Birds in Flight: Cormorant

. . .

It’s a gorgeous morning in Novato, California, and Cormorant and Invisible Oranges are stuffing our collective faceholes with breakfast at a swanky establishment simply called Toast. Between forkfuls of huevos rancheros, oatmeal with raisins (a healthy decision for which bassist/vocalist Arthur von Nagel receives light ribbing from his bandmates) and the tastiest Belgian waffle this side of Brussels, discussion turns to shows in the area, which turns to marathon outdoor event Outsidelands, which leads to drummer Brennan Kunkel and guitarist Nick Cohon’s preference for reggae festivals. From there, Coachella’s relevance is mulled over, as is the hologram of late rapper Tupac, which leads us to festival-friendly acts like Feist, who of course links to metal by way of her split 7-inch with Mastodon set to be released on Record Store Day (April 21, 2012), which happens to be the very day of this interview. We all agree that the Canadian indie pop songstress must have a hell of a sense of humor to cover a song by one of the most important metal acts of the last decade, and from humor we immediately jump to the funniest man on the planet, Louis CK.

“Didn’t he do what we’re doing?” asks guitarist Matt Solis about the comic who released his latest stand-up video openly on the Web with a $5 donation request, trusting that the denizens of the Internet would stay honest and pay for someone’s hard work. The rest of the guys nod in confirmation, a silent note of kinship for other artists like them. It’s a growing means of business among independent artists in many mediums, the posting of one’s work online for the world to do with it what it feels is right.

It’s also made Cormorant the definitive “Bandcamp metal band,” a tag they seem pretty alright with wearing considering how much the digital music distribution service has boosted their profile worldwide, often putting the band in contact with fans in increasingly exotic locales. First there was the Australian fan of Aboriginal descent who thanked von Nagel for addressing the worldwide oppression of native peoples of all continents – and Aboriginals specifically – in “The First Man,” the opener to last year’s last minute end-of-year list crasher Dwellings.

Then there was the Lebanese fan who actually broke federal law to acquire both the bands’ full lengths. “He said, ‘I want to order your music, but this is going to get killed in customs because it’s metal,’ which is illegal there,” von Nagel recalls. “So he had to ship it to Saudi Arabia and then had to cross the border and smuggled it in as contraband. He couldn’t do PayPal because that was blocked, so he actually mailed money to my house.”

“That’s the cool thing about being DIY is that we get to see all these crazy places our albums are going to,” adds Solis. “Nick put together this interactive map showing where everything was going.”

“It was like 35 different countries,” says von Nagel, widening his eyes in disbelief.

By now, our plates have been cleared, and everyone checks the time. The fifth San Jose/Columbus NHL playoff game starts at 4:30 and Solis, today decked in a Sharks t-shirt and matching hat, wants to be back by the time for faceoff. We’ve got five hours, which is deemed more than enough time to complete the hike the guys have planned for us. We all pile into Cohon’s Rav4 and are set to hit the road when Solis points to a red Volkswagen van from the backseat. “Is that Chuck Brown?” he asks. Kunkel looks over from the passenger seat and realizes the driver of the van is indeed his old drum instructor, a legendary jazz drummer who taught future superstars Terry Bozzio and Dave Garibaldi. His private studio, located a few blocks away from the strip mall we’re parked in, is where Cormorant rehearsed the material for Dwellings. By the entire band’s account, it was a perfect location, with an actual stage and excellent acoustics. And they’d still be jamming there if hard financial times hadn’t hit Brown and forced him to close the space overnight. “We actually had to call the landlord and ask him to open it again so we could go grab our instruments,” von Nagel explains. “We had like a half hour to haul all of our gear out before they closed it for good.”

Cormorant are no strangers to storied practice spaces. On the way out of town Cohon realizes we’re near their first space in the Novato suburbs and suggests we stop by to see how it’s held up since they moved out a few years back. On the way, von Nagel explains that soon after the band formed in 2007, he and Kunkel rented a house and started building a small, soundproof booth in the middle of the conveniently sized second living room. With materials “borrowed” from construction sites and high quality Auralex soundproofing foam to line the inside, the guys eventually had a workable room-within-a-room walled in with thick plywood that reached the ceiling, all reinforced with metal plates on the outside. Hell, they even fashioned a door with thick-paned glass so the numerous people the place eventually became host to could watch without shattering their eardrums inside. After writing and rehearsing both The Last Tree and most of full-length debut Metazoa, the band turned the house over to some friends, and it essentially became a squat not too long after.

