Tomahawk guitarist/founder Duane Denison is bored with questions about the six-year break between the band's new album Oddfellows and their last album, Anonymous.
“I was in prison for manslaughter. I was in a laundromat. This woman was looking at my wife's underwear, and I shot her.”
None of this is true, as far as we know. “It takes time for good songs to accumulate,” he adds, surely with greater truth. “You have to grab them as they go by.” He also cites reunion tours of his seminal punk trio The Jesus Lizard and Tomahawk vocalist Mike Patton's group Faith No More as reasons for the delay.
The group's fourth album since first forming in 2001, Oddfellows is a diverse mix of quirky hard-rockers (“Stone Letter”) and moody, slow-burns (“A Thousand Eyes”). Denison is the key creative force behind the group, but he utilizes the talents of Patton on vocals, John Stanier (Battles/Helmet) on drums and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle/Melvins Lite) on bass to carefully balance a rock-based sound that manages to be simultaneously stripped-down yet moody.
During our interview, Denison is chilling on his porch and sipping an Irish coffee. It's, he tells us, a lovely Tennessee afternoon. He has just completed a bicycle ride around his neighborhood.
“It was wonderful. I just have a cruiser. No gears, nothing fancy. It was just a pleasant ride around the neighborhood. I'm not into extreme biking. I like to work out a little bit but I like to also enjoy the ride. I'm not going to punish myself.”
Truth be told, Denison does not seem to be much in the mood for another interview to promote the new record. Eventually though, he opens up about the band's creative process and newfound energy. Given the amount of pure talent involved in the project, one suspects it would be hard for Denison to wrangle everyone in a clear-cut direction. But he insists that's not the case.
“This is where all of these musicians go to rock out,” he says. “Everyone can just loosen up. I don't feel like we're typecast. There isn't a 'Tomahawk thing' we have to do. We're more rooted in traditional rock, but we reserve the right to be cinematic when necessary.”
The cinematic aspect of Tomahawk rears its head a few times on Oddfellows. “I Can Almost See Them” sounds like it could be the lead-in to a really badass shootout scene in a Western flick.
Much like we couldn't resist asking about the six-year break, we also couldn't resist asking if there were any creative clashes in the studio.
“We all come up with things that don't [hold up under] scrutiny,” Denison admits. “After a while, people are like, 'Don't do that, do this other thing.' But we're all professional musicians, and I don't think about it that much to be honest. Ultimately, rock is about rhythmic energy, drive, and momentum.”
Tomahawk perform at The Mayan tonight
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW