A glorious cacophony of groovy, stoner, uplifting party-doom, that is rich with individuality, as well as a noticeable tip of the hat to more classic NWOBHM-style dual guitars and Queen-like climaxes peppered throughout.
Yes folks, “Woodland Rites” is truly a special album and one that warrants a thorough investigation from any self-respecting heavy music fan.
Overdrive dropped in on vocalist Tom Templar for a look at the past, present and future of the mighty Green Lung…
OD – Firstly have you been taken aback by the resounding success from “Woodland Rites”?
TOM – We’ve did the “Free The Witch” EP by ourselves the year before, and that was really interesting as we had a lot of people that came out of the woodwork to show appreciation for that release.
To be honest, we really didn’t know what we were doing and the EP went up online and we then ended up talking to Kozmik Artifacts who are the people who put our the vinyl pressing of ‘Woodland Rites‘ and we were like; ‘This is really exciting.”
We noticed that people really got behind “Lady Lucifer‘ (listen below) and from that we decided to give it go as a physical release and basically we had this insane creative period after ‘Free The Witch‘ came out and our guitar player – Scott (Black) – basically wrote the bulk of ‘Woodland Rites‘ in the space of about one month.
OD – Is that the normal process for writing, with Scott putting the wireframe of the ideas together first?
TOM – I guess so. Scott will put the music together and then I’ll write the lyrics on top of that. It’s that sort of classic hard rock partnership.
The only tracks off the album that had a previous life, so to speak was ‘Into the Wild‘ which was pieced together from some early demos and ‘Initiation‘ which was actually the bones of something that Scott had written from his previous band.
Everything else was written in a short period of time thereafter, and it all just felt very right, if you know what I mean.
OD – Would you say there was a subconscious amount of material locked inside you and Scott, hence the remarkably quick writing process for ‘Woodland Rites‘?
TOM – Yes indeed. [Laughing] I certainly had a lot of ideas stored in my head, lots of themes etc for about three or so, years. I actually didn’t realise that there was that much to do an album at first, but it just all flowed out naturally, just at the right time.
To be honest, I had to be convinced that we were truly ready and Scott was like; “Look, we have the tunes, let’s get in the studio, bang it out and see what happens. Then it all came together that Autumn.
OD – So, did everything else follow after the album came out?
TOM – We actually managed to get ourselves a publicist who has been brilliant, and then you have Kozmik Artifacts which at the end of the day was only a vinyl pressing plant and not like a traditional label, so we were very much doing things on our own.
We wanted to make this our big debut and do it as best we could but under no circumstances did we ever expect things to have taken the road that they have. Like for instance, getting on the PUPPY tour in April for instance.
That was fucking great because as much as we love stoner rock, we don’t want to be a band that fits into just one box and I’ve never seen us a ‘stoner rock’ band.
Yes, there’s the Sabbath side of us, the ‘doomy‘/stoner stuff, but also, you have a NWOBHM leads on the guitars with lots of influence from Witchfinder General and Iron Maiden, Judas Priest etc. There’s a whole world of classic Heavy Metal influences involved and with that, we try to bing it to a new place, thanks to the evolution of modern gear, and modern songwriting and production.
I was really excited about that PUPPY tour because is was so left-of-centre. They are a real Kerrang!-type band that appeal to a cross-section audience from Indie to Rock to Metal and we were thinking at the time; “Are these kids gonna fucking hate us?” and actually, that tour was incredible. We sold out of ‘merch‘ nearly every night.
Then we went on to do some dates over in Europe with no expectations whatsoever. We were even sceptical of anyone showing up to the shows. We actually had a full house and kids were going mental. It was a truly invigoration experience.
OD – Did you have any expectations at all, even from the online interest in the band at that point?
TOM – You never really do. Until we actually went out on the road; it was all just predictions.
OD – Did you think the timeline of when ‘Woodland Rites‘ was released to when you started the live dates had anything to do with it?
TOM – Yes, the album came out in mid-March 2019 and then the tours were mid-April/July because our drummer became a Father, so we had all of this online publicity around the release of the album, which had a great reaction but we still saw ourselves as more of a internet buzz band. But that all changed when we eventually got out there to do some live shows.
We had this London show in the Black Heart. I remember coming out on stage and the place was packed and everybody was singing all of the lyrics. That’s when I knew that things had taken a turn for the better, and something really amazing was happening.
OD – Has there been any label interest to date?
TOM – Yes, actually we’ve turned down a major label offer! We are very much interested in doing things our way and are more akin to the ‘DIY‘ sense of things and not loose that true essence.
The way we see it is a lot of the ‘breaking the band‘ stuff has been done here and we already have an audience that we can interact with; and sell our music to.
At the end of the day we are ‘Punks‘ at heart the way we ‘do stuff‘. We don’t give a shit about big bloated labels. We would rather interact with people on a one-to-one bases and sell to them directly. I think that’s a big part of the way the band works as a whole and I don’t wan to pollute that system.
OD – It seems like you’ve thought about this a great deal?
TOM – Yes, we’ve actually spent all Summer talking amongst ourselves and to other bands about what’s best for us. The industry has changed so much and is continuing to change right before our eyes; at an impressively rapid rate.
Our principles are based around having complete creative control, we can deal with our audience directly as everyone buys stuff online nowadays anyway and we have control of our streaming platforms.
OD – With regards to ‘Woodland Rites’ do you worry about the pressure of following the success of this album?
TOM – A little bit. As soon as you ‘put the footprints in the snow‘ it can be difficult to top the first initial ‘wave’ of interest. I know we have stuck a chord with people on this album so obviously we’re not gonna chuck that all out.
We’ve been working on some new demos recently and have managed to develop a more streamlined process. With ‘Woodland…‘ is was kind of like, hashing things out in a room, and although written vey quickly, the task of getting them to ‘work‘ was a slow process.
OD – Have the themes of the new material remained the same with the ‘folk/horror‘ stuff?
TOM – Well, yes [Laughing]. We want to keep the integrity of NWOBHM instead of looking to the States. A lot of Stoner Rock is about driving about the desert, but at the end of the day; we couldn’t live further away from a desert [Laughing].
I grew up in a very rural English area, as did most of the band, hence the name ‘Green Lung‘ which derives from nature-themed inspired folklore and English history. I still think there’s loads more to explore there and since I write the lyrics, I’m more than content in delving deeper into this theme going forward.
OD – Can you comment on any of the new material at the moment?
TOM – Well, we’re going back to folklore and history but using that to talk about contemporary subjects and it would be safe to say that there is a little more politically-driven inspiration involved also.
I would say the first album was more ‘Hammer Horror‘ and this next album might be a bit more mature in those ways, but still fucking fun. The new songs are a bit more psychedelic. When John (Wright, Organ/Keys) joined the band, we were still writing organ parts and he fleshed them out.
So, now John has been in the band for over a year, so, naturally there’s a lot more keys-work stuff on the new material. Lots of Jon Lord (Deep Purple) style warm organs; and I’m so excited about it.
OD – If you could translate your vision for the next album; how would you describe it?
TOM – Oh, wow, I suppose when Black Sabbath did that ‘California Jam‘ gig (1974) and there was like a million people watching Deep Purple and Sabbath and they were all listening to what was then a very strange deep, heavy aggressive style of music but in the same breath, treating it like it was this uplifting, party music. [Laughing] I’ve always thought of Green Lung as just that! Deep and heavy doom, but uplifting and makes you want to party and move you body. [Laughing]
OD – The likes of Desert Fest and Roadburn have been a huge part in this particular scene. Do you feel that you are experiencing a kind of golden era with sludge/doom/stoner/occult bands?
TOM – I totally do. I was in a band when I was about 18 years old called ‘Tomb King‘ and they were totally Electric Wizard-style low, slow, evil doom stuff. I wasn’t singing in that band, it was more ‘harsh’ vocals. We were from Norfolk in the arse-end of nowhere, but we had a decent following online.
We came to London to do a few shows and were playing to half-filled pubs with no real scene of such. We were lumped with hardcore, sludge and punk bands, so as you can imagine is was all over the place.
We were quite a flamboyant ‘Doom‘ band and I believe that was some of the inspiration behind Green Lung. I’m now 30-years old and the thought of doing an extreme-style album, is off-putting to me. I want to have fun and enjoy myself. I want to create music that I as a kid would find interesting; and get into.
We started just about 3 years ago with Green Lung so by the time it came to playing life shows in London, it had been about five years since I’d been on any stage with a ‘Metal’-style band.
It was astounding just how much things had changed in that short period of time. There was a much more established infrastructure. You can now go to a venue like The Black Heart and get an all-day-er show and it will be packed, even for a new band.
I still think there is room for a more extreme festival like Temples in Bristol. But the likes of Desert Fest and Bloodstock have been a huge plus for the heavy music scene in general. Also, bands like Ghost and Uncle Acid… are becoming so fucking big; which is great to see.
OD – Do you think that Green Lung would be in the same context as Ghost or Uncle Acid…?
TOM – Perhaps in certain areas, but with us (Green Lung) I think we are much more ‘rootsy‘ and ‘groovy‘ than those guys as well as having a more ‘traditional‘ hard rock set-up, in terms of the vocals and guitars. But in saying that, people who like Ghost, tend to like Green Lung, so I guess we’re doing something right. [Laughing]
OD – Do you get tired of the Black Sabbath references?
TOM – [Laughing] It’s like every review they mention Sabbath! I mean, come on! Did Black Sabbath every have any constant harmonised guitars? No, they didn’t! [Laughing] My vocals are a bit nasally, but apart from that, we have a fucking organ player and the guitarist is obsessed with playing Brian May (Queen) style riffs!
Don’t get me wrong, we’re delighted to be compared to Sabbath, but there’s a whole other mix of sounds that’s going on with the band that get’s overlooked.
OD – With regards to bands that you would love to tour with, do you have a bucket list and if so, who is on it?
TOM – It comes back to the idea of not pigeonholing ourselves and there’s loads of places we can go with this, but some of my favourite bands at the moment are Kadavar, All Them Witches, etc. I’d love to play with those guys. We were offered a show with Monolord which didn’t happen, but hopefully we’ll get another opportunity in the future.
I’d like to do some shows with more folk-style bands with that traditional British folklore tradition which we touch on in Green Lung. On the other hand, I love the likes of Power Trip and bands of that ilk. Bands like that just own their audience regardless of them being Thrashers or Rockers or whatever.
We’re just trying to keep very open-minded about who we play with and not just boxing ourselves into one corner.
OD – What are the plans for 2020 and will we see a new album being released?
TOM – Well, I can’t really speculate too much but we are planning to hit the studio in early Summer which would mean that we could put out an album by Autumn. All I’ll say is that we have 4/5 tracks with the melody and music written and a couple with lyrics. We just want to keep writing and writing and see what comes of it all.
The thing with “Woodland Rites” is that for that time, it was all the music that we had. With this new album, I think for the first time, we’re gonna have the opportunity to write possibly 10/12 tracks and whittle them down to about 8, rather than just show our full hand.
Although the album did very well, we didn’t really have the confidence that we have now. The new material is sounding fantastic and with tracks that are coming in at about 5 minutes a piece and are absolute bangers in the ‘Woodland Rites‘ tradition, but with a lot more confidence and textures.
Watch this space!
Green Lung will be performing at Bloodstock Open Air this coming August. Get tickets here. “Woodland Rites’ is out NOW via Kozmik Artifacts as is the fist EP. ‘Free The Witch‘.
Green Lung are;
Vox: Tom Templar
Guitar: Scott Black
Bass: Andrew Cave
Drums: Matt Wiseman
Keys: John Wright