Posted in Whathaveyou on November 3rd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seems to take more and more these days to catch me off-guard, but Wo Fat signing to Ripple Music has done just that. The Dallas trio have emerged as forerunners of American heavy rock, and as they stand on the precipice of a return trip to Europe in 2016 to support their newly-announced album, Midnight Cometh, they do so as prime exports, confirmed for appearances already at Desertfest in London and Berlin and Hellfest, doubtless with more to come.
This is big news. Not just because they’ve become such a pivotal act, but also because of what it means for Ripple Music and what it means for Small Stone, their now-former label. Commented Small Stone‘s Scott Hamilton, “Small Stone is going through a big nasty distribution switch and it did not line up for the time frame that Wo Fat wanted their new album released.”
Wo Fat commented thusly: “Our time with Small Stone Records has been awesome, but because of a switch in distribution that they are working through at the moment, they weren’t able to meet the time frame we needed for this release and since we’ve been friends and had a great deal of respect for the Ripple guys and their label for a long time, it made a lot of sense to release this with them. Below is a preview of the super bitchin’ art from David Paul Seymour.”
It’s a sizable move either way, and I think it’s fair to say Wo Fat are among the biggest acts on Ripple at this point:
WO FAT announce signing to Ripple Music, Desertfest & Hellfest Appearances and new album Midnight Cometh for Spring 2016
After slinging their Texas-sized psychedelic blues doom for over a decade, Dallas legends Wo Fat are pleased to announce that they have signed to the California-based label Ripple Music.
“We are thrilled to be working with our brothers in the riff at Ripple for this new record!” says vocalist Kent Stump. “We’ve been friends with Todd and Pope for a while and have always had a lot of respect for them personally, as well as the label itself, and we just kinda realised, that, hey, we should be working together. They are passionate about the music they release, they make really good choices when it comes to signing bands, they’re all about treating artists fairly and trying to help this scene grow, and they’re also a label on the rise.”
Throughout their sonic odyssey spanning five studio albums, a live album, and two splits, beginning in 2006 with The Gathering Dark, they have stayed true to the deep, dark blues that wail from within and have continually forged their riffs with a primal groove. Going stronger and rocking harder than ever before, the band are currently readying their next chapter – and first with Ripple – with the release of their brand new album Midnight Cometh. Looming on the horizon and due for release in Spring 2016, this newest slab of riffage lurking in your future is easily their most daring and psychotropic exploration of heaviness to date.
“We’ve been huge fans of Wo Fat and their maniacal brand of riff-heavy psychedelic grooves,” explains Ripple Music’s Todd Severin, “And they never fail to be one of the most mesmerising bands we’ve ever seen on stage. We’re beyond thrilled to welcome them into the Ripple family.”
The critical success of their albums, most notably 2009’s Psychedelonaut, which truly solidified the Wo Fat name in the Stoner Rock community and secured them world wide recognition, helped land the band appearances at the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Psycho California Festival and Sylak Open Air Festival as parts of a number of successful international tours.
Midnight Cometh is slated for release in Spring 2016 and will be supported by a European tour, which will also include appearances at Desertfest in Berlin and London (www.thedesertfest.com), and Hellfest, France (www.hellfest.fr).
Wo Fat Discography The Gathering Dark (2006, Red Menace Records) Psychedelonaut (2008, Brainticket Records) Noche del Chupacabra (2011, Nasoni Records) The Black Code (2012, Small Stone Records) The Conjuring (2014, Small Stone Records) Live Ju Ju: Wo Fat At Freak Valley (2015, Fuzz Lab)
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 29th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Goodness gracious. There wasn’t really any doubt that Desertfest London 2016 meant business when it came out of the gate with Electric Wizard, Elder and Conan in the lineup, but the Camden Town festival has continued to swing hard with its next batch of adds, which includes Godflesh, Crowbar, Truckfighters, Wo Fat, Mothership, Egypt (if those last three aren’t touring Europe together around their Desertfest appearance, they should be), Monolord, Rotor and Planet of Zeus. It’s a pretty significant round two from Desertfest London 2016, which, again, wasn’t exactly struggling to make its quota of awesome to start with. If I had a bank holiday weekend, that would seem to be the way to spend it.
