If you’re into cutting edge experimental and avant-garde metal the name of Bruce Lamont should ring a bell or two. He’s active in Yakuza, Circle Of Animals and several other projects. Recently he put out his first solo effort, entitled Feral Songs For The Epic Decline. It’s quite a daunting album to get into, but it’s nevertheless a good opportunity to have a friendly chat with Mr Lamont. During a short break from a tour with his Led Zeppelin tribute band he found the time to answer my questions.
First of all happy New Year to you, Bruce. You seem to be quite busy lately with your various bands and projects. Yakuza and Circle Of Animals both released an album last year and now your solo album, Feral Songs For The Epic Decline, is about to hit the shelves. How do you manage to keep up such a ferocious working pace?
Thank you happy new year to you as well. Well the Circle Of Animals record and the solo record have both been works in progress for a few years now and they just happened to both get finished up within the same time frame as when we started the Yakuza recording. I also have my new band Bloodiest debut record coming on out at the end of March on Relapse.
Let’s move on to Feral Songs For The Epic Decline (FSFTED). It has a rather enigmatic title and there seems to be a deeper thought behind. Can you explain the title in conjunction with the themes and lyrics on the album?
I’m not a fan of spelling things out per se. The album title can be interpreted in many ways. Inspiration for the lyrics came from many places. The only song I can really elaborate on is One Who Stands On The Earth. It is a dedication to the Republic of Lakotah a proposed sovereign nation existing here in the US. I read about them about a year and a half ago and when flying over their land earlier this year I felt compelled to reflect on their plight. I have a deep respect and love for the Lakotah people.
As stated in my first question you are active in many different projects and bands. Why the urge to release a solo album and how does your approach to FSFTED differ from composing for Yakuza and Circle Of Light for instance?
This goes back to around 2006.I had some musical ideas I wanted to work out on my own. Early on with the solo material did a lot of improvising live. Through those experiences I was able to create some cohesive ideas with more or less structure depending. My approach to the solo material is that the music is never really finished even after it’s recorded. I create general themes then work from there. Each performance has a unique “in the moment” quality to it.
How did the recording and written session go? Can you give some specific moments when you felt you’re on the top of the world and when you were about to quit?
Ha! No I didn’t experience extreme highs and lows. The session went great. Again like I said I go in with a semi loose structure and work things out there. Ill bounce ideas off Sanford (Parker, producer), ask to do a ton a stuff to the point I think he wants to kill me. In the end I take all the responsibility for the work. One specific moment that comes to mind was after recording The Epic Decline I wanted to add a vocal passage. We did a pass; I closed my eyes and improvised the lyrics, whatever came to mind. I was happy with what my subconscious had come up with but the execution wasn’t quite there. On the second pass I got what I was going for.
FSFTED is very experimental record where compositions are like soundscapes than actual songs and you combine your (free) jazz influences with Americana, bluegrass, psychedelica and lots of drones and distortion. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. It’s an original and quite unique record and in my head only Toby Driver and his Kayo Dot come close. How did you manage to combine all these different influences and what do you think of my comparison with Kayo Dot?
I have no intent on cramming a million different styles into one body of work. The music that has been created is simply a reflection of personality that comes from my experiences musically and otherwise. I love Toby’s work so I take a comparison to what he does as a compliment.
Your work is cutting edge when it comes to experimental and avant-garde metal. Do you see it as some sort of mission to create challenging and innovative music? How much do you care about outside criticism?
I don’t create music to challenge anyone but myself or others I work with. Critics? I don’t mind it nor care about them.
There is this weird paradox in metal and I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Our beloved genre has the name and fame to be rebellious, but at the same time the majority tends to be quite conservative when it comes bands changing and evolving their sound. Bands like The Gathering, Anathema, Paradise Lost, 3rd And The Mortal and Maudlin Of The Well received lots of flak for evolving. What’s your own take on this?
This is nothing new. Back in the 80’when I was a kid going to shows I started to feel like everything coming up from the underground was the same old same old. Anyone that was attempting to do anything out of the ordinary was shunned. This turned me off to a lot of metal for a couple of years. Of course things swung in the other direction eventually. It all works in cycles.
Something I’m really curious about are your influences and other musicians you admire. Can you tell us why you admire those people?
I have been a music fanatic for my whole life. And I admire so many I can barely begin to scratch the surface. I admire those who put everything into what they do regardless of the outcome. I have a deep respect for the lifers.
In my review I called your album the perfect soundtrack for films like There Will Be Blood (with Damian Day-Lewis) and No Country For Old Men by the Coen Brothers, because of lingering madness in both films and your music. What do you think of this? Would you like to do a soundtrack for movies?
Thank you I take that as a compliment. Yes I would love to do film music. A new challenge to create sounds to complement the visual. Someday.
Alright, time to wrap up the interview. What is the biggest Spinal Tap Moment of your career?
Walking into a club in Detroit that had two stages and loading on to the wrong one. I was kind of wondering why the lights were off and there was no staff to be found.. They (along with an audience) were on the other side of the building.
Thank you very much for this interview. If you got any last remarks, please put them here:
I appreciate the well thought out questions and having an interest in this music. Be good to yourself and others. Thank you so much.
written by Raymond Westland
photos by Seldon Hunt