga, CA. Working with Dan Frick is a fucking piece of cake. There isn’t a more laid-back dude out there and he is incredibly knowledgeable about all the instruments and the way things need to be done, how they are supposed to sound and what we need to change to correct things that didn’t quite sound right.

Following Dan, we sent the finalized tracks to Jeff Henson of Duel to do the mixing, which instantly brought the tracks to life. After making sure everything was played the way it needed to be, Jeff put his mojo on it and right away we were shocked with the vibe the tracks had on the first mixdown. We actually tracked the Lords of Beacon House [split] songs right after the Chapter II tracks with Dan as well. Why mess with a good thing?

Daniel Velasco: This is the first full-length album that I will be on, so I was very excited when I first set up my kit at the studio. I’ve played a ton of live shows with different bands over 10 plus years, but to finally have my drums recorded as part of this album really pumped me up. Especially after I knew they had already put out one full-length and I knew the level of commitment these guys had. The engineer Dan, was great and really set a calm vibe during the drum recordings. I recorded the drum tracks in about a day and a half with only Buddy playing scratch guitar and a metronome on most of the songs. Couldn’t say how it compared to Chapter I since I was not with the Quest on that album.

TD: I’m glad we could spare you the gauntlet, Mucho! Haha.

You’ve spent some pretty significant time on the road since Chapter I came out. What do you feel like you’ve learned about yourselves as a band through touring, and do you think all that road time has affected the sound on the new album at all?

BD: Playing on the road is fucking incredible. You finally dive into your life’s passion 100 percent. Every, single, thing, is about what you want to do with your life and every single night you’re meeting new people and making new friends and fans and ever-pressing towards your ultimate goal. We also drink a ton of beer, which of course is fun as hell.

Jerry Bliss: I love being on the road. It’s a lot work but we have the time of our lives doing it. The great thing about being on the road is us growing together as musicians but most importantly our friendships. The music is affected by our relationships with each other and friends and influences we meet out on the road. We show each other new music along every bus ride to the next destination.

DV: During live shows, I can hear all the members try new things during our set. Different bends on chords or the vocal melodies changing, new basslines during the solos etc. Once we all lock into it and we play it show after show, it feels like the songs will never be 100 percent complete, which I think is great! It keeps us on our toes and things fresh, while also providing something new for the crowd. Some of my favorite songs are live performances. Like on “Dazed and Confused” when they play it live, the rhythm section just takes off and it’s just having little differences from the studio albums that can create that unique experience. Once Chapter II is out and you compare it to Chapter I, you will hear the difference of the sound and groove I bring compared to the first album and if you compare that to the live performance you can be sure there is a couple tasty differences while still holding onto its core.

TD: The time on the road with this crew has shown us that we are strong enough and close enough to deal with any adversity. Blown air conditioning fans during the dead of Summer heat and blown out butt holes from too many gas station burritos. You learn to accept one another in a way that can only be family. Jerry’s butthole stinks the most though… it’s that familiar smell in the bus that only could have come from one sphincter.

To be serious for a second, the road has inspired us far more than anything else… The overwhelming support from all around the country really solidifies the idea that we can do this thing!! We can be a traveling rock band that can tour the FUCKING WORLD!!… It’s a really fucking humbling experience to get those people after every show that go out of their way to tell you how rad they thought the performance was and how much they enjoyed it. They buy the wax and t-shirts and are just so down to support us it blows our minds. We get put up in towns all across the country and these great people offer up their homes and lives to help us on our rock and roll journey. I’m sitting in Mike Calhoun’s kitchen right now outside of Dallas, Texas. One of the most real and coolest doods whom we have had the pleasure to meet. Our times here at Mike’s will always be cherished and held close as great memories. We even recently got hooked up with XYZ Clothing which is a dream come true for a little skate rat from Oceanside. The support that we receive in each town is truly unbelievable and it really makes you think that this dream of playing music all across the planet earth is going to come true…

I honestly love the growth though. This is present in Chapter II especially, in the songwriting and overall combination of different styles we all bring to the table. I’m really psyched on the direction and journey Chapter II takes us on and I think our listeners will be too.

Take me through Great Electric Quest’s songwriting process. Are there multiple contributors or does one person handle everything? What have you found works best for you guys, and do you have a song or songs that you feel really represents who you want to be as a band? How do you see yourselves growing as you continue to move forward?

