Black Hole Zion

Friday, December 2, 2022

New Shirts

 Dig it!

Two new designs courtesy of Sketchboy and Grey Aria design. Head over to https://blackholezion.bandcamp.com/merch

 section to order.  



Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Shadowrunnin' on Empty 2

 Wow!  Critical Hits has released their new podcast about Shadowrun!  It's called Shadowrunnin' on Empty and the theme song (as you may remember) was performed by Black Hole Zion.  You might recognize the parody/cover if you are a Jackson Browne fan, but it's definitely in a different style.


I absolutely love the Shadowrun universe, but never have the time or availability to play.  I listened to episode one this morning, and had a blast learning the history and lore of the fifth and sixth world.  Looking forward to more.


Great job by the folks at Critical Hits, and I'm really honored that Black Hole Zion now has a weird place in the Shadowrun universe.


You can listen right here or in the embedded player below!



Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Cauldron of The Crones

 Wow!  Proud friend moment that I need to share.  My friend, Christopher Epley, just started up his website, christopherepley.com!  If you follow Black Hole Zion on social media, you've heard me talk about his writing.  I met Chris through a series of online interactions during the height of the pandemic.  He found our music on YouTube, and we became actual friends once we realized how many things we had in common.  Chris would occasionally send me short stories he had written.  I enjoyed them so much!  Chris is one of those people that can craft a world that feels familiar and also like a fantasy.  I finished each short story wanting to know more about the characters and the world.  I kept encouraging him to write more.  Some of these stories are gateways to a larger world he plans to present in a novel.  Some are not.  I have legitimately enjoyed every one of them though.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be taking up time to write all of this.  

I reached out to Chris and asked him if he would be willing to write a very short story (1-5 pages) for me to feature on this website.  He agreed!  Then, he started writing and it turned into something larger.  What we got was The Cauldron of The Crones!  It's 19 pages of beautiful fantasy writing.  I encouraged Chris to release the full version online and start his own website.  Again, he agreed!  

Chris will be using his website to publish short stories like this for free!  Pretty amazing!  He gave me permission to share the first page of The Cauldron of The Crones here, and I am seriously honored to have such a kind and talented friend.  If you like what you see, you can head over to his website and read the whole thing.  Yes, for free.  No, there isn't any kind of a catch.  He's just a good person.

The text is below.  Chris, if you are reading this, I love you, buddy!  Congratulations!  Live long and prosper.

Mark


"The Cauldron of The Crones


By Christopher Epley
 

The cold wind blew by the Wizard’s face, the comfort that the cool air brought his grizzled face was refreshing. He travels alone stopping from time to time in every town he passes through to restock on supplies or look for odd jobs here and there. He has been practicing and studying magic for decades now, immensely knowledgeable he is a formidable magic user capable of spells in multiple schools with his destruction magic being fiercely dangerous. The Wizard stops and grasps his long dirty white beard thinking to himself “How long has it been since my last hot meal?” he has been eating rations of bread for a week now. That is how long it has been since he was in a town, nowadays he rarely learns the names of these towns that dot the countryside he visits so many. He thinks aloud “Yes a hot meal sounds wonderful now” the thought of warm food in his belly on these cool nights just fills him with excitement. The Wizard has been walking through Wenneford forest a dense wooded area on the northern edge of the kingdom for that week since he last ate a hot meal in the town who’s name has been lost to him. Wenneford forest is massive and once beyond it’s boundaries to the north lies a town, that is where he will stop and purchase sustenance and a bed at the inn. The Wizard raises his staff, the crystal globe fastened to it’s top begins to emit a bluish hue of a glow. The Wizard uses his knowledge of magic to have the staff tell him how much longer before the edge of the forest, it is a mere hour of a walk. Relieved that the distance is not that great he lowers the staff the glow dissipating, he lifts his dark blue hat to wipe his brow, puts his hat back on, takes a deep breathe and resumes his walk through Wenneford forest.
 

The town’s edge became visible and the Wizard began to fill with excitement, just the thought of warm food and cold ale, no more bread and spring water at least until his return to the trails. He begins the walk into town, as he reaches the outskirts he sees the sign “Fritania, Province of Wolfden, Kingdom of Colkirk” with a small smile he enters in search of the inn. The Wizard makes his way up the road with town folk giving him a long stare, it has been ages since they have seen a wizard come through town. Fritania is far away from the academy of magic to the South and rarely does a wizard venture out this way. However our Wizard is not on official business, he travels alone practicing his magic for those that need it and could afford him. He has become disillusioned with the politics at the academy and the constant meddling of the royal family. The Wizard left and headed North after decades of living at the academy, not knowing what he would find it mattered not to him. Living by his own rules and helping those he deemed worthy not the academy is all that matters to him now. At last he spots the Inn, he walks up to the small staircase just off the main road leading to the entrance, a sign on the side of the entrance reads “Welcome weary travelers to The Gifted Obsidian enter, feast and join us for the night” the Wizard enters through the doorway a relieved smile on his face.
 

The crowd was somewhat big, a good mix of local shopkeepers, farmers and some guards of the local garrison of the royal army. The crowd was boisterous, it was late in the evening, the sun was but mere minutes from setting. The guards off their shift relaxing, shopkeepers fresh from closing for the night and farmers done with chores for the day. The Wizard calmly walks in and removes his hat placing it on a coat rack next to a mannequin wearing brown leather armor emblazoned with what the Wizard assumed is the local Jarl’s sigil. He began walking to the back of the Gifted Obsidian where the bar is located. The Innkeeper behind the bar was an older man very worn and tired looking but also warm and
inviting. The Wizard walking through the crowd catches the eyes of several townsfolk and the boisterous crowd noise begins to soften as the people notice a wizard is among them, a rare sight in Fritania. The stares never bothered the Wizard, he was used to it and understood that wizards are not a common sight here this far North. He smiled at everyone who caught his gaze, hoping that reassured the people that nothing strange was going on. The townsfolk still curious of the Wizard began to go back to their feasting once he smiled. The Wizard arrives at the bar and speaks to the old Innkeeper."


Tuesday, August 16, 2022

I Am The Liquor

 Our pal, Terry, and the rest of I Am The Liquor put out a really cool EP last week.  It's grungy, doomy, and a little poppy.  The EP is called A Speck of Light, and the guitar sound alone is fantastic, let alone the rest of the instruments and vocals.  These folks have yet to put out a bad album, and I am happy to call Terry a friend. 

You'll recognize Terry's name from the liner notes on our album, The Great Repression.  When I was pretty deep in a pit of depression, lacking motivation, and hating everything I did, I turned to Terry to finish the mixes on that album.  I knew I could trust him when I didn't trust myself.

I'll refrain from throwing out a bunch of band names as what I hear for influences on this EP they just put out because sometimes I think that takes away from the originality.  It's such a good combination of influences coming together from good folks making something original.  The title track is so heavy and trippy.   Damn.  Nice work, folks!

You can check out the album here on Bandcamp along with all of their other releases.



Thursday, August 4, 2022

Shadowrunning on Empty


 It's been a bit since we have updated the website.  It's much easier to push updates to social media, but I know from email that a lot of you folks don't necessarily go that route.  I'll be better about posting here.

I did this crazy weird parody/cover of the Jackson Browne song, Running on Empty, for the Critical Hits Twitch channel and their Shadowrun podcast.

I can't post the whole thing yet because their Patreon subscribers get it first.  I CAN post this little snippet (yes, from IG).  If you are into gaming of any kind, I would suggest you check out Critical Hits on Twitch.  Super cool folks and they are highly entertaining!


Running on Empty (Shadowrun)


It was super rad to sing in a slightly different style than what folks might be used to hearing from us.  Plus, I got to do a ton of synth work.


We are finishing up work on our cover EP as well.  It's got some things you won't necessarily expect from us either.  I got the cover art back from our pal at Robot Tentacle Artworks, and I am looking forward to being able to share that soon.

 Also, here is a ridiculous pic of me and Michael making funny faces at each other. It was a crazy night.  It was Davis' first show, our friend, Amaris, filled in on synth, and before Frank joined the band.  I remember I busted up one hand and both knees because I had all this twitchy energy and was pacing around and just slamming into things.   

 Live long and prosper

Mark 

the star wars prequels are good

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stan, We Love You



I don’t have good news. We’ve known about this for a few months now. I’ve been in denial for much of that. Stan’s cancer came back and it’s a type that does not respond to radiation or chemotherapy. He’s not feeling well enough to type, so he told me that it’s probably best that I let everyone know. We played a pretty last minute show at 123 Pleasant Street on 9/4. We did it because we knew it was going to be Stan’s last show. It’s starting to impact his vision and he is in a good bit of pain. We aren’t sure how much time he has left, but he is still with us now. We played with our friends in Swamp Drag and Raven Mocker because Stan also has a deep connection with folks from both of those groups. Our very good friend, and former guitarist, Ryan, drove down to be there and surprised Stan by sitting in on a few songs. We wanted it to be special, and it was. Stan played so well that you wouldn’t have even known he was in pain or having trouble seeing. Truly a god among us ants. We love you, Stan. Sincere thanks to Swamp Drag, Raven Mocker, Ryan P., Adam P., 123 Pleasant Street, and every one of you that came out to make it such a nice way to say a musical goodbye to our dear Stan. Love.


I’ve been trying to write all of the above and what comes next for days and days. I keep stopping because I’m having trouble finding the right words, or I think something will change. I know Stan hesitated to tell folks because he doesn’t want to make anyone sad, and he doesn’t want pity. That’s also why we didn’t broadcast the fact that 9/4 was his last show. He wanted it to be a happy thing. That tells you a lot about his character. The fella with terminal cancer doesn’t want to bring anyone’s mood down or have them pity him. He is truly an amazing person.


With that in mind, I’ve been trying to see the good in this bad situation. I’ve been trying to be grateful we got a chance to have a last show with Stan and have it mean something. I’m grateful he is still with us now, and I can still visit. I’m grateful we get to say goodbye a little bit at a time. I’m grateful I got to record some of Stan’s synth work for an upcoming Black Hole Zion release. I’m grateful that Stan recorded a solo album under the name Stannous Fluoride that’s out now. Michael did the album art, I’ve made a couple of videos for it, and have sent it for release on streaming soon. It’s available on Bandcamp now. Stan is asking donations be made to the animal charity/rescue of your choice in his honor if you go there to get it. I am grateful I get to listen to this fantastic thing he created. I’ve cried while listening to it so many times. I’m not going to let myself dwell on the negatives and what I’ll miss or didn’t get to do with Stan. He’s here now, and we have a chance to do some things to show him how much he means to us.


