Desertfest London 2022 Announces Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 30th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

desertfest london 2022 banner

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Note Slomosa. Note Wolftooth. I would expect both to be touring Europe around this time. Green Lung too, for that matter.

There’s no way this isn’t going to be one to remember and it is my sincere hope to be there for it. Maybe I’ll see you there. Maybe we can hug.

Kudos and thanks to the¬†Desertscene crew —¬†Sarika, Jake and¬†Reece — on and for a job well done.

Here’s looking forward:

desertfest london 2022

DESERTFEST LONDON ANNOUNCE FULL LINE-UP FOR 2022 ·

A DECADE IN THE DESERT
CELEBRATING TEN YEARS WITH THE BIGGEST & MOST DIVERSE LINEUP YET

EXCLUSIVE UK PERFORMANCES FROM
WITCHCRAFT
(FIRST UK SHOW IN OVER A DECADE)
and
SHELLAC

As the home for all the things truly heavy, leading independent UK festival Desertfest have announced their full line up for 2022, which will take place in Camden, London from Friday 29th April ‚Äď Sunday 1st May.

Celebrating their tenth year, next year’s festival promises to be their biggest and most diverse yet. Covering six venues across the heart of Camden and now including a full line up at The Roundhouse on both Saturday 30thApril and Sunday 1st May.

Founding owner of Desertfest Reece Tee comments, “Desertfest is 10 years old! I’m so proud that our independent festival has stood the test of time. What we have created is special, a decade of great bands, great friends and amazing memories. This year’s line up is a true reflection of how diverse Desertfest has become and with such a loyal audience, Desertfest can champion the underground for decades more to come.”

Headlining the Friday will be Swedish heavy rock masters Witchcraft, with a UK exclusive performance and their first UK show in over a decade.
Saturday’s headliners are none other than Chicago’s Shellac, who in another UK exclusive will be bringing their experimental post-hardcore sound to the Roundhouse. Fronted by the iconic Steve Albini, Shellac are one of those bands we all need to experience live, at least once. Whilst closing the festival on Sunday will be UK doom legends Electric Wizard, whose heavy sound encompasses the spirit of Desertfest.

Other acts confirmed include the likes of Corrosion Of Conformity, Orange Goblin and Truckfighters who all played the festival in its debut year in 2012 and there are further UK exclusive performances from hardcore-punks Integrity and the Ukrainian psych space rock trio Somali Yacht Club.

The festival will also see desert legends Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri’s new band Stoner, who will be playing the Electric Ballroom and doomed heavy metallers Khemmis making their UK debut at The Underworld.

Please see below for the full Desertfest 2022 line up / stage splits.
Tickets are on sale now and are available at www.desertfest.co.uk

NEW TICKETS FOR 2022
Weekend Ticket (all venues) Р£132 +fees
Friday Day Ticket (all venues) Р£45 +fees
Saturday Day Ticket (all venues) Р£50 +fees
Sunday Day Ticket (all venues) Р£50 +fees
Saturday Roundhouse only Р£35 +fees
Existing ticket holders from 2020’s postponed event have a number of options as the festival is now larger, with an added Roundhouse line-up on Saturday 30th April & Sunday 1st May.

EXISTING WEEKEND + DAY TICKET HOLDERS OPTIONS
Full refund
Weekend roll-over to 2022 without Roundhouse upgrade (access only to Electric Ballroom, Underworld, Black Heart & The Dev)
Weekend roll-over to 2022 with Roundhouse upgrade Р£15 +fees
Day ticket holders can upgrade to a full weekend ticket – ¬£92 + fees ‚Äď or will be issued a refund. Upgrade options only available until May 7th ’21.
For any ticketing enquiries please contact sarika@desertscene.co.uk

Desertfest 2022’s artwork is hand drawn by legendary artist Arik Roper who has created illustrations for the likes of Sleep, Earth, Sunn O))), High on Fire, Kvelertak, Windhand and many more. As always, posters and other merch will be available to buy at the festival.

