Wednesday 8 October 2014

Interview with Vinnum Sabbathi

Today's guests have really captured the imagination of the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community with their style of Drone based Psychedelic Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal Space Rock Theatrics over the past few years.

Their music has been acclaimed within the Doom/Stoner Metal community for it's inventive use of spacey psychedelic drone based sounds with heavy as hell weedian riffs. All of their CD Releases always sell out such is their popularity from the fans within the Doom/Stoner Metal community.

They are one of my fave bands from the heavy as hell Mexican Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene. So I thought it was time to find out more about these guys. I am pleased to say that VINNUM SABBATHI have agreed to talk to me at Sludgelord HQ.

So it's over to the band that I described as: “Vinnum Sabbathi's sound is very hard to describe but I will try my best. It's a mixture of long drawn out drone based doom/space rock/stoner metal riffs. Shades of Black Sabbath, Sleep, OM, BONG and Sunn 0))) can be detected in their music. It's loud as hell and very addictive indeed.

Take their latest release for example - 6 σ: Side B – a record so addictive with bone-crunching riffs that the Mexican Government should make this record illegal.

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

Hi, first of all thanks a lot for this interview!

We’re very happy because a few days ago we released our collaboration for two Split EPs and also we have been playing a lot of shows recently here in México.

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of the band and where it is today.

The band started as a ‘one man’ project on 2011 with Alberto, who (home) recorded the Demo and the first EP Side A all by himself. Later on 2012, Samuel joined the band on bass guitar and then the band started playing shows with only 40 minute drone songs.

It was on mid 2013 that we played with Bar de Monjas and we asked their drummer Gerardo to join us. So now as a 3 piece band we recorded the second EP (Side B), after that we realize that we needed the samples used in the recordings to be played in our live shows, so Alberto’s brother, Roman, joined us with the live samples.

We started 2014 as a four piece band, and it has been a total blast for us because in this year we have been part of 3 festivals, one was the annual festival of the collective Los Grises in their second edition and the other two were in Monterrey (Nrmal, Callegenera). Also we made our first tour and visited several parts of Mexico; we still can’t believe how all of this happened to us so quickly.

Q3 – How would you describe you music. As I feel it's it better for that description from the band themselves.

Gerardo: Let’s say that for me, it is this way:

(‘Heavy as fuck’ riffs + Space + Doom + Gravity + Drone + Science)/ 4 courageous dudes = VINNUM SABBATHI

Alberto: I see the music we make as a ‘Soundtrack’ of certain events that have place in the Universe. When I watched the footage of the Voyager journey through Jupiter, the first thing that crossed my mind was “This would be awesome with some music on it!” and that’s what we always want to transfer in our music; to make you feel like you’re inside a volcano on Jupiter’s moon Ío.

Q4 – I have been a fan of your great band for a while now. Where did the name Vinnum Sabbathi come from.

Well that's easy, it comes from the first song of the Dopethrone Album of Electric Wizard. We are
huge fans of E.W.

Q5 – Have the reviews from the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal community for your music surprised you. As it seems you have made a great impression within the community.

Yes, of course!

We didn't expect on any moment such a great response from the community, we were so shocked to see good reviews about the music we recorded in our home by ourselves. There's also a lot of people that make radio podcasts that helps a lot by playing our songs out there.

Another thing that surprises us is the support we get from people all around the world by uploading the songs to different platforms, writing articles in magazines about us and buying our stuff, that’s something that we really appreciate, so thanks everybody.

Q6 – You have released a string of excellent releases where the music becomes heavier and more spacier with each release. Do you always strive to create something heavier than the last Vinnum Sabbathi release.

I think that the band’s sound has been modified on each release as we experiment every time we record and write our songs because always something comes out and makes us chance a little the sound or the song itself.

Take for example our EPs, Side A is about the relationship between the human species and the Universe; their discoveries and how this has affected the mankind; on the other hand Side B focuses on the human and technology, how the use of this tool have made ground-breaking changes (both positive and negative).

Q7 – Are you surprised that you always sell out your initial run of CD's of your different releases.

It surprises us more and more with every release, because we are not part of any Label but people from all around the world always buy our newest releases and almost everything in our Bandcamp is sold out right now. We can’t be more grateful with the great response that we have received from the fans, considering the fact that we are a ‘recent’ band and that we don’t even have an Album yet. This of course is achieved by the endless work of collectives (Los Grises, ANHE, Nrmal), people involved in blogs, radio stations, magazines and more, and all the fans that share our music.

Q8 – How did you all become involved with music and which artists influenced you to become musicians yourselves.

Gerardo: I started playing when I was like 11 years old, I liked at that time bands like Rush, QOTSA, RATM, Mudhoney and even the Smashing Pumpkins, Grohl and Chamberlin were the drummers that influenced me pretty much at that time. As a result of QOTSA, I met Kyuss and then Fu Manchu (still probably one of my favourite bands). When I first heard the Reeder’s drum solo in ‘Anodizer’ from the ‘Go for it’ Album, it really impacted me because I think it’s difficult to play a good drum solo that fits properly on that kind of music, so it was indeed another big influence for me. Right now, almost every band that sounds fuzzy and heavy could be an influence for me, specially the Swedish stoner rock.

Alberto:I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old, my first influences were bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and all kind of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal stuff. My principal source of music has always been my brother Roman; he’s the one who shares all kind of music with me (he’s a fucking music nerd). So thanks to him I started to listen all the Desert Rock and Doom Metal bands, but what really made a change on my way to play guitar was Earth and Boris, their slow tempos and heavy as fuck sounds made me realize an entire new way to play guitar.

Q9 – You're from Mexico which as you know I am a huge fan of thanks to bands such as Weedsnake, yourselves, El Ahorcado, Apocalipsis and apologies to many more great bands that I may of missed. What is the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene like in Mexico. Do you perform gigs regular over there. Or do you have to travel further to perform regular.

From my perspective (Alberto), the “scene” here is small but very active, I see this thanks to the work of collectives and independent labels that have taken a big part in the development of all this movement such as Aqui no Hubo Escena, Colapso, Marginal and many more, but the most representative collective about Stoner/Doom/Sludge and more kinds of music is Los Grises.

Los Grises is an underground collective made by musicians, photographers and graphic artists that share the DIY idea to create spaces where music and art can be presented. We knew the collective in one of our very early shows and we immediately agreed with their way of doing things. There we met a lot of dedicated people who also make superb music. We have played a lot of shows with them.

The collective makes a lot of shows not only here in the city but in a lot of parts of Mexico, we have testified some epic shows where the response of the public is beyond great, take for example this year’s festival of Los Grises where played more than 20 bands in two different scenarios with almost 500 people on the crowd and a room full with DIY merch from all the bands. All of this was possible without any sponsor or big label involved, I think we’re part of a transformation phase of what I don’t want to define as a “scene”, but more like a movement.

We have played on a lot of gigs this year, both on the city and around the country, during the Fume On Tour we visited San Luis Potosi and Leon where we played with the guys of 33, we also had the chance to visit Michoacan and there we played with Akûma and Annimal Machine. We played twice in Monterrey, on Nrmal Festival and Los Grises Fest where we played with Spacegoat and Maligno and also we travel to Jalisco and shared the gig with Tempter and Stonefront. As you can see, there’s a big distribution of heavy bands all around Mexico. You don’t have to be in Mexico City to play a gig.

Q10 – What is the song-writing situation within the band. Is it down to one individual or is it down to a group collective.

Most of the songs start with some Riffs I made, and then when we practice we start to organize and give a structure to the song, at the same time we search for samples of whatever subject we were into at the moment and try to incorporate those to the song. Sometimes you end with 8 minute songs and sometimes with a 32 minute one, the length of a song is not important for us.

Q11 – What inspires you when writing music. Do you have to be in a certain mood to create music for Vinnum Sabbathi.

Gerardo: Well, it´s weird to explain, all the songs were born at the Addendoom, the place where the Side B was recorded. It all starts when the Vinnum sabbathi's Mastermind Tamayo says to me: Yo! I've got this new riff, what do you think? and then it is like 'Sounds pretty good, let's do this!' And usually I try to play as slow as possible but always trying to play something that fits with the riff, that’s how it works, and as you can see it’s not a complex kind of stuff. And the good thing about it is that I really enjoy making new sounds, because I think we understand each other perfectly while we are playing. A lot of really fucking heavy songs were born from this.

