October 2000 - GREG ANDERSON
Greg Anderson is a restless man. He's running the excellent label Southern Lord Records, but was also the co-founder of Thorr's Hammer, Burning Witch, Sunn O))), and Goatsnake. Some of this band are still active, and his long-time friend Steve O'Malley is more than only a support at his side. So I asked Greg about the upcoming album from Goatsnake, the label and more.
Hello, Greg! There's a lot to talk about, so let's start with your musical past. You played guitar in Engine Kid, a more Hardcore-orientated band. How long did you play with Engine Kid?
Engine Kid to me wasn't a "hardcore-orientated" band. Although myself and the other members came from Hardcore-style bands. We were pushing beyond that. Our style to me was a combination of extreme silence and bombastic heaviness.
When did you discover your preference for heavy tunes?
Well, I have been always drawn to "heavy" sounds. Since I can remember it was always the darker, more primitive sounds that attracted me. From early Van Halen, AC/DC, Zeppelin, Sabbath. Till I got into "Metal" (Motörhead, Metallica, Venom), then I got really into Punk/Hardcore. But even then my favorite band was (and still is) the Melvins.
In 1994 you formed Thorr's Hammer together with Stephen O'Malley. Is the band still active today?
This band is a project. We are now discussing resurrecting it again for another album!
Are you interested in old Nordish culture and mystic?
Definitely, but to be honest...I don't really know a lot about it. But what I have learned/read is fascinating. It´s a piece of my heritage...so I feel a natural attraction to it.
In October 2000 the new full-length album 'Flowers Of Disease' from your actual band Goatsnake will be released on Man's Ruin and Rise Above. Why haven't you released it on SL, like the 'Dog Days' EP?
Man's Ruin and Rise Above are larger companies with somewhat better distribution. In a way its good to have it a bit seperated, so that I can concentrate on the actual playing rather than the buisness side. The 'Dog Days' EP was done on Southern Lord because it was much more "low-maintenance" in regards to the production. (ie...the songs were already done)
How would you describe the new album 'Flowers Of Disease'? Is it comparable with the older Goatsnake songs?
Put simply, more developed. The first album was written during our first year as a band. So the songs are a lot more basic. Our latest album reflects more time playing together and a overall matured band.
At first it looked like as if Goatsnake would come over to Europe in Autumn 2000, together with Spirit Caravan, but it won't happen. What was the reason for it and are there any future plans for a tour in 2001?
We have had a few problems within the band. Mostly due to outside commitments. We all have other things going on outside of the band that sometimes take precedence over touring. We're hoping to pull it all together and rock Europe early this year.
Let's talk about Sunn 0))), another band where you involved in. Very interesting stuff, that reminds me to Earth or other ambient/drone music. When was Sunn 0))) formed and what was the intention of it?
Sunn 0))) has been a ongoing project of Steve O'Malley and I's for about 5 years now. We started out as a Earth tribute band called: Mars. After we both re-located to Los Angeles, we started jamming again, changed the name and started playing live. Shortly thereafter we recorded the 'Grim Robe Demos' with Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch) on bass. Our intention has always been to create low-end drone soundscapes that physically shake the earth.
How does the band create these slow and thick stream of sound? Are the songs worked out, when you enter the studio or is it more like an improvisation?
Sunn amps enhance our sound, combined with super-low end tuning to enhance sub-frequencies. The soundscapes we create are part: complete improvisation and Earth homage.
Has the music from Sunn 0))) some kind of spiritual meaning for you?
Yeah, when listening or playing Sunn, I like to trance out and get as far away from reality as possible. Much like the effect I try to reach by ingesting drugs.
This year Sunn 0))) played in some European countries. How was the reaction of the audience to this low and massive sound? Any special prepermant before entering the stage?
The tour was amazing for us! Every show had its share of people who really got off on what we did, and a portion of people who did not understand what we were doing. The challenge for us was to play every show stone cold sober (since we were on early opening). But overall the soberness made it even weirder, which was good!
I think, that SL is a label with a real profile. The style of the cover artwork is similar and you focused your attention on very original Doom bands. Is there some kind of philosophy behind your work?
Our philosophy is to release quality, intense recordings by groups/artists who's work we believe in.
Who is responsible for the artwork? Is it only one artist or how does it work? Please, give us an insight into this process.
Steve O'Malley is instrumental in the creation of our graphics/look. I don't like to speak for Steve, but I believe that the music inspires his overall "vision" of how things should be presented visually.
What will be the upcoming releases from Southern Lord in 2001?
WARHORSE-'As Heaven Turns to Ash' will be out January. BORIS-'Absolut Tego' will be out during the first part of the year. CHURCH OF MISERY-'Master of Brutality' same as above and we are starting a series of 7" vinyl releases including: INTERNAL VOID/PAUL CHAIN split and SPIRITUAL BEGGARS/GRAND MAGUS split.
You've mentioned the new album from Japan's finest sons of Sabbath. I've heard some rumors about the new Church Of Misery album 'Master of Brutality', that it won't be released on SL. Is it true?
We have full intention of releasing that one early next year. There has been a slight delay with the artwork that is being done by Frank Kozik.
Do you work with the label on an independant level?
I'm not sure what your question means. But if you're asking if we are affiliated with a larger company, the answer is no. We have complete control of our buisness.
You start with a series of 7" releases in the future. The first one is a split-7" (Paul Chain/Internal Void).I think, it's a great idea to release more vinyl in the future. Is it possible for the label to release limited LP-editions from all CD's, like the 'Dog Days' EP?
We are trying to get more involved with vinyl. Besides the 'Dog Days' Goatsnake picture disc LP we have released the Mondo Generator-'Cocaine Rodeo' on vinyl. And besides our 7" series we are hoping to release everthing we do on vinyl at some point.
Can you make a living from the money you earn from the SL-sales?
Sort of, some months are better than others. I like to think we keep things at a smart,simple level that allows the label to be self-sustaining.
Ok, Greg, thanks a lot for the interview. I hope to see you soon on tour with one of your bands. Maybe any last words to the readers?
Thanks for your time and support of Southern Lord. In the words of the man: "If it ain't heavy, it ain't shit"!!!!!