Thursday 14 October 2021

An Interview With Ryan Garney From HIGH DESERT QUEEN

Texas Stoner Rockers High Desert Queen are a band I've only became aware of recently and that's down to their blistering debut album Secrets Of The Black Moon which is released on tomorrow on Friday October 15th 2021.

The band's mix of Heavy Cosmic Stoner Rock has a real edge but one that seems quite familiar especially if you're a fan of other Texas based Stoner Rock bands such as WO FAT and MOTHERSHIP.

What else do these bands all have in common. They're all currently signed to Ripple Music

I'll be reviewing their debut album in the next few days but until then you can read this interview I did with Ryan Garney (Vocals/Guitar) that gives the lowdown about this great band.

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

Doing very well! Thanks for having me.

For people not in the know can you give a brief history of your band and where it's today?

The band is relatively new as we really only started playing with the current lineup in December of 2019. Guitar player Rusty Miller and myself had a handful of songs written and recruited Phil Hook to play drums and Matt Metzger to play bass to help finish the songs and record an album. Things clicked right away as we finished those songs and wrote about 5 more in about 6 total rehearsals. 

We took the 12 songs into the studio and started recording immediately in late Feb. of 2020. After the first weekend in the studio we had finished all drum tracks and then the world shut down. We couldn’t even get together to rehearse but a few more times until we finally finished the record in Oct. of 2020. We were very lucky to be approached by Blasko who is now the A&R of Ripple Music after he heard our single, and we have been waiting to release this record for some time. In the meantime we’ve played a handful of live shows and have already written the music for the next album. So we really are still in the beginning stages of being a band.

What style of music do you play in your own words

We like to call it Texas Desert Rock or Texas Heavy Rock. We have a wide range of influences and they all come through in parts of our music.

Why did you choose your name High Desert Queen for your band and what does it have any meaning to you all?

I have always been in love with an area in the US called the “High Desert.” It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to and it is very remote. It amazes me that life is able to be sustained in a place that’s so desolate. Mother Nature is one of the strongest elements in the universe we know, so the “Queen” represents her. So the name does truly signify one of the strongest beings we will ever know, the “High Desert Queen”

You're about to release your new album Secrets Of The Black Moon. Fantastic album. Really surprised me with the different styles of sounds you put into this record. What is the album about and what can people expect from this record?

Thank you for the kind words. Like I said earlier we created this album after only about 6 rehearsals. This really is an introduction to who we are as we were still trying to find ourselves musically. That really shines through on certain tracks that might be considered more straight hard rock, and then others where we get more out there and take the music on a journey. That was where we were starting to discover what our strengths were. It’s apparent for us which songs were written first and which were last in the writing process and wonder if people can too. They get a glimpse of where we are going as a band.

What influenced or inspired you when making the album?

Really our only goal was to make music we could be proud of and would listen to ourselves. We all like different styles of music and we wanted our music to be able to blend in and be palatable to all genres that we like. Not all the songs we recorded made the album because they didn’t meet that standard in our mind.

Did COVID-19 have a big impact on how you decided to make the new album. Did you have to change the creative process and recording process for this.

It greatly affected the recording process as once we recorded the drums the world shut down and the studio we started in actually didn’t survive the pandemic. We had to search for another studio which was really challenging during a pandemic. Luckily Jeff Henson from Red Nova Ranch in Austin welcomed us in and produced our record. It was tough because all we wanted to do was finish the record and we couldn’t. But we did not let ourselves get stagnant and we continued writing music. That’s why even though the first album isn’t even out yet, we already have over 2 hours of material written to take into the studio.

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 the band? And how are you surviving in this stressful time?

Due to the pandemic it was really hard to move forward as a band. We couldn't finish the record, couldn't do what we love best, which is play live shows and it put a huge delay on the release of the record. We are very lucky however to be in Texas where we are able to play live shows. We’ve probably still only played about 10-15 live shows as a band but at least we are working our way back to normal.

After everything is back to some sort of normality, what does the future hold for the band?

We have huge plans for 2022. We’ve begun planning our first overseas tour to the UK and Europe next May and June. We’ve been fortunate to be asked to play some festivals we’ve long admired. We are also planning a few US tours in the Spring, Summer and Fall. We are also planning to go into the studio this winter to begin recording the second full length album, plus we are going to record an all acoustic album. We have always admired bands whose music translated well acoustically. Some of the bands that played MTV Unplugged like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Stone Temple Pilots were huge influences of ours. In some ways those recordings are superior to their other records. We feel it’s a lost art in this genre and want to do something to pay homage to those that came before us.

Will you be anxious, scared or excited when performing on the live stage again?

We can’t wait to get out there and play live shows. As a musician there is no greater thrill than playing music on stage and feeding off the energy of the people in front of you. Plus live music is needed now more than ever. Music brings people from all different backgrounds together and gives off so much positive energy that it can be healing and cathartic. Especially after that we’ve all gone through the past 2 years.

Ripple Music is releasing the album. How did you hook up with "THE GOAT" of underground Stoner Rock/Metal labels. Did you have other offers from other labels or was Ripple the only label for you all?

We were extremely lucky to have Blasko discover us after we independently released the single “The Mountain vs the Quake.” He reached out asking if we had a label and within 2 days we met with him and signed to Ripple. We never shopped for a label because when Blasko asks you to sign to Ripple Music as one of his special projects, you don’t hesitate!

Who are the band’s main musical influences? Any artists that may surprise your fans at all?

There would be way too many to list here. We all have such a wide range of influences. Some in this genre and some nowhere near it. We just like good music that makes us feel something deep down. I think most of our influences would surprise people, so I’ll just leave it at that.

What comes first for you all when making new songs. Lyrics or music.

For us up to this point it’s always been the music. We will write the music and then I’ll usually create a song title and then start building lyrics around the vocal melodies I’ve come up with. What’s great now though is the whole band is starting to help me write vocal melodies and that’s only going to make me better and the band better.

I have to say the album artwork is awesome. Matches the overall sound of the album and what style of music the band actually plays. Who designed the cover and what it means to you all as a band.

Solo Macello is incredible! Before we signed with Ripple we had art that we were ready to use to release it independently. However, as we started working with Blasko, he really pushed us to find great art and got us in contact with Solo Macello. We went back and forth for a few weeks trying to get the concept we wanted down, and we think he nailed it. We needed universal elements in our art and something that caught the eye, and still had meaning to us. His art encompasses all of that. If you like the cover art, just wait until you see the inside of the vinyl!

What got you all to start being involved with music and playing musical instruments. Was it a band, song, or album that ignited your passion for all things heavy music.

I think all of us at a very young age heard or saw a musician or a band and it hit us in such a way that made us fall in love with music. For me personally, my dad showed me a James Brown record when I was about 8 years old and I wore it out. Then he showed me a live performance of his and I was mesmerized. I immediately said “I want to do that.” I used to dance around in my kitchen blasting his cassette tapes trying to move like him. Nobody can move like him but I still tried.

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

It still amazes me that we even have fans! We really appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen to our music. We know there is a lot of great music out there and we are beyond humbled that anyone would take the time to listen to ours. The only bit of wisdom I can give is not something we ourselves came up with, but just the idea of always trying to move forward. 

These have been some dark times we are living in, but the more you can push forward and continue to be creative the faster we can get through this. Also one thing I would like to say is something I truly believe in: try to only do things that you love. Love is the most powerful thing in the world and it is so much stronger than fear. Love everyone and don’t let fear or the fear of failure ever stop you from doing what you love!

Thank you so much for having me and for all that you do for the music scene. Much love from Texas and we hope to see all of you in person soon!

Words by Steve Howe and Ryan Garney

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for arranging this interview and all the press materials. Thanks to Ryan for doing this interview as well.

You can buy Secrets Of The Black Moon on CD/Vinyl from Ripple Music links below