12th July 2022
Brian Corn (g,v)
Doug ‘Smitty’ Smith (b,v)
This three-piece powerhouse is Metal to the core but it’s not your average run-of-the-mill shouty vocals with guitar gymnastics: this stuff is intelligent and incredibly addictive. Hailing from San Diego, they are probably, actually, that most over-used word, unique, in that they don’t follow the rules but somehow make it all work, a combination of musicianship and ambition to deliver something new. Bonus: Live, they scramble your kidneys.
2013 We are Going To Be Awesome
2015 Human Paradigm
2018 The Way We Are
Q: You’ve played in Japan before, how many times?
BJ: Three with the band and I did a little acoustic run before which is why we got interested in going to Japan in the first place. It was happenstance because my wife and I had been traveling in Europe and we were in London and it was very busy. People were upset and crying about not being able to get on their flights so Sarah and I said ‘well if you need some seats, what have you got?’ and they gave us a £600 credit and put us on another flight and then it happened again and we got more flight credit. Well, the flight credit was about to run out and we were in the studio recording the Human Paradigm LP and my wife suggested going to Japan as it was cheaper than going to New York, so, yeah, sure! Then, when I knew we were going, I booked a few acoustic dates and when I was doing those, I noticed what a fantastic place it was for music and when I got back, I told the guys and said we have to go back with the whole band. A little later we were on tour and in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we got talking to the promoter who asked what we wanted to do next and we said Japan and she happened to be working with a guy who was sending Japanese bands to her so she passed us onto him and he got us over there.
Q: What do you remember of that first trip Doug?
DS: (laughs) One of the experiences I will never forget is getting off the Narita Express in Shibuya. It was maybe 6pm, 7pm, rush hour and I had never seen anything like it man! I’m a big dude - 6’6” (198cm) – and we were dragging these bags and guitars everywhere, upstairs, downstairs, doing all the wrong things…and all the lights and the sounds and the train stations, it was pretty epic. Then we met you at Hachiko, right?
Q: Yes. Your debut release has an interesting title…
BJ: (laughs) Yeah. The reason why it is called We are Going To Be Awesome is because we couldn’t think of a band name when we formed the band. There were are many weird and dumb names out there these days and the name pool is getting smaller so just for fun we said we’d call ourselves We Are Going To Be Awesome and then we ended up being Quor so in honour of that, we named the debut We Are Going To Be Awesome. You know, when we started, we were not as awesome as we needed to be so we would have this namesake and get more awesome (laughs) and the next album, Human Paradigm, was a whole different level. In fact, in our history, every album is a different level because we grow so much.
Q: The last release was 2018; got a new release in the works?
DS: I am proud to say we have just got the mastering back for the new single which is scheduled to be out in a few weeks. There’s a bit of a back story to that as well in that I do a lot of carpentry and remodeling and stuff and one of the local studios in town was offering me a trade: I remodel the lounge and kitchen area and in trade they gave me a bunch of free studio time. It’s a great studio, been there for thirty years and run by a well renowned engineer and using that time up, we became friends with a producer named Chris Baseford (Nickelback, Avril Lovigne). They were going to do a two-day kind of video livestream of recording a Rock song and Chris would be giving tips and tricks of what to do and they needed a band as a guinea pig and I just happened to be there so I volunteered us. Now obviously those two days were video based so we didn’t get to record the song as we should. Anyway, we mentioned we would like to record it properly with Chris and he’s in the position that he can pick and choose who he works with but he was digging it so we got n there and recorded one song.
Q: He actually said ‘I thought you would never ask’.
BJ: Doug and I love the process of being in the studio so when everybody else would take off at the end of the day, we would just sit there with Chris while he was mixing a song and chat. Then we started to have lunch and dinner together, we started talking barbeques and it was ‘Hey, we really like this guy’. When we were recording that, there was all these other producer/engineer people learning from him and at one point Chris stopped the tape in mid-take and said ‘I think you just threw a lug or something off that last fill’ and everybody in the room was going ‘I didn’t hear that’ and the drummer said ‘Yeah’ and Chris had heard it!
DS: Another thing in those sessions, we were talking about what else we do, carpentry or whatever and Chris mentioned that he wanted to build a studio, a mixing room in his house so I told him if he ever wanted to do it, I’ll come over and trade some carpentry for production – just planting a seed. Eight or nine months later, we were due to do another EP and at the same time, he hit me up and asked me if I wanted to go and do his studio. I said yes and we ended up spending about eight months in L.A., a week at a time building a fancy mix-room/studio living in his guest house.
BJ: We woke up one morning and we were having coffee, Chris gets a text from Avril Lovigne saying that a song he had just done with her had gone platinum. Not your normal breakfast routine. (laughs)
DS: We basically converted a two and a half car garage in Burbank into a full production mix-room. It was pretty sweet, he didn’t spare any expense and we were the first band and I believe the last band to ever track in that garage because just as it was finished, he ended up moving to Canada because Covid was crazy and sold the house!
Q: How’s your new drummer, Danny Schreiber, fitting in?
Q: How did you find him?
BJ: When we were looking for drummers, we had all these people coming in and we were looking at what our options were and one of the first bands that did pretty well was with Danny. He was just raw talent and whenever I’ve been around world class players and watching them play, I always used to think about this drummer that I used to play with when we were kids. I reached out to him and asked if was still playing drums and if he wanted to play. Back then he had a really nice job doing computer programs but he gave it up and learned to be a tattoo artist and ended up buying a tattoo studio in Washington. He told me he was just about to sign-off drumming because he had this new dream of a tattoo artist going but his first love was playing drums so he said ‘Yeah!’ We had four songs that we had tracked in the studio with Chris and we figured how to track remotely with Chris in Vancouver, Doug and I in San Diego and Danny in Washington so the next four tracks will be with the band as is. He did incredible work on it; it’s crazy what he did.
Q: We shall look forward to seeing him here.
BJ: Well, speaking of Japan, we just had Sano San from the band Birushana who also manages the club Hokage in Osaka playing his trash-metal kit so that will also be on the next record. This was a US/Canadian/Japan production! I wasn’t sure what he was going to do but then I got the tracks back and it’s amazing! It gives it a real extra dimension.
DS: Hey Glenn, can I change my favourite Japanese memory?
Q: Sure. What is it?
(Doug holds up a copy of Burrn! Nov 2018)
DS: On the second tour when we walked into Tower Records and bought this magazine with our band in it.
BJ: That’s one of my greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll memories too.
Q: Well I think we need to get a few more great Japanese memories for you guys in the near future. Good to talk and see you. Stay good.
DS: You too man – take care.
BJ: Thanks Glenn.