Lansing, Michigan’s Hip Hop Artist Derange Da Messiah is interviewed by our own Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler.”
Talks about his beginnings, past, present, and future. He was kind enough to get us a taste of his Sizzling upcoming Album “Fire In My Eyez”
Derange Da Messiah is an Artist/Writer/Author/Producer and Executive Producer of his 2 albums “Portrait Of A Souljah” and “Derange Iz Comin.” Check his music out on YouTube, Reverbnation.com and SoundCloud.Derange is also co-owner of High Risk Ent. with his brother Charles Mathematicz Mathis.
For fans of heavy rock and doom, there are two words in the lexicon of all their language that has a shared, universal significance. No matter what country you are from, what your native tongue may be, those two words have such massive historical density to them that they instantly evoke reverence upong hearing them: CIRITH UNGOL. Anyone that has been around as long as I have (for the record, I am 47 years old) and has been entrenched within the underground music scene understands the legacy of this longrunning band. Taking on the name of Cirith Ungol in 1972, the four musicians that comprised the band a decade plus later, vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Jerry Fogle (R.I.P.), drummer Robert Garven and bassist Michael Vujea, made music history in 1984. That was the year that the quartet released their game-changing sophomore album, King Of The Dead, on Enigma Records and simply put, music would never be the same again.
This landmark album went on to inspire and influence untold numbers of musicians, bands and more over the next three-plus decades. It would eventually ascend from the underground and become an iconic, audible bastion in the annals of music history. Cirith Ungol the band would share in this glorious acquisition of reverence and respect as well. They too obtained a state of high honor among those that were enlightened to what greatness this band wielded and so it came as no surprise when Metal Blade Records revealed their plans to pay homage to the band and their King Of The Dead album. Releasing the bonus-laden ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ mere weeks ago to coincide with the band’s playing their first ever European show at this year’s Keep It True Festival, Metal Blade sparked something in us all. I’d already had an interview with Cirith Ungol in the works but I recognized the opportunity to capitalize on circumstances and thus we at Taste Nation LLC began brainstorming. What we came up with is, what you are in the middle of enjoying right now, the fruits of our labors to properly pay the mighty Cirith Ungol their due.
You’ve seen Matthew Thomas‘ unboxing video and pictorial, you have read Ric ‘Suisyko‘ Dorr‘s review (both here) of Metal Blade Records ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ and now we present you the coup de grace of today’s event. Without further ado nor hype, no more anxiety from anticipation and want, I and my fellow TNLLC teammates present to you the following: The Taste Nation LLC Interview With CIRITH UNGOL (vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Greg Lindstrom, guitarist Jim Barraza & drummer Robert Garven)!!!
Pat Riot:The origins of Cirith Ungol date back to at least 1972..what was the inspiration for starting the band? How did it first form at that time and is it true you all began playing as solely instrumental? Fans always debate the correct pronunciation of the band’s name..care to give us the official one?
Tim: As the real historians of the band I will let Rob and Greg answer the first couple of questions. They remember a lot of that stuff better than I can!
Greg: Rob and I met in 7th grade and instantly became friends. He and Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan (who later joined punk band The Angry Samoans) decided to start a band to play Beatles songs, and I think the only reason they got me involved was that I had an amp. We called ourselves Titanic. Three guitars plugged into one 15 watt amp and Rob with just a snare drum and hi-hat trying to play Beatles and CCR songs. Anyway, Rob and Jerry and I wanted to play heavier stuff like Cream and Mountain, so we quit Titanic, and the three of us formed Cirith Ungol in 1972. Almost immediately we started doing some originals (“Radiation Blues”, “Flesh Dart”) along with our versions of songs by Sabbath, Budgie, Ursa Major, etc. Around 1975, Neil Beattie (aka Terry Dactyl) became our lead singer. He was a little more glam inspired than the rest of us, but he put on a really wild live show, with black widow spider fingertip extensions to go along with our six-foot wide black widow spider for “Shelob’s Lair”. Even though he was a great performer, his voice didn’t quite fit our style, and we parted ways after about a year. We spent the next couple of years writing a lot of songs and playing all the LA clubs as an instrumental power trio, playing along side bands like Quiet Riot, Y & T, and Van Halen, going over amazingly well. We tried out a number of singers, but nobody clicked until 1979, when Tim Baker, our head roadie at the time, tried singing lead on “Hype Performance”. That version is the first song on “Servants Of Chaos”.
Jimmy: In 1972 I was 6 years old living on a farm in Lincoln, Illinois. I thank these guys for starting the band while I was so young, ha-ha. To be part of this reunion at 50 years old is amazing. It is rare, but I have only met a handful of people that I’ve heard pronounce the name correctly and have read the Lord Of The Rings books many times over. I still have not read the books. Maybe one day.
Rob: I was inspired by Greg, because he would always turn me on to new music. I remember him showing me a copy of Mountain’s Climbing, and saying something like, “You have got to hear this!” We incessantly combed the LA area record stores mainly searching for new imported music. There we discovered Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun and many other heavy bands years before they were even on the radar in the US! There were very few that heard as much early hard rock and metal as us back then. I remember picking up Deep Purple “In Rock” at the local Sears the day they put it on the shelf!
Pat Riot:What took the band almost a decade to get the debut album, ‘Frost And Fire’, recorded and released in 1980?
Greg: Remember, we were only 14 years old when we started, so it took a few years and a lot of jamming to get proficient on our instruments – in my case I’m still working on it! But we wrote songs almost from the beginning, and in 1978 we actually self-released a home-recorded cassette album with a completely different set of songs than F&F. None of the songs on F&F were more than a year old when we recorded it. Some of the songs on KOTD like “Atom Smasher”, “Death Of The Sun”, and “Cirith Ungol” actually pre-date the F&F songs.
Jimmy: In 1980 I was 14 years old. I had taken guitar lessons at a local music store for about a year then. I didn’t hear Frost And Fire until 1987.
Rob: Like Greg mentioned we started pretty young. After the cassette demo we did, commonly known as the “Orange Demo” due to its orange cover, we were ready for something bigger. Since we never received a response from the numerous demo tapes and letters we sent out, we wanted to create a complete album of epic proportions, to show the record companies that we knew what we were doing.
Pat Riot:Speaking of ‘Frost And Fire’, how do you process the fact it is such a hugely monumental, revered album now in 2017? So much there’s even a festival bearing its name, which you all played in 2016. How was that experience?
Tim: For something that was never really suppose to be released as an album, it turns out to have been a great starting point! As far as playing at Frost And Fire II it was a remarkable experience! To actually get on the same stage where we had played our final concert, those long years ago was incredible. Of course the best part was seeing and getting to meet so many people from around the world that came to the Festival – a truly awesome and inspiring thing.
Greg: I think because of Tim’s voice, our quirky playing style, and our inexperience in a real studio, F&F doesn’t really sound like anything else, not even any other CU album. I can hear a bit of Rush and Y&T in there, but for better or worse, it’s pretty unique.
Jimmy: I have to mention that the song “Frost And Fire” is one of my favorites to play live. The experience playing live for the first time in 25 years was so amazing. Although there was a little bit of stressful moments just prior to going on stage due to technical issues (faulty tuner) that could have been unnerving had it not been detected. But, it was promptly remedied. We were 100% ready and played with really minimal issues. It was a success and we also learned a few things in the process.
Rob: We had a great time recording it, and I knew the material was good, and pleased with the result. I love Tim’s voice on that album, it reminds me of a razor blade, thrashing its way through the songs. We had a private tour of the DW drum factory before they built me the greatest sounding custom oak drum set in the world, and I asked the gentleman giving the tour if he had ever heard of our band. I was shocked when he said, “Of course, who didn’t have “Frost & Fire” growing up! As for the Frost & Fire Festival II, it was an awesome experience, playing in our hometown in front of a packed audience from around the world! The next day during the meet and greet there were people who came from as far away as China & Russia just to see the band!
Pat Riot: I understand Cirith Ungol are playing more festivals this year such as Days Of Darkness and Psycho Las Vegas..What is your take-away from seeing the band hold such a spot of reverence with music fans now? Would or will the band undertake any full-on touring plans in the future?
Tim: It’s all about the music – I think the stuff we did holds up well, and with the resurgence of what is now called “classic metal” the timing couldn’t be better! And no – we are not really planning a full on tour, just a bunch of the metal festivals – at least the ones that will have us, hahaha!
Greg: We didn’t have the opportunity to play outside of southern California back in the day, so a lot of folks have been waiting 30+ years to see us live.
Jimmy:I’m very excited for the band and to be part of this journey. The fans are the best, and I am blown away at the ranking position at these festivals. We just gotta stay healthy and motivated.
Rob: We did play a special show in Mexico City after “Frost & Fire” was released and did a radio interview with a pirate radio station that was literally on top of the presidential palace! We are all very excited to be playing so many heavy festivals* this year, some which are still unannounced. You forgot to mention, “Keep it True Festival“, “Up the Hammers“, “Defenders Of The Old“, “Chaos Descends“, & “Hammer Of Doom“, where we are headlining! It is going to be epic an “A Churning Maelstrom Of Metal Chaos Descending!”
*See the Flyers and Promotional Posters for them at the end of this Interview
Pat Riot:Back in the 80s when Cirith Ungol was playing the L.A. circuit, a scene dominated by many lighter fare ‘glam’ type bands, how was CU received at that time?
Tim: We had a fan base back in the day, but really the LA scene for the most part had no idea what to make of us – especially that “singer” lol. We played all the clubs down there and met a lot of great people and bands that are still going strong today!! It was a strange time!
Greg: CU didn’t really fit in with the hair metal scene. As you can imagine, there were people who dug it, and people who didn’t. After I left the band, I saw CU play at the Beverly Theatre with Ratt and Lita Ford. CU commanded the stage, and there were a couple of hundred fans (maybe 25% of the crowd) totally into it, but the other people had come to see Ratt or Lita and weren’t into it.
Jimmy: I had only played a handful of local shows from ’87 – ’89 (LA, Ventura, Santa Barbara). It did seem that the crowds were a bit thin and only the die hards came out and stood in the front to pound their fists and head bang. I remember a mosh pit of punk rockers formed at one home town gig. That was entertaining.
Rob: We did have a loyal fan base in Ventura. Most of our big shows seemed to be on a night when it was raining. We got several hundred people to drive to LA to see us play. We did get some really great reviews from the big LA newspapers such as the Herald Examiner. One writer Marc Shapiro wrote a bunch of great articles on the band after seeing us play with Ratt! He famously wrote about the band, “If hell has a soundtrack then this is it!”
Fan-filmed ‘King Of The Dead‘ preformance from “back in the day”…
Pat Riot: Cirith Ungol released only four official albums in the span of a decade (’81-’91) but the band holds such an iconic place in fans hearts.. why do you believe that is? I have read many things over the years that seemed to indicate a reunion would be unlikely, ever, so what drove the band’s return?
Tim: It’s all about the music I think. Those records hold up pretty well and I think they are good metal albums, and I guess there are a few people out there that feel the same way, hahaha! And yes, for a very long time a reunion was something that was never going to happen, for a lot of well documented reasons. I won’t go into that since that story is pretty well known. The main reasons it did happen is largely due to the efforts of Jarvis, his tales of seeing Ungol stuff all over the world while on tour with Night Demon. The creation of the Frost And Fire Festival, which was the first time in decades the surviving members of the band had all been together, even if it was just for a meet and greet. His support and perseverance to put us back together was something to behold hahaha!! I must also thank Oliver [Weinsheimer] from the great Keep It True Festival. He had been asking us for years just to come over and enjoy his festival, and for years we politely said no. But Rob and I finally went over last year, and to see all the people with Ungol patches, albums to sign, and even people with Cirith Ungol tattoos!! It was a mind-blowing experience and it certainly helped me change my mind about playing again. To see things on the internet and know that there is still a bit of interest in the band is one thing, but to see it in person was amazing!!
Greg: I think Rob needed something to do in his sunset years! And I figured we had better get together and play before: 1) people stop asking, and 2) we get too old to rock and roll!
Jimmy: For years I had hoped for a reunion. Once the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I am so elated to be playing once again. It’s all good.
Rob: I think our listeners are not unlike our band members and are yearning for something more from their music, something that challenges, and engages them. Even though we wanted to be successful, we did not write the songs to appeal to anyone but ourselves, and I think people get that. I also think they have all succumbed to the “Legions of Chaos! I swore I would never play drums as long as I lived. At the “Frost & Fire I” festival Oliver Weinsheimer came from the “Keep It True Festival” and Jarvis got all the guys together for a meet and greet. They pretty much made us an offer we could not refuse. It was these two guys that will go down in history as the ones that unleashed the Fury of Ungol upon the world!
Pat Riot: How does having Night Demon’s Jarvis Leatherby in the band help things? It looks like his presence would kind of ‘bridge the gap’ between older fans and the current scene’s younger ones or am I off-base with such an idea?
Tim: I hadn’t looked at that way before but I suppose you might be on to something there! His main help was of course getting us back together, with management stuff, and besides being the hardest working man in Metal he is a great musician and a good friend, Night Demon and Cirith Ungol are like a family. Jarvis, Dustin [Squires], and Armand [Anthony] are really great guys and we are proud to know them!
