Sunday, 16 March 2014

Interview with BEAST IN THE FIELD

Today - Aaron is talking to Doom/Stoner Metal Duo - Beast In The Field. The brilliant Instrumental band who have released 5 albums to critical acclaim. Their latest release - The Sacred Above The Sacred Below - is an 71 minute blast of epic Doom/Stoner Metal riffs that ranks as one of the best instrumental rock albums of 2013.

So let's get down straight to business with Jamie and Jordan from Beast In The Field.

Welcome to the Sludgelord, pleased to talk to you guys and welcome. First of all, Congratulations! Your new record is something special. You must reflect upon it with a sense of a pride?

(Jamie) We do. We believe it is our best. We are proud of everything we have done but this is really super special to us. We have gone through quite the process to get this out on vinyl.

(SL) Let’s kick things off, who are you, state your name (s) and purpose?

(Jordan) My name is Jordan Pries, and I do not have a purpose. However, I do play guitar in Beast In The Field.

(Jamie) Jamie Jahr. I play drums. Load gear. Bunch of other things. Behind the scenes stuff.

(SL) Summarise your musical journey (s) this point?

(Jordan) I suppose it's rather difficult to summarize one's entire musical journey if a few sentences. I can this this, however, it is a never ending journey. It has been, and always will be, a path to continue with, and to learn from. It is a constant path that teaches, makes you struggle, that takes and provides. Music has been the largest provider of life lessons for me.

(Jamie) Long and hard. Like a little known Black Sabbath tune from the Eternal Idol album, "Hard Life to Love". There are so many good things. Even the bad things with band life can be better than say, regular job life. Beast In The Field began on March 1st of 2007 though. Making us 7 years old recently. Recording wise we have 5 full length albums out and a soon to be released live album coming out soon.

(SL) What can fans look forward to from you in 2014? How is your schedule shaping up?

(Jordan) Fans can look forward to new tunes, and more shows. We always have something up our collective sleeve to keep it interesting.

(Jamie) Shows and more shows. Hopefully a few short tours. Tons of shows. Writing new songs for a multitude of releases. Some of which may come out in late 2014. New merch and a release of LECHUGUILLA on vinyl and a special version of GOAT ISLE SEANCE on cd.

SL) What springs to mind when you think about the completion of your new/current record?

(Jordan)I suppose I think of when we first started, and how we've always talked about doing a record like "The Sacred Above, The Sacred Below". But we never wanted to force anything, so we just had to let it happen. And six years later it happened, and for me, it turned out just how I envisioned it would.

(Jamie) Tons of hard work and struggle with certain aspects of it. The road blocks that were thrown in our way have made us stronger and it took at least the art aspect of the album back to the beginning with a twist. I love the new album completely.

(SL) Who handles song writing duties?

(Jordan) I believe we feed off of one another. I can only think of one, single riff I wrote when Jamie was not present. I feel if we are going to be a single unit, we should write as a single unit. However, if inspiration hits at a certain moment, I won't let it pass by.

(Jamie) Seems we get together, Jordan may have a riff or two and we just start jamming. We keep working on it until we both dig it. Sometimes we will have a theme or idea on a feeling but thats about it.

(SL) How long was the gestation of your new/current opus from conception to delivery?

(Jordan) We started writing "The Sacred Above The Sacred Below" when we first started in 2007. Like I said before, we never wanted to force anything, so we let it culminate to this, what it is now. It may not always work out this way, but it did for us, for this particular record. I suppose it was six years in the making, but it only took a two days to record it, haha. When we finished that last note, I remember thinking, "That's it? I can't believe it's over so quickly". But that is how Jamie and I like to do things in the studio. We like live, raw, material. We perform that way, so why not record that way?

(Jamie) Totally what Jordan said. We have one song, "Oncoming Avalanche", that we have had since almost the beginning of the band. But slowly over the summer of 2011 we started kicking out some new songs. We recorded early in the spring of 2012 on one song, like 4 hours and the rest in I believe it was November of 2012. It came out on cd in March of 2013 and finally out on vinyl just less than a month ago.

Beast in the Field - The Sacred Above the Sacred Below

(SL) The artwork is really great, was it designed with a particular physical format in mind? Who designed it?

(Jordan) The artwork had to go with the concept of the album, especially since we do not vocally sing. We try to express what we are trying to say with our instruments, the artwork must reflect that.

(Jamie) We tried to make the artwork fit with the idea of the album. We added a book with a little story to make the songs work a little more. I designed the artwork for most of our albums with the exception of the vinyl version of WORLD ENDING. That was done by MARK RUDOLPH. We try to make the cd version and vinyl versions different, but similar.

(SL) As a music fan yourselves and given that music seems to be so disposal at times, how is it to a great package to your fans, and yet not alienate them by producing something which is not affordable. What are your thoughts on the finished physical product? What format is/will be available?

(Jordan)To me, art, music, writing, etc... has never been disposable. If I like, or love something by an artist, then I will buy his, or her work. I have artists in my family that have been doing "this" since the 60's and 70's. I know their struggles, and the toughness that goes with being an artist.

(Jamie) Never has it been disposable to me. I have huge collections of cd, cassette tapes and have begun the process of vinyl. I rarely sell anything back. I also have huge amounts of posters and such through out my apartment. We would love to bring every format that is possible to our fans. I also take great pride in thinking we are giving the fans a ton of product for their money.

(SL). Speaking off, getting a record out there are you a) Indiegogo (crowdfunding) or b) career no no

(Jordan)We rely on our label, Saw Her Ghost Records, touring, and Facebook. As of yet, we have not gone through a source like Indiegogo, or Kickstarter

(Jamie) I can see it for certain things. If I like a band and would like to see them continue or fold...I would contribute what I could. Bands are just like anything...good times, bad times, rough times. Sometimes they might need just a little push over the hill they are facing. We have had one contribution, with which we are extremely grateful. Although we did not ask for it. We love our passionate friends and fans.

(SL) The best and worst things about being in a band?

(Jordan) Music is always something I've had a passion for. I then realized it was something I wanted to do forever when I was 13. Playing music, and creating something from nothing, was, and is, something that astounds me. Even though I am not the best at it, it's still "mine", something I've created. And sharing that, creating with someone else, is the most satisfying to me.

The "worst" thing about being in a band, if you can call it that, I suppose is the sacrifice. We have to give up a lot things to do what we do. Like we miss spending time with family, friends, and other events that are happening that we might not be able able to see, or go to, because of practice or a gig. But we do this because we love it. If we weren't enjoying it, we wouldn't do it.

(Jamie) The best is being on stage for me. Connecting on many levels with people, on stage, behind the merch booth, after the show, before the show. Great times. The time we get to hang out with all our friends throughout the country. The bad for me is missing my cat.

(SL) Influences and heroes, what are turn offs and turn on’s?

(Jordan) I have a love/hate for this kind of question. I always have the mindset of "Rob" from "High Fidelity", "Favorite music in a club, in a car, on a sunny day, when, and where are you talking about it"? I'll narrow it down as best and as easy as I can. My dad is my biggest influence, because he played in bands in the 60's-80's. I always loved what he did, and was able to see him perform a number of times. He even cut some 45's in the 60's, and they are wonderful. I love listening to them. The person who made me want to play guitar was Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. The guitar player who told me to "never stop working hard", was Buckethead. The guy who made me want to have great tone was Stevie Ray Vaughan. Those were my beginnings, the guys who showed me the ropes. Since then I've gone down the rabbit hole and never returned. I find influence in musical engineering, amplifiers, tubes, recording techniques, microphones, guitar pickups. Each component has its own factor that makes me react in a certain, yet different way. Like if I were using a Jazzmaster through a Primier 112, I wouldn't play the same thing as if I were playing a 60's Les Paul through a 60's Marshall. Those factors make you think differently about what you are playing, and I love that about gear.

