Sunday, April 14, 2013

... Around the lava tubes : Interview with BONEWORM !!!

Not your usual kind of wizards, yet LOUD and HEAVY, this trio from Portland named BONEWORM is also immensely SLOW and CRUSHING... Soaked in Doom Metal misery, their fantastic debut (released about 6 months ago) is one of those hidden gems of 2012 that must now get more attention ! 
Without any calculation but with heart and soul, BONEWORM perfectly combine "old school" and "Post", whatever subgenres that could be as long as it is throbbing and sick. Not preventing from distilled psyched-out guitar incursions, there's a sinister and stripped down atmosphere constantly surrounding, monolithic but deeply addictive... And if that could make a difference for you, note that this is a name your price affair on bandcamp but a few bucks would be the less you could do blindly for this ripping piece of Doom !!! Read the good words of Tim and Steve now:

Hi Tim, thanx for taking the time to answer the following few questions for T.o.P. ! How did you guys come up with such a sinister name and sound ?

[Tim] The sounds came first. I had been working on some riffs and ideas for songs and trying to find other musicians who shared my vision for playing loud and slow. I meet Dave, and he introduced me to Chaz who Dave had played with in previous projects. We got together and things just clicked. We jammed, and worked on arranging and refining and playing. Eventually we felt like we had enough to record, but needed a name, and we where having trouble coming up with one that was as badass as the music. In the mountains around Portland there are several volcanoes, one of which has mile long lava tubes you can walk though. We grabbed a case of beer, and the trusty travel bong, and traveled deep up into the lava caves. It’s a strange environment for sound because of all the reflections. After several hours of preparations, we all three sat and started to do some light throat singing. The sounds bounced around the lava tubes and swirled into a loud cacophony of noise. Then, like the patron lady of doom was whispering in our ears, we all said “BONEWORM,” and needless to say, the name stuck.

[Dave] I think what’s awesome about BONEWORM is that the sound is just what comes out- there is not a lot of pretense or thought as to how we want to sound. Tim had some riffs and songs that we jammed on that eventually became the first EP, but everything was very fluid. We tried out a fourth member early in the process, but everything clicked better with just us three, so we left it at that.

I’ve read a couple of references to Melvins which I’m ok with, I also hear a slowed-down to the max crushingness à la YOB in the 1st song , have been bluffed by The Gates of Slumber ‘s like bluesy trad’ Doom tone of ‘Crater’ (recent days of TGOS with ‘the wretch’ album) , not to speak about the burying intro of ‘the call’… this leads me to underline how amazing I find the variety of your songs in such slow and monolithic structures, how do you compose and who do you refer to in terms of inspiration?

[Tim] I am personally inspired by whatever music I hear that I like. I have been on a new music to check out journey ever since my mom bought my dad a record player and a radio when I was 5 years old. In the years leading up to Boneworm, it’s been lots of heavier stuff. I remember seeing the Melvins a few years ago and just being blown away by Buzz’s guitar work, his tones. You can always hear what Buzz is playing, and I like that. It’s loud, punchy, and in your face when it needs to be, but sits back in the mix when it is right for the songs. And yes, if you go to our bandcamp and click the recommendations link, one of the links is to YOB’s 2010 Roadburn performance that Burning World records put out. And being that YOB is based here in Portland, we get a lot of opportunities to see YOB perform. I think YOB has had an influence on almost every musician playing heavy music in Portland these days, and we are no exception. I can also see the similarities with Gates of Slumber, but to be honest (and somewhat ironically), I have not been a huge fan, but I am going to head back and listen again. As far as composition, it really depends, but we start with a core idea, a part if you will. Then we decide on if there are more parts, and make adjustments to how long we play parts, add some transitions, write more parts, throw parts away, add more parts, wrap the whole structure part up. Then Dave will write some lyrics and start singing, we adjust some more if need be, add the backing vocals, and then rehearse it till we are all comfortable with what we have. It isn’t a fast process, but we all feel like the end result is worth it.

[Dave] Composing is very natural for us I think. We just dive in, start carving out pieces adding in and editing until we have the basic structure we like, then I’ll write some lyrics and the process goes around again until we have something we all think is bad ass.

I am all over the road with my influences, everything from punk stuff like Nomeansno, Fugazi, Propagandhi, Akimbo, etc., to more metal stuff like Melvins, Botch, Keelhaul and Tombstones to more post-rock stuff like Drive Like Jehu, Future of the Left, Big Business and Greys. Then there’s this new breed of stuff that’s kind of all of the above, like Kowloon Walled City, Rabbits and Gaytheist - which are three of the most amazing bands out there. I love all of it.


