Saturday 30 July 2016

An Interview with Andy Beresky from Black Pyramid and Palace In Thunderland (PART 2)

It's time for Part Two of the interview with Andy Beresky of Black Pyramid and Palace In Thunderland fame. Aleks is happy to offer you this detailed and interesting reading, so let’s not waste our time with discussing the things we already know and ask a few questions to Andy.

You can read Part One here. Time for Part Two...

The second full-length “In The Afterglow of Unity” was released just a year after - in April 2015. How did you work over this stuff?
We finally pulled it together??

We'd all been off playing in separate bands for awhile, Adam and Matt with Blue Aside, Monte with HydroElectric, and me with Black Pyramid. With that space between us, we were able to figure out a lot of things about what makes each of us tick, our playing improved, and we all made good records during that time. It's like when you separate from a romantic partner, give each other space, you both figure out your respective shit, and then reconnect in a better place.

Almost immediately after Monte asked me to jam with him again, songs and ideas started coming together. We had no expectations going in, we really didn't. We'd get some beers and sandwiches, watch some TV for awhile, and when we'd once again have these long jam sessions, just he and I. Before we even stopped to think about it, we had more than half of "In The Afterglow Of Unity" written, and we realized that we had to get Adam and Matt involved again and do this as Palace proper.

The real key to the record was that we were finally able to do most of the recording ourselves. We did the drums and the mix at Sonelab with Justin Pizzoferrato, though we recorded everything else ourselves, mostly in the Thunderland Compound. This gave us a lot of time to experiment with sounds and get everything exactly the way we wanted it with the guitars, vocals and bass. We'd also been significantly upgrading all of our gear, so we were really able to dial in some cool, unique sounds for this one.

Palace in Thunderland performs pretty original mix of stoner, doom, psychedelic and space rock; how do you keep the right balance mixing all these components?
Well, I think those elements and components are all really compatible, when shoves comes back to push. Doom and stoner rock are pretty much first cousins, and the same could be said of psychedelic and space rock. So it's just like a big family reunion.

What's a little trickier was that on "In The Afterglow Of Unity", we really tried to bring in more 90's influence, which were the bands that got us into music in the first place. Having a heavy Soundgarden influence wasn't really a stretch, and they've always been a big influence on our sound. I for one wanted to make a real GUITAR album, like Smashing Pumpkins' "Siamese Dream", and Monte was certainly on board with that. So we were listening to a lot of stuff like Hum, Failure, Swervedriver, Dinosaur Jr, bands that layered a lot of different guitar parts with different atmospheres and effects. We also tried to bring in some post-hardcore influence. Quicksand was an influence we incorporated, as were Fugazi, Helmet and Girls Against Boys.

Once we really got into the mindset, none of these bands were too much of a stretch, because they're all guitar heavy bands. We just shifted how we wrote riffs slightly, and focused a little more on different melodies. I feel pretty happy and confident that we pulled it off really well. With the split 12” we recently recorded and the next album that we're already working on, I feel like we're bringing even more diverse influences to the table.

So we can suppose that with "In The Afterglow Of Unity" you found golden mean and "right" sound as the question of further Black Pyramid movement is still open, right?

I think we definitely struck gold with what we did on “Afterglow”, and we're going to continue in that direction with how we make albums in the future. The band is really at a high point creatively, firing on all cylinders, so we're going to ride that wave for all that it's worth. The next album is going to be a real concept album, inspired by albums like Pink Floyd's “Animals”, Husker Du's “Zen Arcade”, and Refused's “The Shape Of Punk To Come.” If that sounds wild and weird, well, it certainly is. The album is something else, and we're really stoked that it's coming along nicely.

As far as Black Pyramid, it's tricky. I think we will end up experimenting more, and moving as much as possible beyond the confines of whatever genres and styles we've embraced in the past, though I also feel like we've pigeonholed ourselves a little more, and it's going to be tougher to break the mold. It was a real stretch just progressing from the self titled album to “II.” I really feel like we need to reinvent ourselves a bit.

Black Pyramid - Illumination

Can you pick up one certain song of "In The Afterglow Of Unity" which shows that you really wanted to express through the band? Something like quintessence of Palace in Thunderland?

At first I was going to say “Decadent Decay,” and I think that song was pretty indicative of where we were on “Afterglow.” It's a good song, it's catchy and covers a lot of ground musically.

Overall though, I'd have to go with “Before The Dawn Descends.” That's the last song that we wrote for “In The Afterglow Of Unity”, and it's a bit more where we're going overall, with the more expansive arrangements. That song has a bit of everything, the loud/soft dynamics, the many guitar tracks to create atmosphere and depth, the big catchy guitar riffs, pounding drums, harmonized guitars and vocals. It's also a song where we establish a theme early on and then revisit it later in the song. That's going to be pretty key to the next album. We're focusing heavily on that moving forward.

How would you differ emotionally the material you did for Black Pyramid and Palace in Thunderland? It seems that the last one sounds lighter and more positive. Subjectively of course...

That's true. Black Pyramid tends to be more dark and menacing. I believe that dark emotions can be really energizing if channeled and utilized properly, so I tend to draw on the raw, primal pain and anger.

Palace In Thunderland is definitely the more light-hearted, positive band, you're absolutely right. I try to bring in some darker elements and emotions, though I like to have a turning or breaking point in the songs, where the light breaks through the storm clouds and transcends all the previous darkness.

What is lyrical concept for both bands?

Well, Black Pyramid lyrics are really about using stories and mythologies as metaphors for inner conflict. Nothing is literal; everything is allegory. When I'm singing about wars, horrors and violence, I'm not talking about the external world, what I see around me. I'm talking about what's inside of me. I'm a pacifist - I believe we should strive for peace, and that violence only creates more violence. This doesn't mean that I necessarily feel inner peace and serenity all the time, and the lyrics are an outlet for when I'm not feeling it. The words are cathartic, a way for me to purge my various inner demons. They're in no way meant to glorify or dignify war, atrocity or violence.

With Palace In Thunderland, I use a lot more science fiction concepts, and that's largely because I am writing those lyrics more about society and humanity as a whole. They're more about finding freedom, identifying the various things that keep us in chains, both external and internal, and then looking for ways to transcend our boundaries and barriers. It helps to be primarily forward thinking rather than inward thinking in that regard, which is why the sci-fi is fitting. Not that Palace lyrics aren't introspective as well, it's just to a different ends. I'm going for a more transcendent feeling than a cathartic one, at least on “In The Afterglow Of Unity….”

On the split 12” we're finishing up, I didn't write all the lyrics, everyone in the band contributed, so they're a bit more personal. The lyrical slant is also much different for the next album, as it's about a fictional character, and there are a few voices within him that sometimes conflict or manifest in different ways.

Andy how do you manage to separate your efforts between two bands?

It's actually not that tough for me. I go by feel and intuition. If I'm writing something, and it feels more like Black Pyramid, it becomes a Black Pyramid song. If it feels more like a Palace song, then it's a Palace song.

Do you have certain plans on Palace in Thunderland or Black Pyramid is your main focus now?

No, Black Pyramid is not my main focus. It's a wonderful thing that we've been given another shot at doing that band in its original form. That's a rare and special opportunity. Clay is still in Georgia, Eric and I are up North in Massachusetts. The idea is that we're going to do this on a permanent yet part time basis. We'll see what other opportunities we're given, and we'll do what makes sense.

Palace In Thunderland is a different animal. We practice every week and we gig regularly. We're constantly writing new material, upgrading our gear, working on our skills and our sound. That's really where much of my focus is right now, as we're also working on new material for our next album, “The King Of The Empty Aeon.”

Do you already have an approximate date of release?

We really have no idea, as we've just started piecing the album together. It's mostly written at this point, so I'd guess we'll rehearse like crazy and record next year. It looks like we're going to do it as a two-part double album, so we'll release the first part sometime in 2017, then the second part in 2018? Maybe we'll get the second part done earlier, I'm not sure. We've actually started the second part, so anything is possible.

I'd imagine we'll do a new Black Pyramid record for 2017 as well….

Andy Beresky - solo

Will you release it again through your own label Reverse Feed Records? Is it more comfortable for you to work with Palace on Thunderland in this way and didn't MeteorCity Records or Hydro-Phonic Records lend teh band helping hand?

I'm honestly not sure what we'll do in terms of a release. We'll work with a label if it's a mutually beneficial relationship. There are pros and cons to self releasing, and if a label was able to help us overcome some of those cons while maximizing the pros, we'd definitely be all in!!

As far as Meteorcity Records and Hydro-Phonic Records, Palace has never had any involvement with either label. Blue Aside and Black Pyramid have worked with Hydro-Phonic in the past, though they're currently on hiatus, which is a real shame. Travis put a lot of time, effort, energy and passion into his releases, and his inactivity is a real loss for the scene. That dude developed vinyl releases to a high art form.

I'm also not sure what's up with Meteorcity, as they haven't released anything in the last couple years, and honestly, I haven't talked to Dan in a long time. I'm honestly not sure where we stand, as my abrupt departure from Black Pyramid brought up some tough conversations where I didn't exactly act or communicate in an exemplary manner. I was not in the greatest of spaces, and I was a bit of a prick to a lot of people because I was feeling confused and angry. I should reach out to him, and definitely offer an apology….

Palace In Thunderland has a good relationship with Twin Earth Records, Ric has helped us out in various ways through the years, so we've got that going for us, which is nice!

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Andy Beresky


Outlaws Of The Sun/Taste Nation Joint Interview: ZED - Back From The Dead And Causing Trouble In Paradise

Matthew and myself had a great time doing our previous joint interview with SlowGreen Thing. We decided to do another one. We thought who should we contact. The answer was pretty simple. We both decided pretty quickly on San Jose Blues/Hard Rock/Stoner Rockers – ZED.

We are both huge fans of ZED and their blend of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock riffs. They have a new album coming out soon called – Trouble In Eden. For this album, they've teamed up with Powerhouse Record Label – Ripple Music – to release the album. Trouble In Eden is a stunning album on every level and it's only going to enhance ZED's already great reputation.

