Tuesday 22 May 2018

An Interview With Brigitte & Collyn From ABOLETH

I wasn’t even aware of Psych Doom Rockers – ABOLETH – before I heard their superb new album Benthos. So this band were a totally new discovery for myself.

When I heard the album I was blown away by the amount of different sounds held on the album and the incredible vocal performance of lead vocalist – Brigitte Roka.

The band call their sound “Dirt Metal” and that is a very apt description. As the album is quite dirty in places but with a soulful blues rock groove as well. Though Aboleth thrown in heavy Doom, Sludge and Stoner based riffs as well.

Aboleth are signed to Ulrich Wild record label – WURMGroup. Ulrich also produced and recorded their debut album. Another good reason why you should check this band out. As the album does indeed sound first rate.

I was asked to interview Brigitte (Vocals) and Collyn (Guitars) from ABOLETH. I wanted to find out more about the band and the recording of the new album.

Here’s what went down...

Hi Collyn and Brigitte. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Collyn: Things are amazing! We’re about embark on our first U.S. tour and we’re very excited. With me here is the incomparable Brigitte Roka, the voice, heart and soul of Aboleth…

Brigitte: Awww well thank ya! Yeah we’re great, super stoked for people to hear this album.

Before we discuss your new album. Can you give a brief overview of how the band formed and where it is today.

Collyn: I stole Brigitte from another band. They had a ‘bass player wanted’ ad up at my rehearsal space. One day I had some time to kill so I checked them out. As soon as I heard Brigitte’s voice I knew I had to work with her, so I sent her a message asking if she wanted to jam. Originally I brought her into the Ultra Electric Mega Galactic fold, which was still mostly instrumental at the time. But that splintered off into its own thing…

Brigitte: Then after forming Aboleth it took us a while to find a steady drummer who could tour. My friend Marco Minnemann asked if he could record the drums for our album after hearing us play live, so he’s the one you hear on the album. Then we finally found Bollet and as soon as we jammed with him we knew he was the guy. Now we’re on our first tour, we got our first album coming out, and we couldn’t be more excited!

How would you describe your overall sound. As you have included quite a few different elements for a seedy and heavy sound.

Brigitte: We’re metalheads who love the blues so our sound is stuck in a limbo between both styles. There’s definitely a grunge influence in there too, we’re all huge fans of Soundgarden and Alice In Chains so that comes through as well.

Collyn: We call it “dirt metal,” just because none of the other genre tags seem to exactly fit. There are elements of stoner rock, desert rock, and a dollop of old-school doom. But mostly we’re a blues band. Just a really heavy one.

You’re about to release your superb album - Benthos album. What can people expect from the album.

Brigitte: Raw, powerful vocals over heavy sludgy riffs. We tried to capture our live energy as much as possible, in fact two of the songs were even recorded live. The album has a lot of soul and grit, but also has some catchy tunes

Collyn: There are riffs-a-plenty, rippin’ slide guitar, virtuosic drumming, out-of-this-world banshee howls from one the best rock singers of the modern era, and a couple of acoustic numbers to sing by the campfire. If Led Zeppelin III comes to mind, well, it should.

What is the main theme of the album and why did you call the album Benthos.

Brigitte: No particular theme to the songs, but most of them are based on all kinds of relationships, not just romantic ones. We chose the name after I made the artwork. Benthos is another name for the ocean floor, so I thought it was a name that would fit the cover nicely. We also have a recurring marine theme in our visuals because our name is based on an eel monster

Who is releasing the album and what formats is the album being released upon.

Collyn: “Benthos” is being released by WURMgroup, which is the label run by Ulrich Wild (Pantera, Deftones, White Zombie) , who mixed and produced the album as well. On May 25th it will be available digitally and on CD. Vinyl plans are still in the works but we hope to be able to announce a release date soon.

What influenced you when writing and recording the album.

Brigitte: So as mentioned before the songs are inspired by different relationships and people in my life. I love music that people can emotionally and personally connect with, so I draw a lot from personal experience when I write these. I leave the demons and wizards lyrics to Collyn cause as much as I love that stuff, I’m not the best at writing it, haha!

Was recording the album an easy or hard experience.

Collyn: For me it was easy. I tend to work out my parts in pre-production. So a lot of what I did on the record is more or less what I played on our early demos, just better.

Brigitte: It was so much fun, especially the two songs we did live. There was a lot of writing and rewriting happening in the studio which was the biggest challenge, because to me there’s 30 ways to write the same chorus and sometimes it takes a while to get what you want.

