This coming Friday, Nov. 20th, two bands from New Hampshire--Dust Prophet and Conduit--will kick off Sleeping Village Record's series of 2-track splits. Side A, Dust Prophet's bangin' new single "Down Below," is currently available for yer listening pleasure over at Alternative Control, who were kind enough to run a track premiere. If you haven't already nabbed this thing, you can find the pre-order here. On Friday, this split will become available for the low, low price of...Name Your Own Price.
In anticipation of the eminent release, we asked Dust Prophet some questions about the track, the pandemic, and life in a band in general. All four members--Otto, Vincenza, Sarah, and Marc--were kind enough to hit us with some in-depth answers. Big thanks to the whole crew, and, without further ado: enjoy!
SVR: Right out of the gate, how are you all doing during these (increasingly) unprecedented times?
Otto: Doing ok. As much as it sucks that we had to cancel all our gigs and whatnot I try to always be thankful that my family and loved ones are healthy and safe. There’s so many issues going on in the world right now that whatever inconveniences we’ve encountered as a band is trivial compared to the impact COVID has had on other people’s lives.
Vincenza: Gotta keep moving with the motions and try to enjoy the ride. I’m looking forward to the musical gems that will be produced during these times. The increased opportunity to reminisce, imagine and reflect I feel will birth unimaginable sounds. The nature of music is like water, it fills its container. You can hear periods of time by listening to its musicians.
SVR: For the Village People: describe Dust Prophet! Although you bear the stoner rock banner, you seem to bridge a variety of genres, and I'm always interested to hear how bands identify themselves.
Otto: We certainly wear the “stoner rock” label on our sleeves but we’ve always had an element of progressive rock as an influence. Prog-rock and psychedelic rock are influences that are very prominent in our music. We don’t make a concerted effort to fit these styles into our songwriting, but rather it just happens naturally. It’s a combination of all the different influences each of us individually has, and brings to the table.
SVR: Thank you for agreeing to be part of this project! On that note, what can you tell us about "Down Below?" Is there anything particularly interesting about this track from your perspective--the songwriting process, the lyrical content, or so on?
Sarah: I really love this song because it was such a collaboration between us all. It was originally at least two other songs that we merged together. I had the opening bass riff kicking around for years and Otto had the off-time riff that we had worked into a whole song, but it wasn’t until Marc joined the band that the whole thing came together as one piece of work. Then recently, when Vincenza joined the band, she added her own feel to it, with the lyrics and vocal lines. I’m really excited about what we’ve created.
Vincenza: When I first heard this song I was so pumped to lay vocals on it. The eerie bass, the drums that keep you on your toes and the edgy guitar that gives it some good honest grit. This is the first Dust Prophet song that I completed vocals to and it has subsequently launched a creative wave that is prime for surfing.
SVR: When compared to your past work, "Down Below" feels more epic, for lack of a better word, in narrative scope. Is this a direction Dust Prophet will continue moving?
Sarah: Well we are writing tons of new material right now. There’s definitely been a surge in creativity since Vincenza joined, and we’ll have to see where it takes us. We never set out to go in any specific direction, we just let things happen organically and it’s been fun getting to know Vin’s vocal style and gelling into a cohesive unit.
SVR: Who are your primary influences from a sonic perspective?
Marc: In Dust Prophet I draw influence from bands like Helmet, Queens of the Stone Age, The Apex Theory, Tool, Led Zepplin, Rush, The Police, Sigur Ros, Old Man Gloom, Soundgarden and early Pearl Jam.
Otto: I have many of the same sonic influences as Marc. I’d like to add industrial metal bands like Ministry and KMFDM, two of my all-time favorite bands.
SVR: And, as a follow up: who (or what) inspires you from a thematic perspective?
Vincenza: I feel there is a lot of thematic inspiration to be drawn from New Hampshire’s forests. During these unprecedented times I have found myself exploring miles of nature preserve. Granite encompassed caves, subtle streams, striking birds, edgy pine and scattered birch. All of these colors, smells and textures have impacted my creativity significantly. It’s beautiful and inviting but also serious.
SVR: A common factor of the Dust Prophet singles we've heard thus far seems to be a deliberate focus on hooks. In your estimation, are catchy choruses and earwormy refrains becoming a tad overlooked in heavy music?
Marc: We’ve received positive feedback about this attribute of Dust Prophet and I would say that it’s a mixed bag of both unconscious and deliberate actions that we utilize in the song writing process. We tend to develop the vocals after the music has been laid out for a bulk of the tunes we have, but our chemistry kind of allows for the time and space of those hooks to come to fruition. It’s refreshing to hear this in heavy music as there is a lot of scream or barking styles where the hook isn’t so dominant likely due to the vocal tonality. It’s absolutely not a bad thing, it’s just an alternative reflection of that emotion, but not everyone can sip that brand of tea, so to speak.
SVR: Walk us through your songwriting process! Does every new track begin the same way, or is the process a little more fluid?
Sarah: We write in a lot of different ways. Sometimes Otto or I have an almost complete song and bring it to the group, sometimes he or I have riffs we build a song around. Sometimes Marc brings riffs, which is great. We are working on some stuff Vincenza brought right now, so we are writing songs around her vocals. Which is cool, because we usually write the music first. Lately we’ve been just jamming and writing spontaneously at practice as well.
SVR: What does the heavy music scene look like in your neck of the woods? Is Boston the primary area of influence, or do you find yourselves a part of a larger New England community?
Marc: Over the last couple of years Dust Prophet has loved playing with bands from around the larger New England area and we definitely see lots of parallels as they are similarly influenced by stoner, grunge, punk, and metal artists that we listen to. Sometimes the gigs we play can be pretty variable but we connect with fellow bands on similar music or life takes. Bands around New England are definitely working hard to be heard and relatable.
SVR: Musicians are obviously facing untold hurdles due to the pandemic. Have you found any new opportunities during this time via events like Bandcamp Days or your own engagement with the community, or have the past months served to stall your momentum as a band? (This, of course, is all a wayward way to ask if there's a larger project in the works that we can look forward to?)
Marc: Momentum of the band took a nosedive in the early half of the year with work schedules and mandates being all wonky, but collecting ourselves and meeting Vin has put us into the mindframe of moving forward and focusing on the tangible process of recording material . We hope to have material to share in the not too distant future, and will explore the remote concert idea.
Otto: The lockdown and quarantine procedure certainly halted any forward momentum we had. It derailed everything we had in place. We were supposed to play the New England Metal & Doom Festival, the Daughters of Darkness Fest (in Salem, MA), the Maryland Doom Festival...plus a dozen or so other gigs. It also halted all of our progress with recording for a period of time. But we’ve been working hard to get everything back on track and at the very least move forward with recording. We’re making up for delayed time.
SVR: Thanks for taking the time to stop by our humble Village. I'll leave the last word to you--anything you care to add?
Vincenza: Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep on cruising!
Dust Prophet / Conduit - Split will be released digitally and available for NYOP on November 20th, with a pre-order currently available for $1. All proceeds from this project will be split evenly between the bands and the label, with any of the Sleeping Village’s cut going to fund a physical release including this and forthcoming 2-track splits.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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