(Jamie) To me it started in the bedroom with the Bay City Rollers. Just pretending to be them all. Playing all the instruments. It moved on to my neighbor and BLACK SABBATH and VAN HALEN. All the late 70's stuff. It spread to hair metal, thrash metal, death metal, everything. I love music. Working with my Dad when I was young I would be listening to country, I know all the words to many ALABAMA songs. Almost all music is a turn on. All art. All life is. The first original band that made me want to pursue original music was BLIND ADDICTION. Saw them one night and the just killed it. From then on I searched out other like minded souls and am still on this journey.

SL) Any record from the past or present that springs to mind?

(Jordan) Right off the bat I would say Vinnie Bell's first "solo" LP. He was a studio cat from the 50's-70's. It's a tough record to find, but if you see it, buy it! It's all instrumental cuts of pop hits. His guitar playing is out of this world, and every song sounds different. He must have been using multiple guitars and amps on each song. The record is all around gold for me, nobody plays guitar like that anymore. The only person that resembles him, to me anyway, is Dick Chicklet of The Concussions, and FUZZrites.

(Jamie) All Black Sabbath and Van Halen with David Lee Roth are huge influences. I can not pick just one.

(SL) The last album that kicked your arse?

(Jordan) The last album that is still kicking my arse is "Fantasy Love Affair" by Peter Brown. I think it's the perfect Disco/Funk record. And it actually makes me cry because it's so good. The track "Do You Wanna Get Funky With Me" is a perfect song. It's so well-written, so catchy, and so dancy, you can't not love it. I wish I could write songs like him. It's one of my favorite LPs.

(Jamie) Soooo many. The last one that I think I kept playing over and over was, "GUESSING GAME" by CATHEDRAL. I love a ton of new ones though. Wow, truly tough question.

(SL) What was your first instrument or musical experience and what do you use today?

(Jordan) My first musical experience that I can remember, was a kid's drum set that I received as a present when I was 4 or 5 years old. I believe I also was given a guitar, but can't truly remember. I didn't play them as much as I did trash them. I mainly play guitar today, it's what I feel most comfortable on. To be exact, I love electric guitar. I love being able to plug into multiple guitars, and amps, hear different tones, and feel the electricity, so to speak.

(Jamie) Drums. I only know drums. First kit was when I was like 5. Destroyed it. When I was about 12 I used to drum to everything, Van Halen, Scorpions, you name it on a homemade, out of small containers that my Dad would bring home from work. I used a chair with loose screws that sounded like a hi hat. I used the mattress of my bed as the rack toms. Destroyed it. Sorry Mom.

(SL) One item, gear or otherwise that characterises your band and one item from your set up you cannot live without?

(Jordan) I cannot live without my 50's Crown HiFi tube field recorders. They are the best piece of gear that I have come across. And without the help of my good friend, Johnny Hi-Watt, they might all be laying in a landfill somewhere. They have a class A sag, and a HiFi sound unlike anything I've ever heard. It was the height of HiFi in the USA, and Crown spared no expense in making these. I could go into more detail, but I can't let the cat fully out of the bag.
(Jamie) We both dig older sounding equipment. They made things better back then. I use Jordans 1966 Ludwig or my 1980's Pearl World Series kit.

(SL) Pro-tools versus old school?

(Jordan) We're old-school dudes. We record live to tape, because it's as close to a live concert as we can get. Pro-tools makes editing easier, but I can't ever see myself using computer based programs to record. There is so much energy, and life lost I feel when using computers. I like my stuff to be inscribed into something, not relayed to a hard-drive.
(Jamie) All the bands I have been in have recorded to tape. I think that is pretty rad. I don't think I really wanted it that way but that is how it has turned out. BEAST IN THE FIELD is a rehearse, play the songs live and go into the studio and record it type of band. That's the way we like it.

