Friday 15 November 2013

Sludgelord Interview with BLOODMOON

Sludge/Stoner/Post-Metal Sonic Warriors – Bloodmoon – have just released their new album – Voidbound – and it's a stunning collection of noises and riffs to shatter your fragile fucked-up world.

I said this about the album - “Voidbound features 3 tracks running for 40 mins or so. Bloodmoon have upped their game since their last album. They have gone slightly more crazier and insane for this excellent release. The riffs are more epic and progressive than ever before. Bloodmoon will take you on a sonic journey full of despair and wonder all in one go."

The album is starting to impress both fans and critics alike with it's daring take on everything that is possibly heavy.

I have featured Bloodmoon on the blog a couple of times now. I thought it was time to feature Bloodmoon for one of our famous in-depth interviews. It's cool this hard-rocking power trio has agreed to my request. Otherwise they may unleash a terrifying sonic curse on me. So lets see what Bloodmoon have to say to ourselves at Sludgelord.

Q1 – Hi guys, How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this.

No problem Steve, thanks for having us! Things are going well, I just put in the order for the physical copies of Voidbound made possible by the pre-orders so I am excited to be one step closer to what we believe to be some killer limited editions for this release.

Q2 – Can you give a brief history on how the band came about to where it is today.

I started a telemarketing job a few years ago which quite fortunately had no dress-code. I show up my first day in a Burning Witch shirt which caught the eye of mister hot shot sales trainer Patrick who wasted no time in picking my brain regarding music and informing me that he and a drummer jam every Monday evening, no particular goal in mind. 

This news couldn’t come at a better time as I had just finished what at the time I felt were my best personal demos, Come Whatever Storm and Shallow Berth. I bring my half-stack down to Entrada Rehearsal Studios that evening and start jamming riffs from the two aforementioned songs. Between the fact that Jason hit hard enough to push some volume with my amp and Pat’s ability to perform bass as both a lead/rhythm instrument and having the rig to keep up with my need for volume, there was an odd mutual feeling in the air of something like “part of the search is now over”.

Q3 – How would you describe your overall sound. Stoner, Doom, Post-Metal, Sludge or a mixture of everything. I suppose Experimental Psych Sludge may sum up you guys best. Or do you have your own definition.

I think you got it right. It’s very tough, especially when utilizing music not only for entertainment, but also as a conduit of freedom, to put it neatly in a corner. I think at the very core, we would be Experimental as we enjoy most forms of music, heavy or otherwise, and translate them for ourselves. Experimental Psych Sludge leaves it open enough for me, if that is what you and others hear that is what you hear, it is fun to see all the different connections people draw from different music so we try not to create any official verbiage for how we sound in an effort to keep our listeners as well as our own understanding of Bloodmoon infinite.

Q4 – Congrats on the album. It's a great album you have recorded there. Are you happy with the final version that you have released or would you change some things.

We couldn’t be any happier, what we set out to do with this album was to represent in a studio setting as closely as possible what it is like to experience us in a live setting. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now I only have a 35 watt stereo system at home...but when I crank’s like there is a miniature Bloodmoon playing live in my living room which is the experience I enjoy most out of any album so it was quite surreal to say the least to hear something I worked on myself on these terms finally.

Q5 – Was it an easy or hard album to record for. And would you change anything about it.

I wouldn’t change anything about it. One of my biggest fascinations is “random” chaos. All of the pieces of Voidbound were falling into place from the moment we started jamming the first’s incredible to see such an amazing result at the end of just taking things as they come. I don’t believe that recording is ever easy, even for a seasoned professional, they have just spent a lot of time growing accustomed to the things that are hard about it, making them seem easy to their personal experience. If I compare it to the recording process for Orenda, it was much easier this time around as we had been practicing these songs a lot longer, wrote all 3 together and had a much more knowledgeable engineer for heaviness on this one.

Q6 – How did you get Greg Wilkinson and Billy Anderson involved with the mixing and mastering of the album. Legendary names. They did a brilliant job on the album. Give your sound a more terrifying edge compared to your first album.

Oakland is about 2 hours North of us and I have always been a fan of Greg’s work...actually I was pulled more into the Sludgy/Blackened side of music away from straight black and death which I was quickly growing bored with by catching a Stormcrow show at Gilman. I obtained a copy of their Earhammer produced “Enslaved In Darkness” CD and was blown away by the heaviness. As we had saved up some money to put a bit more into production this time and an album we wanted to be represented as best as possible, I sent Greg an email and we booked some dates. Greg is the perfect engineer for us, no frills, no bullshit, no wasting time. We spent a total of 28 hours over 3 days

Anderson of course was involved with yet another game changing album not only for myself but thousands everywhere. After Greg had let me know he was going to be too swamped to handle the Mastering of the album, I sent Billy an email to no avail. A couple weeks later just as we were about to send our Master elsewhere, we met him at a show we opened for Agalloch and were informed we were using the email address he never checks and to get in touch at the right one and he’d be happy to work on it. I emailed him the mixes Greg had finished at 8pm on a Monday evening with the simple instructions of mastering it to be as full and surrounding as possible without sacrificing dynamics...the next morning I have an email time stamped 6:30am with the completed Masters.

Q7 – What is the albums overall themes. Or would you like the listeners to find this out for themselves.

I believe we can discuss themes just a bit while still leaving it up to the listeners as well. We like to leave things with open meanings as there are so many different ways that different minds like to process information. For instance: the word Voidbound. One might think that A) One is bound to the void, a hidden dimension inherent in us all, B) One or many, are en route to the void, a tangible destination, or C) One wears garb pieced together by the very fabric of the Void, a spectre sent as a messenger from the void itself. There are many of these “choose your own perception” moments lyrically on the album as we don’t perceive anything as absolute, but at the very core, the album is an allegory recounting a journey we 3 have taken, and continue to take through the void.

Q8 – Who came up with the excellent album cover. It fits the album's mood brilliantly. Did you have much input into the album cover.

This was done by our good friend Shelby Ulibarri who has deep rooted connections in one way or another with all three of us and has always been an incredible artist that we have felt represents the darkness and light of the world very well in visual form. We sent him some early live demos which he started conceptualizing from. After that we started sending him the full production files as they were updated until it was complete. So yes we did in a way have an immeasurable amount of input on the artwork, but at the same time had no input in the verbal sense.

Q9 – Where did the name Bloodmoon come from. Any specific meaning.

I much like many metal musicians am quite fascinated by the book of Revelation in the bible. It appears to me that the author “John” had quite a vivid vision of things to come. My interest in this is pure allegory, but after warning of the moon turning to blood a few times prior in this great work of fiction, in the final chapter it warns that:

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood” 

I too, had a dream very much like this, so the fascination always stuck. I enjoy pondering the different allegories these stories might be portraying especially in light of our age and time, to me the Bloodmoon is a symbol that signifies the end of organized religion...a time when logic and fact reign supreme over fear and fiction and the illusions of this world lie bleeding on the floor. These themes can be applied to the music industry, and while we would never be so audacious as to believe that we are catalyzing a change, we strive to conduct ourselves in a manner that represents the changes that are both happening and need to happen."

Q10 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians.

We are pretty diverse individually, mutually we usually dig on stuff like Boris, Russian Circles, Yob, Sleep, Nine Inch Nails, Floor, Neurosis, Tool, Om and Grails. Staples like that will always remain a huge rooted influence in our music, but everything we hear along the way, all the killer local and touring bands we have had the honor to share bills with, all the stuff our friends share with us or we dig up on the way find their way into things subconsciously.

The biggest influences on my playing in Bloodmoon would have to be Chuck Shuldiner of Death and Mike Scheidt of the almighty Yob. I respect absolutely every aspect and decision these men have made in their musical delivery and the way the bands conduct(ed) their business.

Q11 – How big of a help has BandCamp and the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal community been in getting your music across to fans.

