Any time there’s an opportunity to hear an artist try their hand at Townes Van Zandt I’m always interested. Now, if said attempt is actually good, even better. Such is the case with Crawling for Carrion on their upcoming two track EP, Rake and Roads. Bonus points here for a good cover of Portishead’s Roads as well. Doom and sludge make for an interesting re-imagining of both tracks but it’s the emotionally charged chords of Rake that make the price of admission worth way more than what will be asked. Just ahead of the EP’s release, we spoke with mastermind Chris West to gain some insight into the band. Read on to see what he had to say and be sure to seek this one out or just hit the links within.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
I became friends with a kid at school on a field trip. When I went to his house to hang out he had a Flying V and a little 10 watt Gorilla practice amp. He played some cheesy metal riff, that I still remember to this day, and it blew my tiny mind. I’d never heard anything like it, the distortion sounded insane at the time. Not long after that I bought a Les Paul copy from him and that Gorilla amp and started learning to play. His dad taught a couple of people in a group jam thing and I would hang out at their weekly sessions. They didn’t have a bass player so I jumped on that and learnt bass and guitar at the same time.
As for success, nope, nowhere near it. For most of my life I guess I didn’t really have a definition of success other than what I perceived as success from the mainstream music industry marketing machine. I do now though and launching this new project, Crawling for Carrion, kinda feels like the beginning for me.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
I’ve never done anything crazy. In the early days of my old band Trippy Wicked we started out playing any and every show that came our way and as a consequence played some terrible places with some terrible bands. We did pay to play, drove for hours to gigs to find out they didn’t exist, played battled of the bands and all that stuff.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
One of the best things is the ability for pretty much anyone to write, record and release their own music. There are tools and distribution services and videos/articles that can teach you how to do everything. I started making music as a kid in the era where you recorded a demo, sent a cassette to Roadrunner Records and were met with silence in return. It’s pretty much all available to everyone now and not hidden behind the doors of giant record labels. I am very enthusiastic on this front and fully encourage anyone and everyone to at least have a go at doing everything yourself. You will learn a lot. You will learn what you’re good at and what you need help with. You will learn when someone you’re paying money to is ripping you off, and you will learn just how difficult it all is and will appreciate those that are good at what they do.
As for the worst… I guess I see myself as kinda on the edge of the metal scene really so a lot of it passes me by. I’m aware there are Nazi bands, and coming from a family where I have close relatives that were directly affected by the Second World War that seems pretty fucking crazy to me. But we need to keep in mind that every person is born a sponge and whether its champagne or piss, they will soak up what you give them. Those people will always be around and we will always have to educate.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
I agree. It’s awesome that people are more able to speak up and that more people are listening. The power of speaking up, for yourself and others, cannot be overstated. It’s still not easy or possible for everyone but I feel like we’ve made significant progress recently. For me the most important issue is mental health and everything that comes with it. I’ve been on a wild ride for a few years having gone from being completely oblivious to my own problems to painfully aware of them. At this time there’s nothing overt in any of the music I’m working on, it’s more about communicating emotion.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Haha, my family were cool with it, they’ve always been into good music. There was always stuff like JJ Cale, Fleetwood Mac and Queen playing at home so the foundations were there. We had a family friend that used to lend me and my brother his CDs. The first I remember was Fly on the Wall by AC/DC. I fucking loved it and still do. Then through listening to Tommy Vance’s Friday Rock Show I got into WASP and heard more classic heavy metal stuff. I think I was around 12 at the time.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
You know, I think the fact there are people willing to make the time to listen and review any music I write is enough for me. So if you enjoy doing it then please continue.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Nothing so interesting I’m afraid. My plan is to continue writing music and making sure I give each project the time it needs to be completed, and ideally earn a living. I can’t do long term plans so it’s just about organizing my life right now to facilitate that. It’s possible I’ll play some of the stuff live but really at the moment it’s a case of just writing and recording new music, and then letting people hear it.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
Bit of a mix at the moment. Lots of Townes stuff so I’ll say the self-titled. I just heard about Louise Lemón and have been listening to Purge. John Martyn – any compilations really. Djrum – Portrait with Firewood. Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters – Come & Chutney. Lowen – A Crypt in the Stars.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
I’m half way through writing an ambient album at the moment which I will probably release early next year. Then I have the music for 2 songs for a collaboration project with a friend already finished. I need to sort the vocals and then I can start mixing that. Other than that I’m drumming in a new sludge/doom band which we haven’t announced yet. I think that will kick off later this year and we’ll start gigging soon.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Chris for his time!