Friday 15 September 2017

INTERVIEW: Owlcrusher - "Apocalyptic, Hateful and Nihilistic Blackened Sludge since 2008".

Sludge, doom, funeral doom and all the many sub genres within it could easier be viewed as the easier versions of metal and your average half baked pipple faced journalist will probably try to argue that point, but to me the counter point to bands such as Rings of Saturn is that technicality is one thing, but often what is lacking is that all important “feel”.  Does the overall experience of an album with mechanical dexterity leave you feeling cold or does the power of a slow Sleep like dirge make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

For me low and slow gets my vote and when songs are played with the ferocious intensity and terrifying precision of a group as remarkable as today’s guest Owlcrusher, their combination of glacial riffing, blistering vocals, and sludge is every bit technical as the best shredders, because it feels cathartic, invigorating and plain addictive, which your average tech band just can’t replicate.    

From the opening of Owlcrusher’s debut full length, the whole mammoth affair has a delightfully unsavory flavor: even the ambient tones recall the scuzzy industrial planetscapes of Eraserhead.  But when the trio comes to life, the sheer scope is undeniably menacing.  With three tracks spread across 45 minutes, each song embraces sprawl and space: the reverb heavy drum tone pounds like the pulse of a leviathan.  The low end guitar tone crackles with fuzz, while the bass rumbles so menacingly that, with the right sound system, you may get your guts churning like you’ve just been forced to smoke a whole pack of unfiltered cigarettes – you’ve got the cold sweats, your insides feel poisoned, and you’re probably gonna puke, but god damn it you’re not hooked.

Today after many months of delay (e.g. my own tardiness), I can present a short and yet insight interview with bassist/shouty person Steve Hobson from the band. A band we rate very highly indeed.  So check it out below and don’t forget to like, follow and share their music. 

So when you’re not heading up funding raising events for the annual Ornithology convention, can you give us an insight into how you guys started playing music, leading up to the formation of Owlcrusher?

Well, for a start, it’s probably worth saying at this stage before some fucker sicks PETA on us; we’re not as anti-owl as the name suggests. Thats reference to Moloch; the Owl from the Bohemian Grove Cremation of Care ceremony, which might or might not be a real thing. Not for us to say. We don’t condone any harm coming to birds or animals. Especially not spooky ones that have a reputation for scaring the shit out of people.

As for the band, it’s a bit of a saga. Me and Andy have known each other since we were kids. We lost touch for a while but started hanging out together when we started drinking under bridges in our home town. By that stage he’d started playing guitar and jamming with Damo. I’d been playing in bands for a while at that point and we tried to get something going between us. This was about 2001 and I moved away shortly after that and joined Bad Boat (Me and Andys other band), while Andy and Damo formed Throat Locust. Over time Throat Locust turned into Dwell in Sun, who changed their name to Owlcrusher around the time I took over the vacant bass slot, so it kind of came full circle eventually. That sort of brings us to now.

Although you released “Owlcrusher” (your debut full length), nearly 10 years after your inception, for folks unfamiliar with your band, is there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

I suppose it would be different for each of us where that’s concerned. I think on the whole its stuff like Burning Witch, Goatsnake, Moss, and so on who would be obvious reference points, but after 10 years hopefully there’s other things going on in there as well. I’ve always thought there was a bit of a Godflesh feel to it; and threes definitely nods towards a black metal aesthetic. Not in a huge way, because if your Black Metal record is sounding like us, your record player might be fucked, but threes a coldness to it, especially in Andys vocals, that leans us that way a bit I think.

As for what inspires us, musically there’s not really anything you could call a unifying band or style. We’d be here all day listing the stuff we’re into; it’s different for each of us these days and a comparatively small amount would be anything like Owlcrusher in the strictest sense. Owlcrusher’s more of a way of processing negativity and making the ugliest noise we can so we don’t go spare at the horror of it all. Catharsis is a word that gets bandied about a lot, and can sound a bit trite, but I think we’re all a little more well-adjusted and approachable from day to day because Owlcrusher sounds the way it does. 

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your new record and how is the mood in the camp at present

I think the fact that it took a year to the day to get it finished made us feel a bit daft. Moods good though. We’ve just signed to Seeing Red Records and they're sorting the kind of physical release we could probably not have afforded, as well as actually having enough faith in us to make us want to be a bit more proactive in return. We've definitely a lot more fire in our bellies to put some effort into touring and the like.

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

Amp Porn. We were greeted at the studio by walls lined with old and new equipment for every conceivable sound we could have wanted, so we indulged ourselves a bit. I played through a bass rig that was taller than me, Andy had a Matamp and Mesa Boogie setup to record into two different channels at once and Damo got to experiment with a bunch of cymbal setups (even though he settled on his own original one in the end) and Niall (Doran, the engineer at Start Together Studio who recorded us) astounded the shit out of us by being equal to any stupid suggestion we may have had. If we said "I want to play that left handed twelve string and have it sound like seagulls he'd say "ok. How many seagulls?"

Couldn't ask for a better way to record really.

With a new record in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

We're not really looking too far ahead quite yet. We want to get the CD out, do some launch shows, then hopefully get some touring done in support of it should the opportunity present itself. We've already started into writing the next one, so that should be out by 2027 all being well.

Finally, do you last words?

I imagine my last words will be "stop pointing that at me" or "yes I can catch it". Something like that.

 The End

Owlcrusher” is available digitally here and on limited CD here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook