Six Dumb Questions with Akula

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on March 9th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


Those familiar with the vocal work of Columbus, Ohio-based vocalist Jeff Martin will find his presence recognizable in everything but context when it comes to the newcomer five-piece Akula. Known of course for his work fronting (from behind the drums) the fuzz-laced heavy rocking Lo-Pan, Martin brings his soulful melodicism to Akula as part of a lineup that includes bassist Scott Hyatt, guitarists Sergei Parfenov and Chris Thompson (the latter now also of Lo-Pan) and drummer Ronnie Miller, and the group’s self-titled first full-length incorporates a swath of atmospheric textures derived from progressive metal as ’90s alternative, post-rock and more beyond.

The album, Akula was given a digital self-release by the band in January in somewhat quiet fashion almost testing the ground to gauge an initial reception that, sure enough, came back in a positive response to the sharp chugging turns of 12-minute closer “Predators,” the open-spaced rolling groove of “Force Me Open” (10:07) the weighted ambient pulsations of opener “A Pound of Flesh” (9:19) and the post-doomer crash of “Born of Fire”‘s (9:27) blend of sonic reach and earthen nod. These four extended tracks would be all Akula needed to make that strong first impression, and in terms of both memorable songwriting and a stylistic ambitiousness, the self-titled indeed sounds like only the beginning of where the band might go in terms of ground they explore and just the first demonstration of a nuance of craft set to grow even more across subsequent outings.

Whether Martin‘s voice is the draw or you happen upon Akula through some other means — frankly, the pop in Miller‘s snare, Hyatt‘s tone on the low end and the fluidity with which Thompson and Parfenov lead transitions between claustrophobic riffing and broad-spaced soundscapes all make valid arguments in the 41-minute LP’s favor — the clearly-intended-to-be-two-vinyl-sides offering is immersive from the outset and rich in both sprawl and impact. I would not at all be surprised to find a physical pressing or two in the works for later this year, but in the meantime, Martin was kind enough to take some time to discuss the origins of the band and how the record came together in writing and recording, and whether or not Akula should be considered a side-project. Some of those responses might surprise you.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

akula akula

Six Dumb Questions with Akula

Tell me about Akula getting together. What was the impetus behind starting the band, and how much did you guys know going into the project what you wanted it to sound like?

Akula started when Lo-Pan had some downtime. I was feeling an overabundance of creative energy and I thought jamming with some different people and different styles might be a good way to channel some of that. This was before Chris [Thompson, guitar] joined Lo-Pan. I knew who he was and had seen a few of his previous bands play. I had been listening to a lot of heavier psychedelic stuff in the vein of Yob, Neurosis, and even some Mastodon. I knew Chris could do pretty much anything from seeing him play. I contacted him and asked if he would be interested in getting some people together for a purely fun project. He was all for it. I told him what I was thinking in terms of style and he said he actually already had some part ideas he had been messing around with that might be a fit.

We talked about bass players and drummers and rhythm guitarists and invited some guys to meet up and discuss. It all went pretty smoothly. And stylistically, everyone seemed to understand what we were looking for. A darker, heavier psychedelic sound with melodic vocals. Longer format and prog shifts seemed like a natural thing for everyone. So we got to work.

Talk about that sound for a bit. The album has such a sense of space to it, everything sounds very open and atmospheric, but still heavy. Was there something in particular you were looking to capture in terms of mood on the album?

I think there was a nebulous direction we were all going, but it’s always a mystery how it will actually shake out when you start playing. We all come from various genres of heavy music but also a mix of other types of music as well. Atmospheric was definitely where I wanted it to go. Chris brings that off-time heavy lead mentality to the songs and that was new for me. It was a challenge for me to add vocals to that. I am used to having very standard time signatures which allows me to weave in and out as much as I want to. In that feel, I can really add to the swing of a song. I really love heavy music that swings. But with Akula it took me a bit of effort to learn where the swing was. It’s definitely there. But with the off-time parts, I wanted to make sure that my swing wasn’t too hindered by the guitar parts. It’s not always easy. But I do enjoy the challenge of incorporating my vocal and lyrical style into a heavier format.

How does Akula’s songwriting process work? How does a track like “Force Me Open” come together, and what does each member of the band bring to it? When did you begin writing for the record?

Usually it all starts with a part idea from either Chris or Sergei. Those two will get together and work out a sort of skeleton format for a song. Then Scott and Ronnie will jam with them to build the rest. Adding parts. Changing parts. Removing parts. This will all happen over the course of a few weeks. Maybe even a month or two. “Force Me Open” probably took five months or more to reach a record-ready state.  And some of that is just time delays. Chris joined Lo-Pan about a year after we started Akula. Before we even had a name for Akula, actually. So Lo-Pan’s schedule definitely has an effect on the Akula writing process when it comes to time allocation for myself and for Chris.

Also everyone else in the band has quite a bit going on as well. Scott, our bassist is in a few different bands, mainly Bridesmaid, but also occasionally Horseburner and Siouxplex. He also has a career and a wife. Ronnie, our drummer is in another band (Artillery Breath) and travels quite a bit. Sergei, our rhythm guitarist has a family and runs a business. It all just takes time. We began writing the first record from the very first jam sessions. But I think it took around a year before we had our first two songs completed. All before we even discussed a name for the band.

We didn’t even play a show until around the 18-month mark. That was important for us when we started out. We wanted everything to happen in its own good time. No shows until we felt it was all ready to be played out. No recording until we have an album worth of material we all liked. No rushing whatsoever. It’s done when it’s done. And in the meantime we just have fun playing music and hanging out together. That was the first thing I said to everyone when we first got together. Those were the marching orders. No stress. Just fun.

No hassles. It’s done when it’s done. And we have really seen that through. It really is like that. We don’t fight. We all get along and we have a blast together. We play the shows we want to play. We go the direction we all decide is best.

Tell me about recording. It’s just four tracks, but they’re four pretty significant tracks. Where was the album done, how long were you in the studio and as your first release, how do you feel the outcome represents the band at this stage?

Recording could not have been a better process for us. We recorded this record at Sonic Lounge here in Columbus, Ohio. It’s a really killer studio with some outstanding equipment and it’s all run by Joe Viers. Chris had worked with Joe multiple times in other projects like Sleepers Awake. I worked with Joe on the last Lo-Pan release (In Tensions), and Scott had worked with him in his band Bridesmaid. Joe was our first choice and for me our only choice really. He just gets music and he’s a fantastic collaborator. He becomes like another member of the band. He makes strong suggestions and will hold you accountable when he knows you can play a part better or if you’re out of tune. And even vocally, I have found Joe to be an invaluable resource for ideas on harmonies and execution. I can’t say enough good things about the guy.

