Saturday 31 May 2014

Face-To-Face Interview with WO FAT

Before seeing today's guests perform a brilliant performance on the first date of their joint – Texas Takeover European Tour – with Mothership. I was given the chance to interview Texas Stoner Metal heroes – WO FAT.

I met the guys outside Camden Underworld in London and we made a little trek to a Chinese Buffet to conduct this cool face-to-face interview. Not the most glamorous of places to carry out this interview but Kent, Michael and Tim were kind enough to answer my questions. And here is the interview that I carried out with one of the finest Stoner Metal bands currently out there in the Stoner Metal scene.

Wo Fat are about to release their eagerly awaited 5th album – The Conjuring – on Small Stone Recordings. And trust me folks when we say this is their best work yet. Full of epic riffs that this great band are known for.

So lets get started with this interview.

SL – Thanks for doing this guys. You have a new a album coming out soon. The Conjuring. What can people expect from it.

Kent – It's a lot like The Black Code. We went a lot further with some things. Maybe a little bit darker. Darker lyrically. Musically it's the same but we are trying to stretch ourselves further.

SL – Was it an harder or easier album to write and record for.

Kent – I don't know but I think it's the quickest we ever recorded an album. Less than a year from The Black Code. We recorded it really fast. Song-writing was a lot quicker too.

SL – You don't leave a lot of time to record in-between albums. Do you always work that fast.

Kent – With this album we wanted to ride on the momentum we built with The Black Code and get at something pretty quick. Also we were coming back to Europe and try to get it done for this tour which we just barely did. We are probably going to take our time with the next record.

SL – You're thinking about the next record already.

Kent – Yeah. Really. When we finished an album we always start thinking about the next one.

SL – The Black Code was your most acclaimed and successful release. Did it surprise you.

Kent – Yeah. That's when we signed with Small Stone and that's what we were hoping for. Hoping to move upto the next level. The Black Code did what we were hoping to do. We are hoping The Conjuring is even bigger and better.

The Black Code cover art

SL – How did you hook up with Small Stone Records.

Kent – Scott and I traded emails backwards and forwards. Working at some supporting slots with bands coming through Dallas. Built a relationship with him and I just approached and told him about The Black Code. We had all the songs written and knew we were going to have it done by a certain time. So we told Scott - “We are looking for a label to put this out on. Are you interested.”

And it all worked out.

SL – How did the band get together. Where did it all begin.

Kent – Michael and I have known each other for over 20 years. We played in a couple of other bands over the years. Tim and I worked in the studio that we are now the owners of. That was in 2003 and I had some ideas of doing some kind of Stonery Stuff. We talked about jamming. It was pretty sporadic at first. We played every 3 months but it became more and more serious. We didn't have any designs on anything serious.

SL – What's the song-writing process within the band.

Kent – We all bring in our own ideas which are fully formed. We then jam these ideas out and play them and I think of certain riffs to build them into a better way.

SL – You're now doing the Texas Takeover Tour with Mothership. How did that came about.

Kent – It happened when we did Roadburn and Desertfest in 2013 and I met Jens who puts together Freak Valley Festival and we discussed ourselves doing it this year. About a month or two later, Jens said he would be inviting Mothership over and the idea was lets do a tour together as they are friends of ours.

We play with them a lot and I recorded their first album and their second album too.

SL – You're also known for your recording work. Are all 3 of you involved with the recording side of things.

Kent – All 3 of us own the studio. We all have different roles that we play. Michael manages the place and takes care the business side of things.

Michael – They worked there for a while. I was an intern there 15 years ago. I got sidetracked with family and everything. I started the ball rolling for us by buying it from the last owner and secured that deal. I can't engineer but I can manage the place with finances and stuff.

Kent – This is a place that has been in Dallas since 1979. Well established studio that's got a hell of a reputation.

Michael – Probably the longest and continuous studio currently running in Dallas. We have a great client list. People who keep coming back.

Kent – One of the main reasons we have to keep our tour short is because of the running of the business. As we can't be away too long.

SL – Do you have a main job for running the studio and participating with Wo Fat.

Kent – No. The studio is our main job for all of us.

Michael – When we are gone, we have one employee besides ourselves. He is very reliable. Wonderful guy who has been there for 13 years and he takes care of everything. Our wives are there taking phone calls for us. My wife asked me - “Am I going to get paid for this?”

I told her - “Well if the studio goes under. Then No!!!”

Which raises a big laugh for everyone around the table.

SL – You have recorded a lot of artists in your studio over the years. Any personal favourites or highlights.

Kent – It's a lot of fun to record music that I like such as Mothership and their first album. But we do a lot of variety such as Country, Rock, Jazz and Gospel. For me it the music is good and people are cool to hangout with then I am happy to work on any kind of music.

SL – How did you all become involved with music.

Kent – I grew up in a musical family and I didn't have plans to do anything else. Engineering wasn't something I thought of in my younger years. It kind of happened in my later life and what I currently do now. Music has always been part of my life.

The Conjuring cover art

SL – Who designed the album cover for The Conjuring.

Kent – It was Alexander von Wieding who has designed The Black Code and the re-issue of The Gathering Dark. He has done a great job. We usually give him an idea for the concept and he goes away and designs something for us.

SL – Mothership used a kickstarter fund to come on the tour. Did you do the same thing.

Kent – We used a kickstarter fund last year. Without that we couldn't do it as it's expensive to tour. This time we have managed to do it on our own.

SL – What are your thoughts on the entire crowd-funding process. Some people are for it and some people are against it.

Kent – I think it's great. I don't see why people are against it. It's putting the power in the hands of the band. A lot of labels aren't supporting bands tours any more. As much as we love Small Stone they aren't paying for this tour as we are. That's the way for most bands unless you're on a certain label or you're getting a lot of money.

SL – You're starting the European Tour today. What is in store for people. Are you playing new stuff and old stuff.

Kent – We are playing a mixture of new stuff and stuff from the other albums. Though it's primarily the new record. We try to create a setlist that flows well and songs that we play well.

SL – What dates are you looking forward to the most.

Kent – We are looking forward to Freak Valley Festival the most. Should be a lot of fun. Looking forward in seeing Blue Pills and Blood Ceremony.

SL – What are your plans after this tour. You planning a tour for the United States.

Kent – No. We are going to take some time off as we have been going for over a year or so. We are busy with recording and working in the studio.

SL – I am surprised you're not touring the States especially when you have a new record out. Is it because you have a bigger fanbase in Europe.

Kent – It's a couple of things. Partially it's that but it's harder to tour in America. It's hard to make money and to cover expenses in the States. It's almost not worth it.

Michael – The drives are brutal there and they don't put you in a hotel or stuff like they do over here. For a band that's is travelling around and that's great. We just couldn't do it. And they buy merch over here. Can't say enough about the European Crowds.

Kent – We are trying to do some strategic shows here and there. We can't tour more often with bands such as Mothership a it's not worth it for us as we lose to much money.

SL – Which bands are you currently digging at the moment.

Kent – Church Of Misery is one of my fave bands. We saw them recently last fall and they were amazing.

Tim – They played on a Wednesday night in Dallas. It was a great show. Orange Goblin came through recently as well.

SL – How would you class your music as. Doom Metal, Stoner Metal or Hard Rock.

Kent – I always class it as Psychedelic Doom.

Michael – Heavy Stoner Psychedelic.


Which everyone laughs and agrees with.

Kent – There you go. Lets go with – SWAMPADELIC!!!

SL – You changed styles with The Black Code. Especially with the Science Fiction aspect.

Kent – I was trying to use a different kind of imagery that we used before. Mainly to mix things up a bit. But it's still kind of the same vibe with a lot of political statements.

Michael – The Black Code. It's also more of a statement about being taking over by a digital age. A s you come more disjointed and alienated which fits the sci-fi angle of it all. It takes it out from the swamp and into space.

SL – Can people expect that with your new album – The Conjuring.

Kent – It's a more apocalyptic really. Talking about where a lot of things are at in the world. Climate Change. Things are seen to be coming to ahead which is pretty frightening.

Michael – It's not something happening to us. It's things that we our doing to ourselves. Like The Black Code we are victims of things that we creating ourselves. The whole idea of The Conjuring is that we are THE CONJURING!!!

I want to thank Wo Fat for taking the time out to talking to me before the gig. Thanks to Todd at Ripple Music for helping me arrange this interview.

The Conjuring will be available to buy from Small Stone Recordings on CD/DD/Vinyl from June 17th 2014.

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Written by Steve Howe