Zoroaster Interview with Will Fiore: A Red Hot Burning Sensation from Down South

Today, Atlanta‘s Zoroaster release their third album in the head-soaked form of Matador. It is the band’s first release through E1 Music, and it comes as the latest brick in a tower of momentum that can be traced back across last year’s Voice of Saturn full-length and its 2007 predecessor, Dog Magic, both of which the band put out through their own Terminal Doom Recordings.

But, as guitarist/vocalist Will Fiore informs from sunny Hollywood, California, there are just some things you need a label for. As an example, the band are currently embroiled in an extensive US tour with fellow Georgian upstarts Black Tusk and Florida‘s Dark Castle that’s been dubbed the Summer Southern Burn Tour. I’m sure it’s way more comfortable than it sounds.

Of course, Zoroaster are no strangers to the road. Fiore, bassist Brent Anderson and drummer Dan Scanlan have been hitting it hard since the inception of the band in 2003, and as they release the Sanford Parker-produced (longtime engineer Ed Rawls also worked on it) Matador, it seems their work touring is beginning to pay off. They are among the best doom bands of their generation, and more and more, they’re being recognized as such. Not a bad platform on which to issue a new album.

After the jump, you’ll find my recent Q&A with Will Fiore as the Summer Southern Burn Tour was getting started. Since he was in Hollywood, I began the interview with the most important question of all…

Did you get to do go Amoeba Music?

We just pulled in. We’re just trying to get to the club real quick, figure out everything, all the details. Unfortunately we’re gonna be there soon and I’m gonna fuckin’ spend a ton of money (laughs). Like I always do. I’m always like, going in there, “Ah man, I’m so fucking broke, I’m not gonna get anything.” We’ll see. I’m sure I’m gonna have to get something, at least one or two.

You guys went for a totally different sound on this album.

You always want them to sound a little different from each other. I think having Sanford on board… we talked about going a little crazy with the guitars and putting some really nasty sounding stuff on there. I think it still sounds like us, but with a little twist, I guess.

What did you end up doing to the guitars to get that sound?

On the other records, I would just do the basic tracks and had always doubled, sometimes I’d do a third guitar, but usually we’d just double them. Typically I’d use two different heads, but the core sound would pretty much be the same. But this record, we got some different guitar tones that maybe aren’t all that good sounding, maybe a little abrasive and over the top, but when you put it in the mix, you just kind of make it sound nasty and awesome. Some of these songs, we put maybe four guitar tracks, used two different heads, different distortion pedals and whatnot. I’m really happy with the way it turned out.

Have you been playing much of the new material live?

Yeah, actually the whole set is new tunes, and then we’re playing like “White Dwarf” and “Spirit Molecule” off of Voice of Saturn. We just said “fuck it.” We thought about that, the record’s not out, but we were like, “Screw it, man. Let’s just play these new songs.” More for us, I guess, than anything. But yeah, we’re playing most of the record, except for “Trident.” We play “Matador” every once in a while. It’s been fun. You get into this groove where you play all these songs and you get so used to them, and now we’re playing a set that the majority of the songs we’re not really used to playing them. It’s kind of weird. You have to pay more attention (laughs). You play those older tunes and you can just go on autopilot. It’s been real fun. People seem to dig them, too. A lot of people at every show that really dig the new ones. So that’s a good thing.

How do the tracks translate for you to the live setting, after putting all those layers on the songs in the studio?

Nah, it’s fine. The songs were written pretty much how all the songs are always written. They’re written in a three-piece format, so they stand on their own. They’re played in a live setting. The extra guitar is not like a whole new guitar line running through the song. A lot of it’s just emphasis here and there, a little peak at something in certain spots. So that’s not a big deal. Our records, even with Dog Magic and Voice of Saturn, we kind of threw extra little bells and whistles on the records, then live it’s just gonna be loud and heavy – which I tend to like anyway. I think the songs should sound a little different live than they do on the record, or why make the records? We have the opportunity to do something cool and special with the tunes, then live it’s just rocking them out.

How did you end up working with Sanford?

We’ve actually been talking about it for a couple years. We did a tour with Minsk about, I don’t even know when it was, around Dog Magic, I guess. We were talking about wanting to go in and do a new record, which was gonna eventually become Voice of Saturn, and initially we wanted to work on that, but schedules just didn’t line up. Then, when we were getting ready with this record, E1 really wanted us to bring in someone with a name – because we’d been using Ed Rawls on our records – and they kind of wanted to have a bigger name come in, and we told them, “We’ve wanted to work with Sanford for a couple years,” and they loved the idea of that, so we called him up and he was super-into it. He was like, “Hell yeah, let’s make it happen,” so that’s how that went down.

Was there any discussion of you going to Chicago to record instead of bringing him down to Atlanta?

At first we were talking about going up there, but we still wanted to use Ed Rawls. We’ve used him for the last couple years, and we wanted him involved in some way. It worked out where we had Sanford come down [to Atlanta], and we went to a studio, Glow in the Dark, for all the basic tracking, because they have a really big live room so we could get a real good drum sound. We did that for three days, and then used everything in Ed’s spot, called The Living Room, and that’s where we did the rest, the vocals and guitar overdubs and whatnot. Then me and Dan, we went to Chicago, and mixed up at Sanford’s place up there. We were able to run out, do our tracking for the day, and we could all go home and sleep in our beds and stuff, so that was real comfortable, and Sanford got to mix in his studio, so he felt at home. Everyone was very, very comfortable, and I think it turned out great.

