Enthralled by the group’s first release, we decided to ask Tuskar about their influences, the origins of their interest in Welsh mythology and the birth of their unique brand of ‘nuclear sludge’.
The mystical world of mythology and the hypnotic world of doom metal have gone hand-in-hand on numerous occasions. But whilst the normal culprits are Norse figures or other more well-known pagan deities, Milton Keynes duo Tuskar have instead delved into the untapped world of Welsh mythology on their debut EP, Arianrhod.
The band’s fuzz-fuelled brand of doom is remarkably accomplished for a band with just one EP out. Despite only having a five-song repertoire, the band’s music proves a more varied affair than the average doom band, incorporating feedback-drenched riffs, psychedelic doom in the vein of Ufomammut, stoner-esque grooves, blackened sludge and encompassing atmospherics that remind of Mastodon.
Enthralled by the group’s first release, we decided to ask them about their influences, the origins of their interest in Welsh mythology and the birth of their unique brand of ‘nuclear sludge’.
How did you guys get together?
Tom Dimmock (guitar): Well Milton Keynes isn’t the biggest of places, so it was only natural that the two of us, with our musical similarities, would gravitate towards each other through bands and gigs and what not.
Tyler Hodges(vocals, drums): Yeah, and mutual love of Guinness is another attracting factor *laughs*.
Who/what inspires you musically?
Tyler: I love loads of different things, from glam to grind. I take a lot of inspirations from the more old school artists and try to put my own youthful spin on it. Although I love doom, I still love a band to have energy live.
Tom: Mostly avant-garde, free-form J-pop and early 00’s Nokia ringtones.
The title Arianrhod comes from Welsh mythology, how does a band from Milton Keynes become interested in such topics?
Tyler: We got the idea initially from my girlfriend Lydia Elliot (also the artist for the EP) and we really liked the concept. The doom scene is saturated with mythology and magic, but we wanted to do something that hadn’t been approached before.
Tom: Yeah, because we write the songs instrumentally at first the concept can be crafted to fit the music, but when Lydia came to us with the idea it immediately fit with the songs and what Tyler was doing with the lyrics at the time. Both the music and concept seemed to fit hand in hand.
Are the EP’s tracks also influenced by Welsh mythology?
Tyler: The songs don’t directly relate to the myths but if you look at the lyrics they mirror the messages that are put across in the stories. Some are more closely related than others, for example, ‘Fateweaver’ is almost a character portrait of Arianrhod herself. But the themes of life, death, fate etc. run throughout the record.
Does this theme also influence the trippy artwork?
Tom: Yeah the artwork is Lydia’s interpretation of Arianrhod, and the wheel of fate that accompanies her depicted as the universe itself. We also wanted to portray the mirror between life and death, which is why we have the skeleton wrapped in snakes on the back of the EP which joins with the front cover to make a full piece.
You refer to your sound as ‘nuclear sludge’, but is it hard to create such a heavy sound with just the two of you?
Tyler: We came up with the term ‘nuclear sludge’ to take the piss but somehow it’s caught on. To be fair the combination of Guinness, fuzz and aggressive drums does come out pretty nuclear.
Tom: Nah, we just do some bits here and there and the heaviness comes naturally.
Riff Rock’s roster is quite varied, does this help you feel at home on the label?
Tyler: It’s Papa Leigh that makes us feel at home, he makes sure all of our needs are catered to.
Tom: Yeah everyone on the label is sound as fuck, I feel we all have something to share and it’s great having different views.
What have you guys got planned for the future?
Tom: Become a cult icon, fake my own death and then re-appear as the host of the iconic show ‘The Price is Right’.
Tyler: On a serious note, we’ve got another EP in the pipeline and we look to gig as much as possible in the coming year, also I intend to become managing director of the Guinness factory by 2018.
Arianrhod is available now. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr