Label: Saustex Media - SEX1405 • Format: CD Album • Country: US • Genre: Rock, Blues • Style: Blues Rock
Churchwood has delivered another volume of condensed brilliance with "3: Trickgnosis". I say without reservation that I think they are the best all-around rock act in Austin at this time, and that's not just because I'd like to sell some records. And they are, quite possibly, the three finest consecutive releases by any Austin-based act ever.
I recently asked Bill and Joe some questions about the new album and their process. Grab your thesaurus and keep Wikipedia on standby You guys manage to put out an incredible amount of fresh sounding material. What's the secret there? JOE: I think our musical prolificacy is a testament to the commitment El Rancho Rock - The Champs - El Rancho Rock / Midnighter each member of Churchwood has to making music.
Beyond that, I personally would have to attribute much of our productivity to Bill. He insists that we get together at least once a week. BILL: The only hard part is getting a bunch of guys with jobs and families to come to practice and work on something that is not going to make anyone very much money. Once we're all in that room, it's not hard to start making music, especially when we are people who can come up with music that's mostly not right out of the playbook.
Yeah, damn right, I said no covers! For those already initiated Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis Churchwood's sound, what do you feel is different about 3: Trickgnosis? JOE: It may be a bit more conceptual as a record than either Churchwood or 2. I was pretty adamant about the track order on 3: Trickgnosis because I felt the songs. BILL: I always really want us to sound like Churchwood no matter what song we're trying to write or arrange.
I hope this record stands with the first two, and that our little forays still sound like us. I guess the formula is to keep off-center blues music as our jumping-off point, and add a few little touches every time we do a record.
Some tunes lead me to ideas for lyrics that lend themselves more readily and successfully to the. It often depends on the inspiration for a larger concept, one that drives a sequence of songs that wind up as a collection on an album. The course traces the underground path of dissemination that Gnosticism took from Provence in the south of France following the Albigensian Crusade that condemned it and its offshoots like Catharism as dangerous heresies, and caused its anti-state, anti-war, anti-literalist influence to spread into various other parts of Europe and eventually the rest of the world.
So everything is turned upside down: good is the mask that evil wears and evil the mask worn by real goodness. Rather, he understands how much was lost, how much there is still to lose. In some traditions, the seventh son has a direct link to Satan. And, in the bargain, I made a musical triptych. Also, Joe, your De Havenzangers - De 28 Grootste Successen Van De Havenzangers seem to be more character driven than on the previous releases.
Is there a conscious effort in that direction or is it simply a matter of becoming comfortable doing that over time? JOE: The character-driven vocals are there, true. I was drawn to that bright red cover with the bold white centered in a black field. It was all very cryptic: alluring and simultaneously repulsive. It reminded me of the Nazi flag, and I was almost afraid to touch it. I was repulsed, terrified, and fascinated all at the same time.
Looking back on it now, I realize that my senses were being assaulted by incongruities: the subliminal visuals of the album art had combined with the biblical language of prophecy set to music that was equal parts trance and crossroads.
That recording that has haunted me for 40 plus years. Bill, some of A Ladiesman - Various - Atlantic Jazz: Best Of The 70s music on the new album is pretty dark. It feels creepy in the same way that hearing the first Black Sabbath record on the radio did when I was 9 or Is that deliberate or do you start out with a riff that seems innocent enough and dab the evil on from there?
BILL: There is one song that uses a very Sabbath-like riff for sure, and how can one resist doing that? It's inescapable. That flatted fifth is the Devil's Interval, and I have to get it in there at least once per album.
But there is no real uniform approach. Sometimes I'll come up with a "prettier" riff and Billysteve will subvert it with a more dissonant harmony, which is all part of the plan. By the same token the token Churchwood also seems to be folding more funk and jazz into the recipe.
Is that conscious? JOE: Somewhat conscious, yes, though my subconscious probably rolls to a jazz soundtrack. I grew up listening to jazz because my dad is a true jazz aficionado. BILL: You know, you listen to this music all your life and it's Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis in your head.
Between the five of us, we've listened to just about every possible genre one could draw from. I grew up in a home hearing music constantly.
Some of PEZ - Tsukushinbow つくしんぼ first music I found on my own, besides a bunch of country blues and Chuck Berry, was James Brown, so the funk has been in my brain since I was about 11 or Playing funky music is always risky as a white band, though.
