Jan 12, 2011
1. I have to ask first up, where did the name come from because a lot of people I speak to keep calling you Black SHEEP of Kali and I have to correct them.
If I could have anticipated all the headaches that would have come from our name, I think I would have chosen something different - oh well. I am a total movie nerd, so it comes from a movie of course. It is from Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom. There is a part where the thugee cult makes indie drink this potion out of a skull and he falls into the "Black Sleep Of Kali Ma" where is basically a zombie and a slave to the cult's will. Plus, their leader pulls the beating heart out of a bunch of people's chests and that is like the most metal shit ever! I liked the idea, and it sounded cool, and felt it was an appropriate name for a doom\stoner metal band.
2. What is your thoughts on the band being labeled "post-metal." ? I have to admit I have a bit of a hatred for that term as it seems very vague and means something different to all people so it seems pointless to use it sometimes.
I don't really worry about it too much. We have a lot of different influences, and we mix a lot of those influences into our music. We aren't a straight doom band, we aren't a straight metal band, we aren't thrash, we have melody, i sing and scream. A label like post metal just makes it easy for people to kind of get an idea of what a band is i guess. I find it better to just listen to something first and make up my own mind about it. There are so many subcategories of metal now that it is pretty ridiculous. It was kind of what happened back in the 90's with hardcore when bands like quicksand came around. They dubbed it post hardcore, because there was more depth to the music than just breakdowns, group singing and straight 4\4 beats. I kind of just consider us a stoner\doom\metal band. If people want to say we are post metal, fine. I guess that is just an easy term for a band that doesn't just proscribe to one style? It's all pretty dumb.
3. How has it been working for Small Stone Records and how did the deal come about ?
Well our good friends in Iota were on Small Stone and they basically said to Scott (the owner of the label) you should check this shit out. He checked us out, called me up, said he wanted to do a record, and there you have it. It was like nepotism sort of, friend nepotism. Small Stone has helped us reach an audience that we never would have reached and they took a chance on us, even though we sound nothing like any other band on their label, which was pretty cool of them. We've gotten exposure we never would have without them! They pretty much let us put out the record we wanted, without any real meddling. What more can you ask for?
4. The album has an oppressive, bleak atmosphere. Is that the live sound of the band or was the darkness level amped up for the recording ?
If you ask me, and you did, I would say these songs are meant to be experienced live. We play this shit loud. We want to rattle your bones, and make you feel these songs. The record is a great representation of our sound, and we have the same sound live, only more raw and heavier sounding. We aren't really bleak people though, we enjoy playing live, so it is not like we are up there scowling, all pissed off and negative. It is just kind of the sound that comes out of us when we write songs.
We put a lot of thought into the sequencing. I don't know how many times I listened to these songs in different orders to see how they sounded in sequence. Song order is really important to an album as a whole experience and I am really conscious of it and really focused on the best order of the songs. I feel like we did a pretty decent job. I am stoked you noticed. It means listening to these songs over and over, until i couldn't stand them anymore, paid off. Hopefully this will come out on vinyl (it's in the works) and people will really notice a distinct feeling between the A & B sides, which is why it was sequenced the way it was (with vinyl in mind).
6. Not many people would know about the Colorado music scene as you don't hear too much about it. Can you give us some insight into the local scene and its bands ?
Colorado has a great fucking scene with some pretty impressive and incredible talent and bands. There are a number of great venues as well. Clinging to the trees of a forest fire are a brutal grind\doom band on prosthetic records. They are awesome people and have a few brutal records out and my baby even added some vocals to their last record! Adai is another incredible band that people need to know about and check out - they are a super heavy, loud, two-piece in the vein of Isis. Other bands people should check out from Colorado are cannons, trees and Matterhorn - all amazing shit!
7. There is a pre-conceived notion that this type of music is all Orange Amplifiers and dudes with long beards smoking weed. Do you think the underground media portrays stoner,sludge, doom, drone - whatever you wish to call it in a rather simple way but there is more to it than meets the eye. What is your opinion about how some websites pigeon-hole the music and its community ?
There is a lot more depth to us as people than just being stoked about great fucking amplifiers, beards and getting high. I think that the idea that the type of music we play is just made by a bunch of stoner dudes who worry about growing their facial hair is ridiculous. I think the genre definitely attracts a certain type, but to just say that we are a bunch of stoners with guitars and loud amps is insulting. I like all types of music, I've played many different types of music my whole life (I've been in bands for the past 17 years). I am a father and a husband, and a writer, and our bass player is a writer as well. We are all multi-faceted musician with a number of interests. People in our band love big riffs, love huge tone, love playing music and really concentrate on song structure and flow. But mainly, it is an artistic outlet. It is an outlet for our aggression, our creativity....and it is downright fucking fun to do most of the time. We love music, and love doing it. I can't imagine my life without playing music. When you come up with a huge riff and play it together for the first time, and shit works, it is one of the coolest things ever. That is what making any music is about, not just getting high and only using certain amps (although i do use a vintage orange and i love it so I guess in ways we do fit into that cliché' as well).
