Tuesday 17 June 2014

Judd Madden Interviews Steve from The Sludgelord

This site is a constant source of new music, interviews and in-depth reviews of everything sludgey and underground. It helps music fans discover amazing bands and – as an aspiring musician – has helped me find an audience for my own music. This is grass-roots shit right here. So today we're turning the tables; I'll be interviewing the mighty Sludgelord himself, Steve Howe.

1. Hi Steve, thanks for doing this mate. I think Sludgelord fans are keen to learn a bit about you and the team, so let's start with some background. When did you start the site? How has it grown and changed over the years?

Steve – Hi Judd. Good to hear from you. No problem. Happy to. Always good to be on the other side of interviews for a change. I started the site back on Friday February 18th 2011. Yeah I can even remember the date. How boring is that.

I started the site as a favour for a friends band called Sorry ForNothing. They needed a review written for their new album so I decided to start a blog. Published a couple of articles to make it look interesting and then Sorry For Nothing reviews. How the hell did I know I would still be doing this 3.5 years later. Not that I am complaining of course.

I don't know how it's grown and changed over the years. My original intention was to feature unsigned bands and offer free legal downloads to their music while offering a brief review. It just grew and grew.

The format was pretty steady for the first year or so then in 2012 a person called Phil aka PJ Sludge asked if he could join the team. I thought why not as blogging can be such a lonely experience. Cool to have someone on board. Phil got a few record labels to send us promos to review. Then we were featuring more important Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal bands along with my usual free downloads and stuff.

Then I was asked to do interviews with a couple of bands which I think it was In The Company Of Serpents and a Romanian band called Mediocracy. Then other bands started asking for interviews as well. Now it's a popular feature the Sludgelord Interviews that Aaron and myself carry out.

I got another team member called Aaron aka The Doomentor and then DOUBLEADOOM77. PJ Sludge moved onto other things mainly with Echoes And Dust while Aaron has stayed with me ever since March 2012. We both co-run the blog now. And that's where it is today.

2. The Sludgelord drawing has become pretty iconic within the scene, what are its origins?

Steve – To tell you the truth dude I didn't know that the Sludgelord logo has became iconic. It was drawn by a highly talented dude called Sidd who was a fan of the blog. I featured one of his friends bands on the blog. Indian Stoner Metal Band – Bevar Sea – and he drew the logo as a reward of saying thank you.

Sidd asked me a few questions on how I wanted it to look and I told him something sinister that represents a Sludgy undertone. And that's the finished result. Though I am still a huge fan of the logo you designed for us for our BandCamp compilation.

3. How did you first get into heavy music?

I was a late starter to heavy music. As I was mainly a dance/rave fan back in my younger years. I still had a huge soft-spot for Thin Lizzy and The Who at the time. But it was back in 1995 when I heard albums by Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Godflesh and Neurosis that started to change my perception on my musical choices. Never looked back. OK I may of bought the odd embarrassing record along the way but we all have to start somewhere.

I only started listening to Stoner, Doom and Sludge since 2000 as I was mainly into Hardcore Punk, Black Metal, Thrash Metal and even Grindcore back in the day. Then my brother introduced me to bands such as Monster Magnet and Kyuss and I was hooked.

4. How do you think new heavy music compares to the old classics like Sabbath, Pentagram etc?

That is a hard question. Most of today's Doom, Sludge and Stoner Metal bands are heavily influenced by bands that came before them. Some good and some not so good.

Bands such as Sabbath, Pentagram and Saint Vitus are considered legends for a reason. They all have a stunning musical history behind them. They have released some classic albums. Only a few modern based bands have released classic albums.

Younger Heavy Music Fans are probably asking the same question themselves of today's current bunch of bands against bands that we grew up with such as Clutch, Karma To Burn, Neurosis, Monster Magnet, Sleep, Kyuss.

5. I'm always impressed by the sheer amount of music you guys review and post. How do you find time to listen to new music? Do you get overwhelmed with album submissions?

It's a hard struggle at times. We do have a dedicated team to review the albums. Aaron looks after Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Pages. Which is a great help believe me. Plus I am grateful for every team member that submits an album review or interview. As they help make Sludgelord what it is.

I normally listen to albums going to work and in my spare time. Then I make notes that form the basis of my reviews and interviews. We do get overwhelmed with album submissions but we never complain as that keeps us running on a daily basis. We try to feature as many bands as we possibly can but you cannot feature every band that contacts you though we do try our best.

