CZAR’s Landon Wonser Talks With Side Stage Magazine

Written By: Alexis Coleman

 

Side Stage Magazine: Your latest album Life Is No Way To Treat An Animal was released in January of 2016. What was the process like to record it and where did you get your influences for the style/sound?

Dr. Landon Jared Wonser: First off, thank you taking the time to talk to us about this! Life Is No Way To Treat An Animal has been a long time coming, some of the earliest incarnations of the material were being chewed up and spit out while we were  preparing to release our late 2011 debut, Old Haunts. We took a few early versions of these songs out on several tours to kind of use the road as a developmental sounding board. We decided to put a cap on live shows and tour dates in the 4th quarter of 2014 to go into preproduction. Our keyboardist, Chris,worked as our sound engineer from scratch tracks all throughout recording, and up until final mastering, so he got the most gray hairs out of the experience.

We recorded the drums in the February of 2015 in our practice pad, located in downtown Tacoma, WA. We had Dj’s drums done within a week. He was the real super hero of the recording process.

We then moved shop to Chris’s place near Tacoma’s waterfront, which was our whiskey soaked home/hell (?) for about a year. A series of events led it to take a long time: School, childbirth, general procrastination and an existential crisis in my own case.

It was a great experience putting the whole production together ourselves. We didn’t have overhead costs to consider or quarrel over, and we could really take the time to explore ideas for as long as our collective patience would allow. A lot of things came together almost accidentally, and I like that approach a lot.

One of the most interesting things that I would like to note, is that not one single member knew what the entire album was going to sound like. A few of us split into factions and developed ideas that we didn’t present to the group until we were in studio, and I think that kept a certain lively excitement intact. It was already great exploring material that Chris, Nick, and then Pete and DJ had taken time to orchestrate, but to have those creative secret missions was a lot of fun. There is even a track written and performed exclusively by Chris, to which we don’t even know the lyrics, because they are written in his native language, which is twulshootseed, and you must learn this language to sing the song.

 

Your album LINWTTAA has 19 tracks most bands would cut down their track list. What made you decide to keep this many songs on the album?

Well, this was a deliberate decision. Our previous album, Old Haunts, was only 6 tracks, which clocked in at approximately 31 minutes. There were fewer songs, but they were all long form, busy compositions with a lot of drama, tension, and hills and valleys within each song. I believe we streamlined the material to fit together as smaller parts of a greater whole this time around. There is no less chaos or confusion; it just comes in concentrated and controlled bursts on these selections. There is still time for meandering melodrama and nauseating noise, slick and sleazy jazz, as well as some meat and potato metal riffs; we have just isolated them into their own shorter sections and songs. Ridiculous track listing aside, this album is really only 16 minutes longer than Old Haunts, and with the carefully crafted songs and transitions, I don’t believe we overstay our welcome.

 

How does this album differ from your debut album, Old Haunts?

Old Haunts was our declaration of identity. We knew we wanted to appeal to the left brained metal and hardcore crowd, and we set out to achieve a particular sound within an existing subgenre. We wanted fans of Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Number Twelve Looks Like You, Cephalic Carnage, The Chariot, The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, etc. to feel right at home with this “mathcore” offering. With LINWTTAA, our only concern was to sound like CZAR. We focused on the album, not the world we were releasing it into. Without the desire to fit into any time-stamped niche, I feel like we were able to relax, let the material breathe, and sound a lot more organic and honest. It’s an angry, aggressive, and absolutely annoying album, but I’m not convinced that is genre specific, and you would get a lot of funny looks introducing us as a “METAL” band, in the sense that Slayer is metal, you know? Life Is No Way To Treat An Animal is the obvious evolution of the strange creature that is CZAR.

 

What is the meaning behind the name of the album and concept behind the artwork? It is very interesting.

Life is all we really have, so I think treating it like this avoidable and regrettable circumstance is quite humorous. So far as the art goes, our main interests in visual aesthetics were classic paperback science fiction art, surrealism, and psychedelia. We found an artist that captured all of those themes in Pierre Schmidt, and it was as simple as reaching out and striking up a deal. I forwarded a copy of the record, and stayed out-of-the-way until the piece was finished. We are very pleased.

For more info on Schmidt see http://dromsjel.com

 

What would you say makes Czar stand out as a band from other’s in the industry?

Our strength is in our bizarre presence, and our adherence to just that. The more we come into ourselves as individuals and as a group, the further we will be from our peers. I don’t think this can be helped or forced from this point on; this is just a product of the bizarre chemistry, and the atmosphere with which it was allowed to ferment within. We are a stubborn and strange beast, with entirely too many heads.

 

Who are some of your musical influences and how have they helped shape your band?

I would like to say that we don’t limit ourselves, and we draw from many areas of influence and inspiration. King Crimson was one of the larger influences on LINWTTAA. We have pulled influence from the likes of Ion Dissonance, The Blood Brothers, The Mars Volta, Cleric, Meshuggah, Yoko Ono, Chick Corea, Dead Rider, Battles, The Locust, Gaza, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Funkadelic, Lady Gaga, Pere Ubu, Lye By Mistake and many many more. I personally try to draw inspiration from writers and filmmakers, such as David Lynch, rather than lyricists, just to further differentiate my output from my contemporaries. We can’t all sing the same songs. Influence is unavoidable, and if it comes out in a subconscious or nail on the head fashion, I’d still like it to be through my own filter of perspective and subjective experience. I believe that over-stimulating and over-saturating our collective minds will only serve us in a positive manner.

 

What is the bands plan for this year?  Can we expect a tour?

The band is actually working on a short series of rapid-fire releases to come out in the very near future. We hope to start playing off of them as soon as June. A tour is a hopeful possibility, hinging on the release of this exciting new material.

 

Are there any plans at this moment for a physical release for the album? Will you be releasing any singles?

We want to put the album out on tape and vinyl. We have a label we are talking to about it: it’s just a matter of putting band and personal business into order and making it happen. The aspects of being a DIY band are great for so many reasons, but the appearance of slacking and lack of action falls directly on us. We are working on fixing that. The same goes for singles and videos. We have a few tracks going out for comps and samplers, one of which being the next Mathcore Index release. So be on the lookout for that!

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