If you’re into stoner/doom metal, then you’re probably already hip to Cough and their latest record Still They Pray. Just in case you aren’t, though, let me clue you in: not only is probably the best stoner/doom record to come out this year, it ranks among the best metal albums to come out this year period. They’ll be headlining the first night of the inaugural Doomed and Stoned Fest the weekend of November 18, and the IMS crew are hella stoked to be able to catch them live. Currently touring Europe, bassist/vocalist Parker Chandler was good enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for us ahead of the fest.
Indy Metal Shows: First off, congrats on the new record. It’s definitely one of my favorites thus far this year. How’s the reception to it been overall? I know that as I’m writing these questions, you’re in the middle of a European tour with Elder – what’s the response been like over there?
Parker Chandler: It’s been cool. Nice to be on tour with some old friends. We’re pretty much just playing the new album but we have a couple older ones ready to go just in case.
IMS: For me, the biggest difference between the new record and Ritual Abuse has to be the vocals. I really dig the move to pretty much exclusively clean vocals. I am curious, though, as to why that move was made. Too much wear-and-tear on the voice with the harsh vocals? Or did the new songs just feel like they needed that kind of vocal approach?
PC: David and I have always switched off vocal duties but I guess they’re more evenly divided this time around. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision.
IMS: My favorite track on Still They Pray is “Dead Among the Roses,” and part of what I like about that song is that lyrically it reminds me of a darker take on something Townes Van Zandt or Johnny Cash might have recorded – something that at least partially draws on that murder ballad tradition. Are you influenced by that kind of music, or am I off base?
PC: We’re all fans of American traditional music and I think that the influence is more apparent on this record than ever before.
IMS: Jus Oborn of Electric Wizard produced the new record. How did you hook up with him? And what was it like to work with him?
PC: We met him somewhat randomly on tour back in ’11 and we kept in touch. Played with Electric Wizard at MDF 2012 and Jus invited us to his curated edition of Roadburn in 2013, so he’s looked out for us. Having him produce the record was just an over-the-top idea we had that eventually came to fruition. He was a good sport about it considering we flew him over to record on a 1/2″ reel-to-reel in our drummer’s barn. I think he digs the more pure/minimalist approach to recording.
IMS: So I’ve heard that the band has added a keyboard/organ player to the live lineup. Is that just for the newer material, or are you also trying to work keys into the older material as well?
PC: He’s been adding something on all the songs and we intend to write the next album with him. As for the old stuff, if he doesn’t feel the need to play a melody he’ll just throw in some noise to add texture.
IMS: The guitar and bass tones on the new record are killer. Can you walk us through your setups? What’s on everybody’s pedalboards?
PC: Same stuff we’ve been using for years. MXR Distortion+, SRC Effects Bloody Goat’s Head, Ampeg Sub-Blaster, ProCo Rat, EH Big Muff, MXR Carbon Copy, Boss Hyper Fuzz, RMC Wizard Wah. The room added a lot to the recording, I think. Being able to play at full volume in the middle of nowhere, the mics were all bleeding into each other.
IMS: I know the record’s only been out a few months, but have you given any thoughts to what’s next for Cough? Any splits lined up or anything?
PC: We gotta get this little bit of touring out of the way and start writing the next one. We’re all at an age where life-changes tend to be more drastic than before so we’ll see how the band handles it.