Six Dumb Questions with Hound the Wolves

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on April 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

hound the wolves

Stylistically ranging and definitively of the Pacific Northwest, Camera Obscura is the striking debut album from Portland, Oregon, five-piece Hound the Wolves. It is comprised of just four songs — and one could really argue that two of them are intros feeding into the other two; one flowing work per intended vinyl side — and runs 32 minutes of soundscaped spaciousness and aggressive outbursts manifest in the screams of guitarist Juan Carlos Caceres, and given an underlying sense of Americana through Tim Burke‘s lap steel. With Cory DeCaire of Mane of the Cur on bass, Ryan McPhaill (Sioux) on drums and Nate Wright providing Moog and additional percussion, the band presents a complete ambience in the six-minute “Omnia in Numeris Situ Sunt,” which in turn gives way to the complementary “Everything Lies Veiled in Numbers” at the end of the record.

That last piece, passing the nine-minute mark and putting the capstone on the album as a whole, is obviously a pivotal moment for Hound the Wolves, and they more than live up to the task. An even greater impression, however, might be made on side A in the interplay between four-minute opener “If Lost in Mind” and the subsequent “Masquerade,” which is 13 minutes long and takes hold following the hypnotic chants and echoes an drones of “If Lost in Mind” with a sudden progressive metal turn that, rhythmically, calls to mind Kylesa at their best. Caceres, melodic on the opener, offers a harsher take in the early going, rounding out with the lines “It’s all a masquerade/It’s all in your head/If the illusion was real/We would not exist,” at about three and a half minutes in before Burke‘s lap steel comes to the fore to lead the transition into a quieter space. Backed by the slow build in McPhaill‘s drums, the track oozes through a long middle section stretch of open-feeling atmospherics. Vocals aren’t absent, but echo in semi-spoken proclamations layered with shouts in places, and it isn’t until about 11 minutes in that the payoff hits, with a fuller-toned, undulating riff; some great Cascadian beast lurching to consciousness.

Intensity builds for the next couple minutes before they crash out, and “Omnia in Numeris Situ Sunt” arrives, its ritual bell atop a resonant and semi-foreboding drone, and it may indeed be that some kind of ritual has begun, as “Everything Lies Veiled in Numbers” shows surprising patience in its execution, never really launching into the same kind of payoff as “Masquerade,” but still reveling in ambient heft for the duration. Equal parts earthy and psychedelic, it’s a resounding finish to a record that’s earned nothing less, even if it’s not the loudest moment to be found in the tracklisting.

The process of putting together Camera Obscura was begun in 2015, so it’s safe to say it’s been a while in the making. In the Q&A below, Tim Burke attributes some of that to holdups in the mixing process — which, given the layering at work in these songs, I’m inclined to believe — and of course the ever-present financial concerns. Burke also discusses how the band came together, their recent tour around the album release, their plans going forward, and more.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

hound the wolves camera obscura

Six Dumb Questions with Hound the Wolves

Tell me about how Hound the Wolves got together? How much of your sound was thought out as a goal beforehand, and how much was just how it worked out when you started playing? What was the impetus behind starting the band in the first place?

The band started because Juan and I had bonded on our love of U.S. Christmas, and how we both thought they were underappreciated. Juan found out I played lap steel, and we got together to jam. We had three songs written within a few hours based on skeletons Juan had already. I don’t know that we really had an idea of the sound in mind, we didn’t even really start out with the idea of starting a band; both Juan and I had other projects at the time. But the things we were coming up with were ear-opening, so to speak. The next time Juan and I got together, we talked about auditioning drummers.

We auditioned several drummers we knew, and Ryan (Salvador, Sioux) was one of them, and we asked him to join the band. We had quite a time finding a bassist however, but eventually Cory (Mane of the Cur), whom I had known for a while, joined on bass. Nate (Tigers on Opium, A//TAR) was the final piece of the puzzle. I had reservations about adding Nate at first, because I didn’t want someone who would come in and play a bunch and overcrowd the sonic space, which in my experience is a problem for a lot of people. But Nate has a great musical sensibility, and added just the right amount of Moog embellishments and percussion additions, and it was the icing on the cake. This was the point where we started thinking about what Hound the Wolves would be as a band.

What was the writing process like for Camera Obscura? The breadth of influences is pretty vast. Does everyone contribute to the songwriting? How does a piece like “Masquerade” come together in the first place?

Organically. I can’t really remember how we wrote “Masquerade.” It was not difficult in the sense that I don’t remember struggling on this song, it was almost as if it came out practically fully formed. There was a skeleton of some of the parts that Juan had originally. But the song just came together, let’s try this, what if I do this, how long should this section be, and the pieces all fell into place without much struggle.

Everyone contributes their own parts. We tend to take rough ideas or outlines, then develop and arrange them as a group. There are other times when we just jam on a riff, and just see where it goes. Sometimes you find gold by panning through some improvisation. One thing I can say is we do not use formulas or rules to write our songs.

Camera Obscura seems to be broken into two sides, with two pairs of tracks related to each other. Can you talk about the flow of the release from front to back and how the songs are meant to interact? Tell me about the relationship – other than linguistic – between “Omnia in Numeris Sita Sunt” and “Everything Lies Veiled in Numbers.”

“If Lost in Mind” is meant to be an intro. It is a stripped-down song that actually materialized late in the recording process, but when we started to talk about putting out an album, we had to decide what songs and in what order. We talked a lot about some different options for songs and orders. After “If Lost in Mind,” “Masquerade” takes a very different direction, going heavy and starting a musical ride that covers a lot of ground. Musically, we are all over the place from heavy to light to drones, etc., and the first two songs really capture the essences of Hound the Wolves music currently. So those two songs are really an introduction to the band.

“Omnia in Numeris Sita Sunt” and “Everything Lies Veiled in Numbers” are linked together, as you may note from the titles, as well as musically. “Omnia” is a song that started an intro to our live sets, a way to ease an audience to what we are doing, and to get the people at our shows into a headspace. The song starts and builds to a crescendo and then you are ready for “ELVIN.” “ELVIN” is a moody, mellower track that also builds in similar fashion, but it doesn’t cover the same kind of ground as “Masquerade,” which makes more sense at the end of the album. The observant may also notice that these song will fit perfectly as pairs on a vinyl release. We hope that we will be able to get Camera Obscura out on vinyl at some point.

How long were you guys in the studio making Camera Obscura and what was that process like?

The initial tracking took place over a weekend in May of 2015. We self-funded the recording process, and there are a lot of choices for recording studios and engineers in Portland. Juan had worked with his friend Jeanot Rolland-Lewis previously, and Jeanot had been taking over more engineering work from Ian Watt (Ape Machine, High Watt Booking) owner of the Magic Closet Studio in Portland. So we set up for two days of tracking at Magic Closet. We got all the drums tracked, as well as bass and Juan’s guitars over that weekend.

Over the next few months, we went in individually with Jeanot at his studio to track slide, Moog, vocals, bells, and the aux percussion. From there we went through a very long process of mixing. It was quite a process, but we do have a lot going on in these recordings, and we are all experienced at recording, so we listen close and want to get all the details just right. This can be difficult when recording on a budget, because sometimes you have to look at what you want, and the cost it would take to achieve that result, and weigh that against how big of a deal the problem part is. I mean, I don’t want to spend $1k to fix a relatively minor issue with the recordings. There were a few compromises we had to make because we are recording on a budget.

We did get a bit bogged down in the mixing process, and not the least of which was how to pay for the recording we were doing. Most of the band members do not have a bunch of extra money after meeting expenses to chip into the band, and we don’t play shows enough (nor make enough from them) to fund recording, though what we do make does help. We also had no merch at that time to help fund the band, so it was all out of pocket.

Eventually, we were able to work things out though, and the final step recording-wise was taking the album to Ryan Foster of Foster Mastering. Ryan is amazing and took the album, and really made it sound awesome no matter what device I listened on. Of course, once the album was done, there was another major question, how to release this album and get people to know it exists? We had the recordings ready to go for a while before we figured out the rest of the parts of the release. In retrospect, we should have started the planning earlier, while we were in the mixing phase. Every time I go through this process, I learn new lessons.

How were the release show and the other regional shows in the PNW? How much touring will you do generally, and how much does the album represent what Hound the Wolves do live? What’s the relationship between the band on stage and the band in the studio for you?

