Interview With Steve Fisher From Heavy Rockin’ Stoner Trio Borracho

I have this ability when I pick up a guitar things just start happening, things just start coming out. It’s the weirdest thing we go into a rehearsal studio,...

 

Interview by: Smudge

 

Borracho, which translates from Spanish as drunkard, are a heavy rockin’ stoner trio from Washington, Virginia who formed in 2007. They are due to release their stunning new album ‘Blurring The Lines Of Reality’ on September 1st. I’ve been a fan of Borracho since their 2013 release ‘Oculus’, which to me sets the benchmark for stoner rock.

The only complaint I have is that there is very little about the band on the internet so my first question to Borracho’s singer/guitarist/songwriter Steve Fisher is – why?

‘I am the wrong person to ask about that – honestly, I don’t know why. I’m not that good with the social media and all that. I guess we’re really good at staying out of trouble or I’m good at not getting caught.’

In the absence of any real information that I could glean from the internet I asked Steve to give me the bands history.

‘We formed in 2007. Our drummer Mario and I were in a band called Adam West together., We toured a lot and put out about ten albums. In 2007 I had a child, so I took a year off touring. Mario and I talked about forming a stoner rock band aside form Mario’s other band Ass Rockers who had Tim our bass player and our first singer Noah. The four of us got together and for fun we all swapped instruments. Mario was a guitarist who played drums, Tim was a guitarist who went onto bass, Noah was a drummer who then sand and played rhythm guitar and I was a bass player who took on the guitar. It started as a fun experiment I guess which has since gone horribly wrong because we’re still around. In 2008 my band broke up and Mario and Tim’s band fell apart, so we just kept Borracho going. It works really well we’re very laid back and none of us had an ego. We’re all really close friends having fun with it. Then, sometime after our first album was released Noah moved to the Indonesian island of Bali – he wasn’t kind enough to take us with him! It was due to his job – and don’t ask me what he did for a living. Something environmental and computers. When he left the three of us had a discussion to figure out what to do. We didn’t want to bring in someone else we didn’t really know and affect the dynamic of the band, so I drew the short straw and became the singer.’

‘We went into the studio to record ‘Oculus’ and Noah had already moved too Bali. He came back for a short time with the intention of singing on the record, but his time was limited. He recorded two songs then had to leave. So it left me having to write the lyrics to two more songs then re-cut the vocals he had done.’

I mention that I think ‘Oculus’ is the benchmark for stoner rock.

‘Well thank you. It’s a bit of strange album for me because it was a transition for the band, and I was going through the worst time of my life up until this year. I was going through a really nasty divorce. As a matter of fact, my wife left me for a friend of mine who was actually British plus I had to battle cancer at the time too so, I was in a really weird headspace when we recorded ‘Oculus’. Saying that it was one of the things that kept me going. Writing music kept me busy and playing music with my friends so it’s a weird album for me. It’s the first record I sang on, and I think I’m getting the hang of it now. It’s kind of come naturally because I started playing music semi-professionally when I was 14. I’ve grown up on stage. I was playing in my older brother’s band, and he encouraged me to sing backing vocals so playing and singing at the same time was not an issue. The most awkward thing for me was how I sound, I’m still not sure if I like my voice.’

It occurs to me that Borracho and Steve especially definitely do things on their own terms.

‘Yeah, simply because I don’t know how to do anything on anyone else’s terms. It might make my life easier if I did. The thing is we do what we want to do. There’s no money in this, it’s all done for the love. No-ones paying us then we might as well do it our way. Even if someone was paying us then we would still do it our way.’

The new album, as usual, is chock full of monster riffs and different parts. I wanted to know how Steve comes up with so much music.

‘You know what, I don’t know. I have this ability when I pick up a guitar things just start happening, things just start coming out. It’s the weirdest thing we go into a rehearsal studio, and we start playing and the next thing you know we have a song. I just come up with the riffs, I’m obsessed with sounds, and I like making an noise, going into a studio and experimenting with different things. On this album I used quite a few different guitars and a few different amp set ups. For the most part I use my ‘Flying V’ through my Sunn 80 and my Orange 80, but for the clean sounds I use a Fender amp and a Fender Jazz Master and a twelve string on some it too. My influences are all over the place. I get influenced by everything I hear. I grew up in Kenya, so I am influenced by a lot of world music. My early years were in East Africa, and I was in Kenya’s very first rock band!’

‘Being in the studio with Frank Marchand our engineer who likes to humour me with all this vintage gear like old Marshall amps and pedals, so I get to play with all that. We record the basic tracks live off the floor. The amps and drums are isolated but we’re live then I’ll just start layering stuff. Tim and Mario give me carte blanche now to do what I want. They have tried to reign me in the past, but they’ve now realised its best to let me do my thing. So far, they haven’t been disappointed.’

‘I usually come up with the riffs and take them into the rehearsal room and we’ll jam them out. Mario puts a lot of thought into his drum parts and the percussion. Tim also works on his parts, and we work it all out very quickly. The songs evolve over time and often they may change up to a dozen times. I wrote a couple of complete songs during the pandemic. ‘Burning The Goddess’ I demoed at my house along with ‘Architects Of Chaos II’. I sent Tim and Mario the tracks all the rest were loose structures which we put together. I wrote all the lyrics except for ‘This Great War’ which was a collaboration between Tim and I.’

Steve writes some very long songs so when does he know when a song is finished.

‘I’m not sure if I ever know. I think if you ask anybody who has recorded music, they will all listen to it back and say they could have that better or change some things. The way I approach songwriting is to tell a story with the music rather than with the lyrics. I want to go through different dynamics and atmospheres through the structure. I’m constantly writing so when we’re recording an album, I’m already working on the next one.’

Borracho are loud heavy band but there are also subtle moments and Steve’s solo’s are very melodic in the same way that Michael Schenker is.

‘’I’ve been accused of sounding like Michael Schenker which is a huge compliment because I love UFO. I don’t know why it’s just the way it comes out. I think those 70’s influences seep into our music. Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Hendrix and their production values too. I go back to Kyuss and Sleep when they were unknown and now, they influence all the bands of today. The scene today is almost becoming cliched. You have to have this amp or a long beard. Don’t get me wrong there are some incredible bands out there especially Wo Fat who are like the AC/DC of stoner – so solid! I think our age kind of sets us apart as well as us losing our hair!

I want to know what’s next for Borracho.

‘We’d like to get out and promote the album. It hasn’t been released yet and we don’t want to go too far ahead. We have some things brewing in the background. I have a project that’s very dear to my heart – a covers album.’

I ask if it will have some surprises on it.

‘Probably not! I don’t know. I’m doing at as a tribute to some friends from within our scene who passed away recently. Reverend Jim Forrester (Sixty Watt Shaman/Foghound) was murdered on the streets of Baltimore last year. Bruce Falkinburg (Hidden Hand) was a very dear friend who produced my first band and Dave Sherman from Spirit Caravan another dear friend of mind. Will Mecum from Karma To Burn. All gone. There’s going to be an oddball in there because I want to do a Hellacopters song. It doesn’t quite fit, but we’ll make it work.’

Shows are on the horizon but will Borracho be heading to the UK and Europe.

‘I would love to come back to the UK. I lived there for about 4 years back in the 80’s when I was trying to become a rock star. I lived in North Acton and Ealing. As far as touring plans we will have to consider the offers very carefully. I’m unemployed currently and I have children. Touring these days is very expensive and I’m not as young as I used to be. To come over there would have to be the right opportunity. It would have to be a higher profile festival that will give good exposure and we have a chance to sell ourselves plus the gigs need to pay enough to cover our costs and leave a bit in our pockets afterwards. I have a certain standard before accepting a show. We’re doing some local shows and we’re going to Las Vegas to do a gig the John Garcia promotes down there plus we’re doing the Maryland Doomfest and another festival in Baltimore. Check our Facebook page for more details.’

 

https://borracho.bandcamp.com/album/blurring-the-lines-of-reality

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