|I like the dark stuff better. I think that's a huge aspect of doom.|
|Spiritu are newcomers to the heavy music scene, rising like a demonic colossus over the arid landscape of New Mexico, USA. Combining heavy doses of riffing doom with stoner influences, they've created a majestic mix that stands proudly alongside MeteorCity labelmates such as Solace and Abdullah. Spiritu vocalist Jadd
recently took time out from his many nefarious activities to answer a few questions:|
Let's get to the information everyone wants upfront: How did Spiritu come together?
"Chav and I started the band back in May/June of 2000... I was fresh off this tour with Iron Man where I filled in for the singer who couldn't go, and I'd had such a fucking great time that I got home and was like, 'Whoah, I need to do that again as soon as possible,' and started looking around for some guys to start a band with. Chav was the friend of a MeteorCity customer who used to come by my place once in a while to buy piles of discs, so I got his number that way.... interestingly, Chav got turned onto the whole heavy riff-rock/doom/stoner thing via 'Welcome To MeteorCity', which he and his buddy found in a local record shop. I mean, he knew Kyuss, Clutch, etc., but W2MC was his big turning point. Anyhow, we searched around, put together enough guys to jam, which fell apart kinda quick except for Chav and me, then started again and that time we found the right ingredients: James came in during August, and John joined at the end of September. It was the first 'real' band for all of us except John. We layed our first show a month later (made John learn 8-9 songs in 30 days!) at a Halloween party, and it went over pretty well. Then, just this past March, James left the band, and in May we recruited Kenny, a friend of John's for over 10 years, who'd hung up his sticks a couple years ago but was itching to start playing again."
Jadd, what got you interested in playing music?
"I've always sung. Never for anyone, never with any big plans in mind, but I'd always belt it out in the car listening to Dickinson, Halford, Axl, Bon, Layne Staley, Chris Cornell, Dio, etc. etc. I never gave doing it for real much thought, but I was never not singing either. Between the end of high school all the way through 1999 or so, I'd jam with a buddy of mine, and for a little while we actually considered ourselves a band, meaning we practiced once a month and wrote our own songs. But we stunk, and it wasn't serious, just something to do once in a while. That 'band' finished in October of '99, but I found I kinda missed it, crummy though we'd been, and I gave singing for someone else a passing thought. I answered an ad looking for a singer the following January, tried out, didn't get it. But the Iron Man thing happened right afterward and it was like a switch was flipped, and I recognized, 'Holy crap, I may have actually figured out what I want to do in life'. And it only took till I was 25."
How does the songwriting process work with Spiritu?
"Work? Ha! Someone, usually Chav, comes up with a riff idea and we build off that. John has come up with tons of parts to go with other parts, sometimes Chav has a string of riffs that flow together, and sometimes I come up with parts. I don't play guitar, so I'm always coming up with riffs in my head and then needing to sing them... for a while I'd pick them out on the keyboard, sometimes I can sing them to Chav and John and they can figure out what I'm doing... anyhow, our songwriting is basically this huge struggle where we try to twist, tug, pull, and stretch whatever ideas we're working with till everyone digs them. It is simultaneously the most frustrating and rewarding thing about this band, 'cause I know in the end the songs will rule, but goddamn if getting there isn't a pain in the ass (smiles)"
Do you consider Spiritu a doom band? What does the term 'doom' mean to you?
"Wow, you have no idea how funny it is for you to have asked those two questions back to back. How do I answer this diplomatically? I like the sound of stuff that's dark. I don't know a fucking thing about music theory, so I don't know what key or chord combination or whatever results in some music that sounds happy, and some that sounds dark, but I do know I like the dark stuff better. I think that's a huge aspect of the doom thing. But so is tempo, and I like a range of speeds, from slow songs to fast songs. I just like dynamics, I wouldn't want to ever just play one tempo of tune one after another. So, I don't know, half the time Spiritu feels like a doom band to me, because the other guys don't care much for fast songs, and the other half it just feels like a rock band with a dark sound, like old Dio-era Rainbow or 'Burn'-era Deep Purple, and that to me is the ideal."
Tell us about the other members of Spiritu.
"Those morose motherfuckers? All right, say something nice... being in a band with them is awesome, truthfully. I can't tell you how much I love the combination of their different styles. We haven't come close yet to realizing our potential given the utterly dissimilar styles and schools of music listening and playing that everyone in this band has come from, but we're getting there. Chav is from Farmington, NM, a little town about 3 hours Northwest of Albuquerque, and taught himself to play guitar about 7 years ago. He's all about the heavy, he was into old-school thrash before he got into the heavy-groove thing, and also digs tons of old classic rock, y'know, Neil Young, Skynyrd, etc. John went to the Music Institute in CA, and so has pretty diverse musical background; he digs the heavy stuff too, obviously, but alot of his biggest influences are jazz and funk bassists like Jaco Pastorius. And our new drummer, Kenny, is a real devotee to alot of roots-prog, old Yes, Rush, the really old Journey stuff, etc. It's a weird mix, I guess, especially with me in there with my operatic-metal influences, but it yields something that doesn't feel like anything else out there, and that's exactly what we all want."
Are you a music collector? What bands can you recommend?
"Collector, as in, rare vinyl and stuff? I have a real collector's mentality, but I'm trying to give it up. I mean, I spent $100 on a copy of the first Kyuss album, 'Sons of Kyuss', about 5 years ago, and I doubt I'd do that again today. I've been a comic collector for most of my life, and am now trying to quit buying those too, just to not be a slave to it anymore. But I'm still a huge music fan, and am always looking for something new in any number of different genres. Plus I have my favorite bands that I keep up with no matter what. I mean, everyone and their mother is talking about the new Queens of The Stone Age, and I'm on that bandwagon, definitely. I listen to that record constantly. I just heard that Sixteen Horsepower has a new record out, and they're one of my all-time favorite bands, so I've gotta grab that. I got the new Wilco album last week, which is being called the record of the year and such in reviews all over the place... I don't know about that, but it's solid. Pretty spare, which I guess is synonymous with Wilco. I also want to get the new Medication album, that band with Logan Mader of Soulfly and Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe... say what you want about Ugly Kid Joe, but I dig Whit's voice. The Medication EP was pretty good, so the album'll be worth checking out. Deadboy & The Elephantmen, with Dax Riggs from Acid Bath, just got their debut CD done, and it's killer, definitely something for fans of Mark Lanegan's solo stuff. Mellow. I guess it's easy to notice a trend here, that there's not much stuff from the stoner-doom scene among my latest listenings... it's mainly because I'm not a fan of the style, so much as a fan of the *best of the style*. I love Gorilla. I love Grand Magus. I love that Pentagram early-stuff record that Relapse just put out. I love the new Sixty Watt. The new Half Man rocks. The new Abdullah, obviously, slays. But I don't listen to 80% of what comes out in the style, 'cause alot of it doesn't do much for me, and my musical tastes range all over the place, not just in the heavy groove scene."
Does New Mexico have any kind of a heavy music scene? Do any good shows come through?
"There's only a couple of decent clubs to play here for heavy stuff, so there are plenty of shows that skip us, but some decent bands do come through. We're opening for High on Fire in October, and Alabama Thunderpussy will be here a week later. I would not say there is a "scene" here... we play out, we have friends in like one other heavy rock band, and they play out less than we do... and there are plenty of local rock outfits that are just too full of themselves, so we want nothing to do with them. Basically, this is not the place to be if you're a heavy band who wants to get somewhere, and I don't think we'll stay here forever. "
Km: Some readers may not know that you, along with Aaron Emmel, run the MeteorCity record label. Can you give us a quick history on how all that came together?
