Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tour Blog 1

So I'm on tour with my babyboys Black Tusk and stoner rock OGs Fu Manchu, and we just played the Masquerade in Atlanta. We stayed with our boy Dan from Zoroaster yesterday and got shwasted on top shelf liquor, had an epic cookout today (with venison! heaven), and are maxin' out relaxin' all cool in Dan's doom palace surrounded by pitbulls and pillows.

Andrew and Roadie Ben are at a bar with crazy Cameron from San Francisco, but me, Athon, and James are worn out. Kevin from Brutal Truth lives 'round the corner and warned me that the Masquerade sucks; as usual, he was right. The staff were sweethearts, but the crowd should have been way bigger, the openers drank up all the booze and got all uppity asking for free stuff, the house took a 10% cut of the soft merch sales, the moniters blew halfway through Tusk's set...bah. We hit Raleigh tomorrow, which should be cool - I like North Carolina a lot, and after that we hit DC and I get to bro down with Salome, then Cambridge, MA where I get to see my boy Metal George, then NYC for a taste of home, and on and on...

I flew out to meet up with Black Tusk in Austin last Thursday, where we were due to kick things off at Emo's that night (fourth time I've been in that damn club in as many months). After load-in, we grabbed dinner at Stubb's (Texas barbeque, yessss) then did the show thing. I went through all the merch and familiarized myself with the tools of the trade, set my shit up, and waited for the madness to unfold.

Austin is Austin, and Austin is crazy. We crashed with the boys' awesome friend Cory at her adorable little apartment, woke up late, and sauntered off to Houston the next day.

*Black Tusk LOVES lotto tickets*

Now that is a weird town - everyone's stuck in 2001 and the club we played, Scout Bar, was straight-up covered in nu-metal memorabilia. We're talking Disturbed on the house speakers and signed Saliva guitars on the walls, son.

I got cornered by a methed-out waitress who bought a Black Tusk girly shirt then spent the next ten minutes telling me about how breastfeeding made her rack huge, and the boys were enchanted by the lingerie-clad broad serving beer out of a tub (you stay classy, Houston). Crashed in a Super 8, then headed South to New Orleans - one of my most anticipated stops this time around.

I LOVE New Orleans - the city is just brimming with black magic and swamp light, and the food? Fuck. I am the pickiest eater imaginable, but even I'm powerless in the face of Coop's Cajun fried chicken and Cafe Du Monde beignets.

We played One Eyed Jack's in the French Quarter - wicked.

Drank a bunch of whiskey, sold a bunch of merch, and had a ball at Tusk's friend Alex "The Douche"'s house with her goofy dogs and champagne. On our way out of Louisiana, James won 500 dollrs off a two-dollar lotto ticket (!!!!) which provided some excitement (and a bottle of bourbon) for the rest of the evening.

The long drive out to Atlanta the next day was all worth it as soon as we rolled up to Dan's incredibly nice house, and now I'm almost wishing we had another day off to snuggle with his dogs and suck down his blue agave tequila.

On the road again...


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Reinventing The Steel; The New American Underground

So here's a thing I wrote for Terrorizer months ago. In the usual editorial process, things get switched around and reimagined sometimes, and this piece ended up on the wrong side of a red pen. We decided to retool and revamp it to better reflect the theme of the next issue ("Southern Metal") soooo this baby's never gonna see the light of day. It pains me to shelve it entirely, though, so here's what it would have looked like. Some of it will be cannibalized for the new piece, too - waste not, want not!