The release tour went fantastically! You never know how things are going to play out when you book a tour. But we played with some amazing bands for our first time playing in Washington. We took a new-to-us van on the road (‘82 Ford Prospector), and while we did have some issues with starting the van a few times, it was fixed on the second day by cleaning the battery terminals. Highlights from the tour would be when we opened for Year of the Cobra at The Funhouse in Seattle. Upwell, a band Jack Endino plays bass for was also on the bill, and Mr. Endino ended up buying a CD from us, which was pretty cool.

Our release show in Portland was fantastic, we played with our friends in Young Hunter (go check them out, they have a new album, Dayhiker, out), and Mammoth Salmon. It turned out that this show was to be Mammoth Salmon’s last show, but that happened after we booked the show. I have been playing shows with Paul [Dudziak] and Mammoth Salmon for over five years, and after seeing them open for Earthless last fall, I felt Mammoth Salmon had really become a force to be reckoned with. It was great to see the community show Mammoth Salmon some love at their last show. All the bands we played with on this tour were fantastic.

After doing this tour, we were wishing it was longer, it felt like we were just hitting our stride. As far as how much touring we plan to do, it depends much on how things go for the band. It is difficult for us all to take time off work financially and go tour, since we are in a startup phase of the band. That being said, we really want to tour more, and we are talking to some people about some West Coast festivals in the fall, we have another album and more videos in the works. I would like to do another longer tour of the West Coast in the fall, built around festival dates, but we will have to see how that comes together. We basically are taking things one step at a time, and figuring out what we can do next.

The stage show is an experience of sight and sound. We intend our shows to be a coming together of people who want to focus on the present. We live in a world of constant distraction and information overload, and we try to make our shows about living in the moment, without distractions, without consideration for the past or future, but just focusing on the now.

In the studio, we simply try to capture our sound, and translate it into a recorded format. I remember having a conversation with Jeanot about a few areas of the mix where we were discussing our options. Jeanot has come to see us live, and he commented that we sounded on the recordings exactly like we did live. Ultimately, that is what we were trying to capture on these recordings, what we sounded like as five people playing music together in a room. We want to hold onto the ability to perform what we record live, and have been talking about how we can add elements and still maintain them during live performance. We want to add more visual elements as well. We have a way that we are confident will work for us.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

We are meeting soon to discuss our next steps and make sure we have alignment with our plans. Currently the general outline would be to release videos for the other tracks on Camera Obscura, and then to figure out the new release targeted for the Fall. We have a number of tracks that we have written and arranged. Optimally we would be doing releases on a six month to one year schedule, with videos coming out regularly. We will see if we can make that happen.

It takes a lot of dedication in the form of time, energy, and money to create music with a band, so if your readers enjoy what we are creating, their support would be greatly appreciated. We are on all the major digital platforms, but we are fans of Bandcamp, and suggest those interested in supporting us shop there first. You can find links to all our social media at houndthewolves.com. There is a newsletter sign up at the bottom of the page that is a great way to keep up with what the band is doing.

Hound the Wolves, Camera Obscura (2018)

Hound the Wolves, “If Lost in Mind” official video

Hound the Wolves website

Hound the Wolves on Bandcamp

Hound the Wolves on Facebooks

Hound the Wolves on Twitter

Hound the Wolves on Instagram

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audiObelisk Transmission 065

Posted in Podcasts on February 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

aOT65

I recognize that saying so is the cliché equivalent to writing a song with the same bassline as ‘N.I.B.,’ but if this was December and not February and the year was about to end in a couple weeks’ time, would you really be able to complain about any lack of fantastic releases? It’s been two months and before the next one is out we will have seen and heard new offerings from Corrosion of Conformity, Monster Magnet, Earthless, Fu Manchu and literally hundreds of others. It’s been as awesome as it’s been impossible to keep up with.

This new podcast follows the same model as the last one, vis-a-vis using Spotify as the medium of conveyance. You can see the playlist in the player below, and you may accordingly wonder why I’ve bothered to type it out underneath as well. It’s because streaming sites disappear even quicker than they rise to dominance, and I’m not saying The Obelisk is going to outlast Spotify or anything, but just in case, I like to keep my own records. I appreciate the indulgence on your part.

Awesome mix this time around. No real theme other than it’s new stuff I’ve been listening to a lot and digging. I very much hope you enjoy it as well. 21 tracks. About two and a half hours long.

Thanks for listening and reading:

Track details:

Artist, Track, Album, Runtime
Earthless, “Black Heaven” from Black Heaven, 8:45
Sundrifter, “Targeted” from Visitations, 4:45
Psilocibina, “Acid Jam” from LSD / Acid Jam, 7:08
Blackwater Holylight, “Sunrise” from Blackwater Holylight, 4:51
Fu Manchu, “Clone of the Universe” from Clone of the Universe, 2:57
Green Lung, “Free the Witch” from Free the Witch, 5:55
Monster Magnet, “Mindfucker” from Mindfucker, 4:59
All Souls, “Never Know” from All Souls, 5:59
Red Lama, “Perfect Strangers” from Motions, 6:47
Blackwülf, “Sinister Sides” from Sinister Sides, 4:53
Fuzz Lord, “Worlds Collide” from Fuzz Lord, 6:58
Corrosion of Conformity, “Forgive Me” from No Cross No Crown, 4:06
Apostle of Solitude, “Ruination Be Thy Name” from From Gold to Ash, 6:37
Avon, “Space Native” from Dave’s Dungeon, 4:42
Psychic Lemon, “Exit to the Death Lane” from Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay, 8:32
The Dry Mouths, “Catalonian Cream” from When the Water Smells of Sweat, 4:34
Insect Ark, “Windless” from Marrow Hymns, 8:38
Naxatras, “You Won’t Be Left Alone” from III, 11:17
Mythic Sunship, “Into Oblivion” from Upheaval, 13:56
King Buffalo, “Repeater” from Repeater, 13:40
Hound the Wolves, “Masquerade” from Camera Obscura, 13:10

If you’re interested, you can follow me on Spotify here.

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Hound the Wolves Announce Northwestern Tour; New Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Portland atmospheric sludge five-piece Hound the Wolves release their debut full-length, Camera Obscura, on Feb. 14. They cite the likes of Earth and Neurosis as influences in a kind of we-play-post-metal dogwhistle, but to that list I’d also add acts like Kylesa when it comes to the opening riff of “Masquerade,” Khanate (never a comparison I make lightly) for the ambient harshness and minimalist desolation of “Omnia in Numeris Sita Sunt” and even Dillinger Escape Plan for some of the screams from guitarist/vocalist Juan Carlos Caceres that are mixed in among cleaner vocals. It’s a rarefied-enough mix that one might almost dare to call it individual.

The band head out on the road to support the release pretty much immediately after it comes out, playing shows in Oregon and Washington over the course of a five-day stretch. They also have a recent official video for album opener “If Lost in Mind” — kind of an intro to the record, which plays out as a singular flow from one song to the next — and you can see that and the tour dates below, both off the PR wire:

hound the wolves

Hound the Wolves Announce Tour Dates in Support of New Album Camera Obscura

Hound the Wolves are gearing up to hit the road on a short stint in their home region, playing shows in support of their debut album Camera Obscura, out this Valentine’s Day. The band is set to hit adored local haunts in Oregon and Washington, landing in their hometown right in the middle of their tour stint. Dates are below and links can be followed for more info.

February 15th – The Shakedown, Bellingham, Wa
February 16th – The Funhouse, Seattle, Wa
February 17th – High Water Mark, Portland, Or
February 18th – Old Nick’s Pub, Eugene, Or
February 19th – The Capital, Bend, Or

About Hound the Wolves:

Portland, Oregon’s Hound the Wolves liken themselves much to the climate that surrounds them – moody, mysterious and beautifully glum. Their creations are rooted in cyclical repetition and contrast, sonically transforming ritualistic practice into dark and gritty psych metal and droned stoner rock. Fans of Earth, Neurosis and U.S. Christmas now have a new band to enjoy.

Hound the Wolves is:
Tim Burke – lap steel, drones, soundscapes
Juan Carlos Caceres – Guitar, vocals, words
Cory DeCaire – Bass
Ryan McPhaill – Drums
Nate Wright – Moog, aux percussion

https://houndthewolves.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/houndthewolves/
https://twitter.com/HoundTheWolves
https://www.instagram.com/houndthewolves/
https://www.facebook.com/Monochord-Records-2003885266558540/

Hound the Wolves, “If Lost in Mind” official video

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