After a years hiatus and no Bloodstock for us in 2016, we returned full force for this years festival, taking our mobile workshop to cater for a bunch of happy campers. We had on site jewellers offering same day sizings and repairs, before later on venturing off into the night to enjoy the music, bumper cars and quite likely, one pint too many.
As King Buffalo announced their first ever UK tour alongside heavy psych band Elder, it didn’t take me long before getting in there to set up an interview. The Rochester trio’s eerie but melodic 2016 album ‘Orion’ is regularly played at The Great Frog, and is one of those debut albums that just knocks you out as you get excited about the musical journey you’re about to embark on with them for the next couple of years. At the day of the interview it was raining more than I can remember it ever doing in my time in England, and I pretty much stood face to face with the wrath of mother nature herself while leaving the house and heading to the Camden. The interview was conducted in the backstage area of the Underworld, surrounded by gratified walls that reeked of decades of beer and whiskey, I sat down in a sofa so low and close to the ground, I was sure I’d need medical attention when I’d ever try to get back up. Next to me on the sofa, I had various members of Elder making guest appearances – some having dinner, others making sweet music in GarageBand.
There’s not much to find about you online or anywhere else for that matter except for your music, which in many ways is a good thing, as that’s what it’s all about and it speaks for itself. Still, it’d be cool to get to know you guys a little bit more? Scott: We started playing together in September 2013. At the time we were in two different bands in the same kind of genre and scene both based in Rochester New York. My band split up, and I spoke to Dan and Sean about possibly playing together. Dan and I knew each other from high school where we’d played friendly competition shows together. We started jamming, and already at the first practice we wrote ‘In dim light’, and at the second practice they’d decided to quit their other band to start a new one with me. We jammed for a few months before we got asked to go on tour with All Them Witches for their upcoming release of ‘Lightning at the Door’, and had to come up with a band name pretty much on the spot. I knew those guys really well as my old band had toured with them three times, so they invited us to come along with them and I was all like ‘Yeah man, you haven’t even hear my new band, but sweet, thanks!’ We were in an RV with them for like 17 days, it was great.
Prior to this interview, I spoke to All Them Witches Frontman Parks who had this to say about you all; «I feel like gushing over a band for their music has been done enough, so instead I would like to say that one of my favorite band traits to see is when a band comprises of all alphas. King Buffalo is a band that isn’t afraid to ask for what they need, when they need it, and can argue you under a table if you don’t have it. They aren’t afraid to say when something isn’t right, and I find that to be a desirable quality in these times. A band full of alphas that can argue and resolve and still be completely personable and genuine will continue to progress and not get bogged down.» Michael Parks, All Them Witches.
Scott: Wow, he is such a linguist. I mean, yeah. Alphas though, not so sure about that one – I say that now, then we’ll all be ripping our shirts off to prove a point next time we see him. We can definitely argue those guys under the table though, and there’s been many a time I’ve done so with Parks, I love those guys, and they’re obviously amazing musicians as well as good people. It’s kind of the same thing I get with the Elder dudes, another band I didn’t really know before they came to our home town and played. We were both on the Magnetic Eye Records ‘Electric Ladyland Redux’ record and I went and saw them cause I wanted to schmooze. At the show, I was all like ‘Holy shit, these guys rules!’, picked up the record an listened to only Elder for about three months after that. All of a sudden we’re at the same label and touring Europe together. Anyway, the resemblance between Elder and All Them Witches is that you’re there watching them on stage being all stoked because they’re Elder or All Them Witches and so incredibly talented, then they get off stage and they’re just your mates than you hang out with and it isn’t really a big deal.
This tour you’re on now is your first time ever in the UK and Europe, how is that compared to touring in the US? Scott: Same, but different. Elder’s obviously got a much bigger following we do and they’ve been over here six times now, so for us, it was important to have that safety net, to have someone showing us the ropes. Touring the states, even if you do something dumb there’s always someone to call, or you’ll in a way be close to home even if you aren’t. Having Elder who’s seen and done it all before means less trouble for us. The crowds have been great and we’ve even had a few people saying they’ve come out to see us specifically which is really cool.
Your debut album ‘Orion’ is a truly great record, and as far as genres and categories goes, I think is quite hard to pin down – which is a great thing! You’re quite heavy while still melodic, and even melancholic at times. Scott: We did a soft release last March where we did 160 CDs which surprisingly sold out in three days, then we ended up self releasing it in August as we were speaking to different labels but weren’t quite happy with what any of them had to offer. Then in December we were approached by Stickman who’s got bands such as Elder and Motorpsycho so we ended up signing with them. When making music, we meet up very regularly and work together – I’m not saying we always contribute 33.33% each, but it’s something we all do together and it works well for us. Everyone in the band listens to different shit, and personally I don’t even listen to that much music anymore, which sounds really fucking dumb. I’ve spent so much time studying music and drums, that I don’t get as much enjoyment out of it anymore as I studied it so hard. I’m pretty much self taught, so it’s been a lot of me rewinding over and over again, and just taking and breaking the music apart when I listen to it. The way I tend to find new music now is when I see someone live that I like, and then I’ll go through their catalogue. I obviously like all the classics band like Zeppelin and Sabbath – as for drummers I like Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham, Bill Ward – they’re all phenomenal and I want do to everything they do, but I can’t – but I really want to, and maybe one day, I’ll be able to. But yeah, that’s me. Dan (Bassist) randomly loves hiphop, while Sean’s got a very eclectic taste with everything from Frank Zappa to Devo. I guess our music is all of our tastes combined as we tend to put equally as much effort into what we do and the music we make.
