This piece originally featured in our first issue, which is now available in its updated redux form here
Ghold are arguably one of the biggest prospects in the modern UK doom scene. Having blown listeners away with blackened opus Of Ruin in 2015, the mongers of doom returned last year with PYR – an album of progressive, psychedelic absurdity and crushing riffage.
We caught up with Ghold in the aftermath of their UK tour with Bongripper to chat temporary housing, Ritual Productions and blown amps.
What were the motivations behind deciding to opt for an additional member on your newest album?
From the point of view of a two-piece, we’d always daydream about expanding. We didn’t have any kind of philosophy to make music with, just bass and drums – that is, working with limited resources and not having anyone else who wanted to play with us!
We’d been mates with Oliver for a couple of years, and it just kind of fell into place to stop talking about it and just get him on board properly. We’d done some collaborative stuff together before we recorded PYR, and after a couple of jams and drinking sessions, everything became clear. The stars aligned, you might say!
What musical influences do you all have? And did any of those directly influence PYR?
We’re influenced by lots of different musical styles, although I would say we’re collectively more inspired by particular groups and albums rather than specific scenes or genres of music. Drum-wise I take a huge amount of influence from Messrs Dale Crover, Jon Theodore, John Stanier, Steve Shelton and their bands. Collectively we love Slayer, Magma, Swans and the Melvins.
PYR is named after the temporary housing, Brixton’s Pyrford House, that you used to live in. What was it like to live there? And how did living there affect the music you made?
We wrote the majority of the album on acoustic guitar, bass, drum machine and lots of pieces of A1 paper on the top floor of Pyrford House last summer. It was hot and there was lots of dust coming in through the windows from the knocked-down blocks next door.
Occasionally we would be welcomed home by a large, dry pile of crack shit on the steps. There was a sticker on our front door warning of a potentially hazardous gas leak coming from inside the flat. We smoked really bad quality hashish. There were piles of ex-tenant’s clothes inside the flat which we didn’t bother to remove until after the album was recorded. We had to call the album PYR as that’s where it was born.
Ritual Productions is a treasure trove for ceremonial doom and drone, where do you think your music fits in alongside bands such as Bong and Ramesses?
There are definitely parallels in terms of an approach to weight and density, but we are all different. We’ve never really thought about fitting alongside anyone before, but it’s amazing to share a label with both of these fantastic bands.
Your new album seems to have become more psychedelic/progressive and has less of the blackened elements that were all over Of Ruin, what were the reasons for this?
If Of Ruin was the crumbling of all our influences and playing techniques into a potpourri of stank, PYR is perhaps the attempt to take stock of our resources post-apocalypse – re-moulding and weaponising the shattered shards into something more useful.
Burn everything and then see what you have left…the PYR… I kind of equate “blackened” to blastbeats and tremolo picking though, and I think there are actually more of these techniques used on PYR than Of Ruin…
‘Despert Thrang’ is over 20 minutes in length, your longest track yet. Is this a new direction that your might be going in with longer drawn-out songs or just a one off?
We’ve always made long songs, even pre-demo days, so it doesn’t feel new to us. We normally fill a set playing three or four songs! We can’t see any reason for it to end so expect more of that, definitely.
What were your biggest obstacles as a band to get to this point if any?
Jobs, rent, blown amps.
How was it touring with Bongripper? Were you disappointed when Temples Fest was cancelled?
It was a great tour, and our first time in Europe proper. The Bongripper guys are great lads and they smashed it every night. It was amazing to play to consistently packed rooms and chat bungle with the locals everywhere we went. The quality of the venues and sound systems was amazing. No more sliced meats or cheese for a while though… Of course, everyone was pretty shocked at the cancellation, but the replacement Bristol show was really good.
Any upcoming shows/tours?
Yes, there are some things in the works, more music, more noise, more live, more pain. Keep your ears peeled.
PYR is out now on Ritual Productions. Purchase here.
This piece originally featured in our first issue, which is now available in its updated redux form here.
Words: Tom Kirby