Fire and ice, light and darkness, glommy stoner/doom and peaceful psychedelism... Life is made of constrasts, dualities, twisted emotions and ICE DRAGON is a good example of what kind of richness that can lead to. This band released its first album about ten months ago, a solid effort which was yet presenting some of the best modern stoner doom à la E.W./SLEEP mixed with outstanding psychedelic influences, but the freshly released 2nd effort "the sorrowful sun" is more than a confirmation of the band's enormous potencial, going far further any expectations with a very particular approach in terms of sound recording, progressiveness and devilishly intoxicating structures... I.D. is a name that really deserves your attention in this overcrowded scene, so I thought it was urgent to have an interview with the cool RON (vocals), a guy who is humanly as much interesting and attaching as his musical talent is highly inspired, which believe me is a singular performance at such a point. Enjoy this one and SUPPORT I.D. !!!
* Hey Ron, it's certainly gonna change, but I.D. isn't really known yet, so could you please present the guys behind this, the general concept, characters of the band ?
Greetings Stephane!!! Thank you ever so kindly for inviting us to be a part of your magnificent blog. I am not drunk right now, so this should be a fairly sane and courteous interview I would think. Hoorah! Here goes…. Ice Dragon is definitely not well known in the slightest, I would have to agree with that. Frankly, I am not sure if we will ever be well known. We play a kind of music that is not unlike an odd tasting food with complex flavors. When you are young you hate that food and refuse to eat it, maybe even make fun of it, then when you are a bit older and are getting tired a lot you find that same food to be deliciously refreshing and tasty. So we are music for old tired people basically. It’s ok with me. I am Ron and I handle the vocals and lyrics mostly, although on this new album I had to pick up drumming duties as well. I also do the Theremin and Synth stuff, but there’s more of that on the Burl album. Carter is the axeman, all of the electric stuff. He’s got a lot of cool guitars, some of which he hot rods up. He does backing vocals on stuff too. Joe does the bass and a lot of acoustic stuff, him and Carter share a lot of that. As far as writing, everyone pitches in wherever they can. Someone may have a riff or an idea for a song but then once we all get involved it really starts to sound like Ice Dragon.
* The release of the new album "the sorrowful sun" was programmed simultaneously with the summer solstice, was it just a wink or was there something more significent behind this ?
More of a wink than anything incredibly significant to be honest. Although I will say that I am way into all the far out new age shit. I don’t take it too “seriously” though, like when “real” witches and warlocks talk on the radio or tv and are all like “witches are nice people and astrology is important to science”. I like the more older style new age far out shit when people just wanted to talk about weird stuff and do drugs and wear awesome clothes and dance around. Now everyone is all politically correct about it and making it boring as hell. I listen to this great radio show every Saturday morning called Lucid Sounds, with Victor Robert Venckus on 90.3, and towards the end of it they do a totally rad astrology report and then talk about all sorts of weird issues like knights templar, masons, ghosts, aliens, really tall castles, eating seaweed for protective abilities, how immunization is secretly killing us all, magic, rocks, crystals, astral projection. All that stuff. I was just reading the liner notes last night to the album “Callings” by Paul Winter, you should check his stuff out if you haven’t already. It’ll be like 5 minutes of whale noises and then all of a sudden this slow clarinet or saxophone will creep up on you and whisper sweet nothings into your ear. It makes you feel good in your underwear area.
* Was the first album just (officially) available on bandcamp ? how has been the response to it ?
Yeah, unfortunately it is only available as a download for now. Fingers crossed someone wants to do a gatefold vinyl edition with an Ice Dragon bandana and jar with a nice Burl in it. I would love that. Everyone seems to be digging on it a whole lot though, which is awesome. We’ve had a ton of downloads and many purchases as well. We emailed everyone who bought that album with a free code to download the new one before it came out. I wish we could have done more, but alas. Those people are killer dwarf warrior lords and deserve a high five forever!!!!!
* You recorded the album with just a 4 track home recorder, that gives in my opinion a particular live sound that perfectly allows to share the music, the instants with you... How do you consider the recording conditions and the sound of I.D. ?
