The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jasper Hesselink of No Man’s Valley

Posted in Questionnaire on February 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

jasper hesselink no mans valley

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Jasper Hesselink of No Man’s Valley

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I am a singer, a writer of lyrics, a writer of reviews, a teacher of English, and a father of two girls (age 8 and 11). I have always wanted to play in bands so I made it happen from the moment it was possible. I even studied English to be able to write better lyrics ;) So far I have played over 200 shows, made three EPs and two full-length albums. At the moment The Netherlands has quite a severe lockdown so we have not able to practice normally for months. I have started my own music blog Weirdo Shrine to kill some time and because I love to discover new music and practice my writing: https://weirdoshrine.wordpress.com/

Describe your first musical memory.

Well, I am well in my thirties, so my first experiences discovering bands were all through tape trading, borrowing CDs from my friends’ bigger brothers and so on. Getting into heavier rock music for me started with Iron Maiden’s first 10 albums. I don’t think I ever played any other band as much as them. I sometimes miss those days when you really had to hunt music down and it wasn’t so easily available as these days. Finding an album and buying it was a completely different experience than it is today.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

My best musical memories probably stem from playing live with No Man’s Valley. Our best gigs were probably supporting The Stranglers and meeting them backstage was a dream come true too. My best memory however was playing Freak Valley Festival in 2018. We had some bad luck because the generator supporting the stage broke down in the middle of our set, but it turned out pretty great because the whole crowd started singing along to the song even while they didn’t know the lyrics. It so heartwarming when a crowd is there for you, even when you strike bad luck like that. I shook a lot of hands afterwards at the merch stands, that made me feel like a million bucks.

This is what that looked like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sr3wI6z3AMo&ab_channel=NoMan%27sValley

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Well I believe The Netherlands where I live is a safe place, and that you should be able to go wherever you want to at any time. I used to ride my bike everywhere and at any time, but this one night I was hit by a motorbike which skidded to the ground. I was unharmed, and I got up to check on the people on the motorbike but when I got there this guy started attacking me. I was so stunned I didn’t even move while this guy just kept hitting me with his fists. That’s when I saw the gun. Apparently he dropped it when his motorbike hit me. He picked up the gun and I started running, he shot at me seven times and somehow missed. That was a huge test for my belief in safe and dull Holland to be honest. Much later I wrote the song “7 Blows” about that experience.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Who cares really haha, I have learned that it doesn’t really matter where your artistic progression leads you, as long as it still takes you places. For me and my band music has always been such an incredibly important outlet. It’s like an ongoing therapy session sometimes haha. As long as it still means that for us it’s worth doing and it doesn’t really matter what the outcome is.

How do you define success?

Just being able to live in the moment, creating something out of nothing, and really enjoying what you doing while doing it is a success to me. Another level of success for me is to be able to juggle all the different parts of my life without compromising too much, I’m still working on that ;)

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

The Blair Witch Project. I don’t think I ever walked comfortably in a forest after seeing that.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I still really like to write and record a mega jam. We are bad at that, we mostly write song-songs. We are working on it at the moment but Corona is slowing us down unfortunately. The working title is “Flight of the Sloths” so perhaps you can imagine what it will sound like!

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

Practicing the magic of creating something out of nothing.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Hugging a bunch of people once this shit show is over. I am pretty introverted so I don’t really miss it all that much, but it’s been a year since I hugged my mom and dad and my sister so I am very much looking forward doing that again.

www.nomansvalley.com
https://www.facebook.com/nomansvalley
https://twitter.com/nomansvalley
https://instagram.com/nomansvalley/
nomansvalley.bandcamp.com
https://www.facebook.com/Tonzonen/
https://www.instagram.com/tonzonenrecords/
https://www.tonzonen.de

No Man’s Valley, Outside the Dream (2019)

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alex Risberg of 10,000 Years

Posted in Questionnaire on February 17th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

alex risberg 10000 years

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Alex Risberg of 10,000 Years

