WRITTEN BY: J. Thorn of Hail to the Riff blog

“This post features an online interview with actress/desert priestess/stoner rock guru,DezertNymph. I first came across her profile via MySpace and noticed the array of killer bands she was promoting. She is the real deal and took some time while off the grid to hammer out responses to my questions. As those of us in Ohio brace for the Gray Beast of Winter to arrive, I thought we could turn our heads West and get a feel for the scene happening in the American desert, a region that helped to spawn the genre we all admire and appreciate.
As a side note, I have fond memories of spending a few summers in the desert. There is nothing like ripping through the red sands of Sedona in an old El Camino, tricked out to play CD’s through a ratty cassette player. With the crystal blue sky meeting the wavering black ribbon of pavement, driving became a different experience. I felt like I could put Molten Universe on repeat and steer off the edge of the Earth.
Hail the Riff
–J. Thorn–

SRO: When did you first get into stoner rock and what bands got you hooked?
DN: Well, of course I would have to start off by mentioning Black Sabbath. I started hearing them when I was five years old back in the 70’s, thanks to my older brother (if you want to go way back). Then in 1992 when I lived in San Francisco, I started going to see Neurosis and Sleep play in clubs in the Bay Area. Around 1995, I moved back to L.A. and was keeping in touch with an old friend, Dave Catching (owner of the Rancho de la Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree). He told me that he was in a band called Queens of the Stone Age and used to invite me to come out to New Years Eve parties at the Rancho where members of QOTSA and others attended. I was still into the heavier stuff like Dystopia and Neurosis, so I never really tried to listen to much desert rock at the time. I would say it was about 2002 that I really started getting into QOTSA, Kyuss, etc. I went to the 10 year anniversary party at the Rancho in honor of Fred Drake. The special energy of that place, especially while listening to the various musicians jamming out there, made me feel how the tunes created in the desert have a special Joshua Tree vibe in each lyric and note.
SRO: What’s the SoCal desert scene like now, in late 2009?
DN: Probably bigger than it’s ever been. There is a lot of amazing talent coming out of the whole Mojave Desert right now. Desert rock, death metal, thrash, punk, alternative, folk, etc. and what’s weird is that most of the bands and fans in the different areas don’t even know about each other. I was really excited when I found out that there are some bands coming out of Mecca! Its way out past Indio. The only thing I ever thought was out there were date farms! I highly recommend checking out my blog on MySpace or my desert bands “friend category” if someone wants to learn about all of the bands and clubs all over the southern California desert. There are fun little bars and clubs in the low desert (Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio, Cathedral city, etc) like J-Dees Landing, The Red Barn, Shenanigans, The Point After, Space120. Ming Bob Productions is definitely the one to contact if your band wants to book shows in the low desert. Some of my favorite low desert bands definitely worth checking out are House of Broken Promises, Orquestra del Desierto, Ultra Lord, Dekreped, Our Last Rites, Serpiente 666, Remnants of Man, Perishment, Slipping into Darkness, Dali’s Llama, The Hellions, Half Astro, Family Butcher, Brant Bjork & The Bro’s, Sol District, Foreshadowed Lives, Vega, Die Sine Gration, The Stage. Some cool bands from the high desert of Yucca valley are Arbitrator, Scarlet Ibis, Waxy (Morongo Valley). 29 palms has Deep6, Forever Came Calling, I am Jacks. Joshua Tree has all the folky/deserty and experimental sounds of Ted Quinn, Tony Mason, Judy van Ruggles, The Earthlings, Thriftstore Allstars, Victoria Williams, The Desert Sessions, Patty Hood, Patty Leary, The Sibleys, Evaro Family, Gram Rabbit, Tim Easton. The best places for bands to play up there are Rattlesnake Jakes, The Joshua Tree Saloon, Pappy and Harriets and The Palms in Wonder Valley.
SRO: What bands are you really into?
DN: Dekreped, Ultra Lord, Arbitrator, QOTSA, Eodm, Opeth, Destroy Judas, Carlos Nakai, Agony, Decode, 6feet under, Down, Dali’s Llama, Brant Bjork & The Bro’s, Kyuss, Neurosis, all the Desert Sessons, Superjoint Ritual, Isis, Sourvein, Weedeater, Mondo Generator, Chingalera, Supergiant, The Freaks, Yawning Man, Ride the Sun, to name a few.
SRO: How does Ohio stoner rock differ from the desert scene?
DN: The bands from Ohio that I have heard so far, thanks to MySpace, are, Centrifuge, Venomin James, Masters of Luxury, Threefold Law, Forged in Flame, Spacecharge and Red Giant and they all rock! They have some of the same influences as the desert rock bands, but, the one thing that sets the two regions apart is energy. There is a special energy felt in the tunes that are created in the desert. It’s almost as if one is transported to the sand dunes, infinite vistas, otherworldly views, bizarre looking wind farms, scorching temps, super strong winds and sand storms, etc. This can be felt just listening to the music no matter where you are. The environment that some of the musicians come from out there can be very harsh at times, but then also very magical and beautiful. I always say that the only way you can fully appreciate desert music, is being way out there in a remote peaceful area watching it live or on your headphones, or stereo. It’s really the most amazing way to experience it, I think.
SRO: What kind of acting gigs are you hoping to get? Got any plans for your own stoner rock band?
DN: I am pretty much retiring from acting 20 years of it and I think it’s finally time to move on. I’ve stayed way over my 15 minutes! I would like to move to Arizona soon and study Native American cultures. I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist since I was 5 years old. The closest I’ve ever come to having a band was banging on metal objects, tribal drumming, manipulating instruments, and playing keyboards in an experimental tribal noise band. We would “jam out” on my desert lands, making trippy sounds and industrial noise. I do write pretty good song lyrics for metal bands, they tend to be pretty controversial.” – all words and interview provided by:

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