Thursday 14 January 2016

Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Spotlight: An Interview with Blaak Heat

You should know the drill now. Borderland Fuzz Fiesta Spotlight time where I get to interview one of the awesome bands appearing on the bill. And today's no exception as I'm interviewing Psych Stoner Rockers – Blaak Heat. Formally known as Blaak Heat Shujaa where they released two acclaimed albums with 2010s – debut self titled release and 2013s The Edge Of An Era.

Currently working on their new album with mega-producer – Matt Hyde – which is due for release in April 2016. The guys have kindly agreed to talk to me where we discuss their upcoming set at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta and their eagerly awaited 3rd album.

So lets get started.

Hi guys. How are things with you today? Thanks for doing this interview.

Things are great, thanks. We just received the masters for our new record and cannot wait to unleash it upon the world. It’ll come out in April via TeePee Records in the US and via Svart Records in Europe.

You guys were originally called Blaak Heat Shujaa. Why did you change your name or shortened your name. Any specific reason.

It saves us about 15 minutes in Swahili spelling lessons every time someone asks what our band name is.

How would you describe your music? - As you guys cross a lot of different musical boundaries.

It is indeed near impossible to summarize in just one or two words. I’ll try in one sentence: it’s psychedelic hard rock with Middle-Eastern scales and an ethnic vibe, some surf guitar, and the occasional nod to progressive rock. It’s just hard rock, really!

What can people expect from your set at Borderland Fuzz Fiesta?

Fuzz, reverb and a loud rhythm section.

Which bands are you looking forward in seeing at the festival?

We’re looking forward to catching up with our 2011 European tour-mates Yawning Man. We also can’t wait to see Dead Meadow, they’re good friends of ours as well as one of our favorite psych bands.

Will you be performing any warm-up gigs before the festival?

We’re still working on this, but we’ll probably announce 2-3 extra shows around the Fest.
You're currently recording your 3rd album with Matt Hyde which is due for release in April 2016.

How has the recording of the album been and what can people expect from the album.

It’s been very intense work, as we’re constantly trying to redefine our sound in order to create something “new” and unique. It’s not like making a regular metal record, where you know exactly how everything is supposed to sound and all the rules from the genre have already been established. Since we’re crossing so many weird influences and original ideas, every time we work on a new song, we have to take the time to ask ourselves “Does this make sense? Is it pleasant to listen to? Will people get it?”.

How did you manage to hook up with Matt Hyde. Has he given you any helpful hints or advice when you've been working together.

I work as an assistant producer and engineer for Matt. We’ve worked on a lot of cool projects together, such as Deftones, Soulfly, ASG, Behemoth… I know exactly how he works and what to expect from him, so bringing him in seemed like a natural choice.

This is our most ambitious record by far, and we would have never been able to make it without a seasoned producer. For example, we brought in musicians to record all kinds of acoustic instruments such as oud, violin, kanun... Matt figured out how to record and arrange these instruments so that they would sound great in the context of a hard rock record, which isn’t easy.

How hard is it being a band in today's world? What are the most difficult aspects in being in a band?

The financial aspect is probably the hardest part of being a musician in 2016. If you want to write new, exciting, and engaging music, you need to work on your music close to full time, whether it’s writing new material, rehearsing, recording, or touring. The money exists, but it is hard to reach when you play weird, underground music. However, there currently is a growing excitement towards vintage hard rock as well as towards psychedelic rock, and we feel like we are a part of this evolution.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band? Is it a group collective or down to one individual?

I usually come up with an initial demo for a song. We then jam it out in the practice space for a few weeks, all the while updating the parts and the arrangement depending on how it sounds with the full band. Then, we listen to it a lot for a few months, just to make sure it holds up. If it does, then it’s ready to be performed live or recorded!

OK… if you had the chance to put on a festival, which bands would you put on. It can be any bands from any era of music.

We’d probably have Iron Maiden headline, the Turkish psych pop singer Selda before them, and oud maestro John Berberian open the night.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans?

I hope they like the new album… We tried our best to satisfy them, while striving to bring them on a voyage towards new musical horizons.

Words by Steve Howe and Blaak Heat.

Blaak Heat Links

Official | Facebook | BandCamp

Borderland Fuzz Festival Links



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