If you’ve been paying attention to the stoner doom scene in Britain, you’d have noticed the name Boss Keloid floating about like a certain herby smell. Boss Keloid are a mesmerising force of riffs, war cry vocals and mountainous drumming. To get the latest news from camp Keloid, I spoke to guitarist Paul Swarbick about the band’s origins, sound, playing Bloodstock and Desertfest, the stoner scene and the next album.
Jack: Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Paul Swarbrick (Guitar): Very well thanks mate, hope you’re well too. We’re keeping ourselves busy crafting for our next album.
Jack: How did Boss Keloid form?
Paul: I formed the band in 2010 with long term friends Paul Thomason (guitar) and Chris Thomason (drums) and we wrote the first EP Angular Beef Lesson together before drafting in Alex Hurst (vocals) and Liam Pendlebury-Green (bass) to complete the line-up. Both Paul and Chris left the band before we started writing for The Calming Influence of Teeth album. Ste Arands became our new drummer in 2011. Adam Swarbrick replaced Liam on bass halfway through the writing process for Herb Your Enthusiasm in 2014.
Jack: Did you always form with the intention of being a sludge/stoner band?
Paul: Not at all. We don’t have any intentions to be a certain type of band or to be genre specific. It’s something we refute. Collectively we have a wide range of influences and we aim to let those influences naturally come together to shape our sound. Herb Your Enthusiasm was labelled in the press as a stoner-doom-sludge-prog-psych-whatever album. The Calming Influence of Teeth was labelled as a math-sludge-metal-whatever album. Our sound is constantly evolving and experimentation is key in this band. We have the majority of the new album written and the six songs have a greater range of sounds, vibes and influences. There is a stronger eastern influence and a lot more ‘light and shade’ throughout the new songs. I think the new album will surprise people, for better or worse. It is not Herb Your Enthusiasm Part Two.
Jack: You released your brilliant second album Herb Your Enthusiasm in April last year, how blown away are you by the positive response?
Paul: It’s been humbling and we are very grateful for the positive response. We make the music that pleases our own ears and the music we would enjoy ourselves. To have other people enjoying our music too which is amazing. When reading through the reviews it was great to see so many people picking up on the intricacies and details contained within the album. It’s really cool to see other people who are as passionate about it as we are.
Jack: Would I be right to assume there is a nature theme to Herb Your Enthusiasm?
Paul: We’re inspired by all things natural, organic, spiritual and Earthly.
Jack: What inspired the Lung Mountain music video?
Paul: Coffee and mushrooms.
Jack: How would you say the album is different to The Calming Influence of Teeth?
Paul: Herb has a greater sense of melody and depth to its sound. Teeth is a constant bombardment on the senses, whereas Herb is slower paced and expansive.
Jack: The album art is amazing, who drew it and what does it represent?
Paul: Ben Tolman produced the amazing album artwork. To us it represents freedom to experiment and explore the world without limitations.
Jack: What are the main influences of Boss Keloid?
Paul: An extraordinarily large spectrum. We recommend music to each other all the time, learning and appreciating different ideas gained from each other’s musical tastes. That’s really important. Some examples of our influences are Yes, Genesis, Kyuss, Neurosis, King Crimson, Bob Marley, Tinariwen, Seven That Spells, Tatran, Om, Bongzilla, Keelhaul, Melvins, Snarky Puppy, Mike Patton, Burnt By The Sun.
Jack: What was it like making the album at Skyhammer studios?
Paul: Skyhammer is a cool place. Great location. It was a relaxed and hugely enjoyable experience. Chris is a top notch guy and producer. We really enjoyed working with him and came away with an album we’re extremely proud of. We basically ate pizza, folded kebabs and drank red wine for 14 days solid. It was a cracking time.
Jack: The album was released on Black Bow Records I believe, what was it like working with Black Bow?
Paul: Easy and friendly.
Jack: How was it to play Bloodstock last year to such a large crowd in the morning?
Paul: Breath-taking and overwhelming. We honestly did not expect anything anywhere near that. The roar of the crowd as the set went on was just beyond a dream. It still doesn’t feel real when we think about it to be honest.
Jack: Still to this day people on the Bloodstock forums and Facebook groups are still raving about your performance, how does it feel knowing your performance has effected people in a positive manner?
Paul: Incredibly proud, but perhaps more important than that, it’s made us hungry to carry on and build on this. That was just the start in our eyes.
Jack: You’re playing Desertfest in April, is it quite surreal that you’re playing on the same day as some of your influences including Sleep and Bongzilla?
Paul: Certainly. It’s going to be an awesome weekend and we’re proud and grateful to be part of it. There are plenty of other cool bands too which we’re really happy to playing alongside that day, including Elephant Tree and Chubby Thunderous Bad Kush Masters.
Jack: A lot of people say festivals like Damnation, Desertfest, Bloodstock and Riff Fest etc are helping doom, stoner and sludge get more popular. Do you think these genres are growing and becoming more popular, or do you think thanks to the internet and festivals, bands have just become easier to discover?
Paul: There is plenty to discover out there and if the individual is passionate enough they shall receive the true goods. Fortunately, there are plenty of great shows and festivals knocking around which are the easily the best way to discover new great music.
Jack: Some people are also saying these scenes are becoming more stagnant and will soon lose their popularity, would you agree?
Paul: I don’t agree to be honest, no. However, if bands stand still and are content to ride the wave, then yes, things will become stagnant, but in Keloid we’re extremely focused on never standing still. We’re constantly evolving and trying new things.
Jack: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
Paul: Our main focus is to finish writing the new album (as yet untitled) and lay down the record in September with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios. We’ve got a selection of shows leading up to recording including a show with Crowbar in Manchester, Desertfest London, Hammerfest, Hard Rock Hell Stoner Vs Doom, Uprising Fest, and a short euro tour in May.
Jack: Finally as the title is an obvious pun on Curb your Enthusiasm, what do you like about the show if you are a fan of it?
Paul: It’s brilliant. Larry David is king.
Jack: Thanks for your time guys and I hope you have a good few up and coming gigs.
Paul: Thanks for asking us dude.