Joint Interview: YEAR OF THE COBRA

Outlaws Nation Joint Interview: An Interview with YEAR OF THE COBRA

 

Band Logo

 

Year Of The Cobra are about to release their colossal debut album …In The Shadows Below. The band which is comprised of married Drum and Bass riffsters – Amy Tung-Barrysmith (Bassist/Vox) and Jon Barrysmith (Drums) have created a delicately played and loud as hell debut album. It’s an album that strikes the perfect balance between heavy Doom sounds with a pounding Sludgy/Stoner based groove.

Year Of The Cobra have been making a name for themselves over the last 18 months or so. They already have a fearsome live reputation and have already released a split single with Mos Generator. Signed to ace record label STB Records who will be releasing their debut album on October 29th 2016, Year Of The Cobra are going to become one of your favourite bands.

I asked my good pal Matthew Thomas over at Taste Nation LLC if he wanted to do one of our joint interviews that we’ve been doing recently. He agreed and this is the result as Year Of The Cobra have agreed to do another Outlaws Nation Joint Interview…..

OOTS/TN – Hi Amy, Jon. Thanks for doing this joint interview. Congrats on the new album. How are things with you both today.

YOTC – We’re doing great! Thank you. Excited about the album release. It’s been a busy week for sure!

 

Band Pic

 

OOTS – Can you tell our readers how the band came together. Or why you decided to form the band.

YOTC – We met on Halloween 2007 at a club called the King King in LA. We were playing in separate bands at the time and didn’t really talk much at that show. It wasn’t until the second or third show we played together before we became friends. We actually didn’t start writing music together until 2014, after moving to Seattle. We didn’t really know anyone in the music scene at the time, so we just started writing songs. Luckily, we both wanted to write the same style of music. For the most part, it was easy.

OOTS – Why did you choose the name Year Of The Cobra for your band. Any specific meaning.

YOTC – It took quite a while to find the right name. We had long lists that covered many pieces of paper before we decided on Year of the Cobra. It was actually supposed to be a temporary name, but it stuck and we’re glad it did.

 

The Black Sun_Album Cover

 

TN – We are here to talk about your new album. What was your recording process like? Was it spread out over days, weeks, months…….?

YOTC – We booked 10 days with Billy Anderson to track everything. Billy did a few mixes for us remotely after tracking, but we went back for the final mixes to make sure it was exactly what we wanted. All in all, it took about 3 months from the initial tracking to the final masters. The recording process itself was amazing. The studio, Hallowed Halls, was magnificent and working with Billy was life altering. He’s a genius. We consider him a third member of our band now.

OOTS – How did you manage to hook-up with the legend that is Billy Anderson to Produce the album. Especially for your debut album. What was it like working with Billy. Did he provide any helpful advice when you were recording the new album.

YOTC – Billy was at the top of our list for many reasons. He was the first and only one we reach out to and he really liked the EP. The first time he came to watch us play, we were scared shitless, to say the least. After working with him, we’re still scared shitless, haha, but we’re all good friends now and we have the utmost respect for him. His ear, his ideas, his knowledge, is beyond anything we’ve seen or experienced before. He just knew exactly what we were going for, without ever having to tell him. It was amazing.

TN – What does Billy bring to the Year Of The Cobra sound.

YOTC – One of the first things Billy said to us when we first met him was that he knew how to make it sound big, without making it sound like we added a ton of tracks, and that’s exactly what he did. Billy brought a bin full of pedals that we tried in every configuration until we found the exact tone. We’re sure no one noticed, but right after the recording, Amy’s pedal board got much larger.

TN – Did you “test” the new tracks at live shows to see what people’s response to the new material.

YOTC – Absolutely. We always test out songs live first. It’s one thing to play it in the studio, but you won’t know how it works until you see how a crowd reacts.

 

STB Records

 

OOTS – The album is being released on STB Records. Perhaps one of the best independent record labels currently out there. Did you guys have offers from other labels. Or was their no hesitation in signing for anybody else.

