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Buffalo Tooth interview with Greg Downing

© Ulysses Ortega

San Francisco’s had a number of breakout artists over the past few years that have kind of caused everyone to think that anything coming out of San Fran has to sound a certain way, Ty Segall and John Dwyer I’m looking in you direction here.  Buffalo Tooth however is having none of that nonsense.  Rather than attempting to do what everyone else is doing or “fit into the scene”, they’ve taken a decidedly unique and interesting path fusing elements of punk, math rock, garage, country, surf and psychedelia to create a potent stew of surprisingly intellectual and socially aware rock ‘n’ roll.  Every song that they drop has a personality and sound all its own, standing as an individual piece of art amongst a gallery of work that’s obviously from the same brush, but done on so many varied pallets and in so many mediums it makes your head spin.  One song will be completely dosed out on fuzz and distortion, while the next is drenched in reverb and echo, jangling guitars popping and screaming in the background; and that’s before things take a turn for the twangy and the country/surf vibe starts spilling out of the speakers like a whiskey bottle that’s been knocked on its side.  There’s an intertwining hard psychedelic edge to the music that’s consistent however, and it’s not like you feel like you’re listening to a different band on each track, it’s just that you find a band that’s even capable of penning such radically different songs with a seeming Jeckyll and Hyde song writing style going on, led a lone one that’s able to do it with style and finesse all the time.  Buffalo Tooth originally caught my ear with their debut Self-Titled 7” in 2012 when the insanely killer Permanent Records suggested I check it out, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a full-length album since then.  After plans for a 2013 full-length didn’t quite pan out Buffalo Tooth are finally getting ready to drop their debut album, Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce later this year on the seriously sweet Captcha Records in conjunction with what’s quickly becoming one my favorite tape labels, Under the Gun Records.   From raved up psychedelic trips, to jangling East Coast melodies and thrashing punk rippers and everywhere in between Buffalo Tooth not only walk the walk, they talk the talk and seem to understand a few fundamental things about music most musicians are missing out on.  Not bound to any flagship style or sound, Buffalo Tooth is free to continue creating their own music with out the expectations or interference from the world around them, and that’s the way it should be.
Listen while you read:

What is Buffalo Tooth’s lineup right now?  Have you always had this lineup or have things changed at all since the band started?

The lineup right now is myself, Greg Downing, on guitar and lead vocals, Eric Kang on bass and vox and Sean Grange on drums and vox.  We had one other bassist before Eric, Jack San Filipo, who recorded and is credited on the first Self-Titled 7” we released, although Jack had left the band by the time we actually released it so Eric is pictured on the back of the 7”.

The more bands that I talk to the more that I love to play musical connect the dots.  There’s nothing more fun than following members from one band to another in this enormous family tree that spreads out infinitely, expect for maybe cheating ha-ha!  Are any of you involved in any other active bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Sean and I play in a band called Glitter Wizard.  We just got home from a three week European tour that included a performance at the coveted Roadburn Music Festival in Tillburg, Netherlands!  We’ve been playing in that band for about three years and have a couple of singles and full-lengths available on Captcha Records, our most recent being the Hunting Gatherers LP.  Sean and I have played in numerous bands before Buffalo Tooth but none of them ever made it to wax so we can skip over them.  Eric played in Poor Sons which released their Dyunes EP on Burger Records a couple years ago but have since disbanded.  He recently formed a new band with ex-Poor Sons drummer, Damon Lockaby, and guitarists Brandon Chester and Doug Stuckie called Banquet.  They’ll be playing their first show with Hot Lunch (Interview here) and Lecherous Gaze May 23rd, 2014 at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland, California.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from San Diego, Eric’s from Long Beach and Sean is from San Pedro.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows where you were younger?  Do you feel like the local scene played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or impacted the way that you play today in a large way?

