Sunday 22 December 2013

20 Questions with Chron Goblin

Well Sludgelords, my free time of late has been few and far between, however it’s Sunday evening, my kids are asleep and I’m spinning Electric Wizard, Come My Fanatics.  What could be better, oh yes, I have alcohol too.  So, Come my fanatics and enjoy this stunning interview with one of Canada’s emerging imports, Chron Goblin. 

2013 seems to have been one of the best in the history of Chron Goblin, stunning second album released to widespread acclaim, tours with legends of desert/stoner/doom and prog metal.  To top it off, Chron Goblin agreed to talk to us. Ending on a low note there guys. Haha

Anyway, this interview is indeed one of the best I have done and that wouldn’t have been possible without the enthusiasm of Chron Goblin.  So sit back and get ready to go in depth.  Cheers to all for making 2013 the best in the history of The Sludgelord.  Merry Christmas and Hail The Riff!! 

SL) Chron Goblin welcome to the Sludgelord, or should I rephrase that to The SlowLord, given the time it has taken for me to hook up with you guys.  Anyway, pleased to talk to you guys and welcome. 

DP:  Devin “Darty” Purdy   JS:  Josh Sandulak   BW:  Brett Whittingham  RH:  Richard Hepp

DP:  We are stoked to finally have the chance to catch up!

SL) With the year end nearly upon us and dare I say Christmas only a few weeks away, what’s the status at Goblin HQ, lots to talk Aboot.?  Sorry man, wicked English humour.

DP:  December (and all of 2013) has been a very busy time for us.  We are playing a food bank fundraiser in our hometown on December 11 and then hosting our annual Christmas Sweater Party on December 13 with some great bands.  We are also continuing to create and firm up some of our 2014 goals and constantly writing for our next album.  We will also be spending some time with our families over the holidays. 
SL).  If you could summarise the year as a whole from the standpoint of Chron Goblin, what have been some of your personal highlights, travelling? Record Release? Touring ?  Give us a makeshift diary of year 2013 Anno Domini

DP:  2013 has been an amazing year for us!  It has been a combination of hard work and some good luck.  Some of our key highlights have included being the first Canadian band to play London’s Desertfest (and our first time overseas), opening for amazing acts such as Weedeater, Orange Goblin, and Vista Chino, recording and releasing our latest album “Life for the Living” (which was in the top 10 national radio charts for 4 weeks straight and has won a few awards), playing a Western Canadian tour with 10 dates, and playing approximately 50+ shows this year. 

SL) I read an article recently about you guys, (yes, we do research, sports fans) which referred to you as the nicest and most genuine band in all Calgary’s Indie Rock Scene and Canada is often the butt of jokes for being too nice.   So with that in mind, could you expel your kindness upon our readers and perhaps give us an idea of the roots behind Chron Goblin? Who are you, that kind of thing? It is your opportunity to tell the world about your band.  (I’m sure you’re bad motherfuckers, really)

DP:  I think we just can’t help being nice and genuine as it’s part of who we are and how we were raised.  We all grew up in small towns in Canada that were very community based.  With the harsh climates that we have in Canada you have to rely on your neighbour.  We all met during university and formed solid friendships prior to starting the band which really has established our solidarity.  We are brothers and still get along the same as when we started the band nearly five years ago. 

The expression “work hard and play harder” also really applies to us.  There is no doubt our strong work ethic has gotten us to where we are today but we never forget to have a good time.  We all started playing music to have fun and we feel it’s important to remember that.  It sounds cliché, but the saying “it’s the journey not the destination” really means a lot to us.  Sure, driving 12 hours in a van can be a drag but we always make the best of it.  The satisfaction of playing a great show makes all of the challenges worth it. 

SL).  What the hell is a Chron Goblin btw, ha-ha? 

JS:  A Chron Goblin is a mythical beast. It lives in the bowels of the skate park, surviving off the blood of fallen children and failed tricks. A gatekeeper for the God's of rock, the Chron Goblin only comes out at night - seeking herbal offerings to keep the rock spirits at bay. The Chron Goblin is everywhere and nowhere at all. Hahaha - but seriously. It's just something one of our friends called Darty at the skate park and we always thought that would be a great name for a band and a hilarious reference to one of our favourite past times. 

