These days six years seems like an eternity between albums, but as Parker Chandler, vocalist and bass player for Richmond, Virginia’s doom metal merchants Cough explains, when you are inside that bubble and staying active it’s not just time away on hiatus like the rest of the world sometimes sees it.
“I started playing in Windhand as well during that time,” he said of the break between Ritual Abuse in 2010 and Still They Pray last year. “Our guitar player had a kid too so there was different life events that came between but we still practiced pretty consistently. We did two years of touring pretty solidly for Ritual Abuse, then we did the split album with Windhand. In the time between Ritual Abuse and Still They Pray we also did two tours of Europe and also fit Australia in there so we stayed pretty busy during that time. We didn’t exactly do nothing (laughs).”
Since breaking into the scene with their debut E.P The Kingdom in 2006, Cough have painstakingly built their reputation amongst the elite of the doom genre, with Electric Wizard, Candlemass and Cathedral all playing large parts in the evolution of Cough’s music.
Mixing a blend of hefty doom and bloody rock, Cough’s music is a psychedelic mix of black metal, sludge and blues that feels as though you are being crushed from within by an unseen force that throws your soul into a concrete blender and spits it out through a raging furnace.
This pain and torment was used to great effect on their third album, Still They Pray, with Chandler admitting the music and lyrics are highly personal to the band.
“Yeah, it’s pretty autobiographical,” he said.”It’s all taken from real life events. We hide them more with metaphors on some tracks and less on others.”
One positive aspect of taking such a long time between albums is the extra time it gives you to work on your music, and Chandler says this played an important part in the finished product.
“I think we had more time to fine tune the songs,” he added. “Some of the ideas had been kicking around since probably 2012 so we had time to play around with them in that time. I think they went through a lot of changes over that extended period of time. We would leave them and go back to them so it was all over the place but it also gave us time to get them right which was important to us.”
Doom metal is not regarded as one of the more popular genres, but it is certainly a sub genre that has a loyal following. When pressed as to why Cough have had such success within a specialized genre, he laughs and says that it is probably more to do with their attitude and free spirit.
“I think we are just easy going guys,” he smiled. “We’re definitely not competitive. We don’t really think in terms of that. For the most part what we do is not a way to get by or anything like that. We played a handful of festivals this year, just with friends and stuff like that. You meet new people and they become your friends but it’s not like its cut throat in the doom market. You just have to have fun with what you do.”
Cough’s brand of doom metal is also a little left of centre, with the aforementioned subtle, yet effective blending of black metal, sludge and blues, with Chandler saying that the roots of blues are prevelant in most music today.
“If you think about it in regards to the blues it is the real origin of metal if you go back far enough,” he said. “Over the years it developed slightly more of a chaos edge to it and it has grown from there. Over the years we have messed around with a lot of different sorts of sounds, colder sounds with progression and stuff like that.”
This month, Cough will be bringing label mates and long time collaborators Windhand with them to Australia for a handful of shows, with Chandler speaking highly of their touring partners.
“I’m in both bands so I have to say that (laughs). We’ve been friends… we met up with Windhand shortly after we started, before I was even in the band in 2009 so we’ve always gotten along pretty well. It’s exciting to be travelling with a band like that who we have a good history with.”
This won’t be Cough’s first time in our country either, with previous trips affirming their Australian fans interest.
“I dunno,” Chandler laughed when asked why they go well in a country where doom isn’t in the more popular end of the music market. “I feel like it’s… its pretty good down there for what it is. I mean, you don’t get a lot of acts down there to begin with, especially in a genre as small as ours. I feel like maybe you have a more dedicated fan base or maybe just a live music fan base in general. We definitely appreciate the support we get.”
Written by Kris Peters
For one band this year the march to performing at CherryRock017 will be a well-worn journey. Since forming in 2014 Melbourne’s very own Child have brought their unique mix of blues and hard rock to the festival twice… yes that’s right these CherryRock veterans are about to go into the trenches for the third time.
