XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Eric: Cold Black River recently released “Tales of Death & The Devil” on CD. It’s a 9 track doom rock scorcher with some fun twists and turns throughout. We’re thrilled to announce we’ve been picked up for “Day of Doom” in Chicago this year as well as “Wisconsin Doomed and Stoned” in November. June 15th we’re playing “Riff Raff Fest” here in Madison with a ton of heavy locals like Droids Attack and subatomic.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Eric: We came together winter 2013 and played our first show at The Wisco May of 2014. It was funny because Jeremy (guitar), Aaron (drums), and I (vox/bass) had been diligently rehearsing in this small studio for months prior to the gig, not having much room to move around. This being our first gig with Aaron, (Jer and I were in Helliphant together before), when we kicked off the set, we freaked Aaron out when we started jumping around and dancing about because he’d never seen us do that before. The look on his face was priceless; he was shocked. It was killer.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Eric: We’ve all played music in some form since we were kids. We were all influenced by the albums our parents had in their record collections. Everything from outlaw country to classic rock and some metal.
When Jer and I left Helliphant, we decided to craft a sound that was heavy, yet had vocals you could hear and understand. We wrote some heavy riffs, played them for Aaron, and CBR was born.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Eric: I started playing electric guitar when I was 14. I took lessons a the local strip mall for about six months before quitting and writing my own stuff. I played a lot of punk and metal growing up, both the attitude and sounds being attractive to me.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Eric: Music is a form of expression and communication. When you look at the artwork for the band it’s dark and brooding with a sense of mischief. The lyrics tell stories of death, religion, gods, and heroes. Bring all of these elements into the sound, and you get the full experience, like a movie, where everything comes together. It’s Heavy Metal Storytelling.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
Eric: We really want to reach out further from our hometown and the region. We’d love to hook up with a few regional bands to do a few mini-tours. We already have the beginnings of our next album, which will be released next year. In the meantime, book as many gigs as possible, play as many new clubs as we can, and hopefully meet a bunch of killer people along the way.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Eric: Having the chance to open for more national acts – to get our tunes to as many folks as possible.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Eric: Live performance, definitely. Direct contact with fellow human beings is where it’s at.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)]
Eric: With Hillbilly Zeus, it’s ancient gods meeting new gods. With Ancient Depths, it’s the wanton rise of Cthulhu. In Keep Rollin’ it’s about using the Devil as a scapegoat. In Oh My Goddess, the story is about the sacrifice of a witch gone wrong. There are so many themes, genres, and great subjects to pull from. We just go with whatever interests us at the time.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
Eric: We played a show at The Wisco once, where afterward, tending to the merch table, I saw this big dude in a full-on three-piece suit in attendance. Needless to say, it seemed weird, and I was intrigued.
He found his way to the table and proceeded to pull out a literal roll of cash and asked to buy a bunch of our stuff. As I’m getting his shirts and CDs together, he asks if he could buy me a drink and I said yes.
Over bourbon on the rocks and Coke back, he tells me this story. Apparently, he’d heard our first album while working in Afghanistan. While there, a soldier he’d known had a copy of one of our CDs, and they supposedly played it quite often. For some reason, this album resonated with these guys in that unique situation.
When I pressed him for which branch he served under, he would never answer me. I found out later, he was a mercenary for an unnamed outfit hired to perform some “work” there.
He had just happened to be in the states, and in fact, was in Chicago, when he’d heard CBR was playing just two hours away. So, he decided to rent a car and drive up; just to see us.
At one point, I had to step away for a minute to tend the merch table again. When I turned around, he was gone. He’d given us a hundred dollars for about thirty dollars worth of merch.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Eric: Whenever anyone invites you over to their house, as a fan, it can be strange. Earlier this year we were asked to play a birthday show for a local Willy St goth icon, who is a fan, on the condition we (I) would come over to see her house afterward.
I’d heard stories about Tammy’s apartment, about the skulls, bones, and hundreds of crosses displayed on the walls. None of which held a candle to the reality I would face later.
Tammy is more than an interesting character, she is a unique bird. An old-school Siouxsie and the Banshees Goth through and through. Every time you see her out, (which is only at night), she is adorned from head to toe in black. Hair, eye-shadow, lipstick, nails, dress, and shoes; all 100% black. Her outlook is bleak, and there’s always something to complain about unless you’re discussing her six black cats. Yes. Six.
In all reality, Tammy is the sweetest and most thoughtful person you could find. Just make sure you remove your shoes before stepping on the apartment’s hardwood floors.
Every stitch of the wall was covered by hundreds of crosses of all shapes and sizes. Tammy knows exactly how many and where each is hung, as she pulled one from the wall, opening the false back to reveal an “exorcism kit”, complete with a vial of holy water.
Areas that weren’t covered in crosses were covered in skulls, bones, and what can only be called bone sculptures. Various animal skeletons posed similar to taxidermy were everywhere. As creepy and mausoleum-like as it was, it was incredible. It’s impossible to describe the true feeling and look of the place. One has to see it.
Despite what some might consider a weird place, I wasn’t assaulted, or murdered and chopped up to be fed to the cats; Tammy was a gracious host and is a fan to this day; as we are of her.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Eric: Never. It’s like the stories comedians always tell: “It’s a nice hobby, but you’ll never make a living at it.” Personally, my parents had only seen or heard any of my music via the internet. Our guitar player Jer and drummer Aaron are the opposite. Both of their parents fully support their music and have seen them play many times.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Eric: We love Hillbilly Zeus and Oh My Goddess. From the first time we played HZ live, we knew we had something. There’s just something dark and tribal about that song that attracts a tone of people to it. OMG is pretty much the same; a seven-minute barn stomper with some fun lyrics and good hooks.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Eric: ZZ Top and Clutch are top of that list. We’ve all loved ZZ forever, and from their humble beginnings, (which happen to be our same musical beginnings), Clutch have been there too. They both have such down-to-earth sounds, heavily steeped in blues, with rocky edges that cut just right. You can’t help but hear their influences in our sound.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Eric: Clutch, Queens of the Stone Age, Red Fang, CBR. We would kill to open for any of them, much less have a tour like this. Jer and I (Eric) have performed in tribute bands for both Clutch and Queens. Good stuff.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Eric: Getting as far as we have. We’ve been together for five years this May. We’ve played some killer gigs with some very talented bands. We’ve met some really amazing, like-minded people along the way, and they seem to truly dig our stuff. We’re getting bigger and bigger gigs and are getting invited to new gigs more often. We just want to keep rollin’.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Eric: I would hopefully be in graphic design, painting, or writing. In reality, a painter by trade; like now.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Jer – Gibson Les Paul – Orange Amps – Avatar Cab
Eric – Sire Marcus Miller Bass – Ampeg SVT Classic – Ampeg 810
Aaron – Tama Superstar Maple – Sabien Cymbals
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Eric: If you like Alice in Chains and you like Black Sabbath, you’ll probably like us.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Eric: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Cold Black River are:
Jeremy Roseland – guitars
Eric Cobb – bass/vox
Aaron Kanitz – drums