Birnam Wood Post “Early Warning” Video; Wicked Worlds out Nov. 19

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

Filtering circa-’75 Sabbath through the grit of Sunlight Studios tonality, Massachusetts four-piece Birnam Wood are getting ready this month to release their new album, Wicked Worlds. Set for issue Nov. 19, the record collects seven blown-out rollers in 34 minutes of heavy fuckery with “Time of Purification” and “Richard Dreyfuss” opening in blasted fashion — bonus points for including a What About Bob? sample — and unfolding Northeast aggro-stonerist doom rock from there whether it’s the swinging “Dunsinane” or the seven-and-a-half-minute, harmony-laden capper “Return to Samarkand,” slow, massive and written in homage to the ancient Uzbek city once along the key trade route between China and Europe. It’s the East Coast’s version of a good time — which means someone might get punched — and fluidly trades between tonal onslaught and more atmospheric stretches, like the opening of centerpiece “Early Warning” or the quick psychedelic departure in the subsequent “Greenseer.”

Accordingly, whether one wants to categorize them as stoner, doom, or something else, I don’t think it matters. Birnam Wood, who made their self-titled full-length debut late in 2014 and have issued two EPs since, seem far more birnam wood wicked worldsconcerned with general sonic badassness than genre adherence, though they’re well within the realm of capital-‘h’ Heavy. As their first audio-visual representation of Wicked Worlds, their new video for “Early Warning” captures the doom at root in their sound and the combustion they bring to their riffing from that foundation. There are some samples in the song to help the clip earn its VHS-style grain, and no small amount of bombast happening around them to represent well the album from whence it comes, which answers back on similar ground later with “A Song for Jorklum” ahead of the finale.

I have a hard time imagining that in today’s climate there wouldn’t be some label itching to pick Wicked Worlds up for a vinyl pressing, either in the US or abroad, so if it happens later, this is me saying I called it early. I don’t always say that kind of thing, but by the time you make your own “Return to Samarkand,” I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from. That’s a couple weeks off yet — they play the release show Nov. 23 at O’Brien’s in Allston with Leather Lung and Sundrifter also on the bill — but go ahead and dig into “Early Warning” in the meantime, which indeed serves just that for the record as a whole.

Please enjoy:

Birnam Wood, “Early Warning” official video

Birnam Wood- “Early Warning” from the album ‘Wicked Worlds’

Wicked Worlds available on bandcamp 11/19/18
https://birnamwood.bandcamp.com/

Cinematography – Rick Dorrington
Editor/VFX – Matt Wagner

Birnam Wood is:
Shaun Anzalone
Dylan Edwards
Matt Wagner
Adam McGrath

Birnam Wood on Thee Facebooks

Birnam Wood on Instagram

Birnam Wood on Bandcamp

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Red Lama Post “State of the Art” Video; Dogma EP out Dec. 7

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 8th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

red lama

Quick turnaround from Danish heavy psych rockers Red Lama, who issued their second album, Motions, earlier this year. Their new EP, recorded in an apparent burst of creativity, is titled Dogma, and the drift-prone seven-piece are giving a glimpse at some of the float its four tracks might hone in a new video for “State of the Art” recorded live at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Nice digs. They seem to have recorded the EP live as well, so whether or not the video is from the same session that resulted in the studio version of the song, I don’t know, but what matters more than that is of course the live feel of the music itself, which comes through as no less a priority than the gorgeous melodicism that always seems to typify Red Lama‘s work, pastoral and serene as they are.

The video is at the bottom of this post and the EP cover and info follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:

red lama dogma

RED LAMA – ’DOGMA’ – NEW EP OUT DECEMBER 7th

Red Lama will release a new EP called ’Dogma’ on December 7th which has been written and recorded during a single month in the fall of 2018. The first track to be released is ’State the Art’. Accompanying the track is a video that shows the band recording the track in a session at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. ’Dogma’ is the band’s second release in 2018 and it follows the acclaimed album ’Motions’.

’Dogma’ is the result of an intensive writing and recording period which stretched over a single month in the fall of 2018. The release is conceptual in the sense that its basic dogma is immediacy. The music and its creation shall remain immediate and thereby avoid being too planned out and overly produced. Vocalist, Johannes Linnet, says about the process:

”I look back at the time we spent making ’Dogma’ as a very free and pleasant journey for the band as a whole. Working with immediacy and being able to let go of natural satisfaction has given the writing process much more depth and concentration than earlier. Small ideas became raw pieces over a weekend in late September and was then polished and recorded as live sessions in the Royal Danish Academy of Music’s Studio 3 in order to preserve the energy that we bring to live shows.”

The EP has been made in cooperation with the British producer Graham Sowerby (AK/DK). Red Lama has worked with Tommy Kamp Vestergaard (60 minutes of Mew) in mixing ’Dogma’, and the award-winning producer, Rune Rask, has mastered it. The four
songs that make up ’Dogma’ unite the beautiful and grandiose with the raw and powerful – and at the same time show that Red Lama once again explores new musical territories.

The first single ’State the Art’ and its video which is shot and produced by Jonas Møller (Playground Productions) will be out prior to the release of ’Dogma’. It shows the band during the recording of the track as a one-take in Studio 3 at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

Tracklist – ’Dogma’
1. Time
2. State the Art
3. RLP
4. Tearing up the Snow

Red Lama live 2018
17th of November HeadQuarters Aarhus (DK)
24th of November Kulturmaskinen Odense (DK)

Red Lama:
Johannes Linnet: Vocal
Oliver Fick: Guitar
Jonas Rahbek: Guitar
Frederik Randrup: Bass
Morten Kaas: Organ
Niklas Sjøbeck: Percussion
Marius Linnet: Drums

www.facebook.com/redlamadk
www.instagram.com/red_lama_band
www.soundcloud.com/red-lama
www.redlamaband.bandcamp.com

Red Lama, “State of the Art” official video

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Deaf Radio Kick off Massive Euro Tour on Nov. 14; Second Album to be Recorded

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

deaf radio

Hell yeah, go go go. Deaf Radio on Nov. 14 will launch a 33-date European tour that spans from Russia to the UK with plenty of stops in between. They’ll be closing the book on their 2017 debut album, Alarm (review here), ahead of hitting the studio to record their second outing, and presumably they’ll be finalizing that new material on the road as well. Would be a waste not to, anyhow. The first full-length was rife with post-Queens of the Stone Age vibes, in the drums almost as much as the guitar and vocals, but with added beef to the tonality and hooky songcraft, they had no trouble making a rousing first impression in their own right. I don’t know when in 2019 their new collection will see release, but it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find some label or other swooping in to pick them up for it.

You can stream Alarm below via Bandcamp, and here are the dates from the PR wire:

deaf radio tour

DEAF RADIO | LIVING IN BACKSEATS TOUR 2018

From London and Berlin to Warsaw and Athens, Deaf Radio are about to finish on the road what started as an internet burst two years ago.

Internet -being the new underground- proved fertile ground for Deaf Radio’s debut “Alarm” and made it one of the most successful independent rock albums of the recent years. Since then, the band has built upon it with a series of live appearances (among which emphatic shows with The Killers, The Kills and All Them Witches), but now it’s ready to take a big step. For more than a month they will be watching the world from the backseats of their van, crossing Europe’s fields this November and December.

More than 30 dates have been announced and an estimate of 15,000km including Germany, UK, France, Eastern Europe and the Balkans is to be covered. According to the band this tour will be “the final scene of Alarm’s era” and they will enter the studio to record their second full-length album during 2019.

The full list of shows:
Living In Backseats Tour 2018
14.11 – Rover Bar / Thessaloniki [GR]
15.11 – Aigli / Serres [GR]
16.11 – Live n Loud / Sofia [BG]
17.11 – Mylos Bar / Drama [GR]
18.11 – Bee Bop / Plovdiv [BG]
19.11 – Expirat / Bucharest [RO]
20.11 – Moonshine / Cluj Napoca [RO]
21.11 – Reflektor / Timisoara [RO]
22.11 – ?KC Kombinat / Beograd [SRB]
23.11 – CK 13 / Novi Sad [SRB]
24.11 – Fusion Club / Kladovo [SRB]
25.11 – Klub Mocvara / Zagreb [HR]
26.11 – ?nstant / Budapest [HU]
27.11 – Grand Café / Szeged [HU]
28.11 – Fuga / Bratislava [SK]
29.11 – Klub Alchemia / Krakow [PL]
01.12 – Hydrozagadka / Warsaw [PL]
02.12 – Pod Minoga / Poznan [PL]
04.12 – Junction Bar / Berlin [DE]
05.12 – City Club / Augsburg [DE]
06.12 – Dirty Dancing / Osnabruck [DE]
07.12 – ?unker / Rostock [DE]
08.12 – The Lion City Pub / Magdeburg [DE]
10.12 – ?he Lanes / Bristol [UK]
11.12 – Gullivers / Manchester [UK]
12.12 – The Victoria / London [UK]
13.12 – Le Bar Hic / Rennes [FR]
14.12 – TBC
15.12 – Le Galion / Lorient [FR]
18.12 – KC Ummus / Kragujevac [SRB]
19.12 – Blues Bar / Karditsa [GR]
20 12 – TBC
21.12 – Temple / Athens [GR]

Deaf Radio are:
Panos Gklinos (Vocals & Guitar)
Dimitris Sakellariou (Guitar & Vocals)
Dimitris Georgopoulos (Bass & Backing Vocals)
George Diathesopoulos (Drums & Backings Vocals)

https://www.facebook.com/deafradioband
https://www.instagram.com/deaf.radio/
https://deafradio.bandcamp.com/

Deaf Radio, Alarm (2017)

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Rebreather Return with Self-Titled EP Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 1st, 2018 by JJ Koczan

rebreather

Ohio’s Rebreather always brought a sense of character and individuality to sludge, and while it’s been the better part of a decade since their last release, they still do. The Youngstown trio — who will forever live in doom trivia by being the first band ever to grace the Nyabinghi stage at the inaugural Emissions from the Monolith Festival in 2000 — are back with a six-song self-titled EP that follows up on their return to the stage and general band activity. “Open Your Eyes” and “Countdown” have plenty of the bombast for which they’re known, the rawness taken from noise rock and slowed to a pummel, while “Sunday” forms a melodic center around which the rest of the EP seems to revolve, getting an answer in the rawer heavy rock of closer “Five.”

Because they can be so scathing when they want to be, they’ve always been a band whose atmospheres are somewhat deceptive, but going back to 2002’s Need Another Seven Astronauts — a title that was as topical at the time — and that essential characteristic is certainly revived in the depth of these songs. If this is Rebreather declaring who they are in 2018, I’ll take it.

From the PR wire:

rebreather self-titled ep

REBREATHER RELEASE NEW EP

Ohio band returns after indefinite hiatus

Heavy Ohio rock outfit Rebreather have self-released a new EP. The band, originally formed in 1999, exited the doom/stoner/sludge music scene in 2013 with no immediate plans for return. Fast-forward to 2017, when founding member and vocalist/guitarist Barley Rantilla and drummer Steve Gardner began playing shows of back catalog material with new bassist Steve Wishnewski. Momentum built quickly, and the band’s 18-year fanbase returned in full force to fill up venues.

“Things picked up very rapidly when we started playing shows again, and it just made sense to continue and see what would develop.” – Barley Rantilla

Rebreather invite you to review the new EP, as well as peruse their entire back catalog at https://rebreather-ohio.bandcamp.com

“The sleeping giant awakens…” – Josh Roman, MindRocket Recording Studio

Tracklisting:
1. Open Your Eyes 05:04
2. Starved 03:09
3. Sunday 05:43
4. Countdown 05:13
5. Destroy That Silence 04:11
6. Five 04:21

Rebreather is:
Barley Rantilla – Guitars and Vocals
Steve Gardner – Drums
Steve Wishnewski – Bass

https://www.facebook.com/rebreather-372407815879/
https://www.instagram.com/rebreather_band/
https://rebreather-ohio.bandcamp.com/
http://www.stevewishnewski.com/rebreather

Rebreather, Rebreather EP (2018)

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New IAH Album II Now Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 30th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

iah (Photo by Romi Sundberg)

Executed with a lush psychedelic fluidity offset by periods of more weighted thrust, IAH‘s simply-titled album, II follows behind their early 2017 self-titled debut EP (review here), and might just qualify as their first full-length. The self-titled was picked up for a bonus-track-inclusive release through Kozmik Artifactz that fleshed it out to an LP either way, so however you slice it, II is their sophomore release, and it very much sounds like it. Recorded live, it finds the Argentinian three-piece engaging a raw sonic chemistry between them that has developed quickly even from where it was a year and a half ago. Songs like “HH” and “Pri,” both of which top seven minutes long, cast themselves between chugging progressive metal and fluid psychedelic heavy, and refuse to commit between the two or really acknowledge any disparity that might exist there. Weaving in and out of more aggressive riffage with ease, they also wander into post-rock musings with the guitar on “Nihil Novum,” only to issue a slap in the face via full-boar distortion in a louder section.

It’s a record that finds IAH developing their sound and going wherever the hell they want with it, essentially. They answer the potential of their debut with a flow and a confidence that allow them to direct the songs rather than being led by them, and by the time they get around to the prog/jazzy drums and keyboards in the second half of closer “Sheut,” it’s apparent just how wide open they’ve thrown the doors with this record. Another one that seems likely to wind up on vinyl sooner or later with a proper release, but if available digitally for the time being and streaming at the bottom of this post.

Dig it:

iah ii

IAH – II

Tracklisting:
1. El silencio del agua 06:56
2. hh 07:15
3. Nihil novum 04:41
4. La niña del rayo 06:37
5. Pri 07:34
6. Sheut 05:44

Recorded live, mixed and mastered at 440 Estudio. Engineered and mixed by Mario Carnerero. Mastered by Mariano “Nano” Dinella.

Drum Doctor: Facundo Rodríguez
Guitar Doctor: Mario Carnerero
Assistant: José Bazán
Artwork: Guillermo Scarpa

Produced by Mario Carnerero and IAH.

IAH is:
Juan Pablo Lucco Borlera: Bass
Mauricio Condon: Guitar
José Landín: Drums

https://www.facebook.com/IAHBanda/
https://iahbanda.bandcamp.com/

IAH, II (2018)

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Dust Prophet Post New Single “The Big Lie”

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 23rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

I live in New England. I’ve lived in New England for just over half a decade. I can’t claim to be a lifer and I don’t think I’ll stay there forever, or at least not where I am now. It’s not perfect. People care way more about sports than they do about art. The food isn’t great. The weather sucks. Blah blah blah. I give New England a lot of flack, but I’ll give it one thing. When it comes to an anti-religious standpoint, as the epicenter of the Catholic priest child abuse scandal in the US, New England as a legitimate gripe. That’s not to say anyone else doesn’t — rest assured, they all fucking do, apparently all the way around the planet — but yeah.

Obviously I don’t know the history of anyone in Manchester, New Hampshire’s Dust Prophet in that regard, and I wouldn’t speculate, but even as a general attitude, I get it. You don’t have to have been raped by a priest to say fuck those rapey priests. So when they come along with their debut single “The Big Lie” and lyrics like “Your god’s an empty song/Every right is a wrong,” the position seems to me well justified.

As regards the song though — it’s the first thing Dust Prophets have put out and dig the arrangement on the vocals and the inclusion of keys in the melody. I’m not one to bet on direction given one track, but they seem to have an idea of where they want to be sound-wise, and a pro-shop recording to showcase that. “The Big Lie” is streaming at the bottom of this post. Here’s info culled from social media and the PR wire:

dust prophet the big lie

DUST PROPHET – “THE BIG LIE”

Escape the haze and enter the reality…

Dust Prophet are a 4 piece Stoner-rock/Progressive/Psychedelic-Rock band based in Manchester, New Hampshire. The band consists of Heather Lynn (Vocals); Otto Kinzel (guitar); Sarah Wappler (bass & organ); & Marc Brennan (drums). Our debut single, The Big Lie, is out NOW.

The Big Lie is the first track released by NH based stoner-rock band Dust Prophet. Heavy riffs; Haunting vocals; Fuzzy tones; Weird sounds; Monstrous beats.Take our hand and walk through the smoke…

Mixed by Glenn Smith at Amps vs. Ohms
Mastered by Nicholas Zampiello at New Alliance East.

Dust Prophet is:
Heather Lynn- Vocals.
Otto Kinzel- Guitar.
Sarah Wappler- Bass; Keyboards.
Marc Brennan- Drums.

https://www.facebook.com/dustprophet
https://www.instagram.com/dustprophet/
https://twitter.com/DustProphet
https://dustprophet.bandcamp.com/
https://dustprophet.com/

Dust Prophet, “The Big Lie”

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Constant Lovers Premiere “Meow Meow Meow” from New Album Pangs

Posted in audiObelisk on October 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

constant lovers

Based in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, good-time weirdo noisemakers Constant Lovers will release their third album, Pangs, on Oct. 26. It’s an 11-track outing, and from the sax-laced opening of “The Wound up Get Down” to the beach sounds of closer “Pang Time,” there are three ways you can listen to it. You can sit and pick apart every move the four-piece make, analyze and overthink every stop and shove in “It’s Electric” or the sharp rhythmic turns of “Lullaby,” and wax poetic as regards the intricacy of the interaction between the guitars of Joel Cuplin (also vocals) and Eric Fisher (also percussion) on the penultimate “Amouse Bouche.” You can do that. It’s fine. Or you can simply not. You can find the overarching groove — it’s there, to be sure — that locks in with funky aplomb on “The Wound up Get Down” propelled by the bass of Gavin Till-Esterbrook and drummer Ben Verellen, as well as that sax, and holds firm as “Meow Meow Meow” sets the go-where-the-hell-they-want-tone with a cast of PNW noise that’ll give silly comfort to ears who never quite recovered from the loss of Akimbo however many years ago and leads into the churn of “Ceiling Sweats” as Pangs unfolds along solid geometrical lines. You can go deep, or you can not. The third way? It’s a little bit of both.

I’m not going to advocate one or the other, frankly. With the play to anticipation in the we-dig-Fugazi-you-dig-Fugazi “Rally Cry for the Pang in Your” and the Rob Crow-style quirk of “Know the Knot” preceding, the mania in the lyrics of “You are Dinner” and its constant lovers pangsimmediate companion-piece “Bone Shard Fashion,” Constant Lovers make arguments on all sides. Any way you might want to go has its appeal, and far more important is that the depth of Pangs holds up to whatever level of scrutiny you might want to bring to your experience of it. In the intensity of “Lullabye,” the band resolve toward the frenetic, and one could point to any number of stretches throughout and hear hardcore punk roots growing up and — let’s face it — getting interesting along the way. But even as they let themselves draw down the tempo just a bit more on “Pang Time,” which is also the longest track at 5:29 and finishes with an ending so eased-out you wouldn’t be wrong to think of it as “gentle,” they don’t let the academic overcome either the adventurous spirit of the songwriting or the energy in their delivery of the material. A production that’s raw-er but still well broad enough to let their tones breathe — one has to wonder if they use Verellen amps — brings through the deceptive balance, sneaky balance, sometimes purposefully unbalanced balance, of elements instrumental and aesthetic, and, well, sometimes you want to have some fun. That’s legit. It’s okay to do that.

Clearly they are, so why not follow suit?

Or, more likely, t-shirt.

Not at all without a melodic presence despite the forward nature of its rhythms, Pangs arrives some four-years after the band’s second offering, Experience Feelings, which itself came just one year later as the follow-up to their 2013 debut, True Romance. Whyever the fourfold increase in span between their releases, Constant Lovers obviously relish the opportunity that Pangs gives them to explore the outer reaches of their approach, and regardless of how the listener chooses to take that on, doing so only proves to be an engaging, exciting and let’s-go-again-worthy experience.

Get your digs with the premiere of “Meow Meow Meow” below, followed by some preliminaries on the release courtesy of the PR wire.

Enjoy:

Constant Lovers, “Meow Meow Meow” official track premiere

Seattle, WA quartet Constant Lovers announce their forthcoming sophomore album, Pangs.

Constant Lovers’ Pangs was created during a sustained period of unrest punctuated by moments of intense inspiration. The result is an album where delight collides with angularity, chaos morphs into play, and humor and strangeness are, as always, just beneath the tough exterior. At once a celebration of the heavier sounds featured in their last album, Experience Feelings, Pangs also signals a turn towards a more exploratory nature. With the addition of saxophone and the use of improvisation in both recording and recent live shows, Constant Lovers are pushing at their boundaries.

Pangs will be available on LP and download on October 26th, 2018.

Artist: Constant Lovers
Album: Pangs
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: October 26th, 2018

01. The Wound Up Get Down
02. Meow Meow Meow
03. Ceiling Sweats
04. It’s Electric
05. You Are Dinner
06. Bone Shard Fashion
07. Know The Knot
08. Rally Cry For The Pang In Your
09. Lullabye
10. Amuse Bouche
11. Pang Time

Constant Lovers is:
Joel Cuplin: Guitar/ Vox
Eric Fisher: Guitar / Percussion
Ben Verellen: Drums
Gavin Tull-Esterbrook: Bass / Vox

Constant Lovers on Thee Facebooks

Constant Lovers on Instagram

Constant Lovers on Twitter

Constant Lovers on Bandcamp

Constant Lovers website

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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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