Interview: Greg Anderson Talks Goatsnake Reunion, the Possibility of More Shows, New Material and What’s Next for SunnO)))

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Skilled and professional essay writers are offering you Exceptional Website Content Writing Hot offer to all our clients! Academic success is Goatsnake never actually broke up. There was no press statement, no talking of shit between former band members (at least not in public), no tour dates canceled. They just kind of petered out, first after 2000’s Best College Admission Essays 7th. buyis a reliable business that offers students to buy dissertations.Buy a Dissertation Paper. Its really easy to buy a dissertation paper from our website. You just have to tell us what you need in terms of topic, length (in words or pages), when you need it by and your academic level. You can provide your thesis or we can generate one for you.buy a dissertation Flower of Disease full-length — just reissued on A safe way to Annotated Bibs and essays. Complete confidentiality. We at PayForEssay stand behind a 100% confidentiality guarantee. Whatever you Southern Lord — and then again after 2004’s Hire industry leading http://www.valuationtribunal.wales/?groom-service-michael-dorris-essay from most qualified and professional writers. We are recognized as top dissertation help company Trampled Under Hoof EP, and with Anderson, who was the principle songwriter, head-first involved in SunnO))), fans were more or less left to assume the days of Goatsnake‘s Crisco-thickened grooves were through. Vocalist Pete Stahl continued his work with earthlings? and bassist Guy Pinhas, who had been replaced by Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed) and who had also played in The Obsessed with drummer Greg Rogers, part-time filled a vacant slot in Acid King. That was that.

And of course, owing to what Anderson refers to in our interview as “The Kyuss Syndrome,” once Goatsnake was no longer active, the band’s legend began to grow, eventually getting to such a fervency that not only were they asked by Roadburn to play, but also to headline on the main stage the first night of the festival. Pretty fucking impressive. In our discussion, Greg Anderson talks about the process of putting Goatsnake back together after nearly a decade of not playing with this lineup, his nervousness about the performance, and updates on SunnO))) and his Ascend project with Gentry Densley of Iceburn and Eagle Twin fame.

As always, Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

Whose idea was the Goatsnake reunion?

Another band that I’m involved with, called Thorr’s Hammer — which was actually Stephen O’Malley from SunnO))) and my first band together — we got asked to play a festival in Birmingham, England, last summer called Supersonic. The bass player for that group is out of the picture, we haven’t talked to him for (laughs) 10 years or whatever, so it was like, “Okay, if we’re gonna do a Thorr’s Hammer set, we need to find a bass player,” and the first person who came to mind was this guy Guy, who was a founding member of Goatsnake as well, and he was always a huge fan of Thorr’s Hammer, and actually helped fund Southern Lord to release the Thorr’s Hammer recordings. We asked him to take part in it, and he was living in Europe, and that made it a bit easier for travel and expenses and stuff like that – plus he’s a killer player. We enlisted him to play in Thorr’s Hammer, and at that festival, the two guys that organize the Roadburn festival were in attendance, and they saw Guy and I hanging out and they said, “Hey, what are the chances of Goatsnake playing in the future?” Guy and I were like, “Yeah, why not?” We were having a great time playing music together again, and Goatsnake never officially broke up and there was never any real bad blood between any of the members, it was just kind of one of those things where members got busy doing other things, and it was just put on a lengthy hiatus. Guy and I kicked around the idea, talked to the other founding members of the band, Pete and Greg, and everyone was real excited to try getting back together and playing music again. So that’s what we did. I really like the Roadburn festival, so it was an honor to be asked to play, and they asked us to headline, so it was a really great opportunity we couldn’t pass up, so we basically put a lot of work and effort into getting it together for that thing and played the fest.

How was the set?

It was awesome. It was really, really great. It exceeded my expectations. We worked really hard and rehearsed and spent a lot of time trying to get the tone right, making sure everything sounded as good as possible, but a lot of that shit just goes out the window when you play live (laughs), because there’s different forces at work. There’s adrenaline, there’s nerves, and my experience, honestly, Goatsnake, to me, was never a great live band. I didn’t really feel like we rehearsed enough, and I didn’t feel like we pulled off what we had recorded in a live setting, so I had that lingering in my mind. And Goatsnake never played a lot of shows. We never played east of the Rockies, and we did some stuff overseas, but we never did anything extensive, and I always felt like Goatsnake always sounded better on record. I had that nagging at me in the back of my mind. This is for me personally, I think the other guys would say something different. This is my own personal scrutiny and analysis of what worked. I was pretty nervous for this show, because I wanted to be good. Everyone put a lot of time and effort into it, and I know there was a lot of expectations and a lot of people were really excited to see it, people had traveled to see it and stuff. It was one of those nights where it was pretty magical. Everything really worked out well. The crowd was amazing. I thought everyone played really well and there wasn’t too many mistakes (laughs). It was just a really good vibe. The other thing that was really daunting about the whole thing was the stage we played on was fucking humongous, and Goatsnake had never played on a stage that size. The other thing was the most people we had ever played to was probably about a thousand people, and that was one time. But we never played on a stage that big and we never headlined for sure. It was never these kind of expectations on us. I had some anxiety about it, but I thought it went off really, really well, and I was very pleased with it and the audience was amazing.

