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Artist to Artist Interviews
Bell Witch Vs. Usnea

Bell Witch Interviews Usnea

Top five best doom albums of all time:

Justin: Yob “The Unreal Never Lived”, Asunder “A Clarion Call”, Laudanum “The Coronation”, Electric Wizard “Dopethrone”, Burning Witch “Crippled Lucifer”

Johnny: The Melvins “Bullhead”, Noothgrush “Erode the Person”, Ocean Chief “Ocean Chief”, Electric Wizard “Come My Fanatics”, Neurosis “Through Silver in Blood”

Top five best funeral doom albums of all time:

Justin: Well I already said Asunder up above, so 5 more funeral bands… Worship “Last Tape Before Doomsday”, Mournful Congregation “The Monad of Creation”, Skepticism “Lead and Aether”, Aldebaran “Dwellers in Twilight”, Evoken “Atra Mors”

Joel: Black Sabbath “Black Sabbath”, Corrupted “Paso Inferior”, Aldebaran “Dwellers In Twilight”, Worship “Last Tape Before Doomsday”, dISEMBOWLMENT ” Transcendence into the Peripheral”

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Photos: Johann Currie

Top five best side dishes of all time:

Zeke: Brussel sprouts (with bacon!), lentils w/ rice and caramelized onions, roasted asparagus, anything with baba ghanouj and humus, roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

Justin: Belgian fries/poutine, potato salad, hummus and pita, chips and guac, vegan “ham” fried rice!!

Johnny: Scallion pancakes, caprese salad, stewed greens, green olives, fresh mozzarella and french bread …and a shot.

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Who recorded your album? Is he single?

Johnny: Its this dude Fester, and there’s only one of him that I’m aware of.

Zeke: Fester recorded our album at Haywire Studios in Portland. He’s been tearing it up lately – some other awesome shit he’s done include Stoneburner, Ephemeros, Knelt Rote and a ton of other great bands, mostly from Portland. All around awesome dude and great engineer!

If you all woke up with amnesia, the perfect ability to play your instruments but no recollection of your songs or musical preference, and you’re locked in a jam spot with killer gear and a bunch of food and beer, what would your first new song sound like?

Zeke: Beethoven’s 5th in drop A.

Justin: Knowing us, if we woke up and didn’t remember our songs or that we like such bleak and depressing doom metal, we’d probably play some kind of 70’s proto-heavy metal in the vein of Thin Lizzy and early Judas Priest hahaha… at least I KNOW Johnny and I would.

Stones or Beatles and why?

Joel: The Beatles, obviously. The Stones had one good dark song but the rest of their catalog wasn’t very dark and/or very good (albeit there’s some good jams in there). I dare you to take hallucinogens and listen to the White Album all the way through and think that the Beatles weren’t channeling the Dark Lord when they wrote that shit. Plus, all of their albums (except maybe the first one) are great. There are more terrible Stones records than that (especially the more recent stuff).

Justin: The Stones would obviously be the better party in their hey-day, hell, even now!! Also they are much darker and more dangerous but in all fairness, the Beatles were more innovative. I’d still go with the darker partying Stones though!!

Johnny: Can’t really have sex to the Beatles.

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Was OJ guilty?

Zeke: Well he’s in jail isn’t he?

Justin: He was certainly found guilty of the armed robbery of valuable sports paraphernalia in Las Vegas in 2008 if that’s what you’re talking about.

What’s next for Usnea? Upcoming tours?

Justin: We just recorded a Black Sabbath cover for an upcoming comp. Otherwise, we are jaunting down to Dead Fest in Mid August with our pals Stoneburner and Bastard Feast and playing Arcata, CA and Ashland on the way. We hope to finish writing for the next record sometime this WINTER and record with Fester for a release sometime in the first half of 2014. Then, we are hoping to kidnap you Bell Witches and do SICK TIGHT TOUR together. Hella Tight For Days Tour 2014.

What or who is your biggest musical influence? As a band?

Justin: Probably the one we would all agree on would be Neurosis or Yob. Individually, Mike Scheidt from Yob would be high up there. John Gossard and his many bands (Weakling, The Gault and Asunder) have all had a major influence on my trajectory and writing concerning underground metal.

Joel: As Justin said, we can all agree on YOB and Neurosis. I’d throw Sleep in there as well with a sprinkle of funeralness in for flavor.

Johnny: Black Sabbath.

Zeke: Neurosis.

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What was the best show Usnea has ever played?

Zeke: We’ve played a lot of really amazing shows. I was really stoked on our homecoming show from our last tour. The lineup was awesome (Norska, Bell Witch and Bastard Feast), the turnout was pretty incredible and it was super fun. Best hometown show we’ve ever had. Apart from that, I always love playing house and warehouse shows – Oakland in particular has a great scene for that. Our shows there this tour were awesome.

Joel: My favorite show so far has been in Flagstaff, AZ. We played a house where the basement was packed with crust punks and kids living on the reservation near by. When we started playing they all went apeshit, almost took out Justin’s guitar pedals, and kept the energy insane the whole show. Needless to say, we aren’t used to having people mosh to our slow music, so it was pretty cool. We ended up staying at this awesome house too—called the “Big House” or something—where this guy ran a pirate radio station that played mostly underground metal. He said he had been playing our album and we all collectively went “Oh, that’s why the show was nuts.”

Justin: That’s a tough call. We’ve had a blast every time we’ve played with Bell Witch, from our very first show, to that crazy tequila-soaked stoned haze at that fest we played together near Mt. Baker and all the way to our tour homecoming and the dates we shared with you in Seattle, Tacoma and Portland. Opening for Yob and Rolling Through the Universe was an incredible night. Our album release with Stoneburner and Ephemeros was also off the hook. I am too indecisive to pick one. Burial Grounds in Salem, OR is always crazy. We always have a blast in Oakland and Seattle. Ryan at Ear/Splitters did an amazing show for us in Los Angeles. Yeah, I guess I don’t have one “THE BEST” hahaha.

Johnny: We played on top of a hill, in the middle of nowhere to a bunch of hippies flailing wildly around a bonfire frying on acid. The sound was terrible, the beer ran out, but playing heavy metal in the woods while the moon streaked across the sky was amazing.

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