It's pretty easy for it to be shit. Bill has told me that your deal when the band started was that you would be both be fairly autonomous in the writing process; Bill handles music and Joe sings about whatever he wants. Is it as simple as that? Sometimes one or the other of us will contribute a song in its entirety.
I keep a folder of all of the original mp3s of my contributions because I enjoy revisiting them from time to time so that I can experience them just as they sounded when they were fresh from the well of inspiration.
That version is very ethereal, and Bill made a conscious and very successful effort to capture that otherworldly Compromise - Various - Theres A Method To Our Madness when we realized it for the record, when we Churchwoodified that song. Joe is really good at coming up with words to whatever Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis music we come up with, and the rest of us are pretty good at either putting clothes on the bare bones of an idea, like Metanoia, or tweaking and tweaking a song like Mohammad until we all like to play it.
Sometimes, as on Keels Be Damned, I will ask him to change the melody over different chords that don't sound as familiar. The questions so far have made it seem like the other members are sidemen, which is definitely not the Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis.
Everyone projects a lot of personality in their playing. You guys are definitely more than the sum of your parts When I recruited these guys for Churchwood, I knew I was getting people that had lots of ideas, the challenge was to get everyone on some kind of same page. Unless I was actually paying people to play my music, I wouldn't presume Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis tell them exactly what notes to play, maybe at the most I would suggest what NOT to play.
But I feel like a creative player has to have some kind of stake in the project, and actually half the fun for me is hearing what the other guys come up with for the songs. We played well together in Cat Scientist and I figured we would continue on like that, but then he asked if he could play drums, which flummoxed me a bit. He was a really strong bass player, but was really Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis of a beginner on drums, so it was a bit of a leap Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles faith for me.
Of course he turned out to be a natural, and he is pretty insistent on not playing the first possible beat that comes to mind. He is as an important part of why we sound the way we do as anybody in the band is. I could see Billysteve was a guitar player who obviously understands and loves the blues but, like me, was far from being a purist and was open to a different approach.
I figured he could be a guy that would come up with stuff to play in between. Churchwood thumps out some crazy rhythms with intricate guitar interplay and dramatic vocals on top.
The stuff out of the studio always sounds great but do you ever hit a brick wall trying to do some of the numbers live? Those songs will only get better live; we just have to work out the kinks of reproducing them in a club setting. BILL: Damn, that is a pretty sweet capsule description of what we are trying to do: "crazy rhythms with intricate guitar interplay and dramatic vocals on top.
Chico Jones, our engineer, will fix little stuff, sometimes a guitar track will need to be replaced, or horns or background vocals added, but most of it is from the first, second, or third take, and on the last album we kept the "scratch" vocals for just about every song.
Yes, playing the songs onstage is a different experience. Someone can be playing too loud or not loud enough for the balance, another guy maybe had one drink too many, the monitors can suck. But playing live is energizing in a way that the studio is not. I should also say that I am always pretty committed to making our albums "honest," that is, not doing very much that can't be replicated onstage.
I'm not doctrinaire about it, but for this particular band I feel like the arrangements ARE the song. The way we play it is as important to me as the words or melody. So I feel like a lot of the real work - at least the most enjoyable part of it for me - takes place in the practice room, making up parts and arranging them. The studio part makes me impatient, especially since we are always trying to work within a fairly modest budget.
I just want to get our songs down on tape! You also expanded the role of the horn section on the new album; is the plan to make them a permanent feature or is that dictated by time and economics? BILL: On Prove It All Night - Bruce Springsteen - Wild New Jersey, as on 2, the horns are only there on two songs, but like last time they really helped those two songs kick ass.
Like last time, Joe Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis I had specific ideas for horn arrangements that the players expanded on and improved. Playing in the rock opera at Zach Scott six years ago was the first time I got to play with a real horn section and it was a blast.
Leila Henley, our sax player, is a fantastic musician and just an all-round great person to know, and I've thought about maybe having her more involved from the get-go on songs for the next album. Shane Walden is our trumpet player I like how I'm calling them "our" horn playersand our original trombonist Nick Warrenchuk moved, damn it, but has been ably replaced Éminence Gris Gris - Churchwood - 3: Trickgnosis Dillon Buhl.
They are all busy people, and so time and economics DOES dictate how often we are able to have them play shows with us. They will be in full effect at our record release at the Continental Club on September 20, though…. I'm guessing you guys have already started on material for 4? JOE: In a word, yes. The new album is slated for release on November 18, CD package includes cover art by Jon Langford and page booklet.
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