For a band that takes their name from an indigenous Amazonian group that is somewhat known for ritualistic endocannibalism, Yanomamo are on brand with slimy sludge and doom ridden psychedelics. Listening to their upcoming fourth EP, No Sympathy For A Rat, it’s hard not to conjure images from movies such as Cannibal Ferox and Green Inferno, right at the moment the subjects realized their fate would be sealed but with the twist that everyone stopped right there and smoked bowls before the atrocities began. It’s abrasive at its core and methodical in its riffs with just enough slow stoner metal thrown in to amplify the dreadful atmosphere they create. Ahead of the album’s release we had the chance to pose our set of Profile questions to guitarist Jason Higson so head directly below to see how it went down and be sure to visit the links contained within to show them some support.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
I started playing guitar when I was 16. I was introduced to classic 70s rock at a very young age (around 6 or 7) by my father & uncles – KISS, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Sabbath etc. I’ve never done anything musically with ‘success’ in mind. I’ve always just wanted to create heavy music that I found satisfying to create. As far as Yanomamo goes, as a band we have achieved way more than I ever expected and we achieved this without ever doing anything we didn’t want to do. We have remained true to ourselves at all times.
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.)
As mentioned above, we’ve never debased ourselves or sold out in any way. If I ever felt we did that, I would end the band immediately. When we were making our 2017 album Neither Man Nor Beast, I talked to a few underground labels about them releasing/distributing and found the entire process to be a total pain in the ass. It seemed like these labels wanted us to kiss their asses and bend over backwards for them, so I told them all to fuck off and started Iommium Records to release it ourselves. It was a great move.
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?
The underground metal community has always been strong in Australia with a rich history of really great bands. Unfortunately, we are geographically isolated, which makes it really hard to play loads of shows, so many bands never get the opportunities they deserve. It’s very expensive for a band from Australia to tour overseas. Despite this we have some incredible bands that people from overseas really need to check out: Witchskull, Potion, Flaming Wrekage, Pod People, Lucifungus, Burial Pit, Astrodeath, I Exist, Mountain Wizard Death Cult, Hekate, Golden Bats, Mental Cavity, Sundowner, Sumeru & Religious Observance are all active bands that are world class.
I think the worst thing, and this goes for the world, not just the underground music scene, is the rise of fascism & general right wing bullshit. Let me be very clear about our feelings on this: FUCK FASCISM, FUCK RACISM, FUCK TRUMP & if you don’t agree then FUCK YOU TOO!
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?
As per my previous answer. The Black Lives Matter movement is something that we feel very strongly about. Australia has a terrible history when it comes to the treatment of our indigenous people. It has been fantastic to see so many Australians embrace the #blacklivesmatter movement. Hopefully, some real change can occur and equality for everyone becomes a reality. A lot of our songs deal with the awful state of the world & the shitty people that are responsible for it.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
As mentioned before, I was introduced to it when I was 6 or 7 by my father and uncles. I used to marvel over the early KISS album covers like “Destroyer” while listening to the amazing tunes and riffs like “Detroit Rock City.” Ace Frehley has always been my inspiration for playing guitar and always will be.
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?
I think underground metal gets really great coverage. That has improved a lot over the last 10 years and will only keep getting better. I think everyone involved in underground metal understands that 99% of bands in the scene are not full time things – everyone has jobs/family etc – but they put so much time & energy into the music because it’s their passion. I think recognizing and appreciating how much hard work goes into what we do is important.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Hahaha .. great question! We all have day jobs, families, hobbies etc … me personally, I’m an IT project manager who loves doing CrossFit every day, Scott (vox) is a stonemason, Jack (drums) is a music therapist and Clarence (bass) owns his own garden maintenance business. As far as our goals musically? We just want to keep playing shows & making music for as long as people enjoy 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)
For the last 6 months or so I have been obsessing over the Earth catalogue. I’ve always loved the band so much. Seeing them live in 2014 was incredible. The new Full Upon Her Burning Lips album is a masterpiece. Other bands I’ve been listening to a lot lately include: Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Crowbar, Fever Ray, Massive Attack, Poison Idea, Funkadelic, BADBADNOTGOOD, Greenmachine, Kendrick Lamar, Run The Jewels, Ramesses & loads more. I love all kinds of music, not just metal …
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
Our new EP No Sympathy for a Rat is being released on August 7 and we’ll follow that up with loads of live shows. Hopefully we’ll get to play overseas when the borders open up again after COVID19. If anyone is interested in bringing us to their country, get in touch!
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the publication)
Many thanks to Jason for his time!