Saturday, 9 June 2012

ALASKAN INTERVIEW



Next up on Sludgelord In-Depth Investigations is ALASKAN. A brilliant Canadian Sludge/Post-Metal band who have been on this blog no less than 3 times.

So yeah I am a big fan of these brilliant sludge rockers. They have released two excellent albums – The Weak And The Wounded and Adversity, Woe. They have also released an excellent Split EP with Co-Pilot.

What sets these guys apart from the other great Sludge/Post-Metal Bands. Well they add a very haunting creepy ambient feel to their music. Check Out The Weak and The Wounded. Guaranteed to send chills down your spine.

So let's get down to business with my fave interview so far. Thanks Guys.Much Appreciated.

Q1 – Can you give a brief overview of how your band came about.

Gary: Quick overview, three of the four original members of Alaskan were living together and we had this tiny closet of a bedroom dedicated to jamming. Scotty would actually come over and jam with a hardcore band he was in at the time and one day I showed him a sludgy song I had written that Cory and I were working on. I think that first jam with Scotty was the start of all this. After a year or two our vocalist decided to move to Montreal and that’s how we arrived at our current line-up.

Q2 – What would your consider your music as.

Gary: Over the years we’ve heard ourselves compared to a lot of genres and bands. I guess the one thing that’s really stuck is post-metal. I suppose we fall under that category in a general sense. I don’t think any of us really care to label it as one thing, I feel like labeling it brings forth expectations of the music and that’s not really what it should be about. I mean, describe it however you want to but I think what we really care about is whether or not the music makes you feel something, anything at all really.

Q3 – Who are your main influences. Which band inspires you the most

Gary: It’s hard to say. I think over the time that the band has been around we’ve all went through phases of listening to different types of music. Each time I sit to write the skeleton of our next set of songs I’m usually listening to different stuff than the last time. We do try to push ourselves with each recording, trying something different we haven’t done before while mixing it with stuff we have done before. You may notice some recurring riffs from time to time, we try to do that on purpose. I could name a list of bands and I don’t think it would give you a good sense of our influences. Not to mention I’m sure Scotty and Cory take influence from different places while writing their parts. We definitely try to incorporate elements of hardcore, post-metal ambiance, sludge, screamo and on the newer material we’re working on we touch on some genres we’ve never tried to incorporate before.

Q4 – Your releases are well thought out and have an excellent creepy feel to them. Is this your intention to add a haunting vibe to your music

Gary: The vibe is definitely intentional. Not sure if I initially intended for it to be haunting but after writing The Weak and the Wounded and incorporating the eerie samples I felt it was an element to the music that would stick. I like to think we bring a pretty dark and depressing ambiance to our music.


Q5 – What has the reception been like to your music. At home and abroad.

Gary: To be honest everytime we play a show pretty much anywhere out of town I’m amazed by the reception. I think we stay pretty modest about ourselves so with the modesty comes a real appreciation for the people who come out, who come up to talk to us, who have awesome stuff to say about the set or the records, it never gets old for us. As long as people are stoked on us I think we’ll stay stoked on the music and keep it going. I think as a whole reception abroad, both close to home and over in Europe, has been great.

Even the smaller shows we’ve played most of the time there are at least 5 kids there who are so excited to see us and that to me is awesome. Don’t get me wrong it helps when there are a lot more kids and we can make enough money to make it to the next show or home but its also fun to have an intimate show and get to talk and hang out with a bunch of people who genuinely like what we do. We definitely do much better out of town. Montreal, Toronto, Sherbrooke and Quebec City have always been really great to us. The Euro tour was a mixed blessing I think. 

We went at the wrong time so we missed a lot of the crowds from university towns or squats where there would be hundreds of kids but because it was summer it was next to empty. But we had fun at every show, and we still had a handful of crazy packed shows that we amazing. 

As for home in Ottawa, well, we’re working on it. Ottawa is a tough town for smaller bands. It all depends on the night, there can’t be even one other similar show or your crowd is gone. Kids just don’t seem to care as much as they used to but I feel like there are a group of people who are trying really hard to change that. We’ve got a few places for basement shows popping up, we’ve got the guys behind Ottawa Explosion out doing themselves this year, and there are a few smaller promoters coming out of the woodwork. I think Ottawa just needs a good kick in the ass. We usually do alright here though.


Q6 – You have one of my all-time fave musicians producing your music. Mr Topon Das of legendary Grindcore Heroes – Fuck The Facts. How did that come about. (Heck of a nice guy as well).

Gary: I’m not 100% sure how it came about really. I think our friends Biipiigwan may have recorded with him first and we were looking for someone to throw The Weak and the Wounded together for us quickly but still well enough. I think we’ve all known Topon for some time so it wasn’t hard to set up that first project and ever since he’s been our go to guy for recording, including recording our side projects most of the time. Topon is an awesome guy and extremely relaxed to work with. Best recording experience. Nothing like recording in Topon’s mom’s basement until 3am.

Adversity; Woe cover art

Q7 – Is Alaskan your main “job” or do your have other job's to support Alaskan. Are your families supportive of your music.

Gary: Oh man! If I could make a enough money to live just doing this I would be set. No we all have fulltime jobs and Alaskan for the most park costs us money. But we don’t do it to make money, we do it to make music, and if kids are stoked and want some records fuck, why not put out some records. I think out of the three of us Cory’s family is really the only one that’s actually supportive of what we do. His dad will come out to shows sometimes, it’s pretty awesome.

Q8 – What are the most rewarding aspects of participating with Alaskan

Gary: I’m not sure really. I enjoy everything about what we do, maybe that makes me sound like a weiner. I enjoy the creative outlet, and enjoy being in a band with my best friends, I enjoy driving playing shows, coming up with merch ideas, recording, putting out records. It’s all rewarding to me. Just being in another city or country and playing and seeing some kids really going off, or seeing most of the crowd bobbing their heads, its amazing.

Q9 – What are the least rewarding aspects?

Gary: I know I said it was all rewarding but I guess there are a couple things that are the least rewarding. I think for me the least rewarding is the stress. Stressing about money or artwork or deadlines.. it sucks, but seriously is all worth is when you play a really good show.

Q10 – You done a tour of Europe in 2011. How was that. Any other plans to tour Europe (Hopefully the UK – So I can see you guys in action).

Gary: Europe was a blast! Met a lot of awesome people, made a lot of new friends who we definitely hope to visit again. Like I said before the only shitty part was that we went at a bad time of year. We’re hoping to return to Europe at some point. There has been talk as to who will be booking the tour and such but nothing concrete decided, but it’ll happen. Not sure if we’ll hit the UK though because we need visa’s for that and we’re poor, but maybe we can let you know our route next time and we can hook something up, we’d love to party with you.

Q11 – You give your music away for free/pay as you go deal on BandCamp. How do you feel about blogs and websites giving your music away for free.

Gary: We wholeheartedly encourage it. The whole reason people anywhere know who are is about 90% because of blogs who we asked to post us. We’re not in this to make money, when people donate a bit of money to download our stuff we’re stoked but we’re realistic about everything. We know our limitations and understand that being in a band these days isn’t the same as it was even 10 or 20 years about. Touring is still fun and important but the internet is a tool you can’t afford to avoid using.


Q12 – How do you feel on blogs and websites being shut-down for doingthis. Some bands are for it and some aren't.

Gary: I think industries like the music industry didn’t pay enough attention to how the internet was evolving and how their tried and true methods of production and sales were changing. Now that they can’t turn a blind eye to the internet anymore they are scrambling to regain control of something they used to have total control over. I personally am all for blogs posting music and getting the word out there. 

Its an amazing world wide community that smaller bands and musicians can tap into. It’s really too bad that there is this threat of prosecution that is kind of looming over this. I think the three of us are definitely against blogs being shut down.



Q13 – What is the Sludge/Stoner metal scene like in Canada. You do have some great bands coming from there in the Sludge/Stoner Metal Scene. (Swarm Of Spheres, Northumbria, biipiigwan, Sorceress that I have featured on blog). Is getting gigs easy down in Canada

Gary: It’s really hard for me to speak for Canada as a whole as we haven’t even toured Canada. It’s such a big country with huge natural divides between pockets of cities. From what I know about where we have been and from what I’ve heard is those pockets of cities all have cities within them that are amazing and have awesome music scenes. There are a lot of great bands we’ve met that could be considered part of the stoner/sludge scene here in Canada. I think Canada will always have an amazing underground music scene you just need to be lucky enough to stumble upon it.

Q14 – How do you compare your European Fans to your Canadian Fans. Any noticeable differences.

Scotty: I don't want to alienate any of our fans, but, I will say that the whole reason we toured europe and had our first vinyl release wasbecause of two regular dudes in Germany who liked Alaskan and took a chance on us. We hadn't received attention like that from anywhere else in the world. Thanks Alex and Thomas at sickmangettingsick records.

Q15 – What are your future plans for Alaskan. (Please say new full length record or EP.)

Gary: Well we are definitely busy with a lot of things in the works. The Weak and the Wounded is being repressed on vinyl. It’s actually at the pressing plant right now, pretty excited about that. We got Topon to remix and remaster the recordings for the vinyl release. 

We’ve been writing for the last few months, expect a slightly larger group of songs next time around. We’re also planning on writing a few songs for a potential split. Can’t tell you with who but I can tell you our tracks will be a collaboration with Musky from Biipiigwan. There are a few tours in the works as well that will hopefully get underway. Get excited! Cause we are!


Well Thanks to Gary and Scotty for taking the time out for giving me a brilliant interview. Much appreciated.

If you haven't checked out this amazing band. What you waiting for. Get checking them now.

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