On Thursday, May 10, author, music journalist and drummer Joel Gausten (Pigface/The Undead/Electric Frankenstein) will join the Diane’s Kamikaze Fun Machine show on WFMU (Jersey City, NJ) to present a special 2.5-hour tribute to legendary Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, who turns 70 on May 5. The show will feature tracks from Ward’s 50-year career (including a slew of rarities) and audio clips from interviews Gausten has conducted with him over the years. The show will also feature special birthday messages from members of the Metal community and some of Ward’s past musical collaborators.
The Bill Ward tribute show will air live May 10 from 12:30pm to 3pm EST and can be streamed live online at wfmu.org. An archive of the show will also be available within a day of the broadcast at https://wfmu.org/playlists/DK.
“In addition to being my favorite Metal drummer, Bill Ward is one of the most honorable, caring and giving souls I’ve ever known in the music business," Gausten says. "I can’t wait to deliver the incredible playlist of material I’ve compiled and share some personal stories with Diane and the WFMU listeners about my encounters with him. Bill is a true living legend, and it is an honor to pay tribute to his many contributions to the world of music.”
WFMU-FM is a listener-supported, non-commercial radio station broadcasting at 91.1 Mhz FM in Jersey City, NJ, right across the Hudson from lower Manhattan. It is currently the longest-running freeform radio station in the United States.
The station also broadcasts to the Hudson Valley and Lower Catskills in New York, Western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania via its 90.1 signal at WMFU in Mount Hope, NY. The station maintains an extensive online presence at wfmu.org, which includes live audio streaming in several formats, over eight years of audio archives, podcasts and a popular blog.
Joel Gausten is a New England-based writer and musician. In 2014, his 2010 book From Satan to Sabbath: The Metal Interviews 2000-2009 (which features an extensive interview with Bill Ward) was officially added to the library at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame & Museum in Cleveland, OH. He is a former member of the bands The Undead (fronted by former Misfits guitarist Bobby Steele) and Electric Frankenstein and is a recurring participant in the industrial supergroup Pigface. In 1995, he rehearsed with The Misfits as a fill-in drummer and later surfaced on a number of Misfits bootlegs recorded during these rehearsal sessions. Gausten’s current music writing is available at www.joelgausten.com.
Every Mother’s Nightmare (EMN) were a great band at a terrible time.
In 1990, the Memphis-based Hard Rock act were presumably on top of the world. Signed to Arista Records and championed by music industry legend Clive Davis, the band released a bulletproof eponymous debut album that made instant Headbangers Ball staples out of “Love Can Make You Blind” and the infectious “Walls Come Down.” Unlike the vast majority of bands that saturated the scene at the time, EMN boasted an arsenal of musical chops and a truly memorable frontman in singer Rick Ruhl. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. By the time 1993’s follow-up album Wake Up Screaming came around, it was impossible for EMNs brand of Rock to spark interest in the Grunge-dominated marketplace.
Now, here’s where the story takes an unexpected turn: While most of their peers threw in the towel as soon as the major label well ran dry, Every Mother’s Nightmare never went away.
“We’ve always been active; we try to play any time we can,” revealed Ruhl during a recent call. “We’ve always been playing somewhere – in somebody’s garage or somebody’s backyard. I’m a glutton for punishment – I keep on going!”
Late last year, EMN released Grind, their first full-length album in 15 years, on HighVolMusic. An expanded and enhanced version of the self-released 2015 EP of the same name, this incarnation of Grind boasts eight studio tracks, three live recordings and three videos. (“One-stop shopping!” says Ruhl.) Musically, Grind presents a perfect (and expertly produced) balance between the EMN sound of yesteryear and an intriguing modern touch that doesn’t come off the least bit contrived. The album is not the sound of a band trying to recapture their glory years; it’s the sound of an inspired, rock-solid band still growing its vibe after decades in the game. Highlights include “Snake,” “Loco Crazy” and the pristine “Blown Away.” Guests on the album include Zach Myers of Shinedown, Saliva’s Wayne Swinny and the incomparable Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas.
Of course, Ruhl and his EMN crew are promoting an exceptional album in an industry that’s changed dramatically since the heady days of MTV hits and Arista recording budgets. Although some old-school rockers have struggled to transition to the modern realities of web-based promotion, today’s music world suits Ruhl just fine.
“With the machinery back in the day, we had to have a ballad to be valid,” he says with a chuckle. “It was kind of spoonfed. But with what’s going on today with the internet, you can find tons of great music everywhere. When I started listening to music, I was listening to Charlie Daniels, Elton John, Elvin Bishop, Van Halen, Alice Cooper – everything. I think today is much cooler [than the ’90s]; you can find a bunch of really good stuff.”
Twenty-eight years after EMN first gained public attention, Ruhl is still out there doing his thing despite facing the same industry lows that took out many of his contemporaries. That stands as undeniable proof that you can’t kill the real thing.
“It was really hard to play music for a while there, but the biggest part for me is that I like to write songs. If I don’t write, I start getting irritable and into a bad mood and people start wanting me to move out of my house! (laughs) If I go to a club and there’s 10 people there who get what we’re doing, let their guard down and just see what we’re all about, that’s probably the biggest high for me. One person might come up to me and go, ‘Man, you got me through my divorce.’ Shit like that’s cool.”
