In the fickle world of fake music, Stonekrank is an anomoly.  Not only are they consistently one of the best selling bands on the site, but they’re also one of the oldest.  So why did it take us so long to get them to sit down for an interview?  Simple, because they never sit still long enough to do one!  After 16 albums (14 depending on who’s counting), 6 EPs, 12 singles and 2 live albums, Stonekrank is still the hottest band on Figment, and there’s no reason to think that will change any time soon.

Figment News:  You guys are the hottest band on Figment. How does it feel to be so hot?

David Stone: Well, I gotta admit, we do sometimes sizzle as we walk down the street in the hot sun. Just kidding! In all seriousness though, it’s an honor and we are so grateful.

Paul Donahue: In other words, it feels pretty damn good. Stonekrank Fans are the best!!!

FN:  Why do you think your band resonates with so many fans?

David: It’s difficult to say really, I guess it’s that we wanna keep true rock n’ roll alive and well and we think the fans understand that and support our cause. We feel like they really see where we’re coming from and can identify with our songs and lyrics.

Ronnie Jenkins: And our drum beats!

Mike Schmidt: I really feel like our music inspires people; we’ve reached out to a younger crowd now so we do our best to write the kind of music that our entire audience can relate to and in the end, I think it’s our individual songs that draw so many people in.

FN:  You just played your 2nd annual Party in Vegas Festival. What was that like and what was the genesis of that festival?

Paul: It was beyond sick, and I think the other bands who played would agree.

David: In early 2010, when we played our first Party In Vegas Fest, we just wanted to see if it’d be any fun and check out the turnout, all while partying in Las Vegas. The second time around, we were offered a tour with The Forgotten Falling and decided a big festival would be more fun instead since we could get a lot of great bands in one place. This year, though, we decided to extend the Party In Vegas Fest II over two days for a kick ass rock n’ roll party weekend.

Ronnie: As a matter of fact, we were inspired by last year’s Rockstar Energy 48 Hours Festival. This had a little more influence on our 2nd PIV Fest b/c as the name implies, it was a two day, and it featured tons of great bands playing right in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.

FN:  Any crazy stories from the show to tell or are you sticking to the Vegas maxim, “What happens in Vegas…”?

David: Uhhh… Mike, you wanna handle this one?

Mike: Oh you suck, man. However folks, I do have a hell of a story to tell you. Saturday night, we’re playing without a doubt the most killer live show you can possibly imagine. It’s well past midnight by this time, but we kept jamming out our incredible, yet classic 22 song set list and by the time we were just beginning the song “Judas In Disguise” all the power went out and the lights shut out. I mean, all the regular Vegas lights are on, casinos and all, but they shut down the show because of some lame curfew. What sucked even more was that Anton Vukasin was nice enough to come out on stage and sing the song with us since he was there and since he was featured in our original recording of that song. By this time Dave got all pissed, I mean, so was I; we weren’t done playing yet – 2 songs to go. He then yells, “HEY! TURN THAT SHIT BACK ON, WE AIN’T DONE PLAYIN’ YET!!!” The guy who turned it off (he was a short Hispanic man with a mustache) refused and Dave comes back with “DO YOU KNOW WHO WE ARE? MUTHAFUCKIN’ STONEKRANK, BITCH!” After that, the jerk says, “I ain’t never heard of yous guys, you suck anyways.” At this point, we are all steaming. Dave probably the most furious. He puts down his guitar and starts walking toward this guy. Anton had to hold him back but not long after that, one of our fans punches him in the face. A clean swing right to the noggin. The guy is out cold after falling to the floor. Then our incredible fan plugs the power back in and switches the stage back on. We rocked out as hard as we could possibly jam and blew that crowd away after that, then closed with “The Image of Your Sorrows”. We never met the fan who punched the guy who turned off the power, nor did we get to thank him, but we may just write an upcoming song about how great our fans are. After the show, we got even more drunk, as if that was possible. All I could remember after that was a blur. Strippers and glitter, magic, the desert, and seeing the sun rise. We flew home the next day since we weren’t on tour at the time and didn’t have a bus. And my stupid band mates, I won’t say names (ahem, Ronnie and David) played a mean prank on me at the airport. It’s a little too graphic for some of our younger audience, but I’ll try to make it at least PG. They put a certain sex toy in my bag tied around a large water bottle knowing that security would confiscate it and embarrass the bejesus out of me. So that’s exactly what happened. Many laughs followed. I can’t say much more except that that was a Dick move you guys. That should spell it out for you.

FN:  So Stonekrank has been together since 2008 and you guys have released 16 albums, 6 EPs, 12 singles, 2 live albums and 2 Greatest Hits packages. Man, you’re more prolific than the Beatles. How do you do it?

David: We try to just take everything one step at a time, with the best foot forward. Music is an artistic process and I write my songs from life experiences. When I have new ideas that I think are great, I try to write them down when I can and we collectively collaborate after that.

Paul: As the bassist and backing vocalist, I try and help the flow of our songwriting process. I’ve written the lyrics for about three Stonekrank songs, but Dave’s much better at it than I am. I focus more on the groovy bass lines.

Ronnie: My first album with Stonekrank was Ultimatum and, even back then, all the guys looked up to me for the backbone to each song, laying down the freshest drum beats I can come up with.

Mike: For me, the trick is to just relax and focus on the task ahead. What some of you may not know about me is that I played rhythm guitar for the band from The Image of Your Sorrows through Ultimatum, then quit the band for a little while and rejoined just before we recorded Rock On. When I returned, I stepped in as the lead guitarist and Dave switched to rhythm. Ever since then, I’ve felt like I was really vital to this band and it’s taken my playing to a whole ‘nother level.

David: For the record, we only consider 14 of our 16 album releases to be studio albums because one of them was a re-release and the other was made up of b-sides and covers. With that being said, we felt that putting out so many releases has been necessary to our success. With a lot of material, we can reach out to more people and the fans have more stuff to choose from; there’s a little something for everybody!

FN:  Tell us a little bit about how you guys came to be a band.

Mike: Like most great things, we sort of found each other by accident.

David: He’s right. I had known early on that I always wanted to play the guitar and be a singer/songwriter, but I never could have imagined our band would turn out like this. You see, Paul and I have been friends since childhood and we had always wanted to be rock stars, but had never had a full band or the funding to get started.

Mike: I remember them calling me up at the old pizza shop where I used to work one night and ordering a large pepperoni. I delivered it to Dave’s house while he and Paul were having a jam session, with just one microphone, a guitar for Dave and an old bass for Paul with a wood finish. They didn’t even have a drummer or a second guitarist, nor did I know them at the time, I was just working. After they paid me for the pizza, I asked if I could jam with them.

Paul: I remember thinking at this point, “I’m not so sure about this guy”. You can understand my skepticism. Mike just so happened to have his guitar with him in the back of the car and asked to jam with us. He claimed he had been playing for years and that none of his other bands had ever really worked out. We liked his style and asked him to join. We were then signed to TooMuchTooYoungTooFast Records and assigned a drummer, Steve P. Withers. Despite not hitting it off with Steve right away, we learned to get along.

David: After we released The Black Album he left for personal reasons. I had been friends with Ronnie Jenkins for a while and when his previous band, Sk8er Punx, didn’t work out, we figured he’d make a nice addition to the Stonekrank family. Ronnie has been our drummer since Ultimatum.

FN:  David you’ve done quite a few side projects like Stonefly 45, Midnight Cheerleader Rebels w/ Cindy Wright, and you’ve collaborated with other bands like Eccentric Arcade. Isn’t Stonekrank enough for you or are you always looking for another challenge?

David: I’m very proud the success of Stonekrank, but yes I also seek to expand my horizons. I love getting to sing lead vocals for two bands now. Speaking of which, Ronnie, our drummer, also plays for Midnight Cheerleader Rebels with Cindy and I, which is awesome! However, I always look for another challenge. Oh, and speaking of Stonefly 45, I’ve been talking to Shane Osiris and he may be interested in getting the band back together. There may even be a new album and a tour lined up, but you didn’t hear it from me.

FN:  Do you ever sleep?

David: I try not to think about it too much. I don’t get to sleep as much as I’d like to, but after playing a long show of kick ass rock n’ roll, I love to sleep in when I can. Otherwise, we’re f***ing rock stars and we can sleep when we’re dead!!!

FN:  Any artists that you’d like to collaborate with that you haven’t yet had the chance to record with yet?

David: Cherry Vendetta! I love Cherry’s thrash punk style and have always wanted to sing with her. While I’m at it, I wouldn’t mind recording something with x-muffin-x. Maybe she and Ronnie could have a drum battle, haha.

Ronnie: You know what, man, that’s a great idea. I’m so down!

FN:  You guys won a Figgie back in 2011 for your single “Judas In Disguise”. What was that like and are awards important to you?

David: It was wonderful! We’ve always wanted to win a Figgie and who knew beforehand that it’d be for Best Single. Awards are very important to me because I see them as tokens to remind me of my success.

Paul: I loved recording that song because it was just 3 guys (at the time) having fun and playing from the heart. We pumped as much heart and soul into that song as we could and it was inspired by a song called “Onset” by Buckcherry.

FN:  Let’s talk about your most popular album to date, your first by the way, “The Image Of Your Sorrows”. Why do you think that album resonated so well with your fans?

David: Okay, there’s quite a story behind The Image of Your Sorrows. As a matter of fact, a lot of people don’t know we originally released it with no cover image. It got a bit of recognition in the beginning, but The Image of Your Sorrows became popular down the road as the band had begun to get big. We added the cover image a little over a year after we’d released the album and a poster followed around the same time.

Mike: I really think it’s that cover that made The Image of Your Sorrows so popular among our fans, because our debut album never even charted, nor did it have a big following in 2008, the year it was released.

Paul: Something about it just made it an instant classic, without becoming an instant hit. That album took years to accumulate those sales. I recognized a big jump in popularity for that record the Summer we released Ultimatum.

FN:  You put out 2 versions of your second album “Washed Up and Brushed Off”. Why?

David: That album was partially inspired by Seether’s re-releasing of Disclaimer as Disclaimer II. Essentially the same album, yet there are more songs to fill it out at the end.

Paul: We thought it was an all-around cool CD and that a second version of it with a helping hand of more songs would bring a stronger following to not only this album, but also to the band.

Mike: Seemed like the fans were drawn to Washed Up and Brushed Off II. I think it was a good move.

FN:  So doesn’t that make Stonekrank “V” technically your sixth album?

Ronnie: Well, if ya wanna get all technical about it, sure. Come to think of it, I wasn’t with Stonekrank for this album, so why am I talking?

Mike: Yeah, what the hell, man!

Ronnie: Shut up, bro!! I was with them for T.D.A.E. and you weren’t.

Mike: Touche!

David: Guys, cool it. Anyway, we feel in terms of full-length studio releases, WU&BO II was a re-release containing all of another of our albums. Therefore, we think of it more as an EP in the sense that it is an extended playing CD containing 9 more new songs at the time. Hence albums 1-5 would be The Image of Your Sorrows, Washed Up & Brushed Off, Live Fast, Smokin’ and Stonekrank “V”.

FN:  I know you have a lot to choose from, but what’s your favorite album? Single?

David: This is tough and it’s changed from time to time as we’ve matured, but right now my favorite album is Requiem. As for my favorite single? I’m gonna have to go with “Eden’s Farewell”.

Paul: My favorite album is Smokin’, favorite single is “Modern Tragedy”.

Mike: I love Ultimatum and the song “Omega, Baby!”.

Ronnie: I’m also gonna have to go with Ultimatum since it was Stonekrank’s first album with Ronnie “Muthafu*kin’” Jenkins on drums! Hell yeah, and while I’m at it, I love “Boom Mothafucka”.

FN:  What is the one song in the Stonekrank songbook that best sums up the band?

David: I can speak for the entire band in saying it’s “Taking Down An Empire”. We had a vision and we executed it. That song was the most inspired and the most inspiring song to us that we wrote on our way to the top, past the Gothzilla empire!!!

FN:  David, you also run a record label TooMuchTooYoungTooFast Records. How did that get started and what’s it like being a label boss and a musician?

David:  Oh it’s great! Very busy, but I’m livin’ the life. Seriously, this is what I’ve always wanted to do and now it’s a reality. I mean, I didn’t realize when I was a kid that I’d grow up to be the president of TooMuchTooYoungTooFast Records and a famous rock star all at the same time. It’s pretty wonderful, though!

FN:  Again, do you sleep? Eat? How do you find the time?

David: Yeah, I guess not. Wow, how am I still alive from all the meals I’ve skipped and the nights I’ve spent awake – either from playing a show or insomnia. Every now and then I find the time for life’s necessities.

FN:  What can we expect from Stonekrank in 2013?

Paul: Gee, if we knew…we woulda told you already. I don’t even think we know what’s to come.

Mike: Maybe a double album released in two halves, or something along those lines.

David: Well, I’ve mentioned that Stonefly 45 is getting back together. Some of my other bands may just have to take a break for a while. Psyche! I’ll be busy at work, as usual. Hey, it’s the life!

Ronnie: Some crazy ass, double bass, loud as hell, vibrating drums…and cowbell! Yeah, I’ll get you your fix. Truth be told, it’s the 21st century; anything can happen. I have no idea what crazy shenanigans we will get into, however next year will be huge!!

 

Sweden seems to crank out metal bands like the Chinese crank out, well, everything.  Hell, Wikipedia alone has a listing of 85 bands that hail from Sweden, a country that is roughly the size of California, and we know that’s just scratching the surface.  One Swedish metal band not listed on Wikipedia though is Törnekrona (or “Crown of Thorns” in English), whose members may be Swedish, but whose approach to metal is strikingly global.  Whether it’s thrash, death or doom metal these Swedes know how to bring it and it’s no coincidence that their album “The Sound of Malevolence” hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart not long ago.  Their latest album “Q.C.I.C.”, a concept album about surveillance and technocratic oppression, also spent several weeks on the Figment charts and has the band contemplating a tour Down Under.  We caught up with them at a recording studio owned by their bassist Oskar Bergqvist in their hometown of Gothenburg to talk about just how they managed not to be “just another metal band from Sweden.”

Figment News:  How and where did Törnekrona get started?

Johan Kjellgren: We, I mean Oskar, Lars and me, met at Chalmers University, wannabe engineers.. For Odin sake didn’t happen. (laughs).

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: At that time I was.. probably working for my uncle in his farm in Sigtuna.

Oskar Bergqvist: And Hans is my second cousin, so he was always around when he could.

FN:  You guys are from Sweden.  A lot of great metal comes out of Sweden.  Bands like yours, Amon Amarth, Hammerfall, Sabaton, etc.  Is there something in the water?

Lars Laarsson: Probably in the snow.. or in the beer. (laughs)

Johan Kjellgren: When you grow up with all this bands around, you know, one of the guys was your neighbour or  studied in the same high school.. You just follow the tide.

FN:  Was it hard breaking out of such a competitive metal environment?

Johan Kjellgren: Not really.. We’re always looking for new bands to hear and you can find things like “Viking Metal band from Peru”.  Many people just ignore their sound. I believe this awful reality helped us, like, someone in Japan “Hey, new band from Gothenburg, must be awesome!”.

Oskar Bergqvist: In the beginning we are anxious to have an identity, to sound some sort of unique.. and this is not that difficult.  You just have to believe.

FN:  You describe your sound as Extreme Metal which is really an umbrella term for a number of metal subgenres that are less commercial and more abrasive.  You’ve tackled everything from death metal to thrash and now doom.  Why the subtle changes to your sound on every album?

Lars Laarson: I love many bands really attached to a genre like ‘Raw Black Metal’, ‘Symphonic Black Metal’, ‘Brutal Death Metal’ and so on.. Our sound is always heavy, and heavier than the so-called ‘Heavy Metal’. The changes follow our inspiration in each record.

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: I remember one of our first jams before writing ‘Cinder’.. I’ve arrived humming  Sodom’s ‘Agent Orange’. Than Oskar started to play some Sodom basslines and we felt that their sound, their mood, is pretty close to the things we’re writing.

Oskar Bergqvist: Exactly.. in a way or another, this kind of thing happened with Krisiun just before ‘Tartarus’ and with Candlemass in ‘.Q.C.I.C.’. At some level is spontaneous and than we thought ‘It will be great to try some slower riffs this time’.

FN:  Despite the less commercial nature of your music you’ve enjoyed strong sales for almost all of your releases.  Are you concerned with sales or are you more focused on making music purely for the music’s sake?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: When you are on the stage and you hear the crowd singing at the top of their lungs.. you can be sure that they feel the connection between the writer and the reader. Imagine that we want to direct a short movie, with characters, scenarios, cinematography.. but we just have our voices, instruments and lyrics to show this movie to our public. That’s the way I see our work.

Johan Kjellgren: That was profound, man.. (laughs)  But he said it all. When we are proud of our work the sales just happen.

FN:  What’s your artistic process like?  Do all the members of the band contribute to the music & lyrics or is there a primary songwriter for the band?

Oskar Bergqvist: I was the main lyricist before Hans joining us.. you know, it’s easier to sing what you wrote. But we always discussed the undertone, the focus. Now, it’s really a collective process.. the final lyrics are written by Hans and me, but Lars and Oskar always come up with something.

FN:  How do your song ideas originate?  Do you work on material alone and then bring it to the group?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: We don’t have any agreement like ‘What happens in the studio stays in the studio’.. I’m always recording weird hummings in my cell phone.. I’m driving and I have a good riff idea, I pick up the phone and record that rakkatakka.. It’s funny, many good riffs came out like that.

Lars Laarson: Yeah, “many” (laughs)..

FN:  In your band bio you list a number of themes that your lyrics are based on – H.P. Lovecraft, Occultism, Misanthropy, the Human Condition, and Society.  Are these themes something you use purely for the imagery they evoke or are you interested in them personally?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: Our music is always true to its inspiration. For example, we watch movies together to share impressions, to sintonize ideas, making the sum greater than its parts.. The imagery is pretty important, it help us to communicate different layers of emotions and empathy..

FN:  Hans you joined the band as lead vocalist a little over a year ago after Oskar ruptured his vocal cords.  What’s it like being the new guy in the band?  Do you feel settled in now?

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: You must have noticed the way they’re always trolling me in this very interview.. This is their way to make me feel part of the family.. Neil Peart said in ‘Beyond The Lighted Stage’ that after 30 years touring with Geddy and Alex, he continues to be the new guy, so..

Oskar Bergqvist: C’mon, you are a Swedish redneck.. (laughs)

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: See?

FN:  Your latest album “Q.C.I.C.” has sold well since its release last month.  Do you think it will hit #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart like your last album “The Sound of Malevolence” did?

Lars Laarson: Well, a lightning bolt never strikes twice at the same place.. We’re always happy with our sales, considering the kind of music we create.

FN:  How did it feel to top the charts with your last album?

Johan Kjellgren: Well, first we thought ‘Someone just shut down the Internet and nobody is able to download it’ (laughs). But it was really awesome, because we know how unconventional our record is, so it was really surprising.

FN:  “Q.C.I.C” is a concept album of sorts.  Can you tell us a little about it and where the concept originated?

Oskar Bergqvist: Some months ago I saw this series pilot ‘3percent’ on YouTube.. and then I read about this building in Manhattan, the former Western Union headquarters, that is a giant physical node of the Web..

Hans ‘Sieg’ Aggern: ..and I’m a big fan of Muse and Matthew Bellamy’s dystopian lyrics.. all this we’re a perfect match for our album. Like that 80’s role-playing game ‘Paranoia’.

FN:  Any plans to tour on this album?

Johan Kjellgren: We’re talking with some other bands, trying to share some costs.. It’s not easy to tour outside Europe.. We never played in Australia and New Zealand, it’s something we’re really trying to do, bringing 3 or 4 other bands with us…

FN:  What’s next for Törnekrona?

Lars Laarson: Vacation…

Oskar Bergqvist: We’re considering a very awkward collaborative album with David Bowie called ‘Lily’ to ruin our career.. (laughs) Seriously, nothing planned yet.

FN:  Teach us a little Swedish.  How would you say “you guys rock”?

Johan Kjellgren: Nunstruck git und Slotermeyer?

Lars Laarson: Ja, oder gersput!

