Wednesday 15 October 2014

Interview with WOMEN (The Band)

Sometimes I kick myself for not interviewing a band quickly as I review their début album. It's taken me months to contact today's guests to do an interview with them after I reviewed their amazing début album – The Men Of Women back in June.

WOMEN are a Rock and Roll/Stoner/Punk/Sludge Metal band that you all need to check out now. Their début album – The Men Of Women – floored the hell out of me and a few others within the Hard Rock/Stoner Metal world.

This is what I said about the album - “So we have a band called WOMEN releasing their début mini-album – The Men Of Women. Sorry to disappoint all you Stoner Rock Feminists out there but these WOMEN are a bunch of dudes playing some blazing riffs to impress you with. So what do WOMEN provide? Well they provide 30 minutes of self-proclaimed “Classy Scuzz Rock Jams” to shake your body to. WOMEN are more of lo-fi punk driven Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal band adding dark vocals to the mix.

The Men Of Women is a truly stunning album and marks the arrival of a great band from the UK Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. Let us see what their full-length début album brings.”

Time to find out more about this trio of men calling themselves – WOMEN

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

Jon (guitar/vocals): Hello, I’m super thank you.

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

Jon: Me and Ron started writing riffs about ’05 possibly ’06. We tried to get a band together but it just wasn’t happening, everyone we jammed with either sucked or just didn’t get what we were trying to do music wise. We met Gaz in 2011 on a stag do of a mutual friend, we started jamming later that year, and here we are!

Gareth (drums/vocals): Yeah, I said I’d give it a go. Three years on… haha.

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

Jon: I’ve no idea. I’d say we have a bit of stoner rock in there, some doom and old fashioned hard rockin’ riffs. Oh and we’re partial to a bloody good thrash as well. So I’d call it “Doom ‘n’ Roll.”

Gareth: We all listen to a lot of varied music, so a mixture of everything we like really. Sludge, stoner, doom, punk, thrash, prog, noise, rock n’roll… heavy and slow, fast and pounding, just lots and lots of riffs at the core. Yeah, Doom ‘n’ Roll, basically.

Q4 – Why the hell did you choose the name WOMEN for your band? Any particular meaning behind this?

Jon: It’s a ridiculous name. Being ridiculous is important to us as a band, because we don’t take ourselves seriously. We take the music serious, playing live and being tight and good and not sucking, but the rest is bullshit. You make your own name, most band names are retarded anyway but if the band is awesome, then the name becomes cool. It kind of undermines how “masculine” the music sounds as well, which I’ve always thought is cool.

Q5 – Your début mini-album – The Men Of Women – has been released. Have the responses from fans and critics surprised you? It's received quite a bit of praise amongst various circles.

Jon: I’ve no idea really. It’s nice that someone out there likes it. But we don’t play for critical acclaim or anything, we just like drinking beers, playing riffs and banging our heads (laughs).

Gareth: I monitor the Bandcamp and it’s pretty awesome how many people from all over the world are purchasing downloads, AND buying our physical records. I’ve had to send parcels to Finland and even America. It’s awesome. Quite a few people in Germany too. Would love to do some shows over there in the future.

Q6 – Can you tell our readers what they can expect from the album.

Gareth: A good time.

Jon: Music? Rock music. Doom ‘n’ Roll.

Q7 – It is a very dark and twisted album at times. Was that your intention to release something that dark? Especially on the last two tracks - Brown Note Symphony and Take Me To The Gallows.

Jon: Yeah, it’s all about light and shade. I won’t be a cry baby, but I went through some stuff and I wasn’t in the best mindset when we wrote Gallows, to the point where it was almost unpleasant for me to play. But we couldn’t ignore its power.

When we first came up with it, we just played the riff and kept playing it. Before we knew where we were, 30 mins had passed and we’d played one riff the whole time. The Symphony started out as a joke, but once we put it together it sounded so scary. We’re all fans of drone anyway, so we just went with it.

Ron (guitar): I think our dark and twisted personalities just came out in a cathartic song writing process. It was never going to sound like rainbows writing in a disused factory through the winter.

Q8 – Was it a hard album to write and record for.

Jon: Not at all, it was an absolute joy recording and writing. The dude we got to record it, Matt, is a damn genius as well. I’ve never been more proud of anything in my life.

Ron: Recording most of it in a live set-up really helped speed up the recording process as it felt more natural.

Gareth: The writing came natural from a live set up so it only felt right to do the majority in live takes as well. I had worked with Matt Pinfield previously who was all about that live energy in a recording, and it all came off really well. It also helped that Matt is a top fella who really understood what we were all about, and he enjoyed listening to the songs, and was really enthusiastic about the whole process so it all came together really easily. Definitely the best recording I’ve been involved in.
Q9 – What influenced you when recording the album.

