A short while back I, Nick, conducted my second interview for the magazine, with local band Railhazer. They were opening up for Portland, Oregon’s, Psychedelic Rock/Stoner Pop band Black Pussy, you can see their photos in the gallery. The band had just finished blowing the crowd away with their Sludge/Doom sound (almost a mix of Clutch and Hammers of Misfortune), when they took the time to talk with me. Railhazer is still a band in their first year as a band and already have a bright future ahead of them. They have just recently gone into the studio to record their first album which could be out late 2016/early-mid 2017. They have played with some pretty huge names like Necronomicon, Khaotika, and quite a few more since then which seems to be building the bands fanbase quite a bit. Find out how the band came up with the sound they have formed, favorite played show (Thus Far), Which member(s) went to catholic school and more in the interview below!
Steve Sesti, bass: I like sludge or doom.
Derek Bonn, drums: Rock and roll, anything with a groove. Black Sabbath, Fear.
Matt Mathias, vocals: Like Steve said, doom and sludge. But [for me], Melvins, Mike Patton, Black Sabbath.
David Kreher, guitar: The influences are too numerous to say [laughs].
There’s all kinds of different genres that we’re particularly interested in.
I enjoy EyeHateGod quite a bit.
We all like High On Fire. Three of us saw them several months ago.
Dave’s classically trained.
Yeah, I dabbled a bit in the dark arts.
The St. Louis metal scene has been on a bit of an upswing recently; we’re definitely getting more shows, especially in the more underground areas. What does Railhazer hope to bring forth to this ever-expanding community?
We’re getting ready to record a new CD in May. And with that, we’re going to add to the palate of sounds and bands that we have around here, and just kind of do our own thing. I think when people hear the CD, they’ll understand what we’re trying to do. Not that we’re trying to do anything. Everyone has something to bring to the table, musically speaking, that we’re just going to put it all together and see what comes out.
My personal testament is, “Is this something that I personally find cool? Do I want to listen to this?” And I think when we bring music to the rehearsal space, it kind of goes through everybody’s, “Is this cool enough?” filter. For example, after a show, somebody will come up to us and be like, “I don’t even like the kind of shit that bands like you play, but you guys sound cool!”
Something that I feel specifically about the band is that we set out specifically to play a type of music; like, we want to do, “X.” And as everybody kind of formed into what has now become the band, it’s kind of become this different thing where, yeah it’s heavy, but it’s not just one thing. It’s all kind of down tempo – we’ve got some faster songs – but what amazes me is that it’s not just sludge metal. It’s not just slow, depressing doom. In one song, there’s a bunch of different bits. It’s just so cool; it’s fun to listen to as a member of the band.
I like dynamic songs. I feel like, with at least a few of our songs, there are loud parts, there’s lighter parts, there’s faster parts, there’s slower parts. A little something for everybody.
Somebody called us “traditional doom” once, and that’s fine with me because traditional doom is awesome. But I do think that, in the practice space, if somebody comes in with a sort of traditional doom-y type of riff, it does sort of, like Dave said, “filter through” all of the other dudes. And as long as it turns into something cool, it doesn’t necessarily have to sound like one person’s idea.
I think that this is kind of the theme that everybody is going towards. But variety is important to us. When we bring new material to the rehearsal space, usually the conversation involves, “Have we done this before? Is this something new? Does it balance stuff out, or is it just more of the same crap?”
How did Railhazer form? How did all of you get together as members and decide to make the music that you do?
Jordan Ross, guitar: I guess we started playing collectively last summer. We had kind of played with a few different people, and the last person to join was Derrik. I think his background in playing blues music was sort of the backbeat of things, that made it gel really well. Our first show was in October, then we’ve just sort of been playing from there.
So, we’re still like a really new band. I don’t know, it just seems like there’s been kind of a bigger buzz than usual around us. We haven’t even recorded a CD yet, but we’ve got a lot of demos around the internet. There’s a lot of videos on YouTube, because our bread and butter is kind of our live stuff. But the CD is going to sound brutal, and people are going to notice it.
