Myrrh on Black Sabbath and creating jock metal

Myrrh on Black Sabbath and creating jock metal
Photo by Cyn Collins

Veteran underground experimenters Jackie Beckey and Andie Mazorol began their sludge-punk band Myrrh three years ago, adding lap steel guitarist Jason Millard a year ago. On their new untitled vinyl release on the Soft Abuse label, Beckey creates heavy, trance melodies and feedback via her viola, and loops it all over Mazorol's slow, steady hypnotic drumming. No overdubs exist on their doom and stoner-metal style songs, which are at times like violent thunderstorms, at others like a maelstrom of celestial bodies colliding. Pieces of Black Sabbath, Earth and Parson Sound lurk in their creations.

Their ties to other bands are numerous. Beckey is also a member of Brute Heart, who recently completed an encore of their live score of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Mazorol and Millard perform together in Visitor, and Mazorol also is in Dog Problem.

Gimme Noise spoke with Myrrh about their murky, heavy music over morning coffee on a warm sunny day at the Blue Moon Coffeehouse. Their tape Hymns will soon be reissued by Matt Himes of Lighten Up Sounds.

Gimme Noise: How did Myrrh begin?

Jason Millard (to Beckey and Mazorol): You two were like shacked up, and then started a band right?

Andie Mazorol: We had a band before then, and after. This is our third band together. In the one before this, the tuba player moved to Pittsburgh. So we had a big period of time where we weren't playing together. Then we both started new bands -- not together -- Jackie in Brute Heart, I was in Mother of Fire. We decided we wanted to have another band so we could play together and have an excuse to go on tour and stuff. We started writing new songs. It was the first band that was just the two of us. Jason recorded us in his basement. We put out a tape. After we put out the tape, Jackie and I had a slow period of not writing new stuff or playing shows. We asked Jason to play with us because we needed some new energy.

You haven't had a release party for the Myrrh album yet. Are you planning on having one?

Jackie Beckey: We haven't. We went on tour right when it came out. We anticipated the record would be out in spring. There was some slow moving stuff. Then we were like "We need to go on tour!" And the record came out the day we left.

We were on this two-week tour. Then I had the Brute Heart Caligari performance coming up, so the release kept getting pushed back and pushed back. We sold a bunch of records already -- there were about 350 made -- so it seemed weird to have a release when most of the records had already been sold. We put out a tape for the tour too. We talk about doing a thing for the tape and the record this winter.

Your music sounds Black Sabbath-y to me, and then I saw that in the Soft Abuse label description. You want to talk about your influences a little and why you went into the style that you play?

JB: We all love Black Sabbath. Andie and I are really into Earth's Hex record, too. So, when we initially started Myrrh, we thought "Oh! We should do something slower and more spacious." I don't know if it turned out spacious. But there are these repetitions that Earth does a lot. It's our kind of music. And Jason's down with that too. It all meshed really well.

JM: For me, too, there's this pile of bands from Sweden during the late '60s and early '70s that I 'm really into. These weird things that it seems like nobody's heard of. And Parson Sound. Really repetitive, plodding -- they had a lot of stuff to do with Terry Riley. They came to Stockholm and did this stuff. I think those had influence on this particular heavy thing.

Andie, you do great artwork -- paintings that show in various galleries, album covers and such. Would you talk about your approach?

AM: I'm a painter. I work with a friend named Tynan Kerr. We do large paintings we've been collaborating on for a long time. There's been a lot of opportunity for us to incorporate a lot of that work into musical stuff, friends' records and stuff. We did a couple of Brute Heart covers, posters and fliers and stuff. We appreciate any chance we get to get out of the studio, to feel different, to get away from doing paintings all the time

What do you think about when you're writing the songs?

JM: Usually somebody goes, "Do you have any riffs?" "No, do you?" And then we just start playing something, and do it over and over again.

JB: We jam and record that, then listen back to it, and when we're like, "That's cool," we go back and try to recreate it. Recording, you have to catch all the material at the right time. If you play it too much, it's not as fresh. It has to have this balance of being on the edge, but its about to fall apart .

Myrrh on Black Sabbath and creating jock metal
Courtesy of Myrrh

Tell us about your tour.

JM: Yeah, we were playing in Maine and we played an outdoor show, next to a waterfall. A bunch of old friends were there, and it felt really perfect. The next day we got up and swam and played, it was awesome. I kept saying, "Let's not go to Boston! Let's call them and say we're sick or whatever." Then we got 15 miles from the place we were playing, at an intersection after lobster, and the back wheel of the van fell off. We missed Boston anyway, and stayed in Maine. And then this miracle happened where the van got fixed, it wasn't expensive, it was only $140. At first I thought it would be expensive and "game over." The lugs just stripped off the wheel somehow. It was a friend's van and seemed like it would be a huge mess. But it worked out. Then we went to Philly and I cut the shit out of my finger.

JB: One of the washers or whatever fell off my pedal and Jason had this little knife to screw it back in and it cut his finger really bad.

JM: It was bleeding a lot -- you know when you get cut with a really sharp knife, and you don't really notice it at first? It was that kind of thing, I felt it hit the bone and was like, "oh, that hit the bone, that's really fucked up." So I closed it and wrapped it up. It was fun playing actually, because it was a different head space. Then we went to Pittsburgh. There were these two meatheads that were trying to fight the whole time. They finally punched somebody.

Tell us more about your live shows?

JB: Live shows are kind of tricky. We like to be really loud, which is really awesome. But it also makes sounding good really hard, depending on where you're at. We're playing the Turf, so that'll be interesting. It's a big room. And making sure the drums can be heard is probably a thing. Because we do like to keep it loose, it's always like, "Oh, that was fucking awesome!" Or, "We could've totally done that differently." But that's what makes playing live cool. The artistry of being able to create live instead of being sick of the same thing. That's one thing that's hard with bands; sometimes you play the same song for years. You play so many shows a month, and you're like, "Fuck, I've played this song - probably for these same people -- like 30 times!" It's kind of weird to get psyched about performing live.

AM: Screwing up is a different thing when you're playing a regimented song- - it's a big thing, where in this band if you make a mistake you can roll with it, turn it into something different that's a positive as opposed to a negative.

Is there a reason the songs don't have titles?

JB: We hate coming up with song titles. I hate weird song titles.

AM: Yeah, and the idea that you have to associate it with something.

JM: When [Jackie and Andie] made a tape, they didn't want to call the tape anything. I had to force them to call it something. And the photo on the tape looks similar to the photo on the record. I'm like, "You can't call your thing nothing."

JB: We called the tape, Hymns, which I think is really fitting.

AM: Its generic enough, almost like a cataloging title. Like, "These are hymns."

JM: Yeah, its not like, "Climbing the mountain with a sword, going to slay dragons," or something like that . . . that sounds like jock metal. [We all laugh]

AM: Which is an okay title!

JB: We are jock metal! This is totally a jock metal record! [Laughs]

AM: Yeah, we'll play in stadiums at half-time!

JM: That'd be awesome!

JB: Do bodybuilding...

Have Jackie wear arm pads to her arms look bigger!

JB: Yeah! Wear jock straps! Get ready!

Turf Club Presents: Blind Shake/Myrrh/Rollerblade. Friday, December 7, 2012
Doors 9 p.m./Music 10 p.m. $7

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