Friday 12 September 2014

'Geezer, 'Gage' and Beyond' - An Interview with Pat Harrington of Geezer

Today’s guest first came to my attention back in June 2013 when I reviewed their excellent debut EP 'Gage'.

I had this to say back in June 2013 - “Believe me folks when I say Geezer's debut EP is a work of genius. Stoner Rock of the highest order with great psychedelic riffs to match.  Check out the brilliant 7:37 minute epic - Ancient Song. A song that will make you an instant fan of this great band. No question.”

That's right folks – I am interviewing Blues/Stoner Rock Specialists – GEEZER – who are set have their debut EP ‘Gage’ released on vinyl by the excellent STB Records label. STB Records are one of the premier DIY labels delivering epic Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal releases on Vinyl. They have released records by Dopethrone, Druglord, Traitors Return To Earth, Spelljammer and Curse The Son amongst others. Now it's GEEZER's turn to be given the STB Makeover.

I interviewed Pat Harrington from GEEZER last year if you want to read how GEEZER came into being. This interview will be all about what has been happening since then.

SL). Hi Pat. Thanks for doing this. How are things with you today?

Pat: Awesome and busy as hell! Knee deep in doing all I can to spread the word about our upcoming release. Thanks for the help, it’s always great to sit back and have a chat with the mighty Sludgelord!

SL).  So! A lot of things have happened since we last spoke around 12 months ago. What have been your personal highlights so far?

P: It’s been a tremendous year for those of us in Geezertown! We’ve played some really cool shows; we’ve recorded a bunch of new material and met some incredible people along the way! One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve gotten to play with so many bands that I personally love! We brought Wo Fat out to Brooklyn, we’re about to do our second show with The Midnight Ghost Train, also gonna kick it again with King Buffalo, who are an amazing band. We also played the Eye Of The Stoned Goat 3 & 4 which put us on the bill with bands like Gozu, Order Of The Owl, Kings Destroy, Volume IV, The Scimitar, Curse The Son and Foghound… all great bands, all great people!

SL).  We are here to talk about one thing. ‘Gage’  STB Records Vinyl Edition. How di you hooked up with STB Records.

P: I keyed in on STB right out of the gates with their first release, Demonsmoke by Dopethrone. Right away, I knew they were the kind of label I wanted to work with. I got to know Steve as he became a fan of my podcast, Electric Beard Of Doom, and things just progressed naturally. We developed a friendship pretty quickly so I was only a matter of time before we decided to work together on this release.

SL). STB Records is becoming a well known force with Vinyl Enthusiasts. Are you proud to be part of the STB Records Vinyl Family?

P: Proud beyond belief! I really believe in what Steve is doing with STB. It truly is a DIY label in the old punk sense of the word, which makes sense since Steve is an old hardcore guy. Turco (drums) and I also cut our teeth on hardcore music, so there was an understood and shared set of values that we all were able to relate to right off the bat. I’ve been a working with STB for about a year now and it’s amazing to see how the label has grown. Steve is a visionary and he has released some incredible records. I love to just sit back and watch him work; it has been a truly inspiring experience. Just look at the last two releases from STB, ‘Ancient Warlocks and Curse The Sun’. Not only were they two of my favorite albums from last year, the vinyl editions absolutely raised the bar as far as what I thought was possible to do on this level. The only downside is, now we have to follow that! Thankfully, Steve keeps the surprises coming…

SL). ‘Gage’ STB Vinyl Edition was announced in August 2013. Why the delay with the Vinyl Release, because it has been a long wait since the original announcement.

P: Originally we were supposed to release Gage before Ancient Warlocks and Curse The Son, but just as we were about to start mixing Tales Of Murder And Unkindness, the pipes burst in our studio during the “Polar Vortex” of last winter. That set us back months. We had to first make sure we didn’t lose the sessions, then all the recording gear had to dry out or be replaced… it was a drag for sure, but it all worked out in the end.

'Gage' Not So Standard Edition

SL). It looks an incredible release from Steve STB. Can you tell our readers what to expect from the Vinyl Release? The Die-Hard edition looks amazing.

P: More of the same super-high quality that we’ve all come to expect from STB! I only recently became aware of what Steve was doing with the Die Hard and I’m blown away! We wanted to mix the old school blues vibe that Geezer is rooted in with the psychedelic experience that the album has become; I think we’ve achieved that. By the way, don’t get turned off by the Die Hard vinyl being basic black, it’s actually 190gram vinyl that is only available in black and it’s as thick as them 78 blues records from back in the day. It’s the highest audio quality available on vinyl and since this album was mastered especially for vinyl, we expect the audio experience to be just as exciting as the visual experience! Fuckin old school…

SL).  Did you have much input to the overall design of the vinyl packages, or was that left to Steve STB to decide upon?

P: This is where Steve really shines! He is a bona fide vinyl junkie and he makes the kind of records that he would love to buy as a collector. Some initial ideas got thrown around in the beginning, and then once we got the new artwork from Alex, Steve just ran with it. I’m telling ya man, dude is an artist when it comes to this shit.

SL). The new EP artwork is drawn by Alexander von Wieding, is stunning.  Nice work getting him involved, he has created some stunning work for Karma To Burn and Wo Fat recently. Were you a fan of his work before he designed your new cover and did you have much input into the design yourself?

P: Such a fan of Alex’s artwork, as well as his music project, Larman Clamor. I knew he was the man for this project from the start. Not only because of the incredible work he’s done, but because he’s also into the whole heavy blues thing. I knew he’d be able to capture what we were going for and he fucking nailed it! We did kick around a few ideas in the beginning, but he really took the ball and ran with it. It is always my philosophy that whenever working with creative people to just get out of the way and let them do what they do. If ya hire someone because you dig their work, then let them do their work! There are so many people who have contributed to this album; it really has been a tremendous group effort throughout.

SL).  You have also included a new 14 minute epic track ‘Tales of Murder and Unkindness’. What is that track all about and why did you choose that track to include on the reissue?

P: When we hooked up with STB, I knew right away that I wanted this vinyl release to be special. Frankly, we also needed another song to even out the sides. The song is actually more like a suite; it’s like three or four different musical sections tied together. The main section was actually written a long time ago, even before we recorded our first album. It was born out of an improvised jam that Turco and I did while grooving on some excellent pot brownies. It was different than anything else we were doing at the time and I knew it would never fit into a traditional song structure, so it was just put on the shelf until the right opportunity arose. By the time we went into the studio to record the bonus track, we knew we were gonna do something with that jam. While in the studio (thankfully with the tape rolling), Freddy and Turco just started playing this other, completely new tune, it was a total spontaneous moment! That became one of the other parts of the song. I had an idea in my head how to bring it all together and thankfully it worked. Ultimately the song represents everything we’ve been doing all along, tying the old school blues vibe with the modern psychedelic, heavy experience.

Live at Saint Vitus Bar (photo by Anjanette Photos)

SL).  Like all STB Records releases, this S.O.B, is gonna sell out pretty quick and possibly even bring crazier resale prices on certain websites. It's pretty cool you have two brilliant labels releasing your music, with Ripple Music handling the Digital and CD Versions too.  How important are each of the different formats to you as a band and what is your preferred choice to listen and own music on?

P: Yeah this is where it gets real exciting. I was happy enough to make the vinyl, sell a few hundred copies and be done with it… then Ripple got involved. What that does is bring this whole thing to another level. With Ripple putting it out on CD and releasing it for digital download, it gives the album a staying power that wouldn’t be there with just the vinyl release. Not to mention, Ripple has an infrastructure and distribution network that will bring our music to a whole new audience. Having both labels on our side, doing what they do best and working together to make this the best experience for everyone involved, is a real honor. One of the greatest things about this underground scene we have here is the fact that so many people are in it because they love the music and that’s what’s most important. There’s cooperation, not competition, and everyone benefits. The partnership between STB Records and Ripple Music is the perfect example of that. We’re just excited to be a part of it!

BTW – I listen to vinyl wherever and whenever possible, but this is the world we live in and to get the music to as many people as possible, one has to be open to using all available formats.

SL).  Obviously you have your debut album ‘Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues’ released early last year as well. That was a great album as well, do you think that be getting the Vinyl Treatment in the near future.

P: Thank you! It seems like ages ago, but it’s only been a year since that CD was released on Blues Blvd. Records. I love that album, it’s the cornerstone for everything we’ve done, but it also seems we’ve already moved past it. We have retained the rights to release that on vinyl, and I’m open to doing that at some point, but for right now, we’re just gonna focus on what we’re doing today.

SL). You have made changes to ‘Gage’ via STB Records. If you were given the chance to make changes to ‘Electrically Recorded Handmade Heavy Blues’, what would it be and the reasons why?

P: Not sure really, I actually kinda like it as it is. It’s a moment in time. It’s the sound of Geezer finding ourselves as a band, I think it should stay that way.

SL).  Are you guys any closer in getting a tour to Europe sorted or is it still a long way off yet?

P: The big hope is to get to Europe next spring for the stoner festival season. This album is Geezer tossing our hat in the ring, so to speak. This is also an example of how having Ripple Music on our side is a big advantage. They have great European distribution and have a real presence over there, so we hope that as the album spreads around, the Roadburn, Desertfest, Freak Valley type-people take notice and extend an invite. A lofty goal for sure, but fuck it man, why not go for the gold?!

Die Hard Edition

SL). 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?

P: Oddly enough we’re a small amp band. Seems blashpemous in this part of the musical world, but when you have smaller amps, you can crank em… really get the tubes burning… without blowing everyone’s heads off. As a band we are actually pretty dynamic and having some headroom to move around really brings out the subtleties of the music.

SL). Do you have a set routine to calm your nerves before performing a gig or are you too professional for that?

P: Not really, I try to keep things mellow. Some cool vibes, a pint and a puff or two usually does the trick.

SL). What is your verdict on the entire crowd-funding scene? Are you a fan of this medium and would GEEZER ever go down this route?

P: To each their own man. I think people can tell when there’s an honest need from an artist and people seem to really dig helping out. Fuck it man, it ain’t like we’re getting money from anywhere else! If a fan wants to help you record an album or to help get you over to Europe for a tour (wink, wink), then as long as no one takes advantage of other peoples generosity, I think it’s all good.

SL). So what does the next 12 months have in store for GEEZER? Any tours or such?

P: The vinyl release of Gage from STB Records on Saturday, September 13th. Playing a couple shows that weekend, including "Heavy Blues In Brooklyn" on Friday Sept. 12th; which includes, Geezer, The Golden Grass and STB labelmates, King Buffalo. If that isn’t good enough, the headliner is The Midnight Ghost Train! They are one of my favorite bands and I’m so excited to have them on the bill! It’s all brought to you by Electric Beard Of Doom and STB Records and is gonna be massive!

We also just finished mixing 4 new songs for a as-yet-unannounced split! Can't tell you anything more than that, except to say that we are totally stoked on the new tunes, the band we're working with totally fucking rocks and it will be released on one of the finest underground labels out there! So keep an eye out!

We’ll probably lay low this winter to get some writing and pre-production done for another full length, then as I said, the hope is to hit Europe come spring!

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

Thank you, thank you, thank you! To all the fans, it’s only through your continued support, from all over the world that keeps us going and keeps us growing! Also thanks to all the blogs, podcasts, internet radio, labels and everyone else who contributes to keeping this underground heavy scene alive and thriving! It’s been a lot of fun being a part of it the last couple of years. Personally, I’ve met and become friends with some of the finest people I’ve ever come across through the Doomiverse. That is what makes it so special.

SL). Pat, thanks for doing this interview. Best of luck with your STB Records vinyl release on Sept 13th 2014.

P: Thank you Oh Mighty Sludgelord! Thanks for all you do!

Words by: Steve Howe

The 'Gage' vinyl will be on sale from 12pm EST 13/9/2014 over at STB Records here