Review + Q&A: Korb- III (2022, Dreamlord Recordings)

Sometimes the less you know about a subject, the more interesting fantasizing about it becomes. Take space travel for instance In the 1970s and 1980s. Even before space telescopes started mapping our milky way (animated) movies about space travel showed us wild and foreign habitats like Le Planete Sauvage (1973). Korb knows about this, and plays with this notion when they vibe on space with their instruments. The video for Ritual For The Gods for instance consists of images from the French series Maitre du Temps from 1982. Korb take this naive and free flowing fantasy about space travel and go with it, weaving their 70s oriented electronics in the finest tradition of oldschool kraut rockers Can, Neu! and Cluster while maintaining a fresh outlook. Welcome to the third chapter of Korb, in which nostalgia and modern creativity fight for the upper hand creating an exciting modern carpet of instrumental psychedelic music.

It’s music to clear your mind to, letting everything go and just flow with it. You might encounter strange planets and exotic civilizations, you might not leave the confines of your home or even your head. It does not matter, Korb has got your soundtrack for spacing out covered. For the third time around, let’s take a trip…

I talked to Jonathan Parkes and Alec Wood about being in Korb and maintaining their record label Dreamlord Recordings. Here’s what the duo came up with….

How have you been guys? Can you tell me about the period between the previous record and the new one?

We’ve been busy. Since Korb II we’ve had various releases – a split 10″ with Kombynat Robotron on Weird Beard, a 7″ on Woodford Halse, Korb and Arboria tracks on Undulating Waters 6 & 7 on Woodford Halse, Arboria II on Dreamlord Recordings and Up In Her Room and most recently our album From the Mountains to the Oceans a collaborative project with El Hombre El Agua, another joint release between Dreamlord Recordings and Up In Her Room.

Can you tell me about the start of Korb? How did you find each other and decide on the sound?

We’ve been working together for over 20 years. We started out in a jazz quartet and having bonded over our love of Krautrock we started work on what would later become Korb.

Krautrock is very important to you guys, right? What could you recommend as the best (classic) albums to start with the “genre”? 

Some of our favorite Krautrock bands are Can, Faust, Neu!, Amon Duul II, Ash Ra Temple, Kraftwerk.

How do Korb songs come into existence generally? Is there a lot of spontaneous jamming or is everything more composed?

The tracks start spontaneously and are developed over a period of time.

Where do you guys live and would you say your environment plays a role in the music that you make?

We live in the UK but we don’t think that Korb has a ‘ British ‘ sound, We’re part of an international psych scene, our other project Arboria probably has a more distinctly rural British sound.

Korb’s music is -mostly- instrumental right? Did you ever experiment with vocals? Would there be a vocalist you’d make an exception for if he/she was available to work with?

All of Korb’s releases have been instrumental so far, but that doesn’t mean wouldn’t be up for working with a vocalist in the future. We worked with vocalist/songwriter Shane Horgan on the Wolfen album.

Do you listen to a lot of contemporary music? What are some names you’d recommend diving into at the moment?

We listen to a lot of releases on contemporary independent British labels such as Weird Beard, Up In Her Room, Woodford Halse, Library of the Occult, Drone Rock Records, Buried Treasure Records, Fruits de Mer Records and Feral Child Records.

The artwork is pretty amazing! Who made it and how does it relate to the music?

The artwork for Korb III was created by Russ Brown [ https://www.instagram.com/mrrussbrown/ ] and coloured by Dom Keen of Studio Kosmische. We asked Russ and this is what he said – ” Essentially it’s how I visually picture the music you create, I get myself into the zone by listening to your previous work and inspiration comes from ancient civilizations and 70s sci fi book covers “

What are your immediate future goals, and what is “the dream”?

For Dreamlord Recordings‘ tenth release we have a special double album with 24 tracks featuring rare and unreleased tracks that will particularly interest Korb fans, which we’re co – releasing with Fruits de Mer. The first Dreamlord Recordings release ‘ Mutante ‘ DR-01 is getting it’s first vinyl release on Up In Her Room Records soon. We are always working on new material. Currently we are working on various projects including Arboria III, Mutante III, Korb IV and The Hologram People.

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

Go and check out the Dreamlord Recordings bandcamp page – https://dreamlordrecordings.bandcamp.com/

V.A.- International Space Station Vol. 1 (2022, Worst Bassist Records)

art by Lulu Neudeck

Space; is has always attracted and fascinated heavy psychedelic musicians. Ever since Hawkwind coined the term space rock, you could easily visualize why this type of music would associate with the deep dark outer limits. It represent weightlessness, endless travel, and a sense of being infinitely small in the gigantic body of the galaxy. And yet space poses a strange paradox to heavy psychedelic rock as well. For in space there can be only silence, and that is what these bands are anything but.

Take Nashville, USA’s trio ElonMusk for example. They are the opener on this Worst Bassist Records International Space Station compilation. With their instrumental psych rock jam Gods Of The Swamp Planet they paint pictures of serenely floating in space, regarding the Earth from great heights, and feeling completely and blissfully insignificant. The twenty-something minute track is a great opener of this album as it takes its good time slowly unfolding into a full blast before dying out again like a falling star…

ElonMusk

Germany’s renowned space rock power house Electric Moon is next, with a recording that still features the since departed Sula Bassana on guitar. They don’t spend any time lingering around the bush on Duality, but in stead kick off full fuzz force and deeply heavy. You can almost see the planets grinding into another while the bass relentlessly circles and the guitars flicker and howl. Tribal drums appear from the deep, and push the cacophony to even greater heights, ever pushing and pushing until a great crescendo and big comedown halfway. What is next is a piece of sheer beauty, as if all the previously unleashed violence has lead to some sort of thoughtful realization. It is pure peace, a revelation of the beauty of outer and inner space.

Electric Moon

And then it’s time for Swedish instrumental magicians Kungens Män, who offer the brooding Keeper Of The One Key. In its whopping 23 minutes the track shows all the beauty that can be found in the power of repetition. Carefully and meticulously like craftsmen bricklayers Kungens Män adds variation upon variation while they build their gigantic space ship on which they sail us through the sonic boom and far beyond. It feels just great to be in the presence of these master jammers for such a great stretch and be taken on their journey as they completely let go of time and space and just are in the moment for as long as a vinyl record side can last. Wonderful stuff.

Kungens Män

Finally there is the grand finale from Norway’s Kanaan. Their contribution is aptly named Beyond, and it takes its time to fully display what this powerful instrumental trio has on offer. The digital version was even extended to a mind blowing twenty-seven minutes (!), but of course a vinyl side can only hold so much music so the physical track is a bit shorter. All of this seems to say that Kanaan thinks you cannot really capture outer space within normal Earth time at all. First you have to free yourself from linear time, and only then you can understand what exploring the firmament on your instruments should really be about. Kanaan are builders. They are builders of beautiful atmosphere and spacious repetition. Only after very careful contemplation and very slow building do they unleash more and more of their might upon the listener, adding momentum with every repetitive swing. Finally when they have found their time, they add jazzy rhythmics and crazy distorted fuzz wails to shoot their rocket far up into space leaving us completely exhausted but still wanting more.

Kanaan

In its almost 90 minutes Elonmusk, Electric Moon, Kungens Män, and Kanaan have been given plenty of room to display their take on space travel. Together they have forged a memorable first volume of this International Space Station, of which I hope there will be plenty more to come. After all, space continues to inspire instrumental jam bands from all over this planet, and it will continue to do so until the end of time and beyond…

Review + Q&A: Opossum Sun Trail- Mojave/Klamath (2022, Echodelick Records)

We are out in the Mojave desert, a rocky and dry place with the characteristic Joshua Trees throwing their silhouettes on the barren grounds. Somewhere far out in that deserted area, away from the occasional tourist or drug weirdos, a trio of musicians is channeling their surroundings. Vibing on the pale desert floor, the stern rocks and the worn trees they play a music that could have only sprung here. This is Mojave, the first side of the new album by Opossum Sun Trail.

For you can hear the American-ness oozing out of Opossum Sun Trail, channeling Cash, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and more modern bands like Reverend Horton Heat or Woven Hand but there are a more ancient roots showing too. Somewhere in this weird hodgepodge of psychedelic rock ’n roll styles there is a basis of profound respect for the earth, its environment, and its previous peoples as well. Without any trouble they drop their twang-y noise making to explore the mystical side of the desert, brooding, still, as if they are listening to the night and emulating the sounds it makes.

The second part of the album is called Klamath, and it was recorded in the Klamath mountains of California. It is a forest-y area, extremely rugged, and lowly populated. OST’s music reflects this environment as well, at times pushing their jams to mountain wall proportions, and at other times bringing it down to serene mountain lake reflection. Singer Nola’s voice shines on this side, in a beautiful shamanic lament.

It is a beautiful, interesting, and versatile journey that we are asked to join by Opossum Sun Trail. The songs never linger too long, and before you know it the band is showing you a completely different vista, in that way they made me think of a wilderness guide showing me all the cool places of his surroundings. I am a lover of nature and hiking, but OST does not require it, you can perfectly enjoy the journey in your most comfortable chair without leaving the house, and let them show you the beauty of Mojave and Klamath.

I talked to Michael Dieter about his band, how the record came into being and the trio’s musical background. This is what he said:

Hi guys, how are you these days? And how have you been during the pandemic?

We are doing well! Nola and I spent a lot of time boondocking in the desert in our 1999 Ford Econoline during the early part of the pandemic, and then eventually moved up north to the woods. Our drummer John spent this time in Los Angeles.

Can you introduce yourselves? What are your musical backgrounds?

My name is Dieter, I’ve spent a lot of time playing pretty diverse types of music and instruments including jazz, country, afro-beat, funk, psych, salsa, etc… I think we all are very eclectic which is why our music is probably so all over the place haha. John Daren Thomas was a percussion performance major in school and has also played in a diverse variety of projects. Nola has a lot of experience doing eastern european and afro-cuban acapella music as well as singing jazz before jumping on keys for this project. 

What can you tell me about the beginning of Opossum Sun Trail? How did you find each other and decide on the music?

It started as a home recording project in 2009 or so and I’d just kinda layer instruments and play everything. I quickly started to incorporate other musicians. I don’t think a live show happened until 2015, and that was also the first year we released any music. it wasn’t until this last record where we are playing live as a band on the recorded music with minimal overdubs. 

It seems to me that the music is very much influenced by your cultural background and the environment, right? The Mojave desert? What can you tell me about that? 

The music has always been influenced by desert type of vibes and of course Ennio Morricone and his western soundtracks are a huge influence. We are really drawn to the sparseness of that environment and I think that comes through in the tunes. 

The abbreviation OST makes one think of Original Sound Track, was that intentional? What is your relation to movies and soundtracks?

That OST thing was not intentional, but I wish it was! It’s a nice coincidence since the music is written with a cinematic approach. A lot of pieces are short. Texture is often a focus. We’d be thrilled to work with someone making a film someday and provide a soundtrack. 

What can you tell me of the album, or are they albums? They are two separate entities, right?

They are two sides of one album, about 20 minutes each. There are recurring motifs, chord structures and tonalities for each side. I think they could stand on their own but end up together for the sake of a vinyl release. The first side was written in the vast Mojave desert of southern California and the second side was written in the twisted Klamath mountains of northern California. We tried to let the depth and extremes of the landscapes inform the music. I’m not sure how well that came through but that was our intent.

Recording in the Mojave desert

Can you tell me any stories from writing and recording the album? You guys out there in nature? It’s very different from any other recordings I reckon 🙂

When we started writing, Nola and I were out in the Mojave Preserve boondocking like I said. This was early covid after returning from a Baja, Mexico road trip. We would isolate for a few weeks until we ran out of food and then drive a hundred miles each way for more supplies. During this time we’d work on writing music for the Mojave side. 

The Klamath side was written in rural northern California, a drastically different landscape, much more dense and dark. We ended up rehearsing both sides with the aid of solar panels in Death Valley in the spring of 2021. We picked up John and practiced with him for a few days in LA before heading up to record with Tim Green in Grass Valley, CA. Our friend Anthony Taibi, a former bandmate of mine in White Manna, added a few tasteful samples throughout the recording as well. 

What are your future plans? And how about your other bands and projects?

I’m headed back to the Mojave desert pretty soon where I work seasonally as a soil scientist. Nola and I are looking to eventually get a cool spot to set up for recording, maybe get a garden going. We just finished a tour, but hope to get some more short runs going in the near future. Nola and I also have a pared-down twangy, cosmic Americana duo project that we do shows with called Landers Drifters. John’s always up to random music things like drumming and drum tech gigs for all sorts of different LA projects. Plans are pretty loose at the moment but we have our goals!

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

Go camping! 

OST

Review + Q&A: Sula Bassana- Nostalgia (2022, Sulatron Records)

Nostalgia, the yearning for a bygone era. An era perhaps without all the incentives and stimuli of these modern times. A world without mobile phones, social media, or even the internet. A world in fact, that not so very long ago was a reality. In the 90s we had to find new music through magazines, word of mouth, real live contact, live shows, or by listening to mix tapes that we made for each other. It was the time of great excitement when crate digging and finding stuff you never heard before, and a time of full venues and bristling underground festivals…

A time you understand a guy like Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt yearns for. He lives by himself now, in a forest-y area of Germany and composes music for himself, for his bands Zone Six and sometimes other projects. But the times of the 90s, that time of true underground excitement, even before he lifted of the ground with Electric Moon and shone, that time will never come back. It seeps through the music on this album, from the grand cinematic post doom opening tones of Real Life, to the indie rock anthem We Will Make It, reminiscent of unsung 90s post hardcore heroes Slint, Sonic Youth, and Lungfish. It’s music that is quiet in all its heavy fuzziness. It has a warm glowing energy about it, but it is burning for the past, and through this fire it bears a heartbreaking melancholy too. For these times will never come back, and “the world has gotten itself in a goddamn hurry” to paraphrase one of my favorite movies of all time, Shawshank Redemption…

Sula Bassana will not follow in this rush of modern times. He will go his own tempo or no tempo at all. His stubborn creativity shines through his love of the music he makes, the effort he puts in it, his desperate attempts to preserve some of that glow that he felt in the early 90s and that slowly lost a lot of its magic but that also somehow still perseveres. That is Nostalgia; it harks back to the good old days, but it also stands strongly in the present. It is an album that could not have been made then, it is also very much now. Through all its reminiscing and melancholy that is in fact an uplifting message, and I am sure the deep diving listeners will agree that after relishing in it for all of its mesmerizing 42 minutes, you will invigorated and are ready for more.

Zone Six

I had to speak to Dave Schmidt again. The pandemic “ended” since last time we spoke, he left his longstanding band Electric Moon, and the world had gotten a lot more challenging for small underground labels like his bread and butter Sulatron Records. And now this brilliant new album, here is what he said about that…

How have you been since we last spoke in December of last year?
With the start of the war against Ukraine the sales went even lower, but the production prices rose a lot, so life for a small but professional indie label like mine became pretty hard. But we started recordings for a new album with Zone Six. It was short time after the war started, so it became dark and heavy. We try to go on working on it soon, but bureaucracy rose too so I have a lot of shitty office stuff to do and less time to be creative. My new album arrived and promotion started and soon I will ship all pre-ordered copies out etc. You see there is always work. 🙂 Also I went to concerts and festivals as a visitor, spend much time with friends and enjoy life. And I found 3 very cool other musicians to form my Sula Bassana Band and we start rehearsing soon and want to rock the nice stages in Europe from next year on. 🙂 This gives me a lot of good feel and power.

You mentioned back then you were burnt out, are you feeling better, and/or how are you dealing with that?
I’m still off power very fast and need a lot of rest. Now I also recover from Corona which makes me even less powerful. But I hope I will find back my energy soon.

In the meanwhile you quit Electric Moon, would you like to elaborate on that decision? Do you feel it is over for good or is there room for a reunion at some point?
I went off the band for private/personal reasons. Maybe we will be ready for a concert together in a bunch of years or so. No idea, and I focus on new things, especially my own band.

When one door closes, others open, right? I heard about your new project with Ax Genrich? What can you tell us about that?
Exactly! I guess I haven’t seen Ax Genrich since our last gig with Psychedelic Monsterjam (or Neumeier, Genrich, Schmidt) in 2006 (at Burg Herzberg Festival) but met him on the Take Me To The Moon Festival a few months ago and we decided to make music again. At the same festival I met Steff Bollack again after many years and met Conni Maly. So we had the idea to do something together which led to the new project called Die Raumpatrouille, and to our first concert in November. This will be completely improvised krautrock and I’m really looking forward to this gig and hope we will go on then. Last weekend I joined Ax Genrich and his band for a little jam at their show in Kassel, at the Free Flow Festival, and it was soooo good to spend time with Ax! And the jam was great too.

Let’s go on to Nostalgia, your new album. What can you tell me of the recording sessions?
I started recording new songs in 2013 when my freshly bought Mellotron arrived, sadly only the new digital one, sampled from the original mastertapes from the sixties. Anyway, I love these sounds so much and recorded a track instantly (Mellotraum). Later I recorded more tracks here and there which not fitted to other albums, so I collected them and decided they fit perfectly for a album. But man, 2 of them were real songs, where I need vocals. And writing lyrics is definitely not my superpower, hahahhaha. So they stayed unfinished for years. And in late 2021 I forced myself to finish them, what I did. The title track based on a guitar-theme I had in mind since the early 2000’s, but it changed to a Mellotron dominated track. In 2015 I played around with my Korg Polysix (a early 80’s synthesizer) a few days before the first Electric Moon concert at the Planetarium Bochum, where I used this synth. I found a nice arpeggio thing and recorded it without knowing what to do with it. Some days later, at the mentioned concert, the synth died due to the leaking memory-battery (you can hear that in the first song of the concert: https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/track/the-last-words-of-mister-p). Later I added drums, bass, guitars and more sounds around the arpeggio and the result became one of my favourite songs of the last years. 🙂

Who was involved apart from you and what did they contribute?
Musically I did everything alone. But for mastering Eroc did his great work again and for the cover I used a fantastic painting by french painter Hervé Scott Flament. I also used some pix a friend did (Kilian CabGuy) and the title font painted by Ryan Koster.

A song like We Will Make It has a strong 90s feel, it kind of made me think of Slint, one of my favorite records from that time! Do you know them and do you feel the same?
To be honest I don’t know Slint. Will search and listen to it. After recording the basic guitars it reminded me a bit of Sonic Youth, what I heard a lot that time (around 2016 or so, when I did the recordings). Back in the 90s I was much more into electronic music first and then into late sixties and early seventies psych, kraut and space rock. Haven’t heard much of the 90s music.

I’d say the general mood of the album is quite melancholic, was that intentional? Can you recall what brought that up at the time?
I’m a very melancholic person. I guess you can hear it in a lot of my music. And the words in these 2 songs with vocals are impressed by the feel of these times…

Will you play any of it live? And when in which band will we be able to see you live soon?
There are too many things going on on that album, that I don’t think a four piece can nicely perform these tracks. But we will rehearse some older Sula “classics” and some more new songs. Also I want to play much more with my old bands Zone Six and Interkosmos. And of course with Die Raumpatrouille.