Greg: That’s a good point. I’m sure that Jarvis will bring along some Night Demon fans for the ride!
Jimmy: Filling the slot of bassist was first offered to Flint, but he had other commitments and declined. It was only fitting that Jarvis being a fan of the band, a seasoned musician and has the drive to make Cirith Ungol great again and to take the roll of manager and bassist. It is my pleasure to play alongside Jarvis. His Energy and commitment has proven invaluable and vital to our success.
Rob: When you look up Jarvis Leatherby in the dictionary, it says “All Metal, All The Time”! Actually after traveling to Germany the average age of our new fan base is under 30. I think these new listeners are discovering unique bands such as “Cirith Ungol” for the first time. BTW Jarvis’ band Night Demon I think is going to be a very big act. Their show is outstanding and their new album is killer! I am not just saying this because we are friends; I am saying it because they rock! (Indeed they do! I’ve seen them, have all their released material and I fully agree, Rob. – Pat)
Pat Riot: You all surely get this all the time but will/would/is Cirith Ungol entertaining the idea of recording new music or a new album?
Tim: Yes. We would hope to do a new record sometime in the future and are actively writing new stuff as we speak-along with getting ready to hit the festival scene!
Greg: We are working on new songs and unearthing a few unheard old tunes with that in mind.
Jimmy: Yes, Absolutely.
Rob: Tim has written some great lyrics and we have a few songs in progress. My goal is for the next album to be like “King Of The Dead”, something we will be proud of! Just for the record Metal Blade Records is re-releasing a deluxe edition “King Of The Dead” in vinyl and CD with full color booklets, colored vinyl, and a DVD of a rare show we played at the Roxy, in Hollywood that no one has ever seen before! It also has several live tracks from our appearance at “Frost & Fire II”. They did such a great job on “Paradise Lost”, and we are all looking forward to this re-release. Everyone that is a fan of the band should get this one, as it is our best album to date and they are finally doing it justice!
Pat Riot:David Paul Seymour is one of my absolute favorite artists..are you all excited about ‘The Planet Of DOOM’ cinematic project and the inclusion of Cirith Ungol music in it? Speaking of artists, any specific reason that the works of Michael Whelan have exclusively been used on CU album’s artwork?
Tim: His paintings are the absolute best album covers ever done by anyone-period. We are so honored to have him on our side, he is such a great artist and also such a very nice guy!! Just recently went to a gallery opening of his here in California. It was so special to reconnect with him after many years. And he had the original painting of Stormbringer at the show, the Frost And Fire album cover…to actually see it up close and in person was something I will never forget, just awe inspiring. And the Planet Of Doom project looks like it will be so badass, I cannot wait to see the final results!!
Greg: Back in the day, we had originally envisioned using a painting called “Death Dealer” by Frank Frazetta, who is famous for many Conan illustrations. One day I walked into a record store and there it was on the cover of a Molly Hatchet album! Anyway, Rob and I were both reading Michael Moorcock’s, Elric series at the time, and the U.S. editions all had Michael Whalen’s paintings on the covers. Rob got in contact with Michael, who is one of the nicest guys we’ve ever met, and he agreed to let us use “Stormbringer”. He liked the music and felt that it was an appropriate match for his artwork, and we were totally thrilled and honored to be able to use his artwork on our albums. For sure it has helped us to sell more albums. I even know some people who don’t care much for our music, but buy the albums just for the cover art!
Rob: We are hoping that any new project will feature another of Michael Whelan’s Elric illustrations! I feel very privileged that we were allowed to use 4 of his masterpieces on our albums; they would not have been the same without him! “Planet Of Doom” is going to be an awesome project and we are very excited about this also!!!
Pat Riot:How did Cirith Ungol’s involvement with Metal Blade come about and is it safe to say the band is pleased with the re-issues they’ve provided? Are there any plans to give the ‘Paradise Lost’ record the same treatment?
Tim:The reissues have been great. And of course by the time you read this the Paradise Lost one will already be out!! The KOTD ultimate edition is set for release to coincide with our first ever European appearance at the Keep It True festival in April and it is going to be killer!!
Greg: MB has done a great job with the reissues so far, and the new KOTD reissue is going to be fantastic.
Jimmy: I’m very pleased with the reissue of Paradise Lost in October 2016. It’s also cool to hear some alternate track mixes on the CD. Bart Gabriel did a great job re-mastering, and Metal Blade also gave their all in regards to the vinyl and packaging.
Rob: Brian and everyone at Metal Blade Records have been instrumental in the band’s career over the years. We met Brian when we were first thinking about “Frost & Fire”. He worked at a record store in the LA area and was and still is a good friend. He was launching his record company at the same time, and he hooked us up with the company that would distribute our first 2 albums, Greenworld Distribution. Metal Blade Records in Germany have spearheaded some amazing projects, such as “Servants Of Chaos”, and the deluxe editions recently, and we are proud to be their friends. We were pretty surprised when Brian was asked to name his favorite releases over the history of his label, and he picked “Metal Massacre 1”, which one of our songs, “Death Of The Sun” was on, and “King Of The Dead” as 2 of his top 11 releases of all time!! WOW!
Pat Riot: After nearly 50 years in the musical realm, what is one of your most cherished memories from it i.e. an experience or event, meeting someone, etc. whatever it may be?
Tim: Well for me it is probably making the records we made, and for sure the recent reunion, something that for decades was never going to happen. To be able to finally go out and play around the world is like a dream come true for us.
Greg: Feeling like a proud father, holding a brand new shrink wrapped copy of Frost & Fire fresh from the pressing plant back in 1981. Your first album is always special!
Jimmy: I’ve had the privilege of spending the day with Grace Slick shooting an MTV Video, visited back stage with Carlos Santana (he bogart’s, ha-ha), and even randomly ran into Ozzy Ozbourne here in town (he was 1/2 brain dead, ha-ha). Or I should say that he ran into me. Literally. It was at a Mexican restaurant, he was eating then heading straight to rehab. And of course it has been awesome to play in a band that is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.
Rob: The proudest moment for me was taking the stage as the headlining act at “Frost & Fire II”! Playing on my beautiful Ferrari red DW oak drum set, surrounded by the most amazing set of Paiste cymbals and gong, and beating the drums. Having all that firepower at my command I felt like a metal god for one small moment in time!
Pat Riot:OK, you guys, I have a tradition of closing interviews with an open floor where you have the last word..care to say, share, state whatever you wish about anything..this is all you so have at it:
Tim: I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people that encouraged and supported Ungol all these years – without you the band would be in the dustbin of history, and we certainly would have never gotten back together!! I look forward to telling you all “thank you” in person.
