Monday 3 September 2012

20 Question with Black Cobra

Black Cobra (Jason Landrian and Rafa Martinez) Photo Raymond Ahner

Hey Sludge fiends, it is Aaron here with another helping of 20 Questions with... and this week, I am delighted to bring you Black Cobra.  Following their amazing shows in the USA where they shared the stage with COC, Gaza and Torche , during some brief downtime Black Cobra kindly agreed to answer some questions.
For those of you who are familiar with this band will already know, that these guys are a ferocious sludge metal duo, who have released four monster Full Lengths to date.  Invernal their latest record, was without question some the heaviest and most aggressive music committed to disc in 2011 and was in my top ten records.  So it gives me great pleasure to present this interview to you.  20 Questions with Jason Landrian of Black Cobra.   Enjoy! 
File:Jason Landrian Black Cobra 071108.jpg
Hey Jason, How are you?  I'm thrilled and surprised you agreed to talk to me.
Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing, in terms of the band at the present?  You finished a tour with COC, Torche and Gaza right?
We’re both home right now. Yeah, we finished that tour last month. It went great.
Q. You’re a band that came to my attention through word of mouth, following your excellent split with Eternal Elysium.  However, for those folks who are not familiar with your band, could you tell me, where you’re from, when Black Cobra first formed? Current band members?
A. We’re Black Cobra from San Francisco, CA. We formed around 2002. It’s guitarist Jason Landrian (me) and drummer Rafael Martinez.
Q. What is the metal scene like in your home town?
A. Pretty cool. There’s a lot of different types of metal bands, and they’re all pretty good.
Q. What made you start the band?
A. Seemed like a good idea at the time. We just wanted to play music we wanted to hear.
Q. Is Black Cobra a full time project? 
A. As much as we can make it a full time project.
Q. Was it always your intention to be a two piece band and what was thinking behind it?
A. The two of us  started writing together, so we decided to just keep it that way. Really, Joe Preston’s THRONES was a big inspiration behind the decision. We figured if he could have a killer one man band, then we could probably do OK with two people.
Q. Do find there are any limitations to being a two piece and does it restrict you in anyway?  Any thoughts? 
A. It just requires a greater amount of creativity to execute certain ideas. We never really see it as a limitation, but more as a challenge.
Q. When you started Black Cobra, what were your hopes and aspirations for the band?
A. Just to write music we liked and to tour.
Q. For the uninitiated, how would you describe the sound of Black Cobra? Has it evolved?
A. Heavy, dark, abrasive music. I like to think it’s evolved since its inception. We’re always trying to push ourselves.
Q. Are you full time musicians? Do you play other instruments? If so, which do you prefer?
A. If you consider Black Cobra full time, then I guess we’re full time musicians. Rafa plays multiple instruments very well. I think his favorite is guitar.
Q. What's it like being in an underground metal band? Is it a struggle?
A. Yes, it’s a struggle. More so in the States than overseas. People here are just so jaded, so it’s hard to get people to come out to shows. With piracy, it’s also hard to get people to buy records too, so yeah, it’s a struggle. However, playing music, especially heavy music...that’s to be expected.
Q. How does being in Black Cobra, compare to being a member of your say Acid King and Cavity?  Did those experiences in previous bands help you in your approach to forming Black Cobra?
A. They influenced our approach for sure. I think they also had an influence on our decision to be a 2 piece. I think we just wanted to strip things down.
Q. What are your influences musically and artistically?
A. We have a lot. Vincent Price, Martin Denny, old Metallica, Melvins, KARP, Stanley Kubrick, to name a few.
Q. Does it surprise you that people buy your music and merch?
A. Yeah. It’s pretty cool.
Q. What are your views of people who download music for free? Are you in favour of the digital era or do you prefer CDS or vinyl?
A. Personally, I like having a hard copy of things, so I don’t download too much. If I do download, I pay for it. As far as people downloading for free, it is what it is. People seem to be doing it no matter what, so I think it’s something that just needs to be accepted.
Q. Invernal is your 4 full length record, do you think it is your best work and why?  What did Kurt Ballou add to the record?  Why him?
A. We’re really happy with how it all came out. I think it’s our best written and best produced. Kurt brought a lot to the table with his great ear and attention to detail. I think his production style really made the recording a good representation of the band. He was suggested by Southern Lord, and we also really liked his work.
Q. As I mentioned earlier, you played some shows with COC, what was it like playing with those guys?
A. It was great. Those guys have been through so much in their career. It was inspiring to see them still writing and playing great music. They’re legends.
Q. What's your career highlight so far? What your aspirations for the future? How do you measure success?
A. All of our overseas trips seem like career highlights. When you find yourself onstage in Japan or Australia...well, it’s pretty fucking awesome. We’ve had some great opportunities to play with some amazing and legendary bands. Not really sure how to measure success, but I feel pretty satisfied with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.
Q. You got any interesting stories from your tours?  You are favourite bands to tour with?
A. We keep it pretty mellow on tour. On this last tour we almost got kicked out of Canada for not having the right paperwork. Favorite bands to tour with: Fu Manchu, High on Fire, Eternal Elysium, Torche, Black Tusk, COC, Struck By Lightning, The Body, Zoroaster, The Sword, Saviours, Gaza, Bison BC, Priestess, many. We’ve been fortunate to have had great tourmates.
Q. Do you write music on the road?  Do you both come up with ideas? Have you got any plans for a new record or new songs written?
A. We don’t normally write on the road. It’s a pretty exhausting regimen. We both come up with ideas. As of right now, there are no plans for a new record in the near future.
Q. You played Desert fest earlier this year?  How was that and is there any chance you're doing more UK dates?  What are you plans for the remainder of 2012
A. Desertfest was REALLY fun! We don’t have any more UK dates lined up. I think we’re going to be staying close to home for the rest of the year. Maybe do some west coast touring. Invernal should be coming out in Japan later in the year. Wait until you see the artwork that Sam Ford did for that one. Looks killer! We also just finished a video for The Crimson Blade. Look for that one VERY soon.
Q. Last question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?
A.Thanks so much for all your support!!!
I'd like to say a big big thank you to Jason Landrian for taking the time to answer these questions.  Thanks man! Love your band and hope to see you guys in the UK, whenever it happens.  Big thank you to you guys (the readers), without you, we'd be talking to ourselves.  Thanks for your support.  More of the 20 Questions feature to come of the coming weeks.  Check out the latest video for Black Cobra below.  For more info about the band, please refer to the links below.