Wednesday 5 October 2016

"Working my ass off in music is the most rewarding thing I have ever done", Amped & Doomed with Jeff Owens (Guitar/vocals) of Goya

By: Aaron Pickford & Jeff Owens

2016 commemorates Goya’s fifth year as a band, and will see their latest EP, “The Enemy”, getting a deluxe vinyl release through STB Records, who also released their 2015 full-length, “Obelisk”, "a thinking man’s doom metal record, that it keeps you on your toes and always remains untamed, delivering uppercuts with complete conviction just when you think you’ve sussed them out."

Whilst “The Enemy” an EP, which saw Goya "sounding creepier and more terrifying" has already been made available digitally, there really is no better way to experience the record than via STB's glorious limited edition vinyl treatment.  STB's latest outing features two exclusive LP-only tracks, including a mortar-thick rendition of the Sabbath classic, "Who Are You?" and is offered in the four deluxe variants for which STB has become known. 

With the vinyl release set to drop on Saturday 8th of October, and with the band showing no signs of slowing down, there seem to be no better time than to check in with Goya main man, Jeff Owens and talk influences, his quest to write the perfect “Vol 4” riff and the prospects of a new album.  It is time to get Amped and Doomed, with Arizona’s finest riff slayers, Goya.  

SL: Welcome back to The Sludgelord, Jeff. Can you remember who or what inspired you to pick up the guitar? Are there any bands, guitarists, bassists currently on the scene that continue to inspire and push you to try new things?

Jeff Owens: I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but the single person who caused me to be interested in picking up a guitar was Kurt Cobain. My biggest inspiration lately has been my band mate and the mastermind behind Spirit Adrift, Nate Garrett. That dude is a machine. Aside from him, Pete Adams of Valkyrie and Baroness and his brother Jake have both lit a fire under my ass to keep going and always try to get better at my craft.

SL:  Who do you take inspiration from or do you have any heroes in music and do you have 5 records that stand out as favourites, what influence did they have upon you and what is it about those record that particular resonates amongst others?

JO: I’m not sure that I have heroes per se, but there are many greats who influence me, all of whom I will mention below. Choosing less than 30 records that are favorites is always hard
because there are a couple hundred, so I’ll just sort of throw out the first ones that come to mind with the caveat that there is no way these are my six favorite albums (I’m doing six), but they are all influential to me.

Nirvana – “In Utero”

To me, this is one of the most vitriolic albums ever written. Just how disgusted Kurt Cobain was with a lot of things comes through very clearly on this record in his lyrics, his delivery of them, and his guitar playing. Plus, “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” is my favorite Nirvana song.

Metallica – “Master of Puppets”

This is probably my favorite metal album, arguably the best metal album of all time, and one of the most finely-crafted albums ever. The harmonies on it are top notch, and it is the perfect mix of complex and relentlessly heavy. Having Cliff Burton, the best metal bassist ever, does a lot for an album, it turns out.

Thin Lizzy – “Jailbreak”

Speaking of harmonies, this album has some of the greatest harmonies ever written. It’s hit after hit after hit on this record. Thin Lizzy are one of the great underrated bands, though it does seem that people have been catching on over the past few years, which is great! I may not sing about love in Goya, but Phil Lynott’s love songs are the best love songs.

Queen – “Queen II”

Did someone say harmonies? I have listened to this album more times than I can count and I still love it. I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favorite Queen album, but I’m relatively sure “The
March of the Black Queen” is my favorite Queen song. Freddie Mercury was it. The Golden Voice. And don’t get me started on Brian May. If I could go back in time and see one band that I never had the chance to see, it would probably be Queen.

Pink Floyd – “Obscured by Clouds”

Floyd is another band I have trouble choosing a favorite album from, but I come back to this one time and again. They are the masters of the melancholic triumph of life, which is what I think the majority of true artists are striving to depict, in one way or another. Gilmour’s lyrics are absolutely incomparable. Look up the song “Childhood’s End” if you haven’t heard it. It’s truly amazing.

Black Sabbath – “Vol 4”

Do I really need to explain this one? Iommi's guitar playing on this record is something that had never been done before and has never been done since. I am forever trying to write the perfect “Vol 4” riff, but it definitely ain’t easy!

SL: Can remember your first electric guitar, bass?

JO: Absolutely! I still have it. It’s a PeaveyPredator”. Black with a white pick guard.

SL: What guitar(s) are you using today and how did you gravitate towards the guitar
you currently use?

JO: In Goya, I use a modern Standard ’61 SG that I believe is a GC exclusive. I started the band playing on a Les Paul “Smartwood” (which I still have and use in my other band), but I decided there was a little more low end in it than I wanted. I’ve always been interested in SGs because of Tony Iommi and Greg Hetson. I bought one when I was young, but didn’t really understand it, so I gave it another shot, and I haven’t looked back. My current axe, Lady Lucille (not named after BB’s guitar), sort of caught my eye in the store. I took her down and played for about an hour, and put her on layaway as soon as I could!

SL: What do you like about the guitars you currently use and has there been any specific modifications to it?

JO: One of my SGs has BLK/TRI pickups, and I do love those! They’re a great way to get a lot of power without any batteries. (Everyone knows batteries suck.) Lucille is all stock and I have no plans to change that. I’m actually a big fan of quality, stock Gibson’s.

SL: What amps and pedals do you currently use? Do you use a combination of amps, or a full
half stack? Talk us through your set up both in the studio and in the live environment?

JO: Live, I’m currently using a Marshall Plexi (1959HW) and a Sovtek Mig 100, each through their own full stacks. The Plexi runs into an Orange PPC412 and an Ampeg cabinet loaded with BLK/
TRI/Ted Weber Ghost Series speakers, and the Sovtek runs into an Orange PPC412 HP8 and a
Randall cabinet loaded with Celestial G1265s.

For pedals, I use a Boss TU-3, Magic Pedals Magick Fuzz, Dunlop Crybaby Classic, MXR Phase 90, Boss DM-2w, and a Radial Twin-City ABY. I’m always trying to use less and less pedals, but I just can’t seem to get away from delay, wah, and phase. In the studio, I’ve been using the Plexi into the PPC412 with the same pedalboard.

SL: What one pedal could you not live without and why?

JO: Hands down the Magick Fuzz. I got this pedal between the recording of “777” and “Obelisk/ “Satan’s Fire. If you listen to all of that, it’s very apparent that the guitar tone took a huge step up between those recordings. The MF is about as close to the 4th member of Goya as it gets.

SL:  What are your amp/ pedal settings?

JO: My amps are always turned up. The Sovtek is generally dimed. The Plexi runs at about 6 or 7. I had it dimed when I first got it, but I fried it and had to have it fixed, so that one would be all the way up, but I want to keep her working. As far as my pedals, it varies from track to track, excluding the MF.

SL: Do you have any advice for up and coming guitars players, bands?

JO: You don’t get better by not playing, and there will always be someone better than you.

SL: Do feel there are deeply help misconceptions about being in a band?

JO: It’s tough to say, as I’m pretty out of touch with what most people think. Maybe some people think it’s never difficult. I don’t know though. Working my ass off in music-related efforts is the most rewarding thing I have ever done, so it honestly seems easy and fun to me, whether I get 4 hours of sleep most nights or not. I don’t understand artists that don’t have a burning desire to create something 24-7. This isn’t a choice for me; it’s a compulsion, so it would be significantly harder to not do it, though it can get exhausting, at times.

SL:  Moving on a little then, in terms of releases it has been a busy year, re releases of Goya records on your own Opoponax Records, the demo release on Totem Cat Records, but you have also established a great relationship with STB Records, what can you tell us about the upcoming vinyl release of “The Enemy” and where do you feel it sits within the Goya discography

JO: I’m really excited that STB Records wanted to put this record out! I was originally planning to do it as an Opoponax release, but I had so many other things to put out, that it became clear it would be quite a while before I was able to put it out, so when Steve and I spoke about it being released through STB, it was a total no-brainer.

I believe this one is going to be Steve’s biggest pressing yet, so that’s a true honor. As always, there is some cool stuff lined up for the die-hard edition. The vinyl will come with two tracks that have only been made available on cassette so far, so for everyone that hates cassettes, they will finally be able to hear the Sabbath cover we did last year!

Chronologically speaking, this release is the follow up to “Obelisk”. Musically speaking, this EP was extremely experimental for us. At the time, I was listening to Black Sabbath’sParanoid” a whole lot, and that was highly influential in the creation of the songs on it, particularly the title track. I really dig what we did on “The Enemy”, and I think people will look back on it as something from our catalogue that stands out as a very unique release.

SL: Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of the record

JO: This may seem strange, but the colors stand out to me, for which I owe a thank you to the cover artist, Jesse Schaller. I really see yellow and green (subtle nod to Baroness?) in my head when I think of the record. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe another strange connection to “Paranoid”, and “War Pigs” in particular, with the green being that sort of camouflage green.

SL: What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

JO: Using way too many different guitar tones, and learning about the difficulties of recording to tape.

SL: Yo’re never a band to rest of their laurels, what is in the pipeline in terms of future recordings
and how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

JO: Well, we just finished up at Switchblade Sound with Joe Asselin recording our song for The
Planet of Doom, but that won’t be out until the movie is. Right now, we are finishing up writing
our follow up to “Obelisk”, which will be titled “Harvester of Bongloads”, and yes, that is a nod to Metallica.

We will also be recording that with Joe at Switchblade over Halloween, and I will be releasing that one through Opoponax Records in late February or early March. We will be following the release with a couple of weeks up and down the west coast. Originally, the plan was to take it easy after “Harvester…”, and we will be doing that for a couple of months when we finish recording. Knowing me though, I highly doubt that we won’t be writing our next album by summer 2017, if not by the end of the year. In fact, we have already begun to kick around ideas. “Harvester…” is intended to be sort of a last hurrah to weed worship, as I am hoping for the band to mature and evolve.

I’m sure there are people out there moaning and groaning as they read that line, but to those people, I would like to point out that I think “Obelisk” is our most mature material so far, and it doesn’t have a single drug reference on it!

SL:  As a band you have been active for around 5 years or so, what stands out as some of your
fondest memories

JO: Seeing King Diamond on Halloween in LA before playing “Day of the Shred” the next day was definitely a highlight. After the show, we came outside and it was pouring rain. A couple of us had to buy new shoes the next day. We also did a short run up the west coast with Bongripper (shout out to all the Dales and Boogies out there), and that was a wild ride. We definitely made some fond memories on that run.

When we played in Austin, we made a point to go around and see some of the sites from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and that was pretty cool. Recently, playing at Psycho Las Vegas was incredible. That whole weekend was amazing. We made a bunch of new friends, and saw just as many old ones. Aside from playing music, the best thing about being in Goya is travelling and meeting a bunch of like-minded people! I can’t think of anything I would rather do.

SL: Finally, do you have any final comments/word of wisdom you’d like to bestow upon us?

JO: When you get interviewed, try to keep your responses short…

The End

Goya "The Enemy" goes on sale Saturday October 8th 12noon est. Album includes two unreleased tracks by the band and will be available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook