Thursday 14 May 2020

Everything Is GROOVY With GEEZER - An Interview With GEEZER

GEEZER are one of my favourite bands within Stoner Rock/Metal underground and I'm always excited when the band release something new to impress myself with. The band released my favourite album of 2016 with their acclaimed self-titled record of that year.

GEEZER are back with their strangest and trippiest offering yet with GROOVY. This album sees the band explore their love for all things Psychedelic Rock and Spaced Out Rock though still containing that classic GEEZER sound.

Newly signed to Heavy Psych Records, I wanted to catch up with the band to see how life's been treating them and they kindly agreed to do this interview.

Hi Guys. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

All things considered, we are doing alright. Everyone is healthy, our families are healthy and we’re doing what we can to keep it that way.

For people not in the know or who have been living under a rock for the last decade or so. Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.

The band was started by myself (Pat) and Chris Turco somewhere around 2010/2011. Initially we were just looking to make some heavy blues jams to play around the Hudson Valley. When I stumbled upon the stoner rock scene online, it widened our horizons quite a bit. I thought we could carve out a niche for ourselves in the community and with the release of our album Gage and beyond, I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out. Although I am the only original member, the current lineup of Richie, Steve and myself have been together for almost 3 years now and I think (especially with this album) we’ve built on that history and we’re stoked on where this album took us as a band.

We are here to talk about your superb new album – GROOVY – which is slowly becoming my favourite album of yours yet. Congrats on the new album. What can people expect on this album.

Thanks so much! Considering how long you’ve been supporting us, that means a lot! As the band has evolved, we’ve tried to stick to the three pillars of the Geezer sound: Heavy, Trippy and Groovy. Our last EP, Spiral Fires was probably some of the trippiest shit we’ve done. As the title suggests, this time around we focused on the Groovy aspect of our sound. In addition, we spent a lot of time developing the songs, playing them live and really trying to nail everything down. There is still room for improvisation, but these songs were worked out much more than anything we’ve done since the self-titled record.

My own thoughts on the album it’s a mix of all your previous releases but still wildly different as well. Especially with the more Psychedelic Sounds and 70s Classic Hard Rock grooves whilst still retaining the music that GEEZER are known for. Is that something you agree or disagree with.

Yes, I agree with that completely. I think we’ve taken everything we’ve done up to this point and distilled it down to create a new way forward. I love trippy shit, especially when it’s mixed in with heavy ass riffs. To me, that is what makes stoner rock (or whatever you wanna call it these days) special. It’s cliche now, but Blues For The Red Sun was a monumental shift. Holy Mountain, Dopethrone, Spine Of God, Clutch, etc. When these albums came out NOTHING like that was happening in mainstream heavy music. For a lot of us, it was exactly what we were looking for. Throw in some classic rock grooves and a little weed, it doesn’t get any better than that.

What was the recording experience like for this album and did you do anything different for this album compared to your previous albums.

As I mentioned before, I think our preparation was the biggest difference. All the main parts were recorded in just two days, which is usual for us. This time, however, everybody had their parts nailed down like never before. Many of the solos were born out of jams, but by the time we got to the studio, I knew pretty much exactly what I wanted to do. Same goes for Richie and Steve, they worked their asses off to make these songs groove like no other. Steve especially made sure that if we were gonna call the album Groovy, it better be fuckin GROOVY! I think the results speak for themselves.

You’ve now signed to Heavy Psych Sounds for the release of this album. How did that come about. 

As you mention below, we’ve had the honor of working with some of the best labels in the stoner rock world and every one of them has been a great experience for us. This time around we wanted to shop the album, which we’ve never really done before. HPS was on the top of the list and Gabe moved very fast when he heard the album. He was very excited about it, which is what I wanted more than anything else. I wanted to not just release the record on a label, I wanted Geezer to be a priority. So far, this has definitely been the case.

Heavy Psych Sounds are perhaps one of the best underground labels to be upon. Did you know much of the label before signing with the band.

Hell yeah! HPS has been one of my favorite labels for a while and they’ve been killing it over the last few years, especially with the Nebula re-issues and new album, the Brant Bjork re-issues and new album, etc. Throw in bands like Duel, Gorilla, High Reeper, Ecstatic Vision, Black Rainbows, etc…. you can see why this is a label we wanted to be involved with.

Did you have any other offers from other labels or was it when Heavy Psych Sounds entered the picture. 

We did have some other offers, we just felt that right now, Heavy Psych Sounds is the right label for us. 

You guys have already been signed to some great labels in your career – Kozmik, STB Records and Ripple. What were the experiences like with this cool labels. And would you work with them again in the future.

Our experiences with these labels have been almost entirely positive and as you say, they are some of the best out there. One of the things that blows me away about the stoner rock scene is how it has it’s own little infrastructure that operates almost completely outside the mainstream music world. The labels that support this kind of music are a huge reason why the scene has been able to grow so much in the last few years. Now, more than ever, these guys need everyone’s support so we can all come through this thing and be able to keep it heavy in a post-COVID world. So buy some records, CD’s, whatever ya can to keep these guys going!

As for our experience, I look at it like this; when we hooked up with STB Records, they were the perfect label for us at that time. Steve was the first one to give Geezer a real chance and without him, our story would’ve been very different. Then Ripple entered the picture, again at the perfect time. Ripple expanded the band’s reach in a way that no other label could do at that time. 

