Sunday 11 November 2012

Interview with Black Cowgirl

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Ben Maguire from ace Hard Rock/Stoner Rockers - Black Cowgirl. I reviewed their superb S/T debut album back in July 2012.

Ben has been kind enough to do an interview with me. Very cool and honest guy. Lets see what he has to say about all things Stoner Rock amongst others.

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

Sure Steve, in 2008 I met Nate (guitar) at a show at the bar Rex’s and after talking about music all night like a couple of dorks, asked him to play on an instrumental project I had been working on alone. Since we live about an hour apart we started emailing riffs back and forth for a couple of months and talking on the phone a creepy a lot. I am sure both of our wives were very impressed with our 2-3 hour talks about a band we had not formed yet.

Nate and I both knew Mark (drums) from his previous band and one night at a party we had the chance to jam together and we wrote 2 songs or so in about a half hour. We got together a couple weeks later at my place in Lancaster County and hammered out demos for 3 or 4 more songs. Soon after, we recruited Chris on bass and wrote a bunch more songs with the intent to record them but then things rusted to a halt for a while. We were all tied up with other obligations and could not find the time to get together. Every couple of months we would do a random show when we could. We did a couple of small festivals and some local shows and that was it for a long time.

Last year we were asked to tour with CKY for a couple of weeks and we knew we had to record a Ep or something to take with us. We were lucky enough to record a 6 song demo with doom legend John Brenner from Against Nature/Revelation. We spent a VERY long day eating chinese, drinking homemade beer and recording with the more than hospitable and patient Mr. Brenner recording, mixing, drooling over his amp collection and fucking with a mellotron into the wee hours of the night. John did a great job but we had ideas we were not able to capture in a 16 hour marathon session. We then re-tracked the same 6 songs ourselves in three evenings at a friends house and had them mixed by shaman, astral traveler, and semi local recording warlock Rich Gavalis at The Dome and had them ready to go in time for the CKY shows.

Q2 – Why the name Black Cowgirl. A very interesting and great name by the way.

Our first show was with the English band Viking Skull and we needed a band name for a flyer. We had a couple of terrible names we were thinking about such as Sharkcharmer and Madam..but one day I was watching one of my favorite movies from childhood, 1973‘s Westworld and that night tucked in my bed I imagined a female version of Yul Brenner’s character, Black Cowgirl popped in my head and that was that for better or worse.

Q3 – How would yourselves describe your sound.

Like a less talented version of a imaginary supergroup composed of members of Captain Beyond, The Allman Bros, Wishbone Ash, Melvins, Thin Lizzy and Neil Young smashing together in 60‘s Chevy vans at the intersection that Robert Johnson sold his soul at, with a Eyehategod tape in a aftermarket cassette player in one of the vans and a Led Zeppelin tape in one of the other vans. The rest of the vans are tuned to 1980’s 9.33 WMMR.

Q4 – Which bands influence you on your music.

We are all fans of so many kinds of music. My first musical memory is hearing the Neil Young album Harvest when I was 5 years old. That was a huge influence for me as a kid (and now) along with the Beatles, Jethro Tull and Jimi Hendrix. Then in 6th grade I heard Nirvana and found Black Flag and the Melvins and I fell down a punk hole for awhile until I picked up three Metallica tapes at a flea market and reset my course for metal and then I heard Crowbar which led me into a world of guitar harmonies that led to Wishbone Ash and I have been lost since.

Q5 – How has your music been received by fans and critics. Has it all been positive.

So far the response has been very positive.

Q6 – Is Black Cowgirl a Full Time Project or do you have normal jobs to do as well to support the band.

No, we are all blue collar workers, we are like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp gang banging a Bob Seeger song blue collar.......70 hour work weeks sometimes, families, sleeping 5 hours a night writing songs at 3:00 in the morning before doing it all over again blue collar.

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

Very much so, it can be a struggle juggling family, work, shows, tours, life, and keeping the normal life machine greased and running smooth. Luckily we have a group of very understanding ladies who have gone above and beyond to help us practice riffcraft and we could not thank them enough.

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

It goes both ways like David Bowie in the 70’s. Sometimes one of us has a song near complete and ready to roll with minor tweaking right out of the gate and other times we jam on stuff and write through a stream of consciousness sort of process. There is no set formula.

Q9 – You have recently completed tours (or about to complete tours) with CKY and The Company Band. How was that. Was it a great experience. How did the fans treat you.

The CKY tour was great last year, we were not sure what to expect. We knew it was a great opportunity to play in front of large groups of people at bigger venues but we also knew their fans were notorious for hating opening bands and we were very surprised how well we were received, we sold out of the 1st pressing of our Ep half way through tour! We had a great time.

The Company Band tour was WAY too short. The shows were awesome. The Company Band are all great dudes from some of our favorite bands ever. I was just glad to get to see them play every night. Hopefully we will get to do something longer with those guys down the road.......although my attempt to hide my excitement may have came off a little creepy so maybe I ruined our chance for a extended trek. When I try to be “cool” and not act like a fanboy dork I tend to sit in a corner and stare like Ted Bundy while digging in my pants for change I never seem to find. I need to work on my networking skills.

I met Kirk Windstein once, one of my favorite song writers and guitarmonizer ever. It was just him, a friend of mine and me outside of a club in NY. Nobody around, perfect situation to tell the guy what how much I love his work and pick his brain. I was nervous and thought I would play it cool, not act like a fanboy. I thought it would make him more comfortable to be approached on a equal level. Lifesblood for the Downtrodden had just came out, I start off by saying “Hey Kirk, I just got the new album, when I first popped it on I thought uhhggg, but it is starting to grow on me”. As the words came out of my mouth I thought what the fuck am I saying!!! Ha! Windstein was polite and said “cool” or something and when about his buisness. 

This was not how I imagined things going down. I have a similar story with me and Bob Balch from Fu Manchu. I was in California with a good friend of mine and we were staying at his cousins house. She was banging a dude who lived next to Bob Balch and said he would introduce us to him later that night. We spent the day in Mexico drinking heavily. I tried to buy a chicken from some guy, we got in a fender bender, got very lost and the cousin and her bang buddy got in a huge fight and we all drove home in silence. 

When we got out of the car I asked if we were still going to meet the dude from Fu Manchu. Bang boy said fine and took us over. Bob answered and I took note of the things I saw in his place such as a Devo uniform, and Def Leppard poster on the wall. Bob then gave us a copy of the as yet unreleased “California Crossing” album. We went next store to pop it on. We then went back to his place and he asked what we thought. I said I heard a lot of Def Leppard cowbell and Devo’isms and liked it a lot. In my tequilia fueled haze I thought relating his album to things I saw in his apartment would help me relate to him. I was once again wrong. Bob was still polite and took a picture with us. Needless to say nowadays I avoid people I admire more often then not! Anyway as far as the last two tours go the fans and bands treated us great and we could not have been more happy!!

Q10 – Do Critics Reviews bother you at all or do you just take notice of the fans.

It is always nice to be validated and have anyone appreciate what you do but we make sure that we like what we do first and if someone else likes it that is great!

Q11 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band.

The most rewarding has to be us getting to play shows and record, we talked about this band for a long time before we could do anything and now that we are active and focused solely on this project we are having so much fun.

The least rewarding part is not getting things rolling ten years ago!!

Image of Black Cowgirl Double Ep (CD) 2012

Q12 - I love the artwork on your new album. Can you tell how that came about and who designed it.

I stumbled upon Adrian Brouch from Coven Illustration during a link to link internet journey one evening and was blown away by his incredibly detailed artwork. Many of his pictures are a psychedelic journey. I found the album cover picture we used in a folder of incomplete works Adrian had. It looked perfect for the gatefold vinyl we were working on and tied in creepily with many of the album themes. 

I got a hold of Adrian figuring it was a long shot he would be able to finish the drawing in time. Adrian responded promptly and worked hard to get things done by deadline. The art looks great on the CD version and I can’t wait to see the vinyl!

The original ink drawing was black on white and a dear friend David Rudolph added the color as well as doing the layout for the LP and CD.

Q13 – 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.

We are trying to build more of a local presence as of late. It just so happens we have had more opportunities outside of our local bubble and have concentrated more on traveling away from home up to this point.

Q14 - You got any interesting stories from your tours?

While on the Company Band tour my wife went into the ladies room at the one venue and was overwhelmed by the smell of human evacuations. She entered a stall one away from the source of the odor. As she sat a male voice called out (read the next part in a “Hello Clarice” silence of the lambs voice) “There is no toilet paper in that stall”. She looked around and low and behold no toilet paper. She said “Thanks”. and moved to the stall right next to the stink pickle manufacturer.

It is not Gun’s and Rose’s tour crazy, maybe a little Chuck Berry tour fun, but none the less I thought it was very nice of the unnamed person to “out” themselves as a male in the female bathroom just to prevent someone from having a wet bottom with no means to dry it.

Q15 – Finally what are the future plans for the band. Probably promoting your amazing new album. Any plans to tour overseas or is that too expensive.

We are trying to get on more tours. We would also love to go overseas and as soon as a feasible opportunity presents itself we will be there with bags packed! Until then we will trudge along and see what lies behind every door we come across.

Thanks for you time in answering my questions. Good luck with the new album and I hope to hear from you guys in the future. Thanks. Steve

Check This Excellent Band From The Links Below: