Monday 16 October 2017

An Interview With CAM from MOTHERSLUG

Australian Doom/Stoner Rockers – Motherslug – are finally releasing their eagerly awaited new album – The Electric Dunes Of Titan. It's a superb album on all fronts with Motherslug proving why they're rated so highly within the Doom/Stoner Metal community.

You can read my review of their excellent new album here. Though before then you can read this interview that I did with Cam (Lead Vocals) from the band recently. Where we discussed the formation of the band, the evolution of their sound and what the current Doom/Stoner Metal scene is like currently in Australia.

Read on for further info.

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

We started off as a five piece in 2012, drummer Nick met original guitarist Ferg at a gig one night and it all took off from there with myself (Cam) being the last to join the original line up after responding to an ad on a local music forum. My previous band fell apart following the death of our lead guitarist and rather than reinvent the wheel I figured I would join up with an existing band. Motherslug had a simpler direction when we started, a mash up of Electric Wizard and Kyuss. These days with the addition of guitarist Regan and the transformation to a four piece we have a much broader range of songwriting influences with the goal of getting punters' hips shaking, feet tapping and minds expanding rather than just bludgeoning them with volume.

How would you describe your overall sound.

A psychedelic fuzz hammer. I’d say that our music spans the entire spectrum of Stoner Doom, from crushing riffs that make your head bang, psychedelic sounds that help you escape from reality and all the way to softer tones, like a warm breeze across the desert under a night sky.

We are here to talk about your debut album – The Electric Dunes Of Titan. And can I say what a fantastic album that is. Blew me away on my first listen. What can people expect from the album.

Kind words indeed, thanks heaps mate. It is still undeniably Motherslug but we're flexing our songwriting muscles and really try to take the listener with us on a journey. Earlier songs like Trippin' On Evil and Rollin' shared that vibe and we have tried to expand on that feeling. You can get lost in each song, forget where you are for a moment and float into outer space but all the while there is still that underlying pop sensibility, catchy hooks, memorable solos and driving rhythms.

What influenced you all when recording the album.

Our sound is influenced by our surroundings.  We all dig the outdoors, nature and camping, whether it be in mountain forests, on the beach or the vast, wide open spaces.  You can see this in the album cover, we just dragged our gear into the forest one night and set it up on a dirt road under the stars. This feeling of space is something we find is subconsciously recreated in our music, and has been from the beginning "Space, man it feels alright". We figured that recording a live set would really help capture that vibe, to encourage that vibe Nick had a model motorcycle next to him during the whole recording session along with the thoughts of deep space and big sounds.

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

Writing as a group for the most part. Either Nick or Regan will bring a riff or loosely structured song to rehearsal and we just jam on it, I'll sing some nonsense whilst trying to find a melody, Cyn will nail a bass line in seconds (I think she might be a replicant) and we'll just keep refining it over the weeks with new ideas and trying alternative structures, tempo changes, whatever is needed until it takes on the form of a song. Once I have a melody for the vocal line I'll start converting the gibberish to meaningful prose - for example Downriver started out at "brown sugar, black peas" and ended up as "downriver, bury me".

What influences you when writing music.

First and foremost, making songs that we want to listen to over and over. If you made a Venn diagram of each member's personal influences there wouldn't be a lot of intersection. There is the common and constant influence of Fu, Floyd, Zep, Sabbath, Kyuss and Wizard but Nick was listening to a lot of Blue Cheer, Acid King and Nebula along with more obscure heavy blues and proto-doom. 

Both Cyn and Nick are huge fans of The Doors whilst Cyn cites having Belzebong's Greenferno on repeat for the better part of last year. Regan was digging on Peter Green, David Gilmour, Randy Holden, Eternal Elysium (He's the Japanese Iommi, right down to the glasses!) and guitar aficionados can probably tell the solo on Serpents is a nod to the genius of Eddie Glass.

Me, I'm influenced by contemporary acts from all genres as much as anything from the past, stuff like The Steady As She Goes, THAL, Chelsea Wolfe, Townes Van Zandt, Roky Ericson and David McComb. I was listening to a lot of Scott Walker after his collaboration with Sunn and wanted to bring more clean vocals into our songs.

