Saturday, 30 December 2017

Through The Void - An Interview With GARGANJUA

UK Progressive Doom/Sludge Metallers – GARGANJUA – released their debut album A Voyage In Solitude back in 2016. We are huge admirers of the album and the band as well.

Fast forward two years later and GARGANJUA will be releasing their superb new album – Through The Void in 2018. To get the album released on Vinyl, the band have started a Pledge Music Campaign which you can view here.

I caught up with the band to discuss the making of their new album and the decision to setup a Pledge Music campaign. You can read all about this below.

Hi guys. How are things with you today.

Very well thank you.

We are here to talk about your new album – Through The Void. I've only had a brief listen recently but it sounds fantastic so for. Though SID is raving on about it. What can people expect from the album.

'A Voyage In Solitude'. is only 4 tracks again but clocks in at around 45 minutes this time. I personally think this album is a world apart from the first. Still doomy and epic but it takes a different path on the journey. We've ventured into new territory on this album too musically. Bit more progressive, some new instrumentation. I think this album is heavier and more melodic for us.

If 'A Voyage In Solitude' started the journey then 'Through The Void' is the storm in the ocean.

When will the album be released.

We are hoping for in late April/early May.

You recorded this album a long time ago. Why has it taken so long to release the album.

In truth, we needed time after this album was recorded to just seperate ourselves from it as it was a heavy experience. We also wanted to think about our release options. There was a lot of label interest so we had a lot to think about. We're very proud of this album and we have always wanted to do a vinyl release so this was the decision we took in the end. And ultimately none of the label interest suited what we were going to do going forward. Vinyl is a time consuming business also.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

I think this album definitely came from within. As opposed to being inspired by the music that surrounded us at the time. It was perhaps more of an outcome of where we were as people. Whilst I wouldn't say this album is original, I don't think it wears its influences on its sleeve like maybe 'Voyage...' did if that makes sense.

You're currently running a Pledge Music Campaign to release the record on vinyl. Did you not have any label interest to release the album on vinyl.

There was label interest but ultimately nothing really stood out and worked for us. Nothing that fully supported the vinyl dream either so we thought we'd try the pledge thing and if that doesn't work, we will just release it on other formats.

Was it a hard decision to start a Pledge Music Campaign.

Yes, in truth, none of us whole-heartedly wanted to do it as its a bit risky and would put the release back a bit but on the other hand, we knew we had nothing to lose. If we're successful then great but if not, we still have an album we're very happy with to release so its not going to derail anything major.

Will the album be released on any other formats such as CD, Cassette and DD.

We will release on CD and DD only if the vinyl pledge is not successful. If it is successful, on all 3 formats.

You released your debut album A Voyage In Solitude back in 2016. Were you surprised by some of the reviews it received originally.

Yes very much so. We just write what we write and when we play, we collectively just lose ourselves in what we do. It makes no difference to us if anyone else gets it/likes it but the response was very unexpected at the time and ever since really. We have been very humbled by that.

Looking back would you change anything about the album at all.

No I don't think so.

Will you touring your new album heavily in 2018. Or will it just be a few gigs here and there.

Just gigs here and there. There may be a short run of dates to mark the release but no extensive tour plans at the moment

What have been your high points and low points with the band.

We've been fortunate to not hit too many lows as a band so far although needing to pull out of Siege of Limerick was not something we wanted to happen. Highs for us so far have been, playing Bloodstock, recording the albums and just having the opportunity to play our instruments.

Would you change anything about your time with Garganjua.

No its been a really good experience for us all so far.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band.

Nah, this is our main band at the moment.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

Its very basic. 2 guitars, bass and drums with 3 of us doing vocal duties live.

How hard is it for Garganjua stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

We don't really think about things like that. We want to sound good but mainly from a selfish point of view and not because we want to stand out or impress anyone. This band is for us. This band is so we can zone out and lose ourselves for a time. Its our form of expression. If people want to join us for the ride, the more the merrier but we're heading out on the journey anyway.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

I would like to thank anyone that follows or supports the band in any way and if you would like the album on vinyl, please follow our pledge link and help us in any way you can.

Thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album.

Thank you for your time dude.

Words by Steve Howe and GARGANJUA


An Interview With THRONELESS

Swedish Doom/Sludge Rockers – THRONELESS – will be releasing their new album – CYCLES – in March 2018 via Black Bow Records. We've already reviewed this record and rate it very highly.