Right. I have an old 4-track tape cassette recorder thing and I love using that. We play together all at once in the same room, like live, and use that to do all the basic tracks. It makes it sound more like a band and less like some studio magic overdubbing bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, we do overdubs for vocals and guitars to give it a better sound, but having that original “live” take on there as the foundation just makes it sound cooler to me. Plus tape hiss is the best, my favorite thing. And writing on a tape with marker is great too. We recorded this album in my basement mostly. Doing shit in your own basement is the way to go because you can drink and smoke and yell and smash things if you want. It makes you more creative. Doing things in a studio is horribly lame, there are guys being like “dude don’t put your beer on the mixing console” or “you can’t smoke in here”. What a horrible time. Last time the Pilgrim guys were over my house we smashed an old vhs tape in my vice.
* You made the complete release of the product (tape) by yourselves, this definitely reminds a trademark of the 80's underground which (just as split eps) has a bit of revival but if I'm not wrong more in the death metal scene than on the doom one, what's your position about the release conditions of the album?
I totally agree with you. The 80’s underground must have been so much better than now ya know? There were guys huffing glue everywhere and wearing ridiculous clothes and all of them had a killer demo tape to hand you at any given moment. This one time I got one that was wrapped in a dead bird with polyurethane all over it and the claws were holding the tape. The name of the band was “Titan Troll” It was super slow and heavy with lyrics about old cars and hanging out at strip malls. I actually just made that up, but I’m sure it happened to someone once. All those death metal and black metal guys are awesome, I love that they just do whatever the hell they want and keep everything DIY. I am not sure why all the doom guys are into everything being fancy and shiny and expensive with their releases, I’d like to see some more punk kind of stuff happening. Doing it yourself.
* While the first album had the nice psychedelic ballad "winged prophet", the new album has several quiet moments with nice songs like "near sun on earth" and "dusk", more subtle, intimate, how do you include these songs in your repertory ?
Mostly it is Carter and Joes fault. I am so much tougher than them, but I give in every now and then and we end up with stuff like that. Hahaha. Really it’s a dynamics thing I guess. I hate when you are listening to a metal album and it sounds like you’ve heard the same song 8 times in a row with different lyrics. I need something a little more dynamic. I need a “Fade to Black” in there is what I’m getting at. “Strong men also cry… strong men also cry”
* There's also a split 10'' with Pilgrim which will be soon released, was the song from the same recording session ? how did you choose it ?
Yeah we are INCREDIBLY excited about that one. Jon Rossi from Pilgrim was up at my place practicing with us because he was playing drums for us at a show. We were out on the porch just chatting a bit and he mentioned that this guy Josh McAlear wanted him to do a split. Of course Ice Dragon was the obvious choice for the other band to do the split with and we got to talking about Lord Astaroth. Splits tend to be weird because each band sort of ignores the other bands song and tries to make theirs cooler. That sucks. So we wanted to make ours be essentially a song about the exact same thing, just the two bands different takes on it. So they are both called “Astaroth”. Yersinia Pestis is Josh’s Label/Distro, he’s a cool dude and a great artist. http://www.y-pestis.com/ is his website.
* Can you imagine ICE DRAGON having suddenly a (deserved) huge success with "the sorrowful sun" and then maybe have to change some of your ideas with new obligations ?
I can imagine it, in a far off hazy kind of way, like a distant dream in a land of fog. How nice. How very nice it would be. I don’t know if much would change though. I mean we are more than open to change and certainly do not want to stagnate with our music, but I honestly don’t think any record label or special deal or whatever would make us willing to do a bunch of stupid shit. We all have jobs. So they would have to pay me a hell of a lot of money and give me benefits and a retirement package if they wanted me to care at all about what they wanted.
* There's a very remarkable development of your vocal abilities on the new album, not just plaintive, groovier, more sensitive with nice Ozzy like overtones, did you impose yourself particular objectives for that or it all came naturally with the music ?
Thank you. I did impose a few objectives, yes. I was listening a lot to the old album and thinking of how I could break free, if even just a little, from that monotone trap that a lot of heavy music singers fall into. Flowers was particularly difficult with the vocals. That one took me forever. It is a lot higher than I would normally sing. Also I would say that lyrically this album is much more personal and that helps a lot when singing. If you are singing about skeletons and wizards and magic make-believe than it is a lot harder to get into your vocals. I love Ozzy, he is the greatest.