You recorded the album with Adam Pike of Toadhouse rds who - I discovered it after finding similarities in the sound- also worked at about the same period with Serial Hawk, but also a lot of bands from different genres … which band’s album he produced did decide you to work with him ? Diesto maybe? Did you listen Serial Hawk ? Are you satisfied with his hazy work ?

[Tim] I first learned of Diesto years ago, when I was still sort of struggling with the harsher screamy vocals in the heavy music. The harsh vocals turned me off even if the music was awesome. I saw Diesto at a club in Portland, and something clicked, the vocals were perfect for what they were doing, and they really opened my mind up to vocals that were less traditional. I have been a fan of Diesto ever since. As far as Adam goes, I had met Adam years ago when my previous band was looking to record at a local studio. I had looked on the albums of local bands who’s music I was buying, in particular a psychedelic prog rock band called No Go Know, and guess who had recorded so many of these bands? I remember thinking, damn, this guys is prolific! So we went and meet with Adam, but my bandmates decided they wanted to go in a different direction, and we recorded elsewhere. Adam also plays in a number of bands and is all around sound guy around Portland, so most of us knew him already. But when you go to record, you have needs. The self titled was the first thing Boneworm had recorded, and we self-funded the whole thing, so we knew we could not spend months in the studio. We waited as long as we could bear to go into the studio so we would be well rehearsed. Adam really knows his way around the studio, and he is as fast and efficient as anyone I have worked with, which is exactly what we needed to keep costs down. Adam has a no nonsense attitude and captures what you sound like, and edits projects as a natural reflex. I am really happy with the way the recording sounds and came out, given the time we spent on it. But art moves on, all three of us were playing different gear when we recorded that album. We have all added gear that has refined our tones to better merge and sound good together for what we are doing. I am super anal about sound related things, so of course after I have listened to our album 100 times, there are things I want to refine, to improve on the next go around. My nature is to always be thinking about how I can make something I create better, and Boneworm is no expectation. With the gear and the sounds I see an opportunity for Boneworm to make an album that sounds even better next time around. I want to take more time refining and drilling down into every aspect of our sound. And as for Serial Hawk, yeah, they are an awesome band, but my awareness of them was somewhat parallel to working with Adam.

The album has just 3 songs but lasts about 42 minutes ! do you have some shorter songs on your repertory ?! How do you manage to compose your setlist for gigs, just those songs are largely enough if you’re opening and maybe one more is added if you’re headliners ?

[Tim] Our shortest songs are around 12 minutes, and that assumes that we don’t play them at a slightly slower tempo in which case they come out even longer! We honestly did not go into this thinking intentionally that we need songs that are +10 min, it just happened and it felt right to us. As for our set lists, sometimes it means our set list is only two songs, yet we usually get to do 3 songs. We just work with the time we are given. So far the live shows have worked out great set list wise.

[Dave] Yeah, it’s weird, before BONEWORM, the longest song I was ever a part of was 5 :30, and I thought that was just ridiculous. Now, we don’t have any songs shorter than 12 minutes, and I am totally OK with it. It’s not on purpose, and we edit the shit out of our songs, it’s just how they come out.

Is that you guys who compose your gig- posters ? I find them very original with strange characters, a sort of comic books style and very flashy colours… this also let suppose that this is the same guy who took care of the album’s cover ?!

[Dave] Chaz is amazing and creates the raddest visuals for us. We’ve gotten some dorks that talk shit because they aren’t traditional ghoulish metal stuff, but fuck that - I think the artwork should be representative of the music, and I think it absolutely is.

What can we now expect from BONEWORM for the following months ? Are you looking for some label contribution for a physical release of this 1st album ?

[Tim] We have been very close to pulling the trigger on a 12”, but we don’t currently have a label or distribution, and as you may know, running a label, managing releases, getting press and distribution is a ton of work. We really want to focus on creating and playing music and not necessarily distributing and marketing physical releases. We all have day jobs and limited time to spend doing that type of work, and what time we do have we would rather spend playing! Also labels these days seem much less interested in less established bands. The attitude is that with the democratization of music technology, labels want to let bands duke it out at the entry level, then come in with the acts that can show their appeal with fans. Labels that just put out what they think has artistic merit have not lasted in the modern music business (in the USA anyway), for example Hydra Head shut down last year. That being said if a label were to approach us to release our self titled album, we are open to discussions. Right now though, we are looking forward rather than back. We will be putting out more music in 2013, and this time some vinyl will be forthcoming.

[Dave] Our next crop of songs is so fucking good, I can’t wait to play shows and record albums and get this stuff in front of folks, because I think they’re gonna dig it as much as I do.

Thanx, add something if you wish…

[Tim] Thanks for the interview and your interest in Boneworm.

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