Wednesday 11 July 2012


Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Scott and Spencer from MAKE – The brilliant Sludge/Doom/Psych/Sludge/Post-Metallers Noise Makers who are starting to make a name for themsevles with their amazing debut album. Trephine.

We have featured them before a few times on the blog. I did an article last year before they released Trephine which old Sludgelord Team Member PJ Sludge reviewed here.

I agreed with every word that Phil said and then some. Plus the album has received some pretty fucking major praise from magazines around the globe.

I have bought this album on Digital Download and now Vinyl. Now available on Devouter Records.

So lets get on with talking to one of the best Sludge/Doom/Drone/Post-Metal bands around.

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. For people who are unfamiliar with your band, can you tell them little bit about the history of the band? Where you're from, band members, when and why you formed?

Scott: Hello there. MAKE is myself, Spencer Lee and Matt Stevenson. We’re collectively from Chapel Hill though I moved here about eight years ago from NYC and am originally from Wisconsin. The band formed about three years ago because each of us wanted to play slow, heavy music. Not much more to the origin story than that!

Q2 – How would you describe your sound?

Scott: Not very well, most likely. It’s one of those questions you forget how bad you are at answering until the next time somebody asks you. If I had to though, I suppose I’d keep it simple and say it’s psychedelic, repetitive metal and hopefully very cathartic. 

Q3 – Is The Band a Full Time Project or do you have regular jobs to support the band?

Scott: We all have jobs, yeah, but MAKE is something I’m working on or with around the clock. Whether it’s planning, writing or playing it’s never separate from me…which is pretty essential when it comes to whatever music I’m currently involved with. I want it to consume as much of me and my time as possible since it’s the only thing which I’ve ever really been able to make sense of. Or rather, it’s the only thing which I have never needed to make sense of. It’s the only thing which keeps me comfortable.

Spencer: It’s definitely something I consider to be a full-time project. I have two jobs, but music is really what consumes my consciousness. Along the lines of what Scott said, creating and making sense of music is what helps me stay sane, but then on the other side of that same coin music helps me make sense of the rest of the world. 

Q4 – How has the reaction been like to your music overall. At home and abroad. (I know Trephine is starting to make waves. Amazing album by the way. All praise is truly deserved)?

Scott: Well, shit. Thank you. The reaction, since we first let the rest of the world hear it, has been surprising for me. I had no expectations so it’s been pretty flattering so far. It’s a little strange too, because I think enough time has gone by that I can’t personally enjoy it. All I can hear are the flaws. But that’s fine. I don’t ever want to be completely satisfied and it’s not to say I’m not proud of the album we made. I just feel like people start making terrible decisions once they feel like they’ve somehow arrived at the answer to the questions they’ve been asking, figuratively or literally.

Spencer: It’s been absolutely flattering, to say the least. I don’t really even know how to describe it, but I’ll just say I’m thoroughly psyched that people have responded so well. With all that music has done for me throughout my entire life, one of my biggest hopes is that I can give something back.

Q5 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Scott: For sure. Most of our peers are musicians and there’s plenty of love and support around here. Family’s a little trickier…but I’ll just say the people closest to me have always believed in me, corny as that sounds. My father is the reason music is such a huge part of my life and he has supported me in this way since I was a child.

Spencer: Absolutely, yeah. Really, my parents are to thank for the fact that I even learned to play a musical instrument. They’ve always been incredibly supportive of my playing in pretty much every aspect, even if they’re not fans of the music that comes out of it. Endless props to them.Our friends, too. Like Scott said, a lot of us around here play music, and we all like to support each other as much as we can. Perfect example: Our long-time friend and now booking agent, Michelle, who plays in an absolutely stellar band, Black Skies, with our other good pals Kevin and Tim. But even our friends who don’t play give us a lot of support. It’s heartwarming as Hell to know so many amazing people. 

Q6 – Who are your musical influences?

Scott: Some of the most important influences to me, beyond the obvious “Jimmy Page” or “Tony Iommi” answers, are Lungfish, Godflesh, Cathedral, Circle, Spacemen 3 and The Verve (before they turned to shit). There’s obviously hundreds or thousands more but those few are bands whose work really shifted my mind around and made me think a lot differently than I had before hearing them. And oddly enough, maybe, to those who don’t know me, but there’s a shit-ton of new British electronica like Demdike Stare and Byetone which has been blowing my mind and giving me new perspectives lately too.