Tickets are on sale now. Details follow, as seen on the PR wire:
Godflesh, Crowbar, Truckfighters, Egypt and more acts confirmed to play DESERTFEST LONDON 2016!
UK’s #1 stoner, doom, sludge and psych event DESERTFEST LONDON is thrilled to announce the second wave of artists who will be taking the stage at the 2016 edition, taking place in April 29th to May 1st across multiple venues in the legendary musical hub of Camden Town…
NOLA’s sludge metal heroes CROWBAR will be heading back over seas to make ears bleed, bringing their influential slow-and-low sound to an eager, ready, and willing Desertfest. Kirk Windstein and his crew of titans haven’t graced UK revellers with their rowdy presence since 2014; and Crowbar has never played Desertfest London. Making for a truly exciting, and long over-due, addition to the already stellar proceedings next year has in store.
Desertfest are also pleased to reveal that our friends at Old Empire will once again be curating a stage, bringing an eclectic and exciting array of acts to broaden the pallet. First to be announced are industrial legends GODFLESH, who will be headlining the Old Empire offerings. Their experimental and aggressive sound has established the Birmingham-based duo as one of the most innovative bands in industrial music, cited as influencing everyone from Metallica to Faith No More.
As if all that wasn’t enough to process, there’s of course a healthy helping of doom and stoner rock goodness joining the mix for Desertfest 2016. Heavy-hitting warriors TRUCKFIGHTERS will be chucking riffs left, right and centre, alongside fellow Swedish fuzz lords MONOLORD, who will be riding easy and destroying all in one slow, hard and loud blow. Psychedelic monsters WO FAT are a welcome return, having well and truly mastered the art of trippy doom – many can do it, but few do it as well as the Dallas desert trio. EGYPT will also be heading over and hitting the bill hard to bring some Dakota doom goodness to the haze, alongside eccentric instrumental gurus ROTOR. Southern rock lovin’ PLANET OF ZEUS are bringing their raw grooves out of the Greek underground and into thirsty a London, and finally heavy rockers MOTHERSHIP will be taking fans well out the galaxy – musically speaking, of course.
– DESERTFEST LONDON 2016 – April 29th to May 1st in Camden, London (UK) Weekend tickets availableAT THIS LOCATION
Current lineup is as follows: ELECTRIC WIZARD GODFLESH CROWBAR TRUCKFIGHTERS ELDER EGYPT CONAN WO FAT MOTHERSHIP MONOLORD ROTOR RAGING SPEEDHORN PLANET OF ZEUS WITCHSORROW
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day of the Shred is dead. Long live Night of the Shred. Well, I don’t know about “dead,” but at very least not happening this year. Thief Presents, the promoter for the Night/Day fest who also put on Psycho California earlier this year, announced a couple weeks ago that Day of the Shred was off due to poor ticket sales, but the result is that Night of the Shred will happen as a standalone event and the lineup for Brick by Brick in San Diego on Halloween night is pretty impressive in itself. Eight bands on the bill, and it runs for 11 hours, so presumably they’ll all have a good amount of time to play, and in addition to being a stop on the Windhand/Monolord tour, the night will also feature The Shrine, Bang, Elder, Wo Fat and Portugal’s Black Bombaim. There are a bunch of shows that have sort of popped up in the wake of Day of the Shred being nixed (more on that shortly), but the good news is that even though that fest isn’t happening, many of the bands have found ways to make the most of the situation.
Southern California will not suffer from a lack of doom or heavy rock and roll. The PR wire brings details.
‘Night of the Shred’ Heavy Music Extravaganza Set for Halloween Night in San Diego
All Hallows’ Eve Event to Treat Concert-Goers to A Sweet Lineup of Underground Music Titans
This Halloween night, The Night of the Shred will descend on San Diego, CA, featuring a sinister smorgasbord of modern day metal’s finest bands. Billed as an experience “to gather the living and remember the dead”, The Night of the Shred will take place at the Brick by Brick music venue and will celebrate both monolithic riffs and the souls of the departed.
Curated by Thief Presents and Vol. 4 apparel and sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum,The Night of the Shred will feature full live sets from California skate rock kings THE SHRINE, celebrated Virginia doomers WINDHAND, legendary Philadelphia proto-metal innovators BANG!, Boston heavy psych trio ELDER, Portland heavy rockers DANAVA, Dallas fuzz specialists WO FAT, Swedish megariffers MONOLORD and Portuguese acid jammers BLACK BOMBAIM.
Tickets for The Night of the Shred are $20 in advance ($30 day of show) and are on sale now at this location. The event is 21+ and costumes are highly encouraged!
What: The Night of the Shred featuring The Shrine, Windhand, Bang!, Elder, Danava, Wo Fat, Monolord and Black Bombaim Where: Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Ave, San Diego, CA Time: 3 PM – 2 AM Tickets:http://bit.ly/TheNightoftheShred_tix
— WEST COAST TOUR DATES — BANG! | BLACK BOMBAIM | GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST 10/27 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar 10/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Viper Room 10/29 – San Francisco, CA @ Milk Bar 10/31 – San Diego, CA @ NIGHT OF THE SHRED
Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Seemed likely after the first announcements for Desertfest London 2016 came down the wire that those for Desertfest Berlin 2016 wouldn’t be too far off, and so here we are. Particularly interesting to note that between the two fests happening the same weekend under the Desertfest banner in Berlin and London, as is tradition, only two of the first five acts confirmed publicly for each are shared between them. That is, Electric Wizard and Elder will also play in London, but Berlin seems to have Wo Fat, Mothership (doesn’t seem unreasonable to think they’ll be touring together, though I’ve yet to see dates that would affirm that supposition) and Somali Yacht Club all to itself.
Whether or not that will remain the case we’ll find out over the next few months, but I think it’s fair to say that each fest has begun to carve out its own identity these last several years, and it’s cool to see them start out the 2016 season in the manner they are. More to come, of course.
Desertfest Berlin 2016 – ELECTRIC WIZARD, Elder, Wo fat, Mothership & Somali Yacht Club confirmed!
We are back! Today we are thrilled to unveil the first five bands who are going to play at DESERTFEST BERLIN 2016 (happening from APRIL 28th to 30th), including our first massive headliner: doom titans ELECTRIC WIZARD!! We are already a bit scared and we expect you to be too: get out your satanic ritual kits on and watch out for maybe the most trippiest experience of your life.
Also on board for this next edition, we’re glad to see the return of Massachusett’s ultimate progressive stoner rock trio Elder and to spice up the menu the addition of Texas’ swampadelic fuzz rockers Wo Fat, as well as their state mates supersonic juggernaut Mothership and Ukrainian progressive-leaning stonerheads Somali Yacht Club!!
Find more infos as well as tickets’ links below, and see you all in 231 days!
The very last early bird tickets will be on sale on Saturday, September 12th during Greenleaf & Stoned Jesus’ gig at Cassiopeia (Berlin). Regular HARD TICKETS or E-TICKETS can be purchased on our WEBSITE! Our ticketprices remain the same, that’s 85 Euros for all you newbies! But remember that we were sold out last time about 7 weeks ahead, and we think we may top that this year!
