translation by Lee Simon-Vermot
When you play in an instrumental stoner trio, going to see a Karma To Burn concert is kind of like putting yourself in the shoes of a PETA activist who spits in her dentist’s face while shouting “FOR CECIL THE LION”! Or, in those of a Johnny Halliday fan who would get onto the “Stade de France” stage on a Harley Davidson with a playmate on the handlebars and a million dollars pouring down from a chopper painted with the colors of the American flag. Something like that.
As excited as an emergency exit door, I rush to ask for my seven thousandth accreditation of the season and get, with some surprise, the first positive answer of the summer. Clearly these “Rock Altitude” geniuses got it all. Karma To Burn also accepts my interview request at the very last minute, I can go east feeling confidant.
Le Locle is a small and charming little town with about 450 locals per km2 in the canton of Neuchâtel near France. That year the Rock Altitude festival was celebrating its tenth edition and had put together, I would say, the best lineup of all Swiss festivals of the 2015 summer. Interpol, Archive, Karma To Burn, just to mention the biggest (try reading the band names with the thick local accent…), Closet Disco Queen, Ølten, Cortez or John Dear who bravely represented the Swiss bands, all very well showcased, sometimes even on the big stage.
The festival isn’t very big, which is a great thing. The big stage is under the covered municipal ice rink, an open building with a roof. The organizers were clever enough to spread wood shavings all over the ground, because the weather was particularly horrible on that weekend. Karma To Burn was slated to play on the second smaller stage (once more to my full satisfaction).
I was supposed to meet Karma To Burn just before the “The Darkness” concert. Cyril, my way in to that part of the festival – which I couldn’t access with my pass – was with me, as well as my cousin. As William Mecum, the guitar player of Karma To Burn and last member of the original band (after Rick Mulllins and Rob Oswald left) entered, it didn’t take us long to notice that something was wrong. Not only does he seem to be in a bad mood on stage, William Mecum is also in kind of a bad mood in real life. I hadn’t even finished telling him about the concept of my blog when he was already saying how much he hates food, cooking and everything related to food.
Not put-off, I think of a Top Chef challenge and decide to go for it. There was no way he was getting out of giving me that interview. I ask him why he’s so horrified by food and he tells me he worked for a long time in the worst kitchens of Virginia, to make money when he was struggling. He remembers the awful heat, the fat, the orders that were shouted at him and certifies that nowadays he feeds himself only because he has to, but has no pleasure whatsoever in doing it. On top of that, he’s been single forever and probably will remain single for eternity (he could try to crack a smile) and he sees no fun in cooking for only himself.
Struck by a genius idea, I suggest he sit down and tell me what he hates most about food and promise to cook that for him. And then, miracle, Williams Mecum dies laughing and accepts my offer. We sit down on a couch and Mecum says very seriously that the worst thing someone could ask him to eat would be mushrooms. He despises them greatly. “Why should I eat mold? It’s revolting.” he says, grossed out just thinking about it.
And he doesn’t stop. He explains that his bass player, Eric Clutter, is totally allergic to mayonnaise and hurls as soon as he sees some.
Very seriously he concludes and tells me that pizza is what he eats with the least disgust and if I really want to ruin his day, I should add mushrooms. Promise.
To my eternal questions about riders he answers that hardly anything is ever requested, as he doesn’t like anything, but he always asks for some local beer. Laughing he shows his Super Bock and says that that’s kind of a fail this time. Congrats Rock Altitude!
At the end of our interview, I ask him if he has any new bands to recommend, something he listens to lately. He then tells me, that according to him, only shit has come out for a while now and he sticks to his favorite artists, hold on guys: Peggy Lee, Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra. Luckily for him (and for us as well), Karma To Burn is going back to the studio very soon and is preparing a new EP for February.
He was not joking since the concert started with Fever sung by Peggy Lee in the intro and ended with Ain’t no sunshine from Bill Withers. But we can assure you, in the meanwhile, ballsy riffs right out of a gas station in butt fuck nowhere Virginia let the already charmed audience forget that a voice isn’t necessary. Arch Stanton released in 2014 is a dark but punchy album, perfectly fitting the atmosphere of this black tent, set on a moist ground surrounded by an audience wound up like a spring, on this third evening of the festival. I feel hysterical as I hear the beginning of “55”, with its intro that sounds like a launch pad to the mosh pit.
And as if by magic, to end the night, as I go to the entrance of the tent to get some air and rest my ears a little, I run into Thomas “The Wall” Jenny.
Fantastic guitar player of The Burden Remains, unmistakable with his heavily patched up vest, his long head-banger hair, who generally makes his Flying V scream while sticking his tongue out when he’s on stage. He shouts into my last functioning eardrum: “Damn, after all that Welsch (name given by the Swiss-Germans when referring to the French-speaking Swiss) stuff it’s good to hear some good trucks“ or, how to summarize the evening in one sentence.
Pizza with chanterelle:
For 4 pizzas:
- 300g chanterelle mushrooms
- 500g flour
- 20g yeast
- Salt and pepper
- 500g cherry tomatoes
- 1 shallot
- 1 garlic clove
- olive oil
- Some grated mozzarella (cheese mix for pizza)
- 2 balls of mozzarella di buffalo
- 1 red onion
- 2 Tbs of cider vinegar
- Fresh green and red basil
First make the pizza dough: Mix the yeast, 3 Tbs of olive oil and 2.3dl of water, add to the 500g of flour and mix. I use a standing mixer, such as a KitchenAid, it’s much cooler than having to knead your dough for two hours.
To make the dough rise, I use a steam over with a special program because I have one and it’s much faster. Otherwise, you can let the dough rest in a large bowl covered with a humid cloth. Let the dough rise for at least one hour.
Make 4 balls of dough and let rise again for 15 minutes.
Spread out the dough and let rest for another 15 minutes. In the meanwhile, make the coulis.
Fry the chopped up shallot in some olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper and a garlic clove left whole. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, blend and pass though a sieve to get rid of the tomato seeds and other chunks.
Preheat the over to 220°C (430°F)
Brush a little olive oil on the dough, spread the coulis. Add some grated mozzarella (special pizza mix, is often a little drier and is mixed with other cheeses) then add the pieces of mozzarella di buffala. Place in the lower part of the oven.
Cut the chanterelle stems off, take any dirt off (using a dry mushroom brush or dry cloth/ paper towel).
Fry with the chopped red onion in a little oil, salt and pepper and deglaze with the cider vinegar. Finally add the chopped basil.
Keep warm until the pizza is cooked.
Once the pizza is done, take it out of the oven, add the chanterelle and a little arugula. Now, to the Karma To Burn backstage and see if it’s gross enough!
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