THE HORDE: You guys are playing at the 420 music and arts festival April 20-22 in Calgary Alberta at DISTORTION live music venue. Are you guys excited to be part of this awesome festival and very good line up for three days, any bands you are planning to see play at the festival?
WO FAT : We are stoked to be a part of this festival. We’ve never played in Calgary before so it’s a new frontier for us and this seemed like a good opportunity to get up there and play a show. Unfortunately we won’t be in town until Friday so we’ll miss the bands playing Thursday but I’m looking forward to checking out Anciients as well as reconnecting with Chron Goblin, who we had a great time hanging with in London a couple years ago when we played at Desertfest with them. One of the really cool things about festivals like these is it is also an opportunity to check some new bands that I haven’t heard before.
THE HORDE: Is 420 festival the first marijuana friendly festival you guys have played at before and our you guys planning on sticking around for the whole three days, if so what are some of the high lights you would expect to see?
WO FAT : I guess it is maybe the first specifically marijuana focused event we’ve played, although weed is something fairly ubiquitous in our genre, especially when we’ve played in Europe. As I mentioned we’ll miss the Thursday night festivities but we’ll be hangin’ and diggin’ the vibe Friday and Saturday. We’re really just looking to hear some new music and check out what the festival has going on as far as vendors and just enjoy our time in Calgary. It’s not often that we have an extra day to just hang out. Usually when we’ve played multi-day festivals in the past, we’ve been on tour and are only there for the day we play.
THE HORDE: What kind of band do you guys see yourself as?
WO FAT : That’s always a tough question to answer. I would say we are a psychedelic blues-doom band, maybe that just ultimately boils down to a stoner rock band. I don’t know. Our music is essentially very blues based, but also very heavy and riffy. We also include a good bit of improvisation in parts of our songs and the active synergy and communication on stage between musicians is very vital to what we’re trying to do. In a lot of ways I see it as a conceptually jazz-minded approach to playing riff-based rock and roll. That probably confused the question more than answered it, but I suppose ultimately it’s up to the listener to decide what it is to them. So come check it out.
THE HORDE: where did your sound evolve from and what are some of your musical influences?
WO FAT: We have quite a few musical influences that come into play with our sound. We have all of the usual suspects as far as influences go for Stoner Metal or Doom Metal – Black Sabbath, Hendrix, Cactus, Deep Purple, Trouble, Sleep, Fu Manchu, Nebula, etc., but we also bring in some jazz, especially 70’s jazz fusion influences, like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. And of course the very foundation of what we’re doing comes from the blues – cats like Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, R. L. Burnside, and some old gospel, like Staple Singers. My concept all along has been to meld all of these styles of music that I love into our own thing. We’re not necessarily trying to create something entirely new, but I think have used this established musical vocabulary to create our own sound that is somewhat unique to us, our own dialect maybe.
I come from a jazz background and got into heavier rock and metal later, so I kind of came at it all in a reverse way from most people I know, so I very much have a jazz-based way of thinking and writing music. Even though we’re not using the harmonic and melodic aspects of jazz in our music, it’s still very much a blues and rock foundation melodically. But we are applying a jazz sensibility as far as improvisation and freedom goes.
We also have tried to incorporate some Afro Cuban rhythmic elements into our grooves as well. We’re all big fans of Afro-Cuban rhythms and it’s just something that works great with heavy grooves.
THE HORDE: you guys use a lot of analog recording equipment is it hard to find older gear to use for recording that your albums etc.?
WO FAT : The studio that Michael (our drummer) and I own and run together is a very established studio in Dallas and has actually been in existence since 1979, so most of the amazing analog gear that we use for recording is part of that studio. There is a lot of great analog gear still floating around out there. Most of the really good vintage stuff has gotten a bit pricey, but there are also a number of guys that have started small boutique companies building great analog gear either based on or inspired by the classic stuff that is often times more affordable.
At the studio we have a vintage analog SSL4000 console that is the centerpiece to the studio and I absolutely love it. It is a legendary recording console and mixing through it and getting that analog vibe that it imparts sounds so much better than mixing in a computer and using computer plugins that were designed to emulate what this console actually does.
Probably the one thing most difficult about relying on vintage gear is maintenance and repairs. Anything that is 30-40 years old will need some work now and then and that can be somewhat challenging from time to time.
THE HORDE: before WO FAT was created was there any other older bands that you guys played in and any releases we can listen to?
WO FAT: There aren’t really any official releases. I played in a funk band that was very much influenced by 70’s funk as well as the 80’s Washington D.C. Go Go scene. Michael and I played in a couple of bands together in the 90’s, one was an experimental hip hop/rock thing and the other a more straight forward metal band. It wasn’t until Wo Fat that we really had completed albums that saw proper release.
THE HORDE: I really dig the art work for your last album “ Midnight Cometh “ do you use the same artist for all your album cover and who is he?
WO FAT: We have used a few different artists over the years. For Midnight Cometh, an artist who has become a good friend of ours named David Paul Seymour created that amazing artwork. We try to find people that we think will capture the vibe we’re going for and deliver something that enhances the music. Our albums, especially the last three, all kind of have an over-arching concept to them. Not necessarily a story per se, but kind of a loose theme, and for the artwork, I will discuss this larger concept with the artist, give them all the lyrics, give them mixes of the music to hear, give them the album title, and then see what they come up with. I want to be able to give a lot of creative freedom to the artist and I don’t want to have to say “draw this, paint that”. I want them to be inspired by the lyrical concept and create from that. This is why it’s profoundly important to be working with the right person who can see the vision and vibes with it. The art for our previous four records was done by a killer artist from Germany named Alexander von Wieding and, like with David, he completely understood the vibe we wanted and created some absolutely kick ass work for us. To me, the artwork for a record is very important. I grew up buying vinyl and, as a kid, I would bring home new records and put them on the turntable and while I was listening, I would just stare at the album cover. I would read the liner notes plus the art and absorb it all as I absorbed the music. It was a part of the whole experience and it saddens me that album art and the concept of having a physical thing in your hands that is THE ALBUM is becoming a thing of the past. For our records, we take great care in the packaging and art and to me, the art helps to establish that first vibe and atmosphere for the album. It helps to put the listener in a certain headspace to receive it.
The Horde: Is there plans for a new album in 2017 and a possible release date if there is?
In the near future, meaning Fall 2017, we will be re-releasing our live album, Live Juju, that was recorded at Freak Valley Festival in Germany and was originally only released as a limited edition vinyl release. This re-release will contain a second record that has additional live recordings from both Europe and the US and will be available on both vinyl and CD.
We have just recently begun the writing process for the next record. We are still in the very early stages of that, but the hope is to have a new record out by spring 2018. It’s an exciting time because we got a new bass player last summer, Zack Busby, and he brings a whole new vibe to certain aspects of the groove, so I’m looking forward to fleshing out the new jams with him.
The Horde: What does the future hold for Wo fat do you plan on touring the solar system and beyond with your heavy smoke infused style of music ?
WO FAT: We’d love to! We don’t tour as much as we would like or as much as many of our fans would like, but we will do as much as we can. We will be doing a short tour with our buds The Well from Austin, TX in June up to the East coast to play Maryland Doom Fest, which we are quite stoked about. There may be some other international stuff in the works too.