BD: We have an incredible amount of styles between the four of us, which is perfect for what we want out of The Quest. It is a very even collaboration for our writing process. As one killer idea runs into another it pushes us to find ways to match each other’s ideas and raise the bar. We all have that undying urge for everything to be the best for the song at hand. It’s awesome, the motivation that comes when you are the last dude to write a part to a song that already kicks total ass… You’re sitting there thinking, “like, well shit… Whatever I do, it’s gotta fucking rip!”

Grabbing the listeners by the throat and pulling them through a tornado of sounds is what the Quest is all about. We never want to be stuck in a rut of one style, because we all enjoy playing all kinds of stuff. We write the songs different every time. I don’t think there is a single song on Chapter II that doesn’t have influences from all us, but there are definitely some strong sections that are written when we jam from one person and then we’ll grow off of them together from there. Sometimes we will camp out at Glory or Death Studios for days, cook up a crock pot meal or BBQ between jams and we will just all jam out some ideas together. (With lots of weed and beer of course.)

We drive to grab the viewer’s attention instantly and keep them thoroughly entertained throughout the entire set, and if any piece is lacking whatsoever we find a way to make it more interesting. Every tour we prep for, we strive to find ways to take things to the next level of entertainment for the audience (and our own amusement). From backdrops, to lights/fog, to flags and Anubis masks, we’re really delving into our original intent for the Quest that is for it to be a full-on show, not just a band standing there playing the notes the best they can. Climb shit, hang upside-down, shotgun beers, whatever the fuck we have to do to make someone have a good night and tell their buds about it.

JB: As far as songwriting goes, and what I love most about this band, is that everyone has a loud voice in how a song is going to go. Yes, someone can come up with a first riff, and once everyone is diggin’ that riff, we jam it, and almost immediately someone else is saying, “Oh man I have a lick that will go perfect for the chorus or bridge” and so forth. I remember one song in particular, “The Madness,” our drummer Mucho said to me, “Hey let’s try walking that riff back up on the chorus.” We tried it and it became one of my favorite parts of the song. So, you can see everyone is helping each other out and everyone’s ideas are being heard. Sometimes we try something and if it doesn’t work, no one’s feelings get hurt. We just try something else. It’s a great environment to work in and I think everyone’s songwriting has grown tremendously on Chapter II.

DV: We all contribute to each song on the album. We have these “Campouts” at our studio where we sleep, cook, and rehearse for days at a time. If someone comes out with a riff or melody, we can all hear different directions that the song can go to. Some directions are good and some not as much, haha, but as a team we always end up finding the right path that complements our music taste… Rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal!!

TD: Yeah, basically what these guys said. We have so much songwriting collaboration in this band, it really is ideal. Anyone one of us could have our own band, or already have, where that one person was the main songwriter or leader. At this point, we have four people who have what it takes to have successful bands on their own and the combination of all of us together does kind of feel like a modern-day supergroup.

To someone on the other side of the country from it, what’s happening right now with all the bands coming out of San Diego looks absolutely unreal. How much of a “scene” is there really, in your experience? How tight are bands? What are the shows like and how much of a sense of community is there? What have been some of your best hometown experiences?

BD: From the start it’s been a big family that only continues to grow, man. There is some seriously unreal talent in San Diego and I have no doubt that many of these bands will go far. The bar is set very high in our area and there is some relentless dedication from many different musicians to keep people searching for their brain matter from endless mind-blowing shows. From the bone crushing power of the five barbarian headbanging longhairs of Red Wizard to the Kings of Heavy Metal CAGE to the groovy-as-fuck riffs of Loom, Roast and Desert Suns to the endless intergalactic caravan party of Space Wax to fucking Nihilist, Monolith, Warchief, Ritual Potion, Nebula Drag, Bedlams Edge, Monarch and at the opposite end of the Spectrum, hilarious acoustic gigs from Fellow Travelers of the Illusion Machine… What were the rest..? I’ve lost my share of brain matter as well…

To choose a single experience is like asking what your favorite Pink Floyd song is… (errr, Zeppelin for Mucho). Any local gig on any given night is always kickass, man. There is just so much support and love out there for music, art and just the pure love of good times (beer) in general.

JB: We have a great music community is San Diego. We have all been a part of it for over a decade playing in numerous bands all over San Diego. We know and have played with almost every rock ‘n’ roll band based out of San Diego. If a band plays rock ‘n’ roll in San Diego, we are most likely good friends with them and we’ve played with ‘em.

TD: The San Diego music scene is fucking great! We have so many incredible musicians and artists. If the radio played rock and roll, we would all own houses… haha. There is a great sense of community among the bands all the way from psych rock like Earthless, Radio Moscow, Loom, and Joy to the heavy music of Red Wizard and Quest. We all party together at shows and celebrate the music and love our community has! It’s a great place to live and as we all travel more and more we all become more familiar with how special of a place it is… and we celebrate it regularly with adult beverages, spliffs, and tunes!

