One of the musical highlights of 2015 for me was KIND’s debut album Rocket Science. Featuring a host of previous and current members of some of Boston’s finest heavy bands (Matt Couto (ex-Elder), Tom Corino (ex-Rozamov), Craig Riggs (Roadsaw) and Darryl Shepard (ex-Black Pyramid)), it was an album chock full of awesome riffs that also managed to sound atmospheric and genuinely different from your run-of-the-mill stoner-doom fare.
Fast forward five years and KIND have upped the ante with a sophomore release that sounds even better than the first disk – Mental Nudge, which has been jointly released by Ripple Music and Kozmik Artefactz. I had all kinds of trouble trying to describe it in my review, so you’d be best off going and listening to it yourself. In any event, guitarist Darryl Shepard was kind enough (feeble pun not intended, but I think I lose any credit for that by not deleting it) to take some time answer our questions.
You’re obviously all based in Boston, how would you describe the heavy music scene there?
It’s very fertile. Lots of excellent heavy bands right now, like Cortez, Birnam Wood, SEA, Lesser Glow, GOZU, tons more. Boston has always had a really good heavy music scene. The bands are all friendly with each other and support each other. It’s not just one style either. There’s stoner kind of stuff, hardcore, death metal, doom metal, all kinds of styles.
What inspired you guys to get together as KIND?
Matt and I would talk about jamming when we would see each other at shows. He was in Elder at the time and I was in Black Pyramid, so we were both pretty busy, but we eventually found some time to jam in his basement. Tom came down to the second practice, I think. Craig heard we were up to something and said he wanted to sing, so we banged a couple of jams vaguely into the shape of songs and then Craig came down and started singing. At first, our songs were just crazy jams that didn’t really have any structure, but we banged ‘em into shape so Craig would have something coherent to sing over.
There’s more jamming in KIND than other bands I’ve played with, but then we kind of take the jams and make them into coherent songs…
How does the band work and how would you compare it to the other projects that you’ve worked on? Is it weird working with Craig Riggs outside of Roadsaw?
There’s a lot of jamming and seeing what takes shape that way. Or I’ll bring in a riff that I have, but it needs more parts, so we just jam on a part and see where it leads. There’s more jamming in KIND than other bands I’ve played with, but then we kind of take the jams and make them into coherent songs. It’s not weird working with Craig outside of Roadsaw at all, I last played with them in 2008, I think. So it’s been a while. In KIND, we leave all of the vocal parts up to him, we concentrate on the music and he takes care of all the lyrics and vocal parts. It works out fine that way.
What would you say are the main differences between ‘Mental Nudge’ and your first album?
The first album, Rocket Science, was a little more jammy, maybe. Some of the songs went off in pretty weird directions, which was totally our intention at the time. For Mental Nudge, I think the songs are a little more focused. They still veer off into different places but it’s a little more reeled in this time, but it works. Craig added a lot more vocal parts this time, more harmonies, which really fit the songs well.
How did you guys hook up with the good people at Kozmik Artifactz to handle the European release of Mental Nudge?
Matt got in touch with them. We were just looking for a European label to make it easier for people to get the record over in Europe, especially as far as shipping costs, which are insane at this point. So Matt got in touch with them once the record was done and they were into working with us in Europe, and Ripple Music has the album in the US.
It’s not just straight up ‘stoner rock’, there’s a lot of other stuff going on…
I found reviewing Mental Nudge a real pain in the arse (in a good way). It’s a great album but I found it very hard to describe or compare to anything else out there. How would you describe it?
First off, thank you! I’d call it a combination of stoner rock with some doom and psych rock in there as well. Grunge and 90s rock get mentioned a lot too in reviews. I personally love a lot of the 90s bands, like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Screaming Trees, so I think there’s definitely some of that in there as well. It’s not just straight up ‘stoner rock’, there’s a lot of other stuff going on. It’s very melodic even though it’s heavy. We tune down to C standard, and one song is dropped down another full step to B flat, so it’s definitely low.
COVID-19’s clearly messed up things for everyone, but do you have any plans to tour when things start getting back to normal? What are your longer-term plans for the band?
We’re absolutely hoping to tour as soon as we can, which will hopefully be next year at some point! Obviously nothing is happening the rest of 2020 but we’re hoping by the fall of 2021 we can do some touring, if not sooner. We just have to wait it out. But we definitely want to do some touring, and a third record at some point. We’re also looking into some live webcast kind of stuff right now.
You’ve been involved in so many bands and projects over the years, which is the one that you’re most proud of?
Right now I’m really proud of this album, it’s absolutely one of the best things I’ve been part of, and I know I can say the other guys feel the same way. Aside from KIND, I’d say Milligram is probably one of the bands I’m most proud of having been involved with. I’ve been proud of pretty much everything I’ve been involved with at different points. But this new KIND album is right up there at the top of the list for me.
I’m really proud of this album, it’s absolutely one of the best things I’ve been part of…
Slightly off-topic, but I really enjoyed ‘Doomsayer’ record you made a few years back. Is there any chance of The Scimitar getting together again.
Never say never! Gein lives out in California now, and Brian did as well for a while but he moved back to Massachusetts. We don’t live anywhere near each other though, different parts of the state. At some point we might play a show or two, or record a couple of songs, but I don’t think it would be a full time thing at this point in our lives. The only reason we stopped playing was because people moved. We stay in touch though. I’m glad you dig that record!
Thanks for your time! Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with the good readers of The Sleeping Shaman?
Just want to thank everyone for the support so far and all the positive words about the new album. Hitting number one on the Doom Charts was really cool, we weren’t expecting that! And I personally just want to thank Matt, Craig and Tom for kicking ass. And thank you for taking the time to do this interview. We appreciate it and we don’t take anything for granted.
Mental Nudge is out now via Ripple Music (US) and Kozmik Artifactz (Europe).
Interviewed by: Liam Blanc