Brant Bjork Talks New Solo Album ‘Tao of The Devil’: desert rocker discusses his latest sizzling disc in our exclusive interview.
One of the pioneers of desert rock and stoner metal, Brant Bjork has been involved with some of the most preeminent bands of the genre, including Kyuss (the Godfathers of the scene), Fu Manchu, and Vista Chino.
He’s also an established solo artist, who’s gearing up for the release of Tao of The Devil (Sept.30th, Napalm Records) , his 2016 follow-up to 2014’s Black Flower Power (recorded with backing band The Low Desert Punk band).
I recently had chance to talk to the multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter about the new album, his creative process and more in our exclusive Q&A which runs below:
SLIS: So I’m digging the new album. When did it start coming into shape and was there any different angle or change in approach this time around?
BB: This record begin about a year-and-a-half ago. It was a real organic process which really consisted of us taking a group of songs with the idea of going into my studio, and rehearsing the songs but also working out the space experimenting with the recording gear in a couple of different engineers. So we were doing a couple of different things all at once, and over the course of time you’re able to get an idea of which songs were working in relation to the studio setup that we had. It took some time but we had an idea of we wanted to accomplish and we were able to do that so it was worth it in the end.
SLIS: One of the biggest standout tracks is Dave’s War. It’s pretty epic, both in length and in scope, going from heavy riffing to a super psychedelic jam. How did that track evolve?
I think Dave’s War perfectly represents the creative process of this record. The jam itself we had from earlier sessions this year: the front half of the song which is kind of like the proper arrangement. In later sessions we were able to see that they would probably sit well together and we kind of wanted something to take us to the actual jam part so we arranged the song and just went with the idea of how we want to put it together and we just recorded it live.
SLIS: Humble Pie is another standout. If you told someone that song came out in the early 70’s I don’t think they’d even question it. How important is it for you to get that vintage sound?
I mean the whole record in general is the result of myself and my guitar player Bubba (Dupree). Working with him on the last record together we discovered we had a really good working relationship so we decided to creatively partner up…so we started writing together, arranging together and he also co-produced the record with me. So Humble Pie is a Bubba song musically but I added lyrics and melodies to it.
One of many things that Bubba and I connect on is our love of sixties and seventies rock, so that’s an era we both collectively and individually have studied for many years, so it definitely was one of our goals to try to capture an essence and the spirit from that era and bring it up to current times. So that was definitely something we pursued on this record.
SLIS: Since you’re a multi-instrumentalist, how does your songwriting process usually start? Is it a guitar riff, or does it start with a bassline or drumbeat, or does it just depend on whatever mood strikes you at the moment?
BB: well in the past if I was going to do a record that was like a true solo record, meaning I was going to perform all the tracks, well then the sky was the limit. So I might start with drums, or I might start with guitar…but it’s hard to say. It’s always easier to start with a meter and then build upon that when you’re on your own.
Part of my excitement being a solo artist is that I can inject myself into a band situation…and then when it comes to recording and being creative and performing with a band I like the traditional way–like let’s get in a room and just start bouncing ideas off each other. Maybe I’ll bring in a riff or half a song and then just use that particular song for the band to kind of exercise on and get warmed up get loose and we might use the song or we might not but the song is the starting point, the catalyst of the creative process.
SLIS: You’ve been involved in so many bands: Kyuss, Vista Chino, Fu Manchu, etc. What do you like about solo projects vs. band albums and vice versa?
BB: In most band situations, I’ve found that in my history of being in bands, there seems to always be a formal or informal leader, and that’s appropriate…that establishes that only one person can really drive the car. But everyone else in the car has to come to an agreement on where we’re driving to. So what’s nice about being a solo artist is there’s no confusion about that reality.
Sometimes working with a backing band as a solo artist I might take a back seat and ask one of them to drive. Every band is different because all musicians are different and each collective personality naturally generates a unique character to that particular band. So with this band I’ve set it up in a way that works for me.
SLIS: I see you’re doing a European tour in November, are there any plan for U.S. dates as well?
BB: yeah there are plans to do some dates in the states: I’m planning to play tomorrow in L.A. and then Saturday in San Francisco. We’d like to get out on the East Coast and maybe down South. We’d like to go play as many shows in the states as we can. so we’ll just have to see how that all comes together.
SLIS: Will you be using the same band that you recorded the album with?
BB: Yeah! This is the band that made the record (Dupree, Dave Dinsmore and Ryan Gut), this is the band that I’ve worked hard to assemble, so it’s definitely a band that I plan on playing with for awhile.
SLIS: So after the tour wraps up, what’s next on the horizon?
BB: Well I’ve always got things in the pipeline, so I’ve got a lot of things set up. I think in terms of my past my manager and I are working on getting my back catalogue out there. And I’m always talking about new music and more records and just more creativity man, this is what I do. I just go to work man!
SLIS: Speaking of future plans, has there been any talk of a new Vista Chino follow-up album?
BB: I don’t know I mean anything’s possible. I mean I wasn’t even planning on doing that one!
I mean there’s no plans as of right now but yeah you just never know!
Thanks to Brant for taking time out to do this interview. You can order his new album ‘Tao of the Devil’ via Amazon below. And you can stay to up to date on his 2016 tour by clicking here.