By Heath Fenton
VANCOUVER – No one knows for sure exactly when the term “stoner rock” was conceived. And over the years the meaning has been debated and often skewed. I first heard the phrase somewhere around 1995, and it was used to describe bands like Monster Magnet, Sleep and Kyuss. Those three bands more often than not are thought to be the innovators of the genre. Brant Bjork was the drummer and a main artistic contributor to Kyuss. He is, without a doubt, a stoner rock icon.
“Marijuana has always been a part of my creative process and my music. That’s not to suggest that people need to get into marijuana to get into my music,” Bjork starts to explain. “Stoner could mean a lot of things. To me it’s just the return of classic rock. The greatest rock came from the late ‘60s and the ‘70s. And I have a feeling that marijuana played a pretty extensive role in the development of all that cool stuff. But that is just my opinion.”
After Bjork left the highly influential works of Kyuss in 1994, he would drift as a drummer in a few different bands. Most notably, he put in five years behind the kit with the like-minded folk in Fu Manchu. “After Kyuss I was heartbroken. It took me a while to heal. Fu Manchu was the perfect band for me to do that. I got to concentrate on just having a good time,” Bjork reminisces. “Around 2000, I felt it was time to get back to tapping into my soul on the level I was doing when I was a kid in Kyuss.”
Since then, multi-instrumentalist Bjork has been on a one-man mission to make you forget that he is best known as a drummer in an influential ‘90s band. In 1999 he would enter the studio and track his debut solo album, Jalamanta. He would write every note and play every instrument. It is a fantastic gypsy desert beach journey through smoked-out waters. Over the next 15 years he would churn out another nine albums under different monikers with an array of support band members, but all considered solo efforts. The music is always steeped in California desert organics with friendly feels and deep grooves. Late last year he released his latest record, Tao of the Devil. As he’d sometimes done before, he worked with a band on this recording rather than do it all himself. He ended up keeping his touring band from his previous album on board, and it shows. The music is tight and has a bit more stomp to it than some of his past albums. Songs like “The Geeheen” and “Stackt” contain the heavy strain of desert rock, while songs like “Dave’s War” go into the tripped-out mirage jam that Bjork is known for as well.
“It’s ironic that I find myself in an almost 20-year solo career. That wasn’t my intention at all. I’ve always enjoyed the process of being in a band. Every collective group of musicians has a different personality and that chemistry is represented in the music that is created,” Bjork continues. “Change is natural and change is good. If you take the time to study my output, you’ll see where there is a lot of guys coming and going. And the music reflects that.”
It’s been a very interesting journey for Bjork so far and it is still gaining momentum. The unique confines of SBC will be the perfect venue for Vancouverites to catch the latest chapter of his trip. “There is no lasers or bombs going off. It’s all about grooving, dancing and having a good time. We will be up there doing our thing. If you have to go get yourself a couple of beers while were playing, then go for it, man. We’re just rocking. All good.”
Brant Bjork performs on April 12 at SBC Restaurant with Royal Thunder and Black Wizard.Black Wizard, Brant Bjork, Kyuss, Royal Thunder, SBC Restaurant