We wanted to find out what's changed since their last album – Desperation Blues and why did they sign with Ripple Music. (Yeah, stupid question I know but I wanted to find out more).

ZED have kindly agreed to this interview with Matthew and myself. So here goes...

OOTS – Outlaws Of The Sun
TN – Taste Naton

OOTS – Hi guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. So what can people expect from your new album.

Things are going great, thanks! We are excited and gearing up for the release of our new album “Trouble In Eden” on August 26
th through Ripple Music! I think that when people hear this album, whether they are familiar with us or not, they will really latch on to the big grooves, which is our signature. We approached this record with two things in mind, big grooves and solid song structures. Those familiar with our previous albums will see a noticeable growth in musicianship as well. We spent a year banging the songs around and working out the kinks and it shows! It was a year of blood, sweat, tears, laughter and fights!!

TN - Congrats on a tremendous album in 'Trouble in Eden!' This is a beast from start to finish.  What was your approach in writing this album?  Was it the same or different from your previous two releases?

The writing process for this one was a little bit different because we as a band are always so riff-driven or riff-focused, playing from the gut, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but we have a pattern with our writing where we would slap riffs together and call it a song. What we started doing with our previous album, which really came into fruition on this album was approaching a song from BOTH a gut/feel perspective and a cerebral perspective where we still find and ride the big grooving riffs but we piece them together and arrange them in a more thoughtful way to hopefully create a better song experience.

TN - I may be biased because I'm a huge fan of the band, but it seems you guys pay attention to the details.  Ranging from the interplay of the double guitars, heavy bass lines and drums that keeps the album moving at it's fast tempo, 'Trouble in Eden' will no doubt raise your status in the world of heavy rock!!  With the millions of Genres & Sub-Genres out there, how would you classify your music?

Good question! The funny thing about our music is that when we first started out in ’07, the listeners who really got and understood us were the people in the Stoner Rock scene, who have opened their arms and accepted us above and beyond any other genre or scene. However, when you hear us, it’s apparent we are not your textbook stoner rock band. We are influenced by the big classic rock bands heavily as well, but we also incorporate other styles as well as more contemporary influences. Our stated purpose when we started out was to write what we felt were just great rock songs, and not worry about genres or labels. The only concern was asking ourselves what does the song call for and does it make the song better, even if it’s a cliché. Song is king with us.

OOTS – What did you differently when recording Trouble In Eden compared to your last album Desperation Blues.

When we did Desperation Blues we recorded it all at once in one studio. This time around we got the opportunity to go down to Southern California and record all the drum tracks in the home studio of Eric Kretz, the drummer from Stone Temple Pilots, who has an incredible drum tracking studio on his property. We got to spend about 4 days at his compound working with him and his engineer to make the drums sound HUGE! That was an amazing experience being there and even just hanging out with Eric and hearing some amazing stories about the music industry. Then we brought the tracks back home and finished the rest with our producer/engineer Tim Narducci who did an amazing job on this one as well as Desperation Blues.

OOTS – Did you learn any difficult lessons when recording your last album that you didn't want to repeat with the new album.

Whenever you go in to record an album, there will always be new things that crop up and challenge you in some way, and they are usually things that are completely unexpected, while the things you anticipated as being difficult, you end up just blazing through. Due to a medical emergency that hit our producer, we had to wait about a month between doing drums and recording the rest of the instruments, so the challenge was making sure we played the songs correctly as they were a month before, because sometimes songs are like living, evolving things that continue to change even after you record them! Just doing our due diligence was probably the biggest thing.

TN - Did everyone start playing and singing in the womb or start a little later in life?

I wish I started earlier!! I think we all started playing music seriously in our teens, and it just grew from there. I had piano lessons as a kid but was never really into it. When I was about 12 I saw Back to the Future and suddenly wanted to be Marty McFly with a red strat and I was saving up my money to get one, but then I discovered Iron Maiden and was immediately fascinated with Steve Harris as a bass player and decided to go to bass! I haven’t stopped since!

Matthew with his ZED collection

TN - Title Track 'Trouble in Eden' & 'High Indeed' stand out to me as both are superbly written both musically and lyrically? They both seem to have a similar theme?  Where/How/Who is Eden?

Glad you picked up on it. The album as a whole has something of a running theme, which the album and song title, Trouble in Eden, represents. That being that this world, which was once Eden, a place of paradise, is in serious trouble, at the hands of humankind. Whether it be the ecological disasters that have happened and will happen because of humanity’s abuse of land and resources, the manmade plagues of war and poverty driven by people hungry for power, or our own internal struggles and battles we fight daily. Just look around and see there IS trouble in Eden. And we wanted the cover art to convey the same thing, which is why we chose a representation of the Hindu goddess Kali, who in her duality is the goddess of destruction as well as a gentle mother, and in her hands are things that represent life and death, good and evil.

OOTS – The album is being released by the fine folks over at Ripple Music. How did you hook up with them.

Funny story! The first guy to ever write a review of us was Bill Goodman, The Evil Engineer, who gave our first album its very first review back in 2010. He had told me about Ripple Music and how we should hook up with them way back in the day, but for whatever reason, I never followed up on it. Apparently, he had also told them about us, but they didn’t follow up on it either. Fast forward 5 years and our album Desperation Blues has been out for awhile and I start looking at online record distributors and see Heavy Ripples, which is Ripple Music’s independent distribution vehicle.

So I reach out to them about our album and we make an agreement, so when I send it to them, Todd Severin, who is the label owner, listens to our album and luckily dug it enough to make his partner, Pope, listen to it and finally after Pope listened to it, he dug it too. Then they came out to a show we played in their area and said they wanted to work with us! We were stoked! So then a few weeks later, we signed a deal, and then had to start busting our asses because we had no new songs written, and a record to deliver in a year! We were a little late, but hopefully worth the wait!

TN - How is the local music scene in your hometown of San Jose?

The scene in SJ I’d say is recuperating. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s it was a really vibrant and thriving scene, but the city ordinances as well as both the gentrification and influx of tech workers who are just not rock oriented, caused the closure of some key venues. So from then until the last couple of years, it was very hard for local bands to find an audience, however I feel that has really begun to change over the past couple of years with a renewed interest in live music and live rock for that matter, San Jose is definitely on the way up again. I’m very optimistic!

TN - You guys are touring The West Coast in support of the album.  I look forward to seeing you guys play Los Angeles at The Viper Room.  What can we expect with a live ZED show?

ZED live shows are usually pretty energetic. We try to bring the energy AND the volume to the stage and really punch the audience in the gut sonically! We also have a lot of fun with it!

TN - Will there be a bigger tour that hits other parts of America?

Yes that will be in spring or summer 2017 once we’ve marketed the album a little bit.

OOTS – I'll add in another touring question. Will you guys be coming over to Europe soon as you have quite a few fans over in Europe.

Absolutely! We are planning to come over summer 2017 to try to hit the festivals and do some touring city to city! We love Europe and the rock fans there are amazing!

TN - Who did your album artwork?  It's pretty amazing!  

I usually do all the artwork for the band myself, but this time I wanted some outside input and an outside perspective on our vision, so we collaborated with a good friend of our named Kiren Bagchee of Kiren In Digital Studios. We basically told him our ideas and the vibe we wanted and he hit it out of the park! His work is beautiful and organic and he has a great eye. We are totally stoked on what he did for us.

TN - Thank you for your time.  To the readers in Los Angeles/Orange County come party with me October 20th when ZED plays The Viper Room!!

Thanks Matt! We Cant wait to see you all and party!! Its gonna be a rager! Thank you for supporting underground music!!

OOTS – Well guys thanks for doing this joint interview with Matthew and myself. Best of luck with the new album. It's a great album. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

First, thank you Steve for being a longtime advocate for us heavy rock bands in the underground. We appreciate all you do!! Secondly, thanks to everyone over the years who has taken the time to listen to, purchase merch or see the band live! The friendship, feedback and good vibes you give us really make it worthwhile, especially when to going gets tough!! We hope to see you guys soon!

Words by Steve Howe, Matthew Thomas and ZED

Thanks to ZED for taking the time out to talking to us. Trouble In Eden will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Ripple Music on August 26th 2016.

ZED Links

Taste Nation LLC - A Music Consortium – Links

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Nick Oliveri's Mondo Generator – Best Of (Album Review)

Release date: September 23rd 2016. Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Nick Oliveri's Mondo Generator – Best Of – Tracklisting


13th Floor
Like The Sky
Dog Food
Smashed Apart
The Last Train

So High
Simple Exploding Man
Four Corners

Dead Silence
I Never Sleep
Shawnette Jackson
Lie Detector
Take Me Away

Like You Want
Sleep The Lie Away
Turbonegro Must Be Destroyed
All The Way Down
Paper Thin

Band Members:

Nick Oliveri - Bass & Vocals
Mike Pygmie - Guitar
Jeff Bowman - Drums


You should be intimately familiar with Nick Oliveri. If you are not, you must go directly to jail; do not pass go, do not collect $200 (or Euros, pounds, rubles, pesos, marks, etc). Kyuss should be your steady diet for the next few weeks. Only then should you attempt Mondo Generator.

Before I go any further with this, it should be understood this Greatest Hits isn’t chronological. It takes more of a feel approach to the track order. This works very well in the twisted journey that is Mondo Generator. Mondo Generator is a revolving door of musicians with Nick as the pivot point.

The band formed in 1997, although didn’t release their debut album “Cocaine Rodeo” until 2000. Nick and Josh Homme had commitments in Queens of the Stone Age at the time. The debut album also featured Rob Oswald from Karma to Burn on drums. Three tracks also featured Brant Bjork. Simple Exploding Man featured all four Kyuss members, who were invited into the sessions separately without any knowledge of who else was on the track. All of the names above should be burned into your stoner rock memory! They crafted the sound that hundreds of bands took further into the outer reaches of space. There was very little support for this release, but it gain cult status amongst fan of Queens of the Stone Age.

In 2003, “A Drug Problem That Never Existed” was released. Nick hired more friends including Mark Lanegan, Troy Dean Van Leeuwen and Blag Dahlia from The Dwarves (that Nick also plays bass in). A live version band toured for three months in the US and Europe to support this release. The band would also play an afternoon set at Lollapalooza and then Nick would play on the main stage that night with Queens of the Stone Age.

In early 2004 Nick would be fired from Queens of the Stone Age and make Mondo Generator his full time project. During their set in Germany Nick assaulted a member of the crew at the club due to sound problems. The other members left Nick in Germany and returned to the US.

In 2005 Nick began working on the next Mondo Generator album in Dave Grohl’s 606 Studio. Nick hired Ben Perrier and Ben Thomas from Winnebago Deal to round out the new band. Short lived, both Ben’s left the band in July 2006. The new album “Dead Planet: Sonicslowmotiontrails” was release in Europe. In July 2007 it was release in the US as “Dead Planet”.

After a few false starts Nick would release “Hell Comes to Your Heart” in 2012. The album included the track “The Last Train”, which featured Josh Homme and John Garcia and was recorded shortly before Josh filed suit against Garcia and Kyuss Lives!

2015 brought news that the band would begin recording and touring in the fall.

This is more of a history of the band than a review of the Greatest Hits. How can anyone review such a diverse collection of songs from such a diverse group of musicians? Although Nick is the consistent personality in the group, his struggles and demons morph his musical direction so much over 20 years; it would be impossible to put into words what this collection is about.

It’s such an amazing journey, dark, twisted, raw, emotional and as gritty as Nick is. Volatile people make beautiful art. Nick is living proof of that, thankfully he is still living and making his beautiful art!

Words by Bill Bensen

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo. Nick Oliveri's Mondo Generator – Best Of, will be available to buy via Heavy PsychSounds from Sept 23rd 2016 on CD/DD/Vinyl.


Thursday 28 July 2016

An Interview with Andy Beresky from Black Pyramid and Palace In Thunderland (PART 1)

Andy Beresky is a famous person within the US doom scene, he started with psychedelic stoner band Palace in Thunderland and then four glorious years with well-known Black Pyramid. He left Black Pyramid in 2011 right before the release of their second full-length “II”. In the same period he re-activated Palace and when everything in the band went well the stars aligned in the right place and he returned to Pyramid. I’m happy to offer you this detailed and interesting reading, so let’s not waste our time with discussing the things we already know and ask a few questions to Andy.

Hi Andy! When I was starting to write down questions for the interview, I was surprised when I find that you are in Black Pyramid again, how did it happen?

Well, sometimes it seems like a bit of a surprise to me as well. Eric and I had been chatting, and we kind of ended up joking around that it would be cool to do some local and Northeast shows with the original lineup. I later was talking with Clay, and pretty much the exact same sentiments came up, though this time it was a bit more serious even. So it seemed like it was on all of our minds. We kept talking about doing it, and eventually it started looking like more and more of a reality.

Former Black Pyramid bassist Eric Beaudry returned with you too, and as the band is still a power trio, it seems that Pyramid is rebuilt anew. What are your plans for the near future?

After the run of shows went well, our plan now is to do this on a permanent though part-time basis. We're playing a local festival, the RPM Fest, later in the summer, and we've started writing new material for another record. We've kicked around some other ideas for doing shows, though we don't have anything concrete yet….

Black Pyramid third album “Adversarial” sounded harsher consider “II” album, will you follow this way on the next record? By the way, how do you like this record?

That's a real good question, and one that puts me in a bit of an awkward place…..I guess I'll just be honest and say that "Adversarial" very obviously isn't the record that I would have made. That's pretty self-apparent; I'd self-selected to no longer be in the band!

Prior to my leaving, I was writing and working on material for a split 12" with Clay, our drummer, and it was landing in an even more psychedelic and atmospheric direction than the songs on "II". I won't speak for him, though it seemed like a really daunting task to me personally, choosing that direction given the current makeup of the band, and it was one of the many reasons I chose to bow out at that time. Based on the song that Eric and I have worked on since our reformation, I'd say that any newer material is going to have a rawer sound than "II", and also more atmospheric, though not at all like "Adversarial". Nothing like that, it's not the same band.

As far as how I feel about that record, "Adversarial", when I first heard it, a friend played it for me in his car without telling me what it was, and I didn't know that it was a Black Pyramid record. I asked who it was, he told me, and I was surprised. I haven't given it too much thought after that, because it's not something that I really dwell on - I wasn't a part of it, and I don't feel any real connection to it.
I feel that they made the best record that they could as a band at that point in time, and you can't take that away from them. Through my actions, I'd left them in a tough position, and they made the best of the situation. Obviously things were going to sound differently. Many people love and even prefer that record to the previous ones, and I feel like that speaks for itself.

Your first (known) band is Palace in Thunderland, and it exists in different periods forms since 1998. What did you do since 1998 till 2007 when you released officially only the debut EP “Into the Maelstrom”?

Oh….so that's another really good question that I guess I can only be honest about. It's going to be tough striking a balance between trying to relate what we were doing, and respectfully not really speaking to the others' experiences or private lives, so I'll just start by saying this: we were young and our priorities weren't aligned with making records. We put a heavy emphasis on long, long practices, playing live and partying, because those things felt really good to us at the time. We had a lot to learn before we could make and release a proper record. We had a lot to learn about ourselves, first and foremost.

We also were a bit isolated in Western Mass and we didn't have a lot of resources early on. We had this vision of mixing heavy, fuzzy riffs with gonzo psychedelic rock, and no one else here was doing that at the time. We were these weird heavy metal hippies, and that was unheard of in our neck of the woods. It was tough to get gigs, and even tougher to build an audience. I think that's what led to us just playing a lot for each other and enjoying various substances amongst ourselves….

We did record a couple demos, and we had no clue what we were doing, even when we finally got into a proper studio. That studio effort was half decent, and we never got beyond pressing a few copies for promotional use because we had no idea how to shop a record to labels, nor self release it.

We also had a lot of misfortune along the way. Our first solid drummer, who had a cowbell kick drum even, just up and moved one day in the year 2000. Poof!! Gone. We got another drummer, and things were good for awhile. We started gigging more in Boston and Connecticut at some point, though we were working day jobs then traveling to play to half empty rooms. Of course we were partying hard, what else did we have to feel good about ourselves? That all took its toll, and Monte had second thoughts, sold all his gear, and left the band. He bought new gear and rejoined soon after, though it was a setback for sure. Johnny B, our drummer, was the next to go. The lifestyle took its toll on him as well, and he wanted to do something more mellow.

We took a break, then got a new drummer. Our first show back, we played a solid local festival. We killed it, a spot on, far out performance. We ended with a 25 minute version of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" that people were talking about for the next six months….and all my gear was stolen at that fest. Another real setback, and the drummer wasn't really moving in the more proggy direction we were going for once we got back on our feet. We got another drummer, and actually started landing decent gigs. We started traveling the Northeast, and we opened for some great bands, Yob, Ogre, Ocean, The Body, Weedeater, We're All Gonna Die, Supersoul Challenger, Ichabod. We got a spot on a Stoner/Doom festival in Portland Maine with some big names, and that drummer quit the morning of the show. That sucked for us.

A label was finally interested in putting out the seven songs we'd first recorded at Slaughterhouse Studios back in 2001, and the label went belly up, releasing all the bands they'd signed except us and one other. I'm not trying to have some extended bitch session, just illustrating that every time we got some momentum going, things fell apart. So often, we were just trying to hold it together. During that whole run of bad luck, the last thing on our minds was trying to make a record!! It wasn't until we got Matt Netto in the band on drums that we could even talk about making a real record, and I think that was around 2005. We started recording "The Apostles Of Silence" in 2006, though once again, we still had no clue what we were doing in the studio. It was largely a debacle for many reasons, some beyond our control, and it was far too ambitious for its own good.

"Into The Maelstrom" was actually recorded afterwards, and released first for that very reason. All four of those songs were originally recorded during that session in 2001. It was a lot easier to focus on just four earlier songs, and get them done!

Palace in Thunderland – Beyond the Stars

Andy, you did quit from Black Pyramid in 2011 in having a tough period in your life, how soon did you recover to return Palace in Thunderland to live?

Well, I wouldn't frame it in terms of recovering or anything, I was more trying to figure out how to move forward with my life!! My entire life revolved around music, I worked a shitty job that I couldn't stand so that I could have a flexible schedule to tour and play shows, I worked extra hours at night booking and bouncing at the same bar/club, and I really wasn't happy. I couldn't exactly figure out why, because on paper, it seemed like I had everything that I'd ever wanted in life. Still there was this sense of urgency and restlessness that plagued me, this pressure to always be jumping into something new with Black Pyramid, to take it to some “next level.”

Perhaps much of it was the internal pressures that I heaped upon myself, though I do believe that much of it was rooted in the way that the music industry itself works, even in the underground, because it was something that I noticed in others. It was something that always seemed to manifest in a really ugly manner in some musicians, and that was certainly the case with me. I constantly felt like I was burning the candle from both ends, and like I didn't have any breathing room or space in my life to even stop and think about where I was actually going.

It's sometimes really hard to have any perspective on a situation when I'm stuck right in the middle of it, so something had to give. I quit my job, which was an excellent decision, though I still was stuck with figuring out what I was going to do with my life, and how music was going to ultimately fit into it. When things with Black Pyramid weren't exactly ideal either, that was really an impetus for me to leave. I did so in an extreme and over-dramatic fashion, with the hopes that this would keep me from going back, yet here we are doing this interview, so….

It was only really a few months before Monte and I started doing Palace again. I left Black Pyramid in early September of 2011. I'd taken up practicing Zen meditation, zazen, the Spring of that year, and I was becoming increasingly politically active that Summer and Fall. That was really what I was doing between, in those few short months: I spent much of my time in meditation, a couple hours a day protesting and organizing, and I was actively working on improving my life and my circumstances every day. It was shortly after New Year's Day that Monte contacted me to jam, and by that time it seemed readily obvious that I'd be able to do music on my own terms.

That was all it really took, some space and time to be able to see a way to do music in a manner that allowed for more balance and freedom. I don't think that I could have jumped back in and done Black Pyramid at that time if the circumstances were different, so I am thankful that they were able to carry the torch without me!

It seems that you always work over the new tunes even if some of your bands doesn't record official albums in the same period. How many sketches of songs do you have in your stock? And do you work only in doom / stoner direction?

I do tend to write well ahead, this is true. How many sketches of songs do I currently have in my bag of tricks?? Too many to count, honestly.

No, I don't only write stoner/doom songs; my tastes are pretty diverse, I'm listening to Sam Cooke right now, so I tend to write in a variety of styles. I don't think that I write only stoner and doom for Palace In Thunderland even, as we've kind of discussed.

I have a lot of folk/acoustic stuff. I also write a lot of songs that are more garage/psych, 60's style. I've been working on a solo album for years now, and I write a lot of songs for that project. I'm not exactly sure how I'd like that album to sound, though at some point I'll get around to figuring it out. It's kind of a mixture between shoegaze and indie folk so far.

The first full-length double album “The Apostles of Silence” was released in 2014, though it consists of songs from earlier period. How do you value this material now?

I think that record had a lot of great, poignant material, and the recording went spectacularly bad for a number of reasons, which is why it was never really finished. Like I said earlier, our ambition exceeded our abilities. When we disbanded in 2007, we actually put the incomplete form up on our website as our swan song of sorts, unmastered and unfinished. We didn't know how to finish it, quite honestly. We "released" it on Bandcamp in 2014 because a lot of people were requesting it again, and wanted to pay us money for it.

I think that's a testament for how the value of the material. Much like the human beings who created it, it's very flawed, and it also has a lot of merit and potential. There was so much talk in reviews and online about our "potential" when we were gigging and working on that record, so many people saying, "man, if these guys could just pull it together, they'd really be onto something!" I think that "Apostles" is the living, breathing illustration of that exact sentiment. The high dream is that we actually finish it at some point, now that we've got a method of recording that works really well for us.

Palace in Thunderland - Troglodytes

To be continued......

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Andy Beresky


Throttlerod - Turncoat (Album Review)

Release date: June 24th 2016. Label: Small Stone Records. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Turncoat – Tracklisting

1. Bait shop
2. Lazy Susan
3. Never Was A Farmer
4. Lima
5. Turncoat
6. You Kicked My Ass At Losing
7. Gainer
8. Every Giant
9. Cops And Robbers
10. Breadwinner
11. I Know A Ship
12. The Guard

Band Members:

Matt Whitehead - vocasl, guitars
Kevin White - drums
Jeremy Plaugher - bass guitar


Alrighty then. Never thought I was going to begin a review by telling on someone. But there's a first for everything, I guess. Well, it will be sort of telling on someone since no names are mentioned. However, when Throttlerod's new album 'Turncoat' was sent my way, I was told "these guys are a Southern Rock band and I don't like that. You wanna do the review?". Sure thing, I don't mind since I like Southern Rock for the most part. But imagine my surprise as I pressed play and this amazing wax hits me like a ton of bricks. And there's no Southern Rock in sight! So Mr. You-know-who, shame on you for fooling gullible me. Anyway, let's get back on track and focus on the important stuff, namely Throttlerod's latest opus 'Turncoat'.

What this trio build their music around, is a groovy and bluesy rhythm section with harmonies á la King's X against hard driving and earth shaking rock with a touch of punk thrown in to spice things up. Razor sharp riffs of a great calibre soars on top of this while the band moves effortlessly and fluently between tempo changes. Another standout feature is the use of the bass guitar more as a rhythm guitar, something which changes the music immensely.

A group of songs, seven in all, represents perfectly what Throttlerod are about. Pulsating rhythms navigates 'Bait Shop' while loads of groove and riffs cuts through the heaviness. Bluesy at first, 'Lazy Susan' is then explosive to hell and back. The chorus is a steamroller...brutal, you hear! I'm so glad someone has finally taken the heritage of King's X and nurtured it so well. 'Never Was A Farmer' is a perfect example where musically it could come from either 'Out Of The Silent Planet' or 'Gretchen Goes To Nebraska', while the vocals and lyrics are from 'Dogman'. Then add Throttlerod to the equation and voilà, you have this amazing song. The title track brings the 'Faith, Hope, Love' era to mind. Harmonies, melodies, riffs, and vocals are all such a great homage to King's X.

'Gainer' leads the charge into heavier territories and is kind of chaotic and punishing at the same time. Groovy elements are interspersed while building up momentum. 'Every Giant' is almost English 80's indie rock at first, only to rip me apart about a minute in. Then attitude and intensity meets...only for everything to start over from the beginning. Beautiful! Oh yeah, strong wonderful Therapy? vibes in 'The Guard' and I love it. Intense, intense, intense...can't get any better.

Although five albums into their career I had never heard of Throttlerod before but I am pleasantly surprised and wanting more. Highly original, which is very hard these days, especially the way they've taken their influences and blended the so well with their own stuff. Only bands a cut above the rest has that knack and Throttlerod has it in abundance. Check them out because talent like this trio must not go unnoticed!

Words by Håkan Nyman


Tuesday 26 July 2016

Interview with SATORI JUNK

Italian Sludge/Doom Metal Band Satori Junk released their first and only full-length one year ago, but I believe that the interview is something that you need to do when you want to - not only for promotional company of new release or something. So I’ve found this record in my “need to listen” folder and this strong combination of non-trivial stoner doom with sludgy and spaced out vibes that make me believe in salvation through riff-meditation!

These eight songs constitute heavy and distorted psychedelic trip with few turns that could surprise you. Majestic vibe, shamanic rhythms, hazy vocals… Will we hear it again on the Satori Junk second album? Chris (guitars) has the answer for this question.

Hi Chris! How are you? What's Satori Junk current state?

Hi Aleksey, we are fine. The band is fully active. Riffing and delivering illness.

The band was born is 2012, and since then you have only one full-length album. Do you already have new tracks for the sequel?

Sure. We are working on new songs since we finished recording our first album. Unfortunately, when our former drummer Giacomo left the band, we had to stop for a bit. We should be back in studio for new recording this autumn.

Do you have replacement for Giacomo?

Yes. After a couple of months, we found Max. He has a different drumming style, more powerful. That obviously changed a little our approach to the songs, but added a lot of energy to our gigs.

Can you already tell how the new material differs from the one you had for debut album? Or what would you like to add to that stoner doom you played when you started the band?

I think the new material will be more focused on what will be “our own style”. We added new synth sounds, and unleashed Luke’s creativity. There’s a lot of doom in our riffs, but we will try to make our album sounds in a different way.

The band's concept is described with definition “oniric, horror movies”. Is it close to the truth?

Yes. For example, when Luke writes down the lyrics, he always gets his inspiration from his weird dreams, writing down short stories where the main character always dies. There are a lot of spooky elements in our music, also the sound of theremin makes his job perfectly.

Yes, I’d like to ask that too – who did play theremin on the album? How did you get that this instrument fits well to Satori Junk?

I love that unusual sound that was used by classical bands like Led Zeppelin, I think it is the kind of tune that could rise from the wall of sound, making atmosphere and getting you into the right mood. When Luke found that optical theremin, we just tried to play with it… and it worked great!

Satori Junk – T.T.D.

And the horror movies – do you really have the song based on something of this genre?

Well, it depends on Luke’s nightmares! There’s always something weird in his songwriting: he could write an entire horror movie script on his own.

You have this insane video for “Ritual” song, what is this movie you use in it?

The video was made by Gryphus Visual who uses a lot of old movie samples from the 60/70's in his works. We simply gave him the songs, and he followed his inspiration. I don’t recognize all the samples he used, but you can see clips from the movie Westworld, with Yul Brynner.

Satori Junk is a kind of inconsistent title, what did you want to express through it? What is it's ultimate meaning?

We started the recording aware that it could have been our last work. Every song in it is the result of jam sessions where we started to define our sound, experimenting with riffs and including lots of elements from the music we love.

What’s the best feedback you ever had for the band?

This year we supported Lord Vicar. Having them in front of us headbanging all the time while performing, was the best feedback we could ever had!

One of debut album's features is heavily overloaded fuzz-sound. How do you reach it?

I love that fat, dirty-fuzzed sound full of harmonics. Obviously bands like Electric Wizard inspired me a lot. Reaching that sound is not too hard: just find the right amps, guitars and pedals.

How do you keep this sound during gigs? Is it difficult to keep right level of fuzz there?

It’s all about the venues. Sometimes we have strict rules to respect, sometimes we are free to push our volume to the limit. Obviously, louder is better!

What's the range of Satori Junk concert activity? How far did you tour with the band?

In the last year, we mostly played in northern Italy. When we first played in Switzerland, the audience reacted with lots of headbanging and asked for an encore after an hour of gig. So, we understood that we were ready to go abroad.

Christian, you were looking booking agencies to spread Satori Junk vibes outside Italy successfully; did you succeed in this deal?

We are still looking. Finding the right contacts abroad is a hard job, but we will succeed.

Italy has one of the biggest doom scenes, how do you see current local doom trends there?

Italian scene is great and rich of different influences. Some supporters are just curious, while others are die-hard people that attends all the greatest European festivals. Many venues dedicate all their schedules to this kind of music which helps the scene a lot. Also some extreme metalheads are starting to appreciate the doom heaviness, despite the low speed. The sad thing is that in our country there is not so much respect for music: you will always have to struggle with uncompromising laws, hostile neighborhoods and high organization costs.

Christian, thank you for that conversation! I wish you all the best with writing the second Satori Junk album, let me know when you have it finished. And how would you like to finish our interview?

Thank you Aleksey! Well, let’s have a beer!

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Satori Junk