I first became aware of Dutch Stoner/Sludge Rockers – KOMATSU – back in 2011 when they released their debut self-titled EP. It showed a band with plenty of promise of making loud noises buried under a ton of Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs.
Since then the band have released two superb albums. 2013's – Manu Armata and 2016's Recipe For Murder One. It's for their latest album that has seen the band receive their fair amount of high praise from the Doom/Stoner Metal community.
Since their inception in 2011, the band have toured with artists such as Truckfighters, Red Fang, Clutch, John Garcia and Nick Olivieri over the years.
I was asked by Gero over at Argonauta Records would I like to interview them. I thought why the hell not as I'm huge fan of these guys. Komatsu kindly agreed to this interview. So sit back and enjoy.
How’s life treating you today.
Life is treating us well today, thank you. We are still ‘recovering’ from an European Tour with Duel (USA). We had a blast but were exhausted when we returned home. We are already writing new material and are making plans for another European Tour (February 2017) with The Freeks (USA).
For people not in the know, can you provide a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.
Komatsu is founded in 2011 and we released our first EP that same year. In 2012 we played at the official after party of Queens Of The Stone Age in our hometown.
In 2013 we recorded and released our first full length studio album called ‘Manu Armata’ and it was instantly well received by the international press with raving reviews. We were asked to support bands as Truckfighters, Lonely Kamel, Karma to Burn, Red Fang, Clutch, Nashville Pussy, High on Fire, Corrosion of Conformity, Baroness etc.
In 2014 we played at Speedfest where John Garcia (Vista Chino at that time) joined us on stage to perform the Slo Burn cover ‘July’. A few months later he asked us to join him on tour and we played 32 shows in 13 countries. In 2015 we started recording our second studio album called ‘Recipe for murder one’ and did an European Tour with Nick Oliveri’s Mondo Generator.
In September 2016 we released ‘Recipe for Murder one’ on Argonauta Records (CD) and Lighttown Fidelity (Vinyl).
How would you describe your music for first-time listeners. As I’ve seen your music described as Monster Magnet, Torche, QOTSA and Mastodon. I may have used those great bands myself when reviewing your music in the past.
Yeah, our music has been compared a lot with bands like Torche, QOTSA, Mastodon and Kyuss. I think also because of the connections with Garcia and Olivieri. Great bands that have influenced our music of course. It’s always hard to describe your music, because music is a matter of feelings. All band members listen to different music and bands like Torche, Melvins, Pantera, Clutch, Baroness and 80's punk rock etc. Maybe you can hear those different influences in our music?
How do you feel being compared to those great bands when reading reviews. Do you take enjoyment from comparisons such as this. Or would you like people to consider as your own band with your individual sound.
I understand that listeners, that don’t know Komatsu, want to know what our music sounds like. We don’t mind at all when the reviews mention these comparisons. But of course we think that we have our own individual and unique sound.
We are here to talk about the new album. Recipe For Murder One. A great album that contains some great tracks with powerful riffs and ideas to match. What can people expect from the album.
They can expect 11 pounding songs. A logical continuation on ‘Manu Armata’ but we belief we took the next step. Better sound, better songs and, although it is not a concept album, it’s more a whole.
Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for. Did you do anything different recording for this album compared to your debut album.
The writing went fairly simple and prosper. We didn’t do a lot of things different recording our first full length album.
We recorded our first album in Pop-ei Studio, Eindhoven (NL). The place where I worked as a sound engineer at that time.
We chose to record ‘Recipe for murder one’ at Studio The Void. We wanted to work with Pieter Kloos (a.k.a. Pidah) because he knows how to record a brutal sound, without losing melodies.
It’s been getting a great response from the Doom/Stoner Metal community. Have you been pleased with the responses so far.
Of course. We thought we made a good album but it is always nice when you read that ‘the community’ thinks it’s a good album too!
What influenced you when recording and writing this album as it’s quite a dark album to listen to. Especially with some of the lyrics and heavier riffs.
I got influenced by a lot of things. I like to write dark lyrics because we think they fit and stick well with the heavy music. We spend more time recording the vocals and I think it worked out well. The vocals are more powerful now. I think playing a lot of shows pays off!
Plus you managed to record a song with Nick Olivieri with the album. How did that come about. Did Nick provide any helpful advice when recording this song.
During the European tour with Mondo Generator, Nick Olivieri told us that he liked our music and band. Nick suggested to sing a song on our new album. He listened to two songs and couldn’t choose.
Directly after the tour he did vocals on both songs and sent them to us. We thought his vocals sounded the best on ‘Lockdown’ and we used his backing vocals and screams on the title track ‘Recipe for Murder one’. He didn’t provide any helpful advice because most of the songs were completed at that time.
You’ve signed to both Argonauta Records (CD) and Lighttown Fidelity (Vinyl). How did you hook up with those labels.
Our bookings agency SOZ Concerts shopped with ‘Recipe for Murder one’. Some record companies were interested to release the album but we choose for Argonauta Records. We got a good feeling with their plans and how they wanted to promote the album worldwide.
Lighttown Fidelity is a brand new and small record company from our hometown Eindhoven.
The owner (Matthijs Kropff) started Lighttown Fidelity with releasing ‘Manu Armata’. He is a music lover and friend, so a good company to work with. He attaches great importance to the art-work and and appearance of the vinyl. We think that the art-work of Lisa Coenen is beautiful, especially on vinyl.
You’ve participated with lengthy tours with John Garcia and Nick Olivieri over the last few years. What was that experience like touring with two legends of the Desert/Stoner Rock scene. How did their fans react to your music in general.
Of course we think that both guys are legends and we were excited to go on tour with them. But on tour they we experienced how accessible they were and a good and friendly contact was made. We received good reactions from their fans during the tour. During our last tour with Duel we’ve met a lot of fans that saw us supporting John Garcia in 2013 and/or Mondo Generator in 2015 and came back to see us!
Will you be performing more gigs this year. A more in-depth tour to promote the album. Are there plans to perform more gigs in general in 2017.
An European tour with the Freeks (with members of Fu Manchu and Nebula) is planned for February/march 2017. In February we support Orange Goblin during their short Dutch tour. In may 2017 we go on tour to Brazil to play 10 shows. In between the tours we do some Dutch shows to promote our new album and we hope to play a lot of festivals this year!
What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it down to one individual or a group collective.
I write all the songs and lyrics and as a band we work on the songs in the rehearsal room and studio. A good way to save a lot of time and it works for us.
Looking back over your career with Komatsu so far. What have been your high points and your low points if you’re feeling brave to talk about those.
Of course our show on Speedfest 2014 is special, because that’s where a lot of things started for us. We had a blast touring with John Garcia, Mondo Generator and Duel.
This year we played Desertfest Belgium and Into the Void Festival, Leeuwarden (NL). Both great festivals, packed crowd and so much energy!
We consider ourselves lucky bastards. We supported a lot of cool bands, travelled through beautiful countries and met a lot of crazy people on the road.
During our tour with Mondo Generator they stole our complete back-line, instruments and personal stuff in Rome. That was a bummer, but out of that, something beautiful emerged:
a benefit concert for Komatsu in our hometown.
Thanks for doing this interview. Do you have anything to say to your fans before you go.
Thanks for your time and attention.
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Words by Steve Howe and KOMATSU