We did the entire album and mixing over the course of two weekends at Sonic Lounge. It was a real blast to make this album. I think as a first effort it reflects the entire timeline of the band to this point. You can hear the maturation of the songs. Or at least I can. “Born of Fire” was our first completed song. “Force Me Open” was the second completed song. Even between those two songs, I think you can hear a quantum shift. It’s pretty rewarding to see that growth as a group.

Of course, you’ve done plenty of touring over the years in Lo-Pan, but how much will Akula play out? Will you guys tour to support the album? How much is the band a side-project for you or anyone else involved?

As far as playing out goes, I think Akula takes a very methodical approach to things. We love to play live but we want live shows to be an addition to our experience, and not just a maintaining of status quo. So we are selective about frequency and overall makeup of shows. We are discussing a summer run to support this release.

I would say when we first started out this was definitely a side-project for all of us. And as it’s progressed it has really become an important project for everyone. I don’t know that I would still classify Akula as my side-project. It’s just a different project with a different sound and its own process.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

Akula is currently in talks to sign with an indie label to release our self-titled in physical format including vinyl. More to follow on that. We are also continuing to write new material which we will start road testing soon. Our next show is April 6 at Spacebar in Columbus with Royal Thunder and Pinkish Black.

Akula, Akula (2018)

Akula on Thee Facebooks

Akula on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , ,

Six Dumb Questions with Killer Boogie (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Six Dumb Questions on March 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

killer boogie

As I’m sure someone much wiser than myself once said, sometimes you got the boogie in you, you gotta let that boogie out. Such would seem to be the Marvel Cinematic Universe-esque origin story of Roman classic-style heavy rockers Killer Boogie, whose 2015 debut, Detroit (review here), and subsequent participation in a four-way split with The Golden Grass, Wild Eyes and Banquet (review here) has still left them with plenty of dancing demons to exorcise — or at least put to tape, depending on how you want to look at it. The band’s second long-player, Acid Cream, is an 11-track swirl-and-fuzz-o-thon that takes the heavy ’70s crotchal thrust of the first record and pushes it cosmic; an upward trajectory of caked-on reverb and vibe, vibe, vibe that makes songs like “Escape from Reality” and “Atomic Race” as tripped out as they are clued in.

That spacebound progression is a marked difference between Detroit and Acid Cream, and while no rule is absolute — “Am I Daemon” certainly has its earthbound shuffling aspects — the shift could hardly come at a more interesting time. Killer Boogie is comprised of drummer Luigi Costanzo, newcomer bassist Nicola Cosentino and killer boogie acid creamguitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori, the latter also the founder of Italian heavy psych forerunners Black Rainbows and the head of Heavy Psych Sounds Records and Booking, whose work promoting the Italian underground and really the wider sphere of boogie rock and heavy psych over the last five years is near-unparalleled. As Fiori brings Black Rainbows down to a more grounded approach with their new album, it somehow makes sense that some of those spacier impulses would show up in Killer Boogie, but there’s still plenty of proto-punk to be had in “Let the Birds Fly,” the odd interlude “Mississippi,” the Sabbath-chugging “The Black Widow” and even the grunge-laced penultimate cut, “The Day of the Melted Ice Cream,” which gives way to the testosterone space-drift of “I Wanna Woman Like You” to close out.

The fact that Killer Boogie have worked at a pretty quick clip isn’t such a surprise — between signing bands to his label, booking tours for himself and others, writing, recording and playing live, Fiori doesn’t seem much the type for stillness — but it’s the fact of the stylistic movement leading to Acid Cream, as well as the integration of Cosentino on bass, that most intrigues when it comes to the band’s second album, where it’s taking them sound-wise and how they might continue to push forward and perhaps outward from here. Do they have interplanetary boogie? Does it exist? We may get there yet.

Acid Cream is out this week on Heavy Psych Sounds. You can stream the album in full on the player below and check out a Q&A with Fiori about making the record after having done Detroit, changes in the band and much more.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions and full album stream:

Six Dumb Questions with Killer Boogie

Tell me about writing for Acid Cream? When did you start and what did you want to do differently coming off of Detroit?

Writing for Acid Cream, we had Nicola as a new bass player and we definitely wanted to go to the rehearsal space to have some fun and immediately after the first rehearsal we wrote three or four songs and we had a lot of new material, music, without shape. Rough songs, plus a couple of new songs already written down with our old bass player. So right in the summer last year, we had the drummer, Luigi, he had to go to work in Russia for one year, so we had to record all the songs in the summer or probably the second album of Killer Boogie would never see the light. So we’ve been a long time in the rehearsal, shaping all the songs, writing down the lyrics and stuff, and we just booked in full August, which is pretty calm around here because everything is stopping for the summer break, and we found a nice studio and we recorded pretty fast. In two days. There were a lot of songs. Different from Detroit? Well, Detroit was, I don’t know, maybe more spontaneous? I can’t really say, but also this record is spontaneous. Detroit was the first image of the band, and this is maybe a bit different but not so much. Detroit is very fresh, I can say. This one, to us, pretty nice songs, and we did update the sound of the band. The songwriting is a bit different, but not so much.

Obviously the influences are different, but is your writing process any different between Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie? Do you have preferred way of writing and putting together song ideas? How do tracks like “Atomic Race” and “The Black Widow” come about?

The writing process, maybe yes, with Killer Boogie, there is more improvising. It’s not really jam, because maybe I pop up with a killer riff and say, “let’s play this riff together,” and after that, maybe the process is more in the rehearsal space. Yeah, we jam and we try to write a song at the same time we just pop it up, I just pop it up with a riff. And yes, when we go in the rehearsal space with the Boogie there is definitely no rush, no push. We just go there to have fun. Of course there is always the strength of writing a song, so you need to spend time if you want to make a song with a start and an ending, so we definitely work on the songs, but the first approach is definitely more relaxed, and this less psychedelic, so maybe it’s more, “rock and roll, yeah, let’s do it!” “Atomic Race” and “The Black Widow,” I can say that in Black Rainbows and Killer Boogie, maybe all the songs sound killer, but when we record the voice on it, it doesn’t sound so good, and some other songs, like “Atomic Race,” you say, “Oh yeah, this is like a B-side song; I don’t think this would be so good,” and then you record the lyrics, you pop up with cool vocal melodies, and definitely the song takes another shape. So you never know until the end. Maybe you put some keyboard on it and the song definitely changes, so you never know about it. “Atomic Race” and “The Black Widow” comes out like the other ones, but maybe “The Black Widow” is one of the songs we wrote all together with Nicola, the new bass player, and we recorded it in a while.

