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Review + Q&A: Bruxa Maria-Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray (2023, Riot Season Records)

Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray. A blog with this name could not agree more. Times like these of planetary turmoil and climate stress also call for bands like Bruxa Maria. Harsh, overwhelming crusty noise core, as subtle as a container ship. Catapulting the listener back to times of grimy squatter shacks and bands like Tragedy, Today Is The Day, and Union Of Uranus, while also waving the banner of industrialisation of bands like Godflesh and The Body.

Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray is heavy, and ugly, but not crude. There is a subtle melancholy oozing through its denseness, a black despair rooted in gentrification, police brutality, and the debilitating corruption of global capitalism. At the same time there are parts on the album where the violence and aggression is so all consuming and pummelling it pounds the listener into a trance like state. Singer Gill Dread calls it “overwhelming, a euphoric feeling, like steering yourself away from a bad trip”.

In that sense Bruma Maria have taken something extremely drab and bleak, and created a thing of beauty from it. Like Leonard Cohen said; “There’s crack in everything, that’s how light gets in”. So build yourself a shrine people, and pray for light.

I spoke to singer Gill Dread, from her home in London. She was happy to introduce her band, and to explain what Bruxa Maria is all about…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Bruxa Maria?
We had just played our album launch show for our 2nd album, ‘The Maddening’ and were about to do a tour when the pandemic hit. So with no tour to do, I started writing the next album. And as soon as the lock down lifted we started rehearsing, and we recorded, the end of that year and the beginning of the next. (all social distanced, with minimal people around etc). It took a while to come out coz the pandemic slowed down a lot of businesses. So everything like pressing vinyl and stuff had long wait times for everyone. So I’m really happy it’s finally out for people to hear. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Paul Antony is on drums. I met him through his band Ghold. A wicked band, that I also drove on tour a bunch of times. Dave Cochrane plays bass, who I met when he briefly played bass for Art of Burning Water who I drove. And met him again when driving Terminal Cheesecake. Robbie Judkins plays synth noise, and I met him when driving his band Casual Sect on tour. They’re all amazing musicians and my favourite line up of the band. They are great. They’re good humoured people to have on tour, and very reliable and dedicated at what they do. So I feel very lucky to have found such talented, good people to work with. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Paul – drummer is in Ghold , Test dept, Deadpop. Him and Robbie are in their early/mid 30s with an art background as well as heavy music. Robbie can play lots of instruments but mostly does synth noise stuff presently in Left hand cuts off the right. Dave is a bit older than me and was in bands I liked like Head of David, God, Terminal Cheesecake. I think he’s been in multiple bands his whole life. I was in a couple of punk bands before this one. Then I started driving bands on tour, met lots of people and started my own band, Bruxa Maria

What does a regular day in your lives look like?
Usual London bollocks for Paul and Robbie, long hours of work, in a very expensive city. But they do it well and get the best out of it I think. Dave lives in Birmingham, which is a much more sensible place to live, Lol. And I live way out in West London in the suburbs now. Which is a much nicer pace and surroundings. 

What is the best thing about Build Yourself A Shrine And Pray?
Well I was hoping it might help some people practice switching from a sense overwhelm to a sense of euphoria, and maybe help them control away from meltdown. Anxiety and excitement are quite similar in feeling. Both can give butterflies in the stomach and make you nervous. In a way they are just different view points. One is panicked about the unknown and the other eager and excited for the unknown. So it should be easier to convince yourself to be excited not anxious in many situations, a lot easier than just being able to ‘calm down’ from anxiety anyway. So if that’s possible, maybe one can switch overwhelm to a kind of euphoric feeling, like steering yourself away from a bad trip. Embrace it and switch it up. Blind side is the track that pushes this idea the most for me. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
London has a lot of diverse choice of people and amazing musicians to work with. But it is expensive, so life can get in the way of having time and money to do much more than survive. It can be hard work for underground scenes for this reason. But it always finds a way.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?
Part Chimp, MoE, Arabrot, Hey Colossus, Art of Burning Water, Ghold, 
Gum Takes Tooth
.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
I write the songs, vocals and guitar parts, and play them to the others and we work it out in rehearsals. We’re into a lot of the same stuff so they get what I’m going for and do even better usually. Recording we put down drums first with a guide bass and guitar. And then we overdub actual bass and guitars and synth noise after. They’re all very pro so it doesn’t take many goes. I don’t like recording live, coz it feels like too much pressure for everyone to get it perfect, that it fucks me up more. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
My immediate and long term plans are chilling the fuck out. Lol

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Listen to the album and start building yourself a shrine, coz your gonna need it.
PEACE. 

Review + Q&A: Lay Llamas & JuJu- Flag Of Breeze (2023, Backwards)

In warm and humid Sicily, the deep, deep south of Italy, two men find each other again and again in waves of symbiotic creativity. The chemistry between Gioele Valenti (JuJu) and Nicola Giunta is strong. Together they are Lay Llamas, and Flag Of Breeze is their new EP of dreamy psychedelia. If one thing is clear, it is that their common electricity has not lost any of its power.

Flag Of Breeze is a short affair, consisting of four new songs, intermixed by short weird sounds, described by the duo as ” like a sort of radio tuning listening session among FM stations and misterious shortwaves transmissions”. The songs are very varied, from the dreamy post wave of Flag Of Breeze, to the tribal surf pop of Bury Me Tonight, the gothic witch dance of Mixtures And Potions, and the psychedelic dark cabaret of Underwater Jungle.

The result may be short, but it is a sweet little adventure. And it creates a hunger for more to come from this wonderful duo.

Gioele Valenti

I gladly took on the opportunity to do a second interview with Gioele and Nicola, this time together. We talked about the creation of Flag Of Breeze, why it took so long to physically release it, and what the future might bring…

Hi Gioele and Nicola! How have you been since we spoke last year?
GV.
Very well, thanks. Lost in magic.
NG. I’m fine, thanks.

What is the main reason you two keep on finding each other in Lay Llamas? In
what way do you complement each other?

NG. I think Gioele is among the best vocals composer out there… and I’m so lucky that
he’s a very good friend of mine at the same time. So, basically when it’s about Lay Llamas
I provide to send him instrumental tracks on which he writes and performs vocals, and I
mean melody, harmony and lyrics. There’s a kind of chemistry, something magic.
GV. I personally think it’s a matter of vibrations. We have a very long-lived friendship as
Nicola said. I think me and Nicola work together in a very strange and special alchemic
way. I have this “pop” attitude… and Nicola has this very incredible taste in exotic things,
music, art, he has a great sense for aestethic… I think that is the main reason we find each
other.

The album is listed as Lay Llamas & Juju, what is the difference from a regular
Lay Llamas release? It’s always the two of you, right?

NG. Right. But anyway we liked to add on Juju name to underline how much strong was
his work as composer. For the rest it’s basically the same thing we did in the past… with a
different typing on the sleeve maybe.
GV. Yes, basically the same process.

Can you tell me about the conception of Flag Of Breeze? What made you start
these songs, what was your intention?

NG. We recorded these tracks during the same sessions for GOUD LP (Black Sweat
Records, 2022). But too much tracks for a single LP so we did an EP for this second
release. Nothing different about creative process: I compose and record the music, send it
to Gioele that compose and record vocals, lyrics and sometimes any overdub with guitars,
synth, etc., finally I do the mix.
GV. Yes, we had a lot of stuff coming this time.

Even more than before this album is very psychedelic, hazy, dreamy. Is there an
explanation for this? Can you tell me about the specific influences for this one?

NG. Hazy and dreamy, more than psychedelic in my opinion. As always when we meet to
make music together as Lay Llamas a kind of mind-travellers music comes out.
Other(inner)worldly music I call it!
GV. I would call these songs “lazy” rather than “hazy”. Haunted more than psychedelic.
There’s this universalistic afflatus underneath. Songs for globetrotting spirits. I like to put it
this way.

What can you tell me about the release process, I heard that some people had to
wait for a long while on their orders? Can you explain what happened? It seems that
in the mean while Juju and Lay Llamas both released another record, right?

NG. Oh man, that was a real mess! The label sent the master to the pressing plant in April
2021 and it had received the vinyls one month ago or something. The Covid delay was
huge, at the same time the label could have handled it better maybe. Mainwhile a Lay
Llamas
LP titled GOUD It was released in March 2022 by italian label Black Sweat
Records
. Anyway, here we are.
GV. Very long time. Friend, let’s take it as another “long covid symptom”.

What can you tell me about the background stories behind the lyrics? What was
your inspiration for the words this time?

NG. I wrote only one lyric; Underwater Jungle. It was strongly inspired by Jules Verne
novels.
GV.I used to read a lot of quantum physics stuff while writing the songs. The collapse of
the wave function. Of how reality is an interactive process between the observed object
and the observer. Reality, basically, does not exist. Thought is everything.

Would you say that you are “typical Sicilians”? Why/why not?
NG.
Not a simple question. As I think Sicilian people are quite complex. For example,
Sicilians often use ‘maybe’ word rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We talk using a layering language.
In this way I feel ‘typical’. But not if you consider ‘typical’ the sicilian guy with mustache and
shotgun on the back.
GV. I don’t like clichés, which immediately become a stigma. It depends on what you
mean by “typical”. If we mean a cultural trait, well, yes, then I feel I belong to a broad
culture, of great historical breadth, of great tradition. The other reflections on being
a typical Sicilian doesn’t make sense in my opinion. I’m no more typical than a
typical Englishman can be, these days.

What is the thing you look forward to most in 2023?
NG.
new music and art, still living with my dears, be a better human.
GV. Staying alive already seems like a great goal to me

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do immediately after reading this
interview?

NG. go out and take a walk, breath deeply, elevate yourself.
GV. Take care of you loved ones. You will save the entire world.

Nicola Giunta

Review + Q&A: Sound Of Smoke- Phases (2023, Tonzonen Records)

Have you ever wondered what the sound of smoke sounds like? Well you won’t find out here, but judging from the cover and the psychedelic rock oozing out of the speakers while playing Phases, Sound Of Smoke from Freiburg sure do like to smoke one themselves!

With a huge progression from their previous album, especially production wise, Phases engulfs the listener, drowning you in a purple haze. Beautiful, beautiful vocals pop up out of nowhere like sirens, drawing you in, and for three quarters of an hour you’ll be entranced.

The songs are subtle, stripped, and on point, always including enough earwurm to stick with you, but not so much as to be poppy or annoying. The band has truly found their own sound, a rare thing in female fronted psych rock, where belting divas often set the tone. Not here though. Singer Isabelle Bapté keeps you on your toes, her aura radiating more 60s beat pop than 70s larger than life rock (I am looking at you Blues Pills!). Which in my humble opinion is a very good thing, and a feature that makes them stand out from the rest.

So what does smoke sound like? I still do not know. But I do know that Phases is a perfect album to smoke one to. Just let the haze hit your eyes, and let Sound Of Smoke take care of your ears.

Interview time of course! I talked to the band, and they all pinched in for the answers. Nowadays singer Isabelle has moved away from their hometown of Freiburg to live in the big city of Berlin, but that does not hold Sound Of Smoke back…not even close!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Sound Of Smoke?

Hi! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to do this interview! We are all fine, we just had our pre-release show and we are very excited for the official release of our new album Phases. The pandemic period was very productive for us. We wrote most of our Songs in this time and in 2021 we went to the Big Snuff Studio in Berlin to record the songs for the upcoming album. Of course the pandemic had also some negative effects. There where no live shows and meeting with the band was not always easy due to all regulations. ‘Anyway we are happy this time is over and we are looking forward to play a lot of shows in 2023.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

The band was founded by Isabelle, the singer and florian (former guitar player – now Bass and synth). Florian knew the Drummer Johannes from school and he was in to jam and see whats gonna happen. As the final member, Jens joined the band and became the guitar player of Sound of Smoke. After 2 years of searching for their musical direction, the quartet released their first LP Eletheromania in 2018 and 2021 followed the LP Tales via Tonzonen.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We all have a similiar taste of music. We are all strongly influenced from the psychedlic retro bands of the 60s/70s. Also the german kraut bands like NEU, Kraan, Kraftwerk have affected the sound of the band. But the roots of the music are mainly coming from blues and boogie.

Anyway we never tried to copy anyone and we where looking for our own way of creating music and going for new directions.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

The members of the band all have jobs next to music (unfortunately). So we are mainly avarage working people… But if we talk about a free day for all the band. It probably would start with a nice brunch followed by some somke 😉 then a lot of jamming, dinner and a show at night for the perfect day with the band 🙂

What is the best thing about Phases?