You can cite inspiration sources until the cows come home but really we don’t aim for our music to sound like any other band, it’s more of an organic process based on what we think sounds cool.

Why the long wait for your debut album. As you released your last EP back in 2014. Were there any over-riding factors why it took so long for the album release. I've been a huge fan of you guys for a very long time. So I'm very excited you're releasing this album.

We asked ourselves the same question! We felt we had become stagnant in the two years following the release of Three Kings. During that time Matt left the band to pursue parenthood and we enlisted Regan but it wasn't until we became a four piece in December of 2015 that things started falling into place and within a couple of months we had the basis of the tracks for Electric Dunes. We recorded some live demo's of all of these songs in July of 2016 with the expectation to record and release it soon after, but life gets in the way sometimes.

I've been asked by a few Facebook Pals of mine. Will this album be released on CD or Vinyl in the future. If so, can you provide any details when this will happen.

We are talking with some labels at the moment about vinyl and broader distribution. At the moment we have only have a very small run of CD's to sell at gigs, a few of our favourite record stores around Australia (Heartland and Utopia) will have them in stock and we'll send some over to our buddy Mats at Ozium Records in Sweden.

Why did you call the album – The Electric Dunes Of Titan. Any specific reason why.

The title came from a scientific article about the dunes on Saturn's moon Titan and how they move counter to the winds, they hypothesised that the patterns formed could only occur if the particles that make up the dunes were electrically charged. It encompasses all of the elements that we dig: Electric - Sabbath/Wizard, Dunes - desert rock, Titan - gigantic riffs/space and therefore has a dual meaning, not unlike most of our songs.

Are you all involved with different musical projects or is this your main band.

'sluggers all the way. No side projects, no other bands. 

What is your musical setup when performing or recording live. Is it an advanced setup or a basis setup.

About as basic as you can get really. Some of the delay in this release came about because we wanted to record live and had some difficulties with the studio making everything sound a little over-produced. We ended up re-tracking the guitar at Joel Taylor's studio The Black Lodge and re-mixing the album with John Bartels, who recorded the original demo's.

How hard is it for Motherslug stand-out from the crowd. Or do you not worry about things like that.

I'm sure every band has this same problem, the quality and number of releases that are coming out in the doom and stoner genre these days is staggering and it can be difficult to break through that level of listener fatigue. For us it is all about writing tunes that we want to listen to over and over and dig playing and just hoping other people feel the same way. On a business level I think it is very wise to enlist someone to do PR - that shit drives me mental so this time around we have Curtis at Dewar PR spruiking our wares and we are seeing immediate results.

The Australian Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene has a very healthy reputation amongst the International community. How is the scene perceived in Australia. Is there an active scene or community for you to perform regular or make contact with other bands.

There is a tonne of bands in Melbourne and maybe a dozen more around Australia but this genre is not perceived at all by mainstream media, in that sense it is very similar to the punk movement in the 80's, it relies on lots of D.I.Y. and word of mouth and that fosters a sense of community among the bands.

You have to work together, your not going to survive by being a lone wolf or acting like a rock star. In spite of the mainstream firewall we do have great community radio stations in Australia that are very supportive and without them we would probably wallow in absolute obscurity.

We just played Heavy & Hammered 3 on the weekend, 25 bands on three stages at one venue, bands like Child, Holy Serpent, Dowser, Fluff, Neck Grip. Everyone knows each other and it's like one big house party.

Do you perform many local gigs or do you have to travel further afield.

We just played three weeks in a row in Melbourne supporting Devil Electric, then Arrowhead and H&H3 but generally we average one gig a month. We are very lucky in that Melbourne is the rock capital of Australia, so bands generally travel to Melbourne to play. Australia is a big country with a whole lot of nothing in between the major cities. It's a ten hour drive to Sydney or Adelaide so touring isn't really an option for a band at our level.

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

Smoke the universe.

Words by Steve and Cam from Motherslug.

Thanks to Curtis at Dewar PR for arranging this interview. Thanks to Cam for doing the interview. The Electric Dunes Of Titan will be available to buy on DD from October 31st 2017.