Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 3: Call it Conspiracy

Posted in Features on March 18th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dozer call it conspiracy era

Man’s Ruin Records, which put out the first two Dozer albums in 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here) and Madre de Dios (discussed here), had folded. At the same time, the Swedish four-piece — still working with the lineup of guitarists Tommi Holappa and Fredrik Nordin (the latter also vocals), bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — had well earned momentum on their side both from the quality of the two records they’d put out and the tours they’d done to support. They’d done vinyl releases before through their own Molten Universe imprint, including the LP version of Madre de Dios, so when it came time to unveil 2002’s third album, Call it Conspiracy (also discussed here), rather than take the time to chase down another label, they simply pressed the album themselves.

That choice is important in understanding where the band were at stylistically at the time as well. Call it Conspiracy is an urgent 13-track shove, more crisp in its production and more assured in its drive, less distinctly desert rock than either of its predecessors, and it therefore marks a turning point in Dozer‘s sound. They could hardly be said to have been lacking in identity before it, but even though it had only been a year, there’s a marked shift that takes place between Madre de Dios and its follow-up, though the band’s songwriting — on display right from the start with the essential opening one-two punch of “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Rising” — was more resilient than ever, and Call it Conspiracy remains a fan favorite even some 18 years after its initial release. They’re the kinds of songs a promoter might ask to hear twice and then the DJ would play through the P.A. afterwards anyhow, but I suppose the same could be said of the entire Dozer catalog.

After Call it ConspiracyDozer signed to Detroit-based Small Stone Records and offered up 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens (discussed here) and 2008’s Beyond Colossal (discussed here). By 2005, Bäckwall was out of the band. He and Rockner can currently be found in moody atmospheric rockers Besvärjelsen. In the meantime, around 2007, Tommi Holappa‘s long-established side-project Greenleaf began an ascent to the forefront that, as Dozer receded following the 2008 offering, would only continue to shift the balance between the two groups. A succession of albums and tours that in some ways answers the stylistic progression that Dozer left behind, but with its own, bluesier sensibility as well, took shape, and even now awaits its next installment, as Greenleaf recently announced they were writing their next full-length for release on Napalm Records.

As Call it Conspiracy is the third in the trilogy of Dozer releases being reissued through Heavy Psych Sounds, and this is the last of the full-album-streams/interviews to coincide, I’d like to send my thanks to the label, to Purple Sage PR and of course to Tommi Holappa for allowing me to host the records and do the Q&As. These records have meant a lot to me over the years and I’m glad they’re getting back out there again. The more who hear them, the merrier.

Thanks for reading. Please enjoy:

Call it Conspiracy Q&A with Tommi Holappa

Call it Conspiracy marked a shift in Dozer’s sound away from desert-style heavy rock. How purposeful was that progression? Was there a reason behind it, or was it just the way your sound evolved?

When we started writing songs for C.I.C. we could early on hear that we were going in a different direction on some of the songs, which I think was just natural growth of the band, new influences and maybe not wanting to do the same album over and over again. We still wanted to have a fat heavy sound but maybe it didn’t have to be the fattest and fuzziest sound in the world, this is when we decided to tune up our guitars half a step to make everything sound a little bit clearer.

The biggest change was definitely that we hired a producer for this album. All the earlier albums and demos were recorded by Bengt Bäcke (Greenleaf) at the Rockhouse studio in Borlänge. This studio was a simple demo studio but it worked just fine for the first albums. We thought it was time to try something new and see what happens so we hired Chips Kiesby, he had produced High Visibility with The Hellacopters which was an album we all loved. So a producer and a “professional” studio (Music-a-matic in Gothenburg) was the biggest change.

It was only a year’s space between In the Tail of a Comet, Madre de Dios and Call it Conspiracy, but the band seemed to go through so much growth. How do you feel your songwriting process changed over that time? What was it like being in Dozer in 2002 as opposed to 1999 or 2000?

Well it was a year between the releases but in the end I think it took a year for Man’s Ruin to release In the Tail of a Comet so when it came out I think we already had most of Madre de Dios written. But yeah we were growing fast, we didn’t want to be stuck in one place and write the same song over and over again. The more albums we put out the more time we put into trying to write better songs.

Of course, Call it Conspiracy also helped set up the progression across Through the Eyes of Heathens and Beyond Colossal. How do you feel about the thread of Dozer’s work overall?

If you listen to the albums from first to last you can really hear a band that keeps growing the whole time. The first and last albums are almost like two completely different bands but you can still hear that it is Dozer and that is the most important thing.

Anything in particular you’d like to add about Call it Conspiracy? Any other standout memories to share about this time in the band?

This was a crazy and fun time for us! We toured a lot! We did support act tours with Clutch and Mastodon in Europe, we did shows in US, Canada and Australia for the first time.

Also Karl Daniel Lidén joined the band to replace Erik Bäckwall on drums. With Daniel’s energy, heaviness and kick in our asses we started the writing for Through the Eyes of Heathens, but that’s another story.

Will there ever be another Dozer album?

There are no plans at the moment for an album or anything but It would be fun to at least try to write a song together with the guys and see how it would turn out. It’s been 12-13 years since we last wrote together so it would definitely be interesting.

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Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 2: Madre de Dios

Posted in Features on March 16th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

dozer madre era

Dozer‘s second album, Madre de Dios, will see reissue this Friday on Heavy Psych Sounds, and if the arrival just a week after In the Tail of a Comet (streamed/discussed here) feels quick, consider that in reality the sophomore LP came out just a year after the debut — so it was quick then as well. Born in 2001, Madre de Dios was pressed to vinyl through the band’s own Molten Universe imprint and to CD through Man’s Ruin Records, with different artwork for each, and despite the speedy turnaround from its predecessor, already one could hear growth in the sound of the Borlänge, Sweden, four-piece, who were beginning to take the desert rock style that had typified the first album and their earlier demos and splits and reshape it to their aesthetic will, consciously or not, through the seemingly simple act of honest songwriting.

With the returning lineup of guitarist Tommi Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall, songs like “Freeloader,” “Octanoid,” “Soulshigh,” the spacey “TX-9” and indeed, opener “Let the Shit Roll” — about which Holappa shares a good story below — showcased a fast progression on the part of the band, who were beginning to reach for a faster, sometimes more aggressive, sound that, ultimately, was more their own. In hindsight, it’s easy to look at Madre de Dios as a turning point from who Dozer were in their nascent days to who they’d become as they began to mature as a group, but the same could be said more or less of every album up to the last, since once it got underway, their progression never really stopped bringing their sound to new and exciting places in terms of craft.

But in 2001, fuzz was still king in Dozer‘s sound, and Madre de Dios‘ 10-track/39-minute run is as righteous a conglomeration of hairy riffs as one could ever hope to encounter. Propelled by the gallop in Bäckwall‘s snare and the emergence of Nordin as a frontman, from the moment the shit starts to roll, right down to the aptly-titled closer “Thunderbolt” — which even in its reissue form keeps the stretch of effects noise at the end — the record is sharp in its execution and still somehow laid back in its groove, as though Dozer were pushing that defining line of heavy rock and roll as far as it could go, testing those boundaries while actively working to find their place in (and/or out) of them. As a band, at this point they were on the road, and as part of the post-Kyuss movement of “stoner rock,” Dozer were helping to shape what we know today as the heavy underground. Their influence and their songs continue to resonate.

By which I mean Madre de Dios still kicks ass. Hear for yourself above. Holappa talks about it below.

Please enjoy:

Madre de Dios Q&A with Tommi Holappa

Tell me about being in the studio for Madre de Dios. What do you remember your attitude was coming off of the first record, and was there anything in particular you wanted to do differently with the second one?

After the first album was released we wanted more, bigger and better! Releasing albums and touring was fun! So we couldn’t wait to go back into the studio and record another album.

I´m pretty sure the attitude was that we just wanted to write the best songs we could and record an album that sounded fat as hell!

To be honest I can’t remember much of the recording session of this album, only some bits and pieces, it has nothing to do with drinking too much in the studio or anything it’s just that it’s so damn long ago hahaha! I remember that I got my Russian Big Muff and my Gibson SG just before this album so those two were used a lot.

The original CD and LP wound up with different covers. Was that a choice on the part of the band, or maybe Man’s Ruin? Do you feel that one or the other better represents the album?

The story is that Man’s Ruin didn’t want to release it on vinyl so we asked them if we could release it ourselves via Molten Universe. They were okay and we said cool, then we release it with different artwork and put a bonus track on it. I personally prefer the vinyl artwork and the song “Rings of Saturn” is on it, one of my favorite early tracks.

What was the reception like in Sweden specifically to the band at this point?

It was ok but nothing compared to Germany and some other central European countries. So most of the touring was done outside of Sweden where people actually showed up to see us hahaha!

How hard was Dozer touring at this point? What was the reception like to this material live? Are there any memories that stand out from the Madre de Dios era that you can share?

At this point we had started touring quiet a lot. Reception was good, outside of Sweden of course hahaha. “Let the Shit Roll” was a song that usually got the crowd going nuts and I have actually one pretty funny story about that song.

We were in Zurich/Switzerland and the DJ at the club started playing “Let the Shit Roll” just before we were about to go on stage, fuck! Why do they that song now!? What do we do? Should we just skip the song from the set or?! Fuck it let’s just play it!

Anyway we did our set and played “Let the Shit Roll” and I don’t think anyone cared that they heard it twice. We went off stage and the crowd was screaming for more so just when we were about to go on stage again to play the encores the promoter came up to us and asked if we can play “Let the Shit Roll.” We told him that we already played it and we will play a couple of other songs instead but he really kept going on and on about how much he wants to hear it, so he offered us one more case of beer if we would play it.

We went up on stage and of course we had to play it again! It’s free beer! And free beer is good beer! Hahaha! So we played “Let the Shit Roll” a second time and a couple of more tracks. When we were done we go off stage and guess what song the DJ starts playing? “LET THE SHIT ROLL!”

Anything else in particular you’d like to say about Madre de Dios?

I got the idea for the album title from an episode of The Simpsons.

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Dozer Interview & Full Album Stream, Pt. 1: In the Tail of a Comet

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on March 11th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Dozer

One could go on and on about how important or influential Dozer‘s early work and essential first album, In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), has been over the 20 years since its release. The Borlänge, Sweden, four-piece — then comprised of guitarist Tommi Holappa, guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, bassist Johan Rockner and drummer Erik Bäckwall — had already amassed a decent catalog of short releases by the time the record came out through Man’s Ruin in April 2000, mostly splits with fellow Swedes Demon Cleaner, but also 1999’s Double EP split with Unida (discussed here) and the 1998 demo tape Universe 75 (discussed here), but it was the album that really solidified who Dozer were as a band and brought their yeah-we’re-from-Sweden-and-we-play-fuzzed-out-desert-rock-deal-with-it, all-go thrust and groove approach to its point of peak asskickery.

And that’s the thing about In the Tail of a Comet. Yeah, without it, an entire generation of Swedish heavy rock that followed in Dozer‘s wake probably sounds much different, but at its heart, the album just rocks. It’s a pretense-free collection of ultra-fuzz riffs and hard-hitting, unabashed stoner rock vibes. Coming just a few years after the dissolution of Kyuss and two years after the first Queens of the Stone Age, it was a part of the ascendant international heavy rock underground, a good deal of which was fostered through Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records in bands like Acid KingLos NatasAlabama ThunderpussyGoatsnake, and so on.

Joining those ranks for their first release, Dozer unleashed a collection of songs that has only gotten better with time. In the prime of the CD era, when albums regularly stretched past bloated 50-minute runtimes, In the Tail of a Comet was a taut 37-minute LP with not a moment to spare, and its tracks were front-to-back high-grade heavy. Nordin‘s voice was unmistakable from the start, tossing off lyrics about getting high while flying through space or whatever the hell it was as he and Holappa led the charge with riffs on cuts like “Supersoul,” “Speeder,” “Inside the Falcon,” “Riding the Machine,” “Grand Dragon,” and “High Roller” — or, you know, the whole record, really — while Rockner and Bäckwall alternated between swing and thrust behind, utterly locked in for the duration and charged with an energy that would become yet another signature of Dozer‘s approach, carrying them through the sonic progression that In the Tail of a Comet helped to launch.

As the record turns 20 and receives a well-earned reissue out this week on Heavy Psych Sounds to be followed by 2001’s Madre de Dios and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy on March 20, Tommi Holappa takes a few moments to reflect on In the Tail of a Comet and what it was like to be in Dozer at the time. Much laughter ensues. The band still plays periodically, of course, but it’s been 12 years since their last LP, and these days, Holappa is much more likely to be found in Greenleaf, who have started writing a new album with plans to record this Fall. The following interview begins a series of three that will continue next week covering the next two albums in Dozer‘s catalog, all of which remains crucial.

Please enjoy:

dozer in the tail of a comet

In the Tail of a Comet Q&A with Tommi Holappa

It’s been 25 years since Dozer started, and 20 years since the first album. What was it like being in Dozer during those early days? What do you remember about doing the splits with Demon Cleaner and how did you feel going into your first record?

What I remember the most from the beginning of Dozer is that it was very carefree and simple times. When we started the band we had just figured out that you can actually tune down your guitars to make them sound heavier and cooler and if you ad a fuzz pedal to that, then it would blow you away! So the songwriting was easy! Play a riff, add more fuzz to it… done! Maybe it wasn’t this easy but that’s how I remember it… hahaha!

The Demon Cleaner 7” splits were a lot of fun to do! After the first release it became kind of a friendly competition between us and Demon Cleaner, something like, “We have two songs ready for the next split, hope you have songs ready too because our songs will kick your ass!” hahaha!

We sold some demo tapes at the local records store here in Borlänge before this but the first split that came out in 1998 was our first official release.

After this came the Unida/Dozer split EP which was a huge thing for us as well, can you imagine to get asked to do a split John Garcia’s new band? Well we were blown away! Kyuss was the band that showed us that we can tune down our guitars.

So when we got signed to Man’s Ruin we felt like we were ready to release our first full-length album.

How did signing to Man’s Ruin Records come about? Tell me about that process.

When we felt it was time to start looking for a label to release our first full length Man´s Ruin was the only label we could think about. They had released stuff with all the coolest bands that we looked up to and we wanted to be one of those cool bands as well…hahaha! We never thought they would sign us but we sent a four or five track demo cassette (yes kids we are old hahaha) to them anyway. A couple of weeks later I checked my e-mail and there was a mail from Man’s Ruin and yeah the rest is history. One more funny thing about the whole thing is that we only sent out this one demo and we got signed, we didn’t send demos to any other labels.

What do you remember about being in the studio for In the Tail of a Comet? What was that experience like as compared to later Dozer records? How did you feel about it when it first came out and how do you feel about it now?

I don’t remember a lot from this specific recording, I remember it was recorded on tape, there were no computers around. The computer was invented just before we recorded Madre de Dios hahaha!

All the early stuff we recorded was recorded really fast and the more records we released the more time we put into songwriting and getting the right sounds, etc., etc. But I think In the Tail of a Comet still holds to this day! I´m proud of it!

What was the response like to In the Tail of a Comet at the time?

From what I remember the response was mostly good! Of course every once in a while people called us Kyuss clones or something, but fuck them, now we were on Man’s Ruin and we were one of the cool bands hahaha!

Anything else you’d like to add about In the Tail of a Comet in particular?

We had a hard time coming up with good album title so we just stole one, hahaha! It’s from one of our favorite Clutch songs, I’m not telling which one…

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Greenleaf Writing New Album for Early 2021 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 4th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

So here’s what’s up: Swedish heavy rockers Greenleaf are writing a new album. Awesome, right? They’ve also got tour dates for May lined up with Earth Tongue, and they’ll play Hellfest in June and I assume a bunch of other festivals will come along as well. In the meantime, writing proceeds and they’ll record the follow-up to 2018’s most-excellent Hear the Rivers (review here) sometime in the Fall, with esteemed and longtime collaborator Karl Daniel Lidén producing. Right. Friggin’. On.

I hear more autumnal doings might be in the works as well, but as founding guitarist Tommi Holappa informs, right now it’s looking like an early-2021 release. It goes without saying that any day at all new Greenleaf might show up is going to be a good day.

That’s all there is to it. Here’s Holappa‘s update, plus the May tour dates:

greenleaf

Tommi Holappa’s Greenleaf Update:

We have taken a short break from playing live shows for a few months to really put all our time and effort to finishing writing our next album. At the end of last year we didn’t have one song that was 100% ready, I think we had like 2000 different riffs, bits and pieces of songs but nothing complete.

So in the past 2 months we have actually got the ball rolling! I think we might have 5-6 ready songs ready and maybe 2-3 more that will be ready soon. Hopefully we will have around 11-12 songs in the end to choose from.
The goal is to have all the songs written and done by mid May before we go on tour.