Greg: Huge thanks to everyone who has supported CU over the years. We really appreciate it!
Jimmy: To all the Fans. Your enthusiasm is much appreciated. Thanks for keeping the torch lit and making us feel like Metal Gods. Cheers!
Rob: I would ask anyone that can make it, to come to one of our rare shows. If you like the band, or our music, I promise you will not be disappointed!!! Everything in my life has culminated in this reunion and I want to share it with everyone!
This is Cirith Ungol..what am I going to say after this that’s going to add anything to what has just unfolded here? Nothing. So with that, I want to thank our guests, the magnificent Cirith Ungol circa 2017: Tim Baker, Greg Lindstrom, Jimmy Barraza, Robert Garven and Jarvis Leatherby who was here in spirit. Metal Is Forever!!!
Taste Nation LLCPresents: Cirith Ungol – King Of The Dead: Resurrection Day, Saturday, June 10th, 2017! Here is what we have in store for you:
Metal Blade Records‘ Cirith UngolKing Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition unboxing video with Matthew Thomas
An in-depth Album Review of the Cirith UngolKing Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition from Ric ‘Suisyko‘ Dorr
An Interview With Cirith Ungol Drummer And Founding Member Robert Garven with Pat ‘Riot‘ Whitaker
Every so often in hard rock history there comes a game changing record release, an album that serves like some sonic barometer. One where an offering is so monumental that it can be used to gauge music before that album’s release and of course, music after its release as well. In 1984, the up and coming Ventura, California based Cirith Ungolreleased such an album with their sophomore opus, ‘King Of The Dead‘. The album, which was issued through Enigma Records, featured the musical talents of vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Jerry Gogle, drummer Robert Garven and bassist Michael Vujea and, bluntly put, heavy music would never be the same again. Not bad for a band started by some high schoolers under the name Titanic, changed it to Cirith Ungol around 1972 and only played instrumentally at first.
This second studio album from Cirith Ungol followed their equally revered debut, Frost And Fire, but this record contained an undeniable shift in musical direction for the band. Where the debut was based a bit more in Seventies hard rock elements, King Of The Dead embodied a defined turn toward progressive hard rock and doom metal. The band produced the record themselves while Baker and Garven handled all the lyric writing though some folks aren’t aware that at least three songs (‘Atom Smasher‘, ‘Cirith Ungol‘ and ‘Death Of The Sun‘) were originally written in the mid-70s. The iconic artwork that adorns its cover, itself titled ‘King Of The Dead‘, was painted by Michael Whelan and inspired by the literary works of Sci-Fi/Fantasy author Michael Moorcock.
After two more studio albums, 1986’s One Foot In Hell and 1991’s Paradise Lost, Cirith Ungol would disband in 1992 due to their frustration with the music industry. However, the mythos and legacy of Cirith Ungol would build and increase unabated during the subsequent decades. Their influence was felt across numerous genres and sub-genres of metal and hard rock while countless musicians cited Cirith Ungol as a constant inspiration. Then, in 2015, members of the band came together for the 2015 Frost And Fire music festival in Ventura, California. Their first public appearance as a band since 1991, they participated in a meet-and-greet and item signing where they were immensely well-received. Soon after, Cirith Ungol announced that they would reunite for the 2016 Frost And Fire event, playing their first live show since December 13, 1991 which they did in October 2016.
Now we arrive in 2017 where Cirith Ungol have returned to bless the doom loving masses with a variety of ongoing events. Just last month, in late April, the band played their first ever live show on European soil at the Keep It True festival in Lauda-Konigshofen, Germany. To mark the occasion, as well as celebrate both Cirith Ungol and their landmark 1984 studio album milestone, King Of The Dead, Metal Blade Records have graced fans and collectors both with the utmost must-have release of recent years: The Ultimate Edition Of Cirith Ungol’s King Of The Dead!!!
Outlaw Nation Joint Interview: An Interview with PAT HARRINGTON from GEEZER
My good friend Matthew from Taste Nation thought it was time to do another joint interview. We thought who could we ask this time. The answer was pretty simple when we listened to GEEZER’s incredible new self-titled album.
This is an album that impressed Matthew and myself straight away. We were blown away by the different sound and dynamics that Geezer have included on their new album. We both agree that this is one of the best Stoner Rock albums of the year and we had to find out more about the making of the album.
I’m happy to say that the Diamond Geezer himself – The Electric Beard Of Doom aka Pat Harrington (Guitars/Vocals) has kindly agreed to do this interview. It’s always a blast catching up with Pat. I’ve had the pleasure to interview him previously and he’s always a great person to interview and this is no different. Well apart from doing a joint interview with Matthew.
Anyway. I’ve gone on long enough. Lets see what Pat has to say….
OOTS – Hi Pat. Thanks for doing this joint interview. Congrats on the new album. You already know my thoughts on this. How are things with you today.
Pat (PH):Excellent, thank you! Thanks especially for your great review! It actually took us rather off guard.
TN – A huge Congrats on this beast of an album. Bands would be jealous to release a “Best Of” album of this caliber. Super tight percussion that keeps the album progressing seamlessly, thunderous bass-lines that provide massive Groove that one’s head bobbing. The aforementioned allows for the fine (and diverse) guitar work to roam and offer the listener something fresh and new from start to finish……………Again, Congrats!!
PH: Thanks! Again, very kind words. It’s only been a week or so since it’s been released to the press, but we’re already pretty shocked about how well the album is being received. TN – After that diatribe, what was your recording process like? Was it spread out over days, weeks, months…….?
PH: It was a quick process actually. We did all the basics over the course of two days, then I took a couple of days to do some guitar overdubs at home. Vocals were recorded shortly after that. We’ve been basically finished since late March, so it’s great to FINALLY have the album see the light of day. Even though we still have to wait another month or so for it to be released publicly… sheesh!
OOTS – Did you do anything differently when recording this album compared to your other records. Was this an easy album to record for. PH: It was very easy. We recorded with our long time engineer/mixer, Matthew Cullen (who also recorded and mixed the new Shadow Witch album) and we did it at a friend’s studio, The Isokon in Woodstock, NY. It was the first time we recorded there and it was a fantastic experience, good vibes all around. Because of the way the studio is set up, we were able to get much more separation between all the instruments and therefore, we were able to manipulate them more freely.
This is also the first album to include Richie on bass. He is a completely different kind of player than Freddy (our original bass player) and our sound and approach to songwriting changed because of that. The other difference is, for really the first time, these songs were developed over the course of a year and were road tested pretty heavily, so we all had a solid grip on what we were going to do in the studio. Which is, with the exception of our first album, pretty unusual for us.