Jon: Satan. I’m not sure, we all like so much music. We make a conscious effort to always be ourselves, so there’s no one specific influence.

Gareth: We just wanted to make something loud and heavy, and have fun whilst doing it. We also wanted to document our best songs in the best way possible, and in an environment that we felt comfortable with, so I guess recording in our lock-up in the dirt and the dirge, that was the best possible influence (haha).

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

Jon: Depends on the song, sometimes me and Gaz will collaborate and really dig ourselves into something’s structure, then teach it to Ron. Other times Ron will play a beastly riff and we’ll join in and go from there. Other times me and Ron will play guitars on a sofa and stumble across something. So yeah, no real rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes inspiration just comes to you.

Q11 – Which bands and artists influenced you as musicians. Any particular band or album stand out that influenced you to become a musician.

Jon: Just too many to mention. Melvins, Boris, Mastodon and Black Sabbath. That’ll do.

Gareth: I play guitar and bass as well as drums so we’d be here all day basically! I think we all agree on Melvins though. They’re pretty important to all of us.

Q12 - 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.

Jon: Well we don’t have a bass player so we have to do some effects trickery to make up for it, but those are my secrets I’m afraid. As far as tips go for performing and putting your art out there, just say what you mean and mean what you say.

Ron: Good pickups, fat strings and constant experimentation to find YOUR sound, and practise as much as you can before you have to get a 9-5 job.

Gareth: Being a drummer is expensive. Get cheap gear and smash the shit out of it.

Q13 – Do you play many gigs in your home town of Wolverhampton. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform regularly.

Jon: Nowhere near as much as we’d like. That being said we finally popped our Slade Rooms cherry this year with God Damn, and we played the Giffard as well. We’ll literally play anywhere. So, if any promoters are reading…

Gareth: We’ve played neighbouring Dudley more times than Wolverhampton technically, and are starting to play Birmingham more frequently now. I wish Wolves had more smaller venues like Brum but sadly it lacks the support.

Q14 – If you could give any advice to someone wanting to start a band. What would it be.

Jon: Do it with people you’re friends with, who don’t suck. Enjoy yourselves and don’t be a c**t.

Ron: Equipment is heavy and it always rains at load-in. Accept this quickly.

Q15 – The UK Hard Rock/Stoner Metal scene is currently thriving at the moment. Tons of great bands to check out. Can you see this continuing or will it start to go on a downward spiral.

Jon: Yeah it’s awesome, especially locally. The list is too long but for the most part we have had the absolute pleasure of playing with legitimately awesome bands, and the fact we’re all from the midlands makes it all the better. We share a lock up with awesome bands, we rehearse over the road from awesome bands, we play gigs with awesome bands and we’re friends with awesome bands. It’s awesome!

There’s something brewing in these parts, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The mainstream seems to be waking up to the music I love as well, which is superb. I’m no elitist, I’ve no problem whatsoever if “stoner rock” or whatever you want to call it blows up and becomes super popular. If it means we get to play more shows and release music to more people, then how can that ever be seen as a bad thing?

Gareth: The local scene in the Midlands is great, it’s not specifically a stoner scene or anything but a giant mash-up of genres, we all get along and support each other, and it’s awesome. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Q16 – You called – The Men Of Women – your début mini-album. Does this mean you have a proper full length record being released soon? When can we expect that bad-boy sorry I mean bad-girl to be released.

Jon: Haha, yeah she’s a cold hearted bitch of album ain’t she? Time will tell…

Q17 – What are the future plans for WOMEN in the next 12 months or so. Anything you like to share with us at Sludgelord HQ.

Gareth: Give us the money and we’ll do a double album.

Jon: No plans set in stone but we are probably going to re-record some other bits and bobs from yesteryear and get those released. Possibly as an extension onto the current record, or maybe just as its own little thing. Or we may just go and record a whole load of new stuff. We’re quite prolific song wise, there’s always new riffs.

Our next “big” show is with That Fucking Tank at the Flapper in Birmingham, October 17th. We intend to bring some serious noise.

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

Jon: Fans?

Ron: Thanks for taking the time to listen to our music. Hopefully you'll still be fans after the next release.
WOMEN – thanks for doing this. Can't wait to see what you crazy SOB's decide to release next. All the best with your new record.

Jon: Anytime, Steve. Make sure you come to a show sometime!!

Thanks to WOMEN for taking the time out to talk to us here at Sludgelord HQ.

Words by Steve Howe

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