Tales of Murder and Dust reveals the methodology of recording The Flow In Between, and how the group harnessed their creativity during times of turmoil.
Above: Aarhus Psych Fest Pre-Party 2015
"For some crazy reason, and much to our delight, an Italian guy set up a recording studio on the middle of the island where Christian and Kristoffer grew up in a rural and very desolate part of Denmark (Death Island Studios in Nykøbing, Mors). The name of the island actually translates from Latin into ‘Death’. It just seemed like the perfect place for us to go and isolate ourselves."
"We used the same approach as we did with our previous release, Skeleton Flowers. We recorded drums and bass in the studio, and did Guitars, Vocals, Synths, Sitar, Harp, Percussion and whatever else may be on there, in our rehearsal room and in our homes. This way we were able to give the recording a rest for a few days when we were in a rut, and come back and listen to it with fresh ears. Compared to an intensive studio recording session, we had more time to attend to the details and try out different instruments and sounds with this approach."
The Endless Sea of Uncertainty and Change
"When one compares this record to our earlier work we sound and feel like a different band, the common factor is that we still like to create a strong sense of atmosphere. We have adopted Gothic elements into our sound and we would like to think of it as the listener stepping in to a spiritual realm that is chaotic, boundless and which lacks a point of gaze. On a philosophical level, the lack of direction and the sense of endlessness also are saying something about our lives in general. There is this melancholia that always latches onto our music; we have been around for nearly 10 years and there is always that fear, that sense that 'it could all of a sudden end', which makes us appreciate what we do even more but also creates some sense of angst and unrest tied to the music."
"Growing so much older since we formed, life is no longer careless and music is not something that we “mess around with”. It is a privilege that can be taken away from us at any moment. It is pretty nerve wrecking and we cannot pretend that being in the music industry is all fun and games. It makes you paranoid, it makes you uncompromising and that naïve, young person who just wants to create music and have fun with it, is constantly struggling to come up to the surface for air. It is easy to drown in your own ambitions. When you listen to The Flow In Between the fear of drowning is omnipresent. When you hesitate at an artistic crossroad it’s either swim or sink. We did a bit of both; we let ourselves float around under the surface for a bit longer than what was comfortable. Once you are down below, floating around, you start looking at the world differently. We embraced the chaos, we embraced the uncertainty and it resulted in an album that feels unnerving, dystopic, illusive, and most of all like floating around under the surface, looking for a place and time to come up for air."
The group has announced June/July live shows for EU and will later announce more dates for the US.
6/8 Hafenklang, Hamburg /with The Third Sound
6/10 CheeChaak Fest, Ostrava
6/17 Les Caves Du Manoir, Martigny
6/20 L’espace B. Paris
6/22 Cine Palace, Kortrijk
6/24 Fuzz Club, London
6/25 Astral Elevator Presents: Rising @Gullivers Nq, Manchester
6/26 The Hope and Ruin, Brighton
7/16 Copenhagen Psych Fest
8/26 Psycho Las Vegas
The Third Sound are back with their third album, and second on Fuzz Club, Gospels of Degeneration. Ten songs that will rip through you. It’s an album that was recorded in a small studio and you can hear more of the stripped down sound of the band and their use of instruments to get across the many feelings and emotions.
I love the use of guitar throughout the album and think it plays a huge part of making it feel different from other The Third Sound records, without taking away the quintessential sound of the band. With songs like “Charlatan” and the opening track, “We Got All You Need”, the drumming has that really great and fantastic garage like feel to it. Lay down the guitar over the top, and you have some of their best songs.
The nostalgic feel of “You Are Not Here” mixed with the amazing vocals of frontman Hakon Aðalsteinsson and Tess Parks, and you want to find a dark, smoky bar somewhere and sit back with a whiskey. “Before There Was You” rips my insides into shreds with that guitar. The emotion really pours out of that and it’s just an amazing song, both musically and lyrically.
The album as a whole hits with so much power, power that you don’t feel at first. It gains more through each listen. You hear the band's soul pouring and washing all over you...and you can’t put it down.
I had a chance to catch up with Hakon and ask him a few questions about the album to give some some insight into this record...