As we pull up to the house, the guys let out a collective “holy shit.” The place is a wreck. A bass amp and a few odds and ends are sitting on the driveway with “FREE” spray painted on a piece of cardboard behind them. The lawn is overgrown and the entire property looks like it’s a few spores of black mold away from being condemned. “Oh God, you’re taking pictures,” von Nagel says dryly as he whips out his phone to make a call while the rest of the guys venture into the house. Turns out Greg Nelson – the luthier who’s crafted guitars and basses for Solis, Cohon and von Nagel – lives next door. Turns out he’s also von Nagel’s father-in-law as of last week.

From the wood, a bugled shriek

After a brief tour of Nelson’s garage workshop and the band’s former practice space/party house, we’re back on the road heading west to the Tule Elk Preserve at Point Reyes. During the bumpy 45-minute ride soundtracked by Cohon’s “anything goes” playlist including old tyme country, Agalloch, and anything Wino, it hits us just how seriously Cormorant take their DIY identity. Outside of publicist/metal scribe Kim Kelly, the artists who designed the covers for Metazoa and Dwellings (Kunkel’s aunt created the art for The Last Tree) and those same albums’ producers, every aspect of the band’s output exclusively involves the band members and their family. It’s the kind of in-house, fiercely independent attitude you’d expect from a punk band, which is kind of how Cormorant started.

“Brennan and I were in a thrashy crossover band called Natural Selection Agency, and then we got kind of bored because we were listening to weirder and weirder music,” states von Nagel once we’re out on the trail. “I think we heard Agalloch at that point, and Amon Amarth and Opeth, and we sort of wanted to go a little more expansive.”

Soon enough, von Nagel and Kunkel broke off and formed Screams and Whispers, a pre-Cormorant band that also marked the beginning of the band’s expansive network of family and family friends who have helped the guys out along the way. “We did an EP actually,” remembers Kunkel. “It was me on guitar, Arthur on bass and we did it all in one day at this guy’s house who didn’t even know how to record. He was just this wealthy guy who owed Arthur’s relatives a favor. It was really interesting being in this million dollar home just screaming our heads off and playing distorted guitar while his daughter and his wife were staring at us like we’re crazy.”

And thus, Screams and Whispers’, er, Cormorant’s recording career was born. But according to both, Cormorant wasn’t Cormorant until they acquired Cohon, which took some convincing to lure him away from his job in the country.

“I was in Colorado picking peaches and apricots all year and living in a school bus at the time,” recalls Cohon. “Brennan said, ‘Hey, I just got a new house with a studio, you can park outside for free.’ They were sending me these pictures of their unfinished studio with these really pathetic letters like, ‘Come join our little band!’”

It’s the kind of ribbing indicative of a band with real chemistry, which is surprising considering how little the guys actually see each other. With members spread across the Bay Area and each working full-time, there just aren’t many chances to get together outside of twice-a-week band practice. But back in Cormorant’s salad days, they could work out material and jam to their heart’s content. After a quick demo, the trio of von Nagel, Kunkel and Cohon set out to write and record the songs that would become The Last Tree, and began several longstanding Cormorant traditions.

“We would always jam; that was what was weird about us in terms of metal,” says von Nagel. “We always just come in and jam for the first 20 minutes of practice, even now.”

“We had a Pro Tools setup there,” continues Cohon. “So every time we jammed we’d put a mic in the middle of the room. We have recordings from maybe 200 practices, all different jams.”

The majority of material for The Last Tree shows a band consumed by the melodic sensibilities of the Scandinavian death metal scene. Opener “A Dance of Elk Entwined” reflects its animalistic lyrical theme (the rituals of an alpha male elk to keep his status) by hammering primeval Amon Amarth riffery over thumping double bass, while “Two Brothers”’ more sophisticated tremolo breaks and double tracked leads were taken from an early Screams and Whispers version of Metazoa’s mid-album epic, “Hanging Gardens.”

“It’s all riffs being taken from other things we had done,” admits von Nagel. “‘Ballad’ was written before many of the other tracks on the EP.”

“Ballad” would be 9-minute closer “Ballad of the Beast.” Opening with von Nagel’s brooding bass line before delving into a tumultuous trek through subdued moments of Agalloch reverb, soaring major key harmonies and numerous time changes bookended by Cohon’s father on rainstick and Kunkel’s sister, Deborah Spake, dueting with von Nagel in her gorgeous operatic soprano during the outro, the track was not only the band’s most ambitious at the time, but also the trail they would follow to even more expansive pastures on Metazoa.

It’s those roller coaster twists and that unpredictability that betray the disparate personalities and musical backgrounds which compose Cormorant. Kunkel’s interest in reggae and dub music has already been established, and Cohon goes on at length about his teenage years spent playing bluegrass festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Von Nagel was raised on ’60s American folk and French traditionals, and didn’t discover metal until his late teens. In fact, it was the guitarist for Natural Selection Agency who was responsible for hooking von Nagel on the heavy stuff when the two met in a college course. “He bypassed all that nu metal shit and started me on the good stuff right away,” says von Nagel, adding with a laugh, “then he told me I should play bass because it was the easiest. It only has four strings!”

Which leaves Solis as Cormorant’s de facto “metal dude.” A longtime active member of the Bay Area scene with bands like Shitstorm and power metal outfit In Virtue on his resùmè, the amiable guitarist with the flowing blonde locks so closely resembles a hirsute Scandinavian metaller that his initial meeting with the band was a case of mistaken identity.

“I was at an Enslaved show with my friend Luke, who incidentally is an old classmate of Nick’s,” recalls Solis. “They were passing out CD-R copies of The Last Tree, and they just gave it to me because Nick and Luke were talking.”

“I thought he was Grutle [Kjellson, Enslaved bassist/vocalist]!” says Cohon, laughing. “I was standing in front of him like, ‘Arthur, isn’t that the singer? How does Luke know Grutle?’”

Cohon may not have spotted black metal royalty that night, but he did pick out his musical foil. Solis’ disciplined playing complemented Cohon’s emotive bursts of bluesy classic rockisms. The two jived during Solis’ first jam session (the guys won’t call it an audition), and pretty soon he was in. Solis squints against the midday sun breaking through the mountains of fog rolling in off the Pacific Ocean as he explains what made him join the relatively unknown, unsigned band with only an unpackaged EP under its collective belt. “I’ve played in bands enough that I know when I don’t have a musical connection with someone,” he says. “I’m not like a big technical, sweepy guy, but that’s more of my style and how I came through playing with bands. If you listen to our band, you can definitely tell the difference between Nick’s style and my style. I never understand when there’s two guitarists in a band playing the same shit. There are so many places you could go with two electric guitars that we’re still exploring.”

Fins punctured cities, bled sulfur and smoke

Cormorant and their newfound guitarist set out on their musical expedition almost immediately, with Solis contributing to the few new songs the band had in the tank. “The only songs that were partially written for Metazoa were ‘Scavengers Feast’ and the first part of ‘Uneasy Lies the Head,’ recalls Cohon. “Matt came in and added the whole Viking chant to the end of ‘Uneasy’ and then brought in ‘Emigrant’s Wake.’ It blew up after that.”

The rest of the summer of 2008 was spent sweating out the new material in the band’s “space pod” home studio, occasionally demoing the tracks for whoever happened to be in the house at the time. “You get a bunch of tube amps plus a bunch of sweaty guys,” says Solis. “And sometimes there’d be other people watching us practice. There were four people living in that house at all times and these guys have a lot of friends. We’d have parties and play with the door open. I just remember it being fucking hot in there, which might have lent itself to the aggression of the riffs in a certain way.”

Metazoa reflects the conditions under which it was written. Equal parts boisterous melody and gnashing metallic ferocity, the album is brimming with Cormorant’s newfound energy from a freshly solidified lineup and a willingness to include damn near anything they could think of at the time. Visions of mandolins, pianos, cellos, operatic female vocals (again courtesy of Kunkel’s sister) and drunken pirate wails all swirled together to form the chaotic miasma that would eventually become Metazoa. The band demoed the entire album at home in late 2008 before reaching out to the one producer in the Bay Area with the ear for the weird it took to flesh out the material’s sparser moments.

“Billy Anderson is like your awesome uncle,” says von Nagel with a grin. “He tells dirty jokes and he’s awesome to work with. He’s kind of like Pollock where he’ll throw shit all over the place and see what works.”

The famed producer of West Coast heavy hitters like Neurosis, the Melvins and High on Fire inherited a band so well rehearsed they kept most of the scratch tracks after banging the entire album out live in a four-day frenzy. Layer upon layer of guitar leads were added, and an entire jam, “Hole in the Sea,” made its way onto tape. Cormorant were on fire, as was the rest of the Oakland neighborhood where Shark Bite Studio was located.

“That guy was shot on BART on New Year’s Eve and Billy was looking it up online and said, ‘That’s like right here,’” says Solis. “We came outside and there were helicopters and cars on fire.”

Oakland’s apocalyptic landscape didn’t scare away Cormorant’s buddies in Judgement Day and Giant Squid from stopping by to make some guest shots. Lewis Patzner and Aaron Gregory lent their cello and “drunken pirate vocals,” respectively, to the aforementioned “Hole in the Sea,” with Patzner adding his mournful strings to a few more tracks. “Aaron has a distinctive vocal style that’s difficult to fit with what we do,” says Solis. “’Hole in the Sea’ was the first thought because it’s so experimental, plus it’s got that nautical theme to it. We sent him some demos and bought him a six pack of Newcastle and a pizza and he did those vocals in about five hours.”

Von Nagel’s vocals didn’t come nearly so easily. If his lyrics on Metazoa read like poetry, that’s because they are. And if detailed verses like “Hanging Gardens”–11-and-a-half-minutes of iambic pentameter–weren’t difficult enough to shoehorn into a song, most of his words were written well before the music.

“I realized how different writing poetry is from writing lyrics because you have rhythm imposed on you,” says von Nagel. “I had to fit it in. When I was growing up I wanted to write poetry and philosophy, so that’s my background. Writing lyrics after the music is a totally different experience. Nick was the one who was recording the demos so we would do those and then we would change the syllables and just pop random screams in there. Then I would try to map the lyrics into that basic scheme.”

Like the rest of Metazoa, it was a chaotic process that somehow begat a uniform finished product. Take Metazoa’s opener “Scavengers Feast” and last song proper, “Sky Burial,” for example. The former is a reflection on how carrion ruthlessly harvest the lifeless husks of Earth’s creatures for nutrition, no sense of order to the madness: “The flies, the ants, the carrion thrive . . . and the world, the world still turns.” The latter details a ritual practiced by Buddhists in which they leave the corpse of a recently deceased person in the open air for indigenous birds of prey to eat: “In parts I lie, staring at the clouds/And listening to the vultures sing.” This act allows the person’s soul to return to the sky from which it came, bringing his life full circle: “At light I wake, a being reborn.” The two bookending tracks do the same for Metazoa, bringing to close a record unintentionally tied together by the common theme of animals, hence the title.

None speak of the pious in history

Overall, as pleased as Cormorant were with how Metazoa turned out, the band regarded it as a learning experience, a set of dos and don’ts to adhere to for future records. Or, as Solis puts it, “It’s a giant pain in the ass when you’re trying to adhere to a schedule and keep things simple as possible.” By the time they self-released Metazoa in late 2010, Cormorant already had a few songs in the tank that fulfilled the collective aim for simplicity.

Cormorant nailed down the rest of Dwellings at Chuck Brown’s studio, a safe haven for a band looking to buckle down and strip away the material they deemed unnecessary. “At the old house where we wrote Metazoa it was a lot easier to let recreation in,” says Kunkel. “You get a little side tracked. This place we were only there to play music.”

The result was seven songs as feral, raw and primal as Metazoa was triumphant, melodic and ambitious, which is exactly how von Nagel saw them when it came to write the lyrics, this time after the music. “None of our albums are concept albums, but they all have a theme,” he says. “Dwellings was very human and dark, and about ambition and conflict. It was very much about human structures and buildings and language and different ways we constrain the world around us and try to dominate it as human beings.”

Bookended by the aforementioned “The First Man” and “Unearthly Dreamings” (the tale of the first casualty in space, Vladmir Komarov), Dwellings is a collection of chapters about mankind’s struggle; either against our fears, each other or the pale blue pebble in the vast cosmic stream we’ve inherited from our ancestors.

Throughout Dwellings we conquer those fears, as told in “Funambulist,” based on Philippe Petit’s high-wire walk between the Two Towers in 1974. The idea for the song came after Solis saw Man on Wire – the 2008 documentary detailing the events up and to including the actual walk – and told von Nagel about it after the initial syllables and some spoken word were already written. “That was the first song we wrote from that album after Metazoa, and we were playing it live back in 2010,” says Solis. “I think I had just seen the movie, and that part at the end where Arthur’s speaking French always sounded to me like what he would sound like being alone on the wire. So I connected the two and Arthur saw the film and read about the story. A lot of the riffs are airy, and there’s some fast, gallopy stuff that lends itself well to the drama of them trying to sneak into the World Trade Center, so it kind of worked out storywise.”

Thus, the benefits of matching lyrics to the finished music paid off immediately. “I just listen to the riffs and close my eyes and wait for images to show, and then I match those images to stories I know or want to embellish,” explains von Nagel. “For example, we called ‘The Howling Dust’ ‘The Western Song’ for months, because it feels dusty and has that old time folky start to it a little bit. So I read four or five books on Western things and found that one.”

It’s a staggering amount of dedication that von Nagel applies to each and every song. If there were a Pulitzer Prize for metal, von Nagel would be the top candidate solely for his work on “Junta,” Dwellings’ masterful centerpiece retelling the atrocities committed by the Guinean military against a crowd of protesters in 2009. “I heard that story and I tried to write a song about it for a year,” von Nagel reveals. “It was just really horrible; I didn’t really have the words for it. That song is pretty different. It’s not very structured in a poetic sense; it’s just really stark. It’s journalistic.”

Reading lines like “Bayonets puncture eyes” and “Women raped with gun barrels” is chilling enough, but to hear von Nagel deliver them in his untamed roar is downright terrifying. He credits his ferocious performance throughout Dwellings to producer Justin Weis, who recorded, mixed and mastered the album at Trakworx Studios in South San Francisco. “He really cared about the delivery in terms of almost making it like a play,” says von Nagel. “He’d go through the lyrics with me and say, ‘What’s your character? You need to be consistent all the way through.’ And if I deviated from that character, he’d call me on it and say, ‘Stop, you need to start again.’”

Weis’ vocal coaching, combined with von Nagel’s having written his lyrics around the structure of each song, allowed for the some of the most dramatic moments captured on a metal record since Bruce Dickinson’s desperate cry of “Run for your lives!” Von Nagel’s description of a girl too in fear of disgracing her family to consult her doctor after being raped by Guinean soldiers in “Junta” is as disturbing as his chant of “Burn, burn the ties that bind/Mortals from this terrene rind” is triumphant on “Unearthly Dreamings.” “It’s not like writing poetry,” he reveals. “It’s like writing an adapted screenplay, because you’re fitting a lot of content into these little snippets of verses, and you have to pick the most essential parts of the story so that it makes sense. And I’m trying to make it where, if it’s intense, somebody has to die or something horrible has to happen. Or if it’s quiet here, somebody has to be contemplative.”

It’s those moments – the parts of the songs’ stories told by both the music and the lyrics – which truly stand out. There is great sorrow in the solo following von Nagel’s spoken word section on “The First Man,” as well as tactile serenity as Petit walks, lies down and turns on his tightrope on “Funambulist.” One can sense the lull in the crowd of protestors through Kunkel’s martial pacing on “Junta”; one can hear ambition and avarice consume infamous conquistador Lope de Aguirre as he commits increasingly savage acts against Peruvian natives in his quest for El Dorado in “The Purest Land”; and one can hear the celebration of human achievement mixed with impending tragedy as Solis and Cohon’s riffs intertwine like twin exhaust trails climbing further into the stratosphere as “Unearthly Dreamings” draws to its fatal end. Each song is about something and each song tells a story. Every note played on Dwellings ties into the album’s theme in some way.

Hell, even winding, “YYZ”-esque instrumental jam “Confusion of Tongues” is named for the dispersion of languages through the mixing of cultures over time. It also relates to the Tower of Babel, which was the basis for the massive, Bosch-inspired triptych foldout in which the CD is housed. Von Nagel scoured DeviantArt for months before finding Alice Duke’s work. The band communicated with her daily, sending back nearly a dozen pieces before the final product made its way from Duke’s native England. Kunkel shrugs and laughs, saying “After the Metazoa album cover, we said, ‘We can’t outdo this, we’re going to scale back and make it much simpler.’ And I don’t know what happened from there.”

Aside from its packaging, everything else about Dwellings isn’t just simpler than Metazoa, but more direct. There’s minimal multitracking, and the band didn’t employ any guest musicians or other instruments outside of the basic guitars, drums, bass and vocals. Weis proved to be just the guy to produce an album that was the antithesis of its predecessor in nearly every way, right down to his workmanlike approach. Where Anderson would “get up and walk around really restlessly,” Solis says, Weis “sits in a chair for 10 straight hours, eats some pizza, looks like Chris Cornell and goes down the list.”

“He’s like a goddamn machine,” he adds.

Which isn’t to say Cormorant didn’t enjoy their experience at Trakworx. In fact, the guys were fascinated by the intensely focused sessions, taking in every minute detail Weis employed to make sure the 50-odd minutes of music laid to tape attained the gorgeous analog glow that previous recordings by Bay Area vets like Hammers of Misfortune and Ludicra did. “He actually hooked up a mannequin head and put two mics right where the ears are and set it in the middle of the room so he could get a good drum mix,” enthuses Cohon. “Arthur was singing out of $10,000 mics. He has these eight foot ribbon speakers and all this vintage gear.”

“He has a really sensitive ear,” Kunkel continues. “He spent a lot of time listening to it turned down really low. He’d play it, then turn it down really softly and listen to the mix, then he’d pan it to this shitty little radio and have it come out of there so he could hear it on all levels.”

After a half-year delay due to their repeated rejection of Duke’s artwork (“she probably regretted working with us afterwards,” von Nagel jokes), the fulfillment of their offer to print the names of every fan who preordered the physical album on its liner notes and an all night, assembly line flurry led by von Nagel’s mother to compile and mail the various hundreds of package deals, Cormorant finally self-released Dwellings in December 2011, just in time for the staff at every print and online music publication to argue over whether it was too late to be eligible for best-of-lists. Lars Gotrich of NPR seemed pretty sure of Dwellings’ stance among 2011’s best releases, as he not only declared it the best metal record of the year, but also secured it a spot on the site’s general year-end list. “It wasn’t just the metal ghetto,” says von Nagel as the rest of the guys chuckle. “There’s Beyoncé, and there’s the Cormorant album.”

Not bad for a self-released record by a band that has yet to complete a full tour. With no label to back them and a growing but widely dispersed fan base, booking shows is a patience-breaking task von Nagel’s just starting to get a handle on, especially when “I swear, we’re huge on the Internet” won’t cut it for many venue bookers. “Show promoters are notoriously weird,” laments Solis. “And even though our record has been doing OK, no one on a large level knows who we are. So, we’re pretty much coming at these people like, ‘Hey, want to book these two bands you’ve never heard of?’” That would be Cormorant and Young Hunter, the Arizona psych-doom band the guys will be taking along for a 10-day jaunt up the West Coast this June. It’s the next step towards proving DIY isn’t just a phase, but a real, sustainable approach to making art in this age of music industry scheistery and major label implosions.

Cormorant self-released Metazoa out of necessity after sitting on it for eight months looking for a label. Dwellings represents the full realization of the band’s determination to create great art independent of anyone outside of the four guys playing the instruments. Think of it as quality control. Free of label input, Cormorant’s music is uncorrupted by any outside ears, a 100% authentic creation. The best part? Fans know exactly where their money is going, and they feel like a part of the finished product is theirs. “People feel good about supporting us and that their money is helping the band they like do what they want to do,” says Solis. “All you need to worry about is distribution, and all you need to do to figure that out is put in some work. As long as a band is willing to do that, there’s no reason they would need a label.”

As evidenced by the near-sweat shop conditions von Nagel’s mother’s home took on during the packaging for Dwellings, Cormorant are at about the limit with what they can handle by themselves as a small business. Distribution is indeed difficult, and the band received so many preorders that their PayPal account was temporarily shut down until von Nagel could prove they could deliver everything. If business grows any larger than the massive package deals for Dwellings, von Nagel says, Cormorant will need to incorporate as a label, much like Neurosis did in the late ’90s after breaking from Relapse. And really, there’s much worse company to keep than with one of the most ethical, influential and fiercely independent bands in the history of heavy music. Cormorant have a ways to go, but this is all hypothetical anyway. There’s really no end goal for the band other than to make thoughtful, artistically sound music as an autonomous collective, and they’re doing a pretty damn good job of that at the moment.

The next thing on the horizon is sharpening the material for their upcoming tour. As we hike back across the trail’s final stretch overlooking the Pacific with the sun at our backs, the guys talk about the current rehearsal space they share with a group of other bands, a place that’s sure to become a second home as they hunker down to tighten up over the next few weeks. After three years, they’re back in a sweaty room with a ton of people. They’ll surely reacclimate to it. And hey, it beats a plywood box with no ventilation in the suburbs.

—Greg Majewski

HEAR DWELLINGS

Cormorant’s Remaining Tour Dates
June 06
The Crocodile
Seattle, Washington

June 08
Hell’s Kitchen
Tacoma, Washington

June 09
The Shakedown
Bellingham, Washington

June 10
The Town House Lounge
Sacramento, California