Courtesy of Evan Devine
The popular West Virginia band Karma To Burn is touring the United States and Europe with a new album, “Arch Stanton”
Reposted with permission from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch
The more things change, the more they stay the same, they say. Such is the case for Karma To Burn.
Over twenty years after forming the Morgantown-based instrumental stoner rock outfit, guitarist Will Mecum, again, after a detour and some road bumps in recent years, has the band rolling again as a trio, with a new record, “Arch Stanton” and more touring in Europe and now the U.S.
Hanging out after a rehearsal at the band’s base, 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, Mecum, drummer Evan Devine, and recently recruited guest bassist Eric Clutter said 2014 has been great, and they’re all pumped to get out on the road in January.
“Well, it’s been quite busy and uh, a little crazy, with trying to formulate the new record and get it out to the public, and tour Europe,” Mecum said.
“It’s weird, I haven’t talked to too many people in the states that have heard the new record, and I talked to some people last night, and they were saying it’s the Karma To Burn that they grew up with, that they know, and they’re really happy that the new record is what it is.
“It just makes me very proud. It’s cool.”
Karma To Burn will perform at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown Saturday, December 27th. The band will embark on a U.S. tour, spanning 34 shows in 37 days, starting January 7th in Akron to promote its sixth full-length album.
Mecum said that “Arch Stanton” was an intentional return to a more direct, instrumental stoner rock sound, like that found on Roadrunner Records releases, 1999’s “Wild Wonderful Purgatory” and 2001’s “Almost Heathen,” records that put the band on the map. This, as opposed to the last two Napalm Records releases that found the band in an incestuous, experimental relationship with L.A.-based Year Long Disaster, 2010’s “Appalachian Incantation,” and “V,” released the following year.
“With the last couple of records with Karma, there was always like, a lot of different influences, like, different opinions here and there,” Mecum said diplomatically. “I would try to accommodate everybody and try to write the best song that I could. [Arch Stanton] is basically like, go straight forward at it and just get back to basics and just slam it out and make it a total, grind your teeth kind of sound, you know?”
“Ya know, there’s been some member changes, and I think things are working out just great,” Mecum said. “I really am proud of [Arch Stanton] and I’m proud of Mr. Devine for writing it with me.”
Devine, the 26-year old drummer and veteran of Morgantown’s music scene, said the recording of “Arch Stanton” at FABA Studios in Biel, Switzerland marked a turning point for Karma To Burn.
“Getting to write with Will was kind of refreshing, because everything kind of got grounded. It was kind of like a fresh start for me, and sort of for Will, as well. It was the next step for us, but it was the first step in everything that’s happened since then.
“It’s just been really cool, because now it’s songs that Will and I wrote, and writing with Will is great, you know, he’s a riff machine,” Devine said to group laughter.
“It’s just great to finally have a record out, and say they’re my songs, our songs, it’s been really cool.”
“It’s always nice too, that you only got one other person to tell ya ‘f--- off!’” Mecum added, laughing hard.
Devine said ending up in Karma To Burn, and getting to tour Europe, was, and is, kind of surreal.
“Every time I get home, when I get back to Morgantown, and back to my friends, and I just look and I’m like ‘Wow. All of my friends are some of the best musicians I know and everyone I know deserves to be on tour,’ but it’s just not how the world works. I wish it did. I hope all my friends get to go on tour one day. So many, many guys deserve it. But I would’ve never expected it, or claimed to have deserved it. I was just in the right place at the right time.
“It’s really humbling. I get home and I talk to people, and I’m sure you know Bud Carroll, he’s been working his ass off for years and years, and I talked to him about you know, like ‘I just toured Europe,’ and it’s kind of weird for me, because I just kind of stumbled into something. But there are so many people that deserve to be on the road, to be out there, but it is hard. I’m just trying to do the best job I possibly can.”
When asked about being a stoner rock pioneer from West Virginia, and featuring and reminding people of that, Mecum said he’s proud to be a mountaineer.
“I’m not so sure I wanna be the music poster boy for West Virginia,” he said to group guffaws.
“No matter what the band has been doing, no matter what Karma is up to, I always make sure that there’s a little sideline to let people know where the hell we’re from,” Mecum said with emphasis.
“Most of the time, like Evan was saying, there’s a great pool of musicians in West Virginia that people don’t really know too much about. I’d love to take an army of em to go Los Angeles and kill all those f---ers.”
“Yeah, really. Let’s do it man,” Devine added.
“But I’m happy to be a part of West Virginia,” Mecum said. “I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’ve spent more than half my life here and I’m always proud to fly the flag and tell people, when they ask, ‘Where are you from?’ I say West Virginia. West By God.”
Mecum said heading into 2015, he’s still pumped about Karma To Burn twenty years and running.
“It’s definitely pepped me up a bit,” Mecum said of the renewed focus and energy Karma has found.
“You know, with any kind of like, business in the music realm, you have your ups and downs and things like that, and that’s never gonna stop. But at this point I really enjoy playing with the guys that I’m playing with, and it really gives me somewhat of a solace in my head to always go back to like, listen, you’re playing good music, you’re with good people, and just keep on rollin’, keep on doing it, ya know?
“I mean, there’s a lot of people that, talk about times where their jobs get them down, their family gets them down, and things like that. I get to do what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a very lucky person because of that. Even though it’s not always a bed of roses, it’s just a great thing. Of course, I don’t want to die tomorrow, but if I did I’d be like ‘F--- it I had a good time!’”
If you go:
WHO: Karma To Burn with Keep, RHIN
WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday Dec. 27
WHERE: 123 Pleasant St., Morgantown (304) 292-0800