If you were to ask me to think of a hard working British stoner band, I’d reply Desert Storm. They are always on the road, touring with bands, playing a festival or playing a show. Their album Omniscient is one of the best albums of their ilk in recent years and the band work incredibly hard. The band were astonishing when opening for Honky in London this year and completely won me over. I had to find out more about how Desert Storm worked, so I fielded some questions to vocalist Matt Ryan to find out more.
Jack: Hey, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Matt [Ryan, vocals]: I’m good thanks.
Jack: How did Desert Storm form?
Matt: A group of mates all out at the same rock nights, all getting blasted and into the same shit, decided to start making music. We experimented and tried stuff out until we found the music we wanted to play. When we had four or five songs, as teenagers, we hit the local venues around Oxford. From there we grew and spread, more material, reaching further and further across the UK and into Europe. Desert Storm was a truly organic formation.
Jack: When you joined forces did you always want to be a sludge/stoner band?
Matt: Even our first couple of tracks were ruthlessly savage, with riffs, drone elements, fuzz. I think we’ve done a lot of styles really, but have never been through phases. We like to stick everything in the melting pot to make those tasty jams. Our style hasn’t changed all that much since day one, its just become more refined and honed.
Jack: What’s the scene like in Oxford?
Matt: We get a few touring artists coming through. In our early years, we used to play oxford every other weekend; same place, same time, smashing it out to friendly and familiar faces. Oxford still has plenty going on thanks to people like the twins. Now when we play, it’ll be that much more special, like a home reunion to catch up with the family. We’ve actually got a couple of shows coming up in Oxford this winter, can’t wait.
Jack: You just completed a tour with Honky, how was it touring with such legendary musicians?
Matt: This was our third tour with those guys and I’d consider us pretty close with them now. They’re good-hearted, friendly and vibrant, creative and so incredibly funny. A fantastic band to tour with. Incredibly humble guys.
Jack: What did you learn from touring with this band?
Matt: We’ve picked up a few things from them on the road, about all aspects of being in a band. Some through discussion, some through just spending time with the guys. Things like slide technique, the sheer genius of some ZZ Top rarities, how to approach people, tour van techniques (meditation yo!), generally how to party down. There’s loads.
Jack: Members of Honky have been in the bands such as Down, Butthole Surfers and The Melvins. Have these bands influenced you?
Matt: All those bands are killer. Melvins were huge for me in my early teenage years and Down later on. No doubt they formed part of my personal growth.
Jack: You played Bloodstock festival at 11am in a set some of your fans dubbed the Desert Storm breakfast club. How did you find Bloodstock?
Matt: That stage time was actually a bit of a blessing. Bloodstock is an enthusiasts festival, and everything is built around the fans, literally. Not many people are likely to sleep in and miss out, but we were probably loud enough and close enough to the campsite to wake the stragglers. We’ve got a sweet, groovy, heavy, party time sound that makes for an ideal wake and bake before the death/black/power stuff kicked in later on. Also at that time, we weren’t clashing with any big headliners. The experience itself was fucking mind blowing. Felt like home up on that stage with everyone going so hard. One of my favourite experiences.
Jack: You also played HRH Stoner vs Doom, how did you find it?
Matt: Professional, fun, heavy as balls, far exceeded my expectations. A cracking venue and an awesome lineup. Everything ran like a well oiled machine, as the HRH events always do.
Jack: Your album Omniscient has been out for a year, how blown away are you by the response?
Matt: Yeah it has been really positive. We had some solid PR in place and have seen some great things come back to us. Touring it has been a lot of fun, and has seen us venture all across the UK, to mainland and Eastern Europe.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Matt: We booked a block studio session, over about a couple of weeks, we went in knowing exactly what we wanted, and have come away with something which we’re all immensely proud of. I actually had a stinking cold for a couple of the vocal days, so added phlegm for extra grit!
Jack: Have you starting thinking of a follow up yet?
Matt: We’ve been bouncing some ideas around. Got some new material which we’ve been dropping into sets and its been well received.
Jack: You toured with Hang the Bastard last year, how did that go?
Matt: Excellent, really fun guys to tour with. Because we’re all from the same part of the world, it always felt like home being around those guys, wherever we were. All funny lads in their own right, and disgustingly heavy on stage.
Jack: Desert Storm are a very active live band, is it getting to harder to find time off work to tour?
Matt: Not really, when you love something you make it work. It’s not that different from having a kid, a family, a demanding job.
Jack: What inspires you to keep going?
Matt: The fans and that stage. Up there is what it’s all about. All the sleep deprivation, traffic, loading, waiting always pays off.
Jack: Would you become a full time band if viable?
Matt: In a heartbeat.
Jack: Finally, what does the future hold for Desert Storm?
Matt: Exciting things on the horizon. Can’t say much at this stage, but keep us tabbed!