Whole band: Oder Gersput!

Editor’s Note:  They may be metal gods from Sweden, but that doesn’t mean the members of Törnekrona don’t have a sense of humor.  While transcribing our interview I realized that their answer to my final question was clearly not Swedish.  I contacted the band to clarify that this was the case, and was reminded that it’s origin was actually, of all things, English.

When LL Cool J emphatically raps “Don’t call it a comeback!” on his song “Mama Said Knock You Out”, he was not only issuing a warning to the haters who had listed his career as DOA, but throwing down the gauntlet for any band or solo artist whose career lasts longer than the allotted 15 minutes most are allowed.  Like life, musical careers have their ups and downs.  Sometimes an artist’s creativity peaks and they are appreciated, other times it does and they are ignored, and in some cases it abandons them all together.  That is the roller coaster nature of creative pursuits.  The trick is to weather it all and persevere, because all true art is a journey.

Let’s Not and Say We Did (LN&SWD) is one band that has not only mastered that trick, but also embraced the journey.  With a career that stretches over 30 years, LN&SWD have certainly had their share of ups and downs.  The band’s three members met in high school and have been making music together ever since.  They were critics darlings in the 80’s, ignored in the 90’s, and sanctified with cult status in the aughts, but its the recent re-release of some of their earliest recordings that has spurred a resurgence in the band’s popularity and catapulted them to heights they’ve never experienced before.  So what do they think of the seemingly never ending thrill ride that is their career?  We sat down with them at the Hawkins Springs, KY headquarters of their record label, Heiroglyph Records, to find out.

Figment News:  You’ve been together as a group for over 30 years.  To what do you owe your longevity?

Lambert Rice “Thrice” Knightley:  I think it’s because we haven’t chased musical fads or really even fit neatly into one musical style. To be honest, when we first started out, we weren’t even all that aware of what was going on in music. We just played whatever we wanted whenever we wanted, and when you enjoy what you do, that’s when you’re going to be your best — and most successful, if you’re lucky.

Stella Delcielo:  Plus we’ve been friends — best friends, really — for a lo-o-o-o-ong time!  We don’t all live in the same town anymore, and the time we do get to spend together is precious, so we spend it having fun.  And for us, making music together is as much fun as shooting a game of horse or hanging out and drinking a beer with your buddies would be for some.

FN:  Is it hard to maintain your passion for the old material after all these years?

Dustin “Dusty” Rainwater: No, not at all! A lot of the old stuff was inspired by something one of us had done or some in-joke that we all shared. When we were deciding on what old material to include in our set for our tour this summer, we’d start to play a song and then start reminiscing: “Do you remember the time Thrice freaked out on the Ferris wheel?” or “Do you remember that time in the high school band room when Stella yelled — at the top of her lungs — ‘What’s mastur–’”

Stella: Yes, we ALL remember that. The whole school remembers… Of course, you NEVER did anything embarrassing, Dusty…

Dusty:  NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE!

FN:  Speaking of your older material, you’ve been reissuing your back catalog through your new label Heiroglyph Records.  What was the genesis of this reissue project?

Stella: Some of our old recordings had been unavailable for years, so we came up with the idea of starting our own record label to release our new material and make our old stuff available for all our fans. We’ve slowly been buying back the rights to our old recordings and releasing them on Heiroglyph.

Thrice: Do either of you remember why we misspelled “Hieroglyph?”  I’m sure we had a good reason at the time…

Dusty: I thought it was some kind of tax dodge.

Stella: “No, that was when we claimed buying your sister a rabbit was a work expense.”

FN:  Your early records like “My Science Project Disaster” and “Mashed Potatoes & Groovy” charted back in the 80’s, but are selling even better now.  Why the renewed interest?

Thrice: I think there is certainly a nostalgia component, but I honestly think that stuff doesn’t sound like it was recorded in the 80’s. Who else back then put out a record where all the percussion was played on pots and pans and hair combs?

Those records could have been released last week. That’s an advantage of not paying attention to musical trends: the music seems timeless.  I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant — I just mean that, for better or worse, we did things our own way.

FN:  In the 80’s you college radio darlings and a working band that toured on a national level.  What happened in the 90’s?  Were those lost years?

Dusty:  Our musical output slowed way down, that’s for sure. People asked us if we broke up, but the truth is, we just got involved in other things and didn’t find time to record as much. Stella’s acting career took off, and Thrice went to graduate school…

Thrice: And Dusty fell down that mine shaft and wasn’t pulled out for two years… I’m still not clear on why it took so long to get you out… What were you doing there??

Dusty: It was lonely down there… Let’s talk about something else, shall we?

FN:  But your band is far from a nostalgia act, you’re working on new material as well right?

Stella: Definitely!  We’ve got lots of stuff in the pipeline.  Keep watching Figment for details!

FN:  Any plans to tour?

Dusty:  We have plans for a tour this summer.  I think you’ll hear more about it in the coming weeks.

FN:  You just re-released your 1987 album “Out of the Picture”, which is a unique album to say the least.  Can you tell us a little about the album and what inspired it?

Thrice:  Just because we were known for putting out records that were fun and even kind of odd, some writer for Rolling Stone once called us “the only light-weight band that matters.”  While it was good to be called a band that mattered, we bristled at being called “light-weight.”  So we really challenged ourselves with our next album, Out of the Picture. Stella had been reading a lot of William S. Burroughs, and Dusty had been dying to put his own spin on the Doors’ “Break On Through.”  Plus, I had always liked the idea of someone stepping into a mirror or out of a painting.  Somehow it all just clicked, and that record has been one of our most popular ones ever since.

FN:  Stella, I understand you that you are the primary designer of all of the band’s album covers, is that true?

Stella: Well, I think it’s mostly Thrice and me. One thing we do is, if someone has a really good idea for a cover, that person mocks up that cover, and the other two will make suggestions that might improve the artwork or composition. Only if we all agree on a cover idea is it used, but, I can’t think of a single instance where anyone has said no to a cover.  We are so alike in our humor and our tastes, it seems that whatever ideas we do come up with, the whole band is like “Yeah!”. I think so far in the re-issues, the only cover that can be attributed to me is “Merry Stinkin’ Christmas.” There are some upcoming ones, such as In Glass Houses, and the double release of new material, and some more that were my ideas, but so far most of the work you have seen is that of Thrice.

Thrice:  However, Stella did design our logo which is on nearly every album.

FN:  Your sound is eclectic to say the least, with forays into electronic, country and even punk.  How would you describe your sound?

Dusty:  I don’t know. I think we just try to do stuff that people haven’t heard or seen before, whether it’s unusual subject matter, or unconventional composition techniques or fun cover art.

Stella: Goomy. That describes our music best.  It’s our own made up word, and it is difficult to tell you what it means. It has its roots in the Beverly Hillbillies. Granny said “some goomer” was coming to see them or some such. And we took that word and ran with it, and it evolved to mean silly, fun, creative, having a good time and a bunch of other things all rolled into one. When we all go out together, we say we are going gooming. Charlie Sheen’s recent outbursts — that’s goomy. The time we went through the drive thru at DQ and the girl inside didn’t believe I was a real customer and thought I was a coworker and called me a bunch of foul names, then fell to her knees behind the window when we pulled up to get my milkshake and she realized we were real customers — that’s goomy. So, our music is goomy.

FN:  Do you think that the resurgence of the indie rock scene has made it easier for a band like yours to find a new audience?

Stella: Perhaps so, but people are nostalgic creatures and they want to see what they have missed. So basically, I guess the answer is yes, because that is what resurgence is all about. Finding out what you have missed and liking it.

Thrice: Plus the Internet means you can get your music to a much wider audience without depending on some radio programmer.  But honestly, whatever the reason for us finding a new audience, we are grateful.  It’s very satisfying to know that people still find our music worth listening to, whether it’s the old stuff or the new stuff.

FN:  Switching gears a bit, I’ve got to ask you about “Merry Stinkin’ Christmas” your 1985 Christmas concept album of sorts.  What’s the story behind that album and in particular the song “You Should Just Be Thankful That Dog Crap Is Too Hard To Wrap”?

Thrice: I can tell you about the song, but Stella was the real mover and shaker behind that album. Anyway, when I was eight years old, my older brother gave me a box of toenail clippings for Christmas and told me “You should just be thankful…blah blah blah…”  It turned out that the real gift was the idea for that song!  Stella and Dusty had their own memorable Christmas stories with their families, too!

FN:  What do your parents think about that record?  I’m sure it’s a big yuletide favorite in the Knightly, Delcielo and Rainwater homes huh?

Stella:  You bet! As the three of us are similar in our sense of humor, our families are also similar in their senses of humor. Basically we are a bunch of weirdos who were raised by super-weirdos. Merry Stinkin’ Christmas is the epitome of our particular sense of humor, and though from the outside it looks like the remembrances of kids who came up in perhaps some unfeeling households, it isn’t. The statements in those song titles…you have to be VERY sure of your family’s love, very sure that the person you are making the statement to KNOWS, without question, that you love them, or…well the joke is lost. Things along these lines were said in each of our households, but we always knew that despite the seeming harshness of your mom’s statement of, “Relax Santa Won’t Get Here Before I Finish This Cigarette”, underneath she was really saying, “Don’t worry Honey, I won’t let Santa pass you by. If he did I would hunt him down and bring him back here!”

FN:  So you’re all from Kentucky right?  Any plans to jam with My Morning Jacket?

Dusty: You know, when they were just starting out in the late 90’s they opened for us at a concert in Louisville.  They’re great guys, but mostly we jam with bands from western Kentucky where we’re from — Government Cheese and Straydaway especially have been good friends of ours.

FN:  With 3 decades under your belt, what do you have planned for your 4th?

Thrice:  I think we’ll just keep challenging ourselves and our fans and having fun in the process.

Stella: And maybe even win a Figgie!

Brad Singer Comes Clean

April 19th, 2011

Figment News received the following statement from Brad Singer, lead singer of the alternative rock band Coxswain Insignia, early today.  Singer asked that we post his statement and we agreed to do so.  The following is his statement.

Before I get too deep into this I want to take this opportunity to openly thank each and every fan of Coxswain Insignia for their support and devotion during our career. For those of you who truly listen to the music and don’t just hear it, this statement may come as no shock to you. But, for anyone who has wondered where the band has seemingly disappeared to, I am writing this statement to offer an explanation.

I, Brad Singer, am an addict.

It all began shortly after the success of our first album, Out In The Ocean. Success we are still eternally grateful for. Brief encounters with drugs and alcohol were nothing new to me, but suddenly it was everywhere. It’s not hard to walk into any liquor store and buy a bottle of booze, or call a friend of a friend who occasionally deals pot, but it’s different when you’re in the spotlight. There’s just something more seductive about it. I sampled; I dabbled. Nothing major. But then the nightmares started.

Our second release, Normal Nightmare, was a pseudo-concept album based on some very real issues. I don’t know if it was the sudden success and the resulting stress, or something that had long lay dormant inside of me that awoke, but I began to suffer vivid and debilitating nightmares. Writing songs about them helped, but only in the way that pressure on a wound helps to momentarily stop the bleeding. As soon as you let go, it all comes rushing back out. I turned to something that would numb the pain. Drugs and alcohol didn’t make the nightmares stop; it only helped to create new ones.

I retreated further into my addictions. Occasionally I would really let loose and spend my days in a cocaine and pill induced haze, but my true vice was always alcohol. Particularly whiskey. I soon found myself living out the cliché that is every drug addict/alcoholic’s life. I spent days in the darkness of my house drinking until I could no longer function, pass out, then wake up and do it all over again. I ignored my friends and my family; I stopped showing up to band practice. I would make up thinly veiled excuses to hide my true actions. Time became a whiskey soaked blur.

I was crying out for help while simultaneously shutting myself off from the world. I wrote Home At The Edge as a way to try and show what I had become: a broken man trying to find his way back to the light. Still, I kept crawling back into the darkness. I wrote songs like Staring At The Sun, and At Arm’s Length to try and cope with my problems, but I could never overcome them. I continued to ignore my friends and my family. I would completely miss scheduled days in the studio. Shows were planned and then cancelled when I wouldn’t show up for meetings, pissing off the sponsors who wouldn’t waste their time on me. I singlehandedly ran my band into the ground. I drank until the pain gave way to darkness, then I woke up and did it all over again.

One day I woke up from a particularly heinous three-day bender to find myself in the dark. I managed to drag myself up off of the floor and open the curtains to find that it was dark outside as well. I flipped a switch. Nothing. My power had been shut off. I had been too busy drinking to pay my bills. I stumbled to the bathroom to try and take a shower to sober myself up, but the shower wouldn’t kick on. The water had been shut off, too. I fell into a heap in the middle of my bathroom, and that’s when it all came crashing down. I was alone, dirty, laying on the cold tile floor of my bathroom in the dark. I cried, I bawled. After what felt like hours I managed to pick myself up off of the bathroom floor and stumble blindly through my mess of a house. I felt around until I found a lighter, lit a handful of candles and let the dim glow illuminate my living room. There in the center of the room stood my piano, the place where I had sat hundreds of times and written the beginnings of hundreds of songs. I sat down at the piano and started to play, nothing specific or with purpose, but just to play.

I spent the next few days at that piano. I started writing songs again. I ignored my friends and my family, but not for selfish reasons like before. I knew I couldn’t face them again until I was ready. After a week of sobering and songwriting I finally called the band to apologize for everything. I told them that I was ready to get back to work if they were willing to work with me again. They were. We’ve been back in the studio piecing together the songs that I began months ago at my piano. I really feel that this is some of the best music we’ve created together as a band since Out In The Ocean. The album title and release date will be announced soon.

Thank you for taking the time to read this official statement. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all of my family, friends, and fans for everything that I have put them through in the past because of my addiction to alcohol. I am now clean and sober, and with the constant support of my family, friends, and fans I will remain that way. Thank you all, I love you all.

-Brad Singer.

I’ve met and seen a lot of bands over the years.  Some were popular, some…not so much.  Having said that, I’ve never once been apprehensive about meeting a band, and I’ve hung out with bands that would make Varg Vikernes nervous.  No case of nerves when I had coffee and croissants with Pastor of Muppets back in 2008 at the height of his fame.  Not even a butterfly when I hung out with The Dark Immortal in a rented mansion in New Orleans after Merchants of Metal Festival II – Devil’s Night.

So the feeling of unease I had as I pulled into the parking lot of Big Nose Kate’s Saloon in Tombstone, AZ was more than a bit unsettling to me.  Why the apprehension?  Was it nerves?  Or was I simply giving in to the dark image of the band I was about to interview, Lucifer and the Long Pigs?  Oh, who was I fooling?  These guys weren’t created by some record promotion flak, they’ve been rumored to light fans on fire, practice satanic rituals on-stage, and even to enjoy the taste of human flesh!  These are bona fide scary m#@therf%#ckers!   Or were they?  Only one way to find out…so in I trudged.

Figment News:  So this seems like the appropriate town to meet in for an interview with a band called Lucifer and the Long Pigs.  Do you guys live here or just passing through?

Jerry Lee Lucifer: Naw, son, we’re from the great state of Texas! Just like our tagline says, “all our hexes” an’ all that.

Bud “Pyro” Lingelson: Kate’s a great gal, she always takes good care of us when we swing on through. There’s no denying we have a certain, uh, attraction to the history of this here area.

FN:  So you guys play “Death Country”.  What inspired your sound?

Jerry: Thieves… Murderers… Bank robbers… Butchers… The songs they whistle an’ hum absentmindedly while they work with their hands, while they ply the tools of their respective trades.

Bud: Obviously, we have a lot in common with so-called “outlaw country” bands… We just tend to take things a little further, is all.

Duke Aguares: Yeah, and we don’t go running to the Lord on our deathbeds with our tails tucked between our legs just because we enjoyed a little too much women and whiskey during our lifetimes.

The Drummer with No Name: …

FN:  How did you guy’s come together to form the band?

Jerry: Well, Bud and I have known each other for quite some time. He knew Duke from a local honky tonk bar, and we recruited him for Lucifer. Weren’t too hard, neither. *laughs* Zane and I… he ain’t gonna like that I told this story while he’s in the bathroom, but we had exchanged some heated words at an auction house this one time. We were both bidding on this beautiful Red Foley hollow-body guitar– you see, I collect guitars of dead country stars, something about their energy… got dozens of ’em. Well, we decided to take our lil’ discussion outside. I broke his jaw, laid him flat out, but not before he broke my goddamn nose. Neither of us ended up winning that damn guitar, neither.

FN:  Why doesn’t your drummer have a name?

Bud: Now, if you believe the teevee media, then you know it’s because we use our drummers as human sacrifices in occult rituals. No names means no evidence trail.

Jerry: If you read the tabloids, then you think it’s because we raised him from the dead, resurrected some dusty corpse from some unmarked grave out on the prairie.

Duke: Others say he just don’t say much, name or otherwise. *shrugs*

Drummer: …

FN:  I noticed in your band bio that “Long Pig is slang for human flesh used as flesh, as in cannibalism.”  Are you guy’s cannibals?

Jerry: Coming from a long line of stockyard workers, I can assure you 100% that I can’t rule out the possibility that some poor guy’s thumb didn’t get ground up in the machinery or bitten off by a hog that was then slaughtered or something like that.

Bud: Coming from a long line of BBQ contest champions, I can tell you that whatever gets you that 1st prize blue ribbon is worth it. That’s what my daddy always used to say, and I never asked him no questions about it, neither.

FN:  You guys have enjoyed a lot of success so far.  You’ve put out 2 albums and an EP and they’ve all gone to #1.  In fact, the only album that didn’t was your recent “Live:  Tri-State Killing Spree Tour” album, and that still hit #3.  To what do you owe your success?

Bud: *nodding to Jerry* Lucifer.

Jerry: *nodding at the ground* Satan.

Duke: Both?

Drummer: …

FN:  So this deal with Satan, real or fake?

Jerry: I guess we’ll find out when the Rapture comes, now won’t we? *laughs* Next question.

FN:  Jerry Lee, there’s a rumor going around that you married your cousin’s pet jackal.  Is that true?

Jerry: Now that damn rumor’s harder to squash than a cockroach on ice on a moonless night. Lemme set the record straight, right here and now: it weren’t no jackal, but my cousin’s sister, Jacqueline, and we never did get married. She’s a mighty fine gal– I’ve nothing but respect for Jackie– and sure, maybe we fell over into a pile of hay a time or three under the influence of moonshine, but we never did get married. And that, they say, is that.

FN:  Your latest album “The Road to Helldorado” recently spent over a month entrenched at #1 on the Figment Hot Albums chart.  What was the concept behind that album and what was it like recording it?

Jerry: Well, you got yer Eldorado, the shimmering city of gold, and you’ve got Hell, torture chamber of the damned. Maybe you think you’re well on your way to finding one or the other, but them heat waves off the asphalt can play tricks on yer eyes. Maybe you don’t quite end up where you thought you were goin’.

Bud: Maybe Eldorado is just a pipe dream in the first place, made up by some ancient snake oil salesman. Or salesmen.

Duke: Recording is always a good time… them dead cattle they found weren’t our fault, though.

FN:  How hard was it to get back into the swing of recording after being on the road?

Bud: It wasn’t. Is it hard to switch back to whiskey after drinking tequila for a couple months? Didn’t think so.

FN:  Jerry Lee, you recently said that all of your vocals for the new record were recorded in an abandoned slaughterhouse.  Why use such an unorthodox location to record vocals?

Jerry: Like I mentioned earlier, I come from a long line of slaughterhouse workers. It was sort of a nostalgia trip, since I used to hang out in the plants as a kid. Every one is more or less the same, too– the boss screwing some secretary on an unused cutting table in the back just loud enough that you can hear it over the saws, sloppy bastards spitting chaw juice into the meat vats, the sound of thousands of animals getting shot between the eyes with bolt guns before being gutted and cut apart. Like I said. Nostalgia.

FN:  Who produced “The Road to Helldorado”?

Bud: This Remy Brecht character from a studio called Formerwageslave, he’s produced all our stuff so far. Great guy– never lets us run out of liquor, never complains when we light a bunch of candles an’ hang sides of beef on the walls, never asks questions when we have some local gals all hogtied in the vocal booth.

Drummer: …

Jerry: Great guy.

FN:  Who are the primary songwriters in the band?

Jerry: Bud and I will sketch out most of the basic tunes, guitars an’ vocals with piano or fiddle. Zane will come in with the lead or pedal steel, and then Duke an’ the Drummer supply the backbone when it’s time to record.

FN:  Let’s go back to your recent “Tri-State Killing Spree” tour.  Did you really select the tour stops because they were where famous serial killers lived?

Jerry: Hell yeah we did! We’re big fans of those fellers’ work, they give us all sorts of inspiration, so we figured hell, why not have the tour do double duty as a pilgrimage vacation kind of thing.

Duke: It was like them Starline Tours! Only with more, y’know, blood.

FN:  A lot of the shows you played were marred by violence, and there was a heavy police presence at the final shows in Livermore, CA.  Do you agree with your critics that your music and stage show encourage violence?

Jerry: Listen here– man is a predatory creature. It’s in his nature. Earliest caveman ever found? Had an arrow stuck in his back. We’re a species built on bloodshed. No band of hell-raisin’ good ol’ boys is gonna change that. Ain’t gonna provoke it no more than usual, neither.

Bud: We’re just out there every night tryin’ to have a good time. Maybe our definition of good time is different from yours. Maybe you like to smash bottles over yer friends’ heads. Maybe you wanna bury a knife in someone’s gut. We try not to judge.

FN:  Are you planning to tour in support of “The Road to Helldorado” album?  And if so, is there any truth to the rumors that your stage set-up will include a burning car like the one portrayed on the front of the album?

Bud: Absolutely.

Jerry: As for the stage show, let’s just say that the venues in cities with more… liberal… fire codes are in for quite a show.

FN:  On your “All Our Hexes Come From Texas” album you recorded a cover of the Concrete Blonde song “Ghost of  Texas Ladies Man”  with Antoinette and Marguerite from SquidbitchezHow did that collaboration come about, and are there any bands/artists that you’d like to work with in the future?

Jerry: I’ve known them Squid gals forever, since they was about yay high *motions with hand*. Antoinette’s daddy was one hell of a music man, that guy could play anything. She got her gift from him, that’s for sure. With Margie… you can tell that one’s on a dark path just by spending five minutes with her. Just made sense to put something on tape after all the times we’ve played together after dinner at the ranch for fun. That Johnette Na-po-li-ta-no is one helluva woman, too.

Bud: Those fellers over at Good Horse Records have been cookin’ up some interesting stuff. We’d be interested in chewin’ the fat with their Calavera Electrica or Mescaline Kimono and see what happens.

FN:  If Taylor Swift called would you guys work with her?

Jerry: Hahaha, now that’d be a hoot! Sure, why not… especially since Miley Cyrus turned us down after her daddy threatened us with physical violence.

Duke: Something about us being “no good, smokin’, boozin’, hell-raisin’, devil-worshippin’, flea-bitten mongrel sons of bitches”.

Bud: Aw, he’s just sore that no one remembers “Achey Breaky Heart,” that’s all. *rolls eyes*

Dust devils are whipping by my car as I drive down a particularly desolate stretch of Texas highway.  I passed a small rundown gas station about a half hour ago, but otherwise it’s me and acres of dusty scrub land.  Aah, the life of a music journalist.

So why am I here in the middle of nowhere?  Seeking out the latest Texas troubadour?  Writing a piece on country music honky tonks?  Nope.  I’m here to interview an English grunge band.

Say wha?  I know, it seems a bit out of place, but then The Chosen Rejects are a bit out of place no matter where they rest their heads.  To say they’ve revitalized the rather moribund genre known as Grunge would be an understatement.  After a string of successful EPs the band recently released their first full length LP “Patchwork”, and briefly toured the UK and US with punk riot grrrls Cherry Vendetta.

Holing up in a remote and dilapidated mansion in the middle of the Texas high plains to record your follow up may not sound like a good move, but when it comes to The Chosen Rejects the first rule is there is that there are none, they simply go where the music takes them…

Figment News:  So this is quite an interesting location to record an album.  What inspired you to travel from the UK to Texas to record in a dilapidated mansion?

Toad Garret: It was Jerry’s idea to begin with. He’s been reading this book by some Canadian author whose name I can never remember…

Jerry Horowitz: …Chuck Palahniuk.

Toad: Oh yeah, right right, that guy. Anyway, this book’s called Haunted and it’s all about this group of twenty writers that get whisked off to some abandoned theatre to write their “masterpieces” away from society. Jerry said that’d be well cool if we could record our next album like that, in some rotting old building and slowly going crazy. And well, y’know, without the whole death and gore side of things.

Jerry: …that’s what you think…

Toad: What was that?

Jerry: Oh, nothing.

FN:  Any room in particular that you like the best for recording?

Ren Burwell: Toad likes to do his vocals in the bathroom, we all figure that’s because he’s spent years singing soppy love songs into the shower every morning.

Toad: Shut up man.

Ren: aha, Yeah, as if you shower…

[Toad just shrugs]

Jerry: The rest of the time we’ll use this old billiard room. It’s even got a pool table, though it’s missing a few balls. It’s one of the largest rooms in the house, so we could fit all the kit in there no problem.

FN:  Are you producing the record yourselves?

Toad: Yeah, we’ve had our good friend Garth with us since day one, who’s spent years of his life hopelessly dedicated to technology. Back in the old days, he was this computer nerd who said he could record us if we wanted to and we couldn’t pass that up. Since then, he’s been the producer and technician on all of our recordings, and our number one fan.

FN:  Toad you have a very distinctive look with your blonde dreads, how are the locals handling the arrival of an English grunge band in their midst?

Toad: We seemed to be shocking quite a lot of people with the trashy way we dressed at the airport. People can’t tell if we’re hipsters or just freaking homeless. The only other local we’ve seen for days is our pizza delivery guy, and he’s too perpetually stoned to know what’s even going on.

FN:  Speaking of grunge music.  Do you think it’s still as relevant as it was in the early 90’s?

Jerry: On a mass scale, no, I can’t see a “nu-grunge renaissance” on the horizon, but a lot of people are starting to get it into their heads that they can play whatever the hell they want, so I suppose, as long as people listen to grunge music, people will write grunge music.

FN:  How do you carve out a niche in a genre that is defined by bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney?

Toad: The thing that’s always attracted me to grunge music was that any old loser, reject or weirdo could start a band in his garage and sing what the hell they wanted. We heard all this exciting new music in our teens with funny names like “Sprinkler” or “Pearl Jam” or “Alice In Chains” and we wanted to make that kinda music, because we like listening to it. Just buy a cheap guitar, whack on the distortion and scream—we like that.

FN:  Your band has a hard-partying rep, is that more a creation of the rock press or do you all really enjoy the rock-n-roll lifestyle?

Jerry: It’s true. We do like to party and get messy and all “fubar”. We’ve had more than our fair share of chemical romances between the lot of us and, let’s face it, we still do.

Toad: …Yeah man, I mean, what? We’re twenty? What else are we supposed to do at this age other than party our faces off? Most people are in uni at this age anyway, and all of them like to punish their livers hard. This generation seems to like getting wrecked, and that’s alright with me.  [sips glass of wine]

FN:  I understand your live shows are renowned for their rather chaotic nature.  Do you like playing live or do you prefer recording?

Jerry: I prefer playing live simply because passing out onstage simply isn’t acceptable in the practice room. …Onstage, it’s alright, as long as you can get back up again.

Toad: You’ve gotta love playing live. Some of our best gigs have been impromptu little house parties where we’ve just set up and played. Whip out a crate of your finest cheap lager, invite your friends, please don’t smoke weed in my bedroom & come rock out. That’s how it’s done.

FN:  You recently toured with Cherry Vendetta.  What was that like?

Toad: Touring with Cherry Vendetta was probably one of the best things we’ve done in our career. They’re the only band we’ve ever met who could drink us under the table and go back for more, and their live shows? Pure f*cking raw energy. They’re some pissed off chicks, man.

Jerry: We had a great time. Cherry Vendetta are definitely one of our favorite bands. Their debut album, “Peepshow”, is played constantly in the van. Toad still has an old vodka bottle from the tour, the sentimental old sap.

Toad: Oh, get screwed, you little creep. We all know damn well how hard you fell for Mara.  [Adrienne “Maraschino” Jackson, lead guitarist for Cherry Vendetta]

Jerry: JUST SHUT UP!

Ren: Awww, d’aww, look at him, he’s blushing…

FN:  How hard is it to get back into the swing of recording after being on the road?

Ren: It wasn’t hard at all. The band are always making these little demos and being all like “hey guys, check out this riff I came up with” or “dude, I just wrote some killer lyrics” so getting back down to creating new music wasn’t hard at all. Plus, we got more than enough practice on tour.

FN:  What do you do for fun out here in the middle-of-nowhere when you’re not recording?

Toad: We like to play imagination. All the time. I’ll pretend to be a velociraptor and Ren’ll be Sam Neil and we’ll chase each other around the manor.

Jerry: I recently discovered an old dusty ukulele stashed under my bed and since then I’ve been obsessed with mastering it. You’d think I’d be perfecting my bass lines but nope, I’m all about the ukulele.

Ren: Sometimes I go hunting for snakes in the wilderness.

FN:  What’s your songwriting process like?

Jerry: Usually it starts with some relative idea of what the song could be about then we pen music to express that, though sometimes it’s vice versa. We find inspiration everywhere we go, whether it’s Ren and his explosive diarrhea or a rogue piece of tumbleweed crashing into a cactus.

Toad: Sometimes we’ll just pick up our instruments and go for it, but usually before hand we’ll listen to some music or have a few shots of jagermeister to get the creativity flowing around the room.

FN:  Your released a number of EPs before your first LP, Patchwork.  Any method to that madness?

Toad: We’re all pretty creative people and we’re always busy bringing new material and new songs into the practice room. By releasing EP after EP, I think it allows us to recognize our stronger songs so that when it comes to getting a full-length down on disc, the selected tracks are The Chosen Rejects functioning at a hundred and ten percent.

Jerry: Yeah, all we seem to do in our spare time is write music anyway. There’s no point hoarding it all up and locking it away, we might as well give it to the people.

FN:  How did your band form?

Toad: I met Jerry one day in detention at secondary school for threatening to blow up my science room with a lighter and gas-tap. I was paranoid about the attending teachers ability to stop such a scenario. Anyway, I met this little dorky loner called Jerry and we sorta just stuck to each other. I took him back to my place because my folks were on like what, their fifteenth honeymoon? And I showed him some music, drank beer and browsed YouTube for mindless hours. It sorta convinced him to buy some albums and a bass guitar, and the rest, they say, is history.

FN:  Was The Esoterical Shred a member of the band for a while?  If so, what was his contribution and why did he leave?

Jerry: Aha, yeah, The Esoterical Shred was indeed a member of our band for a short period of time. I met him busking around and eating hash-brownies in Camden Market one fine day, and seeing as we needed a radical touring guitarist and he needed some money. He introduced us all to loads of psychedelic music and a fine young lady called Lucy Endeski, which is why a lot of our songs on “Patchwork” have that dreamy feel to ‘em. He left to go pursue his own musical demons, I think he realized that his future didn’t belong in creating grunge music with a bunch of kids.

Ren: Say what you want, I never really liked him. He smelled like moldy cabbage and he enjoyed collecting receipts. He’s a bit of a weirdo really.

FN:  What is the song “Trampjacket” about?

Toad: Well, in the town where we live, there’s this skate park which, during the day, is usually filled with all sorts of intimidating extreme sports punks, stoners and rude boys. However, at night, there’s hardly anybody around, so we’d go there and slip around on the ramps. One night, me & Jerry were freezing our asses off trying to roll up, then we find this stinky old hooded jacket left on the vert, so we took turns sharing it ‘til we went home.

Jerry: The next day I took it out and sat in the town waiting for Toad & Ren to meet me, and while I was waiting this old couple came up to me and asked if I wanted a sandwich, because they had eaten too much and didn’t want to waste it. Anyway, they give me the sandwich and start to walk off, nattering to themselves “ohh, isn’t it nice to help out the less fortunate?”…So I wrote a bass line that night and Toad put some guitar work over the top of it.

Toad: When you think about it, it’s basically a song about some confused old people…

FN:  So when will the new record be released?

Toad: I’d love to give you a straight answer to that, but I’m afraid I can’t. At the moment we’re all a bit lost in the thick of it and just trying to enjoy the experience while it lasts, though if I had to give you some kinda rough estimate, I’d say somewhere in between mid December and early January. Roughly.

FN:  Well thanks for taking the time to talk to us.  It was great meeting you.  Anybody know the best way to get out of here?  I must admit I got a little lost finding the Manor…

Toad: And quite rad it has been meeting you too. My best advice is to get in your car, pick a direction and drive. Not sure where you’ll end up, but I’m sure there’s life out there somewhere. Good luck.

Horror movie imagery has long played a part in many band’s esthetic.  Whether it’s bands like Alice Cooper, The Misfits, The Cramps, Gwar, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, Twizted or even Rob Zombie, the allure of monsters, the undead and the occult is a vein that runs deep in rock n’ roll.

Add to that list another band, Werewolf Concerto, whose brand of thrash metal is heavily influenced by gory horror movies.  We recently sat down with the WC’s lead singer Jacob Wolfman and its drummer Kyle Davidson backstage in Washington, DC before their first show on The Aphelion Tour to talk with them about their influences and some of the pluses and minuses of being a band on the rise.

Figment News:  Where are you guys from and how did the band get started?

Jacob Wolfman:  We are from a small Massachusetts town named Wilbraham. It’s a quiet little place, although a really interesting thing is one of my favorite authors, H.P. Lovecraft modeled his fictional town, Dunwich after Wilbraham.

Kyle Davidson:  It all sort of started because me and Jacob enrolled in the same music school and got placed in a jazz ensemble together. After we played, we just started hanging out and jamming a lot, and we found we had a mutual love of metal and horror flicks. I knew Jim from school and we auditioned him for rhythm guitarist actually, but then our bass player-this kid named Mike- quit to join another band and Jim took up his role as bass player and we never got another rhythm guitarist.

FN:  You guys create quite a powerful sound for a power trio.  What’s your secret?

Jacob: Honestly I have no idea. After our original bassist, Mike, quit and then Jim took over bass we jammed out “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” by Black Sabbath, and it sounded tight. So, we just decided to never get a rhythm player after that.

Kyle: I also think that when a trio jams, they realize they have more responsibility on them, so they put in 110 % of effort. For example, Jacob had more pressure on him when we first jammed as a trio, so he put even more effort into it.

FN:  Wow, it’s been a quick and wild ride to the top for you guys?  You’ve released 2 full length albums and an EP this year and both albums have gone to #1 and the EP charted.  What’s that like?

Jacob:  It’s really crazy, dude. However, it is awesome! We never would have expected that our stuff would have been successful, but we are really thankful for it.

FN:  Has anyone’s ego gotten out of hand in the band?

Kyle:  Well, not until recently.

FN:  Speaking of band member’s ego’s, Blood-Thirsty Jim, your bass player, recently quit the band amid rumors of in-fighting.  Any plans for him to return?

Jacob: What happened with that was, his ego got really bloated, and he was fighting a lot with Kyle, almost to the point where it came to blows. I didn’t like seeing my two best friends fight like that, so I stepped in, but it only made things worse.

Kyle: Then, yesterday, the day before the first date of the biggest tour we have ever done, he calls us and says he has another project coming up and he quit. So, we don’t think he is gonna come back, however we had great times with him and he’ll always be our brother, so the door is still open.

FN:  Fabian Hallberg of Eternal Carnage has replaced Jim on a temporary basis.  Any idea who will be the permanent replacement?

Jacob: Not yet, but we may or may not hold auditions. It all depends on what happens. Fabian is a great bass player and a really nice dude, but he is really committed to Eternal Carnage and he doesn’t want to leave.  Which I don’t blame him for,  I wouldn’t want to leave Eternal Carnage either. (laughs)

FN:  Your band is clearly inspired by horror films.  Any personal faves that have served as inspirations?

Kyle: Well my favorites are the really gory ones, like any of the “Feast” movies or any of Romero’s zombie flicks.

Jacob: I like those ones too, but my favorites are the really old, vintage black and white classics. I love “Nosferatu” and the original “Carnival Of Souls”. However some newer series have been catching my eye like the “Hatchet” series and a couple years back a vampire flick came out called “30 Days Of Night” and I loved that.

Kyle: We are vampire purists. None of that Twilight garbage! (laughs)

FN:  What’s your songwriting process like?

Jacob: Well, usually I’ll come up with a riff and I’ll take it to Kyle, and we’ll just jam it out with different tempos and beats. Once we have the music portion of the song written, we’ll usually demo it, and then I’ll listen to it at home and write lyrics. I always write lyrics with a horror movie on though, for inspiration.

FN:  You guys are currently on tour with The Forgotten Falling, DeathBreth, Fragile Agony and Coffin Lords, a side-project you’re involved in Jacob.  What’s it like touring with such a successful lineup of bands?

Kyle: Well, its awesome, cause everyone on the roster is really nice and I love all the other bands. Although, it makes us put even more effort into our performance. Its hard to live up to these great bands!

FN:  Speaking of Coffin Lords, how did that project come together Jacob and what’s the future of that supergroup?

Jacob: Well, our label head, Adam Kerski. is friends with X, head of Fallen Records, and they got to talking about Werewolf Concerto. Then Adam tells X that I’m really good friends with Deathbreth’s drummer, Dumlaut. They then hatched the idea for a supergroup, and Adam called me, and I called Dumlaut, and Dumlaut called Fang from Gravestompers and Fang called Mike Seven from Death Face. We all got together and really clicked. As for the future, Dumlaut and I have been trading ideas and have actually written two or three songs. However, we don’t know when another record will come out as I don’t know if Fang has any plans with Gravestompers or if Mike Seven has plans with Death Face. He’s not even touring with us, cause he is also in Stonefly 45, who is on tour right now. So, Angelica Duon from Dying Unholy took his place for the tour.

FN:  How do the other members of the band feel about you being involved in another band, especially one that’s playing alongside them on a bill every night?  Is that one of the reasons Jim left the band?

Kyle: I know I’m cool with it. I enjoyed the record they put out.

Jacob: Jim never said anything about Coffin Lords. His problem was just what direction he wanted to go in musically and when someone didn’t see eye to eye with him, he got very aggressive.

FN:  Getting back to The Aphelion Tour, I noticed that not only are some of the bands on the tour playing Merchants of Metal IV, but you’re also going to be playing Halloween-Fest in Worcester, MA on Halloween night.  Aren’t you in Germany the night before?  And according your itinerary you’re supposed to be in Amsterdam on Nov. 1st.  How are you going to make all these gigs?

Jacob: Its gonna be tough, but Halloween-Fest was planned before The Aphelion Tour and I couldn’t not play it. It was my idea, one that I had since my childhood, and I just could not bring myself to miss the first annual one. So, I talked to The Aphelion Tour’s organizers and we planned it out. It’ll work, we’ll just have a lot of planes to catch.

FN:  Is your booking agent a sadist?

(Jacob and Kyle start laughing)

FN:  What’s next for Werewolf Concerto?

Kyle: Well, we brought out a mobile recording studio on tour with us, sort of like what Anton from Old Republic did with his solo record, and we have been writing some new tunes.

Jacob: I finished the lyrics to a song called “Vampirella” last night. We have like four songs written, so be patient. A new record will arrive in the coming months.

The !? Interview!?

April 26th, 2010

Figment News:  Is it hard being in a band with symbols for their name?

Katie Stuart: It’s not too hard. We’ve had some fun figuring out how to say it, but, in all honesty, it’s kinda hard to dislike such a unique name.

Jacob McIntyre: The name can be a bit of a hindrance sometimes, but how ubiquitous the symbols are makes it such an awesome band name. We have people ask how to pronounce it and we laugh because the whole idea of shock and disbelief wrapped up in two symbols epitomized our whole feeling of singularity.

FN:  Your band seems to have formed almost by accident.  Sort of a slow combination of musicians with various levels of talent and different skills.  What part did that play in your sound?

Harry Stuart: Jake and I always played around with music, but didn’t have enough talent. We got lucky to pick up Zach, who really injected the edge we needed to be successful. Katie just made everything perfect, because her more classical learning in music and vocalization made sure we had legit vocals and in turn, a legit band.

KS: I’ve always sung, but it wasn’t til maybe our second release I really had bass under control. Zach and Harry kinda directed the music, I sang and I always thought Jacob lived too much in the moment to really notice the way we were going. He figured that out eventually, but the whole band is just one of those special coincidences where everything just fell into place, forming some hard rock/alt. rock/pop rock mismatch that sounded pretty great.

JM: Everything just came together. Harry’s love of modern alternative, my love of classic rock, Zach’s fascination with punk and Katie’s infatuation with pop rock and dance pop made something kind of odd but marketable. I guess it just kinda happened.

FN:  Zach, you joined the band after you were kicked out of your high school band following what you describe as an unfortunate incident involving a car, the school’s principal and a reciprocating saw.  Care to elaborate?

Zach Russell: Ha ha. No, not really. It was a senior prank, and maybe I got a little out of hand with the saw. Everything smoothed out, but the details will not be known outside of upstate New York.

FN:  Your band has a very consistent visual identity, especially on your early albums where you typically used a letterbox format on your album covers.  Are you actively involved in your album cover designs and who is the chief architect of your visual identity as a band?

JM: Funny you should ask, because it’s mostly Harry and some guys at 8755th Street Café Records who do it. We mostly “ooh” and “ah” over his work, but he often felt he doesn’t get his due credit.

HS: Some graphic artists for 8755th and I make the covers, but, despite what I tell everyone, I only visualize while the artists find or take the pics and exercise their creativity on the computers to come up with our artwork. We liked the letterboxes due to their simplicity and the image, but have gotten very lucky to have some guys who can do almost anything. I will tell you we have another letterbox album somewhere in the future.

FN:  Your newest album “Oh, New York!” is a tribute to your hometown of NYC, what’s it like trying to break out of such a crowded musical scene?

KS: Awesome. Jacob and I both grew in Brooklyn, Zach up in Syracuse til high school and Harry was in New Jersey. It was tough, but we were able to get enough going early to get the eye of Herbert Nickerson at 8755th, who really was able to lift us out of the ocean of New York and put us on the map.

JM: I’d say it was rough, but we were able to draw off of our combined experience of New York State and City to get some exposure and attention, which thankfully was enough to land us a record deal and the rest is history.

ZR: It’s a lot like hitting a grand slam at Shea. You know eventually everyone is going to get on base and someone is going to hit the ball out of park, but it was more of a challenge getting every on and finally getting that pitch we needed. Herbert Nickerson threw us the right pitch and we were able to get the grand slam and onto the national stage.

FN:  You are the top selling band on Figment, what does that feel like?  Do you feel a pressure with every successive release to live up to that success?

HS: It’s immense. While we absolutely love the status and our absolutely amazing fans, every album has to beat the standards those same fans have. We know we have to shock them with our music, but sometimes it gets crazy and we can’t do music until we step back and give it all another thought. We’ve gotten through a lot, this band has, and the expectations we’re held up to makes all the difference.

JM: Every time we record we feel pressure. We know that the fans we have maintain some rather lofty expectations, and we always try our very best to not only meet them, but to make sure we make them love us even more. It’s never easy, but we preserve and through that we’ve gotten great success.

FN:  How does a band like !? continue to grow and build a fan base?

ZR: The fans. Simple as that. They love us and support us and it just grows. Without them, nothing would happen.

KS: I think it’s the fans. Yeah, they pick up an EP of ours, but it’s their ability to tell friends and get the word out is what makes the difference. I guess we’ve gotten lucky and advertising has done some, but I really think it the fans.

HS: All things being equal, I think it’s tough not to say is the fan base itself that perpetuates our growth. Granted, every release garners some attention, but the effort our fans put into supporting us through sales and feedback is what makes us better and makes them even greater fans.

FN:  You’re in the middle of the “This Is Our Time To Rock” Tour. What’s it been like playing all over Europe and the States?

JM: Apart from the lack of sleep? Ha, it’s pretty fun playing with all them, but the schedules both with the Jupiter Archives’ tour earlier this year and Death Face’s tour we signed on with is rough. “Nothing to Prove” was a blast with EA and tJA, but we had the quickest turnaround ever to get to play with Death Face and this great ensemble while touring everywhere. Right now were in Canada, and it’s great fun.

KS: Tiring, but awfully fun. We’ve been on two tours this year, playing partially on the “Nothing to Prove” Tour in January and then moving on to the “This Is Our Time To Rock” Tour, which is great fun, but tiring. Everyone is so nice and friendly and the experience is something you don’t always get, visiting the world and meeting so many new people.

FN:  It’s quite a range of bands you’ve shared a bill with this year, bands as diverse as The Jupiter Archives, The Conspirators, Fragment Shelter, Eccentric Arcade on “Nothing to Prove” and then Whispers to the Fallen, Speed KingGothicEvil, Drifter and Death Face on “This Is Our Time To Rock”.  Were you actively involved in helping to put these tours together, and if so, why did you pick each band?

HS: Herbert mostly shopped around and got everyone he wanted for the “Nothing to Prove” tour, something he hoped would prep us for all the other tours we’ve had or are going through or will go through if that’s the case. EA was amazing and The Jupiter Archives are some of our new best friends, but everyone that toured there was a band we knew was great and has amazing potential. Herbert knows how to pick bands for touring.  As for the “This Is Our Time To Rock” Tour that’s all been put together by the Death Face camp.  They’ve done a great job and it’s been fun playing with such a wide variety of artists on that tour as well.

FN:  Every one of your albums has a sort of thematic “synopses” in the liner notes.  Who writes those and do you start with that idea and then write the music or does the music dictate the theme?

RS: It’s the funniest thing, because it’s often Harry’s album covers that decide our course. He finds something cool like a picture, comes up with an idea we all understand and it falls together with the music. Jacob writes the summaries to match the idea or feel of Harry’s pic or whatever he has while we progress through writing songs, which occasionally do impact some things music wise.

JM: I write them, but almost always because of the ideas Harry comes up with for album covers. His idealism with the artwork makes the mood, and my writing and our subsequent music ties it all together. I guess it’s kind of funny, but that’s just the way we work.

FN:  Do you consider yourself a “metaphysical” band?

HS: I guess. I’d never use “metaphysical” to describe us, but it works, especially because we do have that kind of musicality and outlook that is more internal and quizzical than probably everything else out there. It’s a new look, I suppose, but, honestly, I have never really considered us “metaphysical.” Perhaps more insightful and intellectual than some alternative bands, but probably not “metaphysical.”

RS: Occasionally, but not out loud. We do tend to drift towards more abstract music concerning with existence and truth, but it’s often too grounded in our reality to be considered purely “metaphysical.”

FN:  Any advice for any of the other up and coming bands on Figment?

HS: Try. Don’t give up because of one bad release or one mistake with an album. Your fans will forgive you and the true fans will only make you better.

JM: Be creative with your music. There are way too many bands today that focus on death or drugs or sex. I get it, that’s music for some people, but remember, creativity makes you stand out more and makes you more successful than you’d ever dream.

ZR: Live it. Music is an art. Make your art you, not something fake or stupid. And never give up. It’s even more stupid than fake music.

KS: Enjoy making you music. Sometimes you hit a rut and that’s expected, but don’t quit just because of that and don’t lose the passion of you love for music. You make music because it’s fun and because you like to. Don’t forget that or this career will just be a waste.

FN:  What’s next for !?

JM: I don’t know. We’ll see. I get the feeling the music might change just a bit to stay with the times, but we’re still touring too much to really get a feel on the future. We might make some music with The Simulations, but that’s just hearsay now.

HS: A new leaf. I get the feeling our direction might change, and it’s possible that our band’s personnel might be shifted around, but nothing too drastic. !? is here and that’s not going to change.

KS:  It’s been thrown around that 8755th might make a new band, with me teaming with some famed 8755th musicians for some new music for a new decade. But we’ll see about that. I love !?  too much to leave right now.

Radio Free Albemuth

April 22nd, 2010

Wanna know what Zandergriff Miggs and The Parliament of Owls, Frey and the rest of the Uncle Duff Records crew is up to?  Well wonder no more, Radio Free Albemuth is now broadcasting.  So stay tuned and feed your head!

But Zander and the crew aren’t the only ones broadcasting, Eccentric Arcade has been keeping their fans up-to-date with regular videos for some time now.  Check them out as well.

Masters of math-metal Zeroth have steadily established themselves as one of the music industry’s most compelling heavy acts, while simultaneously maintaining one of the lowest profiles.  Widely known for the intensity of their performances, both for their ability to replicate some incredibly complex music live as well as providing an immersive visual experience, even their most devoted fans would likely have a hard time identifying them on the street.  Aside from the occasional comments from drummer K [and his frequent work with other bands – Supercrusher, Manifold Spaceport, and his solo project Kaliclysm], the rest of the band has largely remained out of the public eye.  Until now….

Zeroth recently completed their Portals Tour with a fast-becoming-legendary two night stand at the Giza Necropolis, site of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx [documented by the massive box set ‘Beneath The Gaze Of Osiris: Live At The Giza Necropolis’, Long Bong Records, 2010].  Even a band as media-averse as Zeroth recognized the importance of such a unique event, and invited Figment News to join them in Egypt to cover the shows, sitting down with us for their first formal interview the day after the concerts.  Over the course of three days, we got a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the complex mechanism that is Zeroth.

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We are backstage at the Giza Necropolis, where Zeroth’s road crew is working on dismantling their extensive lighting rig.  Last night Zeroth completed their second show at the Necropolis, delivering an outstanding set highlighted by a complete start-to-finish cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ for an encore, featuring Zandergriff Miggs on keys/synths and Stalker Channing on vocals.  The first night featured an equally impressive encore selection, with a cover of Rush’s prog-rock masterpiece ‘2112’, also including Mr. Miggs and Ms. Channing.

FN: First-off, thanks for inviting us along.  Given your typical reluctance to do press, we were very pleased to be given this kind of access to the band.

K: No problem, man.  Glad you made it out.

FN: That was some show last night guys, as was the first.  You pulled out some real gems from your catalog, and of course the two outstanding encore covers.  How did you decide to use ‘Dark Side’ and ‘2112’ for encores?

K: Thanks, man, glad you liked the shows.  Well, we have a short list of albums we’ve wanted to cover, when there were appropriate opportunities.  Things that had an impact on us, individually or collectively, and inspired the direction of the group.  The first was ‘Aenima’ [Tool], which we did this past Halloween.  Then the two we did here.  We have a couple others we will break out when the time is right.

FN: Any hints?

Jason Smith: You’ll just have to wait and see.

Tom Ford: I keep suggesting ‘Asia’ [debut album of 80’s supergroup Asia], but the other guys keep voting it down. [groans around the room]

FN: That could be an interesting one.  A little “Heat Of the Moment”, eh?

K: Dude, please don’t encourage him…..

FN: Zandergriff Miggs and Stalker Channing seemed like odd choices to have team up with you guys, but in the end seemed to work out very well.  How’d that come about?

K: Well, I’ve worked with Z a number of times already and he’s done a couple remixes for us too, so that wasn’t as much of a stretch as you’d think.  He’s just a real cool cat, very laid back and up for anything.  He’s also like a walking encyclopedia of funky music, which is always good to add to the mix.  He can jam on about anything you throw at him.  Jason was the one to suggest Stalker.  That took some discussion to agree on.

FN: I can see why.  Her style of cabaret singing wouldn’t seem like a good match with prog-metal.  But, the way you worked her into the two covers was perfect.

Smith: Thanks.  I have always been a big fan of hers, and thought her voice would lend itself to rock in the right context.  She doesn’t normally sing in the high register, but you can tell she’s got the range.  Originally we were just going to do ‘Dark Side’, but when we got the recording of her demoing some of the stuff on there, it hit me she could do Geddy Lee pretty well too.  So, we decided to add ‘2112’ to the agenda with her taking the lead.  Thankfully, I will add, because I don’t think I could have ever managed that myself.

FN: I’m sure you would have done just fine, but she definitely delivered the goods.

Smith: No doubt.

FN: The music world was taken by surprise at the announcement of your gigs here.  Was that your intention?  And how did you decide to come here in the first place?

Jack Witten: We didn’t set out to shock anyone, or do something deliberately for effect, but we definitely want to try and do things that are unusual and fit into our oeuvre.  All the interesting mathematical aspects and mysteries of this place dovetail well with what we’re doing.

K: I am a closet Deadhead, and always thought their coming here was one of the coolest things they ever did [the Grateful Dead famously played 3 gigs at the Pyramids in September 1978, the first ever rock concerts at the site].  When we started discussing sites for special gigs, I tossed this out right away, and everyone else pretty much agreed it would be a great venue for us.

FN: Well, it certainly was an excellent choice.  The crowd was really into it, and it was obvious you guys were very inspired in your playing.  And the huge full moon was a nice touch as well.

K: Yeah, we lucked out with the moon.  Wish we could take credit for scheduling it purposefully, but we were just fortunate it lined up with our gig.

FN: Lunar cycles aside, there must have been some pretty substantial logistical challenges?  Any interesting stories?

Witten: Things went more smoothly than we’d hoped actually.  From getting the initial approval to bringing in all our gear, everyone locally was very supportive and bent over backwards to help us out.  No doubt, bringing our show here was a lot of work, and props to the crew for making it all happen, but things worked out pretty well.

Ford: I had three different vendors in the market offered to sell me Ramesses hand.  Of course, when I told the third about the other two, and asked how many hands Ramesses actually had, he said “those others are frauds”.  Too funny…..

FN: So, did you buy one?

Ford: Yeah, bought all three, because you never know.  I’ve got them here…. [leans down beneath the table, then pops up laughing].  Nah, I am just kidding.

FN: Nice.

Ford: I try.

FN: K, there’s a persistent rumor out there you were a bit teary-eyed at the end of the second show.  Care to comment?

K: That’s not true… I was almost full-on crying. [laughter all around] I mean, how could you not?  This was the kind of thing, when you start out playing music, you dream of this kind of event.  To actually be there, amid the Pyramids, and playing our music and some music that inspired us in the first place – there’s just nothing better than that….  And really, who could listen to Stalker just nailing the vocals on “Any Colour You Like” and “Eclipse” and not be overcome.  She really stole the show that night.  Gave me chills….

JS: Absolutely, I just sat back in awe while she went to work.  It was a thing of beauty.  I got so caught up, I almost forgot to come back in once or twice, I must admit.

FN: Tom, you’ve been pretty quiet.  Anything you’d like to add?

Tom Hughes: I’m still kinda processing the whole thing, but I’d say this was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  Never would have imagined we’d end up here doing something like this.  It’s mind-blowing for sure.

FN: Fair enough, thanks.  Well, after being around you guys for the last few days, for a band with such a ferocious live reputation, you all seem pretty quiet and well-adjusted.

K: That’s because we play ferociously.  If we didn’t……bad things might ensue……

Ford: Idle hands and all that….

FN: I see.  Sounds like a win all the way around.  Well, I’d like to shift gears and ask some more general questions, if you guys don’t mind.

Smith: Sure, no problem.

FN: You cover some pretty esoteric subjects on your albums.  Where do you come up with your ideas?

K: Wikipedia.

Witten: Quantum Physics For Dummies.

Smith: We’re all pretty well-read – you don’t play math-metal without being a geek to some degree.

FN: And how do you approach building songs around topics such as string theory, turbulence, and solar eclipses?  It’s certainly not “June/moon/swoon” material.

K: Most often, we’ll work out the basics of the music first, then discuss what kind of themes they may inspire and go find some concepts to match.  Once in a while, we’ll have some lyrical material first – usually based off whatever Jason might be reading about at the moment.

Smith: With ‘Portals’, everything started with the cover image that K came up with.  We started discussing all kinds of pathways through space and time and went from there.  ‘Tachyon’ was almost a further evolution of some of those discussions.  It’s really a bit different each time out though.  We definitely do not have any kind of formula.

FN: What is it about math-rock that inspires you guys?

Witten: The blues-rock thing has been done to death.  Nothing against bands like Cream, Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Black Crowes, The White Stripes, etc, they are all awesome.  We sometimes jam on that classic blues-rock stuff for fun in rehearsal.  We just wanted to do something that has very little tie to anything previously done.  Probably the closest thing to what we do is classical music.  We use the same kinds of mathematical progressions and song structures.

K: Mix in a little avant-garde jazz and away we go…..

FN: What do you say to people who think math-metal is pretentious, difficult-for-the-sake-of-being-difficult, musician’s music?

Ford: You are entitled to your opinions, idiotic as they may be. [laughs]

Smith: It’s certainly not for everyone.  We’ve never sat down and discussed it consciously, but I think we all agree we are making the music we want to hear.  However it’s received is not that important.  Having the success we’ve had has been fantastic – I don’t think any of us would have expected we’d be where we are today, both literally and figuratively – but we’d still be doing the same thing if we were only playing to a handful of people in a small club.

FN: You’ve already acknowledged some of your influences with covers you’ve done.  Any other bands you particularly like or find inspiring?

K: Well, despite everything that’s been made of a “rivalry” between us, we really enjoy Obsidian Paradox’s work.  They’ve been kinda quiet lately, I would like to see something from them soon.

Smith: In a narrow sense, Genesis.  Not the really early stuff or the later poppy Phil stuff.  Basically, ‘Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’.  [gestures with hands] Basically, not here or here, just…..here.

FN: Do I smell a future cover?

Smith: You’ll just have to wait and see.

FN: Merchants Of Metal III was recently announced for May 1 in Philadelphia.  Any chance we’ll see you guys there?  It does look like it would fit between the end of Supercrusher’s tour and the start of the Tachyon Tour.  Coincidence…?

K: Doubtful.  We would only play it if we headlined, which we’ve already done [Zeroth headlined the inaugural MOM], and there are other bands out there that deserve a chance to do that.

FN: Ah, that’s right, you have a policy of never being an opening band, correct?

Smith: There’s that, but it’s really more we have a policy of not repeating ourselves.  MOM is a great festival, and LBR has been an awesome label to be on, but we’ve already done that show.  The label actually agrees with us on this.  It wouldn’t make sense for us to keep playing MOM over and over.  We move on to the next thing.  You won’t ever see “Zeroth at Giza II: The Return”, for instance.

K: [In a dramatic movie announcer voice] “This time, it’s personal….”

FN: What will you do next?  This seems like a tough thing to top.

K: Yeah, this was pretty special.  We have some other cool ideas though, so have no fear….

Smith: When we started the band we all made a list of things we dreamed of accomplishing as a group.  This Giza gig was one.  We have some other ideas for special shows we’ve been discussing, and once we get back together for the Tachyon Tour, we’ll probably come to some decision.

Ford: We are going to leverage quantum physics to play an entire tour’s worth of shows at the same time. [laughs]

FN: That would be something.

Ford: We did go visit the big CERN particle accelerator when were in Europe.  That’s some wild stuff, man.  Creation of black holes, etc….  They are working on it for us.

FN: So, more immediately, what’s on the calendar for this year?  K, you obviously have the Supercrusher tour [The Impact Zone Tour] starting in a couple weeks.  Then the Tachyon Tour kicks off in May.  Will the rest of you work on new music in the meantime, or pursue other hobbies?

Smith: I’m doing a small club tour.  Just me and an acoustic.  I’ll be playing some classic rock and metal covers as well as a few originals.

FN: Wow, I had not heard that.  Will you put an album out?

JS: It’s actually about to come out, on Myrinx Records.  The title will be ‘Midnight Sun’.

FN: Very cool, can’t wait to hear it.  How about you other guys?

Witten: Well, I’m always writing riffs and experimenting with things, so that’s an on-going process for me.  But, with the downtime, I’ll probably go out west and snowboard for a while.  No album coming from that. [chuckles]

Hughes: Just relaxing.

FN: Nice.  You guys have certainly had a busy year, so some downtime is well-deserved.  It was great getting to spend the last few days with you guys – again, the shows were amazing – and to finally sit you all down for an actual interview.  Is this the start of a warmer, fuzzier, more accessible Zeroth?

Smith: Don’t bet on it.