Listen while you read: http://belzebong.bandcamp.com/
What is Belzebong’s current lineup? Has this always been your lineup or have you made some changes over time?
Sheepy dude: Belzebong’s current lineup is Cheesy dude, Alky dude, Falony dude and Sheepy dude. There’s also Boogie dude who’s responsible for the video-visuals at our gigs. The thing that’s really changed over time is our drummer, few years ago Falony dude replaced the former dude Jelony. That and we’ve grown moustaches.
Alky dude: Once we had a vocalist, but, as the legend goes, we forgot to pick him up from a parking lot somewhere along the highway and there’s a rumor that says his ghost now wanders the streets of Salem.
The more people I talk to the more I realize most musicians who are trying to pay the bills these are days are in more than one band. Are any of you in any other bands that are currently active? Have you released any music with anyone else? If so can you tell us about that?
Alky dude: Never paid a bill with music, mostly in cash, or bank transfers. Yeah some of us are involved in other bands, playing totally different stuff though.
Sheepy dude: Yeah, music and bills don’t mix man. To pay bills eventually you’re going to need a real job.
Where are you originally from?
Alky dude: Kielce, Poland in the middle of Europe.
Sheepy dude: The city where the wind blows cold as fuck, so they say. It’s located in these old ass mountains. Actually they’re so old they don’t look like mountains anymore man. They’re pretty low; lots of forests around, witches, boars and shit. There’s a hill where witch Sabbaths took place a long time ago in the pagan times, that’s why a witch riding a broomstick is the official symbol of the region.
Did the music scene where you grew up play a large part in your childhood or musical taste?
Sheepy dude: Nope, not really. The local scene here is mostly focused on hip hop shit, which has never interested us.
Was your household very musical when you were a child? Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?
Alky dude: My parents weren’t, but my granddad used to play drunken folk chants on the accordion at parties.
Sheepy dude: No, there were no musicians in my family. I got hooked on my own.
What was your first real exposure to music?
Alky dude: 80's disco/pop on the radio.
Sheepy dude: I think that a Dr. Alban cassette was the first shit I got to listen to.
Cheesy dude: My father used to bring home some Russian vinyl from the black market in late 80's. I remember the Commodores, Bon Jovi and Michael Jackson in particular.
If you had to pick one defining moment of transcendent music to you, a moment that changed how you heard music and opened the door to all the infinite possibilities, what would it be?
Alky dude: Hearing Sodom’s In The Sign Of Evil when I was ten years old. Followed by Venom and King Diamond later on.
Sheepy dude: Oh man, listening to music while trippin’ in the woods, seeing sounds and shit! That experience changed my view on music and other stuff. The doors of perception were opened wide and my musical taste even changed a bit too; I have swum into the open seas of psychedelia.
When and how did you all originally meet?
Alky dude: We met in the woods surrounding our city. Seriously. And it was hell a long ago.
Sheepy dude: Yes, Cheesy, Alky and I have known each other for a while. It’s hard to tell you exactly how we met in those woods, but we’ve been good friends ever since.
What exactly led to the formation of Belzebong and when was that? Is there any guiding force or universal principal that you all subscribe to?
Alky dude: A toothless gypsy fairy with a rat on a string we met in a damp cellar gave as bong full of riffs.
Sheepy dude: Something like that. Sometimes a rat on a string is a bat on a stick. The guiding force is a bong with a gravity that draws us all together to smoke some shit and make some badass riffs. Smoke and riff, riff and weed, that’s our game, that’s our creed.
What does the name Belzebong mean or refer to? I seriously dig the name! How did you go about choosing it and who came up with it?
Alky dude: Once again, the legend goes that it was the Bong Jinni from the afore mentioned bong. He came up with the idea, or maybe it was someone else? Hmm... I don't remember.
Sheepy dude: The Bong gave us the name. Well, actually we accidently released a green Jinn from the old bong that the gypsy witch gave us the other day. It didn’t grant us any wishes though, greedy motherfucker, but it did give us that funny name which defines our style so well.
Where’s the band currently located at?
Alky dude: Four different cities in Poland, in a 500 km perimeter.
Sheepy dude: Yeah, we’re a bit scattered. We rehearse in Warsaw, the capitol of Poland.
How would you describe the local music scene there?
Alky dude: It's okayyy...
Sheepy dude: The scene is growing man. There’s some interesting bands coming up, there’re some cool shows too, and even a stoner festival with some big names on it. Not bad at all if you ask me.
Are you very involved in the local music scene? Do you book or attend a lot of shows? Do you help to record and or release any local music?
Cheesy dude: Check out Weedpecker dude, they're pretty awesome. I recorded some FX-textures for their track “Weedfields”.
Do you feel like the local music scene where you all are at has played a large role in Belzebong in any capacity or do you feel like you could have done what you have and sound like you do regardless of your geographic location or musical surroundings?
Sheepy dude: Not really. Actually location had nothing to do with our sound or style since there were weren’t any other bands in Poland even slightly similar to what we were doing back then when we started. So we didn’t really look locally for inspiration, we’ve found that elsewhere on the internet and shit. Then we just put the bong in motion and the riffs followed.
While we are talking so much about Belzebong’s history can we take a moment to talk about your musical influences? There are some pretty obvious sounds that you draw from for a lot of your music, but there are a lot of less apparent elements to the music that only become audible when you listen to the music a few times and start to pick it apart a bit. I’m interested to hear who you’d cite as your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?
Alky dude: Songs 'bout drugs and space, in general.
Sheepy dude: Bud, cheeba, chronic, dagga, dak, dank, dope, doobage, draw, dro, electric puha, frodis, ganja, grass, green, hash, hay, herb, indo, instaga, kush, leaf, Mary Jane, nugget, nug, pot, reefer, schwag, sensi, skunk, sticky-icky-icky, tea, tree, wacky tobacky. Weed… The main musical influences on Belzebong are bands such as Bongzilla, Electric Wizard, Sleep and Weedeater to name the obvious ones. There’s also some bluesy and psychedelic stuff, some drone and of course Black Sabbath.
I would like to think I’m fairly good at a lot of things, and I love what I do. I love tracking down, talking to and sharing great bands with people. But one of the reasons I will be forever grateful to the internet is being able to link people to music instead of having to describe it because I am shamefully bad at it. I end up spending a bunch of time meandering on and on, using needless verbiage and ultimately end up confusing more people than I interest. Rather than me taking some awkward stab at describing your sound to our readers, how would you describe Belzebong’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you before in your own words?
Sheepy dude: A poet would say it sounds like a stoned ass motherfuckin’ giant goat tumbling down a staircase straight to hell in slow motion. I’d say it’s the sound of thick smoke bubbling up from a dirty old bong. I’d say it sounds like feeling really stoned in mysterious and eerie surroundings, like a space swamp and shit.
Do you all enjoy recording? I know that most musicians can appreciate the final product, there’s not a whole lot in the world that beats holding a finished album in your hands and knowing that it’s yours and you made it. Getting into the studio to record that material though, it can be really trying to say the least! How is it recording for you all?
Alky dude: Unfortunately we can't reveal to you the secret of our recording procedure. We can only say that it's a ritual which involves virgin sacrifices.
Sheepy dude: Recording is kinda fun. We’re usually stoned. But to be honest I prefer live shows, where we’re much more stoned and it’s even more fun.
How do you all handle recording? Do you head into the studio to record or is it more of a DIY project on your own time, terms and turf?
Sheepy dude: Yep, it’s more of a DIY, on our terms with the help of our friends and the bong Jinni occasionally, kind of thing.
Cheesy dude: We take our old vintage amps and effects and put up some microphones. A wall of fuzz and a mist of psychedelia are required to produce our stuff.
Does Belzebong do a lot of preparation work before recording getting all the arrangements and changes just the way you want them? Or is it more of a flexible organic process where things have room for change and variation during the recording process?
Sheepy dude: It turns out to be pretty flexible, ‘cause it’s always time for a good change. We often play our songs differently at different shows, and the recorded versions are just one of those different versions. It could be a little bit slower or even super slow depending on how much weed we smoke while playing it. The main structure of the song and the riffs are solid and set before recording, but a lot of stuff, space effects and arrangements are often improvised by Cheesy dude on the spot.
Electro Harmonix Belzebong Pedal
Can you tell us about Belzebong’s songwriting process? Is there someone who approaches the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band or is it more of a cohesive exchange of ideas while jamming together in the practice space?
Sheepy dude: Usually we work on ideas at home separately and bring them to the practice space. Sometimes it’s just a riff or two, and sometimes it’s a whole raw piece. We’ll add some other riffs, check how they fit, smoke a lot of dope. That’s it.
Alky dude: It's more of a cohesive exchange of ideas while jamming together in the practice space. Yeah, space is the word.
You guys seem pretty open about your drug usage, at least as far as marijuana is concerned with Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves being the name of your first album and your name containing the word bong. Do substances play a large part in your songwriting process? Do you ever utilize psychotropic drugs when writing or performing your music?
Sheepy dude: Marijuana, yes. We’ve dedicated our music to that very substance. The substance is the process itself. From the early beginning to the very end of it. We want to produce sound and riffs that make you stoned just by listening to it. We had to soak every single note with smoke to do so, even if that meant we had to be getting baked constantly in the process. That’s real deal stoner magic right there. We don’t use any other drugs when writing or performing music because it would make a dissonance in our message.
Alky dude: Never did it sober though.
Let’s take some time and talk a little bit about your back catalog for a moment. Your first release was 2011’s Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves which at that point was a self-released CD housed in a mini album sleeve, hand numbered and limited to 420 copies ha-ha! Can you share your memories of recording that first album? Was it a fun pleasant experience for you all? When was that material recorded? Where was it recorded at? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?
Cheesy dude: I remember it was cold outside... We recorded it in Cracow with our friend Misiek in two days. A lot of people ask us about the equipment that was used, the only thing that I can really say is that a Big Muff was involved in the process.
Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves was extremely well received. How do you feel about the receival of the album? It has to be kind of overwhelming! While a lot of bands these days are lucky to sell out a pressing of 300 LPs in a few years I know the initial self-released CD pressing of 420 copies sold out and then was re-released in several forms by Emetic Records. They started with a Tour Edition of 30 copies on translucent green vinyl, followed by a run of 300 copies on translucent green vinyl with alternate artwork and 500 more copies of the CD again housed in a mini album sleeve. Instant Classics issued an ultra-rare edition of 66 copies on cassette tape this year (2013) as well. Emetic Records has also issued a black vinyl pressing of the album this year. Do you know how many copies that black vinyl pressing is limited to? Is that out of print at this point? I checked out Emetic’s webpage and couldn’t find any copies on their site.
Erratum: The 30 piece Tour Edition was a before the tour idea. In fact it sold out pretty fast. The black pressing was limited to 500 copies and it's already sold out as well. No further represses are to be done on wax, cd or tape.
Sheepy dude: Yes, it’s awesome that the album was so well received. I guess we were just very lucky. Shit rolls on though man.
You followed up the extremely successful Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves with Dungeon Vultures, a single-sided 12” limited to 350 copies Instant Classic Records earlier this year. Was the recording of this material very different than the session(s) for Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves? What can our listeners expect from the new album? Did you try anything new or radically different with the songwriting or recording of Dungeon Vultures?
Sheepy dude: The recording ritual on Dungeon Vultures was pretty much the same as the Sonic Scapes process. A lot of smoke and shit.
Cheesy dude: We recorded it with Misiek again but this time it we were in Warsaw, in the Belzebong dungeon.
Alky dude: Yeah, we loaded the bongs even more than usual.
I know that Dungeon Vultures is limited to 350 copies but there were also 42 copies that came with “personalized Ouija boards for summoning the Bong Jinni”. What did the personalized Ouija boards consist of? What brought about the idea of including Ouija boards with copies of the album?
Alky dude: It was the Jinni again. By using this board one can summon him and decide whether to smoke or to smoke, ya know. But first, you have to put a resined inflorescence on the board so the Jinni’s satisfied when he appears.
Does Belzebong have any music that we haven’t talked about yet? Have you been featured on any compilations or have any exclusive tracks featured anywhere?
Alky dude: It's in our heads man. It just needs to be recorded sometime soon.
Sheepy dude: That’s pretty much all of it, new tracks can only be heard live for now. We’ll put them on a record soon.
With the somewhat recent release of Dungeon Vultures are there any other releases planned or in the works at this point? If so can you talk a little bit about them?
Alky dude: EmeticRecords is pressing the US version of Dungeon Vultures on green wax with additional 2009 demo tracks, never before released on any physical media.
Sheepy dude: Yeah man we’re baking some new material to be released sometime next year. As for now the Jinn has suggested “Drug Me To Hell” as the name for the new album. You can expect some quality Belzebong’s riffs and shit on it.
Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music? With the recent insane international postage rate increases I try to provide people with as many options for picking up music as I possibly can!
Alky dude: Emetic Records is the place!
What about our international and overseas readers?
Alky dude: There’s eBay, Discogs and some distributors, but be aware, this stuff is selling faster than you can roll a fatty.
And where’s the best place for readers to keep up on the latest news from Belzebong like upcoming shows and album releases at?
Alky dude: Facebong page.
Are there any major goals that you all are looking to accomplish in 2014?
Alky dude: Play sober. Nah, just kiddin' ha-ha. That won't happen.
