Wednesday, November 16, 2011

an in-depth interview with Portland's retro 70's heavy rock sensation : THE MOSS

I've presented you this new band from Portland and their demo-CD "Wulfram" about two weeks ago... I've listened this little jewel again and again since then and definitely can't enough of it, it'll be for sure in my top 10 of the year and classifies the band in my top 3 concerning newcomers of 2011 !!!
As you've certainly been confirmed through other reviews published here and there recently, THE MOSS is not just another new band among many others in the retro 70's heavy rock scene, this band has a REAL identity :  bluesy, tasty, groovy, with a doomy and mystical approach very particular to them. I'm convinced that they have yet to be ranged as a key-element of the tomorrow's scene with GRAVEYARD, DANAVA and UNCLE ACID... Go now on Bandcamp and purchase "WULFRAM" for 6.66 miserable Dollars or wait for the vynil release early 2012, but do absolutely NOT miss them !
Here's now an in-depth interview with Adam (guit/voc) to let you know more about the band; a pretty cool one even if it ends on a pretty strange note (but nothing dramatical at all...), thanx to him to have answered that one so quickly and for having been so interesting and eloquent.

You don't seem to be teenagers for sure but were you guys all born when Ozzy left B.S. in 1978 ? did you have significent musical experiences prior to THE MOSS ?
We’re all in our 30s. We’ve been in bands for many years. Most notably, Ben was in noise/punk killers, The Hunches. Ben and I basically learned to play our instruments together while in college. Then we dropped out of school to live the banal and fruitless lives of underground rock musicians. We played in a garage punk band called The Real Pills for about 6 years. Beth and Tony have both been in several bands as well. Beth has a really broad range of experience and instruments. Tony was one of those teenage guitar shredders. He still uses the same guitar.

It is hardly imaginable that you recorded "wulfram" just 6 months after you formed the band, did you have most or some of the songs composed before ? if not how did you manage to put out so quickly such mature stuff, did you rehearse that intensively ?
It was a little longer than 6 months. I had a few of those songs kicking around in my head long before the band formed. Ben and I would get together and play them for a few months, and we’d listen to Deep Purple and Leaf Hound and try to hunt down all the heavy bands we could find. It all came together quite effortlessly once Beth and Tony joined us. I usually write fairly complete songs, then the rest of the band adds the magic when we practice. Because we’re all busy with other aspects of our lives, we work hard to make our time together as a band productive.

There's two instrumentals like an intro and outro to "Fell Hand" which is the longest song of the album, the album then ends in a very particular mystical ambiance... like a last minute to close your eyes, reflect, feel, being definitely conscious about the fantastic 40 previous minutes... this is a perfect outro really ! how did you feel it necessary to cut that in three songs ? there's two other instrumentals on "wulfram", do you compose an instrumental song with the idea of introducing an ambiance for next song or like a transition between two songs or just consider it as a full distinct song ? 
We listen to soundtrack music like Morricone and Goblin as well as some early Italian and German prog. We wanted to give the album a little more depth because we tend to be pretty straight ahead most of the time. We picked melodies out of a couple of the songs and wrote them as interludes to break up the pace of record.

Your songs include all the components of great and original 70's heavy rock one can expect, but they're amazingly quite short in average, which gives an impression of a rather direct approach, do your new songs show an evolution towards this, can we imagine something a bit different, maybe more progressive for example ?
Ben and I have talked about song length many times. We always joke that the listener falls asleep after 4 minutes. Maybe that’s just us. We come from a 60s rock/soul and punk background, so we’re most used to 3 minute songs. Our new songs are a little more prog sometimes, and we’ll continue to play with dynamics and introducing different instrumentation, but we really like to keep the impact of the song pretty direct. We’re all about writing the riff, and if you write in too many changes, the impact of the riff can get lost as we see it.

What about live gigs ? Do you like to be jamming and play longer versions of the songs live ? Am I wrong if I say that you seem to have not much played yet in a doom/Stoner environment ? I know that you're in relation with Ron Rochondo, couldn't a killer gig with he mighty Ice Dragon be settled in the area in a near future ?
We don’t jam much live. There are a couple spots where we can extend a song, but most of the time we’re trying to play really hard with few breaks or jams. You are not wrong – we have a bunch of great heavy bands here in town, but we don’t end up playing with them that much yet. I hope that’ll change, but Portland has a zillion bands and they’re all doing their own thing and it can be a little insular at times. I would love to play with Ice Dragon! I only know them through a couple exchanges, but I think they’re one of the coolest doom bands for years.

You're actually working on the cover art of the (new) album, it looks like you'd like something pretty oniric/dreamlike and mysterious ?
That cover art is for the official release of Wulfram. We never intended to self-release the album, but putting it online seemed to finally attract some attention as opposed to just mailing it to labels. I have been trying to learn how to paint, and was deeply influenced by fantasy art like Frank Frazetta and Roger Dean as a kid. The cover art is my best attempt to pay tribute. Thematically it relates to the story of Wulfram which is a concept album. This winter we’ll start recording the new album.What's your opinion on Ozzy and his buddies reforming the original B.S. 33 years later ? Who would you see as the lucky opener(s) for this major tour in 2012 ?

You guys like to use your logo with strange photos or drawings like a skeleton horse for example, it's always strange and original... do you have precise ideas of what you look for in advance or ... ? Do you know the blog of the great band NAAM ( ?
I could spend all my time drawing, working on art and looking at art. It’s a fun aspect of being in a band – I have a theme I can work around. When I’m creating the art, or if I’m using a found photo, I want it to impart the same feelings that our music does. A little foreboding, intense and strange. Wow, we know of NAAM, but now we know of the blog!

Contrary to some other bands, one can not reproach you for sounding exactly like Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin or Jethro Tull mixed with Black Sabbath or ... you certainly dig both B.S. and LZ very much but your influences are more obscure and not so obvious... how do you consider this ?
That’s the best compliment we could hope for. We all love Sabbath and Zeppelin, but we’ve listened to them all our lives. I feel like those are baseline influences if you’re into heavy rock. In this band, we have tried to transcend just paying tribute to the bands we love, and actually embody the songwriting goals of someone just discovering that a sense of evil or discordance or drama can be conveyed by loud guitars and drums and a whiny singer. We listen to a lot of bands from that late sixties/early seventies era both well-known and pretty obscure. We try to break down what influenced them and the way they make us feel. We think this is a better way to express your influences than simply writing songs that mimic them.

You seem to be very interested by/invested in many various passions (ancestral and scientific practices, old crafts...); do you practise particularly any of them ? could any of them give some special strenght to the band's identity ?
This relates to the previous question somewhat. If we immerse ourselves in a broad spectrum of activities – from the thrill of gathering fungus in the ancient woods to hunting an elk with a stone blade that we made ourselves, breaking open a geode to receive its energy, or discovering the secrets of the animists and the spiritualists and seekers of limits, we can better express a spectrum of feelings in our songs.

The song "la cantina" sounds a bit different to my ears from the rest of the album, kinda Desert Rock type, reminding old stuff from EAGLES OF DEATH METAL, any taste for such stuff or am I wrong ?
We don’t listen to a lot of desert rock really. Personally, I’m not sure I’ve ever listened the Eagles of Death Metal. La Cantina was an attempt at something between ZZ Top and Deep Purple. It was the first song to be dropped from our live set, mostly because it doesn’t fit the others as well. We are influenced by blues and blues-based rock, but so many bands have done it to death or done a poor job of it that we don’t want to rehash it too much.

Could you explain in detail "the power of the ancient art of pogonomancy to foresee future events" ?! personnaly I'm not, but do you feel you have enough experience to make a drastic difference with proctomancy ?
Ha ha ha ha. We do eat a lot of tacos before we play, but the study of beards and the power within holds more sway than proctomancy. Also, we have occasionally experienced first-hand the odic emanations of a venerable beard.

What's your opinion on Ozzy and his buddies reforming the original B.S. 33 years later ? Who would you see as the lucky opener(s) for this major tour in 2012 ? 
I think it’s pretty cool. I have mostly given up on reunion shows because I don’t want my precious impression of a band destroyed by silk shirts and river sandals, but Sabbath seems like they’ll stick to the basics. Hmmmmm, I dunno, Electric Wizard and Danava would be my picks perhaps.

I've read that you're looking for preferably a US label to release "Wulfram" on vinyl, this despite European offers... is it mainly about postal costs which in some way become a real problem for both camps, which in definitive promotes digital purchase in fact... can you explain your position please ?
Yeah we figured it’d be easier to get it in people’s hands affordably if it is printed over here. But really, we’re happy to have anyone print it on vinyl. We’re working on it with a European label, so keep yer eyes peeled. We’d just like it to find its way into appreciating ears holes. Any way that happens, we’re happy.

Are you conscious that you can appeal to a large part of the actual doom and stoner audience ? Is there a real distinct scene for 70's heavy rock stuff in your opinion ?
We haven’t noticed too much of a scene with the hard rock stuff. There are always bands doing it, for better or worse, but it doesn’t seem real cohesive like the doom and stoner worlds. We feel like we fit in well with bands like Graveyard, Blood Ceremony, Danava, Uncle Acid, Witch and Witchcraft to name a few. I am encouraged that there are other great bands out there doing things that we like. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that the stoner/doom community is paying us much attention. To me, Sabbath is as heavy as I ever need rock to be. I’m glad that there are plenty of people who recognize that heavy does not necessarily mean down-tuned guitars or gruff vocals or exaggerated displays of manliness.

Well, thanx a lot  Adam for your time and all the best to THE MOSS, add something if you wish...
Thanx Steph ! With respect to the band Moss in the UK, we are changing our name. We’ll keep you posted when we find the right one.

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