Saturday 19 July 2014

Interview with HETERODOX

Today's guests have released one of the weirdest and freshest sounding Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal début records this year. Their début album – Elixir Of Lethe – impressed the hell out of me with it's different style of sounds and noises.

I called their début album - "Elixir of Lethe – is a very hard album to describe. Parts Doom and Stoner Metal mixed with a heavy progressive rock vibe holding everything together.

Elixir of Lethe is one of those albums that you will enjoy from the very first listen as Heterodox have delivered a stunning début album packed full of different ideas to entertain you with. The album does have a slight Tool influence especially with the vocals are concerned.

Maybe I should stop worrying about what genre they fall under and celebrate the fact Heterodox have dared to do something different within the Doom/Stoner Metal scene. You need to hear this album for yourselves as you are missing something truly special here.”

These New Zealand Psych riffsters called HETERODOX have kindly agreed an interview with me. Which I am very grateful as they have made me a huge fan of their music.

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

Floyd – Yeah alright, it’s been a bit cold actually and I think I’m coming down with the flu.

Luke – Hey dude, cheers for the interview. Doing well!

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

Floyd - We started back in 2010 in high school as a 4-piece with thrash metal as our main influence. Things have changed along the way, we changed to 3-piece in 2011 and haven’t looked back.

Luke – Floyd and I have been jamming together for about 8 years and have played in many bands. Like he said, we had a strong thrash influence growing up and a passion for improvising. So when it came to forming Heterodox, we already had that musical chemistry and knew what direction we wanted to head into as our tastes developed. We were both working on some doom jams before Jared came into the mix, so those ideas and that vision finally came to fruition when we met him. And it’s just gone on from there, constant jamming of heavy grooves.

Q3 – How would yourselves describe your music as you have a lot of different sounds going on.

Luke – Bit of everything really. We have fairly broad range of influences. There’s some groove and sludge, to progressive and psychedelic rock.

Floyd – Sludgy and Doomy

Q4 – Why did you choose the name Heterodox?

Luke – That Dox’ had some bite to it! It didn’t take long, we literally just flicked through a dictionary one day and I found the word Heterodox. We thought it sounded catchy at the time and the definition represented what we believed in. It still applies today in many contexts.

Q5 – Your new album – Elixir Of Lethe - has been released. Can you tell us what the album is all about?

Luke – There’s a lot of different subjects going throughout the record. When I write I generally prefer to let the music tell the story and let the listener sink into that atmosphere. The lyrics basically act as clues to the story. That’s why a lot of it is instrumental, we love to just jam out and create cinema esque soundscapes. The hard part about that is just trying to structure it all! For the lyrics, most of its personal philosophy, views, and self-purging.

Q6 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

Luke – Writing came very naturally. There was no strict outline of how all the songs should sound and work together. I wouldn’t say it was easy but the process of writing was a very inspired time. Most of the tracks came pretty quickly but we’ll refine them, and modify sections at rehearsal as a whole for months before we’re happy with them.

We took a year to record the album; we have day jobs so it worked out easier for us. We wanted to take our time to make sure we had everything sounding right. Nick Blow (Producer) and I spent many hours working with different tones, pedals and guitars. Also the heavy layering took a lot of time too. Nick basically became a part of the band, we were all on the same wave length.

Q7 – Why did you call the album – Elixir of Lethe. Any particular meaning behind it.

Luke – So we decided to name the album after the song because the meaning of it sets up the loose concept for the album. The song has some pretty tongue-in-cheek lyrics in it, but it’s kind of a satire story on the misled. The river Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hades, it represents forgetfulness or concealment. Those that drink from river would fall into oblivion.

Q8 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians.

Floyd – Originally it was just kind of classic rock stuff like Deep Purple and Zeppelin then bands like Megadeth & Sepultura came into the mix when Heterodox started and now I mainly listen to reggae and dub like Fat Freddy’s Drop & Black Seeds. Each influence brings a different flavour into the mix.

Luke – I love my Sabbath, always been an avid Iommi Fan. And early stuff like Blue Cheer, Grateful Dead, Yes, King Crimson, and a lot of Pink Floyd etc. There’s quite a range for all of us though, lately my jams have been from Frank Zappa to Soulfly and Deftones.

Q9 – You're from New Zealand. What is the Sludge, Doom, Stoner Metal scene currently like over there. We are aware of bands such as Beastwars, Arc Of Ascent, Stone Angels, Shallow Grave and Spook The Horses to name a few. Is there a scene for you to perform regularly.

Floyd – It’s not bad, Beastwars & Arc of Ascent like you mentioned are legends in our eyes. They have such a dirty sound, it’s badass. We were lucky enough to play with Beastwars last year and that was a blast.

Q10 – Or do you have to travel further to perform gigs regularly.

Floyd - We haven’t played a lot of out-of-town gigs but we’re planning to change that soon.

Q11 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Floyd – Luke writes pretty much all of the riffs and brings them into practice and we jam them out from there.

Q12 – How big of a help has BandCamp in been in promoting your music.

Floyd – Bandcamps been great, without it we wouldn’t have had interest from all these different places in the world, it’s a great platform for new and established artists.

Q13 - What is your musical set-up when playing live or recording your music. Any hints and tips would you like to give to the budding musicians out there.

Floyd – I’ve just got myself a Fender precision and that’s my main bass now. For pedals I used to use a big muff and a flanger but have recently moved my effects rig to a laptop based medium and that’s great, I can replicate so much more of the sounds I used when we were recording.

Luke – I’m using my 1960s re-issue Gibson Les Paul traditional, that was used on the album and I use it live. Along with that guitar I also used Nicks 1950s re-issue Gibson SG throughout recording. For amps I used a Mesa Dual Rectifier through a Hi Watt cab and I use a Single Rec live. The rest of the tones are history!

Q14 – If you could change anything within the Hard Rock/Metal scene. What would it be and why.

Luke – What am I to say? Haha. Not something I’ve ever really put any thought into, but in saying that I wouldn’t change a thing. Rock and metal music, or any music for that matter is forever naturally changing and evolving as new musicians discover new creative possibilities. I think at this point its infinitely diverse and there is always people creating new musical niches and developing styles.

Elixir of Lethe cover art

Q15 – We have to talk about the brilliant album cover. Trippy as hell. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have into it. As it reflects the mood of the entire album.

Floyd – An old school friend called Portia McLean painted it for us, she’s so talented & was very helpful with the design.

Q16 – What is your favourite song off the album and why.

Floyd - Probably the title track or Amorphous.. or Qualm. They’re all really good and it’s still cool to listen back to the songs.

Q17 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Floyd – Do it

Luke – X Factor.. Haha but seriously, If you wanna start a band and don’t… You’re gonna regret it.

Q18 – What are your thoughts of the entire crowd-funding scene. It seems to have it's defenders and people think it's a waste of time. Would Heterodox ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

Floyd – Before the album was due to come out we started a kickstarter campaign to gather some funds for mastering and other costs, it helped but was only really the tip of the ice-berg.

Q19 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Floyd – Thanks for checking us out and listening to what we’ve conjured up.

Luke – Cheers to everyone that’s come along to show and the great feedback on the album!

Well guys thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album. Hope to hear more great riffs from you over the next few years or so.

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Written by Steve Howe