It must be the clean mountain air of Asheville, NC that helps to cultivate such an eclectic and talented range of musical acts. We were fortunate enough to catch up with Scott Middleton of Bask, Asheville’s finest melting pot of twangy americana swamp metal. Just last month Bask digitally released their second full length titled, ‘Ramble Beyond’ with vinyl available May 19th through Charlotte’s own Self Aware Records. Scott, along with the rest of Bask will be heading out to Europe this week to play a hand full of shows including Desertfest in London with acts such as Sleep, Slo Burn, and Wear Your Wounds. The other week, Scott and I caught up about their unique sound, the recording process of ‘Ramble Beyond’, and what else we can expect from Bask.
Hey Oddboys, it’s been a pretty busy new year for us with the digital release of Ramble Beyond on March 24th. It is officially available on vinyl through Self Aware Records on May 19th. Josh and Sarah at Self Aware have been nothing but awesome. We want to give a shout out to them for all they’ve done for us and all they do for the NC music scene.
Is the word, “tweavycana” a genre yet?
Haha, the guys are going to kill me that term has stuck at all. They hate that I made up that word. It makes sense to me, though.
Has it gotten any easier to define the sound of Bask with this new release?
Not necessarily. We’ve gotten “Appalachian doom, swamp metal” and some other descriptors. These days when asked I just say we’re a loud, twangy, spacey rock band. I think to a large extent, we all like that it’s a bit difficult to describe our music. We don’t want to be easily pigeonholed.
It feels as if you guys have matured and refined your sound from the last record? It feels less aggressive, a little more ambient but still just as heavy. Is that in particular something that is happening as the band is growing?
Our group dynamic has grown much over the past couple years and with that evolution, our sound has been able to become more fully formed. One of the biggest contributors for the advancement of our sound on this record is that we’ve all tremendously upgraded our gear since we recorded American Hollow. All our guitarist’s effects have increased in size and scope. For example, Zeb has a sweet Moog Mother 32 and a Space Echo that I really love to hear. I have a much bigger and louder drum kit now compared to the early days of the band.
As a band are you guys still trying to stay on that thin line of Americana and sludgy-metal?
When we write, we don’t really describe our riffs in terms of genre. When Bask first started we stated that we wanted to create a heavy, loud, and melodic band. It boils down to us writing music that we like, regardless of the descriptor. Ray tends to bring the chunkier, more metallic riffs to the table and Zeb contrasts it with his crystalline, folkier patterns. Jesse fills out our music tremendously with the low end, putting meat on the bones of the riffs and providing a big punch to our tunes. We all try to stay conscious of the dynamics within our songs; we like to take it high and low.
For “American Hollow” you guys stowed away for a weekend in a cabin to record. What was the recording process for “Ramble Beyond” and did it effect the outcome of this record?
Recording Ramble Beyond was much more of a process compared to American Hollow. We recorded throughout the weekends of July with our great friend Travis Kammeyer at Fahrenheit Studios in Johnson City, Tennessee. He worked his ass off on our behalf, experimenting with so many drums, pedals, head/cabinet combinations, and tones. We owe so much of this record to him and are very grateful for his hard work and the quality of the recording. It took two more months for the process to be completed with Andrew Schneider mixing and Chris Common mastering the album. We were lucky to work with such amazing folks on this album. These three gentlemen are masters at their craft.
Was there anything in the process from writing to recording that you didn’t expect to happen?
I received more guidance from Travis regarding drum and cymbal selection for recording purposes, which I had some difficulty adjusting to at first. His approach was one of what cymbals and gear sounds best for recording rather than in a live setting. We trusted Travis with this approach and we all pushed ourselves a bit outside our comfort zone for the album’s benefit.
You guys are playing some big shows coming up. Are you guys excited to be getting back to Europe for a second oversees tour?
We are very excited to get back to Europe. One week is going to be a blur!
Though all new places this time, are there any feelings towards returning after the unfortunate ending to your last visit?
You always have to keep your eyes peeled when you’re in a band, regardless of where you are. We feel lucky and fortunate to go over a second time, play the amazing festivals Desertfest London and Berlin, and rock out for our European fans.
What is your perspective on the music scene in Asheville and the greater North Carolina area?
I believe that Asheville has one of the best music scenes in the country, especially per capita. We’re such a small little city, but the creativity flows from so many different realms. This past weekend I was able to see this amazing, very free and improvisational jazz ensemble consisting of guitar, saxophone, drums, and violin at The Mothlight. The next night I was able to catch an awesome local metal show at The Odditorium. I feel this is pretty typical; there are so many diverse shows going on throughout the week that I have a hard time keeping up.
North Carolina is such a great music state in general; there are plenty of options when it comes to great cities to play. We are very proud to be part of both the local Asheville and North Carolina music scene.
What’s next for Bask? (touring, writing, life)
We are flying to Europe on April 26th and are playing six shows over there. We have a four day album release mini-tour in May, playing the cities that are near and dear to us that treat us very well. We’ll be in Charlotte on May 19th at Snug Harbor. We hope to see a lot of Queen City friends! Keep your eyes peeled for a music video to be debuted soon, as well.
There are some new riffs being tossed around amongst us and we’ve been trying to jam and be more free form when we have time at practice. Hopefully we will have a month long American tour later this summer and we are also trying to get to Europe for their fall festival season. Thanks so much for your time! We appreciate what you do for the NC music scene. We hope to see a lot of you this spring so check out the dates below:
Spring 2017 European Tour
April 28th – Desertfest London @ The Black Heart
April 29th – Nijmegen, NL @ Merleyn
April 30th – Desertfest Berlin @ Raw Area
May 1st – Hamburg, GER @ Astrastube
May 2nd – Wiesbaden, GER @ Schlachhof
May 3rd – Munster, GER @ Barake
Ramble Beyond Record Release Tour
May 17th – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
May 18th – Savannah, GA @ The Jinx
May 19th – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
May 20th – Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
June 3rd– Greenville, SC @ Thomas Creek Brewery