Design a site like this with
Get started

Review + Q&A: No Spill Blood – Eye Of Night (2023, Svart Records)

I used to be so deeply into everything metal. It simply could not be heavy enough for me, and somewhere in my twenties I “decided” that this love would never wane, that I would be a metalhead for life, and that nothing or nobody could do anything about it. And yet somehow life did. Nearing my forties now I hardly spin any of my Immortal, Neurosis, or Godflesh albums. Let alone heavier stuff like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or Archon Infaustus.

Somehow my ears slowly got tired of it, and aside from a couple of very dear exceptions I don’t regularly spin any of my heavier metal records anymore. So when a promotional email reaches the Weirdo Shrine office telling me “black, thrash, or death” is on offer, I usually pass. I passed on No Spill Blood too, a couple of times even, even after the first listen. I used to love the way a band like this stormed out of the gates on their first track, blast beats blazing…but not anymore, right? Right??? Wrong.

Somehow this Irish threesome got their hooks on me, and I kept returning, at first appalled, then, curious, intrigued, and finally fascinated. For while No Spill Blood at first glance is a very heavy band, when you dive into the rabbit hole with them, they turn out to have a quite a bit more going for them.

Their heaviness is the motor that spins a psychedelic maelstrom, grabbing the listener by the ears and swirling him with them into the black abyss, and beyond, into deep, deep space. The synthesisers do most of this tractor beam work, messing with your head, as the raspy vocals growl at you, and the relentless drums grind away.

As I let go of any initial resistance, I realised that No Spill Blood is no ordinary metal band. They are a portal, and once you are over the edge, they will take you anywhere…

I threw out a line with No Spill Blood‘s label Svart Records and quite quickly the band responded with the following answers. Reading about their backgrounds made me even more glad I got over my initial metal tiredness and really discover the band, for there is a lot to discover!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for No Spill Blood?

Very quiet, there was quite a lengthy ban on concerts in Ireland which made things very tough on bands to get by.. but we used the time productively writing new material and finishing our new Lp EYE OF NIGHT.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet ?
We are Matt Hedigan (bass and vocals), Ruadhan O Meara (synths) and Ror Conaty (drums). We are old friends who have been hanging round together since forever and would have toured and jammed together in various different guises before starting the band about 10 years ago.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
While we all would be part of the same scene in Dublin we would all have our own particular leanings and other projects.. Matt would be heavily involved in the noise rock scene with his other bands Hands up who wants to die and Shifting. Ruadhan would be more orientated towards the experimental and electronic areas and makes solo music as Magic Pockets. Ror has a long and storied history in the Punk &Metal  end of things , playing with Wizards of Firetop MountainPuget Sound and Burning Realm.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

We all have our day jobs but we have access to a good  rehearsal space in the city where we meet a few times a week to work on music. Beyond this we bounce home recorded ideas around on email and see what sticks.

What is the best thing about Eye Of Night?

We’re very happy with  how the record turned out, and the crew of people we got to work on it.  Once again we recorded with Rian Trench and Scan in the Meadow , which is an awesome picturesque studio in Wicklow. We then got in the legendary Phil Manley of Trans Am / The Fucking Champs to mix the lp and James plotkin to do the master. Beyond this,  we are pretty stoked about how the various live elements of the band were captured , while also getting to do some more expansive development and experimentation.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We all live in Dublin City, which has a great vibrant scene. There is a wealth of stuff to discover in all genres. Real estate is major issue in the city though and finding rehearsal space is tough. There are lots of good gigs to go to and touring bands come through regularly.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?
Some of our favourite acts at the moment would be Oranssi Pazuzu, Krallice, Oneida, Eternal Champion, Blood Incantation, oneohtrix point never, Horse LordsDead RiderMessa, Oozing Wound.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Something usually comes from an initial riff, from bass or the pro one synth. We have to be quite selective about what we do ,as essentially we are composing on 2 monophonic instruments and we have to be careful how things are placed sonically. Granted it might be a a very unusual way of making a band,  but it is not without its pitfalls and impracticalities! But for us it’s a fun and interesting way to do things.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
We are currently on tour with the awesome Year of No Light in EU which has been a truly fantastic experience. After this we will launch the Lp with some Irish dates and look towards autumn to arrange more shows. As soon as we get home we will continue work on new material and start eyeing up a follow up release.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Immediately concern themselves with acquiring our new Lp EYE OF NIGHT out on 24th Feb on the fantastic SVART label. Once this has been accomplished check out Hands up Who Wants to Die, ShiftingMagic Pockets, Burning Realm.

Review + Q&A: Clouds Taste Satanic – Tales Of Demonic Possession (2023, Majestic Mountain Records)

Before we all streamed our heads off, and made fancy playlists, most of the real underground stoners found themselves immersed in YouTube channels. Channels with illusive names like 666MrDoom, Mr Stonebeliever, and The Bong Druid Of Mammoth Weed Mountain worked as a gateway for underground rock and metal bands, sometimes even lifting them up from obscurity and into a record label and live gigs. In that YouTube world you saw there was a penchant for long instrumental bands, who gained most views. Could it be that the long instrumentals were good for studying, reading, LAN parties, or binge drinking and therefore ended up on endless playlists? Who knows, all I know is that Clouds Taste Satanic was often on them.

Strangely enough it took them until this album Tales Of Demonic Possession, even though they have been steadily releasing album for quite some time now. Staying true to their original blueprint, the album consists of four long form tracks, all good for at least one LP’s side. What you see is what you get is pretty much the adagium here, with four dudes just riffing their asses off for almost eighty minutes, guitars, bass, and drums blazing.

Like all good instrumental music, it is music a listener can get lost in, making up their own story as they dive in each of the four rabbit holes presented here. Each song presenting new opportunities for mind travelling, no matter which other visuals or stimulants your are simultaneously using. Clouds Taste Satanic, like bands such as Rotor, Bismut, and Karma To Burn add a fifth dimension to it all; life experience, and the machine-like click of these four individuals as they have found the muscle memory to do this instrumental stoner thing right. They are as reliable source as you can find for this part of the heavy music spectrum, and hopefully will be in the years to come. Majestic Mountain Records have done themselves and the world a favour signing them!

I talked to CTS’s Steven Scavuzzo, a founding member and guitarist in the band. He was more than happy to add some words to their instrumental state of existence. We talked about line up changes, musical heroes, and their future plans.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Clouds Taste Satanic?

Well, thank you.  The pandemic period was very productive for Clouds Taste Satanic.  We were able to record and release the Cloud Covered album including vinyl and we did quite a bit of writing for the new record, Tales of Demonic Possession.  It was also a big influence on the music itself.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc?

I’m Steve Scavuzzo and I play guitar.  Brian Bauhs also plays guitar. Greg Acampora plays drums and Rob Halstead plays bass.  I started the band in 2013 and the other guys joined over the course of a few years.  Brian was an acquaintance of our former bass player so that’s how he found out we were looking for another guitarist.  Greg and Rob replaced other players as well.  They have played together for years in various bands so it was a natural fit.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

All of us have played in other bands before.  All pretty much rock influenced to one degree or another.  We all may have had a few lessons to get going but for the most part learned our respective instruments by doing.  No prodigies.

What does a regular day in your lives’ look like?

Everyone works day jobs.  We practice once a week but so many additional hours are spent addressing everything else it takes to be a band that puts out albums and plays shows.  The more ambitious you are, the more work involved.  Up until Tales we put all our other albums out ourselves so you could say we run a record label as well.  Tales is our first album on a label, Majestic Mountain Records.

What is the best thing about Tales Of Demonic Possession?

What I like best is the ambition.  When we started writing during the pandemic I had visions of it being a triple record (6 twenty-minute songs).  We had already done a double album with The Glitter of Infinite Hell so it really seemed doable to go even bigger.  For logistical reasons that idea proved to be a little overly ambitious but in the future, who knows?

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Sleep, Earth, Pelican, Russian Circles, Bongripper.  There are countless contemporary bands we love but these five, aside from the music, established band templates that we followed to various degrees from the beginning and continue to follow.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs differently after the last album?

There was a conscious attempt to write more as a band during the creative process.  Instead of one person bringing in a completed song and then the band picking it apart and reworking parts and the arrangement, everyone was encouraged to write more and also to create more parts spontaneously during practice.  Full band participation in the writing and arranging has increased year after year.  We’ve taken it even farther with the next album which we start recording in March.  We all believe it has made for better songs and a more enjoyable creative process.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Tonight we have a gig at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn opening up for The Obsessed.   In March we begin recording our next album.  In May we go to Europe for a week of gigs including the Esbjerg Fuzztival in Denmark and in September we are playing DesertFest NYC.  In between we are going to try to squeeze in the recording of a few Christmas songs.

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

Check out our Bandcamp Page.  See if we sound like what you are into.  Even if we don’t, it’s great music for folding laundry.

Review + Q&A: Polymoon – Chrysalis (2023, Robotor Records)

And so Finnish psychedelic prog monsters Polymoon have entered the next stage of their development, from a caterpillar (-of creation, their previous album) into a cocoon, or a “Chrysalis” if you will. If the sequence of stages suggests that what the band has on display here is only their sleeping period, I simply lack the imaginative skills to grasp what it will be like when they finally become a butterfly after this album.

For Chrysalis is as rich an album as they get, borrowing and adding from a giant size palette of different styles and colors from 60s acid rock to 80s guitar wizard prog, and even some side steps into much heavier metal territories. There simply is no way to catch Polymoon into a simple genre tag or other faulty misnomer. There is however a general feel of psychedelic dreaminess spread across Chrysalis, perfectly illustrated by the album cover. I can imagine holding the vinyl close to your head and diving right into that purply forest guided by these melodies.

The album’s bright fullness is extra accentuated by its wealthy production, by Kadavar‘s Tiger Bartelt, who also opened his Berlin based studio to Polymoon. Together they did not spare any means to make Chrysalis into the most powerful creation it could have become, and the result is genuinely mind-blowing.

As in; BOOM! Mind blown, no more words. It is only early February, but I think I have found my album of the year already.

I found Polymoon‘s very own Kalle-Erik Kosonen (vocals & synth) and Jesse Jaksola (guitar) more than willing to explain themselves on the topic of their brilliant new album, and the bumpy ride towards it from their previous album The Caterpillars Of Creation and of course the mind numbing pandemic that immediately followed...

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Polymoon?
We are alright, thanks for asking! A lot is happening as the release of our sophomore album Chrysalis is just around the corner. We’ve been waiting for the new album to be released for quite some time, so we are living very exciting and relieving times. Just started the Finnish album release tour with another Tamperestian psychedelic rock band called Death Hawks and we still have some shows to cover.

The pandemic started already six months before our debut album Caterpillars Of Creation came out, so we weren’t able to do any shows before the release. As for everyone, all of the shows we had booked were cancelled and we had to start thinking of what to do. Luckily we had a chance to do some shows to support the debut album but as we all know, it was what it was. No complaining – moving forward. Fortunately we had all this spare energy and spare time and we wanted to do something useful with our creative state of mind so we started writing songs for the new album Chrysalis which will see the daylight on the 17th of February 2023.

Can you introduce yourself, how did you meet, etc?

We are Kalle-Erik Kosonen (vocals & synth) and Jesse Jaksola (guitar). The first time we met was in Uleåborg Festival Of Psychedelia in 2016, a long time before making music together. We enjoyed some great shows and a great time together there and immediately had a mutual love and respect towards each other. So in 2019 when Jesse asked me (Kalle-Erik) to play in this band and make music together, the decision was a no brainer for me. The band back then consisted of Jesse, Otto Kontio (guitar), Juuso Valli (bass) and Tuomas Heikura (drums) and they were looking for a synth player. I instantly said yes and joined the band. Eventually when the songs for our debut album Caterpillars Of Creation were written, we were preparing to hit the studio and decided to add vocals to the songs at the last minute. So I became the singer of the band, half by accident. Our current bass player Marco Menestrina joined the band in the summer of 2022. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Kalle-Erik: I started playing guitar at the age of 10, because rock ‘n’ roll was the most mind blowing thing I had ever heard or seen. Since then I played guitar in various bands before Polymoon. But Polymoon was kind of a musical rebirth for me, since I was starting over by learning and exploring the exciting world of synthesizers and singing.

Jesse: I played piano for some years when I was younger. Some bass also after I got more into music and had some friends to play it with but for quite some time playing music just faded to the background in my life and it took several years to get back on playing. My grandpa used to play piano, bass and sax for all his life so he, my father and his brother were the ones to introduce me to rock ‘n’ roll. I started playing guitar just a few years before forming Polymoon and really fell in love with the instrument and everything around it. It was and still is a friend to depend on and a vessel to express myself.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?
We are working around music and bands, loving animals, eating vegan, nurturing our curls, having a good time with our friends and loved ones, dancing, playing and listening to music and consuming a shitload of culture in general.

What is the best thing about Chrysalis?
It is the result of us giving all we’ve got at the moment as individual musicians and as a band. Chrysalis is a milestone on the path of being a band and it is interesting to observe our growth and progress now when the album is done. It is a very personal and emotionally vulnerable record for us. We hope you feel it from the recording.

Recording Chrysalis in Berlin is also a big part of what makes it so special for us. We were kind of “isolated” in the cultural center of Europe, far away from our everyday lives. We spent two weeks in our favourite city recording our sophomore album in the most inspirational environment at Robotor Studios, Neukölln. Learning on the way and constantly trying out new ideas to make the album as good as we could possibly make it at this point of our musical journey. Working and getting to know our producer Tiger Bartelt was most definitely the cherry on the top. The peaceful and welcoming atmosphere he created, his working methods, ideas and the way he just pushed us made us give our best performance for sure. 

Can you tell me something about the title of the album?
Chrysalis is simply the second stage of a metamorphosis, Caterpillars Of Creation being the first. There are many ways of seeing the metamorphosis. It’s in our way of being a human, being an artist and making music. It’s all about moving forward, growing and evolving. A perpetual change as one great band would put it.

You have lived in Tampere, right? I was there a long time ago, and it sure felt like a “metal” minded city, how is the scene for a band like Polymoon?
Yeah, we live in Tampere – the “psychedelic hotbed” as they say. Home of many metal minded music fans and fans of psychedelic music so it’s a great place to live in and make music. The music scene in general is amazing and nowadays there are so many venues that it’s almost an impossibility to not go out and see a show in our free time. There are many great bands coming from Tampere. It sometimes feels insane yet wonderful to be a part of this “movement”.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?
Mew, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, The Mars Volta, Chelsea Wolfe to name a few.

We are very much inspired by the more organic sound of the 60s & 70s and we feel that most of the great music has been written during those decades. However, we are not worshipping it. We love music from all the different decades and eras equally.

Can you tell me about how you went about composing and recording songs differently after Caterpillars Of Creation?
We started working with Chrysalis in early 2020. Before Caterpillars Of Creation was released yet right after it was recorded. Even though we were supposed to take a little break from making new music and concentrate on rehearsing for the upcoming shows and being a live band. Well that most certainly didn’t happen because of the pandemic, and all the free time we had because of the cancelled shows so there we went again, into the rabbit hole.

When we started working with the new music there was just one word that came out regularly. Transitions. We wanted to pay more attention to composing and to those little details which make those songs a bit more interesting. Those tiny things that you wouldn’t probably notice on a first run but maybe on the second or third round and so on. First song to set the tone for the rest of the record was Instar, a 10 minute prog monster filled with all those ideas or some would say goals that we had when we started creating the magical world of Chrysalis.

There was always someone of us who would bring his idea to the rehearsal place and we played, rehearsed and composed the song out of that idea at rehearsals. The way of working slightly changed from recording homemade loops or rehearsal takes to our phones to building full demos at home and having everyone separately recording their ideas at Jesse’s place. But the original way of making music together, playing live and reacting to each other’s ideas stuck from the first time and is indeed the key way for us to make music for Polymoon. Recording the demos at home was just a tool for composing, pre-producing and “writing down” ideas for the actual recording session with amazingly talented vintage guru Tiger Bartelt who had the set of tools to make this album as it is now.

9. What are your immediate and long term future plans?
-Immediate plans are to finish our album release tour in Finland and enjoy the ride as much as possible. Long term plans – nothing much. We’ll see what the future will shove into our faces. To be honest we’ve been working and waiting for the release of “Chrysalis” for so long that we just want to concentrate on this moment rather than thinking about the next move. Hope you enjoy this moment as much as we do!

10. What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
-Visit Lapland.

Review + Q&A: The Black Cat’s Eye – The Empty Space Between A Seamount And Shock​-​Headed Julia (2023, Tonzonen Records)

When you start out your debut album with a twenty minute instrumental song I think it is safe to say you have some Godzilla size balls. Germany’s The Black Cat’s Eye make it clear from the start that they do not give a damn about their reputation, or about conventions. They do exactly what they feel like doing, just like the cats that lend their eyes for the band’s moniker.

Whether it is the weird sentence of the title, the unpredictability of the songs, or the strange artwork, even before you’ve heard a note of music it is clear that there is something special going on here. Most importantly though; there is some very good music on here too. Opener Kill The Sun And The Moon And The Stars is a Pandora’s box of beautiful secrets for latter day Pink Floyd fans, with an instrumental palette that unfolds itself majestically for twenty plus minutes without boring the listener for a second.

