Hear ye, hear ye! Calling all wizards, practitioners of the occult and everyone in between — this one is for you!
As summer finally passes and fall gives way, dread and despair now see the light of day. With melancholic mornings and somber sundowns, 2020 is sure to close out on quite a forlorn note — and it’s time you reign in this pitiful year with the right soundtrack. Befitting of all sludge lords and druids of doom, it’s time for you to drown your sorrows in the sounds of King Bastard.
King Bastard, the spacey quartet hailing from Long Island, New York, is slowly working to reshape the parameters and perceptions of sludge and doom metal as we know it. Drawing influence from bands like Sleep and Kyuss to jazz greats like Ornette Coleman, King Bastard ultimately cultivates an aura of mystery and atmospheric psychedelia with their vast compositions.
With an upcoming album mixed by odd-music extraordinaire Colin Marston, we sought best to sit down with the rising band to ask the hard-hitting questions.
On an idyllic Sunday afternoon deep in the heart of Suffolk County, we crashed at bassist Arthur Erb‘s place — which also double’s as the band’s practice space — for this interview. Rife with musical equipment from a 5-string bass to a custom-designed King Bastard drum kit (as well as a TV and a multitude of Xbox 360 games!), the environment was telling of the band’s modus operandi. Full of inspiration, breathability and an air of creativity, it’s no wonder King Bastard is capable of pulling off such thought-provoking music.
Consisting of drummer Matt Ryan, guitarist Mike Verni, bassist Arthur Erb and synth master Isabelle “Izzy” Guido, the band told tales about their humble beginnings at Stony Brook University, outlandish adventures with Spencer Flash (whose name radiates 90s pro wrestler vibes), and how history has played a role in shaping their music amongst other various topics of interest.
“The first day, we all went to Stony Brook University,” Mike candidly recalled, “I wore this [Sleep] shirt, pure coincidence. We were just walking around doing all the freshman bulls–t, I was just miserable. I think [Izzy] was walking in opposite directions and said “Oh s–t, nice shirt!” and I thought, “Who the f–k else knows Sleep?”
The story continued to unfold in a rather fateful way when Arthur also happened to walk by the two just meeting for the first time.
“[Izzy and I] were just shootin’ the s–t, and right as that’s happening, Arthur walks by and he’s like, “Yo dude! That’s a sick shirt!” I thought he was f–king with us and I was like, “Shut the f–k up, name a song” and he goes, “Dopesmoker” and I’m like, “He knows!”
Eventually the trio of friends got together to jam and learning covers before realizing — they needed a drummer. The friends soon whipped up a fantastic flyer featuring a baby behind a drum kit with a poorly Photoshopped Sleep logo, along with contact information before inevitably stumbling upon the man known as Spencer Flash. The band told tales of meeting up with Flash, who had been playing drums for a mere six months at that point, and how they would play covers and make stuff up behind Flash’s different playing style, which essentially paved the way for King Bastard’s current composition style.
As Flash’s tenure with the then-unnamed King Bastard came to an end, Arthur called upon his former pet store coworker, Matt Ryan, who had been playing drums for 14 years at that point as well as winning several drumming competitions, to round out the group.
After telling several hilarious stories of Matt’s initial beginnings in the band, the group eventually became much more focused and driven on what sound they aspired to achieve. After a run of impressive tapes including “Have You Seen This Man?” and “Live at the Haunted Barn,” the group then took to Menegroth, the Thousand Caves in Queens, NY to record their newest record,”It Came from the Void,” with the legendary Colin Marston.
On working with Marston, guitarist Mike described the seasoned veteran as an “awesome” and “incredible” person to work with. Mike also revealed that it was his uncle Darren, who is a member of legendary Long Island sludge metal band Unearthly Trance, was the one who pointed them in the direction of the Krallice commandeer.
“They recorded their last three(?) albums with Colin and he’s like, “Dude, go to Colin.” I was talking to him about our band and stuff and he’s like, “Go to Colin,” and I’m like “I haven’t even heard of this guy,” Mike recalled. “[Darren’s] like, “Trust me, he’s good,” and I’m like, “Okay! Let’s try it out.” I emailed him and everything and I looked at other bands he’s worked with and I was like, “Holy s–t! We gotta do it with this guy.”
Izzy then chimed in, revealing her starstruck attitude upon entering the studio. “It was the moment of walking into the recording booth and just seeing like, “Oh I’ve listened to that album and that album. I like Panopticon, I like Mastery, I like Imperial Triumphant… oh god, I like Liturgy.”
King Bastard revealed that “It Came from the Void” is tentatively set for an early 2021 release.
Listen to King Bastard discuss their wacky escapades including their Haunted Barn gig, life outside of King Bastard, Monochromatic Black and more — available now!
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