Spencer: A lot of the same ones as Scott. For my part I would add Sunn O))), Burning Witch, Sleep, Om, Dragged into Sunlight, Hooded Menace, Pink Floyd, a lot of Black Metal, The Jesus Lizard, My Bloody Valentine, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Swans, et cetera. Also been on a huge kick with Obake and Flower Travellin’ Band lately.

Q7 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a group collective or is it just one of you writing the whole show.

Scott: It’s a mixture of both. Sometimes I’ve got a pretty good set of riffs but no finalized arrangement so I present it to the guys and we brainstorm for a while, Spencer will add some riffs he came up with independently which inexplicably always work, Matt will suggest trying something from a certain angle, etc. Not always this way but usually combinations like this. And then…sometimes we just get together, smoke a bit and see what happens.

Q8 – Was Trephine a very hard album to write. I know it was inspired by the death of a close friend of Scott's. Was this written as part of the grieving process. As I will admit this album made me quite emotional listening to it. Very haunting stuff you have on this record.

Scott: First, thank you for the compliment. But yeah, this is one of those things that kind of got away from us like a very short game of telephone. The death was of somebody we all knew, liked and respected but were not especially close to. Just to make that a little clearer. He’s somebody I’d love to think we would have gotten closer to, but the death impacted me all the same. It’s just a subject I don’t deal with very well especially when it happens to people your age in your daily life. And no, it wasn’t difficult making the record with this in mind. For me,not making this record as a part of a coping process would have been the hard part.

Q9 – With the subject matter of the album being so close to home. Is it hard to perform these songs live. Or do you feel it's honouring your friends memory on a more long lasting and personal level.

Scott: We played a show shortly after it happened and we dedicated our set to Wes. I didn’t really know what to say because I didn’t know him that well. I just thanked him for being a positive part of Chapel Hill’s music community and started the first song before getting too choked up. I think I released all the anxiety I had over the subject by now. But it’s not just about him. It’s about you, me and everybody else who has lived and died or has yet to complete that process and how we cope with it. At least, that is, insofar as my input goes. That’s what I’ve been attempting to convey through the concept of the record. It’s all about coping.

Spencer: Playing live shows is an incredibly cathartic and necessary process for me. It’s a physical presentation of the visceral nature behind what we write. The music is emotional, for sure, but playing it live is more therapeutic than anything else I do in my life.

Q10 – What has the reception been like to the band performing live since releasing your new album.

Scott: Excellent! We just got back from a fantastic mini-tour with Dragged Into Sunlight and the responses all felt very excited and positive. I didn’t know what to expect. It’s funny, for some reason I thought we were going to get heckled all tour long for not being as aesthetically dark or brutal as DIS but I don’t think we had a single negative response. At least nothing I personally heard. Was all very, very cool.Tons of great, friendly people being great, friendly people.

Spencer: Scott hit the nail on the head. I’m thoroughly psyched about how much people have been enjoying the live shows.

Q11 – I first got into your band when you were a 4 piece. Then Daniel left the band soon after. Was it a hard decision to remain as a 3 piece? Did you ever feel the need to replace him? (Thank God you didn't as I felt you made the right decision to carry on as you are now.) 

Scott: In the first few days we toyed with the idea of replacing Daniel and who it might be but it didn’t last very long or go very far before we decided this could actually be an exciting shake-up and we might as well try it. I’m glad we did too because the band ended up forced into becoming something a bit different but subsequently something which has led to each of our personalities growing individually and together. It’s forced us to work in ways we previously hadn’t had to or even considered and I’m so much more comfortable working in the unknown. The less an idea I have about what I’m about to do, the more genuine and real it feels when it happens.

Q12 - What are the most/least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. 

Scott: Most: The knowledge that in the midst of keeping myself sane by doing the only thing which makes much sense to me I am having even the slightest positive effect on somebody else.

Least: The hand and wrist arthritis flare ups. Wish I was joking about that one.

Spencer: Most: Creating something I’m proud of with some of my best friends. Least: My amp is pretty finicky. It’s a Sunn 300T and I love it to death, but it’s been in the shop at least once every couple months since I bought it about a year ago. I have a backup that I like, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can somehow get the issues with that Sunn worked out before too long. 

Q13 – With Trephine being released on Vinyl. (Love the Vinyl Design). How did you hook up with Devouter Records.

Scott: After a good portion of the initial wave of press started coming through our friend Darren who is doing PR for us just called one day and said “Hey, there’s a guy who’s going to contact you.” And later that day, Phil of Stressed Sumo emailed me and said he’s starting a new label called Devouter and he’d like to put ‘Trephine’ out on vinyl. A few emails later and it was a go. Pretty exciting stuff, this will be my first release of anything I’ve done on vinyl and Devouter’s first release, period. 

(Sludgelord Note - The Vinyl version of Trephine is 7 songs long compared to the CD/Digital Versions of 9 songs. This is what Scott had to say in what I call the Trephine Vinyl - The Director's Cut.)

Scott: Yeah, the two that we left off were songs from the Daniel days. We were asked by the pressing plant if we could trim the album down about 20 minutes or so and Matt and I really wanted to lose the older material and just look forward. We were actually pretty excited to get rid of those songs and both feel like the album is closer to what we actually should have released in the first place.

Q14 – Do you care what critics say about your music? Is it only the fans views that count? 

Scott: While I am fully aware there are people out there who say they don’t care, or at least are incredibly convinced they don’t, I do. Only to a certain extent, but I do. The truth is that I’d be playing music in some capacity with or without an audience. If I existed in a void I’d be singing to myself in my head. That said, I find it particularly rewarding and much more enjoyable when the thing I’d be doing anyway is being talked or written about by somebody not myself and not in the band. 

Not just for the vacuous sake of conversation or ego-stroking, but because it means that the reach of my music just got a little bit longer. And in a sense this does lead back to the fans, because the most important aspect of being in a band or being actively performing in a band is that I can only hope that I’m bringing some form of positivity to somebody else in the world. As a strong believer in the philosophy of humanism I think it’s really goddamn important to be a positive force in this very fucked up world and if my tiny blip of existence gave even the smallest bit of something to somebody else out there, fuck me…that’s the best I have to offer and receive. On top of all that I welcome others’ input, criticisms, praise or interpretations. It’s never going to have any impact on what I do, but I genuinely enjoy it just the same. When you read a review and somebody interprets something the way you intended and they sound excited about it? I don’t know. It’s a pretty rewarding feeling.

Spencer: Yeah, I’ll definitely admit to caring what critics have to say. It’s always a great feeling to read a positive review, and I absolutely welcome the criticism of reviews that aren’t as good. This is art. It’s a process. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to tailor-make the music I play to suit the desires of critics (or anyone other than myself and my bandmates, for that matter), but it’s definitely great to hear feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

Q15 – Do you have any cool or interesting stories when you have been on tour?

Scott: I’m too ADHD for stories so I’ll just do random recent highlights: Early morning Bob Evans trip in Chicago with DIS crew and Ryan from Encrust (who put us all up like a fucking champion) was pretty intense. Seeing Tom of DIS with about five Bob Evans temporary tattoos on his face was a personal highlight. Watching Al destroy a fence. Getting to hear Widowmaker almost in its entirety before Andy’s battery wore out. Meeting the Coffinworm dudes who were pure awesome on and off stage. Being back in NYC, first ave, east village, window seat, Sam Adams in a pint glass after buying yet another P.K. Dick book at Strand. Jay’s face when his take-out fell through the paper bag and onto our merch. Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon.

Spencer: Yeah, the whole tour is really one big, great story. Never a dull moment. All of the dudes in that touring crew are really amazing people, and I feel really honored to know them. And what a band, too. I’ve never experienced anything that brutal from a musical performance in my life. Having been a (relatively) long-time fan of theirs too, it was an incredible experience. One of the most awesome weeks of my life.So many amazing bands in their hometowns, too. Definitely second Scott’s sentiments on Coffinworm as well. Holy Hell. Also, yeah, lots of bourbon and scotch.

Q16 – Finally my last question is - What are the future plans for MAKE. Any plans to tour overseas.

Scott: Currently working in early stages on what is tentatively being planned as a two-song EP and the next full length. The EP should be done and available before the year is done, fingers crossed. Future plans essentially mean doing as much as we can do when we can do it. Overseas is just a wish and a hope right now as we simply don’t have the funds for it. Wish we did!

Spencer: Yeah, I think I basically look at our future plans as “everything we can do”.

So Thanks To Scott and Spencer for doing this interview. Much appreciated. Go and buy their brilliant new album - Trephine as it's fucking awesome.

Check The Guys Below:


And witness the brutal power of MAKE live on stage recently performing - ...And Time Came Undone