Friday, 10 April 2015

Space Bong And Beyond - An Interview with Kegan from Space Bong


When my friend Lachlan from Art Of Catharsis and Adrift For Days offered me the chance an interview wit Space Bong, I jumped at the chance. As Space Bong are one of Australia's premier and legendary Doom/Stoner Metal bands. They released a classic landmark album in 2009 with The Death Of Utopia – which has won praise across the globe.

Space Bong will finally be releasing their 2nd album Deadwood To Worms in Sept 2015. Before then here's my interview with Kegan (Vocalist) from these legendery Aussie Doomsters where he discusses pretty much about everything in this epic interview. So get comfortable as it's time to venture into the realm of Space Bong!!!


Hi guys, How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this interview.

Thanks for giving a fuck to interview us, Sludgelord.

· Where have you guys been for the last few years? Seems you have been gone forever. Welcome back though as I’m a huge fan of your work.

Thanks for having us back! The main writers and motivators behind Space Bong have been playing in other bands for the past few years, namely Funeral Moon and Night Hag. I've also been preparing for a tour through the USA to undertake further education and experience in ecological building projects called Earthships. We’re also prone to having a revolving door of Adelaide’s grimiest musicians who, for various reasons, can’t handle the intensity of the bands music and dynamics. But, Space Bong has always been there, and until one of us dies, it probably always will.

· Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is now?

Dave (guitarist and main song writer behind Space Bong) and I have been playing in bands and living together for over 10 years. As a few bands began to lose steam and we started being influenced by the more fucked up side of crust, grind and sludge, there was an obvious movement in the direction of the Space Bong sound. Everything around us screamed hate, drugs, FTW. Doom and sludge provided the creative outlet. When we began playing, punks and metal heads were starting to get along, going to the same shows, squatting warehouses, playing alleyway shows, generally fucking shit up together. We were lucky enough to be amongst things at that time.

The punk undertones of sludge and doom, the DIY ethos, are critical elements to our existence. When we shifted from a crusty grind sound to a deep sludge/doom vibe, people got it. The Death Of Utopia was a natural transition for a lot of people in our milieu. Things have continued ever since. Surprisingly, despite all the fuck ups, splits and down time, we've had the support of many good people who continue to believe in the authenticity of what we do. We hope that the honesty of our music cuts through, because it's basically a representation of who we are as beings in the world.

· Why did you choose the name Space Bong for the band?

Chrisfits, one of our original singers, come up with it off the cuff. Only later did we realise that he inadvertently stole it from a Jetsons episode that he watched as a child. But maybe, just maybe, he was high at the time.


· You released a classic debut album back in 2009 – The Death Of Utopia. Has it surprised you the response and praise it’s received over the years. As it’s classed as a modern classic.

You wouldn't believe how surprised we are. I'm not sure what happened. Anna Vo (one of the greatest human beings on the planet) from An Out Recordings, originally based in Sydney, Australia, released The Death Of Utopia for us. I don't know what she did, but something otherworldly occurred. People somehow heard it and vibed with it. We were all pretty messed up during and after that album, so no outreach was done to promote it from our side. We definitely played shows throughout Australia, but didn't push things besides that.

· Looking back then – Did you know you had something special? Would you now change anything about it?

I don't think we really knew what we were doing. Dave wrote really heavy long songs. I was in a pit of self-hate and despair. That was all we knew. The recording process, like all our recording processes, was torture. The lyric and vocal writing process was always last minute and sporadic. I've lost so many lyric sheets that I've nearly given up all together. It's lucky that The Death Of Utopia even exists, to be honest. The guy that recorded it last all the recordings on his computer. All we had was a rough mixed cd that Dave found after we realised that the original recordings didn't exist anymore. If it wasn't for that stroke of fate, the album would've been lost to the vortex of shit that seems to always swirl near us.

· How would you describe your own sound? Blackened Sludge, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal. Or all of the above.

I personally like the term blackened sludge because of it's relation to darkness and the dank aesthetic of hate and drug abuse. Musically, I think it's honest to say that we have definite elements of heavy stoner metal, which somehow become something else when brought together with our darker stuff. To me it becomes indistinguishable once lyrics and vocals are added. It's just heavy, dark and messed up.

· You’ve just released a new EP/Cassette Single – In Doom We Crust. Where the main point has to be the new single – Deadwood To Worms. And one that will be from your eagerly awaited 2nd album. What can people expect from the album? Is the album going to be as heavy as the new song?

Deadwood To Worms is definitely not the heaviest song on the new album. There is much heavier. The new album is very much a continuation of The Death Of Utopia, given that the songs were written not long after. Thinking about it now, it has a very similar flow, although the detail to song writing, structure and bleakness of the riffs are a step up. There is a little surprise at the end of the album to get peoples bleak rump asses bumping.


· Was it a hard or easy album to record for? And did you ever expect that it would take over 6 years to release your next record/album.

We've never been a highly organised band. We've always suffered from drastic fractures mentally and personally, making the writing and recording process painful and long. This album has been recorded for 3 years or so. It's taken us this long to settle down as individuals and a group. Now that we have, things are looking better for our longevity and productivity. We have every intention and the material ready to record our next EP before our long recorded LP is even out. All things remaining the same, Space Bong will have 3 new recordings out within the next 12 months.

· You’ve performed with some legendary bands over the years. Who has been your favourite to perform with and the reasons why?

It's always a kick to perform with the bands we have. Looking back I can't even believe that we've played with the bands we have. Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine we'd get the chance. I think the ones that have stood out for me are Neurosis, OM and Wolves In The Throne Room. These bands have provided us with the solace and inspiration that we all need to continue to create and focus on what inspires us about this world. To share this time and history with these musicians and music lovers is the greatest of honours that we'll go to the grave smiling about.

· It seems Space Bong can be a very hard band to be apart of at times. How do you all cope with the struggles of being in the band? Was there anytime you all thought – That this is the end of Space Bong as a band?

I don't think we've every truly considered breaking the band up. Giving up on Space Bong would mean giving up on music and ultimately, death. It's not that we take the band seriously or anything like that. It's more that we take living life seriously. There is no distinction between music and life for us. It's all the same game. While we may have very divergent lifestyles (now), we all understand one another, our pains and trials. When things were really, really fucked up, we were there for each other, experiencing the same shit, day after day, for no other reason than suffering and self-abuse.

Some of us have evolved and occasionally we get out of the swamp. But you can’t forget that sort of interpersonal intensity. You can look into a person a know if they know. There is a genuine friendship that transcends the petty bullshit. Whenever I’ve wanted to kill someone in the band, all it takes is to look at them and the hate subsides.

· You’ve been classed as one of Australia’s Best Sludge/Doom Metal Band. Do tags and descriptions like that ever become a burden and a hard thing to live upto?

I don't think we've ever seen ourselves as being one of the best sludge/doom bands in Australia. We've played the most disgusting, despicable of scenes and sets imaginable. And regardless of what anyone else thinks or says, we're just going to be what we are. Good or bad really isn't the thing. It's a spectrum where ultimately everything is just a slight variation on the same theme. We have good and bad days. What makes us good/bad, I don't really know. We are what we are. That seems to be enough.


· Australia has a rising Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene currently at the moment. Tons of great bands such as Adrift For Days, Aver, Shelfin, Horsehunter and Ya̧nomamö. Is the scene getting any better in Australia or do you get more recognition from abroad? How do you think the Aussie Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene can be improved upon?

Australia has some of the most underrated extreme music bands in the world. Take three: Whitehorse (Melbourne), Drowning Horse (Perth) and Mounrnful Congregation (Adelaide). This is a master class of the most extreme music that can be heard anywhere. These bands have toured the world, or could easily do so. Each major city in Australia has at least one band that plays to an international standard and is recognised for it. I think the issue with Australia is that while we have such bands, there's a massive gap between them and the up-and-coming bands who are happy the fill the void without making any musical or artistic jumps into original creativity.

These genres are saturated with ambitious parasites and leeches, as in all areas of human life, that learn how to promote and show-pony before they learn how to become authentic, genuine human beings. As I've mentioned, I see no separation between music and life. When that distinction begins to be made is when the 'fake' begins to show. At that point, it becomes nothing but a false spectacle where everyone is acting for the sake of fame and drunken glory. Egos become more important, crowd attendances and sales become the object. It becomes a pissing and shit throwing contest. This is probably the most cynic view that anyone could have of what's happening in Australia.

We are a geographically large continent with an incredibly small population. Everyone knows everyone else. Rivalries and bridge burning between friends is a reality. But there is a genuine group of bands and individuals who are sincerely dedicated to their art and the spirit of cooperation for the higher goals of self-expression. The assholes and egos will be crushed as the honest caregivers of our art rise up to support the growth of new and young bands that carry on the human spirit into deeper, darker realms. For those that care, keep watch of Horsehunter (Melbourne), Tombsealer (Adelaide) and Drowning Horse (Perth). These bands own their variations of the craft.

· Which bands and artists influenced you all as musicians?

We were all originally influenced by the doom and sludge masters: Electric Wizard and Iron Monkey. Thrown in the mix with GG Allin, Turbonegro and grindcore. These days I'm more influenced by things like Corrupted, Primitive Man, ambient, black metal, esoteric buddhism/existentialism with a healthy dose of nihilism and deep ecology. We all have very broad tastes in music that take us from the extremes of classical music to Taylor Swift to Gorgoroth.


· You guys have been touring quite a bit recently. Do you play gigs in your home town or do you have to travel further away to perform regularly.

