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Monday, 13 July 2015
"Beyond Good & Evil": An Interview with Jeff Owen from Goya
are a band not needing of an introduction ‘round
these parts. The Sludgelord swamp has become their home from home in many ways
as we have followed and championed every single one of their booming, Sabbath
worshipping steps. So here we stand side by side once more as the Phoenix,
Arizona three piece readies the release of their arresting new album, ‘Obelisk.’ Phil
Weller, who once described their sound as being “as
characteristic and as impossible to ignore as the Bat-Signal blaring into a
cold, dead night sky,” muses with the Jeff Owen over the new album,
Spanish romantic artwork and surprising influences.
you guys release your new record, ‘’Obelisk next month through STB
Records. It'll be your first full release with the label so how have they been
to work with and help get the Goya sound out to as many people as possible?
Jeff: Really great. They have
absolutely bent over backwards for us to accommodate all sorts of crazy
requests. Haha. Since STB picked up this album, we have seen a lot of new fans
take interest. STB always has really nice-looking releases, so it’s been great getting
that treatment. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the vinyl looks in October!
Place in the Sky' closes the new record which is a song you used with your
split Wounded Giant last year, was that a song written especially for that
Jeff: Absolutely. Every song on Obelisk is very directly connected
to every other song on Obelisk. Additionally, the version on the split is a
little different. It was an early mix, and we ended up retracking some guitar
and vocal stuff for the final version, which we are much happier with.
SL) Theguitartones on ‘Obelisk’ are
absolutely killer, what gear are you currently using?
Jeff: Currently I’m running a Sovtek
Mig 100 through a 400 watt Orange 412 and a 240 watt Randall 412, and a
Marshall DSL100H through an Orange PPC412, though I did not have the Marshall
when we recorded Obelisk. On my pedal board, I run through a Magick Fuzz from
Magic Pedals, and I feel that that has become an integral part of my tone. I
also run through a Cry Baby Wah, a Phase 100, and a Roland Space Echo RE-20,
each of which also play a large part in our sound.
You were in a punk band before you formed Goya, does that style of music
influence your writing in any way? Tracks like ‘The
a quick tempo to them which, considering the nature of the band comes as a
Jeff: When a fast song comes up, it usually is just what happens. I’ve tried to
consciously make fast songs before, and they generally end up sounding like
garbage if they’re forced. Whatever happens happens. That being said, I grew up
listening to punk, and playing in punk bands, and I’m sure that will
always be an influence on a subconscious level, at the very least. It’s refreshing for us
to play those faster songs!
band is named after the Spanish romantic painter Francisco Goya, whose 'Black
Paintings' you've previously stated captured your imagination. Looking at those
paintings, they have a very dark, almost oppressive feel to them and your music
seems to reflect that, is that the idea?
Jeff: It took us quite a few months to settle on the name Goya. That
was one I brought to the table because of the painting Saturn Devouring His
Son, which wouldn’t be a terrible band name, but I think we all wanted something more
succinct. All of the Black Paintings are great, as is all of his work. I think
the thing that sold us on the name is that it isn’t very restrictive.
Yes, Goya painted the Black Paintings, and made all of the Caprichos. He did
some very dark, unsettling work. But he also did some very beautiful work.
Ultimately, it is his diversity as an artist that makes it a fitting name, to
me. But, to directly answer your question, there is an atmosphere about
Francisco Goya’s darker work that we also strive to create, so in that sense, yes,
that is the idea.
on the topic of artwork, the cover for the new album is fantastic. Could you
tell me a little bit about its creation and concept please?
Jeff: Laney Oleniczak did all of the artwork for this release, and
it was not a short or easy process for her. STB, her, and myself all went all
over the place with the cover art. There were a few sketches and a couple of
versions. There were a lot of influences for this album (which I will go further
into in one of the following questions), and they certainly played a part in
the final decision as far as what would actually be on the cover. Originally,
the art was going to be a gatefold, so I came up with the idea for the “burning obelisk”cover. My vision for it was quite a bit different from, and nowhere
near as awesome as what Laney came up with. Then, some other ideas came up from
the label for a different style of cover (I’m not sure how much
I’m at liberty to discuss that, with vinyl release still months off),
so I talked to Laney about going a different direction with it, and using the
obelisk for something other than the front cover. Then, insane vinyl delays
came up, and we were forced to do some other kind of release to not push the
album back another four or five months, so we ended up able to use the original
gatefold idea for a CD, and a variation of the art on cassette. I’m most excited about
the final cover for vinyl, though. It will be great to see that whole package
when it’s done. Laney fucking killed it on that! It’s gonna be the
sickest shit ever!!!
Eyes' is another standout track on the record for me, it's a slow and moody
acoustic song. How did that come about?
Jeff: At home, I try to have at least one guitar readily accessible
at all times, and that guitar usually ends up being an acoustic. One day, I
just picked it up and played some around a little before I landed on the
opening notes of 300 Eyes. I really liked that, and knew I wanted it to be on
this album, so I started working on fleshing it out a little more. As I recall,
it took a couple of days to really pull that one together lyrically, during
some of which time, I was still writing the music. 300 Eyes is obviously a
weird one for us. We don’t play it live, and I’m not sure we ever
will. On the surface, it is one of our least “heavy”songs, but I consider it to be the darkest track on Obelisk.
the spirit of Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Sleep is strong on the new record -
but not overpowering. Are there any moreleft-fieldbands, songs,books or movies etc. that
played an influential part in the making of Obelisk that people might not
Jeff-One of the greatest things I find in music is the ability for
it to mean different things to different people. What I mean by that is that a
song can sometimes be related to on such a personal level by the listener, even
when the song is about an experience personal to the performer. Because of
this, I don’t want to explain Obelisk too much. Anyone who really sits down with
it and picks it apart can start to have a pretty good idea about what the story
underneath it is.
That being said, there are definitely a lot of influences on it, and
I am absolutely willing to provide a little background. The biggest influence on
the album is the comic book “From Hell”by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. Reading that book will help to
make sense of some themes on Obelisk. The AC/DC album “Highway to Hell”is an influence, as is Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, though those two
are more subtle in their influence. There are a number of people that strongly
influenced the content of this album, as well.
themes lyrically inspire you?
Jeff-Disappointment with our species and general misanthropy are
probably the two biggest lyrical inspirations to me, with Satan, marijuana, and
oblivion not too far behind. On Obelisk, however, my biggest lyrical influences
were murder, religion, women, and the afterlife.
for taking the time to speak to The Sludgelord
Jeff: Thank you!
the best and congrats on a wicked album,
Phil Weller ‘Obelisk’ will be release on CD/CS via STB and the band
on 1 August 2015, with the vinyl due in October For more
information: Like: Facebook Listen: BandCamp