New York City’s A Storm of Light was founded in 2008 by bassist Domenic Seita, and vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Josh Graham. You might recognize the name Josh Graham as a former member of Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, and Neurosis. Last year they released their fourth full length album ‘Nations to Flames’ on Southern Lord Records. This year they bring their show to the masses with an extensive European tour. John E Smoke gets all fanboy-ish as he gets the chance to throw some questions in the direction of Josh Graham.
JES – First of all, a huge thank you for sparing some time to chat to Midlands Metalheads. How the blooming heck are you and what are you up to at the moment (other than answering my questions)?
JG – Awesome, thanks a lot John. We’re great, at the moment we are driving to a show with Junius in York PA tonight. Other than that we’re getting ready for the European tour. I’m working on a mountain of Soundgarden artwork, an Eye Hate God video, and some upcoming art shows.
BTW, John E. Smoke is my favorite Butthole Surfers’ tune. that records is phenomenal.
JES – Hah, well spotted, always a pleasure to speak to a fellow Surfers fan. One of my sleeves is mainly themed around that song! Anyway, back to your music. ‘Nations to Flames’ is the fourth and newest A Storm of Light album. The first thing that immediately strikes me is that it is a much more direct and aggressive release. Can you put your finger on what gave rise to this new level and direction of aggression? Is it any coincidence that this also happens to be your first release on Southern Lord Records, the home of extreme heaviness?
JG – It’s really just been a long evolution of finding the band’s identity…a journey that may go on forever. haha. We opened up a lot of childhood influences that we’d been blocking out, and also embraced recent personal strife and tried to focus that energy in to the music, rather than elsewhere in our lives. We had a moment of realization when we played All Tomorrow’s Parties with Slayer. We all have seen Slayer many times, but that moment, in the middle of our tour, really opened up some inspiration…hmmm, maybe slower isn’t always heavier.
JES – I have purchased all the ‘A Storm of Light’ releases on vinyl, given my penchant for the format. The flamboyance of the artwork certainly lends itself to the vinyl format, not to mention the various wild colour vinyl options. The artwork to your most recent album ‘Nations to Flames’ in my opinion has a different feel to it. Would you agree? Tell us a little more about this and also the artwork from your previous albums.
JG – For me, the artwork is always part of the music, not just a representation of it, but an extension of the lyrics and the journey itself. As different as the music is on this record, the artwork also needed to be different.
And We Wept represented the records journey of a self aware whaling ship, tired of the bloodshed and violence. Ultimately the ship sinks itself and the crew.
Forgive Us depicts the inevitable destroyed landscapes left behind by humanity. Putrid oceans, glaciers of trash, poisoned forests, etc.
Valley’s artwork personifies the human form as Death itself, an all consuming fire of waste, greed, war, and destruction.
Nations images operate on a few levels, the sacrifice of nationalism by a small group of people who have survived the failure of our civilization. While they know the sacrifice is too late, it’s a conscious decision to help them live out their numbered days in peace: no nations, no governments, no religion.
JES – Are you yourself a fan of vinyl? If so, what is it that you like so much about our groovy friend?
JG – I collect a lot of vinyl but keep the majority of is sealed, waiting patiently for some future period in my life wherein I have the time to enjoy each and every side. maybe when I retire.
JES – Hopefully you’ll keep producing music like this for some time to come! I know your other work best perhaps through Red Sparowes, a band I saw live at every opportunity I had. The reason I enjoyed the shows so much was that I felt that they were one of the very few band that actually got the visuals and the music to create a whole bigger than the sum of its parts. I’ve only had the chance to see Storm once so far and that was a few years ago. What role are the visuals playing with Storm at the moment and what can punters expect to see on your forthcoming tour?
JG – Thanks about rs. I am approaching the Storm visuals different for this record. It’s very rhythmic, frenetic, and colorful. assaulting patterns of imagery that lend itself to a fucked up propaganda film. it’s like 1984 propaganda imagery being filtered through the Dark Side of the Moon prism.
JG – Our guest for this tour is guitarist Josh Holt. Both he and Billy play in Generation of Vipers and US Christmas.
JES – What song so far do you enjoy playing live the most and why?
JG – Right now I enjoy Lifeless a lot. it has a very different feel from most of our other material and the song flows really well for me personally. It has the depth and journey of some of our 10+ minute songs, but happens in around 5.
JES – Excellent, efficiency! The tour is taking in some beautiful and historic cities. Do you get the chance to take any time out for sight-seeing? What has been your favourite city you’ve played in so far and where would you most like to explore?
JG – Generally we are confined to our van/bus, club and hotel. As a band we always try and schedule some sort of outing, with varying degrees of success depending on the tour. Olso is a big favorite of mine. Bogota Colombia was amazing. Moscow. Having lived in massive cities for my whole life, i am not too interested in exploring cities much any more. I am looking to explore places like Iceland, Aral Sea in Kazakstan, Chernobyl, and I would really like to eat steaks in Argentina.
JES – One of my favourite Storm releases was your split with Najda ‘Primitive North’, with its amazing artwork and immersive cross over of sounds. Are there any other collaborations you are working on or would like to do?
JES – You are known for being a busy and productive individual. What else have you got in the works? Are you working on any new videos for other artists?
JG – Other than the Eye Hate God video, not much right this minute. We have a video in the works for Storm, but we probably won’t shoot it until this fall. it’s a very remote location with some weirdo shit happening.
JES – Here at Midlands Metalheads HQ we like to find out more about the musical tastes of the artists we interrogate. Can you remember the first record you purchased and the most recent addition to your music collection? Please tell us a little but about these records and what they mean to you.
Assuming you mean Lp’s…I remember owning a Kiss LP in 2nd grade, but I don’t know if I bought it. after i stared listening to punk in grade school, a friend of my dads let me borrow every single Black Flag LP record made…this was in 1985 when I was 11…that started opening my mind. I had those for a couple of years before begrudgingly giving them back. Other than that, the first record I clearly remember buying was The Cure’s Pornography. That record is fucked up and amazing. That combined with Black Flag I think is how I have arrived where I am with music.
Once again, thank you for talking to Midlands Metalheads. Is there anything you would like to add? Tell us the most recent joke you heard….
“And now The Mayan Channel forecast. Thursday: cloudy, chance of showers, high 39. Friday: volcanoes, asteroid strikes, apocalypse.” –David Letterman
Tour dates here.