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Green Druid arrived somewhat unheralded with an exciting take on modern Stoner Doom in the shape of their 'Ashen Blood' debut - this is where we find out more about the band and their history.

Interview with Green Druid.
"Not quite arriving out of nowhere, but certainly making a quick impression, Colorado-based Green Druid are one of Earache's recent signings, for their debut full-length, 'Ashen Blood'. We caught up with guitarist Graham Zander to find out about the band story and what they wanted to bring to the Stoner party..."

Green Druid: Chris McLaughlin (guitars, vocals), Graham Zander (guitars), Ryan Sims (drums), Ryan Skates (bass).

Hello gentlemen, how's everything going in Denver right now?

Things in Denver are grand. Lots of great music (not just metal) and more weed than we know what to do with.

What have you got planned for the next few weeks, leading up to the March launch of 'Ashen Blood'? Any special unveiling ceremony?

We have a few local gigs as well as a few out of town, but no extensive tour plans currently. Mostly just gearing up for the LP release on March 23rd at the Hi-Dive.

Reading around, it seems Green Druid began in about 2014. Is that correct, and how did you all get together?

Yeah, we started jamming on some riffs in late 2014. Graham and Chris were living together at the time and we made a habit of getting really stoned and blasting doom. It was only a matter of time before we decided we wanted to try and make it ourselves.

What were your musical backgrounds before that? Any formal musical education, other bands, anything like that?

Graham and Ryan Sims were in a previous band called Solterra, a kind of proggy, post rock project. And all three (Graham, Skates and Sims) went to music school for a time before dropping out.

There's a fairly obvious set of influential bands listed on your Facebook page, starting off with Sleep and Electric Wizard. Apart from their super-heavy Stoner vibe, what else did you bring into, or want to bring out with, your music?

We all listen to many different varieties of music so we’re constantly trying to implement other genres into our own. We’re experimenting with different styles of metal in the new tunes (black, death, post), trying to get darker, heavier and branch away from strictly stoner stuff while still keeping our loves of riffs and amp worship alive.

Is your druidism Green as in environmentally-friendly, Green as in smoke, or some other definition or combination? Does the name signify any particular occult/religious beliefs you practice?

Weed. At least on the surface. There’s definitely a kind of naturalistic element to both the music and the lyrics. I think living in Colorado has given us an appreciation for the majesty of the mountains and the thick green forests we have up here.

You put out a digital EP back in 2015, though at 40-odd minutes it qualifies as album-length, and the tracks are coherent enough to fit an album theme. How come you went for the EP description instead?

Haha, we just didn’t really want to release our first record with only three real songs on it.

Green Druid - 'EP' (Full):

How was it received at the time? Were you pleased with what it achieved?

Yeah, the reaction was actually more than we expected. For a four song EP that we recorded at a friend’s house and just kinda put out there with no real expectations, we got almost unanimously positive feedback.

Obviously you felt it was strong material, as all four tracks, in slightly different running order, form the second half of 'Ashen Blood'. Did you do anything to refine, re-record or modify them, or are they a straight lift from the EP?

Nope. We didn’t spruce it up at all. Earache thought Ashen Blood was too short to release on its own so they took the EP and added it to the release, but we didn’t alter it in any way except for the tracklisting.

What about the additional material on 'Ashen Blood' - was that written subsequently, or date back to the same period? Did it constrain you in any way to keep it broadly in the same vein as the other tracks?

It was a completely different session from a completely different time period, so we didn’t think much about keeping it in the same vein. Y’know, aside from the stoney riffs.

Do you have any particular compositional process and areas of responsibility, or is it more of an communal evolution? Has that changed at all over time?

The first EP was definitely more just Graham and Chris slinging riffs in the basement and then presenting them to Ryan and Ryan. But the songs for Ashen Blood were put together by all of us as well as all the new stuff we’re working on.

Clearly, I'm not the only person to think of the 'Dark Souls' videogame series from the album title and cover artwork, as there's a prominent quote to that effect on your Facebook page. Is there a connection, and, if so, how deep is it?

Unsurprisingly, we’re all huge fans of From Software and the games they make. They’re bottomless inspiration as far as atmosphere, storytelling and a general sense of crushing existential dread. We could go on and on and on about this shit.

And what do you aim towards as you're developing a song? It's a well-defined and highly-populated genre these days, often more about perfecting atmosphere and execution than looking for innovation. I can hear both, the latter most prominently on 'Agoraphobia' and 'Dead Tree', but where do you see your main focus and intent on that spectrum?

We’re really trying to focus on writing good songs. Songs that progress naturally and reach both sonic peaks and somber valleys. Having a sense of atmosphere is extremely important to us and we think it helps elevate the riffs themselves.

And how well do you feel 'Ashen Blood' has achieved that? Are there particular directions on it that you'd like to explore further in future?

We’re definitely proud of what we’ve done with Ashen Blood. We want to do more with the songs vocally, both with layering and with the harsh screams. The tempos to our new material are becoming more extreme as well. The slow stuff is even slower and there’s a few faster sections that are fun to blast through.

Green Druid - 'Dead Tree' (Official):

The album's being released on Earache, so congratulations on getting a prestigious deal for your debut outing! How did that come about, and how has the experience of working with them been?

We have no fucking idea how it happened. They sent us an email asking to speak with a member of the band and the rest is pretty self-explanatory. They’ve been great to work with - very supportive and seem to be as excited to work with us as we are with them.

What's your preference: working in the studio, or playing live? How many shows do you do?

Both have their benefits. Playing live is dope because you get to hear the riffs in the loudest, most all encompassing way possible. Performing is a great energy release as well; gets the endorphins going and the heart rate up. Studio stuff is fun cause you just get to fuck with it. We all have a lot of ideas and it’s really the only place we get to try all of them and see how they all fit together.

Any particularly memorable live moments, good or bad?

There’s one show I remember that was particularly affirming. We played with one of our favorite local bands Matriarch who, still to this day, blow us all away. And the other band on the bill was Terminator 2, whom we were NOT prepared for. Still one of the most crushing and furious things I’ve seen live. It was a great night, we played a good set and everyone felt really good about it.

What's your ultimate ambition for the band? Is there anything you'd consider a truly crowning achievement?

We want to stand out on our own. We’re all very aware of how saturated this genre is and we’re looking to forge our own path using the influence of bands we love as well as bringing different genres into the doom aesthetic.

And, perhaps more modestly, what's next in the shorter term for Green Druid? Any plans past the album launch?

We hope to tour extensively after Ashen Blood is released and keep working on new material for the next album.

Thanks very much for your time. I hope we've covered some relevant points and presented a good picture of the band, but if there's anything you'd like to add, please feel free to have the last words...

Thank YOU for the interview! We’re all humbled by the attention our music is getting and we can’t wait to see where things go from here.

Note: A shorter version of this interview was originally published in print format in FIRE Magazine Issue 8, Spring 2018.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Green Druid bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-06-19 by Mike Liassides.
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