Godzilla Black Interview: “The Usual – Paranoia, Guilt, Self Delusion and Wretchedness”

godzilla black interview

Londoners Godzilla Black have been making great strides in recent years with their unique blend of melodic experimental noise-jazz-pshcy-rock and a bit of funk. With two great albums already under their belt, that have garnered them the attention of Dale Crover, Toshi Kasai, Ginger Wildheart and Suki Osman, their upcoming release Press the Flesh promises to expand the harmonious chaos while continuing to show others how it is done. This is one definitely not to missed!

Our man, and host of Caffeinated Frequencies on Room 101, Eoin O’Shea recently spoke to John Cormack from the band about longevity, fluids, and Dale Crover of the Melvins.

Overblown: You guys have been going for nearly ten years now, and seen a change in line up when Mark left, but you seem to have kept consistent and determined. How did his departure change the band and what has kept you motivated after all these years?

John Cormack: Mark was a founder member so that obviously had a big effect. He was and still is a massive influence on our sound. In terms of motivation – sheer bloody mindedness! This band has always had a philosophy of encouraging people to bring in ideas and approaches that might not be appropriate anywhere else and at the same time we want to delight and entertain the listener. As long as we want to and are able to keep doing these things I think we’ll continue. We’ve always had lots of different people coming in and playing with us, live and on record, and everyone brings their own sound and feel. That keeps it fresh for us and pushes us in directions that we may not find were we a more consistent lineup.

O: What is London / the UK like for experimental noise-jazz-rock type bands? Are there many bands there playing music similar to yours?

JC: London is hard work to be honest, cliquey and very spread out. But you can still find people with a similar outlook and there are great people working hard to curate their local scenes. We love going to other parts of the country – we like Leeds so much that we’ve name checked it in one our new songs! It’s smaller and easier to get around, people go to gigs a lot more than in London. As for other bands similar to us – for the sake of people’s ears I hope not! Here are some UK bands who are much better than us: Thumpermonkey, Melt Yourself Down, Jazz Hands, Snack Family.

O: What was it like contributing to Ginger Wildheart’s Mutation project?

JC: I got to spend a day in the studio with Ginger and loads of other great musicians, in an atmosphere of experimentation and encouragement. So basically a fantastic experience! Ginger already had a few ideas for what he wanted me to do but there were also a couple of sections where he gave me a blank section and let me do whatever I felt would fit. It was also really interesting to see how hard Ginger works in terms of engaging with his fans – if anyone wants to know why Ginger is still succeeding in a dying industry, the answer is because he works ten times as hard as anyone else.

O: You’ve all also worked with Dale Crover from the Melvins on your last record The Great Terror. What was it like to work with him?

JC: This was a very different experience. We had a couple of songs that we felt needed a fresh perspective and so we contacted the Melvins long-time producer Toshi Kosai to see if he and Dale would be into it. Luckily they were so we sent them two tracks and said pick one and go nuts. And they did both! And what they did was great, loads of synths, extra percussion, some guitar, all recorded in their studio in LA and emailed back to us. I think we ended up using all of it.

O: Your new record, Press the Flesh, is out on 01 April. Do Deaf Nephews make an appearance on this record like they did on The Great Terror?

JC: No, this is just the four band members. There were a couple of points where we considered asking people to guest but ultimately felt that for this group of songs it just needed to be the four of us playing the shit out of them.

O: From the name of the album and tracks like “The Other Other White Meat” and “First Class Flesh”, there definitely seems to be a theme of cannibalism. Where did that come from? Tell us about the writing and recording of the record.

JC: Definitely themes of the body… sex, mucus and other fluids, disgust, bodily invasion, surgery, dentistry. Fears about your body, health scares, where does your body end and ‘you’ begin? In terms of writing, there was a definite decision to write simpler songs in terms of instrumentation – previously we would layer and layer which made playing live quite hard. This was a little experiment for us in that sense. We recorded and mixed it all ourselves in our rehearsal room and bedrooms.

O: What other themes are explored on the record?

JC: The usual – paranoia, guilt, self delusion and wretchedness. The album title reflects the ideas of body and sex but also frustration with the way the way the world often seems to work – glad-handing and sweetheart deals behind closed doors. Though the last track, Pulse Throbber, is entirely about joyful dancing and letting yourself go!

O: I definitely hear a Boredoms influence from your previous records; is it fair to say they are an influence? What bands were you listening to during the recording of Press the Flesh?

JC: Boredoms are one of the greatest groups of our times. They don’t even play songs or make records any more, they just play live and seeing them is different from seeing other bands. To me, it’s like when you feel grimy and dirty and you just want a shower – watching Boredoms refreshes your soul! So yeah, it’s fair to say they are an influence. Not one but two GB drummers played in their 88 cymbal player show at the Barbican last year. In terms of other bands, for me personally I was listening to loads of Cardiacs – another band who do things entirely on their own terms and make the music they want to hear and play. Which is pretty much the philosophy of our band.

O: What does the future hold for Godzilla Black?

JC: We’ve recently started gigging with a new lineup and will be doing shows to promote the new album (Album launch 16th April at the Hope and Anchor in Islington). We’ve got new material on the go and will also at some point be releasing the first ever recordings we did, way back when we were a two piece. It’s not really songs, more like mood pieces and sound scenarios – hopefully it will be nice for anyone who’s interested to see how we started out.

O:. Do you think after the Godzilla movies came out, God was like “That’s a way better name!”?

JC: I imagine God has many regrets but not calling himself Godzilla must surely be one of his greatest.

O: Pineapple on a Pizza; yes or no?

JC: Can’t speak for the others (and I don’t really care what they think, the awful bastards) but it’s a big yes from me.

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