SL). You guys remain a DIY outfit I believe but with some help from PR. Tell us a little about Chron Goblin Entertainment, is it a ‘thing’ a label and what are your aims for future release, DIY till you die or sign to the right label if any offer arises?  DIY means retaining creative freedom, which is essential? 

DP:  When we first started this band I was just finishing up my commerce degree from the University of Calgary and I was reading up a lot on the legalities of music rights and ownership.  We decided the best move for us at the time was to register ourselves as a business called “Chron Goblin Entertainment” in order to maintain all of our music rights, creative freedom, and set up our business (bank account, PayPal, web store, SOCAN etc).  This has allowed us to maintain our creative freedom and financial independence to make decisions that are best for us. 

That being said, if the right label were to make us an offer that suits our needs and aspirations, we wouldn’t be opposed to working with someone.  We’ve never let the lack of a record label hinder or slow us down from moving forward.  We’ve managed to put out an EP, two LP’s and a music video on our own.  We have also managed to get some distribution in Sweden via Ozium Records and in the United States via Ripple Music which has been fantastic.  We sell the majority of our records and merch at our gigs as well as via our web store and we continue to ship orders worldwide every week.  It is a very organic approach that has really worked for us as we have complete control of our band.    

SL) As a music fans yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, is it important to offer a great package to your fans, and yet not alienate them by producing something which is not affordable.

DP:  We have always offered our music (whether download card, CD or vinyl) at very affordable rates.  We’d rather get our music out there at a reasonable price than not have the exposure at all.  We even gave our download link for our first full-length One Million from the Top to hundreds of fans for free (check out our Instagram) to get our music heard.  We also released Life for the Living on vinyl which has been very successful.  We sell it at a very affordable rate and sales have been great so far.   We’d really like to see one of our songs on a UK based compilation album via Metal Hammer, Decibel, or Iron Fist in the future. 

SL) Let’s talk, Life for Living, Do you approach each record release with trepidation, were you nervous or confident  that you would produce not only a great batch of songs but also a great product for your fans? Was the record written as a band, what’s your vibe?  How did it come together? 

DP:  We try our best to maintain an organic approach to writing by taking our time with the creative process and letting things formulate naturally.  Each member of the band brings their own creativity and ideas to the band.  Typically a song starts off with Brett and Darty jamming out some riffs and along with Hepp adding the low end, we work on arranging the various ideas.  We try to establish an initial concept that will allow Josh to bring in his lyrics (as he is the sole lyricist in the band) and develop a vocal melody that gels.  Then the four of us rework the ideas and structure until we are all satisfied. 

We also had a great deal of inspiration for this record as we literally had three weeks to finish writing after returning from London’s Desertfest before we entered the studio for 13 days.  Pun intended, we were on such a high from Desertfest that it really hyped us up to record the next album.    As stressful as recording can be we tried our best to keep the spirits high and the mood light in the studio.  We had the privilege of working with Casey Lewis of Echo Base Studio again so we had a good idea of his approach to recording since we worked with him for One Million from the Top. 

SL) S/T 2010, One million from the top 2011 and now Life for Living.  Phil summed up your new record very well, I think, with a great review.   Is it your best record upon reflection and what are your thoughts about it now that you have toured it etc. 

BW:  Production-wise, I think Life for the Living is definitely superior to One Million from the Top and our self-titled EP.  Overall, the individual songs are very strong on LFTL and the flow of the album is successful.  I would also say LFTL is our heaviest effort yet with songs like “Blood Flow”, “Anesthetize”, and the title track all portraying aggressive tendencies that weren’t as present on our earlier releases.  That being said, we’ve been playing tracks from LFTL and OMFT interspersed throughout our set lists on tour this fall and its fun to play tracks from both albums back to back.  The songs on LFTL are definitely a challenge to play perfect and it keeps us motivated to play our best each night.

SL) How would you compare the process of putting this record together, in comparison to your previous releases?   Was an easy process, anything you would change looking back?  What are some of the difficulties of being DIY?

DP:  With any record there are always small details that you would like to change after the fact, but that is the nature of the recording beast.  In a perfect world with unlimited time and money, we would love to double or triple the amount of studio time we had in order to really give each song the attention it deserves.  We feel this album had a much “heavier” sound than the last album.  We were really happy with the bass tone compared to the last album also.  We all have full-time jobs and don’t have a label or other financial support to fund our endeavours, so I know we did the best we could given the situation.  That being said, Casey Lewis at Echo Base was key to capturing our performances and enacting his wizardry to portray them powerfully in the limited time we had.  We are extremely proud with how the album turned out - everything from the songs, production, lyrics, artwork etc.

SL) This is always a divisive subject and labels seem to be going down the fan funded route.  Given that you’re DIY, did you consider using websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to fund your new album? Some people and bands are for it. Some are not?

DP:  This is a topic that even within our band we have mixed feelings about.  One thing we can all agree on is that in a free market society, at the end of the day the market will decide if the funding goal will be achieved.  If your band sets out to raise $10,000 and your fans are willing to fund that goal, then it worked for you, although it’s tough to see bands not achieve success in this process.  We have always done our funding by playing shows, selling music and merchandise - the necessary and rewarding staples of being a band!

SL) As a DIY band, how do you measure the success of each release?

DP + BW:  For us there are numerous ways to measure our success, both individually as musicians and as a band.  The objective measurements are record sales, concert attendance, number of shows per year, offers to open for great national and international artists, etc.  In particular, the opportunity to open for Vista Chino, Orange Goblin, 3 Inches of Blood, Bison BC, and The Devin Townsend Project has been extremely rewarding.  The same goes for the invitation to play Desertfest alongside Pentagram, Unida, Truckfighters, Kadavar, Lowrider - all bands that we respect and listen to daily.

We are in this for the opportunity to be creative and share our music through records and live shows.  Success for us is knowing that we are doing the best we possibly can at creating quality music and connecting with our fans.  It doesn’t matter if we are playing to 50 or 1000 people; you still are going to get the exact same live show from us.  The feeling of just killing it on stage is second to none.
SL ) Steering away from the serious stuff, sorry about that!  Tell us some of your influences/heroes both musically and artistically, both metal and non-metal? Was there a specific band or artist turned you onto music and specifically introduced you to Heavy Metal/Rock and wanting to form a band? 

BW:  We are absolutely inspired and influenced by the old school heavies, but our influences are not limited to these bands. We’re also inspired by many contemporary bands that are flying the stoner rock flag such as Red Fang, The Sword, Orange Goblin, Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Truckfighters, etc. And these bands wouldn’t have existed without the old school heavy metal, hard rock, and punk bands that existed before them.
When bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer first started writing and recording music that defined heavy metal and the proto-stoner rock sound, they wanted to create something that was powerful, aggressive, and dark, all the while holding on to groove and melody. Their lyrics were reflective of the tumultuous events of the 60’s and 70’s, and so was their music. They were creating honest music and never tried to deceive anyone about what they were trying to accomplish. People accepted and celebrated this music because it was and still is unique and creative.
We think music lovers, both artists and fans, are inspired by the old school bands because they made quality and classic music which still maintains its power and influence today. Part of that quality came from the recording process which was more honest and direct because of some of the limitations of technology at the time.  The recording process of the ‘60s and ‘70s relied on spectacular performances and creativity to bend the limitations of recording technology. Playing live and performing to an elite standard is something we place huge value in and we try our best to meet the standards that great artists of the past have set.  We think emerging artists who have respect for the history of rock and roll will continue to reach into the past to get exposed to our great musical ancestors and continue to be inspired by the classics that still maintain their power today.
RH: My influences encompass much of the musical spectrum, but are heavily weighted towards punk and metal/hardcore. Bands like Comeback Kid, Belvedere and Misery Signals were the biggest influences in my life growing up in rural Saskatchewan. I found the scene in Regina through my cousin and it was not only welcoming, but unbelievably talented and evolutionary. You could watch bands evolve literally in 6 months. There’s something to be said for the Prairies and their artists; when a band can tour the world and still want to live in Winnipeg, I think that’s a sign there is something vital to writing sincere, unique music that exists only in the prairies.

SL) Using those influences as a reference point, did they form the basis of the direction where you wanted to take the band and how approached writing your music?

DP:  I don’t think we really ever set out to make a record with specific direction.  We play what comes naturally to us....thunderous drums, badass riffs, intense bass lines, and soaring vocals.  Songs that have content and complexities while still being accessible and groovy.  I think the fact that we all have such different influences really helps us to be a unique and creative band. 

SL) If you could have released or played on any record past or present, what would it be and why?

DP:  Kyuss – Blues for the Red Sun or Orange Goblin – Eulogy for the Damned.   Both of those records are absolutely amazing from start to finish. If I could go back in time to somehow be involved that would be my pick. 

BW: I would say Clutch - Robot Hive/Exodus, Kadavar - S/T, Them Crooked Vultures - S/T, QOTSA - Songs for the Deaf.  There’s so much great drumming on all of these albums that continue to inspire me.

RH: Protest the Hero - Scurrilous. Anything they do is unreal. Especially the bass work.

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

DP:  For guitar I use an Orange Rockerverb 100 watt head with a 4x12 Orange Cab.  I have a couple different Gibson SG’s I use and they are my favourite guitars.  They are a perfect weight and pretty balanced.    I mostly use just a wah pedal, but a few effects here and there.

BW:  I’ve got a 1973 Ludwig kit that I bought off eBay from a guy in Omaha, Nebraska.  I love the idea of the unknown history of these drums - who knows who’s played with them or what stages they’ve been on.  Same goes for the vintage Ludwig Supraphonic 14”x6.5” snare I have - definitely my favorite snare I’ve played.  As for cymbals, I use a mix of Paiste (15” 2002 hi-hats, 20” Giant Beat crash) and Sabian (18” Paragon, 22” Hand Hammered ride)

RH:  My rig is  an Orange AD200B Bass head with an Ampeg Classic 6x10 cabinet.  I use a Fender 60th Anniversary Precision Bass and a Dunlop Bass Wah pedal along with a Boss OD3 Overdrive pedal. I used a Bass Big Muff Pi for One Million From the Top, but I found that the overdrive pedal worked better with the tone of the p-bass (I used Brett’s Schecter for recording OMFtT).

We play in D Standard which means the relationship between the relative strings is the same as E Standard but the overall pitch is lower. As such, we have to use heavier gauge strings which makes for a more difficult time setting up your guitar or bass - something I’ve had to learn to do myself. The tones are well worth the trouble though. I would definitely recommend taking the time to sit down and figure out the mechanics of your instrument that goes for bassists or guitarists

SL) I am not in a band, therefore The Sludgelord is the next best thing for me, I have no journalist qualification, but I feel the blog is like friends to friends,  talking shit with bands I dig.  Kinda like the old tape trading phenonema of old.   How valuable are blogs and social media?

DP:  I feel social media and blogs are crucial for any band, weather DIY or label supported.  These medians really give the fans a chance to connect with the artist and stay up to date with their progress.  It is amazing to really connect with your fans and share stories, pictures, music, etc.  Without the use of social media and blogs we wouldn’t be where we are today.  You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, our website . . . basically any form of social media available. 

SL) Quick fire question, what’s your preference? Cassette, CD, Digital Download or Vinyl? And why? 

DP:  Vinyl at home, digital while out and about.  We all have a very extensive vinyl collection at home and love having something tangible. 

BW: I love the interactive experience of listening to vinyl. It forces you to pay attention and stay engaged with the music, instead of just hitting shuffle on your digital device for background music.  And of course the artwork on vinyl is superior - a larger physical format means a larger canvas for art.

RH: I am a big fan of digital downloads, purely because you get to give someone your music for next to nothing in terms of marginal cost to you. A CD is a couple bucks, a digital download is pennies.

SL)  What are your thoughts about digital era (I am referring to bandcamp) and the difference between buying a physical copy? Is that helpful to you? Are you a fan of offering a DL code with your own releases?  Talking to band recently and they felt pay what you like DL, kind of devalues music, you work hard, use your own cash and there is no remuneration?  

BW: Digital music is a reality of the technologically dominated world we exist in and with that comes the free sharing of music.  As we’ve mentioned, the exposure that social media and file sharing has given us has been invaluable and we’d rather someone hears our music for free, and potentially becomes a fan, than no one ever hearing our music.  Pay what you like downloads may devalue the industry of digital music, but in a world where anyone can get the digital version for free, having the option to pay is still a good option for both fans and artists.  Digital exposure has often lead to physical sales for us as most music lovers still want physical versions of the art they enjoy - it’s a great promotional tool.

That being said, the most important part of music for us is playing live.  We compose our songs by playing our instruments and jamming, not writing using computer software.  Transitioning our music from our jam space to venues and sharing that live energy with music lovers is the biggest reward and our hope is to be able to capture the essence of that in our recordings as well.  Recorded music, either physical or digital, is a way for us to share what we do, but it’s only a slice (albeit a big one!) of the big picture for us.

SL) Before we wrap things up, I have to mention what I think must be some of your career highlights let alone highlights of the year.  First Canadian band to play desertfest, tours with V C, OG, 3IOB, Bison B.C. and DTP.  Tell me everything, pretty fucking awesome? Are those dudes as cool as they seem all of them a big deal within their own right, at least I think so? 

DP:  Desertfest was fucking amazing!  It was the highlight of our career to date.  All of the promoters (especially Reece Tee and Griz) treated us amazing.  We got to meet such amazing people and see sights we never thought possible.  We played twice, once at The Underworld and once at the Vans store on Camden High Street.  The Vans store show was hilarious as it was supposed to be acoustic but when we showed up there was a full kit and we said fuck it and played our regular heavy set!  We made so many fans in the UK as a result and have shipped a ton of records there since then. 

3 Inches of Blood have always been a huge influence for us.  We’ve been going to their shows for over 10 years now and to play with them was a dream come true.  They are super rad dudes and true bearers of the metal flag.

Bison BC - Again, amazing dudes.  Highlight of that night for me was when drummer Matt Wood put a lit joint in my mouth while I was playing.  It was hysterical as security ran over to put it out. 

Vista Chino – this was a “pinch this real?” kind of moment for us.  Kyuss runs through our veins so this was an unreal night for us.  We played a really tight set that night and had the other touring band Black Pussy crash at our place.  The highlight of that night would definitely have to be John Garcia telling Josh how much he enjoyed his vocals. 

Orange Goblin.....where to even begin.  Orange Goblin are the nicest guys in the business.  They invited us out for beers on their day off in Calgary and we had the chance to listen to some amazing stories of their career.  It was surreal.  They gave us a shout out in both Calgary and Edmonton during their set, and dedicated ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid” to us which they rarely play live.  It was a dream come true for us.  I’ve even seen footage since then of Joe wearing our shirt on stage. 

SL).  What are your plans for the rest of the year and 2014? Any exciting releases to keep our eyes on, fans may be anxious to know if you’ll be touring, recording? Can we expect you to follow in the footsteps of KEN mode and bag some awards,

DP:  As for 2014, we have ambitious plans which will start with the filming of our second music video in February.  We will also be celebrating 5 years as a band with a special show planned for February 22 in our hometown with Vancouver’s We Hunt Buffalo and Edmonton’s Black Mastiff.  It’s basically a Canadian Stoner Rock power bill.  We’re also planning a two week US tour through the Pacific Northwest in the spring and are working on efforts to return to the UK for a 2 week tour in the fall.  We are also working to get on with a variety of Canadian Music festivals and are planning our own outdoor summer festival called “Metal of Nowhere”.  We will also be writing our next full length album and continuing to pursue our rock n’ roll dream one day at a time!

Note – If any readers have any contacts for booking agents/tour managers for Europe and UK please shoot us an email (

SL) Thanks for answering my questions and to wish you a very hazy Christmas, but one final question, you got anything you like to say to your fans, shout out

BW:  We would like to thank all of our friends, fans and family who have supported our rock n’ roll journey – we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we have without them and we never forget that or take it for granted.  We also want to let our fans know that we have ambitious plans for the future and you can expect more tours, videos, and albums from us!  Come to a show and we’ll smoke some beers together!

We’d also like to thank publications, such as yours, you for giving emerging artists a platform for exposure and to support us in spreading our music.

A Massive Sludgeord amount of gratitude to Devin “Darty” Purdy,  Josh Sandulak, Brett Whittingham  and Richard Hepp, also known as the collective Chron Goblin.  Nice to know this blog is educational on all things medicinal/recreational, Hail The Chron Gobin's worldwide.  Photos were used courtesy of Trevor Hatter and Shane Langan (C).  Thanks to you guys who read our ramblings and making Sludgelord what it is, fucking badass!! 

Thanks to Cat @ Southern Cross PR for being such a support and her enthusiasm for what we do, means a lot.  

Cheers and beers, Aaron

Words and Interview by : Aaron Pickford and Chron Goblin

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