Local metal band Crowlord doesn't need a shredding guitarist to get its point across. The band has been cranking out doom metal for more than four years, with dueling bassists Jeremy Jackson and John Burton laying down slow and heavy rhythms steeped in stoner-metal history. Singer Brian Anderson and drummer Rob Morrison also have impressive backgrounds, serving time in bands like the Unbeheld and Filthy Diablo. By incorporating elements of blues and country music, the group has escaped being pegged as just another Southern metal band and in the process have grown an audience around their take on slow-burning metal. We caught up with the members of Crowlord to find out more.
Flyer: How did you guys get together?
Jeremy: Crowlord started about four years ago, but me and John had been playing together for a couple years before that with a bunch of different people. We were also playing in [local metal band] Filthy Diablo for a few years off and on.
Rob: I met John about 15 or 16 years ago at a fat camp in West Memphis.
John: I thought we were lassoing llamas at that time? I just remember Rob had a hell of a hand.
Rob: Jeremy and I met years ago, and we found Brian on Craigslist. [laughs]
Jeremy: Me and John had played with Filthy Diablo, so we kind of already had something going.
How often do you guys play shows?
John: We try to play about once a month with touring bands and a few different locals. We like playing with new local bands if they are around. Normally, we play first so we can steal the show and then get drunk.
Rob: We aren't too concerned with playing all the time, though. We can go four or five months without playing a show, because we get focused on the recording and writing side of things. I think this upcoming show is our second or third this year.
John: We don't want to wear out the spot or run the band into the dirt.
It seems like that's a mistake that a lot of local bands make, playing way too often.
John: Yeah, I was talking with the guy who runs the Hi-Tone, and he was telling me that there are a couple bands that have pretty much worn out their welcome. In a city like Memphis, I think it's important not to play that often. I mean, besides the Hi-Tone and the Buccaneer there's really nowhere else to play anyway.
Obviously you guys are a Southern metal band in terms of location, but how big an influence is the Southern metal genre on your music?
John: I don't think you can deny where you're from, but I also don't think we set out trying to sound as close to Skynyrd as possible or anything like that. I mean, we grew up on certain things that we all know, but I think that we are influenced by a wide variety of things, ranging from blues to black metal.
Rob: I'd say we are influenced by everyone from Black Sabbath to Waylon Jennings.
How do you think the underground metal scene in
Memphis compares to other cities in the South?
John: I like it, because there are several bands that are bringing the heat. Bands like Reserving Dirtnaps and Ritual Decay are killing it right now, and Gringos are still the king of their little mountain in Memphis. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of horseshit out in Memphis right now too. Over the last few years, Memphis metal has gotten a lot more real instead of trying to appease everyone. For a while, I think people were trying to make the metal scene more accessible, because it makes up such a large portion of the Memphis scene. But that doesn't seem to be happening now.
What are some of the topics you cover lyrically in your songs?
John: Fast cars and slow women.
Brian: My lyrics deal with the fact that everything is a dream. They deal with the fact that I wake up every day and realize that everything is just a dream. I don't really like to talk about my lyrics, but I like the idea that everyone interprets songs completely different. What I try to express in a song might not mean anything to one person, and it could mean the complete opposite of what I was trying to say to someone else.
How collaborative is the writing process, how does it work having two bassists?
Rob: One of the coolest things about writing with these guys is how collaborative it is. There's no preconceived notion of how it should be. There's no blueprint for what we want to do before we go in there. Other than making it slower and heavier than everybody else's stuff. Two bassists makes that pretty easy.
John: I think we started playing with two bassists, because most guitar players are candy asses.
Jeremy: There's too many strings on a guitar.
What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?
John: We are about to record and embark on some kind of journey out of town. We went out of town once before this lineup, but now we are pretty much ready to get out of town and go for it.
Rob: We're going to try to do some pre-production with our friend Jeremy before we go back into the studio with Alan Burcham at Ardent.
Jeremy: We've got some more shows with Reserving Dirtnaps and Holy Gallows coming up. We're excited about playing with those bands some more.
Nate Hall, Crowlord, and Wights are at the Hi-Tone, Friday, April 25th, at 9 p.m. $8.