Now on Sludgelord I am interviewing a rising Sludge Metal Collective - Womb Of The Desert Sun - who recently impressed me with their blend of Atmospheric Sludge riffs.
Their last excellent EP - Invocation: Our Dying Days – is a release I rated very highly indeed.
“Womb Of The Desert Sun are a band who demands your attention now. Womb Of The Desert Sun has a bright future ahead of them. I cannot wait to see what these guys unleash on a proper full-length record as they have proven they have the talent and vision to go very far indeed.
Excellent and Highly Recommended.”
Chris Grosso, bass player and vocalist agreed to do an interview with me, so let gets down to business with this superb Sludge Rocker.
SL: Hey Chris. How are things with you today? Thanks for doing this.
CG: All is well my friend, thanks. I’m currently staying with a friend in Albany. We’re doing a few workshops at some local Yoga studios about healing through life’s adversity. I’m a recovering addict, and most of the music and lyrics on Womb’s two E.P.’s are a direct result of those experiences. Those songs are a cathartic release, a form of healing for me. So yeah, I’m a doom rocker who’s heavily into spirituality.
Not dogmatic religion or new age airy fairy stuff, but gritty, life changing sort of spirituality. It’s like the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “No Mud, No Lotus” and I like to think there’s plenty of mud in the sludgy riffs of Womb Of The Desert Sun that transcend into atmospheric riffs, which at times are reminiscent of hope and change. And now I’m laughing at myself for giving you an overly esoteric answer to a very simple question… so yeah, things are good, thanks for asking.
SL: Can you give people a brief history on how the band came about?
CG: Well Mike and I have been playing together in various bands since high school, so this was a no brainer. I’d personally taken like 6 years off from writing/playing any sort of heavy music, though of course I was still listening to it. During those six years, my life had taken me down some dark paths, so for the most part, writing music was one of the farthest things from my mind at the time. Eventually however, the call to return became too loud to ignore, so instead of doing something familiar, something I’d already done musically, I decided to go a completely different route. Before writing the Womb E.P.’s, I’d been playing either drums or guitar in my previous bands so I decided to buy a bass, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff distortion pedal and just write some really doomy shit… I called Mike, told him about it, and he was in.
SL: Was it your original intention to start the band as a duo. But then again you guys are pretty louder than some larger bands.
CG: Yeah man, it’s just easier that way. I also dig trying to make as much as I can with as little as possible, so that’s been one of the intentions behind the band being a two-piece as well. Though on Invocation: Our Dying Days (our second E.P.) we did bring in a few guest musicians, add some samples etc. But the songs are still predominately bass, drums and vocal oriented.
SL: Your two EP's have been re-released on Limited Edition CD via The Path Less Travelled Records. How did that come about? It’s a great label.
CG: Yeah, Sean and The Path less Traveled is definitely a great label. It had always been our intention to release the EP’s as physical CD’s as well as having them available for download, but the reason it’s taken a while is that by the time we sent the label our first EP, Mike and I were basically already in the studio recording our second one. I thought it’d be cool to do a double EP release rather than just combine the two and make it a full length because there’s a slightly different vibe to each album, plus a difference in the overall sound of the recordings as well.
The coolest thing about the physical copies is the that cover, and entire layout was done be the amazing artist Kelley Hagemes of Claw and Bone Art, so that’s worth it in and of itself to pick up the physical copies. So July 9th, they’ll both be available for purchase… and as you said, it’s a limited run, so if you’re interested in picking them up, it may be better to do so sooner rather than later.
SL: I love your latest EP. Very strong mix of very different atmospheric sounds. Was it hard to give the album that sort of feel and vibe?
CG: Thanks man. I wouldn’t say it was hard because we just let whatever comes up, come out. It’s just the nature of the way this EP happened to take shape. I think hints of that snuck it’s way into our first EP, Where Moths Eat And Worms Destroy, particularly in the song Transistor, which features guest guitar work from Bernie Romanowski of the amazing bands Cable & Empty Flowers, but overall, yeah, Invocation just naturally became more atmospheric than Moths.
SL: Which bands and artists influence you as a musician?
CG: Man, the list is very eclectic and could go on forever. I guess a few of the quintessential ones for me are Deadguy, Cable, A Tribe Called Quest, Cursive, Johnny Cash, Neurosis, Sigur Ros, Sparklehorse, MF Doom, Isis, Jawbox, Cannibal Ox, Jesu, Quicksand, Krishna Das, Bloodlet, Om, Empty Flowers, De La Soul… Seriously, this could go on for quite a while so I’ll end it here.
SL: For a band that only formed in 2012 you have a great collection of tracks already at your disposal. Were they hard to write, as you also include some hard-hitting lyrics to match the great riffs?
CG: Thanks for those kind words. Honestly, they’re not hard to write. Whenever I feel moved, I pick up the bass and see what happens. I never force it though. That being said, I actually haven’t picked up my bass and worked on any WOMB stuff in about three months. I’ve been a little swamped with recording some solo acoustic stuff as well as playing drums for another little project. Womb is really just a do it when we feel like sort of thing for Mike and I, and that’s why it works out so well for the both of us. There’s no pressure. As for the lyrics, they’re simple too as it’s just me letting some of the old darkness in my closet out. As I said previously, it’s really a very healing process for me.
SL: What is the gig scene like in your home-town. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform on a regular basis?
CG: Actually, Mike and I have only played two shows as Womb. The band for us is more of a recording endeavor than a touring/performing band. Mike plays shows with his main band, Pristina, and I play out with the drumming project I do, but that’s really it. I’d recommend checking out Pristina if they’re playing in your area. Great dudes and they’re music is brutal as fuck.
SL: Do you have a full time job to contend with, or is music classed as your full time job?
CG: Yeah, I’m a writer so that’s my main gig, but calling that a job is weird for me cause it’s so much more. Shameless plug time, I have a book coming out March 4th, 2014 called Indie Spiritualist from Atria/Simon & Schuster books with a foreword from Best-selling author of Dharma Punx, Noah Levine. Oof, I feel dirty after doing that, and not in the good way either.
SL: Is your family and friends supportive of your music and the decisions you make when performing with the band.
CG: For sure. You wouldn’t find my parents rocking out to our CD’s, but we actually practice at their house, so it doesn’t get much more supportive than that. And we have some great friends that definitely support us as well. I married to an amazing lady who luckily has just as an eclectic taste in music as I do so it’s cool that she digs what we write in Womb.
SL: What is the song-writing process in the band? Is it a group collective or is it down to one individual?
CG: It’s a little of both. I’ll usually have some riffs I’m working on and then Mike and I will hash them out. Though a few of the songs have been written from scratch together as well.
SL: Do you have any plans to start recording a full length record or is it too expensive to do this at this moment in time.
CG: We don’t have anything currently planned. Luckily, our friend Joe Reed has a basement studio where we recorded both EP’s so money isn’t an issue… we’ll make another EP whenever the timing feels right. For our style of music, I prefer to record EP’s rather than full lengths because I don’t want to add filler songs just to make it a full length, you know? I’d rather write and record 4-5 songs I’m really happy with and focus on making those the best they can be than trying to tackle ten plus songs in the studio. At least for Womb that’s how I feel.
SL: If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be?
CG: Start it. Get it going. Who gives a shit if you’re an amazing musician or not. Get together with some good people and just play because it’s what you feel like you have to do. If you start out with the intention of making a band to sell a million records and have legions of fans, you’re doomed from the get go. Plus, where’s the authenticity in that? Play because you love it and let everything else fall into place from there.
SL: So what are you currently listening to on your MP3 Player? Any album that is starting to rock your world big time? Any albums you’re too ashamed to admit to liking?
CG: The two records getting the most play in my life right now are Palms new Self-titled album and both of Empty Flowers records, Six and Five. Both of those bands are amazing and I can’t recommend them highly enough. As for anything I’m ashamed of, haha, there’s no shame in my game my friend. I listen to all sorts of shit regardless of what’s cool or not. I still dig 80’s music, so there’s that.
(I agree with Chris on this. New Empty Flowers record - Five - is fucking superb. Review due soon folks)
Bernie Romanowski (Cable/Empty Flowers) Guitar Overdubs
SL: Finally do you have anything to say to our readers?
CG: Thanks for taking the time to read this. We really appreciate it and it’s been really cool to get a lot of support from new folks who dig the Womb albums. We’re really grateful for that.
SL: Well Chris thanks for your time again. I hope to hear more great music from you in the future.
CG: Thank you Sludgelord. I really dig your site! Keep up the great work.