A couple years back when I interviewed you after the release of your second album, The Third Sound of Destruction and Creation, I asked you to sum up the album in a sentence. It wasn’t an easy task by any means but you did it: “Musically expanded album exploring a wide range of (sometimes) contrasting themes, where the borders between, light and darkness, dream and reality, pop and experimental elements start disappearing.” How would you say things have changed for Gospels of Degeneration?
Things are always different from album to album, both because it reflects the situation you were in when the album was made and because you want to push things forward. There were a lot of changes within the band when we were planning to start recording this album. Our bass player had left (but has now returned again) and we did not have a drummer until we met Leo who has a small studio where the album was recorded. The main song ideas had been written some time before we started and I did not wanna sit around and wait so me, Robin (guitar) and Leo just went ahead and recorded the songs.
Robin and I had discussed making an album that was not as layered and produced sounding as the last one, we wanted something a bit more straight forward this time and to rely on the songwriting itself rather than decorating with heavy use of effects, so it made perfect sense to make a record in a small and simple studio.
The album is another amazing piece. The guitar work throughout this really stands out, especially after a few listens and you are able to absorb it all. It’s an extension of your soul at many times, where you can FEEL that emotion just right there, slamming into your being. So beautiful and heart wrenching. Can you elaborate a bit on the song writing, and how the guitar played a part in bringing these songs to so much level and depth?
There was more time to work the songs out this time since we did not have a deadline like last time, It was a slower process and I would send Robin unfinished recordings so he could spend time working on his part before coming in to record. In some cases there was also a different approach because I would start a song with the bass line which allowed me and Robin to do more guitar harmonies together.
The first single from the album, “You Are Not Here”, features Tess Parks. Can you tell us about this collaboration? Was this song written with her, or you just had her in mind?
It is a song I wrote a while ago but I was not sure if it would fit on the album and when I presented it to Robin and Leo the idea of making it a duet was still just in my head. I had met Tess when she was recording her album with Anton and just thought she had an amazing voice, so when she got in touch few months later while we were recording saying she was coming back to Berlin I took it as a sign and asked her if she would be up for singing it with me.
Following “You Are Not Here” come the songs “Hole In My Heart” and “Before There Was You”. Both songs are favourites from the album. What can you tell us about those songs?
I think they are both good examples of the straightforward simple approach I mentioned, because it could have been easy to do a lot more layers there but we just did not feel it was necessary. Lyrically speaking they both deal with losing someone close to you but two completely different ways of dealing with it.
What more would you like to add about the new album?
I guess I realised afterwards that a lot of the lyrics are in one way or another somehow reflecting my experience and ideas of Berlin. Not only personal experience, also what I have seen around me and the reputation of the city as sort of a hedonistic place. This is not in any way a concept album but this is at least one of the themes.
- Nathan J Barrett of Floats Inside A Bubble
We first met The KVB at Bad Vibrations gigs and house parties in East London. We'd be lounging around in warehouses bellowing with shoegaze and cigarette smoke, with cans of Red Stripe littered around a floor of ash and fur coats.
The KVB’s Kat Day would be dressed in black leather mini skirts and towering heels with her white cheeks and red lips bobbing out under a dark fringe. A friend would comment that he always envied Nick Wood - her bandmate and boyfriend - as he plays the coolest music and has the hottest girlfriend.
Now based in Berlin, and with the release of their third album Mirror Being and another European tour behind them, there's a lot to catch up on before they headline the Fuzz Club Festival in London next weekend.
You've had a busy year releasing the album and touring extensively. Lets start by telling us what you're up to at the moment.
We just played a show in Moscow last weekend which was in an old plastic factory next to the river Volga. It was filled with art installations, was incredibly loud and there was lots of dancing during the 24 hour party. Before last weekend we hadn't played a show since early September, so these last two months have been a nice break from a very busy year spent touring and working on the next album. These two shows in the UK, and another in Madrid with Psychic TV will be our last until 2016, which is when the new album will be out on Invada Records.
Tell us about your move to Berlin and how it's impacted you creatively. It seems to be the perfect mix of post-industrialism, DIY mindset and ever-present electro for your music and visual styles.
