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Review + Q&A: Sound Of Smoke- Phases (2023, Tonzonen Records)

Have you ever wondered what the sound of smoke sounds like? Well you won’t find out here, but judging from the cover and the psychedelic rock oozing out of the speakers while playing Phases, Sound Of Smoke from Freiburg sure do like to smoke one themselves!

With a huge progression from their previous album, especially production wise, Phases engulfs the listener, drowning you in a purple haze. Beautiful, beautiful vocals pop up out of nowhere like sirens, drawing you in, and for three quarters of an hour you’ll be entranced.

The songs are subtle, stripped, and on point, always including enough earwurm to stick with you, but not so much as to be poppy or annoying. The band has truly found their own sound, a rare thing in female fronted psych rock, where belting divas often set the tone. Not here though. Singer Isabelle Bapté keeps you on your toes, her aura radiating more 60s beat pop than 70s larger than life rock (I am looking at you Blues Pills!). Which in my humble opinion is a very good thing, and a feature that makes them stand out from the rest.

So what does smoke sound like? I still do not know. But I do know that Phases is a perfect album to smoke one to. Just let the haze hit your eyes, and let Sound Of Smoke take care of your ears.

Interview time of course! I talked to the band, and they all pinched in for the answers. Nowadays singer Isabelle has moved away from their hometown of Freiburg to live in the big city of Berlin, but that does not hold Sound Of Smoke back…not even close!

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Sound Of Smoke?

Hi! Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to do this interview! We are all fine, we just had our pre-release show and we are very excited for the official release of our new album Phases. The pandemic period was very productive for us. We wrote most of our Songs in this time and in 2021 we went to the Big Snuff Studio in Berlin to record the songs for the upcoming album. Of course the pandemic had also some negative effects. There where no live shows and meeting with the band was not always easy due to all regulations. ‘Anyway we are happy this time is over and we are looking forward to play a lot of shows in 2023.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

The band was founded by Isabelle, the singer and florian (former guitar player – now Bass and synth). Florian knew the Drummer Johannes from school and he was in to jam and see whats gonna happen. As the final member, Jens joined the band and became the guitar player of Sound of Smoke. After 2 years of searching for their musical direction, the quartet released their first LP Eletheromania in 2018 and 2021 followed the LP Tales via Tonzonen.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We all have a similiar taste of music. We are all strongly influenced from the psychedlic retro bands of the 60s/70s. Also the german kraut bands like NEU, Kraan, Kraftwerk have affected the sound of the band. But the roots of the music are mainly coming from blues and boogie.

Anyway we never tried to copy anyone and we where looking for our own way of creating music and going for new directions.

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

The members of the band all have jobs next to music (unfortunately). So we are mainly avarage working people… But if we talk about a free day for all the band. It probably would start with a nice brunch followed by some somke 😉 then a lot of jamming, dinner and a show at night for the perfect day with the band 🙂

What is the best thing about Phases?

Thats a hard one. The songs for the album where created in different times (Phases) of the band. Some songs existed long before corona others came to life in this time, some where written just days before the studio. So that is it what inspired us for the title Phases. The songs vary from heavy to soft to psychedlic to stoner. Blues to kraut to oriental. The best thing of the record is probably that we are finally can release it and finally have a proper LP with descent sound. Also we really love the artwork, which was done by an artist called Mirkow Gastow.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We all used to live in Freiburg (south west Germany). Now Isabelle moved to Berlin but we still will continue to make music, even if its now a bit harder then before. Berlin is a paradise for creative people and any sub culture you can think of. Freiburg is compared to Berlin a pretty small and quite town. But the music scene is very active there and full of talented musicians. Of course there is room for improvements. Rehearsal rooms are pretty hard to find and most sub cultural live venues had to close down.

Who are some contemporary musical heroes of yours?

King Buffalo, All Them Witches, DeWolff, Pentagram, Electric Octopus, and many many more. And all the old dudes who are still alive of course as well (Sabbath, Floyd, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane).

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Most of our songs are created from jams. We pick different parts from the jams and put it together to an arrangement. Then mostly isabelle is adding the lyrics. After that we are rehearsing the songs and change the structure.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

For this year we want to focus on the release of the LP. We plan to play some festivals in summer and maybe do a little tour later that year. We are also working on new songs but this will take time. We plan to go to the studio in 2024 and hopefully release the new record end of 2024.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Smoke a spliff and listen to our new record 😀

Thanks so much for this interview! Lots of Love to all supporters and listeners out there!

Isa, Flo, Jens, Johannes

Review + Q&A: Sunburned Hand Of The Man- Headdress (20th anniversary re-release, 3Lobed Records)

Picture yourself in the middle of a dark and crowded room. The band stands in a circle around you. Feral men, wild eyes, long hair and beards. They chant shamanic hymns or sing lost words in broken sentences. They seem to have a secret communication. Through telepathic signalling they orchestrate their singular music. Completely in synch, they wander, not knowing where to go but feeling it together as one. As you start to feel it too, you close your eyes. This is what improvisation can be, and it is awe inspiring. When Sunburned Hand Of The Man do it on a good day, it is the best thing in the world.

Headdress is not a new album. It is a session from 2001, set in the early post 9/11 era of chaos and darkness. You can feel the apocalypse hanging in the air in these jams, perhaps even picture these chants the rituals of human civilisations that will outlive us after we have nuked ourselves to oblivion. There is a dark madness in the air that translates really well into the mostly instrumental music.

Clearly inspired by German improvisation legends Can, Sunburned Hand Of The Man has made this intuitional way of playing their own and added a certain wildness to it, a dangerous “anything could happen” vibe that I personally dig extremely well. Open minds are obligatory with this kind of music of course, but hey, if you came this far on this internet page and this review, I am quite sure you are already through that habit hole…so enjoy!

It took some hardcore stamina and some professional tree shaking to get Sunburned Hand Of The Man to respond to my emails, it is the reason this article was published over four months after the album’s official release date. But hey, when you finally get to reach out to American improv legend John Moloney you do not complain. I felt gratetful with his honest and thorough answers to my questions below…

Hi guys, how is Sunburned Hand Of The Man these days?  

Sunburned is doing great, we’re settling into our usual winter playing and  recording routine. Plus, Michael Josef K just moved to town and returned to the  fold after about a 15 year hiatus. We’re psyched. Phil Franklin is here visiting from  Australia too. We just did a few shows with him and that was fun. We’re getting  ready to record our next LP for Three Lobed and we’re finishing up artwork for  our new album Hypnotape which is coming out on VHF this spring in the first of  many CD, etc, focused releases.  

We’re all happily married to each other and bamboozled that we still foam at the  mouth to be able to do this after so many years, phases and music scene crazes.  

What have you guys been doing since your last release? 

Breathing, working, making art, reading, listening to records, looking at phones,  raising kids, stressing, guzzling, playing and recording more music on the  regular.  

Personally, I tour manage and play second drums on occasion with Dinosaur Jr  as my “real job.” I love it and we just finished up a very busy year of touring with  Ryley Walker, Pink Mountaintops, GBV and Garcia Peoples on the various tours.  So it’s nice to be home with my family and getting busy with Sunburned again. I  could do without the New England winter though… 

Tell me what kind of band Sunburned Hand Of The Man is these days?  

We’re a country-western massachusetts mental ghetto ensemble and psychedelic  trap house. There’s no way out. 

Who decides what and when? Do you see each other frequently, etc…

Sunburned itself makes all the decisions, I act as the conduit but most usually we  decide things as a group. We see each other all the time. 2 guys share an  apartment and 5 of us live within a mile radius of each other, the rest are just  minutes away.  

What can you tell me about this new re-release of “Headdress”?  

We were asked to reissue the record by Cory Rayborn at Three Lobed. We needed  to remaster it first and none of us could find an original cd master. It was all  recorded on cassette tape. I have 99% of our archive semi-organized here at the  HQ and it still took me over a year to track down all of the original tapes and one  is still missing. It drove me insane having to listen to all that headdress era music  and eventually Ron tracked down the master. 

All of the original art is here. This was pre-easy computer so we rebuilt it from the  parts and expanded on the art. 

Marc Orleans who passed in 2020 was a HUGE part of this record so its great to  have his spirit still burning hot on this record. He made it the record it is with his  amazing playing and I’m glad Cory really pushed to put this back in circulation.  Carl Saff made it sound even better than the original too.  

We were going to maybe do an expanded version with other material from the era  but that didn’t happen.  

 Can you take me back twenty years to when you made it?  

A lot of the music on Headdress was made the day after 9/11/2001 and the  following weeks. Those times were crazy and we were 20 years younger and  wilder with most of us living together in a loft space in Charlestown, MA. We were  also doing a weekly residency at the Burren in Davis Square Somerville which is  still a killer traditional Irish music pub. I tended bar there for a while. They had a  back room where non-Irish music played once in a while and we were given the  Wednesday night slots. 20 years ago we the project was based in Boston and  Somerville, and now we’ve all drifted out to Western Mass which is odd and  amazing to me.  

Do you still recall what it was like to be in the band at that time? What is the biggest  difference to the present in your mind? 

At that time being in Sunburned was essential to the mental health and survival of  everyone involved. We weren’t thinking about being a “band’ in the traditional  sense. We were bonded in our need for group therapy and the fun that  surrounded it.  

Is the Manhand label still alive?  

Yes, Manhand is still very much alive. 

What is your relationship with 3Lobed like? 

Very good. Cory is a friend and brother to all of us and we’re so happy and  looking forward to the future together. We just put together a loose schedule of  releases with Bill at VHF too and I’m personally beyond excited to have  Sunburned working with my two favorite labels.  

Where should a Sunburned Hand newbie start in your rather extensive discography?  

Start with Headdress, then check out Jaybird, No Magic Man, Rare Wood,  Anatomy, Get Wet With The Animal, My Accident, Fire Escape, A, Earth Do Eagles  Do, The Spacial Crime Symbol, Double Puberty, Vugarisms, Pick A Day to Die and  Headdless. That’ll give you the broadest potpourri of vibes.  

What are your proudest pieces of recording as a band?

All of the above. Is an honor and pleasure to be In this crew.  

What kind of music are you listening to today? Which contemporary bands do you  dig? 

I’m listening hard to Bardo Pond’s reissues on Fire and Three Lobed this week.  Right now I have Bitchin’ Bajas’ Rebajas on the cd player.  

Can you tell me some of the most memorable stories of being in this band? The  weirdest, most outrageous, or just beautiful parts of it? 

There’s way too many to write out here but I will shamelessly plug the 8 part  Sunburned Podcast, which is still in production that’s coming out worldwide later  this year which will be full of the best and most colorful stories.  

If you’d go back to the 90s when you started the band, what would you do differently?

If I could go back to the 90s I would have bought a lot more music gear at  Cambridge Music and a couple of triple deckers in Boston with my bartending  money instead of spending a lot of it on partying, fine dining and up to a dozen  plane tickets at a time for Sunburned tours instead back then. I don’t regret any of  it.  

Do you have any wisdom to share with the Weirdo Shrine readers reading this  interview? 

Experiences rule. Take yourself places physically and mentally.  

Dead Meadow- Force Form Free (2022, Blues Funeral Recordings)

I am quite late with this write up about the latest album by US psych rock heroes Dead Meadow. To be honest, I was waiting for a response to my interview questions. However I decided that we as listeners perhaps did not need too many words from the band, as they themselves also mostly let their instruments speak for them on Force Form Free.

On their debut album for Blues Funeral Records Dead Meadow dive into their own riffs so incredibly and completely that it seems like guitarist Jason Simon just forgets to start singing entirely, fully immersed as he is in letting that riff wash over himself again, and again. At least that’s the impression on opener The Left Hand Path.

The Lure Of The Next Peak shows Dead Meadow’s wacky side, in a beautiful pastoral jam with a dancing wah wah pedal. On the third song Valmont’s Pad the heavy distortion returns on another quite merry tune that feels like a stroll in the countryside. Still no vocals though.

The vocals and lyrics only show up on To Let The Time Go By, a mostly acoustic affair with Simon’s characteristic lazy just out of bed vocal delivery dreamily accompanying the soothing tunes. Only he can sing it like The Black Keys just fell head first in a huge tub of jello, it’s quite magnanimous and heady.

And then it’s on to some more heavy jamming with revved up amplifiers and a ton of fuzz. Title track Force Form Free hits it off with a nice long build up that pretty much keeps on building and layering until the very end, leaving you with one more jam left. It’s the mighty Binah, that brings everything that makes this record awesome together and even adds some vocals.

But I’ll leave the comments for it to the legendary producer Steve Albini, who says it better than anyone here:

“Dead Meadow have laid down god’s own riffs over the years but the guitar solo that blankets the last four minutes of “Binah” from the new piece is a psychedelic chemical so pure I would drop it into my eyes from a pipette and stare at the stars.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it Dead Meadow. You done did it again.

Review + Q&A: Fabriccio De la Mora- Entropy Death (2022, Echodelick Records, Dirty Filthy Records)

Instrumental music takes me to the movies. When there is no story told by a lyricist it is up to the mind to put images to the wordless music. In case of Fabriccio de La Mora (also check out his previous album) this is a very easy thing to do. He loves sci-fi and horror and the mixture of the two genres. David Cronenberg and Stuart Gordon are his celluloid heroes. So if titles like Robo Warrior, Bride Of Re-Animator, Dead Ringers, or Scanner mean anything to you, you’d be able to summon these images as well.

The music is often up tempo and oppressive, with a stifling eerie feel to most of these tracks. Synth effects warp up the sci-fi feel, while the guitars do most of the talking. It is like de La Mora and his band have watched a lot of flicks with speedy space ships and intense pursuit scenes while creating their jams. The guitars howl, the drums thunder, the riffs maul the listener in seemingly endless repetition…it is definitely not kraut rock for the hippie generation.

Steampunks and 80s VHS watching sci-fi nerds should however definitely take heed. Entropy Death might summon up a bunch of unseen movies they might enjoy…

I talked to Fabriccio de La Mora, who dialed in from his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. It is amazing how popular culture can connect people allover the world, as my music listening head was fully emerged in the sci -fi world and unsuspecting of its Earthly origins. It is a sign once again that music is universal, and a language we all speak fluently.

How are you? How has the past year been for you as a musician?
All good! Pretty chill actually. Been mostly composing and recording and mixing and making art and all that good stuff.

Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Fabriccio De la Mora. I’m 33 and I’m an artist from Guadalajara, Mexico. 

What can you tell me about your musical background?
My dad is a musician. He plays acoustic guitar since he was a teenager, but he couldn’t pursue a full-on music career because my mom got pregnant when they were both young. So me and my brothers and my sister lived in a musical environment, listening mostly to latin american ballads, son cubano and some rock classics of course. All of my brothers got to choose their favorite instruments, and I started playing drums when I was 12, which I sold later at 15 to get my first electric guitar. I played in a few bands. Been playing both guitar and drums since then. I went to art uni later and took a few experimental sound classes there, so that gave me that part of my background. I started a project called Par Asito in 2010 as a solo project, mostly to release noises I recorded independently. That project grew into a heavy psych band that still exists today. I started my solo project on 2019, and I released my first 2 albums this year. I play this solo work with my friends Bubu, Ratita, Fausto, and my cousin Buki.

What does a regular day in your life look like?
I usually wake up to read. Currently digging William Gibson. I’m a software engineer so I usually spend most of my day programming and by the end of the day I take an hour or two to work on music, but I’m currently on sabbatical so my day to day is quite different. Right now I’m mostly working on either art or music. I’m currently working on some art pieces involving circuit boards, I’m also mixing my 4th solo album which I plan to release on the latter half of 2023, and I just started working on my fifth album. I’m also a fan of old electronics and media so I go out thrice a week to flea markets to see what treasures I can find. I just found a working Powerbook 520 that works perfectly well.

What is the best thing about Entropy Death?
I feel like that album came out straight from the gut. I think there’s a lot of coherence between the conceptualization of the tracks and what is expressed sonically in them. I also think my friends and I did a good job recording it. Overall it feel like a solid art piece.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
I live in Guadalajara. There’s lost of bands. They mostly don’t last more than one EP. People don’t seem to like spending more than $100 MXN (around $5 USD) on a local band. Some of the older bands I’ve played along for years seem a bit desperate now to get signed, so they come up with these goofy sounding silly looking side projects. Local venues are now being extorted by the cartels. I would say it is mostly not fun.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
My main aim to create a body of work full of futuristic alien landscapes worthy of Stuart Gordon and David Cronenberg movies.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?
I started composing Grand Unified Theories on the guitar and then moved to the rest of the layers. I started Entropy Death on the drums and moved my way up. I just play until something interesting comes up and then I work on it. Usually takes a week per track. Once I have around 40 minutes I call the friends I work with and record things properly at home. I like having someone else mixing and mastering it.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?
Short term I could really use some help booking some cool shows. As far as the future goes, I have no idea.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Go watch From Beyond by Stuart Gordon.
From Beyond (trailer)

Review + Q&A: Domadora- Renaissance (2022, Kozmik Artifactz)

In a field somewhere in rural France a trio of musicians has set up their gear. Without any plans or preparations they begin to play. What happens next is magical and hard to believe, if it weren’t for the fact that someone had the audacity to press the record button on the portable studio. Renaissance is that recording.

Whether you believe the background story that founding member Belwil lays out in the interview below is pretty irrelevant. Even without any story this forty-one minute jam beast is a mighty trip that you need to either micro dose or schedule off your weekend for. It builds up terrifyingly for almost ten minutes before diving in one of this year’s heaviest fuzz riff maelstroms. After that we get a bluesy come down, and then the building begins again. The record does that sequence once more after that, and ends in a total ghosting doom fest and the creepiest outro ever.

I do believe the weird and eerie voices and samples throughout the record are somehow edited in, but nobody wants to confirm that. A bit of a mystery has to be upheld I guess, and it fits Renaissance as an album. It is an enigmatic and highly impressive jam fest for adventurous fuzz heads, and stoner thrill seekers.

I found Belwil Domadora(lead guitar) willing to converse with me and tell me more about Domadora’s background story. This is what he had to say….

Hi Domadora! How are you doing these days?

Hi Jasper. We are fine. We can’t wait for Renaissance releases and the experience which will support this. We ‘ll show a textured medium-length movie at an art-house cinema on december 8 in Paris.

Can you please introduce the band; where are you from, how did you meet?

We are from Paris. We met in jam’s music clubs in Paris in 2010.

What are your musical backgrounds?

Every music which is free and improvised at any time. No rules, only sounds, strange ambiances, psychedelic and mental environments.

We hate to play the same things.

We consider that If we fully relax and let go, it feels like we are no longer the ones making music. It feels like some benevolent entities have joined us, taken charge and are the one playing.  It feels like being under a harmless hypnotic trance for hours

Where do you live, and how would you say that influences your sound?

We live in Paris. Like France, Paris has been a sick city for some years. There is a lot of insecurity. Everything is under construction and destruction. Life is becoming hard and people begin to be really angry again everyone. Then our music is improvised and our current emotions are the only thing that leads us.

What does a typical day in your lives look like?

We try to be satisfied of ourself every day. Always be yourself and never betraying what we are. It’s a daily hard work.

What can you tell me about the writing and recording process of Renaissance?

It’s a one shot experience with some additions to illustrate our state of mind. The context is funny and creepy. Each of our improvisation session is tinted with the state of mind we are currently in while playing.

As usually, we were roaming the countryside, looking for a secluded and atypical location, where we could play our music. We stopped in an isolated clearing, not too far from ‘la Basse du Diable’ in Les Vosges. We set up our whole gear, the band, the amps, the drums, the grill for the barbecue …We stopped playing at 9 pm, completely drained. Before leaving the clearing, we quietly had a meal. Then, we started looking for a place where we could spend the night before getting on with our trip the following morning. We ended up heading toward an isolated house, at the end of a path, not far from ‘la Basse d’Enfer’

We knocked on the door to ask if we could set our tents on their property. An elderly man opened the door. His name was Claude. He was tired, rough looking man, and had deep voice. He was neither welcoming nor the opposite. To put it bluntly, he didn’t care at all. ‘Set your camp there, do as you please. If you’re hungry, I’ve got some food.’  We weren’t hungry, but we didn’t dare saying no. We set our tents and got inside Claude’s house. It was a real mess, with neon lighting and a dark and gloomy atmosphere.

‘Have a seat over there, I’ll be with you in a moment.’ We sat around a big wooden table, a stained-covered, hole-covered, broken wooden table. Everything was creaking in this house, the chairs, the wooden floor, the table, and the walls.

We remained silent. Claude was certainly in the kitchen.

Suddenly, we heard a deep growl filled with rage. We stood up and went to check on the man. We reached the kitchen and found him; his hand covered with blood. He had sliced one his fingers open with a huge knife. Apparently, he was in the middle of cutting up a rabbit for us. It was such a weird situation. Either there were no windows in that kitchen, or the blinds had been closed. The walls were dirty. One of the lights kept flickering, and there was this old rough looking man with his bleeding hand on top of the butchered rabbit.  ‘Everything is fine, leave me alone. I can take care of myself’ he uttered with palpable annoyance.

We didn’t go back to the table. We needed to breath some fresh air. We went out.

We pondered over the situation. We couldn’t help but be wary about this man. It looked like he was living on his own, but we could swear we had heard some noises coming from upstairs and from the basement. We started to come up with crazy scenarios. ‘There are four of us and he’s just one man. So, we’re good’, ‘Well, I think we’d better leave’, ‘Yes, but imagine that despite being a little ill-mannered, he’s still a nice guy. He’s even trying to cook us a meal. It would be quite an embarrassing situation if we left.’, ‘Maybe, but what if he’s a maniac. Things could get crazy if we stay.’, ‘Yeah, let’s just trust our guts and leave!’

We went back inside the house to tell him about the decision we had made. We were no longer spending the night out there; we were going straight home instead. We waited. No answer. We took down our tents as fast as lightning and left.

We had an appointment at DGD Music Studio on the following day for a recording session.

We played for more than 40 minutes without taking any break.

The result of this session is Renaissance.

How does one write a 40+ minute song?

We don’t write, we just play. There is no preparation, no intro, and no outro. There are no restraints, there is just pure music expressed through vibrations, strong or soft ones

Can you tell me what music’s on the daily band playlist?

Impossible, many many different artists and different styles like Billie Holiday, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Beethoven, Debussy, our San Diego friends Earthless and Tia Carrera, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Sunn’O, Black Sabbath, Motorhead

I must say, the children’s voices at the end of the album creeped me the hell out! Waht can you tell me about those voices?

AH AH I’m happy to read that!! Hey Jasper, you don’t want to know that! are you sure you really heart children voices? Try again! I’m sorry but it’s like a secret. Some years ago I was somewhere far away from my country to live strange things and I recorded this voices but I don’t really understand what is that..

What is “the dream” for your band? And what are your immediate future plans?

I think our way to play music is almost unique and we would like this approach become obvious and natural for everyone. Music is a way to your mind and everyone should understand that. Because when you open the doors, everythings are magic and beautiful.

When our music make someone let go, it is a great satisfaction.  

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Get up in the middle of the night, take a good headset, extend on the floor and let go with Renaissance and try to listen all music’s nuances that you can’t detect in one time.

Interview: John Westhaver (Birdman Sound, The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol)

Brett Savage, John and dave Cambridge in Birdman Sound 2018

As I am evolving in my writings and diving deeper in the world of psychedelic rock and instrumental jammery, I could not ignore a powerful force emanating from Canada’s capitol city of Ottawa. It is where John Westhaver keeps is world renowned Birdman Sound record store, and where his improvisational jam unit The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol is based for years now. I needed to know more about this psychedelic institute and its stories. Their gigs with legendary CAN vocalist Damo Suzuki for instance, and a lot more. Please take your time, and dive into this piece of living psych history with me….

How are you? Can you introduce yourself and you multiple endeavors?

All good here in Canada, just getting used to winter setting upon us once again!  My name is John Westhaver and an old alias “Johnnie Feck” pops up once in awhile. Since the late 1970’s I’ve been selling records in 4 different establishments including Birdman Sound since 1991as a physical shop.  I was a radio show host at 3 different community radio stations starting in 1980 and spent 35 years at CKCU-FM here in Ottawa as programmer of numerous shows as well as a paid position as music director and program director in the late 80’s.  I have booked and promoted 100’s of shows over the past 40 years and been in 7 working bands with a vast catalog of releases.  Currently the drummer in The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol and running Birdman Sound III.

2018 session recording “Ensemble III” session with Brett savage (Daed Sea Apes) and Dave Cambridge (Cardinal fuzz) both on guitar.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I guess some of that got covered within the first question.  I would add, that my late mother and an older cousin really nurtured my interest in music in the late 1960’s and I was off to the races then with records and an utter obsession regarding music. I sung in an all male boys choir as a pre-teen and had my first drum set up around the same time.

What does a regular day in your life look like? What role does music play?

Well for 29 years I ran Birdman Sound out of a location in the downtown core of Ottawa (Canada’s Capitol). I’ve always lived in the country outside the city so did a round trip 72 km. drive,  6 days a week.  Rehearsing with bands, putting on shows, and doing radio all happened within the city, so at the end of everyday it was a journey to get home.  Of course during each day it was non-stop music in the shop and then whatever was going down on whatever evening…lots of music!

What do people often forget when they think about owning a record store?

That it’s not as simple or fruitful often as some think it must be.  The reality is that the majority of people that come into a shop, often don’t have a clue about much other than the very obvious.  Most humans don’t have the propensity for being very “deep” about most things actually.  Lack of exposure, lack of solid historical influences as a youngster and lack of thirst of knowledge are pretty standard.  Curiosity is integral to learning and sadly people get stuck early in life it seems.  We live in a society where it’s much easier to fall into line and become spoon fed.  Not sure how anyone thinks that that’s a good thing?  There are days in a shop where you have little to no sales as you have little to no customers.  That happens and it’s total shit.

Cool shot at an album release show in 2015

Where do you live and how does it affect your musical doings?

As I said since the late 80s I’ve lived in the countryside in two different places. Nature has been abundant in both.  My wife and I are into dogs, cats, gardening and cooking.  All that rural goodness keeps me grounded. In whatever band I’ve played in or whatever music related thing I’ve ever had on, at the end of it all I could get out the agro and knew that solitude and recovery was gonna happen at the end of the day once returning to the crib!

Tell me about your band The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol, when did you start it, who’s in it, what has been your aim and how are you doing at the moment?

TBWNIS was born 15 years ago by myself and Mark McIntyre after we both came off a 5 year stint as a power trio called Four ‘N’ Giv’r.  We gigged a bunch, sharing the stage with Lost Sounds, Bellrays, Dirtbombs, Plastic Crimewave Sound, King Khan & The Shrines, Simply Saucer and loads more.  Released 2 albums and folded.  Mark and I wanted to do a heavier more improve oriented jam psych kinda’ thing and TBWNIS was born.  We got our longtime friends from othere groups to join; Bill Guerrero on guitar and Nathaniel Hurlow also on guitar.  We operated as a 4 piece for a couple of years before adding Jason Vaughan and Dave Reford into the operation.  Over the next few years we continued to add members and play gigs and self release many LPs.  We became more of a collective.  Some band members left the regular thing but would return on occasion to record or even play the odd live show.  All of our music is born out of improvisation.  Some of that became “pieces” that lent themselves to be repeated but just because you heard “Sour Kraut” on our record never meant that it would sound the same when played live, or, would be the same live the next time.  Sometimes it was 7 minutes long, sometimes it was 15 minutes long. That’s how we rolled. A few times we played live with up to 9 members.   The pandemic coupled with me closing the downtown record shop (where tbwnis rehearsed) changed a lot for us.  The current group consists of myself, Bill, Nathaniel, Jason and Dave as mentioned earlier.  Scott Thompson has been with us for the past 5-6 years now, so we are a 6 piece currently.   We have played 5 LIVE shows since covid recorded and released a few albums of course and don’t have a rehearsal space at all.  All our live sets have been fully improvised.  At this very moment this is how we are working.

Can you tell me about your fondest memories with the band?

There are many actually as we always have so much fun!  I’d have to say a show in a very small venue back in 2017 when myself and Christopher Laramee (Shooting Guns/Wasted Cathedral) paid for a plane ticket to fly Dave Cambridge of Cardinal Fuzz over for the weekend !  The show was on a Sunday evening and The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol and Shooting Guns, blew the roof off the sucka’ with The Cardinal in the house!  Amazing!  Also LOVED the next summer 2018 when both Dave Cambridge and Brett Savage (Dead Sea Apes) flew over for Ottawa Psychfest I and we made a record together, fully improvised, called “Ensemble III”.

2014 with Damo Suzuki at House Of Targ

What can you tell me about your time with Damo Suzuki?

We did 3 performances with Damo between March 23rd , 2012 and May 25th, 2014.  We prepared ourselves for the honor of backing him on the first outing by rehearsing based on what might happen to throw at him.  We met up at the club and hung out for a few hours until soundcheck, chatting and so forth.  He was very quiet in general and despite me asking him politely a few historically accurate questions regarding his career, Damo clearly was in the here and now and didn’t really want to talk about history!  Fine by me.  We hit the stage to a packed house, he started and we jammed, throwing out all we were prepared for.  The whole thing; near 3 hours, was recorded luckily live to cassette and myself and Bill edited it into fitting on a single LP and we released it the next year.

Damo’s second trip was like seeing an old friend and he was genuinely happy to be playing with us again!  We hung out for awhile in Birdman Sound, shooting the shit and he was quite interested in looking at my records.  I showed him a huge stack of CAN , solo LPs and related records, he seemed impressed and I got him to sign my Tago Mago LP and one of his solo records.  He was staying with JasonVaughan;  our synth man,  about 100 yards from the gig space Pressed Café,  so was very convenient.  Jason took him shopping for blue jeans after the Birdman visit and they showed up for soundcheck with Damo offering us all shots of whiskey he had purchased earlier in the day.  We played a wicked set that night which sadly was only captured piece meal on video in two separate segments by a friend who happened to be working on a piece for an online mag about TBWNIS. This show was extremely self fulfilling and Damo said he LOVED it as well, which was a huge high for us!!!  The 3rd show was at a much bigger venue in 2014 at House Of Targ and was also a ripping and very “heavy” show to a large appreciative crowd.  A friend captured most of the audio and video on a hand held.  Again Damo was in great spirits and had a great time. That show may be found on our bandcamp site and remains only in the online digital world.   In 2020 there was a plan to do a 4th show here with him as we were asked to be the band but of course everything got fucked by the pandemic !  TBWNIS LOVE Damo and CAN and they are a definite influence regarding what we do!

What is your take on making improvisational music? What is the ultimate jam?

I’ve played in loads of structured bands and enjoy the aspect of that.  In BELD, Exploding Meet and TBWNIS it was or is all based on improvisation, it’s just a load more fun.  The creativity that happens can often be just “WOW”!  When that happens, there is nothing better, I love spontaneity!   The ultimate jam is when clearly the whole group involved, are feeling happy and high and feeding off one another.  Whether or not in front of a crowd or by themselves and they everyone is in the zone,  then that’s the jam, hands down.

Who are your favorite current other artists and record labels at the moment?

Current Artists : Acid Mothers Temple, Circle, Sula Bassana (everything), Dead Sea Apes, Carlton Melton, Sendelica, Oresund Space Collective…

Labels: Cardinal Fuzz, El Paraiso, Sulatron, Feeding Tube, International Anthem Recording Company, Bad Afro, Adansonia, Clostridium, Weird Beard, Rocket Recordings, Blue Fog, Noiseagonymayhem, Bam Balam, Long Hair…

What is your top 5 of psychedelic records of all time?

United States of America – S/T

Fifty Foot Hose – Cauldron

Christmas – Heritage

Hawkwind – Space Ritual

Miles Davis – Dark Magus

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Eat pizza or cheeseburgers & fries, drink beer and listen to RECORDS !

2018, opening for Yawning Man

Check out John’s musical outlets here:

Review + Q&A: Falling Floors- S/T (2022, Riot Season Records/Echodelick Records)

For a psychedelic rock band Falling Floors are pretty hard to pinpoint. I found out that talking to them helped a great deal to place them better in my head. These guys are fans of Butthole Surfers and Jefferson Airplane, the weird and offshoot bands in a genre full of followers, and while they don’t sound like those oldschool heroes at all, it is clear what their aim was here. For contemporary reference I would say that Falling Floors would not be out of place inside the cult following around Hey Colossus and their modern mixture of post punk, noise rock, and psych.

This self-titled album sounds raw and heavy, and was recorded without too many overdubs I am sure, to capture a certain ferociousness and live energy. This is something you might want to plow through a little bit the first listen, but when it “clicks”, like about half way through the eight minute barn burner Infinite Switch, you are hooked.

Between every long(er) form song like the catchy Ridiculous Man, and Flawed Theme, there is a weird interlude, building up from half a minute to two minutes, before all hell breaks loose in the eighteen minute noise jam extravaganza of Elusive And Unstable Nature Of Truth. It is where Falling Floors let’s go of all restraints and just sets the controls for the heart of the sun, in their own noisy botched up psych head way.

A very interesting and mind expanding experience then, this first encounter with these UK psych mongers. Fans of the afore mentioned bands, Wrong Speed Records, GNOD, and genuinely being surprised while taking your overdose of reverb drenched rock, this is your cup of tea.

So let’s have a chat then! As hard as it was to fully grasp what Falling Floors were doing sonically, as easy is it to connect with them. In the following interview they kindly and honestly explain what they are all about and where they come from. Drummer Colin Greenwood gave us the tour…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Falling Floors?

We’re all grand thank you for asking. The pandemic was, in the scheme of things, pretty OK for Falling Floors. We all lived in a wild and beautiful corner of the UK where we could hunker down, hope for the best and wait for it all to pass. And without the pandemic and desire to see people and make a big, messy load of noise, the band would probably never have come to pass.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

So we are Rob on guitars and vocals, Harry on bass, and me, Colin, on drums. Rob and I know each other from the London psych / prog / rock / 60s music scene. We have almost certainly exchanged sweat on a crowded dance floor. I’m originally from around here, so once everyone had moved up north we all became friends. Harry and me started jamming and then Rob joined and brought some much-needed discipline to our freeform mucking about.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

So Harry has spent a lot of time getting lost in free-noise jams and found himself hankering after a tune. Rob’s actually had some moderate success, first with Elks and then with Early Mammal, who found kinship with the London stoner / avant garde rock scene based around the Baba Yaga’s Hut nights. I’ve noodled in bands for years without achieving much of note. We all like a tune and we all like taking said tune and bashing it to a bloody pulp.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

First off we’ve all got day jobs 🤘so let’s be real here and accept there’s fair bit of selling our life, one day at a time, to suck on Mammon’s teat. And then we’re all pretty different. Harry makes films, Rob’s an academic (handy if you find yourself in a tight spot and needing a bit of emergency jurisprudence) and I’m a designer, with two kids and all that comes with that.

What is the story behind the album? It has a strong “live” feel to it, could you explain that?

