Review + Q&A: Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska- Interstellic Psychedelic (2022, Up In Her Room Records)

So the new Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska album…is freaking dense! It’s like they took all their dark thoughts and frustrations with the past pandemic period and channelled them into these five slabs of heavy psychedelic space rock. There’s even a sense of sci-fi horror and evil lurking over Interstellic Psychedelic, oozing out of it. A sense of dread that is fed by the spoken word snippets left, right, and center, theatrically building images of lost souls and dark visions…but keeping their tongue firmly in their cheek at the same time.

Because at the same time that some of this record will give me the shivers, the campy keyboards, the over the top theatrics, and the thick emphasis on spaciness also made me conjure up images of Douglas AdamsHitchhiker’s Guide To The GalaxyInterstellic Psychedelic could well have been one of its hazier chapters. You know; it’s about total death and the destruction planets, but it’s gruesomely funny at the same time. You can totally see Zaphod Beeblebrox throwing down some Pan-Galactic Gargleblasters and rocking out to this in his space ship.

Nothing about their true intentions becomes entirely clear though, and that is on purpose. Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska are true improvisationalists; they love taking things as they present themselves. That’s how you have to listen to this album as well. You’ll never know what lurks beyond the corner, because neither do they! Anything is possible, from playing the electric Kazoo to including a 12-year-old kid’s poetry. It makes this mostly instrumental journey all the more exciting. It moves from dangerous to funny to epic in minutes, like the good sci-fi movies of yore used to. Best thing to do is light one up and let these intergalactic Englishmen take you to the next dimension…

Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska

So with this being the second time I reviewed Snakes Don’t Belong In Alaska, I could certainly not just leave it at that? I had to talk to them! Luckily Aaron Bertram (bass snake) kindly and swiftly replied...

How are you guys doing these days? How did you deal with the dreaded pandemic?

Absolutely awesome. We were very lost in the beginning of the pandemic but I (bass snake) decided to buy equipment to record and produce from home and spent hundreds of hours watching YouTube video tutorials. our first home recording experiment was Electric Bong Water. After finishing that we realized with a bit more hard work we could probably record an album this way, so we set to work on The Eternal Electric Landscape. The strangest thing about it was actually having to write music as everything up until this point was completely improvised. After electric bong water Dan from Up In Her Room Records got in touch about working together. So overall i’d have to give us a pat on the back and say we done pretty well through the pandemic. If you listen to Enter The Psychedemic from the new record the lyrics reflect this.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine readers? Anything people really need to know up front about your band?

Our motto is try everything and anything, record it, see if it works. This mindset has led to the use of things such as electric kazoo on The Eternal Electric Landscape and Interstellic Psychedelic. Our live sets are mostly improv jamming our own tracks loosely. The weirder something sounds the better.

What can you tell me about the making of Interstellic Psychedelic? In what way did your approach to record differ from The Eternal Electric Landscape?

We begun the writing and recording of this record in October 2021 and at first approached it in a very similar way to The Eternal Electric Landscape. However the record slowly started becoming its own entity and we viewed it that way. The last song on the record called Nature Of The Evil Within is A poetic story direct from the twisted psychedelic mind of 12 year old honorary baby snake Layland Bertram (my son). Sound tracked and performed by dad’s band. He won an award at school for it and once I read it I knew we had to work on it to make it into a sound tracked version of the story. So we were taking influence from places we’d not normally think to explore.

How important is jamming and improvisation for SDBIA? How do you make sure that comes across right on record?

It is the core of what we are. Even in this record although it has been written, it was all written and recorded in one take to maintain the core vibe and we stay away from thinking too hard about structure, you’ll never hear us doing verse, chorus, verse, chorus.

You guys are from Newcastle, right? In what way does living there influence you as an artist? Is there a psychedelic scene for instance?

We are yes, although Jarrid is actually Canadian. When people think of Newcastle they think of poverty and a tough social attitude and i think that comes across in our rough and ready, high energy sound. There isn’t much of a music scene at all in Newcastle now, many touring bands completely miss the city. That being said there is still a pretty cool underground scene that consists of many genres working together, which is pretty cool.

In what way is playing psychedelic music and using psychedelic substances interwoven with each other do you think?

Oh dear my mum will be reading this haha, Hi Mum. I think the two are part of the same entity. Psych music, at least our psych music is completely about exploration of the mind and I’d say that psychedelic substances have the same purpose. Although we’re mostly good boys these days haha.

What would you say is your biggest influence, both musically and otherwise?

We all have a similar core of influence, Hawkwind, Floyd, Earthless, 35007, etc. But we all have our own individual musical influences too, myself being into a lot of punk, Alex being into British indie and Jarrid being classic rock and folk. We also take a lot of influence from the psych world in general, people like Kenneth Anger.

What are you looking forward to most in 2022? And in 2023?

We are going to put way more energy into gigging, we’ve all been so buys in our home lives recently. We are currently organizing a short UK tour for the back end of the year and hopefully looking to slither our tails a little further a field next year.

When will your spaceship land in The Netherlands?

We are hoping to put together some mainland Europe shows next year but it’s difficult with finances, if we can get the right deals with promoters so we can actually afford to do it, the Netherlands will definitely be one of our top priorities of places to play.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

Go listen to Interstellic Psychedelic and some of our historical stuff so you can hear the evolution of SDBIA and continue to support your local psych scenes especially the DIY ones. Thank you everyone!

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.

Grombira- Desert Warp (2022 Tonzonen Records)

Grombira from Würzburg, Germany, play “oriental” space rock using electric sitars and traditional melodies to mind travel to a hippie 60s time where everything was a lot more simple and laid back. A time where you could easily tune in and drop out with your Shisha bong in one hand and your favorite Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead albums in the other.

Desert Warp is their second outing, a record like many other independent releases plagued by Corona delays. It has been finished for quite some time, and I reckon that bandleader Ralph Nebl and his fellows are dying to present it in a live setting, where instrumental space trip music like this is at its best.

The record starts with an ode to an Indian Goddess through So Far Goddess, a track riddled with spacey Sitar sounds and ambient oriental musings. It gets a lot weirder next with the extra terrestrial space funk song Alien Communication, which lets in some of those sweet Funkadelic influences and is deliciously larded with weirdo synths and reverb trickery. It is followed by the album’s title track Desert Warp, which is a heavier rocking, desert style jam that has an extremely cool and laid back camel riding vibe through it all. It is also the first track to feature some chanted vocals, although Grombira mostly keeps their jams 100% instrumental. The album closes with the ambitiously conducted Per Aspera Ad Astra, a twenty minute space odyssey that is cut into three separate chapters. It is a long jam, starting out funky, turning more into all out space rock through the middle, then getting very spooky and minimalistic for a while building up to a great crescendo that hurls us all in a desert warp around the milky way again.

It is a lovely instrumental space nugget that will definitely finds its way to the right hippie ears out there. Let’s hope it will also lead to a bunch of well deserved live rituals, because that’s where these spacey sounds belong first and foremost.

I talked to Grombira bandleader, guitar, voice and sitar player “sheyk rAleph” aka Ralph Nebl about the making of the record and a lot more:

How are you? How has Grombira been during the pandemics? Any upsides to it, would you say?

I’m ok thanks. We were stopped like all the other bands and artists. There were lots of plans and concerts cancelled but on the other hand I had time to write and we used the time for sessions. That was a very creative time finally were we encountered layers of our creative personalities. That’s an upside I guess.

Can you describe the process leading up to the release of this album, it’s been a bumpy ride, wasn’t it? 

Well…Our Studio Album was almost done in spring 2020. But due to the right feel and the right moment I decided to listen to our session materials. After one week of listening I realized there were a lot of outstanding sessions, in particular two days with about 6 hours of direct to tape recorded magic. We decided to ask Tonzonen if they’d like to put it on vinyl. After few hours at the studio everything was at the right place. The bumpy ride began when vinyl got rare suddenly and my cover artwork went too complicated to realize. But there was somewhat like a good spirit carrying us… don’t know how but it felt good all the time. We had a lot of fun during the free sessions and I did the cover ideas in one night. Well, after nearly one year we have a wonderful production done which would have never been realized without Chris and Dirk at Tonzonen. Rough times but we went tough through it 🤓

Can you tell me about the writing process and the recordings?

