Thursday, 9 May 2013

Interview with ‘The Black Elk Medicine Band’ (02-05-2013)


Our Editor Juan J. Cruz had a chat last week with Isaiah Mitchell (Earthless) who told us about his new solo project ‘The Black Elk Medicine Band’ and touring next week in Australia with Nick Allbrook (Tame Impala, Pond) on bass guitar and Robert McManus (ex-Grey Daturas and ex-Monarch) on drums.

Read below to see what he has to say about his new project and his current Australian tour.

JC.-  Is your solo project much different from Earthless? And is Earthless still happening in the future?
IM.- My solo project is something that I wanted to do since a long time ago. I had these ideas and some of them were just sitting in my computer. I decided to record some tracks and it happened quite easily, and then I put them together in a 7 inches with some help. Earthless is still happening in the future. This is just something I wanted to do since a while.
JC.- You are touring in Australia with Robert who´s you tour manager and Nick –Tame Impala-. Was that a long distant relationship or you guys had the chance to jam during your last visit to Australia?

IM.- I know Robert from touring with Earthless and I met Nick last year at Meredith Festival. He was playing with Pond and it was a great show. We had a chat and a few days later they came to see us playing to an in-store show in Tym's Guitars in Brisbane. We are friends of the owner, Tim, and he´s even built up some effect pedals for us. I talked to Robert about doing a solo tour and then he said Nick was interested too. I have been sending some material to them and we will have a couple of rehearsal sessions in Melbourne before the tour.

JC.- Please tell us more about the latest release of the ‘Black Elk Medicine Band’ 7inches ‘Santa Ana’ (2013, Valley King Records) and how did you organize the recording sessions?

IM.- The Santa Ana 7" was made with the assistance of Phil Manley (Life Coach, Trans Am, Fucking Champs) and John McBain (Monster Magnet, Wellwater Conspiracy). I initially used a track of drums and recorded the different layers of guitar in the studio and then we recorded some extra drums on it. It was definitely nothing too fancy.

JC.- When I Google searched your band´s name I went straight into a Sioux Native American  Holy Man from the late 1850s named Black Elk. Is that some sort of inspiration for you?

IM.- Yeah, right, Black Elk was a Native American Holy Man of the Sioux. I really appreciate the Native American culture and their spirituality and I think they have gone through really hard times. The Pine Ridge Reservation, for example, has a suicide rate that is higher than anywhere else in the US amongst teens. Native Americans also have a lot of alcohol problem within some of the reservations… Pine Ridge is also close to a liquor store on the border of Canada [Note of the Editor: there is currently a legally-binding agreement between the United States of America and the Great Sioux Nation that forbids liquor sale within a  10-mile buffer zone on the exterior boundaries of the Pine Ridge reservation]. Being a person that used to drink a lot, I can relate to that too. It is not that I know in-dept about their history, but I would also like to help. I have an idea of recording a LP in the future and raising funds to help the Native American Communities.

JC.- What records were you listening in the weeks before you started putting together the album?

IM.- I wasn’t listening to anything too specific. A lot of ZZ top, also some album from Ry Cooder. I really like Paris-Texas.

JC.- Do you have a massive pedal-board and heaps of experimental sounds ready for your show or you are going for a cleaner and pure sound this time?

IM.- [Laughs] It will be a bit of both. I will be using some loops and pre-recorded material on my computer on stage, but would like to use some clean sounds, a bit of blues and combine it all for some other tracks.

JC.- Yeah, I will be keeping an eye. I could definitely learn something too [Laughs] I am looking forward to see that.

JC.- You have been a few times to Melbourne so it must feel a little bit homely by now. Do you also have your favorite spots in town?

IM.- I really like Melbourne, Northcote specially. It has a really good food culture and I enjoy a lot every time that I visit. There a really nice two-storey pizza place and there is also this  vegetarian bar [Note of the Editor. Possibly the Veggie Kitchen in Fitzroy] that I really like. I enjoy food a lot. It is not that I am a massive eater but I appreciate the food culture and having so many options.

I wish I could take my wife with me. We also have some friends in Sydney… maybe next time.

JC.- What´s the best moment you have ever had while you were touring in Australia?

IM.- The first time I visited Melbourne was in 2010 and Rob [Note of the Editor. Robert McManus, tour manager for Earthless.] took us two this two storey pizza place in the North side and we just bumped into Nick Cave who was sitting there having a pizza! And I was like… ‘well, this is how things go on in here’. [Laughs]

We had also good time at Meredith and also going having dinner at some places in town. When we were in Brisbane last year we also went to the Koala Sanctuary and hanged out with kangaroos and emus. It was pretty cool.

JC.- Would we see you anytime soon joining an Australian band while they are touring on the US?

IM.- Yeah, I will be totally open for that. I mean, if Nick or any other bands we have played with are touring in the US and they need a guitarist, that is something that I would like to do too.

I will be looking forward to your show at the Northcote Social Club. Thanks a lot, and good luck.

The ‘Black Elk Medicine Band’ will be playing on the following:

Wednesday 15th May: Melbourne @ Northcote Social Club (VIC)

Thursday 16th May: Brisbane @ Transcontinental Hotel (QLD)

Friday 17th May: Sydney @ Hermanns Bar (NSW)

Saturday 18th May: Melbourne @ Public Bar (VIC)

Sunday 19th May: Adelaide @ Crown & Anchor (S.A)

Monday 20th May: Fremantle @ MoJo’s (WA)

Wednesday 22nd May: Melbourne @ Northcote Social Club (VIC)

For more info, please visit Heathen Skulls Touring website.

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