SL) Has their been much opportunity for your band to do live shows and is playing live still as important today given the influences of the web and social media ?

(Jordan) There is still nothing like a live show, especially if you really enjoy the band you are going to see. People tell us that they like to "experience" us live, which keeps us going, and wanting to do more, and more shows. Sometimes we do not translate the same way on record as we do live I think that is because each time we play, or anyone plays, the setting, atmosphere is different than the last. There is never one element that is the same. Things keep moving forward, whether you want them to, or not. You just have to keep up.

(Jamie) Our genre really dictates that we play live. Plus we love it. Like Jordan said people come for the "experience" of a BEAST show. Hopefully you leave a good way.

(SL) Who are some your favourite bands you have toured with and what have been your band highlight (s) thus far

(Jordan) My favorite band to tour with is (was, because they are now broken up) The Nain Rouge from Detroit. They were/are good friends of mine, and it was like being at a summer camp everyday with them. They are all so fun, and funny, and their live shows were so good, there weren't any bad times to be had!

The highlight for me was touring with The Black Dahlia Murder. It was the first "real" tour we've been on, with stage plots, riders, catering, etc... The thing I couldn't get over were the sound guys, how they had to comply with our setup. They were all so nice, always asking what I wanted mic'd up. It really made me laugh, and smile a lot. The BDM guys were all super nice, and so fun to be around. We instantly became good friends with them. We can't thank them enough for such a memorable lifetime experience.

(Jamie) Oh man. Loaded question again. This is tough. I love so many bands. The Nain Rouge, just for being there from the beginning. We cried when we played their last show. I dug the shows with KEELHAUL and YAKUZA. THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER tour was the most fun we have had. Great guys and crew. All the bands we met with them. I love to tour with bands and get to know them and hang before and enjoy their music everynight. Antique Scream, The Octopus, Ozenza, Apostles, Old Vikings,, so many. I'm forgetting so many rad bands and people.

(SL) What are your survival tips for the road ?

(Jordan) I always have to know where the vegan restaurants are, haha! Besides playing shows, eating at vegan restaurants around the country is the next best thing.

(Jamie) Sense of humor. Dry clothes. Love for the road. Be prepared to be the first in and the last out.

(SL) Vinyl Junkie or Ipod flunky? Discuss

(Jordan) Erph, vinyl. I have an iPOD, but have never opened it. There is so much music to discover on vinyl, that there just aren't enough lifetimes. I could find 1,000 LPs per day, for the rest of my life, and still want to hear a million more. The amount of things released on vinyl is astounding, from Private Press, to European, Turkish, Iranian, South American, the search is endless. I don't understand how finding a whacked-out Iranian disco LP has the same effect as downloading a track from the new Yeah Yeah Yeah's. Also, listening to an iPOD really hurts my ears. They really seem to fatigue one's listening capabilities quickly. Vinyl has never done that to my ears. And if you listen to, say, "Passport" by SKYY on vinyl, then on CD or mp3, you would find yourself saying, "Where did all the low-end go? Where did that guitar go in the mix, why is it so harsh sounding?" Vinyl, baby!

(Jamie) I am a fan of the physical format. Any format. I dig vinyl the most, but due to listening to music at home the least, I love cds and cassettes. The van still only has a cassette player, which is broken at the moment. It would be awesome to have a brand new van with an iPOD with tons of songs, just for the convenience and space.

(SL) Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

(Jordan) I realize many people say this, but do want you want, and do what makes you happy. If you put all of your effort(s) into something that is satisfying you, you cannot fail. Bill Cosby said, "I don't know what the key to success is, but the key to failure is to try and please everyone".

(Jamie) The devil said it best "DO WHAT THOU WILT". Thanks for having us. We appreciate all that dig what we love to do. See you in 2014 and beyond.

Thank you on behalf of The Sludgelord.

Written by Aaron Pickford

You can check the band from the links below: