Miserable people worldwide who listen to miserable music had a pretty good year in 2009, as Los Angeles' sludge/downer-rock trailblazers -16- returned with Bridges to Burn after not releasing an album since 2003's Zoloft Smile. Now they're back with their second post-hiatus offering, and it improves on Bridges on some levels, but, really, is more of what we've come to expect from the band: mid-tempo, pummelling sludge rock. -16- albums don't really differ as much as they just hurt the listener. Then they do it again a few years later with a new album and a different drummer, which they have here in Mateo Pinkerton, who definitely suits the band's style well, providing an extremely solid backbone to these songs, which are just unspeakably heavy in the band's unique way.

Hey, how's it going? What are you up to today?
Bassist Tony Baumeister: It's my day off work, so I'm just at home at the moment. Tonight we're having a "listening party" for the new record at a bar here in L.A. Should be fun.

Congrats on the new album! How are you feeling about it?
Oh, thanks, I feel great about it, actually. We took forever to write it, so I'm happy it's finally going to see the light of day. I'm very proud of it, though; I think it's the best record we've ever made.

How do you feel it differs from your last? To me, they are pretty consistent.
Well, for me, I hear a lot of differences, but I can also understand how people would hear similarities. It's similar in tempo, for sure; we have a hard time writing songs outside of the "mid-tempo" world. In terms of riffs, those could be classified as similar too, but that's just because Bobby [Ferry, guitar] and I have a certain style when it comes to writing riffs ― no big surprises there. As far as differences though, I think the drums are infinitely better; our new drummer, Mateo [Pinkerton], rules. I also think the songwriting and the songs themselves are just better. We used some different time signatures this time around as well; I mean, literally all of our older stuff is in 4/4. I can see how people will hear similarities, but I think we've definitely progressed. In fact, it's hard for me to even listen to Bridges to Burn now; it just sounds way boring, to me.

This sounds like the album that should come after Bridges. Bands always say their new record is a "logical continuation" of their last, which is super-cheesy, but I think it's pretty true, in this case.
I can go with that, sure. I mean, Bridges was the first time Bobby and I had written -16- songs since, like, 1999, so it's almost like 2008/2009 was a new beginning for us. At the time, I thought it was a decent record, but I knew we could do much better. So, yeah, I think this would be continuing the vibe of Bridges, but with better arrangements, drumming and, quite frankly, songs.

You got this out pretty quickly, considering your track record. Seeing as you added a new drummer as well, that's pretty impressive. How did you manage to get it done so fast?
You know, that's weird that you say that. Someone else asked us how we managed to put this out so quickly. I don't think it was quick at all; it's been over three years since the last one. We barely toured and just sat on our asses for too long, in my opinion. We basically just started writing the record in mid-2010; it took over a year to put it together. And, honestly, it felt like an eternity.

Speaking of Mateo, how are things working out with him? What has he brought to the group's sound?
Oh, man, it's so much better with him in the band. He's a super-mellow dude, no drama, and he's an exceptional drummer. I'm sure most people would agree that the drums on this record are considerably stronger and more interesting than the drums on Bridges.

I love the production on the album; it's so huge and full sounding. Are you happy with it?
Well, yes and no. I love the tones and the overall vibe, but to be honest, I wish we had another day or two to mix. There are things I hear now that I think could be better, in terms of how loud/quiet certain instruments are. But, overall, I think Jeff [Forrest] did a great job. The mix is definitely "in the red," and people seem to dig it.

I interviewed you guys when Bridges came out and we joked about you growing older but still playing such negative music. Here we are, another album down, and still the negativity! When will we get the happy -16- song?
[Laughs], well, Chris [Jerue] writes the lyrics; you'd have to ask him. But I'm going to go ahead and tell you that guy will be miserable for at least another 20 years. Ask me again in 2033.

What's next for the band?
Touring. We still need to figure out when; we'd like to tour the States in the fall and Europe in the spring. We just need to work out the logistics. Presumably we'll be losing money on tour again, so in the meantime, we'll save our pennies so we can piss them away on two or three weeks of playing shows to 25 people per night. Should be killer!

Anything else you'd like to add? Thanks for the time and keep up the great work! Cheers!
Actually, there is something I'd like to add. Since tomorrow is game four in the L.A./Vancouver series, I'd like to say that the President's Trophy-winning Canucks are in deep, deep trouble. Go Kings!!!

Read a review of Deep Cuts from Dark Clouds here.