Posted in Reviews on August 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Even before you press play on Electric Ladyland [Redux] or its companion piece, The Best of James Marshall Hendrix, it’s hard not to admire the coordinating prowess of Magnetic Eye Records in making it all happen. Most people couldn’t corral three bands to put together a single show bill, and the label’s Mike Vitali has wrangled 20 acts from the US and European heavy rock underground to pay homage to Jimi Hendrix in time for what would’ve been the supra-legendary guitarist’s 75th birthday, topped it of with artwork by David Paul Seymour, whose piece for Electric Ladyland [Redux] easily stands among the best covers of 2015, and Caitlin Hackett, whose three-eyed-bird portraiture perfectly suits Hendrix‘s groundbreaking psychedelic blues. Packaged separately on 2CD and 2LP but clearly intended as complements, both tribute collections showcase staggering ambition on the part of the label putting them together, and the fact that Electric Ladyland [Redux] and The Best of James Marshall Hendrix materialized at all is an automatic, unqualified triumph. Here are the full tracklistings:
VA, Electric Ladyland [Redux]
1. Elephant Tree, “…And the Gods Made Love” 01:44
2. Open Hand, “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)” 03:01
3. Superchief, “Crosstown Traffic” 03:32
4. All Them Witches, “Voodoo Chile” 14:59
5. Origami Horses, “Little Miss Strange” 03:52
6. The Heavy Eyes, “Long Hot Summer Night” 04:17
7. Earthless, “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” 05:03
8. Wo Fat, “Gypsy Eyes” 04:34
9. Mos Generator, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” 03:34
10. Gozu, “Rainy Day, Dream Away” 08:07
11. Summoner, “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” 12:56
12. Claymation, “Moon, Turn the Tides… Gently Gently Away” 01:24
13. Mothership, “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” 06:20
14. King Buffalo, “House Burning Down” 04:44
15. Tunga Moln, “All Along the Watchtower” 03:28
16. Elder, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” 07:08
VA, The Best of James Marshall Hendrix
1. Child, “In from the Storm” 04:57
2. Elephant Tree, “Manic Depression” 04:10
3. Wo Fat, “Machine Gun” 12:49
4. Stubb, “Little Wing” 04:18
5. Rosy Finch, “Foxy Lady” 05:17
6. Geezer, “Little Miss Lover” 04:50
7. Wo Fat, “Gypsy Eyes (Extended)” 07:13
As I said, staggering. Even more so in the case of Electric Ladyland [Redux], since not only do the usual comp and tribute album concerns apply of getting everything together and turning it into a cohesive listening experience, but also because in paying homage to a full-length album specifically, it’s also pivotal that Electric Ladyland [Redux] flows front to back whilebeing comprised of 16 separate recordings taking place in 16 separate studios with 16 separate performances andtreading on some of rock and roll’s most sacred, pivotal ground. Covering Hendrix? Unless you’re Stevie Ray Vaughan — and hell, even if you are — it’s a tricky proposition for one song, let alone a full record. It’s like someone asked Magnetic Eye if they wanted to go mountain biking and the label built a rocket, went to Mars, terraformed the planet and then decided to tackle Olympus Mons, on a Huffy.
Okay, an exaggeration, but you take my meaning. And Electric Ladyand [Redux] mostly succeeds in its decidedly Herculean mission. There are one or two changes that come across choppy — an early one in the jump from the groovy vibes of Elephant Tree and Open Hand into the burlier Superchief, who give an able showing of what they do but ultimately feel out of place — but on the whole, it’s hard to argue with the results as they’re presented throughout, whether it’s King Buffalo‘s dreamy “House Burning Down” or groups making the material their own, like Wo Fat‘s “Gypsy Eyes,” Summoner‘s re-envisioned “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)” and Gozu‘s adventurous “Rainy Day, Dream Away,” which leads off the second CD of the collection after Mos Generator‘s “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” finds the Washington-based act showing the roots of their own approach to landmark hooks, as do Mothership with their “Still Raining, Still Dreaming.”
Hearing Earthless with vocals is something of a surprise, and their take on “Come on (Let the Good Times Roll)” (an Earl King cover) not only is true to their Hendrix influence, but is a decided showcase of just how influential they’ve been on the West Coast underground — there are a good number of bands out there striving to sound like Earthless covering Jimi Hendrix — and having Swedish rockers Tunga Moln perform “All Along the Watchtower” in their native language puts an unexpected spin on arguably Electric Ladyland‘s most recognizable piece. All Them Witches are right in their element jamming on “Voodoo Chile,” and Elder do justice to the album’s closer in their “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” capping the tribute with one last highlight to round out the many before it.
There are several acts who reappear on The Best of James Marshall Hendrix, including Wo Fat and Elephant Tree, but as the latter only had the intro “…And the Gods Made Love” to lead off Electric Ladyland [Redux], it seems fair enough. In the case of Texas fuzz forerunners Wo Fat, I’m not at all going to fight with their extended jam on “Gypsy Eyes” as it closes out The Best of James Marshall Hendrix, and their 12:49 run through “Machine Gun” suits just as well. Leading off the companion tribute are Australian blues rockers Child, who give “In from the Storm” due soul and sway, and after Elephant Tree‘s “Manic Depression” and Wo Fat‘s “Machine Gun,” hearing Stubb take on the sweet melodies of “Little Wing” couldn’t be more perfect, especially leading into Rosy Finch‘s stomping “Foxy Lady,” which in turn gives way to Geezer‘s “Little Miss Lover,” coated in wah and right in the New York band’s wheelhouse, even as it gives way to a deconstructing long-form fadeout.
