(By Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor, RiffRelevant.com)
For the second installment of my ‘Label Limelight‘ column, I’m already switching the format (might happen each time, who knows)! We have an interesting way to highlight the label, this time in an interview with Totem Cat Records owner Ewenn Padovan, by one of his newly signed acts – Great Electric Quest!
San Diego, CA’s quartet of tour hellhounds are modern day Vikings, in both my and their opinion. It’s not an unrealistic claim. Great Electric Quest is a relentless touring band – have road (and beer), they will travel. They’re ruffian road dog maniacs, sure, but they’re also disciplined, resourceful, determined, remarkably talented (individually and collectively), and rather honorable men.
I’m not merely typing smoke and niceties to butter you up. I’ve met them, this is evident and also obvious to anyone who knows them. (Just don’t take their beer.) However, that first part – ruffians and maniacs – GEQ are indeed Viking Madmen, they put on one hell of a live show. As much as I enjoyed spinning their first release ‘Chapter I’, their live show is something else entirely. It’s not merely a musical performance, it’s a display of wanton madness and exhilaration thrown on top of all the blissfully heavy music… and heavy they are.
Beyond all their road journeying for the perfect heavy rock and roll metal experience, these are not four caveman heathens behind the wheel. They’re well-spoken, considerate, and don’t rush into anything except saying yes to another tour. In their Quest for the right label to release their next album, ‘Chapter II’, they set into motion a methodical process to learn more about the intentions of those labels, until the felt it was a great fit with their musical intent.
Tyler ‘T-Sweat’ Dingvell, vocalist for GEQ, mentioned to me a month or so ago that they were signing on with France’s Totem Cat Records. (Since the formal announcement wasn’t until this week, I kept it to myself.) He also mentioned that during their research into labels he had asked Ewenn Padovan, owner of Totem Cat, a series of questions which helped the band determine this was the proper label for their music. Tyler and I thought it would make for a great segment in my ‘Label Limelight’ column and we have the resulting interview here.
Being a vinyl record collector for more years than my bank account cares to remember, I’ve been an occasional shopper of Totem Cat Records, and am always pleased with my record deliveries. They put out beautiful products from bands I enjoy, such as Goya, Dopethrone and Cloud Catcher. Even via international shipping to the U.S., my order has always arrived safely.
Much congratulations goes to both Great Electric Quest (Tyler Dingvell – vocals, Buddy Donner – Guitar, Daniel ‘MuchoDrums’ Velasco – Drums, and Jared Bliss – Bass), and to Totem Cat Records! You can learn how this partnership came to fruition as you hear GEQ’s latest track ‘Ruling This World’ via bandcamp stream below.
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: How did you come up with the name Totem Cat Records?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): Before doing Totem Cat, I started a small distro in 2010, named The Outer Limits, which paid direct tribute to Voivod. I quickly felt like I needed to find something more personal, something that wouldn’t relate to any particular genre. About a year later, the name Totem Cat came up as I was driving, and I instantly knew this would be the definitive name for the label.
I sent pictures of my cats to Johan Jaccob and he created the logo. The reason why the label is called Totem Cat may come as a disappointment to some, but yeah, I guess I just wanted to pay tribute to my furry friends.
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: What made you create a record label?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): The reason why I started the label was basically because I was super frustrated that the début album from Stonehelm wasn’t coming out on CD. There’s a defunct label called Dead Earth Records that was supposed to put it out back then, but it never happened. I was in contact with the band and felt very frustrated to only have mp3s, so I asked them if they would be interested in putting it out with Totem Cat.
Money was definitely an issue back then so I didn’t even think about putting it out on vinyl. I pressed 300 CDs and it went okay for a first release. I sold some copies, traded what was left and a few months later it was sold out.
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: What kind of music does Totem Cat represent?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): Right now I tend to represent Doom, Sludge, Heavy Psych, Metal, Hard Rock, you name it. I’m not going to put out anything and everything, but I don’t feel limited to a particular genre. There will always, I hope, be some tangential releases out on the label, and I need to try some new stuff and get out of my comfort zone.
The music represented by the label covers some of my tastes, but definitely not all. There’s a few different things I’d like to try in the future, but it’s too soon to say now. I’m pretty happy with the variety of bands I worked with in five years. If you take for example Gold & Silver, and The Disease Concept, there’s pretty much no links between what these bands are doing, but there’s still a good amount of people who like both and I’m really happy with that.
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: What is your selection process for bands you want to work with?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): Instinct, I guess. When I hear something special, the first thing I do is to check out if they are currently working with or signed to another label. I won’t get in touch with a band that’s already committed to another label.