8. How does the band write songs, is there is a formula or is it the straight-out jamming of ideas ?
Really there is no set formula. It usually goes down one of two ways. I write a song or Patrick (other guitar player) writes a song. We show up and show it to each other and it evolves from there. Usually no song ends up exactly the way either of us has written it by ourselves. The whole band usually contributes to the song writing in some way. The other way is that someone has a riff or a few riffs, and we practice it and a song forms as a band at practice. There is very little "jamming" it out. I hate "jamming."
I wrote a lot of the lyrics for Our Slow Decay when I was having a rough time in general, and I used the songs as a way to get out a lot of my negative feelings. I actually realized that a lot of the lyrics were pretty negative about 6 songs in, and I tried to steer away from being totally negative and bleak and inject a little hope in there. It may not be obvious to everyone, but it is in there if you pay attention. My lyrics are more about how i felt at a certain time, or trying capture a particular feeling in the moment I was feeling it. At times, I do view the world really negatively, which happens more than I would like to admit. At times I really do believe "there is nothing to make it all better." But, there is more going on in the lyrics than life is fucked, then we die. I was really trying to explore the idea that we are all tied together and we are all the same, because in the end we are all on this earth for a limited time. We all die, and we all have to go through that experience. A lyric like "in the end we are all the same, bodies and minds they will all decay" sound negative, but really I am saying that everyone ends up in the same place (dead) and that is part of the shared human experience. I don't think that is negative. I really try to use my lyrics and songs as a way to get out a lot of negative feelings, but in general, as a band, we are a happy bunch. Seriously. And no, we are not nihilists.
10. What songs off the album standout from your point of view as a musician in the band and do you hear elements within the music that the general listener will never hear and if so, what are they ?
There is Nothing is a standout for me for a few reasons. With There is Nothing I really wanted to write a song that was simple, but fucking crushing, with a good flow and mood -- I think as a band we achieved that. It is one of the few songs I've written where the band just comes all in, vocals, guitars, drums, bass, just everything, balls to the wall, all at once. I love playing it live, the look on people's faces the first time they see us when we go into that song is priceless. I love every riff in the song. There isn't a single part that I think "oh, i can't wait till this part is over." When I wrote it i remember thinking to myself that I was going to have a tough time writing anything heavier than it ever again.
I also really like the lyrical content of There is Nothing. It may seem a bit over-simplistic, or it might seem extremely negative, but I think it is more pragmatic or practical. Sometime there is just nothing that will make you feel better no matter what anyone says or does. When you are in that moment, I think it is important to experience it, because it makes the rest of your life, when you aren't feeling fucking miserable, that much more important to hold onto and savor. It is also one of the first times that the rest of the band loved a riff, and I kind of didn't want it in there because it didn't sound right to me, but they vetoed me. That riff, which Patrick wrote, is now my favorite part of the song (it comes in at 3:22 in the song). It's brutal and Gordon just kills his drum part there.
I would also say Crow and The Snake is a standout because it was a really challenging song for me as a musician. Patrick is a much more technical player than I am and he wrote that whole song, and he has a very different style than I do. That song is fast and thrashy, and the fingering is tough to pull off. It took me a lot of practice to be able to sing it and play guitar at the same time without fucking it up. It made me a better musician by making me step outside my comfort zone of playing,
As far as me hearing elements the general listener wont, I think being so close to the music there are all sorts of things most people will never hear. A little vocal wavering here and there, a picking error, things like that. I don't really want to point them per say, but we aren't machines and didn't want to pro-tools the record to death, because those little mistakes are what make music special.
11. Was there something in your musical past that led you to playing this style of music, like a stepping stone because I had never heard of you guys till this band came along ?
I've been playing in bands since high-school. Mostly hardcore, metal or rock bands to varying degrees of exposure and success. I am 34 now, and for a while i stopped playing metal, but I am just always drawn back to the riff. The rest of the band has been playing music (i would say exclusively metal) since they were kids too, and they are all about 8-10 years younger than me. I think being on Small Stone pretty much is what got people to pay attention. People know that label, they send out shit out to people to review, and Small Stone has great Distro. So hooray for Small Stone!!
For BSOK i have always used a 1977 Orange or120 (the staple of beard metal apparently). It is my favorite amp i have ever owned and i've had quiet a few. I play a re-issue dan armstrong lucite guitar and usually play through an avatar 4 x 12 with some secret combo of speakers that I can't divulge. Patrick uses a Verellen Locus Smoke and plays a Les Paul Studio through some custom cabs from a local company in Boulder called Atlas Cabs (check them out: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Atlas-Cabinets/335854312135?v=info). The Verellen is a fucking beast. Pedals are pretty minimal, with the main pedal being a the ibanez ad9 delay. There was all sorts of shit used on the record pedal wise for tones, and I honestly can't remember them all.
13. What is the biggest hurdle that Black Sleep Of Kali has to face right now in terms of getting to the next level or is it something you don't think about ?
Well, the biggest hurdle is touring. We can't really tour extensively because we all have real jobs. I am married and have a 1 and a half-year old, and it is just really cost-prohibitive for a bunch of semi-responsible adults to hit the road. We don't really make any money doing this (which isn't why we do it) so I can't leave my job for weeks at a time and just make enough to get to the next city. We try to get out and play one-off shows out-of-state and we are planning on trying to do a week here a week there this year. I think if we could somehow afford to really hit the road for a month or two, it would really help us a ton. If someone wants to pay us well to come rock, let me know, we will be all over it.
14. How has been the reaction to the album ? Have you seen many negative comments and does negativity towards the band affect you in any way ?
The reaction has been almost completely positive across the board, surprisingly enough. There has been a few people that have been dismissive, saying we are just another torche\kylesa clone, and I read a review the other day that said my lyrics were sophomoric or some shit. It can be a little annoying at times to hear the kylesa\torche clone thing, but I like those bands, so it isn't really insulting. The average review of Our Slow Decay has been like 8\10 if i had to guess. That's pretty fucking good I think for our first full length. I just try to do something I feel good about, and if people like it, rad, if not, fuck em.
15. What has the band got planned for 2011 ?
Writing new songs. We have a few 7-inches in the works and we want to record another full length this year. We also want to get out-of-town and play some more shows in different cities. So far I am really excited about the new songs we have.
16. Thanks for the interview, any last words for the readers ? Here is my bit of shameless self-promotion: If you want to support us directly, go buy some shit here: Black Sleep Of Kali Store or check us out here: Facebook.
Dec 8, 2010
There is not a major weak moment on the album and every track has something about it that stands out on its own as memorable. "There is Nothing" has killer vocal arrangements that are catchy along with irresistible musicianship and the track turns into a sonic-jam of sorts halfway through that turns everything, monolithic. "Euology" has a magical moment when the track goes into the "refrain" section, the song takes an unexpected turn that shows real class with layered vocals and a captivating mood-swing. The drumming on this album is one of the driving forces behind the band, like High On Fire, if you took it away a lot of the energy would be lost. This dude plays like he is on a wonder-drug, his work around the kit is fierce. "The Great Destroyer" is an epic dose of sludge-driven riffing that keeps you on the edge of your seat. "The Crow And The Snake" shows how incredible the band is by laying down a killer groove but then adding drum pattens straight from outer-space, most other bands would take the most straight-forward approach they could think of but Black Sleep Of Kali head in the other direction completely inserting weirdness into the drum arrangement. "The Crow And The Snake" is verging on thrash metal in a way but they do it in a way that could never be considered typical or generic and this is the bands most redeeming feature as they roll various styles into one seamless package. Another great track is the 8 minute "In Time" where the dual-part harmony vocals are pure magic, perhaps this tune is a little long for what it is but with the vocals and the great guitar playing, the overall effect is still hypnotic. The band gets a little loose on another track, "Big Sky" which adds another dimension to the album as the rest of the album is beyond tight. This tune is the most typical "stoner" tune on the album, sounding more like a jam session that a precise piece of composition. The doom, sludge and all out rock elements all come together on this track that kicks ass but also keeps in mind, musical accessibility.
"Cries of the Crow" has some of the strongest vocals on the album but the song itself tends to be a bit forgettable but I put that down to having some strong competition from the rest of the tunes and please note that even the weakest tracks are still worthy inclusions. The song with Toscano’s guest appearance, "An End with No Beginning" is a great example of a weaker track that can still wipe the floor with most other bands material. The song seems to have the band on repeat by this point playing out something they more or less have already done on the album. It is still a heavy doom-laden track but it lacks a certain spark that earlier tracks on the album have. It also suffers just a tiny-bit of being too long for what it is, a problem that rears its head more than once on "Our Slow Decay," some songs go on for a minute or two too long and in turn lose some of their impact. Again along with the sound issues, I suggested earlier on in the review, this is my only gripes with the album. Black Sleep of Kali have their little own niche happening it seems by listening to this album and people say "no album is perfect" but this album gets damn close at times. Take a look at this list of bands, Black Cobra, Mastodon, Baroness, High On Fire, Elder, if these bands are on your regular playlist then you will want to get yourself a copy of this. The album is not perfect but I have a feeling their next album might be so I am looking forward to that one now but in the meantime I will be getting many hours of enjoyment from this powerhouse recording...............8/10
Black Sleep Of Kali @ Myspace
Small Stone Recordings