From Boise, Idaho USA comes Uzala. 3 men, one woman, fuzz boxes, battered vintage amps meeting head on to create some solid fuzzed out doom. Their man-at-arms Chad Remains answered a few questions…
Can you give us a nice introduction to Uzala, and describe your sound?
Chad Remains/guitar and vocals: Darcy and I started Uzala in the Spring of 2009 in a Cold War relic fallout shelter with a bottle of vodka, some ancient amplifiers, homemade fuzz pedals, and a handful of riffs. Stephen (drums) joined us shortly after and we started honing songs and arrangements. I’d like to think that we sound like a traditional doom band with female vocals, but I think there is something else going on in there as well. Others have compared our sounds to bands like Pentagram, Celtic Frost, Acid King, Witchcraft, Earth, etc. I’m not exactly sure. We write what we want to hear and we want to hear non-modern heavy metal sounds.
I started off playing bass many years ago, so I think that pretty heavily influences the way I play guitar and the way I use/abuse amplifiers. I have an unhealthy obsession with vintage dark amps and their deadly simplicity. I build most of our fuzz and distortion pedals and I’m very happy with the sounds we are getting from them. Simple riffs and heavy heathen vibes!
Darcy Nutt/guitar and vocals: Witches and cough syrup, death, sadness and playing guitar like you’ve got boxing gloves on.
Besides Uzala, have any members been active in any other bands?
CR: I have played in a bunch of bands you’ve never heard of like Raw Headless Tiger, Old Growth, Old Cloud (with Rob Morrison from Tarantula Hawk, Judas Chair, A.d.D. and Brad Mowen from ASVA, Burning Witch, Accüsed, Master Musicians of Bukkake), Past Master, Nihil Jung, etc. Heard of em? Didn’t think so… I also played guitar on tour with PussyGutt and did guitar tracks on their Sea of Sand record.
We are honoured to have Nick Phit join Uzala on bass. He played guitar in Graves at Sea and currently plays bass in Portland, Oregon’s ATRIARCH. We just played our first gig with Nick opening for WOLVSERPENT and A Story of Rats.
Darcy sang in The Predictors many years back. Kind of a rock-opera noise improv thing.
Portland is a long way from Boise… Does it pose many problems?
CR: Logistically it is not ideal, Nick flies out to write, record, or rehearse before gigs. This is kind of a new situation for us, so we will see how it all pans out (that’s some Old West gold miner slang right there…) We are trying to convince him that he should move here, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon. Maybe after I get him out deer hunting he will be convinced. Until then we will just work hard and press on. I know it has worked for other bands, including some whose members are located in different countries or even in different continents, so no whining from me right now.
How is the scene in Boise, Idaho? Is there much of a metal scene and do you fit in?
CR: Boise is a great place to live if you like hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting old rusty car carcasses and the like. Many bands drive right through here without stopping on their way to Portland or Seattle. The West is still a lot of vast, open spaces and many of the big towns are eight or more hours drive apart. We have been fortunate enough as a band to open for Dark Castle, Zoroaster, Cough, The Roller, Black Tussk, Weedeater, Atriarch, WOLVSERPENT, Red Fang, and some others from here and there.
It occurs to me that there is a metal scene here although I’m not sure what all it entails. I know that there are some death metal bands and some modern type metal bands as well as loads of punk and hardcore bands. Honestly I don’t go out for gigs much unless I’m playing one or if it’s a touring band I really don’t want to miss. Do we fit in? I don’t know of any bands that share a “sound” with us, whatever that means – but maybe I’m not looking in the right place. Plenty of indie cardigan music here singing songs about whatever cardigan wearers sing songs about on their untuned shitfiddles. Avoid.
Boise has previously been home to Septic Death, H Hour (became TAD later), Treepeople, and one of my personal favourites, Caustic Resin. Those were some seriously damaged guys making deranged psychedelic hard rock. Take a listen to “Fly Me To The Moon” when you get a chance.
Have you struggled to get shows locally, do you travel much out of state? Any plans for outside of the US?
CR: We don’t play gigs very often. We don’t wish to play out more than about a dozen times a year locally but we hope to do a small NorthWest tour after the record is out in the fall.
We would be very happy to play in Canada (if they let us in), the U.K. and Europe/Scandinavia. No plans have been made as of yet. Darcy and I have been to ROADBURN Festival four years running now, so that one would be KILLER (one can dream…). Hey, Walter! We’re gonna be there anyway so how about we bring guitars and fuzz pedals? Nudge… nudge… wink wink!
Are there any bands that you share a particular kinship with?
CR: WOLVSERPENT are the best band from Boise and they are amazing friends as well. Blake Green is engineering/producing our record and I think he is doing a killer job of making us sound great. He is very creative and prideful of his work – and it shows. We have made a lot of great friends through music and finding like-minded people in this world is a rare and wonderful thing, indeed. There are plenty of great bands I’d like to see Uzala share a stage with – I think I’ll keep them to myself until we are proven worthy.
Tell us a little bit about the gear you use. Do you think that your equipment is crucial to your sound or is it more a means to an end?