Writing is an ongoing process. We draw a large part of our compositions from the joint sessions. That has always been the way with me and this is how magic hours arise that, with a lot of luck, we also record. It is important that you play authentic, anyway with or without an audience. The idea for the name Desert Warp came about after the title track had been mixed. It was like a wild flight through the desert at night. The track Alien Communication works like a musical encounter of the 3rd kind. I think it has a cool flow and carries the laughter and humor we had during the recording. At: So far goddess I was able to return to my Indian music roots. That hasn’t happened to me in sessions for a long time. With Fred, Achim and Andy, musical journeys through the universe of styles are possible, which I have always dreamed of. This mixture of session flow, humor and professionalism means a lot of fun. At: Per Aspera ad Astra we really went on a journey. The original track was 71 minutes long and unfortunately had to be cut. Otherwise the LP was recorded completely live in the magic caboose. I did the mixing and mastering with Ali Lionnet at Jam Productions which appeared to be really enriching in every moment during the process.

Can you tell me about your relationship with Tonzonen Records? How did Grombira end up there?

I remember that a friend called and told me, that Dirk of Tonzonen asked him about us. We were in the studio at this time and I was working on a few tracks we’d recently performed live and wanted to fit them into a more structured form. Tonzonen seemed to be perfect for us and offered us to produce our first official LP. Since 2006 we had released lots of tapes, limited CDs, limited vinyl singles, EPs and stuff. But my label Sheykwheel music was too small for the next step. With Tonzonen we entered the next level and it still feels very comfortable being able to share authentic non mainstream sounds with our fans.

What are your plans and ambitions with Grombira? 

Oh let’s see. We are all hoping for better times to come and perform live again. In 2022 our studio album and two tapes with outtakes will also be released. Actually I’m working on a few oriental electronic & acoustic jams I did with friends from Canada in 2020. I’m optimistic for 2022 and beyond. Whatever will happen- we are at the right place at the right time. I always had a crush on oriental music and fusion. With Grombira a star gate opened and I’m lucky to invite everyone to join us.

Lamp Of The Universe- The Akashic Field: Review + Q&A (2022, Headspin Records)

Sitar-emulating guitars and snippets of mellotronic violins lead up to the hazy vocal lines of Return As Light, the first song of the new Lamp Of The Universe album The Akashic Field. New Zealand native Craig Williamson has once again taken a dive into an ocean filled with kaleidoscopic transcendentalism, and this is what he came up with.

I thought about how cool it was that we came into contact, just shortly after he was recommended to me by Scott Dr Space Heller in his interview on this very blog. He felt Williamson with his bands Datura, Arc Of Ascent and Lamp Of The Universe was a kindred spirit and wished to meet him some time. On The Akashic Field it is demonstrated where those warm feelings stem from.

The music is a mixture of classic 60s psychedelic rock, intertwined with Middle Eastern folk elements, and extremely dreamy multi-vocal patterns. Further on the album sometimes his spaceship takes flight into heavier, fuzzier, space rock territory. It is music made for mind traveling, and meant to take the listener on a magic carpet ride over multi-colored dunes, acidic green oceans, and through wondrous caverns and glowing riverbeds. It is such a satisfying flight, tailor made for headphone heads, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore by ear for days to come.

Spending the Corona years in New Zealand, Craig Williamson wasn’t too much affected in his daily routines. I talked with him about this and the new record, and luckily he was willing to shed some light on all of that and more…

How have you been in these pandemic times? How has life been in New Zealand for a musician?
For me musically, it hasn’t changed anything. Obviously there has been a few disruptions with work and what not, and life in NZ isn’t quite the same as it used to be yet, but its getting there… fortunately we haven’t been too effected like the rest of the world.

Can you explain what living in New Zealand has meant for your music? What was beneficial, what less so?
It’s hard to say, as I haven’t lived anywhere else and it’s all I know. But from visiting other countries I feel the amount of extra space we have here gives you a different perception, and that seems to help quite a bit. There are downsides to being so far away from bigger scenes, but its something that is known, and worked around, so isn’t so bad I guess.

Can you sketch your career so far for our readers? What are some of the absolute highlights?
My career started in 1999, as Lamp of the Universe…and has slowly expanded in many different ways. I’m about to release my 13th full length album next month (January 2022) and am still excited by the new music I’m hearing from others too. Highlights would be releasing the first Lamp of the Universe album “The Cosmic Union”, hearing about artists I look up to say they’ve heard about me or have said they like my stuff. To be honest all the positive reactions from everyone to what I do is a highlight for me.

Craig Williamson

Can you tell us about the way the new album came into being? How was it written and what did you set out to achieve?

I always write for myself first, and I’m continually writing. But this time around I wanted it to be more energetic, more band sounding, so I think that’s how it’s going to be perceived. I wanted to achieve a bigger sound too, improve the overall vibe by making everything a bit more clear and full.

When are you satisfied with your music? Is there a certain formula for a Lamp Of The Universe song?
There’s no real formula, I just go by what feels right. It’s hard to say when I’m actually satisfied with each track, because you could go on adding things forever, but usually just when it just feels and sounds as close as I can get it to how I hear it in my head.

What music are you listening to these days? Are you more of an oldies guy or do you still like to explore new artists?

I like to explore, constantly. I still love the “oldies” too though. My latest things I’ve been listening to would be Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Electric Wizard, Naz, Mastodon, Adam Geoffrey-Cole, Miles Davis, Napalm Death, Pete Namlook, Klaus Schulze, Archgoat, Laszlo Hortobagyi.

Can you tell me about the lyrical concept of The Akashic Field? 
It changes from song to song so there’s no concept as such. The Akashic Field as a title though could basically be seen as a receiving of all influences, an accepting of all information I can process to create a new album from influences that I’ve experienced over many years.

If you could curate your dream band, who would be in it and why?
I certainly wouldn’t play!!! I’d just watch in amazement!!!! The band would be Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Klaus Schulze, Ravi Shankar and Ringo Starr.

What does the word psychedelic mean to you in the fullest sense of the word?
It means freedom to do what you want musically… to drift into the worlds beyond and back again.

What are you doing after this interview? What would you like our readers to do?
After this interview? Probably have dinner and then, like I usually do, work on new music into the night, and listen to LPs. The readers can do as they please, just be nice to each other!!!

Craig -Lamp Of The Universe- Williamson

Elara Sunstreak Band- Vostok 1 (2021 Sulatron Records)

I hope Elara Sunstreak Band will forgive me for taking a bit longer to review their album than most publishers, but I’m sure they know what it is like because on Vostok 1 they kind of make an art out of “taking a bit longer to do things”; well over fifteen minutes per song to be precise…

So aside from impressively stretching up their songs, what else can we expect from this German quartet? Epicness, packed in psych-laced jam rock with stoner tendencies. Opener Nexus is a mountain taming riff fest, evoking equal parts Tool, Soundgarden, and a quintessential stoner band like Stoned Jesus.

On A Drink With Jim obviously celebrates the Jim of Jims and his Doors of perception with a hazy organ-lead jam that deliciously meanders on in a modern version of The End or When The Music’s Over, not just freely referencing Morrison in its lyrics but also in overall feel and atmosphere. For personal reasons this song is my favorite on Vostok 1. I am a big fan of The Doors myself, and if you ask me there just can’t be enough musical nods in their direction ever. Especially when a band like Elara Sunstreak Band pays tribute but also adds plenty of their own. I bet Jim would agree.

The title track Vostok 1 is, as its moniker suggests a tribute of a different kind, namely to the first manned space exploration to the moon by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. It is a deliciously spacey endeavor, starting off ominous and quietly, and then gradually lifting off into space, to the moon, and back. Basist/vocalist Daniel Wieland narrates the space travel in a epic wailing manner that fits the pace and atmosphere quite well reminding at times of Elder frontman Nick DiSalvo, the way it glides up and down the progressive guitar riffs. It is a constant factor that nicely ties the album together and makes sure its wide variations remain part of a bigger whole.

The album closes with Orange October, the closes Elara Sunstreak Band has ever come to a power ballad. It is a song that chooses subdued guitars and powerful chorusses over amplifier violence, and it closes this epic album off quite well. Vostok 1 shows the listeners that some less is not more, and that sometimes just jamming and losing all sense of time and place is the way to go. All the way into space, and far beyond.

Saturnia- Stranded In The Green (2021 Sulatron Records)

If you don’t listen too closely you might think Saturnia is an archetypical hippie band: lush Floydian influences, sitars, reverb blankets, the works. However, if you listen to the lyrics and truly understand what this Portugese entity is about you might find out he’s more punk than a lot of leather-clad spiky-haired people out there. Take Keep It Long, a manifesto about going against the grain: “don’t do as your told/never ever grow old”. Keeping it long, both your hair and your songs, is what Saturnia is all about, and they don’t give a damn what anybody thinks. That’s punk rock to me.

Musically the influences range from Syd-era Pink Floyd to Lazer Guided Melodies-era Spiritualized. Let’s just say there’s a lot of reverb drenched repetition on this album, a lot of sleepy laidbackness, and somehow still a level of urgency and steady confidence. It’s clearly an album launched by an artist who knows the ropes, has been there and done that, and makes music because he has to, not because he desperately needs you to listen to it. And yet, you do.

You’ll need Stranded In The Green because especially in these times you need someone to tell you to relax, trust yourself, and not get caught in the ratrace of the daily grind. I wouldn’t be able to find a better way of telling yourself this than immersing yourself in the green smoke clouds of Saturnia. Not because you need to not care, but because you should.

Stand your ground, put reality in perspective, chill out. Peace.


Taras Bulba- Soul Weaver (2020 Riot Season Records)

I spent some quality time with Soul Weaver, the second album by Taras Bulba on a snowy afternoon. I wasn’t supposed to, because I have this “rule” that I only review “new” music, for fear of becoming swamped with music to listen to. However, Fred Laird (of Earthling Society fame) and his rich music background somehow convinced me otherwise, and I am glad I did. For Soul Weaver is a very rich album, that takes the listener on a journey through many different sound countries and colors, from heavy guitar driven psychedelic freakouts to contemplative shoegazer musings, even something that could be classified as “world music”, and more.

The production value and just sheer un-commercial approach in which the album is set up makes it feel like a tough little oister to crack at first; but once you have cracked it open it will reveal all its colorful pearliness and shimmery shine. It encourages you as a listener, to make an effort to join this trip, and once you are well and truly prepared, you are ready to explore this brave new Taras Bulba world.

Enter the Taras Bulba brave new world here…

Diving deep into Soul Weaver and a deep 50+ minute psychedelic experience later, it is incredible to think that one man made this in a small confined space during lockdown. It feels rather the opposite of that, and it is so comforting to know that you can really go anywhere in your mind through music. We are free when we have creative power.

Fred Laird

Thankful for the experience, I contacted Fred Laird to shed some light on his creation. This is what he said.

Hi Fred! Could you give a little background about Taras Bulba? I have listened to Earthling Society a lot, and we even shared a label (Nasoni) for a short while when my band No Man’s Valley released Time Travel in 2016. It seemed to me Earthling Society gave you plenty of artistic freedom, so why did you feel the need for a different moniker? 

In 2018 I decided to end Earthling Society. It was straight after our release Mo The Demon. The main reason was I felt that the line-up we had from 2014 to that time had basically done all it could without churning out the same stuff. Spacerock is a pretty limited genre and I fell out of love with it in a major way. I also felt the band was losing interest. We’d hit many obstacles along the way, struggled getting prime gigs and festivals and I think everybody started getting weary. Our live sound which was pretty formidable in 2016 was a shadow of it’s former self by 2018. You gotta know when to quit. The band members took it a bit harshly though.

Taras Bulba is just getting to branch out, experiment and not be boxed in by a particular genre. If any genre fits Taras Bulba then its ‘weird’. I think it’s a bit of a curate’s egg to some listeners but I’m fine with that.    

Could you describe your Corona experience and the effect it had on Soul Weaver? 

We had a very sudden bereavement in the family just as the first lockdown was about to start in April. It was a bolt out of the blue and effected us in many ways. When the lockdown started and we couldn’t work we kind of got trapped with this overwhelming loss. So to focus we tried to be creative as a family and as individuals. I converted the spare room into a DIY studio, bought a piano, new instruments and just started making more and more music and trying to develop my very basic production skills. I love those DIY albums from the early days of RNR like Hasil Adkins, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Link Wray’s 3 track recording debut for Polydor. That’s the kind of sound I try to replicate, raw and primitive.    

One of the things I love most about the album is that it feels really like a journey and that it kind of lacks constraint; it has a lot of different “feels” which I really like and which keeps it really interesting from start to finish. Can you explain that? Does your geographical position have anything to do with that? (being close to the sea?)

Yeah I think it helps by not being pigeonholed to a particular genre so I can venture anywhere I please and although the genre changes it still is un-mistakenly Taras Bulba. I think the geography of where I live has a lot to do with it. Fleetwood might as well be Nowheresville. There’s no music scene, no like minded musical souls and if you shut off what you hear on the internet then the music you make isn’t really going to sound like anyone else. It’s like being marooned on a desert island with some coconuts and a guitar made from a warthog carcass. You’re not going to sound like U2. That’s what Taras Bulba is. I’m Ben Gunn of the new psych scene.    

Can you shed some light on the lyrics? You wrote you were sub-consciously inspired by a novel? How does that work?

12 month’s before recording ‘Soulweaver’ I’d read this book called the ‘Sea Priestess’ by Dion Fortune. It was about this guy with a health condition who meets this occultist and through magick working he gets better, falls in love with her and discovers she’s the Egyptian goddess Isis incarnate; like you do. It’s a charming period piece but frankly it’s also a bit shit and as I remember a bit of a labour to finish it. Anyhow I started draughting these lyrics to ‘Moon on the Tides’ and ‘ Tethered on the Wheel’  and was like ‘Where have these ideas come from? It was all very automatic and very quickly written; I don’t remember pondering much on the lyrics. When I realised, I went back to the book and drew similarities to certain paragraphs. It was very odd.

I also live only a few hundred yards form the Irish sea and I think the early spring walks and the stormy weather at that time; with crashing waves and such definitely weaved a bit of magic.  

Playing psychedelic music, does drugs play any role in your art at all?

No I haven’t done drugs for a very long time. In the early days of Earthling Society there was a lot of amphetamine and magic mushrooms and lots of booze. I quit drinking a year ago and I don’t smoke weed. I did grow some magic mushrooms and was getting truffle microdose kits during the summer of 2020. I thought it was helping my creativity but when I stopped it didn’t change a thing. It’s left me with a lack of conviction to the whole microdose thing. I practice Martial Arts, do regular exercise which adds elements of yoga and meditation and that’s the best drug for me. A peaceful mind is the best for creativity.   

You have been at it for quite a while now, what is the highlight of your musical career so far? And what would you have loved to do differently?

We’ve had a few highlights. Roadburn was a good one in 2007, playing Berlin, supporting Julian Cope and Damo Suzuki. Damo and I sat together on the merch stall, selling his stuff which was fun and then he gave me a hug afterwards. There’s been a few good things.

Ah the things I would love to do differently, ha where do I begin. Never have a professional synth player. Never have synth players girlfriends as backing singers. Don’t travel down the prog rock route, stay close to your vision and don’t let anyone interfere. Don’t turn down a mini tour of Eastside USA and don’t enlist musicians who can’t play but you keep them in the band anyway because they give you free drugs and so forth.

Julian Cope sent me a great letter once. It was after the release of our second album for Nasoni which was also the debut of our first keyboard player. He wrote ‘ Your keyboard player ruined your album and made it cack – Love Julian’ haha brilliant.

What are your goals for the near future, and the distant? What is something you would still like to do as a musician?

I have just finished the third Taras Bulba album and I feel it’s the best thing I have ever done. Total control, freedom and plenty of time to do it to. It’s the first time I’ve spent over 6 months on a project. I have a wonderful female vocalist contributing to the vocal tracks and a killer saxophonist on 3 tracks. It’s a great thing that incorporates all the influences that have been close to my heart forever – from Rowland S Howard to Big Star, Cocteau twins to Bohren and der Club of Gore.

Final question: can you provide us with a list of your most important influences?

Here is my top 10 in no particular order

1. Dub me crazy — Mad Professor
2. Black Earth – Bohren and der Club of Gore
3. Room full of lights – Crime and the City Solution
4. Heavier than a death in the family – Les Rallizes Denudes
5. In den garten pharaohs – Popol Vuh
6. Low – David Bowie
7. Easter Everywhere – 13th Floor Elevators
8. Music for Zen meditation – Tony Scott
9. Cocteau twins – Head over Heels
10. Lucifer Rising – Bobby Beausoleil

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