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Interviews

Steve Roberts (drums, keys) / Darran Charles (vocals, guitars, keys) / Dan Nelson (bass)

Wales-based Godsticks is one of the best new progressive rock groups. The trio’s unique symbiosis of jazz fusion, rock and pop is in a class by itself. Their second full length The Envisage Conundrum continues to expand on the outfit’s style, embracing a heavier sonic approach while retaining the distinctly melodic qualities of their excellent debut. I’ve approached Darran Charles (vocals, guitars, keys) and the new member of the band, Dan Nelson (bass) to discuss the process of putting the new album together, their inspirations, future plans, and more.

- As  most SputnikMusic users may not be familiar with Godsticks, could you tell us how your musical path started? What inspired you to play progressive rock in the first place?

Darran: I don’t think we ever had a plan to play a specific kind of music, and even today we never attempt to write in any particular style. I think categories are forced upon bands for marketing purposes which, to be honest, can be quite helpful to the potential listener.

We formed around 2006 after I placed in an advert around the local music shops, advertising for musicians who were interested in playing some 70s-inspired fusion music. As you can imagine, the response was a little underwhelming but eventually a local bass player by the name of Jason Marsh (the…

I’ve recently interviewed Steve Colca, the frontman for up-and-coming doom metallers, Destroyer Of Light. Hailing from Austin, TX, the outfit released their well-received debut EP last year, and now they’re just about to hit the road for their most extensive tour to date.

Could you tell me how your musical path started? What inspired you to play music in the first place?

When I was younger, my sister’s ex boyfriend left his CDs, and I took them because he never came back. In that pile was Alice in Chains – Dirt. At this time, I hadn’t heard anything so melodic, dark, and heavy; it blew my mind. Jerry Cantrell’s guitar work inspired me to head into a heavy music direction. So, my sister’s now husband gave me his first ever guitar, and I started to write my own songs until I finally found my voice.

I know that you’d played in the stoner metal project before you formed Destroyer Of Light which is a traditional doom metal affair. What inspired you to change your style?

Poor Bastards Revolt! was old high school friends that had great chemistry and enjoyed playing with each other. We wrote some cool songs and we had a lot of fun. In fact, PBR was the first band that I started doing vocals in, before that I was just a rhythm guitar player.…

Wellington-based Beastwars are already a powerful force in the realm of sludge metal. The quartet’s second full-length Blood Becomes Fire continues the path taken by their audacious debut with the colossal sound that makes their contemporaries look insignificant by comparison. On top of that, the album is told through the eyes of a dying traveller from another time who finds the contemporary world destroyed, which places the band’s style in an intriguing futuristic context. I’ve recently approached Nathan Hickey who plays the drums for Beastwars. We’ve discussed such issues as the origin of the band, the process of putting out the new record, internet piracy and the new means of music distribution among others.

As most SputnikMusic users may not be familiar with Beastwars, could you tell us how your musical path started? What inspired you to play sludge metal in the first place?

Me and Clayton (Anderson, guitarist) met in a bar and formed a friendship over red wine and stoner rock. We wanted to form a band that sounded a bit like Kyuss, but with the big hooks of The Cult. When James (Woods, bass) and Matt (Hyde, vocals) joined that plan went totally out the window. James’ massively distorted tone shaped the sound of the band just as much as Matts vocals did. We pushed harder, played louder and it all came out heavier than we had imagined it would. We were just 4 guys that…

Australia’s black/death/industrial metallers The Amenta released their third studio album, titled Flesh Is Heir, on March 22. In celebration of them releasing their third record in 13 years, I had a little chat with the driving force behind the group, Timothy Pope (lyrics, samples, programming). Even though he describes himself as an arrogant bastard, Tim’s actually a very down to earth guy who gladly shared with me his views on the band, the hard-hitting new album, touring, and life in general.

Hello, I’m Magnus Altküla from Sputnikmusic and I will be conducting the interview. How are you doing and what have you been up to lately?

I’m very well, thank you. I’ve basically been doing this sort of thing (interviews). The album’s been out in Australia and near it almost a month, so we’ve been doing a lot of interviews. A couple of them have been live interviews, but there have been a lot of e-mail ones as well. I handle most of them, so that has basically been my life for the last few weeks.

Which kind of interviews do you prefer: the e-mail ones or the live ones?

I think they both have their benefits. The live ones are probably better because they’re quicker. Sometimes you can be a lot more clear in text, though, so I guess both of them have their own benefits. But I prefer personal contact because you can work a bit better with questions that way –…

You recently wrapped up your first ever acoustic tour. How did playing those shows compare to playing with your full band?

It was a much more intimate experience and in some ways a greater challenge, but I enjoyed the connection with people at the shows.

How was being on the road without the rest of the band?

Well each tour is a little different. I missed the bandmates who didn’t come this time but I enjoyed being with King Dude on this tour – they’re like family.

Best meal on tour?

Great American Music Hall takes great care of bands.

You have a pretty sizable European and Russian tour coming up in April that will feature a mix of electric and acoustic material. Have you gotten the chance to play any of these countries before?

We’ve been to some of them, yes, but never Russia.

Back in November was the Leave Them All Behind festival in Tokyo, featuring three of the best live acts on the planet, sequentially: Sunn O))), Boris, and yourself. How was that experience?

Playing with bands that good is overwhelming sometimes but also really inspiring and motivating. Tadashi who puts together the festival is really great.

Stoked to play with Swans in June?

Of course!

Any albums or artists that have been on heavy rotation for you lately?

Wardruna, Abner Jay, The Knife

Loading Data - band

Double Disco Animal Style has completely taken me by surprise. Practically unknown Paris-based Loading Data teamed up with renowned producer Alain Johannes only to churn out one of the most distinctive desert rock releases of the last couple of years. It’s supremely produced, groove-laden heavy rock that just reeks of unadulterated fun. That’s why, I’ve seized the opportunity to interview the mastermind of the band, Patrón.

For SputnikMusic users who’ve never heard of Loading Data, how would you describe your style?

It’s definitely rock. It’s groovy. It’s sexy. It’s dark at times, much lighter at others. Heavy riffs, catchy riffs, melodies. I insist on melodies. We’ve always been too heavy for a pop audience, and too pop for metalheads. Our sound is heavy but we have melodies. Nothing symphonic, just good old melodies like The Beach Boys or The Beatles who knew how to write them. I regret that in this musical genre a lot of people forget how important melody is. Headbanging to heavy riffs is fine, and you can do it to some of our songs, but being able to whistle tunes is what I go for.

I’d love to hoist up this type of music out of the stereotypes of the genre. I’d love to have a sexy crowd, well groomed, not just metalheads and hardrockers. We should give out tuxedos and three piece suits at the entrance of our shows, and have free hairdressers as well.

Finntroll: Blodsvept Interview

“Go big or go home” is the maxim that the Western Canadian band KEN mode apply. Their fifth album Entrench (out this week on Season Of Mist) continues the evolution of their unique fusion of ferocious noise rock, tense hardcore punk, and boisterous sludge metal. In support of that release, the trio is currently on intensive tour across the US and Canada delivering one formidable show after another. Luckily, amid all the fuss around the band the guitarist and singer Jesse Matthewson found a moment to answer my questions.

1 – KEN mode is a rather controversial name. What inspired you to name your band like that? Why do you think it fits your style so well?

KEN mode is a tag line that Henry Rollins used to name the psychological state of mind that Black Flag was in while touring for the My War album. They’d been tied up by legal battles with a major for several years and were unable to release the album, and thus to properly tour (being that touring gets stale with no new music to sell). They were finally free again, had a new record, and were taking the stage with a ferocity HOUR dubbed “Kill Everyone Now mode” as that was their agenda. They were in KEN mode all the time.

We tend to approach the band in a similar way, and I’ve even taken it that step further to have the phrase relate to a way that…

Based in Aarhus, Denmark, the band BOIL plays an ambitious style of music that properly balances polyrhythmic modern metal with melody-driven alternative rock. Their third release aXiom is both technically intricate and highly accessible showcasing a large step forward in an ongoing evolution of the group. Krisitian Outinen, who plays the bass in the band, has agreed to answer our questions.

As most SputnikMusic users are not familiar with Boil, could you tell us how your musical path has started and what exactly inspired you to be the member of an alternative metal band in the first place?

For me personally, I study classical guitar at the conservatory in Aarhus, Denmark. Soon after I moved to the city, I saw an ad from a local progressive metal band looking for a bass player. I listened to the songs (mainly from the second album, A New Decay) on their myspace and was blown away. I could hear tremendous potential and there was already a mature, yet original style I hadn’t heard before and immediately wanted to be a part of. I started practicing bass like crazy and successfully auditioned for the spot. I’ve been driving the entire band crazy with my love for Finnish melodic power metal and baroque classical guitar ever since and I expect them to be admitted to a mental institution within the next year (haha).

aXiom is your third full-length and it surely showcases your rapid growth as an outfit. How

Newcombe and his shifting band of acolytes in the Brian Jonestown Massacre have been steadily and stealthily releasing records that that are revered and reviled in equal measure. As one of music’s more outspoken characters, Newcombe cares not for public opinion, nor would he have it any other way. Taking time out from a lengthy world tour, Newcombe spoke with us about his life in Berlin, thoughts on U.S. culture and cynical Hollywood sharks.


JV: The title of your latest LP, ‘Aufheben’, is a word that has multiple meanings. It can be used to mean ‘to lift’ or ‘to abolish’ among others. What meaning did you have in mind when choosing it to represent your music?


