Tuesday 17 July 2018

Going Stir Crazy With Brian Corbett from GENE WILDEST

Gene Wildest is a band that I had never heard of until they contacted me to review their upcoming new album – Spectral Terrestrial. I was intrigued by the band’s overall sound. As Gene Wildest play a different kind of Spaced Out Stoner Rock. As these guys include elements of Fuzz, Grunge, Psych, Indie, Alt Rock and even elements of Shoegazing.

These guys are totally new to me and I wanted to find out more about them and Brian (Guitar/Vox) from the band has have kindly agreed to this cool interview.

Read on and find out more information about GENE WILDEST….

Hi Brian. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. Congratulations on your new album.

Hey Steve, thanks! Things are great! Just watching the World Cup final at the moment actually.

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

So Rob and I (Brian) were introduced back around 2005 by our friend John. We ended up starting a band called Human Sounds with John and our other friends George and Pat. Physical distance kind of got in the way of Human Sounds, but Rob and I lived close and continued to make music and jam every now and then. I was making some home recordings that Rob liked around the same time I met our first drummer Ben Zemel in grad school around 2011.

We all decided to jam, things clicked, and that was our set up for about two years. In 2013 our friend Eric Richmann expressed interest in playing in a band. He was a great songwriter and guitarist and had a killer voice (you can hear it on “Deadleaves” off our first album Everything). We got really excited and just as a shot in the dark told him we would love for him to play bass and share vocals. Luckily he said yes and was in the band until November 2016. He tragically and suddenly passed away from a heart condition he had since he was a kid. It was just devastating for us, his family, and everyone in his life. But we decided with his wife Corey that if there was one thing that Eric would come back and haunt us for it would be letting the band fall apart.

We begged my brother Sean, who never played bass but was always a great musician, to fill in for Eric. He learned all of our songs, which have some pretty complicated basslines, remarkably quickly and he’s been our bassist ever since. In June 2017, Ben went to Portland for work after grad school. Despite being a barefoot drummer, he had some big shoes left unfilled.

A friend of mine introduced us to our current drummer, Dave, who learned like twenty songs by the fall and saved us from the murky depths of a drummerless hell. And that’s been our line-up ever since – Sean, Rob, Dave, and Brian.

How would you describe the music that Gene Wildest creates. As there are many different elements and levels to your overall sound.

That’s always a tough question, especially because its always changing. We currently have math rock and shoegaze albums in the works, ha-ha. This album fits pretty nicely into the stoner rock category, although it doesn’t have as much fuzz as many other stoner rock albums. I guess I would say stoner rock with only as much fuzz as necessary. But just to be clear – we really love our fuzz.

Where did you get the name for Gene Wildest. Obviously influenced by the legendary comedic actor.

Yea we’re all Gene Wilder fans. Honestly, I thought the band name Gnarls Barkley was hilarious and witty. I’ve always liked celebrity puns, but I didn’t want to just rhyme a first or last name. Gene Wildest just seemed right at the time, back in like 2009 before I knew we would be releasing a stoner rock album. Truckfighters, Dead Meadow, Gene Wildest. One of these things is not like the others, but what’s in a name, right?

You have just released your new Spectral Terrestrial. What is the album about.

Well, almost every song deals with both love and death. I like the two concepts together, it keeps the songs from being annoyingly happy or overtly depressing. I see the love for a deceased spouse/friend/family member last forever in the living and I like to think that love is not lost by those who die. It’s a concept that worked really well in the stoner rock genre because you can get away with singing about the supernatural.

Who is releasing the album and what formats will the album be released on.

As of now, we’re self-releasing it under our record label Nappy Dawg Records. It will be on all of the digital music media – Spotify, Google Play, Bandcamp, etc. and also on CD. If we get enough interest we would love to release it on vinyl but that’s just a pipe-dream as of now.

Was recording the album an easy or hard experience.

Easy and fun! We recorded and mixed it ourselves. I’m really into mixing.

Do you have any upcoming gigs to celebrate the release of the album.

Yes, we’ll be at Boot & Saddle in Philly on Auguest 30th.
Will you be performing any-more gigs to promote the new album.

We’re trying to get a north-east tour lined up. Hopefully doing some shows in Lancaster, Bethlehem, Atlantic City, NYC, and Boston.

Do you have an active scene to perform gigs on a regular basis. Or do you have to travel further afield to perform gigs.

The Philadelphia music scene is pretty awesome. There are about 10 great venues we can play at. We’re really lucky that it exists and are forever grateful to our family, friends, and fans who are nice enough to keep supporting us so we can keep playing at these great local spots.

When you’re creating new music. What comes first. The music or the lyrics.

Usually music, I think songs turn out more interesting that way. Starting with a sweet, creative riff and letting it develop from there. Sometimes they happen together, that’s always when the best songs come together. Whenever I start with lyrics the songs are usually more listenable, but I tend to just use chords, which usually isn’t as interesting as using sweet riffage.

What is the songwriting dynamic within the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

It’s collaborative. Each song is usually the brainchild of one of us, with the guys filling in their parts later. Sometimes at practice you get that magic moment when a jam turns into a song in like 15 minutes. Those are always great.

What is your current equipment/setup when recording music and playing live.

Ohhhhh buddy. Our favorite question! Everything is recorded in Logic. Sean and I actually just record direct in, using a tweed amp modeler. Sean uses an Ibanez that looks like a P-bass. For pedals, he mostly uses a DOD Boneshaker, a fuzz that I designed, and a BOSS PH-3 phaser. I use a Schecter Omen 6 with these wacky pickups that I haven’t been able to identify. I bought it used. I use a ton of pedals.

The most commonly used ones on Spectral Terrestrial are a reverse Fuzz Factory clone, a modded Spaceman Wow Signal, Big Muff Pi, Ehx Mel9, Chase Bliss Spectre, Roger Mayer Voodo Vibe+, and that fuzz that I designed. Rob mostly uses a PRS S2 Custom 22 Semi-Hollow or Fender American Standard Strat into a mic'ed up Blackstar Artist 15 or his old Peavey Bandit 112.

He loves pedals as much as I do, but the ones that got the most love from him on this record are a Wampler Tumnus into either an EQD Hoof or a Smallsound/Bigsound Buzzz for his dirt tones, and a Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl HiFi and a TC Electronic Viscous Vibe for his mod section. The Empress Echosystem and Reverb units are all over his tracks, too.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have any words of wisdom to say to your fans.

“Be excellent to each other”. Thanks for everything, Steve.

Words by Steve Howe and Brian Corbett


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