Friday 5 September 2014

Interview with RODHA

RODHA have kindly let ourselves at Sludgelord HQ to exclusively stream their blistering and brutal as hell début album – Welter Through The Ashes – which we have reviewed here.

I first encountered RODHA back in 2012 when I featured their excellent début EP – RAW – which showcased their heavy style of Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs to almost bone-crunching
perfection. Well you may have heard the album in full for yourselves. It's a stunning début album that will hopefully win RODHA a bigger fanbase within the Sludge/Stoner Metal scene.

I wanted to find more about RODHA and they have kindly agreed to talk to me here at Sludgelord HQ.

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

Thank you for having us, Steve. We are almost done preparing the album release. Like most of the time, we are doing this by ourselves which involves some time and nerves. It is a good feeling seeing some of the efforts being appreciated already.

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

We four are based in Hamburg, Germany. After the band Timo (git/voc) and Stephan (drums) were in before had disbanded, they looked for a new project. That was in the end of 2011. Florian (bass) was looking for a band at that time and it worked out fine from the beginning. Same with Mo (voc), who joined us a month or two later through mutual friends. Although we’re all coming from pretty different musical backgrounds we quickly found common ground. Everything else is history.

Q3 – How would yourselves describe your music as you have elements of Doom, Noise, Sludge and Stoner Metal going at the same time.

We call it ‘Sludgecore’, because it is based on sludge with a side dish of hardcore. Sure, there is some contemporary Doom and everyone who saw us live would agree that there is also some Noise involved. And we connect well with stoner metal bands. It is hard for a band to describe themselves, all the more if it rather does a blend of genres than a pure form of one. Judge for yourself. As far as genre definitions go we don’t care that much, haha.

There is a description we came up with very early and since it still seems to apply, it can’t be that far away: “Bad temper turned into music with light at the end of the tunnel.”. Or, melancholy drowned in noise hoping for the best. We didn’t plan to sound like this. It really is a very raw and unpretentious mix of four people each going along well with what the others do.

Q4 – Why did you choose the name RODHA for your band.

It is the pali expression for ‘earthbank’ or ‘wall’. In Buddhism, is describes the border between your inner self and the outside world. It protects you from being washed out and offers retreat. At least that is how we understood it. Might as well mean ‘blue hooker pig’ and we would still like the sound of it.

Q5 – Now lets talk about Welter Through The Ashes. Excellent album. Heavy as hell. Can you tell our readers what the album is about.

Thank you. The album contains songs we wrote since the 2012 RAW-EP and also re-recorded three songs from it. It kind of got a theme by the fact that many songs are about being in a miserable situation and coping with getting out of it, or drowning in self-pity. Hence the metaphorical album title. Apart from that, there is no concept, no bigger idea behind it. Just a way to listen to stuff we put some sweat in for your collection.

Q6 – What influenced you when recording the album. As I detected a lot of different genres of music when listening to the album.

We have a large common ground in terms of influences, yet each of us also puts something from somewhere else into the mix. Mo adds a lot with old school hard core and some good emo phrases (not that wimpy modern ‘emo’). Stephan likes to add a metal feeling reminiscent of Lamb of God. Timo has a very unique approach to heavy riffs and rhythm, and Flo even tries to hide some jazz in there. When we wrote the songs, it always was very intuitive what each song needed.

Q7 – Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

Welter was not hard to write as we didn’t make a lot of pressure to write especially for the record. We just recorded the stuff we had when we had enough. That is why it took almost 2 years for a new release. We are in no hurry. The recordings itself offered a lot of new experiences and learnings and were pretty exciting. Initially, we intended to produce it by ourselves, like we did back in 2012. But in time we decided to give it to someone who knows his knobs. Siegmar of Dying Lizard Tonstudio did a great job.

RAW cover art

Q8 – I originally featured you guys back in May 2012 when you released RAW. It was a fantastic EP which was very well received within the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. Did the responses surprise you.

Absolutely. It was reviews like yours that practically build our fanbase. To be honest, we did not plan for it to go public first at all. It was supposed to be a simple demo tape for us to get shows. We just put it on Bandcamp for practical reasons and then it took off by itself. We had no expectations so everything that happened was great. We made home-made CDs available, which arrived on all inhabited continents by now by mail order. It also fuelled us to bring our material out on stage.

Two months after RAW we played our first show, Another month later we were supporting Kylesa in-front of a packed club. It was insane. Same when we played with Kadavar, Kongh and the even the mighty Eyehategod. We met so many great people which we are very grateful for.

Q9 – Looking back would you change anything about RAW. Or would you leave it the way it is.
Not a single thing.

