Thou Interview


If there is one band that gives me hope...that gets me excited like back in the good ol' days, it's Thou. Infusing a sick doom sound with a true-to-the-roots DIY ethos, Thou has completely pummeled the doom scene back into shape with an insane release schedule and relentless touring. It's no wonder that every label on the planet wants a piece of these guys. When the shit goes down, it's the music, son....and this New Orleans killing machine has enough riffs to fill a million records. So put on your favorite Thou jam and read on.


Answers by Andy Gibbs (with assist from Bryan Funck).



HSJ: First up, tell me a bit about the formation of Thou. Were you guys in other bands at the time? Also, did Thou turn out to be exactly the band and sound that you originally envisioned?


THOU: With the exception of Bryan, we were all in one or more bands when Thou formed, though for me, none of those bands were really playing serious music that I believed to be representing me well. Thou was a chance to really delve into something new and exciting. Our sound at the inception of the band leaned more towards really heavy post-rock, mainly because we just hadn't figured out how to be as heavy as we wanted to be.



HSJ: So, you release the Tyrant LP, and immediately people were buzzing about it. Did you expect that kind of reaction, or even notice the buzz? And was there any point while recording Tyrant where you thought "Man, we've really got something here"?


THOU: We recorded Tyrant before Bryan joined the band, and we were essentially just sitting on it. We didn't have any contacts, and we didn't really know what to do with it. We played around town a lot and had built a decent following, but once he joined and added his vocals to the record, Bryan really pushed us to get our band out of the state. Don't get me wrong, we were definitely all proud of the Tyrant record, but the vocals really took it to the next level, I think.

I was definitely not expecting much of a buzz from the record or from the band in general. But I was very happy that people had taken notice of what we were doing.



HSJ: I really admire the fact that you guys have all your music for free download on your website. Was this decision supported by the entire band? On the surface it sounds a bit crazy to do, but it seems to have worked in your case, as people still really enjoy having the music on vinyl or cassette.

THOU: People will get the music for free off the internet anyway, so we might as well make it readily available along with the lyrics on our site. To me, vinyl and mp3 formats are not even in the same arena. There is just no substitute for having the real packaging and a tangible object in your hands, and I think a lot of people out there feel the same way.


But, yeah, we're all fine with the mp3s being available for free. If there's anything we disagree on it's having a myspace. But we've reached a compromise in that area by stripping ours down to just the music, the show list, and some general information about the band. Myspace and mp3s are really only capable of getting the music out on a very basic level. The people who want to experience the art we're creating in its entirety are the ones buying the records, coming out to our shows, becoming our friends.



HSJ: So Southern Lord repressed Tyrant, and Relapse and Robotic Empire are doing merch for you guys. I honestly can't remember a band having the attention of all those labels at once. Will you be calling any of these labels "home" or will you continue to release stuff on many different labels?


THOU: We'll hopefully be working with Southern Lord on the next few projects, although that's not set in stone. We still plan on working with other labels for various releases. And I'm sure plenty of other bands get offers from several labels at once. We were just crazy enough to take them ALL up on it!

As far as Relapse goes, everything we've done with them has basically been through Greg Drudy who runs Level Plane. He works for Relapse as well, and he's been pusing us from the start to let them release shirts for us. For a while, he was trying to get us to do a couple of the split LPs we have coming out and the repress of Peasant all on Relapse. We were going to try things out with the split 12" with Mohoram Atta, but our release sort of fell by the wayside when Relapse started focusing on their fall releases, so we ended up jumping ship and just doing that with some friends' labels. But we're always open to doing something else with the label, if it makes sense. Greg's been really supportive, and we appreciate him releasing the Peasant LP for us.


Just as important to us as the attention from some of these "bigger" labels is the chances we've gotten to work with labels like Gilead Media, Autopsy Kitchen, Woodsmoke, Feast of Tentacles, Rimbaud, Noxious Noize, and Vendetta. All of those guys have been great to us. We're also looking forward to the next batch of EPs we're finishing up this summer--giving us the chance to work with some other great labels like Robotic Empire, Halos of Flies, Hyperrealist, Blind Date, and Dead Earth. And we should also mention the insane triple cassette tape project we've been working on with Drugged Conscience and Peasant Magik. If you only knew what Chris Donaldson is going through to get that thing done! Or what we're going to be dealing with in a couple of weeks, haha.



HSJ: You guys have been incredibly prolific for such a new band. Two full-lengths and quite a few splits already. Do you feel like you'll be able to keep up this torrid pace? Also,have you had any time at all to reflect on the early success of the band?


THOU: Right now we're trying to slow down a bit to work on our next full-length and finish out the last few EPs we're committed to. We pushed ourselves pretty hard the past couple of years, and just finished up a huge batch of recordings that are all going to be released pretty soon, so a change of pace is certainly welcome. I usually don't mind the ridiculous work load, as long as we keep putting out quality material, but with touring and doing local shows--not to mention all the other projects we're each involved in and trying to keep a sane home life on top of all of that--it can get to be a bit much.

And it's always hard to balance the touring and work side of the band with the excitement of just creating something together and trying to push the boundaries of what we're doing, so we hope to sustain the drive and focus needed to accomplish that.

We're all just blown away by the responses we've been getting to the band. Hopefully, we can maintain that excitement for ourselves.



HSJ: I'd love to know what kind of gear you guys are using to get such a massive sound.

THOU: Matthew and I both use Peavey 5150s, and Mitch uses an Ampeg SVT bass amp with Sans Amp and Boss Bass Overdrive pedals. The only pedals Matthew and I use are delays. I play Epiphones: a Les Paul standard and a Les Paul Custom. I also have an old 70s Epiphone Scroll that my old roomate found on the side of the road. Matthew uses a Gibson Flying V and Mitch uses a Warwick bass. Usually we tune to some form of drop F#, though that seems to change with every release.


HSJ: There are so many bands these days just playing slower and slower, but your sound is so dynamic, without being deluded into postrock type sounds. It's refreshing to hear a band who realizes that catchy riffs can still be heavy... and that you can add just a bit of speed if you want.


THOU: We're working towards breaking down some of our own imposed boundaries between heavy music and non-heavy music. Obviously heaviness is a huge part of our sound, but it's my hope that we can bring in all sorts of elements to change up our usual regiment. I would consider us a "doom band" but I'm really interested in moving towards something beyond that while still maintaining the spirit of the band.

We've experimented with some classical and acoustic instruments on a few of the EPs. I think we'll end up digging into that a bit more on future releases. And we have a few ideas about incorporating a few other local musicians we're friends with into some of the recordings.



HSJ: It's no secret that New Orleans has had, and continues to have, an incredible history of underground music. There are so many different types of bands,and yet there's something about a band from NOLA. The sound, the feel, like always a sense of hopelessness and despair. Do you feel an intrinsic connection between your sound and your surroundings? And is the NOLA scene close and tight-knit these days? Seems like the older guys like Anselmo and Mike Williams still get out there and check out whats going on.


THOU: For starters, I should reiterate that four of us are from Baton Rouge and only Bryan is from New Orleans, though there's only an hour difference between the two.

Where a person comes from will always have some kind of effect on their music, but it's not like we sat down and said, "Okay, we're from the South so we need to play slow music." There's always been this myth that people from down here are just constantly entrenched in mud and have to wade through swamps and battle massive alligators to get to their jobs. And I'm here to say that all of that is absolutely true. I'm actually dripping muck onto the keyboard as I type this. A neutria rat is carving away at my leg muscles with it's sharp teeth. And the toxic Katrina mold is bringing me to a new state of consciousness.

The NOLA scene has its factions just like everywhere else, but the bigger guys like Eyehategod still play with more underground bands and are still down to play more DIY type of shows (if the price is right, of course). The EHG guys definitely come out to shows, and Phil Anselmo seems to get out there once in a while too.

Things have really shifted in the last couple of years with Louisiana bands getting a lot more support. Our pals in Haarp just signed on with Housecore to do their full length, and they're doing a few shows with the Melvins and Down. Raw Sugar is putting out a record for the Necro Hippies. Quintron recorded and released Tirefire's cassette on his Rhinestone Records. IFB helped put out the We Need to Talk 7". Plus, folks like Mars and Crackboxxx are hitting the road doing big US tours. It's just nice seeing people from here taking the projects to the next level. There have been so many great bands from Baton Rouge and New Orleans that never really made it out of the state and just died in obscurity--bands like Jude Fawley, Gathered Here, the Faeries, Hatchback, Rat in a Bucket. If those folks would've been able to hold on a little longer, they definitely would've turned a few heads.



HSJ: To call you guys road-dogs would almost be an understatement. I would imagine you already have a long list of stories, both amazing and terrible, to tell, about life in the van...


THOU: We're all pretty normal, laid back young gentleman, so our road stories are sort of tame, I guess. We've had some unique opportunities like playing two shows on top of mountains, which in one instance nearly resulted in us plummetting two miles to our deaths. We were supposed to play in a sewer in San Diego, but the show was raided by the cops after the second band.

The people we stay with often make for very depressingly awesome stories, like our first show in California where literally NO ONE showed up to the show. The guy who was supposed to do the show just kind of shrugged and said, "Yea, no one really comes to my shows usually... My friend is having a house party if you guys want to play beer pong and stuff, though..."

Just remember, everything you read about us on the internet is absolutely true, be it our status as ultra-serious rednecks or our status as complete assholes in the local scene.




HSJ: Favorite Sabbath song?


THOU: Oh man, I could give you a different answer every day. We played a Sabbath tribute show here in town, so we were all digging on the material we covered for a while (mainly Master of Reality stuff), but more recently I've rediscovered Vol. 4, so I guess for right now I've got to go with "Wheels of Confusion," though nearly every song on that album is so so killer.



HSJ: Tell us about the probably millions of records and shows you guys have planned for the rest of 2009 and beyond.


THOU: We just toured the United Kingdom and Ireland this past June. All the UK dates were with Moloch from Nottingham and the Ireland dates were with Altar of Plagues from Cork. It was a great time. We're hopefully going to do some southern dates in the spring with Altar when they tour the US with Velnias. And we'll be doing an entire west coast tour next June with Moloch. That should be a blast. We might try to do some smaller weekend tours before that, time permitting. We're really focused on finishing up writing for the next full length, Summit, which we'll be recording for in February. So only local shows until that's done. But we're talking about maybe doing a short SE thing, maybe something in Texas in March, possibly some northeast shows in April. And then we'll probably take May off to tighten up for the summer tour.

A few months back, Southern Lord released the repress of the Tyrant LP and Vendetta released a 12" EP of the four Black Sabbath songs we covered. Gilead Media just did an awesome repress of our split 7" with Black September. And Peasant Magik and Drugged Conscience have their copies of the triple cassette (we should have ours ready to go sometime in November).

On top of all that, we've got a ridiculous amount of new releases that are all about to come out. Before the new year we should have another 12" EP plus splits with Haarp, Leech, Salome, Mohoram Atta, Moloch, The City is the Tower, and the vinyl version of the Leech split. Soon after that, we'll have a split with Human Intruder and a four-way Louisiana DLP split with Haarp, The Devil and the Sea, and A Hanging. Hopefully, before summer we'll be done with the Pygmy Lush split. And we're planning on having Summit ready to go for the summer tour. There might be some more stuff too, depending on how much extra material we come up as we write Summit. But that'll have to be a surprise for later!

All this info plus all of our songs and lyrics are at http://noladiy.org/thou
There's a link to it from our myspace that no journalist seems to be able to find, for some mysterious reason.

Seek the Unnamed Path.

-Andy

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post but what about all the killer artwork they employ?

HSJ said...

Great point man...I definitely missed that one...damn... wanna do interviews for me? :)

Broadcloak said...

Very cool interview. Thanks for covering my favorite band.

HSJ said...

Thanx man....definitely an amazing band.