The following interview is with songwriter Collin Yeo of the Psychedelia-rock band "Ponykiller". Here Collin speaks of signing with Housecore records and recording their debut album.
Could you tell us about signing to Housecore Records - how did you meet Phil Anselmo?
C > I have known Philip for years, and I play in a band with him called Arson Anthem. I met him when I was a teenager, and we basically bonded on a similar taste in films and music. I started PonyKiller with the guitar player Ben in 2007. I sent him three records I was really into at the time: The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death by John Fahey, The Cult is Alive by Darkthrone, and Screaming for Vengeance by Judas Priest. I loved the energy of all those records for different reasons and I found a total harmony driving around and blasting them. So we sent each other ideas through the mail (I was living in Colorado after Katrina, Ben was back in New Orleans). Then I moved back to Nola and we made a bunch of recordings and went through various line up changes and played a variety of shows (from great to terrible) and Philip came to one of those shows and liked what he heard.
Is there a theme to your new album-is it a concept album?
C > The album started out as "the record we all wanted to hear." Modern rock songs sound waaaayyyy too polished to me, and too click-tracked. I wanted an organic sounding record, with live rhythms, and no digital manipulation of the vocal pitches. I wanted the bigness of analog with the subtlety of the digital medium. It was never going to be a metal record, although we all play heavy music from time to time. It was going to be weird and warm and basically a lot of things we weren't hearing on the radio or at live shows. As far as it being a concept album, The Wilderness pretty much sums it up: the lyrical themes are youth, confusion, drugs, violence, love, isolation, revelation and chaos. Without getting too pretentious, it's our first album and the beginning of any life is pretty wild and frightening. This album represents a type of sound we do, but not the only thing. This is like the late night record, or something like that.
Who wrote the lyrics for the album?
C > I wrote all the lyrics.
What bands were you with before the formation of PonyKiller? What type of bands were they?
C > Ben and I used to jam together when we were in our very early twenties, and Tim, being a drummer, has been in a bunch of bands, from classic rock cover bands to punky young bands, and I have played in a bunch of bands since I was a teenager, and am also in Arson Anthem.
Are you planning to go on tour?
C > Yes! We are gearing up to play a lot. We are a diy operation, so we have to get a few things together, but we just got off the road with down, which was amazing, and we are hoping to hit the road again early next year and scare up as many shows as we can. We have a new bass player, and have written a stack of new songs too, so we will be hopefully playing a lot next year.
How would you describe the sound of Ponykiller? Did the band agree on how the music should sound?
C > Our sound came about with a lot of experimentation about what our strengths were. Ben and I influenced each other a lot on guitar playing, and have a weird sync we do with the guitars and vocals and such. Also, working in the studio with Philip helped my vocals immensely. He is an amazing vocal coach, and gets things out of you that I doubt most producers could. The songs typically start with me and my acoustic at home, and them Tim and I make an arrangement with drums and guitar, and then Ben comes in and rewrites a bunch of shit or adds a new part and somewhere along the way I add vocals that are influenced by Ben or sometimes influence his guitar parts and the song ends up a total collaboration between the people involved. The songs on The Wilderness are one type of sound we do, and we love that sound, but we also have songs that are heavier, or quieter or stranger. Those songs just worked well together, which is what an album should do. If you see us live, it is an entirely different kettle of fish.
Who designed the front cover of the CD?
C > The album artwork was all done by our good friend and artist, Marcus Brown. Ben and Marcus grew up together in New Orleans, and have played music together before as well. We have a huge canvas piece by Marcus in our practice space, right behind the drums, and it influenced the sound while we were playing, because there were hundreds of times we'd be jamming and one or more of us would be focusing on the odd figures in the picture and just vibe on it. So when we were looking for someone to do the art, Marcus was an obvious choice. And we all sort of shot ideas around and he'd sketch them up and we just sort of hiveminded the process. Marcus is such a workaholic and so prolific and when he has an idea he just runs with it and sends us miles of drawings and we all just go with the most visceral and beautifully threatening images.
What lies in the future for the band?
C > All I can say about the future is what we hope and plan towards. And that is music. We love playing music and writing music and I hope we, as a group, keep doing it for a very long time.
Photos: Andrew Bertholf