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Cold Black River

The Soundtrack To The Journey Across The River Styx

Cold Black River Record Label: Cold Black River Music
Artist's Facebook
by Sal Serio
April 2016

When I reviewed the Cold Black River CD E.P. ‘Hillbilly Zeus’ this past October, I coaxed descriptive associations using words like dark, disturbing, apocalyptic, and demonic. Upon further contemplation, that was quite accurate! It’s the soundtrack to the journey across the River Styx to the Land of the Dead. Your own journey will be far less perilous, as Cold Black River perform at The Frequency in Madison twice in April. Saturday, April 16, is Bomblastica 2016 (Maximum Ink’s 20th anniversary party) with Cold Black River, Motherhive, Subatomic, and Droids Attack. Saturday, April 30 features Cold Black River with The Garza and The Gran Fury.

MAXIMUM INK:  Eric and Jeremy played together in Helliphant before this band, but how did (drummer) Aaron come in to the picture?

AARON KANITZ:  Jeremy and I had played in a band years ago. He hit me up out of the blue one day when they were looking for a full-time drummer.  I was pretty stoked when I heard the first couple tracks they had started. It was a project that fell right in line with what I had been looking to work on for a long time. After a few practices it felt like home.

MI:  Eric, you used to play guitar but are now on bass in Cold Black River. Do you like the change, and what opportunities does it open up for you as the lead singer?

ERIC COBB:  I do like the change. When I began playing music I started out on guitar. Later, in a lot of the punk bands I performed with in Fort Smith and Tulsa, I switched to drums and vocals out of necessity. When I originally joined Helliphant, I was asked to replace Darwin on bass, as he had stepped away for a time. When Darwin returned, instead of giving me the boot, they asked if I’d stay on as rhythm guitar and backing vocals. The rest has been a drunken blur. I’ve been singing and performing with an instrument my whole life. Performing with the bass does offer me opportunities to more closely concentrate on the vocals and have more fun with them. I get a chance to test and expand my range of different voices.

MI:  Jeremy, I have heard your guitar style change and metamorphose over the years, from shedding metal, to more of a chordal punk sound, to now more atmospheric doom metal. What influences you and inspires your guitar playing?

JEREMY ROSELAND:  As odd as it may sound my longtime favorite has always been Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. His playing always has a down and dirty lyrical quality to it. You can hear a lot of his influence in the CBR solos, more so than most of the other bands I’ve been in. Like Billy, most of my other long time faves have been less technical players: Tim Sult from Clutch, Josh Homme from Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age, Tony Iommi, Hendrix, etc… Of course I do still dabble with the shred. Steve Vai has always been an influence. He’s a very creative shredder and anyone that can hang with Zappa is fine by me. When I started playing, I had a weird mix of influences going on from 80s shred, thrash, punk, and classic rock, to straight up blues and even (gasp) country. Good playing is good, regardless of what style it is. After all the years I tend to stick with blues-based playing for my core and add in a little shred when it’s going to be effective to the song.

MI:  Your recent CD was more of a mini-album/E.P. Are there plans for a full-length follow-up?

EC:  In 2014 we self-produced a demo with just our logo on the front and four songs: “Shotgun”, “Hollow Man”, “Voices”, and “Old West Undertaker”. Last year we released the ‘Hillbilly Zeus’ E.P. with five tunes. We had Eli Quinn, the artist who designed artwork for The Garza and Droids Attack, design our t-shirt and stickers. They look amazing. We are currently working on a full-length CD that we plan to record this month at Dustin Boyle’s Class A Studios here in Madison. We really like the direction we’re going with this new material, and can’t wait to get it out there. We’ve been slowly adding to our set lists, and people are noticing the new stuff and seem to dig it.

MI:  I am glad to see local rock bands taking care with the artwork presentation on their CD releases, and Tessa Najjar’s artwork on the ‘Hillbilly Zeus’ E.P. really helped to define that statement. What can you tell me about Tessa?

EC:  This lady is stellar. We met Tessa (https://www.facebook.com/TessaNajjarDesignIllustration) on this stoner/doom metal Facebook group. She’s an artist who lives in France, who was looking to do some artwork for heavy bands. We sent her a copy of the “Hillbilly Zeus” song and lyrics, and asked her to send us whatever inspired her. She was very drawn to Medusa and sent us those sketches first. Once we saw Medusa, we knew we had our artist. After receiving Zeus, Cerberus, and Poseidon, we asked if she’d do Hades for the inside cover, and she obliged. Needless to say her artwork for the CD and the individual character posters have been a real hit.

MI:  Talk about your experience playing on the “Bordello Of Horror” TV show. That’s a good way to reach a wider audience… has anything come about as a result of that show? Did you know Rich Peterson (aka “Freakshow”) beforehand?

EC:  Performing on “Bordello Of Horror” was a genuine trip. Jeremy knew Freakshow from back in the day, and had periodically been hitting him up to do the show. They shoot everything in one day at Madison Media Institute. We arrived at the studio after coming home from a 3 day out-of-towner. We were beat, and their crew was beat because we were the last of eight or ten bands they had recorded that day. Everyone was loopy, but professional, [and it] went off without a hitch. It’s kind of crazy to be interviewed by a dude in all green makeup, hamming it up as this outlandish character, then jamming one of your tunes. We actually got a gig from that episode, and thought it turned out pretty killer.

MI:  You’re hitting the road pretty often. What are some of your favorite cities to play? Any plans for more wide scale touring?

EC:  After nearly three years, we’ve managed to make some great friends throughout Wisconsin. We perform in Oshkosh and Wausau a lot, and we’re starting to break in to Milwaukee more. We want to reach out regionally to more places like Chicago, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, and further. Our latest goal is to try to hook up with a touring band, opening up for them on a half dozen dates. We meet so many bands that book their own tours around the country and are gone three or more months at a time.

MI:  Since you gig so often with the other local hard rock/punk bands, and play many different Madison venues, how would you sum up the local “sound”, or the local scene, in general?

EC:  That’s tricky. Madison is Madison like Chicago is Chicago, or Austin is Austin. It’s a unique bird. If you’re talking the rock scene, some bands do have what could be called a “Madison sound”, but for every one of them there are ten other bands of varying genre that forgo that stereotype. There’s also a unique camaraderie here. Fellow bands and fans support each other, even during the rough patches, and it builds a better scene. You never want for a good show in Madison. More often than not you have to make a tough choice as to which killer show to go to.


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