And then rehearse them during the summer, maybe even try 1-2 songs live and then record again with Karl Daniel Lidén after the summer.
There is no release date set yet but my guess is sometime the first half of next year.

So far what we have song wise sounds like Greenleaf because well…it is Greenleaf. Don’t know yet what will end up on the album but there are the usual bluesier rock stuff but also a bit darker and heavier things. But yeah it´s too early to say anything, you never know what ends up on the album in the end.

All I can say is that I´m really happy and excited about how the new songs have turned out, they feel fresh! And fresh is always a good thing!

Sound of Liberation presents:
GREENLEAF „DEAD IS THE SOUND TOUR“ 2020
SPECIAL GUESTS: Earth Tongue
14.05. Jena, Cultural Station (DE)
15.05. Nürnberg, MUZclub (DE)
16.05. Lohr, Free & Indoor Festival (DE)
17.05. Salzburg, Rockhouse (AT)
18.05. Innsbruck, PMK (AT)
19.05. Zurich, Red Factory (CH)
20.05. Karlsruhe, Old Hackery (DE)
21.05. Eindhoven, Effenaar (NL)
22.05. Wiesbaden, Creative Factory (DE)
23.05. Cologne, Helios37 (DE)
24.05. Berlin, Bi Nuu (DE)

Line-up:
Arvid Hällagård: Vocals
Tommi Holappa: Guitar
Hans Fröhlich: Bass
Sebastian Olsson: Drums

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Dozer to Reissue First Three Albums on Heavy Psych Sounds

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

dozer

Even the press release can’t make it through the first sentence without speculating about a new Dozer record. It’s been more than a decade now since the Swedish heavy rock kingpins delivered Beyond Colossal (discussed here) on Small Stone as their swansong, but they’ve made sporadic live appearances since Desertfest in 2013, and they’re nothing if not due for a record. You won’t hear me complain in the slightest about the work guitarist Tommi Holappa has done with Greenleaf in the interim, of course, but still. Come on, dudes. Time to make it happen. I ain’t gettin’ any younger.

My hope here is that these reissues, of Dozer‘s rightly-heralded-as-classic first three albums, 2000’s In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), 2001’s Madre de Dios and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here), will do like Heavy Psych Sounds‘ Nebula reissue series did and result in a new studio release. And you know what? If Dozer wanted to call a new album Holy Shit too, they’d be entirely justified in doing so.

Dozer are touring Australia next November, and as much as I’ve ever wanted anything, I want to go.

These are up for preorder and out March 13 and March 20, as the PR wire informs in this handy graphic:

dozer admat

Swedish heavy rock pillars DOZER sign to Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the reissue of their first three albums ; preorder up now!

A first sign for a comeback? Definitely a news that will make every riff lovers and fuzz fan’s heart beat faster: legendary stoner rockers DOZER have signed a deal with Heavy Psych Sounds Records for the reissue of the their first three records in the beginning of 2020!

‘In The Tail Of A Comet’ (2000, Man’s Ruin Records), ‘Madre De Dios’ (2001) and ‘Call It Conspiracy’ (2003, both out via Molten Universe) are absolute stoner rock masterpieces. These three records elevated the European scene to a higher level, influencing heavy rock generations for decades with a songwriting that made them stand out them from any other band in the early 00’s. Not only DOZER have had a huge influence on European stoner bands, but one can definitely say they own the title of Godfathers of European Stoner Rock.

It is yet unsure if the band will ever return with a new release, however fans can enjoy this very special trinity. All three reissues will come out this March on Heavy Psych Sounds and as special colored vinyl editions; a bonus for all fans: ‘In The Tail Of A Comet’ will be also released on single vinyl for the first time ever!

Guitarist Tommi Holappa comments: “Our first three albums were recorded a long long time ago when we were still young and dumb! But don’t you worry, we are still dumb, just old and dumb! Finally our first babies will be reissued on vinyl again after being sold out for years! Enjoy!“

Says Rajko Dolhar of Heavy Psych Sounds:”We are so stoked to present a big comeback, a dream come true! Heavy Psych Sounds Records is reissuing the first three albums of the Swedish legendary band Dozer: In The Tail Of A Comet, Madre De Dios and Call It Conspiracy! It’s an honor for us having this incredible band in our growing HPS fuzz family!”

PREORDER Dozer’s timeless classics ‘In The Tail Of A Comet’, ‘Madre de Dios’ and ‘Call It Conspiracy’ at THIS LOCATION.

DOZER is:
Tommi Holappa – Guitar
Fredrik Nordin – Guitar/Vox
Johan Rockner – Bass
Olle Mårthans – Drums

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Dozer, Live at Duna Jam 2009

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The Obelisk Presents: Greenleaf Go to Australia This Fall

Posted in The Obelisk Presents on June 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

GREENLEAF

This one makes me happy. Australia’s Your Mate Bookings is bringing Greenleaf all the way from Sweden to do a nine-day tour Down Under and this humble site is among the presenters for the run. I’ve been lucky enough to have The Obelisk present some killer shows and tours at this point, but Greenleaf going to Australia? And doing so on the heels of last year’s Hear the Rivers (review here)? Yeah, that’s something special. And if you read the album’s title in that sentence just now and didn’t hear the chorus of the title-track in your head, I’m going to guess you haven’t yet properly dug into the record itself, which I can only heartily suggest you do at the next available moment. Now works. I’ll wait.

The ascension of Greenleaf this decade has been remarkable. From being a Dozer side-project to a full-time band, to a full-time touring band, they’ve lived up to and surpassed what I think most people expected of them, establishing a solidified lineup and embarking on a creative growth that has helped push heavy blues as a whole forward in Europe’s underground. Even as someone who’s never seen their current incarnation, their reputation precedes them, and as they continue to push ahead stylistically and in their chemistry and dynamic, I’m flat-out honored to be involved in presenting this tour in the small way I am, seeing them expand their geographic reach as well.

Tickets are on sale Monday. Go to the show if you can.

Here are the dates:

greenleaf aus tour

GREENLEAF – AUSTRALIAN HEAR THE RIVERS TOUR 2019

Supported by Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows

Thursday 31/10 Bendigo Hotel Collingwood VIC
Friday 1/11 @Altar Hobart TAS
Saturday 2/11 Northcote Social Club Northcote VIC
Sunday 3/11 Enigma Bar Adelaide SA
Wednesday 6/11 Heritage Hotel Bulli NSW
Thursday 7/11 Transit Bar Canberra ACT
Friday 8/11 The Vanguard Newtown NSW
Saturday 9/11 Crowbar Brisbane Fortitude Valley QLD
Sunday 10/11 Vinnies Dive Gold Coast QLD

Presented by YOUR MATE Bookings Get On The Stage The Bong Shop and The Obelisk

Tickets will be on sale Monday 17/6 through:
https://www.eventbrite.com/
https://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/
https://www.oztix.com.au/

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Skraeckoedlan Announce New Bassist; Touring with Vokonis

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

skraeckoedlan

I happen to know for a fact that Skraeckoedlan vocalist/guitarist Robert Lamu has the winged deer from the cover of Dozer‘s Through the Eyes of Heathens tattooed on his arm, so it’s easy to imagine he’s good and stoked to share the stage with Skraeckoedlan‘s usually-not-all-that-active countrymen forebears. That’s badass in itself, but word that Skraeckoedlan will share the stage this Spring with fellow badass Swedes Vokonis, will play Desertfest London 2019 and are welcoming a new bassist even as they release their third album, Eorþe (review here), on Fuzzorama only broaden the scope of awesomeness surrounding them at this point. The moral of the story? It’s a good week to be in Skraeckoedlan.

The following is culled from social media and the PR wire:

skraeckoedlan tour

Swedish fuzz-fictioneers SKRAECKOEDLAN announce Desertfest London appearance and Spring Tour with Vokonis

People of Earth!

We are super excited to welcome our new band member and bass player extraordinaire. Skraeckoedlan is once again a 4 piece.

Please give Erik Berggren the warmest of welcomes.

Skraeckoedlan live:
02.23 Malmö SE Plan B (Stad I Mörker)*
03.16 Göteborg SE Truckstop Alaska*
03.23 Köpenhamn DK Beta*
04.20 Borlänge SE Broken Dreams (w/ Dozer)
05.03 London UK Desertfest
05.17 Umeå SE Droskan (Make it Sound)*
05.18 Vilhelmina SE Folkets Hus*
06.01 Sundsvall Aveny (Club Deströyer)
* with Vokonis

Heading into 2019 with the help of Fuzzorama Records, Skraeckoedlan steer a course to Eorþe, their first album in over three years and undoubtedly their most progressive. With the big metal riffs of new single ‘Kung Mammut’ riding shotgun alongside the more introspective and explorative moments of songs like ‘Mammutkungens Barn’ and ‘Angra Mainyu’, the trio have cut a definitive and spellbinding record of light and dark. In addition to the CD and standard vinyl editions, Eorþe will also come in a limited-edition box set which sees the album split across two gatefold vinyl records; Earth: Above and Earth: Below. The set will come packed with pieces of merchandise that revolve around the story and feature alternative artwork.

Skraeckoedlan:
Robert Lamu – Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Grüttner – Guitar
Erik Berggren – Bass
Martin Larsson – Drums

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Skraeckoedlan, “Creature of Doggerland”

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Friday Full-Length: Dozer, Through the Eyes of Heathens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 18th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Part of the magic of listening to Dozer is being able to say, no matter which of their five albums you put on, that, yes, this was the moment when they came into their own. Even going back to their 2000 debut, In the Tail of a Comet (discussed here), as their sound was so highly influenced by the desert rock coming out of California, they inevitably brought their own spin to those established elements. 2005’s Through the Eyes of Heathens was their penultimate album ahead of 2008’s Beyond Colossal (discussed here), and it was their first release through Small Stone Records in the US, which became their home after moving from Man’s Ruin Records to their own Molten Universe imprint. They were, of course, an absolute monster of a band by then, and given the swath of early and later splits and singles they released and the touring they did, it’s easy to forget that only five years separate their first and fourth long-players. But that momentum can be heard as well across the 10 songs on Through the Eyes of Heathens, and it sounds utterly unstoppable.

From the very start of “Drawing Dead” through the memorable lead line in the slower-paced closer “Big Sky Theory,” Dozer assembled a work of impeccable songwriting and deep-rooted character. In the arc of their career, every record was another step forward, and just as 2001’s Madre de Dios built on the debut and 2003’s Call it Conspiracy (discussed here) built on that, so too did Through the Eyes of Heathens pick up from where its predecessor left off. Its sound was still rooted in a heavy rock feel, but Dozer were able to translate that into something more aggressive when they wanted — their sound had bite as well as lumber, and while a cut like “Born a Legend” could be traced back to their desert-minded beginnings in its basic structure, by the time it was finally executed, it was something else entirely. Working with the core trio of guitarist/vocalist Fredrik Nordin, guitarist Tommi Holappa (see also: Greenleaf), bassist Johan Rockner (now of Besvärjelsen), the band had parted with drummer Erik Bäckwall (also now in Besvärjelsen) after the third LP, and they brought in Karl Daniel Lidén to fill in behind the kit.

No minor change. Lidén had played in Greenleaf with Holappa as well as in Demon Cleaner, and was already by then well into honing his craft as a producer/engineer. On drums for Through the Eyes of Heathens, he added to the propulsion of songs like “From Fire Fell” and the underlying intensity of “The Roof, the River, the Revolver,” while holding together the airy groove in the volume-surge chorus of “Days of Future Past.dozer through the eyes of heathens” His approach to the riffs was to meet them head on, such that every turn of “Blood Undone” seems punctuated and “Man of Fire” seems to run at a clip trying to convey putting itself out. His work, alongside Holappa‘s leads and riff construction, Nordin‘s ultra-distinctive and ever-more-confident vocals, and Rockner‘s classic you-guys-just-go-ahead-and-have-fun-if-you-need-me-I’ll-be-here-being-the-foundation-of-these-songs style of bass, helped bring the pointed energy of Through the Eyes of Heathens to live, such that it wasn’t just heavy, or grooving, or loud, or whatever else. It was vibrant. On a sheer delivery level, Dozer evoked a sense of shove that spoke to the urgency of its own creation. Putting it on was like having Arnold Schwarzenegger hold out his robot hand and say, “Come with me if you want to live.”

And while, yes, definitely some of Through the Eyes of Heathens‘ highlight moments were found in its intense push, there was never a lack of atmosphere. Sure, flourish of piano, organ, percussion, etc., helped with that, but most of it was owed to the breadth of the guitar tones and to Nordin‘s ease of melody. His shouts in “Born a Legend,” and the standalone lines in “Until Man Exists No More” — which almost made the guest vocal spot on that track from Mastodon‘s Troy Sanders feel superfluous — made for an essential presence throughout, and as much reach as there was in the songs, Nordin‘s performance was one more standout factor tying the material together. One could say the same of Holappa‘s work on guitar. I already said it about Rockner on bass, and the same applied to Lidén‘s drums. It was everything in these songs. There was no “miss” anywhere on the album.

Which is what it came down to. It was the songs. There was a memorable line, or a riff, or just something about the way it was played, to go with every single track on Through the Eyes of Heathens. It’s a 44-minute record, so not short — though the standard has gotten shorter in intervening years with the vinyl resurgence and so on — but a cut like “Omega Glory” seemed to move from hook to hook to hook, and even in the eight-minute stretch of “Big Sky Theory” at the end or in the quieter verses of “Days of Future Past,” there was ultimately nothing spare about it.

There are arguments to be made for each of Dozer‘s full-lengths as being their best work. Through the Eyes of Heathens, for me at least, seems to summarize much of what made them so rich and hard-hitting as well as the individualized sensibility of their material. I won’t take away from anything they did before or after — their last offering, 2013’s Vultures (review here), was the compiled pre-production demos for this album — but I still find myself going back to Through the Eyes of Heathens not infrequently and it feels each time like not only does it still have something new to offer, that it’s not just nostalgia, but also that it stands up to the time since it first came out with an ease that makes almost a decade and a half seem like nothing at all. Maybe that is nostalgia in itself. Fine, and well earned. True front-to-back releases are rare. They don’t happen every year, contrary to what hyperbole and promospeak tell you. Through the Eyes of Heathens is a blueprint for how to make an album last longer than its runtime.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

I went last night and saw Yawning Man and Freedom Hawk in Brooklyn. First club show in a while. I get too anxious these days in crowds. Fests I can kind of get away with it, because usually I’m going back and forth from one thing to the next, taking pictures, writing notes, whatever it is, but just standing around at a gig waiting for a band to go on, I feel like I’m losing my mind. It was a good show though, even though The Drunkest Guy in the Room kind of accused me of being a CIA agent. I guess because I looked stiff and was standing in the back? I don’t know. I was just glad he didn’t stab me in the throat with a piece of the glass he subsequently broke. New Yorkers, such as there are any, delude themselves in thinking that a kind of charm.

The baby was up this morning by the time I was done writing about Dozer. 5:30 or thereabouts. Brutal. I got in a little after midnight from the show, which ended a bit before 11, and was up at 4. My alarm had been set for 6. Just up. So it goes. Got some writing done, grabbed the baby, read books — One Fish Two Fish, Hop on Pop, and whatnot — and had breakfast. Gave the baby a bath and put him down for a nap, which The Patient Mrs. rightly decided also to take.

I meanwhile did the voice tracks for Sunday’s episode of ‘The Obelisk Show’ on Gimme Radio, answered some email to the best of my limited ability, and settled in for this. We’ll see if I can finish by the time The Pecan awakes.

Seemed silly to post about it, but this week I put up the 11,000th post on this site. Not bad. They’re not all gold, but you know, it’s a pretty significant number anyway.

So Monday will be the Yawning Man/Freedom Hawk live review. Here’s what else I’ve got in the notes. There’s plenty:

MON 01/21 Yawning Man live review; Hollow Leg album stream.
TUE 01/22 The Sabbathian album stream.
WED 01/23 9Doorsopen track premiere; Benthic Realm video premiere.
THU 01/24 Thermic Boogie track premiere; Sundrifter video.
FRI 01/25 Swallow the Sun review.

Subject to change something something blah blah.

It’s a lot of cool stuff, and it means I won’t just be spending this weekend filing my secret undercover CIA report about the vape-quotient at the Yawning Man show and instead will have plenty of writing to keep me busy. Seriously, what the hell would the CIA be doing at the Vitus Bar? I would love to know what the reason would be. Why would they be there? What’s the operation? Testing the effects of the sustained awesomeness of Mario Lalli’s bass-playing on the fragile human psyche?

Again, I was glad to not be stabbed.

Or slashed.

Alright, I’m gonna punch out so I can go read reviews of the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery season two before I actually watch it so I can sound smart when I make “observations” about canon connections to The Patient Mrs. Don’t tell her.

Have a great and safe weekend. Forum, radio, merch.

The Obelisk Forum

The Obelisk Radio

The Obelisk shirts & hoodies

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