Would you like to pitch any upcoming Sulatron Records releases? What should we be looking out for?
There will be the new Farflung album Like Drones In Honey out in October (hopefully) on CD and LP. And I just received the testpressings for the debut LP Echo Colonnade by Ukranian krautrockers Reflector and listen to them right now. Sounds
great on vinyl! :-). In the same package I got the testpressings of the split LP of Speck (The Metz Sessions) and Interkosmos! Both LPs will be out in early 2023. And Tetrao Urogallus from Hamburg work on their new LP right now which will be released next year too.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after reading this interview?
Hug someone, spread love and listen to great music. 🙂

Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt

Upcoming Gigs:
With ZONE SIX:
02.09.22 GER-Bielefeld, Potemkin Bar
With DIE RAUMPATROUILLE:
10.11.22 GER-Heidelberg, Commissary PHV (South-Gettysburg Avenue 45)

Find Sula Bassana and his projects here:
http://www.sulatron.com
http://www.facebook.com/Sulatron.Records
https://www.facebook.com/groups/573333580261594
http://www.soundcloud.com/sulatron
https://www.instagram.com/sulatron_records
http://www.sulabassana.de
http://www.sulabassana.bandcamp.com
http://www.facebook.com/sulabassana
https://www.instagram.com/sula_bassana_music
http://www.zonesix.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/zone_six_official
https://www.facebook.com/zonesixz6
http://www.zonesix.de
http://www.interkosmos-official.bandcamp.com
https://www.instagram.com/interkosmos_official
https://www.facebook.com/interkosmosofficial

Review + Q&A: King Buffalo- Regenerator (2022, Stickman Records)

The third and final chapter of the album threesome that King Buffalo recorded during the pandemic lockdown in 2021 is called Regenerator and once again it shows a different side to the band. Where The Burden Of Restlessness was an aggressive, heavy and metallic record, and Acheron was the psychedelic jam album, Regenerator does exactly what it says on the tin: it lifts up the spirits and revitalizes the band and its listeners with its open and spacey sounds.

Before I could listen to the full album I had the chance to see King Buffalo play at the Valkhof Festival in Nijmegen (Holland) and two things stood out; how frontman Sean McVay used a loop pedal to create massive guitar walls all by himself, and how motorik and hypnotic the new material sounded in a live setting. Songs like Regenerator, Mercury, and Hours all have a certain forward drive that has a definite kraut rock feel, especially when King Buffalo bring on the spacey synthesizers.

There are some softer, more melodic moments as well, and album closer Firmament showcases McVay’s most intimate vocals to date. This too fits the band like a glove, and once again you feel as a listener that this is a band at the very top of their game. It is so incredible to think that these three albums sound so differently and varied, and yet they were recorded in such a short time of each other. Regenerator is a perfect closer a well, a positive outlook on the band and its future, and a testament to what this band is capable off under duress. What will the future bring? I decided to ask Sean McVay himself.

How are you guys doing? And where are you at the moment? You are playing so many shows these days!

We just returned home after an incredible European tour. I’m currently sitting on my couch drinking a big bottle of water while typing out this interview. 

Can you tell me your most memorable moment of the tour so far? 

Probably playing PALP Festival in the Swiss Alps. It’s not everyday you get to play literally on the top of a mountain.

Listening to Regenerator, and also (finally) seeing you live (in Nijmegen!) I got the feeling that some of the dread of The Burden Of Restlessness and Acheron has been lifted, is that correct? What changed?

At the time of writing Regenerator I don’t think much had really changed in all honesty. Things were still pretty much locked down, and the world continues to be a bit of a horrific mess in a lot of different ways even still, but I knew I wanted the 3rd record to wrap up with a more optimistic tone and kind of stand as an inverse to Burden. With how dark and grim that record was, I felt like it was necessary to counterbalance it with something brighter, if only for my own sanity while writing them honestly. I feel like it was maybe me trying to find something to look forward to and strive for while reckoning with a swath of negative things.

You guys are playing live a lot at the moment, how do you keep up? And how do you keep it fresh each time you are playing?

We make little tweaks to the setlist just about every show to help keep things interesting on our end. Also a lot of our songs have spots that lend themselves to little bits of improvisation so I always try to add some sort of different twist to at least one song every night. The kind of thing that might not be super noticeable, but maybe a fan who’s seen us a bunch would notice and find it interesting or refreshing. Shows are the best thing about being a band in my opinion. That block of time onstage riding a sort of energy wave with the crowd is a feeling like no other. So really it doesn’t feel like its that hard to stay engaged and excited. 

Listening to your set and to the new album I felt a certain stronger emphasis on repetition and groove I guess?It’s almost kraut rock at some point! Also some more uplifting stuff going on? What is your take on the most important changes for Regenerator?

I really made an effort to highlight melodies on this record. Whether that was in the vocals, guitar hooks or even with some of Dan’s bass work (see Mercury for an example of the bass really carrying the melody of the entire song). I wanted to go for a little bit more of a stripped down, sort of “band in a room” sound than previous records (especially Burden). Everything is a little bit warmer, a little bit dirtier, and a little bit drier than a lot of our previous work. I cringe at using the word “organic” to describe it, but I honestly can’t think of a better word for what I was aiming for with the production style haha. It was a challenge, and a bit scary for me personally. I’ve always been super fond of lots of reverbs and delays on either my guitars or vocals. Making a conscious effort to strip away some of that was a bit terrifying. The opening verse of Firmament is probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever recorded.

With Regenerator you made right on your promise to release three albums in a row, congratulations! Although the plan to release them all in one year did not work, was that all pressing plant delays, or was there more to it?

Well the initial plan was actually to RECORD 3 albums in 2021 and ideally have them all released that year. Things snowballed a little bit with the announcement and it became RELEASE 3 albums haha. Lesson learned to be a little more careful with language haha. With that said, I can’t put all of the delays on the pressing plant. They were certainly backed up and completely swamped with demand. That on top of global supply chain issues really slowed things down. But we also had some studio/equipment issues that slowed down production at a couple points. There were of course a couple COVID scares in there that prevented us from meeting up occasionally. And we had a couple of issues receiving final artwork for a couple of the records past their deadline. So basically there was a lot of small inconvenient delays that added up on top of the already existing pressing plant delays. It was an absolutely chaotic and hectic year trying to get everything done, but we are super happy that we were able to stay busy and focused, and are incredibly proud of the result. We can’t thank everyone enough who participated and helped in some way, and especially appreciate the patience and support from our fans when it became obvious that we weren’t going to have everything released in 2021.

How do you look back on the albums as a trilogy, they have the same protagonist and overarching themes right? Do you feel it turned out exactly the way you envisioned it or did the plans also shift a bit when time passed over it?

There definitely is a single protagonist, with an overarching storyline encompassing all 3 records. Each record focusing on a different part of the story. In a very general way, yes I think it turned out how I envisioned it, but in smaller more specific ways not at all. No matter how well planned something is during pre-production, the final product always comes out different than expected. That’s simply part of the process. I think its important to be open to the possibility of things changing. Falling too much in love with the demos creates a sort of tension and stress during the actual production that just slows things down. It’s important to have a grand vision that your excited about, but you have to be open to changes when it comes time to actually make it. So there a lot of little things on the records that are completely different than what was initially conceived, but that’s simply part of the process.

So what now? With such an ambitious project now finished I can imagine your just want to tour a lot, which you are doing at the moment, but do you already have album plans for after that? Any dreams you want to make true in the studio environment?

The focus for now is definitely touring and playing live, especially with all the time we had to take off from touring. There aren’t any solid albums planned at the moment. There’s definitely some stuff that was left on the cutting room floor that we’re still excited about. Who knows if they’ll ever get dug back up. We’re always a little bit antsy. So I’ll say that we don’t have anything planned release wise for now, but that can always change in an instant haha.

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

Drink a glass of water. Hydration is important. 

Review + Q&A: Staraya Derevnya- Boulder Blues (2022, Ramble Records)

Weird. The word has gotten a certain negative connotation about it over the years. Like standing out and being different from the group is a bad thing. Here at Weirdo Shrine we do not think so. We worship the weird. The dare devils. The genuine weirdos that proudly wear their weirdness on their sleeves. Relish it, push it, twist it and turn it, not resting until minds are boggled and skin is crawled. Boulder Blues is doing all that and more. This is some weird shit, and boy is it good.

There is little you can do to prepare you for what Staraya Derevnya has on offer for your ears. The international collective creates songs telling strange stories with vocals but without words. Well, not words that are found in any language any way. At times they are pure “dada”, kicking your shin anti art style. But once you are fully immersed and over their initial edginess there is a whole world of depth opening up, revealing truly undiscovered places. The German sound pioneers Can come to mind, the way they always went for the original groove, and put everything in its service, human vocals included. But if possible, band leader Gosha Shtasel’s vocals are even more unhinged and “free” than Damo Suzuki’s. He repeats his fantasy incantations to full on hypnotism, guiding the listener into a trance leading to nobody knows where…you’ll have to find out for yourself.

The music is a blend of anything the groove needs to get going, a bit of jazz, a bit of underground blues, some freakish folk, a touch of kraut…but never an imitation, always at most just an echo of something you ever heard before. True weirdness then. A thing to be cherished. I wish you all a very open third eye when you dig in. Don’t give up easily, and Staraya Derevnya will show you places you did not know existed.

Steraya Derevna

We talked to band leader Gosha Shtasel about his strange collective, because it really is worth ask questions about. Here is what he had to say…

How are you doing these days?

Just released a new record and played in Cafe Oto and Supernormal festival. Enjoyed every moment of it!

Can you introduce your band and tell me more about why you started it?

We went through various stages, being a live band, then a studio project, then a live band again. Over the years many people came and went, but I feel that the current lineup is truly like-minded. They also happen to be some of the kindest and most talented people I know.

Where are you from and how did it influence your music do you think?

I was born in Ukraine, grew up in Israel and moved to the UK in 2000. I would say it had hardly any influence on our music. 

I am sorry to say I could not really make much of the lyrics, which language are they in and what are you singing about?

There’s a mix of Russian and a made up language. It is more about loose associations and intonations than “a message” or “a meaning”. Therefore, I think listening to the music will give a much better understanding than a literal translation.

I have to say Boulder Blues is really something else, it is unlike anything I ever heard before. Sometimes the vocals and music are really quite out there, and made me think of a theatric production, perhaps a puppet play 😉 Do you have a theater background or do you recognize this influence?

Not me personally, although many of my friends are involved with theatre. We try not to pay much attention to genre boundaries and just do what feels right. Saying that, we try very hard (with various degrees of success) not to sound “melodramatic” or “theatrical”. 

Will there be visuals to accompany the music in the future? I think that would really fit!

For us, the music and visuals are interconnected. Like the two dimensions of what we do. It is less obvious when listening to the album, but becomes more apparent at the live shows. 

It made me think of Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits or Mike Patton at times, what music were you influenced by?

Everyone in the band has their own, very distinct influences, but since I do the mixing, mine are more obvious 🙂 

What happens when you create music? 

The recording is fast, usually quite intense and mostly improvised. The mixing/editing stage is a complete opposite – slow and meticulous. 

Review + Q&A: CB3- Explorations (2022, Majestic Mountain Records)

I put on Explorations by the Swedish trio CB3, find a comfortable chair and close my eyes. Immediately I let my defenses go and feel myself drop in a gigantic pink translucent jello pudding. Everything becomes soft and fuzzy, and a rosy smile appears on my lips as the world has become slower, softer, and pinker…

I hear a wonderful mixture of sounds ranging from the shoegaze haze of My Bloody Valentine, through the fuzzy sludge wall of noise of early Baroness, to the angelic voice of singer Charlotta reminding in a far and distant way of 90s icons The Breeders and Sonic Youth. As gravity starts becoming weaker I feel myself slowly spinning upside down, letting the full impact of the killer song To Space And Away hit me with all its hazy repetition. In all of this crazy pink gooey reality it is the perfect soundtrack to just losing control and letting go.

The album continues with more killer riffs and skycraper walls of fuzz, completely encapsulating me while I am listening and disappearing further and further into the sweet and warm pudding. I know this will probably the end as oxygen will have to run out at some point, and yet I want this hazy pink bliss to continue. I want it to never end. I am In a Rainbow With Friends and it is just the best.

When the final tones of Through Space And Time have drifted away I feel the ooze and jelly melting away. I am still alive, but now I feel empty and wishing very much to return. Luckily there is a repeat button…

I was pretty lucky to reach out to CB3 and find band leader, vocalist, and guitar hero Charlotta Andersson willing to answer some of my most burning questions. Here’s what she made of them:

Hi guys! How’s CB3 doing these days?
Hello! We are good.

How have you been holding up during the pandemic? What kept you going?
I work as a guitar teacher when I’m not doing this band and projects, so it was as usual, almost. I’m a creative person and like to create stuff and I sit at home doing demos to the band. Then share it with the members. The pandemic gave me extra time to think about our music and at the time I was bored by playing endless guitar solos, repeating myself. I wanted to tell a story with words not just with melodies. When teaching guitar, I have to sing, or else it can be kind of boring just playing a chord progression. That’s when the idea of singing emerged. I started to experiment with vocals and how to find my sound and incorporate it into our songs.

CB3 stands for Charlottas Burning Trio, right? Did the meaning evolve over time or is it still a kick in the face of the jazz world? 🙂
Yes, CB3 is Charlottas Burning Trio. The meaning has evolved, but I think history still stands. So both I think. When I started out the band I felt that I was an outsider playing guitar and soloing, that I always had to prove something, that I wasn’t ordinary and I hated that. Then also there was or is some kind of “anti-shred” – thing going on. So the “burning” was a statement, in your face, against all people saying “You can’t play like that, or like that…”. I felt and still feel that everyone can play whatever they want, the important thing is having fun and that it feels good. I think it also has evolved into meaning: a band that explores music, being ourselves, not trying to fit into an agenda.

