Review & Track Premiere: Orodruin, Ruins of Eternity

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

orodruin ruins of eternity new cover

[Click play above to stream ‘Forsaken’ from Orodruin’s  Ruins of Eternity. Album is out Oct. 25 on Cruz Del Sur Music. Preorders available now for CD and LP.]

A 16-year differential from one album to the next is significant. Bands have formed, flourished, and broken up in that time. A generational shift in listenership has taken place. Production styles have changed. The list goes on. Fortunately, good doom is timeless, and so it is that Orodruin return from Mordor with Ruins of Eternity, their sophomore LP behind 2003’s rightly vaunted Epicurean Mass (review here). It’s true that the Rochester, New York, three-piece haven’t been totally absent in that time, having put out the Claw Tower… And Other Tales of Terror compilation in 2004 as well as a self-released demo in 2011 and an EP in 2012 — both around performances as the Days of the Doomed in Wisconsin — and guitarist John Gallo released two full-lengths with his other outfit Blizaro, 2010’s City of the Living Nightmare and 2016’s Cornucopia Della Morte (review here), as well as a comp drawing other other work, and also a 2014 solo album under the extra-letter moniker John Gallow called Violet Dreams that dug into his root influence in the work of Paul Chain.

But even with these and the inevitabilities of real life on the part of Gallo, vocalist/bassist Mike Puleo and guitarist Nick Tydelski, to go more than a decade and a half without a proper album release is a long time. And yet Orodruin have been missed all along. They always seemed to maintain there would be another record, and their absence was conspicuous as bands like The Gates of Slumber and Apostle of Solitude moved to the forefront of American doom, let alone relative newcomers like Magic Circle. The nine tracks/47 minutes of Ruins of Eternity serve as a compelling reminder why. Absent longtime drummer Mike Waske, who left the band in 2018, Puleo takes on those duties admirably, and the dynamic between his bass, soaring vocals and the NWOBHM and epic doom-inspired guitars of Gallo and Tydelski stands up to anything in the style you’d want to put it next to, including titans of the form like The Skull or Candlemass, albeit more raw in production than the latter.

If that sounds like hyperbole, consider the guitar heroics in the second half of “Into the Light of the Sun,” the mournful plod and standout melody of “Letter of Life’s Regret” — which appeared on their 2011 demo as well — and the opening gift that is “Forsaken,” which turns after three minutes in and repurposes the speedier riff from Black Sabbath‘s “Falling off the Edge of the World” to its own righteous ends. It would be cliché to say that after 16 years, Orodruin sound on Ruins of Eternity like they haven’t missed a beat, but, well, it’s also true. Granted, it helps that the style of doom they’re playing is loyal to a particular sonic ideal and has its roots in a lost era of ’80s underground metal — even if they came across as dated, that would only work to their advantage — but Ruins of Eternity, even with “Letter of Life’s Regret” and presumably other tracks being of older origin, feels vital. As the chugging march of “Man of Peace” takes hold from “Forsaken,” the Iommic character in the guitar takes on further nuance and deceptive pacing in the verse en route to a more open chorus, the song trading back and forth this way until the lyrics have told their story and a stop brings about the guitar solo section and the return to the central nod at the finish.

orodruin

This is doom songcraft at its most essential, and a message toward the front of Ruins of Eternity to the converted that time has not dulled Orodruin‘s affinity for the style or its substance. As “Grave Illusion” adds more complexity of mood en route to “Letter of Life’s Regret” and the galloping “War on the World,” the experience of the album grows richer, but keeps to the central vibe at its heart. True doom is about bringing character to homage, adding personal perspective to what’s come before. Orodruin do this across Ruins of Eternity with enough grace as to emphasize just how much has been missed by their not putting out an album every two, three or even four years. Is it a chance to affect the scope of doom that’s gone forever? Ruins of Eternity provides a compelling argument otherwise.

As the album moves into its second half, with “Into the Light of the Sun” balancing tempo shifts and dug-in moodiness en route to its aforementioned standout shred and “Voice in the Dark” toying with structure amid a particularly resonant vocal from Puleo, there is some sense of pushing deeper into stylistic reach, but the core mission remains firm. Likewise, “Hell Frozen Over” starts out at a slow burn, picking up to emphasize tone rather than the riff itself, solos panning from one channel to the other ahead of a last tempo kick and some layered harmonies and a last crash-out at the apex that brings about the closing title-track. Somewhat amazingly, “Ruins of Eternity” is the only song over six minutes long on the record that shares its name, and it launches with a commanding stomp ahead of solo-laced swing and a quiet midsection stretch that explodes into faster push, in turn bringing about a slowdown into pure gruel that is as fitting a way to cap Ruins of Eternity as one could possibly ask.

All the while, Orodruin never lose their sense of poise, never lose sight of what they want to do as a band, and never forget that even more than the misery, it’s the song that matters most. It’s hard to listen to the album and not think what might’ve been if this was their fifth or sixth album instead of their second, but that it exists at all is a victory, and that it finds them in such exceptional form all the more so. They’ve rewritten the story of who they are as a band here, and while one wouldn’t predict what the future might hold for them — particularly as they’re short a drummer for playing live — Ruins of Eternity brings into focus just how special Orodruin are and just how much it’s been worth waiting for this one to show up. That’s no easy task, considering, but they nail it.

Orodruin on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur website

Cruz Del Sur on Thee Facebooks

Cruz Del Sur on Bandcamp

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King Buffalo Announce Final 2019 Tour Dates; European Vinyl Pressings Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 21st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

Actually, by now, the vinyl’s probably gone. So it goes.

If you want to make your day better, go ahead and watch the stream of King Buffalo playing Freak Valley Festival in Germany back in June. The video is below, as recorded by Rockpalast, and it’s heartwarming on any number of levels as a fan of the band. I remain enamored of 2018’s Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), and to see them nailing that material on such a stage in front of such a crowd is like an unexpected birthday card.

These are their last shows of 2019, which makes me think it won’t be long until they announce their first shows of 2020. But where? And when? And… when… again? I don’t know. Whatever. Just go watch that video. Then listen to the record. Then buy a tshirt or something. These guys have earned it.

Dates:

king buffalo dates

KING BUFFALO – LAST TOUR DATES OF 2019 // EURO VINYL PRESSINGS!

We’ve announced our remaining 2019 Tour Dates.

THESE WILL BE OUR LAST SHOWS OF 2019, SO DON’T MISS THEM!

9/25 Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House
9/26 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Mint
9/27 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
9/28 Cleveland, OH @ Ingenuity Festival – JUST ANNOUNCED!
11/8 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
11/9 Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle
11/12 Nashville, TN @ High Watt
11/14 Dallas, TX @ Three Links
11/15 Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas
11/16 Houston, TX @ White Oak Upstairs
11/19 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
11/20 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
11/21 Washington, DC @ DC9
11/23 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
11/27 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place – JUST ANNOUNCED!

BUY TICKETS HERE

EUROPEAN VINYL

LTBTM Euro Edition – The European Version of LTBTM from Stickman Records, normally a European exclusive. We brought back a limited number from our European 2019 Tour. This Edition includes a 180 gram Silver Vinyl! Only 8 copies remain.

Orion Euro Edition – The European Version of Orion from Stickman Records, normally a European exclusive. This Edition includes a 180 gram Orange Transparent Vinyl and comes with a CD! Only 7 copies remain.

Repeater Euro Edition – The European Version of Repeater from Stickman Records, normally a European exclusive. This Edition includes a Beer Yellow Transparent Vinyl with Black silkscreen! Only 12 copies remain.

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

King Buffalo, Live at Freak Valley Festival 2019

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

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Orodruin Sign to Cruz Del Sur Music; Ruins of Eternity Due in October

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

orodruin

Technically speaking, Ruins of Eternity is the follow-up to Orodruin‘s debut long-player, Epicurean Mass (discussed here). Only kicker there is that Epicurean Mass came out in 2003, so the sophomore effort is arriving some 16 years after the fact. Hey, good doom takes time. The Rochester, New York, outfit are the latest in the classic-doom vein to sign with Cruz Del Sur Music behind the recent acquisition of Ogre and others from the last few years like Apostle of Solitude and Argus, and Ruins of Eternity has been given an October release date, which given guitarist John Gallo‘s penchant for the drama of classic horror, does not make Halloween seem unreasonable. It’ll be out right around the same time as Ogre‘s new record either way, which certainly puts them in good company.

It’s been a long time coming, but Orodruin have a real chance here to make that wait pay off. Here’s hoping they take advantage.

From the PR wire:

orodruin ruins of eternity new cover

ORODRUIN to release “Ruins of Eternity” in October

Veteran Rochester, New York doomsters Orodruin have signed with Cruz Del Sur Music for the release of their second full-length album, “Ruins Of Eternity”. The album — the band’s first in 16 years — will see the light of day this October.

Originally formed in 1998 by John Gallo (guitar), Mike Puleo (bass/vocals), Nick Tydelski (guitar) and Mike Waske (drums), ORODRUIN broke onto the American metal scene with 2003’s “Epicurean Mass”, which remains their lone full-length album to date.
From the vintage school of BLACK SABBATH and SAINT VITUS doom with a European twist, ORODRUIN’s penchant for churning riffs and atmospheric passages instantly put them on the global doom metal map. The band issued a split, compilation, demo and EP in ensuing years, all building up to the eventual release of their sophomore album.

According to Gallo, ORODRUIN wrote nine new songs from 2016 to 2018, with a tenth song, “Letter Of Life’s Regret” coming from 2005. The album was tracked throughout 2018 at Wicked Squid Studio and is currently being mixed with the mastering process right around the corner.

“Stylistically, the songs are in the epic doom realm like the master titans of the 1970s, SABBATH and JUDAS PRIEST,” says Gallo. “The songs are a long-awaiting evolution in our writing and chemistry among brothers on a treacherous journey that will finally be unleashed to the masses. We hope it translates well to the hearts and souls of our fans worldwide.”

In preparation for the band’s triumphant return to European shores for this fall’s Hammer Of Doom Festival festival, ORODRUIN have enlisted drummer Kevin Latchaw of labelmates Argus, who is temporarily manning the drum spot while the band searches for a replacement for Waske, who left ORODRUIN in April of 2018.

Gallo: “We are extremely honored to be playing the same night as Uli Jon Roth and TROUBLE alongside our classic doom brothers MIRROR OF DECEPTION, SKALD and ATLANTEAN KODEX on the next day, to mention only a few! We can’t express how amazing it will be to be playing a substantial doom metal festival in Germany again. We hope people enjoy the new material as much as we do playing it.”

ORODRUIN’s addition to Cruz Del Sur adds to an ever-growing stable of excellent doom metal bands. Not only will the partnership expose ORODRUIN to new audiences, it will put them in close company with many bands who they consider contemporaries. “We have been aware of Cruz Del Sur for a while and it seemed like the perfect home for us as we have a more European audience that appreciates our style of doom metal. Plus, it will be great to be alongside our fellow doom friends in WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, SLOUGH FEG and ARGUS.”

Orodruin is:
Nick Tydelski : Guitar
Michael Puleo : Bass, Vocals, Drums
John Gallo : Other Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/orodruinofficialband
cruzdelsurmusic.com
facebook.com/cruzdelsurmusic
cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com

Orodruin, Epicurean Mass (2003)

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King Buffalo Announce European Tour Dates with Child

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 9th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

I can’t help but notice that in the list of just-announced European tour dates that King Buffalo will undertake in the company of Australian blues rockers Child, there’s a four-day stretch between their stop at Black Deer Festival in the UK and a date in Caligari, Italy. Does that mean what I think it means? Perhaps a trip to Sardinia on the sly to take part in a certain ultimate-daydream unofficial festival? Yes, I’m talking about Duna Jam. Are King Buffalo playing it? With Child? Fucking take a second and imagine how incredible that will be. Take another second.

Speculation on my part. I know nothing about Duna Jam, or if it’s even happening. It might just be the bands needed a little time to travel after the UK stop. I don’t know. But man, even the thought of King Buffalo playing on the beach in Sardinia, well, it sounds like a really good idea to me, and just maybe I’m not the only one.

Whether you see them there or don’t, see them. I’ve been scratching my head for the last little bit trying to think of some of the most crucial up and coming acts in the varying stripes of American heavy, and King Buffalo are a name to which I continually return. See them.

Dates follow:

king buffalo euro tour

We’re European bound this summer with our good friends CHILD!! All dates below:

21.06 GER – Siegen, Freak Valley Festival**
22.06 UK – Royal Tunbridge Wells, Black Deer Festival
27.06 I – Cagliari, Corto Maltese
28.06 I – Bologna, Freak Out
29.06 I – Allesandria, Cascina, Bellaria
30.06 A – Innsbruck, PMK
01.07. GER – Munich, Feierwerk
02.07. A – Vienna, Viper Room
03.07. GER – Cottbus, Fauler August
04.07. GER – Berlin, Badehaus
05.07. GER – Münster – Rare Guitar
06.07. A – Salzburg, Rockhouse
07.07. GER – Cologne, MTC
08.07. GER – Darmstadt, Oetinger Villa
09.07. GER – Hamburg, Hafenklang
10.07. SWE – Motala, Bomber Bar
11.07. NOR – Oslo, Bla
13.07. LIT – Anyksciai, Devilstone
**only KB

Previously announced East Coast shows:
4/20 Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
4/26 Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
4/27 Newport, RI @ Rusty’s
5/3 Baltimore, MD @ Windup
5/4 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
5/26 Joshua Tree, CA @ Stoned & Dusted
6/1 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
6/8 Montreal, QC @ Tattoo Nouvelle Ere

Info & ticket links: http://kingbuffalo.com/

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

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King Buffalo Announce East and West Coast Touring, Hint at More to Come

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

I know it’s a New Year and all, and hey, that’s nifty, but lest we forget that King Buffalo put out two of the finest releases of 2018 in the form of their Repeater EP (review here) and their second full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here). One might want to keep this in mind when it comes to mapping out where you’re going to be the night King Buffalo hit your town.

You can apply whatever cliche you want about them hitting their stride or coming into their own sound, but the fact is that King Buffalo are quickly making themselves one of the US underground’s most crucial up and coming heavy bands, and it’s the kind of thing where you see them now and brag about it later. For years. If I need to say it outright, I will: You should find a show and go to it. It is not a thing you’ll regret.

They’re on the second pressing of the LP already. More info follows:

King Buffalo West Coast and East Coast Dates

We’re excited to be heading back out on the road for our Third and Fourth legs of the Longing To Be The Mountain Tour. We’ve received a lot of support for the new record and we can’t thank everyone enough. Please keep spreading the word! We’re amazed to hear how many people find out about us through word of mouth.

We have a lot of touring planned for 2019, so if these dates aren’t in your area, stay tuned. We look forward to seeing everyone soon.

The 2nd pressing of Longing To Be The Mountain is now available. Get a copy at kingbuffalo.bigcartel.com

JUST ANNOUNCED WEST AND EAST COAST 2019 TOUR DATES
Tickets on sale at 10am est on 1/11/19.

2/7 Ottawa, ON @ House of Targ
2/8 Montreal, QC @ L’Esco
2/9 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
2/22 New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
2/23 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
3/14 Grand Rapids, MI @ Founders Brewing Co.
3/15 Chicago, IL @ The Hideout
3/16 Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club
3/17 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
3/20 Spokane, WA @ The Pin
3/21 Seattle, WA @ Barboza
3/22 Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall
3/23 Portland, OR @ White Eagle Saloon
3/24 San Francisco, CA @ Café Du Nord
3/26 Los Angeles, CA @ Catch One
3/27 Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
3/28 Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
3/29 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Loading Dock
3/30 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge
4/2 Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room
4/3 St Louis, MO @ Duck Room
4/4 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
4/5 Cincinnati, OH @ Motr Pub
4/6 Pittsburgh, PA @ Café Club
4/20 Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
4/26 Boston, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
5/4 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie

Info & ticket links: http://kingbuffalo.com/

Lineup:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

kingbuffalo.com
facebook.com/kingbuffaloband
instagram.com/kingbuffaloband
twitter.com/kingbuffaloband
kingbuffalo.bandcamp.com

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

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King Buffalo Post “Cosmonaut” Video; Last Shows of 2018 This Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on November 26th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo (Photo by Mike Turzanski)

Just a bit of gorgeousness to make your day better. Because it’s precisely the kind of nerd I am, I’ve already been thinking of where to place King Buffalo‘s second album, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on my year-end list. Hey, you know, the poll goes up this Friday on here, so I’m not actually that early. But they’re pretty high up, and the more I listen to the record, the more that number seems to climb. The record hits such a perfect balance of the ephemeral and the ethereal, a cosmic lushness and an earthy undertone of groove playing out across its wide-ranging but still cohesive span. It is vast and welcoming in equal measure. I’m not sure yet where it’ll finally end up, but yeah, it’ll be up there somewhere among the bigger covers when the list goes live next month.

They have two shows left this year — Albany and Boston — and I haven’t heard much about tour plans for 2019, but it’s easy to imagine something’s in the works. Europe, maybe? Another US run? Whatever it is, King Buffalo are pushing themselves into new territories in sound and presence with Longing to Be the Mountain, and clearly the mission is to share that with as many people as possible.

Like the song “Cosmonaut” itself, I’ll keep it relatively short and leave it there. Some more info and those show details follow the video, courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

King Buffalo, “Cosmonaut” official video

We wanted to thank everyone for their overwhelming support for our new record Longing to Be the Mountain! We’ve already well surpassed our expectations and it’s only been out just over a month. We’re completely DIY, so to see so many people sharing and spreading the word means everything to us. We’re currently planning tours for 2019 across North America, Europe and beyond, so we hope to see you all soon. Stay tuned friends.

We’ve SOLD OUT of both the Deluxe and Standard Edition Vinyl, so we’ve put up a 100 copies of the Tour Edition while we wait for a repress. Grab a copy or some other merch and show your support for King Buffalo!

We only have two more shows for the rest of 2018. Don’t miss them!

King Buffalo live:
11/29 Albany, NY @ The Low Beat
11/30 Boston, MA @ O Briens Pub

King Buffalo is:
Sean McVay – vocals, guitar, synth
Dan Reynolds – bass, synth
Scott Donaldson – drums

King Buffalo, Longing to Be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

King Buffalo on Thee Facebooks

King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

Stickman Records on Thee Facebooks

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Orodruin Post Ruins of Eternity Cover Art; Set Feb. 2019 Release Date

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 6th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Hey, crazier things have happened, but to call a proper sophomore full-length from Rochester, New York, doom loyalists Orodruin long-awaited is underselling it. The former four-piece/now-trio will be past the 20-year mark when and if in fact their second album, Ruins of Eternity arrives in Feb. 2019, as guitarist John Gallo (also Blizaro, solo work, etc.) has newly reconfirmed. Their last EP, In Doom was issued in 2012 — one remembers getting a copy at Days of the Doomed II (review here) in Wisconsin that year — but their lone long-player to-date is 2003’s Epicurean Mass (discussed here), and that was 15 years ago.

They’ve been a well-kept secret in doom ever since, in 2004 issuing the collection Claw Tower …And Other Tales of Terror and sporadic other outings along the way but mostly playing periodic shows with other bands coming through or hitting fests like the aforementioned Days of the Doomed. Even that was some years ago at this point though, and I have to wonder what a new Orodruin might sound like 15-16 years after Epicurean Mass, just how much of the Paul Chain/Goblin influence from Gallo‘s solo work will have made its way into the proceedings, if any. And just the basic construction of it. More than a decade and a half later, if Ruins of Eternity is an hour long, you’d have to say that’s justified.

Well, we might find out in February. I wouldn’t mind. Shadow Kingdom Records, which is home also to Pale Divine and Iron Void among other choice trad doomers, has reportedly signed on to do the release, and fair enough. The band actually posted the cover a while back and said the record would be out in February, but I happened to catch Gallo putting it out again with the mini-update on the status you see below, so it’s good to keep track of where they’re at. Here’s the art and the quick word:

orodruin ruins of eternity new cover

“It is planned to be released February of 2019. Wrapping up vocals then mixing.”

Orodruin is:
Nick Tydelski : Guitar
Michael Puleo : Bass, Vocals, Drums
John Gallo : Other Guitar

https://www.facebook.com/orodruinofficialband/
www.shadowkingdomrecords.com
www.facebook.com/shadowkingdomrecords
https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/

Orodruin, Epicurean Mass (2003)

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Feature: King Buffalo Interview… Me…?

Posted in Features on October 5th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

king buffalo

Before we get to anything else, I want to say this: I am really, really, really uncomfortable with this whole idea.

I mean it. I’ve been kicking myself in the ass since it was brought up. King Buffalo are about to putout their second full-length, Longing to Be the Mountain (review here), on Oct. 12, and the record’s just great. 2018 has produced a glut of fascinating, exciting and kickass albums, but especially when it comes to potential lasting appeal, I’ll put King Buffalo up against any of them, including Sleep. Big words, I know, but I’m serious. At this point, I’ve been doing this long enough to know when a release is going to stick.

So it’s kind of a big deal. I didn’t get to do a track premiere for Longing to Be the Mountain or the album stream, which I assume will be on some cooler site with a wider reach next week. Okay. That happens to me all the time, and the truth is, King Buffalo neither owe me anything nor are exactly an unknown quantity around these parts. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, you might recall their early-2018 EP Repeater had a track stream with the review, and I hosted the premiere of their debut LP, Orion, when that came out in 2016. I’ve also covered them in live reviews, their 2016 digital live release Live at Wicked Squid Studios (review here), their 2015 split LP with Lé Betre (review here) and their 2014 demo (review here), and it goes back further than that if I felt like searching out more links. But I think I’ve made the point. In terms of reaching an audience, King Buffalo have “done” The Obelisk. They’re a known quantity, and with a record like Longing to Be the Mountain, which has the potential to catch ears not already familiar with the band, it deserves as much of a chance as possible to do that.

This interview, where drummer Scott Donaldson asks me questions and I answer instead of how it should be, which is the other way around, was not my idea. It wasn’t. Please know that. It was pitched to me and I was hemming and hawing on it until I spoke to my wonderful and brilliant wife, The Patient Mrs., and she told me in her sweet, diplomatic way to get over myself and do it. I did the latter, obviously not the former, and I still feel a little bit like my fragile writerly ego is being placated for the stream I didn’t get to do. I don’t deserve to be interviewed — least of all on this site! Jesus. It feels so self-indulgent. I’ve had a couple rare occasions where I’ve been fortunate enough to have someone want to talk to me about what I do, and that’s always massively appreciated, because absolutely, I’ll run my mouth (or at least my fingers on the keyboard) if you’ll let me. But to have to then post it myself? Oof.

That’s a bummer way to start a piece that’s actually pretty fun, with silly questions and silly answers and whatnot, but all I can do is be honest about where I’m coming from, and even after I did the interview and sent it back, the thought of putting it up on my own, here, has continued to feel weird and self-indulgent. They call me “important.” Cringe.

So I’ll throw The Patient Mrs. under the bus. It was her idea.

Thanks for reading. Here’s the Q&A, which I titled myself:

jj obelisk

Longing to Be Relevant: A Wrong-Sided Conversation with King Buffalo

So in an exciting twist, I (Scott from King Buffalo) have the privilege to interview one of the most important gentleman in the entire stoner, psych, and doom etc. community, Mr. Obelisk himself, JJ Koczan. If you don’t know JJ, then you’ve probably been listening to your Spice Girls cassette on repeat and should stop reading now. For everyone else, on to the interview……..

Besides “The Pecan,” what do you view as your greatest achievement?

The truest answer I can give you is my relationship with my wife. We’ve been together since I was 15 years old. It’ll be 21 years in about a week as I write this, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have her in my life. Through high school and college and into professional life, through grad school — which for her was about a decade-long process — and beyond, she’s this amazing, brilliant, beautiful person and she’s absolutely the core around which the rest of my existence revolves. To see her in a new way this past year as she’s become a mother to The Pecan has been even more astounding, but there was never a doubt in my mind she’d nail it, because that’s what she does. She’s kind and sincere, far more patient with me than I deserve, and she says things like, “I think you should go to Norway,” which is about as much as I could ever ask of a partner in life.

More to the point I think of what you’re asking, probably best of all as relates to The Obelisk is the fact that people tell me words I’ve written have mattered to them. Usually that’s in the form of, “Hey dude I found such and such band on your site thanks!” and I really dig that and feel incredibly fortunate for it, but every now and then someone actually says something about the writing itself and that means a lot to me because such a big part of that project is that the voice it all comes from is my voice. I’m writing like I speak. I interrupt myself all the time. I jump from thought to thought. I have run-on sentences. I think in repetitive lists, etc. When that touches somebody and they feel strongly enough about it to let me know, whether it’s an email or a note on social media or coming up to me at a show, that’s a pretty astounding feeling.

If you could go on tour with one band, during any time period, dead or alive, who would you choose?

I’ll give you two that could’ve actually happened. I had a chance to tour Australia and New Zealand with Kings Destroy and Radio Moscow a couple years ago and I couldn’t do it because I didn’t have the money. It’s someplace I’ve always dreamed of going and the KD guys are good friends and I’ve been on the road with them and Radio Moscow before, so it’s all a familiar group to be with, and I just couldn’t get the cash together for a flight. I’ve never made much money, and I have no savings or anything like that, so it just wasn’t an option. They got to meet the cats from Beastwars and to see Arc of Ascent — I’m a huge fan of Craig Williamson (also of Lamp of the Universe and Datura), so that would’ve been amazing — but it just didn’t happen. My understanding from the guys afterward was it was a pretty rough tour, but I still regret it. A lot. Just to go there, in that context.

A year or two later, there was a chance The Patient Mrs. was going to get a grant to go to Australia and do research — she’s a college professor — and it looked like a lock. I got in touch with the guys from Hotel Wrecking City Traders and they put together like this whole festival thing in Melbourne that I presented because I was going to be there and everything, and again, the trip fell through. I missed that show. It was put on because I was coming and I didn’t make it. Still stings.

When Lo-Pan played Roadburn a few years ago and they had Adrian Zambrano on guitar, there was some talk about me joining them on the road for a week or two in Europe after. I could hardly think of a more righteous opportunity, but again, money. That’s the reason I haven’t been to Desertfest in a half-decade, it’s the reason I missed SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal and Freak Valley in Germany this year, both of which I was invited to — see also: baby — but yeah. I don’t make any money from The Obelisk and it’s times like that where it really hits home.

What’s the worst band name you’ve ever heard?

Any of them that I’ve forgotten. There are a lot of generic stoner-band names out there, but I actually don’t mind that, because it’s part of a whole aesthetic. It’s like fuzz riffs, or kind of slower rolling grooves. It’s part of the thing. There are a couple shitty names out there — I got called a “whinny liberal” (sic) on Instagram once for saying Black Pussy was a shitty name. Since then, I’ve wanted to start a band called Whinny Liberal, but am restrained, as ever, by lack of both talent and time.

Marry, Fuck, Kill – Lemmy, David Bowie, Prince and why?

Fuck Prince. Obviously. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Plus he was like a Seventh Day Adventist or something, so he was probably a total freak in bed. Isn’t that how it always goes with fundamentalists? They don’t celebrate Xmas, but they’ll break out the sex-swing and make a holiday of any occasion?

Marry Bowie. If you’re getting married, you want stability, and Bowie and Iman stood the test of time.

Kill Lemmy. HOWEVER. After you kill him, you take his brain and put it in a cyborg Lemmy so he can live forever and still never quite reach the microphone on stage. Who keeps making those things so tall?

Who’s the most underrated singer / lyricist of all time?

Paul McCartney. He’s also the most overrated.

You’ve been tied to the railroad tracks by Boris Badenov, and there’s a train hurtling towards you. You’re surrounded by your music collection, and you’re able to break loose, but only have time to save 5 albums. What albums do you save?

I would certainly hope to be saved by Moose and Squirrel before the train hits, but if we’re talking my collection, I’d take mostly stuff that was gifts. I’ve got a signed Enslaved CD that was sent to me by Nuclear Blast because they weren’t getting a lot of press in the States at the time. That has sentimental value. I’ve got a bunch of Sabbath and Beatles bootlegs and a couple Type O Negative bootlegs that I bought decades ago that I’d save. I’d save the copy of Saint Vitus’ Lillie: F-65 that Season of Mist used my quote on the front-sticker for, I’d save whatever of the Man’s Ruin Records stuff I could grab, and I’d save the original copy of Alice in Chains’ Dirt I swiped from my older sister when I was like 10. I don’t know if that’s five or 50, but it’s some of the stuff I have that has value to me beyond whatever cash I may have paid for it.

Why do people say “cheese” before being photographed?

Traditionally I think because to say “cheese” stretches out the sides of the mouth and provides a natural smile. It’s not true, though. In my experience — and this may just be my own bitchy resting face — saying cheese draws the sides of the mouth downward, so you’re not smiling for the camera, you’re just looking like you’re having your face pulled. But who the hell smiles for a camera anyway when you can make a weird face or just be metal and scowl. That’s probably my preference.

A monkey is shot into space and comes back to earth with all the knowledge of the cosmos. He will only talk to you, and will allow you to ask one question. What is it?

Why bother? Fuck that selfish monkey. He should probably get a press conference together and start unraveling the mysteries of the universe to everyone instead of one question to my ass. You know what my one question would be? “Why are you such a prick that you’re unwilling to share this vast knowledge you’ve acquired?” Monkey should be too busy in a lab somewhere curing cancer and on the fucking senate floor saving democracy from imperial populism to answer my shitty question in the first place. “Hey monkey, how ‘bout those riffs, huh?”

A lot of websites, blogs, magazines and livejournals have come and gone since The Obelisk’s inception. What drives you to be able to continue on this journey?

Compulsion. I need it so much more than anyone else needs it that it’s laughable. I started The Obelisk after the magazine I worked for went under and I wanted to keep my contacts and I still had a stack of stuff to review and nowhere to put it. So my buddy Slevin put together a WordPress for me and I stumbled through learning how to use it. Since then, it’s consumed such a major portion of my identity that I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’m “JJ from The Obelisk” for so much of my day. At this point, it’s what I schedule my life around. I wake up at two or three in the morning to write before the baby gets up so I can get work in before I have to go be daddy, and if I don’t, I’m out of my mind the entire day. I have a very, very compulsive personality. It makes me a complete asshole in many situations, but it means that when I do something like this, I do it all the way. I’m dedicated to developing a critical aesthetic and all that, and I believe strongly in the music and whatever role I play in talking about it as I do, but the simple truth is I need it. It’s been long enough and it’s a big enough part of my life that I can’t really be who I am without it.

If you could form a supergroup out of any musicians from the past and present, who would you pick?

Nah, you never really know how a supergroup is going to work out, and I feel like if you pick a band with “stars” from other bands, often it’s ego-driven and kind of falls flat. I’ll just take my Shrinebuilder record and the Munchen Sessions from when Los Natas jammed with Stefan Koglek from Colour Haze and be happy with that.

Crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Fun fact about me: I love peanut butter. You nailed this question. Peanut butter anything — I’m in. It’s the fastest way to my heart. These days I grind my own from dry roasted, unsalted peanuts — because I want to taste peanuts, not salt — and I usually stop the food processor before it’s all the way smoothed out. It’s not “crunchy” like in the Jif or Skippy sense, where there’s like half a nut just mysteriously inserted into otherwise smooth peanut butter, but if I can get it to where it’s got a bit of texture and still get the good oils out from the peanuts and bring out that flavor, I’m happy. I also recently started grinding almond butter as an alternative. Different process, takes longer, but also yields satisfying results.

You’re the smartest man alive, you’ve just built a machine that can travel through time and teleport you to any destination. Where do you go, and why?

I’d travel to a dimension outside of conventional hours and give myself more time to write

Then I’d go back to when I was like 15 and tell myself to go see Kyuss and White Zombie on tour together. And Sleep whenever.

Lastly, if you had to describe how awesome King Buffalo is in one word, what word would you choose?

As regards your new album, “breakthrough” is the single word that most comes to mind, but I think generally the forward step you’ve taken has been to make your sound more your own while also developing your songwriting, upping the level of presentation via production, and generally showcasing the lessons you’ve learned both from Orion and from the touring you’ve done since that record came out. These are some of the things I think can be most admirable from a band going from one LP to a follow-up. I knew you guys were onto something the first time I heard the demo, but Longing to Be the Mountain is a special album. You should be proud of it.

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for all you do JJ. Most outlets overlook upcoming bands. It’s because of your ears and fingers that I’ve been turned on to a lot of great music. I look forward to seeing who you find next. –Scott (The guy that hits stuff in KB)

In all seriousness, Scott, this feels weird and I’m not entirely comfortable talking about myself in this way on this site. It feels like a total ego trip and I’m not into it. But I’m doing it because it’s you, and because it’s King Buffalo and because when I told The Patient Mrs. about it and said I probably wasn’t going to do it, she said I should.

Alright, the baby’s waking up. I gotta go. Thanks for taking the time.

King Buffalo, Longing to be the Mountain (2018)

King Buffalo, “Quickening” official video

King Buffalo BigCartel store

King Buffalo website

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King Buffalo on Twitter

King Buffalo on Instagram

Stickman Records website

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