What have been your musical epiphany moments?
Growing up, I was exposed to all sorts of music. Of course, there was the local Top 40 station “all the kids listened to”, the standards my dad quizzed me about, the easy listening on my mom’s station and the classical music I played in orchestra and sang in church choirs. But when I first heard Metal, it was all I wanted to play… on my violin and sing… at the top of my lungs, of course. When I was nine, my neighbor loaned me a few tapes of his favorites - Metallica’s Ride the Lightning struck me the deepest. I unsuccessfully toiled away attempting to learn ways to translate this mind blowing music with my classical instrument. My voice was a much better tool for this task!
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?
Music comes to me in so many ways. A phrase might trigger a lyrical idea or the sound of my footfalls on the sidewalk could lead to a rhythm track. With the band, there have been riffs and songseeds floating around for years. When I wrote the lyrics for the songs on Acid Doom, the songs were already fully composed. So, I listened to each repeatedly, while sifting through my Tome of Wayward Lyrics… my notebook, that is. Any lines that speak to what I hear in the music gets highlighted, collected on a new page and massaged into whatever format the song demands. We all worked together to tease out the best of what I came up with.
Our next album began mostly from scratch - the guys brought their riffs and ideas and I made notes. What themes came to mind? What do the riffs make me feel? This could be colors, stories, textures or events - just about anything. The next album will be filled with stories that come from history, psychology, space, time and everywhere in between. A veritable feast for the imagination.
Who has influenced you the most?
Growing up in the Seattle area, in the 80’s and 90’s was a fertile time for great rock. Vocally, I was influenced by the loudest voices in my ears - James Hetfield, Jimi Hendrix, Glenn Danzig, Layne Staley, Axl Rose, Ann Wilson, Chris Cornell, Geoff Tate can all be charged with inspiring my sound and the way I approach a song, vocally. I guess I was truly influenced by a place and time more so than any one entity.
Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?
I live to be inspired. Spending time in nature, exploring the stars, mythology, history, hidden traditions, music old and new… I also spend a lot of time meditating. Getting quiet and letting ideas find me, without the noise of the day-to-day allows me to discern what ideas I want to keep and what’s just static in the background. Life’s noise can be inspiring, but only when the silence frames it properly.
We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?
OLD BLOOD represents a diverse amalgam of environs, but culminates in the Desert. We all live far afield from one another, though the arid Inland Empire gives us space to create and imagine. There’s something psychedelic and ungrounded about this place, allowing for unlimited potential. This certainly shows up in the music. We all bring elements of our individual histories and locales to the table… and now that I think about it all the guys grew up in desert areas! I’m the only mossy rock in this garden!
We all share many of the same musical influences, which then color the ideas that spring from our respective corners of the SoCal scene. The Doom sound and Psychedelia grow well in this hallucinogenic soil… along with items that create those sensations...
Where'd the band name come from?
I can neither confirm nor deny this, but in a dream, Octopus, our bass player, met a demon sitting alone in a bar. When asked his name, the demon replied, “Old Blood”. And so it goes...
You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?
If David Lynch cares to grace us with a sequel to “Lost Highway”... just sayin’!
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?
This is the hardest question. I almost said “Happy Birthday To You” and put a photo of me blowing out my candles… cuz a picture is worth 1,000 words, ya know. AND my birthday is this week.
BUT, I think Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” could coax an essay out of me. Besides the fact that it commands EVERY part of my voice to stand in a position of strength (when I sing it… so, yeah, Phil Anselmo can certainly be added to that list of influencers), when I first began diving into that song, I saw so many different stories being told. Much like those Choose Your Own Adventure books I devoured in the 80’s, I see different ways to tell this emotional story, despite its lyrical precision. It’s truly a masterpiece.
Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?
Well, none of us have gotten trapped in a makeshift cocoon, but in my first video with OLD BLOOD, I was dug up and crept out of my coffin to sing “Bloody Feathers”!
I admit to using lots of Astrology in my writing, but I would NEVER ask the guys to wear sign-specific costumes… though I DID find my name in the stars, from the Lynx constellation. AND the sign for BOTH albums, the self-titled and Acid Doom (released 8/27/16 and 8/28/20, respectively), is Virgo, just like Tap’s band sign!
Then, there was that one time our fog set off the fire alarms at The Viper Room - RIGHT BEFORE our last song… thankfully, no sprinklers followed, just a stern warning from LAFD. And to all other bands who love a foggy production, I apologize profusely, because I think that was the last night smoke machines were allowed at the venue!
There’s a Korean radio station that broadcasts near where we rehearse and, like Nigel’s rig, ours has a tendency to pick up their signal at the most inopportune times… But honestly, we haven’t had any truly madcap misadventures during my tenure… I guess that means we just haven’t been at it long enough yet. All the more reason to keep sloggin’ on!!
Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?
We like to bring a big show wherever we go. Our production takes a lot of planning and orchestration to make it feel spontaneous and beguiling. We all get to use all our skills and talents to build something we hope the crowd will never forget. Grinding through a set, generating sweat and casting spells - it’s euphoric.
What makes a great song?
I love a song that I FEEL. It can be a lyric, a riff or a dynamic transition that plunges itself into the nervous system and conjures a completely different emotional state. It’s *electrichemistry*.
What one single album do you wish that you'd written or performed on, and why?
The Album? Facelift, by Alice in Chains. This one’s for the ages. I’ve NEVER tired of listening to it and I know it’s been instrumental in honing my own sound. Layne’s voice is one that BEGS for harmonies and I’ve never been able to listen to that album without singing it from start to stop.
What piece of your music are particularly proud of?
There’s a song on the upcoming album that took some time for me to wrap my mind around. It’s about a very specific event in history. I had to do quite a bit of homework to understand what really happened and how to describe it in more than a few sentences while communicating the agony involved. I feel like the finished product makes the intensity of this event pretty evident… but you’ll have to wait and see which track it will be...
Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?
I like my music like I like my food - Fresh and Local. Most of my listening comes from the folks I see around town or discover because of some local connection. I’ve been really digging Unto Others with those sonorous vocals and the newest albums from Void Vator and Sorizon have also gotten stuck on repeat in my world - both offering topical commentaries on the human condition over a backdrop of timelessly delicious composition. THEY RIP!
Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?
I’m beginning to get more comfortable with digital, especially when travelling. Vinyl is a ritualistic treat that requires more attention than simply listening. But CD’s are still my go-to. I can curate a 6-disc selection in my car that will entertain me for hours on end - and they don’t drain my data plan!
Whiskey or beer? And defend your choice
I can enjoy beer for way longer, and during these Quarantimes, I got a self-taught PhD in IPAs! I dig both, but whisky makes me frisky, so I try to avoid it outside of my own four walls. I don’t need to be causing any more trouble than necessary!
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?
That’s kind of a complicated query. Issaquah, Washington is my hometown - an ever-growing suburb of Seattle, about 15 min East, via I90. When I was growing up there, you really had to travel to find a great record store and in those days, it was Cellophane Square. There were locations in Bellevue, Bellingham and in Seattle’s University District - the latter was THE spot. They even had an arcade in back for when you just needed a break from perusing the stacks. I actually worked in the Bellevue location for about a year after finishing college. Unfortunately, when I came back to visit, the business had been sold and then closed. The Cellophane Era was over.
In Issaquah proper, there was a smaller shop, called Silver Platters. I rarely got to visit it, but during one of my last visits home, I discovered it’s now moved to Downtown Bellevue and eerily resembles my auld Cellophane Square! Definitely worth a trip to the burbs!!
What's next for the band?
Our calendar is quickly filling up with new dates in new venues and cities across the map! During the Quarantimes, we began writing the next album, which we plan to take into the studio, probably this winter. But before that, we have a two-week tour coming at the end of Rocktober/beginning of November and several SoCal gigs coming in September and early Rocktober.
Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?
I’m stoked to FINALLY be about to head out on a proper tour with OLD BLOOD and I hope to find some new friends and fans when we strike out on the road. Where will we be? Find out and follow our path at oldbloodgroup.bandcamp.com, or follow our socials @oldbloodgroup. Also… NINE of our heavenly bodies are in retrograde at the moment, and Mercury is NOT one of them! #themoreyouknow