Bradford based Lazarus Blackstar arose from the ashes of UK Doom merchants Khang with an all new heavier more sludgy sound and of course now feature the manic Paul Catten (Medulla Noctre/Murder One) on vocals, after chatting to Lee & Bri recently in Manchester when they supported Electric Wizard, they agreed to answer a few questions for The Sleeping Shaman.
Hello to one an all, firstly thanks for putting on a great show the other night so what better way to get the ball rolling by giving us a brief run down of your current members, what they play and current/previous bands you’ve been involved in?
Lee: FUCKING HELL!!!! I knew you were gonna ask that, too many bands to mention really, I’d be here all day. But the band members are as follows, Paul Catten/vocals, Bri Doom/bass, Gordon Wilkinson/drums, Richard Savage/guitar, Lee Baines/guitar.
Bri: I play bass & I’ve been involved in DOOM, SORE THROAT, VR, BUGEYED, STALINGRAD & THE DEVILS plus more that I cant remember.
In your own words, how would you describe the music of Lazarus Blackstar?
Lee: Dark, heavy as fuck, infectious, intense, crust/doom.
Bri: Fucking Heavy, dirty, nasty
And where do you draw your inspiration from both musically and lyrically?
Lee: Musically, I’m inspired mainly by Sabbath/Vitus/Autopsy, plus a whole load of other bands that I listen to. But I write the riffs to sound a certain way, I think we have our own identity, and I want to keep it that way. I write riffs that will keep the Lazarus sound.
Paul: Lyrically, inspiration has come from particular moods and interests. At the time of joining LBS I was going through one of my many religious stages, so a few of the songs are based around that kind of questioning. Revelations 1 + 2 were both written with the help of the Bible for inspiration and basic theft of passages, and quite frankly are some of the best lyrics I have ever written, so thank you God for that. Terrorism, serial killers, stalking and my obsession/addiction for internet porn and depravity are all covered. There’s some heavy religious overtones in the stuff, but that’s where my head was at during the 6 months it took to get the words together. Who knows? The next album could be all devil worship, or complete Gospel, you just don’t know…
Bri: Musically anything that heavy & powerful. Geezer Butler’s bass playing inspires me, but I could never play like that.
The heart of Lazarus Blackstar is still pretty much the same from the early Khang days with the addition of Paul Catten on vocals, so can you tell us why you felt there was a need for a name change, where you actually got the name and lastly how you managed to rope Paul in on vocal duties?
Lee: Ok, we felt the need for a name change, simply because of the difference in our overall sound, with the addition of Paul. We couldn’t carry on as Khang, it didn’t seem right. We got the name from the title of one of the last Khang songs we wrote. I managed to get Paul in the band, after talking to a mutual friend, he was at a loose end and so were we, so we just tied them together.
Paul: Bribery. I’m glad I got roped in to be honest. Last year sometime a mutual friend let the guys know I was pretty fed up in the situation I was in, and would possibly be looking for a change. I got a mail from Lee, and he sent the CD down, had a listen and by about 0.34 of Track 1 I was mailing him to say “Yes!” The fact that everything was so slow in comparison to anything I’ve done previously meant that this was going to be a creative challenge, which quite frankly was what I was missing, that spark of a new idea…Anyhow, a few weeks later, I went to Bradford and laid down I, Black Widow and the Vitus cover and waited for the response. They haven’t sacked me yet so I guess it worked out OK.
Bri: The feel of Lazarus Blackstar is a lot different to how Khang was, even though a lot of our songs were late period Khang songs, these were progressing into a much slower, nastier heavier feel.
While on the subject of Paul, how do you feel he has settled in with the rest of the band, considering his vocals are in complete contrast to what you were doing in Khang?
Lee: Great!! I always felt that there was something missing in Khang, and once Paul had laid down some vocal tracks, I knew what it was. I couldn’t be happier with this band, and I think I speak for all the rest of the lads.
Paul: I’m just doing something a little different. Bear in mind I don’t really listen to a lot of doom/stoner stuff, or rather I didn’t around the time of joining so vocally it wasn’t influenced by anything, I just loved the heaviness of it all. Iron Monkey were really the only band of that genre that I really dug, and it would be an insult to copy John’s vocal, he was the master and most of the impostors today don’t even come close to that, no matter how hard they try. If I listened to a whole bunch of bands for inspiration that would have been fake. All I could do was my own interpretation of the songs, the guys pretty much gave me a beautiful canvas full of black, white and grey and I had to add a few splashes of red over the top. It was a challenge, and it may take a few times to get your head round, but when it sinks in..it feels right. I’m glad really, as it’s opened my mind and ears to the world of doom. And it makes a change from Merzbow.
Bri: I think he’s settled in extremely well. I’ve known Paul, but not well, for about 18 years from the Mermaid days in Brum. He’s got our sense of humour which I reckon is very important. Even though Bry had a great voice, towards the end it wasn’t really sitting too well with the direction that the music was going. Paul’s vocals tend to compliment our sound much more & totally change the dynamics of our songs. I love it.