Were you surprised at the reaction to Goatsnake now as opposed to the first time around?

I’m actually not surprised (laughs). I’m grateful. I think it’s cool that people are discovering it later. It seems like it’s stood the test of time, but it’s kind of an age-old story with music in this genre that when a band is around, they’re not appreciated, or underappreciated, then they break up and all of a sudden they’re huge. It happened to Sleep, it happened to Kyuss. I call it “The Kyuss Syndrome.” When those guys were around, they’d be lucky if 50 people came to their shows and nobody cared, but after they broke up it became this legend. Basically people want what they can’t have (laughs), and they couldn’t have it, so it made them become even more rabid and obsessed about it. I don’t think Goatsnake is at that level. Goatsnake has gone in and out of hiatus here and there, so I don’t think we’ve driven up the obsession like Sleep or Kyuss, but it’s that same sort of thing, where people really want to see it and they can’t so it makes them even more obsessive. But I think it’s cool. I’m really excited that it still works for people. There’s a lot of music that I’ve been into at some points in my life and I go back and listen to it 10 or 15 years later, and it just doesn’t work for me in the same way that it did. But there is music that I listened to in the ‘80s that, to me, still sounds amazing, and I hope that Goatsnake can be that way for some people, and it seems like it is, so that’s really cool.

Compare it to playing with Thorr’s Hammer again. Thorr’s Hammer did Roadburn as well. How were those experiences different for you?

Well, Thorr’s Hammer is a lot looser and the music is more minimal and it’s way more primitive. The songs are really Steve and my first attempt at playing together and my first attempt at being in a straight up death metal or metal band. Other bands I had before that were different styles. The music is extremely minimal and pretty simple, and so you’re not concentrating as much on not fucking up the parts. Plus, there’s two guitar players, so if one guy messes up, it’s not gonna be as noticeable. Whereas Goatsnake, again, a lot of it’s pretty simple, but some of it’s pretty complicated, and for me and my playing ability, I’ve spent basically the last 10 years really focused on a certain direction of music, and that’s with SunnO))), which is a completely different approach to playing music, and the focus is on different things, so going from that into playing with Goatsnake, it was almost like trying to play in a speed metal band or something. Everything was much faster and busier and more complicated, and there was actually parts to remember and memorize and play them in a certain order at a certain time, and be concerned with playing in time with other players, which, with SunnO))), is rarely the case. SunnO))) is really more free-form and based on improvisation, and it’s also based on a long chemistry that I have with Steve O’Malley and playing with him, so (laughs) it was challenging to say the least. It wasn’t easy, but I really enjoyed the challenge, because it was like, “Oh yeah, playing parts with structure again, and playing with a drummer!” I actually had a lot of fun with it, because it had been a really long time since I had a chance to do that.

Did you find that material and the Thorr’s Hammer material had different sentimental value?

Most definitely. Thorr’s Hammer is extremely sentimental and extremely meaningful. It was the first time I played with Steve, and also, the vocalist, Runhild [Gammelsæter], we’re really good friends as well. In the very short time that we actually existed as a band, it was a really fun time in my life, and it was really important, and is the foundation and the spark that started off pretty much everything that came after it for me musically, and of course the label too. It’s cool. And Goatsnake too, that was also really cool to do that again. Goatsnake was really another thing, because when I lived in Seattle and decided to move to Los Angeles, honestly, as a player I had been doing some different things. I was in a band called Engine Kid that was heavy music, but it was really focused a lot more on melody, and I was the singer as well, so it was a totally different thing. Transitioning into playing with Goatsnake was really a challenge, because basically it’s a heavy rock band and I was the primary – actually, I was the sole songwriter for the group coming up with ideas. And not having that background and joining that band – especially in Goatsnake, where the founding members of the rhythm section are from The Obsessed, and The Obsessed to me was a legendary band, amazing – it was pretty intimidating to step into that role and create the music for it. But when it worked, it was very rewarding, (laughs) so I was reminded of that when we were playing together that there was some cool stuff we actually accomplished together that I sort of had the main hand in as far as direction goes.

Did reissuing Flower of Disease give you the chance to get a new perspective on that material, or was that more of a business thing to do for Roadburn?