What made you decide to sign with E1? It’s got to be a lot different from doing everything yourself.

Yeah. Over the years, there’s been talks with other labels and whatnot, but we’ve just been doing everything ourselves for so long and a lot of the other labels we talked to, the deals just weren’t worth what we would have to give up. So we just kept holding off, but when E1 started approaching us, it was good timing. Me and Dan fund everything with the label and all that, and it gets pretty expensive, buying vans over and over again, and touring and paying for recordings and all that. They approached us through our PR company, and I want to say the first time was last year’s South by [Southwest]. He came out and saw us there, Scott [Givens] from E1, and we met him, super-cool dude, and he came to an Atlanta show and a New York show. It’s at the time where we definitely could use the financial help, but then also, we kept running into this problem. When you do everything on your own, you miss out on a lot of things. Certain tours and whatnot. Maybe tours and bands we should have been playing with, but because we’re doing everything ourselves, we don’t have anyone behind us with anything they can offer. A lot of tours, it’s like, “Give this band this tour, we’ll give that band that tour,” between labels, and we didn’t have any of that. Definitely we get a little more pull and it gives us more publicity and stuff like that. It just seemed like the right time, so we said, “fuck it,” said yes, and it’s been great. They all seem really into it. We met a bunch of them at the last South by show, and people are really excited about the record. I think it’s gonna end up being a good decision on our part.

It was a big surprise, after you’d been doing it on your own for so long.

It was not like anything we were actively seeking. It was kind of a surprise for us as well, after little talks with other labels, we were just like, “Maybe it’s not for us,” and out of the blue this came up, and it was like, “Wow, this seems right. Let’s do it.” I’m really excited. I think it’s gonna be a good thing.

Do you have a sense of the momentum you guys have coming off Voice of Saturn?

Definitely. We’ve been doing this since 2003, and once you’re playing together that long and you’re committed like we are to touring and putting out records, eventually good things will start happening for you. You just stick it out. I think all that stuff’s finally paying off. Go out and do a bunch of shitty tours, put out some records, and eventually people start noticing. It feels really good. You start seeing more people at the shows, and start seeing your name out there more on the internet and stuff like that, and you feel like sleeping in all those shitty hotels and sleeping in the bus, all that stuff’s finally paying off. I’m really excited about that.

How long does it take you guys at this point to get into the groove of a tour?

It’s really weird, because this time, we’re coming off the longest break we’ve ever had. Our last tour was that European tour in November. We got home, took a break from each other for the holidays, and then it was probably not even until February when we got together, working on the record and stuff. Then doing the record, it’s pretty much all we did. We came out on this tour, I think we rehearsed twice together, and that was really weird, especially with playing a bunch of new songs that we’d never really played in the live format, just rehearsing and then recording them, which is really different. I was a little worried about it, but one, two shows, and it comes back. You’re right back into the swing of things. It doesn’t really take too long.

What comes after this tour?

We go home, then the record comes out. We’ve got a CD release show at home, and then I think in September there’s gonna be another US tour. I don’t think that’s hasn’t been announced yet, but in the next week we’ll announce it, and then October, we go back to Europe. After that, I’m sure we’ll probably do another US run or something like that. Of course, I’ve already got songs I’m working on for the next record, so we’ll get into that at some point.

Right. This album’s not out yet, so you’ve started writing for the next one?

Ah man, I’m always writing songs (laughs). Even with this record, three of the songs were written in 2003 when we first started. You go through a couple drummers, and songs always get lost in the mix. You end up not teaching them what you’ve got or whatever. I’m always writing, recording songs on my four-track, and then every once in a while a song pops into your head or you find an old CD and it’s, “Oh man, I totally forgot about that tune!” So you pull those out and there’s probably four tunes that I was working on for Matador that just didn’t – not that they didn’t make the cut – but you start seriously figuring out which ones you want to work on, and it’s like, I have a better idea of where I’m going with this song than that song, so I’ll work on those and the other ones I’ll just put by the side for a minute. I’ve always got a backlog of songs that’ll be on either the next record or the one after that, or who knows.

Do you think you’ll be able to keep the every year/every other year pace with albums? Is that going to change working with E1?

I don’t know. I would like to. I’m not sure how they are with how long they want in between records, but we’ll see. There’s still the whole Terminal Doom route. Maybe we can do a little small vinyl release or something like that. I love Matador and all that, but you’re always looking forward into new things. Even when you’re recording a record and all of a sudden you come up with a song or a riff, it’s, “Oh man, this is better than any of the shit on this record, I wanna work on this now!” and you can’t because it’s like, “No you have to do this record now.” We haven’t talked to them yet, but I would definitely like to, maybe, start doing some demos in a couple months to get working on the new record. Hopefully next year they’ll want to do another record with us. It’s all I do. I don’t have a girlfriend or anything (laughs). When I go home, if we’re not out on the road, I’m either playing guitar or I’m drinking, and I’d rather be playing guitar and not blowing all my money on booze.

Zoroaster on MySpace

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One Response to “Zoroaster Interview with Will Fiore: A Red Hot Burning Sensation from Down South”

  1. Jennifer messer says:

    Trying to reach a old friend will.f.
    This is Jennifer messer aka king.
    Call me please #678-858-1457

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