I was in high school during the height of Three-One G Records and listened to a lot of the bands that came off of that label like The Locust, Arab On Radar, Upsilon Acrux, Holy Molar and Head Wound City just to name a few.  I really liked strange abrasive music at that time, something that has stuck with me.  I was also into hardcore and punk at the time, bands like Norma Jean, The Bled, Converge, Dropdead, Daughters, Blood Brothers (Burn Piano Island Burn is a great record) as well as local punk bands like The Foods and Underminded.  I also loved the classics like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Middles Class, The Ramones, Germs, MC5, Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath.  I think I was just beginning to break into my actual music taste when I was about sixteen or seventeen.  I’m the oldest child and everyone I grew up with listened to way too much reggae and adored Sublime; it took some hard work to find good music.  I tried to go to as many shows as I could but all the venues were about twenty five or thirty minutes away from my house, so it was a little difficult when I couldn’t drive.  I was young for my grade too and turned seventeen my senior year, but I did still manage to see a lot of shows.  I went to the Che Café, SOMA, The Scene (while it was open), Hot Monkey Love Café and Gelato Vera to see shows.  Most of the bands I mentioned I still appreciate and love listening to.  Buffalo Tooth is a cluster of different influences fighting for the upper hand.  I think as we progress, the hardcore and angular riffs are creeping their way into Buffalo Tooth’s sound more and more.  Sean’s drumming is definitely influenced by hardcore and power-violence, something very evident in the amount of blasts we have on our record.  Blast beats aren’t too common in most punk n’ roll bands, but we like that nasty shit baby.

What about your household when you were a kid?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives extremely involved or interested in music?

No one in my family plays music, except for my great uncle but I never met him.  Sean’s dad shreds at guitar and has released a couple records with the Michael Grange Band, I believe, and his grandma played in a bluegrass band up until she passed away.  I don’t think either of Eric’s parents play music.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Going to some concert at a military base in Oceanside or something like that, when I was six years old or so.  I think it might have been to see the Doobie Brothers.  That was probably the first time I saw a live band.  I don’t really remember much other than running around with a spring-release prank ice cream cone and trying to launch it into people’s faces; such a nice boy.

If you had to pick on defining moment of music, a moment that changed everything, opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music and altered the way you perceived reality, what would it be?

I don’t know about an exact moment, but an album/time period in my life that opened my eyes was Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Comatorium.  I was sixteen, I think, when that record came out and it blew my mind.  I hadn’t really listened to any psychedelic music at that point in my life, and that record was psychedelic and abrasive as hell.  A lot of people hate on Mars Volta, and I will agree their later records are exhausting, but this record is amazing and definitely changed how I thought music could be made.  Other records like Captain Beyond’s Self-Titled LP, Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste, Daughters’ Canada Songs, The Locust Plague Soundscapes also had a huge effect on me and changed my perspective on music.  De-Loused was the first, so it sticks out more.

When and why did you decide that you wanted to start writing your own music?

I never liked the idea of copying other people.  I always wanted to forge my own path.  As soon as I started teaching myself guitar through tabs and a little chord book I had, I started to write songs.  I’d say 95% of those songs were shitty, and all of them I wrote before I was sixteen were definitely shitty.  I think in the past three or four years I’ve finally come close to connecting the idea in my head to the notes on the fretboard without losing much in between.  The hardest part about writing music is it takes years, or at least for me it did, to be able to hear a melody, riff or a whole song in your head and translate it perfectly onto the musical scale.  If you can do that and it still sounds like shit, then you’ve got bigger problems.

What was your first instrument?  How did you get it and when was that?

First instrument was guitar.  There wasn’t really a specific reason.  I just wanted to play music, am white and from the suburbs, so I bought a guitar.

When did you all meet and how exactly was that?  What led to the formation of Buffalo Tooth and when was that?

I met Sean when he played a show at my house like seven years ago with a band called WPI.  Sean also played drums in a band called Botron and they would play with my punk band Swank all the time.  Jack, the original bassist in Buffalo Tooth, played guitar in Swank and I played bass.  Swank and Botron toured once together and did many shitty things, both bands broke up not too long after.  Four years ago Jack and I switched roles and started Buffalo Tooth.  Sean was looking for a band to play drums in and joined.  So, in a way, the two bands coalesced into one.  Around that time I played in a band called Moccretro who played a lot of shows with Eric’s band Poor Sons.  Coincidentally, Moccretro and Poor Sons went on tour together and subsequently broke up.  Eric only played guitar at the time, but after Jack left I was bitching to him about trying to find a new bassist and he said, “I’ll play bass for you, just chill out.”  Or something to that degree, and that was it.  He jammed with Sean and I one time and has been in the band ever since.

Is there any shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?

Shred, party and remember to get paid.

Your name’s extremely evocative of your sound, I don’t know precisely what it means but it certainly conjures some interesting images in my head.  What does Buffalo Tooth mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

That’s good to know!  A buffalo tooth represents pride, strength and resilience to the native people of this country, something the white man tried to take away from natives when they killed millions of buffalo around the turn of the century.  So in a way, the name Buffalo Tooth represents resilience and keeping a tradition of music alive, or paying homage to it while moving forward.  I write the lyrics for all the songs I sing, Eric sings on “Snacktology”, and you may be surprised to find out that most of my lyrics are political or social observations.  Take for instance “Greenbacks”, which is told from the viewpoint of a Colombian cartel worker forcing indigenous Colombians to harvest and manufacture cocaine, focusing on how evil the process of making drugs is on a personal level.  Not all of our songs are like that though, some like “Space Polygamy” poke fun at society.  That song’s about a Mormon polygamist who hijacks a spaceship with his many wives and travels around the galaxy dropping his kids off on different planets.

Where is Buffalo Tooth located at these days? 

Eric and I live in Oakland and Sean lives in San Francisco.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are at these days?

I don’t know what has happened to San Francisco, it seems like there’s a new garage-pop or psych-pop or some other pussy genre defined band sprouting up everyday.  There are a handful of shredding bands still left in San Francisco like, Hot Lunch (Interview here), Black Cobra, Mondo Drag, Hornss (Interview here), Pins of Light and Wild Eyes (Interview here) just to name a few.  Oakland has way less places to play and maybe less bands in general, but they’re of a higher caliber in my opinion.  There’s much more of an edge to Oakland’s music scene.  Bands I like from Oakland are Lecherous Gaze, Synthetic ID, Replica, OVVL, Wild Moth, Shannon and the Clams and, Meat Market.  Most of these bands are friends of ours and I feel blessed to have so much good new music around me all the time.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

I entertained the idea of being a promoter but gave up on that after about a year, too much work and stress.  I have enough stress booking shit for my own band, I don’t need to spend a bunch of time sending emails for someone else.  It was fun, but too much work and not a lot of return.  I try to go to as many shows as I can, it helps to have friends that work at venues.

Do you help to record and or release any local music?  If so can you talk briefly about that?

Not really, we self-released our Self-Titled 7”, but other than that we keep strictly to shredding and looking super good.

Do you feel like the local scene has played an important role in the history or evolution of Buffalo Tooth or your sound?  Or do you think you all could be doing what you are regardless of your surroundings and stuff?

Living in San Francisco the past five years has made me never want to hear the term ‘garage rock’ ever again; so bored with that shit.  No more please.  Every band I’ve played in while living in the bay area has been a different style of music, so I think regardless of where I’m living, I’m gonna make the music that I wanna hear. 

Whenever I do these interviews I always have to describe how a band sounds to our readers most of whom haven’t ever heard the band in question before.  And no matter how good of a good I may or may not do I feel like I’m always putting way too much of myself into the descriptions, too much of my own opinions and perceptions projected onto stuff.  I feel like I’m selling a band short especially when I can give them a platform like this to do it themselves.  How would you describe Buffalo Tooth’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you before?

Everything badass, with all the fat cut off.  Or something like that.  I hate describing my own bands; nobody ever thinks it sounds how you think it does anyway.  It seems futile for some reason.  The songs are short, just give ‘em a listen.

What’s the songwriting like with Buffalo Tooth?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a more finished idea like a riff or even something more, to work out with the rest of the band?  Or is it there a lot of exchange of ideas in the form of jamming and messing around that you all kind of distill into a song and work on together from there?

One of us will come to the others with a riff or a couple riffs for a song.  We’ll have a rough idea of how the song will go, but keep it open ended.  You never really know how a song is going to feel until you play it with the rest of the band.  We usually go piece-by-piece until we get each part down.  Then we build on that skeleton frame, either adding or deleting parts until a song forms.  We’re not afraid of destroying traditional rock n’ roll song structures, they’re boring anyway.  The songs on our 7 inches don’t display that very well, but our full-length does.  If the song sounds good verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus then that can work too.  It all depends on the feel of the song, if we’re sick of hearing the intro riff we won’t repeat it the second time around and take the song in a whole new direction.  That’s one thing I love about this band is we can call out an idea for a song, discuss it briefly and try it instantly.  If it doesn’t work we scrap it and try something else.  We work very well together, we also yell at each other a lot but that’s what brothers do.  In the end we get shit done.  We write songs as a unit, all the songs are credited to Buffalo Tooth not one of us individually.  Hopefully it will lead to money squabbles when we make millions in thirty years.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I mean I know as a musician myself that the end result is totally awesome, at least for most of us.  Holding that album, or single whatever, in your hand knowing that it’s yours and that no one will ever be able to take that away from your, for better or worse, is seriously awesome.  Getting to that point though, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want them, especially as a band, can be extremely stressful to say the very least.  What’s it like recording for Buffalo Tooth?

Recording is stressful for everybody and we’re broke, so time’s valuable and there’s no room for error.  We also smoke a lot of weed, so it balances us out.  The recording session for our split 7” and the upcoming full-length, Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce, a total of fourteen songs, took three days for tracking and one day for mixing.  We work pretty fast and get that shit done the first time.  We talk a lot of shit to each other and have this strange spite/reverse psychology thing going on between us.  It might be unhealthy but it motivates us to excel and perform the best we can, even if it is to prove the other dudes wrong.

Do you all do the recording stuff yourself on your own time and turf with your own equipment and personnel or do you prefer to use studio environments when you’re recording?

No, that’s not for me.  I like to be in one mindset when I’m recording.  I’m there to play and the sound engineer’s there to mic everything and run cable and all that other stuff.  The full-length and split were recorded with Patrick Haight at the Spot-On-Sound Compound.  It was below San Jose, but he’s now moved to Palm Desert.  Patrick also mastered the record and both 7 Inches.  We seem to prefer the home studio environment, or a studio that an individual engineer has built in a warehouse or something of that nature.  I think a lot of bigger studios are full of shit and charge way too much money.  In the end, they want to make money and not a piece of art.  If you have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has good equipment, a solid space to record in and does great work than why not go with him?

Is there a lot of prep work that goes into the recording process with Buffalo Tooth where you spend a lot of time getting things to sound just so-so, or is it more of an organic thing where things have room to change and evolve a little during the process?

We get our tones dialed in and then we’re ready to rip.  We record all the basic instrumental tracks; guitar, bass and drums first.  After the bare essentials are tracked for each song we move on to vocals and then to second guitar/overdubs.  The overdubs are random things to sprinkle on top of the song to make it pop.  For the end of the LP there’s a wall of noise that has four guitar tracks and an oscillator going full blast for almost a minute before grinding to a halt.  Recording gives you a chance to do some extra things that aren’t necessary for a live performance, but give the recorded version more depth.

Your first release was 2012’s self-titled Buffalo Tooth 7” on Archer Guild Records.  What was the recording the material for Buffalo Tooth like?  If I understand correctly that’s sold out at this point?  Do you know how many copies that was limited to?  Where and when was that recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Sean, Jack and I recorded that with Matthew Melton, of the band Warm Soda, at his practice spot on Turk and Taylor in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco.  We recorded on a Tascam 388, which is a 1/2” tape machine.  We were going to release a 10” originally and recorded and mixed four songs in two days.  Jack left the band before we got the money together to press it, so we dropped the two songs he wrote and sang on and released it as a 7”.  We pressed 300 copies and have been sold out for quite some time.  There’s been some talk of repressing it through Under the Gun Records, but as of yet that is still up in the air.

2013 saw a couple of setbacks release wise for you but you’ve definitely started off 2014 strong already with the release of your split 7” with Creepers.  Now I know that Under The Gun Records was originally going to release the single but when I looked on their site I didn’t see anything about it.  Did they end up releasing the single or did someone else put it out?  I know that there’s a limited Red Vinyl edition that’s ultra-limited to only 20 copies but I didn’t see any mention of how many copies the regular black edition was limited to, if it’s even limited? 

The Creepers split 7” is out on Under the Gun Records with a limited run of 300.  The first 60 people to buy it got a limited edition red vinyl, but we sold out of those fairly quickly.  Our share of the pressing is almost sold out and I believe Evert’s, the owner of Under the Gun Records, is pretty low as well.  We don’t use real numbers; we just say high, low or medium.

You contributed the track “Shit Show” to the Creepers split.  Was that recorded and or written specifically for the single or was that something that you had from a previous session that has been kicking around for a while looking for a place to call home?  If it was recorded for this single can you tell us about the recording of “Shit Show”?

We recorded it with “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” but didn’t know whether or not it was going to make it onto the album.  It didn’t really fit with the rest of the album and we had discussed doing a split with Creepers before, they had recorded “Memory Fog” with Carlos Arredondo and that was that.  They were down and Evert was down and that was it.  Patrick Haight mastered both tracks.

I was recently chatting with the awesome folks out at Captcha Records who are finally getting situated after their hectic move from their disastrous old headquarters and they said they had copies of your debut album in hand which was music to my ears without ever having even heard a chord at this point!  I have been ravenously following you all since you released the self-titled single in 2012 and I know I read something on your Facebook page about how you had to scrap an entire series of sessions that were intended to be your debut album and forced to re-record it all?  What happened to the original version of the album if you don’t mind me asking?  Did you all just not like the way that the recordings came out, or were you unhappy with the songs themselves and decided to go in and work on the actual material that will comprise the album?  How frustrating was that, or was it something you all kind of agreed was a necessity and doesn’t seem like a huge deal at this point?

Around November 2012 we recorded nine songs with Matthew Melton at Fuzz City in Oakland.  We played really well on the recording and it sounded good in the studio, but the exported tracks were tinny and had very little low-end.  We had Patrick Haight master them a few different times to try and bring certain things out of the mix more, but realized we should just do the recordings again.  We had really wanted to put the record out, but after listening to it and showing it to some trusty consultants we realized those recordings weren’t the ones to release.  We were bummed, but shit happens.  Patrick told us he would have his recording equipment up and running in his house soon and we decided to give him a shot with the record.  It took us a minute to raise the money and schedule it, but we got down to his studio right outside San Jose in January of 2013 and recorded fourteen tracks with him.  In the end, we put four more songs on the album and made it a more solid first release, in my opinion at least.

Did you all try anything new or radically different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for the upcoming album?  What can our readers expect from the upcoming album?  Where did you record the originally material or the album and when was that?  Who recorded it?  What about the re-recording session(s)?

The one thing I think people will notice is how broad our sound/influences are.  I think guitar tone alone is evident of that, going from heavily fuzzed out and crunchy to twangy and reverb drenched.  We even have a country song on the album.  I think our approach to playing and writing has stayed the same, we just don’t wanna do the same thing twice and get boring.  The last track of the album “Greenbacks” is the newest track on the album and is a good example of where the band is headed.

Does Buffalo have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on some compilation that I might have missed?

Nope, you’ve got it all covered.

Other than the upcoming 12” on Captcha and the recent split 7” with Creepers, does Buffalo Tooth have any other releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?  It’s only February and it’s already proven to be an extremely busy year for you all…  Is there an upcoming under the gun records release?  It says tba on their site with a catalog number and didn’t know if that was referring to the split or what as it also says, “cassette”.

Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce will be coming out on tape via Under the Gun Records at the end of the summer.  We’re writing the next album right now and are about five songs deep.  We hope to be in the studio by the end of the year with a full-length and a track or two for some splits or a 7”.

Artwork by Damon Lockaby

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff at?

Probably on our Bandcamp page then you can order straight from us and I’ll pack it up for you all perty like.  We have shirts and pins on there too.  Other than that, you can get it on the Under the Gun Records website and the 7” is distributed by Cobraside so it might be at a record store near somebody.

Design by Roy G. Biv

With the completely nutty international postage hikes that just seem to be never ending at this point, I try and provide our readers who like to actually buy the music and hold it in their hands with as many possibly options for picking up import releases as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score your music?

The same place and if they know of a cheaper service than USPS to their country just write it in the notes and we’ll figure something out.

And where is the best place for our readers to keep up with the latest news from Buffalo Tooth like upcoming shows, album releases and that kind of thing at?

Follow us @buffalotooth on the inny gammer, and twatter if you want to but I don’t twat much.  Or you can lurk us on Facebook.

Are there any major goals that Buffalo Tooth is looking to accomplish in 2014?

1. Full Length.  2. Tour.  3. Party.  4. Record.

Do you remember what the first song that Buffalo Tooth ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?

I believe that would be “Only Son”, Side A off of our Self-Titled 7”, at Ghost Town Gallery with Dahga Bloom, Jeffertitti’s Nile and The Lotus Moons on October 19, 2010.  God damn that was a long time ago!  Took us a minute to get our shit together, I guess...  Fux.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  Do you like touring?  What’s life like on the road for Buffalo Tooth?

We need to spend more time on the road.  We’ve done a good amount of weekend trips down south but only one trip up north to Oregon and Washington.  We tried to play in Mexico once, but they wouldn’t let us in.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

I don’t know yet.  I broke my damn leg pretty bad so I’m gonna have to wait until that heals up before we tour.  Hopefully, we can get in at least a full west coast tour and if things work out more of the country as well.  Europe is also on the Horizon.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with so far?

We recently played with Saint Vitus which was pretty cool.  I love playing with Lecherous Gaze ‘cause they fuckin’ shreddddd!!!  Black Cobra is also one of my favorite bands to play with cause they kill it every time.  Oh, and Artifact from San Diego, they’re part of the Under the Gun family and will have a release out sometime soon; absolutely ripping keys ridden hard rock, featuring members of JOY (Tee Pee Records) And Psicomagia (El Paraiso Records).  Keep your ears peeled.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Captain Beyond and Bad Brains.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Nothing really crazy has happened during a show, other than a random wasted fan who knocks over my mic stand and then received a nice kick to the chest as a warning to back off.  We have more problems getting to the show, or getting paid, or timing our bowel movements correctly.  We were supposed to play in Tijuana, Mexico last time we were on tour.  We get to the border and are immediately moved over to secondary inspection.  I guess we look shitty.  Eric is driving Sean’s van because Sean has no license and mine was suspended at the time.  The border officials ask Eric if he’s the owner of the car, he says no and they look very confused.  Sean comes up to the front seat and shows them the registration.  The border agent looks it over and says “This is expired.”  Sean replies, “Oh, it is?  Huh, that’s weird.”  Sean had failed to tell us the van wasn’t registered properly, and at this point we knew things probably weren’t going to end well.  The border agent asks for proof of insurance and of course we have none.  He takes our passports and leaves us to think about how retarded we are.  He returns twenty minutes later and tells us to follow this border patrol car.  We follow the car and he takes us on a brief loop through Mexico before forcing us to leave through the US side.  We get through the line and tell the American border agent what happened, he tells us we should try to go to a different border crossing about ten miles away who deal more with cargo.  It’s getting close to show time and we’re stressing.  We call the band from Mexico to see if we could borrow their gear, of course they were planning on using ours and only brought their guitars.  Without us there is no show, so we try the second border crossing.  Once again, the Mexican border agents take us to secondary and loop us around through Mexico.  We reach the American border again and this time they decide to give us hell.  They repeatedly interrogate us about how long we were in Mexico.  We told them over and over again that we never made it in but they don’t seem to believe us.  They bring out the drug dogs and sniff the whole van, luckily we had nothing.  They inspect the gear and are amazed to find out it’s actually music gear.  Then they make us sit for about an hour while they scratch their dicks, or whatever the process is to let people leave.  We finally get the hell out of there and go to this bar Live Wire and play pool and party with our friends.  Of course, as soon as we get there the Mexican band calls and says they found a van they can use and ask if they should go get the gear or not.  It was almost midnight and we were an hour from the border, so we said fuck it.  Mexico remained out of our grasp that time, but we’ll be back, and we’ll be registered and we will shred!!!

