Could you introduce yourselves to the readers?
Jackson: I’m Jackson and play drums in Black Sheep Wall. I love movies and pizza. I have a weird phobia of things that wiggle.
Andrew: I’m Andrew and I play guitar. I hate coconut and I’m always down for french fries. I’d be okay if spiders ceased to exist.
Brandon: Brandon, vocalist, and I really hate Guns N’ Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What led to the inception of Black Sheep Wall?
Jackson: Brandon, Scott and I had a metalcore band in high school called The Don Maestri Experience, which was named after our middle school gym teacher. We played a lot of shows with a band called I Got Shot in the Face, whose singer was Jeff. We connected with Jeff and started Black Sheep Wall. Our first album was written in my parents’ garage and was recorded before we graduated. Since those simpler times we’ve all gone through a lot of changes but at the end of the day the band is still something that we do for the sole reason that we love it. And yes, there are times we don’t love it, which is why we’ve taken some long breaks.
‘Songs for the Enamel Queen’ was recently released and on first listen, I was immediately locked in. How do you guys manage to capture so much emotion in each track?
Brandon: Speaking only for myself, I think it is just uninhibited honesty that gives the album it’s emotional tone. Unshackling myself from the confines of how I am perceived by others, I was coming from a place where, for the first time, I was being truthful with myself and I wanted to be truthful with the audience.
Despite this social media era of music where it seems music tracks have shrank in run time, your songs range around 10 minutes long. What is your writing process like to keep a song going that long while still grabbing the listeners’ attention?
Jackson: We write music that we want to hear; the length is typically incidental. It’s common for people to criticize our songs for being TOO long or say that we play a riff too many times. It’s totally fair and understandable if it doesn’t match the listener’s preferences. In songwriting, there are times to play the best riff once. There are other times to play a transition riff a million times. It depends on the headspace you are in or seeking. To some degree, our band has been associated with and taken on the identity of music to accompany or represent the relentlessness of mental and emotional anguish. So, if that connects with the listener, the long running times make sense. If they don’t connect with that, then the music feels purposeless. To each their own I guess.
In your Invisible Oranges interview you mentioned the lyrics for ‘Songs for the Enamel Queen’ are “autobiographical and very personal.” Does this make you feel vulnerable for taking parts of your life and sharing them with the world or do you feel telling these stories is somewhat cathartic and therapeutic?
Brandon: Definitely all of the above. I think therapeutic is a good way to look at it. I was that person, and those are direct references to things I went through, mistakes I made, and thoughts I had, but I have since got my shit together and can be honest with myself about the person I was. I also think there is something special about being vulnerable. People can be overly focused on trying to look tough, look cool, or better off than they might be, but to be truthful, vulnerability can be powerful. I think when it comes to art, music, or whatever, you have to allow yourself to be open if you want to create something that is going to impact people. I don’t mean every person has to be a shithead in order to create something worthwhile, but I do think if you want to create something that connects with people you have to be willing to put yourself and your honest thoughts out there.
One of my favorite tracks from ‘Songs for the Enamel Queen’ is ‘Ren.’ The trumpet really stands out to me, did you guys pull a page from Rivers of Nihil’s book and incorporate an instrument that no one usually uses in the metal community?
Hahaha, that Rivers of Nihil album is awesome! It was definitely new and unique to hear saxophone incorporated in a death metal album, but no, it wasn’t influenced by Rivers of Nihil. The trumpet was recorded when we recorded the instruments for this album in 2016. Not to be like, “we did it first” or anything like that. At the time of recording, the idea of adding the trumpet part in Ren really fit the overall feeling of the song. Musically speaking, Brian Mellblom, came into the studio with little to no direction from us and was told to just go for it. He killed it!
It does make me think about how Cult of Luna has trumpet on the last song of their album, Eternal Kingdom though…maybe that was a subconscious influence.
2020 was a nightmare of a year for live music, did this stagnant era fuel writing for the album?
Brandon: In our case not so much, all the instrumentals had been recorded for some time, so really it was just the lyrical elements that needed to be fleshed out and recorded. A good portion of the writing had been completed before California locked down in March of 2020, and being locked down only gave me more time to focus on touching up and finishing the last of the tracks and titles.
I always find it fascinating when the band’s cover art describes what the album is going to sound like. When talking to the artist, how are you able to coherently project the ideas out of your head and to their understanding?
Andrew: Jeff Rogers did the artwork for this album as well as the artwork for the past two albums and EP. He’s a good friend of ours and an incredible artist! Aside from sending him the album and the lyrics, we try not to directly influence his art which gives him all the creative freedom. We’ve always loved what he’s come up with. The title, “Songs for the Enamel Queen” was decided after the artwork was created and the imagery was taken from specific lyrics in “Human Shaped Hole” and “Prayer Sheet for Wound and Nail.”
Brandon: We’ve been working with Jeff for some years now so when you start to envision what the cover may look like we are able to keep his style in mind. I had a long phone call and a few text conversations with Jeff during the writing process to discuss certain elements I wanted to see in the cover such as the skinny figure and inverted pyramid, but at the same time I also had other, let’s just say bad ideas as well. He was able to run with what he knew would and wouldn’t work and interpret those elements with the lyrics to create something beautiful
What is your dream tour with Black Sheep Wall on the bill?
Jackson: It would be amazing to get to share the stage with Cult of Luna. Daughters would be another awesome one. Those are already approaching pie in the sky level dreams, but for the sake of unreasonable wouldn’t even happen in a movie ridiculousness, I think it would be sweet to play alongside Rage Against The Machine. To me, they get the “mainstream heaviest band ever” award.
Andrew: Adding to Jackson’s answer of Cult of Luna and Daughters, I would also love to play a show with Neurosis, Old Man Gloom, and Love Sex Machine.
Brandon: I think for myself if we had the opportunity to tour with Clipping, that would be amazing, the opportunity to watch your favorite artist perform every night would be a dream. I would agree with Jackson about Cult of Luna and Daughters but with the stipulation of Salvation era Cult of Luna and Hell Songs era Daughters.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers before we go?
Jackson: We have other musical projects!
Rowsdower (Brandon and one former member of Black Sheep Wall. PLUS the drummer of Admiral Angry) – heavy doom/sludge.
Benoit (Juan and Jackson) – progressive hardcore. We’re tracking a new album right now.
Black Cock (Juan) – hardcore.
Joy (Jackson) – sad solo piano stuff.
THANK YOU! We appreciate the opportunity to do this.
Black Sheep Wall Social Media: