All It Needs To Be: Keeper interview

Keeper’s desolate doom on the MMXIV release last year was a particular highlight for 2014. With a split out recently with Sea Bastard, guitarist and vocalist Penny Keats talks about how the band came to be, how they forged that cataclysmic sound of theirs and most importantly, what lies ahead for the California band.

keeper pic

First of all, can you tell us a little bit about how Keeper formed and came to be?
Keeper initially was just going to be a fun recording/side project with Jacob [Lee] and I. We were living in separate cities at the time and wanted to do something with minimal time investment. Once I moved back into town we wrote and recorded the demo. It did way better than we expected it too, and so the minimal investment thing went out the window. Now, it is just growing from there.

Were you all in other bands before this and how did that influence the sound that Keeper would pursue?
Yeah, the most relevant is our band Tiger Lily, which is a band we are actually in together. It has some doom/sludge elements that we really wanted to capitalize on in Keeper. Jacob has a solo project too called Skull Incision. Around the time Keeper started being talked about he had started to put out some really sweet doom tracks. So we really wanted to work with that direction. We are involved with other projects too. Jacob’s other big project is Plasticbag Facemask, and my most recent other project was Favorite Child, just to name a couple.

You released your first album MMXIV last year. It has a very desolate and misanthropic tone throughout, which begs the question, what sort of concepts and lyrics do you work with?
Mostly things based off personal flaws, and experiences caused by said flaws. Lately I have been really into writing about alter egos and alternate realities based off of a particular flaw or event. Substance abuse is common in them. Relationships and fear of mortality are some of the other big ones.

Some of the track titles that really jump out are ‘Hours Pt. 1’ and ‘All It Needs to be…’ along with ‘All It Needs to be Pt. 2 & 3’. Is there any particular meaning behind these tracks and their meaning? For example, are there more parts to this story that we haven’t heard yet?
Yeah, all of the “sequenced” naming is intentional. All of the lyrics in the demo are personal writings that we used for lyrics. I tend to write multiple different things about one subject or concept. As far as the ‘untold’ story goes there is definitely subject overlap between the writing we used on the demo and the new things I have intentionally written for our upcoming releases. It is somewhat never ending. The lyrics for our upcoming EP happen to be about the same characters in the ‘All It Needs…’ tracks.

You’ve got a split out with Sea Bastard and you’ve contributed one new track, ‘777’. What can you tell us about that new song?
Our big thing for the split track was to spend more time on writing for multiple guitars than we did in the demo. Sonically it is sort of just a continuation of MMXIV with a lot more focus. Around the time we wrote ‘777’ we made a decision to change the direction of our sound. ‘777’ is probably the last track that will really stick to where we started with our sound. In a good way I think, like a milestone.

There are a lot of bands playing this style of sludge and doom. Do you make a conscious effort to set yourselves apart from them at all?
Yes and no. A lot of times when we write songs we intentionally don’t think about or draw from doom stuff. We will first pick how we want the song or part to feel, and if a doom style riff fits then awesome, if not then also awesome. Then of course the other side of it is when we are focusing on making a part ‘doom’ we will draw from stuff from bands we like and look up to. It’s very much both. There is some really cool doom stuff out there we like to pick up on.

Outside of the worlds of sludge and doom, are there any other styles and genres that have a significant effect on Keeper?
It is probably obvious already but, black metal. We love the stuff. Especially the really melodic stuff. There has been talk lately of trying to use a strictly melodic approach at times. The styles and genres that have a direct and immediate approach on our sound aren’t all that broad I guess, but we do work with a few other things.

After this, what’s next for Keeper, whether in recording or playing live?
We have two more releases that are finished, and we are just waiting to release. There are also two more releases that we need to write for. A full-length release is slowly approaching, very slowly approaching. We are also starting to look more into our live situation. We have a couple things planned already for live this year that should be pretty significant. I wish we could say more about anything that was just mentioned haha.

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