Have you found that living out in the country itself affects what you’re writing?

I don’t know, I don’t know. I still live a similar life, I just get a lot more peace of mind and stuff. I suppose it must, but I’m too close to that to know how it might.

Even on the collaborative tracks, like ‘By Wind And Sun,’ there’s a solitary feeling in the music. Do you think something too well-produced would lose that?

I don’t think the quality of production would necessarily affect the music. Even though I’ve become a better engineer, and even though these are better high fidelity sounds—I once heard someone call it, ‘Hi-fi lo-fi’—you have a high-quality recording of a lo-fi source. If you’re into strange distortions and messed up sounds, it doesn’t matter what you record them on. You can record them on a four-track in your bedroom or you can record them in Steve Albini’s studio and it’s still going to be a lo-fi source. If your source is the way you want it, the quality of production, as it gets better, can really only enhance the listening experience. I like all of it. I like lo-fi recordings and hi-fi recordings and whatnot, but I really do appreciate high-fidelity reproductions and whatnot. I really do appreciate high-fidelity reproduction of what the artist had originally in mind, which oftentimes in my case might be the most screwed up and lo-fi guitar part you can try to find (laughs). I don’t think I’m the kind of person who would ever let the production get in the way of the vibe. It’s just not in my nature.

Can you talk a little about how the Harvestman identity has evolved since Lashing The Rye? I was fortunate enough to catch your set at Roadburn, and it seems like Harvestman has taken on a personality aside from all your other projects. What do you feel Harvestman expresses separate from the others?

I think essentially the fact that it’s entirely based on as many strange sounds as I can get out of a guitar as possible in a relatively free structure. It’s just the way that I play guitar. It’s not a way I play guitar on my solo stuff, it’s not a way I play guitar in Neurosis. It’s just all over the place. I love synthesizers, I love dub studio tricks. It’s just all that stuff. I have gone out and performed live now. I did Roadburn and the year before, I had done three shows with Alex Hall in Europe and we did a set which was half solo stuff, half Harvestman and for Roadburn, I evolved that into playing by myself and using loopers and delays and my entire guitar spaceship craziness and mixed it up and alternated Harvestman material with solo material. I’m actually really liking that idea. With so many different projects—it’s nothing I’m saying I’m committed to, it’s something I’m bouncing around in my head—I’m wondering if there’s a way to merge those two, at least for a while, because that kind of works and makes sense, taking the solo songwriting stuff but approaching the musical angle of it from the Harvestman perspective and weaving back and forth.

I can see it making a strong album and be a basis for performance, which is a lot more dynamic and a lot more sonic possibilities, whether to use an acoustic guitar or the psychedelic angle. Since I don’t get a chance to play either one of those things very much, it allows me to, if I’m gonna go out and play a gig like Roadburn, which might be my only show of the whole year I do, it allows me to get both of those out. Harvestman’s open to different interpretation at any time. It’s open to change. It’s my freest spirit.

You could put out a record where it’s Harvestman with Steve Von Till. No one would see it coming.

(Laughs) I can’t say the thought hasn’t crossed my mind.

One last thing. Neurosis recently played with Heaven And Hell. How was that show?

We had done that first Ozzfest, when there was the first Sabbath reunion with Ozzy, so we had seen Geezer and Iommi do their thing 30 nights in a row, and that was going back to rock school, man. With that version of Sabbath, those first five albums are incredible, but there’s certain things that are different about it in the modern time, which in the Dio version, you have somebody that’s still on top of their game vocally. Those albums are a totally different era of Sabbath. Heaven And Hell, Mob Rules and Live Evil were extremely important records for heavy music. I had actually flown back to the Bay Area from Idaho to watch Heaven And Hell open for Priest last year, and it was sick. They were so kickass and Ronnie James Dio is one of the best rock singers ever. He’s got so much energy and he’s still got a great voice and he seems very sincere. Very humble for a rock star. It was just great to watch them, and to get the chance to play with them in Seattle was awesome, although the vibe of the thing wasn’t the best. We did the whole thing just so we could stand in the hallway and hope to have them say hello, and they did. That’s all we needed. But playing at seven o’clock in a half-empty conference center is not exactly our forte (laughs), but we played hard, played well, and we got to watch them, and it was good.

In A Dark Tongue is available now on Neurot Recordings. For more info, check out stevevontill.com and neurotrecordings.com.

JJ Koczan has more of this Q&A on his blog, theobelisk.net. Please feel free to check out the rest of the interview there.

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