Sunday 23 March 2014

Interview with Black Space Riders

Aaron recently spoke to superb Psych Space/Stoner Rockers - Black Space Riders - who have just released their brilliant new album - D:REI - to massive acclaim within the Doom/Stoner Metal community.

We reviewed the album earlier this year and raved on about it. It's something of a favourite of ours here at Sludgelord HQ.

(SL) Welcome to the Sludgelord, pleased to talk to you guys and welcome. First of all, Congratulations! Your new record is something special. You must reflect upon it with a sense of a pride?

(JE): Thank you very much. We appreciate that and without too much vanity: yes we do!

(SL) Let’s kick things off, who are you, state your name (s) and purpose?

JE (voc & guit) and SEB (voc)
The other guys in the band are:
CRIP (drums)
SLI (guit)
SAQ (bass)

(SL) Summarise your musical journey (s) this point?

(JE): I avoid starting in the stone age … Black Space Riders were born in the deepest winter of 2008/09. CRIP and me we wanted to play Heavy Rock again after some years of making decent songwriter-stuff. I contacted SLI, an old friend from the schoolyard, we had been doing a NWOBHM-fanzine together when we were teens around 79/80. He brought in SAQ and we started jamming in an old mouldered bowling alley. It was great from the start. Fantastic musical and social chemistry! We created 4 songs in 2 rehearsals. We recorded our debut in 2010 and played shows while writing material for album No.2, “Light is the new black”, which was released in 2012.

(SEB): In 2012 I came across and joined Black Space Riders first as an additional and background singer, then as the 5th member. But I already had known these guys years before.

(JE): Now there are 5 Riders, 5 friends, just been releasing album No.3 called “D:REI”.

(SL) What can fans look forward to from you in 2014? How is your schedule shaping up?

(SEB): We’ll start in January with our release-shows and then try to play as much as we can in Germany and Europe.

(JE): We are doing all this on our own. Yeah, we have a distro and some professional help in the background, but in order to keep our independency and all rights: … no label-contract! So most of the work, organization and booking is up to us. Additionally we all have families and jobs. It seems as though our new album, D:REI, will be received very well, so with that kind of “tailwind” we are starting now to book more shows for 2014 and will hopefully be able to play some festivals in the summer as well.

SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record?

(SEB): It is still – after months – in “hot rotation” in my CD-Player and I’m still not saturated. Songs AND sound still blow me away.

(JE): It felt like a very strong and fast but organic process of growth. From the first riffs and songwriting-sessions to discussing the concept. Then entering the studio, recording, creating soundscapes, finding the best sequence of the songs, discussing the artwork …. Starting to promote the album, releasing it … it´s like a great and rapid but steady stream and there is no end in sight.

(SL) Who handles song writing duties?

(JE): The process of songwriting has changed over the years. In the beginning I brought in almost finished songs and structures. Today it´s “just“ a riff or some harmonies, somebody picks it up, we start jamming and then we love it or we don´t. We are recording every rehearsal, every jam and are listening to it before the next rehearsal. We then discuss about it and try out different grooves, tempi, atmospheres, sounds and together we let the song grow. At one point SEB and me are starting to hum or sing …. So the “song” as you know it from the album is a common work.

(SL) How long was the gestation of your new/current opus from conception to delivery?

(JE): To maintain your image … the fertilization was probably about 6 months and the gestation another 6 months. Two ideas for new songs were already existing when we recorded “Light is the new black” (2012), but they needed more time to prosper. The other songs were written in the winter and spring of 2013. During that time the concept started to grow in my mind. The last lines of the lyrics have been finished after entering the microphone in the recording studio in may 2013.

D:REI cover art

(SL) The artwork is really great, was it designed with a particular physical format in mind? Who designed it?

(JE): Thank you! I will tell the designer that you like his work. He´s a friend of ours, we call him Jay … his real name is Jakob Maser. He already had designed the cover of “Light is the new black”. Speaking of formats: actually we had a kind of “altar” in mind. Something old, mystical, associations: icon / leaf gold. The artwork is conceived to work well as a vinyl-gatefold-cover.

(SL) As a music fan yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, how is it to a great package to your fans, and yet not alienate them by producing something which is not affordable. What are your thoughts on the finished physical product? What format is/will be available?

(JE): Most of us are big vinyl-fans. We started our childhood and our life as music fans with the smell and touch of vinyl. As a band we have a pretty “analogue” sound … so that goes together well. We are recording long albums …. D:REI contains almost 80 minutes of music! So it was obvious that we had to offer double-vinyl. I used to love double-vinyls as a kid …. Remembering some of my first records: “Made in Japan” and “The wall”. We decided: gatefold+double-vinyl+180G and included a CD additionally, because you can listen to it in your car or import the tracks into iTunes or whatever. Everyone has different situations where you listen to music, analogue and digital situations …. So this package is the all-in-solution. We offer this for 20€ (=27$) which is fair enough for a real music-lover I believe. Of course you can get a CD-digipak-edition or a profane download as well … for those who are undemanding.

(SL). Speaking off, getting a record out there are you a) Indiegogo (crowdfunding) or b) career no no

(JE): I am not sure if I understood your question fully. Indiegogo=YES. We want to have control over our songs, our albums, the amounts and occasions of concerts that we “have” to play …. Crowdfunding=NO. We are in the lucky maybe privileged situation that we ourselves are able to pay the studio and the album-production; so we don´t have to “borrow” money; neither from a label nor from our fans. No obligation, no dependence … that enables us to do whatever we want to do in our own time. Career? Why not? Same thing … sometimes your art is getting better if you don´t have to sell it at any cost.

(SL) The best and worst things about being in a band?

(SEB): The best thing is, playing together – whether at a rehearsal or live on stage. The worst thing:
load, unload …load, unload, …load, unload, ….load, unload, ….load, unload …..

(SL) Influences and heroes, what are turn offs and turn on’s?
(SEB): Influences are spread very widely. From Bill Callahan to Anaal Nathrakh there’s a lot to explore and a lot that maybe finds its influence in my part of our music. SLAYER are definetly heroes, Black Sabbath as well. Turn offs ? Almost everything played by (german) radio stations.

(JE): Grew up with 70ies Hardrock and Metal. CRIP, SLI and me we are sharing a childhood-infection by Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Dio, Rainbow, later Maiden, Priest and of course Motörhead. Pink-Floydish Psychedelia, 80ies-Wave like Chameleons and Bauhaus and then some early-90ies-stuff like Alice in Chains, Melvins, Monster Magnet left marks as well. Electronica and TripHop like Massive Attack was inspiring as well … important characters in music: David Bowie, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash!

SL) Any record from the past or present that springs to mind?

(JE): “Paranoid” (Black Sabbath)
(SEB): „Reign in Blood“ (Slayer)

(SL) The last album that kicked your arse?

(SEB): In 2013 “THE MOTH GATHERER” with their album “A bright celestial light” blew me away.

(JE): I really liked “The raven that refused to sing” by Steven Wilson.

(SL) What was your first instrument or musical experience and what do you use today?

(SEB): I began on recorder and then played accordion for years. And still I do – but very rarely with BSR

(JE): Vocals -> Recorder –> Clarinet –> Saxophone -> Guitar -> Vocals+Guitar

(SL) One item, gear or otherwise that characterises your band and one item from your set up you cannot live without?

(JE): as THE band-item I choose a lighter. From my set up I choose the volume-pedal which can change everything from oh-so-quiet to screaming-hell-loud.

(SL) Pro-tools versus old school?

(JE): That´s not a question, isn´t it? Oldschool!!! Five friends and all their instruments and amps in one room recording live! That´s the way we love it and we do it. We are recording the vocals and sometimes an additional lead guitar later as an overdub. But that´s it! The live-feeling is very important for us. But also important to make clear: We are NOT a Retro-Band! We are not trying to sound like Sabbath 71 … there are many bands who are trying and I like a lot of them but our approach is different. We just like playing live and sounding mighty, analog, warm, embracing and natural.

SL) Has their been much opportunity for your band to do live shows and is playing live still as important today given the influences of the web and social media ?

(JE): The web is cool for getting known, spreading the word and communicating in an easy way with people all around the world. We don´t want to and cannot be touring 365 day a year … that´s no option for us. Anyway we don´t have a career management or a business plan, we are doing what we want to do; that´s all. We are getting a lot of beautiful reactions from all over the world and – YES – it feels great when somebody from the other side of the planet is writing that our music means a lot for her or him. But there is nothing like playing a show! Only on stage you are getting immediate response and energy back from the audience. We love playing live and I believe we are a very good and energetic Live-Band ;)

(SL) Who are some your favourite bands you have toured with and what have been your band highlight (s) thus far.

(JE): So many. Most of them not well known in other countries, often local support acts who are sometimes at least as good or even better (hungrier) than the big names. But also some bands you might know: Kadavar, Black Tusk, HOWL, AHAB, S.N.O. … the highlights are often small encounters and not the big names.

(SL) What are your survival tips for the road ?

(JE): Get sleep!

(SL) Vinyl Junkie or Ipod flunky? Discuss  

(SEB): Both! The first for my living room situation with a dram of a good Single Malt Whisky; the second for work and in my car.

(JE): As a music-addict I love and collect vinyl. As a practical guy who spends several hours a day in his car I am buying CDs as well. But I always buy sound-carriers … I dislike mp3s!

(SL) Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

(JE): If you like what we are doing … tell the world about it! Spread the word! May the force be with you!

Thanks to Black Space Riders for talking to us here at Sldugelord HQ

You can check the band from links below


Written by Aaron Pickford