Popular W.Va. band Karma To Burn back with a new album (H-D repost)

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?”

For Mecum, there has likely been no small amount of frustration keeping his pioneering instrumental rock band going over the years. After a long hiatus between 2002 and 2009, and an attempt to reunite the band, longtime members, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald could no longer be in Karma.

“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
INFO: 123pleasantstreet.com
ONLINE: www.k2burn.net/


5 Questions with Blag the Ripper of the Dwarves

Ester Segarra photo

Frontman Blag the Ripper and the rest of San Francisco punk band the Dwarves come to Morgantown Monday for their first show in the Mountain State.

Reposted (and expanded) with permission from The Charleston Gazette

On Monday night, smutty, drug-fueled San Francisco-based punk band the Dwarves will play 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown with The Queers. In advance of the show -- the band’s first in the state -- the gazz caught up with singer Blag the Ripper to talk about sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and Hasil Adkins.

Q: You guys released ‘The Dwarves Invented Rock and Roll’ in August, what’s been the response to that?

A: “You know, people love this new record, and it’s a little embarrassing for me, because I only wrote a couple of the songs on this one, you know? I kind of left it open to the rest of the band, and they wrote a bunch of the material. Everybody in the band brought in a couple of songs, and we wound up with this record, and people really love it.

“We went for a straight forward punk approach, and it is a little straighter than the last couple of records, which veered into weird experimental and pop realms and stuff. This one is sort of a continuation of that, but we like to genre hop. The whole thing was kind of gut level punk rock. It was fun.”

Q: There’s sex, drugs, and maybe a little violence, it seems, bound up in what you guys do. You released a very NSFW video for “Sluts of the USA,” off the new album to play up the sex angle, how great was that to make?

A: (laughs) “You put them in the right order. I’m glad you put them in the right order. It’s gotta start with sex, drugs come in second, and then, violence, it’s always kind of creeping in the background. “Sluts of the USA” pretty much pushes the sex angle exclusively. We’ve definitely had more lurid videos, like the one for “Stop Me Before I F*** Again,” on the last record, was a lurid, disgusting video.

“Sluts of the USA” was a more bubblegum type song, with the female vocals in it, so we just cut together all the jiggle footage from us being on TV, and us making videos, sort of showing you how the Dwarves cavort through a world of tits and ass.”

DWARVES - SLUTS OF THE USA from Recess Records on Vimeo.

Q: You’ve talked about being around in the early 80’s seeing people get hurt, seeing violence at punk shows. The recent incident with Fat Mike onstage in Australia -- that may have been something you and him witnessed at some of those early shows. What are/were your thoughts on seeing that go viral and is that something someone should expect if they run up on someone like that onstage, even/especially at a punk show?

A: “Well, you know, in the interest of full disclosure, the Dwarves have a seven-inch coming out on [Fat Mike’s label] Fat [Wreck Chords] in a couple of weeks called ‘Gentlemen Blag.’ I’ve been friends with Mike for over twenty years, and always wanted to put out a record on Fat. We always got along really good, so I always really liked Mike.

“It’s tough to know from just the little piece of footage what led up to something. You never know what was said or what happened or how he was feeling or how it went. Violence never really looks good, you know? But I know what it’s like to just be driven to distraction being out on the road with a lot of people grabbing at you for weeks on end, you know?”

“It’s hard to make an excuse for it, it’s just, uh, you’re up on stage playing, and it could be your worst moment. Most people don’t have their lives recorded like that. It’s tough to get a context as to what’s right and what’s wrong. It would be great if it was a world without violence (laughs) but we’re never gonna get that in our lifetime, you know?

“It’s always sad when someone’s whole career boils down to one thing. We’re seeing that now with Bill Cosby this week. It’s hard to know who’s guilty and who’s innocent and who did what when. But it’s sad that in this day and age, now with the internet, everybody’s life comes down to the most recent little flap about you, as opposed to what you actually did.

“I don’t think people back in the day were judged as much by, like, one incident that happens to be the viral one, you know?”

Q: You’ve contrasted what the Dwarves do, whether it be in the music itself or running your own label, Greedy, against maybe more mainstream punk bands. What makes the Dwarves unique?

A: “Well, it’s always easy to second guess other people’s motives for doing things, you know? I mean, I do this for a living, so I have to make money at it. If I didn’t make any money with it, I’d have to do something else. So, that would be tough (laughs).

“It’s not like I’m going to West Virginia for free. I’m makin’ the motherf---ers pay. I’d like to think that by paying for it, people appreciate it more, like, ‘F---, I’m gonna go here and check this out, and I’m holding these guys to a high standard.’ It’s gotta be a great show, you know what I mean?

“There a lot of people, maybe you can say they’re sincere, but they don’t try very hard. (laughs) For me it’s not enough to just be sincere, I have to play good music, I have to write good songs. Other than look at people’s motives, I look at people’s music. I think a lot of people are making boring music, and the Dwarves keep making interesting records, and that’s really the difference between us and them.

“It’s the same with the live stuff, some dudes are just phoning it in. Maybe they made a cool punk record a long time ago, but who is actually coming out and playing like they mean it? People are going to see us play and be influenced by it, because it’ll be good.”

Q: You've made a career of this for 30 years and counting. What keeps the Dwarves relevant?

A: “The Dwarves are a band that continues to make quality records, and always brings in something new, jumpin’ around, skippin’ genres. We’re one of those bands. You know, in the 1980’s nobody predicted that we would survive. We were too crazy, too wild, too much crazy s--- happened around us, and I’m just really happy that we carried on.

“I mean, getting to go to places like West Virginia? I mean, I’ve been almost everywhere in America, but the Dwarves have never played in West Virginia. So, to go back to where Hasil Adkins comes from? It’s gonna be great. I mean, Appalachian rock, I’m ready to do this.

“I think we’re part of a great continuum of American folk music, you know? Hardcore and punk, that’s a part of that. I feel like we’re a part of a big movement of American music, whether people would recognize us as part of it or not.”

Q: Do you feel lucky to still be able to do what you do in the Dwarves?

A: “I feel extremely blessed, and why not? I’ve been lucky. Most people have to slog away at a pretty miserable life, I think, whereas I get to play music, and enjoy myself. It’s been pretty good. I can’t complain. I mean, I could, but who would listen to me?”

The Dwarves w/The Queers, Pears, Yellowdog Union
WHEN: 9 p.m., Monday 11.24
WHERE: 123 Pleasant St., Morgantown (304) 292-0800
COST: $15
INFO: www.123pleasantstreet.com
ONLINE: www.thedwarves.com


Energetic Weedeater returns to Huntington (H-D repost)

Courtesy photo

Weedeater brings its brand of stoner/sludge metal to Huntington’s V Club Monday, Sept. 8. “We love Huntington,” singer-bassist Dave Dixie Collins (pictured above) said. “...we’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be one of the highlights of the trip.”

(Reposted from The Huntington Herald-Dispatch)

HUNTINGTON -- Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

This would seem to be the case for the guys in Weedeater.

Approaching its 20th year of putting the “stoner” in stoner/sludge metal, the critically acclaimed Wilmington, North Carolina-based trio is hitting the road in September on the way to record its fifth studio album.

Formed in 1998 by singer-bassist Dave “Dixie” Collins after the dissolution of sludge progenitors Buzzov-en, Weedeater (Collins; Dave Shepherd: guitar; Travis Owen: drums) has made a name for itself through relentless touring, frenetic, energetic shows, and just making music they’d want to hear.

Weedeater’s fans know what kind of show to expect.

“We’re pretty much jokesters, and we have a good time and don’t care,” Collins said.

Weedeater returns to Huntington Monday, September 8 for a show at The V Club with local punk bands Station(s) and Rat Ship.

The band will record its fifth full-length in September, again working with legendary producer Steve Albini in Chicago.

“We have always taken kind of a nonchalant approach to recording,” Collins said. “We will have some ideas when we go in there, but the majority of the record is written in there.”

Preparing to follow up on 2011’s “Jason… The Dragon,” Collins said Weedeater is ready and is preparing to record the way they have in the past: differently.

“This time, we’re just as prepared as we ever are, I’d say,” Collins continued. “We just got together with our drummer, he doesn’t live in North Carolina, he lives in Atlanta, so he came up and we worked on some ideas that we’ll be putting together and assembling in the studio with [Steve] Albini in mid-September.

“But, yeah, I think we have kind of a weird way of going about recording. We don’t do it traditionally like a lot of other people do. You know, some bigger bands go in the studio for months at a time. I think we have the studio for six days, and we’ll probably have the record done in about four. That’s the way it usually happens; the last two were done early.”

Capturing a live, almost dangerous energy on a record, in their own unique way, is something Weedeater does well, Collins admitted proudly.

“It’s a little different for us, the way that we do things, pretty much, a lot of it on the spot. And I think it comes through, too. It works.”

Describing the recording process, and writing and incorporating acoustic material that may seep in from Collins’ and Shepherd’s side project Barstul, Collins said it all comes back to doing what comes natural: rocking out.

“We still are a heavy band, obviously. But we feel absolutely no constraints as to what we want to put on there. If it sounds good to us, we put it on there. Once again, we do it for ourselves first and foremost, and of course, we’d love for people to like it. If they don’t, they don’t.

“But I think that it goes together pretty well, the way that we decide when and where to put in acoustic type stuff or whatever, to change the direction a little bit.

“But, still,” Collins said pausing, to speak more deliberately, “as a whole, my favorite thing about recording a record is to try to make the whole thing a record, not just a collection of songs, so it’s very listenable from beginning to end. That’s the way I prefer people to listen to it, but they can do with it what they want.

“But for us, there is nothing that’s not possible to do. We can make anything that goes in the record and meshes with everything else.”

Before Weedeater heads into the studio, though, they’ll hit the road for a two-week jaunt that includes a stop in a town familiar to the band.

“We love Huntington. We’ve enjoyed The V Club,” Collins said excitedly. “Don [Duncan] is an awesome dude. We have ties to Huntington from way back. We’ve always been well received there, even in the Buzzov-en days. So we’re looking forward to it. It’s gonna be one of the highlights of the trip.”

Doing things their own way, making their own sound over nearly twenty years, and having fun is what it’s still all about for Collins.

“We’ve been doing this the whole time for ourselves, anyway. And, obviously, for the people that appreciate it.”

If you go
Weedeater w/Station(s), Rat Ship
WHERE: The V Club 741 6th Ave.
WHEN: 9 p.m., Monday Sept. 8
COST: $10 advance, $12 day of show
INFO: (304) 781-0680
ONLINE: www.facebook.com/weedmetal, www.vclublive.com