The New American Underground
Kim Kelly

The gods of metal have a habit of showing up in the unlikeliest of places. From festivals held deep in the Bavarian woods or Czech countryside to basement shows in Brussels and all-dayers in Singapore, the existence of heavy fucking metal is a damn near universal truth – a world without borders or limits. One has to ask, though - what the hell is it doing in the white-bread Midwestern wasteland of Columbus, Ohio? Or in Texas, America’s gun-totin’, pigment-hatin’ conservative stronghold? The answer: March 2010’s one-two punch of Scion Fest, and Austin, TX’s South by Southwest Music Conference. Terrorizer went deep aboveground to investigate the strange phenomenon of metal’s newfound popularity in the US of A.
Maybe “popularity” is the wrong word; after all, the dark arts have always been plenty popular with those of us who knew enough to care. “Respected” may be more apt. With bands like YOB and Alcest gracing the hallowed pages of the New York Times and Magrudergrind and Wolves in the Throne Room blowing up on indie rock behemoths Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan (whose Fred “Black Bubblegum” Pessaro has been making waves with his own black meddling and boundless enthusiasm for keeping it true), the level of aural brutality that Joe Sixpack will accept in his daily routine is steadily beginning to increase. Tastemaker labels like Profound Lore, 20 Buck Spin, and Relapse and interesting new signings from Candlelight, Metal Blade, and Prosthetic have colored the musical landscape in a whole new range of shades of black, and countless new metal-focused websites and blogs have been spreading the plague at 500 kbps per second.

As the inevitable “hipster metal” movement reared its artfully-coiffed head, the underground recoiled, but even the most stalwart basement warrior has had to admit that more interest in metal means more tours, and more chances to see the bands they actually care about. At the risk of sounding like a “special advertising section,” it must be said that carmakers Scion (a division of Toyota) have been stealthily leaving oil-slicked fingerprints all over the underground – in a positive way. By doling out sponsorship money to broke-ass touring bands and throwing massive ‘merican shows for bands like Immortal and Neurosis, Scion’s resident metal guru Adam Shore has had a profound impact on the scene at large, and his handpicked Scion fest lineups have brought many respectable denizens of the underworld kicking and screaming into the sunlight. This year’s edition featured Absu, YOB, Voivod, Shrinebuilder, Brutal Truth, Ludicra, Cannibal Corpse, Black Tusk, Lightning Swords of Death, Black Anvil, Landmine Marathon, and tons more, and took place at four small venues in the quiet college town of Columbus, Ohio. Over the course of 24 hours, legions of metal fans descended upon its quiet streets like a swarm of locusts, and Terrorizer caught jaw-dropping performances from Ludicra (a festival high point), Absu, Black Anvil, Thou, and Lightning Swords of Death. A few weeks later, a similar scenario happened, only this time, it all went down a little closer to Hell.

Traditionally held to be a hipster hangout and industry circle-jerk, this year’s edition of SXSW turned out to be the heaviest the fest had ever seen. Bands like High On Fire and Landmine Marathon held equal billing to indie darlings Japanther and Madlib, and the uberhyped Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin and Brooklyn Vegan showcases were so packed, they were only letting in a handful of people at a time. Terrorizer was on hand to catch electrifying performances by Coffinworm, Salome, Dark Castle, The Atlas Moth, Kill the Client, Howl, Bison BC, Zoroaster, Goatwhore, and god knows how many others over the course of the five-day, multi-venue music orgy. Beneath the merciless Texan sun, we wandered through Austin’s blocked-off streets, soaking in the live music that came pouring out of every bar and venue and bumping into band dudes everywhere we turned. Playing at SXSW can be a trial by fire for some, like The Atlas Moth with their hellacious seven-shows-in-five days schedule or Salome with their myriad van woes, but for those that make it out alive, the SXSW stamp of approval goes a long way. Don’t mess with Texas.

Now that we’ve brought you up to speed on what sort of trouble’s been brewing on this side of the pond, meet a few of the two festivals’ highlights: bands that are changing the meaning of “American metal.” Walk on home, boy.


