By Christine Leonard
There are few things more enjoyable than digging into some salty, smoky barbeque and that’s exactly the kind of pure chewing satisfaction that meaty Dallas-based swamp rockers Wo Fat have on their proverbial grill. Turning raw blues rhythms and uncluttered doom grooves into sweet psych-rock sustenance for over a decade, this well-seasoned trio has hung in together through thick and thin. From the formative rumblings of their 2006 debut The Gathering Dark, to the fulsome darkness of last year’s full-length release Midnight Cometh, Wo Fat’s lead guitarist/vocalist Kurt Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer Michael Walter have consistently brought home the bacon.
“The good thing about Texas is that it’s got a strong scene for our kind of music,” says jam-master Stump.
“There’s a bunch of good bands here and a number of excellent venues to play close by, so you can do a short weekend jaunt and hit a few places.”
Of course, the group who brought forth molten LPs Psychedelonaut (2009) and Noche del Chupacabra (2011) had little choice but to catch fire around the globe.
As welcome as the sound of fat sizzling on mesquite embers, Wo Fat’s heavy fuzz-laden emanations attracted riff worshiping legions to any stage that was willing to “Book ‘em, Danno!”
“We’ve built a fairly good following worldwide within that genre with fans of that type of music. We’ve played Desertfest in Berlin and London, and we’ve done Hellfest in France. Those are really amazing genre-specific festivals that feature a bunch of bands we know, so there’s always a reunion kind of vibe. It’s always fun to hang-out and we find a lot of comradery playing with bands that are similar to us stylistically.”
The perfect opportunity to do just that, while enjoying some Albertan hospitality, April’s 420 Music & Arts Festival will surprisingly mark the well-travelled Wo Fat’s first trip to up to The Great White North.
“It’s our first time to play in Canada, so I’m excited about that! We try to be strategic about the out-of-town gigs we play – like coming to Calgary. We’re just flying up there and coming back home, but that’s what we want to be able to do. To pick and choose cool gigs and do those. Cuz were not making our living off the band – we’re making our living off the recording studio.”
A Wo Fat run studio you say? We should have known that the proverbial enemy of the Hawaii Five-O task force was the one pushing the buttons all along.
“The drummer, Michael, and I run a recording studio together,” he elaborates.
“It’s called Crystal Clear Sound and it’s actually one of the oldest studios in Dallas. I’ve been working there for about 20 years. About four years ago, we bought the place from the previous owners. Yup, we bought the company. Now we run it ourselves!”
He continues, “That’s where all of the Wo Fat albums have been recorded. I’ve been recording professionally for a long time, so experience has taught me the dangers of becoming myopic and going down the rabbit hole too far.”
It’s not only anchored the band, but given them confidence in their jams: after all, when you’re making all the decisions, you’ve got to know when to pull the proverbial plug on a song, album, or jam session. It’s made Wo Fat the groovy juggernaut they are today.
“Having spent a lot of time in the studio, I know that you just have to make decisions and stick to them at some point. I would rather do that commit and go on than leave something open-ended and never finish it. I think we’re different from some people in having that attitude.”
Wo Fat are headlining the 420 Music and Arts Festival, which goes down on April 20th until April 22nd at Distortion. They are headlining day three of the festival on April 22nd alongside Wo Fat, Chron Goblin, Cowpuncher, Mammoth Grove, and more. Line-up and ticket information are available at www.420musicandartsfestival.com420 Music and Arts Festival, Chron Goblin, Cowpuncher, Distortion, Mammoth Grove, Wo Fat