Interview with Taz From Undersmile

20140808_BOA141_1022We’re half way through the year and Undersmile are looking pretty likely to be on our end of year lists thanks to their awesome ‘Anhedonia’ album. We caught up with Taz from the band to hear a little bit about the making of the album.

Congratulations on the new album, we were mightily impressed here at CackBlabbath. Are you happy with the reception you’ve been getting? 
Taz –  Thank you most kindly! We have been extremely humbled and overwhelmed by the response to Anhedonia.  The album is a particularly personal one and it means an awful lot to the four of us that people seem to like it.

CB were relatively late to the party for Undersmile, we literally stumbled across you at Bloodstock. It’s well documented (and we’ve done our listening back) that you don’t really make the same album twice. Is that on purpose or are you just growing naturally as a band?
Taz – I think it is a bit of both. We try not to set out with a deliberate mission statement and to just see what comes out naturally in the writing process.  However, we would have died of boredom by now if we’d made the same album/ep six times and I’m sure anyonre who listens to us would have too! So there is always that desire to keep it evolving and interesting.

We thought ‘Anhedonia’ had a bit of a soundtrack feel to it; would you agree with that?
Taz – Thank you! That is  a huge compliment to us; Hel and I have a long-standing dream to write a film score. Yes, I would  agree. I think it is definitely true to say (much like a film) that Anhedonia works best and makes most sense when listened to in its entirety.

If ‘Anhedonia’ was a soundtrack – what would the film plot be?
Taz – Something odd, eerie and disjointed. Disturbing without being gory – we’re not fans of gore and I can’t handle anything supernatural!!  I’d like to think it would be something by David Lynch or Werner Herzog (in our wildest dreams).  Or perhaps a really, reeeealy slow dance movie. Step-Up – The Morphine Years….

Festivals are just around the corner – any booked in yet?
Taz – Not this year, everyone is busy with work/children/life at the moment. We’re just enjoying a well-earned break following all the hard work writing, rehearsing, recording, releasing and performing Anhedonia! (phew) We played Roadburn Festival in April so I think the high from that will keep us going for the rest of this year.

You recorded at the quickly becoming legendary Skyhammer studios, how was that experience?
Taz – Incredible but intense!! We only had 4 days booked out to do everything, so were pulling 12-14 hour shifts in the studio. Chris Fielding is a trooper, he never complained about the hideously long sessions and is amazing to work with (we all enjoyed lots of Alan Partridge-isms). His ear for flat/sharp is legendary and he pushes you hard to play your best which we really appreciate. Jon Davies and his family are so welcoming too. And there were chickens and rabbits. So…

Is it becoming essential for UK doom bands to record there now?
Taz – Definitely!! They do such an amazing job, everyone wants to record there. We would highly recommend it.

Your latest t-shirt is a take on Nirvana’s classic ‘Smiley’ – are you still grungers at heart.
Taz – Haha! Of course, I think we always will be…. Grunge/90’s music was the main topic that Hel and I bonded over when we first met and started playing together. Babes In Toyland, Meat Puppets, Melvins, Hole, Screaming Trees, Jesus Lizard and, of course, Nirvana. Olly and Tom are huge 90’s/grunge fans too, you just can’t beat it!

Who in the band has the most non-doom influences?
Taz – I think we all have extremely varied tastes in music. Tom and Olly are big hip-hop fans for a start! All four of us listen to everything from punk, grunge and metal to classical, choral and folk . It’s too close to call, I’m going have to wimp out and say all of four us are utterly and completely non-doom!!