Philip Anselmo introduced his Scour project last year, and last night they made their live debut in New Orleans. Continue reading
In Part II of our Q & A with Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary she detailed for us what she teaches in her private cooking classes, what she thinks of “celebrity chefs”, her food and travel experiences, and her dream gig:
You teach some specialized cooking classes. What does that entail for you and depending on the class, what can I expect to walk away with skills-wise?
My cooking classes are all over the place! It’s all about the group and what they want to learn. The two that I’ve taught the most are basic butchery… and vegan menus. Haha. I’ve taught scavenger hunts as team building activities and I’ve taught ultra modern techniques like sous vide and spherification. I’m doing a really fun combination class next month for a group I’ve taught before – after we learn how to debone chickens, I’m organizing a Chopped style mystery basket competition. Each team is going to get a bunch of ingredients from the farm we’re staying on and have to work together to make a side dish for the meal. I get to offer pointers and tips about their processes, and then judge the final products. One thing every class I teach includes is a basic lesson in knife handling and safety, because that’s really the most fundamental skill you need in any kitchen. My goal is that with whatever we’re focusing on in the class, everyone walks away feeling a little more confident than they did when they walked in.
Thanks to the Cable and YouTube, there are a ton of cooking shows and “experts” out there who are not actually chefs. What is the biggest misconceptions about being a chef?
Oh my god – you’ve hit a nerve! Almost everything, seriously. My biggest annoyance with YouTube/TV “chefs” is that SO MANY of them do things so fundamentally wrong – how they hold a knife incorrectly or hack apart an onion, or their cutting boards are so cluttered and filthy – stuff like that. I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s glamorous and we’re all making tons of money. HA. I wish! The hours are long, the pay absolutely sucks most times, and you miss out on most social events because you’re always working – and if you do get out with enough time to make a party or a show on a weekend night, you always end up showing up smelling like food, haha. With catering, there’s this weird ebb and flow of business where you’re either working 100 hours a week… or you’re practically unemployed. It’s anything but steady, so you have to be really good at budgeting. In a lot of ways, I work freelance. I am constantly trying to get my name out there, contacting every tour I hear about, trying to hopefully get the right person on the right day. In the mean time, I’m also looking for local work to sustain myself – dinner parties, classes, etc. There’s also this weird misconception that anyone who cooks professionally is a “chef”. It’s nitpicky, but it’s an annoyance across the industry – you are not a chef unless you are running a kitchen. Period. “Chef” is a title of respect that is earned after proving yourself for years and years, after being promoted, or after taking the leap and branching out on your own. If you have a boss that is not the owner, you are a cook. Just because you have a show on YouTube doesn’t mean you’re a chef. It’s really obnoxious. I run a company and I still feel kinda weird referring to myself as “a chef”. For me, the transition from “cook” to “chef” was really just a LOT of paperwork! I cannot tell you how much I now loathe emails. It’s making list after list – shopping, delivery, prep, food cost, scheduling, invoicing… it’s maddening. I actually do more paperwork than I do cooking at this point in my career! Our diets are also really fucked up. Most cooks don’t eat actual meals – we have bites here and there. I recently had to keep a food diary for my allergist and it was a nightmare – did I taste the aioli for seasoning 3 or 4 times? How many bites of that braise did I have while it was cooking? It’s absurd. Most of us develop a really weird association with food because actual meals are so few and far between.
I know one of your passions is travel, so what are some of the cool places you have been to and what locales do you favor for amazing food experiences?
I am borderline obsessed with the city of Montreal! Honestly I’ve considered living there so many times. It’s the greatest. The metal scene is amazing, they have the best drunk food in the universe (poutine, omg) and the people are just so NICE. I’ve been to Norway twice now, and I love it there too – the scenery is ridiculous. I’m not sold on their food though, to be honest – though maybe I just haven’t found the right places! As far as amazing food experiences, I am all about trying the weirdest stuff from the most hole-in-the-wall places. My rule is that I’ll try anything twice – even Icelandic hakarl (fermented shark), which is honestly the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth. It’s cliché, but I didn’t have a bad meal when I was in Paris – one of the most memorable moments was eating a fresh savory crêpe from a cart vendor while walking through the side streets of Montmartre. Really, I think I love any type of food that makes me feel a connection to the place I’m in. I lived in South America for almost a year and worked at some of the best restaurants there were – but my most memorable meals were eating ceviche from this totally illegal back alley mom and pop operation, and eating a whole roasted guinea pig with my hands in the middle of the main square during a street festival in Cusco. I remember the experiences I can’t replicate at home the most.
You have some appearances coming soon up on some pretty cool shows, so by all means please plug those!
Well, I was on the Halloween episode of Guy’s Grocery Games – it was entertaining for sure. Catch it on the Food Network if you feel like seeing me cry about my cat. There is more stuff working, but I can’t actually discuss any of it right now – ask me again in a few months!
What is your dream music gig to cater for?
I don’t know if I actually have a dream gig – really I just want to work for bands I like, because there’s nothing better after finishing a long day of work than to turn the corner and be surrounded by amazing music. I actually really like the festival atmosphere – whether it’s just a weekend thing or a multi-city thing – the people really make the gig for me. Though if I had to pick one coming up, it’d totally be the Black Metal Warfare tour. Good cities, good bands, and in my opinion it’s the best time of the year to tour. I think I could have a lot of fun with menus on that tour.
Have an event or occasion to book Black Cat Culinary? Contact her here:
Chef Heather Feher has a passion for all things that involve fine food and grim music. She has catered tours and all kinds of music festivals and has channeled her love of these things into her growing business, Black Cat Culinary. We caught up with the entrepreneur and Food Network alumnus via email about her business and how the music she loves has shaped everything from her menus to her path. Continue reading
25 years is a milestone for any musical venture, and with Crowbar, they have crafted their own style around a slowed down tempo, riff oriented metallic rock sound that is often emulated but rarely topped.
You may recall some of their music videos appeared on a then popular MTV show called Beavis & Butthead, where viewers got a taste of two moronic animated youths cackling along and giving oddly scripted critiques to music videos of the time. They were chosen as one of those bands.
“We sent Mike Judge a package with a video, a t-shirt….’hey, here’s a couple videos of our band Crowbar. Have fun…make fun of us.’ Sure enough…we’re on Beavis and Butthead! What?! We thought it was great.”
“Occasionally…ok maybe once a year, somebody will say something and we’ll watch it. It’s great and it’s an honor to be on the program. It’s a great show,” recalls Crowbar frontman and guitarist Kirk Windstein, about those early years and the exposure they got from the iconic television series.
They released their tenth album earlier in 2014 titled Symmetry In Black (eOne), which reaches a new milestone in the band’s career. Sticking to a sound that they as much as their hardcore fans know very well, they created a record that hits as hard as they sound.
They began writing the record following Windstein’s departure from Down, the iconic riff rock outfit he was part of until 2013. From that point he made his focal point to be Crowbar and it began with the writing of the new album.
“I didn’t even start writing until September ,” explained Windstein. “We entered the studio in December. It was pretty close. Our mindset was good is not acceptable. It has to be great. I told that to the engineer. I produced. I think we accomplished our goals and everything else we set out for the record.
“I co-produced with Duane Simoneaux. He’s an engineer, but he adds a lot. He helps me with guitar harmonies and rhythms like guitar, piano, bass, drums, whatever. He’s a jack of all trades. He understands everything. He did so much work on this one that it’s co produced.”
One of the changes that came with his departure from Down was parting ways with bassist Pat Bruders, who until recently was doing double duty with both bands. Having to make a choice, Bruders stuck with Down and Windstein having to replace him with former Thy Will Be Done bassist Jeff Golden.
“I kind of gave him an ultimatum. I said I’m only doing Crowbar. If you want to stay in Down I understand that. But I said you can’t be in both. I’m happy and that’s all that counts. We have Jeff [Golden]. He’s a great guy and he’s one of my best friends now and he rocks with the band with us now.”
Making that decision did not always sit well with his peers as well as critics alike, but Windstein was never one to do things but his own way. “You have some people who said I should have stuck around with Down. People think I’m nuts, but I’m not. I believe in Crowbar. Even though Down’s a bigger band…you know who our crew is? My wife. She works for free. As much money as I made with Down…I work a lot harder. I carry my own guitars and set up my own shit. I don’t give a fuck. That’s the way I started out and that’s the way I am. It’s humbling.”
Windstein spoke about reaching this golden moment in his career, and whether it comes with any real surprise that he reached it at all.
“Yes and no. I mean the young dude in me was determined to do it. But to think the band has ten records and 25 years in, while a lot of bands have one or two records and fall off the face of the Earth. To be doing the same band 25 years in, it’s pretty amazing.”
He is proud of the sound he helped shape, but is a modest guy who appears more about the music than anything else. He became part of a musical movement within New Orleans who loved heavy music with a distinctive sound that sounded like no other. What came after that took a life of its own.
“I’m not surprised that it did and I’m not surprised because we did something that nobody else had heard or a genre to put us in. They made a genre called sludge. To me it’s just heavy music. They made it for bands like Crowbar and Eyehategod. Ok it’s close enough! Sounds good…”
“We didn’t know what to make of it. The public didn’t know what to make of it. To me it’s the highest honor to hear all these great bands call us an influence. We appreciate that very much.”
Crowbar has had a history of members coming and going, and some returning at various times. But despite their shuffling of lineups, Windstein has maintained good relations with many of them over the years.
“I keep in touch on and off with Craig Nunenbacher, obviously Jimmy Bower, Todd Strange a little bit, Matt Thomas emailed me out of the blue. I haven’t talked to him in years. It’s kind of weird. The guys who played on the records pretty much. I see Sammy [Duet] around New Orleans all the time.”
“Me and him [Jimmy Bower] kind of started it together, to be honest. ‘I wanna play guitar in a band’ – so he started Eyehategod. I would teach him stuff over the telephone on guitar – fret five, do this…back then we had nothing to do. It was cool. We kind of started around the same time as Eyehategod. It was our vision to do what Crowbar does”.
One thing that is undeniable is how Crowbar’s sound has grown over the years with their ‘less is more’ approach, and crafting a powerful sound that fans have grown to love.
“It’s because WE get better. The odd thing is, I’m 49 years old but I’m still the 13 year old kid with the tennis racket playing air guitar to KISS. The passion is stronger than ever. It’s stronger than it’s ever been to do Crowbar. It’s 25 years. I spent half my life doing it.”
As for Crowbar’s impact on music, he says he has not changed much but experience has groomed him into what he is today. “I’m the same guy I was but it’s me. I’m the same man, kid, punk mother fucker, but at 49 years of age. I did my time on stage and that’s where I belong and I do my thing. I do it stronger and harder and my heart is in it.”
Interview: Rei Nishimoto
Picture the scene. It’s a slate grey sky and a howling wind. It’s a Saturday lunchtime and you have a hangover straight out of the lower reaches of Hades. Going to watch a band might be the last thing on your mind. But this is what I’m doing at the UK Hammerfest Festival in North Wales. And what a great decision this was. The band in question were Hang The Bastard who proceeded to tear me and all the lucky souls who had clambered out of their sleep pits a proverbial new one, rip our collective faces off and send our hangovers back to their sulphuric origins. Marvellous stuff.
It’s these fond memories of face-ripping and adrenaline surges that preface the listening of this new opus and this fledgling band’s second full length album. The charmingly monikered Sex in the Seventh Circle (SOAR/Century Media) is as pumped up as a steroid doping muscleman, as gnarly as an old tree branch and full of gusto and effervescent promise. If you wanted a decent example of what heavy metal sounds like today then you could do much worse than land here.
Sex in the Seventh Circle is respectful of its heavy metal lineage but not to the extent that it is a mere facsimile of a Black Sabbath album; on the contrary, there are more riffs here than you can shake a particularly sticky stick at; riffs that Crowbar or Down would be very pleased to call their own but there’s loads more going on than praying at the Iommi altar.
On the opening track ‘Keeping Vigil’, the band conjur such a spectacular cacophony of noise and bludgeoning intent that you worry that by throwing everything, including (if you listen hard enough) the kitchen sink, into four minutes of throat grabbing attention that they won’t have anything left for the rest of the album.
Ye of little faith, listener. Whilst ‘…Vigil’ is a serious statement of intent, it is by no means the high point of the record. The aural swampy stew that is ‘The Majestic Gathering of Goetia’ wears its New Orleans sludge like a freshly inked tattoo whilst I dare you – I absolutely double and triple dare you – not to headbang during the glorious title track. There, I can see you doing it already.
It would not be responsible of me to pass up this review without making comment on Tomas Hubbard’s astonishing vocal performance. To say it is marmite is an understatement. It is probably the defining sound of the record but also the element that will enrage as many as it delights. From guttural roar through to black metal-esque screeching, one can be in little doubt that there are not many bands that sound like this. To these ears, that is part of this band’s charm. It would be really easy to put together a record with plenty of clean singing, big choruses and so forth but then Hang The Bastard would end up sounding like every other band around who have a copy of Never Say Die.
It is testimony to their self-belief and their ambition that they have created a record that sounds this distinctive and so self-evidently contentious. It’s clear that Hang The Bastard want to sound like one band only- and that’s Hang the Bastard. ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle’ has echoes of stoner, doom, sludge and classic metal easing through its grooves- so what? At the end of the day ‘Sex in the Seventh Circle’ is, labels aside, proper, heavy, grown up fun.