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Interview: Holy Serpent Discuss Doom, Shrooms And Riding Easy

Interview: Holy Serpent Discuss Doom, Shrooms And Riding Easy

Friday 12th May, 2017 1:00PM

Having come together in 2014, Melbourne's Holy Serpent have conjured up their own brand of texturally dense psychedelic stoner/doom that has gathered them fans from around the globe. With two full-length albums under their collective belts - their self-titled debut in 2015, followed by 2016's Temples -  their particular variety of amplifier abuse has garnered them approving nods from critics at Metal Hammer, Consequence of Sound, Classic Rock Magazine and The Sludgelord. Ahead of their New Zealand appearance with Brant Bjork of Kyuss notoriety (as well a cheeky side-show) , resident fuzz fanatic Fluffy caught up with New Zealand ex-pat guitarist/vocalist Scott Penberthy to yarn about the band's symbolism, being signed to RidingEasyRecords, and mushroom doom...

UTR: Does your name come from the Ouroboros symbol of the snake eating it’s own tail which symbolizes wholeness or infinity... Or are you guys getting at the worldly incarnation of the Prince of Darkness? 

Yeah I suppose there is a bit of that, the symbology behind the snake but in all honesty I think we just liked how it sounded - it's also got a bit of a yin and yang type of vibe. Good and Evil. We had a taxi driver on the weekend who was a christian minister and he really liked the 'Holy' part but wasn't too fond of the 'Serpent' part so I guess there's a bit of something for everyone.

You guys are touring NZ very soon with Brant Bjork, who first made his name in seminal stoner rock group Kyuss. How’d suss that out? It must be quite an honour to tour with such an esteemed musician, who I imagine was a pretty solid influence on your tunes?

Absolutely. Brant Bjork and Kyuss have been a huge influence on the stoner rock scene in general and we are over the moon to be playing with them - especially in New Zealand, which will be our first shows out of Australia. Not sure exactly how it came about but Brant asked for us personally. When our album Temples dropped last year, it went straight to number one on the Doom Charts and Brant Bjork's Tao of The Devil was number two.. so that might have caught his attention. Plus he has also just recently signed to the same record label as us Riding Easy Records.

That said, you must have had your fair share of playing with stellar musos since your inception in 2014. Any favourite memories of fun times playing with sweet touring artists?

The craziest tour that we've done with an international band or bands was the Radio Moscow and Kings Destroy tour we did at the start of last year. As fun as it was, we were all crammed into one van. The three bands, 13 band members and only 12 seats with long ass drives everyday. A helluva lot of beer got drunk and shitloads of weed smoked. I also lost my voice for the first three days of the tour so was basically silent in the back of the van. That was a real bummer - but the tour overall was really fun and we made some great friends and we would definitely do it again.

You mentioned you’re signed to stellar stoner label RidingEasyRecords. How did that partnership come about?

We put our demos up on Bandcamp and within three days RidingEasyRecords got in touch and asked to sign us. We didn't really know too much about the label at the time but everyone around us was saying how lucky we were. We hadn't even played a gig yet. We are absolutely honoured to be included on the same roster as such bands like Monolord, Salem's Pot, R.I.P and of course Brant Bjork.

The cover art of your self-titled 2015 release features some very edible looking mushrooms and said release contains banging tune ‘Shroom Doom’. Over these ways the fabled first frost has arrived. I imagine you guys are seasoned fungus foragers? What’s your buzziest psychedelic exploration that you’ve ever experienced?

Our first album tour was called the 'shroom doom tour' and it was happening just when mushy season was kicking in so we loaded up on the psychedelics and hit the road. We had a campervan so cooked up some shrooms in Sydney after a gig one night and went wild.

Recently you jumped the ditch last minute to tag along on some of the Merchant and Watchtower dates over these ways. Spin the yarns on that adventure, if you’d please?

I'd pretty much had a hard day at work and I went to see Watchtower and Merchant play and started to get on it. Before I knew it, I was talking about hopping on a plane with them and joining them on their New Zealand tour. They were very keen to have me along so I booked a ticket and just hopped on a plane still quite drunk. It was a wild ride and I regret nothing. It was f****** cool. Being from New Zealand originally and being quite drunk I felt like if I didn't go I was missing out... I'm really glad that I went and can't wait to come back with Holy Serpent for these shows.

So, here’s my obligatory sound nerd question: what are favourite amps and pedals for inducing your brand of barometric-air-pressure-dropping band heaviness?

Anything old and loud is generally good. We use two Musicman heads for our guitars and our bass player Dave has a myriad of heads he uses. As for guitar pedals I'm not 100% sure what the other guys use but I'm all for my Black Arts Toneworks Pharaoh Fuzz.

Score tickets to Brant Bjork's Auckland show at Whammy Bar here (his Wellington show sold out, sorry folks!), or catch the Holy Serpent side show next Thursday which is at the Whammy Backroom.


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