Interview : War Drum

There once was a place called the Community Shop at Ace Palm Springs. It was full of really great stuff made by real people. One handsome gent manned the counter most days, and his name is Jack Kohler. Jack is a fixture of the Coachella Valley Art Scene and a nice person. He’s in a band called War Drum, and they recently played in the Amigo Room at Ace Palm Springs. Local blog, Indiewin, interviewed them — here are some excerpts.

Describe your sound…

    War Drum: We’ve heard a number of things, shoe gaze, experimental folk rock, desert rock. But we’re diverging into one direction and playing off of another foundation at the moment.

What direction are you going for?

    WD: We’re still learning to play with each other…The sound we’re trying to get is heavy instrumentation, multi layers and droning notes. Self discovery psychedelic music with some eastern and folk scales.

Can you compare it to something we can recognize now.

    WD: Early works of My Morning Jacket, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Angels, Duke’s Spirit. There’s an eerie, cryptic way about our melodies and lyricism that takes over at different heights of each track.

Who put the band together?

    WD: It seems like Jack did, but we all had vested interests in doing this together. At one point recently, some of us had played with the others, and it’s grown into a four piece. And if all goes right, we’ll add another.

In the process of writing, what brings that inspiration about in you and what gets that first word on paper?

    WD: At this level, Jack is the lyricist, and vocalist. But there are plans for harmonies, whether it be chorus combinations or backup. There are some personal lyrics and as we continue reworking songs, the lyrics become more collective.

Jack, what exactly do you write about in your lyrics?

    WD: I write about life’s reality and life’s haunts. It’s like neo-realism where it’s a span of reality and future thoughts. A few of our songs are about events, but it’s safe to say they’re mostly interpretive. Our new songs, Black Sand and Tomahawk, have a spiritual feel to them.

    Ehren writes the leads to most of our songs, Carlos keeps the rhythm section and does his fair share of fills to line us up. Pete is having a good time playing an instrument other than the one he’s played for awhile now: the drums.

So what do you strongly believe took the most effort out of each one of you?

    WD: Tomahawk. It was our first communal writing, the one that took all of us, whether it be effort or timing, and it wasn’t easy to work into. It was frustrating. At one practice we’d played it for something like 5 hours — granted it was our first run-through. The other new track is called Black Sand and it was played by Pete. It’s carrying our course into what we want to play. It’s a desert ode, and the words are mostly based on a drug experience: “coming through the floor, black sand, keep me warm.”

So with Black Sand, what exactly were you trying to get out of it?

    WD: It’s hard to put a motive behind these kinds of songs because they tend to be free-form, as most psychedelic music is. And this isn’t us trying to do some music revival; we’re taking the best parts of different styles, and blending them in order. We’ve mentioned spiritualism earlier, and this is where it comes into play. Sometimes life shows its ugly face, and Black Sand speaks about that, in the best way. We’re not trying to condone experimentation with drugs, but we’re not going to condemn it either. If you’ve never heard it, seen it, or felt it, then you’ve never been a part of it.

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