Thursday 10 January 2013

20 Questions w/ Dopethrone

Hey disciples of  Sludge, Happy New Year to you all.  I hope you are well after the indulgences of the Christmas and New Year celebrations? Back to business, with a new year and a new batch of killer interviews to present to you guys.

Well, the year end lists for 2012 have been posted and a permanent fixture in many lists will no doubt have been Dopethrone with their stunning record 'III'.  Dopethrone came blasting out with all guns blazing with another stunning slab of filth, which Steve described  as 'their best album to date with III. A 5 song and 36 minute bruising encounter going throw the dark world of that horrible thing called THE OCCULT and DRUGS. And to their credit Dopethrone have released their most defining work to date. And another contender for album of the year'  Indeed Steve included it his year end list and gave it amazing review.

I was fortunate enough to hook up with Carl, (Dopethrone drummer) at the back end of 2012 and talk about all things Dopethrone.  Their DIY approach to music, their impending Euro tour and indeed on the eve of releasing their latest record III on vinyl for the first time on Totem Cat Record.  So on with the show.  Here is the interview in full.  Enjoy!  

Hey Carl, How are you? I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us,
here at the Sludgelord.

- No problem bro. Thank you for having me.
Q) Where are you guys at the moment and what are you doing in terms of the band? I know Totem Cat are prepping the release of your latest record III on vinyl. 1st of all, congratulations, you must be psyched for that?
- We took a Christmas break for the month of December. I have 2 kids and I need to stay home with the family ! DEMONSMOKE LP and album III are coming out on vinyl (very limited edition). Then, sometime in 2013 Totem Cat records will put out DARK FOIL LP. We are really happy with Totem cat records and STB records.I will freak out the day I get my copy .
Q). Sorry, to get down to the boring stuff and I am certain you have been asked this a millions times, but for the benefit of our readers who may be new to your band, could you tell us a little about the history of the band and some of the bands you've played with? Where you’re from? When Dopethrone first formed? Current band members?
- I was the drummer for a band called DOWNTRODDEN . We played some shows with DOPETHRONE when Tom was their drummer. They had just put out DEMONSMOKE and i was a big fan. I told Vince that if they ever had any drummer problems to give me a call. Not even 3 months passed by and sure enough, Vince called me up. That was decembre 2009 if I`m not mistaken. Told him fuck yeah, lets do this! Went to Vince's house and we played DEMONSMOKE from front to back. Then we did some shows and went in to DARK FOIL pre-production right there and then !

Q) Is Dopethrone a full time commitment?
- Nah man. We all have "real" jobs. We don't live off our music unfortunately.This is all DIY, we are poor lol !! Were not in this for $$ .
Q) What was your motivation to start the band? Did you all know each other before you formed the band?
- Vince and Vyk are childhood friends. They always played in bands. Then out of nowhere as a joke they started DOPETHRONE. For me , I always wanted to play in a band. Its very hard to find good musicians that are good people . I didn't know them that much in the beginning but now, they're my best friends.
Q) Since your inception, what were your aspirations for the band
- We never sat down and said we want this and that. We just wanted to put out some music and see what would come of it. We got the DARK FOIL album ready - jammed it for some time- booked the studio and the rest I guest is out of our hands if you know what I mean. Then, when I realised that myspace was not good anymore I decided to put us up on facebook . Since then i guess we got bigger and got more attention. At the end of the day we just want to play music
Q) With all the changes in the music industry, it genuinely does appear harder to make a commitment to a band, what with potential for constant touring, promotion for very little financial reward, what motivates Dopethrone?
- We cant really tour that much. Just to book 12 dates in Europe its like 6 months worth of work. Its getting easier with help of new friends and contacts (big thank you to the band HUATA check them out). I know for sure we are touring Europe summer 2013 . 12 days 12 shows 6 different countries (dates will posted soon on facebook). We're lucky if we break even. We need to sell merch to make money. Like i said we're not in this for the cash but we sure don't want to go bankrupt. For now that's the only way we can do it. I'm working on a 2 date U.S.A mini tour (Boston - NY ) this is exclusive news, the band doesn't even know that yet lol
Q) It is my understanding that you release your music yourselves, what are some of difficulties taking a DIY approach. Could you give us an insight into the gestation of producing your music and then releasing them? Some of the financial implications for the band?
- You know what ....DIY is THE way to go! We have great friends that help us almost always for free. Its a family affair. We are very lucky. We got several offers from different companies that wanted to sign us but what they offer is exactly what we do ourselves already. So for now and I think for ever ... its gonna stay DIY (Vince has a DIY tattoo and his hand !)
Q) How important has the introduction of sites such as Bandcamp for the promotion of unsigned bands?
- Like i said before , Facebook did a lot to promote us. Bandamp is easy and cheap and anyone on the planet can buy the album, plus no need for shipping. We would not be at this point if Bandcamp did not exist.
Q) How easy is it for bands such as yourselves to gigs? From talking to other bands, some venues/promoters just won’t book them, Is it a struggle? Are you reliant on other bands to give you support slots etc?
- Yeah we need contacts and bands to help us out. Its like: hey come to Montreal and we will take care of you ... but then bring us up there and you take care of us ! For example, the tour we are planning in Europe it's mostly the guys from HUATA that are taking care of it because they're from France. They have more contacts etc etc. If we have a chance to bring them here in Canada, we will take great care of them.
Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound and do you feel it has evolved?
- bluesy - doom metal - crusty vocals and punk attitude.
Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?
- Man we listen to anything. I'm into the doom stoner metal genre thats for damn sure. I love WINDHAND - PALLBEARER both bands put out killer albums in 2012. I'm a big lover of the NOLA scene. EYEHATEGOD and CROWBAR is my all time favorite bands since ever. Im a music fan from old school rap - country - blue grass etc etc.
Q) Who would you say are your influences/heroes both musically and artistically in terms of the bands sound and subject matter for your lyrics?
- My all time favorite drummer is CHUCK BISCUITS. What he did on the 1st 3 DANZIG records is the biggest reason I play drums today. My 2nd best is CRAIG NUNENMACHER for what he did in CROWBAR. I'm a big fan John Bonham too. The way he plays with big drums and big cymbals is killer.
Q) I’m assuming all musician like to talk about gear, so with that in mind what gear do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use?
- I play with 2 Zyldjan 26 inch rides. I used them as crash cymbals. I broke 8 of them in the last 4 years. I love them but I hit too hard man. They cost alot too !! I usually play pearl drums.
Q) What is the scene like in your hometown? What are your thoughts? Where do you think Dopethrone within that? Any bands we should be keeping an eye out for?
- A lot of cool bands up in Montreal. Check out TUMBLEWEED DEALER . Vince plays drums for them. They should put out something in 2013. Check out SQUALOR . Its Shawn's band from Soundcentral store. He takes care of all our shipping. There's a band from Quebec city named THE STONED HORSES that is cool.
Q) How you feel your band has generally been received and does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?
- Internet is killer for unsigned bands like us man. Anyone anywhere can buy our merch. I love to get up in the morning and check the emails from all over the world saying that we do good music. It's just a shame we can't play in all those countries !

Q) How valuable are blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records? Does all forms of media coverage translate to people buying merch, downloading music etc, coming to shows?
- Anything to get us out there. Anything that could bring us to the next level we are up for it bro. I love music blogs. For me its where I find all the cool new bands.
Q) Reviewing records within the genres of sludge/doom/stoner/punk etc, you often listen to a lot of stuff which is quite similar. What sets you apart from your peers and what are your thoughts about being part of any scene? Do you give much thoughts to keeping up with trends?
- We started this band in 2008 way before this stoner doom renaissance. We did not get into this to follow any trends. We just liked this type of vibe and went with it. For sure this type of music is the music we love. For me, I don't listen to any other type of metal. Even in 10 years I will still play-listen to this type of music
Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite’s places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?
- Seing SLEEP live in Europe ...damn that was something !! Hanging out with HUATA backstage at Roadburn Festival. We love to play THE DEATH HOUSE here in Montreal. KATACOMBES bar is a place we played 40 time or more.
Q) What were your aims for III and how do you feel about the record now that it has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public? Do you feel under any additional pressure to top what you did the last time, with Dark Foil?
- I'm just starting to listen to DARK FOIL and I gotta say it's a very good album !! I hate listening to my albums. I usually wait 1 year or 2 to forget about it and listen to it as a fan. I've not listened to album III as of yet. I think in a way, its a continuity of DARK FOIL. We recorded the 2 albums in the same studio with the same producers.I think the next album will be different. I just bought myself a house and I have a wicked jam room... would love to do my drum tracks up in here. We already have 4 new songs and plan on recording around August 2013. Maybe more songs this time around and do a split at the end of the year.
Q). Totem Cat have previously released music by Earthride and Sons of Otis, with Ewenn seeming release music he enjoys first and foremost. How did you guys hook up and was it always your plan to release on vinyl? What can we expect from the finished product and are you pleased with it?
- He was a fan . We all did this via emails and facebook. Its obvious the guy is passionate about music. Yeah having a vinyl version of our album is killer. We could not have done it without him. Album III is due out any day now and I just can't wait to have a copy in my hands !!! He plans on putting out DARK FOIL in 2013. We are putting out DEMONSMOKE on STB RECORDS . I have the test press - just need to give the OK and it's a go !! Steve at STB is a great guy to work with and looking forward to work with him again in 2013,

Q). In terms of the band, do you feel that 2012 has been a good year for you and what are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013. Are you planning to tour throughout 2013
- 2012 has been the best year for DOPETHRONE. With the tour coming up in Europe (12 days - 12 gigs - 6 countrys) + the 4th album + maybe a litlle 2 gig tour in the u.s I feel like the best is yet to come !
Finally is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Thank you so much for all the great feedback and emails and reviews. please spread the word and see you live in 2013. Cheers from Montreal !

The End

Big thank you Ewenn from Totem Cat Records for setting up the interview and for releasing the stunning new vinyl of III.  Goes without saying, a big big thank you to Carl for answering my questions and Dopethrone for their awesome music.  You can buy their merch from the links below.  We're particularly excited about the vinyl release of their latest release, so head over to Totem Cat Records for more info.   

You can buy DD of III from Dopethrone's BandCamp Page right now and CD here. Along with their other excellent albums.  You can buy the vinyl of III here from Totem Cat Records and upcoming release of Demonsmoke here from STB Records.