If any readers have had the misfortune to read my reviews on a regular basis, you may have noticed that for the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen to review the music of Brooklyn’s instrumental self-described “Satanic Stoner Demonic Doom” act Clouds Taste Satanic. With a massive and unique sound, the band has rounded out 2017 with their forth consecutive release in as many years, the excellent ‘The Glitter of Infinite Hell’. Band member Steve Scavuzzo was kind enough to take some time out to answer my normal inane questions.
AN: Firstly, let me congratulate you on the new album ‘The Glitter of Infinite Hell’. This is your fourth album in as many years; is there anything new from the prior releases that you brought to the release?
SS: Thank you. Aside from a new guitar player named Brian Bauhs, the goal was to push our boundaries a bit further with sounds and sections outside the usual Doom/Stoner template. We wanted to stray a bit farther from what we’ve done in the past but not too far. I think we accomplished that.
AN: For some reason, folks love to pigeon-hole music, maybe so it’s just easier to say that you like “insert genre here” rather than try to explain why you like something. However, since it is inevitable, and you wanted to hook a listener, what would you like to be known as, or associated with?
SS: Instrumental Doom/Stoner. We are without a singer by choice and love instrumental music so we are happy to make that aspect of our sound clear and upfront to people. We are also proud to be part of the Doom/Stoner community and consider it a badge of honor. We also feel fortunate to be part of musical movement that is clearly in its infancy and will just continue to grow as time goes on. We have no problem being placed in a category. If it bothered us that much, we would choose a different style of music.
AN: As a slight aside from the music, you have chosen some classical religiously themed artwork for your sleeves, as well as a name that must cause an immediate negative reaction from the religiously conservative; why is it that you have made those decisions?
SS: We view Satanism and all religion for that matter in the same way we view Star Wars or Harry Potter or The Walking Dead. We love the history/mythology and the visual imagery that people associate with all things religious and/or evil but we are not religious people in any way so feel no need to defend or explain the association. People can take it as seriously as they want but run the risk of reading far more into it than any of us do. No one really thinks that Electric Wizard is stabbing naked women on an altar. As for the band name, any Flaming Lips fan can tell you the genesis of that.
AN: You have remained an instrumental band, not even adding vocal samples as some of the bands that I’ve seen you compared to do. Was that a conscious decision, or something the band evolved into, as surely the general public, whether listening to pop, rock or metal, is pretty much programmed to expect an offering of verse/chorus/verse?
SS: It was conscious decision. Most vocalists have a disproportionate impact on a band’s music. You can have a mediocre bassist and still be perceived as an amazing band. To our ears, a mediocre singer will ruin a band, no matter how Iommi-worthy the riffs are. And the fact is that finding an amazing singer who truly compliments your music is fucking hard. Most bands settle for someone who is barely qualified or one or more of the band members does the singing and 9 times out of 10 the results are merely adequate. If your music is compelling, you shouldn’t need a singer. That said, most singers are a pain in the ass and complain when there’s too much fog because it messes with their voice so not having one saves a lot of grief. As for vocal samples (I assume you are referring to movie samples), Electric Wizard, Bongzilla and a hundred other bands did it years ago and continue to do so. No need piling on that dead horse.
(Note: we are big fans of Electric Wizard and Bongzilla but the movie samples are an unnecessary distraction)
AN: Your first album ‘To Sleep Beyond The Earth’ was essentially one piece in four movements, a style that is something I really associate with classical music. Would you consider yourself influenced by that, even though you are using the instruments of rock, electric guitar, bass, and drums?
SS: I personally enjoy classical music (hate opera) but consider our influences to be more rock/metal based. We love concept records and are highly influenced by The Who (Quadrophenia), Pink Floyd (Animals), Rush (2012), Husker Du (Zen Arcade) and Ufomammut’s Opus albums. I would also add any Godspeed You Black Emperor record to that list. Of course if those artists were classically influenced, I guess that means that we were indirectly classically influenced as well.
AN: On your second album ‘Your Doom Has Come’ you changed from a single track to half a dozen for the album, ‘One Third of the Sun’ practically sprinting past in under five minutes. Was that change in reaction to the reception of ‘To Sleep Beyond The Earth’, or as I suspect, your continuing to experiment with your sound?
SS: Continuing experimentation. The reaction to “To Sleep” was almost universally positive. It would have been safer to repeat that approach the second time around but we wanted to see what it would sound like to condense the songs. We were and are very happy with the results.
AN: Every time I listen to your music, it makes me immediately think that it would make magnificent film sound tracks, either of films that have been made, or for that matter films I’d like to see made. For example, I can only imagine a future Hellraiser with a decent budget, director, and your score. Have you ever been approached for such work?
SS: No but we would like to see our music used in movies and TV. We just have not heard from the right person who could make that happen.
AN: If it’s a fair comparison to call your music cinematic, and I can only tell that it conjures a host of images in my mind when I listen to it, are there any film composers that you are influenced by, or for that matter, any musicians or artists that you might surprise a reader by referencing as having an impact on your work?
SS: As far as originally composed soundtracks, I tend to appreciate those that are more electronically based including Gil Melle for The Andromeda Strain and anything John Carpenter has done for his movies. Jerry Goldsmith’s music for the first Planet of the Apes movie is particularly awesome and inspirational. It might surprise people to know that in addition to the usual suspect bands (Black Sabbath, Sleep), I would count early Tangerine Dream and The Orb as strong influences, mostly for their composition styles and arrangements.
AN: Sadly, separated as I am from your normal stomping ground by the Atlantic, I’ve never seen one of your live shows. How do you choose a set list, when you produce such enormous sweeping compositions, and what sort of audiences do you attract as I cannot really imagine a swirling mosh pit erupting for the likes of ‘Greed’ or ‘Wrath’?
SS: Our audiences tend to be patient because a 20-minute song takes a while to unfold. We think it’s worth the wait. We also have a lot of lights, visuals and fog to add to the experience. As for set lists, since most of the places we play only want 40 Minutes max, we just pick 2 songs and play them.
AN: You’ve brought out an album a year for four years straight now, which in modern terms is massively prolific, especially for folks who don’t have the backing of a major label; do you have plans for a follow up, and would you consider adding new elements to future releases?
SS: An album a year is not prolific. Black Sabbath put out their first record and Paranoid in 1970. There was a time when bands were expected to release 2 records a year. As for us, we’re going to start working on a new album in January. This time around we are going to take a little longer with the process and really get inside each song, each part and each arrangement so it’s unlikely that we will have a new record until 2019. We will most certainly be adding new elements but only if they complement what we’ve done in the past. And we certainly won’t put out another record unless we think that it’s the best thing we have ever done.
AN: I appreciate the massive financial commitment and risk any tour would be, but have you ever considered maybe trying to play Europe, where festivals like Freak Valley or HRH Stoner vs Doom would have audiences likely to be very receptive to your style of playing?
SS: We are ready to play any festival in Europe right now and will pay our own way for the privilege of doing so. Festival organizers, send us an invite.
AN: Finally, the question I always finish with; you must have to plough through a pile of interviews and the same old questions. Is there a question you would like to be asked, what is it, and what is the answer?
SS: Do you really need massive vintage amps to play doom metal? Yes!
Thanks again to Steve Scavuzzo for taking the time to answer the questions, and if anybody reading this knows some European or UK promoters, please feel free to share the dark magic that is Clouds Taste Satanic with them. You can follow the band and buy their music from the links below.
(Interview by Spenny)