domingo, 26 de agosto de 2012

Wo Fat

Interview with: Kent Stump, guitarist/singer for Wo Fat

Hello from Spain guys, thanxs you for accept my invite, I'm proud of work with riffied swampfuzzed talented guys. Hope you enjoy this as much as me!
Thank you!  We're glad to be interviewed by you.

Well how's going on guys? Enjoying summer I guess!!
We're doing great.  Trying to stay cool - summers in Texas can be pretty brutal. We just finished up the recording, mixing and mastering for our new album, The Black Code, a couple weeks ago and the artwork will be complete this week.  It will be released on Small Stone Records in November 13, 2012.  We're pretty stoked about it. 

A I see, you're from Dallas, Texas. And there's the topical that in Texas are people who wear cowboy hats and have shotguns, very Christian and conservative...what is true about this cliche?
Well, a lot of times those cliches hold true.   Texas in general, tends to be a pretty conservative state politically and there are a lot of conservative Christians as well, although that's not true of everyone or everywhere in the state.  Austin, for example is a very hip and much more liberal town.  The three of us in Wo Fat are actually much more progressive and liberal leaning politically and a number of our songs are about things happening politically and I will often use horror and H.P. Lovecraft inspired imagery to talk about those ideas.  And speaking just for myself and not for the rest of Wo Fat, I am a Christian, but I completely disagree with the political positions that conservative Christians in America take and I think they have been manipulated, misled and fooled by the Republican Party (the conservative political party here in the US) for it's own political and ultimately, monetary gain.  But that's a whole other conversation there, and we're here to talk about music.

I, myself, have a cowboy hat that I wear, but you don't see cowboy hats ,everywhere like you might expect if you've never been to Texas.  And yes, lots of guns and lots of people that are really into hunting.  The three of us in Wo Fat are not into guns and the whole hunting thing, though.  In fact Tim, our bass player is a vegetarian. 

First of all the question for this edition: If you had to cover a Maser Of Reality  song, wich would you choose? Why?

At the risk of being too obvious, we would cover "Into the Void."  It is maybe the most quintessential stoner rock song ever.  It's got everything you want in it. It opens with that brutal, menacing riff, then goes into the heavy chugging verse, followed by that double time boogie vibe and some Iommi guitar greatness.   There's heaviness and grooviness throughout.  It's bluesy but also dark and doomy.  And to top it off, the lyrics are all about sci fi apocolypse.
"Master of Reality" is such an epic album, but "Into the Void" has always been my favorite jam on that record.  It's the stuff of Heavy Metal legend.

Since your first work, "The Gathering Dark", you have highlighted by and excelent
riff work, that detail that makes your music hypnotical and is the mark of
masters of the riff like Sleep, Church Of Misery or Eternal Elysium.
The simply fact of play a bass and a guitar solo at once, two music lines in one attempt of get in trance. It's fantastic, but it's not as simply as it seems, you need to have a great knowledge of the rythm and the tones, be one with the music, flow in the pentagram, like Butler and Iommi show us how to do. And you guys have managed to do it. Congratulations!
Flattery aside, the "The Gathering dark" and "La Noche del Chupacabras" are made in a more "horror" concept, I mean, the dark artwork, the winks to latin folklore (like "El Brujo" or the "Chupacabras") and even the music is darker. I think they are two diferent ways of convey a similar feeling. What were your intention with each album? Whath you try to convey with them?
Well, I have a love of classic horror, both literature, writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E Howard, and movies, and we use that kind of imagery to help create a vibe and a mood for the listener, both with album art and lyrically.   I remember seeing a documentary about the Italian horror filmmaker Mario Bava and in it they said that often times, his main focus was more on creating a vibe and a feeling than anything else.  I think that's true of Lovecraft as well.  And that's true of a lot of what we are going for as well, especially on "Noche del Chupacabra."  While there is meaning to the lyrics, a big part of the lyrical content is to place the listener in a certain headspace. To stimulate the imagination. 
"The Gathering Dark" was our first album and was maybe a little less focused because we were still finding our sound and coming together as a band. At the time, we didn't know if we'd get a chance to make a second album, so we tried to get as many of our ideas in there as we could fit.   It's more all over the place lyrically as well. The horror concept sort came to the front as I was writing a lot of the songs on that album because it was a really good way to use analogy to get my ideas across in an interesting way without being too literal.  In addition to the horror vibe, I also was trying to incorporate lyrical ideas from classic blues, which includes a lot of things that work really well with a horror concept.  Things like hoodoo references, mojo hands, deals with the devil at the crossroads and cool spooky imagery like that.   "Noche del Chupacabra", which is our third album is much more focused thematically and musically and is also the least political as far as the lyrics go.  And while it is not necessarily a concept album, most of the lyrics are dealing with the idea of fear - fear of things seen and unseen, real and imagined.  By the time we got to "Chupacabra," we had grown quite a bit as a band and I think that's evident in the playing and the songwriting as well as the flow of the album.  We thought more about that by then, rather than it just being a collection of songs.
Yeah, the Latin references to Chupacabras and El Brujo are there because we are in Texas, on the border with Mexico, and Mexican culture has always had a big influence on Texas and is something I really like. 

I've search about "Manchurian Syndrome" and I have found something about the 2nd WW.
Have this something to do with it? What's about this song?
Like I said before, on "The Gathering Dark," which this song is on, I was was writing a lot of political songs using other types of imagery metaphorically.  It's a reference to the 1962 movie "The Manchurian Candidate" where one of the characters has been brainwashed by North Korea in order to carry out an assassination.  The song is talking about being brainwashed to not see what's happening around us and to even have us contributing to some of the evil deeds while being blissfully unaware of what's really going on.   The line that says "why don't you pass your time playing solitaire" is from the movie and it is the phrase that triggers the brainwashing and puts into motion the conditioned behavior that leads to the assassination plot.
It's about the truth being hidden from us by those in power and our ignorant complicity and even participation in immoral or evil acts.

We all know the hurricanes of the South-East coast in the USA. Did you get inspired
in one of this to write "Decend into the Maelstrom"?Here in Dallas, where we live, we're not on the coast so we don't get the full on hurricanes, but we do get some big thunderstorms and tornadoes.  This song does get some inspiration from some of these storms we get around here, but also is inspired by a couple of Lovecraft stories, like "Haunter of the Dark" and is basically just a horror story.
The title come from an Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name, but it doesn't really have anything to do with the poem itself.  I just liked the image it conjures of being pulled helplessly down into whirling chaos and destruction. 

By the way, my favourite album is "Psychedelonaut", is a totaly diferent concept, more based in psychedelia and paranoia, I enjoy it much more, because, despite this "concept change", the feeling is still the same, even is more stoned feeling. It's more in the vein of bands like Sleep . Do you agree with me? What's your personal point of view about "Psychedelonaut" atributes?What makes it diferent from other Wo Fat albums?
One of the things we really were going for on "Psychedelonaut" was to capture a very live feel as well as getting a little more psychedelic and I agree, it's not really as dark of a vibe as the album before or after.   Other than that, I don't think we consciously were trying to make it all that different, but I've learned that in the course of writing and recording a record, it can take on a life and direction of it's own and you never fully know what it will end up sounding and feeling like until it's finished.  We really love the vibe of Psychedelonaut.  When we started working on "Noche del Chupacabra" part of the thought was to get a little heavier and darker again but still trying to maintain that very live and on the edge kind of feel that I think we started with Psychedelonaut.  And also trying to keep on the psychedelic path.  I guess it was trying to combine "The Gathering Dark"with "Psychedelonaut" in vibe.

Now just a note: "Enter the Riffian, bringer of freedom". That song is a fuckin' rock and roll HYMN!! A cry of fight for your principles, "Slingin' riffs of iron", I mean, oh my god this is epiq Stoner/Rock. JUST BRILLIANT!!
Right on!  Thanks, man.  Yeah, this song is a reaction to what's been happening in mainstream music - rock,metal,R&B.  So much of what is mainstream is, in my opinion, really bad and I think has lost all of the funk and soul and seems to lack a sense and awareness of musical history and where the music came from.  The Riffian is my tongue in cheek superhero here to save us from a musical wasteland.

Now I think of...what the hell means the words "WO FAT", I can't find any sense to these words!!
The name Wo Fat comes from the 70's TV show "Hawaii Five-0".  It was a really cool show that I watched as a kid and Wo Fat was a recurring character on the show who was an evil Chinese secret agent.  Unfortunately they have made a new version of Hawaii Five-0 that lacks the cool 70's vibe of the original. 
I just thought it was a cool name that was somewhat obscure and was a reference to the 70's, and the music of the 70's is obviously a massive influence on us.

