Today I have the extreme pleasure of premiering the artwork for Wo Fat‘s forthcoming fifth album, The Conjuring. Set for release on June 17 through Small Stone – though from what I hear it’ll be available at the merch table on the Dallas trio’s upcoming European tour — the cover art to The Conjuring arrives courtesy of none other than Alexander von Wieding, who has outdone himself in capturing the album’s brooding and dark psychedelia. Von Wieding did the cover as well for 2012′s The Black Code(review here), and of course counts Karma to Burn, his own Larman Clamor, Black Thai, Manilla Road and many others among his clientele. Samples of his work are available at his website.
Click the image below for a more detailed look, and just for kicks, I’ve also included the Wo Fat bio for The Conjuring, which I wrote:
Wo Fat – The Conjuring Bio
You can wade through as many press quotes about “Texas-sized” as you want or see how many top-whatever lists Wo Fat have made since the Dallas trio got started in 2003, but none of that is going to be the same as staring down their swampadelic fuzz groove for yourself. If you want to know the monster, shake its hand.
In 2014, Wo Fat will release The Conjuring, their fifth full-length and second through Small Stone. Like their last two, 2012’s The Black Code and 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra, it’s a heavy-riff/heavy-jam blast of a time – the kind of record that turns the vaguely interested into converts and that makes the corners on squares look even sharper. Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter are jazz-combo tight and their roll is easy and natural, like you remember Fu Manchu being, but bigger-sounding and in the case of The Conjuring, darker as well.
There’s been a creature lurking in the woods since Wo Fat’s 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark – their second album, 2009’s Psychedelonaut, pulled back on the threat some to lighten the mood – but whether it’s the motor-driven rush of “Read the Omens” or the you’re-already-lost-in-it riff-exploration of 17-minute closer “Dreamwalker,” The Conjuring is indeed a backwoods ritual. Bluesmen have sold their souls for less.
Veterans of Roadburn, slated for Freak Valley 2014 and self-sufficient with Stump handling the recording at the band’s own Crystal Clear Sound in Dallas, Wo Fat push their jams farther than they’ve ever gone before on these five tracks. Topped off with a mastering job from Nolan Brett at their studio and an otherworldly cover courtesy of Alexander Von Wieding, the beast that Wo Fat’s tectonic riffage calls to earth has never seemed more real or more alive than it does on The Conjuring.
The Conjuring tracklisting: 1. The Conjuring 2. Read the Omens 3. Pale Rider from the Ice 4. Beggar’s Bargain 5. Dreamwalker
Wo Fat: Kent Stump: Guitar/vocals Tim Wilson: Bass Michael Walter: Drums/backing vocals
Posted in On Wax on January 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’ve had Wo Fat on the brain lately, ever since I found out they’d have a new record out this year and they got announced for Small Stone‘s showcases in Boston and Brooklyn this March, as well as playing Freak Valley in Germany this coming May, so with a ton going on, it didn’t seem outlandish to pay their 2012 fourth full-length, The Black Code(review here), another visit. Small Stone put the thing out on vinyl last year in a first run of 500 split up among three color variations. Gone. Second pressing comes limited to 250 copies in 180g vinyl, either solid yellow or transparent orange. The one I got is solid yellow, which I think sits pretty well next to the Alexander Von Wieding album art, playing off the greens of the cover itself and in the gatefold and accenting the band’s logo and the sand of the otherworldly desert landscape.Call me superficial if you want, but in addition to being a fuzz-drenched glory-jam of a full-length, it’s also a nice-looking find.
As to the record itself, well, if you didn’t hear it when you came out, not to be a prick about it, but you’ve been missing out on some of the finest heavy fuzz the US has to offer. As the folks — myself included — who caught Wo Fat at Roadburn last year, they’ll tell you. Wo Fat tap into classically hairy tones and fit them to whatever proportional gag about “Texas-sized” you might want to make. Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump drives the formidable groove of “Lost Highway” and “The Black Code” on side A, opening things up a bit to let drummer Michael Walter tie up purposefully-left-loose ends on “Hurt at Gone” while bassist Tim Wilson adds bottom end heft to the languid-but-swinging push. The Black Code was self-recorded, but wants nothing for production in either its clarity of natural vibe, and Wo Fat lock in their riffy grooves like the unpretentious heirs to Fu Manchu, saving plenty of room to jam in these long, spacious-sounding tracks.
That’s true all the more on side B of the vinyl, which feels all the more like a wall of fuzz with the CD-closing duo of “The Shard of Leng” and “Sleep of the Black Lotus” flowing one right into the next. One factor that particularly stands out in revisiting The Black Code is that although it’s the jammiest outing Wo Fat have released to date, the songs also hold tightly to memorable choruses, whether it’s “The Shard of Leng” building from its slow-groove intro into more straight-driving riffy crunch or “Lost Highway” kicking the record off with one of its most resonant hooks back on side A. As a power trio, Stump, Wilson and Walter are dead-on and their transitions run accordingly smooth. “The Shard of Leng” stomps its way through swaggering riffery, comfortably paced but irresistibly grooving, with Walter backing Stump‘s vocals in the chorus before breaking out the cowbell and signaling the move into The Black Code‘s longest jam, Echoplex and all.
“Sleep of the Black Lotus” keeps a similar vibe in its okay-this-is-the-song-and-then-we-jam-the-crap-out-of-these-riffs mentality, and though both sides are about even time-wise, the second feels longer with the two more extended tracks. Still, they make an excellent pairing even more on vinyl for being isolated from the rest of The Black Code, righteous and exploratory as they are. Whatever Wo Fat might have in store for their fifth album, and whenever it might arrive this year amid their touring first to the Northeast from Dallas and then overseas, it comes on the heels of their most accomplished full-length to-date — anyone further fiending for their fuzz should explore their 2013 split with Egypt (review here) — and for as great as The Black Codelooks and sounds on wax, I can’t wait to hear how they follow it up.
Posted in audiObelisk on November 26th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
For over half a decade, Dallas, Texas, doom metal trio Elliott’s Keep have paid homage to fallen comrade Glenn Riley Elliott, the three-piece of Kenneth Greene (bass/vocals), Jonathan Bates (guitar) and Joel Bates (drums) having made their debut with 2008′s In Medias Res(review here). In some ways, that album has proven to be the blueprint for everything Elliott’s Keep have done since. Released on Brainticket, it established Elliott’s Keep as a powerfully metallic act running an electric current of Solitude Aeturnus-style traditional American doom metal through their songs. The ensuing follow-up on the same label, Sine Qua Non(review here), was more cohesive and more metal, but crucially, more confident in establishing its darkened course.
Elliott’s Keep‘s third album, the forthcoming Nascentes Morimur, holds to some of the band’s established traditions. It has a Latin title (meaning, “From the moment we’re born, we die”), as well as artwork with a castle keep on the front cover, and it sure enough taps into trad doom and metallic elements from what I’ve heard of it, but like last time around, there’s also progression on the part of the band. And since they returned to record with J.T. Longoria (Solitude Aeturnus, Absu, Mercyful Fate), that progression comes through with clarity and a professionally crisp presentation that’s still heavy as all hell. For example, take the closing track of the CD’s total nine, “Gates Beyond.”
What impresses most about the song isn’t necessarily that it expands the band’s sonic palette by incorporating violin alongside Greene‘s mournful vocals, but how well that expansion blends with the strength in the songwriting. Yeah, “Gates Beyond” is interesting, but it’s also quality doom, and I feel like all too often the one is sacrificed in service of the other (or the other to the one, as it were). Elliott’s Keep have been able to hold firm to the parts of their processes they want to maintain and at the same time bring in new ideas and ultimately change the output in a natural way. “Gates Beyond” proves that, five-years on from their first record, Elliott’s Keep are able to bend their sound to their will. They’re the masters of their own fate.
And that being the case, all the better that I have the opportunity to premiere “Gates Beyond” in advance of the album release. Check it out on the player below, and please enjoy:
Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!
Elliott’s Keep‘s Nascentes Morimuris due in December and will be available on CD/digital. More info at the following links.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
With their eyes on a Fall 2013 release, Dallas doomers Elliott’s Keep have finished recording their third album, Nascentes Morimur. Last we heard from the trio, they were starting to record in May, so as the record is being mixed, they’re on track to have it out as planned. J.T. Longoria (whose considerable credentials you can see below) will be handling the mix, and while it’s probably not up there with the highest profile outings he’s worked on, Elliott’s Keep‘s mission of honoring their fallen comrade with heavy-as-hell trad doom continues to impress with both its sincerity and its metallic heft.
The band sent an update down the PR wire:
ELLIOTT’S KEEP COMPLETES RECORDING OF THIRD ALBUM
ELLIOTT’S KEEP, the Dallas metal doom trio have completed the recording of their third full-length album, entitled Nascentes Morimur, which is scheduled for a fall 2013 release.
As with their first two releases, ELLIOTT’S KEEP recorded again with J.T. LONGORIA (Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Absu, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Volbeat). Primary recording was completed again at Nomad Studios in Carrollton, Texas. Drums were tracked at Empire Sound Studio in Carrollton, Texas.
Nascentes Morimur is currently being mixed by J.T. LONGORIA, with GARY LONG of Nomad Studios again mastering. In keeping with the band’s use of Latin titles, Nascentes Morimur means “from the moment we are born, we begin to die.”
Song titles for Nascentes Morimur are as follows:
Waves of Anguish Days of Hell Now Taken Feanor’s Bane Regicide Tale of Grief Convergence Omen Gates Beyond
In Medias Res was released in November 2008 on Brainticket Records. Sine Qua Non was released in September 2010 on Brainticket Records.
Posted in Reviews on July 10th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Texas fuzz mavens Wo Fat and resurgent North Dakota riff rockers Egypt join forces on a new limited-to-500 split LP released via Totem CatRecords. Dubbed Cyclopean Riffsperhaps because the two bands see through one eye or as a play on the fact that the parts work in cycles, the 12″ smoke-colored splatter vinyl features two cuts from each trio. So, to go by the numbers it’s one eye, one release, two bands, two songs each, three members in each band. If you want to keep it going, there’s four songs total and each band has five letters in its name. To draw further correlation, each three-piece also recorded and mixed their own material, with Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump playing the role of engineer for the extended “Nameless Cults,” which starts off their side, and “Electric Hellhound,” while Egypt‘s own six-stringer, Neal Stein, helmed “Blood Temple Hymn” and “Ancient Enemy.” Both have done their own recordings before — Stump has grown into his own as a producer over the course of Wo Fat‘s four albums and Stein proved himself up to the task earlier this year on Egypt‘s comeback LP, Become the Sun(review here) — and with a little over 18 minutes apiece, both bands give a firm sense of where they’re coming from sonically while making a surprisingly good pairing for each other. It’s not necessarily a shock that two fuzzy, heavy rock bands would go together well — that happens all the time — but front to back, Cyclopean Riffsmakes the most of a palpable stylistic kinship between Wo Fat and Egypt, its songs based around top quality riffing and classic jamming swagger.
There aren’t sides, per se, but Wo Fat are given top billing, and they launch Cyclopean Riffswith “Nameless Cults,” a song that plays into a similar kind of swamp-mystic thematic that has presented itself across their last two full-lengths, 2012′s The Black Code(review here) and 2011′s Noche del Chupacabra(review here), while remaining consistent on a musical level as well. One thinks of 10-minute-plus jamming excursions like “The Shard of Leng” from last year’s outing or the title-track of the record before it and it seems Wo Fat‘s penchant for improv-style fuzz wandering has remained strong in the time since they put The Black Codeto tape. They continue to hone a blend between that side of their approach and a knack for memorable choruses, as both “Nameless Cults” and the considerably less open-structured “Electric Hellhound” offer a hook worthy of their reputation, the former using a straightforward verse/chorus beginning as a springboard for an instrumental jam that holds sway for the entirety of the second half of the track — Stump taking leads here and there while bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter (also backing vocals) keep a sense of motion and build rolling along — while the latter works largely the same, only without the departure from its initial base structure. An increase in stomp from Walter and build throughout the song itself would make an extended jam almost redundant, not to mention the fact that they just did one and would run out of room on the side of an LP.
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 12th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
After marauding this Spring with like-minded booze rockers Gypsyhawk, Texan trio Mothership are taking to the streets once again this month for a week of shows alongside Communion. The tour will include a stop, as noted below, at the pre-party for Show Class magazine’s Born Free 5 fest.
No word yet on a follow-up to the band’s self-titled debut, self-released by the band last year and reissued by Ripple Music earlier in 2013, but I can only imagine they’re hammering out new songs on the road, which for what Mothership does, is where they belong.
The PR wire takes it from here:
MOTHERSHIP Gearing Up For Summer Tour With COMMUNION
The Dallas, Texas-based trio of heavy rock bad asses known as MOTHERSHIP is about to make a return the road for a brief run with psychedelic doomsters COMMUNION.
Those who missed out on the band’s Spring run with GYPSYHAWK now have a second chance to experience some no-frills rock n’ roll magic when MOTHERSHIP kicks off their Summer tour on June 24th at Hotel Vegas in Austin, TX. This run will include a June 28th stop in Trabuco Canyon, CA for Show Class Magazine’s Born Free 5 Festival People’s Champ Party. Details for Born Free 5 and the pre-party can be found at the following links:
In other news, the song “Lunar Master,” off of MOTHERSHIP’s self-titled debut, has been ranked #3 on The Paranoid Hitsophrenic ‘Regular Old Doom Charts.’ Check out the rankings, which includes a link to a stream of the track,at this location.
MOTHERSHIP Summer 2013 Tour Dates w/ COMMUNION June 24 Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas June 25 El Paso, TX @ The Lowbrow Palace June 26 Tucson, AZ @ Surly Wench Pub w/ Thorncaster June 27 San Diego, CA @ The Void w/ Harsh Toke June 28 Trabuco Canyon, CA @ Cook’s Corner – Born Free 5 Pre-Party w/ O Zorn June 30 Los Angeles, CA @ TBA July 1 Phoenix, AZ @ Yucca Tap Room w/ Flying Scorpion July 2 Albuquerque, NM @ TBA July 3 Midland, TX @ Blue Max
Posted in Reviews on May 14th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
A fun game to play for first-time listeners of the four-piece Hawk vs. Dove‘s self-titled, self-released debut might be to give the songs a runthrough and try to guess where on earth the band might be from. On my initial hearing, I ran a geographical gamut from Georgia to London to Brooklyn to California, going by the various influences I heard in their sound, from angular riffing to sweet multiple-participant vocal arrangements, languid rhythms and periods of thick, crunching stomp that give way to classic rocking guitar and organ interplay, subdued moody crescendos and drawn-out melodies. Finally I settled on Portland, if only because it seemed to me the region where such a melting pot of elements might thrive, given the variety of the scene there.
Spoiler alert: Hawk vs. Dove are from Dallas, Texas. They recorded the eight songs of Hawk vs. Dove at The Echo Lab in Denton, following a series of digital singles, and have put it out both on CD and vinyl with detailed artwork from Larry Carey. The foursome — guitarist/vocalist Johnny Hardy, guitarist/vocalist Sean Butler, bassist/vocalist James Losoya and drummer/vocalist Joe Hardy – have little of the Southern metal burl to their tones, but what they offer instead makes the 39 minutes of their debut a much more enjoyable listening experience; a genuine sense of assured aesthetic while also keeping a diverse approach to their songs and shifting the mood along with the tempo. Even on CD, Hawk vs. Doveis broken into sides, and rightly so, beginning with the winding Skynyrd-via-Mastodon riff of “Between the Headlines,” the shortest cut on the record at 2:31 and a motor-ready mover to build immediate momentum as they go forward.
Right away, the vocals make an impression. “Between the Headlines” is brief, but it establishes the singing as one of Hawk vs. Dove‘s standout factors, and the band continue to prove their ability in this regard throughout the tracks, whether it’s in the actual performances of the members or the skillful hand with which those performances are arranged. “The Sabbath” might just as easily be named for its bassline, but half-time drumming gives the track an open feel to go with its initial stomp and the slow-rolling verse, the alternately Queens of the Stone Age and Radiohead vibes of which reminded me of some of Crystal Head‘s well-honed dynamics, but Joe‘s drumming keeps a sense of motion underlying even the stillest parts of Hawk vs. Dove, so that when the Losoya-thickened Helmet-style groove of “Only Words” — its pacing fluid and undulating — takes hold, it’s no more out of place than “The Sabbath” was coming off of “Between the Headlines.”
Johnny and Sean work mostly in tandem on “Only Words,” but still find room for lead/rhythm interplay, enhancing the noisy feel that (East Coast boy that I am) I always relate to Unsane but could just as easily be culled from The Jesus Lizard or any number of other acts, and though the first three tracks are relatively short — all under four minutes — compared to what follows, Side A of Hawk vs. Dovefinds its arrival point in the drumroll and brazen classic heavy riffing of “(Run the) Rockwaltz,” organ joining the guitar while the vocals weave into and out of falsetto and a sense of bluesy chaos pervades a desert booziness. There’s the inevitable jam, and Hawk vs. Dove let it ride to the end, gradually deconstructing “(Run the) Rockwaltz” (the initial minutes of which are, indeed, a waltz) as they play out its 8:35 so that by the finish, there’s nothing left but a wash of amp noise and some fed-up sounding cymbal crashes.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Good news from Texas today in that Dallas trio Elliott’s Keep have a batch of new material they’re getting ready to record next month. According to the update below, which the band sent down the PR wire, they’ll be working again with engineer J.T. Longoria, who also manned their 2010 sophomore outing, Sine Qua Non (review here). A sampling of his credits, which are considerable, is listed below.
Look for more on the album, dubbed Nascentes Morimur in Elliott’s Keep‘s tradition of Latin titles, as we get closer to the Fall 2013 release, but for now here’s the announcement and the front cover of what’s to come:
As we did three years ago, we will begin recording the next Elliott’s Keep record over Memorial Day weekend. This one is entitled Nascentes Morimur, which translates to “From the moment we are born, we begin to die.” The cover art is attached. We will be working again with J.T. Longoria (Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Concept of God, Absu, King Diamond).
Nine tracks this time. The record should be released in the fall.
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 27th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
I love a bit of fuzz in the springtime. Okay, really any time of the year, I’ll take it when I can get it, but either way, I’m glad to read the news that Texas trio Wo Fat are heading overseas to act as fuzz ambassadors. Following gigs at SXSW and the inaugural Fuzzed Out! fest in Fort Worth, they’ll stamp their passports and hit up Roadburn, Desertfest London and a slew of other European outlets. Living the dream as it were. Always glad to see things coming together for bands who kick ass, which Wo Fat most certainly do.
They sent an update down the PR wire:
Upcoming Spring Gigs!
Wo Fat has got a number of great shows coming up and we wanted to make sure you knew about them. In March we will be doing a weekend Texas tour that will start with a performance at the Small Stone Records showcase at SXSW in Austin with a killer lineup of our labelmates, followed by a mini Small Stone showcase in San Antonio with Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and doom masters Las Cruces. Then we’ll finish up the weekend at the first annual Fuzzed Out! Fest in Fort Worth, which features a great lineup of bands that are part of the new wave of stoner rock, including Ape Machine, Mothership, Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and Been Obscene.
Coming up in April is our “Lost Highway Across Europe Tour” which includes stops at Roadburn and Desertfest London. We won’t be able to hit as many places in Europe as we would have liked this time around due to commitments at home, but we hope to do a more extensive European tour in the future.
Check out the dates below. We hope to see you at one of our shows!
Mar 14, 2013 – Small Stone Records SXSW Showcase – Headhunters, Austin, TX with Mellow Bravo, Supermachine, Luder, Freedom Hawk, Lord Fowl and Suplecs Mar 15, 2013 – Small Stone San Antonio Showcase – Nightrocker Live, San Antonio, TX with Lord Fowl, Freedom Hawk, Las Cruces and Maneaters of Tsavo Mar 16, 2013 – Austin Heavy Music Showcase – Special afternoon show at the Spiderhouse Ballroom, Austin, TX. Wo Fat plays at 1:15pm. Mar 16, 2013 – Fuzzed Out! Festival 2013 – The Grotto, Fort Worth, TX The new wave of Stoner Rock with Lord Fowl, Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk, Southern Train Gypsy, Ape Machine, Been Obscene and Mothership April 12, 2013 – Boiler Room, Dallas, TX with Mothership, Hawk Vs. Dove and Mount Salem Apr 20, 2013 – Roadburn Festival – 013, Tilburg, Netherlands Apr 21, 2013 – White Trash Fast Food, Berlin, Germany with Abrahma Apr 22, 2013 – Vera, Groningen, Netherlands Apr 23, 2013 – Les Combustibles, Paris, France with Witch Mountain, Cough and Abrahma Apr 24, 2013 – L’Usine, Geneva, Switzerland with Abrahma Apr 25, 2013 – Vortex, Siegen, Germany with Maserati and Abrahma Apr 26, 2013 – De Pit, Terneuzen, Netherlands, Terneuzen is On Fire Pre Party with Abrahma, Swamp Machine and Idealus Maximus Apr 27, 2013 – Desertfest London, The Underworld, Camden, United Kingdom
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 27th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
You can’t argue with pretty, and Wo Fat‘s The Black Codevinyl is most certainly that. The Dallas-based riffers have their Small Stone debut (review here) available on LP as of now, and they’ll be playing a release show on Dec. 8 with fellow Texan upstarts Venomous Maximus and Mothership. More info on that is here, and in addition to sending on word about the vinyl release, Wo Fat also updated on the progress for their Kickstarter campaign to find their European tour, which includes a stop at next year’s Roadburn.
Black Code vinyl has arrived!
We now have “The Black Code” on vinyl available in theWo Fat Hoodoo Shop. It is of the finest quality 180 gram vinyl and comes in a beautiful gatefold sleeve. You have 3 color choices for the vinyl: Black, Opaque Orange and Transparent Blue. Take a look at the photo below. If you buy the vinyl directly from Wo Fat, it comes with a download card for a free download of the album (you don’t get this anywhere else). Get yours now while they last.
Also, we’ve got 20 days left in our Kickstarter Campaign that is raising funds to help us cover the cost of going to Europe for a tour next spring. This tour is being entirely funded by the band, which is why your help is so important and tremendously appreciated. You can reserve an autographed copy of vinyl through the kickstarter page if you like. Yes, it costs more, but that donation will go directly to cover the costs of airfare. There are also other bitchin’ rewards for your donations that are available only through this campaign.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 16th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
One listen to the driving classic American bikerisms of Mothership‘s self-titled debut (review here) and it was pretty obvious it wouldn’t be long before someone picked them up. So kudos to the band (interviewed here) and to Ripple Music for joining forces. The label — already home to powerhouses like Grifter, Mos Generator and Mighty High — will unleash a reissue of the first Mothership on vinyl next year before handling the follow-up, presumably shortly thereafter.
Badass news all around. Congrats to the band and the label. Here are the details:
MOTHERSHIP Signs World-wide Record Deal With Ripple Music
You could feel it coming. The excitement was palpable as Mothership took the stage on Day 1 of the first annual Metroplex Heavyfest in Dallas. Hometown boys and hometown crowd and the atmosphere was electric!
To say Mothership decimated the audience that night would be an understatement. Between Kyle Juett’s “Lemmy-biker toughness” on bass and vocals, younger brother, Kelley Juett’s “Rory Gallagher meets Brian Robertson” guitar magic, and Judge Smith’s propulsive drums, the audience’s fists never stopped pumping and the head’s never stopped bobbing. An encore call of “Ace of Spades” with legendary Dave Sherman (Earthride/Spirit Caravan) on vocals was all it took to shoot the collective audience over the top.
Dallas had found their new local legends.
Ripple Music is chuffed to announce the signing of 70′s-tinged U.S. hard rock band, Mothership, for a two album deal that will start with the world-wide release of the band’s self-titled debut. Expect to see this raging slab of incendiary hard rock on CD, digital, and never-before released vinyl early in 2013 on Ripple Music.
Mothership was formed in 2010 by hard-rock loving brothers, Kyle and Kelley Juett, infused by a love of all that is retro-heavy from years of influence under their father John’s record collection. Originally bereft of a drummer, father John learned how to play and filled in for practice and gigs until permanent skin pounder Judge Smith took over the drummer’s throne. Since then, there’s been no looking back. Already one of Texas’s hottest live bands, word of the Mothership’s rock and roll prowess has leaked far across the country and is already gathering steam in Europe. With a sound that satisfies like a steaming hot stew of UFO and Iron Maiden, blended with the southern swagger of Molly Hatchet and ZZ Top, Mothership’s goal from the beginning has been to carry on the tradition of the classic rock style of the ’70′s, updated and amped up for the modern day. That hard-rocking sound is filled out by the true legend-in-the-making axeman, Kelley Juett, who seamlessly builds upon guitar heroes of the past with his own fiery licks.
Having already shared the stage with such revered bands as Prong, Red Fang, Lo-Pan, Dixie Witch, Venomous Maximus, and Wo Fat, their 2012 self-released debut was brought to the attention of Ripple Music who instantly knew this was a band to reckon with. One ingestion of their combustible live show at the Metroplex Heavyfest convinced Ripple that a partnership was inevitable After a family dinner of Italian cuisine, beer and whiskey, both Label and band knew they’d found kindred brothers.
Ripple will re-release Mothership’s debut album on CD and 12” vinyl, including an extremely limited run of 100 multi-colored, splattered 12” with autographed posters. The album also features the production, mastering, and guest guitar contributions of Kent Stump from Texas heavy rock heroes, Wo Fat.
Texas is famous for its hard rock. Mothership is the next step in that legendary lineage. Get ready to jump aboard the Mothership for an overdose of vintage hard rock!
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 14th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
My reasons for posting the news that fuzzly Texas trio Wo Fat have been added to the lineup for Roadburn 2013 are triple-fold: First, Wo Fat kick ass, as their new album, The Black Code(review here), so clearly demonstrates. Second, it’s Roadburn news, and posting it is something I very much enjoy. Third — and this one’s the kicker — the poster is probably the best use of a comic-style dialogue bubble I’ve seen since my days slobbering over the latest issue of Batman. Well played, Roadburn.
And congratulations to the band on being added. When last I interviewed Wo Fat guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, he said European touring was something they very much wanted to do, so way to go on making that happen and all the best to him and the band.
Here’s the news (and that poster):
Wo Fat Confirmed For Roadburn 2013
We are very pleased to welcome Texas riffmasters Wo Fat on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 with their blues-infused version of psychedelic doom. Tearing through the speakers like a swamp monster summoned from some dark cosmic morass, they rose from the deep and began their psyche-doom-adelic quest in 2003, with the goal to make music that remained within the paradigm forged by Black Sabbath, Hendrix, ZZ Top and the other greats of the 70?s, but that was also crushingly heavy and at the same time stayed true to the haunting blues that moan and wail deep within their souls.
Through their sonic journeys, they have managed to find a compelling balance between monolithic, cyclopean riffing and spaced out, psychedelic jamming. Structure and improvisational freedom being equally important elements to their music.
Three albums and nine years later, Wo Fat has joined the Small Stone Records roster and is offering up a new epic album, The Black Code, which contains five hefty slabs of classic Wo Fat analog fuzz, but this time with a more sci-fi related motif, full of cyber-visions of evil code and premonitions of digital horror and is maybe their heaviest work to date. It’s heaviness in groove, sound and feel as well as riff. This is organic, earthy metal. This is a pure, expertly cultivated, homegrown strain of Texas riffage.
Roadburn Festival 2013 will run for four days from Thursday, April 18th to Sunday, April 21st, 2013 (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland.
Comprised of brothers Kelley Juett (guitar/vocals) and KyleJuett (bass/vocals) along with drummer Judge Smith, the Dallas, Texas, trio Mothership self-released their self-titled debut back in June. The album (review here) was recorded by Wo Fat‘s Kent Stump and puts Orange-amped fuzz to work in classic heavy homage, ballsing up the tone of Grand Funk boogie and winding it around scorching Sabbathian riffage.
It’s a formula for success in heavy rock, and while they may not be the first to employ it, I dug Mothership‘s Mothershipenough that I wanted to find out more about how the band came to be and where the brothers Juett got their love of rock and roll from. I had a sneaking suspicion it was their father — not an unreasonable assumption when you’ve got two brothers so clearly on the same page influence-wise in a band together — but it was great to get that confirmed from the Juetts themselves.
And in that, this is a little more than the usual six dumb questions, since after the answers came back from Kyle, I asked if he’d get a couple quotes from their dad as well. You’ll find John “Big J” Juett‘s quotes after the Q&A, which is below. Please enjoy.
1. Tell me about getting the band together. What was the timeline on bringing Judge Smith in on drums, and when were the songs for the self-titled written?
We (Kelley and Kyle) started Mothership back in 2010 after the breakup of our previous band. We literally took all of our shit from our old practice spot, drove to our dad’s house and began writing what became Mothership tunes that very same day. A blessing in disguise, if you ask me. We wrote for a few months together before asking our dad to start playing with us. We were tired of sitting around, not playing shows and more importantly looking for a drummer. Since our dad kicks some serious ass on the skins we figured what the hell let’s do it. We had a great time playing biker bars doing four-hour sets covering classic rock and blues songs (tons of B-side shit that really lit up the party), as well as playing original shows all over the state of Texas. We did a one-week tour with Gypsyhawk with our dad on drums – that’s pretty bitchin’ this day in time to have your dad out there jamming with you on the road.
I (Kyle) met Judge around the same time Mothership started in 2010 I would say, maybe a little earlier or later can’t really remember much that far back lol. We met in a bar in Lewisville, TX, shared a common interest in music. We got along, had some of the same friends, took shots, drank beers, had a damn good time every time we hung out. I always watched Judge play drums at this bar with multiple bands some original and some playing covers. He kicked ass every time I saw him play and I could really get a sense that he was hungry for something new.
The dude has an incredible amount of drive and dedication and that really stood out to me. We started heavily talking about Mothership I would say around October of last year during the baseball playoffs. We would go get drunk as piss yelling at TVs and talking about writing records, touring the world, etc., etc. I had some good talks with Kelley and even my dad about bringing Judge on board and they were both very excited to see where the next step would take us. Judge came out to many shows in the previous months leading up to his arrival in the band always very vocal about giving him a chance to show us what he’s got.
Judge joined the band in December 2011 I think our first show with him was January 2012 and we recorded the debut album a month later. We hit the ground kicking ass when Judge joined the band with very little downtime during the transition of drummers, we wrote a couple of songs on the record the first day we ever practiced with him.
As for the songs on the record, four of them were written with our dad on drums (“City Nights,” “Angel of Death,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose”) and the other four songs (“Hallucination,” “Cosmic Rain,” “Elenin,” and “Lunar Master”) were written with Judge. “Lunar Master,” the last track on the album, was written in the studio with help from everyone on board including help from Kent Stump, who recorded the album. He came up with some killer vocal arrangement ideas. That was an awesome experience to only have music written for a song and watch it come to life in the studio in that moment, watching all the band members and engineer come together to help write lyrics and vocal melodies was a unifying experience.
2. Where does the family love of classic rock come from?
Our Dad, John “Big J” Juett, without a doubt. The man has boxes upon boxes of vinyl, shit that makes your jaw drop and shit that you have never heard of before but will damn sure make you an instant fan after one pass through. He has a wide variety of different types of music… Blues, classic rock, hard rock, metal, Southern rock you name it he’s either got it or had it.
Most all of the bands we know today come from knowledge that was passed down from him. There are a ton of newer bands coming out so it’s fun to show him new shit and kinda go back and forth. There really is a lot of good music coming out these days from all over there world. Mothership was started on the sole purpose of bringing back rock ‘n’ roll, and with the knowledge passed down from our pops we have come to understand a good amount of the history of where rock n roll began and the direction that it can go from here.
“The gleam of the Mothership in the distant galaxy promised a future to music and mankind alike. Without the intergalactic journey, the legacy of rock music dies.”
3. How was your time in the studio with Kent from Wo Fat? How long did it take to record the album and what was the atmosphere in the studio like?
Kent Stump is not only a talented musician and engineer but one of the nicest and easiest people to work with. An all around awesome dude with great visions, ideas, and really knows how to capture the sound that encompasses who you are as a band. We sent out about seven or eight emails to local producers in the area to see if anyone would show the slightest bit of interest in working with us. The email basically laid it all on the line and we got back a lot of one word responses. Kent however wrote back a two or three page email breaking down why he would be the best candidate, an entire gear list, his credentials, and more importantly why he wanted to take on this project.
We had played with Wo Fat two or three times before recording the album so Kent really had a solid idea of who were as a band, our tones, our energy, and overall direction of the album just from seeing us play live. He had everything mic’d and set up in record time on our first day of recording, the energy and vibes were laid back and very relaxed. Tons of laughing, drinking cold beer, and listening back to the tracks really loud in the playback room. He always gave great feedback and input on certain parts where he knew we needed a little direction. He even laid down a killer solo at the end of the album, just an all around awesome experience!
We practiced for multiple days in a row before entering the studio to capture that “on the road” live sound that we really got on this record. This record is us setting up our gear and playing live with each other in one room. No click tracks, no isolated individual tracks. We had very, very limited time to record this album and we knew we didn’t have a lot of time to fuck around. We recorded all the music in one weekend eight-hour days on a Friday and Saturday, and came back the following weekend to finish up vocals and mix the album. The album is alive and breathes from start to finish, a true journey of where we were that moment in time when you listen to it. We recorded all the music for each of the songs on one take except for “City Nights,” all the solos were recorded live as well.
For a debut record, we think people really get the idea of what we are trying to do and the direction we are headed in. That’s the point of a debut album: “Hey you don’t know who we are, but here is our first album and this is what we’re about. Turn that shit up and climb aboard.”
4. How was the Metroplex Heavy Fest for you guys? It looked like a great weekend. How was your set and what were some of the other highlights for you?
What an awesome weekend indeed, why can’t all weekends be like that? Where to begin… Two nights with 14 bands from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area playing heavy rock ‘n’ roll and loving what they do. So much fun to watch each band perform and show the crowd their brand of heavy rock. We got to see a few bands we had been hearing about but never seen play live, so that was really cool. We met a lot of awesome people that weekend including Pope John The Enforcer and Todd “Racer” from Ripple Music. They are two down-to-earth, dedicated men with out of this world visions that truly love what they do. Really looking forward to running into them again in the future. Jay Brockington put the whole damn thing together, many cheers to him for all the hard work and dedication that went into this thing going off without a hitch.
The crowd during our set was explosive, we were really channeling some awesome vibes coming in our direction. Those types of shows are always the most fun to play, you give us the energy we will bottle that shit up and blast it right back at you. Five or 5,000 people, we play the same show every night, but having a roaring crowd surrounding the stage is hands down one of the best feelings in the world. We brought Dave Sherman up to sing “Ace of Spades” with us on the last song of our set. We really didn’t know how it was gonna go over, we never practiced with Dave let alone met the dude and damn he nailed it! What an awesome way to end the set on a very special night.
The entire set was recorded, the entire fest was recorded so we look forward to taking a listen when it becomes available. Feels really great to have had the honor to share the stage with such kickass musicians in this area and to be a part of such a righteous festival event. Here’s to hoping there will be a round two next year!
5. What exactly does a music video party entail? You’re filming a video August 17, but you’re not the only band on the bill. Is the plan just to rage for a few hours, film it, and let the editor sort it out afterwards? What song will the video be for?
The plan for the music video came out of nowhere, really. One day we just decided, hey, let’s do a video. The album has been out a few months and so we figured why they hell not. This video is going to showcase who we really are and what we are all about in our hometown. We are doing a very basic video with only a few cameras showcasing our live show and our loyal fans right here in the heart of Dallas, TX, at one of the most legendary venues in this area, The Curtain Club. The perfect storm of a night to bust out the cameras and hit record.
We are gonna shoot as much video footage as possible and then have fun editing the footage and placing the audio track over it. The video will be for “City Nights,” the third track on our album, a party song geared towards bands living life on the road and a little of the lifestyle we all three lead in our daily lives here. Hopefully people will really get an honest taste of not only where we come from with this video, but hopefully get a sense of the resurgence of rock ‘n’ roll in this area that has been dormant for far too long.
6. What’s next for the band after the new video? Have you started writing yet for the follow-up to the self-titled, and do you have any idea yet what the next batch of material might sound like?
We are currently working on a good amount of new material for what may or may not be on the next album. We have really raised our level of playing in the past couple of months and have found a great sense of who we are and the sound that has become Mothership. We have an awesome unspoken fourth member of the band, Chris “Ohm” Galt, who is our sound man/engineer. He is currently coming out to all of our practices and recording all of our jams and ideas for new material. He’s our brother and we are very thankful to have him on board with us along this journey.
We take the CDs he makes after every practice home with us and really listen to what we like and don’t like and go from there. Being able to jam at practice and not force riffs down people’s throats in the band really eases the mood at practice and makes writing new material a lot of fun. We all have been in those bands where you have members say “play this, don’t play that,” learn how to jam and others will follow your lead when you have a good riff in mind. I’d say we have a very good mix currently of some heavy groove songs and some psychedelic/blues take you on a journey-type songs which is right in line with what we all love most. That happy balance of heaviness and soul mixed with a little dash of some Texas rock n roll.
John “Big J” Juett on playing drums with Mothership: This has been a very fulfilling experience for me. What started out as a way to spend time with my sons doing what we all enjoy—making or listening to music—turned out to be something much better that I had imagined. It is rare for parents to be able to actually participate in activities that your adult children participate in. I think it speaks to our family relationship, the mutual respect we have for the roles in each other’s life, the similar influences we have share, and the passion for music. For me, it is a late-life endeavor, a second chance to really prepare for something physically demanding, and be able execute live. I constantly play to their tracks, as well as thousands of others on my iPod, just to keep my chops up on a chance that we can find the time to jam, or even play live again in a different light. They are just so good, it’s a challenge to keep bringing it at their level. Once Judge came on board, we all agreed we would still try to find the time to family-jam and experiment with old classics live, just as we have done for last two years. But, the demand for their shows and the phenomenal writing they are doing just takes up all of their time. I’m in a more traditional parental role now of supporter, drum/road tech…and interim financier… ha ha.
John “Big J” Juetton his influences: I remember vividly the beginning of my love of music. I had many 45 singles from the psychedelic ‘60s as a kid. But in the late ‘60s, Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida came out, and closely thereafter, I bought Creedence’s Born on the Bayou, and Grand Funk Railroad’sLive album. I was lost in music from that point on. That was a whole different level, dude. Throughout the decades I have continued to follow major trends in music. As the original Mothership jam sessions began, my grooves from those early periods came through in my play, and I believe helped influence the sounds you hear today in the first Mothership tunes like “City Nights,” “Eagle Soars,” and “Win or Lose.” For a while in 2010 before band really formed, Kelley was living at home for a brief period, and every day after work, he and I honed our chops together, working up our takes on great classic tunes from Johnny Winter, Alvin Lee & Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Freddie King, Skynard, Jimi Hendrix, Pat Travers, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Sabbath, Ted Nugent, etc. Those bands that were my early influences. Mothership now have about 25 tunes roughed out that my sons and I have performed regularly on extended sets, beyond the original material. Judge knows several more too. The music I love is the music they love… I really dig heavier music, Pantera, Hellyeah, Metallica too, but I’m gonna have to let Judge bring the Vinnie f’n Paul fury on those, haha… I’m just proud we have something in common to share with my sons and Judge, and to look forward to enjoying as we all grow older. Music is our common denominator! These are three very talented, dedicated guys, and great, great, respectful and considerate gentlemen, a character trait which my wife and I are also extremely proud of!
Posted in Reviews on August 17th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
Following two strong releases in last year’s Noche del Chupacabra and 2009’s Psychedelonaut after their 2006 The Gathering Dark debut, Texas fuzz rockers Wo Fat make their debut on Small Stone Records with The Black Code, a self-recorded five-track full-length that serves as a loud and clear heralding of their arrival in the up and coming class of American heavy riffers. While furthering the semi-jammed ethic that Noche del Chupacabra (review here) began to solidify, guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump leading through sections of jazz-hued fuzz improv, The Black Code also further refines the crispness in the band’s songwriting and highlights more sci-fi thematics than its horror-from-the-swamp-minded predecessor. The five component tracks of The Black Code total 46 minutes, and through that time, Wo Fat show basically two modes of operation. They’re either riffing or they’re jamming. The distinctions are clear. If you’re listening to the part of the title-track that has an absurdly catchy chorus in the tradition of their own prior highlight cuts “El Culto de la Avaricia” from Psychedelonaut (review here) and “Descent into the Maelstrom” from Noche del Chupacabra, then that’s the structured first half of the song. If Stump is ripping out a righteous classic rock solo while bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter (who also contributes backing vocals) hold down a thickened funk rhythm, that’s the jam. It’s not hard to tell when the one starts leading to the other, and opener “Lost Highway” is really the only song that doesn’t break into an extended instrumental section, but just because Wo Fat telegraph their moves doesn’t make The Black Code any less enjoyable. Bolstered by Stump’s engineering job which captures analog warmth (though I’m pretty sure it’s a digital recording listening to Walter’s toms later on, and I don’t inherently view that as a negative) without sacrificing either clarity or sonic professionalism – that is, the album doesn’t sound amateur and clearly Stump’s recording skills have developed no less than his songwriting over the last couple years – The Black Code offers payoff to the potential Noche del Chupacabra displayed, working off similar ideologies in a more solidified, clear presentation. I have no scruples saying it’s Wo Fat’s best and most arrived work yet.
The album starts in medias res with “Lost Highway,” a song that underscores the band’s ascent to the distortion-caked fore of next-gen American heavy rock with a mid-paced stoner groove and a strong chorus hook. For those who’ve never encountered Wo Fat before, there really isn’t anything revolutionary in their approach – it’s heavy riffs, thick grooves, gravelly vocals and classic rock structures leading to extended instrumental jams – hardly reinventing the wheel. What makes The Black Code work so well, however, is both the power trio chemistry between Stump, Wilson and Walter, and the skill with which the familiar elements they’re working from are combined. Wo Fat are unabashedly fuzzy, and that fuzz well earns a Fu Manchu comparison both in terms of its thickness and the way it seems to slow down every riff that comes through it. The opener is the shortest track on the album at 5:25, and it’s a solid lead-in for the more expansive material that follows, the 10-minute title-track keeping its verse and chorus in mind for the first half – it is the strongest chorus of the album and so well picked to represent the whole – and then there’s a ring out just before five minutes in and the instrumental jam begins. By now, these guys are more than adept at sounding natural and keeping a flow going in a jam without sounding forced, and the progression of “The Black Code” is no exception, but you pretty clearly get two pieces instead of one unified whole, or even two pieces and then something to tie them together structurally like a revised verse or chorus. In the end, they come out on the right side of “Not all who wander are lost,” but for a band so obviously adept at heavy rock songwriting as to come up with the chorus to “The Black Code” in the first place to then willfully abandon the premise they’ve set for themselves seems incongruous on a conceptual level. Somehow, the song works.
Posted in Features on March 4th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Okay. You’re a heavy rock trio from Dallas, and you’ve put out two albums on Brainticket Records, each better than the last. You’ve got a decent buzz about you and your name is starting to ring out from the small but tight-knit scene you occupy.
Time to start blowing minds.
Or so it would seem has been the decision of Wo Fat, whose third album, Noche del Chupacabra, has been a first-quarter highlight of 2011. The full-length was released back in January via German esoterica purveyors Nasoni Records, and it’s a maddeningly potent blend of fuzz crunch, psych wonder and low-end groove. A step beyond the already-masterful second LP, Psychedelonaut (2009), Noche del Chupacabra sees Wo Fat range even further into the realm of solo improvisation — never losing sight of the song in the process, as so many do. Built from four tracks and an extended instrumental titular jam, Noche del Chupacabra is shorter, meaner and Wo Fat at their most lethal yet.
Somehow, though, in the process of trimming down the runtime from nearly 72 minutes to Noche del Chupacabra‘s vinyl-ready 46, the songs got bigger. Not necessarily longer, but they do more. The parts work harder. Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, who also recorded the album, leads Wo Fat with vibrant and spontaneous soloing, backed by the weighted rhythm section of bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter. Their influences concoct a familiar brew of hard-hitting ’70s rock turned fuzz bastardry, but like the best of the new generation of Heavy bands — Lo-Pan comes to mind as a contemporary comparison point — Wo Fat teach old dog riffage the new trick of kicking your ass.
Tracks like “Descent into the Maelstrom” and “Common Ground” blend the catchy choruses of Psychedelonaut‘s high-point material with Stump‘s increasing focus on a live-sounding presentation. In the interview that follows, the guitarist discusses his ethic going into recording Noche del Chupacabra, the process by which Wo Fat writes their songs, signing the deal with Nasoni, the source of his jazz influence, and much, much more.