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Interview: Chicago Doomed and Stoned Festival 2018 (a talk with Lara Noel McGlynn)

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 5:22 PM (PST)

Scientist killing it live (photo by Josh Dagenais)

Lara Noel McGlynn is the head organizer of Chicago Doomed And Stoned Festival, one of the funnest smaller underground niche extreme musical festivals of the year. We highly recommend you make the trip to Reggie’s in Chicago from June 1st-3rd. From some of the best bands in Chicago to like minded souls from around the country, this festival has a killer grouping of acts from Brume to Whores to The Skull to Scientist to Inter Arma and on and on.

It seems like only yesterday that Lara and I were completely shitfaced watching NIN, Soundgarden and Dillinger but now Dillinger is gone, Chris Cornell is dead and in hindsight I was so drunk I wish I remembered a lot more of that show! Anyway, Lara moved away from my area and has been kicking major ass in the metal scene supporting bands and so it was great to catch up with her and find out what is gonna make this festival super special and lit!

Read more BELOW.

Lara

Hey, how are you today!? We have been friends awhile now but how did you end up involved in helping run a big metal fest after leaving my area?

Lara: Hey Morgan. Never a dull moment these days planning such a big event. Funny to think that we have been in and out of the same social circles for over twenty years. Lifetimes during that period for both of us…

Although I have always seen music as a vital part of my life (much akin to food and water), I didn’t take a role within the inner workings of the music industry until a few years ago. The editor-in chief of Doomed and Stoned, Billy Goate, embraced what he termed my “dark poetry.” At the time, I was merely looking for an outlet within a sub-culture I had identified with that might appreciate the inner workings of my mind. At the end of the day, what meant the most was the cathartic experience of creating a work and unleashing it. If anyone “liked” it, that was just a plus.

Every week, I’d release a new short writing piece accompanied by artwork that provided a visual doorway.Long story short, the writing pieces were well received, and I began taking on other roles with Doomed and Stoned, ultimately thriving by conducting interviews and working with the bands/band members in more intimate ways. Billy would remark that I seemed to have a natural ability at getting people to feel comfortable and open up. One of my favorite interviews was with John Garcia. I think we bullshitted on the phone for a half hour after the “official” interview ended. However, I wanted to push myself further and take on a big task that would occupy a lot of my time.

At Doomed and Stoned, we have been putting out what is called our ‘Scene by scene’ compilations. These are all up on Bandcamp at a name-your-price donation. These are music compilations that highlight the heavy underground in a particular area. It’s our way of introducing people to new music by putting the spotlight on those bands. Heavy hitters pop up on these from time to time.

Inter Arma

In late fall of 2016, I chose Chicago as the focal point of what would become ‘Doomed and Stoned in Chicago’ (released via Bandcamp July 2017) I had begun to come across this wicked heavy scene in Chicago that kept unfolding deeper and deeper. In the midst of working on the compilation, I chose to move here, falling deeper in love with the music scene and community here as a whole.

One of the things I started to see after moving here was a gap within the heavy music scene between say something like Chicago Open Air and a killer one night “Stoner/Doom” bill that perhaps only one local band would make it on. I set out to showcase the best in local heavy music on a large but not overwhelming platform that is truly community driven and inspired. Yes, I had a dream to organize a music festival (especially after the success of the original Doomed and Stoned Festival in Indianapolis, IN—now, in its 3rd year). But this has never really been about what I wanted to do but more of what I felt the community needed and deserved. I saw and became friends with super, hard working bands that I wanted to shed light on and bring about more networking opportunities for. From local artists, to local sponsors, to local bands, the Chicago identity and what everyone here does to thrive was important to me.

Fall of 2017, I decided to go full throttle with organizing, and The inaugural Chicago Doomed and Stoned Festival began to take shape.

So many cool bands on Chicago Doomed And Stoned. Some rising stuff like Scientist and Brume alongside already entrenched acts like Inter Arma and Whores. Was it hard coordinating this and grabbing all the bands you hoped for amidst their various touring agendas?

Thanks! I definitely wanted to bring a wide variety of musical tastes and pairings to this festival. Although conceived under the blanket of the stoner rock/doom variety, pushing the boundary of what is “stoner rock” and what is “doom metal” was important to me. I think Brume is a perfect example of that, especially as an up and comer. When even within ‘our own genre’ it gets difficult to categorize, I’m down for THAT band. Like—Ok, it fits under the umbrella of what I just term far left now. It’s wicked awesome. Yup. I want that one. Don’t get me wrong but there’s a lot of bands within these genres that just don’t do it for me. Rehashed riffs, overuse or over reliance on pedals, just shit I feel like I’ve heard over and over again. Hosting bands that seem to be pushing the envelope and/or setting themselves apart was important to me.