At the time of writing, you’d only played two gigs with your current line up, so can you tell us how well you feel these shows went and what sort of response you got to your new sound?
Lee: I thought they went great, considering…… The gig at the 1in 12 was a blinder.
Paul: I thought they were fucking ace! Bradford was tense as you would expect, first gig and all, but still highly enjoyable. Manchester was cool too, I thought we rocked in quite a fashion. As for the response, well, a whole bunch dug the band complete, and a bunch dug the band but not me, which is fine. I could smell their nervous reaction as we played hehe. I knew it was going to be a challenge, as it always is a “new” singer, regardless of the name change so some of the old Khang fans didn’t approve, and the hardcore doomers think I’m a cunt. Maybe if I was a fat sweaty long haired guy singing about weed, I’d get some props, but listen, I’ve been around a long time, you learn that if you take the plaudits, you have to take the stick too. You either like my voice or don’t, but that’s because I sound like me, no-one else. Sad really, that bands dismiss other bands on these internet forums, but it also gave me the chance to check their bands out, and they all sucked, talk about the pot and the fucking kettle! Aside from that, I get the feeling it wasn’t what was expected. However, since the MySpace page has been up with a couple of tracks, the tide is turning as people are “getting” what its all about. The infidels will fall at our knees come Judgement Day!
Bri: I reckon we fucking killed in Bradford (our 1st gig) the response was great. Manchester was a little bit less of an onslaught, but it’s always hard to be the opening band, people still say we were as heavy as fuck (to our faces anyway).
Your debut album is already recorded and is just awaiting release by Undergroove Records, can you tell us how they became involved with Lazarus Blackstar and when it’s likely to see the light of day?
Lee: The CD should be out on the 11th of July this year, very soon. We had a few labels interested in the band, but we all know Darren Sadler at Undergroove, and he’s a cool guy, he knows his stuff, and he can sort shit out, and does. No false promises.
Bri: Darren Sadler’s always been into what Khang was doing & has helped us in the past with gigs etc so when he heard the LBS stuff he was into helping us again. The album was supposed to be out on July the 11thy, but I think its been delayed a few weeks now.
With Bri being actively involved in the 1 in 12 Club, you were able to record and mix the album tracks yourselves at their newly installed studio (aptly named ‘Studio 1in12’). Can you tell us how the recording went and with having ‘free reign’ on the sound & feel, do you think you were able to capture what you were looking for rather than relying on ‘hired help’ to give their own interpretation?
Lee: Totally, we have to be in control of our sound at all times. No producer can understand how it has to be. Plus most producers are full of shit, and they over-look the obvious when it comes to recording heavy bands. They tell you “this frequency wont work with that frequency” etc etc. Just put a mic in front of the cabs, and turn up the fucking amps to a hellish level dickheads!!!
Bri: Its a dream come true for me, to be able to, record, engineer & mix a band that I also play in. It’s been great to have total freedom to record whenever we want & to be able to mix, tweak & remix as when it needed it. The best thing for me is the fact that we’ve avoided that polished sound that tends to weaken the power of the music. All in all I’m probably 80% happy with the finished recording, which I reckon is pretty good as I’ll never be 100% happy with anything I do.
As mentioned your based in Bradford which has always had a reputation for producing some excellent bands & labels over the years as well as a healthy live scene with venues such as the 1 in12 Club and The Rio’s. So can you tell us, is the scene there as still as healthy as it’s ever been, are gigs still well supported and are there any up and coming bands we should keep our eyes peeled for?
Lee: The Bradford scene is worse now than it has ever been. The 1in12 is great, but we avoid Rio’s like the plague. Half the Bradford bands are up their own arses, and don’t support each other. You know what it was like when you lived in Bradford.
Bri: No. Unless there’s a well known band playing people don’t tend to bother with gigs, unless its an all-dayer. As far as heavy music goes I can’t think of any other bands from Bradford that I’d recommend.
You’ll be playing the up and coming Sozzfest at The 1in12 Club in July which I’m sure will be an emotional gig but what else does the future hold for Lazarus Blackstar?
Lee: Were all really looking forward to the Sozzfest, to pay tribute to a great guy. We are going on tour in the summer, maybe late July/August, but we’re still awaiting confirmation for dates etc.
Bri: Hopefully some tours, Europe would be good or the US. Basically we want to push heaviness to new extremes.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and feel free to add any final words/thoughts…
Lee: Cheers for taking an interest in the Blackstar, and fuck off to all the elitist twats who talk shit!!!
Paul: Thanks! Hail Lazarus!!
Bri: Cheers Lee.
Check out all the latest goings on with Lazarus Blackstar at: www.facebook.com/pages/lazarus-blackstar/20589373181
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards