King Buffalo have been perhaps one of the most interesting bands to come out from the Psychedelic Stoner Rock scene over the last few years. The band have released a string of acclaimed releases recently especially with last year's acclaimed EP Dead Star and their Freak Valley Live Album. Both becoming instant and must have releases in the process.
The band surprised folks with the announcement earlier this year of their plan to release 3 records within 2021. The first record to be released is their upcoming new album - The Burden Of Restlessness - which will surprise people with the creative direction the band have taken with this release.
I caught up with Sean McVay (Vocalist/Guitarist) from the band to discuss the making of the album and what's in store for us all with the other two records that will be released later this year.
Hi Sean. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.
I’m doing great. Thanks for the interest in the band!
For people not in the know. Can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today.
King Buffalo formed in 2013. Dan and I had been in a different band together for a few years, and Scott was also in another band in Rochester. Both of our respective projects started to fall apart for various reasons. Scott needed to honor some tour dates for his band and asked if Dan and I could fill in alongside Scott and one of the singers/guitar players from his previous band (Randall Coon). We found ourselves jamming and writing new material instead of actually learning the old songs. Eventually we all just looked at each other and said “why don’t we just be our own band?” We wrote and recorded our first demo within the first 3-4 weeks of playing together then immediately went on tour. Shortly after, Randall had an opportunity to relocate from Rochester to Philadelphia, and Scott, Dan and myself then continued on as a 3 piece.
Your new album The Burden Of Restlessness is superb. It has that classic “KING BUFFALO” sound and offers a more Progressive Journey or outlook which people might not expect. Was that the point to try something different with this record.
Absolutely. We always try to approach each album with some sort of new twist. Whether that’s new/different equipment, different tonalities, or tweaks to the songwriting process. With this one, we wanted to make a more intimate and aggressive sounding record. All the gear, arrangement and effect choices served to try and achieve that goal.
What is the The Burden Of Restlessness about.
It’s about the difficulties that come from coping with mounting angst, anger and anxiety.
Why did you call the album The Burden Of Restlessness. - Any particular reason for this title.
We felt it was a good way to express the feeling of walking around everyday weighed down with stress, anxiety and depression.
Folks were quite surprised when you announced you will be releasing 3 album this year. WOW – 3 albums. When did you get the idea to record and release 3 albums.
When COVID hit and everything shut down, we obviously had to postpone or cancel all of our shows in 2020. We took a little bit of time off early on, then after a couple months we began to start meeting up again. We are lucky enough to have a very large rehearsal/studio space that we could easily distance ourselves and stay safe. We figured that since we couldn’t tour, we’d start writing again (this was all right after the release of Dead Star). We started jamming, and soon enough we realized we had over 4 hours worth of new ideas. We cut some things down, and started grouping songs together and eventually felt like we had 3 compete records that we were really excited about. We decided that we’d produce and release all 3.
Are the 3 albums linked in some way with a story or similar ideas. And will they have a similar sound to each other.
They will be linked in theme and story, but will all have distinctly different sounds and feels to them, and will each be produced and recorded differently.
When did you find the time to record all 3 albums. Was this before or during lockdown.
We wrote and did pre-production during 2020 and early 2021. We are set to record the second record at the end of April, and will be moving on to record number 3 shortly after.
When will the other 2 albums be released this year. Or do you want to keep that as a surprise.
No official release date for the next 2 records yet, so it’ll have to be a surprise for now.
What influenced or inspired you when making the upcoming album.
The upcoming record will be a continuation of the story from Burden of Restlessness, sort of picking up where it left off. I don’t want to say too much, but it will have a bit more of a spacious, ambient and organic feel than BoR.
You had an impressive 2020 despite the COVID-19 Pandemic by releasing your acclaimed EP – Dead Star and the 2019 Live At Freak Valley Performance. Were you guys blown away by the reception to both of these releases from the Stoner Rock/Metal community especially with Dead Star.
We’ve been absolutely shocked by the amount of fan support we’ve been receiving. Especially with how fast preorders have been going for the past few releases. We truly can’t express how thankful we are.
What comes first for you when recording new music. Lyrics or Music.
The music and arrangement pretty much always comes before the lyrics 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 King Buffalo. And how are you surviving in this stressful time.
It was definitely stressful when it first hit and everything shut down. Eventually things sort of settled and we were able to catch our breath. We just tried to stay focused on things we could control, and kept ourselves busy by working on new material. We’ve all been really lucky in that us and our families have all been able to stay healthy and safe throughout all of this.
After everything is back to some sort of normality. What does the future hold for the band. Will you be touring the record heavily. Though Europe gigs maybe sometime yet..
As of right now we have plans to tour in the upcoming fall, which we are very much looking forward to. We’ve always considered ourselves a touring band, and I’m sure we will continue on as such as soon as the situation allows for it.
The album cover for the upcoming new album is excellent. Who designed the cover and how much input did you have into the overall design of the cover.
The artwork for the Burden of Restlessness was created by the amazing, and well known Polish artist Zdzisław Beksiński. Sadly he passed away in 2005. Scott was familiar with some of his work, and he mentioned we should check it out. We felt the image just perfectly reflected the vibe and feeling of the record, and that it would make an amazing cover. We tracked down the appropriate parties in order license the work, and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom that you want to say to your fans.
Just want to again express how thankful we are for all the support we’ve been receiving, and give a massive THANK YOU to all our fans. We CAN NOT WAIT to get back to touring and performing for you all again! In the meantime stay safe and healthy… We’ll see you all soon!
Words by Steve Howe and Sean McVay
Thanks to Mona at All Noir PR for arranging this interview and for Sean doing the interview.