Every Mother’s Nightmare play with Pretty Boy Floyd this Thursday, May 3 in the Vault at the Greasy Luck Brewpub in New Bedford, MA. Go here for info.
As previously discussed on this site, Anatomical Venus by UK Doom/Stoner Metal act Black Moth is one of the most intense - and essential - listening experiences released so far this year. If there’s ever a song worthy of serving as an anthem for the #MeToo movement, it’s the fiery “Sisters Of The Stone” - a track (and captivating promo video) that’s been turning heads since its debut earlier this year. I recently touched base with singer Harriet Hyde to discuss Black Moth’s new album (their third), the inspiration behind “Sisters Of The Stone” and where the growing attention directed towards the band may lead them in the future.
Anatomical Venus is your first album in four years. Why was there such a long stretch of time between records?
It’s actually three and a half years, but I get your point. (laughs) Actually, we recorded the album over a year before it was released. There were so many bureaucratic delays, as we changed record labels from New Heavy Sounds to Candlelight/Spinefarm, which was incredibly frustrating and a real test of patience! Other than that, we prefer to take our time until we have an album we are really happy with rather than churning them out. It’s not so easy now that we live in different cities as well and are a little bit older. We have actual lives outside the band!
The new album is much heavier than your previous work. Was this an intentional goal going into this album or something that naturally developed as the material was being written?
We don’t tend to like writing with a specific purpose in mind, as that can stifle creativity for us. However, it is certainly true that we were tired of hearing people say that we are much heavier live than on record! So sonically, we were conscious that the production must capture more of the weight and energy of our live show.
How has the addition of [new guitarist] Federica [Gialanze] most impacted where the band is now in terms of the overall sound and the direction you took on the new album?
Fed is a Heavy Metal guitarist to the core. She replaced [former guitarist] Nico [Carew], who was a great player but from more of a Surf/Punk/Rock’N’Roll background. Having an absolute shredder on board has definitely catalyzed a move towards a more metallic sound. She also has some quite Proggy influences, and I think they creep into the songwriting, too! She and Jimmy have a fantastic writing and performing relationship, so you can hear a lot more Thin Lizzy-esque harmonies in our new stuff – and lots of sword-crossing onstage!
The lyric video for “Sisters Of The Stone” has been getting a lot of attention. What was the inspiration for the song, and what is the takeaway you’d like listeners to get from the finished product?
The song itself was inspired by some shocking stories I had heard from close friends about abusive relationships. One day, I went into the rehearsal room just seething with rage about the maltreatment of my female friends, and it started there. I had Tarantino’s Death Proof as well as the Furies of Ancient Greece in mind when writing, and I imagined a vigilante troop of women who would seek vengeance for wronged sisters. I also think there were notable ripples of violation felt by many women in the aftermath of the exposure of America’s ‘pussy-grabbing’ President. It felt very appropriate to release this on the centenary of votes for women in the UK and with the wave of female empowerment around #metoo/#timesup campaigns.
The label asked us to make a lyric video, and I often find these quite cheesy! Luckily, I met [director/producer] Noomi Spook, who is incredible. She used vintage archive footage to build a video montage ‘herstory’ of vintage archival footage. Noomi dug out glimpses of female power excavated from the swathes of old footage of Stepford Wives advertising domestic bliss.
Jim Sclavunos [Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds/Sonic Youth/Grinderman/The Cramps] produced your previous two albums, while Andy Hawkins – who was involved with your last album, Condemned To Hope, as an engineer – produced Anatomical Venus. What led to this change, and how do you feel it most impacted the new record?
Jim was amazing to work with, and it certainly isn’t the end of our relationship with him! We learnt so much from him and grew as musicians with his support and encouragement. We know Andy very well from working with him, and [our bassist] Dave [Vachon] had been helping him to build The Nave – his stunning new studio in Leeds. It is a conversion of an old church and a fantastic space. Andy offered us a whole month in the studio, and we were intrigued to see what we could create together. The man is a true eccentric and a bit of a mad genius - fueled entirely on cups of Yorkshire tea! We felt more relaxed than ever in the studio this time, with more time and experimentation with a new producer, and I think that had helped to keep our output varied and interesting.
Your previous band, The Bacchae, had a clear ’60s Psychedelic influence, while Black Moth are obviously taking things in a more Metal direction. Why did you decide to follow this musical thread as opposed to carrying on with the vibe you established with The Bacchae?
I think The Bacchae never quite managed to pin down our sound, and when [our drummer] Dom [McCready] came along, our sound became more cohesive and our mission became clearer. Dom is a heavy hitter and brought a heavier, metallic leaning to our songwriting. It was so much more fun to play live that we never looked back! We found our calling!
What are the chances of seeing Black Moth in the States in the near future?
Well, we would absolutely love that, but to tell you the truth, it is extremely expensive for a UK band to get over to the States. Fingers crossed, a feasible opportunity comes up, because we have a lot of people asking for us over there!
This is your eighth year as a band. What has been your greatest achievement so far, and what are your greatest hopes for the future?
For me, the greatest achievement was supporting L7, a band who made an immeasurable impression on me as a young woman who loved music. They made me want to be in a band and showed me I could do it… and on my own terms. My only hope for the future is to reach more people with our music and continue to create raw, exciting songs straight from our souls to your ears! If we can play more shows around the world, that would certainly be a bonus! *Portions of the above interview were edited for clarity. Black Moth on Facebook