Wednesday 22 August 2012

Interview with The Outlaws Of Zen

Today on Sludgelord I am interview the very cool and brilliant Stoner Metal Band - The Outlaws Of Zen who I have featured here recently.

So lets get started with this extraordinary cool band.

Q1 – For People not in the know – Can you tell them how the band came about, When you formed etc...

Travis - This started from the dissolve of a previous band, After The Dust in March of 2011. We had 3 more gigs to play before The Outlaws became the main focus. I played bass for that band, Korey played guitar, still having something to say musically we started a band immediately. Drummers are hard to find in this area so I switched to drums. I hadn't played much in the 2 years before The Outlaws started, but I had played for about 4 years before ATD. 

 We took this band in a different direction than ATD, originally starting out to keep this band a 2 piece. We realized after a few months that we write for a full band, which is why we started looking around for other musicians that liked what we were doing. We hooked up with Tommy in July 2011 through mutual friends, then Tommy told us about a friend of his Joe Gibson. He comes into the mix in Sept./Oct. 2011, then we had the full band. It just felt really great, we made it work well and fast.

Joe - I have known Tommy's Girl for quite sometime and they come to see my shows in another band (Chainsaw Facelift) I play guitar in, and they heard my back ups and said I would be a good fit. I went and jumped right in and the guys were welcoming.

Korey – They pretty much summed it up. As ATD was folding there was never any doubt that I was going to have to get something going. I’m not very good at not being in a band, so Travis and I just kept rolling.

Q2 – How would yourselves describe your sound.

Travis -- Heavy 70's and 90's influenced rock that touches on stoner rock, metal, garage rock, with an explosive intensity. What ever feels right while constructing songs.

Tommy - A high energy power kick to the face.

Joe - I would describe our music as melodic undertones of the transgressional medal of rock mutates. With a dab of harmonic soul.

Korey – I don’t even know what Joe’s talking about. Please note Travis left out the 80’s.

Q3 – Which bands influence you on your music.

Joe - I listen to all sorts of music. I wait to see what the song calls for and when I start to sing its whatever comes out. I could give a list of bands, but none of them really are influenced on how I sing.

Travis --Graveyard, Pearls and Brass, Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, MC5, The Who, Peeping Tom (AUS), Black Mountain, Deep Purple, to name a few that I channel while writing.

Tommy - Rush is definitely a big one, in terms of musicianship. Metallica is another one that brought about attitude and aggressiveness.

Korey - Led Zeppelin is the biggest influence for me, but my tastes run all over the place. Some of my current favorites in heavier music are...Red Fang, Black Cowgirl, Rival Sons, Graveyard and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Sharing equal time with the heavier bands are my moody favorites Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Murder By Death, Hank III and the Drive By Truckers.

Q4 – How has your music been received by fans and critics. Has it all been positive.

Tommy - In general everyone's response has been positive. Any direction you go down in music there will always be people that are wishy washy about your music, which I suppose you could call "constructive criticism". You can choose two options of course, be pissed or turn it into something that make push twice as hard as you did before. I think we all know the best option of those two.

Travis -- Some people will just blow smoke up your ass which is to be expected. 95% of those who have spoken up, have seemed genuine.

Joe --- A lot of my friends are into a lot heavier stuff, and make comments like it was constructed well, or good energy. Which in my mind, means it is not really their style which is fine. A lot of people have received us way better than I could have imagined. We have something for everyone.

Korey ---- So far so good, especially for a self produced DIY basement recording. I think most importantly we are pretty happy with what we created. Every trip to the studio is a huge learning experience especially when you do every aspect yourself. There are things we will do differently next time, but that’s part of the process. Now we just need to get back into the studio before we forget everything we learned.

Q5 – Is the band a Full Time Project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band.

Joe - Everyone of us is trying to make a living while doing this project. We are just the middle class trying to find a way to express ourselves and make sure the electricity stays on so we can continue.

Korey --The band doesn’t pay the bills, it rarely even buys us a beer. 

Travis --- We all have straight jobs, we just don't make enough to make this a full time gig. I can speak only for myself,..I would love to make it my full time job. It's a labor of love.

Tommy ---- Yes, the band is a full time project, however, we all have families to worry about and bills to pay. I'm sure I can say this for all of us we would love to just play and play and play and that take care of everything and everyone, so yes, indeed, the normal 9-5 is daily routine.

Q6 – How do you cope with families, full time jobs and being part of a band. It must be a struggle at times.

Travis - Day jobs are a necessary evil, My family knows that I would solely play music if it was more lucrative. I don't need to be wealthy but if I could make; playing in a band, what I make at my straight job I would be a happy boy. Music just isn't what puts food on the table. 

We just haven't found someone willing to pay us what we need to make this an "8-5 thing". For sanity's sake, I won't go without music for very long before I need to get my fix. It's as necessary as breathing for me. I would prefer to make a living from playing music; just gotta get our foot in the right door, and shake the right hands.

Korey -- It’s never that easy. Jobs make getting our rehearsal time and shows in difficult due to our schedules being all over the place. We have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd shift workers in the band. We do what we can, add families to the mix and you start having to prioritize. With us family is first but music is therapy.

Tommy - Always try to have fun with everyone and everything possible; no matter if it's work, family, or music. You'll be surprised how much stress you save yourself. If that doesn't work, music sure is a great way to blow off steam!

Joe - It is a struggle with a huge pay off. Everyone in the band is a very understanding individual, and knows there are other things that come up. When we get together and jam, or get off stage after an awesome show; nothing else matters, and its a great feeling.

Q7 – Are you families and friends supportive of your band and music.

Travis----Yes, but they know that there isn't any other way for me. They all know I'm not going to give up my music time for much. Again, if it were up to me; the guy's and I would be making enough to sustain ourselves financially with the band. 

Joe - They better be, (haha) or I wouldn't have any friends and would've disowned my family. Being supportive of someone you care about; there dreams and goals is very important to me. Small goals to the almost unattainable should be supported. It is all we have at times, our dreams and goals.

Tommy - Absolutely! 150 percent.

Korey – Oh yeah! I’ve been very lucky that I have a very supportive wife that puts up with all the guys coming over drinking our beer and making a lot of noise. 

Q8 – What is the song-writing process like in the band. Is it a whole band collective or individuals that write the music.

Travis-- It's becoming more of a collabrative effort. At first Korey and I had enough material to keep us moving, for quite awhile. There is still a lot in the "songs to be" pile. We want everybody to put their stamp on each song, so everyone is a part of the "constructing" portion. You will (9 times out of 10) as a musician, put more into the song if there is investment in the writing process.

Joe - Mainly Korey and Travis started with a lot of great material, but are very open minded to tweaks that Tommy and I bring to the table. The lyrics are mainly me but I am open to editing by other members or if they have a song they want done then I am all for it. With the Swine was a song that Travis was a big part of, and brought in from an older project he was involved with. As we continue to grow it becomes this well oiled machine of music making awesomeness with everyone’s opinion counting. It is a very easy process with these guys.

Tommy - It usually starts as an individual part, or idea. Then becomes a collective unity after we jam it out, and add our particular flavors to conceive our songs.

Korey---Almost everything in this band, so far, has come from songs being brought in with rough arrangements then worked over as a group. Joe is a killer guitarist, as well as, singer and he brings in ideas and songs. Tommy is proving himself as a very clever when it comes to arranging and writing riffs. Travis started playing as a guitarist and still writes from that perspective. 

We have plenty of writers and it helps with everyone playing string instruments. All that said, my favorite way to write is just jam, but we have such a pile of songs in varying states of done that jamming doesn’t get much time yet.

Q9 – How did the name The Outlaws Of Zen came about.

Travis--It came from a list of names, Korey did one and I did one. Names like Fuzzbomb, The Mud Hippies, Goonbucket and the Outlaws of Zen, Parasitic Twins, sheep in wolves clothing, the earthquakes, etc................. I liked the goonbucket name, minus the goonbucket part, so I asked Korey what about just The Outlaws Of Zen?

Korey –Worked for me. This was the simplest band name to pick EVER. It helped that we picked it while there were only two of us.

Joe - I showed up for tryouts and asked what the name was and they said The Outlaws of Zen. I said Bad Ass, and rolled with it.

Q10 – What is the gig scene like in your home town. Do you get a chance to do a lot of local shows or do you have to travel further away from home to get your music across.

