Friday 26 April 2013

20 Questions w/ Call of the Void

Call of the Void
SL: Few bands have excited me more lately than recent Relapse Records recruits Call of the Void, with their own unique brand of grinding sludge noise. Their debut is an astonishingly ferocious record and given Relapse’s history, is it any wonder that these guys are destined for big things in the years to come.

We recently reviewed, Dragged down a Death End Path at The Sludgelord and Mr. Fitton was gushing from every orifice in his appraisal of this brilliant record.  Check out excerpt and make your own mind up. “A violent debut from this young band. One that will curb-stomp your ears and then ask you to say "thank you" afterwards. Better wear a crash helmet, and learn to be appreciative. I, for one, am indeed.”

Well as you know, we don’t need an excuse to shoot the shit with the best new bands, therefore is it any wonder I hooked with these new kids on the block.  Welcome to the Sludgelord, Call of the Void and here is what they had to say when I fired 20 Questions at Patrick, guitarist and all round diamond dude from the band.   Sit back and enjoy the interview.  Horns Up for Call of the Void!!

SL: Hey Patrick, How are you? I appreciate you taking the time to talk to talk to us, here at the Sludgelord. How are things in the COTV camp? What are you guys up to at the moment and plans for the rest of 2013?

P) Things right now are going great. We just finished a 3 week tour in support of the album and we are currently held up in Colorado for a few months writing for our next release and playing locally. We plan on hitting the road again in the fall and we are playing a few festivals like Lucifest in SLC and Scion Rock Fest in Memphis in the summer as well.

SL:Dragged down a deep end path is a killer record and our review has been very popular at the blog, so congratulations on that first and foremost. What is it about your record that appeals to people? Any thoughts? We called the album ‘a curb-stomp to your ears and then ask you to say "thank you" afterwards.

P) I read the review and I was pretty stoked by that comment. I'm not sure how to answer this question without sounding like an egotistical asshole though. Taste is a weird thing to explain, I'm just glad folks are stoked on what I think is good heavy music.

SL: Can you tell us about the record and the process of putting it together? It incorporates many influences it seems from sludginess to grind to hardcore, is that a fair assessment?

P) There is not a set in stone formula for writing music for COTV, we just try to write music that we would like to listen to. We are big fans of a lot of different styles of heavy music and we try to blend each unique riffing style of each genre to make music that we think is energetic and powerful. All the genres you listed above are so similar to each other that sometimes it is only the BPM that you play the riffs at that change whether the music can be called sludge, hardcore or grind. We like all three of the genres and its fun to play a sludge riff with blast beats sometimes.

SL: For the benefit of readers who may not know your band, could you tell us a little about when the band came together? Current band members?

P) Essentially this project started out as a band called “Ironhorse”. Gordon the drummer and I have been playing as Ironhorse for about 4 years. Some incarnations of Ironhorse were with other members, but each line up failed due to creative issues or other bullshit. Finally we were able to form our current line up in late 2011 and create a stable band. The current line up consists of Alex Pace on bass, Steve Vanica on vocals, Gordon Koch on drums and Patrick Alberts on Guitar/back up vocals. We had to change our name due to some trademark issues, but in hindsight I'm glad we did it was nice to rid any past that is associated with “Ironhorse” and move on to the future.

SL: Which band or artist turned you guys onto music and specifically introduced you to Heavy Metal and wanting to form a band?

P) I'm not sure I can say with confidence who influenced the other members in COTV, but I can certainly speak for myself. For me heavy music has always been in my life, even in the early part of my childhood listening to the Black Album / Master Of Puppets by Metallica. It wasn't until my mid-teens that I picked up some random albums and really started to get into heavy music. Those 3 albums were Type O Negative's “October Rust”, Death's “Sound Of Perserverance” and Gwar's “Violence Has Arrived”. At this point I was just starting to get good at guitar and I realized this is what I want to do with my life.

SL: Often bands compose heavy ass shit, but may not necessarily like heavy music, where do COTV sit in terms of heavy music?

P) We all love different styles of music. I hate when I read interviews with bands and they try to play down the “metal” aspect of their lives. Personally I like everything from Zappa to Cannibal Corpse to Beach House. Gordon digs on a lot electronic music and old school dub. Heavy music is what we are most passionate about though and that is why we play in COTV.

SL: Since your inception, was your plan always to write and release your own music?

P) Absolutely. Making music and being able to have people enjoy it has always been #1 on the list of “why I want to make music”.
SL: In your experience, how easy/difficult is it for a young band to get coverage and get gigs?

P) Honestly it is not that hard to get gigs for a young band. It is hard to get gigs opening up for touring bands at legitimate clubs, but there are a lot of DIY venues that need bands to open up for bands that can't quite fill up a 500 person venue. We have been playing in Denver for the last 10 years, so at this point it is more about beating the other bigger local bands to get the good gigs at the bigger venues. There are so many opportunities out there you just have to be assertive. Getting coverage is a whole different entity though. If you have a release and you tour, get a PR agency, otherwise it will be a long slow uphill battle.

SL: It might sound like stupid question, but is playing live important to COTV because touring can depend upon work commitments etc? Often touring is the main source of promoting your band. How do fit touring into other commitments you may have?

P) Playing live is absolutely important for us. We all have jobs and one of us actually has 4!! Fortunately at this point for most of us touring is not too difficult and we are able to make a compromise to keep our jobs. Touring is not our main source of promotion, but it is a big part of it. As much as we would like to be on the road 6 months out of the year, in all actuality it will be more around 2-3 months. Despite things like worrying about paying rent, keeping jobs and being away from significant others, there lies a different dilemma aside from work. Touring a lot will promote your band more and make your band more successful. The fight we are currently having is whether or not to over saturate and over expose ourselves in a town near you. We would much rather be in your town a couple times a year instead of 4-5 times a year. Quality over quantity. If you keep telling your girlfriend over and over and over “I love you” within a day, it kind of loses its meaning after a while if you catch my drift.

SL: Based on your own experience, what do you think is the most important thing for a new band to do in order to promote themselves? Do you subscribe to all publicity is good?

P) All publicity is good, unless you are trying too hard to get written about. Sometimes someone brings a severed pigs head to your show, hucks into the crowd and blinds a girl and causes you to lay low for a while, but that is a special case. The best thing you can do is make an album, play locally, tour and get a PR Agency to promote the said items.

SL: Do you think there is the same significance attached to being signed to label as their once was, with bands releasing music on bandcamp etc?

P) Getting signed to Relapse and having them release our debut album has certainly amplified how many people we can reach with our music. We would have not have been able to reach as many folks on our own. When we first released the album, we did it on our own via bandcamp/blogs/FB etc.. Although we did get a good response from folks and it ultimately led to us getting picked up by Relapse, it still needed an extra push. Having the album released on our own and via Relapse has definitely shown us the labels still do matter and it takes more than just a web release to be successful.

SL: What are some of the difficulties/frustrations of being part of a band?

P) Ahhhhhh there are many. Most of the frustrations come from trying to find a middle ground between being broke and doing what you want to do with music. Money sucks, it is probably the most frustrating part of being in any band. You can't kick out money, because it wants to hang out with his girlfriend instead of practice.

SL: Don’t think about this too much, but if someone was unfamiliar with your band, what words immediately spring to mind when you think about your sound?

P) Loud, Heavy, Fast and Aggressive.

SL: Tell us some of your influences/heroes both musically and artistically, both metal and non-metal?

P) I could go on for hours about this, so instead I will just make a list. Robert Fripp, Greg Anderson, Christopher Hitchens (not just because of his atheism), Kurt Ballou, Michael Gira, Scott Kelly, Frank Zappa, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra and Louis CK. There are more, but my brain is just cluttered trying to name them all.

SL: It might sound like a stupid question but, how important is the band’s chemistry when writing and performing??

P) Very important. If there is no chemistry, then there is something wrong with a portion of the band.

SL: What were your aims for DDADEP and how do you feel about it now that it is in the public domain since?

P) The original idea was just to get people into our band and to start hitting the road. So far we have accomplished that. So far the reviews have been great; with the occasional “this is boring, I don't like it”. You can't expect everyone to like your music; taste varies too much between people.

SL: I’m assuming all musician’s like to talk about the gear they use, so with that in mind what do you use in terms of guitars, amps and why? Also what tuning do you use?

P) Right now the bass player and I are both running Atlas Cabinets made by Petras Vaznelis of Velnias. I use a Verellen “Loucks Smoke” amplifier and a 1992 5150. Alex is running Orange and Sunn heads through his Atlas Cabinets . The tuning is a full step down dropped to C or A, depending on the song. Why do we use these amps and cabs? Come to our shows and you will experience why we use them. To sound courteous instead of douchey, bring ear plugs you will need them.

SL: How important is support from your peers and how do you feel your band has generally been received? Does it still surprise you when people buy your music and merch?

P) So far the support has been great from our peers. So far I think we have been received pretty well. It doesn't surprise me when people buy merch, it surprises me how many people will buy merch now.

SL: Taking a more general view of the changes in the music industry as a whole, what with illegal download and perhaps more pressure on mags to feature ‘scene’ bands or bigger artists. How valuable are blogs to bands and artists covering your music? Does all forms of media coverage translate to people buying merch, downloading music etc, coming to shows?

P) Essentially if we did not put our music on blogs, nobody would have heard our music and we would not be signed to Relapse right now. Blogs are a great tool. I believe that even if someone downloads the music illegally, eventually it will pay itself off if the person likes your music. The path of least resistance is the easiest path for most and that is a change as musicians we must adapt to. That being said, the glory of having a CD or a Vinyl LP is that you own it. If you don't like it you can go sell it to a store or on EBAY , because it has value (try doing that with an illegal download). There is no value for digital media other than for promotion. If you like a band after you downloaded their music, buy the physical copy in due time or at the very least attend the next show they play in your town.

SL: Quick fire question, what the first record you bought and what is your preference? Cassette, CD, Digital Download or Vinyl? And why?

P) My preference is vinyl, the sound quality is superior and the layouts are way more interesting and intricate than CD's. The first album I ever owned was bought for me and it was TLC's “Oooooh...On the TLC Tip”, first album I ever stole was the Cool Runnings soundtrack on TAPE and I think the first purchase I ever made on my own with my parents money was West Side Connection's “Bow Down” . All of these a far cry from what I buy on vinyl these days. My recent purchases were Creative Adult “Dead Air”, Inter Arma “Sky Burial”and Blockheads “The World Is Dead” all on vinyl.

SL: As music fans yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, how important is that Relapse put out a great package for the release of your record?

P) This is very important for us. I can't tell you how many time in my cd buying days, I would buy records just because of the album artwork. We want to be able to back with confidence what is being sold, if its crap we would not be down for selling it. We're not going to go crazy like the Flaming Lips and make you put a USB penis inside a prosthetic vagina that has a speaker built inside of it in order to listen to our music, but at least know that we are trying to put the best music into our albums and the best artwork in our layouts.

SL: What sets you apart from your peers and what are your thoughts about being part of any scene?

P) A lot of people seem to lump us in with the Nails, Trap Them's and such, but I think we are coming from a different angle than those bands. First off, Swedish Death Metal has nothing to do with our band and has absolutely no influence on our music whatsoever. Second, although I do use the HM-2 distortion, that shit is in check and not cranked up to 10 on every knob. Instead of Entombed I owe everything to Matt Pike/Greg Anderson/Kurt Ballou/Scott Kelly. That being said, it is an honor to be lumped with those bands, because they all kick ass. We're are down with being a part of any scene and fortunately for us the versatility of our music allows us to play with a wide range of bands and not stick out like a sore thumb.

SL: Did you have an agenda when you began writing the new record?

P) Lyrically we did. It is certainly not the most original concept ever, but we wanted to write a huge diatribe against organized religion. We wanted to get it out of our system and finally be done with it. That is what we accomplished on DDADEP. For the future don't plan on hearing any lyrics about religion from us, we don't want to beat the dead horse.

SL: Do you have any interesting stories from your tours, favourite places you’ve toured and bands you’ve toured with or bands you’d like to share the stage with?

P) As far as tour stories go, one recently does comes to mind. Tour can be very bizarre even in the moments when you least expect it. Instead of the crazy stories you hear about dudes being arrested or trashing hotel rooms and crap like that on tour it is more like an experience I had in Brooklyn on our last tour. I was up at 5am not being able to sleep, because our drummer snores louder than a bear growls and the house your staying at has a room-mate who is fucking some dude 12 ft away from where you are sleeping on the hardwood floor. Between the snores and ass slaps I manage to get a few hours of sleep. When we all get up in the morning the girl sex'n it up at 5 Am earlier, runs out of the room to puke. This is not an everyday occurrence while at home, but on tour, this shit is fair game. I can't wait to tell my siblings children these stories.

SL: Reflecting upon your time together as a band, what have been some of the high and low point in your career. Are you a stronger unit now, than when you first started?

P) We are just beginning at this point. So far it has only been highs, there is no time to hit the low parts of our career, and we have to make the best out of any situation.

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

P) Thanks to all of you who have purchased our music and attended our shows in Denver and around the United States. Your support means a lot to us. If you downloaded our album for free, thank you as well, make sure you come out to our show the next time we are in town.

As always show your support to the band. You can buy this record here and is available everywhere now. Thanks to Patrick for his efforts in the completion of this interview.  Thanks to you for reading and if you fancy reading Fitton's review, you can do so here.