Swamp Things
CoC talks with Andrew Fidler of Black Tusk
by: Johnathan A. Carbon
Guitarist and vocalist Andrew Fidler of Black Tusk sits down and discusses the swamp, sludge and the south. Fidler also answers one of my questions in the best possible way with: "Dude... Pantera!"

CoC: The band refers to themselves as "swamp metal". Do you think the stifling heat and high humidity has any influence on your music? Could Black Tusk exist in the middle of another ice age?

Andrew Fidler: We do refer to ourselves as swamp metal. It's something we came up with for another interview for whenever anyone asks us to describe our sound. I hate the idea of having to categorize ourselves into one the many sub-genres of metal or rock or whatever. We just play stuff that's heavy and rocking and fun. And absolutely, the heat and humidity is an influence. You should come here and experience it; it's brutal. I guess it makes us write heavy, brutal music. Sure we could exist, given that any of humanity is existing! We have a song on _Passage Through Purgatory_ called "Fixed in the Ice".

CoC: I have to ask, because I am a geek. Almost all of your cover art, from full-length to split to demo, has been done by John Baizley of Baroness. Is there a Savannah sludge discount I have not been made aware of?

AF: Unfortunately, there is no discount. John does happen to be a very good friend of ours, and until recently our neighbor. He was around when we first formed the band, and he had expressed an interest in us very early on, and he has been very active in creating our artwork. We developed a character for our albums, Agatha, so expect to see more from John in the future.

CoC: Was there any refocus or shift in the creation process for _Taste the Sin_? How did the recording and writing differ than 2008's _Passage Through Purgatory_?

AF: Honestly, the only difference in the creation process for _Taste_ compared to _Passage_ was that we were able to spend more time in the studio for _Taste_. The albums were written the same. That process works like this: we get together in the space and jam on some riffs (which are usually made up on the spot) and then we record the ones we like on our 4-track and then build them from there. Everyone is there and everyone has a say in every part of every song. I'd like to think that _Taste the Sin_ was an elaboration on the themes from _Passage Through Purgatory_. _Passage_ has also just been re-mixed and mastered and going to be re-issued by Relapse on May 25th of this year. It is available for pre-order on their website now.

CoC: The last four songs in _Taste the Sin_ are a part of a truck centered suite called "Double Clutching (In Four Parts)". Will we see any more song cycles devoted to vehicle transmissions in the future?

AF: <laughs> No, I don't think so. The song is more about a journey through life than a method of truck driving.

CoC: I asked the Cough from Richmond this same question. About a year and a half ago, details were released about a movie called "Slow Southern Steel", supposedly documenting the current sludge / doom. You were also listed as one of the performers. Do you have any details regarding that movie or if it will ever be released?

AF: The movie is finished, they plan to show it at the Little Rock film festival in June. You can find some information on Facebook.

CoC: Do you think the scene is growing in prominence? Will the south rise again? In terms of metal... not the confederacy.

AF: Sure, the scene is growing in prominence. It seems that in the last decade, people have been paying more attention to the music that is coming out of the south. This region is typically a hotbed for doom, stoner and sludge bands. As that music becomes more popular, more people will look to bands coming out of the south. As this cycle plays out and attention focuses elsewhere, we will all still be down south churning out heavy music!

CoC: What was your favorite metal release of 2010?

AF: I liked Zoroaster's _Matador_ a whole bunch. Those guys are really good friends of ours, and I'm glad to see them put out a solid record! James says his favorite album of 2010 is Big Business' "Mind the Drift".

CoC: What is your favorite southern metal album of any decade or era?

AF: Dude, Pantera! They put the scene on the map. _Vulgar Display of Power_ and _Cowboys From Hell_!

CoC: Does the band have any plans for 2011?

AF: We do indeed have some plans! We did a co-headlining tour in Europe in February with our label mates and buds Howl from Rhode Island, that was absolutely amazing! The shows were bad ass and the people were rad and the hospitality was amazing! We also have a Japanese tour scheduled for November. It is going to be in support of a Japanese only release on Red Kobalt records, of a compilation of our material that we put on all of our split releases. It will also feature some material from the EPs _When Kingdoms Fall_ and _The Fallen Kingdom_. This year will also see Relapse re-issue a re-mixed and re-mastered version of _Passage Through Purgatory_. It is scheduled to have a release date of May 25th. Hyperrealist will also be reissuing a 12" version of our early EP _The Fallen Kingdom_. It also has a release date in late May. We are also writing a new record and are slated to go into the studio in June to record it. Hopefully that will be out this year as well!

(article submitted 5/6/2011)

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