HSU graduates form stoner metal band with a new ‘garage prog’ sound
Tom Norman, Kaito Figeira and Russell Stroud make up the three piece instrumental rock band, Ultramafic. The inspiration for the name, which refers to a heavy igneous rock found in Earth’s mantle, stemmed from Norman and Figeira’s majors of art and geology.
“We both graduated and we were like, let’s make an artsy-geological rock band,” Norman said. “Do something with our degrees a little bit.”
In 2015, Norman and Figeira started the band. Norman plays the guitar, Figeira’s on the drums and Stroud plays the electric bass. Figeira and Norman have been in a relationship for eight years and share a home in Arcata that doubles as a space for band practice.
After recording a small demo for fun, Norman and Figeira showed some friends. Under the impression the demo was from a band, they were asked to perform at a show in three weeks. Norman and Figeria agreed, but lacked a bass player. Russell Stroud was the man for the job.
“Three weeks and a few blood blisters later we got our first gig,” Stroud said.
Ever since, the band has acted as a cohesive unit. Producing music they call “garage prog,” it fits into the stoner and metal music categories. The added garage aspect represents their distorted, psychedelic sound accompanied by heavy, slow blues rhythms. The progressive nature of their rock is influenced by 70s and 80s progressive rock musicians such as Frank Zappa, Rush and Yes!
“Most of our songs are five or six small songs crammed together, but there’s a flow through it and some themes,” Norman said. “We have kind of a lot of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath comparisons.”
Initially, the band struggled to find the right shows to play with artists that share similar music styles. But their success began in 2015; when the band found Humboldt they felt at home, becoming an immediate influence on Humboldt’s musical community.
“We are small, but bands you would never expect to come through town, come here and play,” Figeira said. “It’s a really cool scene and it brings a lot of interesting people to this area.”
Connections in the musical scene secured Ultramafic a six show tour across three states: Montana, Oregon and Washington.
“Music is life man,” Stroud said. “I can’t live without music in my life. It needs to be there everyday and playing it is even better. Getting to be apart of the collective that is creating music and getting to be one of the people that not only has put in time to play, but is decent at it too.”