That record’s been out of print for a long time, and we get a lot of requests for people that want to have it. Basically, it’s been on the back burner to reissue for a long time. There’s a lot of stuff on our plate all the time, so it was a timing thing. We thought it would be cool to reissue it around the time of the show as well, and we played a handful of songs from that record too. We primarily played stuff from the first album. We actually played every song from the first album except one.

Which one?

A song called “Dog Catcher,” which was never really meant to be a live track. In fact, I don’t even know if we ever played it live, ever. It was more of an experimental track, actually. It was some riffs that we had that we really weren’t sure what to do with, and on that track, on the record, we had Buzz from The Melvins totally fuck with it and tweak it, so it ended up being something that we had never even rehearsed. He changed it into something else, so it wasn’t a song to play live.

Since there was never really a Goatsnake breakup, would you consider the band back together? How does that work?

I don’t know. At the moment, the way we’re treating it is we had a great time doing the show, and that was kind of a testing ground, “Okay, we’ll see how this goes, then we’ll decide from there.” Everyone had a really great time. The show was amazing. We’re looking at doing some shows in August on the West Coast, and if there’s a decent offer and it works with people’s schedules, I think we may do it, but beyond that, I don’t know. I’d love to make some more music with those guys and maybe even record something new, but it’s a pretty slow process (laughs), because everyone has so much going on. We did accomplish this one thing, so maybe we’ll do some more of that, but we’re taking it as it comes and we’ll go from there.

So the Goatsnake/Saint Vitus world tour – not scheduled yet?

No (laughs). Would be great though.

Was it strange for you going back to Goatsnake? You mentioned having to play parts with structure again. Was it like riding a bicycle?

A little bit. It was one of those things where it sounds great and you agree to do it before you realize how much work it’s gonna be (laughs). When you’re drunk at a fest and they guys from Roadburn were like, “Would you guys play?” we were like, “Yeah, it’s gonna be great!” Then you have to figure out how it’s gonna work, and relearning those songs was a lot of work. It’s easy to say yes, but we definitely weren’t thinking about work we had to put into it. Some of the songs came back to us really easily, but some of the songs, I can’t even remember playing them at all, and what really is baffling to me is writing the material and trying to figure out what I was thinking at the time, because some of the stuff, I was like, “I can’t believe I even wrote this.” It doesn’t sound like something I would come up with. It was really strange, almost this dual personality thing (laughs). I think it’s just because I’ve been immersed in playing so differently with SunnO))) and focused on different things about tone and music. It had been so long. The drummer and I hadn’t played music together since 2000. He was in the band, a founding member, and he had an injury, and he had some kids (laughs), so he was just out of commission for a while, and we had some opportunities, so we ended up getting a replacement drummer – we toured with Queens of the Stone Age in England – so we ended up getting this guy Joey [Castillo], who ended up becoming the Queens of the Stone Age drummer after that trip. And then, Goatsnake also got back together in 2004 and did a couple West Coast shows, and the drummer on those shows was another guy, this guy Sasha, so I actually hadn’t played music with Greg in a long time, and it was kind of scary, because it had been so long. His playing was phenomenal. I thought it was gonna be a lot of work because Greg hadn’t done this for so long, but actually it was the opposite, I needed to put more work into what I was doing, because he was just on fire and it was really a pleasure to play with him again.

You said when Walter and Jurgen approached you, you were with Guy, so I guess it was pretty solid which lineup you were going to go with.

We wanted to do the original lineup. We’re all still friendly, and to me, it wouldn’t necessarily have made sense to do it with a different drummer. And as far as the bass player goes, Guy and I had been playing in Thorr’s Hammer, so that re-sparked us playing together and having fun doing it, so it made sense. We thought it’d be cool to have the original lineup, because Goatsnake has had some lineup changes over the years. We’ve had different bass players as well. We worked with some amazing players. We worked with Scott Reeder from Kyuss and The Obsessed. We worked with Ron Holzner for Trouble, and on the Flower of Disease record and for a year or so of shows, we worked with Stuart Dahlquist, who played also in Burning Witch. So we’ve had a bunch of different bass players, but to me, I thought it would be really cool to get the first lineup together and play those songs again, especially focusing on the first album, so that’s what we did.

The Ascend record had some structure to it, and I know when that came out people were comparing it to Goatsnake. Were you able to draw on that at all in going back to this?

The Ascend was kind of a reaction, or a result, of playing with someone for so long and really wanting to do something different. The other member of Ascend, Gentry [Densley], him and I have been playing music together since the late ‘80s. Most importantly, he was in a band called Iceburn, and the band I was in, Engine Kid, we toured with Iceburn all the time. We did a split record and were great friends, into a lot of the same kinds of music and the same direction in music and approach to playing music. And that friendship and that mutual interest continued throughout the years. I really wanted to make a record with him, and do something together, do a project, so that’s how it started. (Laughs) He’s a big fan of Goatsnake, and we had a drummer involved, so really having the drummer involved sparked me into playing songs with a groove. I’m really into music with rhythm and a groove, and I don’t really get to do that very often in SunnO))), because (laughs) there’s no drummer and also because it’s not really the direction of the sound of what we’re doing. It was cool to be able to do that, and yeah, there’s actually the track “Vog” on the Ascend record is a song that I was going to use with Goatsnake, but didn’t have the opportunity to use it.

Is there going to be another Ascend record?

There’s actually already recordings. We did another session that was really cool, and one of the songs from that session was this track “Desert Cry” that ended up on the Japanese version of the record and also on the vinyl version, so there’s about three or four other pieces we did during that time period, in that session, that I’d really like to work on further and maybe release, because they’re really cool. It was me and Gentry again, but it was the drummer for Eagle Twin, Tyler [Smith], so (laughs) it’s kind of in the vibe of Eagle Twin actually, more so than the stuff we did before, because it is Eagle Twin with me playing in it (laughs). We also had Steve Moore, who played on the first Ascend record, he’s also played with SunnO))) and Earth. He does some trombone and some analog keyboards. It’s cool. I really want to work on it again. I hope we can make something of it.

In the meantime, have you actually given any thought or put any time into writing Goatsnake?

No. We were just really, solely focused on getting ready for this show. I have little riffs here and there, but I haven’t actually had a chance to play them with other members yet, just because (laughs), with my schedule being pretty busy and the other guys’ schedules being pretty busy, when we got together, it was like, “Okay, we’re gonna play this set and focus on making these songs sound good,” in preparation for the show. Really just focusing on that.

And what’s up with SunnO)))?

We’re doing the ATP festival in New York with Boris, performing the Altar record together. Other than that, we don’t have anything scheduled. We hit it pretty hard last year, and into the beginning of this year, where we basically did six different legs of touring, and we did it in this really weird way. At the time, it sounded like a good idea, but it ended up being a nightmare. We would tour for two weeks, come home for two weeks, and then do it again. We thought it would be a good idea considering everyone’s schedule, and I have a family now, and it ended up being a nightmare because you come home from tour and it’s difficult to decompress. It takes a while. By the time you decompress, you’re getting ready for the next one, which is also a process for me. Getting ready for going on tour, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done. Running the label too, it just ended up being really stressful and not the way to do it. But, with that said, the shows were amazing, and I thought the music was really, really great and I really enjoyed playing. It was just the nuts and bolts and the fine details of touring that really grated on your nerves. The traveling and being away from home and all that crap. That was difficult. We played somewhere between 50 and 60 shows last year, which for SunnO))) is a lot. A lot of bands just knock that out, no problem, within a couple months, but for us, shows are an undertaking because of the people involved and the backline involved and the organization of the show. It’s a lot of work. So it was a lot, and this year, we already did a European tour that took January and into the beginning of February as well that was about 20 shows as well. From the release of the record, in May, to the beginning of February this year, we just did a lot of work. Long story short, we’re just taking some time to regroup and do some other things, and hopefully get back together, reconvene, next year and figure out what we’re gonna do. I think there’s going to be a few releases that come out this year. There may be a live recording that comes out on vinyl-only from the last bunch of shows and touring that we did. And we’ve had it on the back burner to reissue the 00void record, which has been out of print for a long time now. So a few little things here and there, then this ATP thing as well.

So you’re kind of taking the year off, but you’ll still put out three or four records and play a festival. So, yeah, good that you get a little relaxation in.

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s the thing. There is no relaxation. I’m in the process right now of organizing some Goatsnake shows on the West Coast for August and some dates for a Southern Lord package that goes up and down the West Coast, and things in general, there is no relaxation (laughs). SunnO))) has been the main focus and the main priority for both Stephen and I, and now it’s like, “Okay, let’s step back for a little bit, look at some other things, work on some other stuff, and we’ll get back together and do this again soon.” There’s a lot of material too that’s recorded and not released. To us, getting out that last record was a lot of work, and we spent a lot of energy and time and money and everything really trying to make sure it was done right. So it’s really set us up to a point now where it’s like, “What the hell do we do next?” To us, it was such an accomplishment to get that record out, and we’re really proud of it, so we don’t want to follow it up with something that’s anything less (laughs). We set the bar for ourselves a little high and I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we have a lot of great, great recordings that are out there and we’re trying to figure out what to do with them.

That is going to be a tough one to top. You guys really went full-on with the last SunnO))) record.

Yeah. It was one of those things too where, as we dug into it and started getting going, it demanded to be that way. It couldn’t be anything less. It was really an interesting experience, because a lot of our records, you start working on it and you kind of have an idea of what it’s gonna be, and you can see an end or a finish point or a light at the end of the tunnel, and with this record, it just wasn’t apparent (laughs). “Hmm. Okay. This is amazing. We’ve opened up a can of worms that’s awesome. We gotta sort that out.” And it just took forever to actually do that. But it was one of those things where, you can’t rush this. There’s no schedule. Any idea of a release schedule was thrown out the window because we didn’t want to have the pressure on it because we didn’t want it to taint or influence what we were doing at all. We wanted it to be as natural and try to make it as stress-free as possible, so that it turned out the best it could. It was the most extreme lesson in patience I’ve ever had in my life (laughs). I realized through the process that I’m sort of a patient person, but not really. I needed to learn that skill, and I feel like I’m maybe a bit of better person now (laughs). It was a cruel lesson. I joke with Steve all the time, especially when you’re having to carry heavy boxes of the vinyl up the stairs or something, “You gotta suffer for your art, every day.” We have to suffer for this album, every day (laughs). But it’s worth it. To me, musically, I consider it my greatest accomplishment. It’s definitely the one I’m most proud of musically, out of anything that I’ve done.

Southern Lord Recordings

Whose idea was the Goatsnake reunion?

Another band that I’m involved with, called Thorr’s Hammer — which was actually Stephen O’Malley from SunnO))) and my first band together — we got asked to play a festival in Birmingham, England, last summer called Supersonic. The bass player for that group is out of the picture, we haven’t talked to him for (laughs) 10 years or whatever, so it was like, “Okay, if we’re gonna do a Thorr’s Hammer set, we need to find a bass player,” and the first person who came to mind was this guy Guy, who was a founding member of Goatsnake as well, and he was always a huge fan of Thorr’s Hammer, and actually helped fund Southern Lord to release the Thorr’s Hammer recordings. We asked him to take part in it, and he was living in Europe, and that made it a bit easier for travel and expenses and stuff like that – plus he’s a killer player. We enlisted him to play in Thorr’s Hammer, and at that festival, the two guys that organize the Roadburn festival were in attendance, and they saw Guy and I hanging out and they said, “Hey, what are the chances of Goatsnake playing in the future?” Guy and I were like, “Yeah, why not?” We were having a great time playing music together again, and Goatsnake never officially broke up and there was never any real bad blood between any of the members, it was just kind of one of those things where members got busy doing other things, and it was just put on a lengthy hiatus. Guy and I kicked around the idea, talked to the other founding members of the band, Pete and Greg, and everyone was real excited to try getting back together and playing music again. So that’s what we did. I really like the Roadburn festival, so it was an honor to be asked to play, and they asked us to headline, so it was a really great opportunity we couldn’t pass up, so we basically put a lot of work and effort into getting it together for that thing and played the fest.

How was the set?

It was awesome. It was really, really great. It exceeded my expectations. We worked really hard and rehearsed and spent a lot of time trying to get the tone right, making sure everything sounded as good as possible, but a lot of that shit just goes out the window when you play live (laughs), because there’s different forces at work. There’s adrenaline, there’s nerves, and my experience, honestly, Goatsnake, to me, was never a great live band. I didn’t really feel like we rehearsed enough, and I didn’t feel like we pulled off what we had recorded in a live setting, so I had that lingering in my mind. And Goatsnake never played a lot of shows. We never played east of the Rockies, and we did some stuff overseas, but we never did anything extensive, and I always felt like Goatsnake always sounded better on record. I had that nagging at me in the back of my mind. This is for me personally, I think the other guys would say something different. This is my own personal scrutiny and analysis of what worked. I was pretty nervous for this show, because I wanted to be good. Everyone put a lot of time and effort into it, and I know there was a lot of expectations and a lot of people were really excited to see it, people had traveled to see it and stuff. It was one of those nights where it was pretty magical. Everything really worked out well. The crowd was amazing. I thought everyone played really well and there wasn’t too many mistakes (laughs). It was just a really good vibe. The other thing that was really daunting about the whole thing was the stage we played on was fucking humongous, and Goatsnake had never played on a stage that size. The other thing was the most people we had ever played to was probably about a thousand people, and that was one time. But we never played on a stage that big and we never headlined for sure. It was never these kind of expectations on us. I had some anxiety about it, but I thought it went off really, really well, and I was very pleased with it and the audience was amazing.

Were you surprised at the reaction to Goatsnake now as opposed to the first time around?

