West Virginia’s KARMA TO BURN disbanded in 2002, due to a falling out between long-time band members Rich Mullins and William Mecum. The breakup was a result of Mullins’ excessive use of drugs. Mullins then spent time in SPEEDEALER and with Los Angeles based band YEAR LONG DISASTER.
After a seven year absence, KARMA TO BURN reformed in 2009 after Rich and Will reconciled their differences and realized that it’s the music that matters. Known mostly for their uncompromising instrumental brand of stoner metal, the band ventured into recording vocals on their new album Appalachian Incantation.
With a second chance bestowed upon Rich, Will and drummer Rob Oswald, the band is out doing what they love to do, touring their asses off. Speaking with Rich by e-mail while the band are on their European tour, he spoke honestly about his former drug problem, the infamous bee swarm at last year’s Download Festival, and of all things … Stonehenge.
Kelley Simms (SMNnews): Where are you writing from?
Rich Mullins: Stonehenge. I just bought a Stonehenge snow globe, Stonehenge Finest Plain Chocolate Bar, Stonehenge socks, Build Your Own Stonehenge (now I too can drag over 150 rocks over Salisbury Plain!), Stonehenge Magnet, and a pack of Rolos.
KS: How’s the European tour going with Year Long Disaster?
RM: The tour went very well indeed. Great turnouts and lots of energy.
KS: What is the band’s plan once you get back in the US?
RM: We will begin touring the US in support of our new release.
KS: I thought the bee swarm story at last year’s Download Festival was outrageous. Can you talk to me about the infamous bee swarm?
RM: It really was. From the stage it looked very much like computer generated graphics of an insect swarm rising from the ground stage right, circling in an insane fashion over the heads of the back of the crowd, then descending angrily upon them. At first I really couldn’t believe it was real, honestly. It’s just something that is so far from your mind when you are onstage playing to thousands of people. Once I realized it was very much very real bees swarming and attacking, I then began to be plagued by whether or not to stop playing an announce, “Bees are attacking. Thank you, Good Night!” I thought that might inspire a panic and possible Guns N’ Roses-esque riot, so we just played through it and let security move people out of the bees way.
KS: Were you disappointed not to be asked back for this year’s festival, or has it not been announced yet?
RM: Actually, we are coming back as Year Long Disaster. It will be Rob, Will, myself and Daniel Davies performing.
KS: All of your songs on Appalachian Incantation are instrumentals except “Waiting on the Western World.” How did this come about?
RM: Will and Daniel began writing songs together, that was the second one, the first one was a YLD song titled Seven Of Swords. WWW flowed so well and natural that we then brought it to a KTB practice and rocked it out with Rob and myself adding our parts and we instantly thought it was very good and should be on the record.
KS: Are you planning more songs with vocals?
RM: Yes. We want to try a whole record. See how it sounds and if we can capture what eluded us on our first record.
KS: You’ve cited drug use among the band as the main reason for KTB’s split up. Was it strife between your band mates?
RM: Heroin. Lots of heroin. I became unmanageable. I could not function in any capacity other than as a drug user. It was horrible. I made some very bad decisions.
KS: And what has the recovery and reunion process been like for the band?
RM: Well, it took seven years for Will and I to speak again. Once we did, I felt a great weight lifted and an oppurtunity for myself to make the most of a second chance, so to speak.
KS: While you were in Year Long Disaster, was a reunion with KTB in the back of your mind?
RM: Not really. I hoped for one, but I did not let it enter into my mind on a daily basis or anything. I mostly really felt the need to become a better person and hopefully speak to Will about what had went down with me, and with our friendship.
KS: What’s the overall goal and the next step for KTB to achieve?
RM: World domination, and to establish our own sovereign nation within Appalachia.
KS: Last words, comments or anything you want to rant about?
RM: Stonehenge, Druids, sheep. Its all before me now.
By Kelley Simms
Photos by Mike Harris