Black Hole Zion: 2020

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.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Hi folks,

It's been a very difficult time for a lot of folks over the past few months.  It seems to have gotten even worse.  I wake up angry or nauseous and stay that way a lot of the days.  Everyone in this band feels similarly.  We have persons of color, LGBTQ, and other citizens being murdered by the police in this country.  Peaceful protesters are sometimes being met with even more violence by police agencies in this country.  We have folks protesting stay at home orders and cosplaying around with guns that are nowhere to be seen when true injustice takes place.  Then, we have a president that seems to throw gasoline on the fire and incite more violence against the citizens of this country.  If you're not upset or angry, you aren't paying attention or you lack empathy and common decency.  Well, what can four straight white men do about it?  It's obvious we don't have any business trying to lead some kind of movement.  Although we may try to empathize, we cannot truly understand what persons of color and LGBTQ individuals go through, but we can try and support them with our hearts and actions as allies.

Keeping all of this in mind, Bandcamp is waiving all fees for artists on 6/5/2020.  If you can, support artists of color and artists from the LGBTQ community.  We will also be donating ALL the sales from our music today and all the profits from our music for the next week on Bandcamp equally to the following organizations:
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The Okra Project

We chose these organizations because they support people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and fight against police abuse.

If you think musicians should shut up and play, that's your right, I suppose.  We've got a reality television president leading this country, so maybe you should ask him to resign if you feel that way?

Stay as healthy and sane as you can.  We might not be much, but we will try and do what we can.


Friday, March 20, 2020

24th Century Bootleg

We are releasing a live album today.  It is set to be free/pay what you want on our Bandcamp page.  It's also set to hit streaming sometime today or in the next few days.  If the title didn't of this post didn't clue you in, it is called 24th Century Bootleg.

This is a live soundboard recording from 8/3/19 at 123 Pleasant Street in Morgantown, WV.  No punch-ins or replacements.  The only mixing done was what the engineer, Roger Glass, did in real-time.  Roger is an excellent sound technician.  I (Mark) mastered it and added a little bit of reverb since a direct from the sound board recording is extremely dry.  Other than that, this is as raw as it gets. 

I wanted to do a release from this particular show because I had just gotten back from a long and exhausting trip.  I was on very little sleep and had just come back from the mid-west that same morning.  The sleep I was able to get was all thanks to my friend, Eric, doing the driving on the way back.  When I arrived to meet the rest of the band on 8/3/19, I was dead tired.  They all remarked on this fact.  Haha!.  It was amazing we were able to play at all.  However, when we started, all that cosmic energy took over and even though I was exhausted, I had the energy to play.  Somehow, we sounded pretty good that night.  Hopefully the recording conveys that sense of exhausted hysteria I was feeling and the energy the rest of the band put into the performance.  Being in a group with supportive individuals and having a cool crowd that night most certainly made it possible. This was me, Michael, Tony, and Stan.  Michael also did a bang up job on the album cover!

This has a good chunk of tunes we play off of The Great Repression.  It also has two new tracks that we've been adding to our live set.  Warlocks of Jupiter and Witches of Mars.  I really dig these new songs, and I am excited to get to work on the full length album that these will also be part of.

It was also a special night because we played with my friend Chris, and his band, Fuck Your Birthday.  I've known Chris for many years now, and when he came in from China (where he teaches), he asked us to play this show with him. 

Anyway, yeah, it was a special night despite the fact that it should have been absolute garbage for me.  The power of the cosmos prevails again.  Later.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Guitar Rig Rundown with Tony and Clones of The Iron Age

Tony has played on Black Hole Zion albums before even being in the band. You might remember he did a few guitar tracks on Blood Nebula.  We've known each other for years and he is a great friend.  I've wanted to do a video about each member in the band and I was able to get Tony over to my place and record some guitars. We decided we wanted to put out an EP with a few covers to give everyone a taste of what the band's sound will be going into the next album of heavy original material. Tony is just an amazing guitarist. Like jaw dropping for me. I play a lot of guitar on demos for Black Hole Zion and like to think that I am decent. Having Tony come and record made me feel very humble. Especially because he is so relaxed and grounded about playing.  Tony is a great rock/metal guitarist, but he has this amazing jazz influence that will pop it's head in a time or two on the next release.  He nailed so many takes quickly and was able to give me tons of options.

I am a big proponent of amp modeling and Tony is a little more hesitant on just a bit of that. Our compromise was to use his live rig AND also an A/B box to do some amp modeling. It ended up working out so well. Tony uses a few really cool pedals and takes his sound seriously. We also went through several guitars between my collection and his. One guitar ended up fitting the bill for everything we recorded on this date. Here's a video recapping what we used tracking the first three songs.

Yeah, speaking of EP's. It's called Clones of the Iron Age. Like I said before, it is a collection of cover tunes. Excited to share more soon!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Synthesizer Rig Rundown with Stan

Black Hole Zion have never had a keyboard/synth player before.  Although there are tons of synthetic/electronic sounds on our albums, we've always had to rely on other means to recreate things live.  When we added Stan, it opened up a ton of possibilities.  Having a keyboard/synth player covers so much ground for us.  At times, it thickens up or adds texture to guitar or bass parts, plays counterpoint, extra melody lines, or just does some weird and cool stuff.  I wanted folks to get a chance to see all the gear Stan has, especially since we don't get to take it all out live.  Stan is a really great musician and flavor to add to this band.  This video was shot right after a recording session I did with Stan over at his place a few weeks back in January 2020.  He knocked out three songs that will be heard on an upcoming release.  Enough of me talking, here's the video.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Meditations: Volume One is Available Today

Meditations:  Volume One is available today.  If you've seen us play live, or only listened to The Great Repression, then you will probably find this to be one of the most odd things we've released.  If you've listened to all the Black Hole Zion releases, it might not be as much of a left turn.  Like the title of the album, this is music for meditation or creation.  Some people don't like to sit and count their breath to clear their mind, and I know I don't always want to do that.  This is music to help you relax, create, or think.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I used binaural beats to help things along.  If you can set aside enough time each week to listen to one track with headphones on and relax, think, or make something, I think it will be of benefit.  That was the reasoning behind the release to begin with.  Further, I would love it if you shared some of your thoughts, creations, or that you simply were able to find time to relax because of this.  Please do so, and let us know if it is OK to pass some of these things on to others.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Meditations: Volume One Album Art

Here is the cover art for Meditations:  Volume One.  As I've previously written, these were originally done with visualizers for those that didn't like to close their eyes during meditation or feared their attention spans weren't long enough.  I've used variations of red and blue light in both crystalline and circular form to symbolize the traditional blue=left and red=right in audio representation.  This relatively minimal representation is meant to spur your imagination in the spaces between.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Meditations: Volume One out on 2/3/2020

I knew going into it that this was a bit of a left turn from what a lot of folks might expect from us. We don't just do aggressive heavy metal or electronic. I had the idea to do this after an intense guided meditation session.  If that sounds too weird for you, that's OK.  There's some legitimate science behind it all, too. This album consists of binaural beats influenced electronic music that was created for a series of live meditations that took place on our social media pages. The idea is that it is beneficial to set aside even small bits of time to meditate for relaxation or creation. I originally broadcasted these on our social media pages live and meditated along with those listening.  I've had requests from folks asking this be made available outside of social media, so this will release on 2/3/2020 through all the major streaming outlets.  It is my hope that it becomes beneficial for those listening to and using it.