AN: I love the concept of destroying something to preserve it. I read a book once about a Sufi institution of learning…maybe it was in Iran hundreds of years ago. At some point a new ruler decided that Sufi art and teaching were against more conservative Islam, so mobs of angry orthodox people were going from village to town to attack and destroy these schools of learning and art and purge these mystical sects. The master of one school, upon learning of a mob heading in their direction, ordered his students to grab all of the texts and art they had created in the compound and take it out to the street and burn it; all of the rugs and tapestries etc. A student

State Faults have been on the rise ever since the release of their debut EP Head In the Clouds in 2010, and now with their Tiny Engines release Desolate Peaks they are poised to go from California secret to post-hardcore darlings. We talked to them about their new album, what they see in their future, and, of course, about some old school video games.

SputnikMusic: Lyrically, the new album seems to be coming from a much darker place than your EP. What was the impetus for the shift and did it come into play when you decided on the title of Desolate Peaks?

State Faults: The lyrics of Desolate Peaks are very personal, we kind of left ourselves wide open and let a lot of negative feelings flow through while at the same time trying not to be TOO obvious about the subject matter.  The song ideas came from introspective talks we’d have with each other, and Jonny would take them and weave em into lyrics, sometimes before all the instruments were even written. We’re all really goofy and light hearted guys, so when times get tough or we look back on times and experiences that leave us heavy hearted, we channel it into our music.

SM: I’ve been told that you’re very hands on when it comes to recording. What was the recording process like for Desolate Peaks?

SF: We had a lot much fun recording Desolate Peaks. We took five days to record drums, bass, and guitars…

I recently got the chance to talk to Eddie Gancos, vocalist of the Ohio-based post-hardcore act CityCop. CityCop just released the wonderful EP Seasons digitally back in December and are teaming up with Flannel Gurl records for a vinyl pressing this summer. I talked to Eddie about all things past, present, and future with CityCop and just how far they’ve come in the last few months.

SputnikMusic: So lets start off at the beginning — what’s the formation story of CityCop?

Eddie Gancos: Well one day at school Max (guitar) came up to me and said that he wanted to start up an acoustic/folk project and wanted me to sing for it. I never sang in my life. In fact I was kicked out of choir class. But I said sure. The reason he had asked me was because Cody, our current drummer, said that he wanted to take a break from music for a while because girls were more important. Max and Cody have been jamming together since junior high and I was in a terrible punk band called The Local Guns. It’s pretty funny to me that we were going to start an acoustic project because I have always been into Punk and Max at the time was a huge metal head.  So we practiced a few shitty Folk/Indie songs in his garage, including a Bright Eyes cover, and decided they were good enough to record. We couldn’t think of a name so we went on

Rody back in 2004 with his short-lived Danzig-inspired haircut. Photo © Kieran Meyn

It’s odd, as a journalist, to interview someone you’ve known for nearly a decade.

I’ve known Rody Walker in some capacity since I was 14. Two years older than me, Rody was the long-haired, shredded jean-wearing frontman of Ontario’s fastest growing punk band. It was 2003 and Protest the Hero, formerly Happy Go Lucky, were riding the momentum of their first real release A Calculated Use of Sound. Sure,  Search for the Truth existed, and yes, “Silent Genocide” defined my teen years, but it’s a release everyone, the band included, discarded pretty quickly once ACUoS came out.

For a lot of angst-ridden Southern Ontario teens their EP was the shit. It had it all—verbosity, technicality and political eccentricity. Drummer Moe Carlson free-flowed in a way he hasn’t since, and Rody’s passionate if shrill delivery caused many of us to lose our voices at their frequent gigs.

I was 14 when all this happened. Rody was 16. I’m closing on 23, Rody on 25, and Scurrilous, the band’s third full length, is the first time his name’s been on a lyric sheet since. Understanding Rody’s lyrics means understanding Rody, and for some that’s not easy. The reason for this intro, as long-winded as it seems, is to preface such an understanding.

Ever since Kezia came out, Rody’s been known as the loud-mouth of the band, with good reason–he is, after all,…

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been presented with an opportunity. It was October 29th and I was about to interview Kelly Shaefer, frontman for the legendary, since-reunited (sort of) death metal band Atheist. This was, and is, kind of a big deal. With the release of Atheist’s first release in 17 years looming, the interview could have gone either way. Luckily, as you’ll find out, it went pretty damn well. For 25 minutes we talked about Jupiter, the nineties, family life and yes, Tony Choy’s name came up. And before you expect controversy, just in case you misread anything, I’ll reiterate something here: Tony and Atheist are not feuding and Tony and Kelly are on good terms. Shit happened, as it does, and in reading this it’s important to remember that.

Jupiter, Atheist's first album in 17 years, comes out tomorrow

Kelly Shaefer: How are you, man?

Tyler Munro: I’m good. How does it feel to be back?

KS: It feels good, man. It’s all really been super-positive, which is refreshing. I mean, compared to our past, it’s been a lot less struggle to get people to kind of understand the music these days. It’s good times for Atheist.

TM: Is that relaxing to kind of just be able to do your thing and not have to…

KS: … yeah, explain overtly. The landscape for music is so much more forgiving now for experimentation. It’s not…

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