Swedish power duo Molosser CRUDE combine the energy and heavy riffing of bands like Kyuss and Unsane with old delta blues rawness and sizzling noise. Add the powerful, melodic vocals of drummer Tess and you might get an idea of what this duo create with the unlikely set-up of an electric drum kit and a thirties-style jazz guitar run through three amplifiers at once.
Former national welterweight champion Tess hits her drums hard, with the furious groove of a modern-day Keith Moon, while singing with the effortless coolness of old jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and the power of rockers like Chris Cornell. Guitarist Jahn has a background in far-out freeform jazz as well as various rock outfits and does not shy for brief excursions into a noisy unknown. All this energy is reined in by excellent songwriting and a telepathic communication developed by the pair in Molosser, the downtuned acoustic guitar duo that was the cradle for Molosser CRUDE.
How much noise can you wring out of an e-drum kit and a fat ol´ archtop guitar? Plenty, if you are Swedish power duo Molosser CRUDE, an extremely electric offshoot from the acoustic guitar duo Molosser that launched its trademark, downtuned sound on their debut album Appear last year. CRUDE is anything but acoustic, though; the guitar (still downtuned, played by Jahn) is run through two guitar amps and one bass amp, and the e-drums get whacked just as hard as any “real” kit by singer and drummer Tess.
Molosser CRUDE debuted with a live-in-the-studio video of their own original Bye Bye Grace, where they combine a stoner vibe with the flowing rhythms and riffing of heavy sixties rock. The result is pure Molosser CRUDE, and the sound is so dense that it would be hard to shoehorn in another instrument. Over this massive musical onslaught, Tess lays down her melodic yet powerful vocals.
The branching out into this hard-riffing territory from an acoustic combo might sound a bit surprising, but those who are familiar with Molosser’s work know that there’s always been an undercurrent of heavier music beneath their dynamic guitar interplay. On their debut album, the duo made a very idiosyncratic cover of Soundgarden’s “4th of July”, and last October they released a just as eccentric version of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” in collaboration with Australian Happy Mag to raise funds for Australian wildlife preservation. The influence of gnarly blues rock and bands like Kyuss can be traced in their own songs as well.
“We’ve been aching to dust off the electric stuff for a while now”, says Tess. “The acoustic format is great for the dynamic possibilities and as a challenge if you want to do something different from what’s usually connected with that sound, but we both come from a louder, noisier background and CRUDE is a way to use what we’ve learned from the guitar duo but with another kind of energy.”
One thing that Tess and Jahn have learned from all the hours of playing together is an almost telepathic musical communication that translates well into the new format, too.
“We didn’t really know what to expect when we finally warmed up the amps and plugged in the electric gear again, but it just fell into place and roared off at full speed”, says Jahn. “Tess is such a great drummer, she plays in a jazzy way that’s a bit similar to Mitch Mitchell or Keith Moon rather than just laying down a beat, and it’s pure joy to let the riffs and licks bounce against her fills and rhythms. And using a fat hollowbody guitar I get access to an organic feedback that can be used almost as a third instrument.”
Considering that the drumming is anything but the old “Boom-chak-boomboom-chak” it’s all the more impressing that Tess can perform with flying colours as a singer at the same time. “Actually, I was a bit surprised myself at how well that turned out”, she says. “I have been drumming and singing since forever, so in a way I guess I have it in my bones, but I don’t think this would have worked without playing all those Molosser songs on guitar, where the guitar plays something totally different than what the vocals do.”
The duo format comes naturally to Tess and Jahn, who share a life outside as well as inside the music. And it has its upsides. “What you hear on the video is just what happens there and then, with those two instruments and the vocals”, Jahn says. “It’s a mighty feeling to get something that sounds so full with just two people, and actually the music can get a bit too busy if you put more instruments in there. Which doesn’t mean we’ll not try some overdubs when it’s time for the ‘real’ studio recordings, though. We’ll see what’s needed and what’s not.”
Those who have come to love Molosser’s trademark acoustic sound will be happy to hear that Tess and Jahn will not abandon the guitar duo format – on the contrary, there’s new acoustic stuff waiting to come out as well.
Get a taste of Molosser CRUDE on YouTube – and stay tuned, ‘cause there’s plenty more where this one came from! More live-in-the-studio videos are under way, starting with stoner blues banger Pushing My Way in late September 2022, and audio releases are to follow.