Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

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: Tajak – La Sombra Del Agua (2022, Little Cloud Records/Cardinal Fuzz/The Acid Test Records/Hole Records)

Strange and exciting things happen when creative minds decide to drop everything they were doing and move to into the woods. Whether it is the falling away of urban overstimulation, the closer contact to nature, or just the increased focus on the task at hand; beautiful and meaningful things are made. Novels are written, poems are conjured out of thin air, and musicians find new sources of sound within themselves. Tajak definitely did. Their previous album Ciclos was a great album of noisy shoegaze, but it did not fully prepare of what was to come…

Hailing from Mexico, one can imagine that the forest Tajak chose for a creative hideout is rather a different affair than let’s say than Thorough’s when he wrote Walden. I recently got to see the second Avatar movie, and I feel Tajak would have done a much better job scoring the beautiful rain forest and underwater scenes. The music on La Sombre Del Agua (The Shadow Of The Water) is rich and dreamy, layered, and filled to the brim with tiny little sonic easter eggs that make it a true headphone feast. This is a studio album mind you, but one that feels organic, a living breathing thing.

The songs are set up like paintings, and can spread out often longer than twelve minutes. When there is the need for a word or two there are some sparse humanoid voices, but they mostly remain whispers or echoes of wavering guitars and synths. The roots of this psychedelic soundscape music lie in improvisation, but like the grand maesters of kraut Can, Tajak have filled in their jams in the studio for an optimal sonic experience.

And that is why La Sombre Del Agua is what it is; a wet rainforest of sound with a sonic palette as rich as the flora and fauna. Tajak dares you to put on your headphones and disappear with them, away from the hassles and speed of modern life, into the shadow of the water.

Ok, so I had to talk to this band. I needed to know where they came up with their beautiful ideas and how they worked on it. The language can sometimes be a barrier though, standing in between a short and stand offish answer, and the whole thing. I am therefore glad that Tajak gave theirs in their native tongue. I would like to send mad props to Roman Tamayo of Doomed & Stoned Latino for the translation into English so we can all follow…

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

We are fine, everyone surviving as they can. We live in different places so we could only see each other once in a while. During the pandemic, we were recording La Sombra del Agua, in La Orduña, and Zoncuantla, Veracruz. We spent a year over there recording and producing the album, first in a place that a friend lent us in the woods and the rest in an abandoned factory.

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

Tajak are:

Alvaro Castro: Drums + FX and Synth + FX.

Carlos Arias: Electric guitar, effect pedals, and voice, he generally uses other instruments such as Sitar on the album Ciclos and LSDA, Didgeridoo on our self-titled Ep. And flutes and thunder drum on La Sombra del Agua.

Coco Badan: Bassist + Effect pedals and voice, just like Carlos he uses instruments like flutes, and ocarina on tracks like Camino.

Coco and Carlos are originally from Ensenada B.C. for what has been known for quite some time and Alvaro de La Paz B.C.S, we met at the university, and we met during out studies of Audio Engineering.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I (Alvaro) started playing electric bass in a black/death metal band, when I was 13-14 years old, I started to be interested in drums. I played drums in a band called Orthodox. After that, I started taking classes and playing as a session musician in several bands. I went to a music university but I didn’t feel comfortable, so I left and began to study Jazz with a private teacher, this was in the city of Guadalajara.

In 2013 I moved to Mexico City to study Audio and that’s where I met Carlos and Coco, we lived together for a few months and one day we jammed at a colleague’s house. From that day we kept playing and that’s how the first songs of Tajak were born. It is safe to say that there was never the intention of starting a band, we would get together to play for pleasure.

Carlos started playing the guitar at the age of 12 and formed his first band in Ensenada at the age of 15, called Mr. Saldos (shoegaze, noise pop), Coco was part of that band for a while playing the keyboards and singing as well, it was the first time they experienced playing together.

Coco: I started studying music at an early age, taking flute classes from the age of 7, and then I went to a formal music school where I played clarinet in an orchestra, but the truth was that the whole experience was quite unhappy and I almost lost myself. They made me hate music. For me, all those years were a waste of time. It wasn’t until I dropped out of that school and started teaching myself guitar that my musical journey really began. Since then, I have continued on a self- taught path.

What is a typical day like in your life?

Alvaro: I work in a dubbing studio as a Pro Tools operator, usually, I’m recording most of the day, I come home in the afternoon, spend time with my girlfriend and play video games or read some manga or books. Sometimes I do sound design, and effects for audiovisual material such as documentaries or advertising.

Carlos: me and my wife own a vegan restaurant in Ensenada, we are both the chefs there, plus we do music events right there since we have a great outdoor space. Excellent projects from the independent scene in Mexico have been presented. In addition, sometimes I did work related to audio, mainly mastering, recording and production. I really like watching movies and series, playing video games, and sometimes I take the time to record new music or write.

Coco: I am currently living on my family’s ranch in Ensenada, B.C. A rather lonely life but one that I really like, especially in winter. I work in tourism, but during my free time, I paint, read, make music and walk in the countryside. I am preparing a drawing and painting exhibition that will be on February 16 in Ensenada. In Mexico City, I am managing a gallery/venue with a group of friends where we will do a small festival for our label in March.

What is the best thing about La Sombra Del Agua?

Alvaro: The whole process: we went through together recording and producing this album, for my very uncomfortable moments, where I felt that nothing was flowing, but even so, I kept looking for a way to improve the tracks. The best thing was to give ourselves the time and space to be able to work on each track carefully and be as satisfied as possible.

Coco: That such a long and arduous effort has given a very satisfactory result.

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

Alvaro: I live in Mexico City, and there are many places to play music of any genre, and new bands emerge very often. It is more difficult to earn enough money to live with your band: festival fees are generally very low for Mexican bands, compared to foreign bands that visit our country.

Carlos: In Ensenada (where Coco and I live) there are few places to play, there is much less public for this music than in CDMX, that is one of the reasons why I promote shows and bring projects from different parts of Mexico, to contribute this to my city.

Tajik’s previous album Ciclos

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Alvaro: I really enjoy some Oneohtrix Point Never records, like Replica. Darkthrone has always been a band I enjoy listening to, their record A Blaze in the Northern Sky. I’m also a fan of Beherit, they recently released an album called Bardo Exist, which oscillates between black metal and dark ambient. Mabe Fratti is also a great influence in the way she uses her musical resources and presents ensembles that I have enjoyed very much live. I also admire Pedro Tirado a lot, his album SalsiPuedes, his lyrics touch me in a deep way. I also really enjoy Container. Lately I’ve been somewhat short on new music, recommendations are welcome.

Carlos: I don’t believe in heroes, but the music that has influenced me the most in my life is: Bardo Pond, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Swans, Wolf Eyes, Donovan, Bhimsen Joshi, A Place To Bury Strangers, Celestial Processions, Mabe Fratti, Sunn O))), The Shangri Las, Jorge Berumen, The Ronettes, Nada, Mito Del Desierto, Coco Badan, Cloks, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Residents, Fernanda P, Oneohtrix Point Never, Silver Apples, Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, The Kowalskis, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Curvo, Julee Cruise, Dirty Beaches, Pedro Tirado, Manto Blanco and many others that I can’t remember right now.

Coco: It makes me very happy to be able to say that many of the projects I admire are people close to me. If Tajak has given us anything, it is the opportunity to meet all these people.

Celestial Processions, Myth of the Desert, Electrical Services, Aviation School, CCOOWWSS, Beru, Mr Saldos, Cloks, Nada, le trash can, Choco bestia, Shax, Mental Induction, gnois, José Orozco Mora, J Zunz, Concepción Huerta, Love Die, Nine Lives, Rogelio the 3rd, etc. etc.

Outside of the local scene I’ve been listening to KMRU, Lucrecia Dalt, Coby Sey, Aaron Dilloway, Lea Bertucci, Keiji Haino, Jun Konogaya, His Name is Alive, Alex Zhang Hungtai, John Tavener, Wolf Eyes, Cindy Lee, Cosey Fanni Tutti , Brin, Ryuchi Sakamoto, lots of rapping and my two biggest obsessions: Nocturnal Emissions and Coil.

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

Generally, we get together to improvise, we come up with something we like and we record it with our cell phone, then we record with bass, drums, and guitar microphones. On top of that we are adding more layers of other instruments such as synthesizers, flutes, etc. Then we edit and select what we like the most about what is recorded, we add effects and volume automation.

On La Sombra Del Agua, we had so much time to do it, we would sometimes spend a month without listening to the tracks, then we would listen again and when we listened again, we would think of new things to add to give each track more depth and dynamics. This was only the case on LDSA, our previous albums were recorded very quickly and mixed in a short time as well.

Being from The Netherlands, I am quite interested in the background story of Amsterdam 211, did you live here for a while?

Amsterdam 211 is the address of an apartment in Mexico City where Carlos and Coco lived. Much of the beginning of Tajak we spent a lot of time there, listening to records, talking about music, experiencing sounds, and having a good time with friends. We listened a lot to Black One by Sunn O))), Amanita by Bardo Pond, Cop, and Filth by Swans, Wolf Eyes, Boris, Barn Owl, Fuck Buttons, Oneohtrix Point Never, among others.

What are your immediate and long-term future plans?

Getting a European and American Booker to spin La Sombra Del Agua, we’ve struggled with that. Record new material in February.

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: Draken- Book of Black (2023, Majestic Mountain Records)

Your favorite Norwegian thunder metal band is back! Ever more thunderous and heavy, Draken have really shed their beginners feathers to full on rock with the heavy weights this time. Bands like High On Fire, The Sword, and Orange Goblin pop up in my brain while they keep on pumping up the tempo turning Book Of Black into a restless and sweaty affair.