We've just returned from a stretch of touring which took us 5000kms ie. 3100 miles, in 6 days, playing 5 shows. In total we travelled 7000kms to play 7 shows. This is a decent tour by Australian standards. Australia is the hardest of all 'developed' countries to tour due to our geographic largess and small population. We don't have the density to make touring a regular, viable thing, unless you play clean jean stoner rock or lowest common denominator heavy metal.

We like touring. Staying in our home town results in psychic stagnation and a self-delusional, small town mentality. We've built up a very dedicated following over our 8 years which we appreciate beyond measure. We're even more surprised than ever by the support.

· In 5 words or less – describe the live Space Wrong experience.

Meditative doom misanthropy on punk.

· How important is a physical product to a band like yourselves.

As we refine our aesthetic and philosophy I think the physical becomes a manifestation of our deeper selves. Our past releases have been supported by the creative art of one of Australia's leading tattooists, Amy Duncan. Without her efforts on The Death Of utopia and The Passion Of The Crust, we'd be nothing. For future releases we'll be collaborating internally. 

The way we work is that I come up with the lyrics and themes, while our other singer, Jamie, comes up with the artwork given his day job as a tattooist. We're only just starting this type of working relationship, but are using the next LP release as the debut of our collaboration. We've got a good 5 months to work on it, so I'm really excited to see what we can come up with. As for other physical manifestations of Space Bong, I work with other Adelaide artists, such as Kerri-Ann Wright, using my lyrics as the creative direction.


· Where do you see yourselves in 5 years time as a band and individually. Or is that too hard of a question to answer.

Either dead or having done a fuck tonne of writing and touring. It could go either way. With the current line up and level of commitment, I think we can begin to indulge in the idea and planning to head overseas in 2016. There are those bucket list events, like Roadburn, Heavy Days In Doomtown and Maryland Deathfest, that keep people like us inspired. We're constantly on a knifes edge. Day-to-day I'm constantly struggling to balance my desire to live this doom life to it's logical conclusion.

There are multiple paths open to journey down, some more destructive, creative, painful and happy than others. At this very moment, I'm content to take the musically creative path. When the struggle of this commitment becomes too much to bare, I may choose another path that leads to an existence outside of society, living off-grid, self-sufficient in the bush with significant others. Until that point, I'm keen to live in the (un)civilised world to create music and culture that reflect these dark days.

· What is the songwriting dynamic in the band? Is it down to an individual or is it a group process.

Fundamentally, Space Bong is the musical brainchild of David Gibson. I'm his vocal accompaniment and rehab counsellor.

· If you could give your younger selves advice before starting the band. What would it be and why.

If I was my younger self, I'd tell my older self not to give my younger self any advice. The process is the process is the process. Nothing can or would be different. All is perfect and as it should be. All the chaos has been perfection. Maybe one piece of advice would be not to be such a snotty nosed piece of shit punk asshole.

· What is your musical setup when recording in the studio or playing live. Is it an advanced or basic setup?

We have a very basic set up when we play live. Recording is no different. We have very few frills. Although, we have done noise collaborations in the past with such artists as Die Like a God. In the future we'll be working with a well travelled harsh noise artist Default (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rm_AtYQwhs) on our LP tour in order to capture the complete depth of our recorded material.

· Apart from the new album, What else does 2015 have in store for the band? Anything you like to share with us.

We are setting up to release our LP, Deadwood To Worms, on vinyl in September through the label I've started, FALSExIDOL Records (https://falsexidolrecords.bandcamp.com/) and Sydney's Art As Catharsis.

We're also looking for overseas labels to help distribute in Europe and America. We're gonna back this up in October with a string of massive Australian shows with Adelaide doom/death band, Tombsealer, and the infamous Drowning Horse from Perth, who are also releasing an LP on FALSExIDOL Records.

We've got a couple new songs which we'll be recording mid-year to have ready for a release not long after the LP. Splits with other bands could be on the cards. Then, we've got a big one: a full length album entitled, Hits From The Bong, that will be a covers album of non-metal songs made doom. Bands will include the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Turbonegro, Syd Barrett and many more unsuspecting musical classics.

I'm also going to enter the international band touring game with my first tour of an American sludge band that is currently ripping humanity a new psyche. They're out done by none. Very excited for Space Bong and them to hit the road together next March.

· Finally do you have anything to say to your fans and our readers?

Thanks for doing this interview. It's been a long time coming, but we look forward to dooming in
warehouses, alleyways, clubs, crack dens and rehab clinics throughout the world in the next few years. Let's hope the reaper doesn't strike us down before then. Much hate and bless to you Sludgelord.

I want to thank Kegan from Space Bong to talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. And for Lachlan at Art As Catharsis for arranging this interview. Space Bong will release their 2nd album – Deadwood To Worms – in September 2015. You've been warned!!!

Words by Steve Howe and Kegan

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