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I’m a musician who plays in a band. I just look at it as playing metal, basically, and I have been doing just that for about seventeen years now. Music has always been an incredibly huge part of my life and it’s something that’s always there. I think about it all the time, I listen to it and play it myself as often as I possibly can. I started my first band in 2004 with my brother and a couple of friends and I’ve been playing in bands from then on. It’s just something that I absolutely love to do and I can’t see myself ever not doing it.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first really vivid musical memory, that I actually remember for myself and haven’t been told by a parent or something, is my dad buying me and my brother a copy of the Kiss-collection “Greatest Kiss” back in -97. I’m sure there are several other instances where music played a part in my early life, since my dad’s a drummer and there was always music playing at his place, but this is something that I know for sure is my memory, and mine alone. I distinctly remember sitting on the floor of my dads old apartment and putting that CD on, and when “Detroit Rock City” kicked in… Wow. There was no turning back from that. That record blew me away in so many ways and besides getting me truly, deeply hooked on music it made me a lifelong member of the Kiss Army.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

In 2012 my old band Pike released our debut album, To Cross The Great Divide, but since we all lived in different parts of Sweden we unfortunately couldn’t play live as much as we might have wanted to. But one of the shows we did play that year was so epic it made up for the rest.

My buddy David Johansson from Kongh told me they had gotten offered the support slot for Baroness show in Stockholm that July. They had turned it down but he had told the promoter about Pike instead, and sure enough we got an email that same day. This was like two-three days before the show was scheduled. Of course we said yes, Baroness being one of our favourite bands, and then we scrambled to get the logistics together, being so spread out, plus we hadn’t played together at all for about three months then. But everything went great, above and beyond any expectations, and it was probably the best show we ever played. And just to be there, to get that opportunity, everything about it was just so amazing. It was our first really big show and that’s something I’ll never forget.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I absolutely, truly believed that “Danzig Sings Elvis” would be amazing. But alas, that was not to be. Someone needs to give Glenn a stern talking to.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully to more art and more music and in the long run to a better, more caring society. On a personal level I hope it leads to a deeper understanding of my own, and others, art and to a more profound expression of that art.

How do you define success?

If you’re doing something that makes you happy, that’s pretty much it for me. Like with 10,000 Years, I know we’re never going to take over the world, but we really, really love what we do and we have found a home in this band and with each other. The fact that other people that we’ve never met from all over the world seem to like what we do as well is just insane to me and I appreciate that so deeply. So in my mind we’ve already achieved all the success that we’ll ever need.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I can’t really think of something that I would like to have unseen actually, at least not in any personal way. But there’s a lot of shitty movies and concert footage I might as well never have seen.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

The ultimate riff, the ultimate song or the ultimate album is always in ones future and I always look forward to creating the next attempt at that.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To bring happiness and joy to people and to bring people together and in the long run hopefully improve our collective society.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I am looking forward to this pandemic hopefully coming to an end soon. So wash your hands, keep your distance and take the vaccine when it becomes available to you!

http://www.facebook.com/TenThousandyrs
https://instagram.com/10.000yrs
http://10000years.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Interstellar-Smoke-Records-101687381255396/
https://interstellarsmokerecords.bigcartel.com/

10,000 Years, 10,000 Years

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The Obelisk Questionnaire Earl Walker Lundy of Shadow Witch

Posted in Questionnaire on February 15th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

earl walker lundy

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Earl Walker Lundy

of Shadow Witch, Swarm of Flies, 0h Greenman

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

I first found a “voice” through drawing, and then painting, but music always had the strongest pull on me.

I sang along with the radio, I sang in Church, I sang in my room while I was drawing, but when I finally got on stage with some loud guitars and a drummer everything made sense — I made sense.

It was like my “lightbulb” moment.

Describe your first musical memory.

My father was always singing; when I was really little we’d go walking way out in the country, near where he grew up. He would almost always sing hymns, like “I Come to the Garden Alone,” but occasionally folk songs.

I remember he liked singing Ledbelly’s “Goodnight Irene.”

Describe your best musical memory to date.

It’s been a while, but it still might have to be seeing The Mars Volta live.

The band was just on fire, and Cedric was channeling serious spirits that night. Like a soul possessed.

Otherwise, it would have to be walking (again with my dad) past a “sharecropper’s” house, and seeing the man on the porch of that house playing guitar using a knife for a slide.

THAT is a uniquely special memory.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

In this context “tested” implies temptation to me, and temptation for me is always of a sexual nature.

So I guess leaving the moral constricts of my Judeo-Christian heritage behind me was an important “test.”

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Hopefully to more art. More work. More opportunities. More experience.

How do you define success?

How I’d define it now is definitely very different than I would have in my youth – fame and fortune and all that.

I would like to find a larger audience for the work I do, sure, but ultimately one makes “art for arts sake” – for ones self, so I suppose just having that opportunity is a success in itself.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

My first thought would be that of seeing someone die in front of me, but in reality, that’s quite a powerful gift.

Memory is pain, but that pain is power.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I’d like to score films. I don’t read or write music in a classical sense, but Brian Eno was an early influence, and I know how to use the studio as an instrument.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To convey emotion.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Walking into a bar and hanging with friends. And bearhugs, lots of bearhugs!

www.facebook.com/shadowwitch.band
www.shadowwitch.bandcamp.com
www.argonautarecords.com

Shadow Witch, Under the Shadow of a Witch (2020)

0h Greenman, “Grandchester Meadows” official video

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lee Dorrian

Posted in Questionnaire on July 1st, 2015 by JJ Koczan

lee dorrian

There is not much one might do in doom or metal in general that Lee Dorrian hasn’t done. From getting his start at the beginnings of grindcore with Napalm Death to forming the massively influential Cathedral to fostering and continuing to develop an underground rock aesthetic few can predict or match with Rise Above Records — giving bands like Orange GoblinWitchcraftNaevusRevelation and Electric Wizard a home in their early stages — his work over the better part of the last 30 years has not only resulted in badass records like Cathedral‘s 1991 debut, Forest of Equilibrium, or the 2002 Rampton album from the one-off project Teeth of Lions Rule the Divine with members of SunnO))) and Iron Monkey, but has actively played a role in reshaping what we think of as heavy. An inimitable stage presence, Dorrian put Cathedral to rest in 2013 after the release of The Last Spire (review here), but he continues his forward-thinking work with Rise Above, releasing landmark works from the likes of Ghost and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats as well as potential doom-shapers like Lucifer.

This week, Cathedral reissues their first demo, 1990’s In Memoriam, complete with bonus live material, and I’m thrilled to be able to have Dorrian provide his answers to The Obelisk Questionnaire to mark the occasion:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Lee Dorrian

How did you come to do what you do?

Just from being a fan of music since I was a little kid. From a very early age I was fascinated by not only the music, but also the lifestyle and culture surrounding it. In my early teens I started doing a fanzine, this led me to booking shows in local pubs and venues when I was sixteen. This in turn led me to joining my first ever band, which was Napalm Death and it went from there.

Describe your first musical memory.

I have memories of listening to records with my dad when I was about four years old. In particular, I remember him playing Beach Boys over and over but I also remember rocking out in the living room with him to Slade around the same time. Also, one very vivid memory from around this time was continually playing the Small Faces single on Immediate Records called “Itchycoo Park.” For some reason it had a blue ink stain on the black and white labels and I used to watch it going round and round, whilst the sound effects on the track would make me dizzy, haha. It was my favourite single when I was a little kid but the first single I actually bought with my own pocket money was “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas. After that I got into the Bay City Rollers, then became serious about rock ‘n’ roll and was a Teddy Boy at eight years old! I used to hang around with the older Teds and they showed me the ropes, what to wear, how to dance, etc.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I guess it was hearing a track off the B-side of Scum on the John Peel radio show. He had been my idol (if that’s the right word), since I was 10/11 years old, so hearing him play a record that I was on was just completely surreal. Then I got to know him a bit, which was just amazing. Nothing I did after that really topped it to be honest.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When Cathedral signed to Columbia Records in the US. As anarchist teenager, I said I would never be in a band that signed to a major label. The opportunity came to us, we didn’t chase it, or even desire it. All I can say is, we had some great times as a result but it also fucked everything up.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Genuine artist progression leads to absolute greatness, though it depends on how you interpret it. I’m sure many artists I’ve admired early on, but not liked them so much as they’ve “progressed,” would view their progression differently than I would. I’m sure the same could be said for many people that have listened to some things I may have been involved with over the years: I might think it’s good, they might think it’s crap.

How do you define success?

Doing something you believe in and getting it right artistically. To me that would be more important than selling millions of records.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Swans a few weeks ago in London. Having said that, the first time I saw them in ‘86 was one of the best shows I have seen in my life.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A planet where only cool people lived.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

My daughter coming back from vacation!