Judd Madden

6. What is your favourite time and place to listen to music?

Favourite time and place. Anywhere does me. As when I listen to music I normally switch off from the outside world. Going to work. Going home from work. I would have to say at the weekend as I can relax and unwind listening to some classic albums I haven't heard in ages.

7. Are drugs cool? Are drugs with music cool?

Good question. But this is a very hard one for me to answer. We all have a past. If you have tried drugs yourselves and survived then that's a good thing. But I have seen the negative side of drugs and what they can do to people. So it's a personal choice.

Now Drugs with music cool. I would say no as we have lost too many great artists to mention to drugs. We all know that Drugs forms a big part in Hard Rock. Some albums were built on drugs. Would these classic albums sound the same. Probably not. Maybe the drugs used created a classic riff of some kind from one of our favourite albums. But wouldn't you exchange that riff for all of the musical talent we have lost due to drug use - Jimi Hendrix, Phil Lynott, Keith Moon, John Bonham, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison

Maybe I looked to much into that question. It's a different choice and opinion for everyone

8. Why do you think vinyl has made such a comeback? How's your personal collection coming along?

I think Vinyl has made a comeback as it's probably the best medium to hear records on. You can tell the difference between CD and Vinyl. Vinyl just sounds better. It has seen a rise within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene over the last few years as there are some brilliant record labels starting to release some excellent records on vinyl. Look at the work Steve STB at STB Records is doing with his limited edition vinyls. Have you seen the amazing designs that he has produced.

RippleMusic, Devouter Records, Small Stone Recordings and Riding Easy Records are signing a lot of great bands whose records are being released on vinyl.

Plus bands are releasing vinyls themselves and you can easily buy through Tumblr and BandCamp.

My own personal collection is coming on very nicely. Upto about 100 records or so. Not much in many peoples eyes but I have bought a whole lot this year.

9. What are your top five bands of all time, and why is Nickleback #1?

Nickleback. Yeah. Right. HA HA. My top five in order are:

1 – Thin Lizzy
2 – Mastodon
3 – ISIS
4 – The Who
5 – Foo Fighters

10. Do you get to many live gigs? What's the sludge scene like in Newcastle (UK)?

I do get to my fair share of live gigs. Though this is mainly around the UK as Newcastle Upon Tyne doesn't really have a thriving Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene. There are lot of great bands within the region with bands such as BONG, Sorry For Nothing and Druganaut but there doesn't seem to be that many gigs to attend. Though we do get the odd great gig.

Steve Howe (The Sludgelord, Not the guy from Yes or Asia)

11. Have you ever found love at a metal gig?

No Comment. HA HA

12. Do you play any instruments? Do you have any interesting hobbies outside of music?

I don't play any instruments. Unlike your good self of course. Interesting hobbies. I do participate with a little blog called Sludgelord. You may of heard of it. I do like to read a lot and watch a few films in my spare time. Just the usual boring stuff.

13. How do you see the music industry growing and changing in the future? And what will the role of blogs such as yours play?

That is really a hard thing to predict. I can see digital platforms becoming more and more part of the music scene. Things such as BandCamp have been instrumental with bands and artists in getting their music out over the last few years. Hopefully Vinyl Records will continue to become ever more popular.

I think a lot more bands will do everything for themselves. Become a true DIY band as the major labels aren't signing or developing true hard-working musicians and bands. All they care about is the next big pop star to market and make money from. The art of music is suffering for profit. Yeah profit has to be made but I wish they would invest music into proper music and not manufactured crap that is all around us. That's why I am grateful for the brilliant independent labels within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene who do a wonderful job in releasing amazing records.

The role of blogs is essential within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene as we need every form of publicity that we can get to promote the music for everyone to hear. Sludgelord will be around as long as people want us. There is always great music to listen to and discover.

14. Any shoutouts to friends and family?

Shoutouts – Yeah. Massive Thanks to Aaron for helping me run the blog on a daily basis. He does a lot of the background stuff that I am too lazy to do myself. He is Sludgelord as well.

Thanks to the team for all their hard work and effort in writing fantastic reviews.

Thanks to the readers who visit us each day and reading our crazy thoughts on music.

Plus the bands, record labels and PR firms who send us stuff to review.

15. What's the meaning of life? And don't say 42.

The meaning of life. Live your life to the fullest and do things that you truly believe in.

Thanks for your time and tireless efforts mate, from myself and all the Sludgelord fans.

Thanks dude. Now get to work on your next album.

Written by Judd Madden & Steve Howe

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