Stephen LoVerme is the vocalist/bassist of the drum-n-bass doom crew Olde Growth, a Boston product whose Owl EP was featured HERE on Mister Growl a few weeks ago. I raved about them and really encourage any fan of rock music to check them out, especially if you’re partial to tunes with stoner groove and a doomy crunch. Stephen was kind enough to take the time and answer a few questions that were bouncing around my noggin. Read ahead for volcanic activity, potentially regrettable tattoos, and lots of Neil Young.
Mister Growl: You've mentioned that the songs on the Owl EP aren't exactly fresh and new. When were these songs written and under what circumstances?
Stephen: We were playing "Brother of the Moon" and "Warrior Child" back when we were touring behind our full length, almost two and a half years ago. At. the time that record already felt really old to us and we had just written those songs. "Brother" started developing while I was traveling in Central America. I hiked an active volcano in Nicaragua which has an interesting story behind it. The Spanish called it "the mouth of hell" and built a huge wooden cross at the top to stay the demons. The local folks knew the volcano as Brother of the Moon and would sacrifice children to it. Any time human sacrifice and gateways to hell are involved there's probably a song to be written.
The other two songs were written shortly before we recorded in the spring of 2011. I wish we'd taken more time to get them tighter, but the energy is there. Why it's coming out now and not a year ago is kind of a long story, so I'll just say it was a series of missteps.
Mister Growl: It seems nature and natural wonders inspire a lot of your music. What natural images/experiences have made the biggest impressions on you?
Stephen: "Brother of the Moon" is really the only song that was inspired by an actual experience with nature. Staring down into the crater of an active volcano and breathing in its fumes was quite an experience. The main riff and general idea of the song came into my head right on the spot. With "Sequoia" we had this massive sounding song, and when it came time to write lyrics, giant, centuries old trees seemed like the way to go. Those two are really the only songs we have that are about nature, but a lot of our songs contain some kind of reference to nature because it makes for powerful imagery. Even in a city nature is everywhere you look; weeds sprout from cracks in the sidewalks, birds make themselves at home in our architecture. A sunset can convey strong emotions; vast oceans endless possibilities.
Mister Growl: Around this time last year you commenced a spring tour. Any plans on embarking on another tour soon?
Stephen: Yes! We're overdue for another east coast tour, and we have our sights on the west coast as well. It's just a matter of putting plans in motion, which, when you're doing everything yourself has to go at your own pace, which with us can be pretty darn slow sometimes.
Mister Growl: What is the strangest story from your spring tour?
Stephen: One of my favorite experiences was in Pittsburgh. We played in this kid's bedroom in the attic of a row house in a very old neighborhood, and crashed with one of the other bands, also a two-piece. While we were hanging out after the show they got into an impassioned debate on whether Sigur Ros or Godspeed You Black Emperor! was better. It should be mentioned the advocate for Sigur Ros has the Lift Your Skinny Fists to Heaven album cover tattooed on his arm. We also played at a really cool house in Bloomington Indiana called the Gourley Hole - on Gourley Street of course. They have the whole house wired up so that the music playing over the speakers in the basement also plays upstairs in the living room and kitchen. And we got to play in front of a wall of old TVs playing obscure, trippy cartoons.
Mister Growl: Boston and the New England region has a very healthy music scene. How has the local scene impacted your own music or experience as a band?
Stephen: On top of there being a ton of great music in the area, a lot of bands tour through Boston, to the point where you have to make decisions about what shows not to see. It's not uncommon to go out to see your friends play and end up seeing a band you've never heard of that's totally awesome. I don't really listen to that much hardcore, but I go to a lot of those shows and it's definitely rubbed off. It's pretty crucial to see bands that rip on a regular basis because it pushes you to become better. I have the privilege of seeing Elder all the time, and they blow me away every single time I see them. They're tight as hell - the rhythm section is relentlessly locked in with each other and Nick just soars over it. He can shred circles around most guitar players but it's always very tasteful and compositional.
Mister Growl: You're big supporters of Ed from Doommantia, who continues to face a tough situation. From your experience, how much camaraderie do you notice within the metal community?
Stephen: Ed was one of the first people to notice and write about us, so when we found out he'd fallen on hard times we did what we could to help raise some funds. We weren't the only ones. I'm not quite up to date on his situation, but I hope that things are looking up. Time and again I've seen people come to aid of their friends, both within and outside of the music community. But yeah, camaraderie is how underground music continues to thrive, and it's always been that way. If you help out a band on tour with a show and treat them well they'll gladly return the favor.
Mister Growl: Hydro-Phonic Records released a beautiful version of your self-titled LP. How did you start working with them?
Stephen: I found out about Hydro-Phonic through their work with bands I was into like Black Pyramid and Sons of Tonatiuh. I sent a promo copy of the EP, which is how we initially got in touch. We were all set to release the EP as part of a split, and when that fell through I mentioned to Travis that we wanted to release our self-titled on vinyl. He was into it, so we started working on putting that release together. It worked out great because we both wanted to put out something really nice. We're excited to be working with Hydro-Phonic again for the vinyl release of Owl.
Mister Growl: I read that Olde Growth is the first band you had ever provided vocals for and noticed great strides with this new EP. Do you have any special routines for practicing vocals?
Stephen: Thanks! I don't really have any special routines, but I listen pretty intently to the vocalists that I like and have learned to pick up on all the little nuances. I tend to practice a lot when I'm alone in the car, or in the shower. But it's never a very disciplined practice, I just enjoy signing. We've also started recording most of our shows, which has been helpful because I can hear what's not working and make adjustments accordingly.
Mister Growl: If you were reborn as a non-human animal what animal would you be?
Stephen: Probably some sort of bird, 'cause, you know, flying and shit.
Mister Growl: What's up next for Olde Growth?
Stephen: We're working on a bunch of Neil Young covers, arranged for our playing style. The plan is to record a full-length record. We've played a few of them out and so far the response has been pretty positive. We're working on some new original stuff too, but the Neil Young project has been a breath of fresh air at a time when we were feeling a bit stale.
Many thanks to Stephen for his time. If you haven’t heard the Owl EP yet you can listen to it here for FREE, with links to their website and Facebook pages: http://oldegrowth.bandcamp.com/
And order their debut LP through Hydro-Phonic Records, who will also be handling the vinyl release of this amazing EP, here: http://www.hydro-phonicrecords.com/releases.html