Friday 15 February 2013

20 Questions w/ Ichabod

The title fits the record very well- these are dreamy psychedelic compositions of the highest quality. After digesting the album I really don't know how to categorise it. There is sludge, psychedelia, progressive rock and stoner all mixed in here. If you like any of those genres I recommend you check out Ichabod. There is something for all to enjoy here- just play it, start to finish and you will see what I mean.    Richard Maw

Hey sludgers,  another 20 Questions for you and that was the praise Richard heeped on Ichabod's latest record Dreamscapes from Deadspace.   Indeed Richard included it in his top 10 of 2012. Following the release of their superb new record, I hooked up with the band towards the end of 2012 to get the lowdown on all things Ichabod.  So settle back and enjoy this great interview.  Thanks for reading and see you next time. 

Hey Guys, How are you?  I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord. Congratulation on the release of your stunning new record, you must be pleased with it? 

Dave-We’re awesome!  How are you?  Thanks so much for the congrats...we’ve worked very hard to get this album to our satisfaction, and we’re very pleased with it indeed.  Working with such an amazing team doesn’t hurt at all...Dave Tornstrom from Rootsucker Records makes it all happen.  Our friend Mike Kent tripped out listening to the album for inspiration and painted all the original art for the cover, and Aaron Edge put the finishing touches on things in terms of design/layout.  We already loved his stuff, but after seeing his work on the Sleep re-release, we knew he HAD to be the one to do our CD’s layout.  Scott Harrington from 313 management has been a firm supporter of us from the early days, and Dave Brennar from Earsplit is making sure we get a step closer each day to being heard by all those who matter, like yourself!

Q) Where are you at the moment and what are you doing in terms of the band?  It

Dave- We’re already recording the final tracks for the “concept”’s essentially one 45-50 minute track, broken loosely into “movements.”  It’ll be called Merrimack, named after the river that runs through New England.  We meant to lyrically and musically invoke the movement of a river, with incredibly calm points, and rapids.   Whereas “Dreamscapes” is more straightforward, as far as Ichabod goes, this one will be more experimental and challenging.  It has some of the mellowest material we’ve done yet, along with some of the most brutal, heaviest stuff yet. All garnished with a healthy peppering of psychedelia of course!

Q). I have to admit, I was not aware of your band, prior to receiving your latest record, so you’re another great discovery for me this year.  For my benefit as well as the readers, 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 Ichabod first formed? Current band members?

 Dave-We’ve been around for quite a while by today’s standards.  We started in the late 90’s, with a handful of songs that I’d written when I played in Bitter.  The first album was more double-kick, breakdown stuff, with interludes of what has become our current “sound.”  We always leaned toward the doom/sludge/”stoner” type of stuff, even when there was a much more hardcore influenced base.   And I’ve always worked in a great amount of shoegaze/trippy guitar two favourite guitarists are Tony Iommi and Nick McCabe from the Verve. 

We’re all from the Greater Boston area, mostly having met in a mill town north of the city called Lowell.  Its bleak, industrial setting really influenced our sound.  It’s come a long way now though, with a lot of the old abandoned mills having become galleries, condos, restaurants, etc.  

We’ve played with SO many bands over the years, it’d be impossible to name all.  Some that people would know are The Black Dahlia Murder, Atomic Bitchwax, Today is the Day(Steve recorded/mixed our first 3 albums), Karma to Burn, Earthride, Stinking Lizaveta, Acid Witch, Sourvein, Unearth, Killswitch Engage, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Warhorse, Wooly Mammoth, Sam Black Church, Tree, Dove, Milligram, Debris Inc., and so many more I could go on and on...

None of us had really played in bands that got too well known outside of New England, except Greg, who did a stint in Blood For Blood.  The current lineup is me on guitar, Jay Adam on guitar, Phil MacKay on drums, Greg Dellaria on bass, and John Fadden on vocals. 

Q). Is Ichabod a full time commitment? As I read somewhere that you were close to breaking up after the loss of Ken MacKay

Dave-No, I don’t know that unless you’re in a megaband that it CAN be a full time commitment these days..we did almost pack it in after we parted with Ken.  It was family, and it was a painful period that we didn’t think we’d make it through, nor necessarily wanted to make it through.

Q) What made you start the band?  Did you all know each other beforehand, were you friends etc? Would I right to presume that Phil and Ken (MacKay) are brothers?

  Dave-At that time in Boston, there was no one merging heavy stuff with atmospherics.  We wanted to pioneer that.  Ken and I were long time friends; I was set to play in his old band Big John Studd prior to their breaking up.

