Situated somewhere in the sonic galaxy of progressive metal, Southern rock, stoner rock and Americana lies the unassuming yet powerful Bask.
The Asheville, N.C. quartet have spent years touring the Southeast, making multiple stops in Savannah. Their first Savannah show was with local metal titans Black Tusk a number of years ago. They’ve played El-Rocko and opened for Sweet Tease Burlesque as well.
Last year, they formed a new bond of sorts with the city. They were signed to Season of Mist, a killer European metal label with members likes Cannabis Corpse, KEN mode, Weedeater, Abysmal Dawn, making them label mates with Black Tusk. Savannah sludge metal legends Kylesa also released an album with Season of Mist.
For their third album—a follow to 2017’s “Ramble Beyond”—Bask paired up with producer Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Minus The Bear, Russian Circles, Soundgarden). They recorded the third album with Bayles at Echo Mountain Studios where bands like Band of Horses, Widespread Panic and War on Drugs have cut records.
Bask is set to play The Jinx on June 12 during a quick seven-date southeast jaunt. We caught up with drummer Scott Middleton and singer/guitarist Zeb Camp for a Q&A ahead of their visit, which is printed here in its entirety:
Do Savannah Editor Joshua Peacock: This is a little short Southeast tour, right? Any particular occasion?
Zeb: We’ve been in the studio or preparing for the studio for quite a while now, so we haven’t been doing a lot of touring or shows. We kind of wanted to do a shorter run and get our feet wet again. Just travel and do the band thing.
I think I’ve been going to your shows in Savannah for like four years now, maybe longer.
Scott: Maybe. We started in 2013. I think in maybe 2014 we started, that’s five-ish years. What paper are you with again?
Savannah Morning News. I used to be a freelancer. Wrote a review of your album for Hissing Lawns a while ago.
Scott, Zeb: Oh yeah!
Now I am the editor for some reason. So I assigned this story to myself. Because I can do that.
Oh cool. Thanks.
I was stoked to see you get signed with Season of Mist.
Scott: That was a pretty surreal and a bit overwhelming at first, to be honest. Where were we when we got the email.. we were on tour, last spring.
Zeb: I think it was when we were finishing up that last tour.
Scott: Like April of last year. We got an email about them wanting to talk to us. We tried not to get too excited. It’s a big evolutionary step for us.
Yeah, there are so many great bands on that label. Black Tusk is.
Scott: Yeah, Weedeater and Hyborian, who we’ve toured with. A lot of black metal.
Zeb: Oh yeah, we’re label mates with Mayhem. That’s kind of surreal, strange thing.
Scott: A lot of those bands probably think we sound like the Backstreet Boys. in comparison. The Bask-street Boys.
Are you recording the third album yet? Are you in the studio?
Scott: I am not sure I can release too many details.
So, you are working on a new album with Matt Bayles? I know that’s public.
Scott: I guess we did release that we did complete the work on our third album. No release date yet.
Can you give me an idea of what it’s going too be like, sound wise? All the same lineup from the last two albums?
Scott: Yeah, we still have the same four original members—which is pretty cool—for the past four years. A lot of bands have a hard time maintaining that. It’s cool that it’s still all four of us.
Zeb: The first record, the bulk of it was written sort of before I was in the band when the band was forming. I got a chance to come in and put in guitar parts and do vocals, but it wasn’t quite the collaborative process the last records have been. That’s the biggest difference.
The process for this one was a little different in the studio. We recorded it live for the most part and went back and did some over dubs. Which was a new way of doing it for us. I think it really kind of shaped the vibe of the record.
Sounds like you had the songs ready to go and you just brought them in and played live?
Scott: Yeah. It’s the most time we’ve put into recording an album. We blocked off Sundays and Mondays from January, or maybe December, like 10 or 15 hours a week for three or four months for writing new material. We were about as busy as we could be with having full-time jobs and everything. We’re pretty dedicated to it.
When it came to songwriting, did your sound adjust or did you stick to what Bask has been doing for years now
Zeb: I think we’re all finding our roles and what we’re doing in the band and what we do best. I think those kind of things have been getting more defined. With our writing process, Ray (Worth) or myself will bring an idea in.
Ray brought a lot of stuff to the table for this record. I spent a lot more time crafting vocals and lyrics and harmonies and stuff—it was a bigger aspect of what I was working on. Because of that, the record is a little more proggy, and because of Scott’s influence and trying to keep the drums interesting and push us to experiment more.
Did you feel a little pressure to maybe be a little heavier because you’re on this really heavy label now?
Scott: That’s a good question. Not necessarily. We just get in the room and what happens, happens. We don’t have any preconceived notions. We just all work it out together. That’s what I would say about this third album—the compositions are little more proggy in general.
There’s going to be some curveballs in the album. I don’t want to divulge too much information. We all got outside of our comfort zone a little more. If you’re not doing that, I don’t know what you’re spending your time doing.
Yeah! You’re not growing if you’re not doing that. You have to push yourself out of those comfort zones.
Scott: Yeah. It still sounds like us. We still have the doomy moments and then faster, more uptempo songs. I think we all like keeping it across the board like that so we don’t get bored with the material. We all have such vast influences. We throw it all in the melting pot and there you go.
Zeb: I think maybe we felt the pressure, or maybe we feel a little worried about it not being heavy (enough), but I don’t think we did anything about it. It’s all subjective.
(Laughs) Well, they know what they got when they signed you, right?
Zeb: That’s right.
Scott: To be honest, there are a few moments that are meatier than most—are ‘indie’ sounding. And then we’ve written some parts that might be neck and neck with some of the heaviest stuff we’ve done. Maybe that will be our thing moving forward. I don’t know. We don’t think about that form when we write. It just manifests itself.
Zeb: The peaks got higher and the valley’s got lower. I think maybe.
What was it like working with Matt Bayles?
Scott: It was intense. We’ve never worked with an engineer of that caliber. He’s worked with Soundgarden. He dropped a story about when he was cutting his teeth in the industry: Neil Young did a guitar solo and he was a studio tech or something. Just stories like that, it was nuts.
We’re working with this dude, who’s had his hands in ISIS and Mastodon and so many of my personal influences. We were very stoked to work with him. He pushed us mentally and musically maybe further than we’ve been pushed. I think it was mostly a good thing.
I think a good producers does just that, pushes you.
Scott: Yeah and we had too. We only had four or five days to complete it. He was good at reigning us in and cutting the fat. Props to him. He worked his butt off from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. day in day out and would just take a few minutes to eat real quick.
Zeb: He’s a machine. I don’t think we would have gotten it done in four and a half days, if he hadn’t been the one producing it.
Yeah, he’s done this before.
You’ve been playing Savannah since like 2013, right?
Scott: Yeah. We love The Jinx. What’s the other one? We call it the Gold Members Club.
Scott: Yeah. Thank you. I knew you would know it.
Did you play Hang Fire back in the day?
Zeb: I am not sure if we did or not.
Scott: Savannah is great, man. For me, it’s cool to play that city because it has such a huge history of metal that personally influenced me. Baroness and Kylesa and all of that that came out of there early on. Same with Black Tusk.
Didn’t Sweet Tease Burlesque bring you guys down here? Or one of your first shows was with them?
Scott: I think our second show was with them. They definitely got us in the Savannah scene. Meeting those people really opened up a lot of doors. Such a big staple for the community. We were super lucky. I think our first show in Savannah was with Black Tusk at The Jinx. Which was completely insane. We could not believe it was happening.
I’ll never forget that day. We went to a cookout with all of those people; Savannah Sweet Tease, Gill from The Jinx and got to meet all these crazy awesome cool people. Everyone was so welcoming and kind to us in Savannah. Always.
Yeah, we’re nice. That’s all I need for this. Thanks guys.