Wednesday, March 20, 2013
1.Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
Other than “Inner Harbor” coming out on LP (Pariah Child) and CD (Shadow Kingdom), we’re rehearsing for our first show in New York City (Brooklyn) in April. After this, we don’t have plans. I’m playing two shows with Chowder (I play bass) in June, and we’ve been rehearsing hard for those, which will be followed by a new album. I’m also busy with two other bands I formed with friends (Mole Hill – with Tom Brouard, ex-Electric Magma, and Whetstone – with my friend Dave Reif).
2.How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and how it differs from previous releases?
This is the first album on which I’ve played synths as a part of the songs, and that was a big change for us. When we play the songs live, we don’t use the synths. At least I haven’t figured out how yet. Other than that, I think the songs are much like things we’ve done before, maybe with tighter arrangements. I worked hard on the arrangements, trying to get everything to fit together seamlessly. I felt better singing this album, too. It’s taken me a long time to know where my strengths are weaknesses are and how to work within them. The mix and production of the album came about after months of hard work, too; I worked nearly every day for months on it. We’re happy with the production in particular on this record.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?
The lyrics are very personal to me and refer to things in my life, in my thoughts, experiences, event, people, places I know and have known. This time, I tried to keep things more “local” and less “universal” in the words, in fitting with the “Inner Harbor” title, literally and figuratively. Then again, the lyrics are just interesting sounds and images strung together into something that feels right. I hope they can be understood or enjoyed at a few different levels.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?
That’s always the easiest question to answer: We stole it, in 1986, from a Trouble song. We were using the name Panic in late 1985 because it was the name of our previous band (before I was in Have Mercy), so we continued with that name until we started getting serious with our writing. We wanted to sound like Trouble, so we used the name. I don’t think it worked! In others ways, there’s always been a sense of “revealing” in our music, of uncovering (“apocalypse”) things inside, dragging them into the open. That’s not always a good thing, I think.
5.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
We probably enjoyed our tour in Japan with Church of Misery and Eternal Elysium the best. We also had a great time with Lord Vicar, and one tour in the UK with Warning (we played as Against Nature for that). We played a show in Montreal with Pagan Altar and other great bands, and I thought we played particularly well that night (it was a few years ago). The last time we played Doom Shall Rise in Goppingen, Germany I thought was good, too.
Stage performance? Ha. We don’t do much but concentrate on playing. I’m really anti-image and all that nonsense; I’m a guitar player and not an actor. We just hope people are there to hear us and not necessarily see us. That would make me happy anyway.
6.Do you have any touring plans for the future?
Not at the moment, although we keep talking about a tour in Ireland soon. We’ve been asked to play in Poland, eastern Europe, South America, other places. But we can’t afford the time off work or the airfare right now. There are so many places I’d love to visit.
7.Currently you are signed to Shadow Kingdom Records, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support they have given you so far?
Tim of SKR has released all our new albums and rereleased our old ones. I don’t even remember now how we came in contact. SKR has such a great roster of American bands (past and present releases), and Tim always releases high quality albums. The design of the SKR CD is slightly different from the PCR vinyl release.
8.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to the newer music by fans of doom metal?
We’re lucky in that people who like our music give us a lot of slack; it seems to me we’ve been fortune to know so many people who are willing to give our music time and attention. I think some people might be put off because they’ve heard there are synths on “Inner Harbor,” but the music is what we’ve been doing all along. The album we were going to record in 1993, after “Never Comes Silence,” was going to have synths on it; we just never got to it, and I quit playing before it could happen.
9.What is going on with the other musical projects these days?
I mentioned earlier Chowder, Mole Hill, and Whetstone, so I’ve been pretty busy with music lately. Against Nature may release another EP with Ron McGinnis (Admiral Browning, Trilogy, Pale Divine) singing, and we’re going to release a cassette single with Butch Balich (Argus, ex-Penance). I’m full of music lately.
10.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
It’s hard to tell. I have enough songs written for another album, but we have no plans at the moment to record them. If we were to record them, I imagine we’d continue in the direction of “Inner Harbor,” that is, more Rush meets Sabbath, more stealing from The Obsessed and Trouble. Ha. I’m only half kidding with that.
11.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
I have a hard time listening to a lot of new music because of the way its recorded these days. It’s fatiguing to listen to modern-sounding, over-compressed, too-loud-mastering records. I can’t do it. So I’ve retreated even further into what I love, the classic records from the 60s and 70s that I grew up with. I still have a lot to learn from the classics, so that’s where I spend my listening time. I can say that John Gallo’s bands—Orodruin, Blizaro, John Gallow—are some of the heaviest and most interesting music played today. Black Cowgirl from PA are great, Corsair from VA, Cyrus from NY, Falcon.
12.Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Besides my job, I’m interested in painting, printmaking, and drawing, bird watching, beer making, hiking and travelling, bicycling, writing, reading, going to thrift stores, so many different things. I like to restore old amps and guitars, build pedals, record my friends’ music. My interests take me in a hundred different directions at once. I’ve never understood how anyone can be bored. There’s so much work to do, so much to learn and experience. I need 10 lifetimes just to get started.
13.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
I really appreciate the chance to answer your questions, and I hope your readers will find something to enjoy in “Inner Harbor.”