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Interview

Bruce Lamont Talks "Feral Songs For The Epic Decline"

Most widely recognized for his saxophone and vocal work fronting Chicago act Yakuza, Bruce Lamont has also contributed to a wide-range of other diverse projects including Circle of Animals with Sanford Parker, Decayist with Blake Judd of Nachmystium, Sick Gazelle with Eric Block and Sanford Parker among many others. He's also known for contributing his skills to acts such as Sigh, East West Blast Test, Minsk, Nachtmystium, Rabid Rabbit, Poison Arrows, Sectara, Brutal Truth, Hex Machine and more, including a new project called Bloodiest as well as touring with Led Zeppelin tribute act Led Zeppelin II. On top of all that, Bruce is preparing to release his debut solo album "Feral Songs for the Epic Decline" (reviewed here).

Despite his extremely busy and hectic schedule, Bruce was kind enough to sit down with Metalunderground.com during a New York stop on his tour with Led Zeppelin II and discussed many things from his debut solo album to working with other bands and what inspires him to create music each and every day.

Cody B: So with this new year you plan to release your debut solo album, "Feral Songs for the Epic Decline." I've had the pleasure of hearing it before its release and its quite an ambitious record. How did the idea of doing a solo album and the basis for "Feral Songs" come to exist?

Bruce: Back around 2006 I wanted to incorporate some loose improvisational works along with some more melodically driven pieces I had been tooling around with. So I ventured out to do some solo shows to work out these things in a live and a more immediate setting. I like to work within the moment on the loose improv stuff, it forces me to make decisions right then and there and often times subconsciously.

Cody B: The songs featured on the record are very eclectic and the material might take some people by surprise. What was the writing process like for this album?

Bruce: I wrote and recorded half of the material back in 2007 and the rest was recorded in 2010. The material in 07 I wanted variety in it stylistically without it being forced. In 2010 I have didn't have so much of game plan. I had some loops and melodies I had created and went into the studio to work them out. I let the melodies dictate where things should go.

Cody B: You're known best for being a part of Chicago avant-metal group Yakuza. How do you feel this solo album compares to your past work, with Yakuza and on other projects?

Bruce: While it hearkens back to music I have involved myself with before, it stands on its own. Everything I have involved myself with I let the surroundings and other minds have its influence over the material. The solo music is just my mind, with the help of Sanford [Parker]'s engineering and creative skills.

Cody B: There seems to be many different layers and textures to "Feral Songs." What instruments, and possibly techniques, were used on the album?

Bruce: I played a variety of wind instruments, voice, guitar(s), percussion, moog synths, contact mics, harp, etc. I created loops and would build from there. Same process as the live material.

Cody B: Is there a particular meaning behind the title of the album?

Bruce: Eh. I don't like to spell things out. Take it anyway u like. Yeah there is something behind it all but I don't really want to get into all of that.

Cody B: Ok. The material has a very dark atmosphere to it. What inspired the themes and sounds on this release?

Bruce: A lesson in exploration creatively. Some deep soul searching, a reflection on past life, looking beyond ones self. That's just the start of where it all came from.

Cody B: One thing that surprised me was, after having the majority of the album stay in such a dark place, the final track "2 Then The 3" has a slightly more upbeat feel to it. Was this done intentionally?

Bruce: I just felt that is was the right song to close out the recording. The sequence dictated it.

Cody B: The name Bruce Lamont is usually always associated with the Saxophone. How and when were you introduced to the instrument and what made it so appealing to you?

Bruce: I began playing the saxophone around the 8 until I was around 15. Then I picked it back up around 25. Hearing horn players like Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler got me excited about the horn in a way I never realized.

Cody B: Speaking of Saxophone; your talents have been utilized by many other bands. One song that really sticks out in my mind is your collaboration with Nachtmystium for the "Assassins" album. Your Saxophone solo in the track "Oceanborne" blows my mind. I hadn't heard anything quite like that up until then and that album really put Nachtmystium on the map. How did that collaboration come to be and was it difficult for you to come up with such fantastic sections?

Bruce: Thank you for the compliment. [Its] not very difficult at all when you have music like that song to inspire you to play over. I heard the track a few times and instantly ideas began flowing.

Cody B: You've also contributed Saxophones to Sigh's "Gallows Gallery" album, which is a real experimental journey for that band. What was it like working with them on such a monumental album?

Bruce: Really cool! Mirai would send me tracks sometimes with ideas already worked out or he would ask for me to come up with something. Either way, again [it was] easy to do when playing over such amazing music.

Cody B: With your extensive back catalog and long list of collaborations its obvious that you have a wide range in musical tastes. In general, what or who inspires you to get up in the morning and play music?

Bruce: Everything. My whole life revolves around it. I tour, record and bar manage at a place called the empty bottle in Chicago and still go to tons of shows.

Cody B: What other bands and artists do you listen to, when not writing or performing?

Bruce: Hmm. Today I have been listening to Captain Beefheart (rip), Wasp (first record), Lightning Bolt, Peter Gabriel (1980) and...Nick Drake.

Cody B: 2010 just came to an end, and it was quite a big year for underground avant-garde/progressive releases. Which albums stood out to you in 2010? From any genre.

Bruce: I really like the new Killing Joke record, Triptykon, Wovenhand and Swans.

Cody B: So with 2011 now upon us, what are you're plans for the coming year as a solo artist?

Bruce: I am doing some shows for sure, U.S. and Europe. I think I am doing a record release show in NY at the end of February, February 27th at union pool.

Cody B: Any other collaborations or side-projects we should be looking out for?

Bruce: I have a new band called Bloodiest. Our debut recording is coming out on Relapse at the end of March. [I'm] looking forward to that.

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