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST: What are some of your favorite releases that you have put out, and why?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): I have a personal relation to every single release I put out. It may sound sentimental, but every single one is special to me. For various reasons, the Stonehelm début will always remain one of my favorites. The fact that I started Totem Cat with this one is highly understandable. Prior to the release, I needed someone to help me with the graphic side of things for the label, that’s when I met Flog, who was also a huge Stonehelm fan, and offered me to help with the layout and templates. He’s the second man at Totem Cat and has been helping me since day one. Three years after the CD release of Stonehelm, Flog created a new artwork for the vinyl version.
Another one of my favorites is the second album from The Disease Concept, “Your Destroyer”. The band consists of members from bands that made me start listening to this kind of stuff: Blood Farmers, Fistula, Solace… I cannot even put to words the amount of heaviness this record delivers.
The Wo Fat / Egypt split is very special to me, as well, because I worked closely with the bands and Flog did all the artworks and layouts. Same goes with Dopethrone – III, which was the first release we did together. I’m amazed to see what they have achieved since and the popularity they gained.
RIFF RELEVANT: What’s happening with Totem Cat in 2018 and beyond – new bands and releases?
TOTEM CAT (Ewenn): There are quite a few things planned for Totem Cat this year! I will be releasing the new album from the San Diego-based Heavy Rockers, Great Electric Quest. That album is called “Chapter II” and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it, these guys will tour heavily to support the album and people will hear a lot about them in the coming months.
I’m also putting out the third record from The Disease Concept, it’s called “Pain Clinic” and it was recorded a few years ago. Jason Barnett is currently doing the cover.
I will also release Fistula’s “Idiopathic” for the first time on vinyl. Dopethrone’s “Dark Foil” and “III” are currently at the pressing plant, reissues of both were long due. One last project I’m sharing at the moment is the reissue of Aquilonian’s debut “Symphonica de Levita” for the first time on vinyl. It’s currently being remastered and Flog Diver is doing a new cover art. For those who don’t know about Aquilonian, it features two members of Bongzilla and the album is a 30 minutes song.
There’s also three new bands to be added to the Totem Cat roster, all our plans will be revealed in due time.
To supplement the interview, we also have the press release info from GEQ with all the tour information and some extra news:
Great Electric Quest signs with Totem Cat Records and announce their ANUBIS COMPELS TOUR double shot – SXSW invasion III and Pacific North West Canadian Invasion.
Over the coming months of March and April Great Electric Quest are set to play a ton of premiere SXSW festivals, a SXSW Official Showcase, and take their high energy performance and Beer Antics into the great North of Canada, while stopping off in some staple Pacific North locations. Hop on the Journey of Rock and Roll and Metal with Great Electric Quest, heavy tunes and good times are a given!
Glory Or Death Records‘ announced their first release from their Bow to Your Masters series of tribute albums. Check out our prior news about this release here. Pre-order is up for Bow To Your Masters Volume I: Thin Lizzy [order here]
GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST Live Dates:
(click date for event info where available)
SXSW INVASION III
3.7 – Tucson AZ – House of Bards
3.8 – El Paso TX – Rock House Bar & Grill
3.9 – San Angelo TX – Deadhorse
3.11 – Dallas TX – Gas Monkey
3.13 – Austin TX – SXSW Black Smoke Conjuring, Lost Well
3.14 – Austin TX – SXSW Stoner Jam, Spiderhouse Ballroom
3.15 – Austin TX – SXSW Stoner Daze, Texas Mist
3.15 – Houston TX – Acadia Bar
3.16 – Houston TX – Groove and Vibe Festival
3.16 – Austin TX – SXSW SHOWCASE @ 720 Club
3.17 – San Antonio TX – (RIPPLE) SELL YOUR SOUL 2018 @ Lime Light
3.18 – Marfa TX – Lost Horse Saloon
3.21 – Tempe AZ – Yucca Tap Room
4.12 – Carlsbad CA – Boars Cross’n
4.13 – TBA
4.14 – TBA
4.15 – Everett WA – Tony Vs Garage
4.16 – Seattle WA – Central Saloon
4.18 – Spokane WA – The Pin
4.19 – Calgary AB, CAN – 420 Music and Arts Fest @ Distortion
4.20 – Kalispell MT – Rocky Mountain Riff Fest
4.21 – TBA
4.22 – South Lake Tahoe CA – HARD ROCK CASINO Spring Meltdown Metal Fest
4.23 – Long Beach CA – Black Light District Lounge