Very different to their debut album and perhaps more aggressive with their overall sound. I was asked to interview the band where we discussed the making of their new album and what albums they enjoyed the most in 2017.

Hi Throneless. How are things with you today.

Things are great, thank you.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

We all met through skateboarding, that’s basically how we know each other. We had a vision of starting a band together, since we were into slow and heavy music. We started jamming and Throneless happened.

How would you describe your overall sound.

We all three come from different paths, musically, and combining them is Throneless. The sound is built on a heavy low end foundation, combined with psychedelic and spacey attributes.

We are here to talk about your new album Cycles. Such an incredible and progressive album compared to your debut album. What can people expect from the album.

Thank you. People can expect a variety of tracks, travelling in and out of heavy riffing and unexplored spaces.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

Our lives got harsher and so did our music.

Did you want to move away from the sound that you created on your debut album.

We let sorrow and disappointment take a step forward on this album. Capture a more melancholic and bitter point of view, musically and lyric wise.

You're now signed to Black Bow Records (Jon from CONAN's record label) and who will be releasing the new album. How did that come about. As you were previously signed to Heavy Psych Sounds.

It stretches back to the first album actually. Heavy Psych Sounds released the physical version of the album and Black Bow were/are responsible for the digital release. Once “Cycles” was completed we decided to do this release fully with Jon. We’re grateful for the time with HPS and are now looking forward to deepen our collaboration with Jon and Black Bow.

Did Jon have any input or provide any helpful advice in regards to the recording and releasing of the new album.

Jon’s been great, everything been going smooth and been handled professionally. We do record and write everything by ourselves, and are free to do that. Having this freedom being able to write our music the way we want to is essential.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group participation or down to one individual.

It’s definitely a group effort, everyone of us are providing riffs, but it’s when we jam it truly comes together.

What influences you when writing music.

Everyday life and everything that’s going on, it all goes into our music.

What have been your high points and low points with the band.

We had a dip during the recording process of “Cycles”, all of us had our own stuff to cope with. We pushed through and are proud over the fact that we’re still here and have a new album on the way.

Would you change anything about your time with Throneless.

We’ve been together for some time now, we all learn from our mistakes and everything happens for a reason. It’s how you handle setbacks and what you make of it that matters.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band.

Johan Burman and Johan Sundén have a new sludge project, it’s still in the making and jam phase, but it’s something new and fresh. Johan Burman also has a Black/Death band with his brother Patric Kreutzberg, called Oberion.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

The setup is kind of basis, even though our amps are vintage powerhouses. We’re always having troubles with the local sound guy, but it usually works out. We strive for getting the audience, and ourselves, in a medative state throughout the show.

How hard is it for Throneless stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

We want to stay heavy and do our own thing. As long as we do that, we feel that we’re on the right track.

Sweden has a well deserved reputation for being one of the best countries providing top-notch Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal bands. How is the scene actually perceived by the Swedish Public. Do you get more recognition from abroad or at home.

Yeah, only in our home-town we have great bands like SUMA and Pyramido. We have actually played more abroad then in Sweden, and the response has been really good both at home and abroad.

Do you perform many local gigs or do you have to travel further afield.

We’ve mostly performed local gigs, now when we’ve been recording and so on. We’re going to book more shows now when the album’s finally out.

With 2017 drawing to a close. What have been your favourite albums you've listened to this year.

There’s been kind of few. We are listening to a broad variety of stiles within the band, but here are a few ones we agree upon.

* Slomatics – Futurians (Live at Roadburn)
* The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
* The Bug vs. Earth – Concrete Desert

Do you have any other exciting plans happening in 2018. Such as tours.

We have some plans for the future, we’ll be playing a lot shows and work on a new album.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

We’re grateful for all the support and appreciation we’ve been given. It means the world to us!

Thanks for doing this.

All the best with the new album.

Thank you!

Words by Steve Howe and THRONELESS

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for arranging this interview. Cycles will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Black Bow Records from March 23rd 2018.


