Saturday 5 July 2014

Sludgelord Interviews - Judd Madden

We at Sludgelord HQ consider today's guest a true friend of the blog. He has designed the awesome album cover for our very first Bandcamp Download Compilation. He even turned the tables on me and interviewed myself for the blog.

Paralysis Vol #1 cover art

Now it's my turn to interview this great artist for the second time as I interviewed him back in November 2012. But what most people know today's guest for is his music for which he has built up a dedicated fan-base within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Post-Metal world.

We have reviewed and featured almost all of his albums which have been acclaimed within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner/Post-Metal scene for it's rich diversity of sounds, textures, atmospherics and riffs. His latest album – Everything In Waves – is perhaps his most personal and heaviest work yet.

I described the album as: “If you're already a fan of Judd's music you can expect riffs that will last a lifetime. A stirring collection of Doom, Sludge, Post-Metal and Stoner Metal riffs that establishes Judd as one of the finest instrumentalists within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. It may sound similar to some of his long-time fans but give it another listen and you will start to find new ambient based sounds that Judd has never played before especially on Redshift & Knowing, Colour & Theory, Emission Lines and Memory Only Atoms.

If you're a fan of Pelican, Russian Circles. Earth, Karma To Burn and Neurosis then Judd is going to rock your world. He is a true original and a highly talented artist in his own right.”

Ladies and Gentleman – Judd Madden.

Q1 – Hi Judd. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today. Good to catch up with you once more.

Hi Steve, no worries mate. We’ve become partners in doom it seems!

Q2 – Can you tell our readers a brief history of how you came involved with music.

I’ve listened to and loved playing music all my life. Grew up on the drums and the piano, added guitar and bass at high school. My parents had great taste in music, and my appetite for new genres and artists just kept growing. I’ve been in many bands along the way, and I’m now exploring music as a solo artist.

Q3 – How would you describe your music now since the last time that I interviewed you.

Well hopefully it’s getting better; stronger, clearer, and more interesting. It still has a similar vibe - it’s still just me… but I’d like to think I’m exploring new territory, pushing myself. My music - for me - is quite solitary, like writing or painting.

Q4 – We have to talk about your new album – Everything In Waves. WOW – What a record that is. Possibly your best record yet. Was it a hard or easy album to record.

Thanks Steve. Was it hard? Hmm, interesting question. It came together quite naturally, I’ve gone through this process a few times now, so everything does kind of flow once I get started. Starting is fucking hard; not being lazy, not playing computer games… coming up with enough material, enough ideas. That part is really hard. Finding motivation to sit down and track, the self-doubt about if you’re just repeating yourself or imitating others… that’s a constant battle in my head.

People say I’ve released a lot in a short amount of time, but for me there are huge periods of laziness and procrastination, punctuated by a couple of months of intense activity whilst recording and mixing. The percentage of my free time where I’m physically working on music is small. There’s a lot of thinking and planning in the downtime I guess.

Q5 – What influenced you when making the record as I feel it was your most personal record to date.

Music and life. Both are just so amazing. I’m 30 now, so maybe just growing up and appreciating what I have. Buying a second-hand 12 string acoustic, this thing just writes songs by itself. Just wanting to create something worthwhile, something to be remembered for… fuck, I don’t know. Why do we do anything? Because we can.

Q6 – Has the response from fans and critics surprised you this time round. As it's being acclaimed all over the place.

It’s always overwhelming and amazing. It means a lot to me that people are enjoying it. Getting a good review or an email from a fan is fucking awesome. I mean, I’m not in it for money and I don’t play live, so feedback is really important.

Q7 – Why did you call the album – Everything In Waves. Any particular reasons behind it.

We hear in waves, we see in waves. Emotions come and go in waves. It’s about reality and our perception of the universe. The complexity of reality, and of us… our technology and all our opportunities.

Q8 – When we talked last time you said you were putting a live band together. How is that going. And have you played live within the last 18 months or so.

I was planning on playing live. But it hasn’t happened yet. I’m just waiting for the right people, and then I’d love to do a couple of live shows. As I said earlier, I view my music more like writing a book or painting… and I like that people can experience it in their own time, in their own way. Taking it live will be a mammoth task, but it could be really rewarding. I’m not sure if I could pull a decent crowd here in Melbourne… so I guess the answer is “one day”!

Q9 – What is the full range of instruments that you play. And are you self taught.

Quite good: Drums.
Good: Guitar, Bass.
Average: Piano, Organ, Didgeridoo.
Bad: Cello, Harmonica, Clarinet.

I learnt drums, bass and piano. The rest are self-taught.

Q10 – Have you received any media attention in Australia for your music since we last spoken. Or is more on a global scale.

It’s more global definitely. There’s a decent doom scene here in Australia, but it’s more centred around live gigs and the pub scene. I’m going to be in Terrorizer (UK mag) soon, so that will be massive!

Q11 – What influences you when writing your music. Do you have to be in a particular mindset.

When getting down ideas (recording a quick riff or something) you’ve kinda gotta be in the mood, or have the riff in your head walking home or whatever. Listening to other music helps. I find being away for a weekend also helps, I’ll get home with a few ideas. I tend not to worry too much about the sound, just be rough and get the idea down. Or just jam on it for a while until something emerges. Have fun. Recording is a different mindset, more precise and concentrated. I’m listening a lot more.

Everything In Waves cover art

Q12 – Congratulations with your latest album being No 1 on almost every BandCamp Chart, Stoner Metal, Stoner Rock, Sludge Metal, Sludge. Well you name it your album is either No 1 or in the top 3. Has that surprised how people have taken to this record compared to other albums.

Cheers! Each album gets a bit bigger, which is great. Certainly in the first few weeks they do alright in the charts, when people are downloading and donating. Usually they’ll drop off after a couple of weeks :)

Q13 – Has BandCamp and the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal Community still been a big part in getting your music across to the masses.

It’s the only part! Everything of mine is purely online, and blogs like this along with Bandcamp and metal forums are crucial to finding an audience. I’d be nowhere without you guys.

Q14 - 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.

Try and keep it simple. I have a single room with a drumkit, two amps, two electric guitars, two acoustic guitars, a bass, a cello, an organ, a keyboard and a computer. An audio interface (M-Audio Fast Track 8R) has 8 mics connected, which mostly stay on the drumkit. I have two guitar pedals. All of this has been more or less exactly the same for five years.

The best piece of advice for gear I could give is: know your gear. Learn how each knob changes the sound, how tightening your snare changes the sound. Learn the sweet spot for that mic on your guitar amp (hint: it’s probably not 1cm from the speaker). Learn which mic sounds better on the floor tom. Know how much headroom you need when you DI your bass. Etc etc. The WORST thing you can do is to constantly keep changing your gear. Most of my drum mics were $40 each. So what? It gets me 90% there. I often record guitar through a cheap bass amp, with the EQ tweaked a bit. It works for me.

As for mixing and recording: just play around. Do some research. Keep things simple. It’s all experience. There are plenty of amazing resources available :)

Artesian cover art

Q15 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Just make sure you’re having fun. Everyone sucks to begin with. Be sure to have jam sessions, keep things free initially. If you’re with other people, try and let them be heard… Be a generous musician, not a show-off. Share your inspiration and favourite bands.

Q16 – 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 yourself ever participate in a crowd-funding project.

Hey, if it works for them, I’m all for it. Devin Townsend just launched a huge project through kickstarter this year, if it means more quality music, then great! I don’t really need funding, as I pretty much have everything I need. Unless it was for vinyl production or something, where people pre-pay before anything is actually produced. Hmm. It’s all certainly interesting, another way to avoid the big mean record labels. Anything that puts the power back in the hands of the artist is fine by me.

Q17 – So what does the next 12 months have in store for Judd Madden.

More procrastination leading to more music :) I’m thinking of re-exploring some of my earlier themes, as a more experienced musician, pushing them even further. I want to reach more extremes within doom / post-metal. I feel I’ve only begun this journey, and I can do so much better.

Q18 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Keep enjoying music, keep loving life.

Thanks to Judd for doing this interview. If you haven't checked out Judd's awesome collection of great albums then do yourself a favour and headover to BandCamp now. Be prepared to be blown away.

Check Judd Madden from Links Below

Written by Steve Howe