Well first off we’re not session ninjas, so there’s gonna be rough edges. And then we’ve all played in bands which have recorded and mixed and EQ’d and noodled themselves to a standstill. We didn’t want to make perfect product. We’d got some songs, we were quite excited, and we wanted to capture that. We wanted to make something righteous and true in a world drowning in almost unbearable bullshit. A mini, futile, defiant stand. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

Ace, basically. Harry and me live in the Calder Valley, which is one of a few valleys which cut through the hills that run down the spine of England. It’s all rain and mud and moorland and wet stone and scudding clouds. Beautiful. And inspiring. The rehearsal rooms are cheap, there’s a joyous DIY spirit, and a great music scene based around a couple of fearless, supportive venues. Rob moved down south to Devon just after recording the album. He’s still in the countryside, but it’s a softer, fatter vibe down there. He claims not to miss the north, but I think he’s lying.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

Make something true and honest. I can’t speak for Rob and Harry but I’d love to get wilder and weirder. It’s so easy for ideas to get censored and trimmed and sanitized. I’ve always been inspired by bands like the Butthole Surfers who made genuinely weird things, the likes of which the world had never heard before. Doing things that haven’t got a name yet, to quote Jefferson Airplane. If we could make something that was pure unfettered expression, but still had a killer tune, I’d die a happy man.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

There isn’t really a pattern yet. Rob brought one song pretty much fully formed. Harry brought some bass lines which were the spine of another couple. And one was jammed into existence starting with a drum pattern. I hope we’ll all keep writing and contributing and it’s doesn’t become one person’s project. As for recording, we get in a room, we point microphones at things, we play the song a few times, few overdubs and we call it done. Old school.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Crikey. Making the charidee album with Eric, Keef and Bono obviously. No, not that. Playing something which you’re proud of, which adds something new to the world, to people who appreciate the effort. I’m sure we’d all like our Falling Floors jet, but I think them days are over.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Walk to the top of the highest hill you can find, strip to the waist and whilst wearing headphones listen to our tune ‘Infinite Switch’, square off into the wind and rain and scream your fury at all the see-you-next-tuesdays of the world. Then go home, have a nice cup of tea and kiss your kids / dogs / loved ones on the head. 

Review + Q&A: Temple Fang- Jerusalem/The Bridge (2022, Electric Spark Records)

Temple Fang from The Netherlands is slowly but certainly becoming an undeniable force in heavy space rock worldwide. And yet, they have not recorded a single studio album to this day. They did do two amazing live albums (Live at Merleyn from 2022, and Fang Temple from 2021) but this EP is actually their fist attempt at some studio magic. And magical it is! There are two longform songs on here, Jerusalem, and The Bridge.

Jerusalem is a strong song with huge vocal choruses and deep noodling valleys. It soars epically, combining elements of space rock, stoner, and more progressive elements , ultimately building their own house that is not linked to any other. The Bridge opens up a completely different side of the band, a much calmer version of Temple Fang with a vibe that reminds of Black Sabbath‘s Planet Caravan. Together they show two faces of a band that has in fact many more in them. Just visit one of their live shows to see those. I for one, would welcome a full studio album of their musical prowess like the force they show on display here. Until then, this EP will have to make do.

Ivy, Dennis, Jevin, and Egon by Maaike Ronhaar

I talked to bass guitarist and vocalist Dennis Duijnhouwer, who introduces the band and carefully explains their story. A story that might have just begun…

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath
been for Temple Fang?

Many bands will tell you a similar story, it’s really hard to keep a band together when the thing that bonds you, playing your music for a live audience, falls away for that long. We tried everything we could to stay active and keep the feeling of a band as a gang, but we still ended up losing a member and almost breaking up. When we found our current drummer Egon, we decided to ditch all we had done before, create some new jams and when things opened back up, we hit the road as hard as we could. Since then we’ve played a zillion shows and have really found a new commitment to doing Temple Fang. We are very grateful for this amazing tour season, everyone was so starving for live-music it made for an intense shared experience.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Jevin de Groot
(vox, guitar) and me met when I was doing a barshift and was playing this CD-R from a band called Slint, an album called Spiderland, something I had then recently
discovered and was obsessed with. It was kind of my own private secret this record as I didn’t really know anyone who was into this. Jevin walked in the place and immediately came up to the counter and yelled “Spiderland!” at me, we struck up a conversation about this masterpiece and I ended up giving him the CD when he left. Some time later I walked into a rock bar in Amsterdam called the Pits and saw him fronting a band called The Felchers, I had an overwhelming sense of needing to connect with him and do music together, and that just so happened not long after when one of the bands he played in, a punk band named Brezhnev, needed a bass player and we went on our first tour together. (Interesting side note, my former bandmate Oeds Beydals (Iron Jinn) had also walked into that same bar, saw Jevin and decided to dedicate himself to electric guitar.).

Ivy van der Veer (guitar) was a kid I had heard about around town, he was in a whole bunch of bands either playing guitar or drums, and when a friend played me some recordings he was on I made a mental note that if I ever needed a guitar player he would be the guy I’d call first, very musical dude.


Egon Loosveldt (drums) we met through our drum auditions when we lost our first drummer. We were already kind of done with the auditions when Egon send us a very sincere and interesting email, saying he saw us play Sonic Whip festival in Nijmegen in 2019 and he imagined himself to be our drummer. It took one jam with him to realize he was indeed our guy, we took that jam and basically turned it into the set we’ve been playing on this tour.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
Oh, that’s a complicated subject. I guess we all have very seemingly contradictory backgrounds. For example, Jevin is the biggest Grateful Deadhead I know, but the first band we played in together was a punk band so besides being a ’70s psychnoodler, he’s also an amazing Ramones style, punk-rock downstroker. Also, listening to him playing Willy Nelson songs in soundcheck is a real treat. Ivy’s first band was a Poison Idea cover-band and he still plays drums in a punk band with his dad called Teenage Tits but is also probably the biggest Yes fan in the band, he might be the most prog guy in Temple Fang. And he has an Opeth tattoo… Egon’s background is still a bit of a mystery to us, he’s definitely the most musically trained person in the band, he’s a jazz guy but he’s always had a thing for loud, underground
guitar music. Egon loves Norwegian jazz-rock, Motorpsycho, Elephant 9, Needlepoint and such. But he’s also spend a lot of time in South America and has strong connections with that scene. As for me, I’ve always kind of been all over the place musically. I was into terrible guitar-shredding when I was a kid and things like Zappa. Since then I’ve expanded my influences to include everything from John Coltrane, Bad Brains, Mahavisnu Orchestra. And Hendrix of course. I have to mention one album in particular that changed the course of my personal musical journey, when I heard Tool-Undertow I got so obsessed with the
bass sound on that record I ended up trading my strat in for a Rickenbacker bass.
Furthermore, the past few years I’ve been really tryin to focus on songwriting and trying to learn from the greats, so I take a lot of influence from Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and such. And contemporary artists like Weyes Blood.

TF live by Maaike Ronhaar

What does a regular day in your life look like?
For me right now, TF is pretty much a full time job. I get up in the morning, do some yoga, then start answering emails, checking mixes, collecting artwork ideas from Jevin, uploading
rehearsal recordings, working on new music ideas etc. Lately it’s been hard to find, but I’ll try to get some ‘me’ time in later in the evening, to get in my creative zone, which could consist of me playing bass along to dub records, writing ‘poetry’, listening to records, just anything that has no real purpose behind it other than just being in the moment. Or just getting lost in youtube rabbit holes and feeling really dirty after that.

What can you tell me about the way you have released albums so far? It’s far from the conventional “studio album cycle” right?
Jevin says it best, we work with what’s in front of us. Because our creative process is so collective, it’s difficult to make a solid plan and stick to it. So we just kind of wander in the dark until we find something. Now our band is becoming a bit more of a ‘career’, there’s a bit more pressure to follow ‘album cycles’ but we try to work with labels that understand our way of working and respect it. We try not to make much of a difference between live albums, studio albums, EP’s or whatever, there all just things that we do that capture us wherever we are at a particular moment.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We live and operate from Amsterdam, Holland. Ivy grew up here and me and Jevin have lived here for a long time. To say there’s a ‘scene’ here for what we do would be lying, we’ve got a network of friends who are all involved in music and art but everyone is operating in different ‘scenes’. Amsterdam is a difficult city for bands, it’s expensive and crowded and being dominated by money and the people involved in that. We’re lucky to have a great studio now, after having been pushed around by gentrification for years. We’ll just have to wait til the neo-liberal system eats itself and collapses and then artists can move back to this beautiful city and create something new from the rubble.

Dennis Duijnhouwer by Maaike Ronhaar

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?
We’ve played a ton of ’stoner’ festivals this year which made us pretty weary of downtuned Kyuss/Sleep influenced bands, but there’s been a handful of bands we’ve seen and played with that blew us away, Elder, Yob, Ecstatic Vision, Spill Gold, Neptunian Maximalism to name a few. We’re always curious to see what Motorpsycho and King Gizzard put out, or guitar pickers like Steve Gunn or Ryley Walker. Daniel Romano I’ve been obsessing over lately and also, this 2019 record by Dutch singer Eefje de Visser called Bitterzoet has been on repeat. And I’ve been deep diving in the new Richard Dawson record, the ambition he displays on a songwriting level is something I take a lot of inspiration from.

And because of my friend Abel from Hang Youth, I’ve been deep-diving into a lot of modern Dutch hiphop, the grimier, the better. I bet no one expects someone in TF to be influenced by Mula B, but I am.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Also in Jevin’s words, we work in layers. So a song that may be birthed as a riff or chord progression one of us has, gets taken to rehearsal, jammed on, rewritten, tried live a couple times, rewritten again etc. Sometimes there’s themes that keep coming back in jams that eventually become songs of their own. It rarely works if one of us brings a complete song in, I wish it was that easy, but it’s not. And songs keep changing after they’re recorded too, that’s why a song might be on multiple albums we do. Also lately we’ve been embracing riffs or melodies being in different songs, we’ve stopped resisting such things, it’s just
how it works for us.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?
We’re sort of constantly in a creative zone, our music is in a constant state of flux and there’s always new things happening. If my biggest nightmare is playing in a band doing the same set over and over or having to play the ‘hits’, then this must be the dream!

What are your upcoming plans, and what are you looking
forward to most? We’re putting a new EP out on 29-11 and have a new release after that already in the works, more on that soon. Most looking forward to the next rehearsal, we’re working on a bunch of new music that’s starting to take shape so I’m always excited to see what’s gonna happen to these pieces.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Take a moment to count your blessings that there’s bands out there really going for it, putting in the time and the miles on the road. We’ve all missed it so much, we should never take it for granted! Peace, XO DD/TF

@ Heldorado, pic by Maaike Ronhaar

Interview: Shane Hartman (Underground Mountains, Metal Machine Ascension, Acid Test Radio, We, Here & Now Records)

So originally, I intended to write a little piece about Stratford, Canada’s improvisational psych rockers Underground Mountains and their uncanny brand of “anything goes, let the universe guide us, and let’s record every jam CAN style” psych rock. They ARE pretty cool, and you really should check out their debut cassette tape and track everything that there is still to come if you are even remotely into that original kraut rock improv sound. But then I started talking to guitarist Shane Hartman, and it turned out I had already met him two times or more in different online entities. For Shane is a human centipede of psychedelic music, manning a weekly radio show, a record label, a solo project, next to occasionally jamming the stars from the cosmos with Underground Mountains.

It is people like him that keep this tiny psychedelic universe going, and being a fan of the music is first and foremost in that. We are not in it for the money or the fame, we are here to strive for that one ultimate Godzilla jam, whether it is with our own musical projects, or through some other human making noise somewhere on this awful ball of dried up lava. We do it because we have to, because it is better to create and participate than to just consume and get fat. Although we do hunt for that sweet vinyl from time to time, and it can’t be limited enough…

Anyways, meet Shane Hartman people. Lover of psychedelic music, fan of bands like CAN and The Band Who’s Name Is A Symbol, and a valuable contributor to the scene in his multiple enterprises. Let’s meet him and find out all there is to explore through his stories and his sounds…

How are you? Can you introduce yourself and you multiple endeavors?

Hi Jasper! Thanks for the interest in all this business. I’m Shane, I have a few irons in the fire but I’ll do my best to cover everything! 

I produce a weekly radio show / podcast called Acid Test Radio whose motto is “Fuzzed Up Sounds In Search of Higher Elevation” since 2019. I play loads of psych, space rock, punk, free jazz, drone, noise, new age…basically everything I’m into and the occasional funk 45.  It can be heard on svpradio.com THURSDAY @ 5pm EST and Midtownradio.ca Saturday @ 7pm EST.

I play guitar, synth and mess around with tape loops  in Underground Mountains – we are currently a 6 piece and play free heavy, psychedelic and krautrock informed music, predominantly in our rehearsal room “The Jam Cellar” located beneath the most excellent Sound Fixation record store here in Stratford. 

Currently Underground Mountains is.. 

Andrew Hunter, Trevor Worsell, Andrew Enns, Jeremy Cox, Tim Nicholls and myself.

I also record solo as Metal Machine Ascension – tape loops, effects, synths creating a droning Maximalist Meditation Music.

aaaand I run We, Here & Now! Records – a psych / experimental / heavy sounds label. I originally started to help release one record which seems charming in retrospect as the amount of projects the label has taken on has snowballed more than I anticipated! Since beginning in April, WHN has officially released  7 tapes and co-released one record with plenty more on the way for 2023!  

Shouts and much respect to Jeff @ Echodelick Records and Dave @ Cardinal Fuzz for all the help and encouragement! These guys release some of my absolute favourite records, I’m sure readers of Weirdo Shrine are probably aware but if you don’t know them, do your ear holes a kindness when you can! 

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I’m a bit of a late bloomer and mostly self taught.. I didn’t start playing guitar until my early 20’s. A friend gave me an acoustic guitar he’d made from the remnants of two broken ones (dubbed the Franken-twanger) and from there got down to learning in earnest. I loved The Replacements and Leatherface the most before hearing The ConstantinesShine A Light record which is still one of my all time favourites. In the last year I’ve been exploring the wide world of synths and tape in my music while slowly acquiring more gear and developing an interest in using non-musical objects and field recordings in my process. I promise that it’s not as pretentious as it sounds! 

What does a regular day in your life look like? What role does music play?

My partner Catherine and I adopted our pup Fred (Australian cattle dog) in February and we’ve since become very early risers and avid walkers.. if I don’t have to work I’ll be getting caught up on label projects (several at different stages of development right now that I’m VERY excited about!), new music for Acid Test Radio, reviewing our jam recordings. There’s always music on at home, be it records, tapes, streams, radio or one of us singing to the pup. Our house is a very musical house.

What do people often forget when they think about owning a record label?

I think going into this, what I wish I knew and perhaps what others might not understand is how many hats one can end up wearing! Being a one person show, there’s quite a lot to do. I love it and I think for folks who enjoy doing several different tasks, it can be an incredibly satisfying way to help get the music you love further out into the world. 

Where do you live and how does it affect your musical doings?

I live in Stratford, Ontario, located about 2 hours driving from Toronto. The city is famous for the Stratford Theatre Festival as well as being home to and having a lot of incredible musicians from here (members of The Band, Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, Colin Fisher, Darren Dumas (The Salads) immediately come to mind.. oh! Justin Bieber’s from Stratford as well..) 

I moved here from Ottawa several years back and knew that I’d like to play the kind of music I make now but finding like minded heads historically has often been challenging.. I met the fellas I would later end up playing with in Underground Mountains here and I honestly couldn’t believe my luck! We jam weekly if possible, record everything and it’s always a trip! Pre-covid, travelling to see bands in Kitchener, London or Toronto was a frequent occurrence. Post Covid, live music is slowly coming back.. I’m hopeful for the new year! 

What is your take on making improvisational music? What is the ultimate jam?

I think it can be one of the most transcendent and powerful expressions and in a group setting can produce incredibly magical experiences. Communicating without speaking, call it the cosmic nod, whatever you call it, it’s something special.

The ultimate jam.. whether it’s an epic hour long sprawl through space, shifting between psych, blues, funk, dub and freakouts with full on “godzilla” passages to borrow a line from CAN or 10 minutes of focused pocket dwelling.. when it’s over and we’ve re-entered our bodies and can say that was really good!   

Who are your favorite current other artists and record labels at the moment?

Oh boy! Honestly this could go on and on there are so many quality labels putting out so many great records! The short list would include Cardinal Fuzz, Echodelick, Feeding Tube and Noiseagaonymayhem.. and Dreamlord.. oh! Up In Her Room as well! and Fuzzed Up & Astromoon! Weird Beard, Worst Bassist.. 

For artists.. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol are pivotal, Dead Sea Apes are un-fuck-withable and Anunnaki are a force of nature! Big ups to Thee Cosmic Brick Road, Wasted Cathedral, Pallbearer Industry and pour one out for the fellas in Hawkeyes as well.. 

(sorry, it’s hard to keep it narrow!) 

What is “the dream” for you as an artist, and as a label owner?

As an artist.. to just be able to keep making music. It’s an obsession and probably in my DNA.. Collaborating and growing.. The same applies to the label as well I suppose, in terms of releasing records I’m excited about but I’d also tack on being sustainable – to focus on doing the label full time would be the dream come true!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Tell the people you love how much you do.  

Review + Q&A: Gambardella- Caracas (2022, Spinda Records)

Gambardella is a Barcelona trio of musicians who stand for absolute creative freedom. So much so, that they ditched their vocalist as soon as they could so that they would be more free in their stylistic approach. On their third album Caracas this translates itself into an album of instrumental experimentalist art rock that is almost impossible impossible to pinpoint, and that seems to be the whole point from the get go.

These songs effortlessly bend their way from spastic free jazz to cosmic kraut through interstellar postrock and even Albini worshipping noise rock. Their great musical skill is always on display here, but they make room for atmosphere as well, being careful to let the songs flow, and preventing Caracas from becoming a self indulgent noodle fest.

Should we spend more words on it though? The band themselves don’t seem to think so, Opting to let their instruments speak for them. So you better find somewhere to listen to this album fast, and let your ears be the judge for you. Open minded jam freaks will rock themselves a third eye, that’s a Weirdo Shrine guarantee!

I am Jaime L Pantaleon  the guitarist , synths and noise guy in the band.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Gambardella?

Gambardella is a Barcelona based trio. Our first LP  Benicarló came out in 2017. The second one Sant Andreu in 2019 and finally our last album Caracas  in 2022 but it was created and recorded during the worst days of Pandemic in the city of Barcelona. I remember that we made false passes to reach the rehearsal space and recording studio to avoid street prohibitions. Focussing on music we could confront the fears of the apocalyptic situation.  

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

We formed around 2015 in Barcelona  and we were friends who knew each other from other projects. Personally my former band was called 12twelve and we recorded two albums in Chicago with Steve Albini during the 2000s. Check out Speritismo from 2003 and L´univers from 2006.  In Gambardella both Victor Teller  (Bassist) and Oscar Altaba ( drums) came from other bands more focussed on Post hardcore and post metal bands like Room of Mirrors, Zimt, Oso….

Initially we met as a vocal band but early we realized that instrumental stuff was more inspirational and explosive.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Our band is always like a washing machine of influences but mostly we hear jazz, minimal music, krautrock, early electronics and  every instrumental conception . We always conceive our music as a soundtrack and lately we are experimenting as a multi disciplinary act mixing audio visual design, music and improvisation at our live gigs.

In our  sound you can feel some base of bands like Fugazi, June of 44  but maybe our greatest influence would be Tortoise,  a band that we love and who taught us a lot.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

A regular day in our lives is very normal, just guys trying to survive. Our idea of music is quite away from commercial and we have to work for a living.

In our opinion, controlling all your processes in creating, recording and distributing gives us more freedom and autonomy. Our last record is gaining a good reputation and we are so happy with it. 

What is the story about the band name?

Gambardella is the surname of Geppe Gambardella the main character of the  Paolo Sorrentino´s film La Grande Belleza from 2014.

We love that film for being a kind of modern Federico Fellini and for representing the empty life of  luxury of a former writer that had great succes in the past, but  now he is like in deception of the human condition. A very philosophical film, in our opinion  very critical and introspective in some way.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

At the moment Victor lives in Barcelona city and both Oscar and I live in small villages quite far from the urban turmoil. Covid as you said was a radical change in our points of view about living and I decided to run away from the cement. Oscar lives in Benicarló ( the title of our first record) his hometown. We are working on several projects with our band. The latest project is creating music in a program inside a jail for women. It s amazing the places where music could bring us.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

I think creating every kind of artistic discipline is the most healthy activity in order to express yourself, feel and discover  a lot of things and always learning.

During 2017,  2018 and 2019 we did a lot of gigs in Spain and  we  played  as well in London, Leeds, Canterbury, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague,  Paris, Geneve, Pisa  and a lot of European cities.  Pandemic stopped a good tour in Spain in 2020  you know, and just like a lot of other musicians we had to re make our entire world. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

We are fortunate in Gambardella because the three components have a super good workflow between us. Songs, sounds and passages normally come with a natural feel and we create relatively quick and easy. 

It s a real democracy and we used to create from improvising and compose in the moment. Not a writing leader. Our music is based in the whole band as an organism. We enjoy playing together and generally the three of us share the same idea. 

The big source of inspiration used to be experimenting with new instruments, patterns and music. We can play  from a totally electronic composition to a traditional Rumba. It s amazing, we are happy and conscious of this situation.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

I can imagine that the dream of an artist is being able to focus in your creativity and forget a lot of the external world. Of course you have to be aware of certain mechanisms and lines of our cultural fabric in your country. In Spain there is a very little help for musicians if you  are not a teenager or you don’t have ( or don’t want)  commercial potential. We always thought in the richest countries in Europe it could be easy, but in the post pandemic times we suppose it  is difficult for everyone.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Of course listen and enjoy mostly the album Caracas.  We are very happy with this record because we have been able to recorded it live  in Wheel Sound Studios with Txosse Ruiz and all the glorious feeling and organicity of playing live gives that album just what we were looking for.

Thanks a lot Jasper!!!! A big hug to all Weirdo Shrine readers and keep on it.