https://www.facebook.com/events/464163361105416/
http://www.desertscene.co.uk/support
https://www.facebook.com/DesertfestLondon
https://www.instagram.com/desertfest_london/
https://twitter.com/DesertFest
https://www.desertfest.co.uk/

Electric Wizard, Live at Desertfest London 2016

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Stöner Sign to Heavy Psych Sounds; Debut Album Coming Summer 2021

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

St√∂ner recently announced tour dates for UK and Ireland next Spring, and that honestly had me thinking their first album wouldn’t come out until around then, but hey, I’ll take it. The new trio with Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and Ryan G√ľt were a high point among high points in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream series (review here), and the resultant live album, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 (review here), is out this Friday, also in part through¬†Heavy Psych Sounds.

Accordingly, it’s not really a surprise that the three-piece would sign to the label for a debut studio outing as well — both¬†Bjork and¬†Oliveri are on the label too, it should be noted — and if you saw the interview with¬†Brant Bjork back in March (video below), he said that indeed¬†Heavy Psych Sounds would be on board for the record they made in the studio last Fall while also preparing for the performance that would become the stream. See how it all ties together? Isn’t that nice?

The grooves certainly are. Nice to know more are coming sooner than I thought.

Preorders start May 6 — next week already — and there will be a song out then too. Here’s the info with the short bio I wrote for the band:

stoner band

Heavy Psych Sounds Records&Booking is really proud to present a NEW BAND signing: *** ST√ĖNER ***

– brand new band feat. desert legends Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri –

We’re incredibly stoked and honored to announce that the California super-band. ST√ĖNER is now a new member of the HPS family!!

!! Heavy Psych Sounds will release the band’s debut album this summer !!

The release was recorded at The Rad Cabin, Joshua Tree, CA on October 12, 2020 by Yosef Sanborn.

DEBUT ALBUM PRESALE + FIRST TRACK PREMIERE START: MAY 6th

Rad stays rad. A few ideas are timeless. St√∂ner is Brant Bjork (guitar/vocals), Nick Oliveri (bass/vocals) and Ryan G√ľt (drums), and from flowing jams to all-out punker blasts, they know what they’re doing. It ain’t anybody’s first time at the dance, and you don’t call your band St√∂ner if you’ve never heard the word before. St√∂ner, however straight-ahead their moniker, encompass varied styles and the songwriting of Bjork and Oliveri ‚Äď both founders of Kyuss, also Mondo Generator, Ch√©, Fu Manchu, Bloodcot, and more between them. Atop the classic-style swing and flow from G√ľt (also of Bjork’s solo band), St√∂ner keep it casual and wear the name as only those who helped create the sound could.

ST√ĖNER – APRIL & MAY 2022 UK & IRELAND TOUR :
Fri 22 Apr : Monroes Live, Galway, Ire
Sat 23 Apr : Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick, Ire
Sun 24 Apr : Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ire
Mon 25 Apr : Limelight 2, Belfast, UK
Tue 26 Apr : Opium, Dublin, Ire
Thu 28 Apr : The Garage, Glasgow, UK
Fri 29 Apr : The Warehouse, Leeds, UK
Mon 02 May : Academy 3, Manchester, UK
Tue 03 May : The Mill, Birmingham, UK
Wed 04 May : Thekla, Bristol, UK

ST√ĖNER is:
Brant Bjork – Guitars/Vocals
Nick Oliveri – Bass
Ryan G√ľt – Drums

https://www.stonerband.com/
https://www.facebook.com/StonerBandOfficial/
https://www.instagram.com/stoner.band/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.instagram.com/soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RouteOneBooking/
https://www.instagram.com/routeonebooking
https://www.routeonebooking.co.uk/

