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InterviewsExplore the Doom, Hard Rock, and Proto-Metal Sounds of Blues Funeral

Posted on Sunday, October 30 2016 @ 13:43:11 CDT by Pete Pardo
Heavy Metal With the release of their debut album The Search, Texas based heavy rock band Blues Funeral have swallowed their influences and mingled them with a desire to create modern, hard hitting music that will appeal to any hard rock or metal fan. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboard player Jan Kimmel recently shared some background and insight on the band with SoT Publisher Pete Pardo, which will be a must read for anyone looking to discover more information on one of the genres talented up and coming acts.

SoT: The Search is a very impressive debut from a band that is without a doubt very new to most hard rock & metal fans. Can you talk a bit about how the band was formed, and what you were all doing prior to Blues Funeral coming together?

Jan Kimmel: Well, thank you so much and thank you for helping us spread the gospel, first of all. All of us except our bassist, Gabe, were actually members of Sanctus Bellum with bassist/founder/leader Ben Yaker and lead singer Justin Waggoner of Mr. Plow fame. When Sanctus Bellum had to go on a hiatus, me, Maurice Eggenschwiler, and Cory Cousins almost immediately started discussions to move forward with Blues Funeral. Maurice and I had wanted to do a more 60's/70's oriented project, and Cory was on board from the beginning. He received his Master's degree in music from Carnegie Mellon and knew Gabe from the same program, and Gabe had recently moved to Houston, so we figured we could do worse than to have a classically-trained rhythm section, and the band was born.

SoT: There are a lot of classic hard rock, metal, and doom elements permeating the debut album. What are some of the band members' musical influences, and have they helped to shape your current sound?

Jan Kimmel: So although Maurice and I are the self-professed bandleaders and chief songwriters, everyone's influences shine through in a variety of ways. Cory is very much into groove-oriented bands like Clutch, Fu Manchu, etc. Gabe spent a lot of time in jam-band territory. Maurice and I both love death metal, 60's psychedelia, and everything in between. But I would say that the most important thing we all care about is "the song". There are great songs in every genre and (as well go into later) we consider ourselves to be fairly agnostic with regard to what we call ourselves.

SoT: The Search was self-released by the band; have you had any discussions with any of the major metal labels prior to releasing the album or since? Or, was it always the intention to release it privately?

Jan Kimmel: After releasing the album, we were approached by a few labels. Prior to that, though, we had always intended to release it privately so we could do everything our own way and on our own terms. We're by no means not averse to working with a label but I don't think we'll proceed with the second album (which is already written) or the third one (which is mostly written) only on the condition that a label is involved.

SoT: Now that the album has been out for a bit, what has the reaction of the fans & critics been so far?

Jan Kimmel: The overall reaction has been hugely humbling. We've received a lot of feedback on how the album captures elements of the 70's and the various genres we navigate, and it's really gratifying because we spent months in pre-production, which we've never done before, to fine-tune a lot of the details. Honestly it's been a great learning experience that Lucky Run Studio in Houston as well as the Boiler Room Mastering Studio have joined us on. So far the most positive reaction has been from Germany and Brazil!

SoT: To these ears, there are a lot of Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Pentagram, and Candlemass elements floating throughout the album. With so many bands diving into retro heavy rock sounds these days, especially Scandinavian bands, how can a US band, and specifically Blues Funeral, make a big impact in this style of music?

Jan Kimmel: There are definitely so many great bands we are fans of that span the more psychedelic elements (Ganesha from Houston) all the way to straight hard rock (Royal Thunder) and bands like Purson or Mondo Drag who explore extremes relating to the Occult, or using multiple instruments during the course of one song, etc. I would say that where we strive to make an impact is by trying to explore as many different styles as we can while still gravitating towards our own style. Not to totally ruin any surprises with regards to albums two and three, but we are going to cover ground that is not only different time-wise from today but also location-wise, and we won't be afraid to pull in elements from genres that aren't strictly doom/stoner/retro.

SoT: What is the current hard rock & metal scene like in Texas these days?

Jan Kimmel: Austin and Dallas have always tended to have more robust, better-known scenes but we have buddies in great bands like Switchblade Jesus in Corpus Christi or Deguello and Las Cruces in San Antonio. I'd say a place that has really exploded is our scene in Houston, which we have been so lucky to be a part of. The doom and stoner bands here are very tight-knit and we're all buds with the cats in Doomstress, the Dirty Seeds, Funeral Horse, Black Hole Caravan, and Venomous Maximus as well as the folks in Helstar and Oceans of Slumber.

There are new venues being built seemingly every six months and more and more great shows are coming through town. The people are memorable and devoted too (we have folks going to bat for us and finding us shows; we have been enthusiastically questioned as to "why do you get to have a hot roadie?"; we have kind folks who help us load shit up and down the stairs; and of course our wives and families support what we do) and make the shows great. AND, on top of that, we've got great metal shows like Texas Metal Radio Show and MSRCast run by our friends who apparently love us because they work so hard to get our name out to the world.

SoT: How often does the band get to play live, and are there touring plans in place to support the album?

Jan Kimmel: We usually play once every couple months due to various work- and family-related commitments of each band member. This is like 20% of the shows we actually want to play but that's life. We definitely need to do a tour around the bigger cities in our vicinity, though, because we really need to play again with some of the groups that have joined us on stage in Houston.

SoT: There is a nice vintage sound to the album- what types of instruments and gear were used in the recording of The Search?

Jan Kimmel: This was definitely the goal! Maurice and I used Marshall tube amps (JCM 2000 and JVM 4100H) and mostly Gibsons, but we also threw in some Laney and Jet City amps, as well as Fenders (a Strat and Jag). Maurice used a Dean and I used an 80's Ibanez Destroyer. On top of that we both used semi-hollow guitars and even the studio's Taylor acoustic for some layers. Gabe used an Ampeg rig with a Fender 5-string. Cory used the studio's Yamaha kit which has some nice punch but it has a good jazzy tone when needed (like in the title track of the album).

SoT: If you could pick 2 other current bands to go out and do a tour with, who would they be and why?

Jan Kimmel: Now this is a great question. We've played with Pentagram several times (and actually the instrumentalists in Sanctus Bellum played a set with Bobby Liebling…a story for another time) so hitting the road with them would be awesome. And if we're dreaming, then we'd want to get some old-schoolers from a slightly different place in the metal world, like Saxon, to headline. We'd learn so much on how to just rock night-in and night-out.

SoT: What does the next 6-24 months have in store for Blues Funeral?

Jan Kimmel: The next few months have some shows coming up as well as pre-production for the second album. We are tentatively planning to get in the studio for that around a year after we started working on The Search, so around the beginning of the summer. As mentioned above we definitely want to tour around Texas if not a little outside of it. In the next 12 months I'd like to see us do a larger American festival and then in the next 24 months I would really want us to hit Europe!

Pete Pardo



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