Saturday 25 May 2013

Interview with Grey Host

Dawn for Vultures cover art

Today on Sludgelord I am interviewing Grey Host – The brilliant Sludge/Stoner/Post-Metal band who blew us all away at the blog with their amazing debut album – Dawn For Vultures

I recently described this album as - “Grey Host have released something special here folks. We are big fans of it at the blog. It is one of those albums that become better with each listen. I cannot wait to see where Grey Host go on from here as they released an incredible album. Excellent and Highly Recommended.”

I originally featured these guys back in 2011 when they were purely an instrumental band. Now they have added vocals to their bleak hard-hitting riffs. Well since the guys have finally now discovered their voice, they have kindly agreed an interview with me. And I can't wait to see what they have to say.

Ladies and Gentlmen time to get down to business with GREY HOST

Q1 – Hi Guys, Thanks for doing this. How are things with you guys Today?

John – Not entirely terrible, it’s finally good hiking weather here in southern Ohio.

Q2 – For people not in the know can you give them a brief history of the band and how it came about.

John – We were all pretty good friends before starting up Grey Host. Its inception was more or less as an improv doom jam session with Zac and myself after a night of drinking. We ended up getting together after practicing a few times and recording a guitar and drum session one day. Zac and Jason were both in the same program in school, so Zac knew Jason was a) into metal and b) ripped on guitar, so naturally he introduced us. After a year and a half or so of playing together and building songs, we recorded a demo of just us. During the few months after that, we asked Evan, who we were all friends with already, to join us on organ/keys. The rest was herstory.

Q3 – How would you describe your sound.

John – Mountains rising and crumbling like waves.

Jason – I don’t know if we have a particular sound, we sort of draw inspiration both sonically and musically from lots of different areas so it makes it kind of hard to lock down. I feel like every song kind of has it’s own sound. We might listen to a riff or idea for a song before it turns into a full fledged track and compare it to

Q4 – Which bands and artists influence you directly as musicians.

John – The great thing that I think helps form our sound is the fact that we all come from different backgrounds musically and have somewhat varied influences. I’m mostly influenced by heavier bands like Yob, Neurosis, Melvins, Sleep, High on Fire, and Asunder.

Zac - I get influences from a lot of different music. Bitches Brew by Miles Davis changed my life and how I looked at what a song could be. You can change patterns in the middle of a thought and let the whole thing completely fall apart.

Jason – I’m definitely a metal head at my core but I find myself listening to less and less heavier stuff as I get older, which I think has a lot to do with where some of the melody in my guitar playing comes from. These days I listen to a lot of post rock, Mogwai and the like, but also more experimental stuff like Locrian. For heavier music, bands like ISIS and Cult of Luna changed my understanding of heavy music, totally blew my mind when I first heard Celestial.

Q5 – Are you all full time musicians or do you have regular jobs to pay the bills.

Zac - Wouldn’t that be nice! Although the band is a big priority for all of us we’re not making a living from it, so we all have full time jobs.

Q6 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music.

Zac - We’re really fortunate to have very supportive friends. Not all of them are into metal, but they have given us a lot of energy to keep doing this. I think most of our families are really supportive of our music, whether or not they like the music. I played “Bonemother” for my mom when I was home for Christmas and her reaction was “That’s really creepy!” I think it freaked her out.

Jason – Yeah my parents rule, they’d support me if we wore corpse-paint and sacrificed live goats on stage.

Q7 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual.

Jason – there really isn’t a science or method to it. John or I will come up with a riff and bounce it off each other, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. A lot of times one of us will have an idea and not know how to finish it or make it relevant to a particular riff or skeleton of a song, and the other might have something that fits perfectly or is able to come up with something that compliments it or flows well. I try not to think too much about it and let the process evolve by itself. After an idea is solidified, John and I take it to the rest of the band, throw in some beer and we have a song eventually.

Q8 – Your new album – Dawn For Vultures. – What a brilliant album. Congrats on that one. And you have now added vocals to the mix. Was that a hard or easy decision to make to go from an instrumental band to now adding vocals to the mix. I think the decision paid off big time.

Zac - We’ve always planned on vocals I think. It just kind of fell into place. We’ve actually got a lot of feedback, like “you guys would be a lot more marketable without the vocals,” but that doesn’t make sense to us. The instruments, the vocals, the artwork, it all works together to create Grey Host as a whole.

John – I’d always planned on doing vocals, but it took time to really find my voice and how it fit into the mix. I see them now more as another instrument, another layer for our sound, and not so much actual vocals.

Q9 – Was it an easy album to write and record for.

Zac - The album was a lot of fun to record. Jason and I are both recording nerds, and we had an awesome warehouse practice space at the time. We were doing crazy stuff like hanging ribbon mics thirty feet in the air at the opposite end of the room, and putting six mics on everything. We tracked the drums live with the band to get the same energy we have in our live shows. We went back and overdubbed the guitars, organs and vocals. The track Dawn for Vultures was actually tracked completely live with eight microphones, and is probably one of the best sounding song on the record.

Jason – Loads of fun recording. Overdubbing solos was the most enjoyable part for me. Usually being on the other side of the glass I never really get to let loose and rip some leads during the recording process. I think we had a few six packs of pumpkin beer during that recording, and we used an inhumane amount of mics with really strange placements, made mixing fun.

Q10 – Now it has been released would you change any aspect of the album. Or would you leave it as it is

Zac - Haha. I think if I tried to change anything at this point the other guys would literally kill me. But seriously, I love this record. I’ve never been more proud of a record I’ve worked on.

Q11 – How big of a help has BandCamp been in getting your music across to the masses.

Zac - BandCamp has been huge at getting us to places that we hadn’t even thought about. We were so focused on getting our Cincinnati CD release show off the ground it blew our minds when we started getting physical orders from Germany, Belgium and Finland.

Q12 – Is there a scene in your home town for you guys to gig regularly. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform live.

Zac - There are a few hometown Doom bands we play shows with pretty regularly, but the local metal scene is far from thriving. Following the slow progression of the band, we are just now starting to play shows outside of Cincinnati.

Q13 – In five words what is the Grey Host live experience like.

Zac - Drone turns riff, then Destroy

Q14 – What is your fave track off the album. Mine has to be – Dawn For Vultures. An epic and creepy masterpiece. It shows people what the band is all about. Heavy epic atmospheric and creepy riffs.

Zac - Bonemother is my favorite. It’s the last song we wrote for the record and is probably the best example of where the band is going.

Jason – I’d say Dawn for Vultures is my favorite track. Just the simplicity in the way we recorded it, and the simplicity of the song itself. I think because that track involved the least amount of thought and headache it’s the one track I find the most listenable, at least for me.

John – It’s honestly hard to say – though I think The Shaman or Wizard Sleeve are the most fun to play.

Q15 – What are your favourite bands around at the moment. Do you listen to modern day rock/metal or do you just listen to the classic era of Stoner/Sludge/Doom/Post-Rock/Post-Metal.

Zac - I finally got Pallbearer’s Sorrow and Extinction on vinyl. Damn, that’s a great record.

Jason – my favorite metal band right now would probably have to be Horseback. Seeing them live and talking with those dudes was great, there isn’t another band doing what they’re doing right now, and doing it so well. Horseback doesn’t just write tunes, they write very evocative soundscapes.

John – In terms of metal, recently nearly the only time I’m not listening to the Conan/Bongripper split is when I’m listening to the Cough/Windhand split, Panopticon’s Kentucky, or Horseback.

Q16 – What are your views of blogs such as Sludgelord featuring and reviewing your records

Zac - We’re still really just trying to get our name out there, and we’re honestly not the best at it, so I’m excited for all of it!

Q17 – What are your views record companies shutting down blogs and websites due to illegal downloading. Some people are for it and some people are against it.

John – I might be in the minority, but I’ve always been of the mindset that even if I happen to download something, I use it as a preview, and if I enjoy the work, I’ll support the band producing it any way I can. I don’t do that often, mostly because I think sites like bandcamp and services like Spotify have helped out the need for having to download something before you buy.


Q18 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect.

Jason – I honestly would rather do nothing else than play music all the time. I have a lot of fun with this band, through the bad shows and the great ones. I think the most rewarding aspect for me is the process of creation, and developing a concept from start to finish. Not just the songs, but also everything that goes along with the music, art, live shows, developing relationships. It’s all a process.

Q19 – What pisses you off most in music today. And if you could what would you change.

Zac - Cover bands.

Jason – Yeah man, if we could somehow take the idea that cover bands can go out and pull in $400 a night, turn that around, and put that support towards local original music, the scene would be much better off for it.

John – Most definitely cover bands. We get that people want to hear their favorite dad rock hits of the 70s, but it can be seriously creatively damning for music scenes.

Q20 – What words of wisdom would you give to a band starting out or some friends wanting to start a band of their own.

John – don’t take it too seriously and have some fucking fun.

Q21 – Finally, Do you have anything to say your fans

Zac - Thanks for all the support! We’ve got more stuff coming your way.

-Hail Sagan

Thanks to to the guys for the great interview. Can't wait to hear for more great music from this superb band. Check em out now!!!

Check This Brilliant Band from the links below.