Stoner, Interview with Brant Bjork, March 16, 2021

St√∂ner, “Own Yer Blues” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Stöner Announce UK & Ireland Tour Dates for Spring 2022

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 21st, 2021 by JJ Koczan

stoner

St√∂ner, the new band from Brant Bjork, Nick Oliveri and Ryan Gut, are just about a week out from making their debut with Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 (review here) on Heavy Psych Sounds. If you watched the stream (review here) from whence the audio for that live record was taken, then you already know that’s a thing to be stoked about. Further stoke-age arrives via Sound of Liberation, the European booking concern/now-also record label, which has announced it will handle EU tour routing for the trio.

In conjunction with Route One Booking — which was founded by Orange Goblin frontman Ben Ward last year after his many years working in management, booking, etc. — tour dates have been announced for the UK and Ireland in Spring 2022, and there’s even a spot left open for them to hit up Desertfest London, though that announcement won’t officially come until that fest makes its own first lineup reveal on April 30.

And while we’re here, let’s just figure that by the time St√∂ner go abroad, they’ll have a studio album out as well, since Brant Bjork confirmed in his recent interview here that the band will be working with Heavy Psych Sounds on a studio release sometime soon.

Tickets for the UK/Ireland shows go on sale this Friday, links below:

stoner uk ireland tour dates

ST√ĖNER JOINS SOL ROSTER

Hey friends!

We‚Äôre happy to announce that we‚Äôll take care of EU bookings for ST√ĖNER! Brace yourself for finest original desert rock coming your way!

Stöner is the brand new band of desert rock legends Brant Bjork (Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Ché and solo), Nick Oliveri (Kyuss, Queens of The Stone Age, The Dwarves, Mondo Generator) and Ryan Gut (Brant Bjork solo).

While we are taking care of the EU mainland bookings, our friends at Route One Booking are ready to announce the UK & Ireland part of this tour.

ST√ĖNER – APRIL & MAY 2022 UK & IRELAND TOUR :
Fri 22 Apr : Monroes Live, Galway, Ire
Sat 23 Apr : Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick, Ire
Sun 24 Apr : Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ire
Mon 25 Apr : Limelight 2, Belfast, UK
Tue 26 Apr : Opium, Dublin, Ire
Thu 28 Apr : The Garage, Glasgow, UK
Fri 29 Apr : The Warehouse, Leeds, UK
Mon 02 May : Academy 3, Manchester, UK
Tue 03 May : The Mill, Birmingham, UK
Wed 04 May : Thekla, Bristol, UK

Tickets on sale 9am Friday 23rd of April from Ticketmaster.ie

www.tegmjr-eire.ie

Can‚Äôt wait to bring ST√ĖNER your way!

‘Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4’ preorder: https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/st-ner-live-in-the-mojave-desert-volume-4

https://www.stonerband.com/
https://www.instagram.com/stoner.band/
heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
www.heavypsychsounds.com
https://www.facebook.com/HEAVYPSYCHSOUNDS/
https://www.facebook.com/Soundofliberation/
https://www.instagram.com/soundofliberation/
https://www.soundofliberation.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RouteOneBooking/
https://www.instagram.com/routeonebooking
https://www.routeonebooking.co.uk/

Stoner, Interview with Brant Bjork, March 16, 2021

St√∂ner, “Own Yer Blues” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

Late in 2020, when the project was announced, Live in the Mojave Desert sounded immediately ambitious. A series of five exclusive streams, taking bands and putting them out in the Californian deserts, with civilization somewhat visible from the aerial drone shots, but definitely far enough away to have been left behind, to record live sets by Giant Rock (see also: Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock, the video/LP something of a precursor) and be captured doing so by professional audio and video. The series was successfully pulled off, which was impressive in itself, and it set a standard for heavy acts in this era of streaming that few could hope to match. The intention was concert-film, and the results were likewise.

Heavy Psych Sounds and the newly-formed Giant Rock Records — helmed by series director Ryan Jones — have overseen physical pressings of the sets as live albums, taking the audio caught by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree with mixing by¬†Matt Lynch¬†at¬†Mysterious Mammal and others. From this comes¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5,¬†and from the moment Isaiah Mitchell starts echoing out the notes that signal the pickup in “Violence of the Red Sea” to the final wah-out, crashes and shout of Mountain Tamer‘s “Living in Vain,” it remains clear the series is something special — a grand monument built to an ugly time.

A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just¬†Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist¬†Mike Eginton, drummer¬†Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned¬†Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the¬†Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.¬†Earthless¬†played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the¬†Live in the Mojave Desert¬†set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason¬†Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace¬†Live at Roadburn 2008¬†(discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what¬†Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

Earthless on Thee Facebooks

Earthless on Twitter

Earthless on Instagram

Earthless on Bandcamp

Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also¬†Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist¬†Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist¬†Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener,¬†Holy Shit!¬†cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure¬†Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2¬†brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to¬†Holy Shit!¬†as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s¬†Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who¬†Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

Nebula on Thee Facebooks

Nebula on Instagram

Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing.¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3¬†basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album,¬†Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist¬†Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist¬†SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind¬†Nebula¬†in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3¬†is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if¬†Heavy Psych Sounds¬†doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but¬†Spirit Mother¬†are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

Spirit Mother on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Mother on Instagram

Spirit Mother on Bandcamp

Spirit Mother website

Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as¬†Vol. 4, the unveiling of St√∂ner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the¬†Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades,¬†Bjork¬†and¬†Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The¬†Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the¬†Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if St√∂ner¬†is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too.¬†Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration,¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4¬†offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but¬†Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

Stoner on Instagram

Stoner website

Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to St√∂ner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist¬†Andrew Hall, bassist¬†Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020‚Äôs¬†Psychosis Ritual¬†(review here), was released by¬†Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work,¬†Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5¬†brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,”¬†Mountain Tamer give¬†Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in¬†Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5 teaser

Giant Rock Records Instagram

Live in the Mojave Desert website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Stream Review: St√∂ner, ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

Posted in Reviews on March 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Stöner

And just like that, the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream series comes to its apparent conclusion, with the reveal of¬†St√∂ner, a new project that brings together¬†guitarist/vocalist Brant Bjork, bassist/vocalist¬†Nick Oliveri and drummer¬†Ryan Gut. There was no interview in the preceding ‘Couchlock and Rock’ segment, but clips of prior editions from¬†Earthless (review here),¬†Mountain Tamer (review here),¬†Nebula (review here) and¬†Spirit Mother (review here) came across with plugs for impending live-album vinyls and videos followed presumably out of the TubeVision archive of¬†Brant Bjork and the Bros.¬†from 2004 and¬†Oliveri‘s long-running outfit¬†Mondo Generator — which in the shown 2003 incarnation had¬†Bjork on drums and¬†Oliveri‘s fellow¬†Queens of the Stone Age¬†alum¬†Dave Catching on guitar. Not too shabby.

However, the main event was, of course, the main event. Duly dramatic footage of Oliveri, Bjork and Gut walking up to the spot led in, and a quick glance at some lyrics in with the setlist on a clipboard offered a subtle reminder of just how new this outfit is. Over the next 40-plus minutes of playing, Stöner established a feel that was at once familiar and fresh. In our interview last week, Bjork spoke about how the central idea of the project was to strip away any sense of expectation or idea of what it should be, just to go back to the roots of where they started and have fun playing together. Fair enough.

St√∂ner¬†set about delivering on that promise quickly. Their opener, “Rad Stays Rad” — with its hook of “Shit don’t change/Rad stays rad” — might as well be their mission statement, and if they don’t call their eventual studio LP¬†The Birth of Rad, I’ll be a little bummed out. The first lines of the song are a¬†Ramones reference and they’re set to a riff that wouldn’t at all have been out of place coming from¬†Blues for the Red Sun era¬†Kyuss. Locked in that they-made-it-look-simple but still urgent groove, and as much as the songs were new, the parts that made them up were about classic as desert rock gets. That “Rad Stays Rad” was presented in a kind of high-contrast sepia only enhanced that feel.

Room for jams? Oh, most certainly. “Rad Stays Rad” stretched out a bit with Bjork‘s solo section and thereby revealed a little more of St√∂ner‘s dynamic at this early stage.¬†Oliveri and¬†Bjork go way back, to before¬†Kyuss was¬†Kyuss. Let’s call it 35 years, give or take. And¬†Gut is the drummer in¬†Bjork‘s solo band, so they’re plenty familiar with each other from touring together as well. So the¬†new creative relationship in the trio is between¬†Oliveri and¬†Gut, and there were moments in the set — not so much “Rad Stays Rad” or the similarly riffed and well-hooked “The Older Kids,” but later on — where both would watch¬†Bjork for the lead. There wasn’t a stumble from what I could tell watching/listening, and they were as tight as they wanted to be, it was just something you could see a couple times that subtly tipping off the fact that this band hasn’t toured yet. Blah blah circumstances blah blah.

Oliveri took lead vocals for “Evel Never Dies,” a punkier shout with the delivery he’s settled into that’s not quite a scream but not quite sung either. Like “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids,” there was a sense of nostalgia to the theme, the title of course nodding both at “evil” never dying and daredevil Evel Knievel.¬†Gut took the change in purpose and forward momentum in stride — he’s the secret weapon here; even a change in how hard he hits the snare does much to affect the vibe of a given song — and St√∂ner slid easily into the more propulsive cut, the sun setting around them casting shadows from the joshua trees.

stoner band

They returned to the mid-tempo push with the shorter-seeming “Nothin'” and the sky turned duly purple for that and the subsequent “Own Yer Blues,” slower, more languid in the laid-back-heavy tradition of¬†Bjork‘s solo work, but with a chorus worthy of being the first impression the band made (and it was; a video premiered for it ahead of the stream that you can see below). The chorus, “By afternoon you own yer blues,” took a similar perspective as “Rad Stays Rad” and “The Older Kids”; a mature voice speaking from a place of experience, sort of looking back but not in a way that’s trying to retro-fy or capture something lost. Some more guttural delivery from¬†Bjork at the end of the track underscored the point, and though sometimes watching¬†Oliveri play a mellower song is like waiting for a cannon to go off, he nailed it. Dude’s reputation precedes him — blah blah shotgun standoff blah blah¬†Cocaine Rodeo — but he’s the guy for the job, no question.

“Stand Down” and “Tribe/Flygirl” followed. Nighttime. Drones buzzing around dark rocks, dark yellow light. Too cool. You got your dose of funk in “Stand Down” to pick up the tempo from “Own Yer Blues” and “Tribe/Flygirl” brought the St√∂ner¬†jam in fashion that earned the umlaut. Call it mood, or vibe, or whatever you want, but you’d be lucky to get those three in order on side B to close out the record as they happened in the set — well, I guess they will on the live album. In any case, it was right there in those three later pieces that¬†Bjork,¬†Oliveri and¬†Gut seemed most locked in. They’d got through the rock, through the punk and into the headier, stonier fare, and it showed how far out they’re ready to go, even as a brand new band. By the time they brought it down and¬†Oliveri¬†hit the last bass rumble to cap the performance, there was little else to say but “fucking right on.” Coming from anyone else, you would say St√∂ner just sounds like someone pretending they’re these guys. Coming from them, you can only call it honest.

