November 2001 - BOTTOM
BOTTOM is an awesome powertrio and with their second album "Feels So Good When You're Gone", released in May 2001 they proved us why. So I had taken the opportunity to make this interview with Sina ( g , v ) and Clem ( d ). We talked about the cancelled European tour, the new album, machos and chick bands and more, so it's up to you to check out this interview.
For those who don't know, the band has been cancelled the first European tour in 2001 after the terror attack against the USA. In "Stonerrock.com" I've read that one member of BOTTOM misses a good friend, who was in the WTC during the attack. I really hope that it isn't true. So I think, that in the moment the circumstances aren't easy for the band. Maybe some readers know, that BOTTOM is a NYC-based band, so you are more involved than other people. Please, what's going on now in and around the band?
SINA: Very much like any other New Yorker or American, I'd suppose, I find myself looking for strength, hope and grace during this time of social distress and bereavement. The tragedies of 9/11 most certainly cleared the tabletop of my priorities. What's left standing for me, personally, is family, friends and riffs.
CLEMENTINE: Cancelling the tour was heartbreaking. The fact that we may be on the verge of world war is heartbreaking. Somehow we just try to find meaning in the things we do, the way we affect the world. I guess that's all there is to do. The world situation has certainly affected our music plans for the moment. Like everyone, we just wait and see and make plans that we pray come to pass.
Are you in contact with other bands like Slow Horse or Borgo Pass, which are living in New York too? Is there some kind of solidarity between the bands after this shocking event?
SINA: At present, we are again enjoying a 'personal life' that went neglected over the course. Clem and I are actually in SF and Nila in Texas. NYC is my 'hometown', so I'm in close touch with my nyc 'family', especially the crews of Roarfiend and Kung Pao.
CLEMENTINE: At the moment we're all finding comfort in the close friends, musical or not, that we've made along the way. It makes me so happy when I hear that my friends' bands are out there playing, moving forward. It gives me hope.
It isn't really easy to switch over to a normal interview, but here we go. I like to start with one of the typical, but interesting questions about the bands history. Have you played with Sina and Nila before BOTTOM and what was the intention for playing together? When did you started the band?
CLEMENTINE: Sina and I played together for about 8 months before we grabbed Nila. Our first show was five years ago this month. We all love heavy music, pure and simple. The chemistry is undeniable and it feels like fate that we find each other.
It seems as if you were a real hard-working band. You've quit your daily jobs, done a lot of touring in the USA and you lived in your van during that period. Do you still live on the road or was it more like an experience for the band?
SINA: Playing as much as you can is what it's all about. Living on the road was more of a lifestyle choice than an experience for experience sake. BOTTOM decided to live in the van because that's what we had to do in order to play all the time. Playing every night, day after day, made BOTTOM tighter than a baby's bum. I suggest it for every musician.
CLEMENTINE: It was an amazing year, living in the van. But it definitely tweaked our heads pretty good. Now we're trying to figure out how to live stationary and continue on.
How much does the music and the band means to you?
SINA: Like I said, I have three things in this world, friends, family and RIFFS. BOTTOM is the deluxe combo.
CLEMENTINE: The band is what we have all defined ourselves by for the past 5 years. This isn't necessarily the healthiest thing ! We're working on becoming more three-dimensional people now, and I think that that is just going to make us stonger. I know I sacrificed nearly everything possible for the sake of this band. I guess that means it's pretty dear to me.
Let's talk about your last album "Feels So Good . . ." on Mans Ruin Records. It's sad, that the has been given up, because of financial problems I think. This must be disappointing for the band after the release of your second album on a label with a bigger distribution worldwide. What do you think about the whole situation ? Have you found a new label?
SINA: Rule 2080: the record industry is shaaaaaaky ! The falling of Mans Ruin is a major bummer. Frank and crew worked really hard to get some terrific music out to ears that would listen. What made the label great was Kozik's understanding that art is most powerful in its truest form, un-grabbled or watered-down by the hands of 'industry types'. Rule 3080: is that the record industry is shaaaaaady ! BOTTOM's new home will be on 'our' terms. That's all we're saying, we'd never let the cat out of the bag before its time.
One thing, that I really like about the new album is the musical variety and it's not easy to describe your music very well. It shows once more, that terms like "stonerrock" aren't a very good description for BOTTOM. Do you feel part of any scene or community ?
SINA: I love BOTTOM's connection with the STONERROCK posse. Some damn good folks. I love stoners, metal-heads, industrial-freaks, punks, dirts, farmers, video geeks, golfers, sailors, city slickers, and desert folk, too. I'm just happy to be alive and lucky enough to know all sort of creatures. I don't discriminate nor identify with anyone in particular, though if they BBQ, they obviously rank higher in the caste system.
CLEMENTINE: The stonerrock scene took us under their wing and gave us a family we treasure. They always knew we weren't quite stonerrock, but it didn't matter, we all have the same influences, the same love of music, the same love of a wall of sound and a beautiful bong hit and a sunny afternoon. People call us all kinds of things (some of them not very printable !) but I hope more than anything they call us Musicians, and decent ones at that.
Aside of a few 70's Heavy rock influences, some songs are aggressive, brutal and raw, not very melodic. They remind me (especially the song 'Meatbuzz') to some kind of Industrial or Hardcore music. But there is more in your music. Although your sound is mostly very hard, there's enough space for melancholic melodies. What is your point of view and how is the songwriting process within the band ? Is it important for BOTTOM to capture a characteristic sound ?
SINA: Our influences are wide. Growing up in the heart of Chicago, Ministry and other Wax Tracks stuff flowed like blood in my veins. Trying to discourage a G'n'R phase, my brother dished me a main course of the classics and songwriters like Dylan and Reed. I discovered stuff like MonsterMagnet, Sleep, Neurosis, Barkmarket, even Helmet through friends in NYC. And of course, the road has turned me on to all kinds of good stuff. Clem and Nila have great influences too. Our sound comes from a melting pot of it all.
CLEMENTINE: All three of us are very diverse people with ridiculously eclectic tastes. What this means is that we get in the studio to write and fight tooth and nail. But it seems to do us well in the end.
Was Billy Anderson (producer) a big help for you and are you satisfied with his work for the album ? How did you get together with him?
SINA: I F**king love BILLY! Be it Mr. Bungle, Buzzov*n, Neurosis, Sleep, Brutal Truth, all his productions are thick, dark and ill. Billy came to see us at a show in SF and Kirk from Buzzov*n introduced us. It's been a rock 'n' roll fairytale ever since. I love the way our record turned out so much, sometimes I put it on just to get all charged up !
Sadly, I haven't had the chance to get a copy of your debut album 'Made In Voyage', that was released back in 1999 but I've read some positive reviews about it. What is the difference between both albums and how would you compare them ? Where can people get a copy of 'Made In Voyage' ?
CLEMENTINE: The first record was recorded in the process of the first year and a half that we were playing together. We were finding our voice, finding what we wanted to be. It sounds innocent to me now. But there are still some good rockers on it. This new record is much more cohesive, much harder, much more polished and BIG. Playing live every day for 11 months will do that to a band. As far as where you can aquire our records, right now you just have to email us for them. We're in the process of setting up distribution, probably will happen early next year.
The music buisness is a male-dominated genre. In the next question I will go more into details but at first; is it easier for you as a female band or do you have to struggle against sexism and macho-behaviour when you play live etc. ?
SINA: It's a boys' playground, for sure. We've managed to climb a top of the jungle gym and we're hollerin'n'havin' a hoot of a time ! Like any good King of the Mountain game, bullies try to knock you down. Course they'll have to get past my axe first.
CLEMENTINE: Some things are easier, some things are harder. It's easier to get gigs. If we wanted to go the chick band route,we'd probably be a lot more financially stable ! But maybe unfortunately, we all have high standards. We want to rock hard enough that people close their eyes and forget if we're male or female. We want the music to take over and eliminate the bullshit. It helps that we all play so hard too. If we get that macho attitude before the show, we certainly don't get it after.
I'm always curious when some music magazines push the fact that BOTTOM are an all-female band. In the end, it isn't important if you're a woman or a man, black or white etc. when it comes to Rock 'n' Roll. Do you think, that a female Rock band has the same status like a male band?
BOTTOM: Chick bands suck.
CLEMENTINE: And therefore they don't have the same status. If they would work on becoming good musicians instead what dorky outfit they're wearing they'd be taken a lot more seriously. But that goes for guy bands too. Screw the posing and the political correctness and the image consciousness. Just rock your ass off and I'll listen.
Let's talk about the future. Have you written new songs and are there any plany for the release of a third album?
SINA: Being in one place rules for songwriting. My amp, 4-track and thePaul are next to my bed, so I riff-out every night. Current events, the Post-Tour roller coaster, boredom and dealing with real life again is great fodder. My lil' SONY pocket recorder and answering machine is busting over with new stuff. It's all very exciting.
CLEMENTINE: This break is going to be great for the writing, I can see it happening already. New ideas, new grooves, new directions come more easily. When you're a three-headed person you're much more short-sighted then when you're three people walking around learning, growing. I anticipate next year's record to be a great one.
Thanks a lot for the interview. I'll hope, that I see you soon here in Germany !!!
SINA: Thank you ! And me too !
CLEMENTINE: All the best Klaus ! Hoping to see you next year. . .