Monday, March 30, 2020

A Ripple Conversation With Duskwood

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Aaron: The first one I can really think of is playing NHL 2003 on the PS2 with Liam, and whenever you had a breakaway the game would enter slo-mo and it was really tense. This awesome song breakdown kicked in and the 16 year old me got so hyped. Turned out that the song was No One Knows by Queens of The Stone Age, and it really turned us both on to the Desert/Stoner Rock scene.

Greg - I'd say mine was more recently when I discovered the use of Major 2nds. Colour Haze & Kyuss both use them a fair amount in their material and after playing around with them I ended up using them quite a bit in our most recent release,

Hugh - Mine was the first time I heard Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood. It was a total game changer for me and was like nothing I'd heard before at the time. I had to know more; about the band, how to play their songs , everything. They set me going really.  The next big one was Greta Van Fleet, although the sound had been done before with Led Zep, it really pricked my ears up to hear the sound coming back around. It was refreshing in a nostalgic way, making you want to play Bonham triplets in a song wherever possible.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Aaron: Usually myself or Greg comes up with a riff and a song structure at home, and we bring it into band practice (where it usually gets ripped apart!). We usually use it as a starting point, Hugh adds his beats which changes the speed and dynamic a lot of the time. Once we've kinda got somewhere that we're happy with, Liam writes the lyrics and Greg does the solos. To be honest, most of the stuff ends up on the cutting room floor, but these days we're a lot more focused with our practice time. I guess that happens when you get a bit older!

Who has influenced you the most?

Greg - Honestly, and the boys will probably rinse me for this, probably Matt Heafy of Trivium. I still can't play any of their solos, but their tracks inspired me to pick up the guitar and if it wasn't for that, I probably wouldn't have started jamming with the lads back in the day, and thus likely wouldn't be writing this! In more recent years though, 1000Mods have laid down some thick riffs that have definitely eeked their way into the new material and riffs I've been writing.

Aaron: The whole Palm Desert Stoner Scene has influenced me the most throughout my life I'd say. The bands that came out of that are just awesome. I started out on QOTSA, but when you start delving into the music, especially these days with the information available on the net, you find a whole bunch of crazy good bands. With regards to my playing, bands like Tool, Kyuss, Black Sabbath. Never really been a huge fan of UK popular music, I always tend to sway towards the Scandinavian or US bands.

Hugh - For me its Kings of Leon, Fu Manchu and The Rolling Stones.

Liam - The same as Aaron really! Bands like Truckfighters, 1000Mods and Clutch have found their way into our sound.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Aaron: The UK Underground Stoner scene is huge at the moment, so we get a lot of inspiration and motivation from some of the other bands we've played with, like Witch Tripper, Cybernetic Witch Cult and Sergeant Thunderhoof. There are a lot of really hard working UK Stoner bands, so we try to follow their template, whilst keeping our work/life balance right. The evolution of our sound comes from what we listen to really, and I think bands like Colour Haze, 1000Mods and Spaceslug create some wonderful music.

Greg - Quite often I'll be just listening to a playlist on Spotify, or letting the related radio take over at the end of an album. There are times when something catches my attention, and I'll try to work out what was going on by picking up a guitar and playing it out. Chances are if it's something I liked, then something similar will come out when I'm fiddling around with writing.

Hugh - I listen to the older stuff. I prefer the drumming styles as they had a little more flair a subtlety to them.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Hugh - It's so dull we had to reach out to America for inspiration!

Aaron - True, it is pretty dull, a bit like the weather we have over here. Yeovil doesn't really have a huge impact on us all personally I don't think. The music scene used to be all about Hardcore or Death Metal bands, but luckily that's pretty much passed on now. It was pretty dead for a good 5 years, but now there's a now a decent venue and some solid bands who have brought a music scene back to Yeovil. We've all kinda had to work together to get it back really, putting on shows and the like.

Greg - There's not a fantastic amount of similar likeminded musicians immediately local to ourselves, but the UK scene is really thriving at the moment. After seeing bands like Ritual King, Green Lung and Sergeant Thunderhoof do their thing, it's given us the motivation and desire to push ourselves as hard as we can.

Where'd the band name come from?

Aaron - It's actually a playzone from World of Warcraft! Most of us used to play back in the day. For The Horde!

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

Hugh - No Country For Old Men because there's hardly any music throughout the whole film, and it's slick film.

Greg - I love the banging soundtrack to The Matrix, but not sure if Stoner Rock would do it justice.

Aaron - I'd say something like Smokey & The Bandit. I used to love that movie growing up, and I reckon our music would suit some truck cruisin'! I do love a good movie score, Hans Zimmer's stuff is huge and awesome.

Liam - Something like Mad Max Fury Road would be cool to do a soundtrack for. Our song Kenosha makes you wanna keep hitting the gas, so it would suit the film quite well!

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Greg - Gardenia by Kyuss. It's had a huge influence on our sound and riffs. There's plenty of parts within the song with intricacies that I'm still noticing with each listen. I'm not sure 1000 words would be enough really, but it's a perfect specimen to write about.

Hugh - Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird for me. It's a long song, which is relatable to our genre, with crazy good soles. Plenty to write about on that one.

Aaron - I'd go with Tool's Lataralus, as no doubt Greg is rolling his eyes! Tool get talked about a lot for being 'deep & edgy maaaaaaan', but I love what they do. Obviously with the time signatures and vocal patterns relating to the Fibonacci sequence there's plenty to talk about. I know it's almost become uncool to like Tool these days, but I get lost in their music and can get as close as I can to a relaxed, meditative state.

Liam - I was going to say the exact song there Aaron! Getting inside the mind of Maynard though would be pretty tough, and any interpretation I'm sure would be wrong!

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Hugh - Oh wow, that's a pretty difficult one really! Not so much rock n roll, but Greg, Aaron & Liam are pretty big lads and we played in a tiny little venue in Bournemouth recently with Komatsu. Aaron couldn't stand up straight because the ceiling was so low, Liam had about a foot square to stand in, and Greg was basically playing on a staircase. Lucky for me I was tucked away in a corner and had plenty of room!

Liam- We're not that exciting these days! But when we were just starting up, we played a gig in a local field with a stage on the back of a truck, and some tents around. We played quite early in the day, so we had a few beers afterwards. One thing led to another and Greg ended up running around with his shirt off (classic), blind drunk. They had a huge bonfire going and Greg kept getting way too close to it. Being so drunk he couldn't feel it! We dragged him away and he ran off to throw up all over himself and try chat to people about how Trivium were the best band in the world. He ended up sleeping face down in the grass! In fact, one of the songs on our original EP was about this very incident!

Aaron - Haha, that was a fun day.

Greg - Ugh

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Greg - We're a straight to the point, no sh*t talking band. We love playing our music, and whilst some other bands live for the banter, we're there for the 'bangers!' We like to keep the flow going throughout our sets, playing sets consisting of tracks from our most recent EPs. It's pretty riffy stuff, so we don't blame fans if the find themselves subconsciously nodding along.

Liam - A good few years ago me and Aaron watched Karma To Burn play at Download festival. They said absolutely nothing throughout their set apart from 'Cheers' at the end. We loved it, as too many bands talk about pointless nothing! Fans are there for the music, talk to them at the bar after if you want to chat!

What makes a great song?

Liam - I think a great song consists of big memorable riffs that will get stuck in your head for days, with big choruses that you can get the fans chanting along to. It doesn't have to be overly technical, anything that gets the heads going and the crowds moving is a good sign.

Aaron - You know when you hear a song for the first time and you kinda get goosebumps? That always gets me. Good vocals, groovy catchy riffs and lots of depth is key for me.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Aaron - Haha! It was a song called Want Me To Be, which never got to see the light of day on record. It was basically a rip of Face To The Floor by Chevelle.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Greg - We're really proud of the last 2 EPs. We think we've really made strides in our sound and production, and it was the first time we've worked super hard in the studio. They were recorded by Chris Fielding from Conan who's a great guy. He works you hard, but you reap the benefits in the end.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Aaron - I've been listening to a lot of Villagers of Ionnina City recently. I love the sound and the fact they merge in some less conventional instruments without differentiating too far from a hard rock beat. I do like the greek hard rock / stoner scene over the last few years.

Greg - The latest Green Lung album is something I keep coming back to. Both them and 1000Mods. Those bands have the knack for writing catchy riffs that get stuck in your head for hours on end. But equally they share very different lead styles, and as a guitarist that's great to draw inspiration from.

Hugh - I'm so out of touch with current music, but I think Sam Fender is writing some pretty catchy tunes for the radio at the moment. As far as ass kickings, every time we play a show there seems to be one band on the bill that you just stand there and think 'they just made us look like we learned to play our instruments yesterday!'. Sergeant Thunderhoof for one!

Liam - Similar to Greg, I think Green Lung are slaying at the moment. Their Woodland Rites album is pure quality and I'm looking forward to hearing their next. We were lucky enough to share a stage with them a few years back and their live show is great too. It inspires us to keep improving and releasing music.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Aaron: It's difficult really. I still use CDs in the van as they're just really easy to chuck in the player. I think Vinyl is great for a whole package of art, but can be difficult to listen to on the go. Digital is just easy, but lacks the love for physical artwork. I like to have a physical product, so I'd probably say CD, as you get the best of both worlds really.

Liam - We'd love to do some vinyls of our own at some point, but being unsigned, the initial outlays are pretty expensive. One for the future I think.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

Aaron - Beer! It's a really sociable drink. You can't exactly tell the wife your going out for some 'Whiskeys with the boys' can you! You'd sound a bit pretentious.

Greg - Beer. Nothing quite like chilling out watching a few bands of listening to some albums with a few cold ones. Whiskey is still great (and I do like a tipple or three!), but for me beer is a session bevvy, so I'd much rather grab a few beers than a few whiskeys.

Hugh - Beer. Whiskey had me in a bit of a pickle once or twice. I've only recently started drinking the stuff again.

Liam - Boilermaker, why choose when you can have both!

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Aaron - Yeovil used to have a great little vinyl music store called Acorn Music. Sadly this shut last year and all we have is the corporate giant that is HMV. However, our local HMV is doing a lot of showcasing local talent with a new initiative, which culminates in them selling your music and playing in store. It was cramped and loud, but we enjoyed it! There's plenty of local bands getting involved with it, each having their music being sold in store.

What's next for the band?

Liam - So we've got some pretty big underground UK festivals to play in the next couple months, one being Riffolution Festival in Manchester and the other being Stonebaked Festival in Leeds. We're also heading to France to play a festival at the end of the year which we're not allowed to talk about yet! Aaron is having his first child in May/June, so we've got a month off then! I think from then on we will be getting to work on writing the final chapter to the Space Cowboy saga, which will be an album. Hopefully this will be not too long in the future! That, and hopefully some more gigs, Brexit willing of course!

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Hugh - Thanks for listening to us babble on! Check out 'The Long Dark' & 'The Lost Tales' and give us some feedback if you liked or didn't like it! We love hearing different people's views on what we've produced. That, and keep riding that wave of riffs of course!

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