Napalm Flesh: Uzala Interview

Posted June 7, 2012 in
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This week Napalm Flesh features an interview with Chad Remains of Boise, Idaho doom band Uzala. They are headlining a show at Burt’s Tiki Lounge (21+) on Wednesday, June 13 with locals Moon of Delirium and Eagle Twin. $5 at the door gets you in for some seriously good tunes. Uzala is doing a round of touring in support of their debut full-length self-titled album, which came out this March. It’s a worthy listening concoction of downtempo doom metal featuring clean female and snarled male vocals with weighted influences ranging from the mighty orgins of doom metal to the darker side with hints of old school black metal. Also included are reviews of new albums from Martyrdod and Phobia, as well as our weekly event listings. Enjoy!

Event Listings compiled by Bryer Wharton

Friday, June 8, Anchorage (from Denver) plays Ogden's Mojo's (all-ages) with Dethrone the Sovereign, Machines of Man, Merlins Beard, Asmodeus and Subversa. $6 at the door with music starting promptly at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 9, check out “Metal Mania” at the Dawg Pound (21+) with 13th Key, Reveeler and Ritual of Terror. $5 gets you in, music around 9 p.m.

Sunday, June 10, head downtown and celebrate 25 years of the Heavy Metal Shop (at the shop of course) at their anniversary bash, featuring live music from Michael Dean Damron, Micah Schnabel (of Two Cow Garage) and The Kottak & Kleveland “Akoustik Attak!” with Stephanie Smith (Kleveland/Kottak) and James Kottak (Scorpions drummer/Kottak) The fun starts at 4 pm.

Monday, June 11, check out the Scorpions with Queensryche at USANA Amphitheatre. Tickets are $29-$59 through Smith's Tix, doors open at 6:30 pm with music underway at 7:30 pm

Wednesday, June 13, Red Fang plays Bar Deluxe (21+) with Invdrs and Cornered by Zombies. $5 at the door, music around 9 p.m.

Interview with Chad Remains of Uzala

SLUG:  Where did the name Uzala come from?
Chad Remains: It's from a 1975 Akira Kurosawa film (Dersa Uzala) that was made in Russia/Siberia. It's a really great story about a hunter that meets up with this band of Russian explorers that are on a surveying team. They're Russian soldiers so they're the best at everything in their minds which leads them to get out of some tough spots. It's a great movie for just the adventure part of it, but the best part is the relationship that develops between the Captain and Dersu Uzala – the hunter. It's really fantastic it's been one of the band’s favorites. [The name Uzala] seemed fitting in some way or another to what we were doing with the band.

SLUG: The band is still relatively new. How did you get around to forming Uzala?
Remains: Darcy Nutt and I formed the band in 2009. She had some songs she had been playing on acoustic guitar and I had about a million riffs banging around in my head. We had never played together in a band before. One night we went to “the bomb shelter,” which is a Cold War era fallout shelter that has been converted to rehearsal spaces. We drank a bottle of vodka and came up with the beginnings of two songs, “Cataract” and “The Reaping.” Once we got that going we decided to call Steve Gere, who was the drummer on the first record and went from there. We went through about five different bass players to what our current line-up is now.

SLUG: You say the “first record”—are you talking about the demo or is there something else?
Remains: The demo and the self-titled and also the 12” single. The demo has three different bass players, but the self-titled has the solid line-up. I say the “first record” because we're going to do more

SLUG: How would you describe Uzala's sound?
Remains:  I think a good bit of our influence for Uzala is from the greats of the late ’60s and early ’70s—Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, that kind of thing—and we also get a good amount of inspiration from ’80s stuff like Bathory and Celtic Frost. There's some other stuff banging around in there too. We use pretty spare song structures I don't think that anyone is going to be very impressed with our technical prowess. We just want to make good songs.

SLUG: The full-length hasn't been out too long, only since about March. What has been the reaction from fans and the media?
Remains: We've gotten some good reviews. I think it's been received very well for the most part. The Decibel Magazine reviewer didn't seem to like it very much, but we don't expect everyone to like it. I don't think it's for everyone—we're not trying purposely be obscure or anything like that. We just want to make records and put them out and tour, and if people like it, that's great. If they don't, that's okay too... no skin off my nose. We've played with some really great bands Cough, Across Tundras, Wolves in the Throne Room and Wolfserpent, also from Boise. We've been having a great time with it.

SLUG: What would you consider the lyrical direction or themes explored on the self-titled?
Remains: I think the lyrics seem to be dictated by the song structures. A lot of times, a vocal pattern will arise and Darcy and I will put the lyrics together, some of them she writes completely by herself. “Wardrums” and “Fracture” were Steve's. But “Fracture,” a lot of it was stolen/inspired by Robert E. Howard's Conan stories.

SLUG: How would you describe Uzala's live show?
Remains:  We're just there to deliver our songs in a workman like manner, no one has lost their mind yet and broken anything, although I've come pretty close to doing some pretty serious damage to my guitar a couple of times on “Death Masques,” but nothing I can't fix with a few spare tuners lying around. Generally, we just try and go on and make a good representation of our songs. We don't really make room for too many explorations into noodle-land—it's not really our fashion.

SLUG: Is there any significance to the woman taking a bite out of a quail on the cover art?
Remains: That is open for interpretation but mainly it's meant to be beautiful. It does have sort of a threatening element there too. There is no specific occultist reference or anything like that, although some people have seen it as being a representation of a Druidic form. None of that was intentional—it was more of an automatic response of what Darcy was seeing in her head when she made it. The runes around the outside are simply runes that represent the English words from “Cataract.”

SLUG: There's a few bands these days in the realm of doom who have female vocalists. What was the decision that led up for Uzala's vocal preference to be female?
Remains: That was very practical for us. Darcy has been a singer for as long as she can remember. It was obvious to me that it would be a waste of her talents to not sing. I use a more aggressive [style], and she's got a great melodic voice and sense of lyrical rhythm so those songs are for her. As the songs develop, they dictate who's going to sing them. I suppose I could have sung on “The Reaping” or something else, but it wouldn't be as good.

SLUG: The song “Gloomy Sunday” has some long extending roots. What made you decide to take on your own interpretation of the song?
Remains: I think “Gloomy Sunday” has become a standard—a lot bands have covered it. The inspiration for us to do that song was the Diamanda Galas version of that and we wanted to do an interpretation that used the same lyrics that she used. I believe there are six or seven different sets of lyrics, and maybe as many different interpenetrations of the music as well. Pallbearer recently did a version of the song—they did the “Billie Holiday” version, although theirs is quite different than hers. Even though ours was inspired by the Diamanda Galas piano and vocal version, our arrangement is quite different. When it came up, we decided that it was a great idea and hopefully we could do a good service to the song.

SLUG: The album is down tempo and kind of depressive in some aspects and angry in some aspects. Would you say that those are emotions that you feel regularly or is it more of an outlet to exercise those demons when you have them?
Remains: That's a reasonable way to look at it. I don't think there's too much thought given to it—the songs are stories, sometimes they reflect what we see going on the world, other times they reflect what we see going on in our personal lives. Generally speaking, it's somewhat cathartic to do the more aggressive songs. At this point, it's just natural to express whatever emotions need to be conveyed.

SLUG: You have split EPs coming up what do you have coming up and how soon?
Remains: We have a split 7” coming out on King of the Monsters Records with Mala Suerte from Austin Texas the splits were all recorded in Portland on our tour last August and finally mixed and mastered. Other stuff is a split 7” with the mighty Pallbearer and the other I believe it's going to be a 10” that’s going to be with Bongripper from Chicago who Darcy and I just saw live at the Roadburn festival, it was pretty amazing for me to see a band that mostly plays basement shows to take control of the big stage and play in front of 2,500 people they looked as if they were just as home as if they were playing in a basement to 30 people. That was pretty inspirational.

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Swedish D-beat stylings. Ex-members of Skitsystem, Agrimonia and Miasmal. Just signed to Southern Lord. You probably know the drill, but for every pinch harmonic riddled throat shredder in the batch, Martyrdod proves that it's perfectly fine not to reinvent the genre, as long as you play it with conviction. Paranoia is a clattering, caterwauling mass of frenetic solos, whirlwind beats and strained melodies, driven forward by an undulating shock of urgency, listless rage and (as the title suggests) paranoia. Highlights include the clarion call of album opener "Nog Är Nog," the brooding atmospherics of "Ett Hjärta Av Eld" and the divebomb squalls of "Klassfienden." Quality production by Fredrik Nordström to boot. You can catch Martyrdod on a US package tour with Acephalix, Black Breath and Burning Love. –Dylan Chadwick

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