Q10 – Welter Through The Ashes does have quite a depressive feel to it. Was it your intention to release a bleak sounding record for your début album. And what does the album personally mean to yourselves.

Depression is an off-taste of living in this world. Like having a cough living in a polluted city. You don’t have to add this on purpose if you see it that way. That said, it probably is not as bleak as it sounds. Understanding a situation like it is, is a good way of changing it. I think this theme is something we all can relate to in some way.

Q11 – Can you advise us if there will be any physical releases of the album. CD, Vinyl, Tape.

At the release there will be a CD available and digital download. We would love to offer Vinyl but it was just not possible right now due to budgetary and schedule reasons. Maybe we find a
label that wants to support us in the endeavour. Tape is not on the upper half of our to-do list. We do have frisbees, though.

Q12 – What is your preferred format of listening to music. And the reasons why.

CDs, hi-quality MP3s, streaming, vinyl, live in the streets … as long as it triggers emotions and suits your whereabouts it works for us.

Q13 – What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Most songs derived from ideas Timo brings to rehearsal and everyone adds his parts and it gets a finishing touch after some play throughs. Very rarely we change a beat or full part after a
song is completed. Sometimes songs come from spontaneous jams we record on a mobile recorder.

Q14 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album stand out that influenced you to become a musician.

Timo attended a concert of ‘Shakin Stevens’ at the age of 5 and it was all over for him. Later he discovered Bison’s discography, Mastodon and Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die. Mo loves The Cure, Slime, Toxoplasma, Slayer, Inside Out and Jingo de Lunch. When he saw them live he knew he wanted to be on a stage, too. Well, he sucks on guitar and couldn’t afford a drum-set, so he worked with his lungs. Stephan digs Lamb of God, Meshuggah, Entombed and Mastodon.

He practically grew up drumming and then got interested in music. Flo started off as a guitarist but never found band mates so he switched to bass and got lucky instantly. His influences are Russian
Circles, Kyuss, Whores, Colin Stetson and Dan Berglund.

That said, we all agree on Bison, Eyehategod, Crowbar, Kylesa, Baroness, Verse, Brainoil, Generation of Vipers and Amenra. And then there is some Tom Jones, Tears for Fears and Miles Davis under the carpet.

Q15 - 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.

We had a shop on top of our rehearsal space and once knocked over a shelf through vibration. They moved, we stayed. No mercy on distortion or volume. It would not sound like us if we had a quieter stage volume. It can be challenging from time to time but we make it work almost every time. We are healthy gear heads and switch through guitars, amps, pedals, cymbals whenever we deem it worth trying.

Hints? Not really. You can have budget gear sounding better that boutique stuff. You can play at clean bedroom levels and sound heavier than a metal band. Get an idea of what your style
is and find measures to make it work. As a bonus try something nobody else has done.

Q16 – I am a huge fan of the German Sludge/Stoner Metal scene thanks to bands such as WALL, The Moth, Blacksmoker, Aleph Null and yourselves amongst others. How is the scene for yourselves over in Germany. Do you perform many gigs in your own town. Or do you travel further afield to perform regularly.

It looks good. In the last couple of years the scene reached the critical mass for it to really come alive. There is a very diverse mix of bands and styles that still connects very well. New great bands to discover. Then there are genre- specific festivals like the amazing Droneburg Festival, and even more general rock/ metal festivals are being infiltrated by sludge, doom and the such. Club shows happen regularly and are well-visited.

There are ‘scenesters’ as well as regular guys. People coming from punk, metal, hardcore. It only gets tough when you play out in smaller towns but even there is a chance of a couple of guys banging heads in-front of the stage.

We love playing out. We are a live band. We also all have day jobs and even a kid by now (one has, the other three were not involved to our knowledge). That is why we never made it very far from Hamburg yet. We would love to tour but that bares a lot of planning around the circumstances, of course.

Q17 – Do you have a set routine to calm your nerves before performing a gig. Or are you too professional for that.

Right before entering the stage we usually retreat to huddle and say some good words. Although we’ve played enough shows to know how it goes, there is still a bit of stage fright, naturally.
Except Flo, he is always relaxed.

Q18 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Just do it and let high expectations always come last.

Q19 – Which artists and albums are currently rocking your world. Any bands you feel our readers should check out.

Flo: The Great Sabatini - Dog Years, Mo: Amenra - Mass 3

Stephan recommends: “too many songs, too many records, stay open minded”

Q20 – The last thing before you go, Do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Buy local, read blogs, go to underground shows, put everything in question, have no preconceptions, be nice, be awesome.

Thanks for doing this interview – RODHA. All the best for your brilliant new album.

Welter Through The Ashes will be available to buy from BandCamp on Sept 12th 2014.

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Written by Steve Howe