Friday, August 5, 2016

Interview with Beelzefuzz

Getting the opportunity to interview Dana Ortt, frontman of one of the most innovative, exciting and mind-bending bands of all time, Beelzefuzz, was a no-brainer in accepting. The band recently released their sophomore album, ‘The Righteous Bloom’, a wax that left yours truly flabbergasted. It has everything you could ever ask for and then some, and even more, it brings out new elements and angles at every spin. Few, if any, recordings can claim that while keeping the music cohesive and brilliant. Therefore sit back and enjoy reading the conversation I had with Dana about the present and the future of Beelzefuzz.

Dana, there’s been some changes within the band since your self-titled debut came out back in 2013. You are now a four-piece with Greg Diener and Bert Hall being full time Beelzefuzzers. What made you approach both guys? Not that I’m complaining since they are fantastic additions. 

- Greg started playing with us after the first album was recorded and I wish we would have gotten together sooner.  I'd really like to have his playing on the first album. As you know, Greg and Darin are in the band Pale Divine and have recorded some great jams together. Greg recorded the majority of the guitar solos and harmony lines on The Righteous Bloom album. For the band's music videos, he'll be the dude performing all guitar solos on mountaintops or while riding dragons. As for Bert, I'm familiar with a few of the many great recordings Bert has done with Revelation and Against Nature. A musician friend recommended us to ask Bert to join and I'm glad he did. He quickly learned the songs and came up with great lines for the album. Bert's a cool personality and a cool musician to be around. He also plays guitar in his band called Mangog and is a musical guy that we are fortunate to playing bass for us.

Where did you find the inspiration to write ‘The Righteous Bloom’, both lyrically and musically? 

- I've been compiling a lot of riffs and songs over the past 4 years. Musically, always been attracted to the idea of combining elements of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Candlemass and early Genesis together. Lyrically, I've borrowed some themes from many different sources, I'd have to go song to song to name the influence but mainly, Paradise Lost, The King In Yellow and various Lovecraft stories influenced the lyrics, along with my own semi coherent thoughts of experiencing a life trip in this temporary human shell.

Did the writing come easy, or did they require a lot of work? 

- The music to the songs came easily, there was a lot of tracking to do for the album, but we got the majority done quickly. Greg recorded the album. Richard Whitaker mixed and mastered the album, he's a great dude! Lyrics took a while, many rewrites, always second guessing the lyrics, still not satisfied with them and would rewrite them now if the songs weren't recorded already.  

Second guessing the lyrics? That surprises me since they seem great already but is that part of being an artist, having doubts about your creativity and musical output? Would you rewrite all the lyrics entirely? 

- I'd rewrite certain sections of lyrics to be more concise. I also have the urge to re-record some of the vocal sections, after playing the songs for a few months, the way we play the songs has changed along with the way I phrase the vocals. I did the best that I could do at the time, but always working to improve the delivery of the vocals to match the emotion behind it. 

Personally, I think you did great, Dana! But I assume it is part of being a songwriter/ musician, you always strive for the best. I love both your albums immensely but I have to say ‘The Righteous Bloom’ is more natural, organic and free-flowing than its predecessor. Song ideas seem more worked through with a certain structure wherein the band can take wide turns. 
- Thanks, yes, we learned a lot through the process of making this album. I think the 3rd album is going to be a more realized version of the band and the vibe we are trying to deliver. There are many things I would change now to the songs on The Righteous Bloom, lyric changes, vocal melodies, changes in arrangements, guitar tones. Will apply the things we've learned onto the next album for which we have 8 songs written with many of the drum tracks already recorded. 
It really amazes me when you say you want to rework so many things. To me as a supporter of the band, the album is brilliant and needs no changes. Although with you mentioning 8 new songs are done with drums recorded, it piques my mind to hear the new work in progress. 
- I'm proud of what we recorded on ‘The Righteous Bloom’ but I don't feel like we've recorded the ultimate/definitive Beelzefuzz album yet. Darin, Greg, Bert and I are working on making an album that aims to realize that goal of the definitive Beelzefuzz album. We've learned a good bit about the recording process. Musically, we are fine tuning tempos, refining transition sections, adding key changes to solo sections, in general trying to make the songs entertaining to listen to. We have a better grasp on how to organize the songs and we are steadily working on a 3rd album.
‘The Righteous Bloom’ hits home right away but keeps changing at every spin, creating amazing soundscapes and imagery. Was it intentional on your part to make the album this way, or did it just happen?
- I want songs to have strong elements that convey honest emotion. I still don't feel I've achieved that enough in the songs, but I feel we are getting closer in developing a sound that is memorable.
When did you decide to switch back to the name Beelzefuzz? Was it a difficult transition?  
- For this album, using the band name Beelzefuzz is the best choice to move forward with. The name has come to represent the sound of the band and the songwriting. I wrote the songs on The Righteous Bloom with the intention of it being the 2nd Beelzefuzz album.  So, instead of going with the band name Righteous Bloom, we decided to revert back to the original name before releasing the album.
Since the members are spread out between Pennsylvania and Maryland, was it hard to commence the writing process? Did you all write separately and piece it all together during rehearsals? Lot’s of jamming or is your writing process strictly structuralized? 
- I usually present a mostly structured song to Darin that we'll rock out, we'll adjust the arrangement from there. We usually don't free form jam ideas at practice, we usually have a limited amount of time and I try to come in with song ideas that are pretty developed. I do lots of jamming and howling at the moon in my garage, but when we practice I want to be prepared to present some solid song ideas and not waste the few hours we have.  Greg added many solos and harmony parts to the songs. On the next album there will be more riff contributions from Greg as well as vocals.
I hear rumours that David Paul Seymour’s artwork for the album caused some controversy. Is this true, and if so what caused it? 
- David Paul Seymours's art is great, unfortunately Facebook wants to censor the female nipple. Violent videos of any sickening manner are cool with Facebook apparently, but Facebook isn't down with female nipples.  
That is ridiculous but goes to show how screwed up media is these days. You are still with Church Within but there is currently only a US release date for ‘The Righteous Bloom’. Are they going to handle the rest of the world as well or are you looking for a different label for this? 

- Church Within Records will be releasing the CD in Europe. Restricted Release will be releasing the CD in North America with a release date of August 19th. We'd love to have vinyl released at some point for this album, hopefully Oli from Church Within can make that happen.

What are your goals on the live front? Any extensive touring planned?  
- We'd love to be able to do a small tour opening for a cool band in support of this album.  I'd like to incorporate a projector screen with footage of trippy images that correlate to the lyrics, my friend Pat from Cinemavericks Media made us a video for the song "Nazzriff" and I think it be great to have cool images like the ones he created for the video in a live setting. We have August 19th as the official North American release date followed by playing August 26 at the Psycho Las Vegas Fest.  
Speaking of Psycho Vegas, I think it is very impressive and well deserved that you landed a spot there. How did that come about? 
- I'm really looking forward to it, it's gonna be cool. Our friend Pellet is helping organize the fest and he asked if we were interested in playing. We appreciate the opportunity to be on such a cool bill. I'm gonna fart so hard with excitement when the plane takes off! Just kidding, I'll probably just awkwardly converse about the show with the person next to me as they ignore me. 
Hahahaha! Seriously though I think you will attract a lot of attention out in Nevada, and rightly so!
Unfortunately, it is time to wrap things, so I bid Dana adieu and wish him and Beelzefuzz all the best in the world. It sure has been a pleasure to talk to him. And for you dear wave riders, my advice is this…buy Beelzefuzz’s albums and go see them play, if they show up near you. They will blow your mind every which way until Sunday!

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