Sunday, December 16, 2012

... INTERVIEW with Dana Ortt of BEELZEFUZZ !!!

No need to wait for the Best of 2012 to reveal that BEELZEFUZZ has been one of my most exciting revelations of the year; so seing the end of December coming quickly, I finally decided myself to send questions to Dana Ortt (guit/voc), which he answered in less than 48 hours !!! A man just reflecting his band :  serious, simple, sincere, positive and talentuous...
Their recent signing on Church Within records is a big step forward in their young existence and should help them to get their amazing brand of 70's influenced Rock/Progressive DOOM getting a wide exposition in 2013 with their now very awaited debut album...
It's pretty rare, until now, to hear influences from Uriah Heep, Queen, Genesis or even Deep Purple in DOOMY sounds, BEELZEFUZZ does incorporate them with a pretty unique energy, very different from all that retro-bluesy wave, this is very melodic but always amazingly fuzzy and never in rest of heaviness , listen for example "Hypnotize" as a very representative song of their  style which generates exceptionally positive vibes. This band believe me really deserves  much respect and attention !

- Hey guys ! In fact I had planed this interview for a long time,at first I did propose to Pug to do something with you guys and Trifecta about 6 months ago, but then Trifecta split up and time has passed… well, finally, here it is !!! Could you please present Beelzefuzz ? When did you form exactly ? I presume that this sound was pretty different from your previous projects, so what did make you decide to play progressive Doom ?

Steph,I remember Pug mentioning about a joint interview with Trifecta, Jason Barker has a new band called Trilogy,I haven't seen them play yet,will have to check it out,man!

Beelzefuzz,yes,indeed,the band took form in September,2009. Pug(bass) and Rick Jenkins(drums) were coming from a band called Moonshine Mile from Delaware. I was playing in a band from Baltimore M.D. called Dead Men Sway as well as various other musical endeavours . I had a lot of songs written at the time,but,none of them were appropriate for the projects I was participating in. Pug's band had just split up,I asked a mutual friend if they would be interested in jammin. At our jam session Pug said i had a lot of good ideas,but suggested slowing everything down,as well as some arrangement changes. Productive and positive vibes,right from the beginning. In September 2011 we joined forces with Darin McCloskey from Pale Divine on drums.With Darin in the band,we stepped everything up,lots of new songs were written. I believe our friend Fezz from Admiral Browning coined the term Progressive Doom to describe the music,right on,I can dig it!

- Your logo is very distinctive with that woman drawn, for me she looks like half gypsy/half fairy, how would you describe her and what was she supposed to represent/add?

The logo was drawn by Darin's friend,Brian Tutlo. Brian also did the cover for Crowned In Earth-A Vortex of Earthly Chimes. We wanted to have art in the style of early Genesis/Yes/King Crimson/Uriah Heep. We wanted the art to give that kind of vibe.Darin discussed the vibe/style we wanted to achieve and Brian asked to hear the songs we had recorded. He made up sketches based on his impressions of the music.I think he did an excellent job,the image,for me, triggers the sounds of the band in my mind. Brian is working on new artwork now for the upcoming release.

- I think that your style sweats of good vibes and positive energy, some characters not usually obvious for doom bands who are more characterized by heaviness, hauntedness and often sorrow… is it something that comes naturally or a kind of guideline for you when composing?

Thanks man, for me,I like to involve a positive vibe into the songs,I like to hear a song expressing hope and promise while tragedy looms in the shadows. I enjoy hearing an uplifting chord progression played at a dirge like
tempo,haha! Really,we just want to have a lot of different dynamics to the music.

- You recently signed with the well known German label Church Within rds, did you get some other interesting propositions ? Has it been a difficult choice ? If you had an equivalent proposition from an American label, would you have given the priority to it or this had no particular importance whether the label was European or American ?