Wo Fat‘s extended “Gypsy Eyes” picks up from that silence with a bonus track-style vibe, but really, both releases feel like a bonus the whole time through. There are some variances in sound and style and some bands are more suited to the source material than others, but the effort that has been put into Electric Ladyland [Redux] and The Best of James Marshall Hendrix and the passion that bleeds from every second of each of these tracks are simply inarguable. It may be preaching to the choir to have heavy rock and psych bands covering Hendrix tracks, but the vibe throughout both of these tribute comps is much more of a genre paying homage to one of its founders who, sadly, didn’t live long enough to see the generation-spanning impact of his work realized. Equally admirable in mission and execution.
Posted in On Wax on April 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It seems unlikely that a casual listener or at very least someone who’s not already a fan would chase down an offering like Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley, which captures Dallas trio Wo Fat‘s five-song, 40-minute set at the 2014 edition of the German Freak Valley festival, held in Netphen. However, we live in a universe of infinite possibilities, so as a perfunctory notice, I’ll say that like the vast, vast majority of live releases, it’s better appreciated by those with some familiarity to the studio versions of the tracks, and that if you’re hearing Wo Fat for the first time — unless you were at Freak Valley (or somewhere else they played, I suppose), didn’t know the albums, saw them live, were super-into it and want a memento — the place to go is probably to one of their albums before you get back to Live Juju. That’s a condition of live records in general, not necessarily something related to the three-piece’s performance at the fest or anything about the recording, which is released by Fuzz Lab Records and was recorded by Jens Hunecke, but it’s a disclaimer worth putting out there anyway, should anyone happen to be new to the band. For the already-converted, Live Juju is an utter no-brainer. One of US heavy rock’s finest and fuzziest taking the stage at a major Euro fest, a setlist spanning six years in five songs recorded clean and crisp, pressed to thick-stock black LP with cover and inside-liner art by David Paul Seymour, live photos from the fest by Falk-Hagen Bernshausen (first published here) and a download code that includes a bonus 14-minute studio jam called “Dark Snow” that rumbles and grooves like the best of Wo Fat‘s latter-day explorations? If you’re already a fan of Wo Fat, there’s really nothing about Live Juju not to like.
Call it a victory lap. Guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump (who also mixed at the band’s Crystal Clear Audio in Dallas), bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter first took to European stages in 2012, then supporting their Small Stone label debut and fourth album, The Black Code (vinyl review here, CD review here). Their 2014 return trip, arriving on the heels of their fifth record and finest work to-date, The Conjuring (review here), was dubbed the “Texas Takeover” and Wo Fat were joined by fellow Dallas natives Mothership on their inaugural run. Freak Valley was an earlier stop on the tour, which lasted about two weeks. Not really what you’d call a “touring band,” in the sense of road-dogging their way back and forth from market to market, venue to venue, Wo Fat have nonetheless managed to concoct a formidable stage presence, and at least going by the audio (much as I’d like to, I’ve yet to see Freak Valley in-person), they hit stage in Netphen with no hesitation. Their set boasts highlights going back to their second full-length, 2008’s Psychedelonaut (review here), tying the material together with a fervent sense of ride-ready groove and weighted tones, Stump opting for a bluesman’s gruffness on “Read the Omens” from The Conjuring, which follows opener “The Black Code.” That song, the title-track of the 2012 album, is nothing if not a landmark hook for the band, and they faithfully give it a rendition north of 10 minutes, their motion no less fluid on stage than in the studio, rolling their way into the faster verses of “Read the Omens” before the chorus opens wide and echoing true to the outdoor space where it was recorded. Side A is just the two songs, and the flip does sort of pull you out of the live experience, but the way I wound up thinking about it was a second to tune ahead of “Bayou Juju” serving as the centerpiece of the set.