Do you give a lot of thought to the visual aspect of the band, like artwork for players, posters and covers, that kind of thing?  If so, do you have any go-to people that you work with or approach for those kinds of needs and who are they and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Art is definitely important, if it wasn’t we would have released Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce in the summer of 2013.  The cover artwork was a little behind, but it was well worth the wait.  Our buddy Damon Lockaby, the drummer of Banquet, absolutely killed it with the cover, center label and insert artwork.  The back cover was drawn by the great Roy G. Biv.  Roy has done a lot of our artwork, he’s a long time friend and a full time ripper.  Besides the back cover of Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce he drew both 7 Inches and our pin.  Our friend Danny Shimoda also drew the “Buffalo Wars” Tee for us.  We’re lucky to have a bunch of talented friends who are willing to collaborate with us.

With all the various mediums of release that are available to people today I’m always extremely curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do when it comes to releasing and listening to music.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do, can you talk briefly about why?

For me, I prefer to release vinyl with a free digital download of the record.  A CD’s ok but I can’t keep a CD for more than a year without destroying it.  An MP3 is the worst, reduced sound quality and it seems like it doesn’t exist.  I like to hold an album in my hand, unsheathe the record and play it on a turntable.  Plus artwork always looks better on a record jacket than on a computer or a CD jacket.  I’m down with tapes too because they’re super cheap.  They do have lower fidelity than vinyl but you can get albums for like three or five dollars, which is excellent.  I’m open to having our music available on all mediums; vinyl’s just the first requirement.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yeah, I have a bunch of tapes and a growing vinyl collection.  It’s not much, but I do have some cool stuff.  Lately I’ve been listening to some records my lady and I picked up while in Germany, a psychedelic/noise band called Metabolismos and this ‘70s Prog band called Nucleus.  I have eclectic tastes and my collection ranges from The Locust to Loretta Lynn.  I like to mix it up.

When I was younger I was constantly surrounded by music at my dad’s house and wasn’t really allowed to listen to much out loud at my mom’s house.  She didn’t care what I had on my headphones really but she was a big fan of quiet in the house.  My dad encouraged me to listen to and enjoy his music from an early age though and I remember I would just pick stuff out at random from these enormous shelves of music that stretched on for what seemed like forever and I would kick back in a beanie bag with a pair of headphones and read the liner notes, stare at the artwork; let the whole experience transport me off to another place.  Having something physical and concrete to hold in my hands always served for this brief and illusive look into the minds of the artists that created it and just made for an all-around more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yeah, I’m very attached to the physical ceremony of playing a record.  Clicking a button on my computer doesn’t evoke the same feeling for me.  Although I do acknowledge a need to have digital options for your music, I don’t think digital forms of music should replace all physical forms.  They need to co-exist and when the internet and technology finally take a dump I’ll still have all my records.

As much as I love my music collection there was always a big problem with it for me, portability.  I just wasn’t able to ever take enough of it on the go with me to keep my psychotic pallet sated.  I always found myself looking for the one album or song that I would forget to bring along rushing out the door with my backpack stuff with tapes and CDs.  Digital music has all but eliminated that problem overnight and I can carry more music on my phone now that I could have with an entire backpack when I was in high school, not to mention I can actually keep it semi-organized ha-ha!  That’s not even the real kicker though, when you team digital music with the internet, that’s when things get really crazy!  Together they’ve exposed people to an entire world of music that they otherwise would never have been privy to and I think it’s leveled the playing field a lot for independent artists willing to create and promote a healthy online presence.  Nothing is ever black and white though, and while there’s all this good stuff illegal downloading is running rampant in the industry and now that there’s so much music out there online and in people’s grasps’ it’s harder and harder to get noticed these days.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

The internet is a shit storm in every manner of speaking.  It’s much easier today for people to record and release their music which is good, but there are soooo many shitty bands out there clogging up the interweb.  Back in the day, if you were no good you couldn’t release your stuff unless you were really dedicated and hopefully got better along the way.  Now, anyone can have a SoundCloud, Bandcamp or release their stuff on Spotify or whatever else there is.  Hating aside, the internet is a great tool to research new music.  Granted, the file is usually a shitty quality mp3 version, especially if you stream an entire album from YouTube, but it will at least give you the opportunity to listen to a record.  I’m listening to Metal on Metal by Anvil via YouTube right now actually.  YouTube’s also a really good tool for finding rare bands’ albums from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  Why do you think all these bands are randomly getting back together and touring again?  Without the internet who knows if that would happen.  If you have a record that isn’t even on YouTube, yes this still happens, and it rips – then you know you’ve got yourself a rare vinyl and it might be worth some dough and street cred.

I have a compulsion with music, I try to keep up with as much of the good stuff that is going on out there and I spend a lot of time doing it.  Aside from digging through bins, listening to random links and downloads I’m sent and talking to the record store employees I always make sure to ask musicians likes you who I should be listening to whenever I talk to them.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that you should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

I’ve mentioned some of these bands already but I’m gonna list off some of my faves: Lecherous Gaze, Hot Lunch (Interview here), Black Cobra, Scraper, Synthetic ID, Mondo Drag, Dahga Bloom, OVVL, Wild Eyes (Interview here), JOY, Artifact, Psicomagia, Brian Ellis Group, Harsh Toke, Wild Moth, Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, Creepers, Hornss (Interview here), Replica, Billions and Billions and, Dirty Fences.  I might have left some bands out, and not all of them are local, but that’s a solid start at least.  You can check out me and Sean’s other band Glitter Wizard too if you would like.

What about nationally and internationally?

In Zaire from Italy are extremely badass.  Our European Booker Ricky plays drums in that band. Black Rainbows from Italy, GOAT from Sweden, Whitehorse from Australia; I need to listen to more European bands.

Thanks so much for doing this, I know my interviews aren’t short but I know that they’re thorough and that I love learning so much about awesome bands like Buffalo Tooth.  And hey, we’re done now so you can sigh a collective sigh of relief and kick back, before we sign off, is there anything that I might have missed that you’d like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?

Not really, thanks for reaching out to us and listening to the music.  I hope you like the record when it comes out.  We hope to be in Europe soon so we will keep you guys posted!

(2012)  Buffalo Tooth – Buffalo Tooth – 7” – Archer Guild Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2014)  Buffalo Tooth/Creepers – Buffalo Tooth Creepers split – 7” – Under The Gun Records (Limited to 300 copies, 60 copies on Red Vinyl)
(2014)  Buffalo Tooth – Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce – Cassette Tape, 12” – Captcha Records/Under the Gun Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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