Kayleth - Colossus (Album Review)

Release date: January 12th 2018. Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Colossus – Tracklisting

Lost in the swamp
Ignorant Song
So Distant
Mankind’s Glory
The Spectator
Pitchy Mantra
The Angry Man
The Escape


Massimo Dalla Valle: Guitar
Alessandro Zanetti: Bass
Daniele Pedrollo: Drums
Enrico Gastaldo: Vocals
Michele Montanari: Synth


Italian Psych Stoner Rockers - Kayleth - return with their new album - Colossus. Almost three years have passed since their last album - Space Muffin. This had a very cool sounding re-release courtesy of Argonauta Records. Colossus sees Kayleth play the same style of Psychedelic Space/Stoner Rock sound that was heard on Space Muffin. Kayleth have added a heavier progressive sound from their last album.

Opening track - Lost In The Swamp - has a Kyuss/Dozer style Desert Rock drive but buried under some fantastic sounding Psychedelic Spaced Out riffs. The music is very modern though the Kyuss style rhythms bring a slightly nuanced vintage feel. The vocals from Enrico are clear and match the heavy progressive riffs superbly well. Kayleth have a more dynamic presence on this album compared to their previous releases.

Second song - Forgive - has an eerie early Truckfighters sound but Kayleth soon drift away from that style of music for a more direct progressive grunge/stoner rock sound with the psychedelic noises giving a more experimental feel. The music is played fast and loose at times but that allows Kayleth to focus on creating a heavier FUZZ rock sound. The music is quite addictive though maybe a tad too long at times. You better get used to that feeling as this album runs for about an hour and there are twelve songs held on the album. That's a minor complaint for such a hugely entertaining and brilliantly constructed album. It's too Kayleth's credit that they keep the whole mood of the album lively, fresh and energetic.

Third song - Ignorant Song - has a more serious vibe compared to the other songs on the album with the lyrics having a more personal feel. Though the psychedelic fuzz/stoner sounds still retain their sense of urgency and heaviness.

The next track is perhaps the best song on the album, which happens to be the title track - Colossus. A heavy hitting song that has the classic Space Rock energy of early Monster Magnet driving the heavy rhythms home and leave you wanting more. Later stages of the album has Kayleth starting to play heavier riffs but with a more dynamic flair on songs such as The Spectator, Solitude, Pitchy Mantra, The Angry Man and Oracle.

Kayleth know how to write a good riff. Sure the lyrics maybe OTT but what do you expect with a Spaced Out Stoner Rock album such as this. I also enjoyed Kayleth's use of synths and electronic noises on this record. It adds another spaced out dimension to their heavy sound. This is a much better sounding album compared to Space Muffin and that's perhaps down to the fantastic sounding production held within the album.

Colossus has a deeply rich use of Science Fiction running through its veins and it's hard not to be impressed by the subtle use of Science Fiction themes spliced throughout their music. Colossus is an album you should genuinely be excited about. It's an album that has a lot to say and that's not surprising with the many different musical elements Kayleth have included here on Colossus.

If you want an epic sounding album that has the Stoner Rock brilliance of Kyuss/Dozer and the hard edged Fuzz Rock greatness of Truckfighters, then look no further.

Colossus is ready to take you on an epic ride into the cosmos.....

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Barbara at NeeCee Agency for the promo. Colossus will be available to buy on CD/DD via Argonauta Records from Jan 12th 2018.


Somali Yacht Club - The Sea (Album Review)

Release date: January 22nd 2018. Label: RobustFellow Prod (CD) / Kozmik Artifactz (Vinyl). Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

The Sea – Tracklisting

1. Vero
2. Religion Of Man
3. Blood Leave A Trail
4. Hydrophobia
5. 84 Days
6. Crows


Mez - guitar, vocals
Artur - bass
Lesyk - drums


Somali Yacht Club (SYC) returns with their eagerly awaited second album – The Sea. The Sea has the band in a more reflective and adventurous mood with the band exploring different sounds that reminds me of ISIS (The Band) in their prime. The Sea is very different to their celebrated debut album. As the more psychedelic Stoner/Post-Rock parts have been replaced by a more distinctive Doom/Post-Metal feel.

Opening track – Vero – opens with a long instrumental sound that sees the band blend Post-Rock, Doom, Psych and heavy Stoner riffs. The song is perhaps one of the most progressive songs that the band has written to date. The vocals from Mez appear around the fourth minute and it offers a sense of calm before the music starts to drift into doomier waters. The psychedelic post-rock/post-metal vibes do have a familiar vibe around them. SYC inject a more soothing experimental vibe that allows the music to flow naturally. The lyrics are very surreal at times with the band focusing more on musical progression and heavy melodic cinematic sounds.

Second track – Religion Of Man – return to their familiar shoegaze/post-rock ways. The vocals from Mez are calm and confident throughout. The lyrics match the overall nautical theme of the album. The song may start very quietly but it doesn’t end that way. As SYC move into heavier Stoner/Post-Metal territory with the song becoming more personal to the band. With this song lasting twelve minutes, SYC have a lot of ground to cover with the many different elements of music being played. This song is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album. As it’s very cinematic in scope with the band creating huge sounds that leave you wanting more.

Third track - Blood Leave A Trail – could have easily come from their last album. As it has a familiar sound for the opening moments before SYC bring their new found progressive Stoner/Post-Metal sound back to the forefront of the album. It has quite an alternative rock/metal feel to it as well. The success of the song rests on Somali Yacht Club’s superb ability to play the LOUD riffs against the more subtle Post-Rock QUIET moments. With the band adopting a shorter running time for this track, they could have easily ran out of ideas but to their credit, the whole mood of the album becomes even stronger as a result.

The final three songs – Hydrophobia, 84 Days and Crows capture the same beautifully heavy moments heard on the first half of the album. Though Somali Yacht Club still manages to experiment with their sound and create some haunting gloomy post-metal vibes that interact superbly well with the familiar Psychedelic Stoner Rock/Metal riffs the band is known for. Hydrophobia is most definitely a highlight. As the song starts off as a conventional instrumental post-rock/doom metal track before the band switch gears and make it a hard-rocking Stoner Metal number that can be considered as “head-banging” material.

The overall sound of The Sea is very diverse from the start. Somali Yacht Club is a very hard band to pigeon-hole and I think that’s the point with this album. The Sea is a challenging and complex album with many different themes and ideas that may take time to fully understand and perhaps even admire. The production is intense with the overall sound of the album being very loud and dynamic.

The Sea is a thrilling and beautifully made album from Somali Yacht Club. This is the type of album that could see the band perform or even headline on the more prestigious Doom/Stoner Metal festivals held around the world. Don’t be surprised if you see this album on a few best albums of the year lists in 2018 including my own.

Words by Steve Howe

The Sea will be available to buy on CD/DD via RobustFellow Prods and Vinyl via Kozmik Artifactz from January 22nd 2018.


Wednesday, 27 December 2017

An Interview With Jake Wallace: Discussing PLAIN LIVING PROMOTIONS and CRYPT OF THE RIFF Musical Festival

Jake Wallace (Guitarist from ELDER DRUID) contacted me recently to discuss his new venture. Jake has just started new promotions company called PLAIN LIVING PROMOTIONS.

Plain Living Promotions have just announced their first ever One Day Music Festival called – CRYPT OF THE RIFF – which we will discuss in great detail in the interview below.

CRYPT OF THE RIFF will be held in Belfast on Friday May 18th 2018. You can see from the poster below that the festival has a great line-up.

So let's see how Jake got this crazy idea to run a promotions company and to put on a one day music festival.

Hi Jake. How are things with you today.

Things are great Steve. Christmas is in a few days and I'm patiently waiting on a new Flying V landing on my doorstep!

We are here to talk about the new festival that your new promotions company – Plain Living Promotions is organising. How did this all come about. Why did you decide to form a promotions company.

Basically, the company is myself and Tyrell Black from Electric Octopus. We're both from the same town, not far from Belfast, and we were both doing our own things in regards to Elder Druid and Electric Octopus. We're both big fans of stoner rock, doom, psych, all the good stuff and we thought there wasn't really a specific promoter in Belfast who'd solely deal with these genres.

Was it an easy decision to make to form a promotions company.

It was actually. If we have an idea or a mad plan, it just gets set in motion without too much thought and that’s pretty much what happened here. Thoughts become things.

Did you receive any helpful tips and advice from your pals who do this kind of work already. What advice did they provide you.

Yeah, we have a lot of friends in bands who've been in touch wanting to get involved in a Plain Living Promotions show and I just think it takes something like what we're doing to bring all these killer bands to the surface and show the world what Belfast has in its arsenal. A few stoner rock/doom websites have been sharing our name around as well so its cool to see support from all over the place.

What are the aims and objectives for the promotions company.