* The 70's psychedelic/space rock and even folk elements are something very present in your music, I suppose you're naturally very curious towards this extremely rich period of the music history, its discovery could last more than a life, but which bands are unanimously hailed by you guys ?
I’m having a “power C-machine” fruit drink right now. Yeah, we are all way into that stuff for sure. Joe has a huge crush on prog-rock stuff especially. I am really into Grand Funk Railroad, The James Gang, The Groundhogs, Uriah Heep, Iron Claw, Pagan Altar, Deep Purple, Steppenwolf, etc. I like a lot of 70’s folk and country stuff too, Jackson C. Frank is my all time favorite singer/songwriter and Townes Van Zandt comes in at a close second. Carter isn’t really huge on the 70’s stuff as much I think, he listens to a lot of Primus, Stevie Ray Vaughn, GNR, Leon Redbone and Kool Keith. Joe likes Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, stuff like that. The way far out shit. And of course we all love Sabbath. Actually you know who is totally awesome that never gets enough credit is the band “Family”, from Britain back in the late 60’s early 70’s. Those guys knew how to rock and you never really hear enough people saying so.
* What about live performance ? is there any special place you'd like to play in ?
It’s kind of funny but we are all not really into playing live at all. We will if we have to, or it’s been a long while and we feel like we probably should, but otherwise we don’t really care to. Joe goes to a lot of shows and he even buys the shirts and the records at the show and everything. I never go to shows and neither does Carter. I like to be at home. I hate going out. You have to spend 8 dollars on your beers and take cabs and get in fights with the bouncers. I would rather drink in my backyard and grill up some cheeseburgers while listening to the record. It would be ridiculously cool to do something like the “live in pompei” thing. That would be the most fun.
* You've got another band called The Mangled Dead, here's your chance to present it ! You're also rather active on the web with forums, FB, discovering new stuff... any time left for old normal leasures ?!!!
Haha. Yeah, that is my “getting it out of your system” band basically. It’s loud obnoxious hardcore/punk kind of stuff. I play all the instruments and me and my lady sing on it. We try to make sure that every song has the word “fuck” in it. Basically we want it to be the kind of music that a teenager would play really loud in their room after they got yelled at by their parents. I LOVE music man. Not just heavy music but all music. Not all bands, but certainly all genres so I am constantly cranking around looking for new stuff. I like to watch movies more than anything else when I am home. I have a massive VHS collection. I just got “Girls are for Loving” starring secret agent Ginger the other day, that’s a good one. I like to save all my paper bags from the liquor store too. Just in case. I guess Carter does the same thing, so that’s kind of odd. They come in handy though. Joe has “people in town” a lot, so I guess he likes to entertain, gin and tonics, darts, a game of cards, those sorts of things.
* The song "white tusks" reveals another aspect of your personality, something weird, hypnotic, experimental... how did you compose something so mystic ?
I wrote those lyrics at like 4am when I couldn’t get to sleep because I had taken too many mushrooms. I wrote Hexagon Riders the same night actually. Then me and Carter got together and smoked a whole bunch of weed, which is actually fairly uncommon for us since we like to drink more. He had this guitar that he had ripped the frets out of and played it through a bass cab. We just pulled it out of the air. I love the vocal sound on that song, I wish I could do it every time.
* If I had to choose a song which represent the best ID that would be "Poseidon's grasp", doomy, gloomy with hypnotic psychedelic touches, which would be yours ?
We all really like that song, it has been kicking around for a while and we just never got the chance to record it. Finally we did for this album. Hm. Picking one is hard, I don’t know if I can do that. I’ll just agree with you since you seem to know what you are doing.
* Thanx a lot Ron, add something if you wish ...
Eat a lot of Fiber, you’ll be better off for it in the end. Get a good collection of hats and don’t be afraid to wear them. And no that is not to be read into. I mean that literally. When people are over your house, have them put on the hats while drinking and making merriment, it will be great. Also, be meaner to rich people, those fucks are always shitting all over people like you and me. Stop looking up to them for their material possessions. If you live in the boston area and want to make some music with us, hit me up, we are always ready to have a lot of fun. Also, if you are cool but don’t have much money and want one of our tapes, then let me know. I will probably work out a system of questions and or tasks that you will have to complete to prove you are cool, but after that I will send you one. I love you all.