Thursday 12 October 2017

An Interview With Doomstress Alexis from DOOMSTRESS

Texas doom metallers Doomstress are set to release their new EP, The Second Rite on No Slip Records (CD) and DHU Records (Vinyl). The press release below will explain what to expect.

The EP contains remixed versions from the original, very limited self release and 7" DHU single, as well as new song "Bitter Plea" recorded at the end of the Wicked Summer tour and featuring additional rhythm guitar by guitarist Joe Fortunato (Sparrowmilk/Venomin James/ex-Ancient VVisdom). The artwork that will appear on both the CD & vinyl is by renown psychedelic artist, Goatess Doomwych.”

I was given the opportunity to interview Alexis Hollada aka Doomstress Alexis (Bass/Vocals) from the band. Where we discussed things such as the new EP, Project Armageddon (Alexis's other band) and touring plans amongst other things.

Alexis is widely respected within the Doom/Stoner Metal community and I've been fan of her work for the last couple of years. So I was more than happy to do this interview.

Hi Alexis. Thanks for doing this interview. What can people expect with your new EP.

A mix of traditional doom laden with heavy grooves, lots of harmony guitar work and classic & NWOBHM influences.

You've included two cover versions on the new EP. Uriah Heep's – Rainbow Demon and Coven's Wicked Woman. Why did you choose those two songs to cover. Are they personal favourite songs of yours and the rest of the band.

We picked these covers to show a departure from what we'd been doing in Project Armageddon. This isn't more of the same under my name but drawing from some different influences and writing styles. Uriah Heep we focus in on the harmony work we are utilizing now as a 4 piece w/twin guitars and we get to lay down some heavy groove with our rendition of the Coven song.

The EP is being released by DHU Records. How did you become associated with that cool label. Did you have any others from other labels to release the EP.

The vinyl is on DHU Records and the CD version is on NoSlip Records. I really need to thank Joey & Sabine from Disenchanter for this. After becoming friends with them and discovering the labels as well as their rosters I was really impressed by what they had going on. Once DOOMSTRESS became public we got a lot of interest and from there conversations started up with DHU. We released the “Wicked Woman” 7 inch in fall of 2016 and had already discussed doing a split 12” EP We had a lot of demand for a CD so I contacted NoSlip who has been a big supporter of DOOMSTRESS and has had a good relationship with DHU and both labels thought this was a great idea.

The Second Rite is being released as a split vinyl with Sparrowmilk (Doomstress drummer Tomasz other band, who are pretty damn good in their own right). How did that idea come about. Was that something you and Tomasz decided together.

When I talked to DHU Records about releasing the EP as a split they didn't have any bands currently releasing anything EP wise. Since I was well connected to Sparrowmilk and knew they were well along in the process of their own recording I pitched the idea to DHU who was happy about the idea as well. As you mentioned, my brother Tomasz does the drums for both bands on the EP but we also had Sparrowmilk's guitarist Joe lay down a rhythm track for us on “Bitter Plea” since they had both done tour duties back on our initial live debut “Wicked Summer Tour”.

The EP has been mastered by Texas Stoner Metal legend – Kent Stump. What does Kent bring to the sound of Doomstress.

Kent's such a great guy and I'm really pleased we could get his touch on this. We were super happy with our mix and Kent has a really keen ear and knew exactly what we were going for with this. He brought a nice tempered aggressiveness to the overall sound. The proof is in the pudding so to speak so you just gotta listen and let it soak into your earholes.

You've worked with Kent multiple times over the years. What has been your favourite release that you've worked on together.

This current EP “The Second Rite” by far!

Texas has been hit by some nasty and dangerous weather with the floods recently. Which I saw on the news and Facebook posts. How is Texas coping with the damage the floods have caused. Were you affected by this at all. I hope you and your family & friends weren't badly affected.

Its been a crazy time. We weren't affected directly but Brandon's grandmother was flooded and had to be rescued by boat. She's living with us now. So many good friends and music friends we know have lost so much and its like that throughout the entire region. I don't think there is anyone really who wasn't directly or indirectly affected either via friend, family, job, etc.

How do you cope when something like that hits you so close to home.

Its difficult because you feel so helpless and overwhelmed. It'll take years to fully recover from this so ya just gotta try to take it day by day.

Returning back to the music scene. Texas seems to have a thriving music scene at the moment. With loads of awesome bands coming from Texas such as the bands you're involved in, Wo-Fat and Mothership. What is the scene currently like in Texas.

Its definitely a thriving scene across the state with bands from all genres making waves, not just in metal, doom or rock. Its really amazing to see the explosion of talent coming up.

You play a big part in promoting the local scene and you've promoted my articles when I've featured bands from Texas which I thank you for and I'm extremely grateful for. Where do you find the time to participate with Doomstress, Project Armageddon and Houston Doom Brigade.

Well that's getting more & more difficult to be honest. I'm hoping to bring some fresher blood to the Houston Doom Brigade family to kinda take the reigns or at least some of the slack in covering what's happening around the state and beyond. I also recently worked with Billy Goate @ Doomed & Stoned to do the 'Doomed & Stoned in Texas' compilation which will have all proceeds go to Hurricane Harvey Relief Funds @ The Houston Food Bank. I have over 50 bands from across the state on this which is something I've wanted to do since I founded the Houston Doom Brigade 8 or 9 years ago. It was truly a labor of love putting this together and it should be coming out soon.

What is currently happening with Project Armageddon. Any new releases coming up. Or is that top-secret at the moment.

Project Armageddon is currently on indefinite hiatus. We haven't disbanded or called it quits as we all have a lot of ourselves invested in that band over the years. For the foreseeable future with DOOMSTRESS continuing to progress and tour so frequently its just not where Brandon & I are focussed. Along with that I have also been writing and recording a new record with 60s/70s heavy rockers Josefus and will be performing live with them as well starting at End Hip End It Fest in Houston 10/21-22.

Will you be performing any tours for the release of the new EP. Or will you be focusing on new shows only.

We did a series of short jaunts over September leading up to Stoned Meadow of Doom Fest in Sioux Falls, SD 9/29-30. October we will be doing the same thing playing a couple shows supporting Savage Master in Texas as well as Manilla Road, playing End Hip End It Fest 10/22 and then a short tour to play in Atlanta at the Georgia Metal Alliance's Decade of Doom.

For this interview I did some minor research on you and I never knew that you have your own holiday named after you in Houston. How did that come about. Were you shocked that they named a holiday after of you. What did your family and friends think of that.

yah that was definitely a shock even now to think about it. A big music supporter & metal DJ Herman Garcia took a bunch of info on the things we were doing with the band and what I was doing and accomplishing as transgender woman in the metal scene, being nominated for best female vocalist and best metal band in Houston, some articles I had done, etc and presented it to the mayor's office. I guess they thought it was impressive enough to give me a day in Houston. Crazy right?!

Do you have to do any official engagements for that holiday. Does the holiday still happen to this very day.

Doomstress Alexis Day officially falls on July 5th and the 1st few anniversaries I hosted benefit shows for homeless youth with multiple bands of all genres performing and artists and artisans donating good for auction. The past 2 years I've been so busy and touring that its been too difficult to dedicate the time needed but I still use the proclamation to bring awareness to the transgender community and serve as a symbol of hope for those struggling.

You do a lot of awesome work by raising Transgender awareness within Texas and within the worldwide Doom/Stoner Metal community. Was that a hard or easy decision to make to let people know you're a Transgender Woman.

It wasn't easy that's for sure and for a time I debated on leaving the metal world. But nothing in life is easy and with the support of my bandmates and friends I stepped out onto the public stage and haven't looked back.

I applaud you for being honest and open with that aspect of your life. As you let people experience your life through your music that you've been involved with over the years. Is that a rewarding and fulfilling experience letting people know the journey you've gone through.

Its been an amazing experience. Some of the best interactions have been fans, kids and parents contacting me letting me know that my story has helped them or being able to provide some insight into what they are coping with themselves.

How did you love affair or journey with music started. And how did you become involved with Doom Metal/Heavy Metal. Was it a particular album or artist that started it all.

My parents and my older brother were always playing music. My folks played rock, r&b, some pop stuff but my brother had the heavy rock and metal. Sneaking into my brother's room I would flip through his records and cassettes and the art is what really 1st caught my attention. Iron Maiden , Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Kiss, etc. He would make me tapes to play in my little deck or I'd listen at the school library with headphones.

I didn't really get into discovering specific doom bands until I got in a band with Brandon before Project Armageddon. Then it was a whirlwind of doom. Meeting John Perez of Solitude Aeternus, touring with the Gates of Slumber and Reverend Bizarre, I was really inundated quickly.

What have your been high points and low points being involved with your musical career and looking back, would you change anything about it.

Things just keep progressing for me and the music I write and I'm thankful for every second of it.

I guess the low point would be with our previous band writing me off a record and discrediting my writing, playing and production work on the record. Not sure I'd change anything though because the experiences you have had help shape where you are now and I learned quite a lot over the years. And I'm still learning.

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

All the love and thanx for all the support all of you have shown me and the band! Hope you continue to dig our craft.

Thanks for doing this interview Alexis. All the best with your new EP.

Thank you.

Words by Steve Howe and Doomstress Alexis