Bob Balch Talks Big Scenic Nowhere & More.

WORM – First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Could you tell us a bit how Big Scenic Nowhere got started?

BALCH – Gary had the name a few years back and they did a few gigs but that’s it I think. I’ve known Gary since 1997 or so. Fu Manchu practiced in his house in the desert around then. Last year he came back from tour and posted a Del Taco pic. I commented with my usually order of a regular red burrito with sour cream. Right after that he called me and said that we should jam and call it Doom Buggy. I said sure, we jammed but then I learned that Doom Buggy was taken already so he offered up Big Scenic Nowhere.

WORM – How did the name Big Scenic Nowhere come to be?

BALCH – It’s a street in the desert. He named the band after that. I’ll include a pic

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WORM – You have contributions from so many amazing talents on “Dying On The Mountain.” How did you all decide who to get involved?

BALCH –  We just started tossing names around. I’ve known Nick Oliveri since 1997 too. Fu Manchu toured Europe with QOTSA back then. We brought him up, I offered Tony Reed. He’s super talented. Fu just got off of tour with his band Mos Generator.I’ve done interviews with THE WELL for my site PlayThisRiff.com. I thought they would be a good fit. We both know Mario Lalli. Mario and Bill Stinson play in Yawning Man with Gary. I’ve done PlayThisRiff interviews with Mario as well. Nick too now that I think of it! And Thomas from Monolord is on the site too! So is Tony Reed. I guess we can credit the site. Ha!

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WORM – What is Playthisriff.com all about?

BALCH – I started that in 2008. It’s a site that hosts videos of artists teaching their own songs. I film them, edit, make the guitar tabs and post. It’s a subscription site. Some pretty big names on there! CLUTCH, MEGADETH, MC5, QOTSA, YOB, CIRCLE JERKS, BLACK FLAG. Lots of rock, metal, punk and stoner stuff

 

WORM – Do you have a wishlist of musicians you would like to work with Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  It’s giant! We are already talking about the next record and who to ask. The list keeps growing and some people have already said yes. Don’t want to jinx it but people are gonna flip out.

WORM – You and Gary have very unique and different styles. How would you describe your style and Garys style? 

BALCH –  I’m all over the place. I teach guitar for a living so I’m forced to learn a bunch of different styles. For this stuff though I wanted to be fuzzed out because I thought that would be a good juxtaposition against his dreamy delay drenched guitar and odd tunings.

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WORM – The tones you guys got going on this record are amazing. Can you tell us about what gear you used when recording?

BALCH – I used my signature Rola amp, a bunch of pedals but my main fuzz was a Regulus VIII by Creepy Fingers Effects. Nick used his QOTSA SVT which I was super stoked on! Gary had a 70s Fender combo. A 6×12 I thing. It’s was super tall!

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WORM – Speaking of  your signature amp, you recently announced you have your own Rola model. What is that thing all about?

BALCH –  It’s like an 80s Marshall 800 but with KT88s and an extra master volume. I love Rola. They are killing it!

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WORM – I also saw recently that your Fu Manchu band mate Brad Davis, who also is the mastermind of Creepy Finger Effects, made a Balch Fuzz pedal. How did that happen come about?

BALCH – I do a strange thing in the studio with FU. Two fuzz pedals at once. One has the bias control choked to act as a gate and the other fuzz is super blown out. The combo sounds insane. Davis found a way to make that sound with one pedal.

WORM – Is your live setup usually different than what you use in the studio? How do you get that Fuzz tone live?

BALCH –  I use a Creepy Fingers Regulus VIII which kicks major ass. But now that Brad Davis built “The Balch” I’m good to go! That’s pretty much my studio sound.

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WORM – How did the writing process for Big Scenic Nowhere go?

BALCH –  Gary and I jammed for 5 hours. I recorded it. I went home and arranged the riffs into songs. Then I brought those demos into a real studio to have musicians play over them to get actual takes. After that we emailed stems to singers/synth players. Per from Opeth played Synth on the long jam. Tony Reed did too.

WORM – What is next for Big Scenic Nowhere?

BALCH –  Full length comes out early January named “Vision Beyond Horizon.” Alain Johannes is on that one. We are also going to do a three day jam session with a bunch of musicians in November that should be released summer 2020.

WORM –  Did Alain Johannes produce the full length as well as perform on it?

BALCH –  No, he offered up killer vocals and guitars but I guess we all produced it. I oversaw everything but everybody contributed a ton.

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WORM – How would you describe the vibe of “Vision Beyond Horizon?”

BALCH –  Songs. Lots of influences but Pink Floyd shines through. Soundgarden too. It’s all over the place really.