The main plan at the minute is to carry out our one-day festival in May 2018. Most of our efforts are going towards making that a successful event and hopefully running them more frequently in the future. Aside from that, we intend to organise shows for local stoner/doom/psych bands and build a sense of community. We also intend to use it as a means of bringing some bigger bands over and giving local bands support slots that they wouldn't normally get in Belfast.

You have plans to put on a new one-day festival called Crypt Of The Riff. Can you give more details when and where it's being held. And who is appearing on the bill.

Crypt of the Riff is going to be a one-day festival on Friday 18th May in Bar Sub in Belfast. Bar Sub is part of the university students union and is an awesome underground bar. We've been planning something like this for a while but we just needed to get a date far enough in advance to make sure everything goes to plan.

The lineup is: Garganjua, Hornets, Elder Druid, zhOra, Molarbear, Two Tales of Woe, So Much For The Sun and Goatschlager.

How did you decide on which bands to appear on the bill. You have a killer line-up so far.

The bands on the bill are all just some of our favourite bands from Northern Ireland. It’s a really good mix of styles but everyone stays true to the heavy riff. We've a great mixing pot of doom, stoner, sludge and hardcore on the bill.

How hard has it been arranging this festival.

It hasn't been too bad. We know all the guys in the bands well and it was a matter of sending out a few messages and securing a date/venue. Keeping it to one day is probably wise for our first fest and we'll know for future after this one is wrapped up.

Will you be promoting anymore gigs before the festival. Or are you seeing how this one goes first.

This will be our first proper event but we have some things lined up for later in 2018.

We have to talk to you about Elder Druid and the fantastic album you released earlier this year. Carmina Satanae. (Apologies I haven't reviewed this yet. I will be very soon). That album received some great reviews. Were you happy with the initial response the album has received so far.

Thanks very much man. Yeah, we got a great a response to the album. The first couple live EPs and our debut EP kind of set the scene for people getting into the band so I think Carmina Satanae really packed a punch as the progression is fairly evident.

What was recording the album like. As this album has a heavier and angrier feel compared to your debut EP – Magicka.

We recorded the album with Niall Doran from Start Together Studios in Belfast. He's an absolute dream to work with and, as a huge fan of doom, he knew exactly what we needed or didn't need. It was a fairly fluid process from start to finish. We recorded live this time and it doesn't really need justified. Click tracks just don't work for our style of playing and the live atmosphere really gels everything together much better.

Was that the intention to release something different to your debut EP.

I wouldn't say it was too different. It was just a progression of what we were working on and a more refined product compared to the earlier stuff. Tone is a very big thing and that goes without saying so that was an important factor as we wanted this to sound as huge as possible.

How are things within the Elder Druid camp. Are you guys making plans for more gigs and tours in 2018. Anything you like to share with our readers.

We’re all alive and kicking man. We've got a couple English shows planned for March when we play Manchester on the 16th and Camden on the 17th. We're playing with Ten Ton Slug, Mage and Master Charger in Manchester then it’s the St Patrick's Day Irish Invasion in Camden on the 17th with Ten Ton Slug, Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters and Mount Soma. We've got some plans for an Irish tour as well in September 2018 with a certain band of fuzzmen.

What have been your high points and low points with the band.

High points for the band would be getting to travel and play gigs in southern Ireland and England in 2017. That’s essentially the best part of it. Getting to take music you wrote in your bedroom to another country and play in front of total strangers is a very fulfilling thing. Siege of Limerick and Emerald Haze were both awesome festivals this year too. The lowest point for me personally was being unable to play our gig in Camden on the last day of our tour after cutting up my hand but the body heals and I'll be back in March.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band.

Dale is the only one of us who is in a proper full-time band outside of Elder Druid. He plays bass in Electric Octopus with Tyrell. We're all very good mates and jam together now and again. We've dreamed up about 200 side projects that haven't yet come to fruition but I'll not speak too soon.

How hard is it for Elder Druid stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

One of the main things people talk about is the style of vocals. Gregg's aggressive style vocals might seem a little different given our style of music but I think it works really great. There's such a huge amount of energy on stage and it feels empowering to get these types of songs out of you. At the same time, we aren't worried about standing out. If we get to play heavy riffs and see parts of the world we wouldn't normally see, why would you care about standing out?

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

Cheers to everyone who got behind the Carmina Satanae album and to everyone who has supported Elder Druid from the beginning. Cheers to everyone getting behind Electric Octopus and allowing them to take the jam world by storm and cheers to everyone for getting behind Plain Living Promotions and Crypt of the Riff Festival. The scene is Belfast is alive and stronger than ever.