Cathedral, “Morning of a New Day”

Cathedral on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records on Twitter

Rise Above Records

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed of Rosetta

Posted in Questionnaire on May 22nd, 2015 by JJ Koczan

rosetta matt weed

One decade after the release of their Translation Loss debut, The Galilean Satellites, Philadelphia’s Rosetta stand on the cusp of their fifth long-player, Quintessential Ephemera. Released in association with Golden Antenna Records, the new album follows 2013’s independently-released The Anaesthete and the 2014 Flies to Flame EP, as well as an original score produced earlier this year for a film about the band, Rosetta: Audio/Visual, and is the latest in a line of deeply creative outings furthering the band’s stylstic meld of atmospheric metal, sludge, post-rock and ambience. Noteworthy also for being their first full-length with the lineup of vocalist/noisemaker Mike Armine, guitarist Matt Weed, bassist Dave Grossman, drummer BJ McMurtrie and guitarist Eric Jernigan after having brought the latter on board in 2014 (he doubles in City of Ships), Quintessential Ephemera continues Rosetta‘s workman-style approach to progressive, fluid and exploratory songwriting, their commitment more to going places they’ve never gone than to any particular genre or other.

Weed took some time out recently to respond to The Obelisk Questionnaire and you’ll find his answers below. Please enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Matt Weed

How did you come to do what you do?

Hard to say, since I’ve been in one band or another with our drummer BJ for over half my life. I picked up a guitar when I was 14 and it has always been a kind of territory that I explored, rather than an object I tried to master. So I’ve always written music by default – it was much harder to learn music written by other people. I went to school for totally unrelated stuff and that was probably a good thing, since academic study tends to destroy one’s enjoyment of a thing. I’m a bit of a robot in personality anyway, and music was one of the only ways I could ever access, understand, and communicate about emotion. The verbal language of emotion is either mystifying or outright off-putting to me, but playing an instrument I always felt like I had access to a more truthful way of communicating with people.

Describe your first musical memory.

My parents played a lot of classical LPs on a really crappy integrated turntable/amp system from the ’70s when I was a kid. My dad liked Romantic composers like Brahms and Tchaikovsky a lot, and my mom played the piano in the house, often old hymns. I would sit at the piano and play individual notes to see which I liked. I liked the A two octaves below middle-C the best. I would wail on that note for long periods, sometimes chanting over it (I was about four or five), but my family never complained about it. I guess that was my first foray into drone music.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

In high school, when I was still training on violin, I did a program where high school kids got to sit with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and play together. Each pair of stand partners was one PO member and one high school student. It was remarkable mainly because I was a “just-okay” student of the violin, but while I was on-stage with such serious players, my technique just seemed like it magically improved, instantly. I had no idea I could play like that. It wasn’t objectively great but it was an order of magnitude better than I was normally capable of. I never forgot it, because it was proof to me that everyone does their best work in collaboration; one person who develops skill and takes risks has a beneficial effect on everyone he or she plays with. Likewise, being lazy or self-satisfied drags down everyone around you.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

There have been several extended periods where I really struggled with the idea that having integrity and good character is more important than success. I was brought up believing that (my parents were neither achievement-oriented nor overly accommodating), and I still do. But it’s easy to make that statement when you have enough to eat and can make rent and people are regularly affirming the work you do. Society says that integrity matters, but then turns around and judges you exclusively on indicators of wealth, prestige, or social significance. That would probably explain why so many truly awful people are among the most successful. Especially in the world of art, you need to be profitable, popular, or critically acclaimed. If you’re none of the three, you must not be very good at what you do. Then you feel pressure either to adapt your work to the market or to quit entirely. But neither of those options demonstrates integrity. I’m not sure it’s possible to resolve that conflict, ultimately.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Laying aside questions about marketability, it seems like it’s a progression of greater risk-taking. You try something new and then ask, did it communicate what I wanted to say? Was it satisfying? Did I learn something in the process? If it didn’t work, then you go back and try again. If it worked, then you jump off from there and take more risks. If you’re not taking risks, then you’re not making art, you’re producing a commodity. But taking risks necessarily means failing sometimes.

How do you define success?

Sustainability. I don’t just mean that in the financial sense. I’ve never made any money from the band and I probably never will, but I’m happy for the band to support itself. Money hasn’t ever been a goal, it’s just one means to the end of being able to keep going for as long as there is music we want to make. But there are other dimensions to sustainability, like avoiding personal burnout and cultivating new audiences, not getting stuck in unproductive habits, becoming more disciplined people as time goes on. During periods where Rosetta was broke and almost unable to continue, money always loomed as the largest dimension. But once we went independent and the band more or less began to pay for itself, I started to see a lot of different ways it could be derailed that had nothing to do with money. I think success would be a situation where we had what we needed and were spending more time creating than problem-solving.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

A No Doubt show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2002. Yes, it was for a girlfriend. Someone puked on my shoes.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A drone record made with a guitar and found sounds from my house to a four-track tape recorder.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Every year my wife and I try to go on a wilderness backpacking trip to some weird remote location. I always look forward to that. I feel most human in situations where I have to submit to the law of nature, rather than using technology to bend nature to my wishes. Real life seems totally unreal by comparison.

Rosetta, Rosetta: Audio/Visual Original Score (2015)

Rosetta’s website

Rosetta on Thee Facebooks

Rosetta on Twitter

Rosetta on Bandcamp

Golden Antenna Records

 

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Rynne Stump of Stumpfest

Posted in Questionnaire on April 17th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

rynne stump.jpg

Next weekend, Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, plays host to the three-night Stumpfest IV. The festival, organized by Rynne Stump, has become a staple of the Pacific Northwest’s fertile heavy underground, and this year is no different. stumpfest roper posterHeadlined by familiar names from the region like Danava, YOB, Big Business, Lord Dying and Sandrider, its reach has only expanded in its years of operation, and with a near-infinite supply of heavy acts to choose from in the Pacific Northwest at the moment — oh wait, six new bands just formed right this second — there seems to be no shortage of fodder for Stump and her compatriots to show their dedication to the cause. With NorskaSons of HunsGraves at SeaMuscle and Marrow, and others on the bill, Stumpfest IV retains a commitment both geographic and stylistic, and its admirable mission has earned it increasing acclaim each year.

Now eight months pregnant and looking forward to the birth of her first son, Stump somehow found time between final fest preparations and packing a hospital bag to answer The Obelisk Questionnaire, and her efforts are appreciated. Enjoy:

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Rynne Stump

How did you come to do what you do?

A lot of doing what the hell I wanted and not listening to other people or caring what people thought of me too much. Making my own decisions in life gave me the courage to take risks and be accountable for myself and my mistakes. Following my heart got me where I am and I wouldn’t change one damn bit of it. Of course it helped having parents and sisters who support me and accept my attitude. My father was a musician and he taught me music, how to listen to it, the language of harmony, and how to sing and perform. My mother taught me how to craft, create and to work hard. To not give up no matter what was against us. To never, ever let someone’s opinion of me affect who I really am inside.

Most importantly, if you are raised to be yourself and supported to be your unique self you will have your own life to be proud of no matter what!

Describe your first musical memory.

My dad waking me up out of bed when I was super tiny to listen to a record. I wish I remembered which record that was. He said to me, “Listen to the bass! Listen to the guitar! Hear that harmony, Zipper?” Then he took me outside to gaze upon the moon. This happened regularly in my house in my first years of life.

Also, performing at the Southern Indiana bluegrass festival Bean Blossom with my dad and sister Sara in my diapers that is a pretty intense first musical memory.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

There are too many to count! In addition to putting on Stumpfest every year, I am also a musician. Some of my best musical memories come from performing with my band leader Craig Elkins. To me, communication on a musical level is absolute! The energy, connection and elevation can take you beyond the moon! Plus, we just harmonize like angels together and we laugh at ourselves constantly. Song birding it up with Craig is the BEST!

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Daily, our beliefs are tested all the time. How we recover from this defines our character and strengthens our bond to our own spirituality.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Artistic progression is the higher evolution of ourselves and our souls. Through it, we can lead others toward their own elevated states of being and influence a positive reaction.

How do you define success?

Finding the happiness in all things. Attaining grounded, self-assured happiness allows us to know ourselves better, laugh at ourselves, forgive and love ourselves. When we do this we can connect fully with others and to do positive things for the universe. That is success in my eye. The idea of Stumpfest was to gather old friends together to do just that, and we have seen success every year.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

Everything we see shapes us; our experience, our perspectives, our minds, who we are and who we become. Although things we see can harm our fragile egos we can take every experience and make ourselves better from the exposure. I am thankful for psychedelics, which help us to see things in multidimensional perspectives. They open our minds beyond the plane of consciousness that we operate in daily and further connect us to ourselves, others and the great unknown.

There was one time I saw a bum masturbating on the side of the road and I could probably live without that.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

My partner Danny Carey and I are creating life right now inside of me. I’m eight months pregnant, and that was always top on my list… to create the human form is the ultimate! Also, making my own record. Committing and immersing myself totally to the struggle of that inward path is a huge, frightening goal for me.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

The birth of my son in June. I cannot wait to meet the product of Mr. Carey and myself. I bet he is going to be hilarious!

YOB, “Adrift in the Ocean” live at Stumpfest 2012

Stumpfest tickets

Stumpfest on Thee Facebooks

Stumpfest IV event page

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kent Stump of Wo Fat

Posted in Questionnaire on March 6th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

kent-stump

Across five records and nine fuzz-laden years, Dallas trio Wo Fat have become an institution in Texas heavy rock. Their latest album and second for Small Stone, The Conjuring (review here), is in many ways their strongest release to date, benefiting from the naturally-developed chemistry between guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter, as well as from the self-sufficiency of the band recording at their own studio, Crystal Clear Sound, in Dallas. While their reputation has built steadily since the release of their 2006 debut, The Gathering Dark, and its ’08 follow-up, Psychedelonaut (review here), 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra (review here), on Nasoni, proved a particular breakthrough point, leading to the band’s signing to Small Stone for the next year’s The Black Code (review here), for which they toured in Europe for the first time, making their continental debut at the 2013 Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands (review here) and setting the stage for the triumph to come with The Conjuring and a return trip across the Atlantic, this one marked out by an appearance at last year’s Freak Valley in Germany.

Wo Fat‘s latest release is a document of their set there: Live Juju: Wo Fat at Freak Valley will hit the public on March 17. Later this year, the band will also take part in Magnetic Eye Records‘ tribute to Jimi HendrixElectric Ladyland [Redux], covering “Gypsy Eyes.”

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Kent Stump

How did you come to do what you do?

Well, what I do is play music and I record music, which is how I make my living – recording music, that is. Music has always been a huge part of my life. Both of my parents are musicians, so it was something that was just ubiquitous and inescapable in our house when I was growing up. Never once in my life did I consider doing anything with my life other than becoming a musician and doing something relating to music, although the place I’m at now is not where I would have thought I would be when I was a teenager, or even when I was in college. My journey to the heavy and the riff is a bit of a circuitous one.

I went to college to study jazz and fully planned on getting out of college and going on to be a jazz musician. While at college, I got turned on to a much wider world of music by so many great people with widely varying tastes. I discovered punk rock and ‘70s funk and African music and all the great ‘70s rock and the ‘80s NY noise scene, and on and on. And most importantly, I really discovered the blues. I had always known a bit about the blues since I was heavily into jazz, but I became much more hip to a lot of blues musicians that I hadn’t previously checked out, and that eventually led me to realize that my whole life I’ve been drawn to music that comes from the blues – rock, funk, etc. That, along with a friend I had that was into all things heavy who got me listening to Sabbath as well as a lot of ‘80s hardcore and metal, led to my desire to make heavy blues music.

When I was in college in Denton, Texas, the music scene at that time was absolutely electric, and the vibe was very open and experimental. Punk rock and funk and metal with a jazz edge were all kind of mixing together and it was a really artistically open-minded vibe at the time, which I think shaped my thinking about music a lot. So eventually in the late ‘90s I discovered bands like Sleep, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Kyuss and all the Man’s Ruin bands and I came to the realization that this is the music, along with the blues, that speaks to me on the most primal level and this is what I want to play.

Describe your first musical memory.

My first musical memory is laying on our living room floor when I was very young, maybe four or five years old, and my dad putting on a record of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s an amazing piece of music and it definitely left an impression on me. I think, if I’m not mistaken, when that piece was premiered in Paris it caused a riot. Stravinsky is pretty hardcore.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I don’t know if I have just one best musical memory. I’ve got a lot of things that were landmark musical moments in my life though. Getting to play at Roadburn is without a doubt one of the best musical memories for me. Roadburn is such an iconic thing and it was the first show that we played on our first European tour, which was also the first time I had ever been to Europe and it was just kind of a surreal, epiphenal and mindblowing experience. It was amazing to walk into the scene there and see a whole bunch of people that are hardcore fans of the same music I dig. I had never seen that, at least not on that level, before.

You don’t see that kind of thing when it comes to this kind of music in the US. And to be performing at this amazing festival was just awesome, and also a bit nerve-racking at the same time. I remember going to see High on Fire’s set after we played and it was packed and the crowd was just electric and High on Fire sounded better than I’ve ever heard them before. I think they were just vibing on the amazing vibe of the fans. Same with Elder’s set, who I got to see a little later that night. The vibe from the crowd was so intense and Elder kicked ass riding that wave, I think. Amazing day.

I have memories of a lot of transcendental shows that I would put in the great musical memory category. Getting to see Sleep a couple years ago was bad ass. Sometime around 1997 or 1998 I went to SXSW in Austin, before SXSW totally turned into utter crap, and I got to see Fatso Jetson just destroy as well as an amazing showcase that had Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age right before they hit big. There was a whole Man’s Ruin showcase that was killer.

When I was in college I got to see free jazz great Cecil Taylor. That was an absolutely kick ass show. He was just pounding the piano and pieces of the pads inside the piano were flying out as he was playing. And there were maybe 10 people there to see this free jazz icon. So many great shows that have shaped my thinking.

I also have a lot of memories of late nights fueled with alcohol, and other things, and hanging with friends who turned me onto heavy, heavy tunes that I wasn’t previously hip to. Some of these rank up there with the great musical moments to me – sitting on the couch and tripping out to amazing, life-changing jams… These things all are part of my story as a musician and music lover that has brought me to where I am now.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

That’s a tough question. I kinda feel like most my life, my beliefs and likes/interests have been juxtaposed between two opposing worlds. For example, my heavily schooled musical upbringing versus a more primal, less technical, organic approach to playing. Or, being a recording engineer like I am, most of my peers are gearheads focused on the technical aspects of engineering, which I am to a certain extent, but I am far more focused on the musicality of recording and finding ways to make a recording reach you on an emotional level, so I’m not über-obsessed with technical- and gear-related things about recording.

Also in this particular time, my political versus spiritual beliefs, that to me, are completely simpatico, are to most, seemingly at odds with one another.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Ideally artistic progression leads to more artistic progression. Art and music is a neverending journey. I don’t think I’ll ever have arrived at a stopping place artistically because every move forward reveals more things to reach for and directions to consider. That’s the beauty of it. You’re never finished. You can just abandon the quest if you want, but there is always further to go.

How do you define success?

I think it’s being happy and doing what you makes you happy. Despite the fact that financially, life is a struggle for me, I feel like I’ve achieved a good amount of success in the sense that I’m playing music I love and people are digging it, we own a killer studio and my day job involves doing things that are artistic and deal with music and, on top of it all, I’ve got the most amazing wife who I’ve been married to for 18 years.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

On the one hand there’s probably a lot I wish I hadn’t seen, but at the same time, all those experiences contribute to making me who I am, although there are some things that I could probably do without ever seeing that wouldn’t change me too much. One thing that I wish I hadn’t seen is this: The studio that we run is in an industrial area of Dallas and there are a lot of stray dogs that run around in packs in that area. Seeing a stray dog is something I don’t like seeing to begin with because I love dogs and I want to help them all, but we’re full up at my house with dogs. My wife and I already have five dogs so there’s no more room at the inn.

Anyway, one day I saw a little Chihuahua-mix stray being harassed by a couple of big dogs. At first I thought they were playing, but then I realized that that was not the case and I wasn’t able to get to them to break it up before the larger dogs had inflicted a mortal wound on the little guy. It just breaks my heart that I couldn’t help him and it still pains me to this day to think about it. I hate to see the helpless get brutalized by the powerful, which, sadly, happens all around us every day.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I really wish that I could draw and paint. I would love to be able to create art like Frank Frazetta or Boris Vallejo. I don’t think that will ever happen for me, though, because I don’t have any of those skills. There is, of course, much more music I’d like to create. I’m always wanting to incorporate disparate musical styles and influences together in our music, like Afro-Cuban music, blues, jazz and metal.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Having dinner and watching hockey with my wife.

Wo Fat, Live at Freak Valley 2014

Wo Fat on Thee Facebooks

Crystal Clear Sound website

Small Stone Records

Magnetic Eye Records

 

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Pat Harrington of Geezer

Posted in Questionnaire on January 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

pat harrington

With his gravelly voice and a demeanor that’s gone above and beyond friendly every time I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter it, Geezer guitarist/vocalist Pat Harrington cuts an immediately warm figure. All the more so when he breaks out the slide for his guitar. Though after the STB Records vinyl release last year of Geezer‘s Gage (review here) sophomore full-length — and the impending Feb. 5 CD/digital issue of the same album on Ripple Music — and his continued success with his Electric Beard of Doom podcast, he’s become a formidable presence in the heavy underground, his pedigree includes a lead guitar stint in mid-aughts NYC hard rockers Slunt and a run from 2008-2013 with Killcode, his ongoing trio Gaggle of Cocks which also includes Geezer bassist Freddy Villano, and no doubt others who’ve taken advantage along the way of Harrington‘s soulful, classic soloing style.

To herald the CD release of GageGeezer — the three-piece rounded out by drummer Chris Turco — will support High on Fire and Mountain of Wizard on Jan. 13 at The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York. Already veterans of The Eye of the Stoned Goat festival and having a seemingly permanent residence set up at The Anchor in their native Kingston, NY, where their Live! Full Tilt Boogie limited tape (review here) was recorded, Geezer will look to expand their reach in 2015 and beyond.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Pat Harrington

How did you come to do what you do?

I guess in relation to my current projects, that being the band Geezer and the Electric Beard Of Doom podcast, I ended up here by finally embracing that which makes me happy. As a musician and creative person, I spent too many years falling into the trap of chasing the brass ring; the now antiquated idea that one has to fit into a certain formula or jump through some ever-changing hoops just to get the approval of some gatekeeper who then deems you worthy of being a part of the mainstream music scene. Much like being knighted by some boy king who doesn’t even know how to hold a sword correctly.

Okay, now that I’ve used up all my metaphors… I love heavy music, I love the blues, I love creating music, I love listening to music and I love sharing music with other likeminded individuals. Thanks in large part to this wonderful underground heavy scene that we have here, I get to do all that now… my way… with no apologies. The fact that people have been so receptive to the band and the podcast is validation of a lifetime spent worshiping the riff.

Describe your first musical memory.

When I was about three or four, I remember being put to bed by a babysitter, my next door neighbor Joanie Maddie. She used to put on music to help me go to sleep. One of the albums she used to put on was Led Zeppelin IV and I distinctly remember hearing “Stairway to Heaven.” Sometimes when I hear that song, I can almost relive those moments. By the time I was five, I was getting KISS albums for Christmas. By the time I was eight, I was walking around school singing Doors songs.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. Thanks Joanie!

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I’ve been lucky enough to have done some substantial touring of both the US and parts of Europe with my old band SLUNT. We toured with Marilyn Manson, Motörhead and C.O.C. We even opened for Paul Stanley on a solo tour. I got to meet some of my heroes, get loaded with some of them and geek out about music. I got to travel more than ever before in my life. I got to play music in front of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people virtually every night of the week with people that I truly loved. Nothing can compare to the feeling of freedom I felt during those times, I hope to feel that freedom once again.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

I play heavy rock music in America in the 21st Century. I’m 42 years old. I have a wife, a small child, a mortgage and an unruly dog. My beliefs get tested every damn day.

The point is, being an artist is a lot of fun, but it is extremely hard to stay committed to it in today’s world. Just the fact that I even made it this far and I’m still inspired to be a better musician and create music that I dig: that’s the biggest test of all.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

In a perfect world, artistic progression should lead to enlightenment, to empathy, to community, to a better world and a sense of togetherness. Art should evoke emotions, it should make people angry, it should comfort you when you hurt and it should be a joyous expression.

As we can see today, many people are afraid of art, they literally are trying to kill it. This is because it is a threat to power structures and false ideologies. It is a way of communicating ideas without using literal translations that can be exposed and distorted. Art ultimately leads to truth. We need that now more than ever.

How do you define success?

Happiness.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I could’ve done without those ass-tulip videos. And I NEVER look at those videos nowadays of people squeezing zits or have spiders crawling out of their legs. Seriously, who the fuck watches those things?!?

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

Not to be crass, but I’d like to create an artistic career that has some kind of sustainable income. I don’t need to be rich and famous, but I’d like to at least be able to give my wife a little relief from the financial burden of being married to a musician.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

My wife and I have been talking about getting a van, RV or Airstream, taking the kid and do some extended traveling across the country. He’s two now, so I’d like him to be a little older so he will at least remember it, so maybe in a year or two. I loved being on the road and traveling all across this country of ours, being able to share that feeling with my family would be amazing.

Geezer, Gage (2014/2015)

Geezer on Thee Facebooks

Electric Beard of Doom

Geezer on Bandcamp

STB Records

Ripple Music

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