And yes, Phil and Ken are brothers, so it made a lineup change that much more difficult and close to home.   I met Greg in line at a Slayer show when I was like 16 years old, and we’ve been friends since.

Q) Since your inception, what were your aspirations?

Dave-As ostentatious as it may sound, just to create good art that we’re proud of.  If people dig it, then that’s a bonus, but not the sole driving force.  Rather,  Ichabod is our soul driving force!

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 Ichabod

Dave-We all have jobs, families, etc. that make a commitment to music “full time” unrealistic by the old world paradigm.  However, Ichabod is very much a full time voyage in that it’s a thread in the very weave of our existences.  Our music/ideas/lyrics/concepts ARE who we are; there’s no separation of our art and our daily lives.   

Q) Presumably you have work commitments to?  Is there pressure on you guys to juggle work and then make time for the band? 

Dave-We tend to find inspiration in every waking moment of our days...I know that might sound flaky to some, but it’s truth.  Ichabod is simply a manifestation in art of everything we are and everything we feel and experience.   It’s an emotional and spiritual vehicle to our inner selves.

Q) If someone was unfamiliar with your band, how would you describe your sound and do you feel it has evolved?  Your sound does seem progressive in the sense that it does not conform to one particular style? What are your thoughts?

Dave-I’d love to wax eloquent about it, but quite simply, Ichabod is musically nothing more than an amalgamation of all the things we’d grown up on with all that we’ve gotten into since.  We never premeditate our song ideas or “sounds...”we just let such matters develop organically from within.  Our hardcore/metal pasts don’t go into hiding of course, but we also don’t pander to the “purists” in that scene for sure.

Q) Are you big fans of rock/metal, if so what are you listening too at the moment?

Dave-For sure...we all listen to a vast array of music, old and new.  Aggressive styles top the list...we’ve all been in hardcore/metal bands since we were kids, and that’s bound to come out in our sound, but we’ve come a long way since then.  We’ll throw on some Miles Davis followed by Bolt Thrower, High On Fire, and Dead Can Dance.  Our Ipod mixes are schizophrenic.

Q) You were asked to be part of the Eyehategod tribute record, recording the song ‘Jackass In The Will of God.  They’re one of my favourite bands, so that must have been a great experience?  How did that come about and were you big fans of their music?  What there a particularly favourite track of you like from that record, apart from your own of course.

Dave-You can’t imagine how excited we were to be asked to contribute to that disc.  I particularly liked Minsk and Buried at Sea’s covers.  It was a very exciting project to be sure.  I’m not exactly positive how it came to be, as Ken orchestrated that one for us.  He was in touch with EHG’s management and they suggested it.


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? 

Dave-Myself, I love Hendrix, Iommi, Nick McCabe, Allman/Betts, Kevin Shields, Johnny Marr, Wood/Richards, Jimmy Bower, Sammy Duet, and John Fahey are my personal faves as guitar inspirations.  Lyrically, we’re all into heavy duty literature, conspiracy theory, paranormal themes, folk tales/mythology, and classical spiritualism/theology.

Q)  You were previously known as Headless, Why the name change and why Ichabod? 

Dave-Quite simply, there was a European band during that era named Headless...I believe they were death metal. We wanted to stay within the Washington Irving/Legend of Sleepy Hollow frameworks however, so I suggested the name “Ichabod,” the protagonist of said story.  Also, it has a cool translation-“the glory hath departed.”

Q) I’m assuming all musicians 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?

Dave-I play two Gibsons (Les Paul and SG) through a custom effects loop and a Mesa Boogie Tremoloverb Dual  Rectifier with an Ampeg 4x12 cab.  The SG is in Drop D/Standard tuning and the Les Paul is in C#/Drop B.  Jay, Greg and I all use all tube amplification for a more organic sound.

Q) What is the scene like in your hometown?  What are your thoughts?  Where do you think Ichabod fits within that?  Any bands we should be keeping an eye out for?

Dave-We’re actually quite scattered about throughout the Greater Boston area, so our “hometowns” cover a pretty large geography.  However, we’ll assume we’re talking about Boston, which has and always had an incredible, innovative music scene.  There are so many bands that are friends of ours...Faces of Bayon, Pilgrim, Black Pyramid, Raw Radar War, Das Muerte, Dead Languages, Twilight Tipi, Palace in Thunderland, Black Thai, Cortez, Roadsaw, Cortez, Lunglust, Livver, Elder, Planetoid, Yankee Cockfight, Cult 45, Gozu, Rozamov, Soul Remnants, Never Got Caught, Birch Hill being this thorough I KNOW I’m leaving friends out...It’s kick ass in Beantown.

Q)  What are your views of blogs such as the Sludgelord reviewing your records, as opposed to mainstream music magazines? 

Dave-Needless to say, we’re eternally grateful...we need as much coverage as we can get since we don’t have a lot of advertising $.  I’d like to think that the mainstream mags will follow in your footsteps...they tend to let the blogs sniff new trends out and then jump aboard.

Q) How you feel your band has generally been received and does it surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

Dave- It’s always flattering to have people showing their support for us outwardly...we’re always sincerely grateful.  It’s only a “surprise” in that we’re very humble and love that people dig what we’re doing...their buying our stuff is the validation and manifestation of a band/fan relationship’s existence I guess.  As far as how we’re received, I still think we confuse people a bit, with our intentional avoidance of banal, trite song writing.  But as is the case with all original music, I believe that once people “get it,” they’ll appreciate our effort to present originality even more so.

Q) Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite’s places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with?

Dave-My favourite story is from back in the early years...”Let the Bad Times Roll” had just come out and was getting some sick press.  One of the major labels, Sony I believe, had this attractive young female PR rep take a limousine up to Boston from New York for this big radio sponsored gig we were headlining.  Just as we were getting ready to have a formal sit down with her in a back room at the club, Phil pulled my knickers down right in front of her...the old “pantsing” as we call it stateside.  I was mortified, and she was horrified!

We’ve toured with our brothers in Black Pyramid; that one was with Queen Elephantine.  On another tour we played a sick gig with Akimbo and Conifer down in Pittsburgh at a rad art space/gallery.  The crusties that ran the place fed us well and treated us better than 90 percent of the slicker clubs ever had.  It was called the Mr. Roboto project and was in a store front in one of the rougher neighbourhoods...Awesome night.

Q) What are your thoughts about Dreamscapes from Dead Space, now that it has been unleashed on the unsuspecting public?

Dave-I really love this record.  It’s a fantastic recording, thanks to Glen from Amps Vs. Ohms.  He’s a production/engineering genius.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with some great engineers in the past, with Steve Austin doing most of our early work, and Devin Charrette recording “2012.” Glen deserves just as much name recognition as anyone in the business.  I think it’s an amazingly organic record too...the songs just flowed when we penned them.  They were a great place for John and Jay to come aboard and give their input, since these songs were still pretty embryonic at the time.

Q) What was your agenda when you began writing the new record? Is it your best work to date? 

Dave-There wasn’t really an agenda so to speak...we get most of our stuff from just free-form jamming.  When we get a riff we like, we put it on deck for future use...once we’ve got other riffs that we feel flow together with others we’d written, we begin the assembly process.  I will say that this record’s riffs and tunings were heavily dependent on a new kit Phil had purchased, a ridiculously oversized monster.  I dropped the tunings to be symbiotic with the depth and bombastic nature of that particular drum set.  Weird, but we wrote to the drum sound on this one...

Q). In terms of the band, do you feel that 2012 has been a good year for the band and what are your plans for the rest of the year and 2013.  Some of our readers are keen vinyl Junkies, any chance your releasing your music on Wax?

Dave-  It’s been a great year for the band.  We’d penned 2012 really early on, probably in 2008 or so, but it had delay after delay in its release.  Some critics accused us of jumping on the Mayan calendar bandwagon when it finally did come out, as it was released within months of the major U.S. film by Roland Emmerich.  It was ironic, because we’d actually been way ahead of the curve on that shit.  Now that it really was 2012, we’d WAY moved on from the themes represented on that album.  Dreamscapes is a progression to say the least...I do think each of our albums has been better than the last.  2013 will see the release of Merrimack, our “concept” album.  I don’t compare it to Dreamscapes though, because the music has been written for years, and it’s entirely a different animal, albeit lurking in the same jungle.  Jay and John are just adding garnish to an otherwise finished “older” album.  It’s sounding sick though, so far!

Q) Thanks for answering my questions, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans?

Dave-We are so appreciative for your support, and hope you’ll jump on our magic carpet and take a ride with us in the new year!


Another great interview.  Thanks to Dave of Ichabod and Dave from EarSplit. Support this amazing band. You can buy a DD here and physical copies of their record here (C) for Stoner hands of doom pictures JJ Koczan.