Saturday, 11 August 2012

Interview with BEASTWOOD


Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Beastwood. The excellent Southern Metal/Stoner Metal Band from USA who are about to release their excellent new album – Alabama Space Witch. I reviewed their new album recently and as always rated it very highly.

Well the guys have kindly agreed to an interview with me.

Q1 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, when you formed etc...

Jeff: The band became official on September 14th of 2010. That was the first time we had a practice and started writing as BEASTWOOD and decided that this was something we wanted to pursue. As far as how we came about, it just sort of happened. Blake (guitars) and I have been friends for a long time and had been doing a doom metal project for a few years and we originally were going to start a hardcore band as a side project just to do something else and somehow it formed into BEASTWOOD.

Blake: Yeah we used to play in Drifter and we decided that we wanted to do a side project. And Jeff asked me if I knew anybody that wanted to be in a band and I said I knew of a guy who wanted to do something so we approached him about that.

Jake: Two radical dudes approached me on unicorns, and asked me if I wanted to unite with them in a rock n roll dream.

Tanner: Well, I was Facebook stalked by Jeff and was asked to take time out of my day to drive 45 minutes up to Casper to see if I was cool enough to hang. We had a sit down and Jeff was very businesslike, Jake was very standoff-ish, and Blake was sloppy drunk but he meant no offense. They seemed to know about my drinking history and were willing to give me a trial period. Thus, BEASTWOOD became 4.
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Q2 – How would you describe your sound?

Jeff: Style wise? I don't know. I don't like calling the band a stoner rock/metal band because while we have elements of that, we definitely don't cover that spectrum enough to be called that I don't think. I've been calling the band dirty rock or southern groove. For some reason when I say that, it seems to work. Or if you want to go super generic, Hard Rock works the best.

Tanner: Music that should be played during every bar fight that Patrick Swayze was ever in.
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Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music?

Jeff: Overall, the obvious influences would be Pantera, Clutch, Down, and Corrosion of Conformity and what not. Individually we all listen to a lot of different things and pull influences from a complete opposite of one another. What influences us as a band whole, and what influences us individually are very different lists. But we never try to sound like another band. Whenever we write it's just a natural flowing thing and it just comes out and gets put together very easily. We don't sit there and try to make sure we sound heavy enough for this part or anything like that. I think there are parts where you can say "That's definitely a riff that you would hear from Pepper Keenan" or something along those lines but I think that what you grow up with is what's going to come through. For example, you can't tell me Down doesn't sound like Black Sabbath at times. But no one is going to fault them for that.
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Q4 – How has your music been received by fans and critics? Has it all been positive?

Jeff: Most people seem to enjoy it, but there's always going to be someone out there who's not into what you're doing. We've never had a bad run in with critics though. And by critics I mean someone who actually does something within the area of where we are as a band, not the snotty girl at punk shows who thinks she's above everyone. Anyone who seems to cover the area of sludge/stoner/groove metal seems to like us a lot which is awesome. I think we've put together something that works really well in the genre(s) we're in and we keep getting positive comments about it so I think we're doing something right.

Jake: I don't get no fine looking sliz from playing in BEASTWOOD. That's the negative criticism I have.
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Q5 – Is Beastwood a full Time project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band?

Jeff: BEASTWOOD is a full time band with members working as well. It's not full time in the sense of people quit their jobs to do this, but that regardless of having jobs, everyone is dedicated and we do what we need to for the band to move forward. We get a lot of praise for our hard work as a band. We practice all the time, and are always putting something together or doing something. We even end up taking time off because of how much we do. But members still have full time jobs and family lives on top of the band. It gets frustrating sometimes, but it's worth it. Especially when we get to see the final result, like the new album. 

Jake: BEASTWOOD is more expensive than having two girlfriends, but it's the only bill I enjoy paying.
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Q6 – How do you cope with families, full time jobs and being part of a band? It must be a struggle at times.

Jeff, Jake, and Tanner: We pull out.

Blake: Well, I'm two deep which means I have two mouths to feed, getting my balls cut, and I have a mortgage payment. The only thing I struggle with is making enough time to write groovy riffage.
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Q7 – Are your families and friends supportive of your band and music?

Blake: Until I have to leave town.

Jake: I guess. I don't really talk to them. Not even sure if they know I'm in a band.

Tanner: My dad and my brother come to every show.

Jeff: I think my parents and grandparents are supportive now. I think before they thought I was just being lazy and not really doing anything. But now that I'm actually putting things out that they can see in physical form, I think they get it. My mom and grandma will ask me questions about the band and my dad will ask me stuff about drums from time to time. So now I think they get that this is something real and we make money from it, and it's not me sitting in a garage playing Metallica covers, haha. As for our friends, they're into it. They're not the people that you see with other bands that sort of groupie for them just because it's a band. If they don't like a performance, or if they don't like a song, they'll say it. They're not the fake type to run around and praise our name only to go and talk bad behind our backs. We're fortunate enough to where we don't have to deal with things like that and to be around real people and they seem to really like what we do.
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Q8 – What is the song-writing process like in the band? Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music?

Jeff: The song writing process is pretty standard for the most part. Blake will either have an idea for a riff, or he'll have something to show. He'll bring it in and I'll play something over it to get the timing, and then everything expands from there. Everyone is really vocal in the band and I think it helps everything a lot. Feelings might get hurt sometimes but everyone in the band expresses their opinion. Everyone puts in ideas for parts, or where to take the song. Jake gives drumming ideas, and I give vocal ideas etc etc. Everyone has an input in how everything gets put together, even though it starts out with Blake and I. No one gets left out or shadowed, it's more of a building process and everyone stacks the next piece on until everyone is happy. Every once in a while though we'll write a song, and after a few weeks to a few months, someone realizes they don't like it or they don't like a part, and it'll either get changed or eventually get cut from the set or the album. If someone is actually really unhappy with the way something turned out, it gets taken care of.
Jake: We're like a bucket of Legos; Awesome things get made with them.
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Q9 – Why the name Alabama Space Witch? Totally different from Sex Devil, though I love your album's title. Very original and not one to expect from a Southern Metal/NOLA/Stoner Metal band.

Jake: I don't know. I was drinking and thinking of cool things. Alabama is sweet, space is cool, and women are evil witches. 

Jeff: Jake just comes in with a bunch of ideas and we do a voting process for names kind of. We all write down which ones we like, and cross reference to see what everyone agrees on and go from there. Sex Devil literally came down to a coin toss. And that coin hit Blake in the eye. It was awesome.
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Q10 – Your new album Alabama Space Witch is a much stronger album than your debut album. I mean it's heavier and more precise. Was this album harder to record for than Sex Devil?

Jeff: Honestly no. In my opinion Sex Devil was harder to record, even though it was a faster process. We're always prepared and work hard, but we didn't have a song finished for Sex Devil and that lead to some arguments in the studio. We also didn't have Tanner in the band yet so Blake had to cover guitar and bass for the album. It was just a weird process. We recorded in Salt Lake City with Andy Patterson who has recorded everything for Gaza except for the new album they just released with Kurt Ballou of Converge. Andy is a nice guy and he makes the process comfortable, but I think we're the wrong band for that setting. We needed a producer and someone who is really hands on.

The new album took more work, but was a way better experience. We recorded with Dave Otero at Flatline Audio in Westminster, Colorado. He works with bands like Cephalic Carnage and Cattle Decapitation. But the difference this time is, he produces, mixes and masters all right there in the studio. If you listen to some of his work, especially the new Cattle Decapitation album, his stuff is crystal clear. Everything is bright and vibrant, nothing overpowers anything else, and it sounds amazing no matter what you play it on. Dave is extremely helpful and very hands on. He'll sit there and write lyrics with you if you're unsure or something needs to change. He'll get behind the drum set and try to map something out with you if you're having trouble with a fill, and he wrote parts for Cast Away on our new album. And now we have an album that sounds better than most really big bands that tour the world and make tons of money. He's what a band needs to make everything the best it can be and honestly if it wasn't for Dave, this album wouldn't be half of what it came out to be. I think it's perfect for where we are right now.
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Q11 – What is the gig scene like in your home town? Do you get a chance to do a lot of local shows or do you have to travel further away from home to get your music across?

Jeff: We have a pretty decent following locally. Unfortunately the place is really...clicky. If you're not friends with this person, or you pissed off a friend of that person, you're not "in" anymore. I'm not going to say that I or some of the other members don't like some of the other locals but we keep our personal opinions out of the music side of things. That is unless we feel insulted or something then we'll turn something down, or say something. But overall, we're really open and try to do whatever we can locally. There are some local bands that if we got together, we could do big fun shows but because they let their emotions and their friends opinions run their band, it'll never happen and that's kind of a shame for Casper.

This place has a great history of musicians but it also has a bad history of bands acting like this is the the high school lunch room and promoters trying to screw each other over and double book days for shows. It's ridiculous. It's also kind of a roller coaster with how things are. Sometimes the music scene here is dead for years, but then it'll spring back and be awesome. Right now it's starting to go up again and there are a lot of really good artists in Casper right now. But that also brings a bunch of high school drama of he said she said and it's more hilarious to us than anything. We've been snubbed from a few shows that other bands will set up and instead of us getting pissed, we just think it's funny and shrug it off. I know a few bands feel snubbed that we haven't had them on the BEASTWOOD BASH (a local barbecue with a bunch of bands we put on every year for fans) but it's because we've already booked them 3 months out and it's a local wanting to jump on 2 weeks away.

But besides that we've started to build a small following out of state. This year we're going out a lot to states farther away to start building up our market there. Then next spring and summer we're going to go everywhere we can. 

Blake: There's an array of different musicians in the town and from time to time egos flare up and the other musicians tend to let that get the best of them. But regardless, us being this sort of band makes it a little difficult makes it difficult to play with bands that sound nothing like us.

Tanner: We are a band of adults in a world of children.

Jake: Like I said, I don't get any good looking sliz playing here.
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Q12 – Have you toured with any famous bands and have you got any interesting stories from your tours?

Jeff: No tours with famous bands, we're trying, but we have played with a lot of big bands. Unfortunately they weren't bands with our target audience but we still had a good time and sold some merch. If anyone that hasn't heard us before and likes us enough to buy a cd or a shirt, then I'm happy.

As for tour stories, there are a few. And some have censored versions we're allowed to tell. Our first date last year was in Las Vegas. Now there's one story that everyone knows the censored version of about someone in the band and everyone thinks it's funny or whatever, but the real story is just so messed up and hilarious. I'm glad that only very few people know what actually happened. But we have a few good stories.

Blake: 5 minutes after parking the van in San Francisco, the first tourist attraction we saw was a black homeless man’s penis because he was peeing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day. Which lead me to believe that's why San Francisco smells like piss. And then we ate in a pizza parlor in the middle of crack town with people screaming outside right in front of the window. And in the middle of my sandwich, a strung out crack head came in trying to get change. The owner started screaming, she started screaming, and I laughed. Then on our way to Denver we stopped to get gas and I noticed a nice older coupler were getting ready to come inside and I held the door open for them but at the time I had headphones in and I couldn't hear them. The old man said something to me, but I couldn't hear him so I just responded with "Yeah you right." Turns out what he said was "You're a gentleman and a scholar."

Jake: The van smelled like piss because of me, but you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.
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Q13 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band?

Jeff: For me the most rewarding would be things like hearing the final master of this new album or when we play one of those shows where everyone is super in tune with each other and you have one of the tightest performances ever in front of a good crowd. Those are usually the shows where things get out of control too so that adds to the intensity of everything going on. That and when someone comes up and compliments someone in the band or the band itself.

Least rewarding is when you get booked to play somewhere and you play to like 10 people. I know in the past I've said I'll play to anyone, but it really kills the vibe when you show up and no one is there. I'll still play, but it's bummer and puts a damper on the performance for sure. That and I can't stand when there are stools or booths set up in the back of the venue, and everyone just sits down and watches from like 60 feet away. Why are you even at the show if that's what you're going to do? I'm not saying you have to spaz out and mosh or anything, but what happened to watching the band and showing support at least? Those two are what I hate most.

Tanner: Positive would be having a musical outlet and being able to create music and then enjoying that music. I have no negatives.

Blake: Least rewarding is when you show up in Vegas and you play with a cover band that sucks that everyone else loves. Meanwhile during your set the two people that you invited, still sat in the back of the bar. On the positive side, I get to make sweet tunes with my brothers.

Jake: Everything about it is positive for me. The only negative is loading and unloading gear. Which is why I don't do it.
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Q14 – What is your view of bands and blogs giving away music for free? Lot of bands and people have different perspectives. 

Jeff: When I wasn't in a band doing a lot I never saw the big deal of why bands were making a fuss about it. I looked at it as "Well at least your music is getting out there." Which is true, but now that I've pumped thousands of dollars into the band, you want to see something back in some way. Even if it's just more people turning up to watch us, that's awesome. I'm fine with blogs posting a song or two from the new album, but the whole thing getting out early sucks. Later on in the albums life, like Sex Devil, I'm fine with going up on blogs. We've moved on from most of that material and if it's still circulating out there somewhere then that's awesome. Especially if they're really pumped on how that sounds and then they come and see us and see how much we've evolved writing wise. But I'm fine with it at a certain point. Not right off the bat though. I want my chance to showcase it, and have you own a physical copy or a shirt or something and at least show support. If you want to share it with your friends or whatever, cool. But at least come out and see us when we're in your town. Let us know you appreciate what we do.

Jake: I’m cool with it as long as people dig it and come out and see the spectical that is BEASTWOOD. And watch us wreck shit...like women’s panties.

Tanner: Stealing music is a criminal offense worthy of punishment of another criminal offense. Which is assault with deadly force. Bludgeoning.

Blake: fif. ( see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbMAd4rPQPc )
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Q15 – Finally what are the future plans for the band? Probably touring your excellent new album when it's released. Any chances of a European Tour as your blend of music would go down a storm with the Stoner Metal Crowd.

Jeff: We're pretty good at always staying booked up or having some sort of list of what's happening at least 3-6 months away. For the rest of the year we're going to put out the album and play a bunch of out of town shows to support it and build up our audience in bigger cities. We're going to shoot a few videos and just try to push the album as much as we can in any way. Obviously submit it to some new labels and see what happens. We're planning on putting out an EP next year, and hopefully doing a split with some friends of ours in The Worth from Denver, Colorado. 

I'd love to go over to Europe. But that's something where we'd have to head over with a band that has a little more pull in our genre that's been there, or big enough to pull in crowds there. Us going to Europe alone wouldn't go over that great unfortunately. We need someone to take us. Or we need a few years to at least gain a nice buzz over there. But it's definitely something I'd love to do in this bands life.

Blake: Hook us up with shows and we'll be there.

Jake: Totally down to do it all and conquer the world in the process as well as all of the overseas panties.

Tanner: I'd like to try surfing.
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Well guys thanks for answering these questions and providing us with a brilliant interview. We at Sludgelord wish them all the best. Definitely one of the coolest bands out there.

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