Thanks for doing this. All the best with your promotions company, the festival and with the band as well.

Thanks Steve!

Words by Steve Howe and Jake Wallace

Thanks to Jake for doing this interview.

Crypt Of The Riff Links:

Plain Living Promotions Links:

Elder Druid Links:

An Interview With Greg Green From MR PLOW

It's hard to believe that Stoner Metallers MR PLOW have finally returned with a stunning new album. Almost 11 years since their last album – Asteroid 25399.

Their new album – Maintain Radio Silence – is simply stunning. A great blend of Hard Rock, Doom, Psych Rock and loud as hell Stoner Metal riffs. The great sound that MR PLOW were known for back in the early 2000's.

I've been a fan of these guys since their early days and I was rather pleased to listen to the new album and to get the chance to interview Greg Green (Bass) from the band as well.

We discussed their lengthy absence from the scene, their new album and their 21st year being together as a band.

You can read all below.

Hi Greg. How are things with you today?

Great--both rocking and rolling.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today?

Mr. Plow got our start 20 years ago. Jeremy and Justin both played guitar in a band called Wormwood and Dave, our original drummer and I (Greg--bass) were looking for a guitar player. Wormwood broke up and we merged together and started writing songs that were heavily influenced by bands like Fu Manchu and Kyuss.

How would you describe your overall sound?

Heavy riffs with a lot of groove. Vocals that are often aggressive but still intelligible.

How did you come up with the name MR PLOW for your band?

Before Wormwood broke up I heard that they had considered calling themselves Mr. Plow, which came from an episode of the Simpsons. When we were trying to come up with a name for the new band someone suggested Mr. Plow. Nobody was in love with the name, but every other name anyone suggested got shot down. So we ended up going with the one name that everybody was ambivalent about, but at least nobody hated.

We’re still not in love with the name--people constantly want to sing the Mr. Plow jingle from the episode to us or quiz us with Simpsons trivia, but it also implicitly states that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so, in a way, it’s the perfect name for us. 

We are here to talk about your new album which is a fucking huge sounding album. If you don't mind me saying. What can people expect from the album?

We certainly don’t mind you saying so! This album is the first in a long time--it will have been 12 years since our previous release, Asteroid 25399, when it comes out. But the real difference between this and anything else we’ve ever done comes from the fact that everyone in the band has been taking lessons and trying to grow musically coupled with Cory Cousins taking over the drum throne.

Cory is a truly gifted player. As a matter of fact, the bass and drums on the entire album were all done in one take each. Cory has his master’s degree in percussion. He’s had some lessons.

Why has it taken 12 years to release this album since the release of your last album? Any specific reasons?

It was my fault. I moved to Florida to go to chiropractic college right after we released Asteroid. The band played without me for a few months, but didn’t write any new material. Mr. Plow went on hiatus after awhile.

The guy who filled in for me on bass, Ben Yaker, formed a new band with Justin singing and Cory on drums called Sanctus Bellum.

Sanctus Bellum rapidly developed a name for themselves, and were putting out albums and playing a lot of regional gigs when I first got back from Florida. But they took an unexpected hiatus and cleared the path for Mr. Plow to get back into the jam room. This time, we had Cory on drums, and he loves to rock. It wasn’t long before we decided to start writing some new tunes, which brings us to this release.

When will the album be released?

January 26, 2018. We’re waiting on the artwork still, which is being done by Kyler Sharp, who is a well known artist in Houston. He did the poster for Metallica the last time they were in Houston. Everything else is done.

What influenced you all when recording the album?

We were influenced by each other--we’ve never been the fastest songwriters, but these tunes came together very quickly. Having Cory play drums made writing the new songs fun because we could intentionally write challenging drums parts. And the fact that we’ve all been improving our craft by taking lessons didn’t hurt either. Basically, we were all really happy to be in the practice room doing this again after so long.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group participation or down to one individual?

It’s changed over the years, but for this album most of the songs were written by Justin or me. We were making demos of entire songs and sending them to the rest of the band--then when we’d all get in the practice room we’d put our individual stamp on the different parts. My favorite bassline on the whole album is one written by Justin. Jeremy, our other guitar player, came up with a few of the riffs that ended up becoming songs once Justin heard them and started tinkering.