Are you the band’s “leader” in a way? How would you describe the dynamics within the band?
Yes I am sort of. I organize almost everything. Natanael, the drummer, has been in this band since almost the beginning and he helps me out with different organizing things. When we look at new material I’ve written, we jam on it. For example: Sometimes Pelle adds a cool bass line and it turns out a little bit different and so on, so they are a part of the writing process as well.

How’s living and playing in Sweden for a band like CB3?
Not so easy, we play too uncommercial music and funds can be hard to get. I think that goes for most of the bands to be honest. To live a life only playing music in Sweden is hard, but you can do it by combining it with other work or other musical projects. I do this band and some other projects I feel are meaningful and combine it with my work as a guitar teacher. So it works for me.

You’ve started out as jazz musicians but are now somewhat adopted by the “stoner” scene, do you feel comfortable there or do you see CB3 eventually branching out into different, perhaps even bigger stages?

I love the underground/DIY/stoner scene. People, fans, bands and so on are genuine music lovers. They go to concerts and I feel there is a nice atmosphere, like everyone is welcomed. When I started to go to a live scene called “Plan B” in Malmö, Sweden, I first made contact with that underground/DIY/stoner or what you will call it. If I felt that I was an outsider before I felt totally at home. It was people doing creative stuff. And I was so inspired and I wanted to play at scenes like that. I would love to play more scenes like that in Europe for example. But to evolve as a band and play other stages would be exciting as well.

What made you pick the bright pink for the album cover? Was it perhaps in some way inspired by My Bloody Valentine?
Not inspired by MBV, but I love that band, they truly explored music with that album. The artist we have collaborated with since the beginning is called Robin Gnista. When we collaborate I only give him the music, the title and what colors and themes we think about.
Then he is free doing his thing. He always does awesome work. So I thought that the album felt kind of pink and purple.

The album title is Exploration, what was the most interesting thing you explored in making the album?
For me it was creating songs with vocals, finding my vocal sound and to develop our song structures.

Were there any psychedelic experiences during the writing or making process of the album or is that just my imagination ;)?
As the drummer of our band said during our last band practice: “We are the most sober stoner/doom band in the scene.” 😀 When I think more about it, the most psychedelic experience must have been the high rush of love, a mesmerizing sci fi tv-series and jamming with the band.

What are your immediate future plans and what is “the dream”?
Releasing the album, release concert and a small tour with a local Malmö band during the autumn. My dream is continuing this band and hopefully go on tour in Europe. Another dream is to play Desertfest Berlin, Roadburn and Levitation or other experimental music festivals. Also doing something collaborative with another form of art.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?
Check out our new music. And if you like it, tell your friends 🙂

CB3

Review + Q&A: Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska- Interstellic Psychedelic (2022, Up In Her Room Records)

So the new Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska album…is freaking dense! It’s like they took all their dark thoughts and frustrations with the past pandemic period and channelled them into these five slabs of heavy psychedelic space rock. There’s even a sense of sci-fi horror and evil lurking over Interstellic Psychedelic, oozing out of it. A sense of dread that is fed by the spoken word snippets left, right, and center, theatrically building images of lost souls and dark visions…but keeping their tongue firmly in their cheek at the same time.

Because at the same time that some of this record will give me the shivers, the campy keyboards, the over the top theatrics, and the thick emphasis on spaciness also made me conjure up images of Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide To The GalaxyInterstellic Psychedelic could well have been one of its hazier chapters. You know; it’s about total death and the destruction planets, but it’s gruesomely funny at the same time. You can totally see Zaphod Beeblebrox throwing down some Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters and rocking out to this in his space ship.

Nothing about their true intentions becomes entirely clear though, and that is on purpose. Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska are true improvisationalists; they love taking things as they present themselves. That’s how you have to listen to this album as well. You’ll never know what lurks beyond the corner, because neither do they! Anything is possible, from playing the electric Kazoo to including a 12-year-old kid’s poetry. It makes this mostly instrumental journey all the more exciting. It moves from dangerous to funny to epic in minutes, like the good sci-fi movies of yore used to. Best thing to do is light one up and let these intergalactic Englishmen take you to the next dimension…

Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska

So with this being the second time I reviewed Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska, I could certainly not just leave it at that? I had to talk to them! Luckily Aaron Bertram (bass snake) kindly and swiftly replied...

How are you guys doing these days? How did you deal with the dreaded pandemic?

Absolutely awesome. We were very lost in the beginning of the pandemic but I (bass snake) decided to buy equipment to record and produce from home and spent hundreds of hours watching YouTube video tutorials. our first home recording experiment was Electric Bong Water. After finishing that we realized with a bit more hard work we could probably record an album this way, so we set to work on The Eternal Electric Landscape. The strangest thing about it was actually having to write music as everything up until this point was completely improvised. After electric bong water Dan from Up In Her Room Records got in touch about working together. So overall i’d have to give us a pat on the back and say we done pretty well through the pandemic. If you listen to Enter The Psychedemic from the new record the lyrics reflect this.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine readers? Anything people really need to know up front about your band?

Our motto is try everything and anything, record it, see if it works. This mindset has led to the use of things such as electric kazoo on The Eternal Electric Landscape and Interstellic Psychedelic. Our live sets are mostly improv jamming our own tracks loosely. The weirder something sounds the better.

What can you tell me about the making of Interstellic Psychedelic? In what way did your approach to record differ from The Eternal Electric Landscape?

We begun the writing and recording of this record in October 2021 and at first approached it in a very similar way to The Eternal Electric Landscape. However the record slowly started becoming its own entity and we viewed it that way. The last song on the record called Nature Of The Evil Within is A poetic story direct from the twisted psychedelic mind of 12 year old honorary baby snake Layland Bertram (my son). Sound tracked and performed by dad’s band. He won an award at school for it and once I read it I knew we had to work on it to make it into a sound tracked version of the story. So we were taking influence from places we’d not normally think to explore.

How important is jamming and improvisation for SDBIA? How do you make sure that comes across right on record?

It is the core of what we are. Even in this record although it has been written, it was all written and recorded in one take to maintain the core vibe and we stay away from thinking too hard about structure, you’ll never hear us doing verse, chorus, verse, chorus.

You guys are from Newcastle, right? In what way does living there influence you as an artist? Is there a psychedelic scene for instance?

We are yes, although Jarrid is actually Canadian. When people think of Newcastle they think of poverty and a tough social attitude and i think that comes across in our rough and ready, high energy sound. There isn’t much of a music scene at all in Newcastle now, many touring bands completely miss the city. That being said there is still a pretty cool underground scene that consists of many genres working together, which is pretty cool.

