As a new reviewer at the Headquarter of Sludgelord I was sent the latest release ”Merging The Light”. I heard about the band last year but I didn’t spent much time with it because there were many other records that caught my attention.
As I think this is one of the most intresting band right now I think it’s time for the reader to learn about this secret little treasure. I caught up with Grant, the howling wolf of ”In The Company of Serpents”
SL) For the one who doesn’t know your band, can you tell us a little about the band?
Sure. We’re a two-piece from Denver, Colorado, and we play what could broadly be described as Doom or Sludge metal. I play a baritone guitar through a wall of amplifiers, and Joseph Weller Myer beats the drums to a bloody pulp (his blood, usually, as he opens a wound or two during the course of a performance).
SL) How did you come up with the band name?
JJ came up with it during a fever dream involving a talking dog, banjos, and ducks with teeth made out of candy corn.
SL) Can you tell me a little bit about the process when you are making music?
I usually have a riff or two that we will jam around until we begin to glean something resembling a full song from it. Lyrics are usually in flux up until we go to record. I will typically be singing around a particular theme or idea, but the words themselves and the articulation of whatever message is there will shift around until we solidify things in preperation for recording. It tends to be a fairly organic process where we will jam on something until it feels right to us, at which point we will begin playing it live. For each of our last two releases we had been playing the material live for nearly a year before they were released.
We’ve shipped records all over the world, but our primary fan base is in the US and the UK, at least if our shipping receipts are any indication.
We will also be going to Mexico this June for the first time to participate in the Fist Fuck Family fest VI with Terrorizer and Nausea.
SL) Can you mention other bands that you are influenced by?
The obvious touchstones like Sabbath, Yob, Neurosis, & Electric Wizard are all there, and there are numerous others that some people might find surprising. Musicians like Swans, Throbbing Gristle, Dr. John, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Ennio Morricone, Skip James, and many others are all favorites of mine that probably aren’t too outwardly evident in our music.
SL) Can you recommend some bands worth listening to?
Denver is rife with great heavy bands right now. Primitive Man are pretty much unparalelled in heaviness when it comes to crushing, doom/sludge shit. Khemmis are another favorite, and they explore some melodic territory while still remaing heavy. Cult of the Lost Cause is another great Denver band of talented players producing riff-driven instrumental tunes that are well worth your time. Cloud Catcher is another great one for fans of awesome 70’s heavy riffs in the vein of classics like Sir Lord Baltimore and Captain Beyond. Whilt is Joe’s other band, and he plays bass & sings in that one. Very heavy, hypnotic weed doom.
SL) What happened to your former drummer? Do you spot any difference between the old drummer and the ”new” one when it comes to drumming?
JJ Anselmi was the original drummer in this project, and he left on amicable terms to pursue teaching writing at a collegiate level. He plays in several other projects in California, including The Agonic Line, his newest band.
In any case, JJ and I wrote what became the debut ITCOS album together, and his involvement in the band ran from its inception in early 2011 through the autumn of that same year. I had originally planned to just disband the group when he had to take off to pursue teaching, but he insisted I try to find a drummer to keep it going. We had played with a band called Royal Talons multiple times during that brief stretch, and Joe was their drummer, and he was also our favorite drummer to watch that was playing heavy music in Denver, hands-down.
I got in touch with Joe about playing together, and he has been the cornerstone of this band’s rhythmic pulse ever since. We have a solid chemistry together, and I’m looking forward to how we mutually evolve this project moving forward. Joe and I are musically in lockstep, and I think our best material together is on the horizon.
SL) What do you think about working with Billy Andersson? Was it a onetime collaboration ?
Billy was great, and I am glad we got to work with him. He was at the board for many of my favorite records from bands like Neurosis, Melvins, Sleep, etc., so it was definitely cool to work with him. The recording sessions for that record, Of the Flock, were conducted here in Denver at Jamie Hillyer’s Module Overload studios, and then Billy handled the mixing and mastering. We would definitely be down to work with Billy in the future, although we’re also very happy with the results we’ve gotten from working with Dave Otero at Flatline Audio here in Denver.
SL) I don’t understand how it’s possible that you don’t have a record deal. How come? Do you spot any interest from some record label?
We haven’t courted any labels, and only a handful have gotten in touch with us. We are certainly not averse to working with a label, but would want to make sure it would be a mutually beneficial situation. Probably our biggest hurdle right now is distribution, as we ship all album and merch sales ourselves, and aren’t really in record stores outside of Denver. European Distrobution is another painful topic, as shipping to EU is exorbitant, and we don’t want our fans outside the US to have to deal with ridiculous shipping fees, so we will hopefully have something worked out in the near future which will help offset those costs.
SL) What’s up next ? Any new releases coming up during 2015 ? Touring plans?
We are heading out on a spring west coast tour of the US which will be officially announced in the near future, and we also have a new song we recorded recently which should be out soon. It was a collaboration with some friends of ours here in Denver, and we’re excited to unleash it when the time is right.
SL) As I listened to your whole discography, I noticed a change. The music as you said has elements of Yob and Sabbath in the early releases but I think for example the songs on ”Merging” is more varied than the recent releases, The sound is thicker and the songs go between heavy repetitive riffs to more building the song with an atmosphere we know from Yob and then explode into heaviness. Which direction are the new material going ?
The new material I’ve been writing has been more eerie and atmospheric. We recorded a new song in November, which will be released later this year as part of a collaboration which will be announced sometime in the near future. It was written in an open minor tuning rooted in G on my baritone guitar, and explores some spaghetti western-type sounds that I’m fond of.
SL) What can the audience expect of you as a live act? Will you perform as a duo?
Bring earplugs. We perfom as a two-piece, just as we record. I play through 3 rigs simultaneously, so the stage volume is pretty overwhelming, though nothing compared to bands like Ladybird, Jucifer or Sunn 0))).
SL) Finally, Is it easy or difficult to find live gigs in Colorado ?
There are many awesome venues in Denver which cater to all manner of unusual sounds, and people here go to shows often, so I would say easy.
Words and Interview by: Sven-Åke Alveving
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