YOTC – STB was actually the only label we contacted directly. Jon sent an email when we released the EP to say that we were a brand new band and that we wanted to be on Steve’s (STB) radar. Steve wrote back the next day and said that he liked our debut EP, and in his own words said, “you are definitely on my radar”. From there, we started some cool and casual conversations via email and bonded over our punk and hardcore roots and our DIY ideals. Within that week, we signed with STB. The STB Family is real. We’re so stoked to be a part of this movement. It’s home.

OOTS – Did you have any involvement with the final design of the Vinyls or Cassettes. Or was this left down to Steve STB.

YOTC – We definitely had involvement. Steve wouldn’t have it any other way. Before we even recorded, right when first signed with Steve, he was chatting with us separately just to figure out who we were as people and our take on the band. It’s important to him to make sure the band is represented properly, not in the image that he wants, but in the image that the band wants. He’s the real deal, all heart.

TN – The album crossovers and melds many genres from Doom, Stoner, Psych, and Sludge. How would you classify the album’s sound? Your thoughts on the use of the Doom/Stoner Rock designation which many describe your album as?

YOTC – The album does have many crossovers. We intended it to be slightly diverse, to shake things up a bit. Our main shared background is hardcore punk, but as individuals, our musical tastes span the spectrum which helps when we’re writing music. We’re willing to move in whatever direction the song takes us.

TN – What contemporary Bands do you like? Do you have any guilty pleasures that you would like to share with us?

YOTC – That’s a good one….. I don’t think anyone should have a “guilty pleasure”. Music is music, you like what you like. Don’t give a shit what people think and don’t be ashamed. We could go on forever about current bands we love. We play out a lot and have toured quite a bit this past year and are always in awe of the talent that we’re surrounded by, not to mention the cool people we meet.

TN – Will you be hitting the road on an extensive tour to support the album or have multiple, shorter outings? For my own selfish reason, will you be coming to Southern California to play??

YOTC – We have some short tours planned in the near future. A west coast tour the end of this year (2016) with Mos Generator and Castle, and Europe in March and again in April/May. So far, no plans to play LA, but it is on our list. We’ll definitely do a full US tour for summer of 2017 again like we did this year.

OOTS – How hard is it for you to tour and perform with Year Of The Cobra especially with your young family. Are your kids proud and happy of their “Rockstar Parents”.

YOTC – Our family is always our first concern, but to have a happy family, we both feel it is important for us to focus on things that fulfil us as well. We’re just both lucky (and unlucky) that we want to do the same thing. We believe it’s important for us to show our kids that we’re willing to work hard on something that we believe in and hopefully, they find the same drive in whatever fulfils them.

TN – You’ve only been going as a band for about 20 months or so. Has is it surprised you the responses you’ve received for your music from the Doom/Stoner Metal community. Looking back then did you ever think you would be releasing your debut album.

YOTC – We started the band because we just wanted to play music we both loved and somehow, we found a crowd that happens to like it too. Whatever happens, we will always write and play music. Hopefully, it will be music that resonates with others as much as it does with us.

 

...in the Shadows below_Album Cover

 

OOTS – Who designed the awesome artwork for the album. How much input did you have into the final design of the artwork.

YOTC – The artwork for the album was designed by our good friend, Esther Heckman. She is one of the most amazing artists we have ever met. She doesn’t normally do album art, but we sent her one song off the album as inspiration (Electric Warrior) and gave her no direction. Everything after that was her own creation.

OOTS – For a Drum/Bass Duo. You have quite a loud sound compared to other Drum/Bass duos. How do you create this sound. Do you use an advanced setup or basic setup when recording and playing live.

YOTC – It was important for us to sound big because being a duo is very limiting. Amy’s setup is very fluid. She can find a setup that works for the moment, but is constantly on the lookout for something that can help advance it. Splitting the bass tones was a no brainer, but finding the right amp/cabinet and pedal combination was much harder. It is always in flux.

OOTS/TN – We both wish you every success with it. As it’s a fantastic album that will no doubt receive a ton of praise when it’s fully released. Do you have anything to say to your fans before we go.