I’m actually not surprised (laughs). I’m grateful. I think it’s cool that people are discovering it later. It seems like it’s stood the test of time, but it’s kind of an age-old story with music in this genre that when a band is around, they’re not appreciated, or underappreciated, then they break up and all of a sudden they’re huge. It happened to Sleep, it happened to Kyuss. I call it “The Kyuss Syndrome.” When those guys were around, they’d be lucky if 50 people came to their shows and nobody cared, but after they broke up it became this legend. Basically people want what they can’t have (laughs), and they couldn’t have it, so it made them become even more rabid and obsessed about it. I don’t think Goatsnake is at that level. Goatsnake has gone in and out of hiatus here and there, so I don’t think we’ve driven up the obsession like Sleep or Kyuss, but it’s that same sort of thing, where people really want to see it and they can’t so it makes them even more obsessive. But I think it’s cool. I’m really excited that it still works for people. There’s a lot of music that I’ve been into at some points in my life and I go back and listen to it 10 or 15 years later, and it just doesn’t work for me in the same way that it did. But there is music that I listened to in the ‘80s that, to me, still sounds amazing, and I hope that Goatsnake can be that way for some people, and it seems like it is, so that’s really cool.

Compare it to playing with Thorr’s Hammer again. Thorr’s Hammer did Roadburn as well. How were those experiences different for you?

Well, Thorr’s Hammer is a lot looser and the music is more minimal and it’s way more primitive. The songs are really Steve and my first attempt at playing together and my first attempt at being in a straight up death metal or metal band. Other bands I had before that were different styles. The music is extremely minimal and pretty simple, and so you’re not concentrating as much on not fucking up the parts. Plus, there’s two guitar players, so if one guy messes up, it’s not gonna be as noticeable. Whereas Goatsnake, again, a lot of it’s pretty simple, but some of it’s pretty complicated, and for me and my playing ability, I’ve spent basically the last 10 years really focused on a certain direction of music, and that’s with SunnO))), which is a completely different approach to playing music, and the focus is on different things, so going from that into playing with Goatsnake, it was almost like trying to play in a speed metal band or something. Everything was much faster and busier and more complicated, and there was actually parts to remember and memorize and play them in a certain order at a certain time, and be concerned with playing in time with other players, which, with SunnO))), is rarely the case. SunnO))) is really more free-form and based on improvisation, and it’s also based on a long chemistry that I have with Steve O’Malley and playing with him, so (laughs) it was challenging to say the least. It wasn’t easy, but I really enjoyed the challenge, because it was like, “Oh yeah, playing parts with structure again, and playing with a drummer!” I actually had a lot of fun with it, because it had been a really long time since I had a chance to do that.

Did you find that material and the Thorr’s Hammer material had different sentimental value?

Most definitely. Thorr’s Hammer is extremely sentimental and extremely meaningful. It was the first time I played with Steve, and also, the vocalist, Runhild [Gammelsæter], we’re really good friends as well. In the very short time that we actually existed as a band, it was a really fun time in my life, and it was really important, and is the foundation and the spark that started off pretty much everything that came after it for me musically, and of course the label too. It’s cool. And Goatsnake too, that was also really cool to do that again. Goatsnake was really another thing, because when I lived in Seattle and decided to move to Los Angeles, honestly, as a player I had been doing some different things. I was in a band called Engine Kid that was heavy music, but it was really focused a lot more on melody, and I was the singer as well, so it was a totally different thing. Transitioning into playing with Goatsnake was really a challenge, because basically it’s a heavy rock band and I was the primary – actually, I was the sole songwriter for the group coming up with ideas. And not having that background and joining that band – especially in Goatsnake, where the founding members of the rhythm section are from The Obsessed, and The Obsessed to me was a legendary band, amazing – it was pretty intimidating to step into that role and create the music for it. But when it worked, it was very rewarding, (laughs) so I was reminded of that when we were playing together that there was some cool stuff we actually accomplished together that I sort of had the main hand in as far as direction goes.

Did reissuing Flower of Disease give you the chance to get a new perspective on that material, or was that more of a business thing to do for Roadburn?

That record’s been out of print for a long time, and we get a lot of requests for people that want to have it. Basically, it’s been on the back burner to reissue for a long time. There’s a lot of stuff on our plate all the time, so it was a timing thing. We thought it would be cool to reissue it around the time of the show as well, and we played a handful of songs from that record too. We primarily played stuff from the first album. We actually played every song from the first album except one.

Which one?

A song called “Dog Catcher,” which was never really meant to be a live track. In fact, I don’t even know if we ever played it live, ever. It was more of an experimental track, actually. It was some riffs that we had that we really weren’t sure what to do with, and on that track, on the record, we had Buzz from The Melvins totally fuck with it and tweak it, so it ended up being something that we had never even rehearsed. He changed it into something else, so it wasn’t a song to play live.

Since there was never really a Goatsnake breakup, would you consider the band back together? How does that work?

I don’t know. At the moment, the way we’re treating it is we had a great time doing the show, and that was kind of a testing ground, “Okay, we’ll see how this goes, then we’ll decide from there.” Everyone had a really great time. The show was amazing. We’re looking at doing some shows in August on the West Coast, and if there’s a decent offer and it works with people’s schedules, I think we may do it, but beyond that, I don’t know. I’d love to make some more music with those guys and maybe even record something new, but it’s a pretty slow process (laughs), because everyone has so much going on. We did accomplish this one thing, so maybe we’ll do some more of that, but we’re taking it as it comes and we’ll go from there.

So the Goatsnake/Saint Vitus world tour – not scheduled yet?

No (laughs). Would be great though.

Was it strange for you going back to Goatsnake? You mentioned having to play parts with structure again. Was it like riding a bicycle?

A little bit. It was one of those things where it sounds great and you agree to do it before you realize how much work it’s gonna be (laughs). When you’re drunk at a fest and they guys from Roadburn were like, “Would you guys play?” we were like, “Yeah, it’s gonna be great!” Then you have to figure out how it’s gonna work, and relearning those songs was a lot of work. It’s easy to say yes, but we definitely weren’t thinking about work we had to put into it. Some of the songs came back to us really easily, but some of the songs, I can’t even remember playing them at all, and what really is baffling to me is writing the material and trying to figure out what I was thinking at the time, because some of the stuff, I was like, “I can’t believe I even wrote this.” It doesn’t sound like something I would come up with. It was really strange, almost this dual personality thing (laughs). I think it’s just because I’ve been immersed in playing so differently with SunnO))) and focused on different things about tone and music. It had been so long. The drummer and I hadn’t played music together since 2000. He was in the band, a founding member, and he had an injury, and he had some kids (laughs), so he was just out of commission for a while, and we had some opportunities, so we ended up getting a replacement drummer – we toured with Queens of the Stone Age in England – so we ended up getting this guy Joey [Castillo], who ended up becoming the Queens of the Stone Age drummer after that trip. And then, Goatsnake also got back together in 2004 and did a couple West Coast shows, and the drummer on those shows was another guy, this guy Sasha, so I actually hadn’t played music with Greg in a long time, and it was kind of scary, because it had been so long. His playing was phenomenal. I thought it was gonna be a lot of work because Greg hadn’t done this for so long, but actually it was the opposite, I needed to put more work into what I was doing, because he was just on fire and it was really a pleasure to play with him again.

You said when Walter and Jurgen approached you, you were with Guy, so I guess it was pretty solid which lineup you were going to go with.

We wanted to do the original lineup. We’re all still friendly, and to me, it wouldn’t necessarily have made sense to do it with a different drummer. And as far as the bass player goes, Guy and I had been playing in Thorr’s Hammer, so that re-sparked us playing together and having fun doing it, so it made sense. We thought it’d be cool to have the original lineup, because Goatsnake has had some lineup changes over the years. We’ve had different bass players as well. We worked with some amazing players. We worked with Scott Reeder from Kyuss and The Obsessed. We worked with Ron Holzner for Trouble, and on the Flower of Disease record and for a year or so of shows, we worked with Stuart Dahlquist, who played also in Burning Witch. So we’ve had a bunch of different bass players, but to me, I thought it would be really cool to get the first lineup together and play those songs again, especially focusing on the first album, so that’s what we did.

The Ascend record had some structure to it, and I know when that came out people were comparing it to Goatsnake. Were you able to draw on that at all in going back to this?

The Ascend was kind of a reaction, or a result, of playing with someone for so long and really wanting to do something different. The other member of Ascend, Gentry [Densley], him and I have been playing music together since the late ‘80s. Most importantly, he was in a band called Iceburn, and the band I was in, Engine Kid, we toured with Iceburn all the time. We did a split record and were great friends, into a lot of the same kinds of music and the same direction in music and approach to playing music. And that friendship and that mutual interest continued throughout the years. I really wanted to make a record with him, and do something together, do a project, so that’s how it started. (Laughs) He’s a big fan of Goatsnake, and we had a drummer involved, so really having the drummer involved sparked me into playing songs with a groove. I’m really into music with rhythm and a groove, and I don’t really get to do that very often in SunnO))), because (laughs) there’s no drummer and also because it’s not really the direction of the sound of what we’re doing. It was cool to be able to do that, and yeah, there’s actually the track “Vog” on the Ascend record is a song that I was going to use with Goatsnake, but didn’t have the opportunity to use it.

Is there going to be another Ascend record?

There’s actually already recordings. We did another session that was really cool, and one of the songs from that session was this track “Desert Cry” that ended up on the Japanese version of the record and also on the vinyl version, so there’s about three or four other pieces we did during that time period, in that session, that I’d really like to work on further and maybe release, because they’re really cool. It was me and Gentry again, but it was the drummer for Eagle Twin, Tyler [Smith], so (laughs) it’s kind of in the vibe of Eagle Twin actually, more so than the stuff we did before, because it is Eagle Twin with me playing in it (laughs). We also had Steve Moore, who played on the first Ascend record, he’s also played with SunnO))) and Earth. He does some trombone and some analog keyboards. It’s cool. I really want to work on it again. I hope we can make something of it.

