Canadian ‘acid-folk’ band Blood Ceremony are on a high, riding on the wave of a new album, Lord of Misrule, out on on Rise Above in March, and a successful 16 date European tour wrapping up on the final day of Desertfest 2016. We speak to bassist Lucas Gadke and drummer Michael Carillo for an insight into their unique sound.
How’s the reception for new album ‘Lord of Misrule’ been?
Lucas Gadke: I’d say uniformly positive, we worked really hard on it, kind of went place that we’ve never been before, a bit more psychedelic, a little bit more 60s oriented…
Michael Carillo: Yeah, the recording process was very methodical – we recorded at Toerag studios with Liam Watson, and it was very much a fully analog immersive experience – it was incredible.
Lucas Gadke: So yeah the reception’s been great, and we’re very happy with it.
Do you see that 60s psychedelic sound as a musical progression you’re going to follow through with?
Lucas Gadke: I mean we kind of write whatever we’re feeling at the moment
Michael Carillo: The material takes us where it takes us
Lucas Gadke: Yeah, we kind of lock ourselves in a room and we figure things out as a unit, and people bring songs in and we refine them. We try to make sure that whatever we write contains our identity still – there’s still very much a Blood Ceremony sound regardless of where our influences come from.
Blood Ceremony have some interesting instrumentation that goes beyond the typical guitar/drums/bass setup in the form of Alia’s flute playing – how did that become an element of your sound? How do you write for it?
Lucas Gadke: It just becomes another voice that you can use – I mean Alia is interested in heavy music, she plays the flute, we wanted to start a band, and so therefore you want to bring everything you have to the table, so I mean at that point its freeing really, cause you just have extra voices and you can work with things in a different way, but as well we have keyboard, flute that we can bring to the table-
Michael Carillo: The more timbres you can work with the more expressive your palatte becomes, so you can do more with it – we can add dynamic sections where you come right down and it becomes sort of a folkier thing, and then we can bring it back up and it becomes heavy again, so it gives us a lot of room to breathe.
Lucas Gadke: I think another thing we wanted to work with a little bit, especially with me and Alia was a bit of kind of contrapuntal movement, there’s sections – especially in Lord of Misrule there’s a lot of that.
Michael Carillo: Yeah, yeah for sure
Lucas Gadke: We’ve been kind of getting more into that – not just everybody playing the same note but a bit more movement of the individual voices as well
Michael Carillo: Two lines weaving in and out of each other – it’s a very beautiful.
Lucas Gadke: Actually, its really great how that turned out [laughs]
You guys are just at the end of a European tour – how’s it been?
Lucas Gadke: Its been fabulous!
Michael Carillo: Yeah its been great, its been a good jaunt, lots of good turnouts, people are showing their support not only for the record but for the band coming out and playing live again, and its been a couple years, so-
Lucas Gadke: Its always great to see the fans, hear what they think of the music and get that positive response, play for people, and just have a really good night.
Michael Carillo: Its also good to have a new record out and have a bunch of fans sporadically throughout the shows already know all the words.
Lucas Gadke: Yeah.
So is there anything that’s surprised you as far as the new record goes? Songs that have been especially popular, or…?
Lucas Gadke: I’m surprised by how quickly the fans learn the words to the songs.
Michael Carillo: Yeah that’s the biggest thing, we’re like ‘oh my god’.
Lucas Gadke: It came out kind of late March, and now here we are in late April and everyone knows it so- especially, in Glasgow there were a bunch of people right at the front and they knew all the words to every song.
Michael Carillo: They knew everything, yeah.
RS: So you guys have toured North America before? Have you seen a big difference between America and Europe in terms of touring?
Lucas Gadke: 2013 we did a pretty long tour supporting Kylesa
Michael Carillo: 2012 we also toured with Ghost on their first ’13 Dates of Doom’ tour
Lucas Gadke: UK and Europe – yes definitely
Michael Carillo: I’d say mostly in hospitality
Lucas Gadke: Yeah, people are much more kind of welcoming, and-
Michael Carillo: That’s the thing, its like people in the United States are super nice, they’re great, but when you go play a show, nobody fulfills your rider, nobody helps you find a place to stay, you know
Lucas Gadke: A lot of the times we’ve encountered ‘OK, there’s 6 PBR for the 12 of you, and there’s also that bloodstain you’ve got to look out for’
Michael Carillo: That’s pretty much what we get, and then here they’re like ‘oh there’s catering and then there’s dinner’, so we just feel like we’re more taken care of, but the fans are on the same level – the fans are always enthusiastic.
Lucas Gadke: Yeah, that’s no slight to the music listeners or anything, its more of the general ‘Wild West’ attitude of North America, not just the States but Canada as well – you’re on your own.
Michael Carillo: Yeah
Is there anything that’s been on heavy rotation in the van? Anything that might surprise people in terms of your influences?
Lucas Gadke: Steely Dan [laughs]
Michael Carillo: We checked out King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard yesterday, which was a very cool-
Lucas Gadke: Yeah, our tour manager/driver has been in control of the stereo, so he’s been playing a lot of cool shit – Year of Light was really cool, kind of like a- I don’t even know how to describe it, and then we’ve been listening to a lot of Reggae.
Michael Carillo: Lot of like oldschool, like
Lucas Gadke: Rocksteady, Toots and the Maytals, Trojan
Michael Carillo: Harder They Come Soundtrack – yeah the only thing missing was the haze of smoke in the van. [laughs]
Have you had a chance to check out Desertfest today? What do you think of it?
Lucas Gadke: Yeah I thought it was cool – I went and caught Sedulus, and I thought it was really cool – I like these kind of open concept venues – this is kind of like Roadburn, where its in a city, you wander aroud from place to place, stop off at a pub, stop off at a restaurant, a venue – I dig it, yeah!
Michael Carillo: Yeah I went and caught the Manchester United vs Leicester game [laughs] and then I went to Koko and caught a bit of Monolord, and then I got some food – it’s a cool atmosphere when you see a whole bunch of people who are total rockers, into metal and heavy music, and then you see normal people kind of intermixing. [laughs]
RS: You can spot Desertfest people a mile off.
Lucas Gadke: The percentage of Sleep tshirts in Camden has gone up astronomically.
Michael Carillo: Mine is sweat through so I couldn’t wear mine today.
Lucas Gadke: Earth tshirt though. [gestures at his shirt]
Is there anyone your particuarly hoping to catch after the set?
Lucas Gadke: Oranssi Pazuzu is one I’m really looking forward to seeing, cause I’ve been checking out their new album, even though Apple hasn’t allowed me to download the entire record.
Michael Carillo: Yeah that was weird – we tried to listen in to it in the car, for some reason it didn’t download because iTunes said fuck you [laughs] but obviously we’re going to try to catch Electric Wizard later, they’re friends of ours, great band.
Lucas Gadke: Beastmaker, who we’ve been touring with this whole time, they’ve been an incredible band, the coolest guys.
Michael Carillo: Yeah, great guys to tour with, great sound
Lucas Gadke: Yeah, great everything
Michael Carillo: Great dudes really
Lucas Gadke: Yeah
How are you feeling at the set later?
Michael Carillo: Feeling good – I mean this will be the sixteenth show
Lucas Gadke: We’re a well oiled machine at this point its just going to be fun – we’re just going to get up there, have fun and hopefully there’s a room full of people who are ready for it, you know?
Any preshow rituals?
Lucas Gadke: Jamesons
Michael Carillo: We drink Jameson’s whisky and we get nice and loose
Lucas Gadke: Have a hug [laughs]
Michael Carillo: We get kind of a group huddle and then we take it that way. If there’s any particular ‘green treats’ that are around I tend to indulge.
Any last words? What do you have planned for the next few months?
Michael Carillo: Expect us back sooner than we’ve been I think
Lucas Gadke: We’ll try to come back a little sooner – if people are interested in Blood Ceremony related stuff, my other project Völur is going to be playing at Prophecy Festival in Germany in July, which is in like a giant cave, so we’re gonna be supporting Alcest and a couple of other bands like that. We just got signed to Prophecy records, so if anyone’s interested they can check that out as well.
Blood Ceremony’s latest album Lord of Misrule is out now on Rise Above Records.