Earthride Interview: Dave Sherman Talks Something Wicked, Confirms Spirit Caravan Reunion Will Happen in 2011

When I called Earthride vocalist and bonafide American doom icon Dave Sherman for this interview, he reported that he was on his way to practice for a side-project with his former Spirit Caravan bandmate Gary Isom and recent ex-Pentagram guitarist Russ Strahan called Weed is Weed. What else can you possibly say to that besides “fan-fucking-tastic?”

Five years in the making, Earthride‘s latest album, Something Wicked (released by the band through Earth Brain Records) follows 2005’s Vampire Circus and continues the group’s veneration of the doomly forms. Reverence for classic acts like Pentagram, Saint Vitus and of course the almighty Sabbath comes out through Kyle Van Steinburg‘s riffs and Sherman‘s lyrical tales of hard times and self-destruction while the thick rumble of bassist/NASA engineer Rob Hampshire (Nitroseed) thickens the sound and Eric Little‘s drums add an inimitable classic groove. It is, as the kids say, a winner.

Anyone who’s ever met the man or spoken with him for more than 15 seconds will tell you correctly that Sherman — “Sherm” for short — is a character like none other, and that certainly proved to be the case as we discussed Something Wicked, his relationships with Pentagram‘s Bobby Liebling and members of Fugazi, Earthride‘s recent tour with Valkyrie and more. There’s only one Sherman, and The Obelisk is proud to bring you this conversation with him.

Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

What kind of project is Weed is Weed?

It’s me and Gary Isom, who was in Spirit Caravan and is in Pentagram. It’s got Russ Strahan, who was in Pentagram. He’s in it too. It’s like a little side-project I had, but we’re trying to get it back together a little bit. I play guitar in it and sing. I’ve got Rob too, on drums, and Gary, and pretty much the lineup is all Pentagram guys.

What’s Gary playing?

He plays guitar. There’s like three guitar players. Russ plays guitar too. Rob Coogan on drums. He was in Indestroy, back in the day. Fuckin’ phenomenal guy. Shredder kind of drummer.

Who’s playing bass?

It was Mark Ammen, who was in Pentagram too, but I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to work with him anymore, so we have to think that out.

Well, there’s enough ex-members of Pentagram around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find somebody.

Yeah! (Laughs) That’s just how it turned out. Me and Russ and Mark and Gary, we were in a Captain Beyond cover band too, and that kind of got Bobby [Liebling] going again, really. I won’t say it was all me, but it was a lot of me (laughs), because I went over there and did The Basement Chronicles with him, and that never really got a release, but he was selling it on the road for $50 a piece. I did that on my BR-532 four track. Electronic drums, and I’d bring my piece of shit guitar I play, an Epiphone I got for 58 bucks, tuned to C-sharp, and I just started cranking out some Pentagram-style riffs and I put my bass on there too. I’d program the drums and give him the mic and he would just make shit up off the top of his head, sitting in the chair, smoking. And then, like I said, on the road now he sells them things for 50 bucks, and it’s a picture of him on a five-dollar bill on the cover (laughs). But anyway, that’s that. If you see him and you say, “Hey, what’s up with the Basement Chronicles?” he’ll probably produce one for you.

I know Valkyrie didn’t do the last couple shows, but how was that tour?

It was pretty successful. Definitely successful. We kind of got our CD out there more, but we just need to do a lot more legwork for the new release and stuff. But as far as the tour went, it went pretty good. The highlight was playing with Baroness and Torche in Chicago, a sold-out show, and touring with Pete was really inspiring too, because he’s in Baroness and he’s climbing the ladder real quick. Especially filling in for Bill from Mastodon on a couple shows. It’s just real inspiring towards music and the music that I’m into, that one of my good, good, good buddies from Valkyrie is now touring with the Deftones and Metallica. It was a pleasure to have the Baroness sound man on tour with us too. He was really into the Earthride, and after a couple shows, he would dial that shit in pretty good. That New York show was a bit of a ruckus. It was a good tour.

Do you have a favorite stage move?

I think it’s the motorcycle, probably. That’s the one that everybody gets into (laughs).

Stirring the cauldron is pretty great too.

Yeah, that one’s second, and we’ve been dealing the doom cards lately too. That’s “Mr. Green,” so we play that one, I’m dealing the doom cards. Stir the pot. Shifting gears is a pretty good one too. I’d say if you want to rate them on a one to four or five, whatever it is, I’d say it’s probably the motorcycle, then shifting the gears (laughs), then stirring the pot and then probably dealing the doom cards (laughs). There’s a couple others in there too that just come with the performance every time. Whipping the mic, you know. A couple moves I’ve learned over 20 years of playing music.

Why the delay in releasing an album since Vampire Circus? I didn’t even realize it had been that long?

When we went on that last European tour, which was about two and a half years ago, maybe a little longer than that, we were there with The Gates of Slumber and Centurions Ghost. The van was too small for all of us, all these big motherfuckers. Not Frederica or anything, but the rest (laughs). It was pretty fucking packed. We had to rent a car and then I broke my foot. Jumped off the stage at Doom Shall Rise. Not even with Earthride. I was singing with this band Behind the Wall of Sleep. We were during “Bury Me in Smoke” and I don’t know what compelled me – probably the hash and beers and just being lightheaded – but I jumped off the stage and broke my heelbone in a V, and oh my god, man. We did the whole rest of the tour. We went to Italy, down to Rome, and I’m singing with a broken foot, people are throwing beers on me and shit, it was crazy. I’m looking at this Joe Lally flyer from Joe Lally being at that venue in Rome, and man, the rest of the tour was good after that. We did all of England, but bottom line was I fucking came back broke and broke-n (laughs). It took us a while [to recover], then Kyle busted his hand. He punched a wall. He got all pissed off and he punched a fucking wall, and then we went to play a show and he reinjured it in Pittsburgh. He punched a wall again and he wouldn’t let us drive the van. He was hammered. That, and Rob was taking a break because he works for NASA. He’s an engineer, and he makes pretty good money, and he’s in another band too, Nitroseed. It just took us so long to work up new songs, and with all this harshness going on, we were playing some shows, one-offs here and there, and fucking it was just hard to get shit together with everybody working. That’s why it really took so long to get that thing out there.

And you’re on the hook for everything when you self-release.

That’s definitely true, but I figured since we did really well with Vampire, I was gonna try to take the Fugazi way. I was gonna try to go with that. I’m friends with Ian and I’ve seen him do it, and I figured Rob had money to invest into it. He had some backing, so I figured let’s try to do it like this and we’ll make all the money (laughs). Or not all the money, we’ll pay some out here and there, but we’ll just take the whole business into our hands, which is really hard because it’s hard for us to work on it, too, to give it 24-seven, and that’s what it takes, obviously. It’s really hard to do that. A lot harder than I thought it was gonna be. It’s definitely easier dealing with a label as far as them promoting, blah blah blah, getting the word out there, taking care of the numbers, selling the disc. The whole nine. It’s just a lot easier doing it like that, but I wanted to try to go with the Ian MacKaye, the Joe Lally, the Fugazi-type shit. I know those guys too.  I’ve known Joe. Shine played his wedding reception, and I’ve been to Ian’s birthday party and shit. He had a vegan cake (laughs), and on the wall you could see all the numbers from back in the day, from Minor Threat and shit. It’s fucking cool, man. It’s at his mom’s house and all the numbers are written on the wall right there. They’re still there, with a magic marker, right by the phone. Then Henry [Rollins] calls in shit while we’re celebrating. Next thing you know the phone rings and it’s Henry and it’s like, “God damn!” It’s pretty epic, man (laughs). Joe Lally gave him a bunch of Shine CDs and stuff. That was awesome. That was definitely a highlight in my career. God damn, hanging with Ian. We played with them too. It was Shine and Fugazi, in a church with no pews in it and shit. Hotter than a motherfucker too. Those white lights? God damn. And I’ve seen them a bunch of times too.

How long have these songs been around?

Well, we went over to Jean Paul [Gaster]’s. We had four or five songs, and we went over to Jean Paul’s from Clutch because I was like, “Dude, we need to demo these songs so we can see what we’ve got.” We did that about, shoot, a year before the thing even came out. We did four songs over there. We did “Something Wicked,” “Destruction Song,” “Make up Your Mind,” and I think one more, but I can’t remember which one it was. We did like four songs over there on his drum set and all the Clutch gear, and Jean Paul recorded, and it came out really good. We probably could have released it like that, but we wanted to go to the studio with Chris [Kozlowski] and really do it right. Some nice layering and some real good mics and separation and stuff. But we were working on the songs, and then, after we had those four, we got to the pad where we jam and we were like, “Man, we gotta get down five more songs.” A full-length record. So Kyle just started busting out riffs and I started busting out some lyrics and it all came to fruition.

I wanted to ask about the track “Force Fed Fear.” You get kind of political there.

Yeah’s that’s the drummer’s lyrics right there, because he writes lyrics as well. He definitely likes to get political with it, to show his views and what he thinks about the political situation going on right now, the economy, blah blah blah. He kind of makes it tongue-in-cheek, but I totally back him up on whatever he’s writing right there on “Force Fed Fear.” And it’s true. The government pretty much just tells you what you want to hear and that’s while they’re planning to fucking kill you (laughs), or make you poor or one of the two. The classes are separating. It’s almost like there’s no middle class anymore. It’s just poor motherfuckers and the filthy rich. So yeah, that’s kind of what it’s about, in a tongue-in-cheek sense.

Are you guys going to be doing more touring for Something Wicked?

Right now we’re just chilling for a second and I’m doing this and that and the other thing. I actually sang with Hank Williams III the other day. I did two shows with him, D.C., 9:30 Club. He’s a huge Earthride fan. He wants to get on stage and play the songs with us. We couldn’t do the shows, so he texted me back and he’s like, “Man, I learned ‘Something Wicked’ and ‘Fighting the Devils inside You,’” and we did two Pentagram songs too. We did “Be Forewarned” and “Forever My Queen.” Then, on the second show, we got out another song, “Trainwreck,” so we did five songs in total. I don’t know what’s going on here, but maybe Hank Williams is the new guitar player for Earthride (laughs). Not that Kyle’s not a genius, but god damn. That would get the band out there a little more (laughs). And he put on a big goat mask, on top of it. He wore this goat skull. It’s on YouTube, so you can check it out if you didn’t hear nothing of it yet, but yeah. And we got the soundcheck up there. He put that up. There’s a couple muddy videos and it sounds a little fuzzy, but for the most part it was cool as shit getting up there. He put this big goat mask on and shit, and his band knew the songs to the T. Maybe not the leads totally, but he was in the ballpark. And he gave me all the merch. We definitely got a good friend there. He was really thankful that we thanked him on the record and shit. The guy just really loves Earthride, and he’s just such a nice fella. Maybe some day I might do something with him, maybe his other project he’s working on right now, it’s called ADD Attention Deficit Domination. I might sing on a couple songs, he asked me to. You never know, you might see Sherman and Shelton on a record one of these days (laughs). The Sherman and Shelton show.

Any truth to the rumors of a Spirit Caravan reunion?

That is true. That’s very true. Me and Wino — he’s on the [Earthride] record too. He plays on the one track “Supernatural Illusion,” and he’s singing on there, and he plays a pretty crazy-ass lead. Sounds more Vitus-y. But me and him, we’ve been talking and shit, and he’s doing his Shrinebuilder and his Vitus right now, and I think he might even do another tour of his Wino thing, and I think he’s got an acoustic thing, but amongst all that stuff, I think we might be able to pull something out next year. Something might happen then.

Would you do a record or just shows?

I think we would re-release — I don’t know who’s gonna do it; that’s not confirmed — but Jug Fulla Sun never came out on vinyl, so we’d probably be backing that up. Bring that out on vinyl, and then you never know. Maybe we’ll do a song or two or something. Maybe we could work on something for the tour as well, a little EP or something. It’s just gonna take time, because obviously Wino’s real busy right now.

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4 Responses to “Earthride Interview: Dave Sherman Talks Something Wicked, Confirms Spirit Caravan Reunion Will Happen in 2011”

  1. Skillit says:

    Love that you brought up the stage moves, don’t forget diggin the grave!

  2. Mike says:

    Dude, a Spirit Caravan reunion would be a blessing. I love that band so much

  3. Nawel says:

    Nice interview. I would like to see a video of that stage moves…!

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