If their self-titled debut still had plenty of Motorpsycho psychedelic prog rock influences, those are almost gone on Book Of Black. In stead we get heavier songs, faster galloping drums, and an even more aggressive double vocal attack. Their sheer energy and enthusiasm is contagious and will turn some heads their way when they will join fellow Norwegians Spidergawd on their European tour later this year.

Hallvard Gaardløs plays with both Draken and Spidergawd that tour, which is all the more commendable if you consider the absolute ferociousness of this album. With Book Of Black he added another impressive chapter to his growing CV, a musical career that keeps on twisting and turning into ever more interesting directions.

I talked to Hallvard about the new album, the weird period between the debut and the new record, and of course about his dual tour with Spidergawd…this is what he said:

How are you? How did you experience the time between the debut and
the new album?

We’re feeling good, thank you! The time between the debut and Book of Black was
weird, but well spent. Weird because, as everyone knows, there was a pandemic going
on. Well spent because, when we had the opportunity to see each other, we quickly
started to work on new songs. We were actually in the studio, recording bass and
drums for Book of Black the day our debut was released! Not bad at all, I would
say.

What is the best thing about Book Of Black?
It’s difficult to pin-point just one thing, but me personally I really enjoy the guitar
sound of this album. It sounds so massive! And to give myself a tap on the shoulder, I
think my singing on this record sounds significantly better than on our debut. If it is by
my design or Vegard Liverød’s (producer), I’m not quite sure! And of course; one of
my main goals this time was to get Even to do even more lead vocal stuff. In this I
succeeded! Hurrah!

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

All three of us live in the Oslo-region, and I guess the environment is pretty great,
actually. The music community in Norway is small, but one of the best things about it
is that it doesn’t really bother that much about genre and all of that stuff. Jazz cats
hang out with metal heads, et cetera. It’s a good environment for creativity.

What was the strongest influence when writing the new album?
I think this time we wanted to write a more straight forward, in-your-face hard
rock/metal album. More Motörhead, less Hawkwind if you’d like. Our debut is, at
least to me, more explorative, less consistent, and a bit more psychedelic. Book of
Black
is harder and more concise. I’m also confident the songs are overall stronger,
more solid. Our biggest influences on this album are probably Motörhead, Black
Sabbath
and High On Fire.

Where did most of the lyrics come from this time?
Up until now I have written all the lyrics for Draken. But I always send a draft to Even
so he can give me some feedback, and these inputs are really valuable to me. His input
always makes me do some changes in the lyrics before finalizing them. Sometimes it’s
small changes, sometimes drastic.I spent a great deal of time on the lyrics on this album, I got really into it. Generally the theme on this album is darker than on the first. You’ve got some classic metal topics here, such as the abuse and misuse of organized religion (the title track and Devotees of the Faith), the rise of a certain right-winged populist all the way to The White House (House of Horrors), and a take on my favorite Greek matricide Hallvard Gaardløs(Bloodguilt). But there’s a few more light-hearted pieces there as well to balance it
out, like Relentless Sinners, which simply is a homage to all the weirdos, outcasts
and heavy metal maniacs out there. And Bastards, which, despite of the title (or is
it??!!) is about my undying love for my wife.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
All three of us have ideas that we bring to rehearsals. It might be just a riff or a basic
structure for a tune, or it may be more or less finished songs. This time around Even
had a lot of ideas. Five of the songs on Book of Black are Even’s ideas, two are
mine and one we made together. On all tracks though, all three of us put our own
signature on it, to make it sound like Draken. I often get ideas around a vocal melody
and lyrics while we work and rehearse the songs together, so the melodies comes
mostly from me.


We record drums, bass and guitar live, this time in Vegard Liverød’s awesome new
studio down in Vestfold, about an hour south of Oslo. From these live takes we kept
both the drums and bass this time, but we re-recorded the guitar, and Even also does a
lot of overdubs later of course. We also did the vocals there, and I thought many of
those sessions very challenging, but very successful. There were some extremely long
days there in the studio, often recording drums, bass & guitar from around 10 AM and
then carrying on with overdubs and vocals long into the night, past midnight, and way
past my bedtime!! Hard work, but extremely productive. Vegard is a true hero, mark
my words.

What are your immediate and long term future plans? (tell me about the TOUR!!)
Well, we have a couple of headlining shows in Norway in February before we head
down to Europe to support Spidergawd on tour in March. Our first gigs outside of
Norway, visiting Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria and
Denmark. We are really looking forward to that! As some of you might know, I play
bass in Spidergawd as well, so right now I’m preparing both physically and mentally
for the tour. 22 gigs in 26 days are tough enough, but since both a Draken and a
Spidergawd show takes A LOT of energy to pull off, this trek will be especially
challenging. But I like a challenge, so I’m really looking forward to it. We all are!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Check out our new album, goddamnit!!!