Although two of us write most of the framework, it’s when the rest of the band flavors things up that the songs sound like Mr. Plow.

What influences you when writing music?

Lyrically, Justin takes a lot of inspiration from books. And Justin reads a lot of books. Actually, we all do--we’re a pretty literate band. My lyrical contributions to the album are inspired by random scenarios in my mind that might make a decent story, as in the case with the title track, Maintain Radio Silence. Another song I wrote on the album is Southbound, which is about a good friend of all of us who sold everything he owned and moved to Ecuador.

Musically, we all come from the common ground of loving a good, hooky riff. If it doesn’t find a way to groove it can’t be a Plow song.

You're coming upto your 21st year as a band. Did you ever think that the MR PLOW would last this long?

I’m not sure we ever thought about it, but the key is that we’re all good friends. We’d be hanging out with each other whether we were playing together or not. Writing songs and playing them live just gives us more activities to do together as friends.

What have been your high points and low points with the band?

I think, at least for me, the high point was putting out our first album--there was a great response to it from the critics and fans. We were regularly shipping boxes of CDs to Europe and getting emails from people all over the world who loved it. This next album, Maintain Radio Silence, should take everything to the next level.

The only low point was me moving to Florida. When I got back, Sanctus Bellum was going full throttle, so the future beyond the occasional “reunion show” where we played the hits from the first three albums was uncertain. We all have pretty intense days jobs, so being in more than one band would be challenging at best.

So, Jeremy and I started getting together with some other players and friends and playing some cover songs and mostly just using it as an excuse to drink beer with the boys once a week. Learning other songs makes you a better player, though. And I got a lot better at singing and playing bass at the same time, which has always been tough for me. That’s translated into me helping out with vocal harmonies in the live situation.

Would you change anything about your time with MR PLOW?

If I could go back in a time machine I would tell the younger version of ourselves to get out and tour more while we had less responsibilities. Other than that, it’s been a fun ride. It continues to be that way.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band?

Mr Plow is everyone’s main band except Cory, who also plays in Blues Funeral with the two guitar players from Sanctus Bellum. Their stuff is super cool and reminds me of a proggy Deep Purple. Those guys are extremely talented and I expect everyone will be hearing more from them soon. They put out their second album, The Search, in 2017.

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basic setup?

We keep it simple, other than the pedalboards of the guitar players. Both guitarist play through Matamp rigs, and get the sweetest, fuzziest tone ever. I use a Darkglass amp which has a couple of built in distortion channels that I use sparingly. As the bass player, I try my best to be a supportive player and lock with the drummer so the guitars can paint on top of that canvas.

How hard is it for Mr Plow stand-out from the crowd? Or do you not worry about things like that?

There is just so much good music coming out these days it can be hard to catch people’s attention. Mainly we just focus on playing well and having fun and letting the crowd make the judgement.

Do you perform many local gigs or do you have to travel further afield?

We mostly stick to the Houston area, although playing too many local gigs quickly leads to diminishing returns because people get the “I’ll catch them next time” disease. So, we try to keep local gigs down to every other month or so. We have a show in Lafayette, Louisiana with our buds in Vermillion Whisky in February, and we’re really looking forward to that.

Once the album is out, we’re hoping to do some more regional shows around Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and such.

With 2017 drawing to a close. What have been your favourite albums you've listened to this year?

Oh, man--there’s so much good stuff out there these days it’s hard to keep up. Houston’s own Galactic Cowboys just came out with a new album that I really love, and the whole band loves Elder’s Reflections of a Floating World and Pallbearer’s Heartless. And a bunch of other stuff. We could go on all day on this topic. I also just read that Fu Manchu is coming out with a new album in 2018 and that Alex Lifeson from Rush is playing guitar on one of the tracks, so our inner Rush geek is getting excited about that.

Apart from the new album, do you have any other exciting plans happening 2018?

Just hoping to get out and play some shows around the region. And maybe, just maybe, getting to open for Fu Manchu when they come through. They don’t know this yet, but we can hope.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans?

Thanks for reaching out to us over the years--nothing is cooler than someone from another state or country telling us that they were driving to the beach jammin’ some Plow and feeling the good vibes we try to put out there.

Thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album.

Thanks for having us!

Words by Steve Howe and Greg Green

Thanks to Greg for doing this interview. Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for arranging this interview. Maintain Radio Silence will be available to buy from January 26th 2018.