Friday, May 17, 2013

Drop out to live... : an Extensive INTERVIEW with BACKWOODS PAYBACK !!!

I've really dug the hell out of the latest Backwoods Payback album, Momantha (Small Stone Records). Truth be told, I have really dug it a great deal.  Lead singer / guitarist, Mike Cummings, is a definite stand out. His voice cuts thru a sea of mediocre vocalists, most of who generally hide behind a borrowed snarl. Bringing to the table a raw yet well controlled set of pipes, Ol' Boy does not shy away from a strong melody. Mix that in with lots of hammering riffs that are all wound up in well written dirty jams, there is not a clunker in the bunch.
Have no doubt, this isn't the Mike Cummings solo show. He is ably backed by the rip and tear guitars of Rylan Caspar, rolling low end brought on by Jessica Baker with the massively solid skin beating of Tom Ewing. Bottom line is I highly recommend picking this album up. Hell get two, and give one to a friend.
How did you come about naming your current album "Momantha"? Its named after the hockey player Mo Mantha right?
--Our old drummer came up with the title and I dug the way it sounded. He didn’t mention anything about it being the name of a hockey player. We found that out later. But the sound of the word, it just brought this image of something HUGE…I envisioned it rising out of the ground like a Godzilla type creature…just massive.

Backwoods Payback is definitely one of my personal favorite bands on Small Stone Records, how did the hell you come to signing with the label?
--We were on tour back in 2010 with our good friends Lo Pan. They had signed onto Small Stone earlier in the year and we were really stoked for them. At the Detroit stop of the tour Scott Hamilton (label head dude) came to the show, watched us jam and afterwards asked me who was putting out our records. I told him we do everything on our own and he said that Small Stone would like to put out our next one if we were down with it. I said “YUP”, and here we are!

How has it been working with Small Stone?
--When I started the band I made a list of all the things I wanted to do with backwoods…the bands I wanted to play with, the places I wanted to go, and on that list was “put a record out with Small Stone or Southern Lord”. Scotts been good to us.

Will Small Stone be putting out the next Backwoods Payback full length?  
--We are putting out an EP on 12” vinyl on our own this summer. Small Stone has the option for our next full length album…I imagine it will happen next year.
"Momantha" was produced by the hella great Benny Grotto, what was it like working with him?
--Benny is great man. Knows his shit, and really listens to tunes BEFORE you head into the studio to start working. It makes a difference for sure. He has an ear for the direction we wanted to go and helped us get there. Great dude.
 Is Benny going to be producing the next album?
--If we end up heading back to Boson and Mad Oak he will for sure. If we try and track the record around out neck of the woods, I am sure he will have a hand in mixing and mastering the final product.

What is the creative process like for Backwoods Payback? Do you hammer tunes out collectively or do you work on them separately?
--It’s always different. Most of the time one of us comes to the table with an idea or collection of rifs and sounds and we all kind of flesh it out. I am definitely more the “complete song” writer. I am always writing, and when I get something going that I think would work well with the rest of the folks I try and get it recorded as fast as possible. There are times that it gets morphed into something afterwards, but more often than not I can go back and listen to the original solo demo of a tune and it matched up pretty much dead on with what we end up jamming together.

Have you been working on songs for the next album?
--Totally. We are always writing. We have about 6 songs written for the next full length and another 6 that are already recorded for that EP we are putting out this summer.
 Not to sound weird but can you describe your band room? (That does sound weird I know. I just always like hearing about or seeing a bands rehearsal/writing space. It's where the creativity happens. Who doesn't dig when bands put pictures of their band room out there for the fan to see where the "magic" happens??
--We jam in our basement. Its nothing special, but its home. The stairway down is covered in old fliers and posters from shows over the years. I collect toys and odd stuff so theres always something fun or strange laying around down there as well.

 Any idea or time frame for your next full length release?
--The EP should be out by the end of the summer, the next full length I guessing spring of next year.

Backwoods Payback has been touring recently...Are you road testing any new material?
--I tend to get bored and always want to try out new stuff. This past run we were rotating 3 or 4 new songs in and out of the set each night. They are starting to get where they should be.

What are some things that inspire you to write your music?
--Just about anything can spark something. It’s mainly internal for me though. A thought, a feeling, something said in passing that sticks with me. I don’t draw to much from current events…I let other folks handle that.

Would you name a song you wish you wrote...And why
--I don’t really have one. I am a huge Neil Young fan and most everything that man does wows me. But I never really wished that I wrote something, It lets me enjoy it in a different way I guess…

Obviously, Backwoods Payback is a hardworking, blue collar band. Nothing comes free, nothing comes easy.  What do you all do for work when not on the road?
--I work in a hair salon in downtown West Chester. Been doing it since about 1999. Jessica works for a voting support service, and Rylan is a carpenter/cabinet maker.

 What made you pick up a guitar way back when?
--I started out wanting to play the saxophone. But after trying it out and not getting a single sound to come out of it, I decided maybe that wasn’t for me. I don’t remember how I got the idea of playing bass in my head, but that’s where I went next. I taught myself how to play and jammed with some folks throughout junior high and highschool. I traded one of my basses to a kid that had an electric guitar he didn’t want and took it from there. I figured it would be easier to write my own songs and do something with them if I was playing the guitar and singing, rather than the bass.

Who is your favorite guitarist?
--Probably Neil Young. I love the stuff that Danny Whitten did opposite Neil on “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” too. Neils playing is just so pure, primal and raw. Every note feels like it counts.

You have a very unique voice, Who are you inspired by?
--Eddie Vedder for sure. Mike Patton was always a big influence on me as well.
How did Backwoods Payback get together?
--I was in a band that had run its course and I knew that I wasn’t done touring and recording yet by a long shot. I was just singing in the other band, not playing anything, but I had these songs that I had been wanting to try with the band. It never seemed like a good fit, so when I left them I bought a 4track and decided to make a demo of everything I had been writing. I played the drums first, then guitar, then vocals. I sat on the demo for a bit and then after a few weeks started giving them out. People seemed to dig on it and I asked a friend if he wanted to play drums for it live and he said sure. Away we went.

Where did you get the name Backwoods Payback?
--We live out in the woods and one night a bunch of us were goofing on each other, having fun. It went back and forth and eventually I said something along the lines of “You better watch it, because I will get you back. And you don’t want the kind of payback that coming from out here!”  I played that demo for a friend later that week and when he asked what I was going to call it, Backwoods Payback just came out.

Backwoods Payback covers quite a bit of miles when you tour, and Backwoods Payback spends a good deal of time supporting your releases. How does Jessica handle being on the road with a bunch of dudes?
--Shes tough man. She holds her own in just about any situation. We aren’t boys or girls out there, we are just 1 unit.

Does someone in the band come up with the bands art work and merch designs?
--I do a lot of that and our good friend Wyatt who used to play in the band Electric Horsemen has done a lot of art for us as well. He really helped define a style or look for the band releases early on.

 Backwoods Payback has toured all over the US, if I were a betting man, I would bet that you must have seen some crazy stuff... What's the craziest thing you've seen while on tour?
--Man, I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I’ve seen too much. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t seen shit! Off the top of my head, nothing is really coming to mind. Sorry :(

Backwoods Payback has the great capability of sharing the stage with many bands that are various  different shades of heavy... From hard rock and stoner rock all the way to straight up doom metal. Being able to fit on such diverse shows is such a great asset to the band... why do you think this is?
--I think its that we never defined ourselves as one particular genre. We don’t pigeon hole the band when we write. Whatever we write, we let it be what it wants to be. Sometimes I wonder if it hurts us? Most of the time I think it allows us to go to places you would never expect us to go.

I feel it's because a great song, is a great song... And in my opinion Backwoods Payback writes great songs. Your music is heavy and catchy, as well as very identifiable to a blue collar, beer drinking, whiskey shootin', overdriven amp lovin' population ... Backwoods Paybacks  music has the potential of growing to appeal to an even larger base of music fans.  This point is illustrated by the show you just announced opening for Thirdeyeblind.
How the hell did that come about?!?

--Brad (the drummer for 3eb) used to be in a band called Year Long Disaster. We are great friends with those guys and toured with them A LOT, put out a split 7” together, just really became buds. When Year Long Disaster stopped doing stuff and Brad picked back up with 3eb again full time he would always let us know when he was coming through town so we could meet up (I really dig 3eb too!). Eventually he and Stephen asked why we never play together, I said I don’t know and here we are. We jammed Pittsburgh last year with them and had a blast. This time around its Atlantic City.

What would be your dream tour package?
--Backwoods Payback, Pearl Jam, Neil Young & Crazy Horse

 Where is the best food on a US tour?
--Strange Matter in Richmond VA
Who controls the music in the van on the road?
--Whoever is driving controls the tunes. Always. That’s the way of the road!

Whats been on the playlist?

--For me lately its been a total 90s hardcore rehash. H2O, Downset, VOD, and the last Kylesa record too

 I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview, is there anything you'd like to say about Terry Funk? Just wondering.
--The Funker?! Love me some Terry Funk. Saw Terry Funk vs Sabu in a barbed wire match for the ECW Heavyweight title at the ECW arena soooooo many moons ago. Terry Funk rules.

And to finish up I have one last question... You are stuck doing 3-5 years in the clink (depending of course on good behavior) And your high paid lawyer negotiates a deal that allows you to bring five CDs with you to listen to thruout your incarceration. What CDs would they be?
--Pearl Jam…10, Neil Young…Tonights The Night, Faith No More…Angel Dust, Captain Beyond…s/t, Ice Cube…The Predator

Thanks again for your time bro! Keep up the killer work, BWP is awesome.

Awesome contribution, thanx so much Scott !!! (Scott Harrington is THE man behind 313 Inc Artist Management and one of the talented writers of Hellride)... thanx also to Mike Cummings for being so interesting, you rule guys !!!

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