Interstelar is a barrel-chested Los Angeles heavy riff-rock outfit who offer up a molten mix of Cali desert fuzz and Philly/Jersey virtuosity, with a little sprinkling of Maryland doom to keep things serious. The riffs are chunky and elliptical, the drums are right in the pocket, and the vocals are melodic yet meaty. If you could Voltron together Sasquatch, Gozu, ASG, Sixty Watt Shaman, and Clutch (who forms the head, obviously), you’d have created Interstelar.
Enough for most of you? Great. Go check them out.
For everyone else, I’ll continue, first by getting this out of the way:
Interstelar is, as far as I’m concerned, a stoner rock band. Which means that, according to my calendar (and the ever-flowing river of nostalgia at the center of my existence), I’m reviewing a stoner rock band’s new record almost exactly two decades from when my best friend and I helped launch the stoner rock movement on the internet, first by opening the original online record store dedicated to stoner rock (All That’s Heavy) in the fall of 1997, then founding one of the first stoner rock record labels (MeteorCity) two months later.
So what? Does this qualify me to pass judgement on everything coming out under “stoner rock” and its affiliated banners in 2017? Probably not. But does it give me some insight? Well, yeah. And it certainly makes this a bit surreal.
So, with that kernel of indulgence out of the way, let’s talk about Resin, Interstelar’s new album.
This is some fist-banging, enters-through-the-ears-and-wraps-around-your-cerebral-cortex-style heavy rock infectiousness right here.
There’s that satisfying mid-tempo thudding bounce. No one just sits on the couch listening to this. If they do, they must have health problems. This is fast-driving, tough-walking, Neil Fallon-esque chest-beating rock ‘n roll.
This is the shit we’ve been calling ‘biker rock’ for ages, the kind of mean-ass grooves that every dude with a drawer full of Kyuss, Melvins, Greenleaf and ASG t-shirts wishes was playing in the imaginary movie scene when he pulls up to the dusty roadside gas station just in time to run into the bad guy… oh wait, he is the bad guy. Even better.
Weirdly, the unfolding of the anthemic mid-tempo title track into desert-ballad “High Horse” makes me wistful for the sophomore record I once imagined Hermano would make… instead of the one they did make. For my old label. (Sigh.)
As an ex- and sometime singer, I always focus on vocals first, but as a guy whose guitarist turned him into a tone snob, I just cannot dig it if the guitars have no balls. Happily, Interstelar’s skyward-reverberating vocal melodies are lushly underpinned by a thick, humming comforter packed with thrumming fuzz and nimble flourishes. Ah man. Makes you want to see them plug into a generator and blast the night open. If these guys ever throw a desert party, I’m in.
I’m digging this, obviously.
But look, this has to be said: Interstelar with one letter “L”? Really dudes? Don’t give me that, ‘the music should speak for itself,’ or, ‘Lynyrd Skynyrd was a shitty band name, too.’ You randomly drop one letter and it looks like you were too high to spellcheck, not like an artistic statement. Is it that hard to pick a band name that’s both unique and has all its letters? Or are the same savants behind our current administration changing the regulations about double-letters because all these long words are boring their voting base halfway through? Sheesh.
Bottom line: I never expected when I sold my soul to stoner rock that I’d still have my fingers in that pie 20 years later. I didn’t think there’d still be a pie, honestly. But here we still are, and here it still is, tasty as ever.
Thank you, Interstelar, for having the sweat and chops to put out Resin, a kickass slab of heavy riff-rock that’ll put a fuck-yeah scowl on the face of any metalhead with the sense to appreciate a solid groove.
Thank you, Kozmik Artifactz, for having the good judgement to re-release this album on vinyl in 2017 following its initial low-key dissemination in 2016 – it deserves to be heard far, wide, and loud.
And thank you, multiple decades of stoner rock aging in bourbon barrels, for consistently justifying my reasons for being here, year after heavy fuckin’ year.