TN – Did you “test” the new tracks at live shows to ‘Gage’ people’s response?
PH: We did. We played more shows last year than we’d ever done before. We also focused on developing the new material so we were really able to figure out what worked, what didn’t, etc. With the exception of “Dust”, every song on the album had been played numerous times live. The bonus track on the CD, “Stoney Pony” is actually a re-working of our song “Pony”, which was on the first album. So that one’s been around for years.
OOTS – The album is being released on STB Records and Ripple Music. Perhaps two 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.
PH: They”re both amazing labels to work with, so we didn’t even consider anyone else. I mean, Ripple has become a force of nature over the last few years and nobody does vinyl better than STB. In addition, everything we’ve done up to this point has been building up to this album. We wanted to make sure both labels were involved, so we can all enjoy it together.
OOTS – Can you give any details on the Vinyl release from STB Records. What kind of editions will be released and did you have any involvement with the final design. Or was this left down to Steve STB.
PH: As usual, the STB release will be complete with their now legendary Die Hard and OBI versions as well as a Standard and World Wide distro versions. We went a little long with this one so it’s actually going to be a 3 sided double album which will include a bonus track that won’t be available anywhere else. Josh Wilkinson from The Company Design did all the artwork and layout. Steve and I contributed to the ideas, but Josh took the lead in putting the package together.
In addition, and I’m letting the cat out of the bag here, the Die Hard version will include a separate live album which consists of one 33 minute instrumental (and mostly improvised) track called “A Flagrant Disregard For Happiness”.
This was recorded back in April at a venue called BSP here in Kingston at this years Hudson Valley Psych Fest. The show included It’s Not Night: It’s Space (who curates the show), Ecstatic Vision and Turco’s other project, Ultraam. Due to these circumstances, we wanted to do something different and Turco was the one who really set the thing in motion. As the ideas developed, he decided that he wanted to play baritone guitar for this, so we got our friend Dan Goodwin (who owns The Isokon) to sit behind the drums.
It was basically a one time thing and came out beautifully. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done before and we’re extremely excited for people to hear it. Much more information about this will start to trickle out in the coming weeks.
TN – Pat, you’re one Hell of a Storyteller!! To quote you in ‘Superjam Maximus’, “We lay it down with the Thickness…..” I couldn’t agree more. A major component of the thickness, is the effective use of your trademark Raspy, Tom Waite’s like vocals and the subject matters you sing about keeps the listener engaged and 51+ minutes fly by. Do you have a set writing process? Do you write the music and then do the lyrics follow?
PH: Thank you! The vocals almost always come after the music. I consider myself a guitarist first, so my writing process is very centered around that perspective. Usually the mood of the song will dictate the melodies (if you can call them that) and lyrics. Many times lyrics will spring up from a single phrase or word association. Sometimes I don’t even know what the song is about until after it’s done. OOTS – Was this one of the hardest albums you ever written or recorded.
PH: Not at all. These songs were almost always born out of jams, we were all standing in the same room when we recorded them and we usually only had to do two or three takes to get them down. With the exception of a punch or two, “Sun Gods” was actually done in one take. That being said, we definitely put a lot of time and effort into developing these songs. By the time we got down to recording them, we pretty much knew them inside and out.
TN – The album crossovers and melds many genres from Space & neo-Psychedelia to guitar heavy, riff Rock. How would you classify the album’s sound? What your opinion of all the genre and sub-genres that exist and your thoughts on what defines an a song or album as Stoner Rock? Your thoughts on the use of the Stoner Rock designation which many describe your album as?
PH: Honestly, I don’t get too hung up on genre labels, it’s way too exhausting. I just dig heavy, trippy, groovy shit. It’s what I like, it’s what I’m good at and I’m too old to care at this point. As a band, every album has been different simply because we like to be creative and try different things. That’s what makes the whole thing fun. I will say, however, that early on in the song writing process, when it was clear that things were yet again going in a different direction, there was a moment where we took on the mantra of “Fuck it”. Let’s just do what we want.
OOTS – Was that an easy decision to make to release something different. Did you think you would alienate your fans with this new sound.
PH: Yes it was, but honestly, I don’t see it really as that different. To me it’s just an extension of ideas that we’ve touched on before. I still think of the band as a heavy blues band at our core. A lot of the bands I grew up on (Sabbath, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc…), they all changed as time went on. That is one of the things that is so exciting to me about the “Heavy Rock Underground”. No one is dictating to us who to be or what to do, nobody is harassing us for a “radio hit” (whatever that is).
As far as the labels go, they’ve never second guessed anything we’ve sent them. We’ve had the time and space to take a journey with our music, just like bands used to do back in the 60’s and early 70’s. As someone who’s had some varying success in the “mainstream”, I can tell you personally that there is nothing worse than trying to write a radio hit or writing music to fit a certain mold. I like to write different kinds of songs and let them stand on their own. The fact that so many people are responding positively to what we’re doing? That’s just validation that we’re on the right track.
TN – What contemporary Bands do you like? Do you have any guilty pleasures like Foo Fighters or Debbie Gibson that you would like to share with us? PH: I’m weird, I go through many musical phases. I tend to focus on a certain band or genre for extensive amounts of time, almost like I’m studying it. There was a time during ’08-’09 where I literally only listened to the Melvins for about a year. After that, I spent about 3 years listening to and learning how to play old school blues (Charley Patton, Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, etc.). Eventually these influences get incorporated into the way I play guitar and the way I think about music. Nowadays, especially because of my involvement with the Electric Beard Of Doom podcast, I listen to a lot of the heavy underground stuff. For me, it just feels like home (for now).
Some of the current bands that are inspiring to me are Wo Fat, King Buffalo, Egypt, Sinister Haze, Sons Of Otis, Acid King… I could go on and on and I know I’m forgetting some. The new Brant Bjork album is friggin outstanding! He’s a great example of someone who just does what he pleases and it all kicks ass. One of the coolest cats on the planet!
Guilty pleasures? I dunno… Like I said, I dig heavy, trippy shit. I did a stretch as a Deadhead back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. That was my backlash against metal, I guess. But, that is also where I learned how to improvise. I used to play along to live Dead albums all the time, just learning the fretboard. That stuff is still with me today. I’ve been on a big ZZ Top kick lately. The real early stuff… I know, shocker! OOTS – Pat you’re always busy with your excellent show – Electric Beard Of Doom. Is that a hard process for you to be involved with along with your commitment to Geezer.
PH: The Beard is a labor of love. I’m about to close out my 4th year doing it and it’s more popular than ever! For that, I am very grateful. It can get tough sometimes because there are only so many hours in a day. I’ve been known to take a few weeks, even months off at a time from doing the podcast. Many times this is because I’m busy with Geezer or other things. It’s all about balance and keeping it fresh and exciting. I still dig the creative process of making the show, but it can be very time consuming. As long as people keep listening, I’m gonna keep doing it.
OOTS – Do Richie and Turco have any other commitments outside of Geezer. Any other bands.
PH: Turco is involved in a few other projects. He has a band called Chron Turbine, which lately has become more of a one man kind of thing. He actually just released a tape through Peterwalkee Records called “II”, I highly recommend you check it out.
As I mentioned before, he is also involved in a project called Ultraam, which also includes Matthew Cullen (who by the way, did that crazy guitar solo at the end of “Sun Gods”). He’s an incredible guitar player and musician. Dan Goodwin is also involved. They do purely improvisational pieces that gravitate between kraut rock/free noise and any other number of genres depending on what day it is. They’re more of a collective than a band and are truly amazing to watch. Richie and I are both just banging away with Geezer at the moment.
TN – Will the Geezer be hitting the road on an extensive tour to support the album or have multiple, shorter outings? For selfish reason, will you be coming to Southern California to play??
PH: Extensive touring is not really in the cards for us for various reasons. That being said, we are really gunning for Europe in 2017. We’ve been working with Total Volume Booking on putting something together and hopefully we’ll hit some of the festivals next year. There is some talk about doing more stuff in the US, I guess we’ll see how things play out with the album. If there is enough of a demand, we’ll try and do as much as we can.
TN – Thanks again for your time and congrats on a Ripper of an Album. It will surely be on people’s End of the Year lists. Cheers!!
PH: Thanks so much for your interest in the band and your very kind words about the new album! You guys put together a very enjoyable interview.
OOTS – Yeah I concur with Matthew. It’s a brilliant album. I wish you every success with it.
PH: Steve, it’s always an honor and a privilege to talk to you. Thanks again!
Written by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and Pat Harrington
I want to thank Pat for taking the time to talking to both Matthew and myself. Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview.
Geezer will be released on CD/DD via Ripple Music and Vinyl via STB Records from November 18th 2016.
Outlaw Nation Joint Interview: ZED – Back From The Dead And Causing Trouble In Paradise
Matthew and myself had a great time doing our previous joint interview with SlowGreen Thing. We decided to do another one. We thought who should we contact. The answer was pretty simple. We both decided pretty quickly on San Jose Blues/Hard Rock/Stoner Rockers – ZED.
We are both huge fans of ZED and their blend of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock riffs. They have a new album coming out soon called – Trouble In Eden. For this album, they’ve teamed up with Powerhouse Record Label – Ripple Music – to release the album. Trouble In Eden is a stunning album on every level and it’s only going to enhance ZED’s already great reputation.
We wanted to find out what’s changed since their last album – Desperation Blues and why did they sign with Ripple Music. (Yeah, stupid question I know but I wanted to find out more).
ZED have kindly agreed to this interview with Matthew and myself. So here goes…
OOTS – Outlaws Of The Sun
TN – Taste Nation
OOTS – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. So what can people expect from your new album.
Things are going great, thanks! We are excited and gearing up for the release of our new album “Trouble In Eden” on August 26th through Ripple Music! I think that when people hear this album, whether they are familiar with us or not, they will really latch on to the big grooves, which is our signature. We approached this record with two things in mind, big grooves and solid song structures. Those familiar with our previous albums will see a noticeable growth in musicianship as well. We spent a year banging the songs around and working out the kinks and it shows! It was a year of blood, sweat, tears, laughter and fights!!
TN – Congrats on a tremendous album in ‘Trouble in Eden!’ This is a beast from start to finish. What was your approach in writing this album? Was it the same or different from your previous two releases?
The writing process for this one was a little bit different because we as a band are always so riff-driven or riff-focused, playing from the gut, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but we have a pattern with our writing where we would slap riffs together and call it a song. What we started doing with our previous album, which really came into fruition on this album was approaching a song from BOTH a gut/feel perspective and a cerebral perspective where we still find and ride the big grooving riffs but we piece them together and arrange them in a more thoughtful way to hopefully create a better song experience.
TN – I may be biased because I’m a huge fan of the band, but it seems you guys pay attention to the details. Ranging from the interplay of the double guitars, heavy bass lines and drums that keeps the album moving at it’s fast tempo, ‘Trouble in Eden’ will no doubt raise your status in the world of heavy rock!! With the millions of Genres & Sub-Genres out there, how would you classify your music?
Good question! The funny thing about our music is that when we first started out in ’07, the listeners who really got and understood us were the people in the Stoner Rock scene, who have opened their arms and accepted us above and beyond any other genre or scene. However, when you hear us, it’s apparent we are not your textbook stoner rock band. We are influenced by the big classic rock bands heavily as well, but we also incorporate other styles as well as more contemporary influences. Our stated purpose when we started out was to write what we felt were just great rock songs, and not worry about genres or labels. The only concern was asking ourselves what does the song call for and does it make the song better, even if it’s a cliché. Song is king with us.
OOTS – What did you differently when recording Trouble In Eden compared to your last album Desperation Blues.
When we did Desperation Blues we recorded it all at once in one studio. This time around we got the opportunity to go down to Southern California and record all the drum tracks in the home studio of Eric Kretz, the drummer from Stone Temple Pilots, who has an incredible drum tracking studio on his property. We got to spend about 4 days at his compound working with him and his engineer to make the drums sound HUGE! That was an amazing experience being there and even just hanging out with Eric and hearing some amazing stories about the music industry. Then we brought the tracks back home and finished the rest with our producer/engineer Tim Narducci who did an amazing job on this one as well as Desperation Blues.
OOTS – Did you learn any difficult lessons when recording your last album that you didn’t want to repeat with the new album.
Whenever you go in to record an album, there will always be new things that crop up and challenge you in some way, and they are usually things that are completely unexpected, while the things you anticipated as being difficult, you end up just blazing through. Due to a medical emergency that hit our producer, we had to wait about a month between doing drums and recording the rest of the instruments, so the challenge was making sure we played the songs correctly as they were a month before, because sometimes songs are like living, evolving things that continue to change even after you record them! Just doing our due diligence was probably the biggest thing.
TN – Did everyone start playing and singing in the womb or start a little later in life?
I wish I started earlier!! I think we all started playing music seriously in our teens, and it just grew from there. I had piano lessons as a kid but was never really into it. When I was about 12 I saw Back to the Future and suddenly wanted to be Marty McFly with a red strat and I was saving up my money to get one, but then I discovered Iron Maiden and was immediately fascinated with Steve Harris as a bass player and decided to go to bass! I haven’t stopped since!
Matthew with his ZED collection
TN – Title Track ‘Trouble in Eden’ & ‘High Indeed’ stand out to me as both are superbly written both musically and lyrically? They both seem to have a similar theme? Where/How/Who is Eden?
Glad you picked up on it. The album as a whole has something of a running theme, which the album and song title, Trouble in Eden, represents. That being that this world, which was once Eden, a place of paradise, is in serious trouble, at the hands of humankind. Whether it be the ecological disasters that have happened and will happen because of humanity’s abuse of land and resources, the manmade plagues of war and poverty driven by people hungry for power, or our own internal struggles and battles we fight daily. Just look around and see there IS trouble in Eden. And we wanted the cover art to convey the same thing, which is why we chose a representation of the Hindu goddess Kali, who in her duality is the goddess of destruction as well as a gentle mother, and in her hands are things that represent life and death, good and evil.
OOTS – The album is being released by the fine folks over at Ripple Music. How did you hook up with them.
Funny story! The first guy to ever write a review of us was Bill Goodman, The Evil Engineer, who gave our first album its very first review back in 2010. He had told me about Ripple Music and how we should hook up with them way back in the day, but for whatever reason, I never followed up on it. Apparently, he had also told them about us, but they didn’t follow up on it either. Fast forward 5 years and our album Desperation Blues has been out for awhile and I start looking at online record distributors and see Heavy Ripples, which is Ripple Music’s independent distribution vehicle.
So I reach out to them about our album and we make an agreement, so when I send it to them, Todd Severin, who is the label owner, listens to our album and luckily dug it enough to make his partner, Pope, listen to it and finally after Pope listened to it, he dug it too. Then they came out to a show we played in their area and said they wanted to work with us! We were stoked! So then a few weeks later, we signed a deal, and then had to start busting our asses because we had no new songs written, and a record to deliver in a year! We were a little late, but hopefully worth the wait!
TN – How is the local music scene in your hometown of San Jose?
The scene in SJ I’d say is recuperating. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s it was a really vibrant and thriving scene, but the city ordinances as well as both the gentrification and influx of tech workers who are just not rock oriented, caused the closure of some key venues. So from then until the last couple of years, it was very hard for local bands to find an audience, however I feel that has really begun to change over the past couple of years with a renewed interest in live music and live rock for that matter, San Jose is definitely on the way up again. I’m very optimistic!
TN – You guys are touring The West Coast in support of the album. I look forward to seeing you guys play Los Angeles at The Viper Room. What can we expect with a live ZED show?
ZED live shows are usually pretty energetic. We try to bring the energy AND the volume to the stage and really punch the audience in the gut sonically! We also have a lot of fun with it!
TN – Will there be a bigger tour that hits other parts of America?
Yes that will be in spring or summer 2017 once we’ve marketed the album a little bit.
OOTS – I’ll add in another touring question. Will you guys be coming over to Europe soon as you have quite a few fans over in Europe.
Absolutely! We are planning to come over summer 2017 to try to hit the festivals and do some touring city to city! We love Europe and the rock fans there are amazing!
TN – Who did your album artwork? It’s pretty amazing!
I usually do all the artwork for the band myself, but this time I wanted some outside input and an outside perspective on our vision, so we collaborated with a good friend of our named Kiren Bagchee of Kiren In Digital Studios. We basically told him our ideas and the vibe we wanted and he hit it out of the park! His work is beautiful and organic and he has a great eye. We are totally stoked on what he did for us.
TN – Thank you for your time. To the readers in Los Angeles/Orange County come party with me October 20th when ZED plays The Viper Room!!
Thanks Matt! We Cant wait to see you all and party!! Its gonna be a rager! Thank you for supporting underground music!!
OOTS – Well guys thanks for doing this joint interview with Matthew and myself. Best of luck with the new album. It’s a great album. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.
First, thank you Steve for being a longtime advocate for us heavy rock bands in the underground. We appreciate all you do!! Secondly, thanks to everyone over the years who has taken the time to listen to, purchase merch or see the band live! The friendship, feedback and good vibes you give us really make it worthwhile, especially when to going gets tough!! We hope to see you guys soon!
Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and ZED
Thanks to ZED for taking the time out to talking to us. Trouble In Eden will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Ripple Music on August 26th 2016.
Outlaw Nation – Joint Interview – An Interview with MR OZO from TRUCKFIGHTERS
Truckfighters are a band that need no introduction. They’ve been playing their own blend of Fuzz/Desert/Stoner Rock to the masses for over 15 years now. Countless tours have seen them labelled as one of the best live acts around within the Desert/Stoner Rock scene.
With album number five around the corner – Originally titled V. The Truckfighters juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The new album builds on the sounds created on Universe with the sounds of their previous albums making a welcome return. Though it’s still a different kind of sound that will only enhance their reputation further.
For this interview I’ve teamed up with Matthew over at Taste Nation to do a joint interview with Oskar aka MR OZO where we discussed their new album, touring plans and Fuzzorama Records.
So sit back and ENJOY THE FUZZ!!!!
OOTS – Outlaws Of The Sun
TN – Taste Nation
OOTS – Hi Oskar. Thanks for doing this joint interview between Matthew and myself. Hope things are well with you all in the Truckfighters camp.
Yes, everything is amazing actually. Every time you finished a new album and just sit and wait for the album to be released is awesome… We don’t sit that much just relaxing, but you know what I mean. The hard work finishing an album is always a very, very hard work, not only time wise, but it takes a lot of energy from your mind as well.
TN – Congratulations on reaching the your 5th ‘V’ album milestone and your “Unholy Union” with Los Angeles based Century Media. Would you like to share the catalyst of partnering with Century Media? With the label in my backyard, Steve can agree that I’m a bit obsessed and curious on why you chose Century Media solely based on their roster of bands who bring more fake blood and face paint than Fuzz.
Haha, yes, you could look at Century Media as a label who releases a lot of heavy stuff and Truckfighters are without no doubt one of the softer acts. Well, we got interest from Nuclear blast, Napalm and Century… All are three good labels, but in the end we trusted our instinct, it seemed like Century Media where the most inspiring label and the label that where most eager to work with us and understand our potential haha 😉
OOTS – Yeah V is a stunning album. You’ve been busy with releasing your Live Album and releasing V in quick succession. In regards to the Live album. How has the response been to that record. Our reviewer – Bruno loved the hell out of it. And I did as well. Why did you choose that London gig to release as your first Live album. Will you be open to releasing more live albums in the future.
Ohh, two questions in one 😛 Well, first of all, thank you so much for the kind words, we couldn’t agree more… I personally spent extremely much time just to get everything the way I wanted and as good as possible, I spent alone approx 4 months with the bass and vocals, full time! I almost lost my mind, but I can’t simple just leave something that doesn’t feel like it’s spot on.
We’ve been a bit lazy recording our shows live with a proper multitrack thing for the past (well, all years) years… London always has been a really good place for us, so we decided to record it… We had ideas to maybe get equipment on the road and record more than one show so we could choose the best gigs, but we did only one recording… no rooms for errors haha 😛 We will probably do it sometime in the future as well, but we need to release at least a few more albums so we can play some new songs 😉
TN – Want to share your approach in making this album compared to previous releases? With your ever growing fan base, was/is there more pressure to satisfy your loyal fan base while appealing & attracting to new fans. A fine line most bands never have a chance to experience. Is it a good problem to have or do you even think about such things?
This might sound weird and arrogant, but that’s the least thing I am… but when I’m in the state of creating music the only thing I care about is that I must love it… I mean you can’t do art or music if you’re not true to your passion and what you’re heart tells you to create/do. My main goal is to do something that I’m satisfied with… But what a great life we have, when a lot of people like it! We couldn’t continue doing what we do if it wasn’t for you fans of course, so thanks 😀
OOTS – V has quite a different sound compared to Universe. Some fans have commented recently they want you to return to your earlier FUZZ based sounds. Did you notice those comments from your fans yourselves. Would you ever go back to the fuller Desert/Fuzz sound you created on your earlier albums.
We never look back, we never want to do a copy of ourselves… But if we do an album that is more fuzzy and might sound familiar to our old works it won’t be because we’re looking back and trying to re-create this sound. We intentionally always change something in the recording and sound shaping process. Change drums, mics, the way we want the finish product to sound like… anything that makes it more interesting and “new” to us as well.
TN – ‘V’ seems to be a bit of a Sea Change for the band particularly from your prior 2014 release ‘Universe’. The Fuzz Pedals are at 11!! Bass-lines are heavier and the vocals muted from start to finish. (Also See Pennsylvania’s Nothing) It appears you traded in riffs for heavier hooks and grooves and clean vocals for fuzzy, muted making it a 4th instrument and also making this one of your heaviest releases.
hmm, is it… It’s hard for us to see that this almost is so much different than Universe. For it it feels like a natural evolvement… But I can agree that it somehow seems heavier, but in the same time a bit mellower perhaps? I wonder how next album will be? 😛
TN – Admittedly, it took me a few extra listens of ‘V’ to wrap my pedestrian brain around it. I’m glad I did I’m finding this to be my favourite release to date. It’s somewhat refreshing to hear a new album from a band of your calibre and not have it over-produced. Was that your intention going in the studio. Did you plan to make a more gritty, heavier album or let things flow more organically??
yeah, we had maybe one idea before we started recording and that was that we wanted it to sound a bit more aggressive, gritty and heavier in the sound… other from that we just created what ever song that came to our mind at the point. But you’re totally right, it’s probably a more in your face album, but without feeling over produced or over limited, we still want it to sound very natural in some ways.
OOTS – It seems that Fuzzorama Records have been going from strength to strength recently. Congratulations on your recent success. Originally you just distributed your own albums. When did you decide to release other artists on your label.
Actually we did a compilation with a lot of other bands as record number two, called The ultimate fuzz-collection. We decided even before we started the label that this is not just going to be a demo band creating a label just to release their own shitty stuff haha… Our intention with Fuzzorama where to do it as a real label and become a really good label. Now when I can compare with a label like Century Media I’m proud to say that Fuzzorama is probably the best smaller independent label there is.. We worked really hard for many, many years… We got some of the best distro deals in the business and we’re constantly trying to improve and never settle with “just” releasing stuff.
OOTS – Was it a hard decision to release another band on your label. Or did you need to expand more.
No, it was a must to become a “real” label in order to become a label that could land good distro deals and so on.. It’s not enough releasing an album every 2 or 3 year… + we think it’s so much fun running our own label
OOTS – Do you have a set of rules and ideals when signing a band to your label.
No not really, we sign bands we like, that’s it. The only rule that might apply is that we don’t wanna sign bands that sound the exact same, they should differ a bit in sound, but still be rock of course 😉
OOTS – Apart from your own album being released soon, Do you have any other releases being released soon. I’ve heard that you maybe releasing Asteroid’s long awaited new album.
Yes, that’s actually true, the new Asteroid album “III” will be released this fall, 11th of Nov in EU and 9th of Dec in US, six years have past since the previous album so it’s a long awaited album for sure… seems like the buzz around the band only grew bigger when they where away… Maybe that’s the effect a break have on great bands 😛 We will of course send you their album for review etc, don’t worry… starting next week 😉
TN – What would you like to share with the new Truckfighters fans here in The States about the band and new album? For those living outside Sweden and want to avoid international shipping, is this where Century Media’s role comes into play? Help expand your footprint in America?
Yes you can order the album directly through Century Media from the states and in that way get cheaper shipping of course. BUT our fuzzoramastore ships worldwide, and we use fixed shipping so only one rate no matter how much you order, so if you order more than one item I reckon the shipping is too bad + we have two vinyl colours strictly limited to our shop, as Century Media also have… so in the end you might be forced to order from both 😛 Or see us live, even better 😉
OOTS – Truckfighters have a phenomenal live reputation on stage. I’ve seen you guys multiple times in concert and you always impress the hell out of me. It looks you’ll be busy again promoting the new album. What can people expect from the new tours. And is it becoming harder for you as a band to keep doing all the energetic performances your band is known for.
Sure you’re always trying to improve, not only the scenic part of the live shows but also the sound and the way we perform, of course it’s getting harder the older you get but we’re also one of those bands that realised very early in our career that you need to look after yourself and your body in order to last for a long time. None of us been into drugs and to party (that much at least). We’ve always been interested in keeping us in shape and these days that is even more important, I usually exercise 5-6 times a week and feel stronger and more focused than ever. + the music gets more interesting to play and also demands more of us. But I think you need to challenge yourself all the time in order to keep doing what you do and to keep in being interesting for the audience 😉
OOTS/TN – Well guys thanks for doing this interview. All the best with V and future tours. Hopefully we will see you in concert on both sides of the Atlantic soon. Matthew in the USA and Steve in the UK.
Yes, hope to see you to guys, let me know when we’re close by and we’ll put you on the list, maybe we can have a chat as well. Thanks for the support in the band and the label 😉
Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and MR OZO
Thanks to Oskar aka MR OZO for taking the time out to talking to Matthew and myself. V will be out available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Fuzzorama Records and Century Media Records – US.
Outlaws Nation Joint Interview: An Interview with YEAR OF THE COBRA
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.