Everyone who knows that I am into metal knows that I am a huge doom and sludge metal style lover. So when I came across Uzala it did not take long for me to fall in love with that band, and the vocals are simply captivating to me. I got a chance to talk with Chad Remains about all things Uzala.
Tell us a little about UZALA for those not familiar with your band.
UZALA was conceived and born in 2009 in the dripping concrete guts of a Cold War relic nuclear fallout shelter in the hills. Darcy and I started the band by writing two songs and wanting more.
The classics of old style heavy metal like old Judas Priest and Black Sabbath were in mind, as well as the progenitors of doom and black/death metal in the sense of the old gods Bathory, Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, and Pentagram, Candlemass, Trouble, Saint Vitus, etc.
We released a four-song demo in 2010 with the first copies going out to friends and foes at ROADBURN FESTIVAL. Soon after I got an angry message from a guy in Finland saying “fuck your cd demo – make TAPES” – so we made 120 of those and they were gone quickly.
After going through a few bass players we had a good lineup with Nick Phit (Graves at Sea) on the low end and we started recording the self titled record in 2011 with Blake Green (WOLVSERPENT) engineering and producing. That was released on vinyl by At War with False Noise in early 2012 with CDs being released by us and cassettes from Witch Sermon followed directly by the ‘Cataract/Death Masque” 12” single from AWWFN. King of the Monsters released the split 7” with MALA SUERTE. That was the last recording with Stephen Gere (Built to Spill) on drums.
We have done some touring in the North West US as well as down through California and a couple of bigger tours through the US playing gigs with such killers as YOB, Dark Castle, Atriarch, VHOL, Chelsea Wolfe, True Widow, The Roller, Velnias, Cough, Bongripper, Mount Salem, Satan’s Satyrs, Cardinal Wyrm, LOSS, Red Shield, Mike Scheidt (solo), Wolves in the Throne Room, WOLVSERPENT, Menace Ruine, EARTH, Church of Misery, Mala Suerte, Ladybird, Sabbath Assembly, Dead to a Dying World, Anhedonist, Black Queen, shit… so many more I can’t even remember them all. Maybe I should have kept a list going…
We recorded our latest album, ‘Tales of Blood & Fire’ in January of 2013 in six days at Witch Ape Studio with Tad Doyle as commander in chief. It was mixed and mastered by Mell Dettmer at her Soli Studios and released on LP and CD by King of the Monsters Records. Three different colors of numbered edition cassettes were released via GypsyBlood Records. The initial colored vinyl pressings of that are long gone, but there is still black vinyl available through KotM or through us at gigs or on our bandcamp page.
We are currently writing new songs and preparing for Treefort Festival in March here in Boise and then touring Europe for two weeks with SABBATH ASSEMBLY starting at HEAVY DAYS IN DOOMTOWN festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. More NW stuff in July and then more travels in the autumn. Along the way there will be more songs written and we are working on a couple of cover tunes as well. Classics that we love that we really want to play live.
Do you three have any side projects; I know one of you lays waste with Ephemeros?
Chuck Watkins (drums) plays with the abysmally dark and ferociously heavy Ephemeros. It is not a side project. Ephemeros is a full-fledged band. Their album, ‘All Hail Corrosion’ is a funeral doom masterwork. It is perfect in every way. Seventh Rule Records on CD and Parasitic Records on vinyl released ‘All Hail Corrosion’ in 2013. Don’t listen to it in an empty and cold house in the dark. You have been warned!
I don’t have any other musical endeavors that I am working on currently and neither does Darcy, although she keeps threatening to make an R&B/soul record.That would be killer.
How does it feel being a power trio? Do you miss a fourth member?
Playing as a trio has been great. Darcy is running her rig with an octave/splitter so the signal goes from her guitar into both a guitar amp and a bass amp. We each had custom 6×12” cabinets built by the wizards at HEX CABS (dudes from EAGLE TWIN) that could handle the job. Darcy’s side has bass 12”s on one side and guitar 12”s on the other side. Each side has it’s own input and they are split down the middle and braced like a battleship. Mine is similar, but no bass speakers. They delivered way more than we had hoped for. They are easily the most solidly built cabinets I have ever seen or played through. Essentially they are speaker cabinets that are built into road cases. Incredibly tough, beautiful, and sound crystal clear all the way into the painful decibels!
What inspired you to the more doom sludge sound of metal?
I don’t hear the sludge part of the equation in our music, but I guess everybody hears things differently. Goatsnake in a lot of ways inspired us, I reckon. The clear vocals coupled with the heavy as hell and driving music. Others as well of course, but the clean singing style was important to us with the big riffs. I really like songs where you can hear the lyrics! My vocal style isn’t exactly clean, but I think you can definitely make out the words. I only do vocals on two songs right now anyway, so if folks don’t like it – it’s only a couple of minutes until Darcy sings again. Ha! Those songs are a bit faster and more aggressive, not suited to Darcy’s vocal style.
The band has achieved a real “old school” Pentagram and Trouble type of sound, were you aiming for this starting out or did you morph into this style.
If anything we are morphing the other way. I think our demo and some of the stuff off of the s/t is “old school” sounds and now we sound clearer and there is more of a modern tone happening. Or I’m completely wrong. I think it’s sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees. We mostly use old, or old style amplification and guitars and effects, so I’m sure that has a lot to do with it. We aren’t trying to “experiment” with weird song structures and modern devices or proggy stuff with crazy jams or anything. We try to make efficient songs that are memorable although sometimes they do get a bit long. That may have more to do with the tempos than anything, though.
Can you tell us about the track Countess?
Countess tells a tale of “the Blood Countess”, Elisabeth Bathory. Her tale is fairly well known. Briefly, she was 16th century Hungarian nobility who had no need for societies’ ideas of morality. She was seeking eternal youth, or at least a younger complexion, and her “fountain” was the blood of young women. The rest of the details are readily available in many accounts for any who wish to indulge themselves.
Darcy and I wrote all of the music on ‘Tales of Blood & Fire’ as opposed to the s/t record where “Plague” was written by our old drummer, Stephen, and then arranged for guitars by Darcy and I. Darcy writes all of the lyrics that she sings and the same goes for me. It seems more natural that way for us. So “Countess” started out as a collection of riffs and then we rearranged and tweaked it until it was a song. The center section with the whispering was products of improvisation in the studio – since we hadn’t yet played that song live. It is still evolving in ways live, but mainly we “trim the fat” for live performances rather than to expand songs.
Give us some back story on Dark Days as well
“Dark Days” is told from the perspective of a woman who has been accused of Witchcraft. The original inspiration is from Darcy’s own family lineage, back in the Witch Trials of Salem, Massachusetts. Her lyrics are particularly effective with her vocal delivery on this one.
So is Darcy single, is she accepting marriage proposals, is there a line where I can stand to propose? All kidding aside, she has an amazing voice that is so complimentary of your music, how do you go about writing to accentuate not only her style but bring out the richness of the band?
Well, she married me almost fourteen years ago, so, NO. We have known each other since 1997, we’re in it for the long haul. Sorry bud. We simply write riffs and make songs. There’s no secret to it. If we don’t like a riff or a section, we throw it out. Ain’t nobody got time for a riff they don’t like.
What do you make of the resurgence of the more sludge and doom styles of metal as of late?
I see it as more of a continuation of the basis that was built by the legends. If you want to call it a resurgence, that’s fine. Some of us have been listening to the heavy shit and seeing live shows for more years than we care to count. I’m old enough to be some of these kids’ dad. Hell, maybe I am! It’s great being a lifer.
Time for the last question, who are the top bands you are listening to at the moment?
Funkadelic, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, WITCH, UpsideDownCross, In Solitude, Sub Rosa, Watain, DUST, VHÖL, Scorpions, Chains, Chelsea Wolfe, Morne, Dissection, Pallbearer, Windhand, Black Sabbath (been listening to MOB RULES on repeat!), Satan’s Satyrs, Flower Travellin’ Band, Ved Buens Ende, Judas Priest, Sir Lord Baltimore, and more. Mike Scheidt introduced me to Runemagick when we were on tour back in October. FFFFffffffUUUuuuccckkkkk! I can’t believe I never heard them before then! I blasted “Shout at the Devil” by Mötley Crüe on Xmas morning much to my daughter’s chagrin. Her first live concert was Earth when she was four, so she’s used to my bad behavior.
WE LOVE YOU.