I sent some questions to Portland’s Prizehog and they waded through my bullshit to find the core of what I was wondering about. Excellent work on their part, overcoming every obstacle I threw in their path.
We play all the time, so things mostly come together naturally. We take our time working on subtleties to make songs even more fun to play, with ins and outs that never get boring and probably make it a weird experience for someone hearing a song for the first time. We are definitely not one of those bands that write an album a week before recording it. We span time. Put down in writing, these songs are a series of shapes and numbers only we can truly understand. We use weird hieroglyphs to convey parts or changes, with scattered numerals making it look like some crazy alien math homework. People we have shared practice spaces with have spent long times trying to figure out songs of their own just from our space-calculus.
It seems like a good method, and open-ended enough that it could make sense to anyone and be open to interpretation, which might just be how we come across musically. We can tell you with certainty: There is no one way we do anything.
The guys in Shooting Guns have gathered together a collection of Canada’s finest heavy/garage/psych rock groups for the first non-band release on their Pre-Rock Records label. It’s a blast.
Though where House of Burners truly shines is on the purer psychedelic and heavy psych tracks that the underground Canadian heavy scene seems to cultivate. The soft, entrancing, sound of Saskatoon’s Powder Blue is like a velvety pillow, but the teasingly titled “Go On Forever” doesn’t, which is a total bummer. Based on “Tanya”, The Switching Yard is Saskatoon’s best kept secret; this is pure, unadulterated, psychedelic space rock, the kind Shooting Guns occasionally reaches for but, alas, their massive bottom end won’t let them achieve this high an orbit. The label owners do swing that heavy backside like the proverbial motherfuckers who never learn on “Taylor St. Champagne Room”, a motorik chugger that surely gets the stoned girls to go-go dance. Mahogany Frog, meanwhile, eschew the heavy for an almost proggy psychedelia on “Saffron Myst” that is an intriguing blend or 80s electronic soundtrack music and 70s art rock, a quiet synth storm.
Craig and I had the opportunity to send some questions to Argus, one of my favorite contemporary bands. They answered honestly and at length, and proved to be one of my favorite interviews, too:
BUTCH: All the big magazines are in the pocketbooks of the big labels. We have friends and supporters at several of these publications, yet, we can’t get an interview? Why?
Because our European PR company sucks for starters. Because our label is smaller and can’t spend the ad cash the big dogs can? There comes a point where magazines start to become catalogs for the majors rather than actually trying to push good, newer bands. We’re well into the digital age. No one wants to pay for anything anymore, and what fans don’t or won’t recognize is that for every time they download our album on some shyster’s blog site that hurts us badly in terms of gaining support from promoters, hurts our label, keeps us from moving to a bigger label…because the industry is still working from the notion of sales driving everything.
So, if fans want to help, they can please consider buying the album rather than downloading it. Come see us live when we’re in your town. Buy merch. Spread the word about our show. Shit – FILM us at our shows PLEASE. Spread that shit – we’re a great live band – we are getting little to no respect from promoters for touring opportunities and getting on festivals, yet, our reputation and word of mouth about it is good. It needs to grow. Email festivals and request us. Write our label. Write the magazines, e-zines and fanzines. All of that helps us tremendously and does not go unappreciated.
Craig and I return with the second installment of Outré Monde for Last Rites. I think it’s some of my best writing yet.
Though you and I have had a few conversations on drone and it’s ilk, I don’t think we’ve ever touched on when it works for me and when it doesn’t. I’m picky when it comes to drone, unlike say, my whoring for 10th generation Sabbath clones. It has to be transformative or transportive; make me feel other than I am, or take me places I can’t reach alone. Apocatastasis, despite it’s meaning, was not personally transformative – I’m the same old schlub the whole way through – but I was transported.
I was only slightly joking when I said it was the music of the spheres. Apocatastasis moves on a scale that feels interstellar; the vistas are vast, the sounds unfold from afar, reaching the ears long after the image has come and gone from the mind. Cold Womb Descent are masters of the swell. They take a synth wash and drag it’s rise from a dust mote to a star and it feels like it unfolds over the millennia that process actually occurs.
But it’s never dull. This is epic music, a triumphant big bang slowed 800 times.
I think it’s safe to say I liked it. Even though it did bring to mind the Roy Batty “tears in the rain” section of Vangelis‘ Blade Runner score once or twice. I’ll be damned if this isn’t the proper sound to accompany the glittering c-beams near the Tannhäuser Gate.
Over at Last Rites, I asked some questions of Elliot, the one-man-band behind Morgue of Saints, and he kindly answered them.
The organ, that most neglected of metal instruments, gets quite a workout throughout Monolith, and helps differentiate it from the crowd. What led you to feature it so prominently? Is it an instrument you compose on, or do you work out the parts for it after the guitar and rhythm tracks?
I’ve always felt like the Hammond organ was an instrument that appealed very much to the stoner rock genre, but sadly, as you said, too often neglected. So I decided to craft the stoner rock album I dreamt of, an album that featured the Hammond organ on the majority of riffs. I wrote the organ parts after writing the guitar tracks.