Friday, 2 January 2015

Interview with Dustin Hill from Black Pussy

I should have interviewed these hugely talented mofos sooner. These guys are going to release their long awaited sophomore album, Magic Mustache, after spending the past couple of years not only working with Stoner Rock/Desert Rock legend Brant Bjork, but also Adam Pike, who recorded Red Fang’s first album. Yeah folks it's my honour to be interviewing one of the best upcoming Stoner Rock bands from Portland, Oregon: The brilliant Black Pussy. Black Pussy have released a string of acclaimed releases over the last few years but I have heard from various people their upcoming new album is going to change things and get these guys noticed in a big way.

So before they venture off into the stratosphere, I thought I would grab some time with Black Pussy and Dustin Hill (Vox/Guitar) has kindly agreed to an interview with ourselves at Sludgelord HQ.

Hi Dustin. Thanks for doing this. Huge fan of your band. How are things with you today.

Hey dude! Things are always ruling in our world of rock and roll. We can't ask for anything more than being able to play music everyday. The weather keeps changing in Portland, though, and it keeps fucking with my sinuses.

For people not in the know, can you please give our readers a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

The short answer is that I am an obsessive songwriter and needed an outlet for a bunch of songs that didn't fit under my other project, White Orange. So I went in the studio and tracked the first Black Pussy record, On Blonde, basically by myself just to get the songs out. I got the dudes from White Orange (Ryan McIntire, Dean Carroll, Adam Pike) to do some record-release gigs with me and we all had a blast and decided to continue jamming Black Pussy together. About eight months in Adam got pretty busy running front of house for Red Fang, so he stepped down and we added Aaron Poplin on bass and Keith O'Dell on the key, completing today’s line up.

Your music has been called a lot of different things. Stoner Rock, Fuzz Rock, Desert Rock all the other usual suspects. How would you best describe it.

It's all rock and roll, but we've coined the phrase “Stoner-Pop” to add to the ridiculous list of labels for another description.

You have been probably been asked this a thousand times before. Why the name Black Pussy. Any specific meaning and has that name ever got you into trouble of any kind.

I wanted something sexy and ‘70s, so I just imagined what Tarantino would name his band if he had one. Partial credit goes to The Rolling Stones for their song “Brown Sugar.” The song was allegedly originally titled and sang “Black Pussy,” but the record label made them change it. As for specific meaning, how much meaning can a band name really have? It's the songs that carry meaning. And as far as getting me into any trouble, it's brought more love than anything else.

This is the first rock band I’ve been in where people of color people come to our shows and actually like our music. A lot of the music that inspires me is black music. ‘70s black music. Black people were also always the ones who looked the coolest. Occasionally, black people just show up at our shows to come meet us, make sure we’re cool, buy a shitload of merch and leave. They just want to make sure we’re actually good people. Which is really incredible, actually. I’m a part of this thing that’s really incredible and I want people to know about it. I don’t want to get caught up in the “I can’t be racist—I have black friends!” argument, but my dream is to look out in a sea of audience and see a mix of culture. I don’t want to just play to white, bearded heshers.

On Blonde - 2nd Pressing cover art

I first became a fan of your band when you released your debut album, On Blonde, back in 2012. What a great record that was. Was that an easy or hard album to write and record for.

Thanks for digging it! That record was super fun to write. Back in 1998, I walked into a record store in Seattle that was playing the promotional CD of Brant Bjork’s Jalamanta record and I was so struck by it that I got them to sell it to me before it came out. I was searching listening to so much music and I was bored but Brant put me back on track and changed everything. It wasn’t just re-hashed rock shit. On Blonde is a tribute to Brant—it’s simple, true, lo-fi rock and roll. In 2011, I finally reached a point where I wasn’t afraid to do what I wanted to do, so I wrote On Blonde by myself.

On Blonde came out of me pretty easy, I think those songs had been stewing awhile in my psyche. Recording the record took a lot of rehearsing on my part being that I tracked most of the instruments myself, but other than that it was a blast to track.

Looking back would you change anything about it or would you leave it the way it is.

Over all I got exactly what I was going for with that record. I was going for a lo-fi, low-pressure album. The only thing I didn't expect was that people were actually going to listen to it.

Though we have to talk about your new album. Magic Mustache. Finally being released in Feb 2015. I heard about this album back in Nov 2013. Can you tell us why the long delay.

The delay can be boiled down to offers on the table from labels, managers, agents, publicists, fire breathers, horse jockeys, hula hoopers and what ever else you can think of. It caused lengthy discussions and lots of soul searching within our camp. The delay ended up being a huge blessing leading to the decision of staying on our own label, Made In China Records.

What can people expect from the new album. Or do you not want to spoil the surprise.

I think the coolest thing people can expect is hearing us becoming a band.

I love the title Magic Mustache. Why did you choose that name for the album.

It's the closing track on the album and I feel there’s a lot of magic in the song, so I figured it’s a good way to draw attention towards it. Plus it's just a rad
record title.

We have to talk about your home-town of Portland, Oregon. Which has a brilliant Hard Rock/Stoner/Sludge Metal scene thanks to great bands such as Red Fang, Lord Dying, YOB. How is the scene in your own words. Do you gig regular in your home-town or do you have to travel further afield.

The Pacific Northwest has always held a different take on heavy music and we feel honored to call Portland home. All the bands you mentioned are bros of ours and we have all shared a stage together. The scene in Portland is very creative and not really one thing, which makes it interesting. Touring as much as we do, we only play home field once or twice a year. The road and the sound of the tires on the asphalt has now become more familiar to us.

What is your musical setup when playing live or recording new material. Do you have an advanced setup or basic setup.

Rehearsal and live are basically the exact setup: all vintage Sunn amps and cabs. In the recording process anything is game for experimenting.

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

Basically I write the music, words, melody, arrangement and the dudes put their signature throughout. Mission control is really guiding the trip; we just fly the ship.

Which bands and musical artists influenced you all as musicians. Any particular albums that stand out.

At this point in my life I'm shifting through different albums every week. I've been on a Judas Priest and Mott the Hoople kick as of recent. Being a child of the seventies my earliest influences come from the Sid and Marty Krofft television shows and almost any album from the late ‘60s through the ‘70s lend inspiation.

Some people might not know that 3 members of Black Pussy are also apart of White Orange. Another band that we freaking love here at Sludgelord HQ. Can you tell us what is happening with White Orange. Any new record on the horizon.

I do have an album written for White Orange, It's just trying to find that right moment when we all have some free time to get in and record it. It's always on the stove top stewing.

Apart from the new record in 2015, what else is in store for Black Pussy in 2015. Anything you like to share.

We’re playing with Sleep next month at Sabertooth Music Festival in Portland, which we’re really stoked about. We depart March 1st for our record release tour, which will hit the states and Canada. There will be more surprises to announce in the coming months, though!

Finally do you have anything to say to your fans.

As a creative person you inevitably forfeit your identity for the art. I do the best I can to stay in a constant state of meditation to deliver this idea as purely as I can to this dimension. I want to thank all those individuals who have ever bought merch, gone to a show, bought us drinks or drugs, and offered up floor space for a bunch of long-hairs to sleep on. Without you, this rocket ship would still be in the garage.

-Dustin Hill

I want to thank Dustin for taking the time out to talking to us here at Sludgelord HQ. I want to thank Cat Jones at Southern Cross PR for arranging this interview.

Words by Steve Howe and Dustin Hill

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