As has become the custom for bands that are selected to perform at the unique festival Matthias from Child says the band were told they were on the bill by Cherry Bar owner and CherryRock organiser James Young. “Yeah our good friend James Young let us know,” says Matthias with a laugh. “And we are really excited because we are looking forward to getting back up on the stage at the end of AC/DC Lane because it is always a good view from up there. This normally all starts with James asking you to play at Cherry or James coming up to you somewhere. Our first meeting with James was at a show with My Left Boot in 2013, that show raised his awareness of us and we’ve known him quite well ever since. There is always a certain buzz at Cherry and obviously there are a lot of venues, and you can have good ones and bad ones, but at Cherry it always seems to provide that vibe and of course CherryRock is just a massive, massive version of that. It’s such a tight community that get around to it – the underground rock ‘n’ roll scene and it is just amplified when you have 800 people there as opposed to some 200-300 people. For rock bands you can’t really go past it, basically it’s the home you can’t deny it.”
Matthias also doesn’t have to think very hard when I ask him what some of his highlights have been at CherryRock over the years. “Definitely playing with Red Fang is right up there,” he says. “That was quite a moment and we didn’t play at CherryRock last year but we were on tour with Kadavar who headlined CherryRock last year and just being there to witness them play after being there with the shows throughout the tour you could really see a massive lift in their performance as well, just because of the vibe so that was pretty memorable as well. It is a day where many beers are consumed and maybe a few memories are hazy but there is never anything that you walk away from where you are thinking ‘oh that wasn’t right’ or ‘that wasn’t fun’, it’s always for a lot of people in Melbourne as good as Christmas. For this year’s festival I’m really excited to see Nashville Pussy, mainly because Bonnie the bass-player spent a fair bit of time on our tour bus over in Europe last time we were there and we’ve never had the chance to see her play before. I’ve also only ever seen a few songs of Shihad when they opened for Sabbath so I want to see them do a full set as well. It’s hard to pick just a couple of bands that you want to see because CherryRock is a whole experience – you get there when it starts, you map out your day between the two stages and then it is just a massive ingestion of music.”
So many people have talked about Child’s unique blend of blues and hard rock over the years but Matthias says it was not something that they set out to ‘create’. “Obviously everybody is a mirror of your influences, really,” he explains. “This was the band that was started so then there was a platform for actual honesty not just ‘oh yeah that sounds great we’re going to be like this’ or ‘we’re going to sound like this and try to get to this place.’ There was never anything like that it was really just a reflection of how our gut sounds, there is no hindrance on the music for any ulterior motives apart from art itself. It’s hard to explain why we sound the way we do or anything apart from we’re clearly a fan of the blues and being a fan of heavy music but it is what it is and it all comes from honesty at the end of the day. I picked up the guitar pretty late actually, it would have been about Year Eleven I think and the lead up to that was quite a lot of metal and that’s what you do at that age, I was listening to Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Overkill and so on and I was also a huge fan of Nirvana as well when I was younger so that was the natural progression. But then I started to realise that there was more to music than just playing past and I started to get into some of the more unusual bands. Then when I started to mature I discovered the blues and I was captured straight away… I was like ‘yep that’s me, every time I listen to a band this is what I’ve been searching for.’ The one hundred per cent it was Red House by Jimi Hendrix. And then there was Voodoo Child the thirteen minute live version with Steve Winwood and Jack Cassidy. The day I discovered Hendrix that was the most profound moment of my life.”
CherryRock017 will be held at the Cherry Bar in Melbourne on the 7th May. Bands that have been announced so far include Shihad, Dwarves, Nashville Pussy, Bala, Bottlecap, Totally Unicorn, Child, Mooner, Amyl & The Sniffers, Zombitches, Stiff Richards, Kelompok Penerbang Rocket… and there are still more to be announced.
Child also have their album Blueside out now as well.
Written by David Griffiths