In the meantime, have you actually given any thought or put any time into writing Goatsnake?

No. We were just really, solely focused on getting ready for this show. I have little riffs here and there, but I haven’t actually had a chance to play them with other members yet, just because (laughs), with my schedule being pretty busy and the other guys’ schedules being pretty busy, when we got together, it was like, “Okay, we’re gonna play this set and focus on making these songs sound good,” in preparation for the show. Really just focusing on that.

And what’s up with SunnO)))?

We’re doing the ATP festival in New York with Boris, performing the Altar record together. Other than that, we don’t have anything scheduled. We hit it pretty hard last year, and into the beginning of this year, where we basically did six different legs of touring, and we did it in this really weird way. At the time, it sounded like a good idea, but it ended up being a nightmare. We would tour for two weeks, come home for two weeks, and then do it again. We thought it would be a good idea considering everyone’s schedule, and I have a family now, and it ended up being a nightmare because you come home from tour and it’s difficult to decompress. It takes a while. By the time you decompress, you’re getting ready for the next one, which is also a process for me. Getting ready for going on tour, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to be done. Running the label too, it just ended up being really stressful and not the way to do it. But, with that said, the shows were amazing, and I thought the music was really, really great and I really enjoyed playing. It was just the nuts and bolts and the fine details of touring that really grated on your nerves. The traveling and being away from home and all that crap. That was difficult. We played somewhere between 50 and 60 shows last year, which for SunnO))) is a lot. A lot of bands just knock that out, no problem, within a couple months, but for us, shows are an undertaking because of the people involved and the backline involved and the organization of the show. It’s a lot of work. So it was a lot, and this year, we already did a European tour that took January and into the beginning of February as well that was about 20 shows as well. From the release of the record, in May, to the beginning of February this year, we just did a lot of work. Long story short, we’re just taking some time to regroup and do some other things, and hopefully get back together, reconvene, next year and figure out what we’re gonna do. I think there’s going to be a few releases that come out this year. There may be a live recording that comes out on vinyl-only from the last bunch of shows and touring that we did. And we’ve had it on the back burner to reissue the 00void record, which has been out of print for a long time now. So a few little things here and there, then this ATP thing as well.

So you’re kind of taking the year off, but you’ll still put out three or four records and play a festival. So, yeah, good that you get a little relaxation in.

(Laughs) Yeah, that’s the thing. There is no relaxation. I’m in the process right now of organizing some Goatsnake shows on the West Coast for August and some dates for a Southern Lord package that goes up and down the West Coast, and things in general, there is no relaxation (laughs). SunnO))) has been the main focus and the main priority for both Stephen and I, and now it’s like, “Okay, let’s step back for a little bit, look at some other things, work on some other stuff, and we’ll get back together and do this again soon.” There’s a lot of material too that’s recorded and not released. To us, getting out that last record was a lot of work, and we spent a lot of energy and time and money and everything really trying to make sure it was done right. So it’s really set us up to a point now where it’s like, “What the hell do we do next?” To us, it was such an accomplishment to get that record out, and we’re really proud of it, so we don’t want to follow it up with something that’s anything less (laughs). We set the bar for ourselves a little high and I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we have a lot of great, great recordings that are out there and we’re trying to figure out what to do with them.

That is going to be a tough one to top. You guys really went full-on with the last SunnO))) record.

Yeah. It was one of those things too where, as we dug into it and started getting going, it demanded to be that way. It couldn’t be anything less. It was really an interesting experience, because a lot of our records, you start working on it and you kind of have an idea of what it’s gonna be, and you can see an end or a finish point or a light at the end of the tunnel, and with this record, it just wasn’t apparent (laughs). “Hmm. Okay. This is amazing. We’ve opened up a can of worms that’s awesome. We gotta sort that out.” And it just took forever to actually do that. But it was one of those things where, you can’t rush this. There’s no schedule. Any idea of a release schedule was thrown out the window because we didn’t want to have the pressure on it because we didn’t want it to taint or influence what we were doing at all. We wanted it to be as natural and try to make it as stress-free as possible, so that it turned out the best it could. It was the most extreme lesson in patience I’ve ever had in my life (laughs). I realized through the process that I’m sort of a patient person, but not really. I needed to learn that skill, and I feel like I’m maybe a bit of better person now (laughs). It was a cruel lesson. I joke with Steve all the time, especially when you’re having to carry heavy boxes of the vinyl up the stairs or something, “You gotta suffer for your art, every day.” We have to suffer for this album, every day (laughs). But it’s worth it. To me, musically, I consider it my greatest accomplishment. It’s definitely the one I’m most proud of musically, out of anything that I’ve done.

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