Interview: The Well
So, I’d been thrown out of the band I had been previously in and I wanted to do so something different. And I knew Lisa, we were living together at the time, we were sitting in the garage and Lisa plays guitar and sings very well. And I was like I can work with this.
Standing outside the Our Black Heart pub/venue in Camden on a relatively mild January Friday night, a couple of hours before Austin, Texans The Well take to the stage and complete their first UK tour after playing shows at Milton Keynes, Brighton, Glasgow, and Manchester. The band – Ian Graham, Lisa Alley, Jason Sullivan – kindly chat and tell Echoes and Dust how they met, the cathartic making of their latest album Death and Consolation, involvement in the stoner rock collective, Big Scenic Nowhere spearheaded by Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Yawning Man’s Gary Arce, as well as The Well’s future endeavours.
E&D: As this is the first interview for Echoes and Dust, would you like to explain how the band formed?
Ian: So, I’d been thrown out of the band I had been previously in and I wanted to do so something different. And I knew Lisa, we were living together at the time, we were sitting in the garage and Lisa plays guitar and sings very well. And I was like I can work with this. So, I just wanted to have a kind of a different sound than anything I’ve done before, and I went back to what I liked when I was a kid. Then Jason who I had worked with for years before as a kid, we’re like, hey will you come and cut a demo with us? He was playing in a band that I got kicked out of and he was like sure, and it just took one practice and we’re altogether, and we’re a band. That was the easiest part of the whole trip.
E&D: Did you sign to RidingEasy Records quite quickly?
Ian: It was after a few years. We would send seven inches mainly to be reviewed in Europe and the UK.
Lisa: I think Echoes and Dust did a review of our first seven inch. (Note, we didn’t but reviewed their first full-length Samsara)
Ian: We pressed all these 7 inches and sent them out and they wrote about us in Metal Hammer, which was cool.
E&D: The latest album Death and Consolation has a darker sound, its creation born from you (Ian) having a difficult personal time, but it is still a rock n roll album.
Ian: Proper rock n roll is a purge.
E&D: Did you find it cathartic?
Ian: Absolutely. That’s why I’m alive, I have-to do this. You can talk about problems that you have, but when you have a medium which is different to that I think it can convey something different, which normal language can’t.
E&D: You’ve got more touring coming up.
Jason: The second half of our Death and Consolation tour, so we have almost done the European side.
Ian: We did the East Coast of America already and Canada, and now we are going to do the West.
E&D: What are your influences? What gets played in the van while on the road?
Ian: We listen to a lot of Outlaw Country going across America. Here, we let the driver choose, help him keep awake. He’s been a really-good driver and he has eclectic tastes. We listen to a lot of country music, even reggae, new wave, anything that isn’t what we normally do because you hear that every night.
Lisa: We always play it at home.
Ian: Home, of course, Black Sabbath etc. I listen to a lot of roots reggae from the 70s and jazz which has nothing to do with what I do. I listen to classical when I’m at home, Mahler and the darker stuff. It is more about the feeling and I filter in the personality in what I make.
E&D: You (Ian and Lisa) have been involved in the new album by Big Scenic Nowhere the brainchild of guitarists’ Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Yawning Man’s Gary Arce. What was it like being involved with those guys?
Ian: Icons…..those guys are amazing. I’m talking to Bob of Fu Manchu who set us up the whole thing and I’m happy to call and say, hey, can you shorten this part so you can fit my crappy lyrics in and he was more than happy to go right into the space and fix it for me. I was shocked because these guys are pros. It was like we were in the band. I was in my room doing most of it then we went to the studio. It was a really-fun process.
Lisa: We just found out they just announced a festival in May in the States – Stoned and Dusted in Joshua Tree and Big Scenic Nowhere is playing. And we’re playing, so Bob hit us up and said you want to go on stage with us? You want to do some songs?
Ian: This might be the only time it (Big Scenic Nowhere) performs so get your tickets for Stoned and Dusted.
E&D: What are your plans for-the future?
Lisa: We are doing the West Coast tour for three weeks. We’re playing a few shows with Zig Zags and Our R.I.P who are also on RidingEasy Records, so that should be super fun. Then, we’ve got Pyscho Smokeout in April, do a little tour around that, then Stoned and Dusted. But, other than that we are focused on writing the new album, we will be in the studio at the end of the year.
E&D: Austin Texas is legendary for its Americana/country music, but has there been good rock scene in the past and is there one currently?
Lisa: The 13th Floor Elevators, Butthole Surfers.
Ian: Jesus Lizard. All the bad guys of the time, that’s the best.
Lisa: This is kind of bragging, but we have been nominated for best live performance/metal band in town for the Austin Music awards.
E&D: Not at all….go ahead.
Ian: We were band of the month by a (local) radio station.
Lisa: It’s less underground in Austin, because it’s such a music city.
E&D: Thanks for taking time out to chat.
As afore-mentioned The Well will be playing the Psycho Smokeout Festival in Los Angeles on April 18th and Stoned and Dusted Festival at Joshua Tree on 22nd – 24th May. For a full set of dates and any updated news check out the band’s Facebook page and website.