Sometimes, insomnia and Bandcamp crawls can reap huge rewards. Such is the case with finding Montreal’s self tagged “Aquatic Doom” band Lochness and their debut Black Smokers. The artwork drew me in with its retro look and color usage but don’t make the mistake of thinking this is just another psychedeli-stoner doom and fuzz group. Rather, this is a band that stands out from the crowd by way of heavy and suffocating atmospherics, crushing doom, fantastic vocals, catchy and encompassing song structures, and of course the almighty riffs they swing. And, in short, they can write damn good songs. They’re a breath of fresh air in a crowded scene that has gone lax as of late. So obviously, I had to reach out and guitarist Mathias Fortier graciously responded as we discussed how they got started, respect for the sea, the state of stoner/psych doom, dream tour bills, and much more. Head below to see how it went down and be sure to grab your copy from the links contained within.
Based on the fact that Black Smokers, your debut, is about to drop, what’s the backstory on Lochness and how did you guys get started?
It started out as two piece; just me (guitar) and one of my buddies on drums just for fun. When we noticed we had some proper material, I got a couple of my coworkers involved for bass and vocals. Since then, the lineup changed a little bit, but that’s pretty much it.
Listening to the currently available track “Alien Deep” it would be easy, and cheap, to draw quick comparisons to bands like Electric Wizard and Windhand but there’s so much more in the weight of the riffs, the ‘lungs filled’ atmosphere around the halfway point, and the echoed vocals that point to a uniqueness that defies comparisons. What are some of the not so obvious influences of the band and what band, song, album, or other, that made you decide this is what you wanted to do?
When I was younger, I started listening to Electric Wizard when my father put the “Dopethrone” album on my iPod without telling me. I guess you could say it was my first experience with stoner doom. Even though I try to be as unique and creative as possible, at the end of the day it’s just my style of playing. Ahah. But we all listen to a lot of different styles of music, such as Black Metal, Country, Eastern music and Dungeon Synth to name a few. But if I had to choose bands who inspired us, I’d say Boris, Mephistofeles, Earthless, Grief, Nebula, and Saint Vitus, but that’s only the “stoner” side of things as we also get inspired from other genres.
I particularly love how the track (“Alien Deep”) starts out as a hazy headbanger and slowly but meticulously evolves into an impactful jam session then trails off into mammoth riffs and storm inducing percussion. And it all sounds so cohesive and effortless which is yet another reason I think you guys are carving your own niche and getting away from simple comparisons. What’s your thoughts on that?
Thanks for the compliment! It’s really important for us that nothing sounds forced throughout the songs. Sometimes I get super good song ideas, but I can’t find the right way to land the spaceship, so I just forget about it and never play them again because I don’t think it’s worth it if it didn’t naturally come to me.
The line “inspired by their love and fear of the deep sea” on your Bandcamp page struck a chord with me and I want to know more about this and how it directly relates to all things Black Smoker. How did it inform the four tracks here and is the deep sea a huge part of your collective lives?
Growing up, I watched a lot of documentaries about the sea and I always had this weird feeling of anxiety about it because I think it’s at the same time the most awesome thing on earth but also the scariest. I always loved bands with a concept and it just made sense to me to use this imagery because it’s not something you hear a lot about in stoner metal unlike space, medieval times, wizards and such. I just got high and came up with the name Lochness and it fell into place.
What kind of impact do you hope to make on the psych doom branch of metal? And what are your thoughts on the current state of it?
I’ve always loved stoner/doom metal, but I think it’s getting kind of stagnant as of late. These days you see a lot of bands with names like “goat bong,” “Blunt Wizard,” etc. that are just recycling the shit out of each other, so we try to do our own thing. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; After all, we’re just a bunch of shitty musicians.
In talking to bands in the past, no one ever says “we’re making music that we think folks want to hear” and instead state that they make music they themselves want to hear or feel is somewhat missing from today’s vast amount of releases. In what mindset do you approach the band and writing process?
The guys and I always agreed that the best songs on the albums we listen to are the weirder ones. Take for example the “Dopethrone” album that I talked about earlier; it’s a great album from start to finish, but my all-time favorite part was the opening riff on “We Hate You.” I bet most people think it’s the worst riff on this album, but it always struck a chord with me because it’s so dissonant and non-conventional. We really try to recreate that atmosphere.
Lochness has recently signed to From the Urn Records and the album is available on two different colors of vinyls (red is sold out as of now). How did all that come about and how has it been so far working with the label?
We’ve always been friends with these guys. Max did all of our artwork since the beginning. It was just logical for us to join forces. They’ve been really great to us.
Assuming you’ve been able to gig some around Montreal with the new material, how’s the reaction been so far?
I think people are really stoked on the new material. It’s funny because we never thought we would make music that people would actually want to listen to. Haha.
Speaking of shows, if you could pick a dream bill that you were involved in who would be on it with you and why?
Hard question, but if we had to pick, it would probably be Boris, Strange Broue and Cauchemar. No particular reason, I just think it would be fucking awesome since those guys give the best live performances.
And as a weird question, I can see from the album cover that Mary Jane might be preferred but if you could distill this album and the essence of Lochness into a whiskey, bourbon or beer which one would it be and why?
Cannabis infused Jameson. Our bassist has probably drank more Jameson in his life than anyone else. But me and Tony prefer the devil’s lettuce.
Besides the release of Black Smokers, what’s on tap for the next six months or so for Lochness?
We’re in the process of writing new material, but we talked about maybe doing a split album with a secret band and I’m trying to convince the guys to do Lochness sings Hank Williams for a gig. Haha. But seriously we’re trying to find some place to tour in the future and lots of other stuff.
Many thanks to Mathias for his time!