The first time I listened to Satan’s Satyrs I fell into the then duo’s spell; it smelled like sulfur and looked as if I was caught in a Russ Meyer movie starring Charles Manson. For once, the B-movie world clashed with garage psychedelic sounds from the 80’s and gave shape to something malevolent and magnificent. If I was to bet on history, I’d bet my balls that black metal will claim Satan’s Satyrs as their own. Truth be told though, the music of Claythanas and his cohorts has much more in common with lighter and far more bizarre fare. Since Satan’s Satyrs is about to unleash their first full-length through At War With False Noise, we decided to get a hold of them, just so that we catch them before the rest. Read on and spread the word…
DS – Let’s start in the beginning, if I have my story straight Satan’s Satyrs started out as a duo, you Claythanas and The Ghoul. Why was that the initial set up?
When Satan's Satyrs formed in the summer of 2009, The Ghoul and I hadn't much choice but to work as a duo. There really wasn't anyone else who we could share our ideas with, much less enlist as competent musicians. I think initially we were content to be a two-piece because all we really wanted to do was record a few songs. So it wasn't our ideal set up, but it wasn't inconvenient.
DS – Why did The Ghoul leave the band?
The Ghoul parted with Satan's Satyrs because he had other priorities. That's really all there is to say about it. It wasn't the close of some grand chapter in the band's history. I didn't think twice about continuing on my own. I think Satan's Satyrs sounds more like Satan's Satyrs now than it ever has.
DS - You have played all the instruments in Satan's Satyrs. What is your first instrument and what is your favorite instrument?
The guitar has always been my primary instrument as it was my first. Of course, I use it to write all the riffs. I've had to relinquish the guitar duties when we play live, but it's much more practical for me to play bass whilst I vocalize. I can't imagine a guitar-centric approach to song writing is limiting in any way. The electric guitar is perfect for this type of thing, isn't it?
DS – So there have been changes in the band, who is in, who is out and is this a stable line up?
The current line-up is still pretty fresh. I've got Stephen Fairfeild on the drums and Jarrett Nettnin on guitar. Mind that this line-up was established long after the new LP had been recorded, so neither of them played on it. But I think this line-up is solid enough that the next recording will be as a full band, which would be a first in history of Satan's Satyrs. We're planning for a tour this July and that's something I wouldn't even have considered with previous line-ups. I've always wanted Satan's Satyrs to be a really killer power-trio, like Blue Cheer for instance, so I look forward to developing the band with these guys.
DS – There is this podcast you curated for a website. It dates from 2010 and in it, it says that you were only 17 at the time. That means you were only that age when your demo and Lucifer Lives! were released. When did you get into this style of music?
For the most part, musical discovery in my earlier years was a solitary experience, I didn't have someone pointing my in any direction. The first band that I really latched onto was Black Sabbath when I was 10 years old. At the age of 13 I was getting into black metal and that's when I started to identify with the concepts of "underground" or "extreme" music. From there I developed an appreciation for vinyl and a real passion for music as a listener, not just as a creator (I had already been playing guitar for a number of years at that point). So by the time I was 17, I had acquired a decent collection and had a fair amount of records that I could proudly call "personal favorites." But of course, the hunt didn't stop once I had garnered enough inspiration to form Satan's Satyrs. It goes on and on and on...
DS – In the podcast you included a song by David Allan and the Arrows. Listening to your demo, it makes perfect sense. When I listen to a song like "Lycancycler Cult" I can hear that sixties influence. How do you arrive to that sound?
When we started, it was all about Black Flag and Electric Wizard. I wanted the speed and aggression of Black Flag with the fuzzed-out, down-tuned vibes and B-movie aesthetic of Electric Wizard. Of course there were, and still are, plenty of other bands that influence me, but I think that's the best way to sum up the attitude of those early days. There has always been a healthy appreciation for the vintage in this band, especially pertaining to films and music. And of course, Davie Allan and the Arrows are huge influences, no doubt, especialy the soundtracks he did for the old biker flicks. Forever Kings of Biker Fuzz!