Tell me about writing “Mississippi.” Have you ever been to the state? What does the song say about the place and its history?

Mississippi, no. I’ve never been to the state. The song doesn’t even have lyrics and vocals, so it’s just a tribute to the land of the blues. So it’s kind of a blues song. Short one. I think Nicola or Luigi gave the name of the song, because it was kind of a blues song. It was a song we just started to play. This is not some kind of riff that comes out. I just started digging with the guitar and everybody was starting playing, and we just had this interlude, short one, was nice. Maybe the recording is less spontaneous than when we recorded during the rehearsal, but it’s nice. I think it’s a nice song.

What was your time in the studio like for Acid Cream? How long did the recording process take, how was the album put together and what was the vibe like while you were working on it?

As I said before about the story of the recording, was pretty fast. We’re pretty fast in recording. If you’re a decent musician, you need to do a lot of rehearsal and of course if you’re not looking for the best of the sound, and if your ideas are really clear, you just go there and record. So we just built the studio in one day, made the sounds which we liked most, and we recorded I think from 9AM to 2PM, playing the tracklist like three or four times. That’s it. Then we chose the best takes. Mixing was a bit of a pain in the ass, because the guy from the studio, he has this fucking old studio where he has tape recorders we didn’t use, but he was working with software, so fucking old and freaky to use, which we lost a lot of time and we have a lot of bugs during the mixing, but in the end, we were pretty satisfied. It’s rough now.

Name the five best albums released in 1971.

Five best albums released in ’71. Well… Black Sabbath one. I had to see, I can’t recall any right now, all the ’71 records. I can definitely mistake. Caravan, In the Land of the Gray and Pink. Of course Master of Reality, which was the only one I remembered, and there’s Led Zeppelin IV, but I’m not crazy about Zeppelin IV, and yeah. And there is Sticky Fingers from Rolling Stones. I would say this one.

Any plans or closing words you want to mention?

We don’t have really plans because the drummer is in Russia and I’m pretty busy with the label and Black Rainbows. So for now, this exact moment, we just wanted to release the album and we will come back with some live shows soon but not so close. Probably the end of the year or next year we will try to arrange some kind of tour definitely. We want to go to Germany. We definitely know we have some audience there who want to see us live after we played Desertfest last year.

Killer Boogie on Thee Facebooks

Killer Boogie on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , ,

Sinistro Offer Track-by-Track Look at Sangue Cássia

Posted in Features on March 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan


While I’m sure it’s less of an issue for you because you’re more worldly and up on your stuff generally than I am, my ignorant American ass doesn’t speak Portuguese. Add it to a long and ever-growing list of sources of personal shames. The upshot of this, however is that when it comes to Lisbon-based doomers Sinistro and their third and latest album for Season of Mist, Sangue Cássia, most of what I’m going on in trying to understand the album and its eight component tracks — seven originals and a closing cover of Paradise Lost, with whom Sinistro toured Europe last fall — is second-hand knowledge and what of the overall mood I can derive from the atmosphere.

Fortunately, when it comes right down to it Sangue Cássia wants nothing for mood or atmosphere. Its doom runs through the pulsating emotionalist vein of the aforementioned Paradise Lost or even a melody-fronted My Dying Bride — lest we forget to mention top Portuguese metal exports Moonspell— with vocalist Patricia Andrade bringing significant character to pieces like “Petalas” and rolling 11-minute album opener and longest track (immediate points) “Cosmos Controle,” as well as the Euro-fest-ready loud/quiet trades and crawling tempo of “Abismo,” on which the guitars of Rick Chain and Ricardo Matias meet head-on with the low-end rumble of Fernando Matias‘ bass and the intermittent roll of Paulo Lafaia‘s drums, further synth ambience from Matias fleshing out an already deep-running arrangement mix.

And yet, amid this complexity of presentation — which, rest assred only grows more prevalent as the five-piece head toward the finale of “Cravo Carne,” though the threatrical “Nuvem” and “Gardenia,” which trades between some of the darkest metal and some of the brightest melodies oN Sangue Cássia as a whole — Sinistro maintain a sense of poise that lets them keep their feet firmly planted despite the swirling winds of the tempest they’ve created. Still, part of me sure would like to know what these songs are actually about, and fortunately the band was willing to comply with that desire — fucking imperialist American — and sent over the following brief track-by-track rundown.

Please enjoy:

sinistro sangue cassia

Sinistro, Sangue Cássia Track-by-Track:

“Cosmos Controle” explore different landscapes, ambience to describe a voyage. A lovers voyage lost in the night. A voyage into their feelings. Feeling so much it hurts.They lost each other.

“Lótus” Is a place where heaven in hell are together. Is an empty kingdom of a single man taking a peek  at emptiness in search of a divine encounter to save himself.

“Pétalas” Portrays an inner voyage in which existentialism is perpetuated , the escape, the mismatch. A plunge in our ruins to be reborn through purge.

“Vento Sul” Describe a state of mind where the questioning is permanent . The south wind is the element that will bring some answers. For that, you need to listen yourself and wait.

“Abismo” is a song where you get into a woman´s dialogue with mountain high walls. A place of two voices with wounds and wreckage sounds. From dialogue to a monologue,in silence, start a journey to find herself in and with the world.

“Nuvem” is a metaphor to speak about existence. In where do you want to see yourself and the impermanence of life.

“Gardénia” is a story about a woman who lives on the street describing her life memories and her loss.

“Cravo Carne” speaks about the age of fear, the time before the end. A reflexion about aging.

“Ferida” is a description about a man and his small town landscape as a form to ilustrate his soul wounds.

“Nothing Sacred” the song from Paradise Lost that we made a cover was a good challenge. We decided to choose a song that was not a obvious choice, in which the vocals would fit naturally.

Sinistro, Sangue Cássia (2018)

Sinistro on Thee Facebooks

Sinistro on Bandcamp

Sinistro at Season of Mist webstore

Season of Mist on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,

Nebula Interview & Full Album Stream Pt. 3: Dos EPs

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on February 27th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


[Click play above to stream the new reissue of Nebula’s Dos EPs in its entirety. Album is out March 2 via Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Please note: This interview is part three in a series of three. Part one is here. Part two is here.

With its graceful execution of desert psych in “Back to the Dawn,” the full-on fuzz assault of “Fall of Icarus” and the quintessential nodder groove and Rhodes-infused jammy excursion of “Fly On,” Nebula‘s Dos EPs represents the end of an era. It was originally issued in 2002 via MeteorCity, and it’s the last of the band’s releases to feature the trio’s original lineup of guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass, bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano. That in itself would be enough to earn it a place as a footnote in heavy rock history, but while it was culled together by collecting tracks from two prior short outings and thee previously unreleased cuts, here’s the thing about Dos EPs: it worked really well as a full-length album.

Eerily well.

Better, certainly, than it should have. Credit to the flow in Nebula‘s material generally, I suppose, that the 11 tracks on Dos EPs should just be molten enough generally to ooze together as a cogent single offering despite being captured in different sessions and initially put out separately in 1999 as the Man’s Ruin-released Sun Creature EP — “Rollin’ My Way to Freedom,” “Sun Creature,” “Smokin’ Woman” and “Fly On” — and a split with Sweden’s Lowrider — “Anything from You,” “Full Throttle,” “Back to the Dawn,” “Fall of Icarus.” These plus the new songs “Rocket,” the maddenly infectious “Long Day” and “Bardo Airways” comprise Dos EPs, and in so doing end up summarizing the scope from hard-driving heavy rock à la most-stoned-Motörhead to kraut-inspired layers of acoustic and electric guitar swirl. Though technically speaking, 2001’s Charged was the final Nebula long-player to be recorded with GlassAbshire and Romano, more often it’s Dos EPs marked out as the last full-length work the band did before they jumped from Sub Pop to short-lived Century Media offshoot Liquor and Poker Records and, losing Abshire in the interim, released  Atomic Ritual in 2003.

The new remaster of Dos EPs from Heavy Psych Sounds — aside from sounding fucking fantastic, as you can hear in the player above you stream the album ahead of its official March 2 release date– reorders the songs so that they apprear not mixed together as they originally were, but in the order from their initial releases. That is, you get the Lowrider split tracks, then you get the stuff from Sun Creature, then you get the material that had yet to show up anywhere else. Then of course on this version there are two bonus tracks included. This gives Dos EPs a somewhat more organized and linear feel, though again, the real highlight of the thing is the vibe Nebula are able to bring to bear in these songs. It’s something that, across whatever the band did afterwards and no matter who was involved, would never be quite the same again.

Before I wrap up this series, I’d like to thank Ruben Romano (now of The Freeks) personally for taking the time to discuss these three releases. It’s been great getting his side of the story about what any consider Nebula‘s highlight years. Thanks as well to Claire Bernadet for facilitating. The final Q&A follows here.

Please enjoy:

nebula dos eps

Where did the idea come from to compile Sun Creature and the Lowrider split onto a single disc? What about adding “Rocket,” “Long Day” and “Bardo Airways” to that mix? Do you consider Dos EPs a full-length album?

I think it was recording those three songs that gave us the idea to combine the two EP’s. It was like, we got three kick ass songs! What are we going to do with them? Man’s Ruin was done and the Sun Creature EP reverted back to us. MeteorCity was looking for a second release, whether it was a contractual thing or not I don’t know. Can’t remember everything. But Jadd Shickler was stoked on putting the MeteorCity stamp on it, so yes, we turned it into a full-length that never got released on vinyl until now with these reissues.

How did working with Man’s Ruin come about for Sun Creature? What did you think when you first saw Frank Kozik’s cover art? How about getting paired with Lowrider for that split? How did the two of you get hooked up?

I think that just being on the road a lot at that time, being a band from that era and in that scene is how it really came down to happening. Having the Fu Manchu connection, the Kyuss and QOTSA connection on top of kicking ass is how we got in with Frank and Man’s Ruin.

I have always enjoyed rock art! I have no idea how it happened but all of a sudden, in high school, I started receiving “art rock” catalogs. They were like 10-page pamphlets selling old rock posters from Rick Griffin, Stanley “Mouse” Miller, Victor Moscoso, etc. I would gaze at them for hours. It also featured comic art like Furry Freak Brothers, Wizard of Id, and a lot of Crumb. So when Kozik came around and then started dealing music I was thrilled. I expected more of that Kozik comic book character cover, like the label’s cat logo or his classic bunny rabbits, so when I saw this girl eating a mango I was totally surprised. And I thought to myself, She’s HOT!!!

We had nothing to do with the pairing with Lowrider, Man’s Ruin did all that. However, I remember the first time I met Peder [Bergstrand] from Lowrider, it was at Loppen in Christiania. This was way before that split happened, I believe we were touring with Unida at that time. I feel bad now because at that time he kind of annoyed me because I was trying to eat and he kept asking me questions that I couldn’t answer because I had food in my mouth. But after that, and then with the split, we became friends. Then I once had a random encounter with him in Barcelona, Spain. Ran into him while we were both on holidays, so we got our ladies and went out and had dinner together. I can say I’m totally still friends with him, a cool and funny person for sure.

This was the last release with the original lineup. Looking back on it now, how do you feel about what you, Eddie and Mark were able to accomplish in those early years together? Any specific memories of recording or touring you’d like to share from this time?

They were my brothers, I was completely and totally loyal to Nebula at that time. I mean, I was totally loyal to Fu Manchu as well when I was a part of that. When I’m into something, I’m into it 110 percent. I declined so many invitations and missed opportunities to jam with other people and other bands because I was already in a band that I truly believed in, admired and was devoted to. We were a gang! We did accomplish a lot, there’s no doubt about it. The memories I have could fill a book — how cliché is that? — but it’s true.

From tour managers getting into fistfights with bus drivers to getting teeth knocked out trying to tackle the roadie. From getting left behind in Sweden while the bus is already in Denmark. Hitting every go kart track that we saw on the highway no matter how late we were. Having to save someone from imminent jail time for tossing a cigarette butt on a Spanish tarmac while flipping the bird at the pilot because I was the only one who spoke Spanish. Always looking back and Ninja Luke always being there without fail and on cue ready to torch the gong! Being told “Hey, those aren’t walnuts, those are psychedelic truffles! Did you eat all those?”

All those times and many more were all specific! The places I’ve seen, the people I met and the friends I’ve made. Man, I loved touring and those two were right there beside me.

Anything else you’d like to say about Dos EPs in particular?

Out of all these reissues, I always loved the cover for Dos EPs the best. Taken from a book cover I found in the children section of the public library entitled “LSD” and having Mark superimpose us within it. It came out beautiful! I am so stoked to finally see that one released as a 12”.

