Godhunter just released a five song EP a few months ago titled ‘Wolves’. Tell us about this release!
– We recorded the EP back in September of 2011 up in Phoenix with Ryan Butler at Arcane Digital Recordings. He’s recorded a lot of bands that we love, like Misery Index, Exhumed and Phobia, along with his own band, Landmine Marathon. While the album was recorded digitally to save on costs, it was mixed analog, and then mastered analog by Dave Shirk at Sonorous Mastering. Dave has mastered a lot of our favorite bands well, like Entombed, Mastodon and Baroness. There are five songs on the EP, but it clocks in at about 32 minutes. We tend to write a bit longer songs than normal, most likely due to the sludge/stoner nature of the songs themselves. That format doesn’t really lend itself to 3 minute jams. The artwork on the album was done by Rudy Flores, a local Tucson artist who is friends with the band, and an all around amazing talent.
What was the recording process like? Is Godhunter fairly comfortable in the studio as opposed to the stage? How do you compare and contrast the two?
– The recording process for this EP was admittedly fairly quick, and possibly a little more rushed than we had hoped for. We had a couple lineup changes right before the recording, and as such, I did all the guitars myself. Charlie, our singer, came in to the band shortly before that time too, so he wasn’t as familiar with the songs as he is now. All of that aside, we’re still very comfortable recording at Arcane. We’ve done everything for Godhunter there, along with some of my other bands, and I’ve personally known and been good friends with Ryan for years, so it feels like you’re working with an old friend, which always helps the process. That said, Godhunter is still a live band, first and foremost. I still don’t think we’ve been able to capture the exact essence of the band in studio recordings. We all thrive on the live environment and tend to really feed off of our audiences, so playing the songs live is always our favorite way to present the songs. We are in the process of writing the band’s first full length now, and one thing that we are striving for is to record the album and capture as much of a live feel as we can within the confines of the recording atmosphere. We’re approaching it with a different attitude, taking much longer to write and perfect the songs themselves, and for the first time we’ll actually be doing a full demo recording of the album so we’re sure that we are happy with everything before committing it to the studio. When we compare the two, it comes down to a decision between joy and duty. It’s an absolute joy for us to play live. We’ll do it just about any time, anywhere. But we do feel recording is a bit of a duty, in the best way possible, of course. Our fans want a CD or a record to play in between shows. So it’s our job to provide them with that quality product.
What about the songwriting process? Do the songs come about from a single writer, group effort, etc.?
– All of the Godhunter songs have always come from a collaborative process. Someone will bring in a riff, or a lead part, and just start jamming on it. Then the whole band will jump in and we sort of wear at it, like a dog chewing a stick, until we’re sure it’s something we want to incorporate, then we’ll build around it. Most of our songs are built around one main riff. We truly believe in the super-galactic power of “that fucking riff” and we all worship at the temples of Black Sabbath and St. Vitus, so we’re always looking for that riff that locks you right in with the vibrations of the universe. When I look out at the crowd, I just want to see all the heads nodding in unison. That’s really what we shoot for in the writing process.
Recently, you finished up a tour of The Southwest in support of ‘Wolves’. What are some of the highlights, memorable moments, etc.?
– That tour has certainly been our most successful tour to date. We played some really great shows this time out, with some amazing bands. Our show in Albuquerque was a highlight for sure. We were asked to open up that show for the album release of our buddies in Skulldron (amazing doom band from Albuquerque, check them out) and every band on the lineup was just killer, and it was a great venue, with great parties. Flagstaff was another highlight. That was a house show at The Big House, and I’m sure you’re well aware how rowdy those things can get. If you can’t have fun at a house show, then you’re probably dead inside. I’d say our show in Palm Desert was the highlight though. The Hood is an incredible venue. They had a green room, with free beer, pizza and Mortal Kombat on free play. We would have happily played there a week straight for free, just let us hang out. The last week of tour was pretty special too. We played a show up in Scottsdale with our buds in Early Graves, then opened up for the Intronaut/Black Tusk tour in Phoenix and then in Tucson to end the road dates. We had a great homecoming show, and it was just a really positive way to end the tour, right at home.
You have shared a release with fellow Tucson sludge cult Methra. How does ‘Wolves’ differ from that release or how does it stay the same?
