Saturday 29 July 2017

An Interview With Cory McCallum from OLDE

Canadian Sludge/Stoner Metal mob – OLDE – will be releasing their excellent new album Temple via STB Records (Vinyl) and Medusa Crush Recordings (Cassette) on August 11th 2017.

Temple is a different beast compared to OLDE's debut album “I” released back in 2014. As OLDE include harsher vocals and riffs on this album. It's more progressive but that hasn't stopped OLDE remembering to play melodic Sludge/Stoner Riffs to rock out to.

As with all STB Records releases, Temple will be released on a variety of different vinyl packages that STB Records are now legendary for.

I managed to catch up with Cory McCallum (Bass) from OLDE where we discussed the evolution of the band and the new album.

Can you give a brief history of how the band came about and where it is today.

None of us really knew each other very well or at all yet we all had one major thing in common: at some point in the past we had all recorded in other projects with Greg Dawson at his BWC Studios.

After Greg had recorded Ryan in Sons of Otis a few years back, he wanted to put together a unit made up of people he had enjoyed working with and focus on playing more deliberately slow, low and heavy in order to be able to really concentrate on tone and dig in to the riffs and the grooves. So, he reached out to the various members who have been with the band ever since and really sold the idea with a simple "it should be great, and even if it isn't, it will be fun". And he was 100% correct.

What can people expect with your new album – Temple.

The album, to me, is a really good indication of what we do, both in the grand scheme of things and as a live band. It is actually very simple, straightforward, sincere, blunt...There aren't a lot of studio tricks or extra bells and whistles. This is what we wanted the band to be when we started, this is what we wanted the record to sound like while we were making it. There's not a lot of posturing or any type of stylistic attempt to be anything other than what we are as a unit. We want it to be a given that when people here "Olde" they invariably think "heavy" with no hesitation.

What are the underlying themes of the album.

Doug really wants people to read the lyrics and make of them what works for them in their lives. That's not to say the lyrics have no meaning; far from it.

For me, "Temple" is about a lot of things surrounding the survival of modern man. Who and what are we battling? Why is it so tremendously hard to just get by? Who is the pulling the strings? What do those puppet masters have to do to their own souls, what do they tell themselves at night to be able to sleep?

It's a deeply personal trip, and I think Doug is bang-on when he maintains that listeners can almost have a psychological conversation with the material. What keeps you going in the face of certain destruction? How do you not tell your children you are giving them an entirely broken planet? What mask do you have to don every morning to be able to even open your door and not have everyone immediately recognize that you are just hanging on, a trembling and shaken and angry human being, too smart to not see what's going on but too stupid to turn away towards ignorant bliss.

It's dark, it's vicious, its's pretty hopeless material.

Musically, it's our job to make sure the music delivers the appropriate sonic setting for these themes and balance that against wanting to still deliver a song that people enjoy listening to.

It can't just be a total misery trip.

What influenced you when recording the album and was it hard album to write and record for.

Musically, this band listens to and loves such a ridiculously-wide swath of styles that it would actually just confuse things if I bothered to list them.

In terms of heavy/metal, some of our collective favourites are Entombed, early Rollins Band, Trouble, Melvins....standards like Sabbath and Priest. Thin Lizzy. Saint Vitus. Trouble.

However, to a person, I don't think a single one of us is actually trying to ape any of our influences when writing our stuff. We want the next Olde song to be the next Olde song. We want it to be influenced by our previous material, staying true to what we are but also trying to point the band and our fans down new alleys and side-streets.

We have influences, of course, and we love those bands....but we want to make these songs our own, we don't want to be "the new this" or "a heavier that".

It’s very different to your debut album. It’s a lot heavier especially with the vocals. Was that the plan to release something different.

The vocals on this record are, for me, one of our weapons. Doug is a shredding bludgeoning beast on the mic. In my opinion, he's doing stuff that not many in this scene can do, or choose to do. He is attacking each song with malicious intent. Love it or hate it (and we love it), Doug is simply one of the things that makes Olde unique. If we had a smooth Ozzy-replicant, would we get more stoner shows? Maybe. Would that new-Ozzy be able to impart the same level of dread and desperation and flat-out scene-setting emotion that Doug puts into each syllable? I doubt it. That's just me.

As for music, we wrote heavier. We jammed heavier. We recorded heavier. Everything we do, and I say this in all seriousness, we are conscious of the heavy-level and how and where we can push it. I am 100% certain the next record will be heavier again, because we will want it to be. We'll find a way.

STB Records is releasing the album. Did you have any other record label offers to release Temple. Or was it a no-brainer to stay with STB Records.

There were some sniffs and offers, but when Steve contacted us it seemed like a great fit for us and we did our due diligence, a little research, we were quite happy with what we found and we felt comfortable enough to stop looking and sign on.

The artwork for Temple is incredible. Who designed it. Did you have much input into the overall design of the cover.

Joshua Wilkinson at created it. We were hooked up with him through STB as he had done great work for them already and Steve said let's give Josh a crack first. So, we tossed around some pretty vague ideas...more than anything we gave him some words and thematic lynchpin ideas and he ran with the visuals.

There was some back and forth where he would show us a draft and we'd make little suggestions, we mocked up a few ideas (me in MS Paint, what a nightmare) which he then very adeptly turned into things much more beautiful and solid. It was definitely a new experience for us, to give away that level of's hard. You have ideas in your head that you can't put words to. Sometimes you can't say what it is, but you certainly know what it is NOT when you see it.

We try to be really respectful and thankful to the graphic artists we work with. What a shitty situation us bands can put them in. Hey, draw this thing I'm thinking of that I can't describe too well....NO! THAT'S NOT RIGHT!!

What does the artwork mean to you as a band and for the album in general.

We are getting pretty picky about how we want our stuff to look. It's important. You want people who don't know you to look at your stuff and say "Damn...who is that?" and have a pretty good hypothesis in what general area you are coming from. You also want your own fans to see your stuff and think "Yep! THAT Is Olde, THAT is gonna CRUSH!" Again, it's hard and it can be a chore getting it right. But it is worth getting right. We are learning as we go along. That's right...old metalheads can learn new things!

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

Greg wrote the first record and pretty much ironed out any arrangements with Ryan, the drummer, as they recorded the beds.

"Temple" we completely wrote together, in a room, looking at each other, measuring everything in the moment. Greg still wrote the lion's share, but Chris and I each have a song on there. Even with Greg's songs, it was a lot more organic, more collaborative, more democratic than ever before. Ideas given, criticisms, do THAT again moments. I really think that change of process is what makes "Temple" soooo much different than "I".

Will you be touring this record heavily or will it just be individual, one-off shows such as festival appearances.

We would love to tour, but where we all are in our personal is highly doubtful. We do intend on getting better and more consistent with our weekend warrior Two-ers (two night tours; we just did a great Two-er with Dragged In, one of Canada's best punk bands).

As for festivals, absolutely, we want to play more of them. Everywhere. Anywhere. Anyone out there reading this who knows the secret to cracking that festival code....please holler. Maybe this next album will help us get onto the Festival Radar. It's a tough scene to crack. So many great bands out there want the same thing.

Do you guys get the chance to tour regularly. Or is it only on certain occasions.

Mostly just weekends in places we can feasibly and realistically make it to and from and be back to work for Monday. Canada is huge; there's a lot of klicks in between the major show spots. Playing all the tiny spots can be great fun, but you need more time and energy than we can devote to pull that strategy off. That's a great way to build your following (play EVERYWHERE) but it's a young person's game. We have to choose our spots and just make sure that we hit those spots with such ferocity that word spreads and drags people in from the smaller locales.

What have your been high points and low points being with OLDE or your musical career in general.

For me, opening for High on Fire and just chatting with Matt Pike as a peer was pretty awesome. I've been playing out for a long time and I don't get too star struck, but Pike is a legend and deservedly so. He was great, we had a cool little chat. He was also pretty honest, saying that he tried to catch nap through our set because he had no idea who we were! I laughed. Hell, every band who plays late will admit to doing the same thing!

Low's all been pretty good. There's been some shit shows (Hamilton, I'm giving you the stink eye) that make you regret leaving home that night, but the next show comes along and you have a mint time and things are all good again.

We all know that STB Records always release incredible vinyls. Are you happy with the packages that Steve STB has put together for your album. Did you have any say into the design or colour scheme of the vinyls. Or did you leave that all to STB Records.

We're leaving that all to Steve at STB. He has that stuff on lock-down, that's his bag. We had the little bits of say here and there in the cover design phase in regards to colour, and Steve uses some of that aesthetic in the vinyls themselves. We're pretty confident that he's going to make it look extremely bad ass.

Does OLDE have an advanced equipment setup when playing live or recording new material in the studio. What equipment do you use to get the trademark OLDE sound.

Various stacks, various heads, we've tried a slew of different pedals....nothing too out of the ordinary. Classic or at least pretty traditional BIG amps and resources pushed to their limits. We jam loud as all get-out, same with our records and the live show. You can tell on the records; it's nearly every song that begins or ends with some feedback that we can barely control. Ryan has two kits that he loves and we try to use them exclusively for all of our stuff, definitely in-studio but even live. We share gear when we can to make everyone's life a little easier, but we are not going to sacrifice our sound to do it.

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

We sincerely hope that you give our new record a listen. We hope you dig it. If you don't, thanks anyway; that's all a band can hope for, and we consider ourselves lucky and honoured to be able to reach so many already. Stay gold.

But if you do happen to like what you hear, we are quite pleased to have you along for the ride. Get CRUSHED.

Words by Steve Howe and Cory McCallum

Temple will be available to buy via STB Records on Vinyl and Medusa Crush Recordings on Cassette from August 11th 2017.