Todd and Pope are great people, they are great to work with and we are forever grateful for everything they’ve done for us. Kai and Kozmik Artifactz stepped in at the perfect time as well. We were planning our first European Tour and needed to release Psychoriffadelia to a European audience at a very specific time. Kai was able to make it happen and it was a huge boost to our tour and a big reason why it was a success. Now with Heavy Psych Sounds, they are bringing us to a whole new audience. Personally I was very influenced by a lot of artists on HPS while writing this record, so it makes sense that it fits with the label musically and stylistically as well.

The album cover is freaking awesome and shows you what to expect with this album. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have into the overall design of the cover.

The cover was designed by a local artist, Ryan Williams (AKA - A Subtle Difference Design). This was the first album we’ve done where we’ve had a definitive concept in mind while the album was still being written. We knew what the title was going to be, we knew stylistically what the songs were gonna be like and we had a basic concept of what we wanted to do with the cover. Steve has his own apparel/screen printing company (Boneshaker MMXII) and is an awesome graphic designer as well. Since he’s been in the band, he’s been handling a lot of merch design for us, as well as show posters, album layouts, etc. He was the one to suggest bringing Ryan in for the artwork. We gave Ryan a basic idea of what we were looking for and he came up with the bulk of the cover on the very first try! We fell in love with it right away and judging from the reaction the cover has gotten across the board, we couldn’t be happier. As you say, it perfectly fits with the vibe of the music and where we’re at as a band today.

GEEZER albums have had some stunning artwork over the years. Can I ask what has been your favourite album cover and the reasons why.

Well right now the Groovy album cover is my favorite, it’s the kind of cover you can get lost in. That said, we’ve worked with many incredible artists over the years and have always tried to make album covers that reflect what your hearing on the album. Josh Wilkinson did the artwork and layout for the self titled record and in many ways, that was the high point as far as overall album package. STB Records of course, went above and beyond on that one. Alexander Von Wieding’s cover for Gage was also a game changer for us. Kim Zangrando was our “in house” graphic designer for many years and she did the layouts for Psychoriffadelia, A Flagrant Disregard For Happiness as well as many amazing gig posters, etc… Looking back on it all right now is a little surreal, we’ve been very fortunate.

Has it surprised you at how the Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal Community has taken to GEEZER since your debut album.

I am grateful for all the support we’ve gotten over the years and in many ways it is very surprising. However, I’ve been doing this for a long time and in a lot of ways Geezer is the home I was always searching for (musically speaking). It took a long time to get here and the Stoner/Doom community had a large part in making that happen. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m more grateful than anything else. I am a fan of heavy, trippy music. With Geezer, this is the most honest music I’ve ever made. I’m extremely grateful that the Stoner/Doom scene provides us a way to share this music with with so many like-minded people who appreciate what we do. That is a very rare thing that I think too many people take for granted.

What comes first with the band when making an album. Lyrics or Music.

I’m a guitarist first. I really only started singing because I got sick of dealing with singers. That said, I’m a slave to the riff and that is almost always where things start for us.

COVID-19 has pretty much put a stop to all life as we know it for the time being. How big of an impact has it affected you guys. And how are you surviving in this stressful time.

We are all healthy at the moment, as are our families. That of course, is the most important thing. I have 2 young sons who have kept me more than busy over the last 2 months. In many ways I’m grateful they keep me so preoccupied because they keep me from staring into the abyss too long. Everyone in the band has been adhering to the shelter in place guidelines pretty strictly so we haven’t played in 2 months. For me, not being able to play in a band setting has been one of the hardest aspects of this experience. Standing in front of a loud amp while the kick drum caves my chest in repeatedly is where I find peace. Not being able to do that has been a drag, for sure.

After everything is back to some sort of normality. What does the future hold for GEEZER. Will you be touring the record at home and abroad.

We were already in the process of booking a European tour for the end of the year, but now who knows? I am not sure anything will be happening until next year. One step at a time, we’ll find a way.

What have been your favourite records that you’ve heard this year. Regardless of any genre.

New Lowrider album is so friggin amazing, I’m not sure anyone is gonna top it this year. I’ve also really been digging the Twin Wizard album and King Buffalo never disappoint! The Dozer re-issues have been a great reintroduction of the band for me and I’ve been listening to all three of those pretty hard, same with the new Brant Bjork and re-issues as well. 

There have also been some newer bands who’s albums have been big surprises for me. Bone Church, Charley No Face and Mooch are all bands I just got hip to and all their new albums are killer. Curse The Son’s new album is also out of site. They’re gonna turn a lot of heads when that bad boy comes out.

Pat – You’re also known for the amazing Electric Beard Of Doom – which you put on hiatus last year. Do you have any plans on resurrecting the show. As I used to love listening to your shows.

I recently did my first podcast in over a year. It can be found on the Electric Beard Of Doom Mixcloud page (Episode 109). It was nice to do it again and I hope to do more in the near future.

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

We just hope everyone takes care of themselves and their neighbors. Think of the things that bring us together and be respectful of everyone’s needs as much as possible. We’re all in this together so we need to act like it. Be groovy to each other and try to find joy in every day. Dig.

Words by Steve Howe and GEEZER

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for arranging this interview. Thanks for GEEZER for doing the interview.

GROOVY will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Heavy Psych Sounds from May 29th 2020.