Thats a hard one. The songs for the album where created in different times (Phases) of the band. Some songs existed long before corona others came to life in this time, some where written just days before the studio. So that is it what inspired us for the title Phases. The songs vary from heavy to soft to psychedlic to stoner. Blues to kraut to oriental. The best thing of the record is probably that we are finally can release it and finally have a proper LP with descent sound. Also we really love the artwork, which was done by an artist called Mirkow Gastow.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all used to live in Freiburg (south west Germany). Now Isabelle moved to Berlin but we still will continue to make music, even if its now a bit harder then before. Berlin is a paradise for creative people and any sub culture you can think of. Freiburg is compared to Berlin a pretty small and quite town. But the music scene is very active there and full of talented musicians. Of course there is room for improvements. Rehearsal rooms are pretty hard to find and most sub cultural live venues had to close down.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

King Buffalo, All Them Witches, DeWolff, Pentagram, Electric Octopus, and many many more. And all the old dudes who are still alive of course as well (Sabbath, Floyd, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane).

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Most of our songs are created from jams. We pick different parts from the jams and put it together to an arrangement. Then mostly isabelle is adding the lyrics. After that we are rehearsing the songs and change the structure.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

For this year we want to focus on the release of the LP. We plan to play some festivals in summer and maybe do a little tour later that year. We are also working on new songs but this will take time. We plan to go to the studio in 2024 and hopefully release the new record end of 2024.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Smoke a spliff and listen to our new record 😀

Thanks so much for this interview! Lots of Love to all supporters and listeners out there!

Isa, Flo, Jens, Johannes

Review + Q&A: Ambassador Hazy- The Door Between (2023, Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube Records)

Basement stoner and lo-fi music maker Sterling DeWeese is back from not going anywhere since his last Ambassador Hazy album The Traveller. On his third album The Door Between he once again explores his inner band, this time really creating an organic, living and breathing structure.

Rather than a human dude playing his instruments, DeWeese has tweaked his guitars and keys in such a way that they form a throbbing, pulsating, alien-like sound-being that is unlike anything you ever heard. It is like the sonic equivalent of when Jeff Goldblum teleported himself into a horrible pink gooey creature in The Fly, only not horrible but wonderful, and something you would actually take home to show your girlfriend.

At times rocking out full fuzz blazing, at other times more weirdly folking about, the album is a varied mixture of ideas and sounds, but with a very distinct Ambassador Hazy signature. It is with much respect and reverence I thought more than once of Eels, and Mark E. is a similar soul perhaps. It is definitely quirky and “out there”, but it also has an undeniable charm that makes you return to it time after time.

The Door Between is another chapter in the strange life of Ambassador Hazy, and it is most definitely not the last. As spectators on the side line we can hope his hazy run will last for a long time, so we can enjoy his quirks for a long time to come.

Another album, another chat! Sterling DeWeese was definitely up for it, so of course so were we! Here’s the Ambassador himself, explaining all of his doings and undoings:

How are you? How have you been since last we spoke?  

I’m very well thank you. I think like everybody it has been nice remeriging from the Covid cocoon and finally going to see a few shows again including Stereolab, Kikagaku Moyo, TBWNIS (very fun to meet them and join in for a few numbers on a recent visit to Ottawa).

What contemporary music have you recently discovered that we should know about?  

If you leaf through the record pile there aren’t too many new records but a few favorites from the last year or two are Rick White – Where It’s Fine,  Witches Broom – s/t,  Primordal Undermind – An Imaginal Abydos, Spiritualized – Everything Was Beautiful, Mouth Painter – Tropicale Moon, Stereolab – Pulse of the Early Brain.

What is the best thing about The Door Between? 

 I think it’s the best thing I’ve put out so far, so for me it’s gratifying to still be creating something relevant and that I’m actually excited about.  I hope other folks find that it strikes a chord with them too.  As always I try and keep the artifice low and the sincerity high.  

Who did the album cover, and what can you tell me about it? It seems a lot gloomier than your last record…

I actually discovered the image via Instagram, it’s by a photographer friend of mine Cary Whitter. I just saw it and loved it, and thought it would make a great cover.  And it’s seemed to fit well with the album title- sort of the mysterious veil between the mundane and spiritual.

What was your aim when composing these songs, and how is it different from last time? 

I think this record is a bit more focused, though consistent with the sort of themes I usually end up singing about, sort of being an outsider, or at least feeling outside of things and the ways one might find connection be that through drugs, music, love. It’s all pretty simple stuff, and as always I’m usually just doing most of the lyric compostion off the cuff, so whatever pops into my head I’ll try it and then just massage it a bit until it sits right with the song.  

Usually I start with the backing track and building it up in layers until there is enought of a frame to hang some lyrics on. I don’t really do narrative stuff so it’s all about the feeling and vibe. The title track, for instance, I started with the title “the door between” which was borrowed from an old detective novel I was reading at the time and then I developed the idea, basically chronicling

 taking mushrooms and opening the doors of perception if you like, so you can see the connectedness between all things while also being very aware of your own solitude.

Can you tell me how you got into contact with your record labels?  

With the first record I did reach out to various labels via email etc but I got no bites, so that’s why that one ended up as a self release. Thanks to my friend Josh Schultz (Lime Eyelid, Traveling Circle) I got that self released record into the hands of some of the “Psych Lovers” (Hi Lovers!) in particular John Westhaver (TBWNIS) who was too kind and said some nice things which caught the eye of Dave Cambridge, head honcho of Cardinal Fuzz and that’s how I ended up working with him on The Traveler and now The Door Between.  And Dave reached out to Feeding Tube who are handling the US release on this new record.  Thanks and three cheers for Dave, Byron and Ted for supporting independent artists.

What are your immediate and long term future plans? 

I think I’ll still be hanging out in the basement taking drugs to make music to take drugs to. No plans to take it on the road or anything though that would be fun it’s probably not in the cards as yet.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?  

Dear Reader – mark your calendars and standby for the record release on Jan. 27th.  I hope you enjoy it. 

Review + Q&A: Super Pink Moon- Iron Rain (2023, self-released)

Somali Yacht Club guitarist and singer Ihor Pryshliak also lives out his creativity on his own sometimes. Through Super Pink Moon he channels his inner shoegazer, while at the same time maintaining his signature sound. In a way it is an even more interesting album than last year’s Somali Yacht Club record The Sea, because you get the feeling that anything goes here.

The context of Iron Rain is the war in Ukraine. The album was written and recorded in the midst of the chaos, and you can feel the density all through the songs. The vocals are clean, sincere, and dreamy. The lyrics are heavy, and breathe war and loss with titles like Doomscrolling, Collision, and Hollowness. There is also a tiny speck of hope; because despite all the horror and despair there is the possibility of beauty and reparation, so much becomes clear.

From Hum-like bombast to My Bloody Valentine vacuumcleaner antics, Super Pink Moon sounds like a machine, sucking it all up and taking it into space. At times the heavy end prog doom of Somali Yacht Club pops up too, but never too long. Overall Iron Rain is a strong and consistent album that will appeal to heavy mood heads anywhere in the world.

How are you? How has the past year been for you as a musician, especially considering the Russian invasion and the war?
It was rough. Probably the most challenging year of my life. Music was/is a way to escape from a harsh reality.

Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Ihor 🙂 I love music, dogs, and coding.

What can you tell me about your musical background?
I started playing guitar when I was 16. The first song I learned to play was Nothing else matters 

🙂

 I remember the first time I asked to “test” the distortion pedal in a music store the first thing I played was Nothing Else Matters and it sounded absolutely terrible. Everyone looked at me like pleeease stop it, no no. And I was having the greatest moment in my life lol.

What does a regular day in your life look like?
8am wake up, 9am crossfit or walking in the woods with my dog, 10:30 work, 2pm eat, 3pm work, 7pm music/rehearsals/gaming/chilling pretty every day 🙂 Yeah, I’m a boring software developer/musician.

What is the best thing about Iron Rain?
It’s interesting. You can listen to it several times and find something interesting to you each time. It was designed as a Castlevania-like game or like Elden Ring 🙂 You’re free to roam wherever you want to, but you’re also always welcome to come back and try to go deeper.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
I guess the biggest challenge is the underdeveloped local music industry. If you play anything harder than hard rock -> you are the underground. Here, it’s a big difference between popular artists and good underground artists who are actually pretty famous abroad. Another challenge is money. My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a guitar or hire a teacher till the moment I got my first scholarship. So yes, I’d say it’s challenging, but not impossible.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
Initially, it was an artistic expression because I needed to do something with this energy. Now it’s a form of escapism. When I do music I’m in a flow, it’s like a mediation. It means that for a couple of hours a day I can forget about all bullshit going around me and that’s a blessing. I wish everyone could develop such a skill to ignore the outside. Good for your mental health.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Oh, it’s different each time. You just sit and play with sound, rhythm, lyrics, riff, whatever is interesting to you at that moment. It’s like a sandbox or Minecraft if you like. Music is pure magic, so it’s always interesting for me to play with it.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
The future plan is pretty straightforward – survive. Immediate -> release IRON RAIN, start another record, and keep going till the moment I get bored.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Go over here and donate to Ukraine -> https://war.ukraine.ua/donate/

Review + Q&A: The Psychotic Monks- Pink Colour Surgery (2023, Fat Cat Records)

Writing about The Psychotic Monks with a headache. It fits the mood. On Pink Colour Surgery even more than before the band shows off their eerie quality to crawl deep under your skin and rattle your bones. Electronic beats like drills, shattering pots and pans, urban field recordings, the French postpunkers use it all to paint their drab picture of life as they know it.

Like my throbbing headache, it refuses to back down, until it finally drives away its stubborn point; there is no escape. You need to let go and give yourself up to the bleakness. White walls, grey streets, zombified youths robotically dancing in the alleys. Sweat and energy and movement, but no joy. We have come to an understanding. The future is grim, so we dance, and move our bodies, we are beaten by the drums, by the inevitability of defeat.

At various points on Pink Colour Surgery the band lets their blackened crust crack, and light drips in. A song like Imagerie is a good example of this. Decors is another one. Even when you hear the world around it crumbling to dust on the background the songs have beauty and hope, whether they are in vain or not. On goes the beat again though, throb, throb, throb. The Psychotic Monks plod on, they smile sad smiles and rip open another can of melancholic soundscapes and cling-clanging stomps.

Does this review have a happy ending? My headache will subside. Pink Colour Surgery shows the beauty of decay. We will fade and our current world will crumble, but humans can make songs about it that last forever.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for The Psychotic Monks?

We’re fine thanks, and you? A lot of work since the pandemic, music helps to get though the week since then. We had a great year in 2019 with a lot of shows, when everything stopped it actually felt good but the pandemic period wasn’t easy, we had a lot of perspective on what we were doing since 2015, ideas and fears for the future. We managed to keep on jaming, playing our instruments, discovering new instruments, catharsis thanks to the music. We agreed on planning our 3rd album, composed with all the material we recorded since the lockdown ect. We had at least one or two shows every months since 2015, when everything stopped we filled that blank with jams sessions and a lot of rehearsals..

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

Artie : Guitars/vocals // Martin : Guitars/vocals // Clem : Drums/vocals/synths // Paul : bass/synths/vocals/trumpet . Clem arrived in Paris almost 10 years ago , he met Artie and Martin in a music school , then I (Paul) joined the band in 2015 and we recorded our first album, went on our first tours in France..!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

There were some music schools in our musical background, nothing crazy, just enough to learn musical technical stuff, we discovered a lot on tour actually x). // Musical background could mean « references »  (2015-2018) : BRMC, BJM, QOTSA, RATM, POND, Pink Floyd, Ty Segall.. // (2018-2020) : Slint, Nick Cave (w/ The Birthday Party), Aldous Harding, Gilla Band, Shame, Swans, Shanon Wright… // (2020-) : Throbbing Gristle (w/ Genesis POrridge), Giant Swan, Talking Heads, BCNR, This Heat, Clara Rockmore, Sophie, Sega Bodega

What does a regular day in your life look like?

We rehearse at Mains D’Oeuvres in Saint-Ouen, close to Paris. We go there, we chat, we play some music, play again because it is not good enough yet and then we go back to our own lives, or we stay together to hang out in someone’s apartment.

What is the best thing about the new album?

The best thing about the new album is that it was produced by Daniel Fox (Gilla Band-ed). Cheers man!

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live in Lille (north of France) the rest of the band live in Paris. It is a great environment, we’re able to see a lot of artists performing around, it is very inspiring. Lille is more quieter which is fine to me, I can get easily to Bruxelles or Paris for a gig or something. There are also a lot of bands.artists to meet around, and Mains D’Oeuvres which hold our rehearsal room, also have a kind of theater, expositions room, dancing classes… we met a lot of people there , ❤ on them.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Mine would be Injury Reserve, By the time I get to Phoenix moved me a lot recently.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

We are lucky to have the right stuff in our studio to be able to record multi-track. So when we jam we can easily isolate one person’s part and rework on it, make it musical with another with some perspective.. Almost all songs of our upcoming album come from jams with the 4 of us during the pandemic. Then we rework and compose a structure with the parts from the jams, trying to find the balance. It ends often with a ≥ 6min songs lol.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

This december we go on 4 gigs in France and then we’re gonna work on a soundtrack for a short movie about a young vampire. I think that might be a lot of fun ! Our album is release in February, we will start our tour in march and hopefully we will travel a lot , and in the UK during the year to share it live and loud ! Miss the UK !

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Get to know us ! We just released a live session of a new track, come to watch it, tell us if you liked the energy! Cheers

Photo Credit: Benedicte Dacquin

Review + Q&A: Eyes- Congratulations (2023, Indisciplinarian/Nefarious Industries)

I am pretty sure EYES is secretly sponsored by IKEA or their Danish counterparts. Because every time I put on Congratulations I can’t help but flail my limbs uncontrollably knocking over everything in my room and thoroughly trashing everything within a thee meter radius. It is safe to say my wife has yet another reason to hate my taste in music.

EYES jumped on the scene in 2020 with their debut album Underperformer, which stood out by being extremely demented and crude in their aggressiveness. EYES choose sledge hammer over knives to do their shredding, so much is clear. On Congratulations however, they sound a tad more polished, a teensy bit more in control, and a whole lot more technical in their approach. Don’t be afraid though, it is still a steamroller driving through your kitchen when you spin it.

References can be found in fellow Scandinavians Une Misere (metallic aggression), American noisecore heavyweights Converge (the feral ferocity), and the steamroller hardcore of Trap Them. All in all, enough combustable nitros to fire up a venue in no time. Or your room, again.

I was happy to be able to chat with Ramus Furbo who plays guitar in EYES. I wanted to ask him for compensation for my furniture, but then I though better of it and decided to just fully support their madness. After all, Congratulations rules.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Eyes?

Doing pretty good here, thanks. Getting ready for the release of our next album and all that comes with it, which is awesome. 

We released our album Underperformer during the pandemic and couldn’t do the release that we planned and hoped for, so that sucked big time! But we were still lucky enough to play a handful of Danish shows but with a seated and limited audience. It wasn’t what we hoped for post-release, but we took what we could get. 

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

We are five guys that all live in Copenhagen: Simon (drums), Kenn (bass), Victor (vocals), Søren (guitar), and myself, Rasmus (guitar).

Long story short; some of us have known each other since childhood, but most of us met through a former band we all played in. We all quit that band but still wanted to make music together, and that’s where EYES started to become a thing.

We made a couple of instrumental songs but needed a singer. Randomly I attended a show at the venue Bumzen in Copenhagen and met Victor. I knew him a bit from the scene but not much. He seemed like a badass dude, so I asked if he wanted to do vocals in our new band. Luckily he agreed and we made the first EP.

At that time we were only one guitarist, but later asked Søren, who I’ve known since childhood, to join as second guitarist… That’s basically how we started.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I have played music since I was about 10 years old. Got my first guitar from my aunt and have been playing ever since. I found out pretty early in my life that playing music was a great way to direct my energy and feelings into something creative and meaningful.

I made a band with my brother on drums and Søren on guitar as well – I think I was about 14-15 at the time. We played kind of shitty rock but we had fun and played some shows here and there. In my early 20’s I joined the band Hexis and got to know a lot of the people involved in the DIY hardcore scene in Denmark. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Make poop, make job, make hardcore, make family. 

What is the best thing about Congratulations?

From a guitarist’s point of view it is of course the banger guitar riffs.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We live in Copenhagen. The environment for us here is pretty good I would say. There’s a lot of great venues all over Copenhagen and always a lot of great bands playing, both small and big. This contributes to a lively cultural life and makes it fairly easy for bands to book shows in the area. In terms of the hardcore/metal scene here, it seems to be thriving and people are supportive of each other and always helpful.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Bands like Pissed Jeans, Metz, Converge, HIRAKI, Full of Hell, Cursed, Every Time I Die, Dillinger Escape Plan and so on… These are just a small portion of bands that have meant a lot for us as a band and are a great inspiration. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Almost all the songs are composed in our rehearsal space. It usually starts with a guitar riff and from there the rest is added. The writing process for us can be a bit slow since we take a lot of time to try out all ideas and structures for the songs. We are a very democratic band and all ideas are therefore welcome and will be tried out before ditching them. In the studio we do multitrack recordings. This way has always been the most meaningful for us. We usually record guitar tracks for all the songs before entering the studio for our drummer to listen to when tracking. The running order in the studio has usually been drums, guitars, bass, and vocals last.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Immediate plans are playing a release show in Copenhagen and hopefully a bunch of other shows to celebrate the release. We are also doing one more video for a song from Congratulations that will be shot soon. And hopefully a bunch of summer festival gigs would be banger.

Long term plans are more albums and go play shows where we have never been with EYES before. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

I encourage the readers to check us out RIGHT NOW – and after that go look up bands from the Danish HC/metal/punk scene. A bunch of great stuff, both old and new. And also be chill and nice to others.

Review + Q&A: Atsuko Chiba- Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing (2023, Mothland)

It’s hard not to drop The Mars Volta as a reference when listening to Montreal, Canada’s Neo prog outfit Atsuko Chiba. It’s not that they sound so much alike, but they have similar left field technical chops, a same genuine strangeness and forward thinking spirit. Yet they are not a carbon copy, far from it. Atsuko Chiba mines more genres for their unique blend of progressive rock.

For instance, you can tell these guys are big Rush fans, but they are into more subdued post rock as well, creating beautiful gigantic soundscapes and welding them together with more violent passages. But there is a more oppressive side to the band as well, an angularity that links them to a band like Japanese prog postponers Bo Ningen, or their label mates Yoo Doo Right.

But enough with the name dropping. Atsuku Chiba deserves to be mentioned in their own right. With Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing they have created a powerful statement of eclecticism. It is an album that, like water, has many shapes and forms, yet always flows. It can be awesome and majestic, and harsh and incomprehensible, but it remains at all time recognisable.

It will also take some patience from the listener to fully grasp what is going on here, because when you think you get it, Atsuko Chiba will have darted around the corner to creep up on you the next moment. A very exciting album therefore, and one of this year’s first really great features.

How are you? How has the past year been for you as musicians?

We’re all doing well! Spent the last year quietly finishing our newest album “Water, It Feels Like It’s growing”. Given the state of things in the last few years, it took us a little longer than anticipated to finish up this record. But we pushed through it and it gave us a lot of time to explore and experiment with our writing process. It definitely feels good to be back in the grind of things. We recently started playing shows again, opening for King Buffalo on their recent Canadian dates. And we’ve got a pretty busy year ahead of us. We’re all quite excited to get back on the road and play a bunch of new songs for people.

Can you introduce yourselves?
Anthony Piazza: Drums, Projections
David Palumbo: Bass, Vocals
Eric Schafhauser: Guitar, Keyboards
Karim Lakhdar: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Kevin McDonald: Guitar, Keyboards



What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
We all grew up in the east-end of Montreal playing music together in different bands since the early 2000s. About 10 years ago, we finally decided to all come together and start something new. We wanted to create a band where there were no rules, and we had the freedom to explore any idea we wanted to. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?
A regular day for the five of us involves each of us holding a day Job. We routinely meet at our studio, at least three nights per week, around 7:30 pm and jam until midnight. I think it’s fair to say that our weekly meetups are somewhat “sacred”.  During that time we are either rehearsing, writing, or recording. 

Atsuko Chiba



What is the best thing about Water, It Feels Like It’s Growing?
Well that is a difficult question to answer. But a few things standout about this record that we’ve never done before. The first thing that comes to mind is writing for a professional string quartet. We got the string section arranged and recorded at planet studio here in Montreal. When looking back on the writing process and the recording of this album… I think we found a nice balance in the writing process and we all felt very comfortable and relaxed throughout and I think people will be able to hear that in the music. The world around us felt like it was falling apart but our time together, slowly writing and recording through all of it, served as a bit of a sanctuary. We would spend our time doing long distance bike rides to the studio and then spend nights honing all this new music and hanging out as friends. So on a personal note, this album will always represent a feeling of comfort and a sort of “safe haven”. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
Montreal is a very unique city. The music scene is very diverse and vibrant, and people are generally very open and excited to support music and art that lives outside of the mainstream. Bands are really able to be themselves and explore ideas freely and at the same time have a support system that encourages them in this endeavour. Being involved with Mothland (our label) has been a blessing, because they have opened up many doors for us and allowed us to grow outside of our own expectations. 

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
I guess you can say it’s a mixture of all these things. But I’m not sure there is a specific aim for the outcome of our music. The creative process is really the most important thing. I think on a really basic level the point is to communicate and connect with each other through the language of music and art. Sometimes that looks more like musical conversation wrapped up in time signatures, harmony, our individual tastes and other times it could be the result of our lives being filtered through the process of making music or jamming together. At times we have something to say and we want to say it with our music and other times we just want to feel and so we make music. Put simply, I think our lives feel enriched by the act of making music together and we always hope to enrich others with our music the way so many artists have done for each of us. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?
Every song we write has a different approach. Early in the pandemic, Montreal was forced to lockdown and we were under  a pretty strict curfew so a few ideas got started remotely. We would pass around demos and sketches and elaborate on each other’s ideas. In the past if we worked from someone’s demo or sketch we would all come together in the studio and work through the ideas in person. But due to the restrictions we found a new way of doing things. We were all setup with Ableton live and we would send each other ideas to look at. The results were always really interesting because when we were able to start jamming again we sometimes had two or three variations on the same song. And the songs written that way further evolved once we got to playing them together. Another major difference in the overall writing process for this record is that we were writing and recording at the same time. In the past we would rehearse a group of songs and then block out the time we needed to record them all. But this time around we were able to work one song at a time. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
Our main priority right now is to release our album, which is set for release on January 20th. Immediately following that, we have a couple of shows around Quebec and Ontario, followed by a 2 week tour of the US. We also began writing new material, so we will continue on that as well. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Drink plenty of water. think of something you are grateful for. Tell the people you love that you love them…  if you are interested in what our band is up to, head over to our Facebook page or instagram for all upcoming news, and check us out on all the streaming platforms, including Bandcamp! 🙂

Review + Q&A: Buddha Sentenza- High Tech Low Life (2023, Pink Tank Records)

Buddha Sentenza does not play it hard to get on their new album High Tech Low Life. From the the get go album opener Oars puts it all out there, everything that makes this band so freaking awesome in nine glorious minutes. The Heidelberg, German instrumental band consists of five individuals, each wearing their distinct influences on their sleeves. On Oars you can hear it in an energetic culmination of heavy metal, prog rock, punk, space rock, and soundtrack atmospheres. It is in-your-face-heavy, virtuoso, but has its subtle moments as well where guitarist B.B. Blacksheep shines on violin.

video for Ricochet

There is a strong sense of joy emanating from the album. A more commercial band might opt for a more uniform sound perhaps, but you can hear these guys are bored easily. Not a minute is the same, and the songs gallop in all kinds of different directions from double bass drum trigger happy to epic fantasy movie soundscapes. Buddha Sentenza does what they want, and they sound thrilled doing it.

By being stubborn and sticking to their own values they have created a thing of their own that is hard to relate to anything else going on at the moment. I will give it a shot. Within the instrumental rock/metal spectrum they might be closer to a band like Long Distance Calling then to many of the more improvisational jam bands out there, but there are some Farflung-related space rock parts as well (synthesizers from outer space). They are not quite as technical as Animals As Leaders (they definitely don’t “djent” -thank buddha-), but they make up plenty by being adventurous and original. Ultimately though, Buddha Sentenza is their own beast. High Tech Low Life is a unique album of five gifted musicians doing what they love, and doing it right.

I talked to drummer Tom “Jesus Malverde” of the band about their new album, the place they are from, and contemporary influences. If anything, he definitely is as passionate about music as he sounds like drumming.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Buddha Sentenza?

The conditions for small underground acts and event organizers were already tough before the pandemic. This situation became even worse, but we don’t want to complain, we still keep on doing what we love.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

We met as students at the University of Heidelberg who enjoyed playing as a jam project together, just directly what came in our minds. Time after time we began to develop more complex song structures, but still integrate jam parts till this day.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We have different musical backgrounds. I played in a punk band before, the guitar players are more into metal, the bassist played garage/indy rock and the keyboarder is a prog head.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I work mainly as a drum teacher in a music school, but beside that I also run a small screenprint business and organize underground shows.

What is the best thing about High Tech, Low Life (and what does the title mean)?

The title is an hommage to an old friend of us called Ombo. He was a homeless man who lived a while in our rehearsal complex. He was a connoisseur of the art of living, a bohemian and a hedonist. He was the perfect example of a man living in a modern world but really reflected his needs and was satisfied with the little property he got and showed us that you don‘t need much to be happy.He was also an artist, who used everyday garbage to create partial complex art. That impressed us.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We live in Heidelberg, Germany, but originally I came from a small village where you had no options to do music and art and stuff. So we where forced to create our own entertainment by going in the fields with an generator and played from the back of a tractor trailer. We‘re used to create our own creative environment. We like the idea that you don‘t just consume culture. Create culture yourself and live the D.I.Y. spirit. If the environment doesn‘t fit your needs, start getting active yourself.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Mhhh, I‘m not the hyping type of guy and no fan of big names. I prefer people doing their stuff without any intentions of getting rich and famous. So I would recommend the underrated artists. To drop some Names however: Oma Hans, Nekropsi, Clutchy Hopkins, Dakh Daughters, Neptunian Maximalism, The Budos Band, Dead Quiet, Daniel Higgs, Matt Eliott.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Sometimes we just start jamming and arrange the occured parts we like the most. Sometimes one of the guitar players develop a basic structure and then we add instrument after instrument to it until all of us played a part. It‘s quite grass roots democracy based.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Playing Shows, releasing more music, meeting interessting people, having a good time.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

In general support your local underground, visit shows, buy some merch or start beeing creative yourself. In particular visit our bandcamp Site or check out some Videos on Youtube we did and maybe leave a comment.

Review + Q&A: Morrison Graves- Division Rising (2022, Self-released)

It’s the most depressing time of the year. Next week it will be blue Monday, the day the most people in this world feel down and out. It is the perfect setting for Morrison Graves‘ gloomy doom rock. On their debut Division Rising they perfectly channel early dark post punk like Echo and the Bunnymen, modern psychedelic rock like The Black Angels, and early psychedelica like The Doors (what’s in a name?). The album is a concept studio effort challenging the topic of gentrification and the woes of modern capitalism. That may all sound heavy and without any fun, but luckily these guys write some killer songs.

The best example is probably Demolition Man, a subdued rocker that rings a bit like The Black Angels’ Currency but bleaker and with a delightful gothic undertone that would also appeal to fans of Woven Hand or Roadburn darlings Grave Pleasures. Another favorite is the atmospheric A Puppet Dance, with a chorus that will haunt you in your sleep for many nights…

It is quite unbelievable that Morrison Graves was conceived as a studio only project, with no intentions of hitting the stage any time soon because the album is a living, breathing thing. An album that projects images of smokey basement stages and shoegazed dancing by black clad audiences. It is definitely a perfect album for these unjoyous times after the holidays, but I am delighted that they released it so the feeling becomes a shared experience, and one with a perfect soundtrack.

I wrote this Portland, Oregon threesome without any expectations or premeditation. I just liked their music. To my surprise they insisted to all collaborate on the interview, and it became a cool joint effort, shedding some light on all three their perspectives. So without further ado, here’s Gary Jimmerson, Ryan Brown, and Rob Bartleson about their studio project Morrison Graves

How are you? How has the past year(s) been for you as musicians?

Gary: I’m good, thanks for asking. The past couple of years have been rewarding, despite the isolation. I’ve been learning to play guitar (historically I’m a drummer), and focusing on songwriting. I’ve always wanted to release music on vinyl, so I was fortunate enough to rope Rob and Ryan into this project to make that happen. It’s a milestone for me to say the least.

Rob:  Unfortunately, working in music every day does not allow me to do my own creative things as often as I’d like.  Doing Morrison Graves with Gary has been a very welcome break from the day to day, and I’m very proud of how it turned out.

Ryan:  I’m doing really well. Currently, I’m working with a couple of different musicians on an industrial project (on top of working hard with Gary and Rob putting this album together), so this year has been incredibly fruitful musically.  I know that the pandemic period was very hard for many, but for me they were the most productive musical years I have experienced.  I lost my job 3 different times, so I spent all of that time making music holed up in my house.

Can you introduce yourselves?

Gary (multi-instrumentalist): I’m the founder of the project. I’ve been entrenched in the sounds of “psych rock” for the past several years, and decided I needed to make a similarly-themed album. I now live about 90 miles outside of Portland, Oregon, which is home to an incredible music scene, and most of my friends. Inspired by small-town boredom, I started demoing songs in my home, while shamelessly soliciting help to make the songs better. Rob is a close friend of about 20 years now, and is an incredible studio engineer and bass player. I knew right away that he would be an integral part of the project. Ryan is my best friend from high school, and has a powerful voice that I knew would be perfect for these songs. Miraculously, they both agreed to help out.

Rob (bass + engineer): I’ve been the owner of Haywire recording for over 2 decades now and have worked in music my entire life.  I’ve also toured extensively as a bass player, and that is how I met Gary, at a show in Montana in March of 2000.

Ryan (vocals):  I have been involved in music most of my life as well, in many different veins. I recently moved back to Portland after a six year hiatus with the intent of actualizing my dream of being in a band.  The last place that I lived was amazingly beautiful, but the music scene there was lacking in many respects.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Gary: I am a self-taught musician. I started playing drums in middle school, jamming to The Cure and Nirvana. In high school, I played mostly in Dischord-influenced punk bands. In the early 2000s, I played drums in an instrumental post-rock band from Missoula, MT called This is a Process of a Still Life. In the mid-2000s, I played drums/vibes/keys in an electronic influenced indie band from Portland, OR called Small Sails. Those years were all about jumping in a van with your pals and criss-crossing the US. I then took a hiatus from music through most of the 2010s to establish a career as an ER veterinarian. It was really hard to play drums in apartments, and I didn’t really have the mental time/strength to play. But once I graduated from school, it wasn’t long until I was back at it.

Rob:  I started off in 3rd grade as a jazz musician playing alto saxophone.  When I was 16, one of my best friends (David Devery) needed a bass player so I talked my mom into buying me a bass. David & I went on to form Slackjaw, along with Joey Prude & Eric Schopmeyer, who are both guests on the Morrison Graves album.  Slackjaw went on to record 6 albums, and extensively tour the United States, playing over 400 shows.  I also have toured and recorded with the bands The Exhale and Southerly.

Ryan:  I started studying classical piano in the 4th grade, and started singing in choirs in middle school.  My high school choir teacher was one of the most influential people in my life, so I decided to get my undergraduate degree in music education — so I could follow in her footsteps.  That pushed me to continue studying classical piano and classical singing throughout university, and I taught myself to play guitar and bass over those years, too.  Not having any musicians to really work with over the pandemic, I sat down in front of a drum kit for the first time and taught myself some elementary drums, to have something to record and write on top of.  Playing drums feels amazing… even when you suck at it!!  I also spent those isolated years deep diving into production by watching mastering engineers divulge their depth of knowledge in Youtube videos.  It’s amazing how much one can progress by themselves, both in playing and knowledge, by studying online.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Gary: My life is fucking great right now. I walk our dog for about 1.5hr while listening to music on my headphones. Eventually, I’ll cook up some bad-ass food with a beer in hand, and watch the day fold into night with my wonderful partner. Often we listen to the rain on our Oregon rooftop, or spin a record, as the day comes to a close. There are many dog belly rubs involved! I feel very fortunate to have that roof over my head, warm food on the table, and the bandwidth to have a luxury like music in my life. I work as an ER veterinarian which requires long shifts and a lot of weekends/nights, so most of my creative time is done on days off when my partner is at work. I don’t envy anyone who lives with a drummer/blossoming guitarist! I get a lot of days off, which is rad. Oregon is rad.

Rob:  Although I have my misgivings in life, I’m proud to say that most days in my life I do not have to get up before noon!  I work in rock & roll, so that’s the goal right?  Days off don’t exist for me because there is so much crazy shit going on in my life. At some point, I’d like to work on that and simplify it, but for now that is my reality.

Ryan:  I work as few days a week as I can (as a server), making just enough money to squeeze by so that I can make as much music as I can on my days off.  

What is the best thing about Division Rising?

Gary: I particularly love the subject matter of the album. Division Rising is a concept album about homelessness, gentrification, displacement, and socio-economic gaps. All very timely problems. Even the band and album names are based on this subject matter. Division Street (PDX) keeps going skyward, while class divisions rise. Morrison/Belmont (and other streets) are turning into condo graves. Our cities are on fire.

Rob: I’m going to completely agree with Gary on the subject matter. The album didn’t start out with that as a goal, but I’m glad it went in that direction.  Also as an engineer, I’m very happy with how experimental we were able to be with all of the sounds, especially the drum sounds. Gary: oh my, the Studer tape compression on Bent Beyond the Break is so good!

Ryan:  Finally finishing something. Anything!!  Lol!  My computer is filled with unfinished tracks….tons of them!  AND working with your best friend.  Gary was my closest person in high school, and we’ve worked on music together in many different configurations over the years.  So getting to come back together once again, after a long time away from one another, to create something of this scope was incredibly special.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

Gary: Rob and Ryan will have better responses for you. I live in Corvallis, OR – a small university town with a pretty vacant music scene. Thankfully, there is a small punk collective here, but not much outside that. A few dad bands, some singer-songwriters, cover bands, etc, typical small town stuff. Portland, Oregon speaks for itself.

Rob: Portland, OR.  Where else is there in the US? We have this locked down in Portland.  The average artist’s grip on P-town may be experiencing some hardships, but right now, we’re still doing amazingly well compared to the rest of the US.  The rest of the world?  Well, we can have a different conversation about that.

Ryan:  Like I mentioned before I just moved back to Portland, OR. I moved back specifically for the music scene here. It does not disappoint in that respect. This city is brimming with artistic creativity of all types. It feels raw here. Unhinged.  Feral.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

Gary: Morrison Graves was started as an avenue to make studio albums with friends, with a focus on sound design and studio techniques. Rob is a wizard at that stuff. Then release it on vinyl! I’ve learned over the last few years that music is an integral fabric of my existence, so it appears that I will always need an outlet.

Rob: I definitely like the sound of complete artistic expression.  Gary has pushed me creatively into an area that was new, and I feel like the result of it was pretty damn cool.

Ryan:  For me, music making is about personal exploration and growth.  Having grown up submerged in classical training, I have such an incredible foundation of technique, which has served me in so many different ways. But it also was my biggest hindrance — in that it’s so structured and formulaic.  The first time I started genuinely loving music was when I started writing my own songs, but I ran into many barriers with it because of all of that training. It really got in the way of having my own voice and expression. That’s what happens when you spend so much time learning the “proper” and “correct” way to do this and that. I have spent much of the past years breaking down those structures to find myself musically.   It’s been incredibly rewarding, and also very challenging, finding myself in it all.  It’s a continual work in progress.

Who are your influences, all time and contemporary? 

Gary: I absolutely love the garage/psych/fuzz rock from the late 60s. Some classic favorites are: The Seeds, The Eyes, Les Problemes, The Litter, The Blues Magoos, Electric Banana (Pretty Things secret project), Syd Barrett, and Billy Nicholls. Some contemporary influences are: Temples, Black Angels, Night Beats, Babe Rainbow, The Mystery Lights, Levitation Room, The Lazy Eyes, Wine Lips, etc. Radiohead and Blonde Redhead are all-time favorites for me. We recently had a vinyl release party where Joey Prude spun some pretty awesome wax. That list is below if you’re interested.

Rob:  Lately I’ve been getting into bands like Black Angels, and Crumb. Always been into old school psych like Syd Barrett & Pink Floyd. Some of my all time favorite bands are The Cure, Blonde Redhead, Afghan Whigs & the Replacements. I’ve always had somewhat of an obsession with Icelandic bands like Kaelan Mikla, Sigur Ros, & Bjork. I’ll also give a shout out to my favorite (and the best) Portland band ever, (as an influence for my distorted bass sounds):  Thirty Ought Six.

Ryan:  I grew up listening to my dad’s records. The Beatles were the first band I fell in love with, along with Led Zeppelin and Cat Stevens.  The Beatles always blew my mind because of the scope of their writing abilities and their exploration and evolution as musicians over the years.  Radiohead was also a band that blew my mind for a very same reason.  I also feel such a pull towards The Beatles and Radiohead because their music is so rich sonically.  One of my favorite composers to play growing up was Debussy – I loved his concept of tone painting where tone was like paint on a canvas that conveyed meaning and emotion through the imagery that it evoked.  Those two bands really excel at that, which is very difficult to do. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Gary: I have about 8 demos started for the second record. Ryan is coming down soon to start messing around with vocal ideas. I have a lot of drum parts to write! Hopefully we can start recording those songs sometime later this year. We are also in discussions about whether or not to try this thing out as a live show. I have no idea what we will settle on for that. I also want to start a garage rock recording project. 

Rob:  We have many requests coming in to make this a live band too, and I’d be up for it, but we’d have to figure out one other person to make it happen of course. 

Ryan:  Be in a rock’n’roll band.  Stay in that band!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Gary: Go walk your dog, scratch your cat’s ears, and/or cook someone dinner. And listen to some of those late 60’s songs/bands you are unfamiliar with. Obviously The Doors, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin were smashing out worthwhile classics, but that era is deep with incredible music.

Rob:  Let’s all try to do the best we can to help solve the issues brought up by the lyrical material in this album. It won’t be easy, but change is always anything but that.

Ryan:  Pursue your dreams.  Enjoy your life.  Because it seems to pass by quicker and quicker as the time goes on.