The artwork of the albums, who did it? And about the artworks, a few days ago I saw on your Facebook page the artwork of your
next album, "The Black Code", and a friend of mine coment that the picture is like a scene of the animation movie called "Heavy Metal". It's that true? What's the meaningof that front?
The artwork for "Noche del Chupacabra", the re-release of "The Gathering Dark" (which has new artwork), and our new album, "The Black Code" was all done by Alexander von Wieding (   We've got a great relationship with Alexander and his work is amazing.  He's great at interpreting what our vision is for the artwork, in fact sometimes I think he can read my mind,  and what he does is really an integral and important part of the albums as a whole.  It helps with creation of vibe and atmosphere that I've mentioned a few times already.
  Funny you mentioned the Heavy Metal movie.  One thing that Alexander and I talked about for the artwork for "The Black Code" was using the old Heavy Metal magazines as an inspiration for the art.  The general concept of "The Black Code" is an idea I came up with in thinking about how connected we all are in the world today with smart phones and wifi, 4g/3g, the cloud, how we are constantly connected to various networks, how we're surrounded by invisible digital information floating around in various ways and how we live very virtually a lot of the time.  The Black Code is basically a cryptic computer code that's been found on some alien relic that, once it's been uploaded in an attempt to decipher it, unleashes interdimensional digital horror throughout, traveling wirelessly to anywhere that's connected.  The illustration on the front is the discovery of the Shard of Leng, which is the alien relic. The concept does definitely bear some resemblance to the Lok Nar in the Heavy Metal movie, which is a great movie, but with a different, modern twist.
The album is not really a chronological story.  It's more just a few different tales or poems about this idea and about how we can easily be distracted or lulled into a trance by this technology and be completely unaware of the truth of what's happening around us.  You know, we have more access to information than ever before, but we're seduced into playing Angry Birds or some other mindless app instead of being informed and educated. Once again,  we're still just trying to put the listener in  certain place, stimulate the imagination and conjure certain images - this time it's using more sci fi than swampy voodoo images. 
Maybe the only "bad point" of "Noche Del Chupacabras" is that it had few songs. Why
only five songs? How many songs will the new album have?
When we first started writing and thinking about "Noche del Chupacabra" it was before we hooked up Nasoni Records, who released "Psychedelonaut" on vinyl after we had released it on cd. We really wanted to release "Chupacabra" on vinyl and didn't think we could afford to do double vinyl, so we wrote it all knowing we needed it to fit timewise ona single LP.  You're limited to 22-24 minutes on a side - and that's kinda pushing it too. Our songs being kind of on the long side - and they seem to be getting longer - we could only fit 5 songs.  Then we hooked up with Nasoni and they ended up releasing it for us, but I think the fact that we put some limits on ourselves initially was helpful to the writing process.  It also made the whole recording process much easier and quicker.  70 or more minutes of music is just a massive undertaking in the studio.
The new album, "The Black Code", is also just 5 songs, for the same reason - so the it will fit on a single record.  But we're pushing it to the limit of what we can fit on there, don't worry.  Believe it or not, we got some criticisms of both "The Gathering Dark" and "Psychedelonaut" for being too long, so we did have that in the back of our minds as well.

Since "The Gatering Dark" have passed 5 years and 3 lp's, but no any Demo, EP, Split or  Compilation...Why you decide to release only full-lenght? I always thinked the Split it's a awesome way of promotion, don´t you?
Yeah, I love the split concept.  We are planning on doing a 10" split with the legendary Earthride that we hope will come out early 2013.
We haven't done one before just because the opportunity never presented itself. And our first 4 song demo ended up becoming part of "The Gathering Dark." The 4 songs that we did first and initially sold as a cdr EP were"Manchurian Syndrome", "From Beyond," "Company Man," and "Risin' River."  Then we just put those songs on "The Gathering Dark" when we put it out.  It's the exact same recordings/mixes.

You are in "Small Stone Recordings" Label, why did you choose this label? Watching theroster of bands of the label I can see many bands from USA who playsstoner/doom/sludge/psych, was it a plus to choose it as your label? it's that a help for you at the time of doing gigs or tours arround USA?
We are really happy to be a part of the Small Stone roster.  There have been so many amazing and important records throughout the history of the stoner/doom/psych thing back to the mid 90's that have been on Small Stone and we're honored to become part of that tradition.  I think this is another step up for us in our musical journey and we hope this will get our music out to more people that will dig it and expand our fanbase.  We aren't able to do a lot of touring, but this definitely helps in what we can do.  We are in the process of putting together a European tour for 2013.

In your web site we can see that almost all the vinyl editions are sold out. Did you spected that audience response? Will you re-edit them someday?
Vinyl has sold really well for us, and we're really pleased by that, since we're all big fans of the vinyl medium.  I am actually going to talk to Nasoni about repressing our albums because we hope to have some new fans that find us through Small Stone that will be interested in our back catalog.

And now the last one: if only you could give one more concert in a lifetime, and you could choose any band you wanted to play with, which band would you choose? Why?
Well I guess the question is, is it a band that is around today or can we travel back through time or play with a band that is broken up? Probably the first band that comes to mind is Sleep.   They are one of my all time favorites and it was just be awesome to do a show with them.  Also, if time travel is allowed, probably Black Sabbath, circa 1971. Becuase they're Sabbath and that was when they were in their prime, in my opinion. Another choice would be Tommy Bolin with his band Energy from right around 1972.  Tommy Bolin is one of my favorite guitar players and the recordings that you can find of his band Energy are just smokin' and it's a great mix of riffs, blistering solos and hard grooviness.

And that's all, really thanxs for your time, I hope you have passed a great time answering this. Please add anything you want to say and I didn't ask you.
Thank you for your interest!  Let me just mention that "The Black Code" will be released on November 13, 2012 on CD.  The vinyl release date will be a bit later.

ALL PHOTOS BY: Judy Stump Photography.

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