I think its cool being part of the St. Louis bands like Black Fast. Bands that have definitely made a name for themselves. There is a scene, and if we can be part of that, and play with any of those bands, then that’s awesome, because they’re doing a lot of good stuff.
What, if anything, about being from St. Louis, influences your identity as a band?
[Laughter] Shitty weather.
I always feel that with St. Louis bands, if you play out of town, I almost want to say that you’re from St. Louis. Because it feels like St. Louis doesn’t get a ton of respect. It’s not like a hip place to say that you’re from. You’re not a Brooklyn band, or an L.A. band, or something like that. But I kind of like that; it almost feels like an uphill battle, but in a good way.
Yeah, you’re getting out of the mud, man. [Laughter]
But those bands like Black Fast, The Lion’s Daughter, Fister; they’ve been doing it for a while, and they fought the uphill battle. The reason that so many people would come to these kinds of shows is because those bands are awesome.
I grew up in St. Louis, I went to Catholic School and all that jazz; I went through all the same stuff that every St. Louis youth goes through, because there’s nothing to fucking do when you’re between your teenage years and 21 – there’s nothing to fucking do, man! Dave and I have been buddies for a long, long, long time. We had metal and music to keep us from going completely insane or getting arrested. I think that kind of [lifestyle] of just sitting in a basement, being a hesher, had a lot to do with the style of music that we play nowadays. There’s all of those years of musical influence. If we had more shit to do, we may not ever have done music, because we’d be doing something else. So, live in a boring town [laughter].
How much preparation goes into a show, as far as rehearsals?
As much as we can. We’ve all got day lives and family stuff, and the same stuff that everybody’s got. But we’re also older dudes, too. Most of us are pushing 40, getting close.
We do have a routine though, we rehearse every week. A lot of times, when we have a show, we’ll throw in an extra rehearsal a day or two before the show, just to make sure we didn’t forget everything, make sure everything’s tight. I’d say we’re pretty disciplined, but we still have a few beers during the rehearsals [laughter].
We’ve found that we’re a pretty punctual band. For the few gigs that we’ve had, we seem to be on time. But, you know; you’ve got to be on time for work, or you lose your damn job.
And we bring that work ethic to the band.
You guys have played some pretty amazing shows thus far in your career. You’ve played for Necronomicon and Khaotica, and tonight you’re opening for Black Pussy. What have been some of your more memorable shows starting out?
That was our first show. We played at Just Bill’s with this band from Brooklyn called Godmaker, and we hit it off with them. They were killer guys and a great band, and we’ll always remember that as our first show, and being one of our better ones.
We played so hard, too. Those cats are fucking killer!
Every time we come to the Fubar, it’s fucking awesome. Bob Fancher really likes us, and he’s gracious enough to have us back time and time again.
We got to play with Fister at the Demo.
Beneath Oblivion, that was the date that we played with Fister and Grand Inquisitor. It was great man.
It made us seem, like, not heavy. [Laughter]
Next month, we’re playing with Honkey, which includes guys that have played with Melvins, Butthole Surfers, Down. Down’s guitar player Bobby is playing with them. J.D. Pinkus.
We’re amped about that show in April. We hope everybody else is as stoked, because those dudes are like, storied motherfuckers in the music world, as far as bands that have that kind of heavy underground – maybe even say, like, southern – sludgy sound. J.D. is fucking nuts. I saw Honkey open for the Melvins on their 30th anniversary tour. And I mean, Jesus I’m still a fan, man. I would fucking dork out like crazy over some shit like that. We’ve been taking it easy on scheduling show though, because Steve-O’s got a baby on the way, and we want to make sure that Steve has a chance to settle in with his new addition to the family, before we dedicate ourselves to seriously getting an album out. But that’s the next big thing; Steve having a baby, then getting an album out. So we’ve been slowing down on shows.