This San Francisco-based collective have been creating artful, mind-expanding black metal odysseys for over a decade, and are finally reaping the rewards of that which they have sewn. Vocalist Laurie Sue Shanaman is an angel and a demon onstage, possessed of a voice that veers from ethereal to apocalyptic in the blink of an eye and is augmented by guitarist/backing vocalist Christy Cather’s deafening roar. The band is rounded out by Aeson Dekker of Agalloch on drums, Ross Sewage (Impaled, Exhumed, Ghoul) on bass, and John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, Slough Feg) on guitar – a dream lineup if there ever was one. An electrifying performance at this year’s Scion Fest and ensuing success on their Decancellation Tour (hastily rebooked after Mayhem aborted the US run they were slated to open), as well as an incredibly well-received new record (The Tenant/ Profound Lore 2010) have put them on the map, and solidified Ludicra’s place at the forefront of the new wave of American black metal.


These Indianapolis-born amplifier worshippers have only been around since 2007, but have already risen to the top of the American doom/sludge pile. 2009’s Great Bringer of Night demo was an impossibly brutal, downtuned beast that set the stage for this year’s When All Become None (Profound Lore), six songs’ worth of gutter sludge, vindictive black metal, old-school death, and suffocating doom. Add in some of the most devastatingly clever, anti-human lyrics around, not to mention an imposing live presence (as seen at SXSW and in cursed venues across the Midwest) and a heavy debt to the occult, and you’ve got yourself one unholy racket. Coffinworm are special, not only because of their grave-digging sound, which mines the tombs of death, doom, and darkness and comes up corpses – they matter because they really fucking mean it.

Move over, New Orleans; Baton Rouge is rapidly becoming the new home of the heavy. Case in point: the uber D.I.Y. doomlords of Thou, who have been criss-crossing the country spreading their nihilistic sermons and earth-shaking riffs since 2005. This extremely prolific, constantly touring quartet have unleashed over fifteen splits, demos, and albums (on labels like Southern Lord, Robotic Empire, and Gilead Media) and show no signs of slowing down. Thou’s vast, monolithic dirges are a hateful mangling of EyeHateGod, Isis, and Winter – droning, shimmering, feral, and achingly honest – and are giving the old guard one helluva run for their drug money.


The City of Angels isn’t exactly the most kvlt of locales, but L.A. black metal mystics Lightning Swords of Death are living proof that something wicked lurks behind all the glamour and plastic. Oozing pure evil, occult secrets, and urban blasphemy, their take on the blackest of the dark arts hits hard, fast, and mean, drawing liberally from the genocidal black/grind of Revenge and Conqueror, the pitch-black thrashing of Aura Noir, and Watain’s perverted rock’n’roll. There are even a few epic nods to Blut Aus Nord in there, coupled with a totally D.I.Y. underground-‘til-death mentality that is doing well to keep their attitudes in check and their weapons deadly sharp. An upcoming Metal Blade debut and more live actions are brewing, so watch your back.


One mic, one guitar, and a set of drums. Doesn’t sound too impressive when you lay it out like that, but when you add in a few massive fucking amps, earth-shaking riffs, and the doomed trio behind Salome, and you’ve got yourself a problem. These Virginian destroyers have been decimating stages and blowing out eardrums since 2006, releasing a thunderous Profound Lore debut and killer split EP with Thou along the way. Vocalist Kat’s bloodcurdling shrieks and sepulchral roars claw their way to the forefront of Rob Moore’s down-tuned, mercilessly heavy slabs of sludgy, funereal riffage and Aaron Deal’s impossibly tight war drum, and the deadly combination thereof is as catchy as it is crushing.


Once the reigning kings of American grindcore, Insect Warfare, called it quits, their throne stood empty for several long, slow years; that is, until their fellow Texans Kill The Client stepped up their game, and went for the fucking throat. The Dallas quintet have been grinding 24/7 since 2002, releasing two raging albums on Willowtip and splits with Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Thousandswilldie before signing a deal in blood with Relapse for their upcoming full-length. A killer live act (as SXSW found out) and known for their snarling, furiously fast take on balls-out grind, these bastards reek of Swedish putrefaction and have something to fucking say, on top of it – their sociopolitical rants are as smart as they are searing.


The denizens of Chicago’s three great talents are scarfing down greasy food, making music, and doing drugs. Judging by the fuzzed-out psychedelic space jams on The Atlas Moth’s Candlelight debut, A Glorified Piece of Blue Sky, this Chi-Town quintet are no exception. Longtime road dogs and D.IY. buzz-builders, the men of the ‘Moth are no strangers to hard work; even a grueling SXSW schedule of seven shows in five days (!) couldn’t slow them down. Drawing from the post-everything catharsis of Neurosis, the Southern-fried dirt tones of Buzzoven, the mangled chords of Coalesce, and even the shimmering progress of Deftones The Atlas Moth’s sound is both many things, and one unified theory. On record, they captivate; live, they decimate. With several high-profile tours and collaborations on the way, the future’s looking bright for this post-sludge collective.


Hardcore dudes playing black metal? It sounds like the worst idea possible, but New York’s mighty Black Anvil have proved how devilishly well it can work. Featuring former and current members of Kill Your Idols, None More Black, and Deathcycle, what Black Anvil lack in kvlt cred they more than make up for in sheer brute force and the kind of songwriting chops that come with years spent toiling in the underground. Sneaking pages out of Celtic Frost, Bathory, Motorhead, and Immortal’s songbooks (check out Paul Delaney’s Abbath impression), armed with a positively nasty “Dethroned Emperor” cover, and hauling out lick after lick of thrashy, bottom-heavy blackness, this New Yawk trio have been blowing up stage across the nation, and, with an upcoming Relapse debut and several high-profile tours in the works, seem hellbent on total destruction. Now THAT’S hardcore.


Dark Castle are sort of like the White Stripes of doom metal, except about a billion times more brutal. This Florida duo are also known for their stripped-down approach – one guitar, one keyboard, a drumkit and two throats – and have spent time as a couple, but instead of garage rock, churn out impenetrably dense, hypnoticly sludgy riffs. It’s difficult to compare Dark Castle to any other band, because although the music they play on their At A Loss debut, Spirited Migration, is very recognizably doom, there is an intriguing balance of atmosphere and ferocity, of droning heaviness and gently clean psychedelic melodies, that many attempt but few actually realize. Stevie Floyd’s guttural roar and Rob Shaffer’s lumbering, almost tribal drumming play off the mystical, bleak soundscapes they create beautifully, and in a live setting, with the lights turned low and the band bathed in red light, are nothing short of breathtaking. These road warriors recently returned from a European trek with Kylesa and are gearing up to cross the USA with Zoroaster this summer, then it’s back to the studio for round two!


This Arizona quintet have been blowing up over here. Their electrifying performances at SXSW and Scion Fest, a killer new record, Sovreign Descent, out on Prosthetic, and a charismatic frontwoman with a mouth like a sailor and penchant for Death shirts have all done their part to bring Landmine Marathon into the spotlight, and they couldn’t be more stoked. Their crusty, old-school death metal sound has a heart of pure grind, culled as it is from the back catalogs of the Earache greats (think Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death) and the Infest patches on their shorts. Armed with a perfectly muddy mid-90s guitar tone as well as Grace Perry’s ferocious pipes, they have been sweating it out in the underground for five years now; after releasing several demos, splits (w/ Stormcrow and The Funeral Pyre) and albums (Level Plane released ‘Rusted Eyes Awake’ in 2008), they were snapped up by Prosthetic, and unleashed a monstrous new LP. Watch your back!

The crusty post-sludge fiends on Howl, cosmic doom luminaries YOB, reborn black metal legends Absu, mind-expanding riff worship of Bison BC, NOLA stoner death ‘heads Goatwhore, grind gods Brutal Truth, stoned cavemen High on Fire, and scads of other worthy accomplices made these two events fucking sing, and are slowly but surely making it a hell of a lot more fun to be an American metalhead. Horns up!



Roadburn festival is thrilled to unveil the curator for the 2011 edition of Roadburn: Sunn O))). The band, to be specific Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley, has agreed to curate our festival on Friday, April 15th, 2011 and host a special event.

As curator, Sunn O))) will personally select the bands that will play during their special event as well as perform a headline show. Sunn O))) will be Roadburn’s fourth curator, following David Tibet in 2008, Neurosis in 2009 and Triptykon’s Tom Gabriel Warrior at this year’s festival.

Right now, Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley are gearing up for two major Sunn O))) events in September: performing Altar with Boris at ATP New York and Brooklyn’s Masonic Temple, but you can expect to hear from them in the future with respect to their thoughts on the 2011 Roadburn festival and Sunn O)))’s performance.

We are overjoyed to join forces with Sunn O))) for the upcoming Roadburn festival. Their metal-based drone experimentations have proved groundbreaking and hugely influential for an entire new generation of musicians practicing the art of avant-garde metal, drone, post rock and psychedelica. Sunn O))) is also widely acclaimed for their eclectic collaborations with everyone from musicians Attila Csihar, Masami Akita (Merzbow), Boris, Steven Stapleton, Justin Broadrick, Oren Ambarchi, Ulver, Joe Preston, John Wiese, and Julian Cope to filmmaker Jim Jarmusch and visual artist Banks Violette.

Greg Anderson, who is also Goatsnake’s songsmith and the entrepreneur behind Southern Lord Records, and Stephen O’Malley, a prolific improviser and composer who is well-known for being involved in Burning Witch, KHANATE, KTL and DACM/Gisèle Vienne theatre-works, have performed in different guises during various Roadburn festivals over the years, which is exactly why we felt they would be the ideal curators. Both of them consistently push the envelope musically, and one of our steadfast goals has been to make Roadburn a festival that explores the cutting edge while celebrating the familiar, too. With that in mind, we could think of no better spiritual guide for 2011 than Sunn O))).

We are truly looking forward to the new ideas and visions that the crossover drone duo will bring to the festival next year. When asked to sum up Roadburn in one word, “progressive” would be a fitting choice. Evolving and improving are part of this. The festival is a tribute to the open mindedness of its bands, curators and audience. The joy comes from expanding musical horizons, and with Sunn O))) acting as our curator we’ll definitely be in for some artistic surprises.

Roadburn Festival 2011, including Sunn O)))’s special event, will run for three days from Thursday, April 14 to Saturday, April 16 at the 013 venue and Midi Theatre in Tilburg, Holland. There will be an additional afterburner event on Sunday, April 17, 2011.

For more info, please visit: www.roadburn.com

*See you there, dudes and ladies!


This was published on Brooklyn Vegan here: http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2010/08/an_interview_w_42.html#more.

An interview w/ AESOP DEKKER
Kim Kelly

The metal world is rife with curious individuals and iconoclasts, demonic personas and mysterious, elemental figures. We’re none of us “normal,” and neither are our heroes. One of the most interesting (and hard-working) figures in modern American extreme metal is one Aesop Dekker. As an artist, Dekker makes his mark on this ever-evolving world as the drummer and driving force behind such fascinating, innovative, and often life-affirming projects as Agalloch, Ludicra, and as of recently, Worm Ourobouros. As a fan, his rabid and bottomless enthusiasm for all things heavy, dark, obscure, and honest is laid bare in his popular blog Cosmic Hearse and in various other behind-the-scenes efforts. The man himself recently granted an e-interview to Brooklyn Vegan’s erstwhile pillar of ravishing grimness, Kim Kelly, to discuss his thoughts on USBM, the lure of San Francisco, and Agalloch’s upcoming 4th album (and upcoming live shows!).

Your blog Cosmic Hearse is an absolute treasure trove of obscure and not-so-obscure music, metal and otherwise. You’ve clearly got an incredibly extensive knowledge of
music, and are constantly posting about new bands and records that fly below most peoples’ radars. Where do you find out about new bands?

Aesop: Discovering obscure music has been a passion of mine since I was about 13. It is almost to a fault. I can’t stand the thought that there may be some amazing recording that
I have yet to hear. Anytime I travel I come home with a stack of stuff to listen to. Now with the notoriety of Cosmic Hearse people send me stuff or hand me weird releases at shows. Also I ran a short-lived “cassette only” label in 2004 that put me in contact with a myriad of interesting Black Metal bands and labels. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time perusing other blogs and combing bins at record stores.