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

DV: Fuck yeah, get some!

JB: Tyler has the smallest shmeckle of them all but a really big heart!

TD: Hahahaha. Open invitation for anyone reading this: let’s shotgun some beers and party across the Earth! We need to get some international shotguns going!! Drop us a line if you are interested in helping us book our European tours and Festivals or if you’re in a band and let’s get some shows going. We are heading across the pond in 2018!

BD: Thank you to everyone that has supported us over the years to make all of this possible!!! We are having the time of our lives and the future for the Quest is looking bright… Can’t wait for the next Chapter!!

Lords of Beacon House & Great Electric Quest, Wicked Ladies split (2017)

Great Electric Quest, Chapter I (2016)

Great Electric Quest on Thee Facebooks

Great Electric Quest on Bandcamp

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

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Avon Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; New Album Due in 2018

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Cali-based desert rockers Avon unveiled their H42 Records single Six-Wheeled Action Man Tank here this past Spring before embarking on a considerable round of European touring that included stops at Desertfest in London and Berlin. The trio, who just so happen to boast the considerable percussive presence of former Kyuss/Yawning Man drummer Alfredo Hernandez in their ranks, have signed to Heavy Psych Sounds to issue the follow-up to the 2016 debut album, Mad Marco, which is expected out in February.

And onto the list of 2018’s most anticipated records it goes. Not that said list is in progress or anything. Oh wait, yes it is. Why would I even feel the need to keep that shit a secret?

Whatever. Save me, PR wire!

avon

Heavy rockers AVON signing for Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the new album!!!

Heavy Psych Sounds Records & Booking is really proud to announce the signing of Californian rockers Avon. The band which features the mighty Alfredo Hernandez (ex Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age) is going to release the sophomore album via Heavy Psych Sounds in february 2018.

The band features the mighty Alfredo Hernandez who has played on some of the very best Desert Rock Albums ever, including ‘and The Circus Leaves Town’ by Kyuss and the critically acclaimed self titled debut LP by Queens of the Stoneage.

His distinctive drum sound can also be heard on Josh Homme’s desert sessions where Alfredo worked with many acclaimed musicians. He teamed up with fellow desert musician and former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork for the Che Sounds of Liberation album. He is also a founding member along with Gary Arce and Mario Lali of the experimental psychedelic instrumental group Yawning Man. He worked again with Nick Oliveri in Mondo Generator. Over the last decade Alfredo has worked with Avon’s lead singer James and with former Kyuss member Chris Cockrell in Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata signing to Cargo records Germany and performing on four studio albums and two live releases.

James Childs saw success with British rock group Airbus and it was indeed one of the last artists of it’s kind to sign to the label giant BMG for a deal with a large advance for recording and development before the millennium. James has also seen success in Film and Televison having written the theme tune to Disney’s worldwide hit cartoon “Kick Buttowski”.

Charles Pasarell is a musician from the California desert who had cut his teeth with the Palm Springs band ‘Waxy’ that has worked with the likes of Kyuss singer John Garcia and toured with successful artists such as Volbeat. Waxy later went on to tour with Kyuss Lives. In 2005 he toured Europe on the same bill with Alfredo and James in Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata and again in 2007 with James and members of his UK group Airbus. Since 2007 Charles joined LA based Honky Tonk Punk band ‘Devastaing Karate’ releasing a string of albums and touring America. Charles joined James for the Lakota project in 2014 and also payed bass with ‘Vic du Monte’s Persona Non Grata’ prior to the formation of Avon with Alfredo.

AVON released their debut LP called Mad Marco on Spira Records in 2016 and have already completed 4 tours in Europe including Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium and UK. They also appeared at the prestigious London and Berlin desert fests in 2017 supporting their H42 records release ‘Six Wheeled Action Man Tank’.

AVON are
James Childs – Vocals/Guitar
Charles Pasarell – Bass
Alfredo Hernandez – Drums

www.avonway.com/
www.facebook.com/Avonband/
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
www.heavypsychsounds.com

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Video Premiere: Mojave Lords Unveil New Single “Gloria in Absentia”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 9th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

MOJAVE LORDS

Centered around the core duo of Dave Catching and Kevin Bingo Richey, Joshua Tree’s Mojave Lords made their debut in 2014 with the Unfuckwithable LP (discussed here) and in so doing basked in a revelry of desert rock and punk that was at once familiar and decidedly their own in its presentation. The follow-up single, Gloria in Absentia, arrives officially via Left Front Door Records later this month — it’s streaming now, like, at the bottom of this post — and takes a more melancholic approach. Its two songs, “Gloria in Absentia” and “Rodeo Drive,” are presented each in English and French, and taken either way, they bring a moody sensibility from Richey and Catching that plays more to nighttime desert than the sun-baked chug of, say, “Dancefloor Slammer” or the driving “Microwave Me Baby” from Unfuckwithable, which were rawer in style and spoke to Catching‘s pedigree in contributing to outfits like Eagles of Death Metal and Queens of the Stone Age.

Gloria in Absentia hits in a more subdued way. Engagingly melodic, its chorus ismojave lords gloria in absentia memorable and unfolds atop a running line of cinematic keyboards, dreamy guitar to deliver the title line before receding once more into the verse. In English or French, “Gloria in Absentia” is a work of efficient songcraft, classy and atmospheric, but over in a crisp three and a half minutes and onto “Rodeo Drive,” which is led by a start-stop guitar riff with echoing vocals over top somewhere between Bowie and Mark Lanegan (if you gotta stake out territory, that’s good territory to stake out) toward a bounce-laden hook and subtly dynamic rhythmic turn, peppered with extra layers of guitar that set up the late arrival of a fuzzy line marking a welcome if somewhat understated apex that, like “Rodeo Drive” as a whole and “Gloria in Absentia” before it, hits as being overdone in no way but serves to stand Mojave Lords out in the storied pantheon of Californian desert vibes.

Nov. 24 is the release date for Gloria in Absentia, but again, you can stream the quick offering in its bilingual entirety now. I’m thrilled today to be able to host the video premiere for the title-track, which you’ll find below, followed by more info from the PR wire.

Please enjoy:

Mojave Lords, “Gloria in Absentia” official video premiere

Mojave Lords
“Gloria In Absentia”
Gloria In Absentia EP
Left Front Door Records / Mojave Lords Records ML-002
Director – Art Haynie
© & Publishing 2017 by Mojave Lords
itcamefromwithin ASCAP / Hoopsnake BMI / District 6
All Rights Reserved

GLORIA IN ABSENTIA, the new single from MOJAVE LORDS, was made at Rancho de La Luna in Joshua Tree, California. The song is dedicated to the memory of all victims lost during the Bataclan terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015. The label releasing our vinyl is LEFT FRONT DOOR RECORDS. Based in Paris, LFDR was started by Arthur Dénouveaux. Arthur is a survivor of the attack and LFDR is his way of giving something back to the life-affirming force of Rock & Roll. There are two versions of Gloria In Absentia: One in French and one in English.

RODEO DRIVE, the B-side of Gloria In Absentia, is a more personal offering of a love song to a lost lover. There are also two versions of Rodeo Drive available: One in French and one in English.

Mojave Lords are from Joshua Tree, California. In 2014, Bingo Richey and David Catching (QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal, earthlings?) decided to put a band together. Along with help from Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Tuatara, Walking Papers), Brian O’Connor (EoDM), Chris Goss (Masters of Reality), and Gene Trautmann (QOTSA,EoDM) they birthed a new wave of Desert Stoner Rock. This is the Rancho de La Luna home team doing what they do best, originating and creating new rock music.

Mojave Lords, Gloria in Absentia (2017)

Mojave Lords on Bandcamp

Mojave Lords on Thee Facebooks

Mojave Lords on Instagram

Left Front Door Records website

Left Front Door Records on Thee Facebooks

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3rd Ear Experience, Stoned Gold: Ways to be Saved

Posted in Reviews on November 8th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

3rd-ear-experience-stoned-gold

Given the formidable title of Stoned Gold, the latest full-length from Joshua Tree-based heavy psychedelic rockers 3rd Ear Experience is nothing less than an attempt to present the very foundations of the band’s writing process. Or, perhaps more appropriately, it’s a presentation of those roots entirely. The story goes that bandleader Robbi Robb was pulling the group together to work on their next full-length — either their fifth or sixth, depending on what you count — for Space Rock Productions, which also stood behind 2016’s studio outing, Stones of a Feather.

Robb, who leads a rotating cast of players in the amorphous group that may or may not at any given point include Amritakripa, Alan Dude Swanson, Richard Stuverud, Dino Archon, Dug Pinnick, Eric Ryan, Joey Vera, Butch Reynolds, and/or Jorge Bassman, had toured Europe for the last record, had signed a booking deal to go back, and so one imagines the creative juices were flowing and spirits were high. The band would start or end each day of the session with an improvised jam. Something to get the blood moving. A warm-up or a cool-down, and maybe the basis for a song to come together. Not at all unheard of. Well, when it came time to dig through the days’ worth of recordings and piece together the next 3rd Ear Experience long-player, Robb found that it was these jams that best represented the band as a whole and their musical intentions.

Accordingly, Stoned Gold arrives via Space Rock Productions — the label, one is compelled to note, owned by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller of Øresund Space Collective — as a collection of these jams, led by Robb‘s own scorching guitar work, with six tracks and just under 70 minutes of righteous desert freakouts, presented one into the next with a variety of personality and presentation to them that feels emblematic of the creative process behind their making.

Structures are way, way open. Vibes are way, way open. The spirit behind Stoned Gold is less like an album and more like an audio documentary — the idea being to bring to listener as close as possible to 3rd Ear Experience in the making. They’re not the only band to take this approach, and one would be remiss to not mention the progressive explorations of Øresund Space Collective here as forerunners of the improv-based heavy psych style, but it’s exceedingly rare for an American outfit to do so and to do so with such abandon as 3rd Ear Experience bring to pieces like the eight-minute title-track or more extended “I am Not Robot (Warm up Jam Day 3),” which follows opener and longest cut (immediate points) “Infinite Unmanifest (Warm up Jam Day 1)” and the subsequent “Iceberg Dream (Last Jam Day 4)” as one of three pieces named in part for when it took place in the session.

3rd ear experience

It’s telling of the mission behind Stoned Gold that the album would launch with a warm-up jam from the first day, since that effectively places the audience at the same starting point — equal footing — as the group itself as they begin to unfold what becomes the immersive, molten flow of the release as a whole. Whether or not “Iceberg Dream (Last Jam Day 4)” marks the end of the recording session as a whole, I don’t know, but it would make sense, and taking the two back-to-back is to hear 3rd Ear Experience shift deftly between classic space rock propulsion, exploratory melodic wash and an ultimate drive into cosmic swirl.

Those two songs alone comprise nearly half an hour of listening, but with as shuffling start of “Stoned Gold” signals before the band starts to weave its way through a couple harrowing turns toward a Sabbathian riff peppered with a couple lines of obscure, effects-laden vocals, it’s abundantly clear that they by no means make up the complete picture of the album’s scope, and indeed that turns out to be the case as “I am Not Robot (Warm up Jam Day 3)” digs into its 13 minutes of post-Hendrix shimmer and dazzle, more of a straight-ahead flow than a build, but underscored by highlight fuzzy bass tone in its midsection and honest enough to keep going even after it starts to fall apart.

It is surprisingly hypnotic in that, and that makes the transition into “No Walls, No Wars” somewhat more jarring. The penultimate cut is probably as close as 3rd Ear Experience come to traditional songcraft on the record, starting out with African-style percussion before cutting out to a solo-vocal verse and resuming its rhythmic charge. Swirls come and go around this central tribalist figure, and where so much of the album is instrumental, “No Walls, No Wars” is full of words, syllables, lines and obscure shouts, met head-on by an ongoing guitar lead, as well as drums, keys and synth, all of which seem to find further emphasis than in any of the previous jams. At 5:20, just about everything except a line of effects drops out and there’s one last verse to bring everything to a head, and the band presses forth once more into the groove at its foundation, fading slowly to let the toms of closer “The Drone” take hold.

Airy, peaceful guitar arrives with a kind of post-rock feel soon into the 12-minute finale, and once again there are vocals early in a kind of meditative spirit, but just after four minutes in, they’re swallowed by a surge of lead guitar and volume, beginning a back and forth of open spaces and consuming solos that continues until the latter finally seems to win out just after a drum pause near the six-minute mark. Less improvised-sounding — and loosely Zeppelin-esque, somehow — that “The Drone” nonetheless caps with a foray into the sonically unknown (some last lines sneak in there as well; don’t tell anybody) could not be more fitting a way to end Stoned Gold, which in its results lives up to the promised vibrancy of atmosphere in the manner it came together.

3rd Ear Experience have essentially issued their listeners an invitation to join them on this journey, which could hardly resonate more in its endgame if it were happening in real-time on a stage or in a studio, and that invitation is well worth accepting for both its realization of concept and the raw experience of the travel itself. Whether you engage consciously or turn off your mind, relax and float down-sand, 3rd Ear Experience‘s Stoned Gold shines bright.

3rd Ear Experience on Thee Facebooks

Robbi Robb website

Space Rock Productions on Thee Facebooks

Space Rock Productions website

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