Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tapestry of Delights Expanded Version review and interview with author, Vernon Joynson

After eight long years, British music historian Vernon Joynson, offers up this brand new revised and expanded version of his seminal work chronicling UK Rock & Pop Of The Beat, R&B, Psychedelic & Progressive Eras between 1963 and 1976. The new edition contains far too much information to be contained within a single volume. The result is this massive two volume, 2064 page tome published by Borderline Productions and it is more than double the length of its 2006 predecessor, and triple the length of the original 1995 edition! This is no mere update, however, as many new features have been added, and each and every entry has been lovingly and meticulously rewritten. As the author has commented, “this book is lovingly written and compiled by a collector (helped by other collectors) for collectors and lovers of sixties and seventies Rock & Pop.”  The resulting set indeed lives up to its lofty ambition of being "The Ultimate Guide To UK Rock & Pop Of The Beat, R&B, Psychedelic & Progressive Eras 1963-1976."

So, what does the purchaser get in return for his or her hard earned currency? As with previous editions "Tapestry" consists of individual entries for each and every band or solo artist, presented in alphabetical order. The entries have, as the title implies, been painstakingly revised and expanded, greatly increasing their value to collectors and fans alike. In addition, hundreds of new entries (large and small alike) have been added to this new edition!

What information is contained in the entries you may ask? First of all, an alphabetic list of personnel and the instrument or instruments they play. Where more than one line-up occurs, they are likewise listed alphabetically. The personnel information, in conjunction with the artist or band's album discography, indicates which album or albums (vinyl and CD alike), if any, the individual played on. The extremely detailed album discographies include the title of the LP or CD, the label and catalog number and the year of release, along with comments on original releases and reissues alike. Where more than one has been released, they are listed in order of release. Compilation albums and CDs are indicated as such in the listing. Unlike previous editions comprehensive information about overseas issues and reissues is included, greatly expanding the discographies of many bands.  The incredible amount of information regarding original and reissue releases alike makes this new edition absolutely essential for every collector’s library.

An exhaustive section devoted to retrospective compilations of artists' recordings is included where applicable. Detailed descriptions of the compilations (number of tracks, inclusion of essential recordings, rarities, etc.) are given as well as the title, label, catalog number and release date being included. Information regarding box sets and multi-disc releases are covered in this section with an emphasis on the most comprehensive releases available as well as comments on releases to be avoided or purchased with caution.

The extensively detailed discographies of EPs and 45s are listed in order of release, but unlike previous editions the EP discographies now include detailed track listings, and overseas as well as UK issues.  The EP and 45 discographies also contain label, catalog number and year of release information, all absolutely essential information for collectors.

Without question the most important addition to this new edition is the "About The Band And Its Music" section which offers extensively detailed descriptions of the artist's sound as well as detailed analyses of the music and in many cases critiques which serve as an invaluable tool for collectors, aiding them in deciding which bands and/or releases they pursue. This addition alone may well be worth the cost of the book.

Following the tradition of previous editions the new two volume edition is profusely illustrated. Hundreds and hundreds of photos are interspersed throughout the text. Furthermore, each volume has an 8 page full color section devoted to album cover art.

Lastly, the UK rarity scale has been completely revised. LPs, EPs and 45s which are rare and sought after have been given a rarity rating. This scale acts as a guide to the value of particular releases and is yet another reference tool for collectors. 

Great care has been taken by the author to assure the accuracy of each entry's contents. With a work of this depth and breadth quality control is of utmost importance. Having given the volumes a thorough examination I can attest to the accuracy and detail contained within the two volumes. It is at once quite obvious that this project is indeed a labor of love executed with incredible passion by the author.

The two volume "Tapestry Of Delights" is available in two formats. The softbound edition is available from both and and can be obtained in the US at a cost of $100 give or take, and in the UK for comparable prices. There is also a strictly limited, numbered (600 copies) hardback set which can be obtained from fine booksellers in the US and UK. The cost of the hardbound copies is approximately $250 plus shipping in the US and 100-125 pounds sterling plus shipping in the UK. I must add that the faux leather bound copies with gold embossed lettering are absolutely breathtaking!

To sum it up, "The Tapestry Of Delights" is, without doubt, the seminal work regarding Rock & Pop Of The Beat, Psychedelic & Progressive Eras from the UK between 1963 and 1976. It should be a mandatory part of any true record collector's library and essential reading for music collectors and fans alike. The only real question is whether to purchase the hardbound or softbound edition. You can't go wrong either way!

It’s Psychedelic Baby Magazine has a few questions for Vernon Joynson
Author of “The Tapestry Of Delights Expanded Two Volume Edition”

Hi Vernon, thanks for taking the time to tell our readers about your seminal work on UK Psychedelic & Progressive Rock “The Tapestry Of Delights.’

What inspired you to write “Tapestry Of Delights” and how did you decide on the title?

When I was building up my personal collection in the late seventies and early eighties I was frustrated by the limited coverage that many of the Rock & Pop encyclopaedias of the time gave to the albums I was looking for. I set out to try to rectify this and ensure that many bands who may not have got the recognition they deserved originally got more acclaim retrospectively. I wrote my first book “The Acid Trip” an introductory guide to psychedelia in 1982. This predominantly covered the US & UK and as I delved deeper and deeper into the subject matter I produced further volumes under the title of “The Flashback” (first published in June 1988). 

By the early nineties I decided to start work on a trilogy of books whose scope went wider than psychedelia. In any case it had proved quite challenging deciding which acts should and should not be included in the earlier “Acid Trip” and “Flashback” books, as many acts went through a psychedelic phase in the 1966-1969 era, whilst their music in other eras was not psychedelic. Incidentally, both of these books are outdated now and I would not recommend that you buy them. If you want to purchase any of my books always go for the most recent edition of the trilogy below.  

The first part of the trilogy was “Fuzz, Acid and Flowers: A Comprehensive Guide To American Garage and Hippie Rock 1964-1975”, which was first published in August 1993.

The second part was “The Tapestry of Delights: The Comprehensive Guide to British Music Of The Beat, R&B, Psychedelic & Progressive Eras 1963-1976”, which was first published in September 1995. 

The final part of the trilogy was “Dreams Fantasies and Nightmares From Faraway Lands: Canadian, Australasian and Latin American Rock & Pop 1963-1975”, which was first published in September 1999.

I thought of all these book titles (not all at the same time) whilst lying in the sun and thinking deeply in our back garden!! You don’t get a lot of sun in England and I find I’m often at my most relaxed and creative when I’m savouring it and no-one else is around!

How many pages long was the first edition of The Tapestry of Delights” and how many artist/band entries were included?  How many copies were printed? 

The first edition was 600 pages long and I think around 4,000 copies were printed. I don’t know how many entries were included but the book’s scope aimed to cover mainstream Rock & Pop, Merseybeat, R&B, folk, folk-rock, jazz-rock, blues-rock, psychedelia, freakbeat, glam-rock and progressive rock. The scope of the book was much wider than the Fuzz book because the UK is a much smaller country and had far less acts in this era.

The book was reprinted in September 1996 and again in June 1998.  I think each reprint had a supplement at the end with some additional information.

Wasn’t there an online version of “Tapestry” at one time?”  Who came up with the idea?  How was it maintained and how long did it exist?  How did this affect the number of hard copy books sold?

There were online versions of all three books (“Tapestry”, “Fuzz” and “Dreams”) for a while. They were devised and maintained by the publisher but it became too time-consuming and it did affect sales of the hard copy books. In short it became uneconomic to continue to do this.

When was the updated “Tapestry Of Delights Revisited” published?   How many entries did “Revisited” contain?  How many copies were printed compared to the first edition?

“The Tapestry Of Delights Revisited” book was published in May 2006.  I don’t know how many entries it contained, but there were certainly a lot more than in the 1995 edition. It was 978 pages long and I’m not sure how many copies were printed, but it would have been in the region of 3,000.  There was also a reprint in 2008.  

Now, regarding the new Expanded Two Volume Edition of “Tapestry.”

When was the decision made to expand “Tapestry” from one volume to two?  How long did it take to complete this massive project, from conception to publication?  

When I started on the latest revision I was aiming for the book to be the same sort of size as the September 2010 revision of the “Fuzz” book, which was just over 1,400 pages. 

However, with the much more detailed discographies, more comment on the music and many more new entries, it soon became apparent that the book was going to be too large to be bound as one book, especially if I wanted there to be a hardback edition too, which I did. So mid-way through it became apparent that to include everything I wanted the book would have to extend over two volumes. I do feel bad about this because it is inevitably more expensive and heavier for the punters as a result.

It took four years of intensive research to complete the latest version of “Tapestry”. If I hadn’t retired from my full-time occupation in October 2012 it would have taken considerably longer. Retirement has freed up much more time for me to work on the books, but I have quite a lot of other interests too, so I always have to juggle my time to fit in all the things I want to do, even now.      

How many pages are contained in the new edition?  Can you give us an idea of how many entries are included?  How does this compare with the previous editions? 

Volume 1 (A-K) has 1,024 pages plus an eight-page colour section.
Volume 2 (L-M) has 1,040 pages plus an eight-page colour section.

So, 2,064 pages in all, plus 16 pages of colour. 

I’m sorry but I don’t know the precise number of entries.  It would take a long time to count them, but there are many, many more than in the 2006 edition and almost every entry has been rewritten and expanded. If you own the earlier editions I think you will want this and it should make a great present for serious fans of music from this era.

The volumes are profusely illustrated, each containing an eight page section of full color album cover art, and photos accompanying hundreds of the entries.  Do you know how many photos adorn the two volumes?  How was it decided which album art to include?

I’m sorry I don’t know precisely how many illustrations in all are included but we aimed for one black & white illustration per page (except in the compilation section at the end of volume two).  I have a computer whizz friend of mine called Ivor Truman who does all the lay out of the books (included the colour sections) alongside a full-time job. I give him some guidance about what to include but he has a lot of local discretion too. We aim to use the original album cover art wherever we can, but in the case of many entries the artists did not make albums or we don’t have access to them so we have to use CD covers and retrospective compilations, etc. I am much indebted to Ivor. I believe he always does a great job for me. I am also very grateful to my good friend Bill Allerton who supplied lots of interesting illustrations for this edition too. 

Since 1994, the cover art for all my books (except the punk one) has comprised extracts from paintings by the artist Andrew Linsell. I am very grateful to him and to Richard Allen, the former co-owner of Delerium Records/Freakbeat who originally put me in touch with Andrew.  The feedback I get on Andrew’s covers is always very positive. 

Entries contain extensive descriptions, complementing exhaustive discographies, of artists’ music and in many cases offer critiques to aid collectors in deciding which bands and recordings to pursue.  How was it possible to realize this most ambitious goal?

Well it took a lot of very careful and time-consuming research to compile the discographies, which are far more detailed than in previous volumes. Keeping abreast of all the reissues is particularly challenging and I have several sources I work from.

The ability to listen to so much more music online in the last few years (for example, I never cease to be amazed by what I can find on utube) has made it easier to comment on the music of a much wider range of artists than was possible in earlier volumes, when I was largely reliant on my own collection and comments and tapes, etc from other collectors.   

The two volume edition is available in two formats.  How many copies of the softbound version are available and where can they be obtained?  There is also an absolutely stunning hardbound version available.  How many copies of the limited edition, hand-numbered, faux leather with gold embossed lettering were printed?  How can readers obtain these hardbound sets?

I think around 2,500 sets of the softbound version were printed and they are widely available from most of the outlets you’d expect to purchase a music book from. I don’t think anyone will have a problem finding a copy, but they may have to shop around a bit for the best deal.

The hardback version was commissioned by a distributor called F. Minor who is handling its distribution exclusively. Just 600 hand-numbered books were printed.  (Back in 2007 the same distributor handled a hardback version of 2004 edition of the “Fuzz” book).

If you live in the UK or Europe you can obtain a copy of the hardback 2-Volume Set of “Tapestry” for £99.99 plus postage from F. Minor, Unit 8, Commercial Mews North, 45a Commercial Road, Eastbourne, Sussex BN21 3XF, Tel: +44 (0)13-2373-6598, Fax: +44 (0)13-2373-8763 or e-mail

The list below is not exhaustive because some stock went to distributors so we’ve no idea where they’ve ended up, but I’ve listed other outlets who currently stock the book.

If you live in the UK, stockists include Rough Trade, Heyday, Spin or Juno. If you live in Germany try Ohrwashel. In Japan try Disk Union and in the US try Lion Productions and Doug Larson. 

If you still are having problems getting a copy e-mail or, but please note that Borderline Productions do not supply copies directly themselves.

Thank you so much for participating in this short interview and congratulations on bringing this most ambitious project to fruition.  Is there anything we have not addressed that readers should be made aware of?  Any final thoughts for our readers?

It’s been a pleasure answering your questions. Thank you for taking the time to think of the questions and for allowing my project the space on your website. Whilst I do most of the writing of these books myself, I also have a small band of helpers for each project. I always include credits for them in the Foreword of each book.  For example, US garage expert Max Waller has played a key role in “Fuzz” books in the past. For the latest “Tapestry” volume, folk expert Mike Warth and freelance music journalist Nick Warburton have been my main helpers, but there are other too who are detailed in the book’s foreword.

To my readers, I do appreciate that you are being asked to pay quite a lot of money for these books because of their size and weight (particularly when they are purchased overseas). For this reason I will be sticking to single volume books in the future, so I hope you will view this particular purchase as a one-off.

Finally, thanks so much for all the support you’ve given to my projects to date.

Review & interview made by Kevin Rathert/2014
© Copyright

* Our interview with Joynson from 2011 can be found here.

Balduin - All In A Dream (2014) review & interview

Balduin "All In A Dream" (Sunstone Records, 2014) 

I was just thinking there, after listening to this astonishingly groovy set again, and also some of Balduin's previous Rainbow Tapes material, that this is actually how I imagined Nick Nicely could’ve sounded had he also thought to create his very own LP back around the time of 'Vox Dreams' and the great 'Hilly Fields' single, that were issued (the latter on EMI) at the very beginning of the 1980s.
However, putting such strange, odd little parallels aside, let us now meet Balduin, Switzerland's supremely gifted solo artist / multi-instrumental playing,  one-man band sensation who is currently, and effervescently so, keen to embrace many of the wide-eyed, wide-ranging, not to mention inherently melodic waves now being brought back, and forward (again and again) into focus. In doing so it’s creating a beautiful swirling movement of flowing sounds that are now cresting on a sea of mindblowing pop-style psychedelia; this daring do perhaps even more so than the likes of fellow journeyman Jacco Gardner; and all manner of other wily, enquiring, relatively young minds that are operating and experimenting from as far afield as Britain, and Spain, to California and beyond in these last few years. And now Switzerland!
Torn between the frequent accessibility of the pre- '68 / full-bearded Beatles goings on and some of the thought-provoking angles and intelligent pop-absurdism that emanates from the recordings by early Pink Floyd, Donovan, Incredible String Band, Jason Crest and, say, well just for argument's sake Boeing Duveen & the Beautiful Soup. The last I mention because of our hero's seemingly abiding passion for Dr. Hutt's oddly strange and weirdly prescriptive formula; not only has he covered the confusingly brilliant 'Which Dreamed It' right here within the grooves of All In A Dream but he’d already thought to include a hugely tasty version of the Duveen's wickedly whacked-out topside wonder 'Jabberwock' as part of a liquidly languid golden pearl of an EP issued earlier this year called The Glamour Forest.
However, it's perhaps in the sheer breadth of seemingly fearless musical and lyrical glad-roaming found within the words and music of some of his own self-composed works that the indomitable spirit of Balduin is at its most creative; highly-charged, and spanglingly illuminating. This is where the likes of 'Kite Come Back' with its filigree air, the instantaneously grasp of 'Change', 'Glamour Forest' itself (the shimmeringly beautiful cut that's not included on the EP of the same name) and the altogether more spiritual sounding and highly personalised tones he adopts in 'Father', plus many more palpable, tangible, kinetic, Lennon-esque passages ... Some of what's happening within is difficult to aptly describe, and perhaps what each individual recipient also feels will be different, like the rise of some new, or at least untapped emotion breaking through; music like this can sometimes be that with us as the conduit as we drift into reverie, or zone out completely.
Many of the selections here add such extra-appealing features as mellotron, sitar, flute, plentiful juicy fuzz licks, plus a whole kaboodle of passionately executed simplistic, effective drum patterns and deliciously played soft guitar strummings. So as you can imagine, there's more than enough to make a whole new world of intrigue and mystery for you to explore. Everything heard seems to weave to and fro enmeshed in sets of well-chosen lyrics, and well-placed vocal rhymes; some new, others borrowed, some ching, others vibrate while one or two disappear almost as soon as they arrive.
Almost instantly the rewards will be most obvious whichever way you look at it and, in fact, almost everything Balduin has utilised here works in some practical way or is an artistic endeavour that helps formulate what is fast becoming one of the modern music world's most excellently realised psychedelic art-pop aural installations! Hear, see, feel, float, trip!

Balduin interview conducted by Lenny Helsing September 2014

Lenny Helsing: Well I suppose the first thing to establish really is when did you get into music in general, and more specifically, how and when did you then migrate towards the psychedelic sounds of the 60s?

Balduin: My first musical instrument I learned was Swiss dulcimer. I could choose which instrument I wanted to learn. My music teacher said my hands could play every instrument I would like so I chose the dulcimer. Later on I switched to classical guitar and took some beginner's lessons and learned picking basic chords. From then on I started to cover and recorded demo tapes for myself and formed a band with my friend who played the drums. We were the youngest band in our village and played in church and several other occasions.

How long have you been writing songs, and what kind of songs did you start out writing?

To be honest some of the songs or bits of it are on "All In A Dream". ‘Autumn’ for example is one of my first songs I wrote when I was around 14 years old. Playing guitar really helped with writing my own songs and learn from playing covers like ‘Arnold Layne’, ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Blackbird’. But the dulcimer gave me the skills in hearing and playing notes immediately.

One can detect some of the prime influences that pop up in your songs, first a few on the "Rainbow Tapes" set then a few stronger realisations on your first UK release the fantastic EP "The Glamour Forest", and also now being heard throughout your debut LP which is also on the Sunstone label, "All In A Dream", such as the Beatles, early Pink Floyd, a touch of the Incredible String Band too perhaps, and a few more besides from the English '67 scene, but I wonder if you could tell me which names have had the most impact on you as a songwriter and creator in this regard?

Today I would say all of them now and even more bands I still don't know ;). But before deffo The Beatles and the early Pink Floyd. The ISB came much later when I was exploring Gong and Krautrock. Much of the music from the 60s I discovered through listening to "modern" music like The Orb, KLF, Boards Of Canada, Ultramarine, Wagon Christ etc.. They sampled and mentioned them in their music so I was more curious in the roots than what is going on today. Without knowing of the ISB I would have definitely missed a bright spectrum of what's in the music. Thank god for knowing them.

You play all the instruments yourself and do all the singing, and you also took care of all the arrangements, musical direction and the production side of things on the album too is this correct? If so, why so ... why no group for example?

My early experiences in playing within a band were interesting and I learned a lot. But I always was the homebrew musician recording stuff by myself. This takes less time and I can record whenever I want and change things without asking my group members. This appears egotistic but it is even cheaper and takes less space too. What I miss by doing it all by myself is the feeling of live playing. Still today I think recording an album and playing live is a total different thing. In the studio in need my own time recording the music how I want. Some instrumental parts are tricky and don't get alive with overdubbing. My dream for my next album is to have a combination of both.

A few of the selections, like ‘Kite Come Back’, and ‘You Can Never Pipe My Fancy From You My Dear’ remind me of some of the feeling and atmosphere that Nick Nicely made back at the very beginning of the 1980s, are you familiar with any of his material such as the great EMI single Hilly Fields (1892) ... ?

Nope. I know the Dukes of Stratosphear but not Nick Nicely yet. Will definitely check it out then. Thanks!

The likes of 'Father' to me has quite a spiritual dimension and so I wondered if this was also your intention? And also were you listening in again to the Beatles, and Lennon in particular, for some extra inspiration here?

Lennon wrote ‘Mother’, I wrote ‘Father’. There was no intention for me to copy his song. My message is different as in Lennon's ‘Mother’ but it's obvious that people get curious. It's the most personal and touchy one on the album. I wrote this for my Dad because I really miss him. I think it can't be sung a second time in that way and captures a big emotional feeling.

Going back to your "Rainbow Tapes" recordings and specifically the likes of ‘Lily Sees Dandelion’, ‘Years Ago’ and ‘Jump In The Past (A Horse And A Car)’ ... what was going on in your mind to concoct such as these lyrical tales ... and I'm thinking that the Beatles, and perhaps the Incredible String Band again could have been sitting on your turntable around that time. Certainly something like ‘Jump In The Past’ gives me that nice warm feeling I get when the Incredibles are playing?

Sure I played them constantly. I recorded "Rainbow Tapes" during 1994-96. During the initial recording sessions, my roof room window was covered by snow. The whole roof room was lit up in white. This light influenced the recording of "Rainbow Tapes". Some soundscapes were recorded with tape loops, either played backwards, higher or in a lower pitch. You'll definitely hear the inspiration; "Rainbow Tapes" is my first example into the psychedelic studio music era in the late 1960s. Compared to my latest album "Rainbow Tapes" is less pop but more experimental and lo-fi. "All In A Dream" is the growing father of "Rainbow Tapes", it's ten years later and many things have changed.

We heard the great dramatic tones of ‘Jabberwock’ on your "The Glamour Forest" EP and now we have ‘Which Dreamed It’ on the album. As these were both sides of the 1968 single by English psychster(s) Boeing Duveen and the Beautiful Soup - in reality Dr. Sam Hutt (in later years trading as the eccentric country pub-rocker Hank Wangford) may I ask why you decided on covering not just one but both sides of that 45. Gleefully realised and authentic to the max too, of course, but I just wondered what your reasoning behind this was ... other than that they are both charming and outrageously psyched-out compositions?

That song ‘Jabberwock’ I discovered first thanks to the “Rubble: Magic Rocking Horse" sampler and was amazed by the similarity of Syd's early Pink Floyd songs. Later I found out that he even hung around with Syd at that time, there's even a photograph. Years later I found the original 7" and paid the price. I'm now a proud owner of this 45. I think it's still one of the best in music which was released in that period but wasn't known by many people. Even now. The reason why I left out the B-Side ‘Which Dreamed It’ is simply because I didn't record it yet. I always was afraid of that sitar part but finally managed to play it. Maybe ‘Jabberwock’ had to be challenged first before getting into more dreamful areas ;) I think Simon from Sunstone gave me the final incentive to cover it finally. A similar thing happened with the EP name "The Glamour Forest". The song itself is missing on the EP but appears on "All In A Dream".

I also wondered, do you always use a full acoustic drum kit, or is there a mix of real live hitting and some modern electronic kit action going on ... it sounds a little perhaps like the drums are umm perhaps a little treated in some way?

I hadn't got the opportunity to use a full kit. But I did use some live snare hits and mixed it in with some recorded drum kits which I mostly recorded or from libraries I owned.

Thanks so much Balduin, as I think I said to you already I love your music and really hope the album is a smash success for you and can go onto reach into the hearts and minds of many listeners out there today! Cheers and many thanks again.

Review & interview made by Lenny Helsing/2014
© Copyright

Sun Zoom Spark - Left For Dead (2014) review

Sun Zoom Spark “Left For Dead” (SlowBurn Records, 2014)

“Left For Dead” began its life 13 years ago when poet John Galuska invited the trio to contribute music to accompany some poems he wrote and an electronic piece of music he had recorded. Under the influence of strong psychedelics, the band recorded an hour of improvisational music and the project was left to linger. Last year, Sun Zoom Spark guitarist Eric Johnson revisited the project and edited their recording and added some overdubs, mixed and mastered the album and now it is available for you to wrap your own head around.
The original psychedelic jam has been edited into distinct segments which Johnson gave titles to, and Galuska is also on hand with exceprts from his lengthy electronic piece that gave the project its name. But the affair begins with the ominous ‘Put Out All The Sounds’, which is sort of an Overture to lay the groundwork for the journey ahead. Drummer Bryan Kohl lays down a funky backbeat to propel ‘Round Again’ through a series of electronic bleeps and bloops that are like twinkling stars bouncing off your synapses as you journey through the cosmos.
Johnson tinkles his way through a mellow, jazzy piano riff under a searing guitar solo and some progressive keyboard swashes for the lazy, dreamy ‘Left For Life’, which leads into the first of Galuska’s three electronic ‘Transmission’ pieces. The band hit their stride with the enveloping chaos of ‘Masterpiece By Midnight’, full of flailing drums, wailing guitars, and sailing keyboards which is satiated by another of Galuska’s eerie electronic ‘Transmissions’ (this one a bit like those small furry animals that Roger Waters was grooving along with in a cave with a pict back in his “Ummagumma” daze. This brings us to the album’s title track and 17-minute centerpiece that again begins with a catchy-yet-simple riff reminiscent of Miles’ “Kind of Blue” which slowly morphs into a supernova of mind-assaulting electrical explosions, bubbling brooks, haunted house organ, and eerie, pant-shittin’ sound effects that sound like something’s trying to gnaw its way into your brain to feast on a few fried brain cells for dinner. Mmm, mmm, good! Thank goodness for the trippy, mellow respite that is ‘If We Wait’ to help us float safely back down to Earth! This is closer to vintage Black Sun Ensemble (ca. “Lambent Flame”) than the heavier elements earlier in this album.
In addition to the Galuska piece, the trio took a preliminary run through Black Sun Ensemble’s Eastern-tinged, Arab-flavoured ‘Jewel of The Seven Seas’ (featuring some tasty banjo from Johnson), which would eventually find a home on their “Starlight” album, released several years later on the collectable Australian label Camera Obscura. Hearing this early incarnation is a revelatory experience in understanding how the late BSE guitarist Jesus Acedo’s mind worked – taking the vestiges of the track and inserting his personality…and acid-fried solos!
The whole endeavor is one long, groovy, psychedelic trip, akin to both Bardo Pond’s Hash Jar Tempo collaboration with Roy Montgomery, with a little taste of those vintage krautrock grooves from the likes of Brainticket and Ash Ra Tempel, as well as nods in the general direction of Mushroom and Black Sun Ensemble, whose membership at various times included members from Sun Zoom Spark. So if you’re a fan of any of these projects – or exploratory, improvisational hallucinatory “head music”, you owe it to yourself to check out the latest from the always inventive Sun Zoom Spark.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2014
© Copyright

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lonely Kamel - Shit City (2014) review

Lonely Kamel "Shit City" (Napalm Records, 2014)

The year 2014 saw the return of heavy-stoner adventurers Lonely Kamel with a new, refreshing full length, aptly titled “Shit City”, published by Napalm Records.
Formed in 2005 in Oslo, Norway, and always dedicated to the most psychedelic, bluesy and trippy elements stoner rock has to offer, the quartet (Thomas Brenna on guitar and vocals, Lukas Paulsen on lead guitar, Espen Nesset on drums and Stian Helle on bass) have managed to keep things interesting throughout 7 years of recording career and 4 full-length albums to their name by adding to their sound (or taking away from it, depending on the case) elements and reminiscences of numerous musical influences, such as doom, grunge, groove metal and funk, which one could bet make up the band members’ steady diet of listening pleasures when they’re not busy tearing up a stage or recording a new album with their own, magnificent tunes. All this while retaining a convincing, immutable style of their own and a personality (onstage and on record) second to none of the “small”, underground bands in the scene.
The different stages on their path do seem to have a few linking elements holding it all together (weed, ladies, hallucinations and friendship being among the most recurring themes in their lyrical archive), and their style, always easily recognizable, sits them pretty damn comfortably among the greats of the stoner realm. But the shifts in form and delivery, especially on a guitar/vocal level, make each new album from these young, tireless Norsemen as refreshing and interesting a listen as any output from the most experimental post-metal act. In the simplicity and directness of their language, Lonely Kamel seem to have found a whole vocabulary which allows them to effortlessly deliver, riff after riff, and howl after howl, one great album after the other.
So, after 2008’s easy-going, psychedelic-infused, self-titled debut, which came out almost unnoticed but left enough an impression on those who did notice it to guarantee their return, 2 years later, with the transitional, audacious “Blues For The Dead” (which came out on Kozmik Artifactz, was never repressed and has now become a vinyl collector’s Holy Grail. For the record, the label also picked their debut for a well-deserved, proper vinyl issue.), the Kamel hit it “big” in 2011 when Napalm Records grew an interest in the band (also following their triumphant appearance at that year’s Roadburn Festival) and “Dust Devil” saw the light shortly after. This last album saw the band mix more doom, traditional heavy-and groove-metal than they’d ever done before, making it their most metallic album to date, and the fantastic production and flawless performances didn’t do any harm either. “Dust Devil” has been sitting on my turntable and in my iPod ever since and it’s always a pleasure to get back to it, every now and then, and listen to the frantic grooves of “Rotten Seed”, the aggressive grunge of “Evil Man” and impending doom of “Seventh Son”.
So the question arises: how does a band top their masterpiece? The answer for singer/guitarist Thomas Brenna  seems to be pretty simple: leave it alone, hone the craft, sharpen the blade and get out once again with simply everything you’ve got. So, their return this year with their fourth full-length “Shit City” sees the band incorporating basically all their songwriting skills, influences, compositional ideas and unconditional love for heavy music into as diverse and multi-colored an album as anyone could expect from them.
The title-track opens up on a fast-rocking pace, tinged with raw grunge fury a-la early Soundgarden, and sets the tone for about 5 minutes of headbanging stoner delight. Even Brenna’s voice takes on a Chris Cornell-esque quality, which will make fans of both high-pitched screamers rejoice. From the start, I noticed a slightly rougher tone in the guitar sound, which is balanced by a slick production and by the crystalline, cohesive sound of the drums and bass, which lay down the foundations on which the double set of six-strings can freely do their thing. The second track, “White Lines”, slows up the pace and places a catchy melody to the forefront, mellowing things down a bit in preparation for “Is It Over?” , another ass-kicker, a devilish boogie in the vein of Blue Cheer’s finest moments. With a dark twist right at its core. “I Feel Sick” follows, and it feels  like a wrecking ball hitting the listener right in the gut, much like “Rotten Seed” did in “Dust Devil”. Side 1 closes with “Seal The Perimeter”: a panzer-like riff interplayed with spaced-out, doomy verses and bluesy guitar solos, all carried through by the constant hammering of the drums and bass guitar.
Side 2 opens with what’s probably my favorite track of the album, “Freezing”. Brenna’s vocals shine once again on this one, this time shaping almost to an angrier version of Eddie Vedder. Even the guitar work, melodies and rhythm section take on a Pearl-Jam-on-steroids feel, down to the slick guitar solo, which could make one Mike McCready green with envy. The funky heavy blues “BFD” and the tortuous southern rock of “Falling Down” again display the band’s penchant for melody (the latter track’s beautiful mid-section), while always reminding the listener just about how crushingly hard Lonely Kamel can hit when they want to. As if you found out the beautiful lady neighbor of yours you’ve always wanted to take out on a date works the hammers at the steel factory. Sexy, to say the least.
“Shit City” ends with a cover song, “Nightjar”, originally recorded by obscure hardrockers Necromandus and included in their 1996 album “Orexis Of Death”. It’s a dirge played fast forward, half Black Sabbath and half Blue Oyster Cult, and the Norsemen here re-interpret its message in their style, with their signature touch of heavy that always hurts but in a good way. Another gem in a flawless album.
That wraps up “Shit City” and it’s 40+ minute trip. A trip I would recommend to anyone who likes their rock dirty, heavy and stoned. Not as pleasant as “Lonely Kamel”, not as daring as “Blues For The Dead” and not as crushing as “Dust Devil”, but surely enough a well balanced mix of all the elements that made those albums so good.
Be sure to catch these guys live next time they’re near you; I promise, you won’t be disappointed, because on stage they totally own.
“Shit City” is out now on Napalm Records, and available on LP and CD.

Review made by Tommy Morelli/2014
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Drugs Dragons interview with Tony “The Tonys” Sagger, Eric “Erroric” Mildew, Kevin “Bob Evans” Meyer and Luke “Puke Drugs” Chappelle

Drugs Dragons continue to probe into the nihilistic chaos of noise and distortion with their latest album II & I/III.  If you’ve never heard Drugs Dragons before I’m going to say something I never thought I would say, they sound like Wau Y Los Arrrghs in a lot of ways.  The unhinged tunes crash, burn and meld into a perfectly solid unit, stronger than steal and ten times as heavy.  There’s a whole shit ton that I could say about Drags Dragons, about how perplexing and interesting it is that they bring such heavy surf and traditional garage rock driven guitar to the table, about how they exorcise the demons of the past from their sound with a dose of tortured psychedelic punk insanity, about how they manage to create a howling mass of sound that manages to reach out and touch the listener, like shrapnel from a hand grenade!  I’m not going to try and explain the twisted genius that is Drugs Dragons, really.  To be honest, I’m not extremely interested in labeling or defining them and neither are they.  I’ve been into Drugs Dragons for a couple of years and the only thing I can really say fro sure is, this is some real deal shit right here kids.  This isn’t any of that; I wanna be on the radio, canned anger, repetitive, derivative, airwave fodder.  Drugs Dragons are something, well they’re something new.  You could call it occult street rock, primitive noise punk, psychedelic cave rock, bat shit insane surf…  I mean, you could call Drugs Dragons any manner of things!  Instead though, I’d rather you draw your own conclusions.  The harsh, and at times abrasive, sound that defines Drugs Dragons, challenges and almost taunts the listener, daring them to talk back or shut off the record, neither of which you’re be capable of.  I mentioned that they released their sophomore album on Dusty Medical Records not long ago, what I neglected to mention though, is that it’s limited to only two hundred and fifty copies.  So what are you waiting for, a written invitation?  Put some words in your eye sockets below, load the bong, chug a beer, click the link below, and if you thought the afore mentioned combination of mind altering substances messed your head up, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

Okay, let’s start with the basics.  What’s the lineup in Drugs Dragons at this point?  Is this the original lineup or have you all made any changes as far as that’s concerned since the band started?

Puke Drugs:  The Tonys Sagger: Guitar and Backup Vox, Erroric Mildew: Drums and Electronics, Bob Evans: Bass, Puke Drugs: Vox, Lyrics, and Electronics.  This is the second line up.  The original line up included my brother Zorach Dragon

Erroric:  Bass players are fags.

Are any of you in any other active bands or do you have any side projects going?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that?

Tonys:  Erroric and I are in The Ornerys, a band not even a year old with a 45 coming out on Terror Trash soon.

Erroric:  Psychedelic landscapes, The Ornerys and Rock for Retards.

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Puke Drugs:  I'm thirty two and I'm a life long south-side Milwaukee resident.

Tonys:  Thirty seven, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Erroric:  I can't tell you that.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you get very involved in that scene or see a lot of shows when you were younger?  Did that scene play a large or important role in shaping your musical interests or shaping the way you perform at this point?

Puke Drugs:  Absolutely.  Milwaukee's punk and rock scene has been decent for over a decade now, and the people that consistently create are generally very supportive of each other.  I wouldn't be in this band if it weren't for me doing artwork and drugs for the Night Terrors, the retarded older brother of Drugs Dragons.

Tonys:  I have been playing music in Milwaukee for over fifteen years, and for that part of my life, have been very involved in contributing to what I, and other artists, musicians, etcetera are doing here.  That being said, it’s constantly evolving and changing.

What about your home when you were a child?  Was there a lot of music around?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?

Puke Drugs:  My father had a huge record collection, and liked a wide variety of music.  My parents pushed me in the direction of visual art, but fostered a deep love for music in me at the same time.

Tonys:  I've been a ham for attention since I was but a wee lad, and music has been a big part of growing up and showing off.

Erroric:  My Grandpa played accordion and harmonica.  But he died when I was five.

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be?

Puke Drugs:  It was probably in the womb, but those days are hazy, at best.

Tonys:  I can't even remember, ‘cause it's been so integral to my life.

Erroric:  I had a dream about meeting Ray Charles and the Pepsi Girls at the mall.

Kevin:  My two older brothers had already started collecting 45s by the time I was in kindergarten, so it was always around.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment where everything seemed to change for you, a moment that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music presents and set you on the path your on musically, what would that be?

Puke Drugs:  I went to primarily African American schools as a kid.  In one of my music classes in middle school we had to invent an instrument and play a song in front of the class.  I made a shitty drum out of a coffee can that had like bells and chimes on the inside of it.  So, I covered the Offspring's “Come Out and Play” on a shitty drum using only my shitty twelve year old voice to a bunch of black kids that were howling with laughter.  At this point I knew that I was headed for greatness, because music is a journey.  You know?

Tonys:  I would say Puke's answer, but I didn't go to retard public school.  So, I'll say the release of the first Sagger 45 on Big Neck records.

Erroric:  The Expo at the Wisconsin State Fair, 1994.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that?

Puke Drugs:  My first real instrument was a computer with the Sonic Foundry ACID program.  I made Sub Par, Muslimgauze, and Coil electronic music with it.  I also used the computer for masturbatory purposes.  With pornography.  So, aside from that time John Coltrane beat off into his saxophone, I started the trend of musicians using their instruments in auto-erotic escapades.

Tonys:  I've had so many instruments since I was a wee little boy, trumpet, keyboard, banging on pots, a cat…  I got a couple toy pianos last year and smashed them.

Erroric:  I got a whistle at that Expo in ‘94.

When did you decide that you wanted to start wiring and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about for you, or was it just kind of a natural progression of being given the ability to create something and express yourself?

Puke Drugs:  The Tonys asked me to be in Drugs Dragons.  I said yes because he had beer and there was a promise of pot.  It's been six years now, and I'm starting to think that he didn't really have weed after all.

Tonys:  Whoa buddy, I never promised shit!  I've been performing all my life and probably decided around sixteen I could write my own songs to go along with my performances.

Erroric:  When I got a double sided tape deck boombox with speed controls.

How and when did the members of Drugs Dragons originally meet?

Puke Drugs:  The Tonys and Erroric met at a salsa dancing class.  Bob Evans met them shortly there after, when he was their boss at the Mrs. Fields Cookie Kiosk in the Southridge Mall.  I met Bob at a 2k Fun Run.  Then, I met the Tonys and Erroric at Bob's fortieth birthday.  We immediately bonded over how funny his fortieth birthday card was.  It said, “Lordy, lordy, look who's forty!” and there was a picture of the grim reaper looking at his watch.  Can you imagine?  It's like, “forty is old, and this card is just reminding everyone that you're not young”; priceless.  It still gets me to this day.

Tonys:  Me too!  He's old!  It reminds me of the time we met your not literally deceased brother Zorach.  Me, him, and Erroric all laughed and laughed at the time he was telling us of his camping expertise and then dropped all of those hot dogs in the fire and pissed on the tent.

Erroric:  We met at Bob Evans' gangbang in 2001.

What led to the formation of Drugs Dragons and when would that have been?

Puke Drugs:  Beer and the unfulfilled promise of pot led to the formation of Drugs Dragons in 2008.  I'm checking online with a number of different law firms to see what can be done about this weed situation right now.  Most of these websites are asking for money though.  Pfft, lawyers.  You guys know what I'm talking about; I'm talking about how they always want money.

Tonys:  I'm a lawyer, lawyin’ all over the place.  Lawyin’ left, lawyin right, lawyin hard all night, every night.

I almost laughed out loud when I first came across your self-titled album in the record shop.  There’s something about your name that’s just unforgettable and infinitely entertaining to me!  What does Drugs Dragons mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?  Were there any close seconds you almost went with you can recall at this point?

Puke Drugs:  I like to think our name is about Vlad the Impaler getting dusted and throwing bodies on stakes, but Google says our name is a reference to the third episode of season two of “Mad About You,” where Paul Reiser accidentally drinks a glass of liquid PCP and hallucinates Helen Hunt as a dragon, and then wakes up in a pool of gore with his wife's entrails strewn around the room like streamers at Satan's birthday party.  Marriage humor!

Tonys:  Our name is about C.H.U.D.s!  Too many fuckin’ C.H.U.D.s!

Erroric:  Hobo assassins.

Is there any sort of creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Puke Drugs:  Get money, fuck bitches, eat plenty of fiber.

Tonys:  Don't forget to feed Bob his sausages and penis medications.

Erroric:  Leave me alone.

Where’s Drugs Dragons located at these days?  How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Puke Drugs:  We're still on the south side of Milwaukee.  Our local scene is pretty good, if you can count a “scene” as maybe thirty people doing something at least interesting.  The rest of the music being made in Milwaukee is the product of floppy-hat models, with impeccably quaffed facial hair, doing their best imitation of music made for commercials that was popular five years ago.  We just got our first Postal Service knock off band!

Tonys:  Have you noticed Milwaukee has at least five (gasp!) partially running record labels!?!  Wow, we’re in the big time!  This shit can only happen in the rust belt.

Erroric:  We live in a town with bands.

Are you very involved in the local scene in your opinion?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything?

Puke Drugs:  Bob and I used to book and DJ shows as the Get Drunk DJs.  We don't do it so much anymore, since the punk and rock national scene was hijacked by some squirrely zippity-do-dah motherfuckers, only interested in social climbing and the corporate pay day that rewards those bland enough to write poppy, peppy garage rock with no discernible edge.  I'm still active in the “scene”, in that I go to shows and talk shit with my buddies and watch bands rise and fall.  Occasionally I will produce art for some of these bands, or try to get them booked for opening slots with touring bands.

Tonys:  Not so much anymore...  There’s always working, band practicing, writing/dreaming shit up.

Erroric:  I go to every show we play.

Has the local scene played a large or integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Drugs Dragons, or do you feel like you would be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of where you were at and stuff?

Puke Drugs:  The local scene has no effect whatsoever on what we're trying to do.  I feel like Detroit's music scene is closer to what we are.  Drugs Dragons isn’t really a band that tried, or tries to go for a singular sound or image, we're an ugly amalgamate of our individual personalities and tastes.  So, we'd probably sound the same if we lived in Brooklyn or Branson.

Tonys:  I agree with Puke, however, just as in Detroit or Chicago, I believe my friends and peers have definitely influenced me personally.  So much love, so little heart.

Are you involved in recording or releasing any music besides Drugs Dragons?  If so, can you tell us about that here briefly?

Puke Drugs:  I recorded a neo-gospel group called the Hormel Chili Singers, which was a challenge due to the theological differences between Christianity and me wanting to get my dick wet.  Look for the album in early 2011 on Fat Wreck!  Bob runs Dusty Medical Records and Pet Supplies, Inc. from atop a giant pile of cash, shrieking orders at malnourished Malaysian orphans slaving over online vinyl orders, and fancy tins of high priced dog food.  Once, he caught one of these starving children eating the gourmet dog food and threw a beaker full of acid in his face.  We all had a good laugh.

Tonys:  I run Terror Trash Records and also recorded Static Eyes’ side for our split. I’ve recorded too much to tell all...

Erroric:  I release music from my butt every morning.

How would you describe Drugs Dragons’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before in your own words?

Puke Drugs:  Lovecraftian mutant street gang rock, with a dose of humor, and totally political stances on the issues that matter.  Smash the state!  Someone once called us the Bell Biv Devoe of psych punk, but I like to think of us as the Terry Bradshaw of poundin' puss.

Tonys:  A nightmare you will never wake from.

Erroric:  Primitive death.

You all seem to take whatever sounds you want and toss them into a heady stew of psychotic noise, but there’s an underlying plan that unites it and gives it this higher sense of purpose if you catch my drift.  I’m curious who hear who you all would cite as your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Puke Drugs:  We're all on the same page when it comes to The Hunches, Clone Defects, Country Teasers, and The Spits.  Tonys has been really pushing a Big Head Todd and the Monsters angle for awhile now, but the reception by the rest of the band has been weak to say the least.

Tonys:  I write the music and am inspired by what I want...  Gonna get “Bittersweet” stuck in your head one of these days.

What’s the songwriting process for Drugs Dragons like?  Is there someone who usually comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea of a song, or do you all get together and kick ideas back and forth until you work out an idea that you’re interested in working on and refining together as a unit?

Puke Drugs:  Tonys writes all the riffs, him and Erroric jam on it, come up with different parts and shit, then I ruin it all with lyrics and tone deaf animal noises.  As we've played together more and more, we refine songs in a group dynamic, and Bob has been invaluable in this regard.  We have another entire album written, and it's some of the best stuff we've ever done; which is, admittedly, not very impressive.

Erroric:  Tonys yells.

What about recording for Drugs Dragons?  I think that obviously most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into making an album when they’re finally holding it in their hands.  Getting to that point, though, getting things recorded and sounding the way you want them to, especially as a band can be extremely difficult to say the least and recording has been the death of many a great band over the years.  What’s it like recording for Drugs Dragons?

Puke Drugs:  We treat recording as a party.  We don't tend to get hung up with how we want things to sound in our heads, versus how things sound in reality.  We're not control freaks, we tend to let things play out as they are.  We want our records to sound like they were made of filth and slime, not the product of a sterile recording session where every sound is intentional and all life has been squeezed out of the songs by demanding egos and OCD perfectionists.

Tonys:  Also breaking toy pianos!

Do you all like to head into the studio and let a technician handle the technical sides of things so that you can just concentrate on the music and getting things to sound the way you want them to, or do you like to take a more DIY approach where you handle that stuff mostly on your own, so that you don’t have to compromise or work with anyone as far as the sound is concerned?

Puke Drugs:  We go into the studio with a game plan, but the last two 12-inches would not sound the way they do without the assistance of our super-bro Josh White.  He's like Phil Spector with better hair and machetes instead of guns.  He taught us how to free-base wasp venom and the value of having a library card.  Have you ever seen Where's Waldo?  It's a good reading book we got from the library.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out every aspect of a song before you record it, with the arrangements and compositions meticulously planned and airtight beforehand?  Or, do you just get a good skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like, while allowing for plenty of room for change and evolution during the recording process?

Puke Drugs:  Both, actually.  We got this other book from the library called Danny and the Dinosaur.  Long story short, this kid fucks a Velociraptor.

Tonys:  True story.

Do hallucinogenic or psychoactive drugs playa a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Drugs Dragons?  I mean the name would imply some sort of relationship, but I’m never quite sure how seriously to take such things as I have a tendency for over analyzation.  I don’t mean it in a negative regard either, I mean, people have been tapping into the altered states that drugs produce for thousands of years for the means of creating arts and I’m always simply curious about their usage and application when it comes to the art that I personally enjoy and consume.

Puke Drugs: We all smoke weed nearly constantly.  And I myself have taken psychoactive drugs semi-regularly since I was eighteen.  I'm pretty sure all of us would live in a constantly altered state if it were at all feasible.  I view psychoactive drugs as the key to the origins, evolution, and transcendence of the human mind, so of course they play a huge part in our music.  Fuck, they play a huge role in me making scrambled eggs, petting a dog, cleaning the sink, mocking clouds, pissing into an open grave, filling a mylar balloon with rotten broccoli farts and giving it to a dying kid at the children's hospital, etcetera.

Tonys:  Are you a cop?

Erroric:  Bring me some drugs.

Tonys:  Do you guys like my hat?  It's really, really small!  What do you think of sharks that ride bikes?  I like them.

In 2010 you all put out your material that I’m aware of, the self-titled Drugs Dragons 12” for Dusty Medical Records.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for Drugs Dragons?  When and where was that at?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience or more of a sort of nerve wracking proposition at the time?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Puke Drugs:  We recorded with our buddy Justin Perkins at his then studio.  It was an okay experience, but since we were a new band at the time, and half of us had zero recording experience, we sorta view that record as a dry run to the latest record.  Err, I mean, it's an amazing record that can change lives and open up new musical frontiers for the listener and it’s available now on Dusty Medical Records and Pet Supplies, Inc!  And on iTunes; iTunes is a website that has music on it.

Tonys:  Maybe on youboob too?  They’re a musical website that has videos!

Erroric:  I sleep through the recording process.  We have a trained cat that plays drums on all the records.  His name is Lil’ Erroric Meowldew.

You also released two 7-inch singles in 2010, “(I’m In A) Brain Grave” and Cold Controls.  Were the tracks for those singles from the same session(s) that produced the self-titled album released that year or were they recorded during different session specifically for the releases?  If they were part of different sessions can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for those singles?

Puke Drugs:  We recorded those songs as demos, previous to our recording session for the self-titled album in the Tonys' basement/musky sex dungeon.  It was my first time singing on a recording, and it sounds like it.  I believe we made a frozen pizza afterwards and enjoyed a round of Wii bowling.

Tonys:  All true!  My sex dungeon has sadly since been retired.  Recorded by Ben Kastner.

In 2011 you followed up your first album and the two singles with The Milorganight 12” EP once again for Dusty Medical.  Was the recording of the material for that EP very similar to the session(s) for your first album?  Who recorded The Milorganight material?  Where and when would that have been at?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?

Puke Drugs:  We recorded the EP with Josh White in a place in Milwaukee called the Fortress.  I can't exactly remember what equipment was used, but I believe there may have been a guitar involved, and possibly some microphones.

Tonys:  And a piano graveyard!  At least two walls were there.

Last year in 2013 you released a split 7-inch with Static Eyes fro Terror Trash Records.  What song of yours was featured on that?  Is that still in print at this point?  Do you know if it was a limited release or an open ended pressing?  Where did your track from this split come from?

Puke Drugs:  We have two tracks on that split, “WAITING AROUND TO DIE” and “FESTER/BREED/SCATTER”.  It's still in print and probably will be for the next decade or two, so act fast!  We recorded with Jordan B. Davis, of Mystery Girls and Space Raft fame, in our practice spot.  We love Jordan; the person, not the country.

Just recently you all released your sophomore album follow-up to 2010’s self titled album, II & I/III as always for Dusty Medical Records.  What was the recording of II & I/III like?  When and where was the material for II & I/III recorded?  Who recorded it?

Puke Drugs:  We recorded II & I/II on the twentieth anniversary of Jeffy Dahmer's arrest for creating unlicensed sex slaves in his dingy one bedroom apartment.  Goddamn government won't let you do anything anymore.  The album was recorded in a gutted house in the Milwaukee suburbs by wasp venom freebasing enthusiast Josh White.  It was a whirlwind, adrenaline fueled, white knuckle trip into the heart of tenderness and comfort.  Afterwards we got high and went swimming.  Well, Tonys and I went swimming.  Erroric didn't swim because he forgot his water wings, and Bob Evans wasn't in the band yet.

Does Drugs Dragons have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on a compilation that I might not know about?

Puke Drugs:  We have some stuff that wasn’t included on the first album, some stuff from a live performance at Milwaukee's only radio station 91.7 WMSE, another song from the Jordan Bench Davis sessions, and a whole album yet to be recorded.  We also have numerous demos of shit that has never seen the light of day.  Maybe Burger Records wants to put out a cassette once we buy the requisite neon-plastic sunglasses, brand new leather jackets, and dumb retro mop-top haircuts all the fey west coast dweebs are rocking.

Tonys:  Matador be knocking on the door if we move to Brooklyn, but c'mon.  Fuck that.

With the recent release of II & I/III album, is there anything else planned or on the horizon as far as releases go that you can share here with us?

Puke Drugs:  We've got another album written and will release songs on 7” in the rare event that any label is interested in wasting money on us.  WINK MOTHERFUCKING WINK, RECORD LABELS.

Erroric:  I think we're done.

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff?

Puke Drugs:  Probably through the Dusty Medical Records and Pet Supplies, Inc website.  If you buy our albums, I believe there’s a free download code for cat litter.

Erroric:  In Wisconsin.

With the completely insane international postage rates these days I try and provide our readers with as many possible options as I can for picking up imports!  Where’s the best place for our poor international and overseas readers to score copies of your stuff?

Puke Drugs:  I assume you can pick up our albums in the ninety nine cent cassette bins at most car wash places.  Do other countries even have cars?

Tonys:  ...Or ask Goodbye Boozy Gabriele.  I think that's in that Italy place.  Italy’s real, right?

Erroric:  Buy us plane tickets to tour in Europe.

And where’s the best place for everyone to keep up with the latest news, like upcoming shows, tours and album releases from Drugs Dragons at?

Puke Drugs:  Facebook, which is a website devoted to pictures of food and cats, and the inane ramblings of idiots.  The Tonys' favorite movie is about Facebook.  He's a real The Social Network head.  He has tattoos of the Winklevoss twins on each of his testicles.

Tonys:  I love Social Network!  Zuckerberg is dreamy!

Erroric:  The leprechauns will tell you.  So will lepers.

Kevin:  Facebook.

Are there any major plans or goals that you all are looking to accomplish in the last of 2014 or in 2015?

Puke Drugs:  I'm hoping to finally learn Malay so I can taunt Bob's orphan slaves, but this Rosetta Stone thing is a bunch of bullshit.  So, instead I'm just hoping to have some real good pancakes some time soon.

Tonys:  I'd like to buy a duck.

Erroric:  Goals are for losers.

What, if anything do you all have planned as far as touring goes?

Puke Drugs:  We can't tour all that much because we're real people, with real shit going on in our lives.  Touring is for delusional souls that think that playing Carbondale on a Tuesday night will somehow lead to a life of opulent luxury.  We'd jump at the chance to tour Europe or Africa once this whole Ebola fad blows over, though.

Tonys:  Bob can't be five miles away from his fridge at any given time.  Or a Culver's.

Erroric:  Nope.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road?  What’s life like on the road for Drugs Dragons?  Do you enjoy being out on tour?

Puke Drugs:  We just tend to get fucked up and pick fights with each other, which is fun. Once I farted while getting out of the van and it almost made Erroric barf. Life on the road with Drugs Dragons is like life on a highway, in that I want to ride it all night long.

Tonys:  Going to play Detroit (Urinefested) this year Bob had to walk up to two drive thrus after forgetting his food and/or getting irritated with wait times.

Erroric:  These guys suck.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the years?

Puke Drugs:  Your usual Midwest weirdo punk bands and your usual surly southern punk bands.  Our first show ever was with Wizzard Sleeve; that was pretty cool.

Tonys:  Timmy Vulgar, Sonny Vincent, Bon Iver featuring the Backstreet Men; nee Boys.

Erroric:  Human Eye, Liquor Store, and Static Eyes.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Puke Drugs:  Diamond Dave era Van Halen or maybe Mozart.  They both seem to have a knack with snaring snatch.

Tonys:  Timmy, or people that aren't the people in this band.

Erroric:  Little Richard.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with out readers?

Puke Drugs:  Once, we were playing and I had a beer.  Beer is an alcoholic beverage.  Another time we played a show and I had a beer again.  That's about it.  Oh, and one time I killed a seeing eye dog with my bare hands, but that's pretty unremarkable.

Tonys:  We do dumb stuff.  Someone has to be there to witness it.  Will it be you?

Erroric:  Like when Puke pukes or Tonys falls down?  Nope.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, album covers and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey or get across with your art?

Puke Drugs:  I’m generally in charge of art work.  I try for psychedelic, Lovecraftian, cave-man visions, and pledge-huffing plastic 80's horror movie schlock.  We're just trying to get the message across that libraries are a great place for learning.  They're also good for masturbating behind potted plants while you watch people read.

Tonys:  Shut up with the library shit.

Erroric:  I close my eyes.

Do you have anyone that you usually turn to when it comes to the visual aspects of a band?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Erroric:  Puke draws.

Puke Drugs:  We settled on me doing most of it because that little bitch Banksy was all like, “Sorry, I'm too busy with my dumb tags and crap.  I'm British or something, so cheerio mates”!  And that lazy fuck Picasso is dead, so we settled on the next best thing, having me do it for free.

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Do you have a preferred method of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference, what is it and can you tell us a little bit about why?

Puke Drugs:  We only like vinyl because then we can prove to other, less-intelligent people that we alone are fans of music.  Everyone else with their iPods and cassettes and such are just vapid posers.

Erroric:  I like records.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us just a little bit about it?

Puke Drugs:  Fuck yeah!  I got everything Alvin und ze Chippenzemunks (Germany) ever released, including their rare and adorably Teutonic cover of “The Whisper Song”.

Erroric:  Don't touch it.

I grew up around my dad’s collection of music, and he always let me listen to anything that I wanted to.  But it was him taking me around to the local shops and picking me up random stuff that I was interested in that really left its mark I think.  I developed this whole ritual, where I would rush home, grab a set of headphones, read the liner notes over and over, stare at the cover art and let it drag me into a whole universe that it created along with the music.  There was something about having a physical, concrete object that’s connected to the music that always made for a much more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Puke Drugs:  Absolutely.  I did pretty much the exact same thing with my dad when I was a kid, and still do to this day.  We try to create the same universe building thing in our music, but either a) the general populace isn't insane enough yet to dump their minds in our junkyard, or b) we're a terrible band and no one gives a shit; probably ‘b’.

Erroric:  I like records.

On the flipside of that picture, digital music is here in a big way these days, like it or not.  If you add the internet to the mix, well you really have something on your hands at that point.  Together, they’ve exposed people to a literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and allowed for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans, which has eradicated geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands even just a few years ago.  It’s not all peaches and cream though, while people are being exposed to more and more music, they’re not necessarily very interested in paying for it at this point. Not to mention, it’s harder than ever to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there with everyone being given a somewhat equal voice at this point.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Puke Drugs:  It sucks for the reasons you've mentioned.  Beyond the information static drowning out the signal, there's no mystery any more.  And when there is mystery, it's a carefully crafted gimmick.  It just seems like people buy, or like music, as a status symbol now, like it's a badge of coolness to be a fan of whatever flavor of the week bullshit is being pushed on gullible and eager to impress kids.

Erroric:  Boo!

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I possibly can, but it’s hard to even know where to start these days.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Puke Drugs:  Head on Electric, Static Eyes, Phylums, Aluminum Knot Eye, Space Raft, Holy Shit!, Moon Curse…  There's more, but you’ve got like fifty fucking questions here and my mind is in the bathroom taking a dump right now.

Erroric:  Static Eyes, Indonesian Junk, and Head on Electric.

What about nationally and internationally?

Puke Drugs:  Have you heard this Miles Cyprus girl?  She looks like Dopey from the Seven Dwarves and sings about love and stuff.  I also think Taymart Swifter is pretty good at singing about love and stuff.

Erroric:  No Bails, Liquor Store, and Timmy's Organism.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me so in-depth about the band!  It was awesome talking with you all and getting to learn so much about your creative process and history.  Since you all were so kind and generous with your time, I’d like to take this opportunity to open the floor up to you for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Puke Drugs:  Library cards are great because you can find good reading books to look at.  There's these series of books called The Berenstein Bears, about this family of bears that go around messily mauling and devouring people, which is really what family’s all about, you know?

Tonys:  Seriously, thank you for your time and patients.  Shut the fuck up about the library.  Do drugs!  Fuck books!

Erroric:  I quit.

(2010)  Drugs Dragons – Drugs Dragons – 12” – Dusty Medical Records
(2010)  Drugs Dragons – “(I’m In A) Brain Grave” b/w “Predator Weapons” – 7” – Terror Trash Records
(2010)  Drugs Dragons – Cold Controls – 7” – Terror Trash Records
(2011)  Drugs Dragons – The Milorganight EP – Dusty Medical Records
(2013)  Drugs Dragons/Static Eyes – Split – 7” – Terror Trash Records
(2014)  Drugs Dragons – II & I/III – 12” – Dusty Medical Records (Limited to 250 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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