Godhunter are Arizona’s scorched answer to sludge. A dark, malevolent beast that mixes equal parts raw hardcore with slow, lurching doom riffs to create a new sound in the dank world of sludge. Their new record, ‘City Of Dust’, looks like it may become a sleeper hit of 2014, and is already receiving great reviews. I got the chance to ask guitarist Jake Brazelton about their new record, playing with heroes and surviving the suffocating heat of their home state…
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions guys. You formed in 2008, and released your first EP ‘Wolves’ in 2011. How did the band come together and was that three year gap between forming and releasing material an intentional decision?
We actually started in 2009. A few members of the original lineup were playing together in a different band in 2008, but Godhunter wasn’t born yet. It was really just an idea at that point. Our first EP, a split EP with Methra, actually came out in 2010. We followed that up with Wolves in 2011, then a couple more splits in 2012 and 2013, all leading up to City Of Dust being released in 2014. We try to have new material out pretty constantly. Like the Melvins said, people never forget about you if you keep releasing music.
Your first EP ‘Wolves’ is a much more straightforward beast than your newest record. Is ‘City Of Dust’ the culmination of how you wanted your band to sound, or do you feel that you’re still evolving as a unit?
As long as this band is together, it will constantly be evolving. We have no desire to stay locked into one scene or genre. I know it may sound a bit clichéd, but we are constantly exploring new sounds, new bands, new ideas. This band thrives on making music that is new and interesting to us, and we feel that if we find the music interesting, then hopefully everyone else will as well.
Onto ‘City Of Dust’, I was fortunate enough to review it for the site, and I found it a refreshing mix of sludge and hardcore. Who are your main musical influences, and where do your lyrical inspirations come from?
We pull musical influences from all over the place; Baroness, ASG, Goatsnake, Black Flag, EyeHateGod and tons of other bands. The best way to keep your sound evolving and progressing as a musician is to listen to a shit-ton of different bands and keep pushing yourself to be better. Also weed. Weed is our biggest musical influence. Lyrically we pull from outrage. The complacency of the masses, the incompetence of the government, and basically everything that pisses us off gets channeled into our lyrics.
I noticed on your Facebook page that you’ve toured a lot with EyeHateGod recently. Being the hugely influential band they are in this style of music, was this a dream support slot for you? Are there any other bands out there you’d like to support?
We would have loved to do a tour with EyeHateGod, but it was only one show up in Phoenix. They are one of our favorite bands though, so it was a pretty amazing experience. We do have a few bands that we’d love to play with, like Mastodon, Converge, Rwake or Baroness, just because they are also very influential on us.
Arizona strikes me as unusual as a location for a band that plays a style of metal much more associated with the swampy, humid Deep South. Does coming from Tucson present you with any unique influences for your sound? Is there a vibrant sludge and doom scene there? Are there any bands that we should keep an eye out for?
Dude it’s the fucking sun. In place of hot and humid we just have fucking hot. Having to endure 5 months of temperatures over 100 degrees makes a person pretty upset. You just have to channel that into making angry music. I wouldn’t call it a vibrant scene for sludge/doom bands but there are some rad fucking bands out here in the wild west. Bands like Lethal Dosage, North, Territory, Sex Prisoner, Sorrower, Seas Will Rise, and Cave Dweller are all fantastic bands.
How was the writing and recording process for City Of Dust? Did you experience any problems?
The writing process was great. Each member of the band brought ideas to the table and we worked them out as a group. We tried to push ourselves at all points. Constantly writing new shit and re-writing other parts to fit together better. It was a constant struggle to not write 10+ minute long songs. Recording is always a bit of a struggle; everything from scheduling to gear problems. But since we recorded with Ryan Butler at Arcane Digital Recording everything came together. Butler is really good at his job and made everything way easier and less stressful.
As 2013 has just finished, the internet has filled up with endless lists of best records from 2013. What were your favourite records of last year, and what are you most looking forward to from 2014? What has been the most important event musically for your band since you started?
Each member of the band will have a different top ten list so I will just list a couple records I know we all dug. Ultraviolet-Kylesa, Soma-Windhand, MCTTG-Subrosa, Mind Control-Uncle Acid & The Deabeats. Our favorite album would have to be Blood Drive from ASG. In 2014 we are pumped for the new Truckfighters, Agalloch and Mastodon among others.
I doubt we can pick just one event but we can pick two. One was when we got to play with EyeHateGod in Phoenix and the other was when we got to play with Clutch in Tucson. Playing a show with one of your favorite bands is always a dream come true.
For me, the track ‘Shooting Down The Sun’ from your new record is a standout. It feels like a dark country ballad. As it is vastly differently from the majority of the album, was this a conscious decision? Do you have an acoustic or country influence?
We do enjoy quite a few bands of that nature. Some guys in the band really like old country like Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, some of the guys like newer bands like Amigo The Devil or Chelsea Wolfe. We’re also pretty big fans of music like Roky Erickson and 13th Floor Elevators, so making a grandiose dark country tune just seemed to fit for us. We’re not a band that likes to be pigeonholed into one sound. If there is an influence that we enjoy, it’ll probably turn up on the album at some point.
‘Snake Oil Dealer’ was also a favourite track of mine from City Of Dust. Do you guys have a favourite Godhunter track, and are there any that are better to play live than others?
Every single time we get a new song ready to go it becomes our favorite song to play. The newer the track is, the better it is to play live.
You seem to be touring a lot, how are the live crowds responding? Is the live experience of Godhunter essential to understanding the band and do you feel your music and lyrics translate well to the live stage?
People seem to dig it so far. Getting people out of the fucking smoking section and in front of the stage is hard to accomplish but somehow we seem to do it. Most of the time anyway. So we are a live band, first and foremost. We write music and lyrics with the stage in mind, not the studio. If you can’t get it done live no one is going to care about your band. In the age of stealing everyone’s album off of the internet and cell phone videos of bands playing on youtube you have to be good live in order to entice people to show up. In order to really understand the band you should see us live. Fuck youtube videos.
Thanks very much for your time Jake, and I hope if you ever make it across to the UK in the near future I’ll be able to attend!
‘City Of Dust‘ is available for Pre-Order from The Compound HERE.
Interviewed by: Sandy Williamson
Photo Credit Andrew Weiss