Darryl Shepard is an influential force in the modern fuzz scene. His raw tone and creative song writing is both powerful and captivating. His solo instrumental work with Blackwolfgoat is ground breaking and because of its uniqueness, allows for much creativity, flexibility and is quite limitless. However, fans of fuzz and doom are really captivated by his playing with Black Pyramid, Kind and now Test Meat.
We were able to catch up with Darryl and find out what’s in store for 2017 and 2018. Looks like some cool stuff on the way and more BWG! Too cool.
You always have a project in the works, is Test Meat your latest? Or are you working on other things as we speak?
Test Meat is my latest band and my main focus right now. I started writing songs for this back in 2014 but the band didn’t play together until December of 2016. I was looking for the right people to play these songs with and also I needed to find the time to do it. I finally hooked up with Michael and Aarne, we got together and went over a few songs I had and it sounded good so it’s been full steam ahead since then. I’m really psyched about this band and the recording we did. We have more planned, that’s for
certain. I’m definitely planning a fourth Blackwolfgoat album soon as well. That’s my solo experimental/drone project which is basically just guitar. I’m also in another band called KIND which is more of a side project for everyone involved. At some point we’ll probably do something again but I honestly have no idea when that will be. But Test Meat is my main thing right now. Oh, I also play in a Motorhead tribute band called Iron Fisted, but we only play once a year. That’s a blast.
Tell us about your influences in music writing. While there seems to be a common thread in your playing, often your music is expressed in so many different ways, tell us about your styles of play.
My earliest influences were Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Angus Young, the usual suspects. I learned most of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album when I was first learning to play guitar. Also “Cold Gin” by KISS, “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Holy Diver” by Dio were some of the earliest songs I learned. Then I discovered thrash metal around 1986 and players like Hetfield, Hammet, Mustaine, Chris Poland, Alex Skolnick, etc. I got really into shred guitar too, like all the releases on Shrapnel Records such as Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, Cacophony, all of that. I was really into that for a while. But then I heard bands like Soundgarden, Melvins, Mudhoney and Nirvana and everything changed for me again! It became more about the song rather than being a shredder so I started trying to write good songs with just a few parts rather than songs with like ten different parts and crazy time signatures. The main thread through everything for me has been that is has to be heavy and there’s gotta be a hook in there somewhere, even if that hook is just feedback or a weird noise. I like all kinds of music, from dissonant noise to really poppy, catchy stuff. That’s really what Test Meat is trying to combine; heaviness, noise and pop melodies. But I’m just as into Godflesh as I am Guided by Voices.
How does playing in Europe differ from playing in America. Which do you prefer and why?
I’ve been to Europe a bunch of times now with different bands and every time has been great. The people over there are so passionate about the music. When I go over there with whatever band I’m in at the time, we always end up signing lots of album covers for people. That’s a big thing over there, fans love to have their albums signed by the bands. That doesn’t really happen in the States too often, at least I haven’t experienced it here. Also, it’s cool to play small intimate clubs then play a festival in front of a couple thousand people on the same tour. You play in front of all types of crowds. I haven’t done a full tour of America for a while so maybe it’s different now, but I love going to Europe because the people there really get into it and have a good time. Plus the money is better over there. I’ve actually come home from European tours with decent money, which is always a good thing!
What can fans of your work expect in the fall of 2017 and into 2018?
Test Meat is definitely looking to have an official release out very soon, we’re looking around right now for a label that’s a good fit for us. Self-releasing an album is always an option but we’re looking for a label right now. Hopefully there will be a new Blackwolfgoat album either at the end of this year or early next year. And who knows what else might pop up? But getting a Test Meat full length out is definitely a priority.
What are some of your biggest memories in your career to date? Who would you love to play with the most?
Oh man. Playing Hellfest with Black Pyramid was a big one. That was a great show. The last European tour I did playing bass for Kings Destroy was awesome, we toured with The Skull, who have a couple of the guys from doom legends Trouble in their ranks. Playing the Roadburn festival with Roadsaw was fantastic. Playing shows with bands like Kyuss Lives!, Melvins, Clutch, the Hellacopters, Bad Brains. I’ve had the opportunity to play shows with some amazing bands. Any time a new album that I’ve worked on gets released is a huge deal for me personally, especially if it’s on vinyl. I’ve been lucky to work with some great record labels like Man’s Ruin, Hydro-Phonic, Small Stone and Ripple Music. There’s always a feeling of accomplishment once I have the final product in my hands. Getting an endorsement from Planet Tone has been a highlight as well! I’d really love for Blackwolfgoat to play some shows with Earth,
I think that would be a great fit. It would be cool if Test Meat could play some shows with Pissed Jeans or Wrong, those are a couple of bands that we dig. Who knows? Anything could happen. Anything at all.