Sunday, February 5, 2012


(left to right: Cary Rowells, Tannon Penland and Steve Shelton.)


 I am not really sure how I met Tannon Penland but I do remember him as one of the many Richmond Virginia dudes that I would see all of the time when I went up there to see shows with pretty much whatever band former Loincloth member Pen Rollings was involved with. So, first it was Honor Role and then Butterglove (don’t think I saw Breadwinner up there though) and Tannon was friends with Pen. So I am sure at some point I was introduced to him a long time ago. He was sort of the “metal guy” up there. He played guitar. I saw him in the band the Kenmores, who to me at the time sounded like “Nothingface” era Voivod. Nothing wrong with that.

Quite a few years ago Tannon teamed up with Pen (fresh from a ten year sabbatical of being involved in music) and drummer Steve Shelton and bassist Cary Rowells to form Loincloth. Their four song studio tape was amazing. A couple of the songs went to a single on Southern Lord and I think another one went to a John Reis/Swami Records compilation. At the time I thought “surely they will play a show,. Surely they will write some more songs”. I mean, if any band had the world at their feet in recent history, it would have been Loincloth. Just on the basis of those four songs. It was that good.

But they didn’t do anything afterwards. Time marched on.  Bummer.

Suddenly out of nowhere six months ago I heard that Loincloth was going to release an album recorded by no less than local producer Greg Elkins. Good for him. Then I heard that Pen had quit the band over a combination of losing interest in playing music again and having some things in his life pop up that he had to take care of. This was confirmed during a phone call a little while ago to him. Pen is one of my guitar heroes and a great guy. It was a shame but hey if you aren’t feeling it there is nothing wrong with that. Still, it’s too bad. If there is anybody I would love to see play guitar again onstage barefoot, it would be him.

The remaining three soldiered on to work on this recording. All of a sudden, there it is ,released on Southern Lord. Entitled “Iron Balls of Steel”, this record has been bewildering and confusing me since I got it a week ago. I should have not been too concerned about anything. Tannon totally stepped up to the plate as the sole guitarist and double tracked his parts against the maelstrom of the ex Confessor rhythm section to deliver sixteen polarizing tracks of some of the most over the top metal I have ever heard. And for you Pen fans, you can certainly hear his influence in spots even if he isn’t actually there. There will probably be no middle ground here; people will either love or hate “Iron Balls of Steel”. It’s that kind of record. And it might be the most exciting record I have wrapped my brain around in years.

Impressed, I decided to write Tannon to see if he wouldn’t mind answering some questions and luckily he was gracious enough to say yes. He really went above and beyond the call of duty, and this might be the single best interview I have had the pleasure to do.

o    1. When was your introduction to music? What bands spoke to you at the time you first started going to shows in Richmond, and how were you tipped off about the music scene there? And since Richmond has always had a varied and interesting music scene, what local bands at the time did you enjoy, and why?

Tannon: My initial introduction to music was the same as it was for so many, basically what was around the house. In my household it was rock from Zeppelin, Beatles, Cream and Hendrix to Chicago, the Doobie Brothers and a lot of Motown. Lots of James Brown. I remember being in a record store as a kid choosing a K-tel record that had on it among many nebulous 70's rock bands some Sabbath. When "Iron Man" came up after Chicago or Foreigner or whatever it was, I was immediately struck by their bludgeoning heaviness. Granted, I was kid and didn't quite have the skills to articulate even to myself what I was experiencing, but I knew I liked it. It felt Evil. Shortly there after, the cliche (for dudes who grew up in the 70's who love Metal) continued, it was all about KiSS. As I got a wee bit older AC/DC, Van Halen, ZZ TOP entered the picture along with Maiden, Priest, Scorpions.

By the time I hit my teens my musical tastes had taken a turn for the much heavier and less conventional. During this time I was ritualistically being fucked by Celtic Frost, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Trouble, Voivod, Slayer and other assorted underground Metal gems. Because I was constantly questing for new music I became aware of the Hardcore scene. One night along with my friend Seth we went to see Die Kreuzen. It was then and there that a whole new world opened up to me. A guy named Cliff ( Brian, you know Cliff ) was working the door. He was wearing the first Metallica t-shirt I had ever seen. I was wearing the first Mercyful Fate T shirt he had ever seen around (hearts bloomed). I know it sounds silly, but I was fucking blown away by just that (I was also floored by Die Kreuzen). I was a county kid that knew only a small handful of people that were into that sort of thing. It was also reassuring, there I was this long haired metal kid at a hardcore show where a large percentage of the people in attendance considered metal "the enemy". That's intimidating at 14-15 years old. Cliff and I exchanged information and I began going downtown to meet him regularly. He initially turned me on to what was going on in Richmond, Raleigh and a lot of hardcore in general. I couldn't believe what I was hearing from COC and Bad Brains to Faith and Void. It was an incredible gift.

At this point I was rabid for what was going on around here. I was being introduced to the more traditional but seasoned hardcore bands in the area like Graven Image, Absence of Malice, Death Piggy and Unseen Force. Playing along side the above mentioned were the bands Honor Role and Alternatives. They opened all kinds of new doors for me in how I was thinking about music. They were clearly rooted in hardcore but had an entirely different, more experimental approach. They were also a gateway to discovering another community of angular, at times noisy, experimental bands that were also playing these shows. The Orthotonics, Curlew and Famous Actors from out of town are three bands that I think of that simply blew me a way. Rebby Sharp of the Ortho's was later in Butterglove, Rattlemouth and also did many wonderfully bizarre and engaging solo recordings. Drummer extraordinaire Pipin Barnett was in all three (Ortho's, Curlew, F. Actors as well as Half Japanese at one point). He has had many other projects throughout his illustrious career (the guy is a flat out phenomenal drummer). I marveled over what these people were creating. I still go back to those records and marvel. This community was older. They were coming out of punk rock and new wave but were infusing it with elements of noise, prog rock, poetry, jazz and bringing it together into one poly rhythmic beast. They were connected to the Zorn/Laswell improv scene up in New York and were bringing that sound and approach down here with them. It was these bands in my opinion that ultimately set the stage for a lot of what would later be considered Richmond's "math rock". The thing that was so cool about this time in Richmond (and places all over the country) was that all of this music, because it was considered "outsider" music , existed together. Being younger I missed the "golden age" of a lot of it by a couple of years, but what I did experience affected me profoundly none the less.

As Richmond music moved into the late eighties/early nineties, bands were becoming a lot heavier and more experimental in general. There were a ton of great bands from Sordid Doctrine, Butterglove, Plate, Pumphouse, Gwar, Burma Jam, Hoi Poloi, Rattlemouth, Brainflower, Hose got cable that set the stage for another fantastic era of bands such as Sliang Laos, Coral, Breadwinner, Labradford, Kepone and Rah Brahs. I could go on and on with this. There was just a lot of inspired music happening within a fairly short amount of time around here. We'll talk more about this in a bit.

2.I seem to remember that you were in a band called Pledge Allegiance with a bunch of other guys that all ended up doing cool things musically later. I might be wrong though. What was Pledge Allegiance all about? (if I got this wrong Tannon, just skip the question)

Tannon: WOW!! Yes, the first band I was in was Pledge Allegiance. They were a blazin' local hardcore band started by brothers Bo and Taylor Steel (two guys that also turned me onto a lot of great hardcore) . My friend Seth was asked to join them on drums. Shortly after, his brother Sean joined on Bass. They had been thinking of adding a second guitarist, so they asked me. I was thrilled. Pledge played two shows as this line up. One in Raleigh at the fallout shelter with Honor Role and one in Richmond with Dag Nasty. Pledge Allegiance disbanded after that. Bo and Taylor went on to form Four Walls Falling. Seth, Sean and I formed a band called Suffrage. Yes, "Women's right to vote". Hilariously at the time I thought the name was heavy in a "SUFFER!!!" kind of way. We didn't (or at least I didn't) know that we were nobly being women's rights activists (learning good). We wrote some songs and broke up. Seth went on to join Honor Role, Butterglove, Kenmores and Kepone. Sean was also in Butterglove, later in Ladyfinger and Human Thurma. I started a band with the guys from Sordid Doctrine called the Kenmores and later moved on to a band named Koszonom.

3. I enjoyed reading a few recent interviews with you where you talked about the enormous wide range of influence that both the Richmond and Raleigh scene had on you in terms of bands. I couldn’t help but agree with you about pretty much all of the bands, local and otherwise, that blew your minds. Voivod, Melvins, Honor Role, Corrosion of Conformity and Confessor. It is funny because these are all some of my favorite bands, and there was an amazing spread of creativity and heaviness that they all possessed. What was it about that time period and all of these bands that spoke to you?

Tannon: Yeah, it really was an amazing time in music. My mind was constantly being blown. My take on what these bands shared (I'm sure we both could add plenty more to this list) was a natural internal wiring to freely and aggressively explore their own unique identities. They were creating their own worlds, just doing their own thing... and WOW, WHAT A THING!!! I think of each band being their own neighboring tribe of the other. It's probably safe to say that nobody in these bands were passive listeners to music. They were "in love", and basically hell-bent. What is so interesting to me about the bands we are talking about is the massive cross section of influences involved, from the Cars, Gang of Four, Venom, Kiss and Black Flag to Trouble, Celtic frost, Sabbath, Crass, REM and Devo. These influences became visible as mere road markers within a process of creating a sound all their own. What was truly beautiful about it to me, was that all of this music met up in the same heavy place. Each band created something that transcended genres and simply "spoke"... and spoke really FUCKING LOUDLY!!!

(Loincloth with Pen Rollings on the right.)

4. Pen Rollings has always been a towering figure to me. Not only did he play guitar in a couple of bands that I still feel reverently about to this day, but he has always been a real unique one of a kind person. What was it like for you. Steve and Cary when you realized that due to him taking care of other things, he wasn’t interested in playing anymore, leaving you the sole guitarist? I think you did an amazing job on the record, but is that the reason why there wasn’t any band activity for years?

Tannon: First off, thanks Brian! Pen is also a towering figure to me. He entered my life at such a critical time. He is older by about 5 years. I met him when I was a teenager. He had long been in bands and had formed many engaging perspectives both musically and socially that wound up influencing me in a lot of important ways. I have never met anyone quite like him. To me, he always felt so connected to the "source" of what he loved. He was the most animated and passionate dude I had ever met surrounding music, or anything. Although we spent a lot of time debating the value of the metal I was listening to, he could see that I shared his passion for exploring music. As a result, he was very intuitive and generous with turning me on to what would become some of my favorite music. From Big Flame, The Stickmen and Scratch Acid to The Smiths and Gang of four, it was a flood of interconnected music that stepped out of genre limitations into the realm of simply great, inspired music. Once again, I was being handed an awesome gift.

As a guitar player, Pen quite simply fucked me up. It was clear that as a kid he practiced his AC/DC and Nugent like everyone else but at some point formed a totally different relationship with the instrument. Maybe it was being introduced to guitar players like Andy Gill and D Boon that flipped him, or perhaps it was just his own musical meditations that led him to "crossing over". Whatever it was, it was incredible to be in its presence. The guitar became an extension of his personality. Watching Pen play was basically watching a man in convulsive meditation step out of himself and go somewhere else. My introduction to his playing was through Honor Role's "Pretty Song". What I loved about his playing in this era was that amid his bursts of jagged, neurotic guitar tangents there was a kind of emotive beauty. Honor Role to me always had this very adult, brooding darkness infused with their playfulness. On top of that, they were a heavy live band. Pen even back then was very naturally HEAVY. I was lucky to get to be around all of Pen's musical incarnations from Honor Role through Breadwinner, and ultimately be in one with him.

Pen's funny in that he has the attention span of a mosquito. He can be flipping out over something in one moment and completely "whatever, I'm not into that anymore" in the next. I mean back to back, 10 minutes. There have been times that before you can even begin to catch up with what he is seemingly having a life altering experience over, he is done with it (all in about 10 to maybe if you are lucky 14.3 minutes). I have laughed so hard with him over this that I have nearly burst blood vessels. Pen's head- spinning "love it" one minute, "don't care" the next-fest, would of course lead at times to the perplexed face of someone asking the inevitable question "You have got to be fucking kidding???". An attention span that short can be exhausting, especially when you are trying to be a band and nail a track down. I do think it's exactly this wiring among several factors that helped him create such a forceful, stripped to the core end result in much of his music. There is a really satisfying and tense discourse in immediacy coming from much of what he has created. Pen has always played music that pounds the table with a very loud, very direct exclamation point.

It was also this wiring that made it difficult in Loincloth. The distance between Richmond and Raleigh alone, made Loincloth naturally slow. This was frustrating for us both. Loincloth for me has also been a never-ending money pit. Long distance bands are extremely expensive. The financial end of things contributed majorly to why things moved so slowly. There were other factors. We were never practicing as a full band. Bobby Donne filled in on bass for a hot second, then Cary, then no one for a while, then Cary again. We were just having a difficult time getting our collective shit together.

There were a lot of things that played into Loincloth's crawling pace. We will get to a little more on that in question 6.

5. Not to dredge up something that is obviously painful, but I have heard a lot about Dwain Curd. I knew he sang in Graven Image, had the seven inch and also knew he was in both Richmond’s Sordid Doctrine and with you in the Kenmores. I know that he passed away some years ago. Can you talk a little about Dwayne? I always knew who he was but never met him.

Tannon: I'm always happy to talk about Dwain Curd, he was a King in my world. He was another guy that came from the Richmond hardcore scene that I would consider a profound influence in my life. He was about 10 years older than me. He had a kind of ferocity about him as a singer that no one around here had in my opinion. I was familiar with his first band Graven Image, but never saw them. Sordid Doctrine was the band through which I got to know him as a live singer. He, like Pen, basically "went somewhere else" when he was doing his thing. It was intense, furious and inspiring. His presence blew me away. Sordid Doctrine was Richmond's equivalent to COC . They had a force that distinguished them from a lot of other Richmond bands. They could be considered a "crossover" band, a kind of Slayer/Exodus meets Negative Approach with some Black Flag sprinkled on top. They had all kinds of metal/hardcore influences infused in what they did, but also had an identity all their own. On a side note, Sordid Doctrine had the first drummer in town that dared to play double bass drums. Man, the guy (John Freiberger) played with such unbelievable finesse and power. That fucking killed!!! I have always been a drum nut.

When Sordid Doctrine broke up, Pen introduced me to their bass player Brian Bridgman who was wanting to start a band. Bryan was also into a lot of the same metal I was like VoiVod, Mekong Delta, Trouble, Slayer, King Diamond, Destruction, Exodus etc. We started playing and eventually imported Sordid Doctrine's drum monster Johnny into the folds and Dwain on vocals. I was so excited to be in a band with these guys.

Dwain wasn't around much as we were writing our first songs. He was pursuing his undergraduate degree and later masters degree in architecture at VA Tech. When we formed our band, I was still a teenager as Dwain was approaching 30. Dwain was intimidating in both his intellectual span and his hardened music/art ideals. He thought metal for the most part was stupid (he would later open up to it's grandeur). Dwain was coming out of Punk from the late 70's. As a teenager he discovered bands like The Stranglers, Killing Joke, Wire, The Damned, Gang of Four, The fall and Crass. Dwain grew up in Roanoke, VA. He stepped out on his own at 16 leaving behind a very dysfunctional family and walked right into the beginning of the American hardcore scene. I think he saw it as a kind of new home and was very protective of it (which at times rubbed me the wrong way, but I was young and kept my mouth shut). Strangely, what we truly bonded over was our shared love of poetry. Dwain was a gifted poet that dedicated a lot of time to that world. This fascinated me. For many years before he died, he quietly put out a free publication named "Prizelie". It was in the Dadaist tradition, covering many forms of poetry and collage art. To this day, that publication greatly inspires me and many others. I hope to one day get it all together in one book.

Dwain was difficult to penetrate at first. He was understandably skeptical of sharing "music time" with me, this teenage metal fucker from the burbs. In time he opened up. In fact, over time we became the dearest of friends. He was family. Dwain was a genuinely thoughtful man that afforded himself the luxury of philosophy. From the beginning, I had a great deal of respect and curiosity towards Dwain's perspectives. As I got a bit older and continued to expand, I could see in him that the feeling was mutual. Dwain, like Pen, offered so many new and important ideas into my world. I am endlessly thankful for this.

Our band (Kenmores) existed for 3 or 4 years. We disbanded after playing several shows with some of our favorite bands and doing a couple of recordings. Although a lot of the music we were attempting was quite unrefined and all over the place, I still greatly value that band for giving me the experience and freedom to experiment. Dwain and I would get the opportunity to play music with each other one more time, several years later (around 1994) in a band named Koszonom.

Dwain eventually got his degree's in architecture. By this point he felt the world of architecture on the large scale was simply raw business, devoid of any soul. He had spent time in an architectural firm, but eventually left it to become a bartender. He continued working on poetry, music, design and eventually got into making lamps, clocks and furniture.

The last year of Dwain's life was tragic on a level that would make even the ancient Greek's pause. Everything that unfolded in the course of that year created layer after layer of unimaginable darkness. There were a lot of grim details and side stories to this multifaceted scenario. It was complete death and doom. It was a truly awful and heart wrenching time for him, myself and many others. Long story short, Dwain also wound up dying tragically. Unfortunately, there just wasn't anything good to take away from it all. It was just pure, devastating loss.

What I will say is that the world is a better place for having had Dwain in it. I loved him deeply and am infinitely grateful to have had the time with him that I did. He left behind a fantastic legacy of music, poetry and deep, enduring friendships.

6. After the four song demo and single that Southern Lord came out, I always thought that it was a shame that Loincloth weren’t able to do anything, and thought that if you guys had even attempted to do anything, the world would have been your oyster. And basically afterwards there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Why exactly was that? And was it frustrating for those things to happen?

Tannon: Yeah, it was frustrating. After we finished the four song demo, Pen and I were both thrust into really difficult personal situations. As I mentioned above, our friend Dwain died (among several deaths around me during that time). It set the tone for a really dismal period. I moved out of town and drank a lot. Pen was entering another phase of his life that he didn't seem particularly happy with. Over time, after encouragement from Pen, I moved back to Richmond to continue pursuing Loincloth. I was somewhat rejuvenated and ready to get on with it. Pen however was basically absent. It sucked, I really wanted to have this experience with him. He had said explicitly that he really wanted that too. When it came down to it, he simply wasn't available. The experience of returning to Richmond (a city I didn't want to be in at that point) combined with spending a shit load of money to accommodate this band that wasn't happening, was really starting to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I was starting to get over it. I reluctantly at one point was going to leave the Cloth and let them find another guitarist. Perhaps they would have decided to have Pen be the sole guitarist (We all know that would be bad ass!!). After talking to Steve about it we realized that there wouldn't be any point to me leaving. If Pen wanted to play, he would be playing. So Loincloth would either end or we would carry on without him. We really didn't want it to end. There were too many ideas that we felt needed to be brought to fruition. We both love Loincloth and are too old to sit around forever waiting. In the end we were bummed that Pen wasn't going to be a part of it, but fortunately for me, I was still getting to play with my favorite drummer on the planet. That didn't suck!

7. Steve Shelton is pretty much a legend amongst drummers and musicians. He is one of those guys that has at least person in every town on earth that thinks he is God. Not only that, Steve has always been incredibly nice, funny and super humble. Since you play with him and you are friends with him, do you think he realizes what an influence he has had on certain people?

Tannon: All countries on earth should have an embassy (or at least a statue) dedicated to Steve Shelton (perhaps you should design the flag Brian). Steve is all that you stated above, and some. I think now that Steve is older he can see some of the influence he has had on the hands, feet and minds of many, many musicians, and yet, as you said, he is so incredibly humble it's hard to say for sure. Steve has never been protective of his massive drum skills. He gives of himself freely with the intent and hope of bringing joy (and evil of course) to those interested. The guy simply has no ego in this regard. Steve is in it for the journey and I know first hand that he loves sharing that experience with others. It is a wonderful attitude to be around. I am a HUGE fan of his and have been since I was a teenager. He has always been so very gracious and inclusive with me. He's the kind of guy that is willing to take the time to walk you through his elaborate system of thinking until you get it. He wants you to get it. He empowers you. There have been times when I have thought that I must have won some sort of cosmic lottery to be so fortunate as to get to write riffs with Senior Shelton. Fuck, not only do I get to hang out and write riffs with him, I occasionally get to give him drum instruction that he then turns into a monolith of laughter and awe for me. That's an awesome experience!!!

8. Your songwriting is, to put it mildly, unique. So far it has taken me half a dozen listens for things to sink in. How exactly does Loincloth write a song? Does Steve start playing and you form riffs around patterns? How much time does it take to write each song?