YOTC – We just want to thank everyone. We’re so appreciative of the response we’ve received so far. We have put so much heart into this project, it’s nice to see that other people like it as well. Many thanks to you, Steve and Matthew, for the killer review and for doing this interview.

Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and Year Of The Cobra

Thanks to Amy and Jon for taking the time out talking to Matthew and myself. …In The Shadows Below will be available to buy on Cassette/CD/DD/Vinyl via STB Records from October 29th 2016.


Asteroid “III” – Album Review

Asteroid

III

Release Date: November 11th, 2016. Label: Fuzzorama Records.  Format: Vinyl/CD/DD

 

            Asteroid’s appropriately titled third album, III, is pretty badass.  It’s been awhile since these Swedes put out an album, six years to be exact.  Hey that’s cool. They’ve matured, like a finely aged cheese, and so has their sound.  They don’t actually sound all that cheesy, unless you’re burned out on the whole retro psych thang.  I for one welcome our new aging stoner overlords.

There’s a lot of things to like about this record.  Firstly, for me, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air.  Despite the fact that it’s being released by Fuzzorama Records, it’s not an outright fuzz-fest.  Sure, it’s got those warm and fuzzy moments, but there’s also a lot of cleanliness (which is supposedly next to godliness) and texture going on throughout. It’s thoughtful and dynamic. Secondly, it explores many of the influences that are acknowledged by many stoner and psych bands, but they’re kind of fringe elements.  You’re not going to hear a lot of Kyuss worship on this one, and I’m cosmically kosher with that, because it’s 2016 and Kyuss worship is more played out than our current election cycle.

Bundle Package_Fuzzoramma Records

 

Let’s take the opener, “Pale Moon”, for starters.  It’s my obvious jumping off point because it’s the lead track, though my real point is that it’s a total Pink Floyd homage, with a thumping, trance-inducing bass line and watery slide guitar reminiscent of Gilmore’s finer moments.  Asteroid aren’t reinventing the wheel by any means – this is basically a toned down take on the Floyd classic, “One Of These Days” with some soulful singing at the end.  Similarly, the second track, “Last Days”, reminds me a bit of Uriah Heep, a band that most retro aficionados will frequently name check though rarely emulate.  If you’re legit into the Heep, I’m into you, dig??  They start to throw in some faintly fuzzy, vaguely doom-ish riffs on this one, so I feel like they’re hitting a bit to all fields.  The lyrics also take a turn towards the dark and morbid, which is sure to please more metallic minded devotees.

This is a short album, it’s 7 songs in 36 minutes, so let’s just go track by track, shall we??  “Til Dawn” reminds me a bit of their fellow Swedish rockers, Graveyard.  It’s a bit more of an upbeat and straightforward song, which totally works after the previous two tracks.  It strikes a nice balance.  Next we’re treated to “Wolf And Snake”, which isn’t just a catchy title.  There’s a brilliant initial interplay between the ringing clean chords and the increasingly crunchy Wino inspired riffs.  From there, the tempo picks up, and Asteroid launch into full fuzz mode with one of those licks that makes me think, “wait…. didn’t I hear this exact riff come out of Sweden 15 years ago???”  Yet they can get away with that generic part in my book, because it’s the exception, not the rule.  At this point in their career, Asteroid are far from a one riff wonder, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they bring the tempo way down and doom-y before ending with quiet, melancholy guitars.

“Silver And Gold” is a slow burning ballad dedicated to Lucifer, Patron Saint Of All Things Heavy.  Eh, a bit cliché, for sure, and I’m going to digress for a bit.  No one seems to realize that equating the name “Lucifer” with the devil isn’t an accurate analogy.  The term means “Lightbringer”, as most of you probably know.  So how is The Devil, The Prince of Darkness also the proverbial “Lightbringer”???  He’s not, people!  The word “Lucifer” is used twice in The Bible – once to refer to Venus, The Morning Star, which was used as a metaphor for the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.  In the second instance, the moniker “Lucifer” is used to refer to the savior Jesus Christ, “The Lightbringer.”  This obviously makes more sense when you actually stop to think about it.

We have the illustrious Saint Augustine to blame for this debacle.  Augustine wasn’t always super with it, perhaps because he was a booze guzzling hedonist before God Almighty began having close, personal conversations with him. He wasn’t able to grasp the subtlety of the phrase “Lucifer, how far thou art fallen” in relation to Venus and Nebuchadnezzar, and thus thought “Fallen???  Must be Satan!!!” Somehow that stuck with early Christians, because Augustine was some big time saint and therefore regarded as a wise dude and hip to these mythological musings. As usual, I’m digressing, though all of you budding Satanists should really read Satan: A Biography, by Henry Ansgar Kelly before you start writing lyrics about The Devil or one of his dubious monikers.  And I know what some of you are thinking, “Don’t you write lyrics about Lucifer, Andy??”  Yes, I do, though I clearly understand both the cliché and the cognitive dissonance involved in such an undertaking.  Also, I routinely have alcohol induced interactions with all forms of entities, Augustine be damned.  When God talks to me, he says definitely don’t drink domestic, so who is the fucking wise one now??

 

Band Pic_Landscape

 

Lastly and most relevantly, let’s face it – many of you are total suckers for this kind of pseudo-Satanic bullshit, so I like to throw it out there in various forms because people eat it up despite their lack of context.  In our next review, perhaps I’ll manage to tie in how Ronnie James Dio, despite all of his obvious accomplishments as a vocalist, did not actually invent “throwing the horns”, and what those actual origins, meaning, and symbolism are.  These little tidbits of esoteric knowledge are always a fun topic at parties, and the main reason why I will always have a date every Friday night who will most likely find me obnoxious well before midnight arrives and I turn into a pumpkin.  Or a gremlin.  Or something to that effect.  It doesn’t matter anymore. This review has now officially gone totally off the rails.  I’m okay with that, but let’s reign it back in, shall we??

The next song, “Them Calling”, once again intertwines blown out fuzz with clean, trippy tones, though this time around there’s more of a tense intimacy.  These transitions are both more adept and abrupt, illustrating a striking disparity and a heated reconciliation.  It’s like the sonic equivalent of make up sex, when the couple just aren’t sure if frustrated love or repressed hatred are the current predominant emotions they’re expressing through their lustful act of carnal knowledge.  Do I mean coitus?  Yes, I like it too, Mr. Lebowski.    The pace picks up into a bluesy groove, culminating in a catchy yet creepy chorus.  The final track, “Mr. Strange” starts up with a rolling drum beat, and slowly adds layers of increasingly harmonic guitars before stripping things down for the soulful vocals to take the lead during the soaring verses.  When the main riff returns, it’s accompanied by a layer of haunting vocal chants.  This is my favorite vocal performance of the album.  The song really illustrates one of the things that Asteroid pull off so well on this album – they never let anything get old or stale, there’s this constant sense of theme and variation that’s reflected in both the crafty arrangements and the constantly shifting tonalities.

I don’t often give glowing endorsements, and I’m trying not to make an exception, because this isn’t going to be for everyone.  It’s not the heaviest thing ever, that’s not what they’re going for so you’re not going to find it here.  And despite their evident mastery of the style and the fresh air they breathe into it, this is still “stoner rock”, complete with all its limitations.  Like I mentioned earlier, they’re not treading any new ground, rather they’re retracing the footsteps of past masters, so if you’re looking for the next big innovative, forward thinking rock album, look elsewhere.  If you are looking for a cool collection of seven songs that drift through various retro psych stylings with ease and grace, then hop on the Asteroid express folks…. it’s one helluva ride.

Words by Andy “Dingleberry” Beresky

*Andy Beresky’s favorite comic is the “Lucifer” series, which he reads religiously.

