As a recent Doom Charts contributor, I’ve been listening to a LOT of stoner rock and doom music lately. After a while, it’s difficult to differentiate all the fuzzy blues riffs and droning chords, but every once in a while something outside of the norm pops up.
Case in point is Let it Breathe. While these small-town Minnesotans can comfortably be placed in the stoner rock/doom genre, it’s the focus on song writing and vocal harmonies reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age that make them stand out. Yes there are a lot of great fuzzed out riffs, but they’re not the main focus. It’s the whole package that makes the songs count and it also doesn’t hurt that they’ve got a tight rhythm section to keeps things locked down and grooving.
The band has an interesting history too. College roommates Randy Geraghty and Jason Knudson originally started out playing punk music, but they switched genres when Rob Rushing joined and injected a healthy dose of desert rock. The melding of influences suits the band well and we’re excited to help spread the word of their upcoming album by premiering a track off from it. Listen to our exclusive stream of “Mauler” and then scroll down for our interview with the band. You can pick up their full-length debut LP on April 27th via STB Records, but I recommend preordering it here.
Indy Metal Vault: Thanks for agreeing to an interview and letting us premiere a track. I’m really digging the new LP and glad it made it to our inbox.
I thought we’d start off with a little history on the band. How did you guys get together? I understand Randy and Jason played together in a punk band before Rob joined. How did the transition from punk to doom/stoner happen? Did Rob bring some desert rock influence from Arizona?
Jason Knudson: Us knowing each other goes back to the very early 90’s. Randy and I were college roommates and played in a goofy punk band together at just about the same time Rob was jamming with his buds. We were always hanging at the same shows skateboarding around… basically everyone knew everyone and the scene was rad. Randy moved away, got married and started his family, Rob moved a town over and fished. Constantly. I kept playing in bands, got married, and familied as well. Then Randy’s family moved back to MN a couple years before fate brought us all back together. Rob and I both apparently had the same longing to jam with Randy, and by the time he and I were planning to jam, he and Rob were already sharing some massive riffs, and I was ready to drum slower and heavier. Rob and I were both desert kids who grew up skating, and we all had similar music tastes at the same ages, but yeah, I’d say Rob is definitely the desert rock wizard of the band.
IMV: Your EP River Wizard came out in 2014. Why did you guys wait so long to release new material?
Rob Rushing: The path has been long and with many obstacles. Things just happen. It definitely wasn’t the plan but that’s just how it’s all worked out. We see it as ‘better late than never,’ and thankful we are finally seeing it come out.
IMV: “Mauler” and “Wanderer” are both carry overs from River Wizard. Why did you choose these tracks for your upcoming self-titled LP? I also noticed that “Wanderer” is the last song on both releases. Was the order intentional?
Rob: When we went in to record, we just recorded everything we had written up until that point, including re-recording the songs from the EP a little less rushed. It was all the material we had and it was our chance to have it be put on vinyl.
“Second Hit” and “Mooner” will also be included in the digital release, and possibly as a limited 7″ release. Honestly, I didn’t even notice “Wanderer” is last on both of those. I don’t know. It just feels like a last song I guess. It wasn’t a conscious decision on our part. It just kind of happened that way.
IMV: Speaking of the song “Mauler,” which we’re debuting today, can you tell us a little about the song and how it came together?
Rob: It started off as a bass riff we jammed on for a while. Once we had some lyrics, we then we were able to wrangle it into a song. It’s loosely based on a character from the video game Gears of War.
IMV: You recorded the new album at Lower Tone Studio in St Paul. What made you decide to go with them and what did they bring to the table?
Rob: We recorded Let It Breathe at Sunrise Studio in Mankato back in 2015. It’s the same studio we recorded the River Wizard EP. Since this S/T album has been sitting on the back burner, we’ve had time to work on writing and recording songs for our next album which we started back in fall with Steve Williams at Lower Tone Studio.
IMV: You’re doing a vinyl release through STB Records. Their records are beautiful and pretty much pieces of art. What can you tell us about what they’re working on for you guys?
Rob: Well the cover art was done by Brandon Holt @heathenlegs. The band is a big fan of his and we are so stoked we were able to get him to do our album cover. As far as everything else goes, we are in good hands. Steve is a wizard at what he does so expect some more STB magic.
IMV: Mankato is a pretty small town. Does it have much of a music scene or do you guys typically gig outside of town? Are there any other bands from the area that youíd like to give a shout out?
Rob: It doesn’t have much of a “stoner/doom” scene, but Mankato has a solid music scene in general. Being a smaller city, local musicians know each other and there is a lot of cross scene support. The What’s Up? Lounge is our home base. They have been very supportive of L.I.B. and it allows us to pretty much set up shows when we want. Shows are also a good excuse to get bands we want to see from the Twin Cities to come down so we don’t have to go up there. We play out of town a handful of times a year. Hopefully it will be a bit more often once the album comes out. There are a bunch of great bands in MN, but keeping it local, you can’t get much more local than the band we share our practice space with and that’s WarRooster. They put the rock in stoner rock.
IMV: And while we’re talking about gigging, are there any plans to tour this spring to promote the new album?
Rob: Not really, our life schedules at the moment don’t really allow for any immediate touring plans – Jason’s in the early stages of a tattoo apprenticeship – but we hope to do something sometime down the road.
IMV: I’ll let you have the last word. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Jason Knudson: For starters, we need to thank our dear friends Edgar Burn and Ryan Frederick at Sunrise Studios – without these two fine fellows, our band simply would not exist. Moving on; Ryan Hessian c/o Bad Ass Wolf Shirt for making the “Wanderer” outro, Jordan Campbell, Brandon Holt, Fuzzy & Fuzztalkradio.com, Steve Williams, and everyone who dug the EP and waited patiently for this record, and of course our families and closest friends for supporting our dad rock asses. We’ve got more coming.