Chicago, the third most populated City in the USA, nicknamed The Windy City and home to arguably the most notorious ganster of the 1920's, Al Capone. Let us not forget, a haven for incredible music. Today we're focusing our attention on the curiously monikered band, Cokegoat, whom we featured at SludgelordHQ a few week back and who, funnily enough, hail from Chicago.
A sextet, incorporating many elements of slow heavy music, with perhaps a strong focus on doom, their bio blurb emphasises that when you think of Cokegoat, think Electric Wizard meets Mastodon and Black Sabbath circa '73 - ‘76. Doesn't sound much like doom does it? The fuck it doesn't. Indeed that is the interesting thing about this band, they are difficult to pigeonhole. Their debut record, Vessel is incredible and I was intrigued to find out more about this unique and ultimately very cool band. So enjoy the interview!!
Welcome to the Sludgelord, pleased to talk to you guys and welcome.
(SL) Who are you, state your name (s) and purpose?
Jeff Wojtysiak, one of three guitarists and one of three voices in Cokegoat.
(SL) Summarise your musical journey (s) this point?
Cokegoat’s musical journey is a new adventure. We have been together as a musical unit for the past 2 1/2 years. ‘Vessel’ is our debut record. I had a bunch of demos that I recorded but after we got together, we shuffled, reworked and added, and began writing as a unit. The members of this band were good pals of mine and like minded humans who’ve been playing music in and around
for the last 20 some years. Chicago
(SL) What can fans look forward to from you in 2014? How is your schedule shaping up?
We’re doing a shit ton of writing and having stoned conversations about concepts for our upcoming video. We’re planning to record some shit and get it together for our next album to be released. Then we tour. Midwest, the coasts,
Europe. Hopefully all within the next year and a half.
And babies, this band will have more babies.
SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record?
We were prepared. We knew what we wanted the record to sound like. Jordan, our drummer is also a sound/electrical engineer, we talked a lot about how we wanted to approach the sessions so they wouldn't get away from us, which kept us focused and on track. The record is very true to who we are as a group. It sounds like us in our rehearsal room and on stage. When we were tracking it I was thinking, if this is just the beginning, it makes me very excited about the future of this band.
(SL) Who handles song writing duties?
We all do. All six of us. Someone usually comes to the table with a few ideas. We all chime in and give our opinion. Change shit. Move stuff. Hit delete. Sometimes multiple opinions can stall things but that's why we work on several things at once. We can shift gears as often as we need. As for words, I write most of them, because I’m saying most of them. I come from a background of playing mostly instrumental music, so writing lyrics was foreign at first. On the record you can hear me getting stronger and more confident when it comes to writing and phrasing. It’s fun to push it and get others involved with ideas for vocal presentation.
(SL) How long was the gestation of your new/current opus from conception to delivery?
About a year and a half. This is our first effort as a group. We spent about 8 months writing, 4 of which Rebekah tried to figure out what her noises would be... Ukulele with a pickup stuck on with gum and a distortion pedal was a serious contender. We then spent every weekend for about 2 months at Bricktop Recording with Andy Nelson (Weekend Nachos) recording 9 songs, 8 of them made the record. Carl Saff then mastered it, we shipped it off then we started on the artwork.
(SL) Reflecting on your new/current record, was your artwork designed with a particular physical format in mind? Who designed it? What are your thoughts the finished physical product? What format is/will be available?
I love the work of friend/artist/tattooer Max Brown. At the time he was doing all these black ink drawings on this thick creamy paper, super dark and psychedelic. He did the album art with very little direction and the end product successfully describes the record. It’s dark. It’s heavy. It’s ethereal. It’s weird. It’s high, drunk and laughs a lot. We then had Josh Davis of Dead Meat Design hand screen all the jackets and inserts, which we then had to fold, glue and stuff ourselves. This was a very lengthy process which kept us involved every step of the way. I’m glad we did it this way. I doubt we will do our next one in this fashion, but I’m glad we put in the sweat and time to get our hands dirty with the creation of the final product. We decided to just do a digital download and 180 gram vinyl for this release. I would like to stay in those 2 formats for future releases. The only time I see CD’s anymore is when people are doing drugs off of them.
(SL) The best and worst things about being in a band?
I really enjoy being creative with like minded people who can laugh and have a good time. Sometimes practice ends and Club Cokegoat begins, which is us just listening to music, drinking and talking shit for hours. I really don’t see anything negative about being in a band, especially this one. Why do it if any of it sucked? Your shitty 95 job sucks, bitch about that.
Use creativity and friends to wash all that crap down the drain. It was said that “Cokegoat pulled off the neat trick of being a positive metal band” in the Chicago Tribune recently. Is that a best or worst thing? You decide.
(SL) Influences and heroes, what are turn offs and turn on’s?
I grew up on all the 80’s metal. Most of it, if I listened now, I don’t think I could stomach. You can’t fault the bands. People were young, everything was new. Out of the bunch I still do listen to Slayer.
SL) Any record from the past or present that springs to mind?
...And Justice For All. I remember being blown away by that record. I got the tab book and tried to learn every song, which I’m sure I did, horribly.
(SL) The last album that kicked your arse?
The latest Stomach Earth and Primitive Man. But I’m never surprised when we revisit Jethro Tull or Prince albums at Club
(SL) What was your first instrument or musical experience and what do you use today?
My parents rented me a Series 10 guitar from a local shop where I started taking lessons when I was 13. I remember all the teachers at the time had a hard on for Eddie Van Halen. He’s good and he definitely changed the game, but I’m not the biggest fan of the songs. I wasn’t then and still not, except Drop Dead Legs from 1984. Tight shit. As for gear, I love gear. I have an addiction. I’m always buying. selling, trading shit. The other’s in the band get stuff here and there, but I’m always on the lookout. I’m very happy where I am now. I have a ‘73 Orange OR120 and a late ‘90s Matamp one off that is bitchin’. I run one or the other though an Emperor 2x12 1x15 cab.
Thangs for the 12s and a Big Ben for the 15. I hit the head hard with a
Smallsound/Bigsound Mountain Range into a Blackarts Toneworks Superbass Revelation.
I’m a big fan of both those pedal companies, they can do no wrong. I love all
the tones that the strings have in this band. Ed’s Westbury guitar is big and
tight and has a more saturated distortion coming from a Laney AOR. Chase runs a
70s Ampeg V2 that is just huge and nasty with the bottom end. It has a nice
natural break up. Then I run a sort of a mid gain heavy on the mids dirt. Add
Tim on the bass hitting an Ampeg V4B into levels of natural power tube break up
that is like honey on your honey. Can you see my hard on? It works and I love
it. Eminence Swamp
(SL) One item, gear or otherwise that characterises your band and one item from your set up
you cannot live without?
I think the way we approach vocals, 3 of us, one being a female, adds a signature element. And Rebekah’s noise making/synth playing is a great part of our sound. It comes from left field but adds a much needed layer that just works.
(SL) Protools versus old school?
Everything is Pro Tools. It would be great to say “yeah we love recording on tape and it sounds great and it’s so blah blah blah.” The truth is tape is expensive, tape machines are old and if not matinenced, maintained and cleaned properly are worthless. When we did this record we kept it as organic as possible. We walked in with the tones we wanted. A great room, good mics, good preamps and a very knowledgeable engineer. Andy Nelson was a dream to work with. Dude killed it . Being in the studio isn’t always a great time, but I can’t wait to get back in there and work with Andy again.
SL) Blogs and social media vs. getting on the road and touring?
All of the above. Everything and anything is helpful when it comes to getting your name out there and selling records. Ideally, we’d always want to play in front of people and have them experience us live. Unfortunately, we’re not time travelling wizards. So read about us, stream some free tracks, buy it if you dig it. We’ll do our fair share of touring, but in the meantime, thank Al Gore for the internet.
(SL) What are your survival tips for the road, any rider requests?
Unfortunately there’s a lot of downtime when touring. Learn to drink, drink to learn. Never complain, never explain.
(SL) What have been your band highlight (s) thus far
We have had the opportunity to play with some great bands in the short time we have been around. Church of Misery, Jucifer, The Skull (ex Trouble), Early Graves, Mouth of the Architect, Electric Hawk to name a few. Chicago has an awesome heavy music scene.
(SL) Vinyl Junkie or Ipod flunky? Discuss
I love my records but I also love my Spotify. Best of both worlds. I love the Spotify to check out new bands, new records, and if it’s a home-run, buy that shit. Support that shit. Making quality records isn't cheap. We have a turntable at the rehearsal spot and I love when someone brings in a record to share with the group.
(SL) Indiegogo or creative no no?
I had to google Indiegogo, I wasn’t sure what that was. Personally I would never crowd fund for a project of mine. I think it’s embarrassing. You should use a tool like that if you are trying to make a cancer killing robot, not a fucking rock record. As I said earlier, it isn’t cheap to make a quality record, but it’s doable. Plan that shit out. Save some money. Don’t beg for it. If you can’t do it because you can’t fund it yourself or with the help of a label, then maybe this isn't the time for you. Be smart with your costs. Shit we are folding our own jackets and stuffing our own records to save money. Several months ago I saw a band that I knew back in the day had crowd sourced over $200,000 to record and press a new record. $200,000! I think that is nuts. In this day and age how do you even make a record for that amount of money? Buy beats from Pharrell? How do you spend all of it, and if you don’t then what do you do with it? What type of fucking paperwork do you even have to fill out? Fuck that. I don’t want to have an accountant on the payroll. Keep it simple. Do it yourself or find a label that is like minded and can help.
(SL) Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us
We are looking forward to writing and recording. And Club Cokegoat. Also we hope that in the near future Cokegoat will be live in a city near you to spread our drunken, heavy fun times upon each and every one of your faces.
Words and Interview by : Aaron Pickford