Sheepy dude: Hit some festivals, hit some bongs, record and release some shit, have a good time and get more people stoned with our sonic dope.
What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year if anything? With 2014 right around the corner what about the New Year?
Alky dude: I think that we'll get wasted as usual on the New Year’s Eve. Some touring plans are being crystalized in Heisenberg's lab right now. We'll see.
Do you all enjoy touring? Do you spend a lot of time on the road?
Alky dude: In fact we spend more time on the road than in the clubs ha-ha! And yeah, we enjoy it; adventure!!!
Sheepy dude: Bong in hand, the road ahead. We love it man.
You have played with some seriously awesome bands over the last few years. Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?
Alky dude: Pentagram, oh and Gebarrmaschinenman, or whatever they were called. Great experience!
Sheepy dude: Well yes indeed. There were many awesome bands we have played with last years. My favorites? Weedeater for sure, love these guys. Ufomammut, we had some fun together, Bongripper and Conan in London that was heavy as fuck!
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Cheesy dude: Once I had a nose bleed for half a show, once someone gave us a pipe with something other than weed in it, once a guy stood on his head on the front of the stage surrounded by green smoke.
© Hubert Herbut
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Alky dude: Rihanna and Janis. That would be a perfect combo!
Sheepy dude: Spinal Tap!
With all of the various mediums available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you are listening to and or purchasing music?
Sheepy dude: Music itself is something ethereal, wax, cd or tape, it’s just merely the vessel. My preferred medium would be telepathy.
I grew up around a fairly sizable collection and fell in love with being able to hold music in your hands. There’s something about having liner notes and artwork to look at that offers a rare brief glimpse inside the minds of the artists that created it and make for a more complete listening experience, at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Alky dude: Well, yeah. Sometimes I spank it when I get a nicely pressed piece of wax man!
Sheepy dude: I like the smells.
Do you have a music collection at all? If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Alky dude: It's a vast one. Find me on Discogs.
As much as I love my collection of music it’s always presented a number of problems for me when I’m not around the house. Even with the portability of CDs and cassettes I could never manage to muster up everything that I would want to listen to on any given day. There would inevitably be “that one” album that I really wanted to listen to but hadn’t thought to bring. Digital music has changed all of that though. It still weirds me out having my entire music collection at the click of a finger but more than that when teamed with the internet digital music has been a real game changer, and as always with the good comes the bad and vice versa. While digital music seems to be leveling the playing field somewhat for independent artists willing to promote and keep up a strong online presence and has exposed people from all over the world that they otherwise would never had heard of. On the other hand illegal downloading is running rampant in the industry and the face of the music industry is rapidly changing to say the least! As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Sheepy dude: It works just fine for us. Our music spreads all over the world, and gets to places and people we never thought of getting it to. More listeners are exposed to the effects of our weedy tunes as they’re passing it to each other like a slow burning joint. That’s awesome if you ask me. If someone gets our shit for free somewhere, legally or not, and has fun with it, we won’t be bitchin about it. Have a toke mate. The shit sells anyway.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I humanly can. I spend countless hours poring over the bins at the local shop and talking to the record store clerks digging for tips and tasty treats. A lot of the best tips that I get come from musicians such as yourselves though, is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?
Alky dude: Check out our friends Weedpecker.
Sheepy dude: Yeah, check that shit man.
What about nationally and internationally?
Sheepy dude: We should ask you man, you’re the pro.
Thanks so much for taking the time to make it through this, it wasn’t short and I can’t imagine that it was super easy but hopefully you had a little fun while doing looking back at things in the big picture and seeing what you’ve accomplished! Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about?
© Marcin Pawłowski
Alky dude: We're Belzebong, we play joke, give you poo as dope.
(2011) Belzebong – Sonic Scapes & Weedy Grooves – digital, Cassette Tape, CD, 12” – Self-Released/Emetic Records/Instant Classics (Originally released on CD in mini album sleeve limited to 420 hand numbered copies, re-released by Emetic Records in a tour edition on translucent green vinyl limited to 30 copies, regular Emetic Records translucent green vinyl with alternate cover art limited to 300 copies, Emetic Records CD mini album reissue limited to 500 copies, Instant Classics Cassette Tape version limited to 66 hand numbered copies, Emetic Records black vinyl edition limited to 500 copies)
(2013) Belzebong – Dungeon Vultures – single-sided 12”/Double-Sided 12” – Instant Classic/Emetic Records (1st pressing limited to 350 copies, 42 copies with personalized Ouija boards, 2nd pressing limited to 500 copies on Swamp Green Vinyl with unreleased demos on B-Side)
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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