Black Lodge is an American industrial rock band founded on June 12, 2012 by Johnny Royal. Based out of Hollywood, California, Black Lodge is comprised of Gavin Reign (vocals), Johnny Royal (guitar and programming), Christopher Royal (guitar), Ventura XIII (bass guitar), and Justin Greene (drums). These guys have been together for about a year, during which they went and wrote and recorded and released the prologue in a form of an EP the first half of this incredible story; where the continuation of the second half will be foretold in the full-length album "The Diary of Tomahawk" due out next year. These guys have got a lot in-store as it were, with a graphic novel, toys, merchandise, plus touring a lot! Founder and lead guitarist Johnny Royal discusses all these matters and more!
1. How long has the band been together and where is the band from?
Johnny: The band has not been together very long when I put it together, I handpicked everybody and started writing everything first before rehearsing wanting to get the sound and direction we were going for first. So then we worked on the EP for the past year, then our first show was for friends at a studio in Hollywood in June then we had gone on tour. So it's about a year that we've been together been playing together and after this tour it will have been about 50 dates. Everyone is from different places, drummer Justin is from San Diego, California, vocalist Gavin is from New York City, bassist Ventura is from Los Angeles, California, rhythm guitarist Chris is from the East Coast and I am the lead guitarist from Spain.
2. Why did you want to call yourselves Black Lodge?
Johnny: Well that name came from what I practice so I guess you can say an American Witch. All of us in the band are a coven and practice a system of magic, drawing from various magic's. So Black Lodge comes from the idea of this planet that there are certain places that act like a temple of serial worlds that is this one, and if you put those prophets in one place it can come from one side to the other side.
3. What type of band are you?
Johnny: We're a crazy band. Our music is industrial with hard rock and melodic.
4. Who are your musical influences?
Johnny: Collectively through the band we're big fans of catchy songs with a dark atmosphere to them we love Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. I grew up listening to hardcore punk and thrash metal which has influenced my writing, like the song "Never Clean" breaks out in a punk rock sense with some thrash metal to it. Gavin is more into dark wave and goth, Justin is drawn from hardcore music, and Chris has different elements of new wave, industrial and rock n roll. We all come from different backgrounds but are all within the same environment, and that's what makes Black Lodge so unique and honest.
5. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Johnny: This EP is the first half of the full-length album we have coming out next year called "The Diary of Tomahawk". So there are two levels of what the songs are about. There are 13 chapters of this story - 13 songs, 13 music videos, and a comic book is all being tied into this unique story. The storyline to it is the music and bringing out that light and awareness into the world through this medium. So the songs on the top level start with the first chapter "Never Clean", which is about introducing this young American witch who's descended from this line of witches, her bloodline on her mother's side takes place in this ritual, with something happening with her father in their home. So in the first video of "Never Clean", you see this horrible thing happening and it starts off with the band telling her story through her journal we're both there sensing one another but have not come together yet.
The second chapter "Drag", is about the willingness to step through the door, when this girl steps through the door she becomes that depth and views these different powers happen. As she goes through the story the next third chapter "Thankful", produced and co-written by Lee Miles crosses over into this dark world with these dark forces and they need to be balanced. The other level is a story of love and the lyrics are about not feeling clean or holy in a sense of matter where love is not being strong between two people. The lyrics in "Drag", deal with feelings and ideas of someone being dragged down. So the music's objective is being on all of these levels and emotions, a lot of people go to music to experience happiness and joy, but a lot of people look for answers from another aspect. So we're playing by informing people on who you're meant to be by walking into the light and dark sides of the world walking in-between the two.
6. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)
Johnny: The way the songs begin is by starting them off with a programmed drum beat then guitar melody and bass. Then Gavin comes in with his own ideas along with everyone else and we discuss how these songs make us feel. We have a great team of people that we work with and are always expanding it. Gavin and I are the "core" of the writing.
7. You've just released your self-titled debut EP why self-title it?
Johnny: I think with the album coming out we did not want to confuse people. We didn't want to have it be part 1 of "The Diary of Tomahawk" and then part 2 of "The Diary of Tomahawk". I guess you can say this EP is the prologue to the album and a taste of what to come.
8. This EP also happens to be the first half to your upcoming full-length "The Diary of Tomahawk" how do these two compare, differ, and evolve from one another?
Johnny: The comparison is the similarities between the constant struggle for the character/ Tomahawk is our goddess and goes through this pain and horrible things. Through the end she goes through this transformation. The songs will go darker and I don't mean heavier I mean the seriousness and the lyrical content will be darker but find the light.
9. What's your favorite song on the EP right now?
Johnny: My favorite song on the EP is "Thankful" produced and co-written by Lee Miles and that song is unexpected from the band because having a pop song structured we were discussing it and how we would take a pop song and just fuck it up by adding some industrial elements and heavier guitars to it. But that has to be my favorite song on the EP.
10. Is it important for you to paint visual pictures with the songs?
Johnny: Absolutely it's really like a map in the music video for "Never Clean" there is a map and the idea behind it is having that visual road map in front of you.
11. Can you tell me about the graphic novel you have made and what it was like to work with Marvel Comic's artist Wayne Robinson?
Johnny: Wayne is fantastic. It's taken longer than we expected it too. But we wanted it to be something we all wanted to do. We all had wanted to see those next chapters right away but it was worth waiting a bit for them. Chapters 1-3 are on our website which you can download for free.
12. Where did the idea for the comic book come from?
Johnny: It was an idea that I had started about this story where a lot of bands I had listened to growing up had done with their concepts for it be albums or characters. So for me I wanted to take that into this band. So every record we plan to release will be concept based - telling the story and elements of what's going to happen next. The whole idea had come from different experiences from my personal life to friendships, family, and relationships, that I and the other guys have dealt with and even had some in-common too. It's all about learning how we evolve by being with each other while out on the road or in the studio making music. if there is an issue we can talk to one another because we're best friends. That's where the whole concept idea had come from.
13. How many chapters and issues will there be?
Johnny: There will be total 13 chapters and the number 13 is special to this story. The next record will be a continued expansion of what's happening with this character and will grow and evolve like we will.
14. Will you be releasing the comic in physical format or just digital format?
Johnny: Limited edition for physical copies but those will come numbered and signed by the band those being limited to 1,000 copies with this EP release. The entire graphic novel comic book will also be a limited edition release and if you're a big graphic novel comic book nerd like us - having something from Wayne Robinson is truly awesome.
15. You guys are currently on tour - how's the touring been for you guys?
Johnny: Last night we played in Scottsdale, Arizona and meet up with Pop Evil in Florida this Sunday. We're really excited about that and playing more shows for people.
16. What could one expect from a Black Lodge show?
Johnny: It's all of us mirroring on what's going on with the magic we do. From the beginning of a show there's a lot of magic and rituals going on with high energy and other elements will be put into production as we continue on. But it's all a festival of celebration of life just having some amazing music that's good old rock n' roll.
17. What do you miss most from home when you're on tour?
Johnny: My bed haha. Probably also my studio I own my own studio called The Realm where we record everything. Miss our family and friends Tori, Zack, and Lee. But what's great about it is that we're best friends and we go with each other wherever we go.
18. Have you noticed the economy affecting your tour attendance or merch sales?
Johnny: No I think to me a lot of that stuff is a bunch of BS. There's this theory of marketing called Love Marketing that idea is that people truly buy what they really love. To me if you go out and see a band and love them and only have $10 to buy the album or put into gas then I will buy the album and walk home. I think if people love it they will buy it and merch sales have been great so far.
19. Do you have any tour stories?
Johnny: I don't know if I should. Last night's show was a lot of fun our friends had come out so we were all together cooking out back of the venue so while cooking the hot dogs and burgers didn't taste so great - tasting more like choral fluid. But we're always having fun and a lot of crazy stuff is always happening with the band like while out on the road we spotted 3 ravens that flew with us for miles then we came across a gas station called Tomahawk so things like that point to something big is going to happen for us.
20. What are your upcoming holiday plans?
Johnny: I always cook Thanksgiving every year so the band gets together with our friends and family at the Clubhouse where I live and call it. My family lives in Pennsylvania and will be going there to see my family for Christmas.
21. What plans do you have for the future?
Johnny: Next year our goal is to do 200 shows living on the road as much as we can. Finishing the record then releasing it. We have 13 music videos with 3 made and 10 more to go, toys are being made from the characters of the story - the graphic novel continuing and just spreading the word of music and playing as much as we can.
22. Anything else you'd like to add or say to your fans?
Johnny: Yeah rock n' roll is alive and well and I think this EP is a testament of that. We hope that you give this a shot and if you like it buy it and keep us out on the road. We love our fans and family and friends and we will be seeing you all very soon.