Brume

I knew going into the very early planning stages of the festival, that I had to get some acts on the bill that this crowd would be more familiar with, mixing that with up and coming acts both from Chicago and across the country. The early coordinating stages were pretty difficult. It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s another to carry out the hundreds of details that make that a reality. There’s always been a lot of moving parts to this. Thankfully by the time I decided to launch the official planning stages of the festival, I had built up a decent network of people in the music community, but nonetheless, earning the respect of people in this industry and building decent groundwork is difficult at any level. Something of this scale in particular was new to me. Trust me, there were times I had my doubts.

Early on, the bill was a living breathing organism due to issues with the band’s schedules, whether touring, writing new material or recording. There are some acts not on the bill who originally were supposed to be. Regardless, I am beyond pleased with the final line up! I also wanted to consider other festivals showcasing this type of music, trying not to plan for the same weekend, also, just things happening right here in Chicago. These are issues for any organizer. The following year’s event is usually being somewhat planned while leading up to the one that’s about to happen. Nature of the beast. I didn’t have that “luxury” because I began planing last fall. To some people, that may sound like a lot of time, but not when you’re planning a 3 day festival!

With the Chicago bands, I had a pretty good idea of the bands that seemed not only fitting but really deserving to be showcased in this way. There were many more submissions both within Chicago and abroad (even overseas) then I knew what to do with! These are probably some of Chicago’s best bands in the heavy music scene right now, many who’ve released work over the past year, very recently, and will be releasing leading up to the festival. Speaking of Scientist, their newest Album ‘Barbelith’ drops April 14th. Decibel magazine premiered the track ‘Magick Mirror’ on March 6th from that upcoming album.

Yeah, it’s sick. I have been rocking the promo and it is based on my fave comic of all time The Invisibles. How did you know Reggie’s was the setting for the event?

Initially I didn’t. I had been there quite a few times along with other venues in the city. Reggie’s had been an initial thought because I was already sold on the atmosphere, food, and ease of access. I’m thinking basic logistics—space, sound, location, parking—I knew I was doing this festival, and I knew where I was going to hold it meant a lot. It was partially a matter of finding a venue that would help me visualize my goal without having me make too many changes and leaving me with more compromises than I felt comfortable with. The other half was being able to put trust in someone/people, with little to no chance of being raked over the coals and taken advantage of. Like I mentioned earlier, this was a stab in a whole new game now. I had never dealt much on the production end of things. It’s a totally different animal.

At this point in time, I asked my friend, Suzi Uzi ( kick ass front woman/vocals of Black Road), if she wanted to help me out with some festival related things. Being that she’s from Chicago, has a pretty awesome band here…I figured she might know a thing or two. Haha

She highly recommended Reggie’s. Conversations started and the rest is history in the making. Since that time, I can honestly say, I’ve never felt more blessed. Not to say there haven’t been the occasional moments of “ironing things out” but to put it in a nutshell, there couldn’t be a more perfect venue. They are just as excited for this festival to be a success as I am and have been a guiding force, working together with me seamlessly. It has felt like an extended family.
To be honest, this festival would not be possible without Reggie’s.

So Shadow Witch are from your old (and my current) hometown in Upstate, NY and I was wondering how stoked you are to have the dudes involved. So nice to see good bands from here gaining more national prominence cuz it makes the town so much more survivable, lol.

Yes! So stoked to be having Shadow Witch come out. They have been really excited since I confirmed them for the bill. Their last two releases have made it onto the Doom Charts and my year end list for 2016 with their first full-length, Sun Killer and in 2017 with Disciples Of The Crow. Between all the band members, there’s decades of music experience there. Apart from Geezer, there’s not too much happening in that area in terms of this genre of music. There’s always been an endless supply of punk, metal and hardcore that have come & gone over the years (some still around) but never much music in this vein.

Witchkiss is a good Upstate, NY stoner band. You should peep them. Just saw ’em with SubRosa. 

It’s sad but I’ve seen a lot of talent there just die (or a lot of good talent goes there to retire haha!). It’s like a black pit that people can’t break out of. Not to say there haven’t been success stories and everyone knows the area never lacks the occasional elbow rubbings. Although I consider my taste in music to be very eclectic, the heavier side of left is where I feel the greatest pulse in me most days. Knowing that Shadow Witch, who are climbing the ranks upward on international music charts, come from little ol’ Kingston, NY, is nothing less than completely fucking rad.

Feel like shouting out some of the sponsors who helped make it possible? Seems like a real community thing, like you posted on Instagram.

Yes. Absolutely! Again, I have to give a shout out to Suzi Uzi. I designated her to work directly with our sponsors, and she has been so devoted! Thanks lady! 3Floyds is a brewery local to Chicago, just over the border in Munster, IN. Specializing in some of the finest and most interesting craft beers around. They definitely stand out with their names like “Zombie Dust” with artist made labels. They’re heavily involved with the community and have been known to create one-of-a-kind brews and offer deals for special shows/events. (wink wink) It only seemed fitting to get a brewery as serious about it’s beer to support a festival with fans just as serious about their music (who also happen to really like good beer).

Kuma’s Corner is a Chicago favorite and legendary for their metal themed burgers. (i.e. Black Sabbath, Neurosis, Lair of the Minotaur) Although some places get “clever” with ideas then have it fall apart with execution, Kuma’s nails it.

I think they had a Pelican burger, if I remember. The band, not the bird.

They are dedicated to utilizing local purveyors and supporting the community as a whole. Each month, a portion of sales goes to a different community charity. All 5 locations serve from scratch food, craft beers and craft spirits. The entire festival weekend, they are giving ticket holders 20% off their individual tab! Plus some other neat stuff.

Another Chicago favorite is Dark Matter Coffee. Many a blend has been inspired by a band, local and afar (Brain Tentacles, Mastodon…) They strive for maximum sustainability and fair trade practices, healthy communities, and by proof, a really good fucking cup of coffee.
The Doc Metal Show with the Real Munson, is run by two local and well respected DJs. They’ve always been big supporters of the music scene in Chicago, often having local band members over to be part of the radio show in addition to phone interviews from around the world. Most of the Chicago bands playing the festival are in pretty heavy rotation when the program airs. Their show can be heard online Thursdays 7-10pm CST. It’s pretty entertaining to listen to, and the set lists are always brutal.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Marc from Huntsmen who’s coordinating the set up of the backline for the festival with me in collaboration with Chicago Music Exchange. Thumbs up dude. You’re awesome!

So there is no Chicago Open Air this year? And some people don’t want to bother with something as huge as Riot Fest. Wanna do some shameless plugging on why they will have the best time at Doomed And Stoned? I mean, the Skull and Black Pyramid are playing. If they really need convincing that this is gonna be awesome, they are morons.

Waking up to the news that Chicago Open Air was going to be on hiatus this year was surprising. That’s been a destination festival for the past several years, far bigger than Riot Fest. Sure those big festivals bring in the super, heavy hitters but what they lack is that down to earth, personal quality you can only achieve at something like the Chicago Doomed and Stoned Festival. At our festival, you’ll be drinking and smoking with the bands, bullshitting about gear, recalling some memorable ass, or your best take on what really did happen to Laura Palmer.

Basically, it’s going to feel like an extension of getting together with your favorite people at the best party in town where you’ll hear incredible bands, drink awesome beer, enjoy great food, get introduced to local artists and their work, and be able to purchase some really neat shit, some of which you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

Some of these bands have bigger names that people will be familiar with like Inter Arma, Whores, Black Pyramid, and The Skull. I’m really excited that Brain Tentacles is a part of the festival. For those unfamiliar with them, it’s a stellar trio of Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Discordance Axis, etc), Chicago’s Bruce Lamont (Bloodiest, Yakuza, etc) and Aaron Dallison (Keelhaul, Axioma). They are by far the most unusual and experimental band featured.

Dave Witte is a musical God. Bruce rules. Dunno Aaron but I remember Keelhaul kicked ass. 

Some bands are more up and coming, gaining quick momentum like Sixes, Brume, Huntsmen, Shadow Witch, Black Road and The Age of Truth. Chicago has some veteran, solid acts who’s work is getting well deserved attention like Scientist and Pale Horseman. Snow Burial is busting out of the gates with new work on the way.

I love Snow Burial. That band deserves to be way bigger. They seem really chill as well (no pun intended).

Those talented mofos (who discussed the background of how the term #partysludge was coined to describe them on The Doc Metal Show with the Real Munson last week) will be at Desert Fest this spring before coming back to Chicago for the fest. Really happy for them!

What makes you excited the most about the metal community these days in general? It is easy to think of negative stuff but let’s remember why we do this for the good reasons also, right?
Hey, perspective is everything right?

First off, let’s just hail the return of vinyl! It’s sticking around. Once again we’ve returned to that magic of getting lost in a record. The tangibility of holding onto a masterpiece, the album art, warmth of the sound. What surpasses that?

What I find exciting is the amount of bands out there touring, whether long weekend jaunts only covering a few states or something more substantial, they’re out there killing it. Plus, it used to be that you really had to travel to see good music from out of your own backyard. Not so much the case these days. The bands I come across and work with on the regular aren’t just holing up in their home towns and cities praying for a miracle, they’re busting ass.

I’d also have to say that I perceive a certain level of purity coming back into metal that’s been missing for quite some time. Like enough with the stage antics, personas, etc, let’s just play good music that people want to hear. However, I think that purity is being delivered more creatively which packs more of a punch in the long run. When you look at the majority of these bands, these truly are the people next door. They work regular jobs, many have families, they know the day to day struggles but make it a point to hone their craft and do what they are passionate about. That’s beyond admirable. A lot of sacrifices and compromises got that song/album to your ears. The people playing the music are people the fans can identify with. I think that wall gets knocked down. When you asked earlier about what separates my festival from Riot fest per se, that’s truly what I’m talking about.

We offer a much more approachable scene all around.

Thanks for speaking with me Morgan.

That kicked ass. Hails and hugs, fam.

More Info: Home page on FB, Chicago Doomed and Stoned Festival
www.chicagodoomedandstonedfestival.com
IG: @chicagodoomedandstonedfest

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