Is staying close with your families something that’s pretty important to you guys?
This is a job.
We can totally have it both ways; our families are supportive. My wife’s like, “Fuck yeah, do that shit. You should’ve done that shit years ago. Why aren’t you in a fucking band?” At least I have a wife that bitches about this type of shit. [Laughter] She could be like, “Why don’t you do the fucking dishes?” But instead, she’s like, “How come you don’t rock shit?” [Laughter]
The sludge/doom/stoner genre has expanded over the years. What are your thoughts or observations on where it has come from, and where it might be heading now?
I think what’s so great about some of the stuff that I hear and what I like playing, is it still has that sort of rock swing element. It’s just slower and groove based. Which, I mean, I totally love that “pound-it-out” metal, too. But, it’s got a nice swing, too. And I think that’s a lot more accessible to people that may not necessarily like metal. You see different people at metal shows [now] than you used to. I’m used to like, just, dudes. [Laughter] Nerdy guys; and I mean that endearingly. You see a lot more females, or just kind of like more hipper-looking people. And I mean, good; the more people the better. I think that kind of music just brings in more people, and not just like, blast beats and stuff like that – which is great.
It’s like, the gateway drug [laughs]. You know, like Dave said, where someone came up to me and said, “I don’t normally like the type of music that you guys play, but you guys rocked!” And I was like, “That’s awesome, man!” If somebody went home thinking, like, “Dude, that heavy feel; yeah!” If they liked it [for] the first time? Oh man, I wish I could go back and like heaviness for the first time [again]!
It’s a gateway; two years from now, they’ll be listening to nothing but black metal. [Laughter]
Doom is kind of the trendy thing right now, but it’s just so fucking fun. It’s always going to be kind of underground, but that’s the kind of music that I always want to listen to. We’re lucky enough to be in a band that plays music that I want to listen to.
Now there’s so many subgenre names now; we laugh about it. We’re old school, dude. There was like metal, and there wasn’t metal. Nobody called Sabbath “doom,” it’s just fucking Sabbath, dude! You don’t hear Crowbar and are like, “That’s southern sludge,” you’re like, “No, that’s fucking awesome!” It’s great that the style of music is getting a little bit of street cred, though.
If you could open up for anybody, what would a “dream show” be for you guys?
We talked a little bit about that earlier. EyeHateGod played here a little while ago, that would have been pretty cool. I’m sure bands like the Melvins would come up.
For dorks like us, our dream bands come through every once in a while! We would have loved to have gotten on the Weedeater show, there was just no local slots, man. And had there been, that shit’s easy because the scene is so small. We went down to New Orleans to catch a show, and I met a lot of my dorky idols just standing around in front of a venue… It’s just such a small scene. Like, the dreams are right there, man. I’d love to open for the Melvins, I love the fucking Melvins. I’d love to do like, a fucking Fantômas combo, that’d be the shit [laughs]. I’d love to do a night of jazzy with Ed Fogleberg.
We’ll play with anyone. We’ve played with bands that we’ve never heard before, and have gone home loving them. Like Godmaker; I’d never heard of Godmaker before [we opened for them], and they’re fucking awesome.
Moon Tooth were amazing musicians! We lucked out on our first show though, we really did. We played with some guys that were on it, and probably where we want to be musically and had their shit together; they don’t get enough attention. I think Godmaker were just recently in Revolver [Magazine]. Which is fucking awesome for them, it’s fucking great. To have had our first show with cats like that; and I talk to these dudes every day! It’s just crazy with social media, man. We met with the dudes, played for like forty-five minutes, and now we’re in contact all the time. It’s really cool stuff.
A Fantômas, Melvins, Railhazer show would be pretty bad ass indeed. Well, that looks like all I have for tonight guys, thank you again so much for taking the time to interview with Damnation Magazine. We look forward to many more shows with you guys and hope for nothing but the best.
As my second interview, I feel like that went really well and there are plenty more where that came from!