– Well, it’s a fairly different lineup, and I’d say a slightly different direction too. The split with Methra contained songs that were very early in the Godhunter timeline. I think we were a little angrier back then, and there is a little more of a punk rock feel to the songs. With the Wolves release, I think the band had “mellowed” a bit and was going in a more stoner rock direction. Loren Kreger was the other guitar player in the band when we wrote Wolves, and he shares a good portion of the songwriting credit on it. I’d certainly say the songs on Wolves have a lot of Loren’s “flavor” to them, even if he isn’t on the recording. He has a new band now, with Max Frankenstein who also was in Godhunter. It’s called Thorncaster and they’re really embracing a super-heavy stoner rock thing that’s worth checking out. With the new album, we’re writing, I’d say we’re moving in a slightly new (old?) direction again. The songs are angrier and faster. The world is falling to pieces around us and it’s driving us to put some anger back in the music.
What ideas did you have in mind when you began writing ‘Wolves’. Were there certain goals you wanted to accomplish?
– We wanted it to be cohesive, which I think we accomplished. There are some themes throughout the album which I think tie it all together. We use both lyrics, and music and the artwork to do this. We wanted to make an album that would get us some attention, but without showing everything the band had to offer. We feel that we have even more to offer and the full length is where we’re going to try to express that fully. And, as I mentioned before, we wanted to make an album that got your heading nodding. I like to think we got that done too.
Give those unfamiliar a history of Godhunter. Have there been line-up changes that have affected the sound or direction?
– Godhunter started in September of 2009. Ryan Clark, Dick Williamson and myself had been playing in a band called Rusted Satellites for a couple years, but that fell apart in late 2008. So in early 2009, the three of us started a band called Blood Regime, which didn’t last long. Dick took a break from music, so Ryan and I got Max and started Godhunter. We fished around through a series of singers and second guitar players while we started writing songs. Finally we got Loren in the band and it started to feel right. We added Kyle Deneen on vocals for a while (he is on the Methra split), but Kyle is a full time chef and he just didn’t have the time that was needed for the band at that point. That four piece lineup lasted for a while, and we did a few short tours with it and wrote most of Wolves.
Eventually Max had to leave for personal reasons, so Dick stepped back into the picture. Shortly after that Loren and I had a falling out and he left the band. Charlie joined on vocals at that point. He used to be in Tucson heavyweights Gat-Rot for a long ass time. We tried a few people on guitar and settled on Jake. Matt Davis from Our Daily Trespasses was playing keys with us for a while. He plays on all of Wolves. Eventually he left to concentrate on ODT, but he’ll be on the full length. So we’ve been playing with the five piece/two guitar lineup for six months or so now. Loren and Max formed Thorncaster, and then Loren, Matt and myself are all in Dios De Los Muertos, and acoustic project we started a while back. So, unlike a lot of bands that go through lineup changes, we don’t have a lot of drama to go with all of those changes. Did the lineup changes affect the sound? Sure. The Wolves EP sounds different than the Methra split. And I’m pretty sure the full length will sound different again. The recordings are just a distillation of the band at that time. We have a lineup that’s been stable for a while now though, so I think we’re really going to be able to codify the sound and direction on the next release.
I noticed a difference in your logo…previously, the name ‘Godhunter’ featured a pair of AK-47s. Has the band decided on this new logo or will it change again? What role does the visual aspect play in Godhunter’s releases?
– We do still use the AK-47 logo, it’s just not on the Wolves album. We wanted to have a very artistic album cover, and then matching artwork to go with the cover throughout the release. So the logo on Wolves is designed to go with that package. We still use the AK-47 logo for fliers and stickers and t-shirts. We probably always will. We like to engage people with art they might find offensive, like the AK-47 logo with the upside down cross. We have a shirt coming out soon that is just deliciously sacrilegious. But at the same time, we have a shirt coming out based off the album artwork. There will probably be a new take on the name’s design when the full length comes out too. We like the idea of there being many aspects of the artistic design of the band. None of us are visual artists, so unlike a band like Converge, where the entire art scheme is driven by one man, instead we use a variety of artists and we let them interpret what they feel through the music. Godhunter will always have a wide variety of art to go along with its music. We’re too much of art fans ourselves not to.