What does it take for a new band or album to really catch your interest these days?

Aesop: It’s hard to pinpoint what makes a band click with me. A band doesn’t have to be terribly original, talented, or well produced. I think most important is atmosphere,
songs…There really isn’t a whole lot of new bands that interest me. Some bands work for me live but have yet to make a recording that can hold my interest. There are so many variables in how music is taken in and made that to say what makes something “good” is rather difficult.

What are your thoughts on the current state of American black metal? USBM arguably started in the Bay Area with Weakling, and has since grown into this sprawling,
progressive, critically-acclaimed (or at last, acknowledged) scene. Is it surreal to see bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and Krallice getting talked about in the New York Times or on NPR?

Aesop: Well, USBM probably started with Von, then Profanatica, but Weakling was very influential on the west coast. Both bands you mention owe a huge debt to Weakling. Wolves took Weakling and simplified it, Krallice expanded on it. I haven’t really given much thought to the attention the USBM is getting these days. The early Norwegian bands are winning Grammys in their country, so I think it is just progression. Black Metal has gotten too big for major media to ignore and not seem out of touch. While
it’s nice to see American bands getting some accolades, I think that it is a bit of a dilettante’s game. I mean, where is all the praise for Absu, one of America’s longest
running Black Metal bands who happen to release on of the best albums of last year?

Do you miss the older days of USBM when only a handful of people knew, or cared,about what was going on?

Aesop: Not particularly. My experiences with listening to music remain the same. It canbe frustrating seeing hobbyists flooding the bins with subpar releases, but on the other
hand it can also mean exciting new bands. It makes you have to sift more through chaff to find the wheat.

The West Coast and Bay Area in particular has a long history of metallic excellence,and in recent times has played host to an absolute explosion of talented, interesting new
bands. Who are some of your favorite new California metal bands? I’m guessing Dispirit and Fell Voices will fall somewhere on the list…

Aesop: Dispirit and Fell Voices are both excellent. I would also add Lascowiec and Bosse De Nage to the list of amazing Bay Area Black Metal bands. I have also been
impressed recently by Vastum, who feature members of Acephalix and Saros, doing Bolt Thrower worship. Elk from Oakland are getting better and better every time I see them.

You’ve mentioned before how deeply the city of San Francisco affects Ludicra’s music and lyrics, and have lived there for many years. How important is living in San Francisco to your creative process? The city seems to have this unique energy and vibe, something I’ve never found anywhere else – is this what you feed off of?

Aesop: I think cities in general have a certain zeitgeist that is reflected in their bands. People who live in SF have an almost romantic love for this city, it’s architecture, it’s weather, it’s art… But it is also a hard place, it’s expensive, it can seem wholly unwelcoming at times. Ludicra never set out to be the audial essence of the city, we never set out to be anything other than a band, the link to SF is almost natural and unintentional. I remember a few years back people were talking about the Bay Area sound, but I think the bands here are all unique. We may share a geography and the occasional beer but it ends there. Ludicra sounds nothing like Leviathan, and Leviathan sounds nothing like Weakling.

In regards to Agalloch, is it difficult to write and demo material with your Portland-based bandmates when you’re living in different cities? How would you describe Agalloch’s creative process?

Agalloch relies heavily on demos and doing things via mail. It’s definitely slower than having a band that rehearses regularly and works out arrangements together. The three original members, John, Don, and Jason have the process down to a science. For me it was a bit intimidating, It is almost an exact reversal of the process that Ludicra uses to
make records. As strange as it is, it obviously works. Agalloch makes impressive records for sure. It was exciting to be involved with the new album. Of course I wish I saw them more and we could work together closely on the material but I am not sure that if we all lived closer that would change.

Congrats on signing with Profound Lore, and the imminent release of a new Agalloch album. Expectations for this record are high, perhaps higher than ever, which has got to
place a bit of pressure on this recording. How does it feel to be in the studio with your Agalloch brothers? How is the album taking shape?

Aesop: Well, like I mentioned this is my first time in the studio with Agalloch. There was really no more pressure than any recording really. I believe the material to be strong and we did a great deal of preparation and demoing before tracking.

What can we expect to hear on this new record, and how will it be different from your past few releases?

Aesop: Without divulging too much I can say that it will be very different than past Agalloch releases, darker, but still having all the elements that make Agalloch special.

Agalloch are seldom seen in a live setting, which makes every performance seem like a special event. Is that your intent in limiting the band’s live appearances? I know fans are always begging the band to do a full US tour; is that something you would ever be open to doing?

Aesop: I think that some bit of the Agalloch mystique dies if we play out too much. Also we are dealing with scheduling issues when we play. I think the planning of an Agalloch
show or tour requires much more than most bands, issues like gear , rehearsals, and flights come into play. With these factors in play we would rather play shows that are special to us in some way. I know that this can be frustrating to fans but if they put in the effort to see us then we work hard to make it a memorable experience When we played in
Romania with Alcest there was a thousand people from fifteen different countries there, that is much more rewarding to us then playing show after show opening for some bigger

Will Agalloch be playing any shows in support of the new material?

Aesop: Yes, we have some plans for later in 2010 and early 2011.

Besides this record, what do you have planned for the upcoming year? Will Ludicra be doing any more touring/recording? Any new projects in the pipeline?

Ludicra is laying low, writing new material. I am also now playing with Worm Ouroboros, a great band from Oakland who have a brilliant album out on Profound Lore.

*Shortly after this interview, I was lucky enough to catch Agalloch’s John Haughm perform with my friends in Vindensang at a rare performance in Philadelphia, PA, and during a chat after the gig, he confirmed that Agalloch will be embarking on an East Coast tour in March 2011. Keep your ears to the ground!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

INTERVIEW: Zoroaster

'll be chopping and screwing this into a Terrorizer-sized 600ish words, but here's the full transcript of my email interrogation of my man Will Fiore of Atlanta psychedoomelic troublemakers Zoroaster. Buy their new record and come see 'em on tour with Nachtmystium next month!

Interview for Terrorizer
w. Kim Kelly

So you’ve just gotten back from a tour with Black Tusk and Dark Castle, and are
hopefully somewhat recovered by now. Can you share a few stories from the road?
Nothing too incriminating, of course, but a couple of your favorite memories, maybe?

Hmm I don’t know all my favorite memories are way too incriminating. I’ll just say
that any tour that involves as much booze, rooftop pools, broken down vans, fighting,
cookouts, bloody fire extinguishers and cocaine related car accidents has got to be a good
tour, right?

Now you’re already gearing up to hit the road again come September with some old
friends. Are you excited to get back out there again, or would you prefer to have a bit
more downtime? You guys are touring hard on this record – you’ve got Europe on the
horizon, as well! When do you get to take a vacation?

Yeah we head out in September with nachtmystium which we’re really looking forward
to. Blake started this whole thing for us by releasing our first record and we did one of
our first big tours with them back in 2006. I actually wish we could leave right now I
always love coming home after a tour there’s nothing like laying in your own bed for
the first time but honestly after 2 or 3 days I’m ready to get the hell out of town again.
By that time you get caught up with friends you’ve missed but then it’s back to work
and having to pay for beer and liquor and who the fuck wants that? That’s not cool.

The new record is something else. After having heard some of it every night for about
thirty days, I’d definitely say that it’s both immediately compelling, but also something
of a grower – it took some time for the songs to really sink in and open up. How do you
feel about Matador now that it’s out there?

I’m really happy with it actually, getting to finally work with Sanford was great we’ve
been talking about that since before voice of Saturn. I usually don’t think too much about
a record once it’s done though. you live with this thing and it’s all you think about when
you are writing then recording and mixing it and it can be really intense. Once it’s all
done I kind of just let go of it and start all over again I’ve already started making demos
for a new record last weekend so my mind is on that right now. Plus there is always
something you wish you had more time on or could have done something a little better or
whatnot so I try to avoid that it’ll drive you crazy.

What was the writing and recording process like for this record? It seems like you
finished it pretty quickly once Voice of Saturn was released. Can you give me some who/
what/where/when details?

Like I said I’m always writing so there are always songs ready to record we get together
whenever there’s a break from touring and work on songs either brent or I have or we’ll
just work on ideas from jamming. Old world for example is one I was working on around
the vos record but I ended up playing it in a side band I have instead but then a few
months later I realized it really needed to be a Zoroaster song. Plus there are still songs
we wrote when my brother was in the band that we never played with dan or even our
second drummer so we always have those too. Ancient ones, Trident and matador are
actually from that time.

Can you tell me a bit about the lyrics? What are songs like “D.N.R” and “Old World”

D.N.R. Brent wrote about a friend of his who has a terminal illness. He had to sign a do
not resuscitate document for her which makes him responsible for that decision when the
time comes.
In Old World I wrote about letting go of things or people that maybe aren’t good for
you and being able to recognize where and what you should doing or going in life just a
bunch of drunken rabble really.

Who is the Matador?

A car actually. A dead car.

Listening to a song like “Brazen Bull” alongside “Ancient Ones” is almost like hearing
two different bands. Your core elements and influences are still there, but your sound
has evolved and expanded considerably, and gotten way more psychedelic and rockin.’
What brought about this change? Was it a slow-burning evolution, or did you consciously
decide “We want to try something new”?

That’s funny cause Ancient Ones was written when the band first started way before
brazen bull. I think a lot of what people hear is really just us getting more and more
comfortable in the studio. We know what we sound like as a live band and we’ll always
have that so in the studio there’s this chance to take these songs somewhere else without
straying too far from that live sound and I like to be able to have each record have a
certain sound or mood that is unique to that recording while still sounding like us. Dog
Magic definatley has more of that live sound, we went right into the studio to record that
after two to three months touring so we were in that mindset.

The vocals in particular are really interesting – those drawn-out, distorted drone and
stoned harmonies melt into the riffs and seem like another instrument rather than a
focus. Was that what you were going for? How’s you guys come up with that approach?

The vocals are definitely like another instrument to us and a thing where brent and I try
to bring something new to each record and it’s another example of us just getting more
comfortable with that where we are able to push ourselves more than I ever thought.

The current sound of Zoroaster is a logical step, and feels as if that’s where you’ve been
heading the whole time – someplace tripped out, hazy, relentless and never too far from
your dirty Southern roots. With a mystical name like Zoroaster, I guess it makes sense
that you’d like to mess with peoples’ minds a little! How would you say you feel about
where the band is now?

I couldn’t be happier like I’ve been talking about I think we are finally confident enough
and have been playing together long enough to where we can do whatever we want. I
can’t wait for the next record we’re just getting started.

How have your older fans reacted to the new material? Have you been seeing a new
crowd coming to your shows nowadays?

It’s been really great we just played almost the whole record on this last tour when the
record wasn’t even out and people really seem to be digging it. All the feedback we’ve
been getting is really positive but then I don’t know how many people would go out of
their way to tell you your record sucks.

E1 is pushing this record hard, and it’s great to see you guys getting some heavy label
support after doing things on your own for so long. How did you hook up with E1? Did
you have any qualms about signing with such a big label?

They are doing an amazing job it’s awesome we couldn’t be happier. There was
definitely some concern cause we’ve been doing everything ourselves for so long which
is great but it also get’s really expensive and once we met with scott a few times we
knew it was the right decision. It’s been a relief to get a lot of the financial burden off our
shoulders for a minute so we can just concentrate on playing and making this record I
think that really helped out with the outcome of matador.

What’s coming around the corner for you guys after you finish the Nachtmystium tour?

There’s more touring being sorted out now and possibly another video and in the
meantime just working on songs for the next record.