Travis----It goes up and down, venues open up then close. Maybe someday we'll get to come to your neck of the woods.

Korey – It’s pretty brutal right now.

Joe - It's just like the economy, day to day it rises and falls. That won't stop us from pushing through, and making sure the people have great music to start their work day off with to get them pumped. Or after work when they want to release their frustration, because someone didn't clean the microwave at the office (haha).

Q11 – Have you toured with any famous bands and have you got any interesting stories from your tours?

Joe - We haven't been around long enough yet to play with the big nationals. I think we are completely capable of hanging with the big dogs. We've played with a good amount of great local bands from an untapped source of good music.

Travis -- No, not at the moment, hopefully that will change in the near future.

Korey - Travis is right, however, we have played some shows with people that are famous in their own minds. Does that count?

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

Joe - Most rewarding is getting to express myself and make music I enjoy. The least is when I show up at Korey's to jam, and his dog attacks me with his big bear like muddy paws (haha).

Korey – My favorite is watching Joe get attacked by my dog and creating new art. The least rewarding is those days where the band takes a back seat to life.

Travis -The most rewarding is just playing off someone else, especially when something lands just right. The least is having a straight job that gets in the way of playing music. Korey's dog loves Joe!

Q13 – What is your view of bands and blogs giving away music for free. Lot of bands and people have different perspectives. (I know I keep asking this question but it's a popular question the fans like).

Korey --We are right there giving it away for free, all you have to do is go to our Bandcamp page. I believe in supporting bands that I like by purchasing merch and recordings. As a fan I love when someone lets me sample it for free. If I love it, I buy it.

Travis--No one is going to stop it, no matter how hard you try or hope. Music is meant to be heard, share it! Some people get lucky enough to make a living off of music, and Yes it does bite into there pay check. What are you going to do. If we waited around for the right people, the right time to come along, we'd be waiting a long time. So fuck it, we want people to hopefully get some joy out of what we do musically. 

If you want a hard copy then you gotta buy it. It's out there to download, and listen to if you want it for free. Maybe send us a comment via email as payment, we just want it to be heard. We just want to make the biggest stain on music history that we can.

Joe - I play music to express myself. If someone wants a copy of our disc, because they love our music but cant afford it, I say give it away. The true fans that you take care of will eventually be there for you no matter what. We are in the business to be heard not to take peoples money. 

We only charge money for our merch so we can make more merch for our fans. No one is pocketing the money. If I had a way to make shirts and CD's myself, and give it away for free I would. I say pay to see the band live, but I have nothing against someone burning our CD and giving it to a friend. In fact I want more of that to happen.

Q14 – With you guys being Outlaws and everything. Which one person if you have the power would you erase from existence in the realm of music. Mine would be Justin Beiber and Simon Cowell for obvious reasons. (Not really a serious question just throwing something different into the mix).

Joe - If I could get rid of one person who claims to be a musician, it would be anyone who opposes the Hasselhoff! That guy rocks and has the best sense of humor ever.

Korey – Since "The Hoff" is off limits, I’ll go with a different German. Hampel who invented the modern horn in 1753. I really hate horns.

Travis --With my plastic rayguns a blazin, that is a tough question, there are so many "artists" stinkin' up the music world, I don't know where to start........................

By the way.......our next record will have an army of horns, because Korey loves horns......A LOT!

Q15 – Finally what are the future plans for the band.

Travis - -To take it balls deep, to ride this as hard and as long as we can, before the envitable happens.

Korey – It’s time to play some shows, but hope to record again before the end of the year; at least another EP. Travis has it right, we are gonna ride this one out and make as big of a mess as possible. After that you’ll probably find me on a street corner performing as “Goonbucket”.

Joe - I want our band on on Lunch boxes, Urinal cakes, our own brand of Outlaw Guns. I want our music in adult movies around the world. Getting invited to some porn award shows, and winning a golden dong, is way better than an Oscar. And now.......Best music in a Double penetration Choke scene goes to..............The Outlaws of ZEN!!!! OMG!!! We are winners!!!! I would like to thank the following.........................................................

Thanks for the great responses guys. And if you do win a Porn Award then you have finally put Stoner Metal on the map. All the best from ourselves at Sludgelord.

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