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Studio Report: Giöbia

Sometimes you just have to be bold. So when I saw my Facebook friend Melissa Crema was in the studio with her band (and one of my personal favorites) Giöbia, I couldn’t help contacting her. She has been the driving force of these Italians behind the keyboard, and to my absolute delight she was willing to answer my questions and even add some pictures. The result is a cool “look over the shoulder” of these great psych artists while they do their thing recording the new album and unveiling some details about one of the albums I most look forward to in 2023…

Hi guys, how have you been this pandemic period?

Even though the last two years of pandemic have been very stressful because of the lack of gigs, we managed to take advantage of the bad situation to work on new songs, so that our upcoming album will be ready to be released next year. On October last year we also released a split album with The Cosmic Dead on Heavy Psych Sounds. We have never stopped making music and we can say most of the time music gave us the strength to go on.

Melissa Crema in the studio

What are the current studio plans? Is everything written? Do you leave room for improv?

We are currently finalizing the new album recordings in our third studio session. For what concerns the songs we have composed and worked on so far, we have already recorded drums, guitars, bass and organs, so right now only the vocals are missing before having everything properly set for mixing. By the way, like we did in our last albums with the songs Heart of Stone and Sun Spectre, the upcoming one as well will feature some studio improvisations. We do have a natural inclination to jam, it is something we really love to do. Besides the recordings, recently we have received several proposals for gigs and festivals, so now we are focusing both on the new songs and the rehearsals in order to hit the road soon.

Melissa Crema recording

Is there a big difference in writing and recording compared to your last record Plasmatic Idol?

One of the differences between the previous albums and the upcoming one is that now we are recording in a new studio, called Elfo Studio, based in Piacenza, Italy. We are working closely with a very competent technical staff which has been helping us to make the most of our instruments and gear. We are really happy about this and satisfied with the sound of the songs we are working on. Unlike “Plasmatic Idol” the new album will sound rawer, I mean less sophisticated and more straightforward, so that the songs will be very impactful for the listener.

Drummer Pietro D’ambrosio recording

What are the lyrical themes?

The lyrics reflect the strange period we have been living, with all the frustration it brought into our lives so far. We are used to put in music our feelings and this is what we did this time too – disorientation and confusion may blur vision, but they may also be inspiring somehow. The listeners who sharpen their ears will also notice some references to the war in our songs, being that we could not remain indifferent to the what is happening in Ukraine and our hearts ache for all those who are involved.

The band in the studio

Around what time is the album going to be finished? And which label will it be on?

We plan to finalize the new album before summer and to release it at the beginning of 2023 on Heavy Psych Sounds. It is still too early to unveil the precise date, however you will hear from us soon… stay tuned 🙂

What are your plans after recording? What is your ultimate goal for Giöbia?

Our ultimate goal is to leave a lasting mark with our music, which is our lifeblood. Our priority and what we care most about besides the recordings is to start playing again like we did before the pandemic, touring abroad and meeting old and new fans and friends. We miss the contact with people and standing on the stage in front of the crowd – that’s a unique and invaluable feeling. Our next stops will be Sideral Fest, Heavy Psych Sounds Fests in Winterthur and Salzburg, Volcano Sessions and Saalepartie. Please come and join us!

Guitarist Stefano Basurto recording

Any other projects you’re working on?

Another project we are working on is La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio. The guitar player and I we also play in this band with which we released our second album called Trivial Visions on Svart Records in March 2021, in the middle of the pandemic. We can say Giöbia and La Morte Viene Dallo Spazio run on two parallel tracks, as with this band as well we are recording the new album and getting ready for several gigs and festivals.

Instrumental Triple feature: Noorvik vs. Der Neue Planet vs. Trigona (2022, Tonzonen Records/Echodelick Records, Worst Bassist Records)

Last time when I talked about instrumental music I discovered the German outfits Kombynat Robotron and Shem and did a double feature. Then Tonzonen Records and Echodelick Records sent me these instrumental records and I told myself it was time to do it again, but tripled this time. For instrumental music is a different kind of animal. It leaves something to be filled in at the dots for the listener. And it often invites its audience to dive into their minds, or out, which makes for a completely different listening experience than with their more, ahem, “vocal” brethren…

Der Neue Planet (The new planet in German) are an instrumental stoner prog band that takes full advantage of the fact that they don’t have to bother about stuff like verses or choruses, rhymes, or repetition. Opener Heavy Dream Prog describes their sound quite aptly in a song that shoots back and forth from heavy stoner walls to chilled out dungeon jazz, to stoner disco and everything in between in a near ten minute journey. It’s seriously heavy music, but there is room for tongue in cheek humor too, just like on their album title and cartoonish artwork. Area Fifty-Fun is exactly that; it’s a heavy psychedelic fun trip that rides like an amusement park.

Noorvik are the heavy brothers of this triplet. The music on Hamartia is serious, epic, and leans pretty close to metal at times, from massive doomed out postmetal, to more uptempo riffage and even a couple of blast beat volleys. If you picture a singer like Michael Akerfeldt fronting this band with a good deep grunt they would actually do a pretty good oldschool Opeth/Katatonia crossbreed.

Now, without human voice, the music forces you to use your own imagination for the imagery. The music becomes a painter’s palette picturing vast glacial landscapes, tall and impenetrable mountain ranges, but also peaceful ponds of calmness and serenity. Noorvik are a force of nature, conjuring up the rawness and beauty of our planet quite vividly.

The only non-German band that I will talk about here actually plays the most kraut oriented music of the three, and starts off with a song called Von Graf…but that’s pure coincidence of course. Trigona from Australia does motorik instrumentals like they were born somewhere between the 80s of Neu! and the 90s of bands like Karma To Burn with a sound that holds a pretty good middle ground between the motorik repetition of krautrock and the heaviness of stoner.

The strength of the album is that each song swirls away in a different inner mindset, taking the listener on six completely different trips, but without losing a strong band identity. I like it best when Trigona pumps out a Joy Division bass line, and then completely drives it into outer space with its gravitational reverbing guitar parts. It’s transcendental music, made for levitation and rising above the daily grind. Stuff to aspire to.

Review + Q&A: Lay Llamas- Goud (2022 Black Sweat Records)

Lay Llamas is an Italian band project featuring Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti (JuJu, Herself) who have been releasing records for quite some time. Their previous record Thuban was released on Rocket Recordings and featured guest artists among which Mark Stewart of The Pop Group, and members of Goat, Clinic, and Julie’s Haircut. Goud (Gold) is just the two of them though, but it definitely sounds as eclectic, if not even more.

What we get is an imaginative jungle of bird sounds, flutes, new wave synths, all kinds of percussion elements, and vocals that sound at times like Leonard Cohen at his very darkest, and at other times like the most lysergic and stoned hippie choir you can imagine. It is dreamy music, and as surprising as dreams can be as well. One moment you find yourself in a primitive hut in Peru chanting shamanic mantras, the next you’re dancing a drugged up dance on heavily pulsating dub beats.

It’s this freedom and complete creative open mindedness that is so compelling about Lay Llamas and their new album Goud. You never know what they will do next, and what sound collage or filmic scenery lurks around the corner. It’s definitely a trip, and a recommendable one at that.

I talked to Nicola Giunta, who was happy to explain what he and Lay Llamas are all about:

 Hi Nicola! How are you, how have you been doing the past years of the pandemics? What has it meant for you as a person and for being in a musician?

NG: Hi, I’m quite well, thanks! 

My past two years were been…busy! And I don’t talk about Covid and pandemic issues as usual. In february 2020 my second child were born. Just at the start of pandemic here in Italy. So I did it as full time family-man.

At the same time this never seen before situation gave me a strange and lovely feeling of peacefulness. So I did a lot of new music, art, video and projects. 

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your daily life?

NG: My daily life: family, everyday job, music, study, visual art, books, documentaries. 

Does the place where your live affect your art? And if so, how?

NG: no, I don’t think so. On a subconscious level maybe. 

I’m all the places in which I lived until today.

How is your relationship with Gioele Valenti? How have you met and how did Lay Llamas come to be?

NG: First of all Gioele is a very dear friend of mine. We met 20 years ago, in Palermo. We’re sicilian both. Gioele is an amazing musician, a real intellectual and a true gentleman.

In 2013 english label Rocket Recordings asked me to write a record as Lay Llamas, so I ask to Gioele to work on lirycs and vocals, as well as some instrumentals. 

What is the typical Lay Llamas style in your own words? When do you know a sound is fit for Lay Llamas?

NG: Basically is about something into past and future at the same time.

Something hazy but clear as well. An epiphany.

Goud actually means gold in my language (gold) Can you tell me about the concept of “gold” for your new album?

NG: The question is: what is really valuable nowadays? Time? Money? Health? Spiritual development? Environment?

So I chose that single word (Goud, gold). Of course I mean not the yellow metal. But something as meant by the alchemist from the past centuries. 

What were your most important outside influences when writing Goud, being music, or anything, really…?

NG: Nothing in particular as all is One. Music comes from the deep. And then goes out.

Do you feel socially conscious when writing lyrics? Is there a certain message you wish people heard when listening to Lay Llamas? 

Sometimes yes. I mean we don’t write protest songs or something like that. Not a proper message in Lay Llamas. A feeling of traveling circularity maybe.

What is the ultimate goal for Lay Llamas to reach? And what are your short term goals?

NG: More Lay Llamas music.

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

NG: Just go outdoor. Take a breath. Stop thinking. Stone thinking.

Nicola Giunta (Lay Llamas)

Die Geister Beschwören – Ghosts, This Is Survival (2022 Ramble Records)

Die Geister Beschwören is an odd duck, in any proverbial pond, really. They are German named, yet they (mostly) reside in the USA, but they travel allover the world and pick up all kinds of (other-)worldly influences along the way too. The result is Ghost, This Is Survival, and it does not sound like anything I have ever heard before, which is of course right on the money for Weirdo Shrine and I was happy they tracked us down and sent us their sounds.

Shall I try to capture these two, twenty minute long, sound adventures in words? Should I tell you exactly what to expect? Will words do it justice? Or shall I send you on your own adventure? An album that raises so many questions might be better off unexplained, but experienced, and unveiled by your own ears as the enigma it is. I’ll tell you one thing though; it is an exciting, never dull trip, through all kinds of nooks and crannies of soundscapes, freaky folk, world music, desert blues, beautiful film music, triphop, and endless oscillations. You will be weirded out, and you will push the repeat button once it’s over.

Unprepared to reveal too much myself, I did contact the band to lift some of its mysteries. Oryan Peterson-Jones was kind enough to shed some light on what’s all going on…

Hi Oryan, how has the past Corona period been for you and your band? (How) have you managed to cope?

It has been astoundingly inspirational, productive and prolific, while equally frustrating and devastating. Luckily, Andrew, Joey, Evar and myself are separated by time and distance, but not as much by “space”. We’ve still been able to communicate and see one another fairly often during the pandemic. We’ve been recording. A lot. We met for a few weeks in Arcata, and then Portland, to mix a briarpatch of new material. We released two albums, one in 2020, and one in 2021. We had the opportunity to play a couple outdoor shows. But… Touring is what keeps our spirits high. We were all very well travelled individuals before meeting. Touring has allowed us an opportunity to mold that lifestyle into a communal creative outlet. Forming lasting connections with folks we meet on the road and constantly learning from new surroundings compliment our music. Not having that opportunity has been challenging, to say the least. However, I think I can speak for the rest of the group when I say putting touring and gigging on hold was the responsible decision to make. 

Can you introduce your band? Can you explain your German band name?

I’ve always been fascinated by Germany and it was the first place out of the States that I travelled to by myself. Adopting a German name was intended as an existential nod towards communication, reconciliation, and rebirth. This is music for healing, by tearing down walls. Initially, Die Geister Beschwören, as an outlet for my solo work, was a jumbled mess of 4-track demos, field recordings, and humble concepts. The mess of material originally behaved as the folk-appendage of my grandiose, psych-rock outfit, Datura Blues. I didn’t begin taking it seriously, or performing under the moniker until 2009. Shortly after that, it evolved into an ensemble effort. Die Geister Beschwören is: Joey Binhammer, Andrew Pritchard (also of Datura Blues), Evar Restad, and myself. Owen Ott III (who I formed Datura Blues with), and Katarina Rohsmann, a close friend from Austria who I met while backpacking through Europe, were both visiting Arcata in the summer of 1999. We had an epic adventure of shroomy sight-seeing, concluding our trip by sitting upon a mossy log in the marsh. A symphony of crickets, frogs, and gentle wind playfully improvised a soundtrack, while bats danced and darted hungrily overhead, showboating their ballerenic swerve and camber. We were tapped into something ancient. A sacred moment. I asked Kat, who was teaching me a bit of German at the time, how to say “…And now, we summon the spirits.” It seemed fitting and appropriate language to commemorate the evening. Summon the Spirits – Die Geister Beschwören. There you have it!

At a first glance there are plenty of enigmas to unravel about Die Geister Beschwören. There’s the band name, but also your extremely separate locations (Portland, Prague, Havana???), and then we haven’t even talked about the music! Can you perhaps talk about your musical background to shed some light on these mysteries? 

Members of the band are physically located in Portland, Davis, and Arcata (though after the past couple years, we may all be somewhat mentally and spiritually adrift). I’m an Ethnomusicologist. My background is in musical anthropology. I travel a lot. Sometimes for on-location documentary filmwork, sometimes to study and explore, sometimes to collect records, instruments, and field recordings. These experiences often find themselves woven into the fabric of Die Geister Beschwören. The songs of birds from Gorée, or farmers hawking their wares on the streets of Centro Habana. Muezzin criers over the Bosphorus, or footsteps on wet cobblestone echoing through the Žižkovský tunnel. A strum of a baglama from Anatolia, or pluck of a kora string from Casamance. I’ve lived on and off in Prague for many years and have a large community of musician friends there. My blood brother, Nick, has called Prague home since 2004. He and I write/record a lot of music together, much of which gets cycled into Die Geister albums. Our latest work, The Immaculate Concussion, was built upon improvisations between Nick and myself in Prague. As a band, we try to include as many friends in our process as possible. This is a collaborative effort, subject to change, though the four core members remain the same. So while there is a defined skeleton beneath Die Geister Beschwören, the flesh and blood, muscle and tendon, cartilage and skin, are malleable. A musical Golem, so to speak.

Your album Ghost, This Is Survival consists of two 19 minute pieces of experimental music. Can you explain how you go about creating such gigantic pieces of sound when “jamming” seems to be impossible at such great distance from each other?

We have come to appreciate the layout and richness of analogue formats (the majority of tracks are recorded onto reel-to-reel, using high fidelity tape). This album is meant to be experienced on vinyl or cassette. Therefore, the material is divided into two sides. There are actually six pieces of music on Ghosts, This Is Survival, interwoven with found sounds and field recordings. That said, so much of our creative process actually occurs in the studio. Recognizing the sacred in a moment. Die Geister Beschwören are devotees of the Great Concept Album, often structuring our material into evolving soundscapes. There’s a lot of improvisation in our recordings, but always grounded by a solid foundation, a riff, an idea (however, those ideas, riffs and foundations are almost always born from a previous improvisation). We all met and began playing together while living in Portland, wrote a bunch of music in the same room and linked souls. Those early rehearsals really brought out the best in each of us, and prepared us for the challenge of working together from afar. I think there was a little concern amongst the group when Evar moved to Oakland, and I returned to Arcata, but that sentiment quickly faded when we reconnected after our first few weeks apart. Now, all the pieces fall back into place wherever, whenever, and however we meet. I like to imagine that by each of us maintaining so many other hobbies, interests, and projects, in a sense, Die Geister Beschwören still “jam” by telepathically feeding off of each others’ creative energy. No instruments required.

The “ghost” theme surrounds your work quite obviously; where does it come from?

It’s a cosmic middle finger towards the limitations of our earthly bodies, and the perception of death as an unavoidable finality. The Spirits of our ancestors hop trains and ride rails between shadow realms, sharing their histories and mythology with the Attuned. Those stories from the beyond are eternal. That’s the electricity we attempt to tap into. Anytime the four of us are in the same room, we are in communion. Conduits. In a broader sense, the recurring ghost theme is also tied to our use of symbolism and sacrifice. We believe in ghosts. We extend an invitation towards an audience of those who came before. We employ theatrics to call up the spirits, but our rites and rituals are conducted with focused determination and pure intent. We are proud spellcasters, sincere in our practice. 

