Jared Moran: The Toilet ov Hell Interview
Once hailed as the lone shining star in a state of subhuman refuse, Jared Moran is a prolific musician and visual artist as well as the head of Speed Ritual Records and Mauler Cabs. I recently got the chance to speak with Moran about his current projects, gear and what’s next for the man who’s already finished four albums in just the first two months of the year.
You’ve already got at least three albums on the way for 2015. Seriously, do you ever sleep?
Yes, new Yzordderrex, Uzumaki, and Corpse Arise are all for the immediate release in this first quarter of the year. They all have been recorded last year I’m just now finalizing the mixes and all aspects of the layout/artwork. Yzordderrex’s album should be in my hands on CD in the next week. It’s already out on shipment along with the debut of Subterranean Birthright‘s first EP. Amazingly I actually sleep more now than I used to. Not really because I want to, more so since my body does need 6-7 hours. Otherwise I rather never sleep, I used to only sleep 2-3 back when I was less productive and I think now of all that wasted good time.
What is your writing process like? Do your songs come from a place of intention or do you just play whatever you feel and see which of your projects it fits?
It’s a slight combination of both, though more writing with intention at the forefront. Going in and playing whatever with nothing in mind is usually when I might have a name in place I want to use for a project, or just want to try a hand at something new that I haven’t done before or at least hadn’t done or covered in some other band or project. Once I have a band started and after the first release of the band, I sort of have a set guideline that I try to keep while writing for that band in the future. Like key elements that I earmark to be later recurring themes to be utilized and expanded upon in meaningful ways on future releases.
Now as far as scheduling what release or what band I’m going to write for…that all is spur of the moment on a daily basis. For example I might feel like playing doom I then go and start riffing about and based on what’s coming out could be a Yzordderrex or a Mountain of Beard song. Usually by the first or second riff I’ve decided what project it’s going to be for and then direct my construction of that into a song that would fit for that band. It’s extremely rare I start out writing something and then changing my mind by the end of the construction of the song.
I also normally write a song entirely in a sitting, it might take more time to perfect it but the main basis and rough skeleton of the song is in place and sometimes changes a bit as I’m actually recording as ideas pop up like deciding to lead in sections with bass or having the drums drop to a quarter time when I didn’t plan to do so when I was writing the song on guitar. So it’s exciting for me by the end of recording it just to see how well it came out from my first sparks of inspiration.
Aside from a few of your bands, most of your projects are entirely solo efforts. Is that by necessity or do you prefer to work on your own?
Originally it was out of necessity due to the lack of actual musicians that shared similar interests in tackling projects. As I grew more comfortable in writing and recording everything from start to finish, I actually prefer to do so on my own. I’m always open to starting new bands with people who can actually deliver on what they claim they can play or write, but as far as anything I start with just myself, that will always remain as a single solo effort. I feel bringing anyone in to something I’ve been doing for years I’d always feel I’d be demanding a certain degree of submission since I’ve already established a sound for the band. Any deviation from that sound would have me dissecting or outright turning down riffs that I might under other circumstances find quite suitable. That way I prefer a brand new project that I haven’t already have preconceived notions on what I feel the band should sound like. A clean slate negates all those troubles.
Do you have any plans or even the desire to take any of your bands to a live setting?
Actually yes, I do. Well, not for any of my solo work. I don’t care to revisit or relearn my own material, [let alone] teach it to someone else. Well, I might take that back, one of the newest projects I did I wouldn’t mind bringing live and I know some people that could do it but I’m not sure if I’m fully willing to do so. Maybe when the debut comes out for The Djentist, I might, but no guarantees. But some of the collaborative bands that I’ve been working on with local musicians and friends can go live or we plan to go live at some point. Titan Sprawl, Spawning Vats, and Dragunov actually do play live, we just don’t do so often. But overall no need or desire to unless it’s one of those brand new slate bands I started with folks and we have already [determined] that it can or will be a possibility in the future.
Besides their obvious musical differences, are there any other distinctions you make (lyrically, ideologically…) between your individual bands or do they all come from a similar place?
There are a few differences in the lyrics for the more vastly different styles. Like I do more overtly confrontational and blunt lyrics in the power violence I do for Kamikaze Pilots, or typical shlock gore/horror in Corpse Arise, but overall they all do come from the same negative hopeless void. So I still utilize the same open poetic structuring, focusing more on the actual structuring of words together than trying to convey an actual easily graspable concept to the audience. I write my lyrics and I can easily see what message I’m meaning, I just don’t particularly care if I’m clear to anyone else. So while I might see an easy narrative of an occult ritual someone else might just see a word salad. I do cover similar lyrical themes in a few of my bands, occult themes, rituals, general psychosis but not anything specific, just main sweeping ideas.
Besides living in the hellhole that is Mississippi, where does your lyrical or musical inspiration come from?
Lyrically it’s from literature actually in general. Just anything I’m reading and seeing certain words playing off each other or I start placing them in what I feel is something interesting. It could be a piece of classical literature like Pride and Prejudice or an article on the wiring of transformers to the breakdown of the economic growth of a foreign land. I’ve written a ton of Yzordderrex lyrics while on the road traveling for work just reading art and antique magazines. Musically I could get inspired by the very bands I enjoy listening to, or something I’m reading or watching conjures up thoughts and feelings that I would associate with certain sounds I would recall from bands. Hell, listening to top 40 pop on the radio inspires me enough to write the perfect anti-music to combat the bubblegum fluff that I was hearing moments before. Sometimes just pairing up different amps in my collection of gear and riffing some familiar ideas can inspire me to do something with the tone I just created. Like damn these two heads pared with these cabs and this guitar is perfect for some OSDM that sounds like it’s falling apart at the seems and then I just start writing with that tone at my disposal.
Speaking of gear, what kind of setup do you use? You build your own cabinets as well, correct?
That’s correct, I started building my cabs last year under the name Mauler. Thus far it’s been pretty successful with 25 builds under my belt. Something I enjoy doing and started cause I wanted to fill a void in my gear horde since I have a multitude of heads but only a dozen cabs. So I thought about special ordering some and then thought I could put the decade of carpentry experience and the tools I have to use building the very tools I use to create the music I do.
Gear-wise for recording is pretty simple. I use a Presonus Firepod that runs into a Windows-based PC and various Shure mics for everything. For the drums I use just a normal Tama 6 piece kit with 8 cymbals of various makes. I’m not loyal to any particular brand. For bass I have 3 main ones I utilize for the different tones and tunings I use: a Dean MLX, a Fender Jazz, and an Epiphone Thunderbird that I run into either an Ampeg B4R to an Ampeg 810 classic or a Sunn Concert Bass into a Peavey 3620 218/210, sometimes with a Green Big Muff or a DOD overdrive.
Guitar-wise I have a dozen guitars that I utilize all in various tunings and in different combinations for different bands. I’m fond of Jacksons and Deans the most, but have Washburns, Ibanez, and BC Richs that I use. Most of my older material was just using Ampeg SS150s and SS140s into a Krank 412. Now I use more of my Mauler cabs as the base, or in tandem with some of the other cabs I have like Krank, Peavey, Sunn, or Kustom. I have a vast array [of heads] now that I spend a nice chunk selecting from. Ampeg SSs, Ampeg VHs. Sunns, Randalls, Peaveys, Kustoms, Sound City, Madison, Traynor, Orange, Marshall, even Crate…I think that’s it in a nutshell.
It all just depends on the band and the overall tone and sound I’m going for nowadays. I had a special pedal built by Analogue Saboteur in order to run five full rigs at once if I so desire, with a built-in fuzz. So that way I can easily pick through amp set ups and see how they pair up before I even hit the record button.
[peruse Jared’s literal mountain of gear on his Youtube channel and ponder the injustices you’re doing your guitar tone]
That is an insane amount of gear, and I don’t know how you’re not deaf yet. You also do all the artwork for the albums you release on Speed Ritual, right? Can you tell us more about your visual art?
I use ear plugs, all the time. For everything. Haha. I do almost all the artwork, there are two releases on Speed Ritual that I didn’t do and that is 54R‘s Fuck You and Then Some and Yzordderrex’s self-titled. Those were handled by my good friend Anderson Cook. But yes the rest I drew or did the photography.
As far as an overview, I’ve been drawing since I was a child and come from a very artistic family. So I guess you kinda say it’s in the blood. I didn’t have any formal training, any art classes I took in high school and the single one in college only pushed me towards not doing any at all, which for several years I didn’t. Only after Hurricane Katrina when most of the full membered bands I had running split up due to people moving away since there was nothing left for them, did I start getting back into dabbling in painting and drawing once again. I had the free time so I pursued this avenue of creativity that was fulling before I started recording for myself. I started selling my paintings to an audience that I’ve slowly grown over the last 7 years and my inkwork to a few bands just for merch. A large part why I do most of the artwork for all my bands cause it’s a certain look I’m going to capture and it’s just far easier for me to just create it myself than to hire out or seek anyone else for it. Plus I enjoy it since I’m already creating the item from the ground up I might as well do all the visuals ’cause I feel only I can truly display what I feel the music conjures. Also the added bonus of not having to deal or wait on anyone else is just so greatly appreciated. It just seems working with anyone on anything takes way too much time ’cause by the time they are completed I don’t feel like working on it and I have to get in the mood to do so to complete it.
Is that why you choose to self-release all your records or, if possible, would you choose to work with a larger label?
I have no problem working with other labels of the same stature as me or larger. I just don’t have the time to devote to basically shopping my material to other people in hopes they put it out or work with me. I’ve never cared about doing that and feel I could be more productive in my time than to basically cold call (email) various labels to see if they are interested in X of whatever I’m doing at the time. I am happy to skip the middle men and go straight to the source of having it pressed and released myself. I have complete control over when and how I distribute it. Speed Ritual came from knowing that I had planned on releasing a few different bands of my own so why have them all self released as separate from each other. Why not group them under a single label or imprint as in establishing a brand of sorts? That way possibly people who might have heard of one band might find something else I might do that they equally like or enjoy more so than whatever they first heard of me. I know I’ve gotten feedback from people who love certain bands and actually hate the other ones, and I’m quite happy with that. I don’t want it be an all over if you like a single band then all the rest you will like cause they are similar of some sort…because they are not and that would be missing the point.
For the record, I’m a total unapologetic fanboy and love everything I’ve heard from you, but I digress. Would you ever consider expanding your operation and releasing albums by other bands or does it exist with the express purpose of being your personal artistic brand?
Thank you for being so, I’m glad that you love everything because you are a fan of all those styles. I’m certain it’s not cause of my smiling face.
I started it out originally as solely for myself. Then I actually reached out to a couple of bands that I came across that didn’t have anything out and neither worked out. One had changed their sound to a much cleaner approach that I didn’t enjoy and the other didn’t get back with me and then released their album digitally a couple of months before and then came back and asked if I was interested, at that time I didn’t care anymore. I did put out my friend’s collective works under his band Pornography ’cause I enjoyed it that much and he was about the idea of doing so. So I’m not completely uninterested in putting out other bands’ material, it’s just not any sort of priority to me. I don’t seek out any bands and rarely do I respond to requests that I’ve been sent. I try to at least tell the bands I’m not interested but sometimes it’s just hilarious when a band that has no similar sound to anything that I would ever bother doing contacts me and asks if I want to release their clean singing ambient folk metal album. I guess I rack up the non-caring of others’ releases due to severe narcissism. Only ’cause I feel if I’m going to work that hard on something I might as well do it for something I’ve done that pleases me foremost. All else is secondary.
How much time per week do you spend writing or recording? You practically put out more music than there are hours in the day. Do you work on songs or albums all at once whenever inspiration strikes or spread it out over a longer period of time?
I can usually spend around 20 or so hours a week writing and recording. More so when you consider mixing ’cause that can easily add another 20. But I tend to break those up, if I’m in the mood to write and record I just constantly do until I get to a point I feel I need to start mixing and I hold off a bit on writing so I can focus a bit more on getting things completed.
I used to do entire releases all at once being my total focus, but as time has gone on I do with whatever is most inspiring to me at that time. Sometimes I’ll knock out an entire album cause that’s what’s burning a hole in my head to complete like I did with the Djentist and Ishimura albums I did earlier this month. It was all I felt like doing and once I hit a certain point I just stop and start working on something else. That’s also how certain releases become EPs instead of full lengths. I’ll write and I might a few songs go working on something else and when I come back to the material I might have changed my setup or possibly can’t remember the setup I used to record the first batch of songs so I call that an EP and start on newer material for a different full length. Sometimes it’s been such a long time between when I stop and when I start back up that I feel there will be a disconnect in the material so I rather split it as well.
I think the longest I’ve spent working on an album is 6 months putting songs together as I go. But on average I try to complete it in a more timely fashion like one or two months. At that point it feels like years have gone by in my mind and I just want to move on to the next creation.
Besides the upcoming Subterranean Birthright, Yzordderrex, Uzumaki, and Corpse Arise records, what are your other plans for the coming year?
Oh there is plenty that I have to finish mixing or finish writing for. The ones I can confirm that will be out is the debut EP of Maggot Crown; debut EP of A Wall; a Kamikaze Pilots EP, another Yzordderrex album; split between Eats Aids and Nostril Caverns; full lengths for Filtheater, 54R, Vomitwolves, Flittering, Dragunov, and the Djentist.
There are more collaborations in the future as well but I can’t really confirm the completion of any of them since I won’t fully be responsible for everything.
Well it sounds like you and we both have got a lot to look forward on the horizon. Any final words you’d like to share with our readers?
Absolutely, plenty plenty of work for the future. I greatly appreciate the interview and all the support. And to anyone who listens or reads this, I appreciate even taking a glance over what I do, be it they like it or not. I enjoy doing what I do for satisfying myself foremost. Thank you again Christian and Toilet ov Hell!