They have been amazingly helpful. It’s great being a part of such an open-minded, non-competive and ultimately supportive music community. I have been calling it the “Doomunity” lately as I think there are certain levels of ethics, empathy and honesty that drive the core of this overall genre that are incomparable to any other form of music, people just want to share the heaviest stuff they can find and as a result a good doom album has the potential to reach every continent save for Anatarctica within hours. BandCamp is incredible as well, a critical part of the change I was referencing in the band name question. Such simplicity, the possibilities are all up to who you are as a band/musician. It would be much, much harder for us to spread our music as well as offering mail-order without this incredible service.

Q12 – The album is receiving a lot of praise from fans and critics alike. Are you please with the responses so far. And did you know you had something special when you were recording the album.

We knew we had something ourselves...things had finally come together as a whole and we had a cohesive tone and timbre to deliver them with, this was the album all 3 of us had been working our whole lives as musicians to work up to. Not only does it represent full well who we are as people, but also as musicians and listeners which is all I could ever, and I know Pat and Jason have expressed similar sentiments, hope for. The response we have received has been awesome...a couple of people have compared us to Floor...a band I myself hesitate to compare anyone that was pretty cool. While these are enjoyable, I am really waiting for the person smart enough to take this album with a side of LSD, DMT or Psilocybe and see what they think.

Q13 – What is the songwriting process in the band? Is it a group collective or is just down to one individual

It changes a lot depending on what is going on in our personal lives, but for Voidbound, mainly the process was that I wrote a single riff for each of the songs, then after bringing those riffs to practice, we all elaborated and shaped the rest of the compositions around together. Vocals are always last where Jason and I start experimenting with where we are able to split our focus between them and our primary instruments. Everyone is left to their own for their individual parts, we all know that in order to fully experience the freedom we are allotted in music such as this, limiting or pushing a part in any direction other than the one that naturally occurs to its conduit is not within our best interest.

Q14 – Do you perform many gigs in your home-town or do you have to travel further away to perform live regularly.

We are split pretty even. We usually play a few shows within a 100 mile radius, then branch out and do a few in about a 300 mile radius, then we usually take a month or two to plan a tour covering greater distances. This has been working out really well for us, here we are at the tour planning phase yet again and have one ready to go for early January with North from Arizona where we will be covering California from South to North, then we are planning another one extending beyond our home state for later in 2014.

Q15 – Are you all full time musicians or do you all have full time jobs.

We all have full time jobs but do other various things involving music and are slowly utilizing the funds we receive from these full-time jobs to source the equipment and experience needed to be immersed in some aspect of what we love doing most full time. I believe it is fairly hard to be a full-time musician in this day and age, but at the same time I believe that if you are creative it is also fairly easy to find a way to support yourself in any of the other aspects involved in the production, performance and curation of music.

Q16 – In 5 words or less describe the Bloodmoon live experience.

Vision blurs while skeletons vibrate.

Q17 – The album is being released on limited edition CD and Cassette Tape. How did that idea came about to release it as a limited edition CD and Cassette Tape. Also any plans to release the new album on vinyl.

We would love to release this album on vinyl and are currently looking for a label that might be interested in helping us press this in wax, while those that have shown interest are already booked up through 2015, there are a few that have expressed some interest that are waiting on their physical copies to make a final analysis. 

The idea to release limited edition CD and Cassette came about when I found a failed CD sleeve template design an old friend had tried using for his graphic design portfolio, he explained why it failed and how to fix and I thought that it was just perfect for this album to be presented in, this is a sleeve design nobody in the music world has seen just yet, so we figured it would be a good reason to make limited CDs. We decided to release limited editions of both formats for all the people that have been supporting us the past few years in whatever way, something that proves to them that their support is not only appreciated, but also bears fruit. There will be further editions of these formats, but we are putting much care and effort into making sure that these editions will remain totally unique in comparison.

Q18 – What are your views of bands using websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund their new album releases. Some people and bands are for it. Some are not. Would you consider doing some thing like that yourselves.

We would not consider Kickstarter or any of the crowd-fund purposed sites for our own projects, this is why we have Pre-Orders. I think there are cases where these sites are used for good purpose and the people using them still have a sense of ethics involved. In the end I think that in the case of established bands, it is a clear sign of poor management detailing bad decision making when it comes to how money is handled by both the band and label. For independent as well as signed bands, I think it is absolutely unacceptable to beg for money to fully produce your new and/or first album, again this is why we have Pre-Orders. 

I am less averse to Kickstarters that are structured as pre-orders, but there are other ways this can be handled just as easily. I believe that bands should put in the work taken to record the audio for an album, get all design and print groundwork laid, and put up a pre-order of what you will be offering shortly before ordering to help ease up front costs. Basically what Kickstarter says is “Without you, we would not, and could not do music.” 

These are the people that wanted to start bands back in the 70s, 80s and 90s but didn’t want to waste any blood or sweat to make it happen. In short, I don’t think you should publically be asking for others to help fund your album unless you have already put in a significant amount from your own band fund that you should be amassing as soon as your band starts making any money, as well as the equivalent of how much effort it took the person that is spending 8 dollars to buy it to earn it. If you are doing things right, you do not need these forms of crowd-funding. Never forget, nothing spent, nothing earned...and this runs much deeper than just economically. Making things too easy on yourself does indeed have a visible/audible effect on the outcome.

Q19 - 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.

Most rewarding is all the cool people we get to meet, and then even further all the cool people we get to meet that end up knowing each other before hand, or will end up knowing each other soon. We have met so many interesting fans all over the west coast in person, and all over the world via internet, it is the most rewarding thing to me to see that all of these varying people from varying cultures and tastes in music can find enjoyment in a project I helped through to fruition. We have also shared the stage with some of our favorite bands as well as been given the opportunity to help a few out while on the road giving us a small peek into “life on the other side” which is not very much different at all from life on any side. 

The Knowledge to be earned, the friends to be made, the times to be had, these are what it’s all about. The least rewarding is all of the competition and ego involved in music. Mind you, we rarely come across these types in the Doomunity, but I think it must be something about the saturation of bands in California...a lot of people are involved for their own selfish reasons and some it seems have never even seen the big picture to forget it. That’s all bullshit though, and very easy to ignore when you realize these types will probably always be a part of the scheme spinning themselves in circles trying, while the rest of us kick back contented with just being.

Q20 - What pisses you off most in music. Or do you not let the bad things in music stop you from performing and writing songs

There are a lot of things that piss me off in music, but when it really comes down to it I think it’s mainly dishonesty. People becoming products of their ego’s, having a false sense of creativity, confusing arrangement with creation, trying to be perceived as something they are not. This creates a competition out of music, a passive aggressive shit world that does nothing but abuse and exclude for fear of illusions being crumbled by reason. It is all dishonesty to me, I hold extreme reverence to the ebb and flow of dimensions we don’t understand that influences the presence of music in our world, and I believe those that abuse this power are being punished all the way by forces unknown. We would never let anything like that come between us and performing/writing, I don’t think anyone that truly values the freedom that being a musician provides ever really would.

Q21 - If you could provide words to wisdom for people wanting to start a band – What would they be.

Stop wasting time trying to force things, you want a blast-beat but your drummer plays a D-beat? Too bad, now you are blackened D-beat, and whats more, you are blackened D-beat that is unique to the understanding of you and that drummer combined. Time is more precious than money, yet bands seem to throw a lot more of it away, especially on things like getting over things being exactly the way your little whiny self wants them. The only person in your way is you, nobody is special, nobody cares just plug in and play what you play as long as you play it as well as you possibly can.

Q22 - Finally do you have anything to say to your fans.

You all are the absolute best and we are quite lucky to have found a spot in your mind’s capacity for music appreciation, we hope to supply it with many more offerings like Voidbound in the years to come.

Well guys, thanks for doing this. Best of luck with your new album. Hope to hear more from you in the future. Keep up with the epic riffs. Thanks.

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