New_Social Media Logo_A Music Consortium

Review – The Balls ‘Self Tilted’ Album

The Balls
‘The Balls’
Self Released – CD/DD

 

Band Logo

 

In the last review I wrote, I essentially defended a band’s decision to name themselves something silly and/or generic. I’m not going to do that here. I’m going to break character here a bit, because this part isn’t exactly a review, it’s friendly advice: change your fucking name. Immediately, while you’re not branded with it yet. This is your opportunity to do so with the minimum of consequences. It’s not only a stupid name, it not only lacks any descriptive quality to reference the band’s sound, it’s not only completely ubiquitous to the point of rendering any Google search to find any info on your band completely pointless, there are also other, more established bands named The Balls….for some odd reason. One is some self-proclaimed old guys playing instrumental biker prog surf rock, whatever that is, and they’ve been around awhile. One of them is from Worcester Mass, pretty close to home for me, and they’re some kind of juvenile sex joke punk band, for which the name is actually fitting. My 2 cents – let them have it, you’re better off without it. You’re risking the potential to be confused with, lumped in with, or even sued by one of these existing acts. See the bands Middian And Husky for details on that last bit….

With that out of the way, I can take off my asshole hat, and dawn my reviewer hat. As indicated above, I had a bit of a hard time tracking down any actual information on The Balls, though I believe that they’re a power trio from Melbourne Australia. I have no idea who is in the band, or who plays what. They sound like a meat and potatoes rock band coming from the old school stoner rock tradition, with the post-Kyuss style of vocals, down-tuned guitars, and a big rhythm section. The singer reminds me a bit of the guy from Dozer. I’m not a huge fan of that style of vocals, though I tolerate them because they’re also ubiquitous when it comes to this style. That being said, the vocals on this debut album are The Balls strongest suit.

Pic of Band

 

The album kicks things off with “4th Of July”, a ripping riff-fest with some dark, heavy vibes racing through the melodies. It’s got a propulsive groove that’s set in motion by a bass intro before the guitar goes full throttle. We’re talking about that kind of up-tempo biker rock that Orange Goblin so effectively harnessed with their breakthrough album, The Big Black. In my mind, this is the territory where these guys are at their best. Throughout the course of the album, they definitely try a few different approaches stylistically. The second tune, “Not A Word”, is a bit more mid-tempo, though it retains the dark melodic senses and highlights the soaring vocals. They lose me a bit with the third song, “Runaway”, as it’s a bit more plodding during the verses and a bit more buttrock in the chorus. It’s a partying, AC/DC kind of tune that reminds me of the first Bad Wizard album, bare-bones, bluesy and mean, though I for one miss the darker overtones.

Things slow down and get a bit more atmospheric and slow with “I Forget”, which showcases a bit of the singer’s range and versatility in the lower registers as he croons through the first portion of the tune. They follow that up with another slow burning ballad, “Tragedy”, which once again features some most triumphant vocals in the chorus and a decent yet minimalistic guitar solo, one of the album’s few, and an addictive, groove-laced ending. They bring things back to the quicker tempos with the last songs, a one-two punch of “The Easy Truth”, which is easily the album’s heaviest (and shortest) track, and then “Alibi”, the album’s longest track. “The Easy Truth” is my easily favorite track on the album, as the guitar work is the most distinctive and original, the singing is really over the top in that blown out, shredding your vocal chords kind of way, and the arrangements aren’t predictable. It covers a lot of ground for such a short tune. “Alibi” is pretty much in the same vein as “4th Of July” stylistically, although more drawn out and dramatic in the spacious ending.

This is a solid debut from an up and coming band that has a lot going for them. It’s obvious that they’re a newer band trying to figure out what works for them, and I’d personally like to hear a bit more fretboard pyrotechnics from the guitar department. Adding a second lead guitarist could be a smart move, adding oomph to the overall sound while allowing for some more fiery, energetic solos and clever arrangements. That’s just me though, as what they’re doing now is working well enough to expand upon. If you’re into any of the bands that I’ve name dropped throughout the review, do yourself a solid and give these guys a listen.

Reviewed By Andy “Dylan Thomas” Beresky
Editor – Taste Nation LLC