In what way is playing psychedelic music and using psychedelic substances interwoven with each other do you think?

Oh dear my mum will be reading this haha, Hi Mum. I think the two are part of the same entity. Psych music, at least our psych music is completely about exploration of the mind and I’d say that psychedelic substances have the same purpose. Although we’re mostly good boys these days haha.

What would you say is your biggest influence, both musically and otherwise?

We all have a similar core of influence, Hawkwind, Floyd, Earthless, 35007, etc. But we all have our own individual musical influences too, myself being into a lot of punk, Alex being into British indie and Jarrid being classic rock and folk. We also take a lot of influence from the psych world in general, people like Kenneth Anger.

What are you looking forward to most in 2022? And in 2023?

We are going to put way more energy into gigging, we’ve all been so buys in our home lives recently. We are currently organizing a short UK tour for the back end of the year and hopefully looking to slither our tails a little further a field next year.

When will your spaceship land in The Netherlands?

We are hoping to put together some mainland Europe shows next year but it’s difficult with finances, if we can get the right deals with promoters so we can actually afford to do it, the Netherlands will definitely be one of our top priorities of places to play.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

Go listen to Interstellic Psychedelic and some of our historical stuff so you can hear the evolution of SDBIA and continue to support your local psych scenes especially the DIY ones. Thank you everyone!

Review + Q&A: Blume- Waves Of Love (2022, self-released)

I’ve been meaning to write something about Canada’s Blume for a while now. Multi-instrumentalist Arthur Benell has conjured up a very infectious way of fusing old school electronic Kraut with modern jangly psych pop rock that worms its way inside your ear and satisfies the old psychedelic jammies at the same time.

Take the wobbly synths of early German kraut pioneers Cluster and Neu! and mix it up with the lethargic guitar vibes and vocals of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and you’ll have a mix that not many psychedelic heads won’t love to wrap around their brain. On Waves Of Love Blume has opted for a more straight forward psych rock sound, also in order to bring it out to live stages in the near future. The result is a record of catchy riffs intermixed with entrancing reverb drenched jams that could go on for days…

Waves Of Love sounds wonderfully warm and thick, and feels at times like taking a dip in a pool full of maple syrup. I think after this one Blume can’t officially call itself lo-fi again, as this record is definitely headphone material that’ll get your head tripping even without any extracurricular substances. It is hard to believe that all this came from just one guy making noise in his bedroom, but there it is. There is something special going on in Edmonton, Canada, and it is clear to me that more people should get to know Blume and dive in Waves Of Love.

I asked Blume’s main (and only) man Arthur Benell to introduce and explain himself and his music. I found him more than willing to spill the beans and invite us into the world of Blume…

Hi Arthur, how have you been doing the past two years?

Hey, I’ve been doing pretty well, thanks for asking. The pandemic had me laid off from my usual work which turned out to have some positives that came along with the free time I had. I was able to put a lot more time into music and was able to really focus on this project. During that time I wrote and recorded my first album and kinda changed the path I wanted Blume to head down.

Where are you from, and do you think where you live effects the music you make?

I’m from Edmonton, in Alberta, Canada. It’s a great city with a vibrant music scene, especially within the more experimental genres. One great thing about Edmonton is that you really experience all the seasons; Summer is full of long sunny days, Fall you get the crisp weather with the colors changing everywhere, Winter is full of snow and night falls early, and spring brings the warm weather and rain to thaw everything out. The change of seasons is always something that gives me a burst of creative energy so it’s nice to have.

Can you tell me how exactly you make music? It’s all DIY, right?

Yeah, it’s all DIY for the most part. I did have my pal Zach Budinski handle the mastering for my first album, but other than that everything has been done by myself. Everything is all self recorded in my spare bedroom on a simple 2 input interface that connects to my computer where I use free software to record. Normally the songs start with no real intention or solid idea in mind. I will just be playing around on whatever instrument it is that time and when I hear something I like I’ll try to build something off that either capturing loops or elaborating more on the part. Majority of my songs are really simple one chord songs at the core, utilizing layers to make the songs sound bigger and more varied.  

How did you start, and when was the moment you started reaching out into the world with your music?

I started Blume as a side project back in 2014 as a means to work on music outside of a band situation. It was a good way to learn and grow in areas I didn’t know and to have an outlet for the ideas I had that I could work on in my own time. I was playing in groups as well but wanted to do my own thing on the side. I released my first EP back in 2015 and released a few more up until 2020. Then in 2021 I released my first album, Synthetic Sounds For The Modern Soul, and have been focusing on this project much more heavily since. 

How did you started getting influenced by psychedelic music? The reason I ask is because your music sounds like it was influenced by oldschool Kraut rock like Cluster and Neu! and you don’t hear that all that often 😉

Psychedelic music has been something around me as long as I can remember. My parents were into a lot of the classic bands but groups like Pink Floyd, Hendrix, and The Beatles always really stood out to me. I myself didn’t really start making psych music until I heard bands like the Velvet Underground and The Stooges in my late teens and I haven’t looked back since. Also good ear, I definitely was influenced by krautrock groups, especially Neu! And Cluster, I really enjoy how they tended to stay away from the usual song structures and really create hypnotic atmospheres using repetition and simplicity. That is something that has influenced me in a huge way.

What are some of your favorite contemporary artists?

Sonic Boom and Spiritualized are obvious ones. There are a tonne of great groups out there right now though. Bands like Moon Duo, The KVB, Holydrug Couple, Cheval Sombre, Black Market Karma, and A Place To Bury Strangers are all bands that are constantly in my rotation. So many great artists out there I could go on and on.

The new album Waves Of Love was intended to play live, right? Are you following through on that intention? I for one would love to see Blume one day!

Yeah, that is one thing I kinda had in the back of my mind when making this album. I wanted things to be a bit more energetic and with more drums so when I did play live it gave people something to bob their heads too. I got a couple shows lined up for this summer so I’m excited for that and to try the new material in front of an audience.

What are you looking forward to in 2022? And in 2023?

This year I’m excited to be back to playing live again and to have put the new album out into the world. For 2023 I am working on another album so hopefully that will all come together and be ready for next year.


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

Check out my new album Waves Of Love!

Review + Q&A: C. Ross- Skull Creator (2022, Echodelick Records/Ramble Records/NoiseAgonyMayhem)

Chad Ross, it is always such a pleasure to hear his voice. Whether is is in his early band Quest For Fire, his current vehicle Comet Control, or his side project Nordic Nomadic, he sings to soothe, to embalm the listener into a soft and kind state of inebriation. With Skull Creator he presents us with his first full on solo project, and man am I glad it found its way into these ears.

In the Balloon Factory studio of Destroyer’s Dan Bejar Ross started to work his magic with producer and (ex-) Black Mountain drummer Joshua Wells , and later he asked his friend Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless fame to help out on guitar as well. The result is bigger than the sum of its parts, as in this smaller, more fragile and emotional space Ross’s voice gets the full attention and mandate to speak personally and directly to the listener.

Whether he sings about getting high on mushrooms or the death of a close friend, Ross always sounds profound, sincere, and in a way otherworldly, like a ghost voice speaking to you from the inside of your skull. More than in his heavier projects his voice touches you deeply this time, whispering soft poetry in your ear while the music gently weeps…

Some times it is time to rock hard and blast magic, and sometimes it is time to contemplate and enjoy some beautiful quiet music. Chad Ross offers both in his many endeavors, but this time he offers the latter. I can’t think of a better way to get down and out at the moment.

I had the absolute honor and pleasure to ask mr. Ross some questions that were burning in my mind. Here’s what he made of them:

How are you? How have you been during the pandemic and how did you  spend most of your time? 

We’re doing really well living in rural Ontario. In April of 2020 my wife Nicole,  who is also the bass player in Comet Control, and I had a baby girl, so our  lives have been filled with raising a child. It has been really challenging and  beautiful. Life as a musician was on hold but Comet Control still released  Inside the Sun and I managed to finish this solo record during the first  lockdown. I also build furniture and do custom carpentry for recording  studios, which has kept me very busy. We can’t complain, life is good despite  the state of the world. 

I really enjoyed your last album with Comet Control, which I reviewed as  well I think it is really cool that it is so quickly followed by your first solo  work. Can you tell me how the separate entities can live next to each other? 

Comet Control is really a collaborative process between Andrew and I, we  work pretty fast together and it’s all about the riff/hook. My solo work is all  acoustic/fingerstyle based and I find it takes longer to finish and arrange the  songs. However, I instinctually know what songs fit where. I was working on  both records at the same time when the pandemic hit, and they both sat  finished for a while… it just seemed like the obvious decision to stagger the  releases slightly. 

After two Quest For Fire and three Comet Control albums, what made you  decide the time was right for a solo record? What was your main focus? 

Ive always been working on solo acoustic works. I released 2 Nordic  Nomadic LPs and an ep during the existence of those bands but I finally  decided to go under my own name for this one. The reality is, being in a rock  band takes it’s toll on my mental health and doesn’t often mix well with my 

addictive personality. I need a quiet, solitary creative process. My main focus  has been becoming a better acoustic guitar player and not taking the music  so seriously. It’s become more of a meditative process in the warmth of my  home. 

Can you tell me how you know Joshua Wells, and what role he played for  Skull Creator?  

My very good, old friend Matt Camirand was the original bass player for Black  Mountain. They were looking for a roadie and Matt asked me if I wanted to  tag along for the ride. I ended up doing 3 or 4 of their early North American  tours. I became good friends with all of them, and we’ve remained in touch  and toured together in various bands over the years. Josh has always been  one of my favourite drummers and his musicianship expands far beyond the  drum kit. He ended up recording, mixing and co producing the record with  me…. As well as playing drums and keys. Truly a gifted human. 

How did you manage to have Isaiah Mitchell and Aaron Goldstein on the  album as well? Will they join you on stage as well? 

I’ve known Isaiah for years. Earthless stayed at my house in Toronto the first  time they ever played here. QFF opened the show and Witch played as well.  That was right around the time QFF got signed to teepee. We’ve always  stayed in touch over the years and Comet Control toured Europe supporting  Earthless in 2018. I just reached out during the first lockdown and sent him  the tracks… very happy he was stoked to do it. Aaron is an amazing  producer/engineer based in Toronto and a go-to on the pedal steel. I was  happy that he came along for the ride as well. I’ll probably end up playing  solo when I get around to playing shows…..everyone who played on this  record is very busy with their own musical endeavours, and functioning at a  much higher touring level than myself ha.  

You are from Toronto, right? But the album was recorded in Vancouver,  which city was more important for the way it sounds do you think? 

Josh and I recorded the bed tracks at the Balloon Factory in Vancouver, the  home studio of Dan Bejar of Destroyer. Just drums and electric guitar. I  recorded acoustic, vocals, bass and electric guitars myself, when Nicole and  I lived in a small Ontario city called Guelph in 2020. In that regard, it’s got a  bit of Guelph and Vancouver mainly … but also a touch of San Diego, Toronto  and Chicago if you count the other remote recordings. 

Where did you draw most of your inspiration for the lyrics?  

I had a list of song titles stored in my phone that made me laugh. When I  thought of something I would write it down. The goal was to make the  process less serious and semi autobiographical while making fun of myself.  No one really needs to hear another middle aged singer songwriter with the  blues. But the things that made me laugh took a more serious turn when  juxtaposed with the production….it almost backfired and I was stuck  reflecting on addiction, past lives and really beautiful and dark moments in  my life. I think the experiment worked though….unintentionally.  

Can you elaborate on the addiction part?

Luckily most of the subject matter on ‘skull creator’ comes from a joyous part of my conscience. Buzzin in the Bush is about bush parties, Takin a Dip is about swimming on
mushrooms, Wrong side of the Sky is about staying home with my wife instead of going out to the bar, Skull Creator is about my skull literally multiplying on my first paranoid acid trip when I was 16. Awesome silly shit really, and kinda funny and unintentionally dark. But On Golden Pond kinda sums up the whole record, a tribute to my oldest childhood friend who died of a drug overdose 3 years ago. When you’re young, innocence doesn’t really understand addiction and mental health. I’m seeing things through rose colored glasses on this record, of course, but it’s hard for some people to see where the party starts and ends. I’m feeling very grateful these days.

What happens now? Will you play live shows? And when and with which  band(s)? And important for me: will we see you in Europe (The Netherlands  especially)? 

I haven’t played any solo shows since 2019. Just starting to reach out to  people now. The pandemic pretty much pulverized a lot of small bands.  Comet Control was comfortably touring Europe once a year before the  pandemic hit… but I’m not sure how that would play out now. We got  dropped by our booking agent because they could only really focus on their  big bands. Things appear to be back to normal… but I’m guessing that’s a  facade. I’d love to play some solo shows in Europe….but time will tell. 

What is your ultimate bucketlist goal? And where would you like to be in  five years? 

It’s a boring answer, but my goal is to continue to make records. To this day,  I’m still amazed that people are still interested in putting out my music.  When I started off playing in punk bands in my teens, I would have never  believed you, if you told me id have all the opportunities, that I longed for  then. In five years I will have liked to tour Europe again… at least once. 

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

Take a deep breath and make some art…. or a plate of spaghetti.

C. Ross
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