We did consider other parts of the UK but chose Berlin as we have friends over here already and knew that the lower rent / larger spaces would allow us to concentrate on both the audio and visuals sides of our project. All of which you mention about Berlin naturally influences us, but also the hibernation-inducing grey of the winter, the slower pace of life and opportunity of time has proved the most influential. Although aspects of the Berlin hedonistic lifestyle can hinder productivity... so you can only indulge in them occasionally if you want anything to get done!
What differences and similarities can you draw between the music and art scenes in the two cities?
Both are good in different ways, Berlin's music and art scenes are smaller and the music mostly techno and electronic music, but there is a freedom to be able to do what you want here artistically - perhaps more like how London used to be.
Did Berlin have an impact on Mirror Being?
Absolutely, although about half of the material was recorded before we moved here, Berlin influenced the decision to release it as a limited tape ourselves. It very much captured the spirit of how we felt at the time artistically in addition to how we felt living in a new city.
What usually affects your music, and keeps it evolving and changing?
We love discovering new music from all over the world. We were just given some Soviet Era vinyls by our friend in Moscow which are really interesting. Again, travelling is what inspires the visuals too - the cover of Mirror Being was inspired by a tiny photograph on the wall of a family-run restaurant in a small town in Padua, Italy.
The track you open Mirror Being with transported me back to the 90s and listening to electronica under the hazy glow of ecstasy. Is that a fair assessment or completely off the mark?
Yeah that seems about right! "Atlas" was actually the last track that was written for Mirror Being. We had just acquired a Streichfett string synth and wanted to use it to create an opening track that was euphoric, immersive and sets the scene for what follows...
From there the album moves through a series of tracks with abstract forms and each sounds more like an exploration of a mood or sound than a 'song.' Can you tell us a bit about this?
Most of the tracks on Mirror Being were recorded from live experimentations, with no or very few overdubs. We wanted it to feel like a film soundtrack and to capture the atmosphere of journeys in their purest form. It also made sense for us to release it on cassette initially, like it was a bootleg recording from a deranged warehouse party...
It seems to be marking out its own territory in electronic experimentalism. Does it feel like you've turned a corner creatively, or arrived in a new phase of The KVB?
We see it as a different side of The KVB. After putting out a few records that were mainly song orientated, we wanted to show that there are more levels to what we do. On our next record we've tried to combine the melodies and songwriting of the earlier material with the more experimental aesthetic of Mirror Being. We think its going to be our best work to date!
Can you tell us about the visual side of things. What are the themes that you're working with currently?
Kat - The hypnotising affect of flicker as well as the haptic is what interests me the most, that sensation that flows from your finger tips and up towards your spine when you see something tactile on the screen, so much so that you can almost feel it, like your eyes are stroking the pixels.
At what point do the visuals come into things? Are they created to compliment the mood created in the music, or do they follow their own separate creative process?
Kat - They accompany the music by creating an immersive atmosphere and is a separate creative process created after the music. The work is made using a variety of cameras and 3D game design programmes, all of which follow a theme of texture, dystopian architecture and digitalising nature.
Are both the music and visuals created collaboratively between the two of you?
Nick - I usually work alone in the early stages of making the music, then Kat joins to help develop the ideas further and then I usually write the lyrics myself at the end. Kat makes all the visual elements, but talks through ideas with me. We are always changing the way we work, and as the years go on, it is becoming more collaborative across the different elements.
Do you have any side projects - music or otherwise - on the go that you'd like to tell us about?
Nick - We do have other projects such as Burma Camp, an experimental techno side project of mine, but because of our busy schedule this year we've only had a few chances to work on them. Recently I've been recording new songs that are more nostalgic and summery than The KVB, but maybe that's because we seem to be back in winter here already.
Finally, what's it like playing in East London? Does it feel like coming home?
Well it's where we played our first ever show, so in a way, yes.
The KVB are headlining the Fuzz Club Festival on November 13th at London Fields Brewhouse.
Singapore Sling was born out of love and hate. Love for rock’n’roll and hatred for the majority of music that was around at the time. It was formed by Henrik Bjornsson back in 2000 in the beauty and darkness of Reykjavik, Iceland. Today Singapore Sling are renowned as one of the founding figures in the ballooning psych scene, where they keep things grounded with their garage-heavy, blues-tinged, whisky-breathed, psych fuck rock‘n’roll.
Nathan J Barrett interviewed Henrik ahead of the release of their 8th album. The name really says it all but we thought we’d find out more.
Can you tell us a bit about the new album?
Psych Fuck. Well, when I was piecing together The Tower of Foronicity last year I had so many songs I was happy with that I was thinking about doing a double record. But that was obviously still going to be too long. Casper (from Fuzz Club) suggested we do Part One and Part Two, which I thought was a good idea except I decided to name this one Psych Fuck instead of Part Two. Psych Fuck was one of the titles I was considering anyway and the title fits this one. This one's more fucked up.
What about it makes it more fucked up? Musically or lyrically or..?
It´s songs from the same sessions so they don't sound much different. They just sound a bit more fucked up because of the way they’re mixed and mastered - they sound more like demos. But for the Tower of Foronicity I chose the songs that fit best together lyrically. There is a certain theme there and the theme is "foronicity". On Psych Fuck there isn't really a theme, although it's mostly a continuation of the foronicity.
“Try” is one of my favorites on the new album. That guitar in there just burrows into your soul, and never seems to let go. How do you go about your songwriting? For instance, in this song, was it the guitar that drove it, because it seems like such a vital component to the song?
I get an idea for what kind of a song I want to do. I get an idea for a riff, a beat or a melody, then I record that and then something happens that might take that idea somewhere else. Recording and playing is part of the writing process. In "Try" the guitar was of course part of the idea. I didn't know how I was going to do it though until I started playing around with the guitar and pedals.
Many years ago, you had some ventures in film making, and even had a TV show called, Konfekt. How have those experiences influenced your art and Singapore Sling over the years?
I´m glad to hear you mention Konfekt. It was the best job I´ve ever had in my life. I could do whatever the psych fuck I wanted and get paid for it! It was presented as a "cultural" TV show but it was in fact an absolutely absurd show unlike anything that had been on television before. We made short dadaistic sketches and took absolutely foronic interviews. We basically did whatever we felt like doing. We wrote down every idea we had and were able to make something out of most of them and create what we wanted. I do that with music as well. It's the same thing really, just a different medium.
I haven't really had any ventures in actual filmmaking apart from playing a couple of roles in short films by my friend Thorgeir Guðmundsson (Tank). But I would love to have some proper ventures in film making. I would love to do soundtracks.
Speaking of influences, what else do you draw inspiration from? Certain music, film, nature… what feeds the fire?
Apart from getting inspiration from music I have always been inspired by other things like movies, books and art. Movements like Punk and Dada had a big influence on me when I was a teenager and they still inspire me. Punk and Dada are probably my biggest influences. Punk, Dada and The Velvet Underground.
What I want to do with my music is to create a world of my own. Something different from this "real" and "normal" (boring) world we live in. And to create a certain mood. Be it dark, cool, beautiful or completely twisted and absurd. (So I guess, like, God is my biggest influence, y´know? He, like, created a whole world, y´know?)
A few years ago, there was a group of artists, mainly from Iceland, that were part of the Vebeth Collective. What can you tell us about this, and is it still around today?
It was just a way to unite friends who were making music and art under one moniker. No, Vebeth is finished. I still love and keep contact with most of those bands though.
I heard a rumor about a new project you possibly have coming up. Can you tell us anything about that?
I have a project with a friend coming up called The Pure Essence of Dirt but I can't imagine where you heard about that. It´s a live project and we we´re planning on doing performances mostly in galleries or unusual venues.
What is your first memory of music, one that made you fall in love with it? Or did you just slowly fall in love with music?
My parents were music lovers so there was always music around me, but mostly classical and jazz. I discovered rock´n´roll a bit later and fell in love with it immediately. I still love classical and jazz though and just about all kinds of music, except shit music.
Thank you so much for this Henrik! Always a pleasure! Any last words to send our readers off on a mind fuck while they listen to Psych Fuck?
Yeah, fuck school.
Psych Fuck has been pushed back to November 13th due to severe delays at the pressing plant. Pre orders will be sent out as soon as the records come in.
For those that are fairly new to the Underground Youth, can you give us a background of the band?
I started writing and recording music back in 2008, raw lo-fi bedroom recordings using really basic recording equipment. I named the project The Underground Youth after the title of one of those early tracks and made the albums of material available for free online. It continued in this way, releasing a couple of albums a year, until I was contacted in 2011 by what would become Fuzz Club Records. The intention was to release my latest self-released album (Delirium) on vinyl and put a live band together to tour The Underground Youth’s music for the first time. Where we are now is a result of that happening.
I know a couple years back, we discussed how cinema was a big influence on you and the relationship between sound and image. Does this still inspire you?
It still plays a large part in the creative process for me. The aim is to create a soundtrack to accompany an imagined film or visual idea. In the future I’ll look at developing the right kind of space and visuals to accompany the music, more of an art installation than a live show. That’s an idea that inspires me, to find different ways to present the music.
Are you still the primary force behind the band, or are the other members contributing to the writing process?
The Underground Youth does still function as it always has, as my creative outlet. However the live sound is in the hands of the live band, and on the new record I worked more collaboratively with the producer, so it feels less of a one man project these days.
Speaking of the new record, it’s call Haunted and out very soon. What can you tell us about the album?
It was very much about creating an atmosphere, and I think we managed to capture the envisioned mood perfectly. The lyrics follow a dark and unsettling theme, each song documents the nightmares of a different character, so the music needed to create the appropriate atmosphere for this. The album is slightly distanced from the ‘psychedelic’ side of our sound and focusses more on the influence of 1980’s post-punk music. There’s elements of noise and industrial music in there too, it’s certainly more experimental than anything The Underground Youth has put out before.
Did the atmosphere you wanted to create take you into that sound, or was this what you started with to get to that atmosphere?
It seems like a natural direction to move in, especially considering the nature of the album I wanted to make (dark and haunting). Saying that I never begin the creative process knowing what direction I want the musical style to go in, it comes out during the writing/recording.
The Underground Youth was the band that basically started Fuzz Club Records, and I guess Fuzz Club has had a hand in jumpstarting the Underground Youth as well. It’s a pretty cool connection to have, because not many bands can say that. I personally get that feeling of “family” with Casper from the label as he's always been very supportive of the bands he not only has on his label, but the music that he loves in general. What’s it like, having been around from the start of the label?
It feels like a lifetime ago Casper and I were sat in a bar in Manchester discussing his initial ideas for Fuzz Club Records, he had all these high hopes and ambitious plans, I thought he was crazy. But to think of how many of them he’s managed to achieve, and how he’s helped me bring my project to where it is, I’m glad I agreed to go with it. It’s not about business and that side of music, it’s about creating art and all I care about is doing what I love. Casper understands that and so do the ‘family’ that make up Fuzz Club, I’m proud to have been a part of it since the beginning.
What are some of the plans for the next few months?
We’ve got an eight date UK tour starting with Liverpool Psych Fest in late September / early October and then a month long European tour in November.
What's been on your turntable lately?
I’ve just picked up the new Beach House album Depression Cherry. I’ve also been revisiting Patti Smith and listening to a lot of Einstürzende Neubauten recently. Neubauten had a big influence on the new record.
I’ve always been interested in the stories people have about their first major music memory, and what set them on the journey for the love of music and the discovery of it. For me, I have been a massive music lover for as long as I can remember, in part to my father’s record collection. What started the journey for you?
I remember seeing footage of Bob Dylan performing live, some TV spot or something from the early sixties. I can’t even remember what song he played but just seeing him standing there, playing 3 chords, singing with that voice. That’s why I picked up a guitar.
The Underground Youth Tour Dates
Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia
01/10/15 UK Glasgow - Nice n Sleazy's
03/10/15 UK Manchester - Islington Mill
04/10/15 UK Rugby - West Indian Club
05/10/15 UK Nottingham - Chameleon Arts Cafe
06/10/15 UK London - The Shacklewell Arms
08/10/15 UK Sheffield - Picture House Social
03/11/15 Fr PARIS Point Ephemere
04/11/15 Fr LYON Venue tba
05/11/15 Fr DÜDINGEN Bad Bonn
06/11/15 Ch SAINT GALLEN Rumpelturm
07/11/15 Ch MARTIGNY Caves Du Manoir
08/11/15 Ch VEVEY Studio 603
12/11/15 Dk COPENHAGEN
13/11/15 Dk AALBORG 1000Fryd
14/11/15 Swe MALMOE Inkonst
15/11/15 No OSLO Revolver
17/11/15 De LEIPZIG Westwerk
18/11/15 De KÖLN Tsunami Club
19/11/15 De COBURG Bei Adam
20/11/15 De FREIBURG Slow Club
21/11/15 De BERLIN Magnet
24/11/15 De FRANKFURT Das Bett
25/11/15 Ch ZURICH Zukunft
26/11/15 De AUGSBURG City Club
27/11/15 De OBERHAUSEN Pressure Air Festival
28/11/15 Be YELLOWSTOCK Winter Fest
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
Our first experience of 10,000 Russos was under the dark night sky at Reverence Festival in the band's local Portugal. We heard from a distance their deep droning bass, ritualistic drumming and woozy vocals that seemed to drip like melting wax under the light of the full moon. We flocked to the stage like moths to a flame and discovered one of our favourite new bands of the year.
With their self-titled debut album out in August 2015, it's time to introduce the Fuzz Club audience to João Pimenta (drums/vocals) and Pedro Pestana (guitar) and André Couto (bass) from 10,000 Russos.
First up can you tell us a bit about the origins of 10,000 Russos? How did you get started and all those fun questions.
PP: João and I started the band in 2012. I knew his bands and he knew my solo project. We had been wanting to play together for a while and a two piece band made sense at the time. It was quite noisy with just about the right amount of rock ‘n’ roll. Eventually we wanted to go to other sonicscapes and that’s where André comes in with the bass.
JP: I was fed up playing in bands with riffs, guitar solos and choruses. Pedro seemed the right partner to do the job of deconstructing guitar waves. Then André seemed the right man to make the mantras of deconstruction. I know we will never fit on a musical scene and that’s marvelous.
AC: We met after our bands played together at Milhões de Festa. I loved their chaotic simplicity, I’m into repetition. I always thought they would need someone that would allow them to float, while keeping them on the ground. That is my role here.
Your debut album is coming out here in the next month or so on Fuzz Club. How did the band and Fuzz Club come together?
AC: I know Fuzz Club almost from day one. Underground Youth, Singapore Sling, Sonic Jesus, Dead Rabbits, Lola Colt…I love it’s bands, the releases, the compilations, the splits. People from all over Europe gathered in one label! I met Casper at The Reverb Conspiracy (vol.1) Release Party a couple of years ago. After our show in Reverence Valada last year, Casper was waiting for us and signed us on the spot.
JP: We were never part of anything here in Portugal, always working in a 'minutemen ethos',doing everything ourselves, from booking to merch to releasing music. It’s a nice change and Fuzz Club shares our passion so both sides are excited about this record.
Do you have any other releases besides the early 4 track cassette you did after you started? Are the songs from that cassette on this debut album?
PP: The cassette was released in 2013 and we played those songs extensively. None of them are on the forthcoming album. Sometimes we play them live, though.
JP: We also have a song in an Álvaro Cunhal tribute compilation for the Portuguese Communist Youth.
What about bands that have influenced you over the years?
JP: Since an early age I have been an avid consumer of music. I am not gonna tell you the story of “my dad had tons of records and I listened to Pink Floyd when I was 6″, ‘cause that is not true. It was all very natural. I used to listen to the radio show of António Sérgio, (sort of a Portuguese John Peel) and since I was young I was exposed to Nick Cave, The Fall and Morphine. I always loved bands who were not aligned with any particular genre or musical wave.
As for bands who have influenced me to search your own soul and your own sounds, I will have to say that bands as Suicide, 13th Floor Elevators, NEU!, Wire, Mission of Burma, Sonic Youth or Velvet Underground have influenced me, musically speaking. But literature influenced me as well, with writers like Eca de Queiros, Zola or Bukowski. And cinema. And painting. And History. And people. The list can be endless.
AC: At a young age I’ve been highly influenced by early Pink Floyd, Hendrix, The Doors, Velvet Undergroud, Jefferson Airplane and 13th Floor Elevators. Then followed Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, early Sonic Youth, Loop and Spacemen 3. I’ve been also into the experimental, electro-acoustic and industrial scene. The german Krautrock thing, came to me at my early twenties, Ash Ra Temple, Can, Neu!, Faust, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream… It goes on…
PP: Yes, the list can be endless. As one is getting older, the answer for this question gets bigger and bigger and I could go on forever. I love or loved a lot of different stuff. As a teen, my cousin introduced me to The Doors, who played a very big role in my understanding music, especially in song structure. I rarely played in a band with closed songs since then. I love the way they made a song, play it for 2-3 minutes and then they just jam and jam and jam…
I like most of the bands João and André mentioned above. As for other bands, I can remember a few examples like DJ Shadow, Mano Negra, Manu Chao, Tinariwen, Dead Skeletons, Django Reinhardt, Joy Division, Butthole Surfers, or Wooden Shjips. Dub music really opened my ears a lot! Drinking from all these different fountains kind of reflects a bit the stuff we do with 10000 Russos, it sounds like everything at the same time and it sounds like nothing at all.
I’ve always been interested in the stories people have about their first major music memory, and what set them on the journey for the love of music and the discovery of it. What started the journey for you?
JP: Seeing BB King live at 12. It clicked something.
PP: I remember always being fond of sounds in general. I believe one of my earliest childhood memories of music is Laurie Anderson’s Big Science. My Mom used to listen to it all the time when she was painting. I still recall the chill down my spine with that wolflike sound on the title track. Another of those early memories include Zeca Afonso as well. My sister’s tapes and CD’s also played a big part on the way I listened to music as a youngster. Much, much later, when I started working on sound for films, I learned a lot about music and in turn music taught me a lot about cinema.
AC: The episode I recall the most is when my best friend came to me after a trip with his family to the Zoo in Lisbon. They stopped at a record store and his aunt gave him a record of his choosing. He chosen Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma because he fell in love with its cover. We were between eight and ten years old at the time. I remember it was strange to comprehend, but we loved it and kept daydreaming to it.
Later, at the age of twelve, we got our first band, it was called Psychedelic Mind, and it was influenced by the 60’s psychedelia I quoted above. It was quite fun, and although we never got anywhere it lasted until I went to university, at the age of 17. I still have some tapes I use to listen to. I am 36 years old now, and when I was a teenager, there was no such thing as the internet or cell phones. I grew up in a small village near Porto. We gathered at a local pub and exchanged records, tapes and books among friends. At weekends our bands would play there. Everything besides school was about music. Everything still is about music.
You guys hail from Portugal. How’s the music scene there at the moment? Any up and coming bands we should keep our eyes out for?
JP: Portugal is very rich, musically speaking, regarding the fact this country is very small and has around 9 million people. The problem is that the bands over here have very little opportunities to show their music. There is almost no record labels and you can count the record shops over here with the fingers of one hand. Same problems with clubs and live venues. Its almost impossible to play in the interior of the country, even in bigger cities because there are no spaces to play, people are not interested, and what is paid is almost nothing.
With this situation you would think: “well, as there is almost nothing to support a musical scene, maybe there isn’t one”. That's incorrect, there are many bands here that would kick ass in England if they had the chance. As a friend of mine would say “when you are playing and there are just 5 people attending, you can’t suck”. But the opportunities are very little and bands could be a little more united because we are all in the same boat.
But this still is a very concentrated county in one city and one capital, so if you are not from there, as we are, you must work the triple. But thats not the problem for us, we like to work the triple and we know what we are facing. We know we are a peripheral band from a peripheral city of a peripheral country of what is now a peripheral continent. But now we have the opportunity to do something outside of here and that is just a breath of fresh air for us.
You should keep your eyes on Black Bombaim (fuzzy mushroomy instrumental rock n roll trio), Cave Story (Velvet Underground-ish/Modern Lover-ish rock), Legendary Tigerman (one man band Suicide kind of thing with a major influence of cinema), The Act-Ups (garage rock the way garage rock should be) or Allen Halloween (real hip hop from real streets of a real suburb).
PP: For the past 15 years I’ve had the feeling that we were witnessing one of the most interesting and promising generations in Portuguese music. In a country with a very small industry, it’s amazing to find such good quality in recent bands. João already mentioned two personal favorites of mine, Black Bombaim and The Legendary Tigerman, for instance. I’d like to add Dead Combo, O Manipulador, Killimanjaro, Tó Trips, Dreamweapon, Norberto Lobo, Sensible Soccers, Imidiwan or Rafael Toral. As far as the music scene goes, it feels there are more bands than ever. On the other hand, venues aren’t always packed every time there is a concert. This crisis shit obviously didn’t help. Record sales are also very low, as far as I know. However, we managed to sell out our last release on tape. Not on stores or anything, just in concerts and by mail order.