But there is more. On the other half of this shiny blue vinyl platter The Black Cat’s Eye proves they have more sides to them. There is Porcupine Tree echoing songwriting, soothing vocal harmonies, and expert musicianship. It is striking to note that whether the band decides to use vocals hardly seems to matter when it comes to the entertainment value.

The Empty Space Between A Seamount And Shock​-​Headed Julia is a quirky and impressive debut album that defies all logic and comes out on top winning. Adventurous prog and psych heads better watch out!

I talked to Jens Cappel (bass) and Christian Glaser (multi-instrumentalist and vocals) of the band. They kindly and elaborately informed me about their ways, from their various contemporary influences, to the way they created their enigmatic debut album.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for The Black Cat’s Eye?

Thank you, we’re doing fine. During the pandemic we spent most of the time with our families, watching mediocre up to  good tv series, having long walks, but also working on compositions for the band. Many of the ideas for the songs on the album were already written before the pandemic. We didn’t play any online concerts, because in our opinion it needs two poles for a real concert experience: Band and audience.

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

Jens and Christian had the most special first meeting:

Jens: “Oli, in whose studio we finally did our first recordings in 2018, had linked us. For our first get-together we wanted to meet at his studio. However, Jens and I were then faced with a closed door at the agreed time. Oli had already finished his workday and forgotten about us (apart from that, Oli is a very reliable guy ;). So we had to look for another place and ended up at the side of a forest nearby, where we chatted endlessly about our favourite bands having a beer or two and found out that we liked the same bands and musicians.”

But first things first:
Christian: “The beginnings of the band go back to 2016. At that time my two children had left the cradle and I had more time to bring ideas to life that I had had in mind for a long time. The years before I was guitarist for the Hamburg singer-songwriter Robert Carl Blank, recorded several albums with him, toured and played concerts. In 2016, I finally had more free time to work on compositions for an own band project. Wolfi is a long-time friend of mine, he was the first person I asked to join. Steffen, on the other hand, is a good friend of Wolfi’s. We have met from time to time at parties and jammed together, he was the second to join. And finally I came to know Stefan and Jens through recommendations from music colleagues.”

A special thing about the band is the line-up with three electric guitars, played by Wolfi, Steffen and Christian. Jens is the bass player, Stefan plays drums. Our music is mainly instrumental. Christian is doing the singing on some of the songs. Apart from that, he is the one who does the compositions and arrangements for the band. The mastermind of the band, so to speak.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Our musical roots are wide ranged. From metal, jazz, indie and psychedelic rock to avant-garde and modern classical music. The guitarists all studied classical and jazz guitar at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts (Hochschule für Musik Frankfurt) at separate times. Steffen is now a guitar teacher there as well. Stefan studied jazz drums. Our bass player Jens has no academic musical background, but is nevertheless a fantastic bass player and very creative musician who has played in many interesting bands since his teens, and has been active as a musician throughout.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

With three of us (Christian, Wolfi and Jens) having families with young kids, our day usually starts with making breakfast and taking the kids to kindergarten or school. Or taking a check on their fever and putting out a puke bucket (those are the days we would rather do without :)) Jens works in a regular job. The others are full-time musicians, teaching their instruments and playing gigs with various other projects. Steffen, for example, is involved in numerous projects in the modern classical scene, such as the Ensemble Modern (which has worked with Frank Zappa and Steve Reich, among others). Stefan has several other band projects. Christian does the main work for the band. Besides the compositions he also does the graphics, social media, and booking.

What is the best thing about the new album?

To have put the album together with limited means. We only had a small budget, and for reasons of time and money we recorded the basic tracks live with the whole band in two days. Of course you need a bit of luck and a good hand. And you also need good musicians and sound engineers who can achieve the best possible results in a very short time.
We are happy that on 24.03.23 the album will finally be released on vinyl, and that with Tonzonen Records we have a very ambitious label behind us. 

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

We all live in Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt and the Rhein-Main area are quite good places to be active as a musician. Frankfurt has only about 760.000 permanent residents. But other cities like Offenbach, Mainz, Wiesbaden and Darmstadt are only a few kilometres away. A great breeding ground for new projects and networking. Unfortunately Frankfurt in particular has very few gig venues for underground bands. And there are even fewer after Covid.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Jens is a huge Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and The Mars Volta fan. We also like Motorpsycho and other bands related to this genre. Chris loves the music of Pink Floyd and King Crimson since his teenage years. 

Recent music we’ve come across:

Baulta: A Finnish post rock band with a beautiful spherical and wide sound. 

Thundercat: Very wild prog/jazz/funk. 

Airbag: They sound like Pink Floyd at The Division Bell stage

Mono Neon: Freaky and cool funk music. 

Bruit≤: A great French post rock project. Check out their videos.

But there are also a lot of interesting bands on the Tonzonen label: Gong Wah is a pretty cool rock band. Glasgow Coma Scale is playing some awesome post rock.

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

Christian is the one who composes and arranges the music. He sets the musical direction. His demos are quite developed when he presents them to the band, and many of the drum grooves and guitar riffs are already set very precise. The demos are worked out on the computer. Except for the programmed drums, all demos are recorded with real instruments. For official releases we want the music sounding in the best possible way. That’s why The Black Cat’s Eye tends to release rather less material than worse recorded material.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

It would be great to make more recordings and albums with this line-up in the future. But for now it’s about playing shows and promoting the record.

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

They should immediately listen to Keiji Haino‘s “My lord Music, I most humbly beg your indulgence in the hope that you will do me the honour of permitting this seed called Keiji Haino be planted within you“, repeat the Album title a hundred times and then fall asleep…

Oh, but first check out the Tonzonen web-shop for interesting releases from other bands on the label.

Review + Q&A: Westing- Future (2023, Riding Easy Records)

Westing have named themselves after their final album as Slow Season to ensure a brand new start and a new life making music. With the aptly titled Future the band is now looking ahead, and they sure sound invigorated. Their sound represents the uncomplicated 70s in the USA; just four guys plugging in their amps, cracking a six pack, perhaps smoking a doobie and having fun. For reference, check your vinyl corner for Free, Budgie, and Grand Funk Railroad.

Westing mostly takes it easy, adds a heavy fuzz pedal, nothing fancy though, just relax and have a good time. There is no rock star attitude here, no pretence or big imagery. There are songs though, like Lost Riders, an unearthed early 80s NWOBHM track that would not have been out of place on a later Black Sabbath album. It’s denim jacket old school rock ‘n roll, and we like it.

Take into account that All Them Witches guitar hero Ben McLeod opted to tag along for the ride, and that his recognisable tone also relishes this fine “debut”, and I think if you’re only remotely into (retro-) fuzz rock, you’re all set. Ready for a brand new future with this reinvigorated Westing.

I talked to singer/guitarist Daniel Rice about Westing, adding a new member to the fold, and about contemporary heroes…

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

I think I’m putting it all back together, like most everyone else these days! It was a necessary time of decomposition and recomposition. I learned a lot. Take yer vitamins, exercise, and talk about yer feelings and all that.

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

Cody and Hayden and I have been best buds for about 10 years now. We come from from flyover country in California and wanted to do something constructive with ourselves. We first met Ben in 2014 in San Diego but didn’t collaborate until 2021 when we were on an indefinite hiatus.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

My personal background is acapella four part harmony parts indicated by shake notes in an old Church of Christ hymnal. That plus Motown on the radio and my dad playing piano late at night once he thought everyone was asleep. His mother insisted on piano lessons even for her son destined to deliver on the family’s Texas-panhandle football legacy. I found modern rock music via my cousin’s Pearl Jam CDs and then took myself backward in time for however much Columbia house would let me rip them off for. The British Invasion was huge for me. Then prog. Judging from the display shelf by my turntable now it’s Budgie and Bill Evans and Nektar and Gentle Giant and Sabbath and the Cure, haha.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

I get startled awake at just before 6am by a the truest “morning person” ever a six-year-old could be. Chances are her two-year-old brother is laying across my body in perpendicular fashion and possible the middle child has found her way into the bed during the night watch. I work from home teaching English online at a community college whilst helping my wife take off these groms + a half-acre fledgling homestead with ever expanding sustainable gardening and animal husbandry practices in process. 

Cody’s is working from home at various musical projects whilst caring for his kindergartener with his wife and Hayden is a park range up at the nearby lake. Ben is way out in Florida with his wife surfing ever morning and living the dream as a full time musician! 

What is the best thing about Future?

It’s a return to making music with my best friends. I’ve really missed it.

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

Three of us live in Visalia. It’s in CA but it’s not what you’d think – it’s farms and prisons and freeways on the way to more important places.  Bad headlines of poverty, pollution, and Trumpism. It’s also the gateway to some of the greatest natural beauty in the world, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

Neil Young is still kicking around but I’m not his contemporary. Does Uncle Acid work? Elder is very sick, as are All Them Witches.

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

I write songs weekly as a way to process my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes something worthwhile pokes out of that process and then I try to fit it to music. Sometimes I feel the urge to write a guitar part and then something comes for the pike. It can’t be forced. If I’m not in a flow state then I may as well stop. Sometimes Hayden or Cody or Ben bring a riff or part that we can turn into a song. Then we usually track rhythm guitar, bass, and drums together in the same room. Then we take turns with whatever parts we need. Cody is engineer and producer with minor input from myself and Hayden. We record onto 1-inch 16 track tape these days. We typically mix “on-the-fly” with a mix down operating as a performance each time with anywhere from two to three pairs of hands on the knobs and faders in real-time.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We want to get back at it but have to more strategic then before. Quality over quantity when it comes to offers we accept. We hope be all over the globe with our families in-tow in the near future!

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

Please go follow our socials/website so you can get updates on shows and releases. We are working on new music constantly. Good mental health = creative renaissance!

Review + Q&A: Thomas Greenwood – Rituals (2023, Ramble Records/Echodelick Records)

From Italy comes flying to us this charming little record by Thomas Greenwood called Rituals. It is an album that sounds like its artwork; eclectic, strange, hazy, warm, and mysterious, yet somehow very familiar. I don’t know you dear reader, but I know that if you are into modern psychedelic rock, you will find something to love on here…

With a nice and rambling sound, sometimes jangling in 60s psychedelic garage style, an organ pulsating lava lamp ooze back and forth, Thomas Greenwood takes us to purple smoke dens and warm beachy sunsets with your lover. Sometimes ready to dance and hold hands with a band like Dead Man’s Eyes, at other times heading for darker, Brian Jonestown Massacre territories, or even scraping old Doors-y blues ballads.

Did we not hear much of this before? Well sure, but perhaps not completely in this order or fashion. And in any case, what does it matter when you are spellbound to dance to the hypnotising gyration of the Lesley speaker dictating your moves. I told you you would find something yo love here…now you did.

I talked to Thomas “Greenwood” Mascheroni, spiritual leader and name giver to this bold pack of psychedelic troubadours, and as of late, guitarist with Italy’s stoner giants Humulus. He gladly introduced his band, and explained their ways to us.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Thomas Greenwood?

I’m fine man, thanks. 

The pandemic period has been as devastating in social life as productive in music. I passed so much time inside my home-studio (more home than studio haha) recording stuff, and writing rituals. I don’t know man but those years, staying close inside our own house, it forced me to do a little part of the endless bucketlist of “things I will do one day in the future”! So I must say that it has been a very creative and productive period for me. Seen from a positive perspective for sure..

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

Well, first of all, my longest friend on bass Tiziano Bettoni. We know each other since we were 3 or 4 years. So we grow up together in our small town over the hills of Bergamo. He become a really talented musician and so when I started planning some concerts, stuff like that.. and the desire of having a real band become deep inside my mind, well he was the first to ask.

Then Andrea Polini joined the band. He plays the guitar and he’s a great music lover with a really nice taste… He also helped me to produce “valley of the sun”, the first single of Rituals in his home-studio. 

Finally we got Zenk on drums, one of the best drummers around. Every time we play I realize how good he is and that’s cool!

Oh! Tiz is gonna fly to Australia in a few months and he’s gonna stay for some time, so check him out if you are there!!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

I got really nice musical background for my parents. I’m so thankful to them.. My father is totally in love with country-rock, blues ecc.. so I grow up with Neil Young, Crosby, the Byrds and many others in my ears.. My mother is more on the dark-side, she loves punk music, heavy metal (Television, Sex Pistols, Sham 69, Kiss). I became a good music addict for them for sure.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Well, it depends… I live by myself so most of the days I’m at work, sad story haha.. paying the bills, the rent. In my freetime I always find some time for making music, writing new songs and recording new stuff. I got many passions, the most important is music so when I got time it goes immediately in that.

What is the best thing about Rituals?

Rituals was my first experience with self-recording… contrary of what everyone say I tried to make a record without investing money. I invested so much time and spent so many nights recording beside my woodstove during the cold winter. I made a totally DIY production, mixing, mastering and advertising with the precious help of a few friends and my girlfriend(she has always been my one big supporter). I am aware that rituals has its limits but I tried to focus myself on the authenticity and the naturalness of the tracks more than the other parts of the process. 

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

I live in the north of Italy. The music scene (especially alternative music) is really complicated. Look at all the famous bands’ tours.. most of the times Italy is completely ignored. That happens because we have very few locals and venues to play. Not only for that, I think Italians are really lazy with discovering new music. Most of the people here listen what radio plays and that’s awful. Obviously not everybody… X-factor and talents like that have influenced in bad way the last decades.

What would you do if you could not make music?

Why? I will kill myself.

Where does the sound come from? Can you take us to some of your inspirations?

From the music I love… I’m super fan of Tame impala, All them witches, The Black Angels, BJM, Ghost Woman, Kyuss and many more… but also of greatest like Black Sabbath, Canned heat, Allman Brothers, The Byrds, Beatles, Neil Young… Italian Artists like Battisti, Battiato, Ennio Morricone, etc…

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We are making a new record, this time all together! We recorded almost everything and it is gonna be a blast! New songs with cool videos, a different sound and this time everything is gonna be mixed and mastered in the studio! 

I started play with Humulus too so this summer there will be many concerts, also around Europe, stay tuned 😉

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

Smoke a joint and listen to Rituals hah, have fun! 

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Review + Q&A: Sandrider – Enveletration (2023, Satanik Royalty Records)

In another life of mine I interviewed Akimbo when they toured Europe. I remember having a good time with them, and that they were fun and down to earth dudes. Later when they played in the 013 (the Roadburn venue) hardly anyone showed up, but that did not stop them from completely leveling the place with their raucous energy. The band would continue on signing to the legendary Neurot Recordings and release one more album. The ferocious Jersey Shores is still warmly recommended.

In 2012 the band folded without much drama (check out this much explaining press release), and the remaining members continued in Sandrider, which I then somehow lost track of. Enveletration is their fourth album already, and if two things immediately become clear it is that I totally missed out on this band, and that they did not lose any of their wildman energy along the way. Picking up from the fun I had with Akimbo, listening to this is like meeting old friends; they might have gained a few wrinkles along the way, but they have not lost their creative fire.

Enveletration brings that characteristic Akimbo sludge punk rock flame, and holds it to blazing stoner fuzz heaviness. The result is a rough, and bumpy ride that somehow only could have been born out of Seattle; the home of Melvins, Big Business, and of course the breeding ground for an entire alternative rock genre.

This is epic music to slam beers to, shout along to, and break furniture to. It is American music too, music to skateboard to, diving into a dry swimming pool to, and possibly breaking your limbs to. It might not be the smartest thing you’ll ever do, but at least you know that you have lived.

I spoke to Jon Weisnewski, vocalist and guitar manhandler of the band, about the Seattle band environment, their musical backgrounds, and the meaning of the word Enveletration

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

I am great! The pandemic has been awful! Live music has been a huge part of all of our lives since we were kids, and having an airborne virus that spreads easily indoors with tightly packed groups of people really throws a wrench into things. I caught Covid from going to a show. When we play shows I’m unable to let myself feel fully joyful because I’m also putting myself and my family at risk. I hate it! Terrible! Zero out of ten! Would not recommend!

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet (shout out to Akimbo!)?

I am Jon, I play guitar and do some yelling. I love loud abrasive music, videogames, and beer. I am a dad and therefore always exhausted. Jesse Roberts plays bass and also does some yelling. He is a tremendous artist who tattoos professionally and also has done all of our album art. Nat Damm plays drums and also yells but not words and not into a microphone. It’s more primal groans and grunts. Nat is a self employed graphic designer who does all our layout, most of our shirts, and most of our posters. He is also a dad and never not tired.

Nat and I met in gym class in high school. We met Jesse when our old band (Akimbo, thank you very much for the holler!) played with his old band (The Ruby Doe). I asked him to play bass in Sandrider when he was tattooing me. I was in a lot of pain.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We’re all mostly self taught, with a few formal lessons over our lifetimes spritzed here and there. Personally I always grew as a musician by trying to understand what and how my favorite players were doing with their instruments. I don’t think I’ve ever practiced scales (as evidenced by my elementary school guitar noodling). My version of practicing as a kid was learning an entire album front to back and playing along with it. Minor Threat Discography, Never Mind The Bollocks, Let’s Go by Rancid, Dead KennediesPlastic Surgery Disaster, Descendents, Circle Jerks, Black Flag… Those records were basically my guitar teacher.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Extremely boring! Wake up too early, get the kid ready for school, take him to school, go to the office, go home, eat dinner, hang with the family, then squeeze out a few desperate hours of alone time at the end of the day. If I’m very lucky I’ll have a moment to type some answers to a band interview!

