Griff is a busy man indeed, not only is he guitarist with psychedelic doomers Sollubi, who recently released their punishing debut album ‘At War With Decency’ via Choking Hazard Records, he’s also part of Power Electronics sicko’s Rape-X and if that wasn’t enough, Griff is also co-founder of Land o’Smiles Records, so read on to see what he had to say when I fired over some questions to him about the various projects he’s involved with…
Hey Griff, how’s life treating you on the other side of the Atlantic?
Life’s alright. I’ve been busy with applying to grad schools. That’s been eating up a lot of time.
Right, let’s get this interview off and running with Sollubi as they can certainly be described as a ‘who’s who of the underground’ so can you give us a brief introduction to the band, how you formed and your current members?
Sollubi are a psychedelic band. On drums is Corey Bing. Corey is in about 1,800 other bands, most prominent of which are Fistula and Accept Death. Scott Stearns is on bass. He’s the Wizard. He does a shit load of art for a lot of other bands. He’s also played guitar in a shitload bands. He’s in and out of Fistula every couple of months…he’s played with Accept Death and Integrity way back when. Those On vocals is Jesse Kling. He was the singer for Pennsylvania Connection. He’s also in Rape-X and is the owner/operator of Land o’Smiles Records. I play guitar. I was in a shitload of bands that also weren’t very good…like, Pennsylvania Connection, Cough Suppressant Alcoholics, Jerkstore. I played bass for False Front for a while. I played guitar in Robot Dicks for a while.
Uh, we got together through conversations between Jesse and Corey. Jesse had sent Corey the Pennsylvania Connection stuff. Corey dug it and offered to play drums. I had some new material I was working on, so we did something new instead.
What was the thought process behind forming the band, did you have any initial preconceived ideas of how you wanted to sound before your 1st rehearsal together?
Well, I wrote the material all acoustic. I was working on this twisted folk material when the talk of playing with these guys came up. I didn’t really know what the material was going to sound like as a full band, through too much amplification. I recorded some demos, just acoustic guitar and vocals. I sent the tracks to the other three and we got together a few weeks later. The songs are pretty much exactly as they were written initially. Playing them on electric guitar as opposed to acoustic, the attack is a bit different, but the riffs and ideas are the same. We got together another time out at their place a couple of weeks before we recorded. Scott and Corey drove out here to record it. We did a couple of shows while they were here. We recorded the whole thing in one day at King Gary from Bitchslicer’s studio in South Philadelphia. None of us live all that close to each other. Scott & Corey are about 300 miles away. I don’t live all that close to Jesse either; there’s about a 50 mile drive between us.
Where does the name Sollubi come from?
The name comes from “A Naked Lunch,” by William S. Burroughs.
You debut album, the gruelling ‘At War With Decency’ was actually recorded in 2007, but has only recently seen the light of day, so why did it take a while for it to be released?
It took Andrew a while to get the mixes finished. He was really busy and couldn’t get to it right away. We also took our time getting it out to people. It traded around the internet for a while. I had 50 CD-Rs pressed up and we sent those out to some people. It kind of circulated more through word of mouth, I guess, before Steph decided to put it out.
Choking Hazard Records have also had the honour of pressing up this slab of doom so how did you become to be involved with them?
Steph asked us to contribute a track to a compilation he was putting together. Fistula were already on it, and I didn’t want to break up the songs. So, he said he would put out the whole thing. We have plans to do a split with Aquilonian for Choking Hazard as well. That should be real cool.
Although your debut album only features 3 tracks, they do differ somewhat in terms of structure & length from the 4 ½ minute opening onslaught of ‘In Violation’, to the final punishing track of ‘At War With Decency’ which runs in at just under 30 minutes, so how do you go about writing your material, who comes up with the initial ideas and is song length of any concern, or is it just simply a case of what happens, happens and we’ll know when the track has run its course?
The song length wasn’t really an issue, they just were what they were. I mean, I knew the songs were going to be long. But, it wasn’t a conscious effort to make them a certain length. It wasn’t until we recorded the demos at rehearsal that we were like, “whoa this is really fucking long.”
As your sound is an amalgamation of heavy sludge and psychedelic sonics, can you give us a run through as to the equipment you use which help to create your illicit tones?
There’s nothing too exotic going on. Guitar and bass are just straight into big giant heads, no effects going on. Jesse has this noise box thing that a friend built for him; he used that on The White Witch. There’s some analogue synth on At War with Decency. I’m not sure what model it is…it’s an old Yamaha. No trickery. All the songs are single takes with the vocals over dubbed. The guitar is open tuned. It’s a bastardization of an open C# minor tuning, dropped down to A#.
I also have to ask about your lyrics, especially with lines such as ‘Watch the damage my pussy can do, it’s like a neutron bomb’, so firstly which deviant writes them, where do the ideas come from and finally what drugs is he on?!?
I write lyrics. I’m on whatever drugs you’ve got.
And finally for Sollubi, what are your future plans?
We’re getting together next month to rehearse and eventually we’ll record some new material for spits with Aquilonian and Ravens Creed. Maybe we’ll do some shows. That’d be kinda cool.
Your also invloved Power Electronics reprobates Rape-X, so who else is involved in it and what have you released to date? And what does Rape-X have planned for the foreseeable future?
Rape-X is really Jesse’s band. This dude named Flesh does the vocals. They were already established. It was just the two of them and they had already done some tracks and this really fucked up DVD before Jesse asked me to join the group. That was right before the “Sex Tape/Rape Stand” 12 inch came out. I play some Moog on that. After that we did “The Civil Servant” tracks for the split with Ghäst and “The Menstrual Blood of the Sordid Whore” 3 inch CD. There’s also a CD-R called “Human Shit” that got thrown in to some of the “Sex Tape/Rape Stand” records.
Since then, I’ve started doing some more involved stuff with post-production. Sometimes we record live, sometimes it’s just individual tracks that are reassembled. Most of “FALSE” is recorded like that…in pieces and assembled later. We’re kind of expanding on that concept for the next full length. We’ve given a bunch of raw tracks…just a bunch of random .wav files. Some vocal tracks, some noise tracks, but all individual tracks. We’ve given them out to a bunch of other musicians to reassemble the tracks on their own. The tracks are starting to come in and they’ve come up with some interesting syuff. Abandoner, Black Mayonnaise, Ravens Creed, Persistence of Mourning, Ghäst, Scott Stearns from Sollubi/Fistula/etc, they’ve all got tracks in so far. It should be pretty cool.
Besides that, we are working on a bunch of split releases. We’ve got splits with Fistula, Orbiting Formats, Climax Denial, Satanized & Bloodkitt all coming out. Flesh has recently gone to jail, so I don’t know what kind of turn we’re going to take with that. He recorded a bunch of vocal tracks before he left, so we have some stuff to work with.
Why the name Rape-X and is it your intention with this project to shock with not only your name, but also the imagery you use?
Rape-X is an anti-rape devise for women. It’s a female condom filled with columns of barbs that clamp down when the woman is penetrated. It uses vagina dentata as a rape deterrent. It’s a barbaric tool to fight a barbaric act. “Fight fire with fire” or, “two wrongs don’t make a right?” From both sides, it is ugly and the consequences are harsh. No one wins. It’s not meant to be shocking, just real. To a lot of people, reality is shocking.
What electronic wizardry do you use to generate your wall of noise?
We’ve got a lot of toys to fuck around with. Jesse and I both have a collection of weird electronic devices and some circuit bent stuff. My main weapons of choice are the Moog Rogue synthesizer and good old fashion feedback. We just did a few tracks using this Buddhist prayer box.It’s a little box with a speaker that plays these drone loops. It’s for meditation. It’s creepy.
You’ll also be releasing a split with sludgers Fistua via Tapeworm but why is this being released on cassette and will if ever see a digital or even vinyl release?
Tapeworm is Corey’s label. It’s cassette only, that’s their deal. I doubt it will be released on CD or vinyl, but I’m sure it will circulate around the internet.
And if you weren’t busy enough, you’re also a co-founder of Land O Smiles Records, so how’s things going with the label at the moment? And what does the future hold for the label, any new releases in the pipeline you can mention?
Things are pretty slow at Land o’Smiles right now. Money is tight and the distro side has been real slow. There will be more stuff coming out soon, but only Black Lodge Releases for now. The Black Lodge is a series of 1-sided 12 inch records in one time runs of 100. All hand made covers, that kind of thing. Madman Morgan is the next release due out in that series. That’s Jeff from Rwake’s solo project with him on all the instruments. It’s a retro-thrash kinda basement tape project. The records have been pressed and Jeff is in the process of hand etching the blank sides of each of the records. It’s taking him a LONG time to get that done. In fact, we haven’t heard a word from him in months. So, who knows when that will see the light of day. Bloodyminded are the next up after that. This will be their first release on a label outside of Mark’s BLOODLUST! Label. We’re really psyched for that one.
You’ve also shunned the digital format in favour of pressing limited, vinyl only releases, so why did you chose to go down this route and does it concern you that you may alienate people who don’t or no longer have a turntable?
We press vinyl because that is our medium of choice. It’s not meant to alienate anyone, or be a statement. The whole thing started from one of those “man, I wish someone would press that shit on vinyl…that would be so cool,” conversations. Just about everything we have put out has been available on CD somewhere else (Unearthly Trance, the Kongh/Ocean Chief split, the Pharmacopeia com, the Noosebomb 7 inch and the Black Lodge stuff being the exceptions) I mean, some of those CDs are next to impossible to find (Behold! The Living Corpse, the Earthride EP, Drug War, “Hell is a Door to the Sun” by Rwake) but, they were out there. All that stuff is out there circulating around the internet on blogs or torrents or whatever. The music is readily available to anyone. We just focus on vinyl because that is what we buy as fans.
Thanks Griff for the interview and please use this space for any final words…
I don’t really have anything else to add. Thanks for your interest.
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards