Sunday, July 27, 2014

Funeral Horse Interview

RWTD: I'm here with Funeral Horse!   Let's start by just having each of you guys introduce yourself, talk about what your favorite type of movie is, your favorite way to get fucked-up, just whatever comes to mind.

Paul: My name is Paul Bearer, and my favorite movie would be Seven Samurai.   And I get fucked up by getting into arguments with women with big tits.

Jason: My name is Jason Argonaut.  My favorite movie happens to be anything with George Romero.  I'm a zombie fan.  Older stuff is better.   I have been known to take just a little bit more vodka than I normally should have, and, you know, I try to keep it at a certain limit, but there have been times where I've gone over it. Quite a bit. [laughs]

Chris: My name is Chris Larmour.  My favorite movie is either North By Northwest or Cannibal Holocaust.

Paul: I love that!  With the dead turtle?

Chris: Yeah.  It's so fuckin' weird.  But I love North By Northwest because it's just an amazing story, of a normal person put into extraordinary circumstances and then just fucking killing it.  It's just amazing.   The auction scene?   One of my favorite scenes ever, in any movie.   My favorite way to get fucked-up is tap water.

RWTD: Alright.  Well, on the flyer you guys sent me, along with the record, it said that you just happened to sort of know each other.   Can you guys go into more detail on how you all got together?  Have you known each other for a while?

Jason: I initially put an ad out in Craig's List, and the first drummer, Kevin...  No longer with us, obviously.

Chris: He's since passed away.

Jason: Yes.   He died on someone else's vomit. [laughs]   Anyway, so, he responded to the ad [points at Chris], we started jamming out, and then OK, you know, let's find a guitar player, singer, and we had another guy prior to Paul.   You know, he was alright, but Paul responded, and he came out, and at first we were a bit taken aback, because he kind of didn't fit the look of the stoner guy.  'Cause that's what we're trying to go for, you know, stoner metal.  But, I mean, as soon as he plugged in and started playing, we're like, “Whoa, this guy's amazing.”  That's pretty much it.   We came up with a few songs and we did our first show at a skate-park...

Paul: Ballistic Skate Park?

Chris: Oh yeah, the skate park, yeah.

Jason: That's in Houston.

Paul: I kept making roller-skating jokes.

Jason: And it just, ever since that, people've just been fans, 'cause we have a very unique sound that's hard to classify.

RWTD: Yeah, I was thinking that.  It's like, you've got some doom to your sound, there's some thrash in there...

Jason: We've been called, what, 'doom punk'? [laughs]  But that's pretty much how it started, and we write the songs collectively.

RWTD: I was going to ask, what's the song-writing process like?

Jason:  Someone will come up with a riff, normally it's Paul, he'll come up with a riff, and then 'Hey, do you guys like this?'.  So it's very democratic.  It's not like, 'It's gonna be like this,' it's very democratic.  But that's why we work so well.

RWTD: You guys want to talk about some bands that you listened to growing up?  Anyone you'd say influences the sound of the band?

Chris: Probably one of my biggest influences is Fugazi.   I love Fugazi.  I was also kind of into a little bit of early punk.  But I was also very much into... I have a lot of eclectic musical influences.

Paul: You love Karen Carpenter!

Chris: I do.  Karen Carpenter is actually one of my drumming influences because she is an amazing drummer.   If you ever go on Youtube, check out “Karen Carpenter drum solos”.   She's fucking ridiculous, I mean, she'll pretty much put almost any metal drummer to shame.  It's amazing.  Her drumming...

Paul: You know what?  She could not make a sandwich to save her life.

Chris: I mean, you can't have it all. [Paul laughs]  But also, one of my other drumming influences is actually Mel Brooks, the director of comedies like Young Frankenstein.   He was a student of Buddy Rich, and if you ever get a chance to see him play drums, like he's seriously 90 years old, he will rock the shit out of a trap kit like no other, because he's one of these old-school cats that can just really nail it, really nail it down.  And then, uh, Animal from the fucking Muppets, because he could pretty much use telekinesis to play drums, because he didn't even really, he was like... the sticks are all over the place, and they're not even really hitting the right drum and it seems to work all the time.

Paul: He has that persona of drumming.

Chris: Oh yeah, I think he just plays with rage.  He uses rage to make the sticks do the sound he wants.   I think he's just screaming into the drums, and it hits the right frequency, and they resonate just right.  “DRUM ROLL, DRUM ROLL!”

Paul: OK, now I have the magic stick. (ed. note: microphone)

Chris: You have the conch.

Paul: I have the talking stick!

Chris: We're gonna kill you and use your glasses to survive.

Paul: OK, that's fine, I don't care, 'cause I'll be dead.  What do I say now?

Chris: Uh, musical influences.

Paul: Oh.  Uh, KISS.   You know, '70s, '80s, you know, KISS, big guys, make-up, and mythical creatures.

RWTD: Oh yeah, I was noticing you guys spit up blood...

Paul: Huh? Yeah, we spit blood...

Chris: Do we?

Paul: Yeah, remember?

RWTD: Maybe I just imagined it.

Paul: No, no.

Chris: It's the thing we gave him earlier!

Jason: Oh, OK. 'Cause I was gonna say, I do spit a lot in our sets.

Paul: You throw up occasionally!

Jason: I do throw up occasionally, too, not really on purpose, but it's the, eh...

Paul: Yeah, but you wait 'til the end of the set before you throw up.

Jason: I really try to wait 'til the end.

RWTD: Taking some influence from Bongzilla?

Jason: Yeah, a little bit.

Paul: Yeah, lunch is usually better the second time around anyway.

Jason: Uh, true.  Yeah, sometimes.   Depending on what it is.

RWTD: In smoothie form.

Chris: Dr. Pepper is actually kind of still tasty, when you vomit it.

Paul: [Groans and laughs] Oooookay.

Chris: I discovered that as a child, it was very weird.  I remember just puking Dr. Pepper and being like, “This is really not that bAAAAA-!” [everybody laughs]

Paul: Alright, haha.   So, um...  KISS, uh...  Into Thin Lizzy, really admire their guitar-work.  But then, more recently, Matt Pike.   I mean, I can't deny that.  Just the brutality of the way he constructs his riffs and his solos.  And the god himself, Iommi.

RWTD: Gotta pay tribute.

Paul: Yeah.  His solos are just amazing, and... those riffs.  It just pulls everything together, and it's wonderful to listen to.   Mr. Argonaut?

Jason: Mine is Sabbath, you know, for Geezer.   I'm a huge Geezer fan.  Metallica, the early years, with Cliff Burton.   And Jaco Pastorius...  You know, I like a lot of jazz.

Paul: You have a Jaco bass, right?

Jason: I have a Jaco bass.  I like it very diverse, anything from Joplin to Cannibal Corpse.  Things I really can't pin-point, but there's certain...  Like I said, Geezer Butler, Cliff Burton, you know, those two primary.  And then Al Cisneros.  Those three, I kind of base my structure around.

Paul: Your bass?

Jason: Yes.

Paul: Based around those bass players.

Jason: Yeah. [chuckles]

RWTD: So, pretty extensive King In Yellow reference in the liner notes of the most recent album.  Whose idea was that?

Chris: [laughing] Oh, that's me.

RWTD: Robert Chambers fan?

Paul: Good catch!

RWTD: Well, I mean, Carcossa, it's all over that.

Chris: I honestly just heard about Carcossa, like in the last couple of years, and I just find it fascinating.

RWTD: Have you seen the Yellow Sign?

Chris: No, I haven't.

RWTD: Well, that's probably a good thing.

Chris: Oh, OK.  I'm a bit of a writer, and we needed space to fill up... [laughs]

RWTD: So, the KISS cover, is that upcoming?

Paul: Yes!  Yes, thank you.

Jason: So, Artificial Head Records, who released our vinyl for our latest album, they also will be having a compilation coming out at the beginning of September, of all these other Houston-area bands doing covers of KISS songs, and our song is called “Almost Human”, which is from the Love Gun album.

RWTD: Gotta admit, I'm not too up on KISS.  I mean, I know a few songs, but not a lot.

Paul: You know what, you're not alone!   Neither was this guy! [points at Chris]

Chris: Yeah, well, actually, when we recorded the song, I didn't even know what KISS song it was, I'd never heard it before.  Paul just pretty much said, “Don't worry about it! It's KISS, it's super-easy, just play the song.”   You know, in the studio, and I was just like “What do you want?”

Paul: We listened to it once, at rehearsal, over the phone.

Chris: That was terrible.  And I was like, “This is the song you wanna do?”

RWTD: So do you guys do a version where you just shred it to pieces, or is it kind of faithful?

Paul: It's pretty close, actually.

Chris: It's definitely Funeral Horse doing it.

Paul: It's more Funeral Horse style, but the song isn't that hard.

Jason: It's really not.

Paul: It's the latter part of the classic era, so they were kind of just busy cranking out these bubble-gum hits.

RWTD: Gotta fill those arenas.

Paul: Yeah.  Ace was playing cards, being like, 'I don't give a shit,' I mean, he wasn't caring.  So it's not that hard to play.  You know, we recorded our album, and the producer was like “Do you guys just wanna knock out that KISS song? We've got plenty of time. You've already got everything else done.”  And we're like, “Well... OK.” And I look at him, and I look at him, and we're like “Let's just try it.”   So, he was quiet [points at Jason], so he sat there and was like, “Oh, okay, so let's just try it.”  We went through it once, nailed it, and then [Chris] went back and listened to it, and the next day, he recorded his drum track, and then we recorded the bass track over the top of that.  Then we recorded vocals on top of that.

Paul: Kinda got it done beautifully.   So yeah, we're very happy with it.

Chris: And honestly, I thought it was like one of the best tracks that we ever did during that session, was this ridiculous KISS cover that I'd never heard before.  I was flabbergasted that it just turned out amazing.  I was like, “This is fucking weird.”

Paul: And you weren't under the influence of anything.

Chris: Oh, I was super-high, what are you talking about? [laughter]   I was so baked for that entire recording session.   I'm not gonna do that again, that was a bad idea.

RWTD: So theoretically, assuming licensing fees were a thing that didn't exist, are there any bands or particular songs that you'd want to cover in the future?

Paul: Ooh-hoo!  You guys go first, though. [laughter]

Jason: We are currently working on a Flipper cover.

Chris: What?

Paul: We did it that day you threw out your back.

Chris: Ohhhhh.

Paul: Way of the world.

Jason: So we're trying to do Flipper...  What'd we do the other day, we did “Come Together”, by the Beatles?

RWTD: Damn, I wanna hear that.

Paul: That was loud.

Jason: It was loud, and it...  That just fell together, it was amazing.

RWTD: Ever heard Type O Negative's “Day Tripper” medley?

Paul: Nooo?! [Jason laughs]

Jason: Ah, what else...  “Mob Rules”.

Paul: Yeah, we did “Mob Rules” the other day.

Jason: I think that's pretty much it.

Paul: We're gonna try to do maybe a Samhain cover.   But then we started doing these other things, and we're trying to write new material at the same time.

RWTD: So, those are mostly gonna be stuff that you pull out at live shows, just to surprise the audience?

Jason: Pretty much, yeah.

Paul: Like, tonight we did “Angel”.

Chris: Tonight we did “Angel”, by Massive Attack.  The other ones we were talking about were “Venus In Furs”, by Velvet Underground.  I also, uh, I haven't brought this up in a while, but I still kind of want to do “Tales of Brave Ulysses” by Cream.   Because that is an awesome song, and I think we could knock that out of the park.  And then, oh, that Doors song that you like. [nods to Jason]

Jason: Oh, uh, “Not To Touch The Earth”.

Chris: “Not To Touch The Earth”. That would be awesome too.

Paul: The 'Lizard King' here. [nods to Jason]

Chris: And Paul and I both play keys and organs, stuff like that, so we'd be able to definitely do that.

Paul: I play a different kind of organ than you.

Chris: I play the meat organ.

Paul: Ohh my god!

Chris: Ba-da-tss.

RWTD: So how did Artificial Head get in touch with you guys?

Paul: That would be through me.

Chris: Paul is Artificial Head, for the most part. Paul, pretty much, it's his label.

RWTD: You just called yourself up on the phone one day...

Paul: Yeah, like “Why is my line busy?! This sucks!” [laughter]

Chris: “This guy's always fucking busy! Fuck Artificial Head!”  Nah, it's Paul's label, Paul started it, and it's all him.  He's knocking it out of the park, he's doing a really good job running an independent label, and it's pretty much just him, you know?   He's got one assistant that I know of, and that's pretty much it.   He does everything all on his own, you know, and it's pretty amazing.  It's like Dischord, the origins of Dischord Records, which is probably one of the most famous independent labels ever.

Paul: And Atlantic!

Chris: Was Atlantic independent at one point?

Paul: Yeah!

Chris: Shut up, I hate you.

RWTD: So are you guys looking to sign any new bands, or do you have your hands pretty much full at this point?

Paul: We've got the KISS compilation...  You know, I'm kind of slowly scouting other bands.  There's a group from England called Terminal Cheesecake, I've been talking to them.   They're from the '90s, really psychedelic, heavy, heavy into drugs, heavy, noisy...  They were really big, they were on Earache at one point, Pathological, they were all over the place.  Very interesting guys, they just got back together, they're still kind of feeling out their reunion right now.   And I've been talking to Greg Scott, who was the artist for Blue Öyster Cult, back in the '70s. He did Fire Of Unknown Origin, Extraterrestrial Live, and the one after that [The Revölution By Night], with the black and pink cover.  Before Club Ninja, which has an atrocious cover.  But he did three of their covers.  Then he stopped doing artwork for a while, now he's back into doing artwork.  So I contacted him and Terminal Cheesecake, and Artificial Head...  I like to pair really good bands with really well-known artists.  'Cause this is a labor of love.  So there's a band we had on the label a while ago called Art Institute, was a new-wave post-punk band, we had Raymond Pettibon do that artwork.  Jody Seabody and the Whirls, that's a 7” that's coming out soon on the label.  I've got Jeffrey Lamm, who's really famous in Japan, he does comic-book art.  Ray Ahn, from the Hard-Ons, he's doing the cover for the Hell City Kings that we're releasing.   And then we had a well-known Houston tattoo artist, Amanda Bell, do the cover [for our latest album], and Shepard Hall did the back cover.

Chris: Dude, tattoo artists are where to go now, they're some of the best artists around, hands down.

Paul: So, I mean, that's the whole idea.   So the Terminal Cheesecake record will hopefully have Greg Scott on it.  Greg Scott's not gonna be cheap, but to have the artist who did Blue Öyster Cult's covers...

Jason: It's awesome.  It's a selling-point, and it's amazing.

Paul: That's the whole goal, is to put the two together.   Great artwork and great music, together.

RWTD: So, as I understand it, you guys took separate cars for this tour, but as you head to California soon, you're gonna be all in one van.   How's that driving situation going to work out, how do the shifts rotate, and who gets to pick the music that you listen to on the drive? [laughter]

Chris: Normally, I guess it's whoever's driving gets to pick the music.  Unless it's Firesign Theatre, in which case we just listen to Firesign Theatre forever on rotate.

RWTD: Favorite album?

Chris: Oh, I don't have one, I don't really know it that well.  I heard about it when I was in high school, and then fucking Paul busted it out one day, and I was like, “God, this is ridiculous, this is so funny.”

Paul: Yeah, we have a best-of compilation on the player.   “Nick Danger”, that one's really good, and then what was the one with...

RWTD: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once...

Paul: How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All.

RWTD: One of the best covers they've got, I think, with the posters of Lenin and Marx, except it's John Lennon and Groucho Marx.

Paul: Yeah.  Clever, clever, clever people.   I admire the shit out of them.   Listening to stuff like that really makes the time go by.

RWTD: I've also got to ask, where'd the name Funeral Horse come from?

Jason: Oh, that's Paul.

Paul: Yeah, so I was casually watching the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.  I had it on the TV, just kind of casually, it's on, and I heard the announcer say “Oh, they're now preparing the funeral horse...”  I love that name!  But what is that?!   And it's the horses that pull the carriage that the casket's in.  And it was before the band had started, so I just wrote it down one day, like 'That would be a great song name.'  And I just kept it there, and then I responded to Jason's ad about a band, and I don't know what name you guys had at the time, but it was Japanese, I think.

RWTD: Do you recall?

Jason: Oh, god, what was it...   It was 'dead' in Japanese.

Paul: I think he said it, I was like 'Yeah, that's OK.'   I have a thing against American bands using Japanese names.  Just because you really don't know what you're saying, unless you're fluent in Japanese.  Those Japanese tattoos, do you really know what that says?   So I proposed Funeral Horse, and they're like 'Oh, OK, I like it, it's a heavy name.'  And that's where it came from.

Chris: What are the other names we were holding onto?  There was Snotfaucet.

Paul: Oh yeah, later on we came up with Snotfaucet, 'cause you had a runny nose.

Chris: I think I was sick, it was just... [laughs]  I think I said it one night, 'My nose is like a faucet... Snotfaucet!'

RWTD: Almost sounds like a Garbage Pail Kids tribute band.

Chris: Yeah, pretty much.  We were playing some fucking awful bro metal bar, and no one gave a shit about anything we were doing, and my nose was just running like crazy.   It was such a bad show, 'cause like every other band sounded like fuckin' Hoobastank.  All the bands sounded like Puddle of Mudd and shit like that, these whiny fuckin' piece-of-shit entitled mother-fuckers.

Paul: You know, that's part of our problem.  We're the metal band at punk shows, and we're the punk band at metal shows, you know what I mean?  It's hard for us to figure out where to fit in locally.

Jason: So we're just gonna play folk venues.

Paul: Puppet shows, children's theaters...

Jason: Yeah, children's theatre for the most part.  Elderly homes is another place we really like to play.   Prison garages.

Paul: When we hit the road, it's a different story.  We tend to find our niche everywhere we go outside of Houston.   But in Houston, it's not tough for us to get gigs, it's tough for us to get into the gigs we think we fit better.  It's like 'Oh you guys are too metal for us!' and then we show up and they're like 'Aw yeah they're great!'.  But it's a good scene after that.  So we end up getting stuck with a lot of bro metal bands.   A lot of bro metal bands.

Chris: Especially in Houston, because they're like 'Oh, well you're obviously metal, you'll fit right in with these guys.'

Paul: We get put in at venues where they're focusing on, like, Dimebag Darrell.  We played a Dimebag Darrell tribute show.  We were like, 'Why are we here?! I don't know shit about Dimebag, except I know I can't play halfway as good as the guy.'  We were just obviously the left-field band.

RWTD: I was kind of thinking, doom, punk, kind of lends itself more to the sludge scene, which, as far as I recognize, isn't too big in Texas, everybody's leaning more towards desert rock, maybe.

Paul: Here's the funny thing, we're gonna be going through that area on our August tour, we got in touch with the guy from Tee Pee Records, so he's trying to set us up with something in southern California.   Just didn't work out because of the dates, the days that we were going through southern California.  But somebody involved in all that, they're trying to help us out, and they've got our records over there, so we'll see what happens.

Jason: We will be playing San Jose, which is the home of Sleep, so that's gonna be cool.

RWTD: You guys think you'll play a segment from Dopesmoker, anything like that?  Just a little chunk of it?

Paul: We're not worthy.  We're not worthy, man.

Jason: We will be playing in my home-town, San Bernardino, California.

Chris: I grew up in California as well, I'm from San Luis Obispo.

RWTD: And you guys just sort of found yourselves in Houston?

Chris: My story's a bit complicated, how I wound up in Texas.  Nothing to do with rock.

RWTD: Is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans, or to the people who fucked up and failed to come to your shows?

Jason: I mean to get you!

Chris: Honestly, I have a bit of a serious thing I'd like to say.   We have a lot of fans from the Netherlands, and there was the [Malaysian Airlines] plane tragedy that happened, about half of the people on the plane were from the Netherlands, and on behalf of Funeral Horse, I would just like to say that we're thinking of them, and it's terrible what happened.  We're actually going to be going to the Netherlands next year, and it's terrible that something like that happened.   So I'd just like to say that, to end on a bit of a serious note for myself.

Paul: We really appreciate the opportunity, we like hitting the road...  We're just very happy with everything so far, and we're looking forward to bigger and better things, I guess.

Jason: I'd like to say one more thing.   I guess that the momentous part of this whole Funeral Horse thing, what really blew my mind, is there's a concert venue in Houston called Fitz, Fitzgerald's, and I've been there many times as a spectator.  I remember the first time we played there, I was taken aback because I was standing on the same stage that Red Fang played on, Mastodon, so that was like a mile-stone for me.   It was like, I couldn't believe this was happening.  So, this whole Funeral Horse thing itself, it's amazing how everyone loves us, they love our sound, they love our energy.  But that's the mile-stone for me, actually.  Going to Europe, that's cool, but to stand on the same stage that some of the people that I look up to in music...  It was amazing.  It was really amazing.

Funeral Horse plays a hell of a show, so do not miss these guys.  Run, steal a bus if you have to, but don't miss them if they're playing a show anywhere near you.  Copies of their latest album, Sinister Rites Of The Master, are still available through their BandCamp page, so if you don't have one already, snag it now!

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