Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Interview with Stevie Floyd from Dark Castle

I first met Stevie and Rob from Dark Castle in an old office complex in Richmond Virginia. Some kids had rented out the giant place as a kind of communal apartment, which (like most crusty kids in Richmond) they also used as a DIY venue for house shows. Despite the difficult, stair-plagued load-in, it turned out to be a killer show. Later we all crashed at a practice space (presumably Gwar's) and watched "The Foot-Fist Way", which almost caused me to laugh myself to death. Ever since that show USX and Dark Castle have hit it off. Stevie is a great guitar player as well as a great visual artist, on canvas as well as human skin. They are always on the road, don't miss them when they come through your town.

                                                       (Stevie Floyd by Wandering Star Photography)

First off, Dark Castle just recorded a new record with Sanford Parker. I have heard the track “Stare Into Absence” (because I did backing vocals on it), and it sounded really cool. Can you talk some about the new album?

-We dug deep on this new recording.  As we are very influenced by multi cultural scales,  we used only the 2 that are the most influential to us at this moment, so every song was written in Hungarian and Japanese scales to have the vibe and flow that we were trying to create.  A very decrepit yet enlightening ancient and primitive emotion is what we were feeling to achieve in all riffs, beats and vocals.  The lyrics are from the darkest, deepest part of me that I have ever tapped into, but climb towards awareness of the source of all life... encompassing dreams, death, nature, light and the five senses. We wanted to bring out the farthest extremity of all emotions and feelings possible with this album.

 Also, you guys just signed with Profound Lore, a label that has been putting out a lot of good stuff. What are your thoughts on that?

-Profound Lore is a collection of some of the most artistic, influential, forward thinking, HEAVY bands...Yob, Portal, Salome, Krallice, Ludicra, Bloody Panda...just to name a few. We are very honored to be a part of this.

                                          (Stevie and Rob recording with the black Flying V.)

I always enjoy your live shows, killer guitar tone. And you pull of the guitar/drums only thing without compromising the sound. Can you talk about your rig some? I know you use multiple amps, something I like to do as well. I’m interested in your setup.

-Thanks Nate!...Well I used to use 3 heads and now I narrowed it down to 2, my Sunn Model T and my Ampeg V2. I run the Sunn through a 6x10 cabinet for more mids and highs and the Ampeg through a 2x15 cabinet for more of a bass tone. I also used my Sunn 200s through 2 4x12 cabinets but discovered it was just as loud without them.  I run the heads through a voodoo labs pedal that is a 4 channel selector.  I use several pedals as well, mostly my Big Muff for distortion, octave, chorus and delay. I try not to over do it, I like the tone to be as raw and thick as possible without getting too muddy and messy with tons of effects. Less is more.  Rob also uses marching drums for his kick and snare, as well as a floor tom as a rack tom.

You also put out some really cool art, and you have a distinct style.  Can you talk about your history as a visual artist?

-Thank you, as a child, my dad was an artist and pretty much made my brother and I draw constantly...which we appreciate so much now.  My dad also was super into music and records. He designed album covers for some prog bands in the 70's as well.  So naturally I was inspired and driven by him.  I've drawn and painted almost every day of my life...my brother too, who is an incredible artist. I also went to an art high school where we took college level painting, sculpture, photography and art history classes...it was pretty unreal.  Now I tattoo and have been for almost 10 years and I love it. Ive designed a few album covers and t shirt designs for bands and I'm hoping to do a lot more of that.  I really enjoy listening to a bands music and lyrics and letting images come to me for album art, its the ultimate inspiration. I love how as you grow and open your mind more and more, your art changes and unfolds in that same light.
                                             USX art by Stevie

Who has great guitar tone?

-Well it completely depends on what style of music is being played....but I'm pretty much obsessed with Sunn Model T's so, the only band who completely covers the stage in Sunn Model T's.....SUNNO)))

You also work at/run a tattoo studio in Florida, and I have seen your work on a few of our mutual friends. How long have you been a tattoo artist, and how did you get started?

 -I've been tattooing for almost 10 years.  I absolutely love it and never get tired of tattooing.  I opened an appointment only studio with my friend Kim about 4 years ago. We both travel a lot so we wanted a quiet and peaceful space where we could make our own hours and put our full focus and attention into who were tattooing with out distractions. 

What are your thoughts on touring in America? In your opinion, what are the pros and cons?

-Well, we've probably gone on 20 American tours or more and they have all been so incredibly different.  We booked our own tours for a few years, which got better each time as far as knowing who to book with and meeting the right bands to play with...etc.  The coolest thing about DIY touring is all of the beautiful people you meet and the crazy places you play....kids basements...churches..etc.  You never know whats going to happen at each show, its always a mystery and something new and different each time.  I guess the con would be instability and having times where problems occur with shows.  Going on tours that are booked through agents are always more structured and planned out of course...which is rad but you definitely lose some of the mystery and self fulfillment that you get doing it yourself.  Regardless of what happens, its always so much fun...waking up every morning somewhere different and driving somewhere new!

What is your favorite unknown band?
-US Christmas:)

Final thoughts?

-I'm just so appreciative and honored to be a part of this heavy music movement in this time and place.  Everyone has so much love and passion.  And never have I imagined such open minded beings coming together in all forms of this music without any division.

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