I have to ask, since I mentioned AK-47s: When hunting gods, what are your preferred weapons? Guns, knives, black magic or Marshall amplifiers? What meaning does the name ‘Godhunter’ have to you?
– I prefer my hand assembled AR-15. I put it together to my own specs and it’s frighteningly accurate. That weapon is black magic, trust me. But when it comes to music, I’m also quite fond of my vintage WHITE Matamp head and the matching custom built Emperor cabinet. You link those up with a Gibson of some sort and you have the foundation of Godhunter’s sound. Jake uses a vintage Marshall JCM800 on top of an Orange cabinet. We really just strive for that big, vintage overdriven sound. The sound that shakes the heavens. It’s funny, we got the name Godhunter from a Beta Ray Bill comic book. Max and I just thought it would be a really iconic name, one that people would remember the first time they heard it. We were really surprised when we Google searched it and didn’t find anyone using it already, so we snapped it right up. People associate it with a lot of things. Some folks think we’re Satanists and that’s fine. I don’t need any gods or masters, and no one else in my band really does either. We’re not anti-God, so much as we’re anti-god, know what I mean? We’re after all the gods, big and small. People could do a lot better off just paying attention to themselves.
Lyrically, what does Godhunter like to bring to the table? Is there a central message to your music or does it vary from song to song, album to album?
– We try to reflect society back onto itself through our lyrics. That’s probably the best way to explain it. We find some of the shitty things in life and we bitch about it for 6 or 7 minutes. Everything we write is based in reality. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy based role playing band, like The Sword, but that’s just not what comes out of me when I grab a pen to start writing. Our central message is just that life is incredibly fucked. We don’t believe that we are on the way to our decline, we’re pretty sure that we’re already somewhere mid-decline. We’re also fairly sure that it’s only going to get worse than here. That’s what we’re out there screaming at people. Wake the fuck up and enjoy this shit before it all goes up in flames.
I definitely hear a Black Sabbath influence in your sound, as I do in so many other bands. What sets you apart from the rest?
– Haha. I don’t know, we like Black Flag too? I’m not sure if anything sets us apart, other than the way we distill down our influences. Black Sabbath casts such an extremely large shadow though; it’s hard to escape it when you’re playing our type of music. As they decline physically, we’re seeing more and more Black Sabbath worship bands springing up all over the world. As that happens, it going to become even harder to distance yourself from the pack. I imagine we’ll just keep doing what we do, and hoping that just by being ourselves, we will add enough identity to the Godhunter to make us a bit more memorable than the rest.
What does the future hold for Godhunter? Can we expect more tours or album releases this year?
– Right now we have one more short set of shows in Texas and New Mexico in early April, then we’re off for a month or so. We’re going to play a few local shows over summer to try out some of the new songs. I know we’re playing with Anakim on one of them, and then we’re helping North kick off their tour in June. Both of those are amazing bands from right here in Tucson. Later in June we’ll be doing a run of shows in Arizona with Worm-Hole from Las Cruces, Powered Wig Machine from Sierra Vista and Enirva from Phoenix. That’ll be a hell of a good time! Long term, we’re looking at a Northwest tour this fall, then a run to New Orleans and back next year that hopefully includes a stop at SXSW. Austin is a great place, and we have some great friends in Texas, so we’re really gonna try to get there next year. As far as releases, we have a split 7″ coming out in a few months that features our buds in Inoculara. They’re some badass sludgegrinders from Tucson that we did a run of shows with recently. They were on the Flagstaff house party with us. Always good times when we’re hanging with those guys. Then later in the year we’re putting out a 10″ with The Road and Powerbelly on it. Rudy Flores will be doing the art for it, and everything will be based on The Road. I imagine we’ll play a few show when that comes out, then we’ll probably shut it down until we head to the studio. That’s looking to be early next year, by the way.
The last words are yours! Thanks!
– We just wanted to say thanks to Forbidden Magazine for taking the time and effort to support underground music. I’m proud to say that we’re both from the same town. Tucson, and Arizona in general, has a strong underground and I hope more people are starting to realize it. There are so many great bands in this state, so much great music going on. Check us out at our Bandcamp and pick up a copy of Wolves!