This was ‘Vol. 4’ of ‘Live in the Mojave Desert,’ despite airing after ‘Vol. 5,’ which featured¬†Mountain Tamer. With continued producing/directing by project-creator Ryan Jones, filming by¬†Spearhead Media, audio by¬†Dan Joeright at¬†Gatos Trail¬†Recording Studio in Joshua Tree and a mix/master by¬†Matt Lynch (also of¬†Snail) at¬†Mysterious Mammal¬†in L.A., it was a duly rousing finish. An ongoing business dispute between¬†Jones and¬†Bjork gave the viewing a bittersweet edge, but there was no denying that in this showcase as well as in the other ‘episodes,’ they found their Pompeii out in the desert. Whatever happens with the world outside, with tours being booked again and venues maybe surviving the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be lucky to get ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ season two. Until then, we own our blues.

St√∂ner, “Own Yer Blues” from ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’

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Stoner: ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ Interview with Brant Bjork

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Features on March 18th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

brant-bjork

Tomorrow, Friday, is Brant Bjork‘s birthday. Happy birthday, Brant. On Saturday, his new trio with drummer Ryan Gut (pronounced like “good” in German), who also plays in Bjork‘s solo band, and bassist/vocalist Nick Oliveri, will be unveiled. The band is called Stoner, the event is the last of five in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ series of streams which has brought an exceptional level of production to the medium of bands-can’t-play-shows-so-here’s-this, creating something truly special in an indisputably difficult time.

I’ve been fortunate enough to interview Bjork on several occasions, and there’s always a lot of ground to cover. As he says in the video, he and Oliveri go back to before Katzenjammer — pre-Kyuss — to playing Ramones covers in his mom’s living room as kids in Palm Desert. That Oliveri would go on to be desert rock’s most notorious figure through his work with Mondo Generator, the Dwarves, Queens of the Stone Age, etc., and Bjork an Ambassador of Groove with a pivotal catalog of albums under his own name has not stopped the two paths from converging periodically. Kyuss Lives!/Vista Chino was one such instance, at least for a while. This is another.

Stoner — also stylized with an umlaut: St√∂ner — are something of a mystery as of this post. How much to¬†Bjork and¬†Oliveri share vocal duties? How much is punk, how much is rock, how much do they jam? Where do they go from here? The mission, as¬†Bjork describes, is “no-brainer”; to strip everything away, forget audiences (because there aren’t any right now, though tour plans are being made for 2022) and everything else and just have fun going back to the basics, back to that living-room mentality. To hear him talk about it, it sounds like a good time. They hit the studio last Fall and will likely release that session through¬†Heavy Psych Sounds — to which both¬†Bjork and¬†Oliveri are signed — sometime in the coming months.

So ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ is kind of a welcome party for the new band. For¬†Bjork, it is not unalloyed, however, due to an ongoing business dispute with now-former manager and mastermind of the stream series¬†Ryan Jones. It’s a pickle, and something playing out as we speak.

You’ll notice a hard cut in the clip, and trust me, the original video was considerably longer as Bjork went into some detail about what’s going on. Why isn’t that here? Well, there’s part of me that feels like a fucking coward because it isn’t, but the fact of the matter is this thing might wind up in court and I don’t want to have anything said here come back around. The cut is about 18 minutes in, and there’s about 18 minutes cut, so yeah, a significant part of the conversation is gone. I feel shitty about that. Fact is, I couldn’t run the video unedited without comment from the other side, and looking at the totality of the situation, I’m not sure I’d be helping anyone or doing anything but stirring drama. It would not make anything better.

Actually the edit’s pretty clean, but you might notice the mood of the conversation has somewhat shifted and that nixed part is why. Maybe you wouldn’t have seen it at all otherwise. Whatever. I’m gonna take a xanax and go read some Star Trek.

Oh, and if you’re a fan of¬†Bjork‘s solo stuff — his 2020 self-titled (review here) was a highlight of a tumultuous Spring — he says he’ll continue that in addition to working with¬†Stoner, even if the focus is on the new band for this year and the ensuing album cycle. Good to know.

Enjoy:

Stoner, Interview with Brant Bjork, March 16, 2021

Stoner‘s Live in the Mojave Desert live album is slated to release in April in the US through Live in the Mojave Desert and in Europe through Heavy Psych Sounds.

Stoner, Live in the Mojave Desert teaser

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California Desert Wizards Association Launches CDWA Records & Announce Live in the Mojave Desert Series

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 13th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The California Desert Wizards Association, in case you’re unfamiliar, are the good souls behind putting together the Stoned and Dusted festival, desert heavy loyalists through and through. This makes the launch of CDWA Records only good news. And kudos to the nascent imprint for doing it in style and announcing not only a first release, but a series of five live albums and videos — LP, CD, DVD — all slated to have online premieres in the early-going of 2021.

The lineup for Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 is a powerhouse assemblage of legends and upstarts. Led off by Earthless and Nebula, before dipping into the heavy psych-gaze of Spirit Mother (whose March 2020 offering, Cadets, has been undeservedly lost in the plague shuffle of this year but is a gem nonetheless) and the inexplicable dark forces of Mountain Tamer before unveiling a new Brant Bjork/Nick Oliveri collaboration in Stoner.

Cheers to Ryan Jones of the CDWA on the ambitious kickoff for the new project, and here’s looking forward to hearing this stuff and seeing the videos with Mad Alchemy and the bands. Killer.

Details follow, courtesy of Jones via the PR wire:

cdwa records logo

CDWA Announces Live in the Mojave Desert Livesteam Series

Well, well, well, have we got some big news for you California Desert Wizards. We at the CDWA have been busy! I’m very proud to announce the formation of CDWA Records; created to film, record and bring you concert films and live albums from your favorite stoner and desert rock bands made entirely in the far flung parts of the desert. Coming in Winter 2021, we bring you the first in our concert film series:

LIVE IN THE MOJAVE DESERT VOLS. 1 – 5

5 New Concert Films + 5 New Albums

Filmed and Recorded Live in the Mojave Desert, California

EARTHLESS
NEBULA
SPIRIT MOTHER
MOUNTAIN TAMER and
STONER A heavy new project from BRANT BJORK + RYAN GUT + NICK OLIVERI
With the MAD ALCHEMY LIQUID LIGHT SHOW lighting up the desert!!

Our 2020 Stoned and Dusted party got canceled by Covid. We had to do something rad for all you rockers who bought airfare, booked hotels, bought tickets to the show and then had to get it all refunded, what we call “no-fun”ded. So we filmed Yawning Man at Giant Rock. We filmed Brant Bjork among the Joshua trees at sunset. And in May 2020 we brought you Couchlock and Rock: an online, hosted, break-out-the-bong, concert film watch party. We loved it. We wanted more. So we made more.

In October 2020 we filmed and recorded five bands in four days, deep in the deep sand and iconic rocks of the desert. It was pretty wild getting all of our gear out there. But we did it and it was waaaaay worth it!
24 track Pro Tools recordings
“All the sounds blew my mind”!
The Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show projecting on a 4 story high, double pyramid of boulders and a crack squad of badass filmmakers and photographers there to capture it
“All the colors made me blind!”
Holy shit are you in for a treat!!

Coming just in time for a cold, quarantined winter, we will live host five concert film premiers online and release the five albums coming out on vinyl. At the end of November, tickets and albums will go on sale so you Desert Wizards can watch together online, rock out, chat, joke and smoke. We can’t wait to share it with you!

Start drying your fall harvest so it’s ready in time. Check out the video below, and (puff, puff) pass it on to your friends.

Cheers and thanks and stay healthy,
Ryan

http://www.CaliforniaDesertWizardsAssociation.com
https://instagram.com/CDWAOfficial
https://www.facebook.com/StonedandDusted

California Desert Wizards Association Records, Live in the Mojave Desert Vols. 1-5 teaser

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