AC: Portugal has always had an important music scene to its locals. Personally, if I don’t like the sound of a band, doesn’t matter where it comes from, it means nothing to me. Doesn’t matter how good the musicians play, how charismatic are their frontmen – I’ve always hated frontmen – how very entertaining shows they put.. if the music sucks, it sucks! And it is all about music.
There are very few bands, Portuguese or not, at the present times, I can say they make a difference. Bands that produce good music, that are trying to achieve to something greater, bands with a solid artistic vision are hard to find anywhere. Portugal only has a couple of them but they exist.
What’s on your turntable now?
JP: Back From the Grave Vol.1 – Crypt Records
PO: Anouar Brahem – Le Voyage du Sahar
AC: Faust + Tony Conrad – Outside The Dream Sindicate
What setup do you currently use?
JP: I play in a Pearl drum kit from the 90s. All fucked-up. I earn 500 euros a month in my day job so I cannot buy another. But I am thinking of buying a Ludwig drum kit, so I am cutting out eating meat and I don’t drink beer anymore. I am more thin now and looking forward to putting the Pearl kit in a trashcan.
I use a SM58 mic connected to 2 guitar pedals. A Boss Overdrive and a Digital Delay DD-7. I normally use this combination linked to a amplified mixer and to a speaker, so my voice its not over all the other instruments. I used the mic not just for the voice but also to get some sounds of the drum kit, using loops and delays.
PP: I’ve been using mostly an Epiphone Firebird VII for ten years now. It was love at the first sight. Sounds great and it’s good looking! Before that I didn’t own a proper guitar, probably because I started out playing bass as a teenager. In the chapter of non-working guitars, I own an old Russian guitar, Elektrogitara Solo II, that never worked, it’s good for a museum. I’ll not sell it cheap, so buyers come out! It’s from 1989 and has onboard FX like phaser and overdrive but, as far as I learned from blogs and forums, none of those guitars actually worked even when they came out of the factory.
A brandless guitar with some bass strings was also part of my arsenal. Talking about working guitars, an Aria Diamond came into my possession 2 years ago. Its a copy of a Mosrite Venture’s model. P90 pick-ups. Sounds twangy! I love creating layers of sound, perhaps more focused in that than in playing note for note. Guitar feedbacks can be cleansing for both mind and body. To create those layers and timbres, guitar FX pedals come into the deal.
It depends on the projects or bands I’m working with but in 10000 Russos it basically involves a Big Muff, Memory Man, DD6 & DD3, Phaser, Crybaby, Daddy-O, TS9 (copy), Total Sonic Anihilation (copy) and a volume pedal. Amp wise, a Fender Deluxe Reverb is what I’m using. It belongs to João. For tremolos I use the one on the amp.
AC: – I just love Gibson basses, especially EB2 and EB3. I’m using an EB3 at the moment. As an amp I use an Ampeg SVT, and i recently discovered the 2×15 cabinet. In addition to Fuzz, Octavers, Reverbs and Delays (Electro-Harmonix, for sure) these are my weapons of choice.
What are your plans for the rest of the year. Any major tours, gigs, writing or recording?
PP: All of those are part of the plan. We make new songs on a regular basis. Our trashcan is full, so writing is always part of the process.
JP: We are planning to tour in England and Portugal in the near future and then, quite possibly, a euro-tour.
Fast forward five years from now, what would you like the band to have accomplished by then?
JP: More records and more tours with bands we love. I think every band desires the same. We are always a work in progress, always making music that we, as music lovers, would hear as any other record we love. Thats always the goal.
AC: My most sincere desire is that I can live from my work and through my work. My work is making music and art and I wish I can keep doing it, profoundly better.
PP: More records and tours, for sure. To stop being broke all the time would also be nice. Oh, health and happiness for everyone!!
Interview by Nathan J. Barrett.
10,000 Russos's self titled album is available now on vinyl, CD and digital.
Listen to the full album via YouTube: