Wednesday 18 January 2017

An Interview with BORRACHO

Borracho have made quite the name for themselves since they released their debut album – Splitting Sky – back in 2011. Since then the guys have released two more albums with 2013's Oculus and their latest fantastic album – Atacama.

Atacama is an album I rated very highly and made it one of my albums of 2016. As it's an action packed and socially aware album. If you dig classic Stoner Metal merged with heavy psychedelic sounds then you need to listen to Borracho now.

I've been a fan of these guys ever since my The Sludgelord days. They never disappoint and Atacama is their best album to date. I wanted to find more about the band and they've kindly agreed to this interview.

Hi guys. Thanks for doing the interview. How’s life treating you today.

Hey Steve, thanks for having us. All is good.

For people not in the know, can you provide a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

The three of us played together in other bands along with our old singer and buddy Noah. We decided to get together, trade off instruments, and jam on some riffs. It was a while coming together, from late 2007 - 2010 we were really cultivating our sound, writing and demoing material, and playing some shows with bands we knew already, and meetings some new friends along the way. In 2011, after meeting our studio wizard Frank Marchand, we finally got a proper studio session together to record our debut Splitting Sky.

People seemed to dig that one a lot when it came out, and we got a lot more attention than we expected from it. In 2012 Noah told us he was moving abroad, and we decided to keep on as a trio, rather than looking for a new singer. Steve took over vocal duties from there. We released a few 7”s of material we had recorded with Noah before recording and releasing our 2nd record Oculus, which was our first with Steve singing. We’ve since put out a couple more split 7”s and were on Ripple Music’s first volume of The Second Coming of Heavy series. We’re stoked to have released our new record Atacama with Kozmik Artifactz, and are getting ready for the vinyl release in the next couple months.

Why did you call your band Borracho

We like to drink. It fit the aesthetic of what we wanted to put out there. It’s not what might be expected.

How would you describe your music for first-time listeners.

Riff-oriented heavy rock.

We are here to talk about the new album. Atacama. What can people expect from the album.

Atacama is probably the most ambitious record we’ve made, especially from a production standpoint. We have a lot of influences and like a lot of different kinds of music, and in writing this record, we didn’t want to limit ourselves creatively. So what you hear is pretty diverse, from straight forward rockers, to epic, complex, heavy psychedelic jams, to mellower, more introspective and orchestrated stuff. Our intention was to take listeners on a journey, like our favorite classic records. It’s not a concept album per se, but our process was definitely driven with that idea in mind.

What is the overall concept of the album.

The record is a body of work, with interconnected songs that we intentionally sequenced and produced to envelop the listener continuously, and make it obvious that there’s not a good place to stop. You have to let it ride. Lyrically there’s not a common thread throughout, but we leave some of that up to interpretation.

I would say the overall concept is the album experience. We wanted to get away from releasing just a collection of songs, we wanted to get back to when listening to an album was something you could really immerse yourself in. There is an underlying concept that we used for writing purposes and cohesion but it is really up to the listener to interpret.

The album is quite political with certain aspects of the lyrics. Especially compared against your other albums. Was that the intention to make something more political and topical in some respects.

The reality is that the record was written during a very tumultuous time in America, politically. It’s hard not to be affected by that, and some of the inspiration for the themes that appear are a reflection of the emotions we were going through while writing for the record. They also fit with one of the overarching themes of the record. I think our intention was to write about what makes people tick, or more importantly what pushes people over the edge. But It's hard to not be inspired by the over the top stupidity being played out on the world stage.

Was it an easy or hard album to write and record for.

We wrote a lot of the music for the record by jamming. We kind of got our process together a bit more across the writing for the Second Coming tunes and the Atacama music that followed. Our process has always been very organic, but Steve and Tim really collaborated well in the lyric writing, to keep things cohesive. Recording was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. Steve had a vision for expressing the music collectively, and working with Frank, and trying a lot of different things, we were able to realize that vision in what we think is our best, most creatively mature record. When you are truly passionate about something, hard doesn't really come into the equation - tedious at times yes, but never hard and always enjoyable.

What influenced you when recording and writing this album.

The 2016 US elections, environmental destruction, impending space travel, isolation, anger, frustration. Puppies and kittens.

Have you been surprised by the reviews the albums received. Especially from the Stoner Metal community. It’s made a lasting impression with a wide range of people.

Writing records, you’re in a bubble. You have all this time with your music before anyone hears it. While writing, while recording, while mixing, mastering, and waiting for the release to happen. That’s a lot of time to get comfortable with what you’ve created, but it’s also all in isolation, with only the feedback of your most trusted confidants. So whenever we get such positive reviews we’re humbled, and flattered. For us, making ourselves happy is priority #1. We’re not selling 100,000 copies of our records, so we really aim to please ourselves, and enjoy what we create. When others pick up on that, and we can touch them and bring joy to them, it’s the ultimate reward. We’ve been super fortunate to have had great support from the community since that first record came out.

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

Steve is the riffmeister, but our process is very organic, and jam driven. We all bring ideas, and drive the development of our music over time. We have a chemistry, and there are only three of us, so we have built this connection over time. We share the philosophy that we have no limits, and we write what we want, which is very liberating, creatively.

Will you be performing gigs this year. A more in-depth tour to promote the album. Are there plans to perform overseas such as Europe.

We’re stoked to play the Maryland Doom Fest pre-party in June, and we’re working on some more shows during that time. At the moment we don’t have any plans for heading to Europe, although we’d love the opportunity to do so. We are interested in tapping into the young and emerging South American scene, and possible exploring opportunities to play there. But as of the moment there’s no major touring planned in the first half of the year.

Thanks for doing this interview. Do you have anything to say to your fans before you go.

Thanks for the cool questions Steve, hope your readers got a good glimpse into the Borracho world. We would like to express our gratitude to our fans for all the support over the years. We’re looking forward to seeing people out at some shows, and let us know how you’re digging Atacama! Cheers!

Words by Steve Howe and Borracho