Interview: King Buffalo – The expanding power of ‘Orion’

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 5:23 PM (PST)

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King Buffalo are one of the year’s best surprises, a drifty yet hard rocking psych band breaking out wider after three initial years now that more and more people are immersing themselves in new album Orion (Listen and purchase HERE).

Listening to Orion is like being behind the controls in a lucid dream, navigating the soundtrack of your subconscious as it unfolds before you through blue and purple clouds, empty cities, hopes and regrets or the odd desert or two. It stirs our gypsy soul enough that we had to check in with Scott Donaldson and discuss the highly enjoyable record.

Read more below.

Answers from Scott Donaldson

How long have you been a band? I only learned of you this year, I must say. But an
excellent discovery for which I thank the Universe, or at least your pr lady Monica,

We formed in September of 2013, so we’ve been a band for just short of three years.
And I’m happy you found us. Thanks Monica! Haha

How do you feel Orion represents who you are right now as a band? There is a loose
feel yet super cohesiveness about the material that usually only comes from natural
chemistry and/or a lot of rehearsals.

I feel like Orion represents us perfectly right now. We spent a good amount of time
getting into the proper headspace to form the ideas. But once we were there the entire
album just fell into place rather organically. Since our inception we gelled pretty
well. We absolutely have a kind of unspoken musical chemistry.

This is not automatically the kind of music I’d associate with Rochester. More of an
almost West Coast desert rock sound. But then again so do ZODIAC from Germany.I guess
with the internet now or growing up as music fans all styles can be encountered, huh?
I mean, I’ve heard European bands copying bad American metalcore bands and it is
always like “noooo be cool and European!” haha. But what you guys are doing is cool. I
think the band still has a unique voice and great songwriting.

We’re glad you dig the tunes haha. We never approached KB as trying to be one thing
specific. We just did what came naturally. We were in two former rival Psych bands
from Rochester and decided to try a new project together and immediately started
writing. We wrote and recorded our demo without really playing together in the matter
of a month.

Are there certain blues rock greats or anyone you want to shout out s influences?
Sometimes I hear a little Cream and even Hawkwind, like “Monolith”, for example. A
very cool song.

We could list all our influences, but reading a list of names would be a little
monotonous haha. Cream and Hawkwind are definitely in there. A few more to round it
out would be: Sabbath, Floyd, Hendrix, Deep Purple, and Zeppelin.

“Sleeps On A Vine” is near eight minutes of powerful vibes. Some bands still seem to
cater song length to radio play, when there is scarcely rock radio anymore. Seems an
opportune time to stretch the lengths out again ala Zep or Iron Butterfly and reel
people in while you have their ear, no?

We’ve never really worried about song length. We form songs based on how they flow.
Some require a longer phrasing to fulfill their soundscape, while others are naturally
more tight and concise. When we start jamming on an idea it becomes rather instinctual
if it’s something that can be stretched out or not.

What was it like recording at the Main Street Armory? Most Armory’s I’ve seen shows
at have had pretty bad sound unless it was a concert ready one like in Albany where
Suicidal Tendencies played, haha.

The Armory is a really cool place. We have our recording / practice space hidden away
in there. It’s a cavernous building which lends itself to giving off some killer
natural reverb and big sounds. They actually have a couple venues inside the building,
but we stick to our area. It’s been working quite well for us.

“Down From Sky” is a beautiful sort of mellower ballad. What inspired this one? I
assumed at face value it was about UFOs but then it seemed more personal. For sure one
of the coolest tunes.

Totally UFO’s. We smoked way too much and watched all the X Files, even the seasons
with the T1000. Mulder and Scully would be proud.

That’s awesome. Robert Patrick retweeted me once, that dude rules. Do you prefer recording or being in the studio? There is a live feel but also a lot
of texture to the record, like you really wanted to get the sounds right.

Tonality is key to any band. Sean and Dan spend a lot of time harnessing their
respective instruments. Each song caters to different textures; it takes some time to
find the right mixture and balance.

As far as recording, time in studios can feel rushed and stressful. We record
ourselves, so we can spend the time to make sure it sounds right and fully develop our
ideas. Sean is kind of a wizard when it comes to recording. He went to school for it
and has spent a lot of years mastering the craft. We track all the basic tracks live,
and do a few overdubs after. It’s important to have the consistency of a live feel,
considering that’s what you’ll be hearing at our shows.

I saw a farm near me where they have a handful of Buffalo milling about. It seems
such a shame that this is like a shock or rare novelty now. I’d rather see free
Buffalo than strip malls where they used to reign, you know? I mean, I don’t think
people are very superior to animals just because we build bombs or computers. The
quality of soul- even in simplicity – and harmony with nature and creation is what
matters more in the end. Thoughts?

Absolutely. Nature is something humans constantly take for granted. It’s important to
spend time viewing this beautiful world we’ve been so graced to be a part of. The
Earth will exist beyond all our lifetimes. I wish we lived more cohesively with nature
instead of trying to mold it into something else.


Band photo by M. Turzanski


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