What is the best thing about Enveletration (and what does that title mean)?

The best thing about Enveletration is that it exists. We birthed another gross loud music child, and it is here. People can listen to it and hold it and have opinions about it. Creating music is kind of a tiny miracle when you think about it very late at night under the influence of substances… An idea, a melody, or a vibe happens in someone’s brain, but that idea is just a chemical reaction which then becomes a memory. Imagine how many of these ideas happen and then disappear within minutes across every musician that has ever lived. Yet sometimes, it lasts long enough to get manifested through an instrument or a voice. At that point it is REAL. It is a thing others can witness. Then you get a group together to play other instruments in support of this idea that was previously a chemical reaction in someone’s brain. You can perform it for people and make them feel feelings. You can record it, and share it, and then the idea is a thing. It will be here after we all die. It’s fucking magic!

The title is a mashup of ‘envelopment’ and ‘penetration’. It’s a weird pondering of power dynamics in sex and mechanical design. What is more powerful, the skyscraper, or the whole sky? The profound answer is hidden somewhere in the songs of this album which is available now from Satanik Royalty Records. Buy it today to uncover the secrets of the universe!

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

We all live in the Seattle area. It’s perhaps a little too friendly to musicians? You can’t throw a rock without hitting someone who is in a band. I’m not complaining though, it’s a fantastic city for music and art. The only downside comes from practical nonsense like if you ever have to find a new practice space. Every room everywhere is taken and that can be a massive pain.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

There are so many! As much as I appreciate the classics I tend to really gravitate to new/current music. Rob Wright, Ben Koller, Kim Thayil, Rob Halford, Brian Cook, Jared Warren, Coady Willis, Steve Brooks, Ben & Hozoji & Dana from Helms Alee, John Reis & Rick Froberg to name a few. I disagree with his politics but I cannot deny that King Buzzo is a huge musical hero of mine. Dale Crover as well. Dave Grohl! Mike Kunka, Joe Preston. Hell my band mates are heroes to me. They’re both so good and I’m so lucky to get to make loud songs with them. I am going to cut myself off from this question in the interest of the other questions.

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

A ton of it is feel and instinct. We start with a riff or collection of riffs, bring them to practice, and then see how it feels. We usually know within a few minutes if it’s an idea we want to chase or if it kind of bounces. When recording we try to be as efficient as possible. We’ve never had ‘comfortable budgets’ or extra time to get things just right. It requires a lot of focus to make sure we’re OK with the results when we’re out of time.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We’re excited to enjoy and perform around the release of Enveletration. There are some other super exciting projects in the works too. It’s going to be a fun, awesome year I think. Long term we just want to keep playing. We have a movie soundtrack project we’ve wanted to take a shot at for years that I think we might try and make real in the next few years.

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

So many things! Something I feel strongly about is directly (not passively) supporting art, so I’d ask anyone who has endured my bloviating this far is to go and directly support a band or artist that you love but haven’t had an opportunity to do so. If you subscribe to a music streaming service and have the means to spend a little extra this month, consider buying an album or shirt of one of your top streamed artists. 

Review + Q&A: Halo Noose- Magical Flight (2023, Echodelick Records/Cardinal Fuzz/Ramble Records/Acid Test Recordings)

Halo Noose hail from the Scottish Highlands, and play a very dense and psychedelic brand of fuzzed up space rock that feels like being blasted by a smoke cannon while riding a Harley Davidson into a wind tunnel. The band sounds like they have played an endless row of shadowy squatter places, drinking only lukewarm lager and smoking 24/7 while spitting random people in the face and shouting c words. You can image my surprise when it turned out all this was the work of one man, all alone in his basement…

And yet, the short half hour of super fuzzy psych rock on Magical Flight is the solo work of Stuart Morrish, who played all the instruments and recorded and engineered it by himself. Originally he released it in 2020 on his Bandcamp, but lucky for us listeners a conglomerate of psych labels picked it up over the past years to release it physically on various different continents.

It definitely deserves your attention too, because space rock seldomly sounded this scuzzy and gyrating. It feels like sticking your head in a car wash, getting a rub that blasts your eardrums out, but still getting out dirtier than you got in. Can space rock get any better? Yes it could have been a little longer…let’s hope Halo Noose fixes that flaw in the near future.

Stuart Morrish in his native Scotland

I talked to Stuart Morrish, from his home in the Scottish Highlands where the wildlife and the Northern Lights are his inspiration for making great psychedelic music. And some very good news near the end too…could it be a new record soon?

Can you introduce the band?

Halo Noose are a solo project I play on every instrument I also engineered mixed and produced the ep. I wanted to experience the whole process even down to help design the sleeve.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

There’s not much to say. I taught myself how to play  I liked watching  bands play live  and I like listening to music.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Pretty much the same as everyone else’s man Going from here to there. I have a wife and two daughters. They keep me busy.

What is the best thing about Magical Flight?

I guess I can say people get what im trying to do and are digging on it.

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

I live in the Northern part of the Highlands in Scotland, UK. It’s all trees, meadows, birds of prey and deer, lots of free roaming deer. It’s very serene and peaceful. The Northern lights is always a good watch up here.

What would be the perfect setting to see Halo Noose?


Where does the sound come from? Can you take us to some of your inspirations?

I’m a big  fan of late 60s psych , also Loop, Spaceman3, Mudhoney, Sundial early Monster Magnet, The Stooges, and many many more.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

I’m currently finishing up recording ten new tracks with the intentions of releasing them as an album this year and see where Halo Noose goes from there.

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

Go seek and find Halo Noose music and give it a go you may dig it.

Review + Q&A: Smote – Genog (2023, Rocket Recordings)

There is a mysterious fog surrounding everything Smote does. The weird name, the strange old English song titles, but mostly the unfathomable music. Of course, instrumental music always leaves something to guess with the listener when it comes to their message or intend, but with Smote this enigma is even stronger, also because with their blend of occult folk, drone, and psych jam, you get the creepy suspicion anything could happen at any time…

On Genog (“enough”, in old English, strikingly related to my native Dutch word “genoeg”, which means the same) the band has build in even more variation than on the previous album Drommon. The songs are more sculpted out entities of their own, and the build up flows more naturally, from the shamanistic dances of opener Genog, to the full blast ear-cleansing of Banhus.

In between the band shows a palette of different angles from which they launch their ritualistic jams. While the band mostly operates in a traditional rock formation, they enjoy mixing things up with synths and flutes, adding to the folkloristic feel and overall mystique.

The apparent paradox of mixing traditional music with the unlimited freedom and progressive expression of the improvised jam does not pose any problems for Smote. They are what they are, and we as outsiders can only listen and watch from a distance in utter amazement and wonder.

I talked to Smote‘s Daniel Foggin, who will dous the honours of introducing himself and his band further on this interview. He is not only a passionate music maker, but also a keen listener, and his recommendations are spot on for the adventurous psych weirdo…so don’t miss out on those either..!

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

I’m well thank you!  Ups and downs like a lot of people I think, I’m very lucky to work as a gardener so I managed to keep myself busy for a lot of it.  

A majority of the first Smote recordings came about during the early days of 2020, the first couple of EP’s are bedroom recordings from that time.  I managed to upgrade to rehearsal space recording for the first LP when the rules relaxed!  

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

Of course!  Mark Brown plays Bass and Tascam 4 track, James King is our drummer, and Callum Church is Guitar and Synthesisers, I’m also Guitar, plus some flute and vocals.  We’ve also had our friend Adam who plays in Pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs along for a few special gigs, so hopefully we can get him back in the mix at some point.  

We’ve all known each other for a long time, through playing in similar bands and hanging around similar venues.  We’ve grown a lot closer since Smote became a live band though.  It’s only me playing the instruments on the records, so when I realised there was a potential to do it live I naturally asked them along because I thought they would be a perfect match!  It’s a totally different experience live, in the best possible way.  We re-work the songs, everyone gets to put some of themselves into it all and it’s an absolute pleasure to play together, the songs often evolve and take on their own life the more we play them.  It’s more fun for us and often means no two gigs will be the same.  

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

James and Mark have been playing together for a long time, long before I even owned an instrument I think.  Funnily enough their old band Apologies was one of the first wild experimental bands I saw live, this was about 5 or 6 years ago.  Seeing a three piece instrumental band get on stage and play one long blinding song as a set was something I had never experienced before, it was so exciting to me!  I didn’t know them personally yet, or anything about music to be honest! So it’s very nice how it’s come full circle and I’ve ended up playing in a band with the both of them.  

Callum is the same, he’s been in bands since a young age and currently does is own project too called ‘Yes Chef’ which is brilliant!  

I didn’t really throw myself into playing music until I was about 22 or 23, I’ve played in a few bands but Smote is the first project I’ve really thrown myself into, lots of late nights and long days recording.  It’s been nice taking the time to experiment with different instrumentation and recording techniques.  There’s been a lot of learning as this project has progressed, it keeps it consistently exciting for me. 

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

Personally I’m lucky enough to work as a gardener, James works alongside me too at the minute.  We spend a lot of time digging and doing repetitive tasks, I guess this reflects in the music too.  It’s nice getting into a rhythm with something and letting the time pass.  if the weathers too bad it can often turn into a recording day for me. Callum and Mark both work full time too.  

We all live within walking distance of each other so rehearsal days are always nice and often involve a knock on each other’s door on the way down to the rehearsal space, and probably a stop at the pub on the way!  

What is the best thing about Genog?

For me the way it progresses as an album really sticks out.  Obviously there are more individual songs on there than the previous album Drommon, but it progresses very differently.  It starts out quite sonically pleasant and precise, then gradually progresses into absolute chaos towards the end.  I hope this makes it more of an enticing listen as it’s not just full pelt ear blasting from the get go.  

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

We all live in Newcastle in north east England.  We’re lucky enough to have access to a practice space as well as well as plenty of good venues and artists within our city.  Touring can be a challenge as we’re quite far north but we’re working around it and WILL finally make it all around the UK and further afield this year! 

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

There’s some really cool stuff happening in France at the minute, Desastrè Records is a great label and the band FRANCE as well as the related projects such as ‘Tanz Mein Herz’ all make incredible music.  Their commitment to drones and repetition is so great, it can be extremely challenging to commit to playing long form pieces of music like that, I really admire the conviction.  

Then there’s people like Kali Malone, Leila Bourdreuil, Stephen O’ Malley and Yosuke Fujita.  There seems to be some really amazing stuff happening with drone and minimal music at the minute and I’m so happy to be able to sit and experience it.  

Of course I’m lucky enough to share a record label with a lot of special people too!  Rocket Recordings seems to have a constant influx of incredible artists, Goat, Gnod, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs to name a few of the big ones for me.  The first record I ever bought was Requiem by GOAT so I’m still pinching myself that I’ve ended up on the same record label as them.  

Something I always wondered; where these weird words like Drommon, Genog, Hlaf, Fenhop come from?

They’re all variations or direct words from old dialects of English, Medieval and Dark Ages stuff.  I never wanted to force one specific vision or story with Smote but there is a constant atmosphere there I think.  The names of the tracks simply add a hint of context.  

‘Genog’ translates to ‘Enough’ 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Hopefully to keep on making records!  There’s been a good few Smote releases since the project started a few years ago, three LPs and two EPs as well as a few collaborative drone releases and I aim to keep that going.  

The main focus at the minute is expanding our touring radius, we’de really like to play in some more places throughout Europe and further afield. Roadburn and Le Guess Who were both very special experiences for us so hopefully there’s more of that in the pipeline!  

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

Have a listen to all of the great artists I’ve mentioned!