Alberto: What inspires me the most to make music is certainly all the stuff for outer space, the photographs of the surface of Mars, the footage of Jupiter’s atmosphere. All the crazy facts about the Universe always make me say that I must represent this with music.

Another thing very inspiring for me is the growing technological advances of the human history, because sometimes the advances makes us going a step forward and sometimes the same technology is used to destroy ourselves. The funny thing about writing music for Vinnum is that no matter in what mood I’m, it always helps me to make music because when I’m angry the fatty and distorted riffs comes to my head and when I’m not, it’s the opposite, It works both ways and makes the changes between parts of a song.

Q12 – When is Vinnum Sabbathi going to release their début album. Or have you not thought far ahead in the future.

We’re working on it right now!

We trying to make this one with the best organization possible, so we are not letting anything loose; we want this Album to be our best recording to date and also to give a clear idea to the listener about the band’s sound and direction. We’re very interested in release this one on vinyl, so we are focusing part of the production especially to that format so if any interested label is reading this, please send us a message (wink).

This Album will be all about gravity, going from the lack of it to the most ambitious project to make sure we have the most accurate knowledge about it. All of this with heavy as fuck Riffs, as usual.

Q13 – Can you tell our readers what is your musical set-up when performing live and recording new material.

Gerardo: I use Zildjian cymbals, for both recording and live performances: 22’ K Crash ride, 18’ or 19’ custom crash, 14’ K custom special dry hats and a 22’ Oriental Classic china. Also for both kinds of performances I use a 13x6.5 Yamaha Brass snare drum or a 14x7 Yamaha oak custom.
If we talk about the drum kit, for live performances it depends a lot of the venues and the gigs, sometimes they have a good drum kit, sometimes they not, but I still play with almost any drum kit, sometimes maybe I just move a little bit the drumheads. For the recordings, I always use a Gretsch Catalina club rock 13x9 Tom, 18x16 Floor tom and a 26x16 bass drum.

Alberto: My set-up is very primitive, I use an Epiphone 1966 Faded SG, a ‘crappy’ multi-effect processor and a Sunn O))) Concert Bass head, for recordings I use a 1x15 cab that I made and for live performances I use any 4x12 available. Samuel (Bass) uses both on studio and live performances a Fender Precision Bass, a Boss overdrive and a Sunn O))) Concert Bass with 1x15 cab … and that’s it !

Q14 – What have been your favourite moments with the band. Also your least favourite moments as well.

Gerardo: Favourite moments…. when I am performing live with them and to see the people enjoying it, also those gigs where the merch flies away (That probably means that we can have a nice dinner after the gig!), and of course touring with the band. The worst moment was during the Fume on tour (April) someone stole our truck battery during the night, and it was so messy, cause that day we needed it to start the recording of the ‘Fume on Split’, and it was too difficult to get into the studio, we had to buy a new battery and finally made it to the studio, but as I said, it was too messy.

Alberto: My favourite moment for me has been the experience of being part of the line-up of the Nrmal Festival earlier this year. I mean, suddenly we get a mail from the organizers asking if we would like to be part of the fest, that was mind-blowing for me because we are a small band and all of that, so the fact that we were asked to be in the same festival were great bands like Akûma, Apocalipsis and artists from all the world have played was incredible.

Then we travel to Monterrey by plane, I never had the chance to get in a plane before so for me was a hell of an experience, all the people treated us like true rock stars, but that’s not all because the guys of Terror Cósmico and Nazareno el Violento were also in the festival and I could see Kayo Dot and Power Trip live. Something funny was that, by that time I was wearing a pair of very shitty tennis and after we played, someone suddenly came and said to me "Dude, please go to that tent, they are going to give all of you a pair of free Vans" How cool is that!?.

My other favourite moment was going to play to a small town called Zacapu Michoacan, where everything from the surroundings, the people and the food was very nice and I saw Akûma live for the last time. So thanks a lot to Moni, Alfonso and Pau from Nrmal and Lair, Toro and Jesus from the Satiro Rock Fest. It was a lifetime experience.

And, as Gerardo said it, the worst moment was that some fucker stole the battery of the car we used in the tour (which by the way was borrowed), and we needed it because that day we were supposed to go to the recording studio and make the split, so we were pretty fucked. We bought a new battery and barely made it into the studio but we were stressed as fuck.

Q15 – You have just released two new releases. A 4 way split with Terror Cósmico / El Ahorcado / Yours / Weedsnake. And a split release with Brimstone. How was recording those new releases with those awesome bands.

Fume On Split:

When we planned to make the Fume On Tour, it came the idea of recording something between the participant bands on Leon, the last stop of the tour, because back there is a recording studio called Testa Studio, a big studio (literally, it’s huge) which has a very characteristic sound inside. For me (Alberto) it was a new experience because it was the first time I was in a ‘real’ recording studio.

After being in the killer shows of Terror Cósmico, El Ahorcado and the mighty Weedsnake during the tour it was very emotive for me to have the opportunity to put that great experience in a recording. Share the road with those 3 bands has been a hell of an experience and having the chance to play night after night with them was priceless. The art theme came up after Weedsnake’s high drummer Leonardo said “Will be cool if the art for the split were a dead astronaut in space (referring to Vinnum and Terror) being hanged (El Ahorcado means the hangman) by a snake made of weed. Everyone laughed at the moment, but that ended up being the actual cover of the Split.

Split with Brimstone:

I met Brimstone's guitarist Ryan via Facebook and the Split idea came itself after each other shared their band to the other. Javier from Terror Cósmico has a recording studio inside his house called "The Terror Room" and he invited us to record our song there, it was cool because we were on a professional studio, but we still felt like we were recording at our home, I think that's why we didn't have any trouble to record the whole thing in a single take. We premiered the song on national radio thanks to Ariadna Montañez who was very kind to invite us to her program 'Sangriento' and the Split will be available on cassette thanks to the German label Aim Down Sight Records with illustration art from Akûma’s guitarist Valde.

The song was released in our Bandcamp the same day the Dragon capsule of SpaceX was attached to the ISS; the song is our tribute to all the people involved in this kind of achievements, I believe that this actions are the beginning of a new era of space transportation.

Q16 – What are your thoughts of the crowd-funding scene currently going on within the Hard Rock/Metal world with Bands and Artists asking fans to contribute directly to their new album or release. Are you fans of this medium and would yourselves ever go down that route.

Since practically all the stuff we have made has been DIY, we had never thought on make a crowd-funding thing, but for me would be reasonable for a band if the idea is to maybe release their music on vinyl (since I know it’s a considerable amount of money), that could work because It’s a win-win situation, the band gets the money to release their music in a very cool format and the people who support the funding gets their vinyl and maybe something else. I really don’t know if sometime in the future we’ll make something like this, so far we have released every record by ourselves, with our money, but man it’s not cheap to record an Album.

Q17 – What other plans do you have in store over the next 12 months or so.

We’ll record the full Album early 2015 and hopefully we’re going to make a tour around Mexico with other bands for sure, we have also planned to make another EP with cool guests on every song and a lengthy Split Album with our friends and Fuzz kings Bar de Monjas.

We would love to play in other countries as well, we’re very anxious to play in America and Europe and obviously we’re open to anything.

Q18 – Before we go, do you have anything else to say to your fans.

Gerardo: Listen to our new releases: the fume on Split with other 3 heavy as hell bands from Mexico and ‘Space X’ that will be part of the Split with the Boston mates Brimstone, probably my favourite song so far! And please help us stop battery stealing.

Alberto: I would like to say thanks to all the people who attends shows, buy some merch, share the music and specially to the people who has mentioned us on blogs, magazines, radio stations and more. Also: Turn around and listen the bands from the Mexican underground scene, there are so many good bands that you MUST know, Los Grises and Marginal have Bandcamp pages where you can listen a lot of different music.

Well guys thanks for doing this interview. Hurry up and record that début album. All the best with your future releases and endeavours.

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Written by Steve Howe