I can be grateful that I get to tell Stan (and anyone reading this) what he means to me.  Let me explain how our relationship started. I’ve known him for a few years as a musician.  Just seeing him around in other bands, I always admired his talent.  He had a cool collection of vintage synths, basses, and rack gear that he got such awesome and unique sounds from.  Actually, the very first Black Hole Zion show was with Stan’s band, Beloved Dead (Jeff from Raven Mocker on guitar) and also Swamp Drag (who we would all become great friends with).  A couple years back, we both sat in with a different band for a couple of shows.  That’s when I got to know Stan a lot more.  He’s kind, highly intelligent (PhD in Pharmacology, a neuroscientist, and….an electrician!), and he’s a fantastic musician.  We had so many great talks about art, science, politics, our love of animals, and music.  I’ll always remember the first long trip I made with Stan and his then wife, now good friend, Kaelee.  Very kind and interesting people.  I knew that night that they were folks I could spend time with and be better for it.  After those couple shows with that other band, we didn’t play together for a while because I was doing more with Black Hole Zion.  That changed when we started having drummer issues.  Our drummer at that time became difficult to communicate with, and canceled on us for a few shows we had booked.  Instead of canceling the shows, we made the decision to not worry about our current drummer and keep going with electronic drums until we found the right person.  Stan was the first person I contacted after we made that decision.  I wanted someone that could operate the electronics and also add their own style to the sound as a keyboard/synth player.  Stan went above and beyond.  He played his first show with us (also with our friends in Swamp Drag), and didn’t even get a full practice with the band.  He added so many cool sounds and synth lines in addition to being able to keep the drum tracks/electronics running that we asked if he wanted to join full time even if we found a human drummer later.  Stan wrote so many cool synth lines for our existing music.  He put his stamp on them without changing the songs into something else.  Stan, I am so grateful that you played with us and brought some of your own magic to our sound.  I am grateful that we got a live recording back in August of 2019 with all those awesome synth parts you added.  You made Black Hole Zion a better band just by being you.  It will be hard for me to play some of these songs when I no longer hear the parts you were playing and can’t steal quick glances at you on stage.  We aren’t rushing to fill your spot in Black Hole Zion.  Frankly, it’s going to take the right person, a special person, to do that.  We will be a four piece for now.  You fit in with us so well just by being yourself.  Traveling to play odd shows at meaderies with cool bands and “psychics” that may or may not have been legit.  Listening to me talk about two versions of planet earth existing simultaneously as part of a dimensional shift and indulging me with the scientific possibilities.  Having discussions about the potential science of energy work, alternate timelines, and so many other wacky things I wanted to talk about.  Coming to my house for practice and eating baked goods.  I was so nervous that you wouldn’t like the sweet cranberry rye bread I made, but was so happy when you did!  Coming over to help me and Natalie with electrical work while we ate Mediterranean food and played with our dogs, Rudy and Luna.  Seeing you lightly chuckle with every Jar Jar and Reba reference at practice, but not too much because you also wanted to show Michael love.  Sugar cookies with Swamp Drag for Christmas!  Inviting us into your home to practice and record your synth parts, and just to hang out.  Eating Thai food in your backyard on a beautiful summer day.  I will treasure the pie dough lifter you gave me last week! It meant so much that you remembered me talking months and months ago that I wasn’t great at rolling out pie crusts and getting them into a pan, so you gave me that tool to help.  I could go on about what a fantastic person you are.  It’s taken me days to get myself together to write this much.  I love you, Stan, and I am so thankful that I got to be your friend and make music with you.  Again, I love you.  Thank you for being you.  


To anyone else reading this.  Don’t say “sorry for your loss” or “sending prayers”.  He wouldn’t want that.  I’m grateful I got to spend time with him as a friend, and make music with him.  If you know Stan, let him know how much he means to you directly.  If you don’t, tell us here and I will make sure he sees it.  Stan, we love you, always.



Monday, August 31, 2020

Handless Wheels

We've got quite a few releases coming up.  The first thing is a single and a collaboration with my friend, Chris, from Humans Etcetera.  The song is called Handless Wheels and it comes out on 9/18/2020.  I've been friends with Chris from HE for years now, and he is a great human being and talented musician.  He lives in China, so the collaboration was a bit different.  We did all of our communicating through Instagram messages and WeTransfer file swapping.  All the quarantining and semi-quarantining through this pandemic put us in a spot where we were staying home constantly, so we tried to put the time to good use.  I had a blast working with Chris, and I'm excited for the song to release.  Fun fact:  Chris' other band, Fuck Your Birthday, is who we played with when the live album, 24th Century Bootleg was recorded.  I find it fitting that this single is coming out next in sequence after the live album.