Ulrich Wild produced the album. What was working with Ulrich like. As he’s worked with some pretty heavy bands during his career. Was it a daunting task working with Ulrich.

Collyn: We’ve both actually worked with Ulrich before. I played bass on two Otep records that he produced. And I introduced him to Brigitte before we even put Aboleth together, because I thought she had something special and wanted to get her name out there. Ulrich wound up consulting her to do some session work

Brigitte: It wasn’t daunting at all. He’s one of the most chill and stoic people you’ll ever meet. It was helpful to get his feedback in the process because he had us try things we wouldn’t have thought of, some of which worked and some didn’t. At the end of the day he was very determined to make it sound the way we want and make sure we were happy with everything

What does Ulrich bring to the Aboleth sound.

Collyn: Ulrich is a master at his craft and he’s also incredibly easy to work with. He brings great ideas to the table and brings the best out of every project he works on, instead of trying to force some signature sound upon everything. With this record, he kept a lot of the rawness and heaviness while making it sound huge. And sonically, nothing gets in the way of anything else.

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

Collyn: It’s highly collaborative. For “Benthos,” Brigitte and I would work out a riff or a chord progression in my living room, I’d send her home with a basic recording and she’d woodshed vocals and lyrical themes. A few of the songs I’d written on my own but she’d either take what I wrote and go in her own direction with it, or just make what I wrote a million times better.

You have a pretty extensive US Tour coming up within the next few days. What can people expect from these shows and will you be performing other dates later in the year. Or will you just be focusing on gigs closer to home.

Collyn: We‘re actually trying to play less gigs closer to home. L.A. is great place to be based, as a musician, but not a great place to play shows. There’s just too much happening on any given night, and club goers’ tastes are notoriously ephemeral. That said we have some great brother-and-sister bands here that we’d love to play more shows with. Void Vator, High Priestess, Sasquatch, Yidhra, Ironaut, The Freeks and Behold! The Monolith to name but a few. And I have to give a shout-out to our buddy Skum who promotes what is secretly the best metal night in L.A, every Wednesday at Skinny’s Lounge.

Brigitte: We really want to get to Europe too, as soon as we can. We want to keep the tour going after this one ends. But we’re stoked to play in all these places around the country where people are always so supportive of live music, a quality that is ironically lacking in the LA community. People can expect some raw gritty vocals, hair swinging all around, face melting riffs and general tomfoolery. No matter what your specific music taste is you’re gonna have a good time rockin with us, there’s no doubt about it

You’re also part of great bands such as Trash Titan and The Ultra Electric Mega Galactic. What’s the current state of play for both bands. Any new material on the horizon from both bands. Or are you focusing solely on Aboleth.

Collyn: I’d say both Trash Titan and UEMG are like herpes. Currently dormant, but you never know when they’ll bubble back up like an oozing open sore. Also there’s Sugar Fly, my funk/soul project, which has some of the most incredible musicians I’ve ever worked with. In fact they’re all so incredible and in-demand that we never have time to play together. But yes, Aboleth is my primary focus right now. It’s what I wake up thinking about. It’s what I go to bed thinking about. Not just what we’re doing now, but what we’ll be doing ten years from now. I think we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what this band can do.

Brigitte: I agree, this is barely the beginning. For me this is my only musical endeavour and my main focus in life, but I’m also busy with my double life as an illustrator and my upcoming graphic novel franchise “Sonarium”, which happens to be based on my life as a musician.

How hard is it for you being part of so many bands. Is this an easy thing to juggle and be a part of.

Collyn: Well it’s four bands, a full-time job, freelance session work and a three-year-old daughter. So yeah, I’m never not busy. But I’d never have it any other way. I can’t stand idle time, it drives me nuts. I mean I probably SHOULD take a vacation at some point, just for my own mental health. But I think one of the reasons this band works so well is that we all have similar drives and work ethics.

Brigitte: I was actually in the process of graduating from Art Center College of Design while making this record and preparing for tour. I literally graduated two weeks before the start of our tour, haha! It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure workload-wise, because ACCD is the Hell’s Kitchen of art schools. It was freakin’ intense managing to do both, but I did it, and now I’m free to rock as I please!

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans. Best of luck with the new album.

Brigitte: Thank you so much for having us and thank you for the support! I’d only like to say that if you like the album and would like to see us play, please spread the word and spread the hype to your friends and local promoters so we can come to your city! Thanks :)

Words by Steve Howe and ABOLETH

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview. Thanks to Brigitte and Collyn for doing this interview.

Benthos will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via WURMGroup from May 25th 2018.