Side B is longer, beginning with “Bayou Juju” and rolling through “Enter the Riffian” and closer “Sleep of the Black Lotus” smoothly and with enough rumble in Wilson‘s bass as Stump tears into an extended solo on the first of them that it’s easy to imagine the grasses of Freak Valley vibrating from the low end. By the time they get there, Wo Fat are full on, about halfway through and nailing it. The track, taken from 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), is a highlight, but the shorter “Enter the Riffian” from Psychedelonaut grounds the set and thus the recording with a more straightforward, less jammy movement. Wo Fat may have grown beyond the kind of dead-ahead heavy rock that Psychedelonaut offered — to their credit, keeping a balance of hooks and jams in doing so — but they use the older material well here, and Walter‘s ride-cymbal swing comes through loud and clear on Live Juju behind the winding riff. It’s the only song here under seven minutes long, but lives up to its multifaceted purpose, bleeding directly into “Sleep of the Black Lotus” with a cymbal wash and guitar freakout, Stump seizing an opportunity to tear into an improv-sounding take on the finale’s intro in front of the festival crowd. They telegraph the groove from the start, if only to bring that audience along, and it’s easy to imagine the sea of nodding heads that stood before them, maybe a puff of smoke here or there as the midsection evolves into a churning jam from the earlier verses and choruses, a model that came to light earlierand which The Black Code andThe Conjuring continued to grow. Feedback and earned applause ends and the arm returns, but for those listening digitally, the instrumental “Dark Snow” further affirms Wo Fat‘s improvisational sensibilities, building from a creepy backwards-cymbal fade-in to a solo-topped roll that shares in common with its live compatriots on Live Juju just how in their element Wo Fat seem to be. That’s really the story of Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley. It’s an act who have cut their teeth and organically developed their sound across five records getting on stage and sharing the fruits of their labor. The short version? They deliver, and prove that sometimes when a band doesn’t tour all the time, nine months out of the year on the road and so on, that only makes it more special when they do. This must have been something to see.
Across five records and nine fuzz-laden years, Dallas trio Wo Fat have become an institution in Texas heavy rock. Their latest album and second for Small Stone, The Conjuring (review here), is in many ways their strongest release to date, benefiting from the naturally-developed chemistry between guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter, as well as from the self-sufficiency of the band recording at their own studio, Crystal Clear Sound, in Dallas. While their reputation has built steadily since the release of their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, and its ’08 follow-up, Psychedelonaut (review here), 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), on Nasoni, proved a particular breakthrough point, leading to the band’s signing to Small Stone for the next year’s The Black Code (review here), for which they toured in Europe for the first time, making their continental debut at the 2013 Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands (review here) and setting the stage for the triumph to come with The Conjuring and a return trip across the Atlantic, this one marked out by an appearance at last year’s Freak Valley in Germany.
Wo Fat‘s latest release is a document of their set there: Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley will hit the public on March 17. Later this year, the band will also take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland [Redux], covering “Gypsy Eyes.”
The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kent Stump
How did you come to do what you do?
Well, what I do is play music and I record music, which is how I make my living – recording music, that is. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Both of my parents are musicians, so it was something that was just ubiquitous and inescapable in our house when I was growing up. Never once in my life did I consider doing anything with my life other than becoming a musician and doing something relating to music, although the place I’m at now is not where I would have thought I would be when I was a teenager, or even when I was in college. My journey to the heavy and the riff is a bit of a circuitous one.
I went to college to study jazz and fully planned on getting out of college and going on to be a jazz musician. While at college, I got turned on to a much wider world of music by so many great people with widely varying tastes. I discovered punk rock and ‘70s funk and African music and all the great ‘70s rock and the ‘80s NY noise scene, and on and on. And most importantly, I really discovered the blues. I had always known a bit about the blues since I was heavily into jazz, but I became much more hip to a lot of blues musicians that I hadn’t previously checked out, and that eventually led me to realize that my whole life I’ve been drawn to music that comes from the blues – rock, funk, etc. That, along with a friend I had that was into all things heavy who got me listening to Sabbath as well as a lot of ‘80s hardcore and metal, led to my desire to make heavy blues music.
