Firstly guys, I just want to say how much I love “Nomads”, it’s really brightened up my winter. So many great songs. My head’s been like a “Nomads” themed jukebox for weeks. There’s always one Mos Generator tune or another running in my brain!
It’s been quite a long hiatus since “Songs For Future Gods” in 2007. Did you always know you’d get back together to make “Nomads”?
We needed a break. We had been going at it for 7 years and not making a lot of headway. We were getting burned out and also there were things in our personal lives that were taking focus away from the band. I knew we would play together again. Our bond is too strong to just let it go for good.
What can you do in Mos Generator that is different to Stone Axe and your other bands? Is it just what the personnel bring, or do you have something particular in mind?
The three of us have been playing together in Mos Generator and other bands for over 20 years, so there is a connection and a chemistry between us that is very rare to find between musicians. It really comes out in the live shows. The songs are a bit different every night depending on how each player feels and free-forming is a big part of keeping the live set interesting . I have never had this kind of connection with any other players. I miss it when we are not playing together.
Tony, as a producer what albums and producers inspired you? Were there any particular touchstones for “Nomads”?
My favorite producers are Martin Birch, Terry Brown, Jimmy Page, Steve Albini and Prince…just to name a few. For “Nomads” I went a very direct and more modern production than I have on our passed albums. I would say that I referenced Martin Birch during the recording and mixing more than any other engineer. His style seems to fit the kind of music we make.
There’s a laid-back vibe to your albums, is this because you’re laid-back guys, and it just naturally comes across or is it a conscious sound your trying to create – or both?
I think that it is a natural sound for us. We move through a lot of moods and textures in our music and if you are too forward with the delivery it becomes rigid sounding and the parts don’t flow well. Shawn (Johnson, drums) has a lot to do with the laid back sound. He has great swagger and plays on the back end of things. We are also pretty laid back guys (laughs).
All the songs on “Nomads” have a really strong identity and are almost instantly memorable. What’s your secret to songwriting, guys?
We just play what we like. When a riff comes along that makes us want to play it then we build off of that. On “Nomads” I let more of my pop sensibility creep into the songwriting. I have always been into hooks but on this album a wasn’t afraid to really let the hooks take over the heavy feel of the songs.
I hold my hand up and admit I didn’t realise ‘Solar Angels’ was a Judas Priest cover. Not many people cover Judas Priest (I can only think of one song by Slayer). Why that song? Why that band?
It would appear that many people do not know that is a Judas Priest song. We had three songs to choose from to do as a cover for the album. ‘Solar Angels’, ‘Country Girl’ by Black Sabbath, or ‘We Become One’ by Fastway. These are all kind of lost songs in the catalogs of the bands that wrote them and oddly enough they are the first song on the second side of the albums they come from. These songs all come from the early eighties and that was the era the three of us grew up in. We are big fans of the new wave of british heavy metal.
I’ve seen it remarked that ‘Solar Angels’ feels like the end of side one of the album, and I tend to agree. Did you still think in terms of sides?
I totally think of sides. When I start the track order for a CD release I still line it out and side one and side two. It’s going to come out on vinyl as well anyway. On the LP ‘Solar Angels’ is the first song on side two just like on “Point of Entry”.
How do you feel about digital download of individual tracks ? Does it denigrate your art or are you just happy someone likes a song enough to buy it?
As long as people are getting the music then I am not really concerned about how they get it.
Who’s idea was it to go out in support of Saint Vitus? Did you bring it up whilst producing “Lillie:F- 65” for them?
We played with Saint Vitus here in Seattle last October and it was suggested by the band that we do the European tour with them in 2013. How could we say no to that?
Do you think the hardcore doom fans will enjoy your stuff?
The audiences in Europe have a much wider range of musical taste than american audiences. I think they just enjoy good music. If you are honest in what you are doing and give it all you’ve got then they are going to enjoy it. I think it’s going to be great for us.
Have you heard the acoustic stuff Wino (of Saint Vitus) has been doing with Conny Ochs? Your songs are strong enough to translate to simpler acoustic versions, Unplugged Generator if you will. Have you ever considered going acoustic in some form?
I have seen a few Wino acoustic shows and I thought they were great. Although I have been talking about doing an acoustic based tune on the next record, I have never considered doing a full Mos Generator acoustic record or set.
Are there plans to play any European festivals this year?
Not as of right now.
Incidentally, and this is true – Many years ago, on the way home from the pub, I had an idea to start a country band doing covers of Judas Priest songs. I was singing ‘Breaking The Law’ to myself and it just kind of morphed into a Hank Williams style number. Luckily, I sobered up the next morning and remembered I have no musical talent. A few years later Hayseed Dixie were born (who do blue grass-style AC/DC covers) and I kind of felt like I was justified in my drunken judgement. Feel free to take my idea and run with it, honestly, I’m giving it to you. Are you interested?
If you find a label to release it (laughs)!
Thanks for putting up with my nonsense guys, I hope it wasn’t too trying.
Thank you. We really appreciate your enthusiasm and support for the band. Thank you so much….cheers.