CR: I used old SUNN 200s heads for years including on the demo recording until I traded one of my heads to one of the creeps from BONGRIPPER (hey Nick, doing good?) HA HA. Got a fucking SWEET Laney gh100s TI (Tony Iommi signature model amp – whoa) off of him and I’ve been using it since. I sometimes slave it out to a 200s head through a SUNN 215s cab loaded with guitar 15’s – it’s a bit much, really, but it is a sound you can FEEL. Got an old Marshall JCM800 cab that looks like it was pulled out of a house fire. Darcy uses one of my old 200s heads through an ORANGE 4×12″ – sometimes I want to steal it from her, but I think she’d figure it out. heh… I lust after amps of the old style. I think the most crucial part of the sound is the lava hot burning tubes. I salvage old U.S. and British tubes whenever I can. Brimars, Mullards, RCA’s. Just warm and thick sounding – ripe for cave riffs and one note strangulation “solos”. I enjoy building effects pedals as well, at least fuzz and boost stuff, distortions and the like. My main fuzz sound right now is a big muff clone that has been modified a bit. Darcy’s main fuzztone is an octavia type fuzz that I did not build for her, but all of her other pedals I did. I plan on continuing building – especially pedals that would cost a fucking fortune to get the real vintage ones.
Steve’s drumkit is a monster 26″ Slingerland kick teamed up with a 16″ rack and a 20″ floor tom. Sounds BIG and warm, as you might well imagine. I think a small kit would be horrible for this band. Big and simple. Hi-hats, two rides, big sticks.
For live purposes, Nick is running a couple of 4×10″ cabinets driven by a Peavey Tour 700 which sounds great. Big, deep, and clear. He used two of our 200s heads for the record, one through a SUNN guitar 2×15″ for the fuzztone and one through an Acoustic 2×15″ for the deep clean lows.
We will continue to experiment with old amps and sounds for the forseeable future.
Is your house like Frankenstein’s laboratory, full of pieces of reclaimed gear?
CR: Have you been looking in my window?!? Yeah, seems I’ve always got a project or three or four kicking about. Old amps, beat up guitars, fuzz pedals, bags of found vintage tubes – you name it. Soldering iron is always right within reach on my desk and I’m usually digging for schematics on the computer when I get a spare moment or down at the local electronics recycler warehouse digging through bins of capacitors and old bakelite knobs and stuff. So far I have managed to only drive myself crazy with it and my daughter is actually a very talented solderer (is that a word?!?)
Now I just need a Tesla coil and a machine that goes “ping”, maybe throw in a loyal hunchback and I’ll be happy!
Darcy, do you get tired of the name-checks to other females in metal? Do the Jex Thoth & Liz Buckingham comparisons get a little tiresome?
DN: Yes. I am a tattoo artist, so I have had many years of that same thing when it comes to tattooing as well. I can understand commenting on apparent influences, but I’m not going to say that Wino sounds like Cronos because they’re both male. However, ladies in metal are less common, so this does happen. I’ll get over it.
What is it like having your wife in the band? Does she get the rolling pin out if you screw up?
CR: She could slit my throat in my sleep! AND – I screw up all the time. She’s fantastic at remembering riffs and we are quite blunt with each other if we don’t like a new riff. I will write a riff and then immediately forget it, but she’s got an elephant’s memory. Works pretty well for us, I think. We pretty much share writing duties although Stephen wrote “PLAGUE” on piano and we just did the lyrics and arrangement for guitars on that one. Nick is writing with UZALA now that he’s in and I look forward to collaborating with him in the future. His work in Graves at Sea was inspirational to me. It’s great to be able to work closely with a musician of his caliber.
How do you juggle the band, a tattoo business and family? Are you spinning plates?
DN: We’re crazy busy, but at least we’re doing what we love. Our daughter, Freya, will be so sick of tattoos and metal by the time she leaves our home, I wouldn’t be surprised if she grows up to gladly join corporate America and listen to Linkin Park.
Tattoos and music go hand in hand. What are your thoughts on this? What about Metal Core, the masses of kids getting hand and neck tattoos, do you have an opinion on this?
DN: We listen to music nonstop. All day at the shop. Drawing at home. In the car. Freya often begs for silence. Chad and I dominate the stereo at work, so it’s pretty much doom and black metal, obscure 70’s and psychedelic rock, and dark ambient shit all the time at Chalice.
Hoodie hard kids (kids with almost no tattoos except their hands and neck/face) are false. You don’t have to have tattoos to be a badass. Wanna be tough? Get a full backpiece. That shit hurts!
We will continue to experiment with old amps and sounds for the forseeable future.
The name, Uzala. What are it’s origins? Kurosawa?
CR: Stephen came to rehearsal one day all jacked up about this film he had just seen the night before – Darcy and I had seen it several times over the years and we thought it was a great fit for the sound and for us personally. The landscape shots in Dersu Uzala are absolutely breathtaking and the relationship that develops between Captain and Dersu is incredible. The wizened woodsman and the battle hardened soldier. Somebody needs to sell me one of those Winchester 1895 Muskets in 7.62x54r as soon as possible. We also found out recently that UZALA is Japanese for quail which is great getting back to my love for hunting and being out in nature.
Finally, you also post frequently on Forever Doomed. How important do you feel the internet is to music?
CR: The internet has been indispensable for us as a band. I don’t think that a Boise, Idaho band who has never left their hometown to play gigs would be able to circulate as many demos to places like Finland, Germany, Australia, Ireland, etc. in a relatively short period of time without it. The tape trading days were definitely cooler and more occult, but we don’t want to hide in the West and only play basement gigs to 12 people, so I’m pleased with the result from whatever exposure has been shed from forums, myspazz, falsebook, blogs, webzines, etc. We are planning on an UZALA website possibly this year which would have merch and stuff available to places we haven’t gigged YET.
Thanks a lot for the interview. Any final words?
CR: Listen to Reverend Bizarre.
CDr demos are $7 shipped USA and $8 shipped worldwide. Shirts are $17 shipped USA and $20 shipped worldwide. Contact chadremains [at] gmail [dot] com if you want to place an order.
More info on Uzala at: www.myspace.com/uzaladoom
Interviewed by: Jas Murray