Tag: Soundgarden

Last month, I wrote about the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck. Initially formed in 1989, the band’s original lineup featured featured founding members Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass), and can trace their origins to when the band’s founding duo wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they felt was worthy of forming a new project around. At around the same time Scott was briefly in Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And interestingly enough, with the new material that McMillan and Scott started to write for their new project, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck with their then-primary project’s sound to create a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside Yours was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies, and it featured album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. Interestingly enough, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and famously, they opened for Pearl Jam the night they filmed the video for “Even Flow.”

With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. Their follow up effort, 1992’s  Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. And building upon a rapidly growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour and Pantera‘s Winter 1993 European tour. Immediately upon their return to Seattle, the band went through a number of lineup changes but they managed to release a video for  “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV — including an episode of Beavis and Butt-head, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

Sadly, at the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling their contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. As the story goes, Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract. Unsurprisingly, that was promptly followed by Roadrunner Records suing to block the band’s bankruptcy with the result being a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written about in legal journals — and eventually inspired congressional legislation. And although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a deep financial and emotional toil on the band, as well as stalled the band’s momentum.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited, and began working on new material; some of which wound up comprising their self-titled third album, an effort that the members of the band envisioned as their breakthrough effort. Recorded and finished over a two year period in five different studios in and around the Seattle area with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear taking up production duties, the band decided to build up buzz for the album with a busy live schedule, playing shows in and around Seattle; however, just as they were about to build up some buzz, the band went on a hiatus in 2003 to allow Ben McMillan to recover from a number of health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released, over a decade since the initial recording sessions. Now, as you may recall, the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” featured an ambitious, arena rock-based sound consisting of enormous power chords, and a shout from the mosh pit worthy course — and while nodding at metal, the song manage stop remind me of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. “Noise Field,” their self-titled album’s latest single continues in a similar vein — a quiet, loud, quiet song structure that allows room for enormous power chords and thundering drumming. However, the one noticeable difference to me is that the song manages to sound as though it were influenced by Core-era Stone Temple Pilots.

“Noise Field” much like its predecessor will remind many listeners of grunge’s high point of 1991-1994 or so and simultaneously its low point of 1996-1999 or so; but underneath, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been for the band. After all, for the first, second and even third wave bands that find some level of success, there are many more bands, who get a brief taste of recognition but never quite make it further than that.

Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

 

 

New Video: Found Recordings Set to Release Previously Unreleased Third Album from Seattle-based Grunge Rockers Gruntruck

Initially formed in 1989, the Seattle, WA-based grunge rock band Gruntruck featured Skin Yard’s Ben McMillan (vocals) and Norman Scott (drums), The Accused’s Tommy Niemeyer (guitar) and Final Warning’s Tim Paul (bass) can trace their origins to when founding members Ben McMillan and Norman Scott wrote a song while on tour with Skin Yard that they had was worthy of forming a new band around. Interestingly enough, around the same time Scott had a brief stint with Soundgarden and collaborated with Chris Cornell on a lesser-known project, the low frequency power trio Bass Truck. And with the new song and other material that McMillan and Scott started to write together, they decided to blend the sound that Norman developed in Bass Truck — in other words, a harder, more metal-leaning grunge rock sound.

1990’s Jack Endino and Gary King-produced debut Inside You was released through Seattle-based label Empty Records with a simultaneous release through German label Musical Tragedies. Along with the release of their debut, the band released a Henry Shepherd-produced video for album single “Not a Lot to Save,” which received airplay on MTV. (I should note that Henry Shepherd is the brother of Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd.) Interestingly, the members of Gruntruck had opened for Pearl Jam throughout 1991 — and in particular, they opened for Pearl Jam on the night that renowned grunge rockers filmed the video for “Even Flow.” With the growing buzz on all things Seattle, the members of Gruntruck signed a multi-album deal with Roadrunner Records, who re-released Inside Yours later that year. 1992’s sophomore Endino and King-produced effort Push featured album track “Tribe,” which received regular rotation on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Building upon a growing profile, Gruntruck opened for Alice in Chains during their 1992 US and Canadian tour, as well as in Europe during the winter of 1993 with Pantera. After the band returned to Seattle, they went through several lineup changes but they released a video for “Crazy Love,” which received airplay on MTV, including a reference on Beavis and Butthead, in which a stunned Butthead mused “I must be hallucinating now. I can’t believe they’re playing something cool. These guys rock!”

At the height of their popularity in 1996, the members of the band were struggling to make ends meet while fulfilling contractual obligations to Roadrunner Records. Polygram Records offered to buy out Gruntruck’s contract for $1 million, but the folks at Roadrunner Records refused. Based on the advice of their lawyer, the band filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to break free of their contract, which was promptly followed by their label suing to block their bankruptcy petition. The result was a precedent-setting case that’s been cited in subsequent cases, written up in legal journals and eventually inspired congressional legislation. Although the court eventually ruled in Gruntruck’s favor, their various legal issues exacted a financial and emotional toil on the band — despite the fact that they were attempting to recapture some of the momentum they had captured before.

By 1997, the band’s original lineup reunited and they had been working on new material together and some of the songs written wound up comprising the material on their self-titled third album, an effort that the band envisioned as a breakthrough effort. The album was recorded over a two year period in five different studios in and around Seattle with Jack Endino and Martin Feveyear, who has worked with Queens of the Stone Age, Mudhoney and Screaming Trees taking up production duties, and once it was finished the band went through a busy live schedule in Seattle, to build up buzz for the album; however by 2003, the band went on hiatus, as McMillan needed time to recover from health issues.

Sadly McMillan died from complications related to diabetes in 2008, and the third album languished in the vaults until last year, when Jack Endino mentioned its existence to Found Recordings head, Scott Blum, who pushed to get the album released. And over a decade since its initial recording, Gruntruck’s self-titled album is slated for an October 13, 2017 release, and the album’s first official single “Bar Fly,” features an ambitious arena rock sound consisting of enormous power chords, a shout worthy chorus and while clearly nodding at metal, the band’s sound manages to be reminiscent of Dirt-era Alice in Chains and Purple-era Stone Temple Pilots. Interestingly, the song will strike many as a remanent of a decidedly particular period — 1996-1998 or so — but underneath that, there’s a sad reminder of what could have been; after all, for the rare Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgardens, etc., there’s countless bands, who get close to making it and many more that never make it.

Filmed by Thomas Engisn and edited by Gary Lundgren, the recently released music video features grainy VHS footage from the band’s original lineup performing sweaty, ass-kicking shows — and it’ll remind you of watching similar videos on 120 Minutes and other video shows.

New Audio: Portland-based JOVM Mainstays R.I.P. Return with a Blistering and Feral New Single

Over the past year or so, the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P has added themselves to a lengthy and eclectic list of mainstay artists I’ve written about throughout the history of this site. And as you may recall, the Portland-based doom metal quartet have long operated off the belief that heavy metal crawled up out of the gutter, where it writhed to life in the grit and grime of the streets — and unsurprisingly, the band dubbed their scuzzy and grimy approach to doom metal as “street doom;” however, interestingly enough if you heard Black Leather” and “Tremble,” off their full-length debut In The Wind, the band’s sound seemed to be indebted to  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Soundgarden.

Street Reaper, R.I.P.’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort is slated for an October 13, 2017 release through RidingEasy Records, and the album is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin‘s legendary and influential 80s productions — think The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, and as a result, the members of the band have crafted material with a streamlined and punishingly,  raw ferocity,  meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. And unlike their debut, Street Reaper reveals a subtly expanded songwriting approach, rooted in their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a particular tuning or time signature but rather, a particular mood that inspires doom — in this case, terror, uncertainty, chaos, war, etc. 

Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced not by doom metal’s typical sci-fi, fantasy or mysticism but within an inescapable, horrible and fearful present, full of what seems to be the impending collapse of democracy as we know it in the US, of economic failure, dwindling resources, increasing inequity and inequality, nuclear war, civil war, and a primal fight for survival; in fact, album single “The Other Side” may have arguably been the the Portland-based band’s most blistering and impassionaied playing — and while it may be a desperate howl into a growing void, there’s a feral urgency within the material that sets them apart from their contemporaries. 

“Unmarked Grave,” continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as it features  blistering, impassioned, face-melting power chords, a motorik groove, forceful drumming, an arena friendly hook and howled vocals, and while being equally urgent, the material manages to sound as though it were indebted to Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age and Ozzy Osbourne, complete with a sweaty, whiskey and hallucinogen-fueled frenzy. 

New Audio: Portland’s R.I.P. Returns with a Primal and Urgent Single

If you were frequenting this site over the course of last year, you have come across a couple of posts featuring the the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P. And as you may recall, the Portland-based quartet has long operated off the belief that heavy metal crawled up out of the proverbial gutter, where it writhed to life in the grit and grime of the streets — and unsurprisingly,  the band dubbed their scuzzy and grimy approach to heavy metal and doom metal as “street doom.” But interestingly enough, the first two singles off their RidingEasy Records released debut In The Wind, “Black Leather” and “Tremble,” the Portland-based metal quartet’s sound seemed to be indebted to  Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind and Badmotorfinger, Superunknown and Down on the Upside-era Soundgarden. 

Street Reaper, R.I.P.’s sophomore effort is reportedly inspired by Rick Rubin’s legendary and influential 80s productions — think The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and LL Cool J among others — and Murder Dog Magazine, revealing a streamlined and punishingly, raw ferocity meant to evoke the days when metal and hip-hop were reviled by the mainstream the work of thugs intent on destroying the very fabric of America and its youth. Interestingly, unlike the preceding album, the band’s songwriting approach subtly expanded, based on their belief that doom metal shouldn’t be tried into a particular tuning or a time signature but on a particular mood — in this case, terror and dread.  Unsurprisingly, the material on Street Reaper is influenced by and evokes the sensibility of our extremely fucked up times instead of focusing on sci-fi or fantasy or mysticism, and as you’ll hear on Street Reaper’s latest single, “The Other Side,” the doomy vibes are rooted in an inescapable and fearful present, full of the possibility of the impending collapse of democracy here in the US, of economic failure, nuclear war, dwindling resources, and a downright primal fight for survival. 

Naturally, the song finds the band playing at their most blistering and impassioned — it may be a desperate howl into the void, but there’s an uncommon urgency that will set the Portland-based quartet apart from their contemporaries. 

Skyler Cocco is a Floral Park, NY-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumetanlist, producer and model, who began writing songs as a child, and by the time Cocco was 11, she learned to operate the eight track recorder in her late father’s studio, how to program drums and then taught herself bass, guitar and piano to accompany her songs. Her career started in earnest as a a pop artist, writing hooks and collaborating with rappers as a cowriter, usually by writing hooks or producing beats but while studying studio composition at SUNY Purchase’s Music Conservatory, she further fleshed out her sound, eventually transitioning to a hard rock-leaning pop sound that’s largely influenced by Nirvana, Grimes, Soundgarden and others.

Cocco’s full-length debut Reverie was co-produced by Zach Miller and is slated for release sometime this year and from the album’s latest single “Some Nerve,” the up-and-coming, Floral Park, NY-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and model specializes in the sort of anthemic and radio friendly hard rock — er, hard pop? — that’s reminiscent of Paramore, if they had decided to cover A Perfect Circle/Tool; and in fact similar to the work of Holy Wars, Cocco’s latest single, as well as the rest of the material on the album focuses on learning to live in the face of profound grief and heartache.

 

New Audio: Sub Pop Records and Soundgarden Release Second Single Off Remixed and Expanded Re-Issue of Their Debut Album

Currently comprised of founding members Chris Cornell (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Kim Thayil (lead guitar), along with Matt Cameron (drums), who joined in 1986 and Ben Shepherd (bass), who joined in 1990, the Seattle, WA-based grunge/alt-rock quartet Soundgarden can trace its origins back to the formation and eventual breakup of an early 80s Seattle-based band The Shemps, which featured Cornell on drums and vocals, along with original bassist Hiro Yamamoto. Strangely enough, over the years what seems to have been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had started their recording career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the renowned alt rock/indie label released the band’s first two EPs 1987’s Screaming Life and 1988’s Fopp, two efforts, which the label re-issued a couple of years ago through both vinyl and digital formats, marking the first time in about 25 years that the EPs were pressed onto vinyl — and the first time they were released digitally. Interestingly enough, Sub Pop Records helped distributed Soundgarden’s 1988 full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

And although they had some creative differences with the album’s producer Drew Canulette and the band’s overall dissatisfaction with the final mixes, their full-length effort was a commercial success as it garnered both a 1990 Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance and attention from larger labels — including A&M Records, who quickly signed the band. At the time, the band had intended to spend some time remixing the album for subsequent pressings of the album; but those plans wound up falling by the wayside, as the band went on to write and record their sophomore effort, and major-label debut, Louder Than Love.

Last year, the members of the band acquired the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they enlisted the assistance of renowned producer, engineer, long-time friend and frequent, old-time collaborator Jack Endino, who has famously worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up what the band felt were persistent loose ends — while fixing the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the band found six early version of album singles that eventually wound up on Ultramega OK and reportedly those early versions, which would eventually become staples of their live sets at the time, capture the band’s sound and songwriting in a much rawer, less polished form — and much closer to the sound on the Screaming Life EP.

Almost 30 years after Ultramega OK’s original release, Sub Pop Records will be releasing the remixed and expanded re-issue of the album, as a long-awaited “correction.” Naturally, for die-hard fans and completists, the re-mixed material will capture the band’s sound as they fully intended it, while the re-discovered early material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and overall sound. Now, as you may remember, I wrote about the re-issue’s first single “Beyond The Wheel” and the re-mixed version possessed a crisper, cleaner sound, which helped to display Kim Thayill’s incredible guitar work and the interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like thundering drumming and Cornell’s Robert Plant-like wailing. The re-mixed and expanded Ultramega OK’s second single “Flower” much like its preceding single displays a cleaner, crisper sound, which gives the song the muscular insistence that the band became known for while interestingly enough, the song has moments that nod at Badmotorfinger and Superunknown.

There are bands, whose sound and aesthetic make such a forceful and immediate impression that you can instantly recall the first time you had come across them; in fact the first time I had ever heard Soundgarden, I was watching MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball.  And what I can still remember more than 25 years later was how the show’s host at the time, Rikki Rachtman told viewers that they needed to be on the lookout for Soundgarden — mainly because of Chris Cornell, who Rachtman had described as being a little guy with an enormous voice. They promptly followed that with the music video for “Outshined” off Badmotorfinger — and I can remember being blown away.

Strangely, as the years have passed what’s been forgotten is that the members of Soundgarden had initially started their career with Sub Pop Records; in fact, the now long-renowned grunge label had released the Seattle-based band’s first two EP’s Screaming Life and Fopp, which Sub Pop re-issued a few years ago, marking the first time that both of those early efforts would be availably digitally, as well as through vinyl. But interestingly enough, the renowned Seattle-based label also help distribute  Soundgarden’s full-length debut, Ultramega OK.

On March 10, 2017, Sub Pop Records will be releasing a remixed and expanded reissue of Soundgarden’s full-lengtht debut, as a long-planned “correction” of their debut. Ultramega OK was originally recorded and released through SST Records in 1988 — and while the members of the band enjoyed working with the album’s original producer, Drew Canulette, they were dissatisfied with the album’s final mix. And as the story goes, the band had intended to remix the album for subsequent pressings; however, the band quickly had major label success and were signed to A&M Records and the band went into the studio to work on their major-label debut effort, Louder Than Love. And as a result, the Ultramega OK remix had fallen off to the wayside.

Last year, the members of the band finally acquitted the original multi-track tapes from the Ultramega OK sessions and they all decided to set some time aside to work on the remix. Naturally, the band enlisted the assistance of renowned producer and engineer Jack Endino, a long-time friend and former collaborator, who has worked with Nirvana, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Skin Yard, The Black Clouds and others to create a new mix of the album that would tie up some persistent loose ends and fixes the album’s overall sound. Interestingly, the members of the band also found six early versions of songs that eventually wound up on the full-length album, which they initially recorded in 1987 with Jack Endino and Chris Hanszek at Reciprocal Recording — and mixed by Endino last year. Reportedly, those early versions of songs, which were later staples of the band’s live sets, capture the band in a much rawer form — and much closer to the Screaming Life EP. Naturally for die-hard fans and completists, the rediscovered material will serve as a window into the development of the band’s songwriting approach and sound. The forthcoming re-issue’s first single is a crisper, tighter and much more forceful version of “Beyond The Wheel” which better displays Kim Thayill’s guitar work and its interplay between Matt Cameron’s Bonham-like drumming and Cornell’s vocals. And compared to the original, the re-mixed alternate version almost sounds like a completely different song.

Led by its founding member, composer and bassist Ezra Gale and featuring Rick Parker (trombone), Alex Asher (trombone), Jon Lipscomb (guitar) and Madhu Siddappa, the Brooklyn-based trombone-led dub quintet Super Hi-Fi can trace their origins to a rather unlikely beginning. Gale, who was a founding member of acclaimed San Francisco-based Afrobeat act Aphrodisia, an act that once played at Fela Kuti‘s famed Lagos, Nigeria-based night club The Shrine, had relocated to Brooklyn and was collaborating with Quoc Pham in Sound Liberation Front when Gale was asked to get a band together for Pham and Gale’s then-monthly Afro-Dub Sessions parties in Williamsburg. Much like DJ Turmix’s Boogaloo Party, the Afro-Dub Sessions Party would pair the live band fronted by Gale with the dub’s top-flight producers and DJs including Victor RicePrince PoloSubatomic Sound System, the Beverley Road All-Stars and others.

When Gale founded Super Hi-Fi, the project was initially intended to translate the improvisatory mixing process of dub to the live show; however, with the 2012 release of their critically applauded debut effort Dub to the Bone, a busy touring schedule in which they opened for nationally known acts like RubblebucketBeats Antique and John Brown’s Body, followed by the release of their Yule Analog Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, the project began to cement its growing reputation for crafting a unique and expansive take on dub and reggae.

With the recent release of Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana, the Brooklyn-based dub quintet push the boundaries of reggae and dub by paying tribute to Nirvana. And in typical Super Hi-Fi fashion, the members of the band manage to create their own take on the iconic Seattle-based trio’s material with renowned dub producers, Sao Paulo, Brazil‘s Victor Rice; Venice, Italy‘s Doctor Sub; and Brooklyn’s Prince Polo — all of whom are frequent collaborators with the band — assisting to further bend and morph the band’s sound in trippy and psychedelic ways, which help take fairly familiar songs into bold, new territory.

Super-Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana (large).jpg

Adding to the uniqueness of the release, Very Special Recordings, a small, boutique Brooklyn-based label founded by Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale, that specializes in releases cassettes that showcase the diverse of their borough’s and city’s music scene. Interestingly, while we all live in a world of Spotify playlists and streamable music that one never really owns, cassettes have seen something of a renaissance of late with several artists and labels releasing cassette only releases — and in some way, it’s a response against not just streaming services but against the trend towards technophilia for the sake of technophilia. While being relatively cheap to make and sell, a cassette tape does require a bit of effort  — you’d have to go to a physical record store to purchase your favorite band’s new record and then bring it home to play; have a label or friend mail or give you a tape; and at the very least, you’ll probably listen to the whole tape, if not an entire side once. Plus, let’s not forget, that unless your favorite song is the first song or last song of a side, finding it can be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. And yet, if you remember buying cassettes at your local record store, as I do, it’s an experience that frankly I sometimes miss very dearly.

I recently spoke to Super Hi-Fi’s Ezra Gale about Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana, how the arranging and re-arranging process differs from Gale’s normal songwriting process, the band’s upcoming releases and more. Check it out below.

__________________

WRH: In the Q&As for The Joy of Violent Movement, we almost always begin with some fairly introductory stuff for readers.  So let’s begin, shall we?

WRH: How did the members of the band meet?

Ezra Gale: I had an idea for a two trombone band and placed a Craigslist ad for trombone players which got exactly two responses, from Alex Asher and Ryan Snow, who became our first two trombone players. Everybody else I just met through other musicians.

WRH: How would you describe your sound?

EG: It’s dub, but I don’t know if it’s reggae.

WRH:  Who are you listening to right now?

EG: The last album I bought was Bowie‘s last album, Blackstar, which is just incredible.

WRH: Seminal albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind, U2’s Achtung Baby, A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People, Soundgarden’s BadmotorfingerSuperunknown and Down On The Upside, Pearl Jam’s TenVs. and Vitalogy and others reaching important milestone anniversaries, it’s a bit surprising to me that to my knowledge more bands haven’t seriously begun to tackle them with more covers and more tribute albums, especially if you consider how many Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Beatles tribute albums have been released over the years. Why haven’t there been more Pearl Jam, U2, R.E.M. tributes and covers? And how did you come upon paying tribute to Nirvana? 

EG: I really don’t know about those other bands, for us we started playing a version of “Something In the Way” a couple years ago, and we all sort of got the idea that maybe a whole album of Nirvana tunes could be interesting.

 WRH: Much like your fantastic Christmas albums, Super Hi-Fi Plays Nirvana features a couple of very well-known songs such as In Utereo’s “Heart Shaped Box,” and their famous Unplugged cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” as well as some rather deeper cuts such as “Verse Chorus Verse,” their Incesticide cover of “Love Buzz” Nevermind’s “Something In The Way” and “Polly.” What inspired you to choose those songs to tackle instead of something more tried and true?

EG: Well, initially I wanted to do all really obscure ones. Nirvana is a band whose famous songs have been played to death and I don’t know if anyone really needs to hear another version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, for example. But I know them from when Bleach came out and they were just this really great, intense band from Seattle that not many people knew- my college band even opened for them then, randomly. So I wanted to spotlight some of those lesser-known songs of theirs. But then, I think i was riding my bike and I suddenly started hearing “Heart Shaped Box” in this really slow, weird way, so we ended up doing that one. Ultimately it’s just about giving each song a different treatment and finding something new to do with it, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before.

WRH: How do you go about re-arranging material that’s fairly familiar in a way that adds your particular spin to it — while maintaining something familiar? And how does the process of re-arranging material differ from your normal songwriting process?

EG: It is different than a normal songwriting process. This album was very similar to our two Christmas albums (“Yule Analog” Vols. I and II), in that the goal was to take familiar material and make it sound different. And like in arranging those Christmas songs, I made some rules for myself doing it, which were that the melody line had to be the same, but everything else around it could change. So the rhythms are obviously very different, but also, Nirvana was a band with only one singer and we have two trombones, so in a lot of these versions the second trombone part is made up- like in “Verse Chorus Verse”, “Heart Shaped Box” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially. And also the chords are quite different in some of these, “Polly” and “Where Did You Sleep” especially are pretty different chord changes than the Nirvana versions.

My attitude towards cover versions is just that there’s no point in doing them if all you’re doing is to play it like the original version. No matter how great the original song is, I don’t ever want to regurgitate what someone else has done- go listen to the original if you want that. At the same time, I think it should be recognizable as the original song, somehow. So the challenge of taking material and sort of shaping it into something different that still has echoes of the original song is something I really enjoy doing.

WRH: While doing a little research for this interview, I learned that you’re currently working on your sophomore full-length effort, as well as Beatles/Police 45 for Record Store Day. Could you tell us a little bit about those projects?

EG: Yes, we are about 80% done with the mixing for the new full-length album, which is going to be called “The Blue and White” and it will be our second LP of all-original music. It’s quite different I think, there are lots of vocals and different sounds for us. It was recorded and mixed all onto tape too, which has been a real pain in some ways (!) but is so, so worth it- it sounds amazing I think. It will be out in the springtime sometime I think, on vinyl, somehow or other, we haven’t figured out yet.

And then the single is done and will be released on Electric Cowbell Records for Record Store Day in April, it’s the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,”  which was actually recorded for our “Dub to the Bone” album but left off it, and a version of The Police‘s “Hole In My Life” which we recorded for the new album, both extremely whacked-out and different versions, I can’t wait to play it for people.

WRH What’s next for the band?

EG: We haven’t been playing live that much the last few months because I’ve been so focused on finishing these albums, so once we’re done completely with the new LP I’m looking forward to playing a lot more in the new year.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Portland, OR-based doom metal quartet, R.I.P. The quartet has long operated off the belief that heavy metal didn’t come from the forest or beam down from outer space; but rather, that it crawled up out of the sewer and writhed to life in in the grit and grime of the streets and their unique take on heavy metal and doom metal “street doom” is deeply indebted to that approach. And in addition to that, the quartet have developed a reputation for relentless touring when they signed to renowned Los Angeles-based label RidingEasy Records, who will be releasing the band’s highly-anticipated full-length debut In The Wind on December 9, 2016.

Now you may recall that “Black Leather” had the Portland-based quartet pairing scuzzy, power chords with thunderous drumming and a driving motorik-like groove in an expansive and spacious dirge that allowed room for some additional, blistering guitar pyrotechnics in a song that seemed to draw equally from Black SabbathLed Zeppelin and Hawkwind — in the sense that structurally speaking, the song in its first half or so is power chord heavy dirge and in its last half turns into a psych rock-leaning stoner rock with a swaggering self-assuredness while evoking sulfurous smoke billowing from the depths of hell. In The Wind‘s latest single “Tremble” is a stoner rock/psych rock doom-filled ass-kicker reminiscent of the aforementioned Black Sabbath and of Badmotorfinger and Superunknown-era Soundgarden as the song consists of dense layers of punishing power chords, some ridiculous guitar pyrotechnics, a motorik-like groove and murky lyrics   that evoke the fear and dread that many of us have been feeling for the past 24 hours.