INTERVIEW: Diff’rent Strokes for different folks. SOiL’s Tim King and Ryan McCombs talk candidly.

SO_W-P07_smallThe album “Whole” (AFM Records, 2013) redefined what Soil was all about. Ryan McCombs, having returned to the band in 2011, bringing back his trademark punch-in-the-face vocals and lyrics, matching the killer riffs and rhythms of Tim King (Bass) and Adam Zadel (guitar).

Last year (2013) following a more than successful tour with Skindred, the band returned to the USA only for Ryan to then suffer a Stroke while at home. Not unsurprisingly, Ryan’s stoicism and dry sense of humour held fast throughout this episode. His recovery has, thankfully, continued to progress well, such that the band have been able to use the unforeseen time out, to focus on their own health, family and friends. 

Soil have now made a welcome return to the UK in support of Coal Chamber’s ‘Rivals’ tour. We sat down with Tim and Ryan before they took to the stage at The Waterfront, Norwich. As usual with Soil, there’s a lot of humour and laughter in the room.

TCRS: Welcome back to Norwich. The last time we saw you in the city was with Skindred back in January 2014.

Ryan: That was a great tour.

TCRS: ‘Whole’, your last album, had certainly gained a lot of traction with the fans by then.

Tim: Yes, it’s actually done really well for us. The fans received it really well and it sold well. We couldn’t have asked for anything more in this day and age.

Coal Chamber UK tour dates

Coal Chamber UK tour dates

TCRS: You continue to move your setlist around, keeping it fresh.

Tim: Yeah, we’ve been throwing in something a little special each time we come, so it’s not the same show.

Ryan: There’s a handful of songs we have to play, otherwise we’ll get lynched afterwards! [laughs] If we didn’t play ‘Halo’, somebody would’ve definitely poked my eyes out after the show. So there’s a handful of songs you have to play, but we always try to throw in a little something different here and there depending on the length of set.

Tim: Like in this one (tour) we threw in a song off the Redefine album called ‘Pride’ and we haven’t played that in awhile [Editor’s Note: 10 years?] and we brought ‘Black Betty’, the Ram Jam cover, back in on this one too. A little something special.

TCRS: How’s your health, Ryan?

Ryan: Shit! It sucks!

TCRS: But you went through a bit a spell last year where things weren’t…

Ryan: Last time I was here, I went home and decided to have a stroke.

TCRS: How are you now?

Ryan: I’m fine, until we get tired, my speech starts to slur a bit. I get tired and I got this stupid right leg that it doesn’t let me run really, so if a bear jumps in the room real quick, all it has got to is outrun me because I brisk walk it will outrun me at this point [laughs]. But I was so lucky, the type of stroke that I had, the recovery time that I had from it, doctors were just amazed by it and didn’t understand it and so I was really blessed by the after effects were so minimal in my case… so yeah I went home, I went to bed that night, straight from getting off the plane from being over here and woke up with a stroke! But it’s been cool, because I’ve had a good surroundings, you know whether it’s at home or whether it’s the band members and stuff. We took the needed time off to make sure that I could do it without my brain blowing up. It’s just a matter of being smart about what I do and taking life in moderation, dealing with the old chest thumper and the head jelly and making sure everything is going to be fine.

TCRS: Tim, seeing Ryan the way he was, what was your immediate reaction?

Tim: It scared the crap out of me! My long term girlfriend, she also had a stroke, so I…

Ryan: My ‘Stroke buddy’.

Tim: Yeah, I mean it hit double as hard, because I had to deal with her stroke and then Ryan. But it actually kind of helped me, because I knew what she went through, so I was able to know what Ryan was going through and really try to be there as much as I could for him and figure out stuff for the band.

Ryan: Yeah he sent me a book ‘Dealing with a Stroke for Dummies’ [laughter]. I think what we really need to pay attention to though is the one common factor here, there’s two people that had strokes and Tim knows them both! [more laughter]

Tim: We didn’t really know what was going to happen to the future and we kind of looked at it as, you know, “What if it is over? We have had an amazing time, but if it’s not, we’re just going to change some things and do whatever we need to make it to where we can keep on doing it” and that’s kind of the approach we take with it.

Ryan: Luckily my time away from the band there was a couple other singers though, so if I do happen to stroke out, there are always replacements [laughs].

Tim: No we’re not coming back. When one of us has gone off the list, I think it’s time to say “Sayonara”.

Ryan: Not the way I see it, I’m getting cardboard cutouts of you guys! Can we do that next tour? I’m getting old [laughs]. Seriously tho’, one of the great things about these guys is that they go into every run with the knowledge that I need to take life differently than I use to. So when it usually comes down to sleeping I make sure that I get my sleep. They’re being mom and dad, making sure I take my medicine and stuff. Everybody is very conscious of the situation, just really helping to make sure my butt is in the quietest place in the bus and I’m getting some rest.

TCRS: Ryan, I know you’re huge Football (American Football) fan. How was the draft for the Browns (Cleveland Browns)?

Tim: They’re an awesome basketball team.

Ryan: That’s his knowledge of sports right there!

Tim: That’s my cue to exit! [laughs]

Tim: I loved it. The two players that they took in the first round, Danny Shelton and Cameron Erving, were two of the three guys that I had said like a week before that I would take, so I couldn’t have been happier. First, I got to go for the first me and my brother talked about going to the draft for 25+ years and actually be there and I won my pass and I won. I’ve never won anything in my life, so I got to take my brother. So after 25- 30 years of talking about it, we were finally there, at the draft and it was a really cool experience! But I think even in the later round picks, I liked the kid from Washington State (Xavier Cooper), the defensive tackle. I couldn’t complain, even their 7th round pick to take the Cornerback out of the Cardinals…should’ve been the first round pick because he was still healthy last year. So I think they really filled a lot of holes.

TCRS: And “Deflategate“?

Tim: Man, I’m so… so tired of it. If something was right, I’d say it was right. If something was wrong, I say it’s wrong. In their (New England Patriots) case, if you broke the rules, you pay the price, it’s that simple. When you refuse to give items up, to be looked into, such as in his case, they wanted to take a look at his emails and take a look at his cell phones, text messages and stuff, and he refused to do that, to me when you refuse to show that you’re innocent, that means you’re hiding something. It’s like all these guys in sports, regardless of the team, regardless if they get in trouble for something and they pay the situation off. If you’re innocent of something bad, you want to be known that you’re innocent. At least I would want to know. If I’m getting blamed for jay-walking and I wasn’t jay-walking, I want to be known that I’m innocent of it. I’m not going to go pay somebody off to show that I’m not innocent or not give you the stuff that would prove that I’m innocent. To me, when people do that, you’re guilty, it’s done.

TCRS: Tim do you think that question has got it out of this system for this tour?

Ryan: He heard “Football” and his mind was like *Ping* [holds up a bottle of water] “Man this is the best water I’ve had in ages, this is really good water…I wonder what’s in this water, where’s this water from?”

Tim: I mean you guys may have just been talking Spanish for all I know, I just kind of shut the switch off and turned it back on.  [laughter]

Soil-TourTCRS: For Soil, obviously you’ve got this tour with Coal Chamber here in the UK, and then Europe. Straight after that, it’s back to the States?

Tim: We do the UK and then we have four European shows with Coal Chamber and then we’re going back to the States for two weeks, then we start up with Powerman 5000 on a tour of the States. So it’s just kind of like this is a proper third leg of the whole cycle [with ‘Whole’], so we actually did like three proper UK, Europe and States tours in this, so it was kind of cool to have it like that instead of non-stop tour. We’ve been out for a long time on this record.

Ryan: We had to sit still too long while I was wrestling around with the brain. These doctors are sucking my wallet out clean. We’ve got to get out of that place and get some air!

TCRS: And put down another record?

Tim: Funnily enough, right before this run, we were talking about doing new songs and stuff and throwing some rough ideas and discussing it. So we’re a little strapped for time right now because we do this and then go into Powerman, but you know definitely after that we’ll work on some new stuff. It’s kind of like the age old, it’s so weird nowadays in the business, whether you put out a few songs, put out a full length record, so we’re just going to see where it takes, see how many songs we get and more likely there’ll at least be some EP of some sort.

TCRS: Well listen fellows it’s been an absolute joy to catch up with you guys again and get to see you perform back in the UK. You’ve got a strong following here.

Tim: It’s been a blessing. The UK crowd in particular, has just embraced us from day one. It’s always fun. We were laughing earlier, we’ll come here as long as they let us and even after they stop letting us, we’re coming back to annoy the shit out of everybody.

Soil are currently touring the UK with Coal Chamber, along with the Defiled and Dope.

Official Soil links: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

UK Tour w/ Soil, the Defiled & Dope
20.05.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
21.05.15 UK – Norwich / The Waterfront
22.05.15 UK – Warwick / Copper Rooms
23.05.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
24.05.15 UK – Glasgow / O2 ABC
26.05.15 UK – Bristol / Motion
27.05.15 UK – Exeter / Lemon Grove
28.05.15 UK – Brighton / Concorde 2
29.05.15 UK – Wolverhampton / Wulfrun
30.05.15 UK – Manchester / The Ritz
31.05.15 UK – London / Koko [Sold Out]

Thanks for visiting.

Website: www.TheClassicRockShow.co.uk
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INTERVIEW: James May (Black Tusk) on Athon, BLS tour and new album ‘Pillars Of Ash’

810466_logoFor the current Black label Society European Tour (2015) , Zakk Wylde has brought along with him two bands with uniquely different sounds – Black Tusk and Crobot.

869ab2221cFor Black Tusk, this tour comes hard on the heels of a tragic loss. Their bassist, Jonathan Athon, died in November last year as a consequence of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident in their hometown of Savannah, Georgia.

The swamp metal trio had not long finished recording a new album (‘Pillars Of Ash’ is set for release mid-2015 through Relapse Records). Corey Barhorst (ex-Kylesa) has the unenviable task of picking up the reins left by Athon’s passing. A formidably powerful bass player in his own right, Barhorst’s long-standing friendship with the remaining members will hopefully serve him well.

I caught up with drummer/singer and founding member of Black Tusk, James May at their recent appearance at Norwich UEA (18/2/2015). It’s never easy to talk with someone on the subject of lost a friend or brother, but I was struck by James’ outlook and positivity, whilst still coming to terms with Athon’s loss.

BLS_Black_Tusk_tourMJ: Welcome to the Classic Rock Show, James.

JM: Thank you.

MJ: Black Tusk on tour with Black Label Society and Crobot along as well. How’s the tour been going so far?

JM: It’s been good. We started off in Budapest and we played five shows before we got on this tour. And then, since we got on this tour, Black Label kind of has a different crowd than what we’re used to. At first you’re a little “How’s it going to be taken?”, but it’s been taken very well. So the tour has ended up being great for us. The crew is really nice to us, everyone one is cool with it, so there’s no problems at all. We like it, man.

MJ: Sorry to bring this up, but it’s been a difficult time for you of late. I guess there’s no such thing as great timing in any of these events. Especially on the eve of a tour such as this one. You lost a very dear beloved band member.

JM: A brother, more than anything.

MJ: Tell us about how you’ve been coping with it.

James May - Black TuskJM: Your own ways you get through it. Like I said, it wasn’t like a band member. Black Tusk was like a three-headed monster. You know what I mean? It’s been just us since the beginning. We’ve all known each other since we’ve been younger and when the band started. So it’s not even three guys that hooked up three years ago. It was before that. I’ve known Athon, knew him more than I had not known him at that point. You know what I mean? So, it was horrible. But we had to do what was good for the band. Me and Andrew both said, like, if it was me, I would want you guys to keep going. You know? Just things happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. And the band, to stop because of it, no, I mean we did think about it of course. We were thinking how could we even replace him? It’s always been us. And it would have always been us. But, on a lighter note, we’ve got Cory now. He’s great. Thankfully for him, he can come tour with us and he was interested in doing it and looking like he is going to end up working out for the full time for the future. But we have known him a long time, as well. Like since before, since before the band started, when he was coming to see our older bands play. So he’s always been around. It was a lot easier to have someone we already knew and that was around, than have someone come in that was just going to try out for Black Tusk. You know what I mean? You know, no one ever wants something like that to happen. We dealt with it the best way we could.

MJ: It’s got to be different.

JM: It’s different. We’re still getting used to it. The first night was really weird. The first, in Budapest, it was the first time we had ever played together in front of a live crowd as this new setup of Black Tusk. But, at least the crowd was so good to us that they made it really easy for us. They were going nuts and everything. They made it really easy for us to have our first show. So shout out to them for that.

MJ: You’ve a few more dates in the UK, then you head over for an extensive tour of mainland Europe. That’s a lot of contact with a lot of fans out there, different crowd as well for you and the boys in Black Tusk to perform in front of. What is it you look forward to most on tours like these?

JM: The reason to take a tour like this is so you don’t keep playing to the same niche of people. Your band is never going to grow when, you know when we first started, it’s safe to play in front of like metal punks. Because you know they’re going to like it. And after a while, you hit a ceiling, it’s only going to get so big, you’ve got to go on tour with another band that has a different crowd and win them over and that’s what we’ve done the past six years is just go on tour with bigger bands and try to get some of their crowd, too, because that’s how you build this thing to get bigger and bigger. The first four years you spend around in shitholes playing to people that you know. I don’t have any problem with them. They make sense. As long as the people are cool that are on the tour, the actual bands and crew and everything that makes it so much easier.

BlackTusk-1

MJ: Music wise for Black Tusk, it goes without saying that it’s been a challenge rehearsal-wise and prepping a setlist?

JM: We were kind of freaking out a little bit in getting this stuff together before this tour. And also, you know, no one wanted to go to that space. We didn’t want to play. But we had to. We had to get the stuff together for the tour. But me and Andrew were like dreading going to the practice space again. It didn’t feel right, without Athon there, so, but we pulled through it. We got it done.

MJ: Where is the main body of music coming on? Off of your last album? Tell us about that.

JM: It’s pretty much, we’re starting the set with some Taste The Sin stuff, then we have this new 7″ out, Vulture’s Eye, that would be new to anyone over here. It’s a few months old. And we do those two songs from that. Because our band is the type of band where we always do an album and then something in the middle, a seven-inch or an EP until we get another album. We just have always done that. So, we do that, then we go into Set The Dial stuff, and then we go into Tend No Wounds stuff, and then there are a couple of new songs thrown into that that are going to be on the new album coming out in the end of summer.

MJ: You’ve recorded a new album with Joel Grind (from Toxic Holocaust) at the controls. The album’s completed?

JM: Man, that album is done. Mastered, everything. And I am so glad that Athon got through that album with us. I mean it’s all him on there, no one had to come in and finish it for him. That is the old Black Tusk on that album. And we are stoked about it. If you like Black Tusk, you will like this album. It’s not like the last EP. The last EP was experimental. We kind of did some different stuff on that, that’s why we didn’t make it an album. We just wanted to do some other stuff that we usually don’t do. We weren’t going to make that the official album. This is the new album. You know what I mean? It sounds great. We did it with Joel and Brad Boatright (from Ashes Rise) mixed it. It sounds really big and it’s called Pillars Of Ash. That’s the name of the album.

MJ: Some serious EQ then?.

JM: Yeah, it’s ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ you know? John Baizley’s going to do the artwork cause it’s, you know, whenever it is a full length release he does the artwork. I got to use the Paul Burdette’s (from Tragedy) drum set for it, so the drums are amazing and we’re excited about it. The only thing about it is by the time it comes out we’ll have had it for eight months. So those are the old songs to us by the time they start getting played.

1307467MJ: So, John Baizley’s back to do your album art? He’s been doing that now for some time, right?

JM: Yeah, and he’s going to, he’s taking his time with it because this album is also going to be a tribute album. You know what I mean? So we’re making sure that this is going to be done right. He wants all the layout to look really impressive and really good, so that’s why we’re just waiting to put it out. We’re not going to push it. It would be nice to have it for this tour, but it can wait as long as it gets done right. You know? We’re going to be playing a bunch of festivals over here so we’ll have it with us when we come back.

MJ: Well, James, Black Tusk, thank you for affording ‘The Classic Rock Show’ your time. Best of luck with the rest of this tour and we hope to see you again soon.

JM: Thanks man. It’s been a pleasure.

This was arguably one of the most difficult interviews I’ve ever done. Not, I hasten to add, because of the artist…far from it…James is a really straight up guy, but because of the subject we spoke of first; the tragic death of their band mate Athon. I hope that the deep sense of loss for a ‘Brother’ transcribes fully onto the page. The band is still grieving, yet they have somehow managed not to let that get in the way when playing ‘live’. Judging by the Norwich UEA set they played, Black Tusk are well worth checking out if you haven’t seen them before. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new album.

MJx

Go get some Black Tusk: Black Tusk Official Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

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INTERVIEW (audio): Blackberry Smoke’s Brit Turner

‘Leave A Scar – Live’ a double album and DVD released this year, gave us a taste of what can be expected at a Blackberry Smoke gig. Their recent UK tour, saw them sell out venues with a greater capacity on those they’ve played before. With the backing of UK based record label that has on its roster the likes of Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement, the music media’s undiminished appetite and the band’s down-to-earth appeal with fans, things are heading in the right direction for the band.

I see many parallels between Blackberry Smoke’s continuing rise and that of Southern Rock bands such as Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet had when they came over to these shores in the late Seventies and early Eighties on the back of some terrific albums, plying their trade the length and breadth of the UK to the delight of rock fans.

Brit Turner BBSWith Blackberry Smoke, there seems a renewed interest for a southern-rock band that has also drawn upon life’s experiences when penning songs, making them easy to engage and connect with; looking forward to Blackberry Smoke’s new studio album.

We sat down with Blackberry Smoke’s drummer, Brit Turner, and heard what all of this has meant to the band. It’s evidently clear, when you listen to what Brit has to say, that this tour has cemented the relationship the band has with us Brits (no pun intended).

Have a listen:

blackberry-smoke-newBlackberry Smoke links:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Thanks for listening!

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INTERVIEW (audio): Andrew Hunt of Buffalo Summer on the Pasty Smash!

treatmentFor those of us who have been to see The Treatment on their ‘Second Bite’ tour, you would have also seen the two support bands, Buffalo Summer and Massive, fill the venues with their own unique brand of rock.

buffalosummer1Buffalo Summer, who have not long been out of the recording studio (their second album is down and waiting to be mixed), have been hard at it since I last saw them on the Lords Of The Riff tour. Tours and support for Skid Row and Buckcherry have been amongst the highlights for the band in 2014.

We caught up with Andrew Hunt (Lead Vocal) at The Waterfront Studio in Norwich to discuss what the band’s been up to, how the current tour has been going with The Treatment and Aussie rockers Massive.

 

pasty smashOf course, we had to ask Andrew about the #PastySmash! The Facebook video can be viewed here.

Listen to the interview here:

 

Buffalo Summer links: Facebook, Twitter, Buffalo Summer Official Website.

Thanks for listening!

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