Grant and I started the band back in 2007 when we were both still in high school, which was around the time when we recorded and released our first album, Burning Circles in the Sky. A couple of years later the band ended up drifting apart for various reasons, without any real plans to reconvene at any point. Eventually word started to pick up about the band and we started getting requests to reissue the album. Grant had been living in California but happened to move back to Arizona around that time, and after reconnecting we realized how much we missed playing together and decided to get the group back together. The lineup has shifted a little over the years since then, with a couple of different bass players moving through, our friend Miguel Urbina joining on viola, and Connor Gallaher from The Night Collectors coming onboard as second guitarist, but I think things are sounding better now than they ever did.
Next month sees the next release of your Fuzz Club Split Single which you're sharing with Cult of Dom Keller. How did the band and Fuzz Club connect for this release?
Fuzz Club contacted us a couple of years ago about reissuing Burning Circles in the Sky and ended up putting out a deluxe screenprinted version in conjunction with Rewolfed Gloom's standard LP release. Not too long after, they contacted us about taking part in the split single series. Fuzz Club were the ones that suggested Cult of Dom Keller as split partners, which we were enthusiastic about as we had known about them through their releases on Cardinal Fuzz.
What can you tell us about the song that will be on the single?
"Funeral Ark" was recorded pretty early in the sessions for Arena Negra, and was sort of an experiment in taking the kind of tape-loop elements used by artists like Taj Mahal Travellers and Terry Riley and underpinning them with a more rock-oriented rhythm section. Eventually we ended up shelving the recording, but I think the spirit of the track definitely carried itself into the Arena Negra album, especially on parts of "The Forward Path."
Tell us a bit more about Arena Negra, in particular the writing and recording of the album. What changed and what stayed the same for this album vs previous recordings?
Grant and I started writing the material that ended up on Arena Negra around 2013, about the same time that we released Solar Collector, which was a quick release of some of the jams that kicked the album into gear. Since reforming the group we had been searching for direction, recording hours upon hours of jams, experiments, and demos. It wasn't really until we hit upon the title track that I think we finally pulled a lot of what we had been working with together and came up with the seeds of the album. Arena Negra is definitely less of a studio construction than Burning Circles in the Sky was, though that's not to say that the entire new album was cut live, there are plenty of overdubs but the basic tracks were always laid down as a whole. After seven years of silence, the new record actually kind of feels like a second debut in a way.
You played Levitation Festival in Austin this year. Can you tell us about that experience?
I mean, we all had a great time. The reception we got was really a beautiful surprise, and it was exciting to be able to catch the 13th Floor Elevators reunion and Eternal Tapestry, as well as Dallas Acid, who we had never heard of before but who really blew us away. Gourisankar & Indrajit Banarjee put on a fantastic set as well. Overall it was all something of a blur...the weekend went by so fast and then we were back on the road.
You recorded your first album in 2008, but never really "officially" released it until 2013. I know it was around on the web before that time. When I heard it back then, my first thought was, damn this is fucking great! Why is this not released? So, can you tell us about that gap?
Actually Burning Circles was released back in 2008 as handmade, screen printed CDs, but it was a pretty small run and I'm not sure many folks were aware that we existed at the time. It wasn't until those were long gone and some folks had uploaded some of the tracks online that many people really started to take notice of the music and we started getting offers to re-release it. We're all still very curious as to who all out there has one of the original copies - we still haven't seen any turn up anywhere online or anything.
The internet has become very important to bands nowadays and your band is a perfect example of this. Without the internet, the Myrrors would have been like some of those obscure 60s bands that released a single or two and then broke up, only to be discovered decades later. The internet helped to keep that from happening to you and here you are 7 years later with a few records out, and picking up momentum. What are your thoughts on how the internet has changed the landscape of music?
I think music and the internet has a pretty complicated relationship, but long story short, I'd say that we've found it to be a pretty vital tool in being able to share our music and discover a community of like-minded folks who are into what we're doing. I know we never would have discovered a lot of the music that we're into without it. I will say though that your scenario does sound a little like what we experienced after Burning Circles in the Sky, except instead of decades passing between the release of our music and its "rediscovery" we only had to wait a couple of years before people started realising we existed!
It was recently announced that The Myrrors would be heading to Europe later this year for a tour. What can you tell us about the tour, and do you have any specific places you hope to play while there?
The details are still being worked out but we're hoping to cover a pretty large swath of the continent, from the United Kingdom down to Spain and Greece and back up north. We'd love to try and play Istanbul despite some of the crazy shit that's been going down there as we have quite a few Turkish fans, but that one is proving a little more complicated to figure out. Also we'll be bringing along some new music and some special tour merch courtesy of Fuzz Club.
Something a little more general for you...what’s been playing on your turntable lately? Old or new, what’s been caught in your musical web?
Catherine Ribiero + Alpes, Embryo, Noah Howard's Black Ark, Popol Vuh, lots of Indian classical music, Soft Machine, John Tchicai's Afrodisiaca, and the new Sundays & Cybele tape on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond...
One last question...This is one I like to ask every band/musician I interview, because I’ve always been interested in the stories they have about their first major music encounter or memory. Basically what set them on that path to musical love and discovery. What started the journey for you?
That's a really difficult question but I suppose when Grant and I first started playing music together while we were in school. We had both been playing music before that but I think the real turning point was when we first experienced jamming and communicating with someone else on a similar wavelength.
Interview by Nathan J. Barret
The band has been around for 7 years now, but for those out there that don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about the Cult of Dom Keller? I’ve seen the band evolve over that time, so from point A to point B…how did you get here?
Ryan: “I could use up a thousand words describing our days rehearsing in a church cellar in the dark, amongst electric shocks and supernatural happenings, jamming till the sun rose, followed by a long cycle of playing gigs, working and existing on no sleep, with no money & disillusioned by a world around us, but instead I’ll summarise:
We were born. We were lost. And then the pull of the universe brought us together to make music and The Cult of Dom Keller has existed ever since. There’s never been any agendas, egos or mission statement: just creating and evolving our own thing and pushing ourselves as musicians/songwriters.”
You have released 2 albums, 4 EPs and various singles, and very soon you’ll be a part of the Fuzz Club split single series. Very exciting…how did the band and Fuzz Club come together?
Ryan: “We have known Casper for years and we contributed a track for the second Reverb Conspiracy Compilation album that Fuzz Club Records put out a few years ago so naturally through our friendship with him and him liking the band, he approached us about the split single idea.”
What can you tell us about the song that will be on the single?
Ryan: “The track is called ‘Behind All Evil is a Black Hole’. I came up with the title after I had been messing around with some mixes of a track we had been working on. We fucked around with the arrangement and then Neil began to write a melody on top, and the song came together. It’s a maelstrom of sound, and a really powerful track, that perfectly captures our transitional period in songwriting at the moment and acts as a perfect precursor to the new material that we have written for the album.”
Neil: “To me, the black hole represents life without music or creativity. The evil is all the obstacles that get in the way. I guess it’s about not giving up – not slipping into that void.”
On a similar note, do you have a new album in the near future?
Jason: “We’re going into the studio to record for 7 days straight after we play Eindhoven Psych Lab on June 6th. We whittled down about 30 song ideas to 12, and I’m quite confident it’s going to be the best thing we’ve ever done. We’re hoping for a release date sometime in Autumn, but that really depends on just how fast we can finish the mixes. We’ve been kind of joking that this is our ‘Smile’ (the Beach Boys one, not the Boris one; although if I’m being totally honest it’s probably a bit of both). For a while it was looking like it would be our White Album, but I’d say we’ve got a couple more records, at least, before we have the audacity to attempt that…”
Ryan: “I’ve been listening to the demos of the album and it’s a real experience. Definitely our most creative, dynamic and evolved work to date. I cannot wait to get into the studio and fulfil the potential of these tracks. We have sculptured a great collection of tracks that take you on a journey. Radically different from our first two albums.”
You mentioned playing Eindhoven Psych Lab on June 6th. Some amazing bands coming together to play this 2 day event. Sure wish I had one of those teleporter things to catch it. You must be thrilled to play there. Which of the bands are you most excited to meet up with there?
Ryan: “For me it’s all about meeting up with like minded people and checking out the music of bands I haven’t heard before. With such a variety of bands playing it’s difficult to pick out one or two bands I’m excited to see. To me, it’s more about meeting up with like minded people & bands and immersing myself in the music.”
Jason: “I really want to check out Kikagaku Moyo, they’re on just before us, then I’ll most likely just wander around aimlessly after we play and see what happens. The Telescopes will be great as always, so I’ll definitely be down watching them.”
Neil:”Black Bombaim. We met some of the guys at Milhoes De Festa last year when Paolo sat in for us on drums. Be great to finally see them play.”
Speaking of live shows, do you have any plans for others this year?
Ryan: “After Eindhoven we’re going to be concentrating on recording album number 3 and then we have a few shows in July in Leeds, Manchester and Kozfest ( in Devon). We’ll be having a short break while I’m away in South America for most of August, but when I return we’ll be back in business to get ready for Liverpool Psych Fest and in October we play the Rockaway Beach festival in Bognor Regis alongside The Fall, Pinkshinyultrablast and Spiritualized. Lots of exciting shows to look forward to and even more so now we have so much new material to play live and hopefully we’ll have the new album out as well.”
I know this is a tough question to probably answer, but do you have a few favorite songs you’ve recorded that really stand out from the rest of your songs.
Neil: “The new single is probably one of the best things we’ve recorded, in terms of studio quality. It’s less low-fi than some of our previous work.”
Ryan: “I’m proud of our whole body of work. We still play ‘Swamp Heron’ from the first album live. I have a special place for the odd little tracks like ‘Killed in my Sleep’ from Second Bardo and ‘Ghost Bones’. To simply choose a favourite track though is much too difficult. We have some tracks I prefer live than on record and vice versa. But to be honest the new material we are writing/written is just another level now, as we are pushing ourselves, both as songwriters and musicians, with no musical boundaries, evolving and twisting and turning all the time.”
What’s been playing on your turntable lately? Old or new, what’s been filling your ear space lately?
Neil: “This week… Grinderman, some Super Furry’s, The Velvet Underground and Joy Division are always on my playlist. I’ve also had MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular & The Flaming Lips Sgt Pepper’s album on repeat for some time now.”
Ryan: “Liars, Flaming Lips, Butthole Surfers and John Lee Hooker have been getting a good blast over the last few weeks.”
Jason: “West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Faine Jade, the new BJM record ‘musique de film imagine’ is really cool. There was this radio show that Dangerous Minds posted recently from the early 80’s, celebrating 40 years of women in electronic music, which was incredible. Oh yeah, I went to see GNOD play in Rugby a couple of weeks ago for the last night of the tour, and they were mind-blowing. They’ve got a new record out called ‘Infinity Machines’ and it hasn’t left my car stereo since, other than to switch between the two CD’s. Brilliant.”
This is a question I like to ask every band I interview, because I’ve always been interested in the stories people have about their first major music encounter, and what set them on that path to musical love and discovery. What started the journey for you?
Ryan: “Ever since I can remember I’ve been in love with music. I used to ‘play’ a two stringed electric guitar that my dad had ‘retired’ to the cupboard and became fanatical over T-Rex, The Beatles, The Stones etc and as a teenager I was always looking for the next record to blow my mind. Over the years bands like 13th Floor Elevators, Red Krayola, Butthole Surfers, Chrome, Birthday Party, The Fall became bands that I became obsessed with. Outsiders doing their own thing at the time and creating unique music.”
Jason: “I’ve always been immersed in music of some sort, though none of my family were ever really musicians as such. My dad borrowed a guitar off a friend and learnt a few songs. He played me ‘Scarborough Fair’ and told me he wrote it, I was so impressed I took a chord chart away with me and taught myself ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ on a broken, out of tune guitar I’d bashed away on in frustration since I was 8. That was pretty much what kicked me off. I was about 14.”
Neil: “I have fond memories of listening to T-Rex and Hendrix as a teenager in an abandoned railway shed. The shed was next to an old Cold War nuclear fallout shelter. We’d skip school, have a smoke and sing along to a tape player while the world went about its business.”
Interviewed by Nathan Barrett