Doug Sabolik doesn’t especially like pop music but he has a great sense of his own place in the world and the power of psychedelic music. Talking to him about life the universe and everything was a truly mind expanding experience.
How are you?
Doug: I’m great!
How has the tour been?
Doug: It’s awesome! I just love playing shows so when we’re out and about it’s a good thing.
It’s been a whirlwind year for you guys between touring with Enslaved, Uncle Acid and the new record. How do you keep hooking this up?
Doug: We put together an album people connect with and that’s it. We don’t have a manager or a booking agent so it’s just people who dig the music. There’s no politics involved. I like to keep that out of music.
It must be really encouraging to do stuff like that with no politics involved…
Doug: Definitely. It’s a good place to be. Obviously we’re on Relapse and I don’t think I could ask to be on a better label. They took a band that had nothing out there except a demo, saw us live, wanted to put out our record and once we agree to do that let me do a record. They knew it was going to be cool.
I was really charmed by the record because it’s so unique… how does the composition process for that go?
Doug: Well with Sonic Praise it was more an abstract vision and fleshing that out. I started writing the record without a band and I would jam with myself doing other instruments. I never knew what the next part would be until I picked up an instrument and built off of it to make it a long streamlined thought and not just a pop song.
So it’s an organic thing?
Doug: I wanted to bring you on a trip. I wanted to get away from pop music. There are a couple songs on there with that because I wanted a bookended album but the further I get from that the happier I’ll be.
So how will it work that you have a band now?
Doug: Well I’ve collaborated with some of the guys before. They add their flair to it. You need those people who are really great players.
How do you see foresee the songwriting process changing?
Doug: Well we’ve already started writing the next record and it’s more recorded jams and taking bits of that. It’s easier because you have all the instruments going at once. We don’t necessarily know what it is going to sound like. We just build a whole lengthof something out of one thing.
Could you see yourself doing a one song record?
Doug: Maybe. But I think I’d be more likely to do a record where each side is just one song. I could see myself doing that, but I don’t want to nail myself to that. Personally I like that.
Well what do you not like about pop music?
Doug: Well I like certain pop music but I don’t like how contrived most of it is. I’m not talking shit, it’s my personal opinion. I like the Uncle Acid stuff and I’m not saying I don’t like stuff that has pop song structures but for me personally I like to get lost in records, I don’t listen to lyrics, I just listen to the music. I know a lot of music is all about the lyrics today and that’s cool but I like that I’m doing my own thing. The more people that feel that way and know about it the more bands who will do it and there will be more bands doing it and then all of the sudden… you never know!
If you don’t listen to lyrics where do your lyrics come from?
Doug: I try to make them as simple and to the point as possible. A lot of my lyrics are inspired by the first Stooges record, it’s almost broken English. It might not make sense or even seem wrong but it’s deep and to the core.
So it’s sort of like the haiku thing…
Doug: Maybe it is. I just trying to take whatever vibe I’m getting from that. Some of it comes from stuff I was going through at the time. But most of it is just supposed to be to the point.
So you talked about the vibe… do you have synaesthesia?
Doug: Well when we’re constructing songs and stuff like that it’s a long process. It’s hard to really say how it is. Basically you have to get to a certain mind state where you can listen to something over and over again and wonder “what am I getting out of this?” I also do the soundscapes behind the music and I try to make a whole scene.
So you’re painting with sound?
Doug: Maybe. That’s kind of how it works. We’re trying to get to that point but we’re still a new band and we’re trying to get to where we want to be, which is unrestrained.
Would that also be free of harmony?
Doug: No. I use a lot of harmony in music, that’s how I draw feelings out. I use all kinds of different stuff though. I’m a crate digger and DJ and I do not like scene music. I like some pop music but some of my favorite psychedelic albums are field recordings of tribes. We try to do a take on that. Obviously we’re not nearly as oppressed but in certain ways everyone is oppressed.
You were talking about how you had to get in the right mind state to do this thing… how do you achieve that state?
Doug: There’s substances involved. I’m not pushing any one thing. I don’t want to push anything. What I’m saying is that there’s a lot of inner reflection going on to get to the point where you can feel something from music. You have to let your ego go. You can’t say “This is the best thing out there!” you have to let that go and not be afraid to say “I need to change this part!”
Doug: There was one time when I got really hammered and I fought two people after I was done bartending and when I had the one guy on the ground he was like “I love your band!” and I had the wrong idea of what was going on because I was f*cked up. I don’t drink liquor anymore because of stuff like that. I’m trying to do this – do music and not ruin my life. In the past I’ve f*cked up my trajectory by being an asshole and drinking had a lot to do with that so I try to curb it.
What do you love so much about music?
Doug: It’s the only passion I have. My dad is a one man band that’s his career. So I was exposed to a lot of music from a young age. I don’t know if it’s in your genes since my brother is also a musician. But to be honest I’m 32, I make zero off of music but I know I will still bartend so I can go on tour. I don’t give a shit I just want to spread the word and play music with my band mates. If someone tells me my music touched them then my job for the day is done. Music to me is not about fashion. Maybe you don’t want to look like a dufus on stage but I’m just saying it’s about the music man.
Also Ecstatic Vision is so out there that it can’t be associated with any fashion…
Doug: It’s a good place to be and a hard place to be. Like… where do you go? You have to start your own scene. I can’t just say we’re psychedelic because that’s a big trend right now. Maybe in the 60s having a wah pedal made you psychedelic but I’ve heard Hawkwind, I know true psychedelic music! I have such a love for the players of music that it’s almost more of a trance vibe. I like a lot of kraut rock and shit like and older electronic music like Kraftwerk. With newer stuff the production is a problem because it’s too high end.
Any final words of wisdom?
Doug: Keep the dream alive! The older you get you see scene after scene and people trying to impress you. But no matter what you do never give up and keep pushing!