"Aaron and I were fresh out of college, I'd had a job at Borders for 3 days, he got a job somewhere for like a week, and we both, said, "Holy Christ, this sucks. We better find something else to do RIGHT NOW." We fell into it. We were both Kyuss fans, Monster Magnet fans, and Fu Manchu fans, so we thought it'd be cool if we started a website selling rare and hard-to-find stuff from those bands. We came across the Kyuss record on Man's Ruin, and the Gamma Ray 7", and meanwhile scoured the web and local shops looking for more singles or 7"'s or whatever. Then the Roadsaw 7" that Kozik put out led me to their label in Boston, where we got a bunch of copies of their older stuff, other 7"'s, the $1,000,000, album, etc. And as we started getting orders, we realized that there were other bands that people who dug Kyuss, Fu, and Magnet would be into, bands we ourselves hadn't even heard of, but checked out and started buying for the website. We did this for a few months and then the idea to put out a compilation of this style of music came up, and it seemed like a great idea. We put the word out, and the number of submissions was pretty impressive, even back then. This was before there was any central location online for people to go to check out bands, reviews, etc. There was no StonerRock.com yet, no Roadburn, no StonerRockRules, etc. There was just us, and the two Kyuss fan websites that kept sending people our way. So this was the first time people started to become aware of what a widespread thing it was, all these bands into this fuzzy, groovy style of music, and developing all over the place from Jersey to Japan. That compilation ended up being "Welcome To MeteorCity", our own little homage to Kyuss' Sky Valley record, and it ruled. It's hard to imagine a time when no one knew who Natas, Goatsnake, Lowrider, The Atomic Bitchwax, Dozer, Sixty Watt Shaman, etc. were, but this was that time, and so of course the CD made a big impression really quick, and led right into our becoming a full-fledged label soon after. "
How do you and Aaron determine who signs with MeteorCity and who doesn't?
"It's funny, I made a statement sometime recently that we weren't gonna sign any more bands anytime soon, because we already have the best heavy rock bands in the scene on our label (Solace, Abdullah, The Mushroom River Band, Blind Dog, Eternal Elysium, etc.)... but about a month ago I realized, "wait, our contracts with half these bands are about to run out. Oops." So I guess we will be signing someone again at some point sooner than I'd thought. Really, though, there's no magic to it... if Aaron and I both hear something that we dig, and the band isn't signed yet, we'll look into it. It really needs to be mutual, because this label isn't a dictatorship, we make those kind of decisions 50/50."
Has Spiritu played out much yet? Any good gig stories?
"Our first show with our new drummer is next week, August 30th, our CD release party. All our friends will be there, I've got a friend of mine here all the way from England to see it, and it's the day after my birthday... so we'll do our best to make that one a good gig story! We've played out a fair bit though, we always try to get on cool bills when bands we dig are coming through town... like, we opened for Nebula, opened for Fu Manchu, opened for The Earthlings?, etc. Our best stories aren't glamorous, they're usually like, "wow, we actually had a decent sound guy and could all hear ourselves!" I have to say that my favorite live experience (even though the sound was utter shit) so far was the all-ages show with Fu, 'cause it never really struck home till then what a difference there is between 15-year old kids who just want to hear live music 'cause it's cool, versus the normal jaded bar crowd who'll maybe listen to half of one of your songs before they head back to the bar. So, yeah, the Fu show ruled, we had all these kids asking us for autographs, and telling us we sound like Godsmack, which to them was a compliment; and if you figure that Godsmack just rips off Alice In Chains, it's a compliment to me too, since AIC is one of my all-time fave bands. "
I know you've got a slot at the upcoming SHOD 4 fest in Phoenix. Are there any plans for a tour?
"No real tour plans yet, but I hope to God we can get out and do something next Summer. We shall see. We'll definitely have another record next year, so with luck we'll be able to get out and support that a bit."
I thought the sound you got with Jack Endino on your new album was superb. Is there anything you might change for the next album?
"Well, in September we're actually going in to lay down one tune with a guy locally, I don't know his name, but I guess he recorded a bunch of Foghat's stuff back in the 70's... fucking Foghat!!! So, if that tune turns out good, we'll probably do the entire record with him here, the biggest advantage being that recording locally means we can take our time and not have to blast everything out in 3 days like we did on the first album. Not to take anything away from this first album, we all love the sound on it, and we're very, very particular about the fact that we will not under any circumstances go with this local guy if he can't get us a sound that's at least that big... I suppose the trade off is, we can drive somewhere and only have a few days with a really good and notable engineer/producer, or stay here and work with what we've got locally. But hell, if the guy did Foghat, he knows what heavy rock is about, so we may be in good hands. We shall see. "
If you could create a dream bill with Spiritu and any other 2 groups in history, what would it be?
"It'd be vetoed by the other guys in my band, is what it'd be. :) Jeez, I don't know, off the top of my head, I'd say, Rainbow with Dio circa the 'Rising' album, and Kyuss during their tour with White Zombie, when they were supporting the Blues stuff and just started to play some of the Sky Valley stuff live, with Brant still on drums. "
Jadd, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Any last words?
"Come to SHoD! Don't listen to Nelly! Drink more High Life! Good night."
Visit the Spiritu bandpage.