martes, 28 de agosto de 2012

Ice Dragon

Interview with: Joe, Duane and Ron.

First of all I would thank you for accept my invite. How are you? All right in the USA?
Joe: Thanks for having us. Everything is A-OK. Summer in New England, lemonade and lawnmowers, my friend.
Duane: My brother brews beer and he brought a bunch over on Saturday night and we sat outside and drank them and listened to classic rock on the radio. Joe’s right; summer in New England…
Ron: Yeah things are pretty good. I’ve been making a lot of Pina Coladas lately. As much as people complain about political stuff and rights and laws and all that in the USA, I never really notice any difference in anything over the years. Weird right? Different president, different economy, different laws, etc. etc.  It’s always the same though, work, go home and drink, make music, watch movies, the usual stuff. I’ve never noticed any difference. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now let's start to dig in the Riffs...actives since 2007 (I guess), arround 5 lp's and a couple of splits...that's fuckin' dedication. How did you start your ride in the "Ice Dragon"? Where the name "Ice Dragon" comes from?
Joe: I didn’t come into the group till around May/June 2008, I think, when the other fellows asked if I wanted to play bass with them. They were looking to make Ice Dragon more of a traditional band I guess, one that could play shows and more easily annoy anyone who walked by our practice spaces. Funny, now we’re more like the recording project that Ice Dragon was in the beginning. We almost never leave the basement.
Duane: Like a lot of older heavy bands, Ron and I started out working on what was a sort of blues project - really swampy, rowdy, sloppy stuff - and by the time that had run its course we ended up as Ice Dragon, as heard on the self-titled release. Ron and I got together with a drummer because we thought our own abilities might be holding things back. Exactly what things were being held back, I’m not sure. Our ability to play shows, I guess. Then I think we were both having our own conversations with Joe about having him play with us sometime even though we had no idea if he was any good. We just knew he was a super nice guy and he seemed to get what we were going for. Then when we finally got together he played exactly what the song needed in a really inventive way and it was right. I still get a big kick out of hearing his lines come together and lock in. It’s Magic.
Ron: I still think Ice Dragon is a totally kickass name for a band. Sometimes I read/hear people knocking it, but I would bet money that in like 20 years when people are looking back at the sea of “____ Witch” and “Witch____” and “Black____” and “Dope___” and all that jazz, then at least we’ll have an original name that stands out from the pack a bit. And who wouldn’t buy a record from the dollar bin with “Ice Dragon” on the front? I would.

 Your music is almost between space rock/psych some doom anytime stoner...what is in your mind while composing? Is it a colective task or is done by one composer/songwriter?

Joe: Pretty much everything we do starts with an initial idea—a riff, a bass line, a vocal idea, whatever—that one of us will either bring to the others or come up with on the spot in the recording dungeon. From there we’ll just bang out ideas and try to build on what we’ve established. Usually, Ron will then add a vocal on top once the arrangement is in place. Sometimes the song will be written with a vocal he already has in mind, other times not. I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s no definitive Ice Dragon way to go about writing a song. But jamming is probably where the most stuff comes from. Personally, I just try to come up with cool riffs and bass lines and any other bits that I think can add to the final product. We just try to come up with interesting music and not be constrained by genre and what you can and cannot do. Which is how you end up with two completely different albums (“Tome of the Future Ancients” and “Dream Dragon”) four months apart. You’ve got to be restless or risk stagnation. Making music is FUN above all else—leave the rules for the cool kids.
Duane: We all add our parts, and if one of our parts is already written we bring our own character to it. We’re not session guys; our faults and limitations make our sound, rather than perfectionism.
Ron: I think I write all my best lyrics while home alone and drinking heavily. I’ve always liked being home alone. Sick days from school, those were the best when I was a kid. You kinda pace around looking for something to do, but nothing too involved usually so you end up poking through old books and reading a few pages then switching, or spacing out and tapping your fingers for an excessive amount of time. Watching the beginning of one movie and the end of another. Doodling. You add alcohol to that mix and it starts to get real weird real fast and cool things can sneak out of your mind when you least expect them.

 I am suprised seeing that you are unsingned. Is that true? Is a personal decision of the band to stand unsigned or you don't find your ideal label?

Joe: We beat all the labels off with a stick. They wanted to dress us in spandex and get a turntable player, but we weren’t having it. They made Duane Carter shave his moustache off. Actually, any label we’ve ever been approached by—Yersinia Pestis, Stone Stallion Rex/Funeral Industries, Acid Punx cassette label, Devizes, At War with False Noise—we’ve gladly let them put our stuff out. But these aren’t labels in the traditional sense; they remain labors of love created by music fans and not businesses. I’d imagine those more business-oriented companies wouldn’t bother with us because we don’t tour and really don’t have much interest in playing the game. I like the idea of a bunch of music fans around the world having a hand in getting our stuff out there—it’s neat.
Duane: I don’t know what a record deal for us would even consist of. I’m be happy enough to have our albums released and distributed but would never rule anything out. We don’t tour and we rarely play shows, but our live act can be a thrilling mess when we’re at our best. But I guess it just comes down to the fact that I’d rather sleep in my own bed than in a van.
Ron: Yeah I agree with all that. Although I would LOVE to dress up in spandex with a bunch of belts on and cowboy boots. Play the piano like Cinderella in the video for “Don’t Know What You Got”. Damn, that would be rad. Someone sign us and let’s make it happen.

 Between all your releases, what are you the most proud of? Why?
Joe: I love them all but if I had to pick one it would probably be “Tome of the Future Ancients” because it’s the most expansive and best represents the breadth of our sound. It was conceived and written as a double album, and I love the sprawling nature of that format—you can get lost in them if you allow yourself to. Yersinia Pestis will be releasing this soon as a 2LP, and I think people will flip when they see the artwork and hold the vinyl. It’s like the album is getting a second birth, just like “The Burl…” did when it was released on vinyl this year. Ask me in six months—or two weeks—and I’ll likely have a different answer for you.
Duane: I can’t choose one. They’re all very special to me. Sometimes I get really excited when I listen back to something I wrote or something interesting I did, but I’m usually happiest with our music when I notice something I hadn’t heard before because I was too preoccupied with what I was playing. Every time I listen to one of our recordings, old or new, I notice a new little bit of previously unheard genius that puts the recording in a new light. As I said before, Joe is a natural giant on the bass. And Ron’s production skills are great beyond words. The stuff he’s produced so far is so rich and nuanced, and also heavy in a way that’s new to my ears, that I don’t feel like I know the albums well enough to pick a favorite. And I’ve spent a lot of time with all of them. But “Tome of the Future Ancients” is my favorite.
Ron: “Adoration of Ra” is my favorite song we’ve ever done. Album wise, I have no idea really.

 In my ignorance I can't understand your "The Burl, the Earth, the Aether" front.
Please tell me the story of that front.

Joe: You’d have to ask Vesa Lahde who has a blog called Droning Earth. He did the artwork two years back when there were about three Ice Dragon fans on the planet. We dug the abstract nature of it, and, quite frankly, couldn’t believe somebody took the time to create something for us unbidden. I think there’s are a quasi-satanic goat figure there? Not sure, though.
Ron: It’s a weird cover, but that’s exactly why we dug it when Vesa showed it too us. See my answer to the Ice Dragon name question earlier I guess. Have you seen how generic some of these rock/doom/metal covers can be? He gave us a truly original cover, a bit abstract, but that is very fitting with us since we are also a bit abstract. Vesa is a cool dude and runs a great blog also.  

 I'm listening right now your last work, "Dream Dragon", and I have to mean...WOW!! It's so fuckin' amazin'!!! It sounds so 70's with so riffied passioned fuzz, done extremely emotional and beautifull songs, the perfect words for the perfect songs, and over all you showed to all psych fans what Ice Dragon is able to do. My most sincere congratulations for that excelent release. Are you satisfied with the final result of "Dream Dragon? What's the audience verdict?
Joe: Thank you! Extremely satisfied and couldn’t be happier with people’s response to it. Everyone seems to dig it for the most part, and we were convinced everyone would HATE it. It’s so different from the other releases. But I think people can see that it’s just a homing in on the more psychedelic, mellow stuff that we’ve always done. That album was a blast to make and came out super quickly and easily. Probably the easiest thing we’ve ever done.
Duane: “Dream Dragon” is my favorite Ice Dragon release. The people love it and we love it too. We really shot from the hip with that one and boy, did it pay off.
Ron: Thank you very much. It was totally a blast to make, that’s for sure. I can’t believe how much people are digging it. I think it shows how cool all our fans are, I like to think that people who are into our stuff are “music” fans, and not “Doom” fans or “Metal” fans or “Rock” fans. I listen to a TON of different music and would hate to think we were ever trying to fit some mold or expectations or whatever. Just have fun and make music, don’t worry about genres.

 I can't help think in a angry Falcor, of "Neverending Story", watching the front of "Dream Dragon". Something to say about? Ahaha..

Joe: He’s not angry, just intent on getting where he’s going. Maybe he has to use the bathroom and can only do so in the comfort of his home. I don’t think the Falcor comparisons are off base—he’s a weird looking white dragon and so is the Dream Dragon. Adam Burke (who plays in Fellwoods) deserves all the credit in the world for that cover. He’s an incredible artist and I can’t believe more people aren’t hitting him up to do album covers.
Duane: I hate that movie. Falcor is a dope. And that kid? What’s his name? Sebastian? No way. I’d rather go to a wedding than watch that movie.
Ron: I love that movie. And yes, you are exactly right, it’s totally Angry Falcor.

 And last question about "Dream Dragon": Maximun Trip...was made in 'a trip'?

Joe: It was written after a trip. A trip upstairs to get another beer and a slice of pizza. The strongest thing we ingest before making music is a steak and cheese sub.
Ron: I was hammered drunk and watching “Vanishing Point” on a Saturday afternoon. You ever seen that movie? It fucking rules so hard it’s not even funny. It rules the universe. I love car movies. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. The Car. Moving Violation (the one from the 70’s with Stephen McHattie), Gone in 60 Seconds (again, the original from the 70’s), Two Lane Blacktop, The Last Chase, The Road Warrior, The Wraith, Wheels of Terror, Duel. Love ‘em all.

 I've seen in your facebook page a photo of Carter and his bass, and it's AWESOME!!! Ahaha..and as we can see in your albums the result is great. To play with that kind of bass was a group desicion or is simply his way to play the bass? Any anecdote about that peculiar instrument?
Joe: I think Duane Carter got that bass after winning a pie-eating contest, but I could be wrong.
Duane: Jajaja. That bass sat in my uncle’s woodshed for like seven years before I got it from him. That’s in New Hampshire, where it gets very, very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. It was shaped like a question mark so I had it fixed. When I went to get it two of my uncle’s geese attacked me when I got out of the car. Geese are pretty stupid though. If one ever attacks you, just wait until it gets to within a foot and a half or so and step quickly and directly to your right or left. Their necks are so long that by the time their brain sends the turn signal to their body they’ve already passed you. Then repeat as necessary or desired, I guess.
Ron: That bass is used all the way through “Aquageddon” too, which I’m not sure if a lot of people pick up on. It’s wicked heavy sounding I think. The little break where everything drops out and it’s just the bowed bass gets me every time. Love that.

 I've read some reviews of your music telling that you sound like a never did album of Electric Wizard, or a newest Black Sabbath sound. Personaly I think your sound it's realy particular, maybe sometimes reminds to those bands (fact wich is normal because the tunes  and the style are very similar), but people always try to equate bands and sounds, and the weight should be in the main band, not in their influences. If you had to describe your music  to someone who never listened to Black Sabbath, how would you do it?

Joe: First I’d say, “You’ve never heard Black Sabbath? What the hell is wrong with you?” Then I’d give them copies of all the Sabbath records. The I’d give them all the Ice Dragon records and say, “Here, we’re Ice Dragon. We’re a 1970s rock band from the future.”
Duane: I don’t really give a shit about how people describe us, but that comparison is pretty boring. I always say we play slow heavy rock. And If they want to know more I say it’s kind of psychedelic. And then they usually want to talk about something else.
Ron: I like this question/statement a whole lot. I agree with you. If I had to describe it to a non-sabbath knower… hm. I would say it’s slow heavy rock music with heaping spoonful of psychedelic and a dash of folk here and there.

 Is well know that USA have a good number of high quality Stoner/Psych-sound bands. Can you tell us about some bands you know or have friendship with?

Joe: We’ve released (or will be releasing) split singles with Fellwoods, Kroh (from Birmingham, England), and Pilgrim—good dudes, all. Can’t say I’m too much on the scene these days. I get caught up in the old stuff for the most part. My most recent live music experiences were going to see Van der Graaf Generator and Yes. But I’ve already admitted too much…
Ron: I just bought the Ancient Warlocks 7” and they are rad. Blue Sabbath Black Cheer are way cool, it’s like super droney evil shit, I dig it. In the Company of Serpents, I bought their tape recently, Temple of Perdition tipped me onto them. Good heavy grooves, sorta reminds me of early White Zombie in a way, a good way. La Otracina makes really good stoner/psych stuff. King Tuff is rad. Sweetapple also. Joe covered some of the others.  I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting.

 Well, I've see that you have a Drummer/Vocalist, how this affects to your live shows?
Joe: We just get somebody else to play drums. Our last show was quite a while back, and we had Jon from Pilgrim sit in on drums that night. Next time we play we might just point to some lonely looking kid in the crowd and say, “Hey, kid, wanna save rock and roll tonight?” And he’ll already have a pair of sticks in his back pocket and a pair of drumming gloves on, and he’ll walk up to the stage while tying a bandana around his head and proceed to play better than he ever has in his life.
Duane: Yeah, I’m with Joe on this one.
Ron: Someday I am going to be able to do both live. Someday. Not that it really matters since we never play out anyway, but someday. I think we are hitting our stride perfectly right now having it just the three of us. It all comes together very easily when we jam and we all understand what the others are going to do/want to do.

 Now some promo, where can we buy merch and your albums? And...Ice Dragon Koozie? Why? Ahaha..I even don't know how it names in my language (Spanish)!!
Joe: You can usually get stuff through our Big Cartel page or direct from the labels who put out our releases. Just the plain old music is always available digitally on our Bandcamp site. The koozie is to keep your beer cold when you’re rocking out, mowing your lawn, or eating a sub.
Duane: Listen to the albums online. If you like them you can download them for money or for free. Not from that Ukrainian asshole, though. Some people pay, some don’t. Doesn’t much matter to us. I just want people who like our music to enjoy it however they want to - free, paid, digitally, vinyl-ly…
Ron: Yeah some Ukranian site is selling our music illegally. Fuck them. I’ll fight the shit out of them at the bar after I have a few drinks. Koozies are great. Some people call them Cozies instead, but it’s all good. You should get a Spanish koozie with a cool Spanish saying on it. We need some Ice Dragon brand light beer, like heavy as the dragon but cool as ice, a taste that won’t slow you down but will lift into the sky on a refreshingly light and crisp set of wings. Or something.

 I've see your first releases were did only on cassete, maybe you will someday re-released it in vynil/CD?

Joe: We hope so. Vinyl is final. If anyone wants to release or stuff on vinyl and/or CD, get in touch. We can’t afford to do it ourselves.
Ron: I wanna do an 8-track at some point, like for real. But yeah it would be cool to do vinyl too.

 And at last, future plans? Any European "trip"? new splits? maybe more merch?
Joe: No plans for a European trip, unfortunately. We have a split that just came out with Kroh and one with Fellwoods on the horizon. New shirt designs are imminent as is the release of “Tome of the Future Ancients” on vinyl. Already working on new stuff. We’re always working on new stuff.
Duane: I might be in Europe with my solo Ice Dragon tour. Europe’s in Canada, right? I’ll let you know, maybe you can show me around.
Ron: I’ve never been to Europe. I hear it’s nice though. I’ll probably never go I bet, no offense or anything. I just don’t see the point in going somewhere else to drink beer and listen to music. I can do that here. I guess the scenery is different maybe? I don’t really look at scenery a whole lot though. I like my basement. I feel like people who travel a lot just do that because they have nothing interesting going on at home. I have tons of interesting shit going on and I always just feel like I am wasting time or missing opportunities when I am anywhere else. Definitely more splilts and more merch, yes please. I hope we get weirder and weirder as time goes on too.

About all Master Of Reality track...wich one do you think it's more compatible with Ice Dragon philosophy? Why?
Joe: The whole album. It’s got dynamics. Heavy as hell in parts, delicate in others. It’s got flutes. It’s got keyboards. Well, piano. Acoustic guitars. And it sounds like it came from a basement.
Ron: I like "Children of the Grave" the best, I think. It's a total hippy song, but heavy as shit, which I love about Sabbath. I think that is where we're most like them, sometimes we're super heavy and mean and angry, and sometimes we're soft and lovely and hippy weirdos. Then once in a while they both come together and you get something like "Children of the Grave". The yin and the yang man.

Thank you so much for your time, good luck in your projects guys. Please feel free to add whatever you want.

Joe: Thanks again for having us. Hope all is well in Spain.
Duane: Thank you very, very much for writing to us. And thank you for doing what you do. It’s always nice to talk with someone who loves music.
Ron: Ditto what Joe and Duane said 100%. “Demasiada cordura puede ser la peor de las locuras, ver la vida como es y no como debería de ser.”

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