We are very excited indeed to have just signed with The Church Within! We did receive other well intentioned offers,but we definitely felt our style of music would be best represented by The Church Within. Oli is known and respected for the quality music he distributes,to have the band associated with his label is super cool! We look forward to repaying his kindness with righteous jams of glorious splendor.

- Did you try to get the opinion from other bands already signed on Church Within ? Are you in contact and would you be much excited to tour with any of them ?

We have spoken to Phil and Tim from Seamount,great dudes who play some awesome music. They have been and continue to be very supportive of us. Once again,it's great to be associated with positive energy and talented individuals .And,yeah,man! A tour with the bands on the label would be exciting stuff,man! But,one thing at a time,I'm trying not to act too excited,need to act professional and responsible here,once we get the album out,we will then see about the possibility of getting excited about possible show possibilities....possibly. ;)

- The album will contain 8 songs including a few ones from the demo, could you tell us which ones and maybe name some of the new titles ? When can expect its release ? Do you already have the title and cover art in mind ?

The album will have a few songs from our 2 demos,those songs have been re-recorded/re-mixed with more guitar tones, different vocal parts and added harmonies.The songs that we plan on being on there are, Reborn,Lotus Jam,All the Feeling Returns,Lunar Blanco,Hypnotize,Light That Blinds,Sirens Song,Lonely Creatures. Some songs have undergone a lot of changes and will sound a bit different from the demo versions. Looking for a release for 2013,still in the mixing stages of the album,we don't have a definite release date yet. Again,Brian Tutlo who did the previous Beelzefuzz logo is currently working on more sketches for us. We are thinking a self titled album,but maybe a title will be conjured when the artwork is bestowed upon us in all its radiant beauty,yes,lets see what happens,haha!

- At different moments over the past months you recorded the debut album… When you first started were you already in contact with Church Within ? Do you think you would have felt a bit more pressure if the deal had been signed before ?

When we first started recording,we had not been in contact with Church Within. We were entering the studio 2 times a month in efforts to keep the costs manageable.The recording process was on hold when we first made contact. We spent a good amount of our money in the studio,was definitely a learning experience. We now have a better understanding on how things work and what to do next time,for sure.

- The label “progressive Doom Metal” seems aptly chosen regarding your music but “progressive” is often accompanied of doubtful prejudices, many metalheads just think about Dream Theater stuff when hearing the term… how do you consider this progressive approach and who could be your most important influences on that field of expression ?

I think the term Progressive Doom Metal is a contradicting,funny sounding phrase! But,if I had to describe the band,yes,the band has elements of each of those genres of music. Although,I think we are more 70's influenced rock than anything else. We have traditional song formats based around the vocals,not much guitar soloing or overly lengthy musical interludes. I'm a fan of vocal oriented 70's rock,particularly, Deep Purple,Uriah Heep,Free,Lucifer's Friend and of course, Black Sabbath. Genesis with Peter Gabriel has been a big influence as well. Darin and Pug are much more musically knowledgeable than I am,I tend to focus in on specific things I like to hear,close minded might be the word for it,haha!

- No one can deny that Beelzefuzz has its own original sound but the beginning of the song “Reborn” reminds seriously Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats… is that a band that you enjoy listening ? Which new upcoming bands are you into ?

I've heard that comparison before. When we wrote the Reborn song I was going for a Deep Purple -Black Knight type of riff,the progression of the song is a combination of Black Knight and Strange Kind of Woman,to me anyway. Even stole the OOO'S from Strange Kind of Woman. I do think Uncle Acid is incredible,I like to think if Charles Manson,Neil Young and John Lennon would have had a lost weekend jam session together,it might compare to that sound.

- Some bands playing as a trio feel sometimes the need of a 2nd guitarist on stage, is the trio formula the only one you can imagine for Beelzefuzz ?

It would be cool to have a 2nd guitar to add to the sound,provide some guitar leads,double the rhythm..Would be cool to investigate guitar harmony lines and not be tied to the mic stand and the pedal board the entire time. However,with the 3 of us,it's easy to make a decision about the songs,and, well,everything. I would be hesitant to change what we have right now,but,I would be open to the idea.

- Your are coming from Maryland which is well- known for the quality of its Doom scene since about 20 years … despite the fact that Beelzefuzz doesn't sound like any other MD bands (past and present), is there any local bands that have influenced you or that you might consider as an example to follow ?

I live in North East,Maryland. Pug lives in New Castle, Delaware. Darin is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While our practice spot is at my house in Maryland,I would say we are not a Maryland band,maybe a tri state band would be a better term. I have in no way been a part of any of the rich musical history that has taken place in the area. We are fortunate to be an hr away from Frederick,which is the Shangri la,mecca of Doom so to speak,haha! Past and present,the music has always been good in that area. Earthride,Revelation,Internal Void,Iron Man,Chowder, Admiral Browning,War Injun,Trilogy,there is a lot of cool doom/stoner/rock music currently in the Frederick area. The bands there are serious about makin groovy sounds,good stuff,man.

- A video is attached to almost all your demo songs, which helped a lot to get the band’s name some great exposure on the net… how did you work on that precise point ? Will this “tradition” be continued in the future ?

We are lucky to know some talented peoples. My friend Pat Daugherty put together the Contrition and Lotus Jam videos,he runs a cool video company called CineMavericks Media .The talented Kathy Reeves put together the groovy All The Feeling Returns video. Yeah,man,I'd like to have a video for every song! I'd like to have projector screens on stage with footage related to the songs too,would be cool to have a theme or story-line going on. Also would like a giant,wacky waving arm flailing inflatable tube Beelzefuzz demon creature on stage,but,yeah,that takes time and money to put together.

- You played quite many gigs in 2012, including the Days of the doomed fest, Stoner Hands of Doom, Heinzmann Benefit show and other local shows… What were the highlights for Beelzefuzz ? This also means that you shared the stage with many many great bands, which ones did impress you most ?

Days of the Doomed Fest was a hell of a trip! 2 flat tires and we missed our set time. Merciful Mike Smith hooked us up with a short set in between Argus and the Blood Farmers,very cool of him to do that for us. The lineup he had on that bill was fantastic,and he has an equally as impressive lineup for this coming DOTD,The Gates of Slumber,Penance,Dream Death,just to name a few,check it out,man! Playin SHOD was awesome,big thanks to Rob Levey for lettin us play,we were on the same day as Black Cowgirl,Curse the Son,Orodruin,Earthen Grave,Admiral Browning,Devil To Pay,just a lot of super cool bands, inspirational stuff,for sure! The Heinzmann Benefit show was held in Frederick, cool people coming together to do something positive,glad to be there. I'm grateful to be surrounded by positive,groovy people. I want our music to be a reflection of the powerful energy and inspiration from the people around us,right on,man.

- Sure the album has to be released first but I guess you guys have already in mind your first coming in Europe for 2013… How do you see it and do you have some special expectations about that ?

I would love for the opportunity for us to come to Europe. I do realize that for us,it would be an expensive venture. Our goal is for the band to provide a very unique and identifiable sounds and songs that would justify a European expedition of sorts. Right now, I feel as if we are making some very good steps towards achieving that goal. We are currently writing new material for the second release, 4 songs in , the music is evolving and we have a direction with an individualized and specific sound that we want to make a reality.

- Your schedule for 2013 must be pretty exciting but that doesn't prevent to have eventual fears, do you have any ?

When it comes the music,we only play what we enjoy,we have no desire in making songs with considerations of any mass popular appeal. I guess my fear would be our music not conveying any feeling or sounds that anyone would find interesting and want to listen to,man, that would be a bummer!

- Could you please tell us which merchandising is actually still available ?

Right now,we are sold out of our merchandise! We are gathering green to fund our next merchandise extravaganza. We are expecting to have a new batch of shirts with a few different designs in the next coming months.We will have them available on our facebook page. Our songs are located on our Soundcloud page!

Thank you,Steph!

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