Obviously music like this isn’t aiming at airplay or football stadium sized audiences. Can you explain what it is like for an artist on the fringe like you? How full time can you be about your art? Where do you find your niche? Etc.

Having cut my teeth on punk rock, and growing up in such an isolated region as Humboldt County, commercial success was never of much concern. My inner delinquent and sympathies for tie-dye were often at odds with one another, but a characteristic both the punk and hippie scenes shared, was an emphasis on community. I was lucky to have supportive parents, and a vibrant. tolerant, all-ages local music scene. Experimentation, on many levels, was encouraged. I shunned the mainstream, and spent many years ignorant of music that I would come to enjoy later in life. It wasn’t until I returned from living in Prague that my process of experimentation came to include mainstream and popular designs. Die Geister Beschwören was always intended to be communal, accessible, folk for the masses, while still willing to revel in the mist and fog. To me, being a fringe artist merely means relationships are orbiting within a smaller circle. That ultimately makes connections more accessible, and establishes a negligible distance between artists and patrons. The stage is lower. There’s more inclusivity, humility, a sense of purpose, belonging, and resolve. We have so many kinships with folks we’ve met in our travels, and a thriving community of like-minded spirits here in the States. Family is most important.

What are your musical influences, who are your heroes? And what are you guys currently listening to?

Some of my earliest local influences were Ethan Miller’s and Ben Chasny’s primitive musical efforts (Hooka, Plague Lounge, Eta Corina, My Name is Chris) and I’ve followed both of their careers with enthusiasm. Ben turned me onto a lot of the music I enjoy today. My heroes have always been the people I grew up with (those who made it out of Humboldt and succeeded in their artistic endeavors). Akron/Family are high on the list of favorites, as are The Wipers. Friends in Portland: Rllrbll, The Social Stomach, Crowey. Anything from Sublime Frequencies or Awesome tapes from Africa. John Fahey, Sandy Bull, Robbie Basho, Leo Kottke. Shizuka, White Heaven, Ghost. Khun Narin’s Electric Phin Band has been on constant rotation. Also, I recently revived my long-running radio program, The Difficult Listening Hours, on the upstart station Humboldt Hot Air (humboldthotair.org) Each episode explores experimental music from all over the world, offering a deep-dive into a particular artist, album, country, or genre. In putting together shows, I’ve been turned on to so much new music that it’s almost overwhelming! Recent discoveries include: Pape Nziengui Ngombi, Aby Ngana Diop, Ofege, Dur Dur Band, Modrý Efekt, Phoenix, Meruang Waktu, Dawn of Madness, Indoraza, Dos Mukasan, Fire, Survolaj, Sýček, Mud Spencer, Meridian Brothers, Yasmin Williams, the list goes on…

What are your immediate and long term future plans? Any news about a physical release? Any touring plans?

We are happy to announce that Ghosts, This Is Survival will be released later this year by Australian label, Ramble Records. I was introduced to Ramble Records by way of an American Primitive compilation they released, and am very excited to be working with a label that puts so much care and attention into their catalogue. We are currently promoting our most recent album, The Immaculate Concussion, and shopping it around. Die Geister Beschwören have a couple festivals lined up for the summer and may opt for doing a few out of town shows with a smaller incarnation of the band, but we certainly won’t be booking any big tours any time soon. Things are moving slowly but we will rise again.

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

Hug your loved ones and dig.

Review + Q&A Neon Heart – Livet/Ytan (2022, self-released)

I have a deep respect for fully improvised (psych) music and musicians that dare to dive deep into the unknown. The “jam” to me is an enigmatic thing, and to always jam, and never know how it will end up, is terribly frightening for a control freak perfectionist like me. So for a band like Swedish improv jam band Neon Heart to devote their existence to just that: to float freely without constraint, no verses, no choruses, just to listen closely to each other and go go go. That is heroic.

Not to say that they are the first or last to do it, -cough CAN, cough-, but Neon Heart are definitely one of the few bands I have recently met that are completely devoted to play their music unrehearsed, unprepared, unwritten. Surprisingly the result is not chaos, but a very natural sounding band, mixing up repeating rhythmic pulse with beautiful jazzy horns, subtle postrock guitar noodling, and enigmatic -also improvised- vocals.

Just listen to Livet/Ytan and realize these individuals are truly living in the moment while recording. They are one living, breathing organism together that pulsates and throbs wherever the vibe takes them for an hour and a half, without missing a beat.

I was impressed, and flabbergasted no record label had been willing to take them on for this trip! Feeling the need to tell people about this discovery, I sought contact with the band, and found drummer Magnus Nordén willing to elaborate on his beautiful project.

Neon Heart (live)

How have you guys been during the past corona years? How have you managed as people and as a band?

The pandemic hasn’t been much fun. Even if Sweden didn’t have the total lockdowns of other countries, we did have restrictions that concerned most areas of life – live gigs were banned some periods.

Just before the pandemic, in September 2019, we released our five-track album Trio. We had gathered some momentum, and had decided to self-release a vinyl lp in 2020, Neon Heart. Which we did in May. By then, the pandemic ruled the world, and we had to cancel the release party.

On the other hand, we got very creative. From June to August 2020 we recorded all the material for our third album, temporaria. This happened between the first and second corona waves here in Sweden. After temporaria, we began working on yet another album (our latest release Livet/Ytan) and continued recording for this until 27 October. Then, the second wave hit Sweden, and we couldn’t meet up to play until June 2021.

This was frustrating, as we had a good thing going and were getting great international reviews.

On a personal level, we’ve been okay. Even if we couldn’t play together for long periods, we kept in touch in other ways, because we are also good friends.

Can you introduce Neon Heart to us? 

Neon Heart was started by me in 2006. Our concept is simple: No verse-refrain structure. No written songs. No soloists. Improvisation. Freedom to do what you want.

But this also entails responsibility. If everyone is free to do what they want, it is also easy to swamp the freedom of others. So listening is extremely important.

Neon Heart has had various members over the years, but we’ve been the same five players since 2018.

Neon Heart (live)

What is your musical background? 

As a drummer, I come from post-punk/new wave, and I also play jazz.

Johnny and Petter have a background in post-punk/new wave like me.

Björn was a founding member of Commando M Pigg, a legendary Swedish new wave band.

Daniel has strong links to art music, progressive rock, and jazz.

Johnny played guitar in the first version of Neon Heart, left and then re-joined as a bass player. I met the others through an impro network here in Stockholm.

How did you get drawn into the world of the psychedelic?

I had a penchant for psychedelia when young, I listened a lot to the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Moody Blues, Gentle Giant, the Doors, Cream, Love, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, the Mothers of Invention and other early psychedelic rock bands. Primarily, though, I think I just like long delay lines.

All the other members in Neon Heart have monumental pedal boards, with multitudes of fx boxes, so we all like freaky sounds, I guess.

But we are not that psychedelic as people. I do have round glasses, though.

Can you tell me about the writing and recording process of Livet/Ytan?

We don’t write songs. At all. Not even the tiniest note. Everything we play is improvised. Even Johnny’s lyrics are improvised. We literally never play the same song twice.

During the pandemic we started recording all our rehearsals. We did this since it was almost impossible to have live gigs and we wanted some pressure on ourselves. This resulted in a lot of material.

The tracks on Livet/Ytan were recorded between June and October 2020. I do all the recording, set up the mics, wire up the speaker cabinets etc. I also do all the mixing/production.

I go through the recordings and choose the parts I think are good. I work on those a lot. When I’m happy with the resulting song/track, I present it to the rest of the band for their feedback, which I incorporate, and eventually a finished song trickles out the other end. Our process is very similar to how Can worked.

For Livet/Ytan we chose between 47 tracks, which were all good enough. There are 13 tracks on the album, so a lot of material has never been heard by anyone outside the band, except my wife.

When the track list for Livet/Ytan had been agreed upon, we sent the mixes to Subvert Central Mastering in the UK. Leon Smith there is a great mastering engineer, who has mastered almost all our releases.

We knew that it wouldn’t be easy to find a label for a vinyl version of Livet/Ytan. So, instead of waiting around, we decided to self-release the album as a double-CD. CDs are way cheaper to make than vinyl, and still physical. We had already self-released our two previous albums. Temporaria was picked up by Adansonia after we had self-released it as a CD, so a double-CD was the right thing to do at the time.

Can you tell us about your hunt for a label? What are you looking for? Perhaps some of them are reading?!

I’ve contacted labels about Livet/Ytan. Adansonia released our previous album, Temporaria, on vinyl. However, a vinyl double-lp is a big ask. Perhaps two labels could partner up, splitting the costs for such an ambitious project?

A double album wasn’t the wisest choice, perhaps. But the material we had craved a double album. So, there we are.

What are your immediate future plans, what is your ultimate band goal?

Our immediate future plans include live gigs in Stockholm and Göteborg. We would love to participate in festivals in Europe, and to do a European tour. We would also love to release Livet/Ytan as a vinyl double-LP.

We’re already working on our next album. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I would certainly love it if we could release it towards the end of 2022.

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

The reader should head over to our Bandcamp, listen to our music, enjoy the weirdness, buy one of our albums, help us find a label for a Livet/Ytan vinyl, and invite us to their local psychedelic festival/venue.

Neon Heart, 2022

Einseinseins – Zwei (2022 Tonzonen Records)

The robots are among us! With their highly developed AI they have wormed their way into the mainframe of human conscious and are now taking over music to reprogram us through catchy electronic tunes, 80s wave, and pure and uncut krautrock that will make you shake your limbs robot style. Oh, and they sing in German of course, but that’s selbstverständlich, not?

EinsEinsEins -it’s a lovely bandname, isn’t it- from Germany have definitely embraced their inner robot and are engaging their music through a machine-built 80s mainframe, recalling Kraftwerk, Genesis, and 80s wave bands like DEVO. Total nerd music of course, but absolutely loveable and well executed. I can totally see this rocking some smoking hot chemistry students party on a Saturday night.

The songs are long, but memorable, and varied enough to hold their own separately. EinsEinseins wrote them as such, with a different approach each time, and even though they are total robots, Zwei does not sound repetitive or soulless. Especially for people that grew up listening to a lot of 80s music on the radio their will be plenty of Easter eggs to discover within.

Don’t believe me though, I have been 100% reprogrammed to write favorable things about these German machines. The music did that to me. I don’t mind it either, and neither will you. In fact, by the time you read this while playing their tunes on the bandcamp player, it is already too late!

Q&A with Farflung- 25.000 Feet Per Second (2022 Sulatron Records vinyl re-release)

To travel space is to travel time. Modern day space rockers have always also traveled back in time a bit, specifically to the 1970s when krautrock sprouted from bands like Can, Neu!, and space rock started coming up with the legendary Hawkwind featuring a certain mr Lemmy Kilmister…Farflung is very much aware of this history, being around for quite some time themselves already. Now they are returning to the international stages through the vinyl re-release of their stellar 1995 debut album 25.000 Feet Per Second on Sulatron Records. Cause for celebration of course, and for an elaborate chat with the band’s main two members Tommy Grenas and Michael Esther. Better buckle up for this one, because it is going to be quite a trip into the past and present of this space rock institution!

Can you tell me how you have managed as a musician during the corona crisis so far? In what way(s) has it affected your ways?

Michael:
it has changed everything here. We live in a small town in Italy close to the first epicenter of the pandemic. It’s been really difficult and I worry about how it will effect the independent music scene and what it will look like going forward….
In terms of my own creative practice, the current  vibe has affected it in what ways I am not sure. I will need  a bit of distance, a bit of of time to see in what manner it shaped things.

Tommy:
It did not really effect me that much for a couple of reasons. I moved away from the big city [Los Angeles] about 3 years ago to Ulster county, NY, in the Catskills, and it’s in the forest on the side of a mountain, kinda isolated. I still go back to Los Angeles to do non musical work to keep me financially afloat.

Farflung has never really earned the band much money, and I do get some small royalties from the many Lps and Eps released over the years, but I certainly don’t make any sort of living from it. The band is also spread around the globe a bit, so we don’t just get together and play a lot of shows either. This is the way it’s usually been for quite a while.

It has not ‘Artistically, ‘ affected us either. Michael works on ideas and music in Milan mostly, and I pen lyrics, flesh ideas out and write mostly play riffs, melodies on guitar and make note of them when the urge takes me. As I said I travel to LA to work, and at the end of a job, meet up at Farflung’s 2nd home now’ “Saturn moon “ studios in Yucca Valley, the high desert. I’m joined there by Chris’s Nakatta, owner, multi musican, engineer, and Farflung drummer. Also longtime guitarist and swell guy, Paul Hisher meets up to add to whatever gets created. The core drums, guitar and bass is laid down, and then we flesh it all out between Milan, NY, and Yucca to create something.

We rarely play in the States. I’m just not really into doing that here. But we do love playing in Europe. We usually play at least every couple of years there, and that’s where Corona virus effected us. Unavoidable really, but I have to say we’re not like a lot of bands that heavily rely on that. I really do feel for other musicians and our booking company IBD, who must have suffered through it. We’ll be out again when it passes I hope.

Can you tell me a little bit of where and how you guys live and how you usually go
about your day?

Tommy:

I usually go for a long hike with my dog into the forest, and to the bottom of the small mountain I live on. It takes me through the trees and along streams , rivers ,rock formations and shady areas where I can find mushrooms and plants to take home . After that I usually call into Los Angeles to try to set up work , check in with my friends online, family in Northern Ireland, Michael in Italy etc…

There’s a lot of maintaining and work to do at the house, it’s a constant or nature and the elements can take over fast, but it’s work outside mostly and I love that. We also have our own water now, and a backup generator cos the power is out often. We are subjected to a lot of freakish sudden weather sometimes. My wife Abby Travis is a musician also, and we’ve made a pretty good studio in the old basement dug into the side of the hill. It sounds good. She works there more than I do.

My life is mostly keeping the house alive, then sporadic hard periods of work in LA to make money. I work on music here and there, but it needs to come naturally. Farflung I think has worked this way for a long time. There’s never been an urgency to release something, and we’ve never been on a big label that’s demanding a life on the road or a lot of commercial work opportunities. I don’t think back in the day we would have turned that down, but now we’re groaning old men. It works out ok I guess ha ha.

Michael :
I live in a small town in Northern Italy, on the banks of a river…
The opposite of Los Angeles, things here are slow and quiet….
A day usually consists of, in no particular order
Play with my cats….
House chores
Work on visual art
Work on music
Bake bread
Read

Farflung in 2021

You have been around in the psych/stoner/kraut scene in Europe and the USA for quite some time, what is or was the best time for this scene would you think and why? Can you share some memories?

Michael:
That’s difficult to say, when you’re young everything is new and exciting….
I hope the psych scene will keep rebirthing itself in interesting ways….

In terms of memories there are so many. Maybe meeting people and having the chance to play shows and collaborate. Roedelius, Going fishing with Damo, shrooms with Del and Nik, Dave Catching’s and BOC’s cooking and generosity, Ian Maclagan’s guitar, Hutch’s workshop. Tom Grimley’s noise bombs, Raging Slab‘s farm, Silver Apples, Gong, Amon Duul, Ronnie Wood, weird parties in the hills……I could go on and on and on……

Tommy

It’s always been my favorite genre. I grew up in the world of post punk and alternative, but as mark e smith said, know your history. Older friends and of course John peel taught us of the forefathers of it all, and this is what really interested me. I lived in the shadow of Hawkwind, Gong, and here and now, but it was upon discovering Can, and Neu I really got inspired to make the music I do. Yes, I grew up and played in garage bands in Belfast and the UK doing our version of our punk hero’s etc, but the cosmic route was the grounding rod.

After living briefly in london, I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 80s with this firm in my brain, and what surprised me was that space rock, krautrock awareness was almost non existent. I met some folk like Don Bolles of the Germs, and Damion Romero of Slug who loved the sounds of kraut especially Neu but that was it until I met Len del Rio, my partner in my first band Pressurehed, then Michael Esther of course in Farflung. Pressurehed was a cross pollination of industrial punk, and spacerock. I released about 3 Lps with that band and did many shows in the collage rock underbelly of Los Angeles. I had heard a few bands around the US spacerock scene, but apart from fi, Mars everywhere, alien planetscapes, architectural metaphors, and scattered planets, it seemed like a lot of bands were Hawkwind tributes or rather weak sounding pseudo prog cover bands. Pressurehed , Helianthus, and Farflung were always a movement combining trippy elements to take the influences and move it forward.


I also think as far as Hawkwind was concerned, people totally missed out here on the tribal, freak, political communal intent of the group of musicians I grew up listening to, and being artists trying to create a movement of radical and conceptual sound. Same goes for Amon Duul II, and Faust etc. You had people that were just not in a band for being a band, but movements including radical visual, theatrical and spoken word artists creating a movement. Later with psych I feel, things got really boring and predictable when rather square characters were basing their sound on pseudo metal concepts that I never understood. whilst I somewhat kinda loosely liked some metal, I thought it was mostly a cheesy gag . I still don’t understand the rather silly culture around it other than having a rocking when drunk like for the music, but a chuckle for the content.

Farflung I like to think, was more aligned with things cross pollinating in the early 90s with many influences. Like many folk might have quoted the Butthole Surfers with a rock vibe like Chrome or tg, Loop channeling- seminal Stooges, Spacemen 3 – vibing Suicide, I’d more think of us as a kinda Amon Duul, Ashra Temple, Cabaret Voltaire , sorta thing at the time. That’s just my opinion for what we were doing when we started. We were playing lots of free shows and collage gigs when we started, our roots were firmly planted in that atmosphere. We shared the stage with a very eclectic and diverse crowd of performers and audiences.

Farflung in 1995

Can you tell me specifically about the time 25000 FT was released? What was the status of the band at that time? What was the reception? Did you tour a lot…etc!

Michael:
It was a great time filled with lots of energy and musical experimentation.
Brandon and I were students at Calarts  and were tied into that scene. There were three schools: Calarts, Art Center and Layola Marymount, each had it own little music scenes and they cross pollinated in the East LA music scene……

Tommy:

It was a somewhat  unique crowd of people and performers all trying to create and melt in a mostly non rock environment in Los Angeles based around collage radio and individualism as I just described.

Europe is no stranger to themed events or outsider festivals, but it was rather non existent in Los Angeles where the band was based at the time we started. Apart from the odd event type things set up by likewise minds here and there, it was the usual hair band nightclub like venues where most bands had to run the boring gauntlet to get a gig.

We did not have any desire to be a part of that, so warehouse , art studios, loft gigs were more our thing. Most of these were themed evenings combining mixed media artists and performers. It was not necessarily a rock type thing.

When I met Michael, when his band Helianthus was playing gigs around the Calarts collage area and my band Pressurehed, around punk and loft venues. When Farflung was born, we were writing a lot and playing in this circuit when flipside magazine approached us to record our first lp 25000 ft.

We had known the work Tom Grimlry had been doing with Slug, the Haden sisters, Beck, Rod Pool, Polar Goldicats , Uphill Gardeners, etc, etc, and liked his sound. It was also important to me that there was a diversity and total individualism with each band, with the outcome being equal in productive freedom.

When we went there with our post punky, krauty alternate sounds it was a total un-challenged freedom to create that first lp. We have definitely weaved our way through different periods but the intent has never changed. We continued to play what I remembered as cool events and interesting evenings at that time.

Michael:
We did a few short tours. But it was difficult in those days in the states. We did one with Raging Slab and another short East Coast thing with Nik. Nik Turner and Farflung as the Sons of Cydonia…..

Tommy:
Long tours really weren’t an option.

 We would also jaunt up to sf at that time but that was the extent. When 25000 ft came out it was a very local underground type of deal. We had our fans and people but it was very localized.

During that period we realized demos and the cd were spreading between the collage radio stations and reaching the early networks of diehard spacerock fans. I was also keeping in contact a bit with some of the Hawkwind folk like Nik, Hawkwind guys, and Helios Creed.

Farflung live in 1995

Which or what influences have made you into the musician you are to today? Can you recall the moment you knew you just had to “go for it”?

Michael:
Music for me while growing up, was a thing that was always present. It gave me an overwhelming joy….
Music as well as books and visual art were mysterious and transported me to other worlds.
I just naturally gravitated to towards doing those activities.

I grew up in San Francisco,  the Stones  were playing. Probably the 1972 tour maybe the Winterland. There was footage on the evening news of Jagger dancing around with a huge scarf. To my parents  dismay, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I just wanted to dance around with scarves…I wanted to be just like him but I ended up  more like a damaged Richards. Tommy and I even to this day after a few whiskies  have been known to  break out our Jagger dances….

Tommy

As I said, early Hawkwind, Neu!, Can, Cabaret Voltaire, Amon Duul II, the Fall, This Heat, lots of post punk bands. But I also love early dub, severed heads, soundtrack music ect ect. The biggest influence though is the day to day experience and my band mates around me. I’ve always bounced ideas between me and Michael, and now Chris and Paul.
We’re a band in every sense of the word, I just tend to move rather fast on things and go off the wall here and there. As a kid, I remember the first time I had the go-for-it experience was probably hearing radio Luxembourg playing, neon lights by Kraftwerk in bed one night on a transistor radio.

I was just blown away by the simplicity and change in the rock dominated sound at that time. It really sounded to me like things had moved into modern times, and it did not mean anything to me specifically about synthesized sound or whatever, rather than I was entranced and moved by it. Not long before that, like most kids in Belfast, it was Never Mind The Bollocks. My gran was mortified when by accident she walked into my room when Johnny sung Bodies and dropped the tea tray. Also, they were all over the papers etc. I just loved them and that lp at the time. Fondness but not necessarily influence was watching Top of the pops in Ireland as a kid, Sparks, the Sweet, T-rex, Bowie, all that stuff in the mists of time.

What do you think about the psych “scene” today, is there one? Do you feel there is a lot of support for our music these days? Was it better before, and how?

Tommy
Yes. I am glad that in recent years, Wooden Shjips, Electric Moon, Dead Skeletons, etc are around, but also I the recent past Loop, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, 35007, the Heads etc are making sound. I don’t care for “stoner rock” or Sabbath clone rock, it’s overdone and always has been. It’s time to get over the desert thing. Most bands out there have been over that and moved on a long time ago. As I said before I don’t listen to progressive metal or any metal stuff for the most part, but don’t have any thing to say to people do. It’s their own bag. I’m a bit of a historian, I’m still discovering new bands from the past to this day. I’m a crazy record collector and have a lot of obscure and interesting things. I’m so caught up in discovery, I don’t really pay that much attention to the current. Paul in Farflung turns me on to a lot of new things. Some of them I’m like. It’s a pity we have not toured in a while due to Covid, as it’s a great opportunity to shatter the past and the now in the van.

The psychedelic music scene has of course always had associations with drug use, or at least being inspired by the use of certain psychedelics. In what way have you experienced drugs as an inspiration for your art?

Tommy:
Yes of course. I live up here in the wilds of Ulster co New York. There’s a lot of things growing in our woods, not also for the mind but also the body. I’ve learned a lot. I can’t think of any Farflung lp were it might not have played a part in something. My musical contribution with FF is a form of shamanism in some form or another. What grows is a gift.

Michael:
In my youth, it was about expanding my consciousness. A search for greater meaning and understanding. A type of slowed down focus….a soft world……but that’s a long time ago now. We’ve seen the upside and downside of that path……
In relation to our collective musical work. I am always searching for a kind of feeling inside the sound that we are making, that is difficult for me to locate with words. Sometimes we accomplish it and sometimes not….

Farflung live in 1995

Can you tell me about your current status? What about Farflung should be aware of or waiting for?

Michael:
I am hoping this year will be one of lots of activity. We have lots of ideas we are kicking around….

Tommy
We just finished a new lp that is in the works with Dave and Sulatron records. We are very happy to be working with our old friend. It’s basically mixed but who knows when it will come out.

(The pressing situation in general is quite dire and there’s a huge backlog dave has to deal with due to Covid,. )

It’s mixed and I just finished the artwork. I think it’s a natural progression from all the last Lps. We don’t like to repeat ourselves, but broaden the horizons. It’s a very natrual progress, and maybe this is the most cohesive recording from the most solid lineup of me, Mike, paul, and chris from the past, 10 years or so. It’s a transcendental journey that has the “Farflung flow” that is our signature, passages and journeys through the minds of the disturbed, euphoria, and unknown. I rather happy with it.

Which current artist do you like? Which artist would you like to read an interview with?

Tommy:
I kinda like the psych band A Place To Bury Strangers, but they seem to be getting rather popular and maybe have enough interviews already. Dave from Sula Basanna ‘s Loop Drones lp is astounding, I think maybe you just did one from him. I don’t know really.
I’ve never read an interview with Del Dettmar from Hawkwind. I know he lives alone in Kootenay Bay in British Columbia and has done so for the past 35 years. He played with the band Melodic Energy Commission in the past, but has been steadily making music on the VCS3 since he moved there. He lives alone in a cabin and used to plant trees out there . His music is very interesting and cosmic. I’d love to hear about what’s going on in his world.

Michael:
In terms of new artists Tommy is much more up on that than I am….
Del sounds like a great choice to me …..

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do directly after this interview?

Tommy:
Go outside and look up at he sky.

Michael:
Then look down, dig a hole and plant a seed….

Perhaps- 4 (2021 vinyl re-release Echodelick Records)

The setting: a large, dimly lit room with colorful oily fluids dancing around on the walls and no fewer than fifteen (!) musicians inside tripping their balls off and creating an album of psychedelic prog cacophony for over 40 minutes. There’s members of Acid Mother’s Temple, Giraffes Giraffes, and many more. It’s a modern day acid test of sorts, with each artist adding their own color, slowly and gradually creating their own musical version of a Jackson Pollock painting, not unlike the re-imagined artwork displayed above…

Being new to Perhaps and their style of psychedelic prog wizardry, I read the promo sheet, took in the fact that there was just one song and thus I was bracing myself for 40+ minutes of self indulgent noodling and semi-deep hippie bullshit chanting.

Man was I wrong.

On this fourth album Boston creative leader Jim Haney and his progpack have carefully built a musical juggernaut of psychedelic sound, layers upon layers, making it a wildly creative and extremely musical trip with new nooks and crannies to explore each time you spin it. It’s almost a pity a record has two sides, because this megalomaniac jam was meant to take in all at once, without pause. Only then you’ll travel the same journey, till the “whites of your eyes start to bubble like fried eggs”.

I hear influences from bands like King Crimson, The Mars Volta (vocalist Dave Khoshtinat is a very talented dude), Can, and of course Japanese noise freakouts like AMT, but mostly I hear a singular vision and sound that I wasn’t able to completely trace back to anything. It’s something to take in and experience with all your senses.

Perhaps, live




I found Jim Haney on Instagram, we connected and the following interview was the result:

Hi Jim! How have you been these pandemic times? How did it affect your music? And personally?
Honestly it has been fine for me, no worries really… Musically however it has been very interesting to hear how each individual is handling things by listening to their playing !

Can you introduce the band Perhaps to our audience?

I started Perhaps as a solo project in 2008 and it has only continued to grow and grow. I think some people are drawn together by fate and a similar vision of the universe… music is one of the best ways to create a telepathic connection with people and ultimately “create” something that is much bigger than any of the individuals could do alone. Perhaps is a collective of freaks.

Echodelick Records is releasing your album 4 on vinyl (tomorrow) 28 December, how do you feel about that? Why wasn’t it ever released on Cd or vinyl before (just on cassette)? And what would be the ultimate media to release this 40+ minute monster on?

It’s so exciting to finally release Perhaps 4 on LP. I have been trying so hard to put it out on vinyl for a long time because I’m very proud of it! Echodelick is an excellent record label and recognized what we tried to do with 4. Maybe the ultimate media would be if the album were constantly playing on every speaker in every supermarket, shopping mall and public place in the entire world.

Can you tell about the making of 4? Was there a set plan? Did you write much in advance? 
It was both a very compositional intricate process and a very intuitive / improvisational process. Many elements are structured, many parts are improvised and some of the music comes entirely from sessions that were never intended to be used for this album! It was simply a matter of locking myself in and obsessing over details and layering things just exactly right.

You say in the promo sheet that there were 15 people involved making the record, who were they? How come it ended up so many people? 

With more like-minded musicians there is always the possibility of new perspectives which may not have been previously thought of. It was split like 50/50 between recording live or recording remotely. For instance some of the Japanese artists recorded remotely because it is super difficult to travel here. I would heavily “edit” and manipulate each musician’s parts. It’s my insane vision of music…

What about the recording process? I imagined some kind of super colorful acid test style party…am I far off?

I can’t speak for the other members of Perhaps, however…. yes usually when making a Perhaps album (and especially 4) there was some heavy “mind exploration” going on.

Perhaps is a super spacey sounding psychedelic band, how much of that is drugs inspired? And if not or just partially, what other explanation do you have for that -completely out there- sound?
Again, I only want to speak for myself here and not for the other members of Perhaps. Yes there were substances involved in the creation of 4 but certainly they were only a minor element / tool. Drugs don’t make music, people do!

Can you tell me where your lyrics come from? I mean; “The whites of my eyes boil like fried eggs…” sound hella trippy!

Not sure! Dave (Khoshtinat-ed) wrote the lyrics and he is very intensely creative.

I hear some more modern influences like Acid Mothers Temple and Mars Volta on 4, but I imagine your musical inspiration was mostly mined in the 60s and 70s? Where should we look to when diving into your musical background?

Hanson.

What else can we expect from Perhaps in the future? And will we ever experience the acid test trip live on the European mainland? 

I really really really want to come back to EU. Our last trip there was truly magical, and I’ve been trying to make it happen again. Hopefully soon.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do directly after this interview?
Masturbate.
Perhaps

ST37- Over And Over And Over Again (2021 Pariah Child Records)

Ten people in a band, ten people tripping balls, ten people tripping balls in a band, through your speakers, from all angles, in technicolor stereo sound.

Holy cow.

How?! How have I been ignoring these TEN (or six? sometimes five…) people that have been jamming for over THIRTY years already in this outrageous all out psychedelic freakshow style is beyond me. I am embarrassed to admit it, really. Especially since this is music that SCREAMS to be heard.

Over And Over Again was recorded live during this pandemic on one of the very scarce moments that the band was allowed out, and they fully grasped that opportunity to dive balls deep into freaking space and far, far beyond. I think it is good that they recorded it because the people in the audience are probably still tripping on the after-tremors as we speak and unable to utter anything else than blissful gibberish….

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?! I hear you cry, well, it obviously sounds a bit “live” and raw, but through all the murk and feedback we hear a throbbing beast of a band channeling their inner Butthole Surfers through Hawkwind amplifiers while The Cosmic Dead look down from their astral planes and oversee that it is good. Frantic vocals, frantic feedback, frantic antics, all is very loud and very, very tripped out psycho-delic.

Also it tastes like more, which their is in abundance, both in hindsight (hello 30 year career!) and in the future, as their new full length Ballardesque is ready and waiting to be released some day soon too. It’s almost too much. And that of course, is also highly fitting for ST37.

Interview with Scott Heller (Øresund Space Collective, Doctors Of Space, Black Moon Circle, Spacerock Productions, and many more)

Scott Heller

After having had a wonderful chat with Dave Schmidt aka Sula Bassana, I felt there might be more iconic people in the psychedelic scene that would be willing to chat to Weirdo Shrine. Lo and behold; I got into contact with Scott Heller, who was more than willing to open up about his life, and most of all about his musical accomplishments over the years. It has been quite a trip! From becoming a successful scientist at Harvard to orbiting around the planets with his many space rock outfits, when Dr Space starts something he makes sure it is worth his while. So buckle up, it’s going to be a long journey into psychedelic space…

Hi Scott, how have you been the past Corona period? What has the effect been on you and your art?

It has been quite good in many ways but I miss the social contact a lot. Not getting to see my daughter, my friends, my band mates, etc..  I have an amazing place where I live so I can focus on working on our lands (lots of trees, garden, grass to manage), take more walks with my dogs, spend more time with my lovely wife, Sue. 

Artistically, it has been only great. I painted 110 album covers for the first Øresund Space Collective bandcamp subscriber vinyls, got a new synth and a mellotron micro and Doctors of Space, we have really grown musically, as we were able to play and jam once a month most of the time. I have also recorded a lot of solo material and used this on new volumes of Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip and new collaborations as well. 

On stage with Øresund Space Collective

Can you tell me bit of your history as a person? Where do you come from, what is your professional background, etc, as much as you like to share to our readers 🙂

I was born in southern California and spent most of my youth in Valencia. I was an avid skateboarder and also tennis player and really into rock music. I played guitar for 2 years but then tennis took over my life.  In 1979, we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and I would finish out high school there and go to college in the south of NM, Las Cruces from 1981-1988. During that time I completed my bachelors degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Psychology.  In 1984 I managed a local Albuquerque band with my friend Rob Romero called Max Trixxie. That was my first intro into the music business. The band only lasted 6 months though. Also in 1984 I started a metal fanzine called Metal Madness with Rob as well. This lasted until 1988. In December 1987 I got my masters degree in Biology (Animal Physiology). In 1988, I got married and I moved to California to start my PhD at UC Berkeley, I would spend the next 5.5 years learning, teaching, and obtaining my degree in Endocrinology (the study of hormones).  I also saw a lot of concerts as it was easy to win tickets on the college radio.  I met a lot of very interesting people as well all into music.  After I got my PhD, I was looking to work in Europe but by luck, I met the leading researcher in my field of study at a conference and asked him if he had room in his lab and wrote him and he offered me a position so I was off to Harvard (Boston, MA) for the next 3.5 years of my life. After that I was recruited for a job at the Hagedorn Research Institute in Gentofte, Denmark, where I worked for 14 years before they dissolved the institute and half the scientists left for the University and the other half entered Novo Nordisk. I worked for Novo for 4 more years and then retired from science to move to Portugal and focus on music.  

When did you start being a musician? Can you tell me a little about your developments as an artist from the early days until now?

After stopping playing guitar (my biggest regret in my life!), I did not play music again until 1999, when I used to go to most of the Danish band, Mantric Muse´s rehearsals. Their band leader, Magnus, we were already good friends and hung out and listened to a lot of music through our mutual love of Ozric Tentacles!  He played the guitar and synthesizers in this band so one day he said I should play the OSCar while the band jammed and I started to do that and learn a bit about synthesizers and after a few months decided i need to buy one.  My first synthesizer was the Nord Lead 2. It was way to sophisticated for me but I could straight away make a lot of cool sounds with the presets so I went for that. Mantric Muse´s music was far too complex for me to every be the synth player (not even today!) but we had a lot of fun and this got me into it.  Not long after that I was hanging out and managing the guys in Gas Giant and that was the first band that I really played with adding some spacey wind and bubbles and strange sounds on some of the songs to give it a more psychedelic space rock feel.  That lasted until from 2001 to 2004. After I stopped playing with them, I stared organizing the jam sessions with Mantric Muse (DK) and Bland Bladen (Malmo, SE) members and this lead to the formation of the Øresund Space Collective

Live in Norway

Do you have a philosophy for creating good music? When are you happy with the result? What are the ground rules for making it a success in your view?

My main philosophy for my solo music is to just go for it and try to create something I have never done before and if I listen to it and like it then cool.. Connect up the synths in a different way, use different presets and tweak them and see what works and does not work. Maybe add some strange effects… I want the track to affect you emotionally in some way, be it good or bad, but at least make you take notice.  This is not always successful of course. If not then it just stays in the archive to be revisited later, perhaps or not. If I am having fun, then that is really the most important part. I don’t want it to feel like work…  As far as creating good music in the band setting (ØSC, Black Moon Circle), I just want to feel like I contributing, paying attention, being active in the process and try my best to listen and give the best performance that I can on that day.  I am always very active in the parts after things are recorded, giving feedback on mixes, etc.. 

Can you tell me about a couple of highlights from your career so far?

In my personal life, obtaining my PhD, which was really hard work and getting to work with amazing scientists over the 30 years of my science career, training the Phd and Masters students and publishing papers in good journals that had an impact on the field. This was great.. I am very proud of being able to accomplish this..

As far as music, well, playing the High Times Cannabis Cup with Gas Giant in 2002 was just a surreal and incredible experience… We had so many incredible concert experience. The concert in Leipzig was one of the best we ever played and something I will never forget the way the entire audience and band were just so into and the roar from those 50 people was mind blowing.  I had never felt anything like that in my life..  Gas Giant crowds (outside Denmark) were always so intensely into the spaced out jams we had.  It was an incredible band to play with. Stefan was a mind blowing guitar player (still is!) and never played the same thing any night and he had the awesome backline of Thomas and Tommy.. Jesper was also an incredible front man and what a voice until he would lose it after a few gigs…  The Gas Giant- Colour Haze 5 show tour in Oct 2002 was also totally amazing as we each traded who played first each night and we would change our set every night and this was getting Colour Haze to do the same so they played almost all their songs from the 2-4th records on this tour and Stefan (CH) would jam on an encore or lots of fun stuff.. Great times and cool shows…

When ØSC headlined the Freak Stage at Burg Herzberg Festival, I had never played for so many people. It was people as far as I could see in the dark.. I guess 1000 or more.  We played 3.5 hrs!! Just an awesome experience.   This year when ØSC played the Fuzz Fest in Esbjerg, Denmark, it was our first concert in 1.5 years and it was also incredible to get up on a big stage again and play for people. The lights were so cool and the vibe and even though it was only 100 people sitting down (due to Covid regulations), we played intensely and people loved it.. We have a great video of this show with multitrack audio as well…  There are many more of course.  Recently, we played in this huge church in Oslo and that was unlike any place I had ever played and the audience was so in to it. A really great experience.. 

Black Moon Circle

What is your idea of the psych/stoner scene? How has it developed over time in your view?

I was lucky to be playing with Gas Giant in the mid period of this scene when there were so many cool bands playing and developing and due to Ralph Rjeily (RIP), he managed On Trial and did sound and worked in the studio with Gas Giant, but on the side he worked as a concert promoter. He was bringing a lot of the cool bands to Copenhagen (Nebula, Spirit Caravan, 7zuma7, WE, Motorpsycho, etc..)  I was also writing reviews for Aural Innovations (US), Lowcut (DK), Bad Acid (UK), etc.. so I got a lot of stoner psych stuff to review and knew almost all the bands on the scene.  It was great times for sure. 

In Copenhagen, we had an amazing underground club called Dragens Hule (Dragons Cave) that put on a lot of the psych and stoner bands as well and this was a very intimate place on the outskirts of Copenhagen out past Christiania.  We saw and played many great shows there.  The first 2 times Graveyard played in Denmark were there, Brutus, Orange Sunshine, Asteroid, Siena Root (their first 3 shows in DK), Hidria Spacefolk, La Ira de Dios, Bland Bladen, Seid, Black Moon Circle, many many bands..

As for the scene today, I think it is still pretty active with a lot of cool festivals but I think musically it is very challenging for any of these bands to create music that grabbed you the same way as 20 years ago. It is not easy today to do something new. It has all been done. I have to say I was really blown away by the Lowrider album though, after 20 years they came back and still had that core sound in some way but made an incredible album, even better than their debut!! 

What are your influences? Which artists inspired you to explore the psychedelic realm?

My influences are extremely broad as I like a lot of different kinds of music, just not pop music.  For synthesizers, my greatest influence and inspiration is my old friend Doug Walker (RIP). He had an amazing group of inspired people around him and made a lot of music under the name Alien Planetscapes. Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath are my fave bands from the 70s.  Tangerine Dream of course since I got into synthesizers and Klaus Schulze.  Very adventurous people and players…  I love 70s Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic… 

Psychedelic inspiration just comes from being in touch with the music scene as I am an avid collector and have been reviewing music in this scene for the last 25 years. I am also friends with a lot of people from the scene through my connections with my bands and reviewing music as well.. All these people inspire me to want to keep exploring music and sounds that can alter your consciousness in some way… 

Doctors Of Space at Roadburn Redux

Which contemporary artists do you feel related to these days and why?

Sula Bassana (Dave Schmidt).. We have known   each other since the late 90s and always got on very well and it is hard not to have immense admiration for Dave.  Wow..   He is way more talented than me but we have a lot of similar parallels, with having a record label, doing solo music as well as playing in lots of groups and also bands that do a lot of improvisation.  His band Zone Six was the first band doing totally improvised music on the scene.  I dig Craig Williamson¨s stuff from New Zealand with his groups, Datura, Arc of Ascent, and Lamp of the Universe. I would love to meet him one day…  Jonathan Segel, is also some one I am in awe of and feel so lucky and honoured to have played a lot of concerts and recorded many albums with him. A super talent in the world and he has created tons of great and interesting music.  Uffe or Lorenzo or Guf (as his close friends in Denmark call him) from On Trial, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears, Spids Nøgenhat, Lydsyn, etc… is amazing and inspiring and such a nice person. I used to hang out with the On Trial guys and go and record all the shows, visit them in the studio, and they were always so cool and nice to me. I have a huge respect for Guf and the guys.  All these guys inspire you to just follow your artists heart and make the music you are passionate about. I could mention others as well. Dave W and Ego from White Hills are also very inspiring to me. They are following their musical heart and not doing what people want. They built up a huge following in Europe doing 2 big tours every year playing heavy psych space rock but they are doing something completely different now. They have really evolved. I know they have lost some of that core audience but artistically they are progressing and a lot of artists are not.  I respect that. It has been such an honour for me that they allowed me to jam with them 3x. I hope we will make some music again one day at my studio that I am building. 

You are super prolific, with many bands and many albums 🙂 Can you tell me your secret?

I don’t think there is any real secret really beyond making the right connections and a lot of hard work. I am always busy doing stuff. I can’t just sit around. My whole family are like this. Also, I just try to be a nice person, treat everyone kindly, be there for you if you need me, and I think this makes it easy for people to approach me for collaborations, mixing, mastering. Also, if there are bands I really like and want to work with, I am not afraid of being rejected and just ask. Maybe they want to make music with me or not.  Life is too short and I am on the downhill side now, so every  day is one step closer to not being on this planet anymore as you approach your 60s…

Do you consider yourself more European or American? Which continent do you prefer and why?

There are only two things in life you can´t change and that is who your parents are and where you were born. These are out of your control. I can´t shed my American roots but I also have strong roots to Europe. Two of my grandparents were not even born in the USA (one Spanish, the other Hungarian).  I for sure prefer Europe. I left the USA 24 years ago and I don´t regret it at all. I feel much more comfortable over here. I don´t understand the culture and the politics is just awful in the USA. The people have no say at all.  Very sad..

Can you tell me about your endeavors with your record label? When did you start and how has it been so far?

The first record label I was involved with was Burnt Hippie Recordings, which was started in 1999 with Henrik (On Trial), Lars Lundholm (Black Tornado Studio owner), Ralph Rjeily and myself. We each put 5000kr in. We only made 7 records as we ran into some financial issues as Ralph thought we could get away without registered some of the records with NCB and it all came back to bankrupt us!  You can check Discogs but we released Dark Sun (Finland), Gas Giant, WE, On Trial, Korai Orom and a compilation CD. 

My next and still current record label is Space Rock Productions. This was founded and created by Nicklas HIll (The Univerzals, ØSC).  He had released the first Univerzals CD on this label he had created and I asked if I could be a part of it and we could release ØSC stuff through this label as well and he agreed so I poured like 20,000kr in so we could release Dead man in Space, Live at Roadburn, etc… but it turned out that Nick was a terrible business man and the accountant who we were working with said that Nicks part of the company was not making and only losing money and he would recommend we split the company and Nick had to go.  Anyway, I ran it on my own for a while but then Sabine (my business partner in Hamburg) bought into half the company and now we do everything together and this has been very successful as have had nearly 80 releases in the 11 years since the first one in 2010. It has mainly been ØSC but also other bands primarily from Scandinavia (On Trial, Gas Giant, Deep Space Destructors, Dark Sun, Tangle Edge, Organik, Mantric Muse, Black Moon Circle, Tuliteria, 3rd Ear Experience, Sista Maj, etc… )..
http://spacerockproductions.com 

What can you tell me about your experiences producing? What are the highlights?

Well, I have not really done any real producing yet!!!  It is my dream and now that I will have my own studio, it will be possible. I quess you could say I have acted like a producer to pull together all the musicians for the ØSC studio sessions, suggested styles of music we should try to play and been involved in creating the actual albums from all the sessions and mixing some of them as well.  The highlights would be getting another album completed and seeing the fans really enjoying it. 

Tell me more about the studio you are building!

In Copenhagen I had my own mixing studio in my apartment but it was very small. I have been on some music studio forums for some years (John Sayer, Soundman 2020- Studio Design Forum) and reading books like Ron Garvals- Home Recording Studio, Everest and Pohlmann- Handbook of Acoustics and now Recording Studio Design by Philip Newell, so I have been really into it on a theoretical level and decided I would like to have my own studio. It is a bit late in life to start this but I really needed to do this so when my wife and began looking for houses in Portugal, we needed to have a private place where we could build a studio. It took us 4 years to find the right house and location where we could get permission to convert or build a studio.  It has been a crazy and frustrating adventure to finally have the building next to our house.  Too long to describe here but lets just say we will have a world class 3 room studio finished in 3 months (March 2021).  Built by world class studio builder Joules Newell (his father worked with Gong, Hawkwind, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hillage, and many many more people) and wrote that book above and built studios in the UK.  Joules knows what he is doing. Anyway the studio will be a control room built specifically to provide the ideal acoustic environment for mixing (also 5.1 audio) and mastering. As much money as making the building itself is going into making the control room, so you have a room as good as Abbey Road or other high end studios. The live room is about 35m2 with a high ceiling and amazing acoustics.  We have a great view into the river valley and a very peaceful place (no sound of cars, neighbours or other noise pollution). It will be an inspiring place for people to record and get creative. I am looking so much forward to inviting bands down and recording, mixing and mastering services will also be offered. I hope once I learn how to do 5.1 surround sound mixing (like the master Steven Wilson!!), we can offer this service as I can image a lot of bands in the psych space rock scene might like to have a 5.1 dvd audio release. IT is the perfect media for psych as you can really make it psychedelic and immersive.. We will see.. 

What are your future plans? What can we expect from Dr Space and his bands/label?

Less touring and live gigs and more studio work. A lot of releases and collaborations are planned for 2022 though including these:

2022 ØSC- Sleeping with the Sunworm 2LP (Space Rock Productions SRP072)

2022 ØSC- Zion is Flying LP (OSCLS-009) bandcamp subscribers 100 copies)

2022 Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol 6- Space with Bass II (OSC2022-LS011)

2022 Cosmic Cassiopeia- Music for Late Night Listeners (Self Released)

2022 Albinö Rhino- Return to the Core (Space Rock Productions SRP076))
2022 ØSC- Oily Echo of the Soul 2LP/CD (SRP075CD)

2022 The Dark Side of the Cult- A Tribute to BOC 2CD (Black Widow)- Doctors of Space

2022 Dr Space- Muzik to loze yr Mynd Inn (SRP074)

2022 Perhaps-????- recorded some stuff for these guys
2022 Black Moon Circle- Snake Oil Voodoo Launch (???)

2022 ØSC- Live at Roadburn 2010 CD/DVD (Space Rock Productions)

2022 Doctors of Space-Mind Surgery 2LP (Guressen) 

2022 ØSC-Picks from Space Vol 1-12 Box Set (SRP0XX)

2022 ØSC- Dresden 2019 CD (OSC2021-LS007)

Who knows what else. The material for another Dr Space solo album has been completed and Doctors of Space, we have some great material from the last few jam sessions that I would like to make another release of as well.  And ØSC, West Space and Love will for sure be recording in the studio this year..  Thanks for letting me chat…