TOMAHAWK (Eng.)

– Hello Duane, lots of thanks for answering our interview. How is everything going into the TOMAHAWK’s camp right now?

Seems like everything’s going well—but it’s early in the season. We did our first tour in years last fall and it went over great, without an album out, so that was a good sign.

– Have been 6 years since your previous album, «Anonymous» came out; did you ever think you may won’t continue? As all of you have been quite active with other bands, for instance Mike returned to FAITH NO MORE, then there’s BATTLES, etc.

…and I did a Jesus Lizard reunion, Legendary Shack Shakers run, Trevor did some Melvins gigs, etc….I didn’t even think about Tomahawk for a while; it just seemed to happen as a result of us all having the time and energy. But it was nice to step away from it because it gave me time to accumulate material.

 

– In fact this new album takes you guys out on stage after almost 10 years so, how are you feeling about it?

Well, like I mentioned earlier we’ve played some shows now and it was fun and exciting. I’m looking forward to more, and when we tour again starting next month the new album will be out and we can play more tunes from it live.

 

– This new opus is entitled «Oddfellows», and the first single off it was «Stone Letter», a quite different song compared to the rest on the album, short and really catchy, easy-listening so to speak. Why did you pick this track? As, after giving the whole album some spins, it doesn’t reflect totally the overall vibe on this record.

We haven’t put out an album in years, and things have changed a lot since we started this band back in 2001. We have no way of telling who our fans are at this point in time. We can’t just go out and do things the same way we have in the past, at least not totally, so it seemed like a good idea to make an accessible, modern-sounding track as the single. You know, as a way of reaching out to new people. If some old fans don’t like it, well, just be patient—there’s plenty of harder, darker tunes coming your way very soon, I assure you!

 

– Anyway, though it seemed impossible, on «Oddfellows» you have even broadern your horizons. It has a little bit of everything; catchier and «happier» elements on your own way, of course, into that overall dark and heavy feeling. It seems like you have added new elements. Are you always open to new influences and music?

Yes, with Tomahawk you’ve got 4 guys who are constantly checking out new things, keeping open ears, etc. But you’re right, there are more major key moments on this album than in the past. There’s several reasons for this. It’s challenging to write a song that’s sort of “happy” sounding and not have it suck! Most pop songs are unlistenable, but if you’re clever you can find a way to make a major key song sound just as weird or menacing as the typical minor mode rock song. Then there’s the element of contrast—you can’t have darkness without light! I get tired of albums where every song is in a minor or diminished mode—I’m not into dungeons and dragons! I think rock should be about energy and excitement, not just this bogus sort of “evil” or “foreboding” vibe that a lot of bands put off.

 

– It’s also more live-sounding. Did you recorded this effort on a different way? How did you approach the recording sessions/production process? And why did you go for this kind of sound?

We did basic tracks live, all in one room. There’s a lot of “bleed” happening and that helps give the tracks their live feel. Most of the overdubs were done in the same rooms so the overall ambience doesn’t change—it sounds like a cohesive entity as a result. I think?

 

– And how was the songwriting process like?

Just like always—I come up with some basic sketches, make some home demos, and send them out to the guys and wait and see what they think. Sometimes they say , “hell yeah!” and other times they say, “hell no”. Then Patton will add some different vocal takes, we’ll go back through it all, then work on final arrangements once we all get together to rehearse, pre-studio.

 

– I ask so because I guess it may be, in some way, a planned process, as all of your are involved with different bands and you may know what fits with TOMAHAWK and what fits better with some of your other bands. Is it easy to deal with this?

Yeah, Tomahawk is what we consider our place to “rock out”, so there is a deliberate attempt to stay focused and not get too far from that concept. We have always felt free to admit outside influences—like a touch of jazz, r’n b, even reggae here and there—but the majority of what we do is hard rock, meant to have momentum and drive.

 

– And until what point is a «planned» or «conscious» process? For instance there are tracks with certain Jazz of even Gospel flavour, which makes me wonder if is something you strive for or if it does just arise from some kind of unknown source of inspiration?

Songs are like short stories—you don’t always know where they’re going to end up. They take on a life of their own if you let them, instead of forcing them into a pre-conceived box. Sometimes they go places that are better left alone!

 

– On the other hand, what are some of the lyrical ideas covered on «Oddfellows» or what do they mean personally to you? As they seem to be open to different interpretations and meanings.

I think there are overall themes of judgement, betrayal, sexual fluidity, incarceration, immigration, etc

 

– All this about «Oddfellows» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?

Just go listen.

 

– I mentioned earlier this is your first album in 6 years, in fact you’ve stated this new «Oddfellows» picks up where «MitGas» left off. «Anonymous» was a different concept but, how was working on it like? All the research you did and stuff. Was it more like an experiment rather than an actual album?

Anonymous was an experiment in some ways—in the sense that we didn’t know how it would turn out. I think of it more as a detour, or a short trip into another section of the Tomahawk building.

 

– As I said, all of you are also playing in other bands beside TOMAHAWK so, what does THE JESUS LIZARD provide you TOMAHAWK can’t and viceversa?

Well, I don’t really play with The Jesus Lizard any more—the reunion we did in ’09 was our last time playing together. I have other things going now, such as Empty Mansions (w/Sam Fogarino of Interpol) and the Unsemble (w/Alex Hacke from Einsturzende Neubaten) as well as a local Nashville-based swing/blues trio that’s just getting going. These things are all different from Tomahawk—Tomahawk is my main “thing” as far as being a rock guitar player and composer.

 

– And finally; what your near-future plans are?

We’ve got a busy year ahead of us, so I just want to get through it in one piece! Other than that, I’m a simple man—eat, drink, sex, sleep, dream, etc

 

– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.

Thank you.

 

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

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