Brant Bjork is a legend of the stoner rock scene of the 90’s, he was the drummer in Kyuss, he played in Fu Manchu and he has released a string of solo albums to name just a few achievements. He came into the Orange cabin at Black Deer Festival to talk inspiration and the Pedal Baby 100 which he had just started using.
What inspired you to start playing music?
I grew up in the Desert in southern California, in a very small boring town, my folks would play stuff like Little Richard, Bo Diddley in the house, Ray Charles. Then the kids in neighbourhood were listening to Kiss and Queen but it wasn’t until I discovered The Ramones that I thought I might be able to participate and play music. I bought Ramones records and I pieced a drum set together and I taught myself to play to Ramones records and when I was done I picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play Ramones records. Then I never stopped.
How did the desert scene come about?
I think we epitomised the DIY movement in the earlier 80’s we took that to heart, cuz’ there was nothing and we were super bored, frustrated and some of us were super creative and we just went to work. Part of it was entertainment but I think it was needing to do something, the energy, skateboarding and punk rock were synonyms back then and we just created a scene. I mean we didn’t know it would become this, that is just an ironic twist that we so motivated to do something for ourselves because we realised no-one or nothing was going to happen for us.
Do you prefer playing solo or in a band?
I currently have a band that I have been playing with for years and we are very much a band, even though it’s under my name. I recorded my first solo record in 1999 called ‘Jalamanta’ and I did everything myself but that was mostly because of the urgency and financial reality of that moment. I didn’t have the time or the means to put a band together and being a guitar player and other things, I just did it myself. I am mostly more excited to play with my band as music is about interacting and communicating with other musicians.
Tell us about your latest record ‘Jacoozzi’?
Well ‘Jacoozzi’ is a record I recorded back in 2010 and then I shelved it for many years, then it just happened that Gabrielle who owns and operates Heavy Sycs Sounds records out of Rome, we decided to work together and it’s a perfect platform for what I do and the catalogue that I have. These things didn’t really exist when I first started in 99′ and even in 2010, they’re wasn’t the platform and infrastructure, so I feel really lucky that I have been around long enough to be able to inject my past into the present.
How did you start using the Orange Pedal Baby 100?
I have been touring for quite some time and I have gone through a number of amplifiers and being in the rock world, I think I speak for most rock musicians, we want that classic rock sound. It’s not easy to obtain and when you do have it, it’s not that easy to maintain and lug around. I have to credit my guitar player Bubba Dupree who is way more of a technical wizard than I am, I just follow his lead! He discovered the Orange Pedal Baby and he was like ‘I think i have found it!’ We now carry the sound on our backs and we now go where we need to and do what we need to do, the way we need to do it and it’s pretty much because of that thing.
How does it work in with your set up?
We have spent many years located the pedals that will get us exactly what we want and it’s deep! We obsess and we are fascinated by these classic tones that will never really be gotten but we have fun trying to get as close to it as we can in the modern context. I mean Hendrix was playing out of three stacks but he was also playing in front of 5000 people, we are all not lucky enough to be doing that every night but we want that sound, we don’t want that sound to die with an era. There is elements of purity that you want to use the same stuff but in the end, it’s the sound you want and I will rub to sticks together if it gets that sound that I want. This here it works perfectly with our pedals and allows us to be mobile and it’s a really awesome, malleable, it wants to help you!