Nebula on Thee Facebooks

Nebula at Heavy Psych Sounds webstore

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , ,

Six Dumb Questions with All Souls

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on February 21st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

all souls photo Memo Villasenor

There is an entire league of brutally underrated crafters of heavy rock and roll whose greatest misfortune, perhaps, was being active before the ascendancy of social media made ‘word of mouth’ as simple as cutting and pasting a link to a news feed, and it is to this number that Tony Aguilar belongs. Together with Meg Castellanos, Aguilar stood at the helm of the raw, bold and deeply individualized outfit Totimoshi for more than a decade before their 2011 outing, Avenger (review here), served as their final triumph and swansong, and after a few years of exploring flamenco and folk influences together in Alma Sangre as well as tour managing for the likes of Sleep and the Melvins, the urge to reestablish a footing in heavy music asserted itself, and All Souls began to take shape.

Of course, no story is ever quite that simple, but as All Souls issued their self-titled debut (review here) on Feb. 9 through Sunyata Records and quickly took off on a UK tour alongside Fatso Jetson, that footing sure seems to have been found. Comprised of Aguilar on guitar/vocals, Castellanos on bass/vocals, Erik Trammell of Black Elk on guitar and backing vocals, and Tony Tornay, also of Fatso Jetson, on drums, All Souls offer nine songs of varied moods but universal impact on the self-titled, reminding of the strength that was in Aguilar and Castellanos‘ songwriting process during the Totimoshi days but building outward as well and covering new ground thanks to the contributions of Trammell and Tornay to the mix. A production job by Toshi Kasai blends weighted crunch with fluid layering on songs like “Money Man” and “Sadist/Servant,” the latter of which trades between open stretches of melancholia and some of the record’s most forceful percussive impact, making the entire experience more engaging, cohesive and sincere.

I’ve already reviewed the album, so I’ll spare you any further blah blah blah about how I think it’s worth your time and the effort of an active listen and just get to the interview. As All Souls just wrapped that tour with Fatso Jetson — Tornay pulling double-duty at his kit — it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the story behind the band’s origins, how they came together after the slow dissolution of Totimoshi, and where they might be headed after this initial collection. Fresh from the road, Aguilar was kind enough to accommodate.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

all souls all souls

Six Dumb Questions with All Souls

Tell me about getting All Souls together. How did Erik Trammell and Tony Tornay get involved? Was there a specific impetus behind forming a new rock-style project, and when it came to it, what was behind the decision to not simply bring back Totimoshi? What are the differences between the two bands for you?

The rock music community is a small world, especially if you’re in a touring band. All the members of All Souls have been friends for years. Before the forming of our band, Meg and I had known Erik Trammell and Tony Tornay for probably 20 years. We met Erik back in the ’90s when he was in the band Wadsworth. Later his band Black Elk used to play shows with Totimoshi. Meg and I met Tony Tornay back in the ’90s as well when Fatso Jetson opened for Kyuss at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco.

When Meg and I moved to L.A., I got a job working for the Melvins, which turned into working for Neurosis and Sleep, which led to me being on road for nine months out of the year. I really believe that cost me Totimoshi. Being absent is not good for a band. Eventually, Chris Fugitt, the drummer in Totimoshi ended up moving back to Kansas City because of a job offer. Totimoshi tried to continue with new drummers but it just didn’t feel right. After Totimoshi ended, Meg and I started an acoustic band called Alma Sangre that incorporates Spanish guitar with flamenco dance. It was sort of a venture into a completely different type of songwriting and singing (I sing in Spanish with sort of a Chavela Vargas-type of delivery).

As that went on I got the itch to be in a rock band again, which eventually led me to starting a band called Last Days of Ancient Sunlight with my friend Ferdie [Cudia] from the band 400 Blows. We were a band for about a year and a half — even recorded a full length that never came out because of in-fighting. All this time, Tony Tornay and I would see each other occasionally and throw around the idea of starting a band. We even jammed a few times. About the time Last Days broke up Erik Trammell moved back to Los Angeles from Austin. I had set Erik up with a friend of mine that rented a room to him. Erik and I talked one day and the idea of writing together came up. Which is how All Souls basically started. Erik Trammell and I sitting in my spare room — him playing guitar and me mostly singing. Over the course of a few weeks we came up with the bare structure for three songs which I sent to Tony Tornay. Tony liked it; then TornayErik and I talked and decided on Meg for bass because we liked her playing and felt a female vocal would add something special. That’s how All Souls was born.

Personally, the difference between All Souls and Totimoshi is All Souls is way more developed. It’s 10 times the visual, 10 times the feel and strength of Totimoshi. It’s literally the band I always dreamed of being in. It is also more art by committee that Totimoshi ever was. I tended to be a bit of a dictator in Totimoshi. With All Souls, the I has turned into we. We all write, we all write well, we all trust. All Souls involved.

When were the songs for the self-titled written, and were they written with any specific goals in mind? Was there something in particular you wanted the album to express?

Before the band ever played together we sat at a table and discussed how we were going to proceed. This was Tony Tornay‘s idea and I still think back with fondness to that evening. We drank wine and discussed music… more importantly we discussed what we wanted All Souls to be. From what I remember we wanted female/male energy (no overly macho bullshit). We wanted the songs to decide the length of the song — not some ridiculous formula. We wanted dark music that illuminates, and we wanted deep complex melody. We talked about bands that we loved, but that’s a secret. Over the course of about a year we made this all come to fruition.

Tell me about being back in the studio with Toshi Kasai. How long were you there? What was the recording process like? You worked with him of course with Totimoshi, but how was it different this time and what did he bring to the table as a producer? What was it about him that let you know he was the guy for the job?

Meg, Erik, and myself had all worked with Toshi Kasai prior to All Souls. Tony Tornay listened to his work and agreed that Toshi was the guy. We are all friends with him, know and love him and respect his vision as a producer. Toshi has a very specific way of recording and mixing that we love. Personally, I feel that because we have worked so much together — we understand and trust each other. We recorded with Toshi in three different sessions. The goal was to write three songs, rehearse the shit out of the three songs, record the three songs, then move on to the next three. Over the course of about a year all nine songs were recorded at Toshi‘s Sound of Sirens Studio.

Is it any different working with Meg in All Souls as opposed to Totimoshi or in Alma Sangre? Not looking to pry, but how do you view the interaction between the personal relationship and the creative one? How interrelated are they?

Meg and I have been in a relationship for 27 years. That is 27 years of dreaming, writing, traveling and working together, and I don’t see us slowing down. We understand each other very well as people and as artists. That dynamic plays very similarly in each artistic endeavor that we have been a part of but I do feel that All Souls is our first real and true collaboration with other people. I feel like for the most part Totimoshi and Alma Sangre was basically Meg and I doing most of the major work and allowing input from other people that were involved. All Souls is a real and true circle of collaboration. Not only do we all write, but we all work on the forward movement of the band. I’ve never really been in a band until now that literally has every member of the band networking, setting up shows, tours, and dealing with PR. Namely, the business side of things. Before All Souls it seemed that it was always up to Meg and myself. It is truly a great thing to see, but I’m not surprised — we all sat at the table and drew this thing up. That is the strength of this project.

How was touring the UK with Fatso Jetson? How did Tony handle pulling double-duty on drums, and how much road Eme do you ulEmately think All Souls will do in the US and abroad?

The tour was amazing. There is nothing like playing and touring with not only friends but a band you consider a true inspiration. Tony Tornay was powerhouse on this tour — and he did it while fighting the flu!! He’s part man, part machine. We were well received everywhere we went, we got to see some incredible towns and meet some great people. One of the most amazing things we saw was people traveling from great distances to come see the show, some flying in from other countries. Some fans came to multiple shows. I think I can speak for all the members when I say we are hoping to tour as much as humanly possible. What better thing is there in life?

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Our first album is done and we are already writing for the next. All Souls forever!

All Souls on Thee Facebooks

All Souls on Twitter

All Souls on Instagram

All Souls on Bandcamp

All Souls website

Sunyata Records on Thee Facebooks

Sunyata Records website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Full Album Stream & Track-by-Track: Supernaughty, Vol. 1

Posted in Features on February 19th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


From Kyuss-style careening to toughguy creeper chug, it’s abundantly clear throughout their debut album that Italian four-piece Supernaughty have done their homework when it comes to engaging with classic heavy rock. They pull influence from masters of the form throughout songs like “Bad Games,” “The Slicers” and “Kiss the Death,” executing crisp songcraft and a subtly varied approach along the way, the penultimate “Y.A.T.” pushing into lumbering instrumental exploration as it nears the seven-minute mark while opener “Mistress” and closer “Fuck’n Drive” opt for a more straightforward tack.

Comprised of vocalist Angelo Fagni and drummer Alessio Franceschi, both also of Cora, bassist Andrea Burroni — since replaced by Luca Raffoni — and guitarist Filippo del Bimbo, also of underrated Argonauta Records labelmates Bantoriak, despite their Sabbath-referencing name, there’s very little about Suprenaughtythat veers into doom. If one looks specifically at the interaction between “Mistress” and “Fuck’n Drive” at the beginning and the end of the record — not to mention “The Slicers” in between — there are elements not only of ’90s and ’00s-era greats like Kyuss and Dozer, but their acolyte practitioners like Truckfighters and Deville as well.

It would seem to be the latter class that Supernaughty are trying to enter with their debut release, and it’s an ambitious league to enter for a band their first time out. Still, for having their sound as tightly presented as they do, Supernaughty give a clear impression of knowing who they are and what they want to do as a band. I don’t imagine they’re finished growing together as a unit, and Vol. 1 has some bite to its mix that the band might smooth out overtime in terms of balancing the vocals and guitars and so on, but it’s a raucous, classic-minded heavy rocker that winds up looking to have a good time, and as the motor-ready “Fuck’n Drive” hits the streets to make its final statement, the band sound like they’re nothing if not ready to get on the move.

Today they take us briefly through the Vol. 1, one track at a time, and you can read what they had to say and check out a full stream of the album below. Vol. 1 is out now on Argonauta Records.

Please enjoy:

Supernaughty, Vol. 1 Track-by-Track

01. Mistress

The heavy riffing opening track “Mistress” wants clearly show the powerful sound of the band. It talks about different relationships between women and men and the need that the slave has towards his mistress.

02. Bad Games

Most ’90s-influenced track, mixing heavy rock style with early grunge attitude. On “Bad Games,” we wonder who ‘drives the human race’ underlining absurd choices that ‘the power’ make everyday.

03. The Slicers

Mostly influenced stoner rock song, “The Slicers” moves through powerful riff and melodic singing. The meaning of this song is about unsatisfied persons ruining other people’s lives.

04. Andy’s Abduction

This is one of our favourite tracks. Freely inspired by the ’90s movie, Robert Lieberman’ Fire in the Sky. The story of Trevis Walton’s alien abduction, here, is re-adapted for our friend Andy. It’s a monolithic riff slowly that becomes a kind of psychedelic trip.

05. Kiss the Death

The story behind this track is about a dream interpretation: It warns from any wrong choices that we could make in our life but we do it anyway. Starting with acid guitar intro, “Kiss the Death” has a heavy verse and melodic refrain.

06. YAT

Literally “Young Amoeba’s Theory,” recalling the destructive nature of parasites. Unlike predators, parasites typically do not kill their host, but live on their host for an extended period. Here the parallelism is with a young lady. Music switches between powerful and granitic choruses and verses, that guide the listener to a psychedelic final vortex to hell.

07. Fuck’n Drive

This classical rock ‘n’ roll track was chosen to close the album just because sounds different than the other tracks, while the heavy bluesy closure along with the lyrics, sum our vision to be in band and have fun.

Supernaughty on Thee Facebooks

Argonauta Records on Thee Faceboks

Tags: , , , , ,

Nebula Interview & Full Album Stream Pt. 2: To the Center

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on February 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


[Click play above to stream the new reissue of Nebula’s To the Center in its entirety. Album is out Feb. 16 via Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Please note: This interview is part two in a series of three. Part one is here. Part three arrives Feb 27.

Recording with Jack Endino.Road-dogging it on tour so you don’t have to say home and pay rent. Signing to Sub Pop after running into label head Megan Jasper in the produce aisle at a grocery store and winding up signed to of the most influential undergoing imprints of all time as a result. Seeming to consume an entire interstellar mycelial network of mushrooms in the process. To hear original drummer Ruben Romano tell it, it was just all part of being in Nebula around the time of their 1999 debut LP, To the Center.

No wonder it’s one of the best stoner rock records of all time, with a band of laid back electric and acoustic guitars, a bevvy of languid desert grooves and some more driving fare for the punkers in the crowd. Nebula‘s proper debut EP, Let it Burn (discussed here). Still, as Nebula were living out this process of rock and roll daydreams, all was no exactly well in the band, and by the time they got around to releasing 2001’s Charged, their second and final offering for Sub Pop, it would prove to be the final outing for the original Nebula lineup of Romano, guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass and bassist Mark Abshire as well.

But at this point, with To the Center and its languid blend of more-laid-back-than-thou riffs and acoustic strums, psychedelic sitars and space rocking freakout jams, with its Randyo Holden and Stooges covers — “Between Time” and “I Need Somebody,” respectively — it was a goddamn party and it certainly sounds like one on the album. In the interview that follows, Romano tells a couple quick but choice stories about what it was like to be in Nebula at this time.

You’ll find the Q&A under the artwork for To the Center, which again, is out on Heavy Psych Sounds Feb. 16.

Please enjoy:

nebula to the center

To the Center Q&A with Ruben Romano

How did the band change coming off of Let it Burn and moving into To the Center? Was there anything specific you knew you wanted to do from one release to the other?

What changed was that we now were total road dogs. Touring was all we did and when we were not on the road we were always in the rehearsal room. The specific thing that we wanted to do from one release to the other was to keep on doing it! All we wanted was to keep Rolling our way to Freedom.

Tell me about writing the album. How did the songs come together and what was that period of time like for you as a band?

We toured so much that we became a super tight band and things happened naturally. Playing with Eddie and Mark came easy. While we were on the road we would be jamming a riff at soundcheck, those brief in between tour moments were spent in rehearsal rooms jamming. Eddie also had a back catalog of four-track demo songs that we pulled from, and one that he wrote with his friend Neil Blender was pulled as well. Then jamming on covers of songs that we all loved, liked The Stooges and Randy Holden started sounding and feeling good. So we included those as well and all of a sudden we had 12 songs that comprised To the Center. At that period of time the band was extremely busy. It kept us from having to pay rent, so the time off the road became shorter and shorter.

You’d already recorded with Jack Endino for Sun Creature and the Lowrider split. What was it about the experience that brought you back to him? What did he capture in Nebula’s sound?

Jack was a cool guy. We worked well with him the first time around and he really dug what we were doing. I think we really impressed him during those To the Center sessions with our knowledge of great obscure underground music, like The Groundhogs. He was the biggest fan of Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs and was stoked when we brought them up in giving him production ideas of what we wanted to achieve. After that he wore his Groundhogs shirt a few times during those sessions. The other thing that he captured for Nebula was clamping the Sub Pop deal. How did that happen? Well, before that session started, we finished a European tour and flew back to New York were we crashed for a good week. That’s when we entered LoHo Studios and recorded the other half of those two EPs. If I recall properly we also just finished a deal and got signed to a label called Zero Hour. So, going into record for them, that’s where the plan to return to Jack came about as we got into the van and toured back across the

US ending in Seattle. That’s where Jack was, so returning to recording with Jack fit perfect. A week after the session started is when Zero Hour just disappeared – no contact at all! The phone was dead. Jack was so cool that he goes, “Let’s finish this anyways and figure it out later.” Now, at the same time we took a food break and, with Jack, we went to a grocery store. In that grocery store we happened to bump into Megan Jasper in the produce department. Head of Sub Pop. Her and Jack spoke a bit and that’s where the spark happened, that’s how we got connected to Sub Pop: a random meeting at a grocery store in Ballard, Washington.

Anything else you’d like to say about it in particular?

I liked Ballard, Washington. What a great memory!

Nebula on Thee Facebooks

Nebula at Heavy Psych Sounds webstore

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds on Twitter

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Tags: , , , , ,

Six Dumb Questions with Black Space Riders

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on February 7th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

black space riders

At this point I’ve heaped praise on Black Space Riders‘ new album, Amoretum Vol. 1, in any number of contexts. There was the initial release announcement (posted here), the video posted for “Another Sort of Homecoming” (posted here), the review and track premiere for “Lovely Lovelie” (review here) that went up last month, then another video, this one for the electro-jazz hypnosis of “Movements” (posted here), and even a couple weeks ago a vinyl giveaway set up through the band themselves (posted here).

And you know what? If Black Space Riders had another video tomorrow, or a tour announcement, or whatever, I’d post that shit too. The underlying point of all of it is that I believe — particularly for those who can approach it with an open mind — Amoretum Vol. 1 genuinely has something special to offer. I’ll spare you further laudits and no rehash flowery descriptions of the progressive bent that unites the sonically varied material in its expressive purposes and instead just say that I hope the Amoretum series does indeed continue and that if you haven’t yet, you invest a little time and mental energy into getting to know the album, because it is absolutely worth the effort of the real engagement it demands.

As to the actual talking, this time around I’ll leave it to guitarist/vocalist/organist/programmer JE — joined in the band by the silhouettes above of vocalist Seb, drummer/percussionist C.RIP, guitarist SLI, bassist SAQ and (more recent) bassist MEI — as he explains the motivations behind where Black Space Riders go thematically and sound-wise this time around, their new deal with Ripple Music that will result in wider US distribution of their material, being driven by the music first, letting love rule, and much, much more. He’s obviously someone who cares very deeply about what he does, and I think that comes through here as much as in the songwriting of Black Space Riders as a group.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Black Space Riders Amoretum Vol 1

Six Dumb Questions with JE of Black Space Riders

How did the Amoretum idea come about? What was it you were looking to say about the world after Refugeeum? Give me some background on the perspective from which you approached the concept coming into this album.

For us the idea behind Refugeeum was very earthly, very concrete, we felt being between anger and hopelessness, coping with the current events that we were facing in 2014/2015, when we were writing the album. We needed to do that back then, because we felt deeply touched by all the pain and suffering, we had to “leave the orbit” and make a statement.

After releasing the album it was very clear that we didn’t want to repeat that in any way but if you take a look around two years later and notice: “hey, the world didn’t really has become a better place since then …. is it really getting worse??,” you can’t just turn around and move on.

We really wanted to reintroduce some additional joyful, less grave and less serious colours into our music and our lyrics. We wanted to write songs and lyrics to dance to and to smile to ….e.g. I always wanted to write about “love” in a non-embarrassing way. And on the other hand there still was the awareness that we all are moving faster and faster towards really dark times.

In the end we opened ourselves to all these positive and negative feelings and started writing about the confrontation and disunity of fear/anger/hate vs. love/empathy/joy. And once there was this picture of a “sheltered garden of love and blossoming,” threatened by all the darkness around, leading us to create a new word for this imaginary place: Amoretum, consisting of “Arboretum” and “Amor.”

Which came first, the idea for what Amoretum would be or the songs? How does the Black Space Riders songwriting process work for you at this point? Do you compose around a specific idea or improvise and see what fleshes out? How much does everyone in the band contribute?

We are musicians and not poets. The music always comes first. The vocals in our idea of making music are additional instruments and timbres. And when we are writing lyrics it’s sometimes more important how these words sound as a part of the music than the exact meaning of the sentences. We want to create something like a holistic picture, consisting of songwriting, sound, attitude, song titles, lyrics and artwork that may trigger the listener‘s association, that can turn on something like an “inner movie” in the listener’s head. And the music is always the starting point.

After recording the songs for Refugeeum and the Beyond Refugeeum EP we returned to our headquarters — our rehearsal room — and just jammed, recorded, created new music without any pressure, without any idea what will be, without any masterplan.

Our way of composing has developed over the years. For the first albums we were often working on and arranging song ideas that I had designed and drafted before.

Now most of the songs result from jamming and letting flow. But of course there is always a starting point: most times a guitar riff, sometimes a drum pattern or a sequencer pattern or a piano melody. Then usually our drummer C.RIP is stepping in as second and is pushing the idea into a rhythmical direction. First everybody is really listening and is then joining at that point, when he feels, he has an idea what he could contribute and what is missing. In the end every member is contributing.

We record everything in the rehearsal room. We had recorded more than 10 hours of new music only six months after Refugeeum. Our drummer C.RIP is listening and sorting out the ideas and then we continue working on the best ideas and spent a lot of attention in arranging the songs. When we enter the studio we have finished songs with finished arrangements.

Tell me about recording Amoretum. How long were you in the studio? What was the time like when you were there? You’ve been through recording sessions many times over at this point. Do you know what you want in terms of sound when you go in?

This time we recorded all together 22 tracks, almost two hours of music, which took us about two weeks. One to two days are for soundchecking (a good and natural drum sound takes time and as we use a lot of different guitar amps, cabinets and setups in the different songs, we carefully work on these sounds as well). Then about five or six days for live-recordings. This was more than for the previous records but it was so much music with so many details this time. We record all basic tracks live and “oldschool,” in one room: drums, bass and guitars. Good friends locked in one room, that’s good for the feeling, the atmosphere and the sound as well. After that we recorded vocals, additional guitar effects and overdubs (e.g. some keyboards or guitar solos) in another five to six days.

We are working with ROLE in his Tonmeisterei in Oldenburg. (Role Wiegner, Back in 2009, I had proposed his studio to the other members for the first album, because I liked some of his recordings, his sound and his philosophy. Since that time we are working with him. He has become a good friend and a kind of additional band member. We know each other very well.

We recorded in three sessions spread over about five weeks. When we are in the studio we are working highly concentrated from 11AM-11PM. It‘s an atmosphere of creativity, friendship, concentration, work, fun and a lot of discussion. After 11PM, we are leaving the studio to find a place which is still serving some food and some drinks. Then sleep in the studio, having breakfast together, working on some lyrics (some of them were written and finished during the recording time) or checking the guitar setup.

Our common idea of how we want to sound and how we can get there with recording and microphone technique is growing and developing from album to album. For the first album we wanted a warm fat analogue transparent classic sound — the contradiction to “modern.” My reference album was Paranoid by Black Sabbath then. So I listened with ROLE and the band members to this album in order to understand what made its production so special. We then also listened to other reference albums such as Tres Hombres (ZZ Top) and By a Thread (Gov’t Mule). That was our first album and the starting point. From then on we never used other external reference albums again to find our way, but we started discussing after we had an idea of how the material on the new album would be, what we wanted to change for the next album. We always first discuss it in the band and then I am visiting ROLE in Oldenburg, play the rehearsal recordings to him and tell him about our sound vision. Then we discuss several ways to get there with different concepts.

For Amoretum we wanted to keep our fat, analogue “soundcore” but add a touch of hi-fi (not too much?!). We wanted more openness, a “bigger” sound: more cymbals, more “room,” like rays of light in the darkness.

Is there a set idea in your mind for what makes Black Space Riders’ style its own? How do you feel about the way the band has progressed since the self-titled? How much of that progression happens on purpose?

We don’t have a masterplan. Neither for our musical “career,” nor for progression or development. We have the privilege to be totally independent so we can do whatever we want. We all have a lot of different musical influences, experiences and favourites, from metal, hardcore, punk, wave, pop, indie to electronic music, trip-hop, funk, jazz, folk and reggae.

From album to album we allowed more influences to enter but still we sound like ourselves. That is something I am really proud of. We can add electronics, funky elements, a dub-reggae feeling and new wave and the result is still Black Space Riders. I believe that is because we have a special signature way we sound, a very groovy rhythmic approach compared to a lot of other rock bands and a special liking for melancholic yearning moods, melodies and atmospheric sound textures.

The progression is just happening. We allow more and more and we like it. And as I said above as our music is increasingly coming from playing together and letting flow. It just happens.

When might we see Amoretum Vol. 2 arrive? Is the next installment written? Recorded? How might it differ from Vol. 1, and are there any lessons you’ve learned from making the first part you’ll bring to the second?

Vol. 2 is written, recorded, mastered and ready to embrace the world a bit later this year. And let me just say you don‘t have to wait until the end of 2018.

We focused on 22 tracks before entering the studio and recorded and produced all of them. And somehow we loved each single track, there were no b-sides in our opinion. The dilemma was: what to do with so much music?

We really thought about releasing a triple-vinyl album like Joe‘s Garage (Frank Zappa) or Sandinista! (The Clash) back then. But who has the time, passion, attention span and is willing and able to listen to almost two hours of music in one piece?

And we want people to listen to the whole album and not only to selected tracks. For us making an album is so much more than to string together a couple of recorded tracks. We want to take people on a trip over the entire record. It should feel like an inspiring, adventurous journey. Creating a permanent flow, a kind of symmetry and a special logic is important for us and this requires the best possible sequence of the songs.

This is a huge challenge if you want to do it for 22 tracks. There are so many options. In the end we decided to split Amoretum into two parts: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

In my opinion Vol. 1 is very compact, diverting, almost accessible; eight tracks in 45 minutes. For a band that is used to release albums with a running time between 60 and 80 minutes, that’s very (cough) “short.”

Vol. 2 has a somehow different character. We are talking about 14 tracks and a running time of a little less than 70 minutes. Very diverse tracks concerning mood, sound, atmosphere style and tempo. Compared to Vol. 1, it’s like a wild hunt.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

No masterplan! Let’s see what is going to happen. Good news for North America: our new collaboration with the California-based label Ripple Music will make this album (and hopefully our back catalogue as well) so much easier available for our friends and fans overseas. What else? My pathetic conclusion: we believe that in the end you can’t fight hate with hate. Let us overcome the fear and embrace the world with empathy. Let love rule!

Black Space Riders, “Movements” official video

Black Space Riders webstore

Black Space Riders on Thee Facebooks

Black Space Riders on Twitter

Black Space Riders on Bandcamp

Tags: , , , , , ,