Artist of the month for August is harmonica master and slide guitar extraordinaire, Mr. Jonny Halifax. Over the last couple of years, Jonny’s been producing music both as a one-man-band with his solo project Honkeyfinger, as well as in Jonny Halifax and the Howling Truth, where he brings a second guitarist and drummer with him on stage. Similar for the two, is that is straight down and dirty filthy blues, with screeching slide guitar and blazing harmonica, with Jonny howling and preaching on top.
As well as working on his own music in his own bands, Jonny’s been involved with various other bands and artists over the years such as London stoner legends Orange Goblin where he was asked to play slide guitar and harmonica on their 2007 track ‘Beginners guide to suicide’, as well as, and maybe even more surprising, Nottingham noise connoisseur HECK, where he’s appeared live on stage with the band on several occasions.
“I first came across Jonny’s music as a teenager rummaging through a record store in my hometown. I picked out Invocation of the Demon Other because I thought the packaging was really cool and just bought it on a whim that really paid off! When I stuck it on my player I was absolutely blown away, it was the best thing I’d ever fucking heard. The album stuck with me as one of my firm favourites (as it still is). A few years down the line I took a chance and reached out to Jonny to book him for a gig, to my amazement and awe he said “yes” and the next thing I know he was pulling up to my bar in this awesome tricked out campervan to play one hell of a show. Me and Jonny have stayed close friends ever since. He even played some harmonica on my band HECK’s debut album, for which he went above and beyond the call of duty. I remember he sent us over like 30 different takes to pick from, each one so incredible that it made it near impossible to pick a winner. I’ve had chance to collaborate and play live with Jonny a few times now and it is absolutely never anything less than an honour. He is a genius and a gentleman.” Matt Reynolds, HECK & HCBP
“I first met Jonny at a venue in Shoreditch in 2006 when I went to see his one man band ‘Honkeyfinger’ supporting Scott H Biram. As soon as he started I was blown away by his unique brand of dirty, southern blues and knew right away that I had to talk to him and ask him to play slide guitar and blues harmonica on the Orange Goblin song ‘Beginners Guide To Suicide’, that we were working on at the time. We struck up an instant friendship and have remained close to this day. I am still a big fan of what he does and I admire the way he always ploughs his own furrow. Such a talented, handsome bastard!” Ben Ward, Orange Goblin.
As Prong tour the UK leading up to the release of their 12th studio album “Zero Days”, we meet up with frontman and founder Tommy Victor in the dark and dingy basement of Camden’s Underworld before their show later that evening.
You’ve been keeping Prong going for nearly three decades, and on the 28th of July you released your fifth studio album in five years – how do you find the time?
I have no idea, it’s a nightmare. For some reason, when somebody gives me a deadline and tells me to do something by a certain time, because I’m such a narcissistic ego maniac, I HAVE to do it by that time, I have to much pride not to. So, I bust my ass and put these jigsaw pieces together to try and make a record while gaining multitudes of gray hair while doing so. There was a long time where there weren’t any Prong records, when I was working with other people on theirs, like Glenn (Danzig), until I was all like «You know? Fuck this, I’m gonna start focusing on Prong again! I’ve got a record deal and I’m gonna take advantage of it, put out records consistently, and put Prong back on the map again!»
So I’ve had a listen to your new record «Zero Days» which is an absolute great album, how would you describe it yourself?
Well, I think it’s the best Prong record ever, it’s really strong, it’s got 13 bangers, anthems… Every song is well constructed. We went in with full focus, and I’ve never been in a Prong recording session like this, the sense of urgency was at the utmost, so it was no fooling around. When recording back in the day we’d be like ‘Yeah man, let’s go in the studio and get a bunch of beers, we’ll bring some chicks down, bla bla bla’ – that doesn’t happen anymore. I mean, we don’t even take food breaks anymore, it’s full on in order to get it done in time, that’s what modern records are, you don’t fool around, you go in and get this shit done.
You mentioned working with Glenn Danzig as well, how do you balance the two?
Glenn’s been working around my schedule, he’s also slowed down a little bit, or we’ve been doing less shows than we used to, so it’s been easy. There’s been periods where I’m all like «Holy shit, maybe he’s gonna fire me cause I wont be able to do this or that…» you know, and to be fair, he’s fired me before so nothing new there.
Before starting Prong, you worked as a sound engineer at CBGB’s, how would you say working with all those punk bands and being a part of that scene influenced you as a musician?
Prong was never really a part of any scene, we were a bit all over the place, we had friends that were art rockers, like the dudes from Rob Zombie – we never had our own sub culture around us. As far as the music goes, I saw some really good bands there. I had been going to the club since I was a little kid, and the first time I ever went, I saw the Ramones. I also saw The Damned, Dead Boys, The Cramps, Suicide, Sheer Terror… I was there a lot, so I guess that played a part in what Prong became, I was raised in and on CBGB.