With sideshows just announced to add to their second visit to Australian shores in less than twelve months – but their first under their new name – Loud caught up with Vista Chino drummer Brant Bjork
Hey Brant, great to speak with you today. It’s going to be great to see Vista Chino out here for the Big Day Out. I spoke to John (Garcia – vocals) last year and we talked about the fact that Kyuss only ever came to Australia with Metallica that one time, but since the reformation you have been here about every eighteen months or so.
Yeah, it’s great don’t you think? Australia is such a great place to play, and speaking for myself it will be my first Big Day Out experience so I’m excited. It will be fun.
Peace has been available now for about six months – how has the reaction been generally towards it, and what would you say to those who may have expected it to be something more like a classic Kyuss release?
First off, generally the reaction has been super positive, so we’re really excited about that, naturally. Then, as far as people’s expectations are, you know, if I was in the game of trying to fulfil people’s expectations I would have never started playing a musical instrument. I think what made Kyuss exciting in the beginning and what made the offer of getting the band back together exciting was that it was fulfiling our expectations as musicians and artists. And we’re very grateful that people supported the results and to the people who do support the results that we come up with. It’s about meeting our own expectations which is one of the things about being creative. Goin’ for it and creating music that we want to hear and need to express, and as far as meeting other peoples’ expectations, that’s a bit of a sticking point, man, because everyone’s got their own opinions and that’s not something that I really want to tap into.
I spoke to John from Baroness recently and he said he got into music to please himself, not to pander to what others might expect from him. Is that the same sort of philosophy you have?
Well for sure. I’m a professional musician. I just want to play music, to entertain people, to let them have a good time. But that comes after the fact. When someone comes to see me perform music I’m involved with, I definitely love them to have a good time and leave the experience fulfilled. But I can’t go into my creative response and go, Well I’m gonna write a story that I think this particular person might want to hear. You know what I’m saying?
One thing I really noticed when you played in Sydney was that the older people in the crowd really got what you did – probably because they were familiar with Kyuss – while the younger ones actually seemed to be very bemused about what you were playing.
Well I think that’s natural. And that’s kind of amusing and exciting to hear for me, because I was born as a musician in the genre of punk rock and even though my age wouldn’t reflect it I was lucky enough to have been introduced and brought up on the first generation of punk bands like the Ramones and the Pistols and the Clash and shit like that. Punk rock is a genre of music that has been around for many years now and it has evolved or devolved depending on who you talk to, and it’s interesting because if you talked to a fourteen year-old kid today who was living and dying for punk rock, he might have an entirely different opinion and perspective on what punk rock was versus mine. And I think there’s things to be said for Kyuss and the genre of music that Kyuss was involved with – some people refer to it as desert rock, some might call it stoner rock – stoner rock, desert rock: this particular movement has been around for all of twenty years now, so we’re looking at a couple, two, three generations that are involved and participating, and I think it’s only natural that a younger crowd would have a more… sometimes kids are more conservative than adults in a weird way! That have a real nice ear for what stoner rock bands are, or what stoner rock bands should be and I think maybe those fourteen year old kids… let them discover smokin’ weed and drinkin’ beers and maybe trying some acid and then see what their response is to use then (laughs).
You said before that you play and record to fulfil your own expectations. To what degree do you think you met those with Peace?
I don’t believe in masterpieces, I just believe in making records. That’s what I do. If I made a masterpiece I’d feel no reason to move forward. I enjoy making records and halfway through you’re already thinking about the next one you’re going to make. I had a wonderful time making this record and it was a very fulfilling experience. No recordings experience is ever the same. This record… I built a studio and I built a new chemistry writing-wise with Bruno (Fevery – guitar) and got to work with John again and Mike Dean (bass) came in, I mean it was an overwhemingly super-intense but super-positive adventure and the record reflects that. At least for me. It’s definitely a monumental achievement for me. I’m very stoked.
Is Mike Dean touring with you this time? I didn’t realise that he would be playing with you when you were here for Soundwave. It was a nice surprise to see him up on stage.
That was kind of a beautiful element that we weren’t anticipating. Nick (Oliveri) kind of got lost for a little while and found his way back home and recorded on the record and was coming down to Australia with us and then at the eleventh hour he couldn’t make it, due to personal reasons. So I was kind of in a pinch and I just thought, Shit, bass players have been makin’ my life super complicated the last couple of years, I might as well shoot for the moon. So I called Mike Dean and he’s been with us ever since. I’ve known Mike for years and he’s always been one of my favourite bass players and we just hit it off and we’re working on levels that I just wasn’t even anticipating. He’s a really awesome dude, you know.
Is there anyone in particular that you’re looking forward to catching up with while you’re here on the Big Day Out tour?
I’m a little ashamed to say it but I haven’t really seen who’s playing this year. I’ve been so busy. I saw the line-up online but I didn’t walk away retaining any of the information, but for me, whenever I play a festival, there’s always a handful of bands that I’m always excited to check out. I’m more than sure that I’ll see bands that are awesome.
Catch Vista Chino at the Big Day Out:
19/1: Metricon Stadium & Carrara Parklands, Gold Coast QLD
24/1: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
26/1: Sydney Showground, Sydney NSW
31/1: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
2/1: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth WA
They will also be playing two other shows:
22/1: 170 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC
28/1: Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW (Lic/AA)