Interview with Jason Landrian of Black Cobra

Black Cobra - Jason Landrian interview
Posted 14 April 2011   Interviews
TBR:  You guys performed recently at Scion fest.  Any particularly cool stories to share from that show?

JL:  It was a good experience to play on the same stage as Morbid Angel and Obituary, that’s for sure. It was also really cool to see our friends in Floor and Crom. We didn’t really do too much hopping around to other stages though. I saw a bit of Black Breath’s set;  they were great. Prior to the fest we did a couple of shows with Primate which was really great, including one with Wormrot too, who were fantastic.

It’s been awhile now since your last album, “Chronomega” came out.  Before we talk about what’s happening next, I’m curious to know your thoughts looking back:  Were you completely satisfied with everything that came of it in terms of sales, touring, recognition?

JL:  I can honestly say that I’m very satisfied with how it all turned out. I feel like the songs were represented really well and Billy Anderson did a great job on the recording. The tours that we got the opportunity to do for that album were great as well. We pretty much did a world tour in support of Chronomega. We did Australia for the first time, and we also returned to Japan and Europe. Our US tours were a success for us too. Overall, everything was really positive and we’re just looking forward to what’s in store for us next.

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TBR:  Although I’m sure there were some plans that accompanied that release, what were some of the greatest surprises or achievements that came as a result of the last record?  (apart from it making TBR’s “Best of 2010″ list, of course)

JL:  Highlights included getting to play Hellfest and the Missing Link Fest. Also getting to play with Sleep in San Francisco was a pretty nice surprise and a great experience. It was also very cool to be part of Adult Swim’s Metal Swim compilation.

TBR:  Anything specific that you guys learned in the process of recording “Chronomega” or changes that you might make in recording the next album?

JL:  It’s a little different every time we record, so nothing really specific. We just take our past experiences with us into the studio every time and keep an open mind.
TBR:  So here’s the question that is on everyone’s mind:  When is the next one coming out?  Are you guys in the writing stage?  Recording?

JL:  The plan right now is for the album to come out in the Fall of 2011. We are finishing up the writing stage now and should be recording some time in late Spring.

Kurt Ballou at GodCity

TBR:  Any thoughts on who’s producing it?  Why did you choose to work with them?  How did you hook up?

JL:  We will be recording with Kurt Ballou at GodCity. We really like the work that he has done in the past and Southern Lord contacted him about recording with us.

TBR:  In terms of the songs themselves, where are things coming from?  Any particular themes or subject matter or influences on the lyrics?
JL:  Well, we are definitely influenced by music, but we also like to let other mediums provide inspiration for us. One subject that we’ve both been really into recently is the stories of the first discoverers and explorers of Antarctica. That place in general is just really fascinating. A lot of our lyrics also tend to have an apocalyptic and fantastic slant on them and these seem like they will continue down that path.

Photo by Taylor Keahey

TBR:  Musically, would you say that you guys are digging deeper into what Black Cobra is all about on this next album or would you say that you are widening the scope of your sound?  How would you characterize the progression?

JL:  It seems like it’s going to be a little bit of both. We are very happy with the sound that we’ve created over the past 3 albums, but we are also keeping an open mind in the writing process. We are definitely widening the scope, but we also want things to be very organic and evolve naturally.
TBR:  Given your configuration as a “one man army” on the guitar, it’s got to be fun/challenging in the studio chasing the guitar tones you’re after.   Assuming that you may have started recording…   Are you guys experimenting or doing anything differently terms of the sound this time?  Are you going after a lot of variation in the guitar sounds this time or have you locked things in with one killer tone?

JL:  As far as the tone goes, we are pretty set on our overall guitar tone. Although there will probably be some experimentation with different effects here and there.

TBR:  Is your rig very different between the live setup and your approach in the studio?  What sort of head/cab combinations are you using these days?  Assuming there isn’t a “secret recipe”, please feel free to break things down from a technical perspective – I’m sure there are enough people out there who are interested in this side of things!)

JL:  For Chronomega, Billy wanted to capture our live sound as best as possible, so I used my exact live setup for most of the record which is a Marshall JCM 900 and a Gallien Krueger 700RB. In the past, I’ve used other Marshalls as well as Hiwatt, Ampeg and Peavey to record. I use Celestion and Tone Tubby speakers in my cabinets and they sound killer!
TBR:  Is it still your #1 Lester (Les Paul) that you’re getting the most mileage out of or do you have any others that are coming out on the new recording?

JL:  The Les Paul has been my axe of choice for years. That thing has never let me down. I like to play live and record with it as well. I also have an Epiphone that may see some recording time as well as a BC Rich and a Fender Strat. Rafa also has a Gibson Sonex that has seen some studio time in the past.

TBR:  What label will it be released on?  Southern Lord?

JL:  Yup, Southern Lord.

TBR:  Shifting gears a bit…  San Fran is almost “hallowed ground” in terms of it’s contribution to the Metal scene in the late 80′s/early ’90′s.  Have you guys any connections or encounters with any of those legendary bands?  (Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Death Angel, etc. etc.)

JL:  We’ll see some of those guys around town sometimes. Will, the drummer for Death Angel is a good friend of ours.

TBR:  Interested to know your thoughts on the ‘Frisco Metal Scene of 2011.  Who’s turning your crank these days, coming out of SF?

JL:  It’s a great place to be for heavy music. There’s so much great stuff in the Bay Area…Let’s see….Saviours, Slough Feg, Ludicra…there’s a really good band around now called Futur Skullz that we played with recently as well as Hazzard’s Cure. Other awesome bands right now out of SF are Vastum, Serpent Crown, Acephalix and Dispirit. Also the new stuff that Acid King has been playing is sounding pretty epic.

TBR:  What’s the best part/worst part of being based out of the Bay City these days?

JL:  Best part is just getting to live in the Bay Area. It’s a really good town for music and just in general. Worst part, is it can be expensive sometimes, but I guess that goes for any city.

TBR:  Rafa had an opportunity do a cameo with American Heritage on their recent album.  If you guys could bring in three different artists to do a collaboration on a future release, who would they be?

JL:  Stanley Kubrick, Lemmy and Vincent Price.

TBR:  Black Cobra is a band that gets by just fine without a bass player, but just to prove to the world that you don’t have any sort of hate on for our four-string friends, give us your 5 favourite bass players of all time:

JL:  In no particular order…  Lemmy, Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler, Geddy Lee and Steve Harris.

TBR:  If you could have a private, woodshed jam with one guitarist – living or dead – who would it be?

JL:  Definitely Chuck Schuldiner.

TBR:  Before we break off, hoping you could indulge a random “culture junkie” question:  Any particular books/movies or other interests that are movin’ ya that you’d like to share with our readers?

JL:  Just finishing up a nonfiction book called “The Lost Men” about Ernest Shackleton’s other Antarctic crew, and re-reading some Edgar Allen Poe.