How is the tour going so far?
Mat Davis: The tour was fantastic – just wrapped up the last show a couple days ago. We played Desertfest Berlin which was amazing and a slew of other shows with some killer bands and great crowds. It was also a blast playing most of the new album live.
What’s the most underrated thing about touring Europe? Overrated?
MD: I don’t know about underrated and overrated but overall touring Europe is great. There’s a built-in system, from renting vans and drivers, good promoters, bars with accommodations and not to mention very generous catering so it tends to be a little easier than touring in the States on that level. Maybe one drawback is breakfast – it’s hard to find a nice hot breakfast in Europe!
Tell me a little bit about the new record, Under Siege. Where did you record and who did you work with? What kind of gear did you use on the album?
MD: We did most of the bed tracks in Oakland at Sharkbite Studios, where we recorded our last record Blacklands. After about a week of working there we moved the sessions up to Portland and finished the overdubs and mixing at Everything Hz which is the studio our producer, Billy Anderson, has up there. We keep the gear pretty straight forward – you know basically our live backline which right now is Marshall JCM 2000 which has been heavily modded and an Ampeg SVT. For some of the overdubs we got into some other amps – most notably some custom Hovercraft stuff – which sounds awesome. I like a lot of the guitar sound to come from my guitar anyways – an old 72 Les Paul with p90’s – so it’s best to keep it simple to get that tone. A lot of the solos were done using my back up guitar which is loaded with a Lace Nitro in the bridge pick up and a Lace Hemi in the neck pick up.
Do you generally enter the studio with finished songs or do you hash them out in the studio?
MD: Our songs are fully demoed before we go in to record. For me to be able to accomplish that much guitar tracking in the studio in such a short amount of time there has to be a lot of preproduction which is how we look at the demos. Mapping out the instrumentation and tracking – that kind of thing.
How does Under Siege compare to your previous albums, sonically and thematically?
MD: Sonically I’m really happy with it – it’s got great tone and has some crispness which we wanted this time… it’s a little more metallic sounding which suits the songs on the record. As for the theme that was an ongoing things as we wrote the songs and put together the album and art concepts. Basically we used the labyrinth myth and the concept of mazes, real and imagined to not only lend a visual but in a way with the arrangement of the songs.
How have the early reactions to Under Siege been so far?
MD: So far they’ve been amazing. We never know what to expect – you know I feel like we’re not rehashing anything from our last record or the record before that – it’s a new sound for us. That’s what we try to do – move forward, so that also brings about an unknown when you factor in people’s reactions. Especially if they have expectations of what your record should sound like but so far the record has been met with some real appreciation which is great.
The Under Siege cover art is striking. How did that come into play?
MD: Denis also did the Blacklands cover and he was at the top of the wish list to design Under Siege. We were lucky he was available and also very interested right from the initial conversation regarding the labyrinth concept that we wanted to work with visually. He had been doing his own studies on the Greek myths and legends of the labyrinth so for him I think the piece was a culmination of a few years of research and to hear him talk about the symbology involved is a treat. We hope to release something soon that will have some added features, like for instance Denis’s added comments and explanations on the artwork… maybe in a video or something.
What bands are you currently listening to? Who are some of your all-time favorites?
MD: I don’t listen to a lot of music while we’re writing and recording so it’s been awhile but over the last month on tour we had the opportunity to get into some bands that we were touring with. Conan from the UK, who have a new record out that sounds great, and also The Graviators from Sweden were very cool. Also enjoyed Kongh from Sweden and were blown away by Gonga when we played with them, another UK band.
Anything else that you’d like to add?
MD: See you on the road!
5/15 Glendale, CA – The Complex
5/16 San Diego, CA – The Tower Bar
5/17 Las Vegas, NV – The Dive
5/18 Tempe, AZ – 51 West
5/19 Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad
5/20 Dallas, TX – Three Links
5/21 Austin, TX – Beerland
5/22 Houston, TX – Mangos
5/25 Orlando, FL – Backbooth
5/26 Pembroke Pines, FL – Talent Farm
5/27 Jacksonville, FL – Atticus Bar
5/28 Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn
5/31 Brooklyn, NY – Acheron
6/1 Boston, MA – Great Scott
6/2 Burlington, VT – TBA
6/3 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
6/4 Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
6/5 St. Louis, MO – Fubar
6/6 Lawrence, KS – Jackpot
6/8 Salt Lake City, UT – Lo Fi Cafe
6/10 San Francisco, CA – Knockout