DS –When I am listening to your demo for instance, I think of a Russ Meyer film gone wrong. It sounds like the soundtrack for what could be a Charles Manson film, with all the sex and drugs. There is this cult sixties vibe to the artwork that goes with your music as well. What is it that gets you about that kind of stuff?
That's a hard question to answer. It's all means for escape, really. This is want I want to escape into. I dig B-movies so I want to make B-music.
DS - Do you consider your music to be retro? Yes, no, Why either way?
I never thought of it as such, but I can see how one might apply that label. For me though, when I think of the term "retro" used to describe music I imagine a band trying to emulate the sound of the days long past. Granted, Satan's Satyrs has a vintage flavor (as is the intention), I don't think it sounds like anything from back in the day. But what do I know? It should be up to the listener to decide!
DS – You have a new album coming out in 2012. The song I’ve heard “Wild Beyond Belief” keeps the same vibe from your previous recordings flowing. What do you hope to achieve with this album?
I think the band's sound has definitely developed since the Lucifer Lives! EP. I've incorporated a lot more groove on this record. You can dance to this one! Production wise, it's a tidal wave of fuzz with no relent. I've always wanted to try that. No doubt the sound will develop further on future releases. Uncharted territories are on the horizon.
DS - The new album will be released through At War With False Noise in Europe. It's a great label that seems to have recently moved into more metallic ventures. How did this deal come about?
Al from AWWFN contacted me in late 2010 with the proposition of putting out a new Satyrs record. After bouncing ideas off each other and discussing some of our favorite films, I was on board. I was already working on new material, but striking the deal with Al was the impetus I needed to build a LP's worth of music. After this record hits, we'll see what happens in the future.
DS - At this point, with the recording industry having changed so much, what do you expect that the labels releasing your material do as their end of the bargain? What are your expectations of a record label? What type of support do they offer to a band like Satan's Satyrs?
Even though Satan's Satyrs and its associated labels operate on a microcosmic level, I still think there is room for success therein. What I hope for from a label, besides royalty copies of the record of course, is proper distribution and promotion. I think it is important that the label helps to reach new listeners. With a band like Satan's Satyrs, it's not about mass-appeal so much as it about finding pockets of listeners that might not know how to find the band otherwise.
DS - You are pretty young, arguably you belong to a generation that is not putting much value on physical material. Obviously, you like old movies and music. What is your take into this? What is the value of physical releases in your opinion?
Physical releases are very important to me, especially vinyl. It is a singular excitement to spend hours rummaging through my favorite record store. I like to hold a record it my hands, admire the artwork, read the lyrics and liner notes, all as the artist intended. Sure the music supersedes the format, but I think any real lover of music wants a tangible library, not some hard drive filled with mp3's. I know I prefer the former.
DS - You also play in a band called Terraset. Please elaborate a little bit about this band? Style of music. What does this band offer to you that Satan's Satyrs doesn't?
Terraset was formed in early 2011 with myself on drums and Jarrett Nettnin on guitar (before he joined Satan's Satyrs). Originally a side-project of sorts (for me at least) with Jarrett writing all the music, it soon developed into a more collaborative effort running parallel with Satan's Satyrs. What style of music is it? I try not to think in terms of "style". Anyone interested can listen and decide for themselves. Suffice to say, we can appreciate dissonance, multi-layered sound, and the beautiful geometry of a wall of amplifiers.
DS – What albums are you listening to right now?
Lately it's been: Stephen O'Malley and Steve Noble Saint Francis Duo - Black Widow Sacrifice - Winter Into Darkness - diSEMBOWELMENT Transcendence into the Peripheral - Davie Allan and the Arrows Apache '65 - Sir Lord Baltimore S/T - Siouxsie and the Banshees Juju
DS – Any last words…
Trash King Productions is putting the LP out in the US, At War With False Noise is putting it out in Europe.The new wave of Scuzz Rock is here, beware! Check facebook.com/satanssatyrs for updates!
Interview by Ignacio Brown