Max: Touring around Psycho. We booked the show and then decided to play some shows on the way down.
What was it like finding out you’d be on such a stacked bill?
Lenny: It’s like a dream come true.
Max: We actually found out about the stacked lineup and then pretty much demanded that we get on the show because we weren’t one of the original people. When I saw the lineup I wrote to the people and said “We have to play” and we came down. We drove however many miles from Portland, Oregon to here just so we could play this.
Lenny: He muscled us onto this.
I’m assuming you’re staying all three days?
Lenny: No! We’ve got a show tomorrow in Oakland.
Do you feel like your ability to ‘muscle your way on’ to this shows your growth as a band?
What’s the next step?
Max: We would have gotten rejected if somebody hadn’t liked us. Hopefully we’ll get invited to the next one, and if we don’t get invited we’ll have to crash it. Hopefully if we get invited we’ll end up playing a little bit later in the day because we were the opening band.
Lenny: We popped the cherry on this bitch and it’s f*cking awesome. It was packed!
Max: It was so early in the day that people weren’t super drunk but they were still headbanging and getting into it. A lot of times for the first band they don’t want to get into it. But for being the first band at 2:15 PM… there you go!
Obviously doom has grown rapidly in the last few years. Why do you think that is?
Max: Someone found a marketable niche somewhere! Music goes in trends, and I’m not saying doom is a trend but it’s very popular right now. That’s great though because the bands that have been doing it forever are finally getting recognition and they are able to perform and get great show offers. That helps bands like Sleep. People cared about it a long time ago but they’re way bigger now that there’s this whole world going on for it. It’s hard for us to keep up with trends though because we just do our own thing.
Lenny: We’re out of touch.
Max: We’re not young up and comers. We’ve been around for a while. Not as long as some obviously, but six years is a while…
What draws you to this kind of music?
Lenny: I think it’s more than this style of music but rather playing music and being an artist. I don’t listen to a lot of metal. My favorite bands are Swans, The Cure, Christian Death and Neurosis. Being able to be a part of something like this – and I f*cking like metal, I’m not saying I don’t – I don’t think that it’s anything worth trying to do, it’s just what comes out naturally.
So it’s more of a vibe?
Max: It also helps that we’re doing this with our best friends. If you’re not playing music with your friends and get any old stranger without the chemistry… You have to have that camaraderie, that vibe that ties you together, no matter what style of music you play. As people you have to have some kind of cohesive camaraderie between you otherwise it’s not going to work. It’s been the three of us, me, Lenny and Brooks and we’ve had 4 different bass players for three records. It’s like Spinal Tap!
What bonds the three of you together so tightly?
Lenny: We’re all freaks and weirdos and have never really fit in. That gives us a deeper understanding of each other. None of us were ever the cool guy. We can relate over that and we have that in common and we can be f*cking freaks around each other and not judge each other.
Max: We can create our own thing and have strength in what we create. We’re not purists in any genre, even in terms of what we listen too or do. We’re not just like “Oh we only are doom people and we only wear black and only do this one super brutal thing” I listen to the classical station nonstop when I’m at home and listen to a lot of quiet ambient music. We’re all special little snowflakes.
One of the things that I pointed out in my review of your record is that I love how tortured you are. What fuels that?
Lenny: All kinds of shit. I was born deformed. People don’t like me. I feel like I see the bigger picture and not everyone has that. Everyone is so concerned with checking their notifications. They’re not paying attention to what connects to us all. The ether that connects all things whether you’re alive or inanimate we are all a part of this earth and on top of being able to see that… we feel like rejects. I wasn’t good at sports and my chest is f*cked up. I was born like that and I get f*cked up with taking my shirt off… My teeth are crooked… all kind of things I get f*cked with about! I am tortured. It’s not that bad though. I’m a happy guy and we live in the land of opportunity. Our lives aren’t that bad. I think that’s where some of that resentment comes from too. Look around you, we are blessed. Instead of appreciating it and giving love and positivity we’re on our mobile devices and trying to get on to the next thing and everything is immediate and disposable. It’s hard to get along in a society where that is the more important thing when all you want to do is make things better.
Is that born out of an almost atavistic desire?
Lenny: Absolutely. The new songs we’re working on for the next record… they’re very conceptually about de-evolution.
Is that also reflected in the music?
Lenny: No – the music has evolved. Our sound is constantly evolving. The concept is about the de-evolution of society. We are devolving by being attached to our mobile devices but we need to devolve by finding ourselves spiritually and living in the moment.
I talked to Nick Turner from Hawkwind about something similar to this, is that almost a Buddhist thing?
Lenny: I think that all religions have positive things in them. I think Buddhism is awesome but I think Christianity has a lot of great points as well. The issue with Christianity is the Catholics and their sense of persecution and guilt. I don’t think Jesus was about any of that. Jesus was a f*cking radical. He was saving the people on the fringes of society. He saved a prostitute. His disciples were not accepted. All religions have fundamental beauty to them. It’s a spiritual connection.
Max: There’s people who take whatever they want from something and make it distorted to attack others.
Lenny: They’re extremists who try to use it to control other people.
Max: Whatever it may happen to be, be it veganism or religion, or classism everybody f*cking does that.
Lenny: Even conservationists are like “I recycle and you don’t!” It breaks down infinitely.
Is Atriarch supposed to be a spiritual experience?
Lenny: Absolutely 100%. It’s for us and the audience. I think it’s almost evangelistic. It’s very cathartic. We open ourselves up when we perform and we’re just letting it out. We’re not trying to f*cking pose. There’s no act at all.
Max: There’s no faking it. Stuff always goes awry when you play on stage in a rock venue, but it’s all a degree of honesty no matter if it’s good or bad.
Lenny: There are people every time who get into that and let themselves go too. There will always be some people who do that but the more who do that and who are in the moment, feeling it and not thinking about whatever else it is that is f*cking plaguing them… it just makes it worth it. It makes us perform harder!
Do you feel doom has the potential to be the new American religion guiding us towards a better society?
Lenny: That would be beautiful. I like that idea in theory. But who can say?
Max: Everything has the potential to get victimized and marketed. There could be a Toyota commercial with a doom song on it and then suddenly it’s just a fashion. It could get too big. That’s always the possibility with anything that gets too popular. The business side of things that have nothing to do with art or spirituality. That’s what ruins things always.
So you’re saying doom exists on the edge of a knife, if it goes too far we’re f*cked?
Max: It’s a slug crawling on the edge of a straight razor.
What do you love so much about music?
Lenny: It can bring people together. No matter what language they speak it will invoke a response.
Max: It’s beautiful, that people feel so strongly about it… it’s just amazing. From my perspective, stuff that’s both horrible and amazing can have an effect on people.
Lenny: Wyld Stallyns saved the f*cking world!
Any final words of wisdom?