To many, Kyuss is one of the most influential stoner metal bands of all time. That’s why fans were ecstatic when singer John Garcia, drummer Brant Bjork, and bassist Nick Oliveri (along with new guitarist Bruno Fevery) reformed under the moniker Kyuss Lives! back in the fall of 2010. Though they’ve been mainly playing the European and Australian markets, the band will finally make its way to the States this Fall during their massive North American tour.
In the midst of prepping for the road, Brant Bjork took a moment to chat with Metal Insider. During our conversation, he discussed what lead to the birth of Kyuss Lives!, how performing with his former band mates now differs from the past, and also gave us an update on Nick Oliveri and how his recent run in with the law may affect the group’s future. However, what will excite most die-hard fans is Bjork confirming Kyuss Lives!’s plans to record new music at the beginning of 2012. Guess this just proves that Kyuss Lives! isn’t your average reunion.
Before you and Nick Oliveri joined John Garcia onstage in 2010 during “Garcia Plays Kyuss” at Hellfest, it had been about 15 years since Kyuss disbanded. What first led to the three of you reuniting, and how did it evolve into Kyuss Lives!?
Well, to go to the beginning, John decided in 2010 to tour with three European musicians and go under the name “Garcia Plays Kyuss,” and play all Kyuss music. And not long after I heard about it, John contacted me and asked me if I wanted to take my solo band and tour with them in Europe. And I said “sure.” So I went out on tour with John and watched him play Kyuss every night, and John asked me, the first night before the show, “Would you like to get up and play ‘Green Machine’ on drums with us?” And I said “Sure!” We did that as kind of a ritual every night. By the time we got to Hellfest, Nick happened to be playing the festival with his solo band as well. So John asked him if he wanted to get up on stage and join us. To be honest, I don’t know when John decided that he wanted to get us to commit to this on a major level. But about two weeks after the Hellfest show, John contacted me again and said ‘Hey that was a lot of fun. Do you think the time is right to do this? Do you want to do this?’ And I said “Sure. Let’s do it!”
Were you ever hesitant to reform?
No. I mean, I would’ve jumped at the chance at any point. I think all of the members of Kyuss, except obviously Josh [Homme, guitarist], were into the idea of getting back together. Now is the best and most natural time for us to have decided to do this. And I say that because I know a lot of people have wanted us to reunite over the years. But I think it’s most important that if and when we were to reunite and get back together, it would be when we wanted to do it, and not necessarily when outside people want. So we wanted to do it. And when we realized that Josh was just going to stick to his guns and not want to be a part of it, we finally decided “Well, we want to do it, and if he doesn’t want to be a part of it, then we’re not going to wait.”
So I take it then that the three of you did try to include Josh Homme [who went on to form Queens Of The Stone Age following Kyuss’ split]?
John didn’t really mention Josh when we first talked to me about it. And I told him “Well, I think for us to move forward, we’ve all had our differences with Josh over the years, but out of respect to what the band is and was we have to at least ask him. At the least let him know what we’re doing.” I don’t talk to Josh anymore, and haven’t in years. So John went ahead and took care of that. And John said that Josh just didn’t really respond. He just wasn’t really interested. We kind of counted on that, we kind of assumed that would be his response. And it’s ok, we move forward anyways.
Well you’ve been moving forward with guitarist Bruno Fevery. What does he bring to the group?
First of all, Bruno is an amazing guitar player. Beyond that, Bruno’s just a very easy going, grounded, laid back person. And so in all honesty, what he brings to this is a humbleness and lack of ego, and it really allows us to be the musical entity that I felt we could have always been minus egos and power struggles. So the band really breathes now, so to speak, and there’s a tremendous amount of positive energy, which is something we haven’t experienced since the very early days. All in all, I think he’s just a breath of fresh air, a breath of new life.
With the exception of John, the band’s lineup shifted around throughout its career. Are there any eras of the band you’re less comfortable playing music from?
No. I think naturally I might be a little bit more comfortable with the music of Kyuss that I was involved with. But to be honest, I’ve always like all of Kyuss’ music and I really enjoy playing what we’re doing live now. There’s some songs from the later stuff that I really enjoy playing. So I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of confidence or excitement anywhere. I really enjoy all the music as a whole.
You kind of touched upon this earlier, but how would you say playing with Kyuss now differs from back in the band’s early days?
Well, one thing I think a lot of people forget, or maybe not even acknowledge with Kyuss history, is the simple fact that when we were just getting ourselves involved in the rock scene in the early 90’s, we were all really young guys. Josh and I were 18 years old, John was probably around 20, and Nick was 19. And I think that had a lot to do with why the band imploded. We weren’t mature or wise enough to just know how to manage the primal band that we had in a business atmosphere and music business itself. We just didn’t really know how to manage that and manage ourselves within. We were young! And now we’re adults, and we’ve got families. I’ve been in the music business over 12 years now making records, and so have Nick, John, and even Bruno. Now we get to enjoy these songs and enjoy the music, but we’re just a little bit more mature and very much conscious of about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and what our potential of continue to doing it is.
Shortly after Kyuss Lives! announced its first batch of dates, Garcia revealed that the band might be recording new music. Is there still a chance that Kyuss Lives! could be releasing new recorded material?
Yeah, we’ve actually already began working on new material and we plan to record a new album early next year, have it out probably by the end of 2012.
That’s awesome! What pushed you guys to make a new record happen?
From the first rehearsal and then on to the first couple of weeks of our March tour in Europe, it was evidently clear that we had a very strong chemistry with Bruno. And of course John, Nick and I always had really good music chemistry. Once again going back to my last statement about being conscious of where we’re at what we have, we figured “Let’s push ourselves and take the challenge to take advantage of this great chemistry and opportunity to make new music!”
Do you guys know how you’ll be releasing the new music?
Well we’ve got quite a few offers from Europe and North America. We’re sitting on the offers right now and kind of deciding what we want to do. We haven’t really decided yet. I guess that’s all I really should say about that, we haven’t really decided what we’re going to do.
Not to keep pushing, but would the band ever consider going the DIY route?
Yeah, that’s definitely something that we have been looking at. I myself have been independently putting out my own records for the last ten years, and I’m certainly a big advocator of that style of business. But it’s important for us to look at every opportunity and every avenue. I would say there’s probably a good chance that we’ll probably independently move our music in North America ourselves and maybe in territories, like Europe or Australia where we’re not physically there, we might get some help so to speak.
Having experience with that style of business, what would you say is the biggest difficulty of DIY?
For me, the biggest difficulty is money management. If you have ambitions to independently distribute and manufacture your own art, a lot of times you’re doing so because you’re an artist who wants to get their craft and music out to the people without having to jump through hoops or compromise their style. And a lot of times artists aren’t by nature the best business people in the world. I mean, there’s a reason why we have so many great bands, and we forget that it’s not just music talent that brings us these bands. It’s record labels because for better or worse they establish avenues and ways in which the artists can focus on the art. They do that by being an organized business, and to try and control all of that and get maximum output in terms of art and having a really organized business is very difficult thing. It can be done, some artists have definitely been able to achieve that, but it’s very difficult.
Nick has been having some trouble with the law as of late. Under the circumstances, how has he been holding up?
I think Nick is doing what he always does. So having said that, I think he’s doing good. But I’d say he’s definitely, naturally, a bit nervous.
We’ve previously heard that Nick will still be playing the U.S. dates on the upcoming Kyuss Lives! North American tour, while Scott Reeder [former Kyuss bassist who has also been filling in for the band’s recent European dates] will be filling in on the Canadian dates. Can you confirm whether this is still the plan, or was there never truth to this?
No, that is confirmed. Scott Reeder will be doing all of the Canadian dates, and as of this point right now Nick will be doing the U.S. dates.
Of course you’d want Nick to play as much as possible, but under the circumstances, is there any reason why the band decided not to use Reeder for the entire tour?
It just revolves around the fact that Nick was asked to be part of this first. And although Scott Reeder has actually contributed more musically to Kyuss in terms of records and popular eras of the band, Nick was there from the beginning and is a part of the original essence of what Kyuss was. John and I respect that, and on top of that we really love playing with him. So because we committed to that, we feel that we want to give Nick the opportunity to fulfill his part as much as possible. But this is a very difficult situation, and we don’t want to jeopardize any opportunities for the band as a whole. We’re doing the best we can to manage this situation and make sure that everyone gets a fair shake and that everyone’s content with the results. As of right now, we’re just going to have to wait and see how things pan out or develop because Nick obvious has court dates. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
As unfortunate of a situation as it is, it’s great that you have Scott available as a backup plan. It’s extremely fortunate for you and the fans.
Yeah, Scott is an amazing bass player and a wonderful person. He is a fantastic “plan B.” And for the record, he’s the only “plan B.” If it’s not going to be Nick or Scott, then this whole thing wouldn’t work. We are very lucky to have “plan A” and “plan B.” We’re just going to have to hope that both of those options are available for as long as we need them to be available.