Rifflord Interview

7 min read

Heavy, lasting and sincere. This is South Dakota’s RIFFLORD. Obsessed by the gear and praising the amplifiers that allow them to express the darkest human experiences, RIFFLORD come with a smashing brand new album “7 Cremation Ground / Meditation”.  My brother in arms Emil has already given high praise in his review here.  However we were eager to understand more from the band, so contacted them in order to get more in-depth look into their world filled multiple riffs, amazing attention to detail and everything around them and the new record. And most of all to present to you exclusively RIFFLORD’S new track “Electric Grave”

– Hello, Rifflord! Welcome to Blessed Altar Zine! First of all please present the band and yourselves to our readers?
– Hey this is Wyatt from Rifflord thanks for asking us to do this.

– How did it all start for Rifflord?
– We began back in 2007, Tom Davoux and I founded the band when we were living in a communal punk house known as the 2xtreme house where we were booking everything from punk, thrash, doom and metal bands in our basement. We began looking closer at the roots of heavy music digging deeply into bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Dust, Hawkwind, Budgie, Blue Cheer aside from the obvious influences like Sabbath and Deep Purple. We went out and hunted down a Hammond Organ player (Mike Nissen) whose brother was our drummer (Dan Nissen), stacked our Hiwatt, Sunn, and Orange amplifiers diming them out to get a tone comparable to what we were desiring to hear at that time.

– The band’s location, its hometown, if you wish, is Sioux Falls in South Dakota. How much of an influence on your songwriting is this location, surrounding landscapes, human culture and local traditions?
– My hometown is Burke, South Dakota. The Rest of the band was from Sioux Falls. Burke is located in the sandhills of SD with endless prairies and relentless winds. The winters last almost the majority of the year with temperatures dropping below zero and little sunlight during those months. So for me the rural culture of heavily religious hardworking people permeates through everything I write. It’s the drinking and fighting on Saturday night and church on Sunday morning. It’s a tightrope walk between the sacred, the profane, and all points in between.

– What are the unique selling points of Rifflord and who is your targeted audience?
– We are sincere about what we do, we are a band for those that have A.D.D. but love the genre. What most bands in our genre will play a riff for 2-3 minutes of a song we will fit about 10 riffs in that time frame. This is most likely because living in an area with little to no stimulation we gravitate towards holding one’s attention with constant stimuli. It’s the midwest blessing/curse.

– The obsession with gear is absolutely evident in the music on your debut album, and more so on the upcoming LP. Are there any technical aspects that you would like to share with our readers?
– We built all of our own speaker cabinets, 6×12’s, 4×15’s and everything in between.The cabinets are loaded with speakers different frequency ranges to cover all the tonal bases. I recover all of the amplifiers we own in a brown western tolex to match the entirety of the riggs. The amplifiers we use are two 1972 orange OR120’s, 90’s matamp built Orange OR80 and an OR120, 1973 Sunn Model T, Sunn 300t, Orange AD200b, Orange OR100, and Linden era Ampeg V4

– Eight years in the making, the forthcoming album’s press release cites struggles, ordeals and other events, all having a strong impact on the new music to be released. Do you care to expend?
– Good Lord. I don’t even know where to begin. Losing members, traveling hours only to be screwed over by promoters and not even being able to play. Struggles with substance abuse. But, these things aren’t unique to us, every band goes through that. I probably blame it on an unfortunate collaboration we had on the first album with some darker entities. Honestly we were messing with some things that were over our head at that time and we experienced some bizarre happenings. A black sludge flooded our recording studio that literally came up from the ground with no explanation. We had every light explode in the studio. Lessons learned though. We have shed some serpent’s skin and grown into our own force without the “help” of negativity.

– Your debut LP was frequently labelled stoner/doom. On “7 Cremation Ground / Meditation” a variety of musical accents are palpable, specifically the strong Americana influence. What are your musical influences and how would you personally tag the sound of your forthcoming LP?
– Hank Williams, Robert Johnson, MC5, Hawkwind, Sabbath, Willie Nelson, Terry Reid. I can’t tag the sound of the new album, I’ve tried and it’s entirely its own thing. I know some people will feel uncomfortable about it at first listen but I’m fine with that because it is brutally honest. It is full of hidden gems, samples of AC/DC’s Hells bells, a Geezer Butler interview, evening a screaming fire and brimstone preacher from the early 1900’s.

– So you want to position Rifflord like that on the map of perceptions and musical styles, right? Is this the way you want the band to be remembered?
– Lasting and sincere.

Going back to the press release that accompanied your promo, there is a mention that the new material was mixed five separate times and mastered three times. Obviously with great results. While not unusual to remix and track an album a couple of times, what were the concerns and/or obstacles that resulted in the album’s final result being obsessed over?
– The struggle lied within the battle of frequencies. Our Hammond organ and our mellotron were in a constant state of battle with the guitars and it took some figuring to get close to the tones we heard in our head properly represented. Arranging strings for “the other side” was also somewhat of a challenge at first but our dear friend Cale Laqua did a phenomenal job. Our producer Mike Dresch was the magic behind a lot of the outcome of the album. He was beyond patient with us and allowed us to really experiment with tones, auxiliary percussion and synths. We are beyond grateful to him for the final product.

– What is more challenging – to make a debut album or to continue after it to the second one?
– The first album of anything has zero expectations so it’s easy. The second, all your friends and fans want “26 mean and heavy” part 2. But that’s not reality. We don’t want that, we are progressing and growing.

– What does it actually mean the title of the album? What lyrical themes did occupy your attention to write the lyrics and what the listener can discover from this perspective, I mean what’s on the other side, in the electric grave – dead flower children, poisoned mothers, thunder riders or the riffman cometh?
– The whole album is about struggle, fanaticism, substance abuse, religion, even postpartum depression, all the while praising the amplifiers that allow us to express these human experiences.

– Lots of darkness, desperation and dashed expectations…How important are the negative/blacker emotions for you to write your music?
– It’s simply an exorcism of those things. Because it won’t benefit us to dwell on them in our day to day life. We have children, business’s, families and we have to be positive and strong to create a powerful and healthy environment for them so we purge it in our art.

– Whilst not unusual for a band/artist to gain “cult” status after just one LP, how comfortable are you with fitting that highly revered status?
– “It’s kinda like a new pair of underwear. At first it’s constrictive, but after a while it becomes a part of you.” – Garth Algar

– With a name like RIFFLORD, it begs to ask: which riff lords are your major influences? Who is the Rifflord of Rifford?
– Greg Anderson. Period.

– If you would be able to pick any act, new and old, to share the stage with, who would you pick and why?
– Old= MC5 because of the raw energy and power that group held. New= MURF because of the raw energy and power that group holds.

– What are your plans after the release of the album? Touring?
– We are working on a tour down to SXSW in march. We will be playing the Stoner Jam this year thanks to our brothers in Duel. We also have a couple music videos in the works one that is a GUMMO worshipping tribute to Harmony Korine

– Is there anything else you would like to share with us? What is your message to our readers?
– Thank you for listening, thank you for believing in Rifflord, we are grateful for everything.

– Thank you very much for your time for this interview! We wish you much success with your new record and looking forward to hearing from you soon! 

Interview by Emil/UHF and Count Vlad



**Please support the underground! It’s vital to the future of our genre.

Used by permission. © 2018 by Emil Chiru / UHF