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WORM – Anything in the future from Fu Manchu or Sun and Sail Club?

BALCH –  Fu Manchu is going to be really busy 2020. 30th anniversary! We will be touring a bunch and playing songs from our entire catalogue! We are also working on an EP now too! Sun And Sail is always on my mind. I have like two records ready to go! Just trying to find the right time to get that going again. Those dudes rule!

 

WORM – Anything else you would like us to know?

BALCH –  Eddie and the Cruise 2 (not one) and Shock Em Dead are the two best movies ever made

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I wanted to thank Bob Balch for taking the time to do this interview. Be sure to keep an eye out for the release of “Vision Beyond Horizon” from Big Scenic Nowhere in 2020. In the meantime you can head over to bluesfuneralrecordings.bandcamp to get “Dying On The Mountain.” Or, you can purchase the vinyl here.  Mr. Balch as some big things coming in the future. New Big Scenic Record, New Fu Manchu and possibly a new Sun And Sail Record as well.

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*** BIG SCENIC NOWHERE ***

Sitting under the sun swaying with the waves. The oceans mountains begin to move. With the force under your feet floating you escape. If just for a moment you are free becoming part of the sea. This feeling. This magic. Is surfing. The debut EP of super group Big Scenic Nowhere gave me a similar feeling as soon as the first note from the opening track  “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” hit me hard. The twenty minute Saga consisting of three parts rolls in like a wave. It moves you with power and beauty. This should not be a surprise though considering who is involved in Big Scenic Nowhere. Founded by desert guitar legends Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) and Gary Acre (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST)  you know the bands riffs will be be next level. Joining Balch and Acre is a list of all star talent. Both Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) and Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) contribute on bass. I probably do not have to tell you that these dudes are legends! Rounding out the rhythm section is Bill Stinson (Yawning Man) on drums. Many other amzing talents also made contributions.(Full list Below) Big Scenic Nowhere lays down such a solid foundation and captures that certain “feel” that can’t really be explained. But if you are like me and love music you know what I’m talking about. 

Stinson plays with a special grace on “Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 1) / Altered Ages / Dying on the Mountain (Pt. 2)” while a killer bass line is sweeps in and out. The drums and Bass lay down that solid and magical foundation The guitar work of both Acre and Balch shines on this track. The melodies they use playing off each other are masterful. The songs breakdown about six minutes in puts you in a trance. The synth work and guitar line work so well together. It slowly builds up while the vocals build. The line “Where do I come From” echos in a haunting manner. Hitting back into a big riff the band hits you with so many textures. There is so much to grasp and take in. But yet, all the parts work so well together. The spacey style of Acre and the ferocious style of Balch work like thunder and lighting. Together they take the song to another level with amazing leads and rhythms. The twenty minute song slowly winds down like a wave returning to its home in the sea.   

The second track “Towards The Sun” hits hard with a killer riff that is heavy with a little bit of a spooky feel to it. The track features vocals from Tony Reed (Mos Generator) and Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD). The lyrics are great and fit the vibe of the song perfectly.  The song reminds me of a black sabbath style song but with more colors in it. (No pun intended) “Towards The Sun” has that beautiful atmospheric feel that Acre is known for but with a monster pushing it. Again, Big Scenic Nowhere delivers that special feel. They just have that magic.  “Towards The Sun” also features a badass raunchy guitar solo that is delivered with great taste. The tones on this are just amazing. The guitars sound big and warm but with grit and power. I love the mix and the use of synth on both tracks.

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Big Scenic Nowhere had a lot of hype since the project was announced. I can tell you that for me it has lived up to the hype and far beyond. What a freaking debut!! I can only hope that we will get music from Big Scenic Nowhere for years to come and have a chance to see this beautiful monster live. You all better head over to https://bigscenicnowherestore.bigcartel.com to buy your vinyl and CDs fast. The band has both Red and Blue vinyl available but very few of the red. So, if you are a collector you best get that RED one fast.  Also get yourself ready for Big Scenic Nowhere to put out a full length record courtesy of Heavy Psych Sounds Records sometime in 2020. Pre sale will start October 3rd. Head over to www.heavypsychsounds.com to get in on that.

Big Scenic Nowhere is 

 Bob Balch (FU MANCHU, SUN AND SAIL CLUB) guitars 

Gary Arce (YAWNING MAN, TEN EAST) guitars 

Tony Reed (MOS GENERATOR) vocals, synth 

Nick Oliveri (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, KYUSS, DWARVES) bass 

Mario Lalli (YAWNING MAN, FATSO JETSON) bass 

Bill Stinson (YAWNING MAN) drums 

Per Wiberg (SPIRITUAL BEGGERS, CANDLEMASS, OPETH) synth 

Thomas V. Jäger (MONOLORD) vocals 

Ian Graham (THE WELL) vocals 

Lisa Alley (THE WELL) vocals 

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Monolord “No Comfort”

The doom sludge trio from Sweden dropped a new album on us titled “No Comfort” and it’s a heavy chugging ass kicker. The 6 song release is the fourth from Monolord and the must anticipated follow up to 2017’s album “Rust.”  Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed. The band does what they do so well on “No Comfort”by just pounding you into submission with heavy thick grooves. I always dig the guitar Tones that Thomas V Jäger creates. The crunch is ugly, dirty and in your face. Speaking of Jäger, he shines on this album. He managed to stay heavy while playing some beautiful  melodies. The track “Larvae” is a prime example of this. The break down of the song lets Jäger paint over the top of a hot bucket of sludge.  Bass player Mika Häkki and drummer Esben Willems hold it down while keeping that special feel that makes the song so special.

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The track “Skywards” lets Häkki get loose on bass and the grooves he delivers is killer. I really dig the pulse of the song and how the band uses dynamics to build tension. The title track “No Comfort” again lets Jäger show is skills. I love the raunchy tones on this one and the way the band builds it up. It’s a very strong way to finish the album.

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Overall “No Comfort” is a another good album from Monolord. You will specially loves this album if you dig doom and sludge stuff. I would say that even if you are not a doom or sludge fan you will apreciate Monolord. They have skill and come up with some really rad riffs.  I hope to see them live someday soon!

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Wormhounds Albums Of 2017

So let’s put 2017 in the books shall we. Despite all the shity stuff that happened in the world this year we still had some good Rock and Roll to keep us sane. I have to admit my list this year was really hard to put together. I struggled with the letdown that some of the album’s I was really looking forward to turned out to be a let down. For example “Villains” by Queens of the Stone Age was garbage in my opinion. I just couldn’t get into it. What happened to me this year though, was that a lot of albums grew on me and once I gave multiple listens I find little nuances that hit me. My list is going to be different from others and I’m sure some of you will disagree and possibly even give me shit. But that’s what’s great about rock and roll it speaks to us in many different ways. so why don’t we just get to the list already.

1. ALL THEM WITCHES “Sleeping Through The War”

Number one for me this year without a doubt was “Sleeping Through The War” by All Them Witches. These guys continue to impress me with a mix of unique Sounds that no other band comes close to. I really can’t get into cookie cutter bands who put out records that sound like a watered-down version of their influences. I love bands who take chances and create something that is unique to them and them only. Alll Them Witches are the quintessential band who really gives no shits on what you think they should sound like. They are heavy without slamming it down your face and their grooves are infectious. “Sleeping Through War” takes the listener on a journey through many different soundscapes that are tasteful and full of twist and turns. Like their albums in the past All Them Witches continue to bring a seriously devastating guitar tone and show great song craft. “Don’t Bring Me My Coffee” is a classic all them Witches song. it’s a mix of heavy with a creepy folk like vibe that is haunting. “Alabaster” is a bit of a psychedelic trip with killer uses of temp change. The vocals are trance like.

This song rips!

All Them Witches “Bruce Lee”

2. BLOODCLOT! “Up In Arms”

The number 2 record for me this year was the badass hard core punk album “Up In Arms” by Bloodclot! Now bloodclot is not your ordinary Band, it is a punk rock supergroup. The band features John Joseph from the cro-mags on vocals along with former Danzig guitar Slinger Todd youth. Bloodclot also features Joey Castillo (Queens Of The Stone Age) who is one of the greatest drummers in the world. Another QOTSA alum and rock n roll legend Nick Oliveri holds down the four strings and give this quartet an element of danger. “Up In Arms” is a hardcore masterpiece and was the best punk rock record to come out in 2017 by far. I had the privilege of seeing boys slay it in San Francisco and they did not disappoint! if you love hard core punk rock in any way, get this album now!!

Bloodclot! “Up In Arms”

3. Sasquatch “Maneuvers”

Maneuvers by Sasquatch was an excellent album from start to finish. Sasquatch always knows how to utilize killer riffs and “Maneuvers” is no different. This album is full of badass heavy riffs that stick in your head. This album also features a very strong vocal performance by Keith Gibbs. I highly suggest this record for anyone who is into the stoner Rock genre.

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4. MONOLORDRust

MonoLord’s heavy and sludgy “Rust” is number 4 on my list. “Rust” is an ominous and heavy record that does not compromise. Monolord always sounds massive and “Rust” continues this trend. The album is a perfect mix of Sabbath style doom, Electric Wizard and even a hint of Fu Manchu. Love this band and love this record!!

MONOLORDWhere Death Meets The Sea”

5. MELVINSWalk Through Love & Death

Number 5 on my list is the legendary Melvins. their 2017 release titled a “Walk Through Love and Death, deserves a lot more credit than it got. It is actually a double album. The “Love” side of the album is a soundtrack to a short film while the “Death” side is a 9 song standard album. I think people got tripped up on the love side of the record. it’s a far out there bizarre soundscape that The Melvins have become masters of over the years. As far as standard rock songs go the “Love” side is not what you’re gonna get. The “Death” side of the record however is classic Melvin’s featuring trippy riffs and drum rhythms that only the melvins can get away with. King Buzzo still sounds amazing on vocals and his guitar work never disappoints.

MELVINSFlaming Creature

6. FOO FIGHTERS “Concrete & Gold”

So this is where I’ll probably start getting some shit. Number 6 for me was “Concrete And Gold” by the Foo Fighters. As much as I try not to like a Foo Fighters records every time they come out I end up really liking them! Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl are like having a Monday off work. It just feels good! at this point Dave Grohl can do whatever the hell he wants and nobody can give him shit for it. He has earned all the leeway he wants. “Concrete And gold” is a solid record that features those classic Foo Fighter hooks that always get stuck in your brain and refuse to leave. I mean, Dave Grohl even got Justin Timberlake to sound kind of heavy. I will admit, at first I didn’t understand this record. This Foo Fighter record took a couple listens to really gel for me. I know a lot of fans of heavy music don’t want to give Foo Fighters a chance but, you really should. I suggest you start off with the heavy riff slammer of the track “Run.” I don’t care what you all think about me, I dig me some Foo Fighters!

FOO FIGHTERS “Run

7. YEAR OF THE COBRA “Burn Your Dead

The Seattle Duo Year Of The Cobra continued their rapid rise on the underground rock scene with the release of “Burn Your Dead.” It’s definitely a must have for fans of heavy or doom. Year Of The Cobra is a band all should be checking out in 2018. I’m a big believer in this duo!! “Burn Your Dead” is an expansion of what YOTC do best!

YEAR OF THE COBRA “Burn Your Dead”

8. ELDERReflections Of A Floating World

Elder’s “Reflections Of A Floating World” comes in at 8 for me. This album takes you back in time to a world full of warlocks, goblins and magic. This is a great album to get lost in and forget about all your worries!! It’s progish but not with a pompous kinda vibe that leaves feeling cheap and empty. Elder rips it up but still has a soul!

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9. PRIMUSThe Desaturating Seven

For number 9 I went outside the box. I went with Primus and their album “The Desaturating Seven.” Listening To Primus makes me feel good. It makes me feel young. They remind me of my childhood. The Desaturating Seven” is a very solid Primus record. I will admit I was not a fan of much Primus after “Tales Of The Punch Bowl” and didn’t expect much from this record. I was pleasantly surprised though, a lot of classic Primus sounds going on! It’s the bizarre sounds that have always made Primus great but also has songs and melodies you can grip. I’ve since revisited a lot of The later Primus Records and have found some gems. I hope this band never stops making Records!

PRIMUSThe Seven

10. ATOMIC BITCHWAXForce Field

A rock n roll feel good record ends my 2017 list with “Force Field” by The Atomic Bitchwax. This record is a party ready to happen. Love the riffs and the rhythms on this bad boy! Spent a lot of time driving using this album has my soundtrack. If you never have, you should definitely check out Atomic Bitchwax!

ATOMIC BITCHWAX “Force Field”

SO……….

There it is! My list!!

I gotta give a shout out and honorable mention to:

BRUME (Rooster)

Lo Pan. (In Tensions)

Mastodon (Emperor Of Sand)

Nick Oliveri (No Hits At All)

The Obsessed (Sacred)

Royal Blood (How Did We Get So Dark)

I also absolutely have to mention the remaster Of Stone Temple Pilots “Core.” In celebration of its 25th anniversary. Holy shit time flies!!! I swear I just bought this album brand new on cassette! “Core” was a big album for me and truly made an impact on my life!

I also can’t close out 2017 with out…

Giving love and respect for some of my fallen idols!

First off RIP Chris Cornell. One of the greatest rock voices of all time!

I also can’t believe Tom Petty is gone. He was one of the all time great song writers and the definition of cool.

Off Course we can’t leave this year without a tribute to greatest rhythm guitar player ever Malcom Young!