Friday 4 October 2013

Sludgelord Interview Special - Slabdragger vs Sonance

Time for something different on Sludgelord series of Interviews. Today I am doing a joint interview with two musicians from very different bands.

LIKE GHOSTS cover art

First we have Yusuf from UK Stoner Metal upstarts – Slabdragger – who have won a whole range of followers with their uncompromising blend of Stoner Metal.

We also have Ben from UK Drone/Noise/Ambient Metallers – Sonance – who astounded everyone including ourselves with their brilliant début album – Like Ghosts.

These two great bands are going on a joint UK trek for 3 dates later in Oct 2013. So I was asked would I like to do a joint interview with these two great musicians. So I said yeah I would do it. Why not. Something different.

So lets gets started with the interview I have called – STONER vs DRONER

Q1 – Hi Ben, Yusuf. How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this. Promise this will only be a short interview.

Yusuf: No worries!

Ben: Hey Steve. I've just returned from a holiday in Italy, but it's good to be back here talking to you again. I just went for a Sunday roast, so enjoying being as English as possible. I also had a pint of Doom Bar, ha.

Q2 – Can you both give our viewers a brief history of your respective bands and how they came about.

Ben: Sonance started a few years back, we were just a few guys that had been in bands together previously and wanted to make some noise together. The main goal was to be loud, heavy and to try not to follow a typical path, to keep things interesting. We recorded the record in October last year (2012) and put it up for free download, you can get it for free there still -

Doognad records approached us about a vinyl deal shortly after, and Victim tape label also put the record out. We were/are blessed with the interest and offers we had; the vinyl looks really nice in amber.

Yusuf: Slabdragger came about at the end of the summer of 2008. Sam had written the song Splice the Mainbrace which appears on our debut LP Regress. He had written and recorded it himself and asked me and our original drummer Matt, if we wanted to form a band based around that song. We agreed and started writing the songs that would make up Regress. Sam sent a demo out to Alex from Holy Roar who was happy to release our first album which eventually came out in 2011.

Q3 – So how did you guys meet. And who came up with the idea of a joint UK tour.

Yusuf: We met on our first uk tour, the Concrete Burden tour. If I remember it was the very first show at the Croft in Bristol.

Ben: We played with Slabdragger in Bristol in 2011 I think. We wanted to do a long weekend, and I've been talking to Sam and Yusuf online since we played together. The rest of Sonance really dig 'Regress' and it just seemed like a good combination; Slabdragger get a crowd going well, and we are both heavy bands in different ways. You'd be a fool to miss out on this one!

Q4 – What should people expect when the tour actually happens.

Ben: Brutality, beer, beards.

Yusuf: Loud noises.

Q5 – Where you big fans of each others music before this tour was arranged.

Yusuf: I really enjoyed Sonance on that first show. Very intense. It seemed like a no brainer to sort something out together.

Ben: Yes, very much so.


Q6 – What is it like being a band in today’s UK Live Doom/Stoner/Sludge scene. As it seems to be thriving at the moment with loads of great bands.

Yusuf: To be honest, we never thought we would be part of a scene per say when forming Slabdragger. We all came from heavy musical backrounds. Sam had played in and recorded lots of hardcore bands, death metal bands, grindcore/powerviolence etc. I used to be in a death metal band which sam had recorded.

We were also into bands like Sleep, Melvins, Mastodon and really wanted to make music in that vein seeing as we loved it so much and there were no bands like that where we are from. So we came into it without thinking to be part of a scene but as we had gone on and met and played with all these other like minded bands, I personally found it to be an excellent scene to be part of.

All the bands are different and not clone copies like you get with other scenes in heavy music, the bands all appreciate where each other are coming from, there is no competetiveness or jelousy. Everyone is respectful and support each other. This is how ALL music scenes should be. I believe this positive attitude is what has helped the doom/stoner/sludge scene to thrive.

Ben: Now is definitely the time to be doing it. People react really well with the lighter stuff we do as well; we aren't a blues-type stoner sludge band but everyone's minds seem open, which is cool.


 Q7 – So what are your thoughts of bands and artists using sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to help them fund their next album. You guys a fan of that or would you go down that route yourself.

Yusuf: Is that when bands ask for charity over the internet to fund their records?

I have heard little about this. I personally think that if you are a young and inexperienced band with no knowledge of studio production then it would be a nice little booster for you. But I dont think this is something that all bands should be taking advantage of to cut corners. People need to learn to rely on themselves. I personally dont think I could ask for money from people that have already spent money buying our records in the first place, but thats just me. If it helps other people that struggle to fund these things then good luck to them I say.

Ben: You guys a fan of that or would you go down that route yourself. Never tried it, might look into it though! We put a 'Donate if you wish to' option up on Bandcamp and people have been kind enough to spend about enough to record drums so far. We do the rest ourselves so once it's written, I think we are good to record.

Sludgelord Note - I am a fan of the Kickstarter/Indiegogo Fundraising Route as I have contributed to a few myself. But I think only upcoming bands and underground bands should use this to get their material out there. An establsihed well known band should'nt be using this to raise funds for a new album or tour. (This is my view only folks).

Q8 – Were you excited like myself when the country went overboard with the new addition to the royal family. Actually I don't give a fuck. Was more excited in putting together this interview.

Yusuf: I dont care and I think I speak for all of Slabdragger when I say that. A baby was born. There are hundreds, thousands born every day. I dont care if they are the royal family. This interview is more fun.

Ben: I couldn't care less.

Q9 – So both of you of had your début albums released on Vinyl. Are you a fan of that format or did you just release it simply as a collector's item.

Ben: I have a broken record player! Honestly, I am a fan of all formats; if you don't have a record player then download the record for free. Buy a cassette. Whatever suits. I would rather people listen to the music than not, because they can't afford it or whatever. We sell CDs too, which look really nice - there is a link on the Bandcamp page.

Yusuf: We are big fans of vinyl. I think it was a mutual decision between us and the label to release our record on vinyl as it sounds great and you get a nice big package to hold in your hand with some lovely artwork. Dont get me wrong, I think mp3s are great for convenience but the sound doesnt compare. Making an album isnt just about the music. Its the visual aspect as well. The artwork and packaging are a prominet extension of what you are trying to achieve sonically.

Q10 – How do you guys relax from the pressures of music.

Ben: I like to cook and I like the occasional real ale..

Yusuf: I think for me, music is a way of relaxing from the pressures of everything else.

Q11 – Any new albums rocking your world currently at the moment. Mine has to be the new albums by Wall, Phantom Glue and Norhtless.

Yusuf: I'm quite out of the loop at the moment to be honest. I like the new Clutch album.

Ben: Not checked out the new Northless but 'Clandestine Abuse' is great. I liked the new Godspeed record last year. I'm a victim of checking out old music, there's so much good old music to be catching up on...

Q12 – Finally can you tell our readers is there anything exciting coming up for you respective bands over the next 12 months or so. Any new albums/releases on the horizon.

Ben: We head off for the weekender with the 'Slabs in October. We've a few other dates too. We have a few ideas floating around on Dropbox so hopefully now that summer holidays are out of the way we can start working on them and aim towards a recording. We were considering a split or a 7", but we struggle to write short songs so another 12" seems most likely.

Yusuf: We are currently working on our 2nd LP. Its an epic sci fi album entitled Voyage of the Dawnhammer. Its going to be slightly different from Regress. A few surprises and turns. I cant wait to get it finished but we are not rushing it. It will be out sometime in the new year. Also we have a tonne of great shows coming including Damnation festival in November.

Well guys thanks for doing this. Best of luck with the tour. I am hoping to make it for one date. Job permitting and finances of course

Yusuf: Thanks alot!

Ben: Thanks.

Thanks to both Yusuf and Ben for doing this interview. If you get the chance to see them on tour please go along and support two brilliant bands.

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