When I was in college in Denton, Texas, the music scene at that time was absolutely electric, and the vibe was very open and experimental. Punk rock and funk and metal with a jazz edge were all kind of mixing together and it was a really artistically open-minded vibe at the time, which I think shaped my thinking about music a lot. So eventually in the late ‘90s I discovered bands like Sleep, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Kyuss and all the Man’s Ruin bands and I came to the realization that this is the music, along with the blues, that speaks to me on the most primal level and this is what I want to play.
Describe your first musical memory.
My first musical memory is laying on our living room floor when I was very young, maybe four or five years old, and my dad putting on a record of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s an amazing piece of music and it definitely left an impression on me. I think, if I’m not mistaken, when that piece was premiered in Paris it caused a riot. Stravinsky is pretty hardcore.
Describe your best musical memory to date.
I don’t know if I have just one best musical memory. I’ve got a lot of things that were landmark musical moments in my life though. Getting to play at Roadburn is without a doubt one of the best musical memories for me. Roadburn is such an iconic thing and it was the first show that we played on our first European tour, which was also the first time I had ever been to Europe and it was just kind of a surreal, epiphenal and mindblowing experience. It was amazing to walk into the scene there and see a whole bunch of people that are hardcore fans of the same music I dig. I had never seen that, at least not on that level, before.
You don’t see that kind of thing when it comes to this kind of music in the US. And to be performing at this amazing festival was just awesome, and also a bit nerve-racking at the same time. I remember going to see High on Fire’s set after we played and it was packed and the crowd was just electric and High on Fire sounded better than I’ve ever heard them before. I think they were just vibing on the amazing vibe of the fans. Same with Elder’s set, who I got to see a little later that night. The vibe from the crowd was so intense and Elder kicked ass riding that wave, I think. Amazing day.
I have memories of a lot of transcendental shows that I would put in the great musical memory category. Getting to see Sleep a couple years ago was bad ass. Sometime around 1997 or 1998 I went to SXSW in Austin, before SXSW totally turned into utter crap, and I got to see Fatso Jetson just destroy as well as an amazing showcase that had Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age right before they hit big. There was a whole Man’s Ruin showcase that was killer.
When I was in college I got to see free jazz great Cecil Taylor. That was an absolutely kick ass show. He was just pounding the piano and pieces of the pads inside the piano were flying out as he was playing. And there were maybe 10 people there to see this free jazz icon. So many great shows that have shaped my thinking.
I also have a lot of memories of late nights fueled with alcohol, and other things, and hanging with friends who turned me onto heavy, heavy tunes that I wasn’t previously hip to. Some of these rank up there with the great musical moments to me – sitting on the couch and tripping out to amazing, life-changing jams… These things all are part of my story as a musician and music lover that has brought me to where I am now.
When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?
That’s a tough question. I kinda feel like most my life, my beliefs and likes/interests have been juxtaposed between two opposing worlds. For example, my heavily schooled musical upbringing versus a more primal, less technical, organic approach to playing. Or, being a recording engineer like I am, most of my peers are gearheads focused on the technical aspects of engineering, which I am to a certain extent, but I am far more focused on the musicality of recording and finding ways to make a recording reach you on an emotional level, so I’m not über-obsessed with technical- and gear-related things about recording.
Also in this particular time, my political versus spiritual beliefs, that to me, are completely simpatico, are to most, seemingly at odds with one another.
Where do you feel artistic progression leads?
Ideally artistic progression leads to more artistic progression. Art and music is a neverending journey. I don’t think I’ll ever have arrived at a stopping place artistically because every move forward reveals more things to reach for and directions to consider. That’s the beauty of it. You’re never finished. You can just abandon the quest if you want, but there is always further to go.
How do you define success?
I think it’s being happy and doing what you makes you happy. Despite the fact that financially, life is a struggle for me, I feel like I’ve achieved a good amount of success in the sense that I’m playing music I love and people are digging it, we own a killer studio and my day job involves doing things that are artistic and deal with music and, on top of it all, I’ve got the most amazing wife who I’ve been married to for 18 years.
What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?
On the one hand there’s probably a lot I wish I hadn’t seen, but at the same time, all those experiences contribute to making me who I am, although there are some things that I could probably do without ever seeing that wouldn’t change me too much. One thing that I wish I hadn’t seen is this: The studio that we run is in an industrial area of Dallas and there are a lot of stray dogs that run around in packs in that area. Seeing a stray dog is something I don’t like seeing to begin with because I love dogs and I want to help them all, but we’re full up at my house with dogs. My wife and I already have five dogs so there’s no more room at the inn.
Anyway, one day I saw a little Chihuahua-mix stray being harassed by a couple of big dogs. At first I thought they were playing, but then I realized that that was not the case and I wasn’t able to get to them to break it up before the larger dogs had inflicted a mortal wound on the little guy. It just breaks my heart that I couldn’t help him and it still pains me to this day to think about it. I hate to see the helpless get brutalized by the powerful, which, sadly, happens all around us every day.
Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.
I really wish that I could draw and paint. I would love to be able to create art like Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo. I don’t think that will ever happen for me, though, because I don’t have any of those skills. There is, of course, much more music I’d like to create. I’m always wanting to incorporate disparate musical styles and influences together in our music, like Afro-Cuban music, blues, jazz and metal.
Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?
Posted in Whathaveyou on February 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
If, say, you’ve spent the better part of the day today figuring out why there’s water coming from the kitchen ceiling and chasing down busted baseboard leaks owed to poor insulation, you might take great comfort in knowing that Planet Earth is just a little bit closer to the arrival of Electric Ladyland [Redux], the compilation revisiting some of Jimi Hendrix‘s most essential material, as well as its companion, The Best of James Marshall Hendrix. The David Paul Seymour gatefold cover — click above to enlarge it — has been unveiled and is flat-out beautiful, and the tracklisting is iron-clad both in terms of who’s involved and which songs they’re taking on. It may not dehumidify the guest room, but god damned if it won’t at least make the place sound better.
Magnetic Eye Records, whose ambition in this undertaking isn’t to be discounted in the slightest, sent an update down about some presales they were doing through Bandcamp, where previously Electric Ladyland [Redux] was only available to those who contributed to a Kickstarter, but even more than that, I’m just happy to have another chance to stare in awe at the tracklisting of the 2LP, which I think you’ll agree is a stunner.
Behold the latest:
Project Update #41: Electric Ladyland [Redux] by Magnetic Eye Records
Just a quick update for February, we have a lot of tracks that have been submitted for both Electric Ladyland [Redux] and the stretch goal bonus LP ‘The Best of James Marshall Hendrix’. What a treat this project and these records are turning out to be. We have received nearly 1/2 all the tracks for Electric Ladyland [Redux] and nearly all the tracks for the Best of record.
All I can say is I am being blown away right now by All Them Witches version of Voodoo Chile. DAMN! Happy Valentine’s Day all you heartless bastards. You probably really, really need to pre-order Electric Ladyland [Redux] for you and/or your sweetie. This double gatefold tribute of Jimi’s masterpiece includes tracks from Open Hand, Elephant Tree, Summoner, Earthless, Superchief, Mothership, GOZU, Elder, The Budos Band, Claymation, Origami Horses (filling these dudes in for the The Phuss – sorry Phuss fans, they’ve bowed off the LP), King Buffalo, Mos Generator, TUNGA MOLN, Wo Fat.
Electric Ladyland [Redux] Classic Black Double Gatefold 180g 12″ 2xLP
Side 1 1. Elephant Tree – And The Gods Made Love 2. Open Hand – Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland) 3. Superchief – Crosstown Traffic 4. All Them Witches – Voodoo Chile
Side 2 5. Origami Horses – Little Miss Strange 6. The Budos Band – Long Hot Summer Night 7. Earthless – Come On (Let The Good Times Roll) 8. Wo Fat – Gypsy Eyes 9. Mos Generator – Burning Of The Midnight Lamp
Side 3 10. Gozu – Rainy Day, Dream Away 11. Summoner – 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn To Be) 12. Claymation – Moon, Turn The Tides… Gently, Gently Away
Side 4 13. Mothership – Still Raining, Still Dreaming 14. King Buffalo – House Burning Down 15. Tunga Moln – All Along The Watchtower 16. Elder – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)