Tannon: Loincloth is strange not only in how it approaches writing, but what it is looking for. It's a process of mining riffs. One of the original idea's behind Loincloth was for the songs to be a series of intros. The kinds of intros you hear in a lot of Death and thrash metal tracks where you have a riff being played straight through as the rest of the band is going nuts by accenting various points in the riff. In some ways we didn't fully abandon that idea, but we also wanted what looks like a song (to us) appearing inside of all of that. Loincloth is all about rhythm. Essentially, we put a magnifying glass over riffs, exploring the many rhythmical relationships and combinations within. Basically, I would write a batch of riffs, and bring them to practice for Steve and I to sort through. Often, we would get the ball rolling by taking what we found interesting about a small part of a riff, and jam on that for a while . Inevitably what I had brought in would shift dramatically once Steve entered the picture. It was not uncommon for us to turn what we had started with into something completely different, yet somehow still abstractly related, by the end of a session. It's just a burrowing process. Getting further and further into a riff with any number of rhythmical designs as your guide. Obviously such an approach can open the door to an infinite number of combinations. This can be daunting. You can easily write yourself into a box. Some of these songs took a long time to refine, others kind of wrote themselves. The shorter ones especially. At times, in these shorter songs, our intent was to simply shine a light on the rhythmical/ textural components of something we were digging and move on. In the larger scheme of a record I love having these brief interludes that expand the feel of someone periodically "elbowing the record player".

When we hit dead end's while writing, Steve and I would sometimes turn to exploring what color or mood we would like the composition to continue in. This is where the focus would momentarily shift to guitar. This is why on the new record there are threads of color, and in some cases like in "Stealing Pictures", "Clostfroth", "Sactopus" and "Angel Bait" we wound up with more traditional sounding songs. I had originally seen the guitar aspect of this record being much colder, no color, or one uncomfortable color the whole time. I am ultimately quite happy with our decision to follow certain paths to more "traditional" song writing approaches (if you can call them that).

Steve was also at times the riff fire starter. We would begin with a beat and build a riff around it. One of my favorite songs on Iron Balls is "Trepanning". It's all Steve. Riffs, rhythm's...everything. It was a fucking booger to learn, but the pay off to me is incredible. I had originally referred to this song as "Stevil Knievel".

There is something so satisfying to us both about redirecting a rhythm mid-current. It can give the sensation of "hanging in air" or having the carpet pulled out from under you. It can clue you into the many vantage points from which a seemingly one dimensional idea can be viewed. This act of twisting a rhythm, especially when placed within oppressively heavy sounds, to me at least, can put you in a totally different and inspired head space. It is not only a unique meditation, but a funny way to Bang Your Head.

We could explain the process academically, but that would be boring. Loincloth is an attention deficit celebration of it's influences. It is ultimately based on us, a bunch of old goats, loving metal and heavy music in its many forms. It is a desire to step out of certain conventions and contribute a different perspective to a larger, ongoing musical conversation.

9. I know Greg Elkins, who produced your album in his studio. I think he did an excellent job. How did you hook up with Greg in the first place? What was it about Mr. Elkins that made you three decide he was the man for the job of recording the album?

Tannon: Greg absolutely nailed it!!! As Steve and I were closing in on completing the songs for our record, Steve suggested that we go over to Desolation Row (Greg's studio in Raleigh) and talk with him. I was immediately struck by what a truly nice and funny man he is. He has very subtle, dry humor. I could tell he would be a lot of fun to be around. In talking to him, I could see that he has very distinct opinions about a lot music and how he likes it to sound. In particular, I saw that he viewed much of the heavy music coming out today as sounding too processed. I share this opinion with him. I think what really grabbed me about Greg being the guy to record us, was him saying how much he would like to record Steve. He knows what Steve does, and more importantly he knows what Steve plays. I would imagine the idea of trying place microphones on Steve's kit alone, would strike raw fear in some. Greg seemed genuinely excited, and up for the task. I also liked that he was coming from a similar background, but with several different reference points. He is another music nut. He lives and breathes it. Most importantly, Greg does his work in homage to Satan. A very important detail indeed. We really lucked out with Greg. He gave vital opinions, had great patience and truly celebrated Loincloth by getting down into his craft with great care. He made a fantastic sounding record!

10. I know you are a massive Voi Vod fan. Have you kept up with everything they have done? I have liked pretty much everything they have done (the Jason Newsted records are sort of lukewarm for me though). What is your favorite period of the Vod? Also, a few words about the band’s late and lamented guitarist, Denis d Amour. What did his playing mean to you? He is one of my favorites and I can hear his influence in a lot of things, from Stephen Egerton of the Descendents to some of what you are playing.

Tannon: Damn Brian, another question that I could on for a week answering! ( I will try not to)
VoiVod is one of those bands that could release 100 bad records and I would still be interested in the next release. They are the band among all of the bands I was listening to as a teenager that opened the gates, flooding me we all kinds of new possibilities and approaches to thinking about music (in particular metal). VoiVod were never afraid of "Art", or should I say, they didn't seem to consider it a bad or pretentious word. When I first heard VoiVod they were speaking a familiar language, but with an altogether different flare. My favorite period by them, is what I consider their trilogy "Killing Technology", "Dimension Hatross", "Nothingface". Each one of these records is my "favorite" when I am listening to it. I never get tired of these records. I have followed them the whole way. I love "War and Pain" and "RRROOOOAAARRR". "Angel Rat" has great stuff on it, as does "Outer Limits". It was amazing that when they lost Snake and Blacky they were able to find an individual to fill their spots, maintaining the VoiVod sound. The thing that is so rewarding about Voivod's music is being in the presence of true musical journeymen. They are continually questing and experimenting. Sure, the experiment can fail on some levels at times, but that too can be an engaging part of the journey. A huge part of what made VoiVod so interesting to me was guitarist Denis d Amour (Piggy). There is no one like him, period! When I first heard his playing I was stunned at where it took me. It had a really strange feel, as if Robert Fripp and G.B.H. were getting together to exchange ideas. The combination of his angularity, discordance and obvious love of metal was like nothing I had ever heard. It was also the way he interacted with bass, at times creating vast chordal expressions that came out sounding like church organs or mysterious horns. Piggy's guitar playing to me, could also become a form of painting, composing vast and desolate landscapes through broad strokes of unnamable colors. He has influenced me in so many ways. I first heard him at a time when I was trying to figure out how to approach the guitar. His playing spoke to me in such a unique way, planting many seeds for new thought regarding the potential that exists in the instrument.
I love that VoiVod are back and working on a new record. What little bits of new material I have heard sounds fantastic.
I love VoiVod!!!!! I wonder if they know how much of an impact they have had on Richmond music alone?

11. And of course the big question: Will there be any possibility of even playing a show? It seems like now it might be a good time to do it. Could the three of you imagine doing some shows if you didn’t lose your butts financially? If say, VoiVod decided to do shows with perhaps a reformed Die Kreuzen and they asked you to join the tour, would you guys be into it? I already decided that down the road this will happen. Hell, even just playing one show. Could that be within the realms of a possibility?

Tannon: Actually, we have just had our first real discussions about turning Loincloth into a live band. Up until just a couple of weeks ago, it was looking impossible. We are trying to figure out who will be playing second guitar. Steve and I both really feel like there has to be two guitars for the cloth to sound right. The process of course will be slow, I live in Richmond. I'm really hoping it can happen at least on a very small level. As for a VoiVod, Die Kreuzen, Loincloth bill.....Hell Yes!!! That's actually the second time someone has mentioned this bill to me in the last couple of weeks. For me, that would be a blissful tour!!!

12. Any final thoughts/ a chance to plug something?

Tannon: First, thanks for the great interview Brian!! As far as something to plug.... Yes, while I was in Raleigh working on the Loincloth record, I formed a project named Gauchiste with two exceptional gentlemen, Tomas Phillips and Craig Hilton. We recorded a record that approaches music from a rather abstract, ambient perspective. It has somewhat of a horror soundtrack feel to it. I love how it turned out!!! The record is available as a limited Vinyl/CD release through Little Black Cloud records. Thanks for the plug!!!



Mark Myers said...

Great article, with a lot of references to my son-in-law Steve Shelton' Wonderfully skilled drummer, and a special human being that I'm very happy to be related to! Live in The ATL, and am an old musician myself (classic late 60's/early 70's rock). Delighted that my daughter Monica posted this article on FB. Again, good job!

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Tannon gives great interview doesn't he? Hahaha. You'll be unsurprised to learn that I was the other person who posited the Voivod/Die Kreuzen/Loincloth tour to Tannon. WE HAVE TO MAKE THAT DREAM A REALITY.