When it comes to the sounds of Nathan Hubbard, categorization is futile.Using jury-rigged drum sets, home-built instruments and an array of electronics, Hubbard makes music that ranges from ugly to beautiful, "funeral doom" to musique concrete , solo piano pieces to chamber orchestra works. This weekend, he'll perform with two very different bands at two very different shows—experimental outfit Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed on Saturday and indie-pop act Rafter on Sunday.
Curious how he manages to pull it all off, we chatted with the San Diego native over email about Ogd's odd name,the allure of doom music and his recent move to Chandler, Ariz., among other things. ---
CityBeat: On your website, you say that the template for Ogd's show on Saturday is "doom/patience/drone/harley." Can you tell us more about this? And what's "harley"? You also say you'll be playing "ridiculously slow funeral doom music." What do you mean by that?
Nathan Hubbard: Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed is a band of multiple interests, and performances can be dramatically different in terms of expectancy. So I post a template for the performance to let people know what is planned for any given performance. And Harley is the bassist.
"Funeral doom" is the lower reaches of the genre "doom metal." Although it is a lesser-known genre than "death," "black" or "thrash" (to give three examples), it has a long history. Black Sabbath would be an easy entry point for most listeners and it is easy to mention bands like St. Vitus, Witchfinder General, Cathedral, Candlemass, Funeral, Thergothon, Mournful Congregation, etc. Not a complete list, but a few that spring to mind.
Akin to our use of an abstract name to escape labeling, I have never been a fan of genre placement and mention these thoughts only as a starting point for the listener's interaction with the music.
What is Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed all about?
This group functions by improvising using various issues of tempo and altered interaction. Often the use of break-beats is a starting point. At faster tempi, the music shares sonic identities with various electronic genres and at slower tempi, it shares much with doom and funeral doom genres. These slower areas will be the focus for June Gloom 2011 [which happens at Kava Lounge this Saturday].
What attracts you to "funeral doom" music?
In general, I am attracted to music with a strong identity. And over the last few years, I have been drawn to music that uses slower-moving materials. I find that the times we live in give us too many options and too much information. So Funeral Doom is one of many ways to slow down and allow a bit of introspection.
What can we expect from your new recording, Volume III , which will be released via Bandcamp on Saturday?
Ridiculously slow metal drumming, thick noisy processed bass playing and drone-based organ playing with occasional melodic material. The record is completely improvised, was recorded in about three hours, and the piece[s] are presented in the order they were recorded. The recording was recorded and mixed by myself and mastered by Steve Langdon. The music is thick and wonderful, whether you are playing it in the foreground or background.
Your style is super-eclectic and across-the-board. What's it like performing funeral doom one night and indie-pop with Rafter the next?
I have never thought of myself as "eclectic." I have made conscious choices in the music I listen to and / or play. These have been honest choices in terms of what interests me and gives me room for growth and development. Occasionally you will find me playing music that I have no interest in, but hey—I'm a musician and I need to make money as much as anybody else. Those are gigs you won't see me publicizing. Needless to say, neither of the gigs this weekend fall into that category.
Luckily I've been able to work with people I respect and love. Clearly, different gigs require different equipment and a different mind-set. Maybe different clothing. Let's say on one night I'm going to have a beer beforehand and the other some tea. I won't tell you which. Believe me—I've had much stranger work weeks in terms of genre-leaping.
Are there any new instruments you've been working on? If so, what are they and what sounds do they make?
Most of my homemade instruments are metal frames with different implements bolted or welded to them. These are amplified and run through various effect processors. Most of the time, these are used in my solo performances and recordings and occasionally in group contexts. They are designed to have longer sustain than much of my acoustic instruments and give me a broader sonic palette to work from.
Lately, I've been modifying the square frame and building a few wind-harps. The tech page on my website has plenty of info for further research.
What have you been up to in Chandler, Ariz.? Is there an experimental / noise scene down there?
I've been practicing, writing music, mixing audio, meeting people and trying to figure out the scene. I've also been sweating a lot.
Is there anything you miss about San Diego?
Rico's Taco Shop, the trains in Encinitas, Rocky, the I-5 at 2 a.m., Siamese Basil and my support group—N2, Har-Har, Naz, Helzer, Grinnells, all the Singing Serpents past and present.
Ogd_S(11) Translation Has Failed plays with 60's Residue, The Armory Show and Mountain Tempel at Kava Lounge gallery on Saturday, June 25, as part of “June Gloom 2011.” Rafter plays with tUnE-yArDs and T.V. Mike and The Scarecrows at Soda Bar on Sunday, June 26. That show is sold out.