Podcast 2020.05 The Corona 714

The music in this edition of the Turn Me On, Dead Man podcast doesn’t reflect the current state of our world. These are not songs about pandemics, quarantines or the end of the world. As a matter of fact, most of The Corona 714 is upbeat garage rock, some power pop, and of course, a psychedelic freak-out here and there. Perhaps this is because even though these are all recent releases, the corona virus has changed the world so rapidly. I wonder if “social distancing” will become the new normal, and if we’ll ever go back to interacting with each other the way we did in the world before COVID-19.

The drops in this edition of Turn Me On, Dead Man come from The Conet Project. My obsession with following the number of coronavirus cases, and continually checking to see if we have “flattened the curve” put me in mind of the odd numeric messages captured by The Conet Project.

Dogpile – Peripheral [from Dogpile EP, released Feb. 20, 2020]

Dogpile is the solo project of Connor Davidson, 21, from Toronto. I asked him about his influences and his plans for the future. “My main influences for sounds are Oh Sees, King Gizz, Hendrix, and Funkadelic. I don’t really have any songwriting influences I just play and record whatever’s in my head, and try to incorporate different sounds I love here and there. And for the future I’m just gonna keep writing and recording until I die, or get a real job.”

Gavin Watts – Apple Scruffs (George Harrison) [from One Take Covers, released Feb. 25, 2020]

I asked Gavin Watts about what inspired him to do one-take covers and what led him to choose Apple Scruffs as one of the covers.

I’m typically very meticulous about my albums and the sounds I place within my albums, so this project started as a practice in being less precious and more immediate with my performance and decision making in production (recording to tape, never erasing/editing, mixing in one pass, keeping all the natural/organic flaws, etc). I think these covers are less about getting a ‘good’ take on the first try, but rather, trying to create some sort of immediate feeling in the way the songs are delivered in that exact moment. Additionally, I thought this would be a great way to honor some of my favorite artists (past and present) on their birthdays, thus making it a more cohesive project.
Because Apple Scruffs is one of George’s lesser known gems, I think it allows for a bit more freedom (compared to say, covering a well known Beatles song). The original version is such a solid, minimal song that I thought it would work well in a ‘solo’ one take performance (guitar + vocals). I thought having a heavily effected guitar (vibrato/delay) would create a nice base for the vocal melody, which is really the heart of it all.
Additionally, I just really love what the song is about: his love for those fans (fanatics) who would spend hours (days!) standing in front of Abby Road/Apple, just waiting for a momentary interaction with him. I think this is a touching perspective and really shows the level of empathy George had for everyone (something to strive for). Thus, I thought it would be fitting for me (a fan) to ‘give’ the song back to him.
Some of the future (one take) covered artists include: Bob Dylan, R. Stevie Moore, Neil Halstead (Slowdive), and others.

The Hearses – Carrier Pigeons [released March 17, 2020]

The Psychedelic Suns – Hide From The Sun [from Hide from The Sun, released March 2, 2020]

TMODM: What are your main influences?
Psychedelic Suns: Beatles and Pink Floyd are my main influences! Those bands give me so much inspiration when I face writer’s block. With the latest album there is bit of Tame Impala influences too. It’s one of the best modern bands right now.
TMODM: How have you been affected by the coronavirus?
Psychedleic Suns: Hasn’t effected me too much yet. I’m still going to work normally, but I have bit more time to write new music! I’m bit worried for my parents as they are over 70 years old, so I really hope they don’t get Corona. Cannot even visit them right now for months, so have to call them bit more!

Yellow Sunshine Explosion – Air [from Crossing The Cosmic Void, released March 2, 2020]

The previous two tracks were included on a compilation by the Aumega Project, a psuchedelic net label based in Germany. I corresponded with Sascha, founder of the Aumega Project.
TMODM: What got you to start The Aumega Project?
Aumega Project: I mainly started Aumega Project to bring some really fine Psychedelic tunes to all the music enthusiasts around the world. For that it was very important to me, to be able to offer as many “free download” and “name your price” releases as possible. I also attach great importance to offering the music of well-known and lesser-known artists side by side and a wide range of music. That’s why I also offer a number of psychedelic-inspired genres at Aumega Project. I just hope that people can have a good time with my publications and always find new and interesting artists.
TMODM: Was there a specific release (or set of releases) that set you on this mission?
Aumega Project: Because I’m a very enthusiastic music lover myself, I know a lot of good albums from this area and some of them inspired me to found a label myself. Naming them all would go beyond the scope, but to name a few, I would definitely mention the German Krautrock scene of the sixties and seventies. Bands like Can, Agitation Free, Faust, A.R. and Machines or Brainticket, but of course also a lot of international artists like Aphrodite’s Child, The United States of America, Far East Family Band, White Noise or Magma.
TMODM: How have you been affected by the coronavirus?
Aumega Project: Covid 19 has an impact on Aumega Project because the number of paid downloads has decreased significantly. However, there is currently a download increase in “free download” and “name your price” releases and also in the plays on Bandcamp. I think that’s simply because, people just have more time at the moment to listen to music, but also pay a little attention to their money, which is completely understandable.

Black Heart Death Cult – Sonic Dhoom [released Marh 15, 2020]

Concrete City – Strange Bodies [from “Strange Bodies!”, released Feb. 16, 2020]

I asked Concrete City about their influences and about how COVID-19 had affected them.

Regarding influences:
Probably the biggest influence on our songwriting is 1970s and 1980s post-punk music. We all grew up in that period and that intersection/balancing of punk energy, arty fiddling, and pop aspiration seems to have had an out-sized impact on how we hear things and what we write. Our prior bands–of which there are many–covered a lot of bases: new wave, garage pop, power pop, math-y indie rock, straight ahead punk and hardcore, what used to be called “college rock,” etc. I’m not sure how much of that comes across in Concrete City because we’ve made a conscious decision with this band to strive for some kind of accessibility or approach-ability. On one hand, we talk about the guitar and keyboard sounds on New Order and Joy Division records a lot. On the other hand, we’ve stopped in the middle of mixing sessions to listen to CCR to make sure we aren’t getting too precious. We’re not trying to be clever or obscure with the music. We are committed to beating our hooks to death! If the lyrics are a little strange in a sort of Wire/Mark E Smith/DEVO way, the music and hooks are meant to draw attention away from that. To distract. Confuse?

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic:
Yes, absolutely, it is affecting all of us on a daily basis. Baltimore City is not on lockdown yet, but the state of Maryland is already imposing strict controls on behavior. Last I checked, the official limit for public gatherings in non-essential spaces is ten people. As such, live music has effectively ceased. No venues. No shows. No nothing. This is disappointing for us–we want to play shows after all–but it is potentially disastrous for our many friends who work in these venues. A lot of bartenders, security staff, restaurant staff, sound engineers, stage hands, promoters, etc. are out of work with no end in sight. People are scrambling. It’s scary. And us not being able to perform is pretty insignificant compared to all that. I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for playing a show to five people on a Tuesday night in the middle of nowhere, but here we are…

On a positive note, we are continuing to make music even though we can’t get together physically. (In between navigating the complications of our new, forced Work From Home lifestyles, of course. Luckily, we all work in some sector of the information economy–teaching, software, professional associations, graphic arts and illustration–so we are all still working for the time being.) We produce all of our own music, from demo to finished product. Almost all of it starts as simple computer demos and notes we pass around via email, instant messenger, and dropbox. All that ad hoc songwriting is still happening. Since going on near-lockdown, we’ve continued working on mixes from our last full-band recording sessions and have demoed three completely new songs. This is on top of an already tall stack of demos completed before things started shutting down. If our communities can behave ourselves long enough to pull this thing back from ALL CAPS GLOBAL PANIC to something more like an annual flu season, we might get an album out of it. I sure hope so!

“the band whose name is a symbol” – From Dusseldorf to Cologne [from Berserkir Volume I, released January 31, 2020]

New Blue – “Now I Know” [from The Month Autumn, released Feb. 15, 2020]

Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin – Rider In The Desert Sun (Parts I & II) [from Misty Woman, released Feb. 7, 2020]

The Artakees – Rush [from Rush, released Feb. 20, 2020]

Kikagaku Moyo-幾何学模様 – Gypsy Davey [released February 24, 2020]

Jambattista – Walker [from Seeking The Seeker, released Feb. 20, 2020]

The Flower Machine – Through a London Window [from Through a London Window​/​One in a Million, released March 5]

I corresponded with Peter Quinnell of The Flower Machine.
TMODM: First, you’ve been playing psychedelia for some time now. What do you think of the current state of psychedelia? Not just the music, but in the broader social context, as well.
PQ: When we started 15 years ago, playing psychedelic pop was a slightly unusual thing to do in Los Angeles. There were only a few bands doing that at the time. Right now there are some fantastic new psychedelic bands in Los Angeles and elsewhere, which is really encouraging. Doing a single for Hypnotic Bridge Records is a big honor, because that label has really succeeded in pulling together the best bands of the genre…. Especially people like Triptides and The Small Breed, which are some of the best bands in the world at the moment…. far better than anything in the charts by an interstellar mile.
TMODM: How have you been affect by the coronavirus?
PQ: It’s depressing. I just wish everybody the best and I’m doing my part by staying the hell off the streets.

Podcast 2020.04 The Other Side of the Dark Waters

This episode of Turn Me On, Dead Man focuses on recent extended psychedelic tracks, heavy on improvisation. I asked the bands about their creative process, so check out their answers below. The drops in this episode come from Terrence Malick’s 1998 film Thin Red Line.

Dark Fog – “Black Candle/Eldanc Kcalb” [from Psychedelic Landscape released Feb. 22, 2020]

On Dark Fog’s latest album, Psychedelic Landscape, they follow a 4:44 guitar freakout track with the same track played in reverse. Like many of their experimental tracks, this works really well. After noting how prolific Dark Fog has been, I asked Ray Donato about “Black Candle/Eldnac Kcalb,” as well as the band’s creative process.

The idea for ‘Black Candle/Eldnac Kcalb’ came from my appreciation of backwards tracks, this is definitely a traditional form for psych, one of my favorites being the excellent 60’s bubblegum psych band Yellow Balloon who in 1967 released their self titled single ‘Yellow Balloon’ with a b-side called ‘Noollab Wolley’ which was of course yellow balloon played backwards, trippy as hell! The ‘Black Candle/Eldnac Kcalb’ was also inspired by my obsession with repeating numbers (11:11,3:33,etc.) with ‘Black Candle’ clocking in at exactly 4:44, I realized this was the perfect song to flip in reverse as both would be back to back 4:44- and also as ‘Black Candle’ has reverse vocals, ‘Eldnac Kcalb’ would then allow you to hear the vocals forward, for extra effect…

We are quite prolific these days, I’m not sure how that happened except that maybe after all these years of songwriting I know what works for us and lately I’ve also been inspired by the huge psych scenes that have sprung up around the globe, some really excellent stuff coming out nowadays, and I’ve felt the need to keep the intensity going…

My creative process always involves the influence of psychedelics first, reaching for my inner emotions and vibes, often I will have sonic hallucinations of songs that I will then try to interpret to my playing to make what is in my mind come alive. Other times I will be struck with a sort of manic energy that I then play out through the chords and guitar stylings that I have developed over time, often these manic feelings will result in more repetitive grooves and anthemic songs as I am feeling the groove and not using my conscious thoughts at all. Arrangements often come later and involve more thought as to what I want the song to ultimately convey, and often Yt and Drew will also have ideas for arrangements, cues, etc. Most of our songs are mapped out with some sort of skeleton that we then breathe life into, there is often much freedom to improvise, and many songs will be planned to have parts that are completely improvised, and sometimes improvisation will then lead to parts that are then made permanent and repeated. Also, these days I will often map a song on paper, similar to Jazz ‘charts’ and the band will just go for it, having a recording studio in our practice space allows for these ‘improvised’ first and second takes to sometimes be the version that is used on the final LP, as there is often magic that can come from not having a ‘set’ part to try to play ‘properly’ or whatnot.

Melt Plastic Group – “Return of the Turkey (Edit)” released Feb. 27, 2020, an extended version of this track is on Fresh Plastic released Jan. 23, 2020

Dire Wolves (Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band) – “Deep Sunrse Energy” [from I Just Wasn’t Made For These Set Times released Feb. 9, 2020]

Elkhorn – Electric One (Part C) [from The Storm Sessions released on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond on Feb. 7, 2020]

The Spacelords – Spaceflowers [from Spaceflowers released Feb. 21, 2020]

TMODM: What’s your creative process? How much of your material is improvised and how much is mapped out ahead of time?
Spacelords: Usually one of us is coming up with an idea – a guitar melody, a bass line or a drum groove. We jam around this idea, record everything, taking the best parts and develop them. Mostly one idea bears another and after some time we get a basic song structure which will be refined until we’re all satisfied with it. So our titles are all mapped out ahead of time but there are still free parts which can be shorter or longer depending on the mood while performing. All titles from our albums can be easily recognized when we play them live.
TMODM: What are your main influences?
Spacelords: We can’t name a specific band. Of course you can hear the spacerock, psychedelic and stonerrock influences, but we always wanted to create something unique. We think it’s not a good idea to copy or to go into the exact same direction as someone else did before.

Kanaan – Urgent Excursions To The Tundrasphere [from Odense Sessions released Feb. 14, 2020]

TMODM: What’s your creative process? 
Kanaan: The creative process varies a lot from song to song, but we usually meet up and jam, sometimes totally from scratch and sometimes on a riff or a melody, and then we kind of  collectively from there. Improvisation is definitely an important tool for writing the tunes. On our most recent record “Odense Sessions”, all of the tracks are more or less improvised. “Urgent Excursions to the Tundrasphere” is loosely based around the two guitar themes you can hear in the first couple minutes – we’ve also used those earlier, on a performance we did in Oslo based on the Swedish science fiction poem “Aniara” (which is also the source for most of the titles on the album – who would guess!). Also, “Of Raging Billows Breaking on the Ground” is based on a couple of stoner rock riffs written by Eskild, our bass player. You could probably say that that particular record, rather than four typical Kanaan compositions,  is more of a document of us playing with Jonas Munk for the first time and jamming in his studio.
TMODM: How much of your material is improvised and how much is mapped out ahead of time?
Kanaan: Most of our songs are composed, but we always leave room for improvisation in some way.. This usually means that we have a set of composed parts, often at either the beginning or the end, and we have some free improvisations somewhere in the middle or between parts. The spontaneity of the improvisations really keeps us alert and attentive – it also keeps the energy of the music really potent. At least that’s what it feels like to us.
TMODM: What are your main influences?
Kanaan: Always a difficult question to answer, as we’re all three inspired by all kinds of music, but we’ll try… The Norwegian jazz rock scene for its great musicians and creativity, German krautrock for its experiments, electronic music and radical mindset and the whole psych/stoner rock scene for the heavy riffs and all the amazing sounds you can get out of a fuzz pedal.

Podcast 2020.03 Somebody’s Controlling The Vibes

Turn Me On, Dead Man podcast 2020.03 – Somebody’s Controlling The Vibes on Mixcloud includes garage rock and psychedelic tracks released (or re-released) from late January to early February. The title of the podcast, as well as the breaks used throughout the hour, are from the outlaw biker/horror movie Werewolves On Wheels [1971].

Capricorn One – Hey Garcon [from Capricorn One].

Capricorn One is a “space-rock odyssey” project Ed Ackerson was working on before he died of pancreatic cancer in the fall of 2019. Ed played in several bands (my favorite being the 27 Various), produced quite a few more and ran Flowers Studio in Minneapolis. A celebration of Ed’s life took place on Feb. 15, 2020 at First Avenue in Minneapolis featuring artist Ed recorded or produced, as well as bands Ed was a part of. Surviving Ed are his wife, Ashley, and four-year-old daughter, Annika. All proceeds from the First Avenue show will benefit the Ed Ackerson Family Fund and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Mouse – Electric Face [from Reverse : Universe]

Mouse is from Durban, South Africa. I asked them about the accompanying quote on their Bandcamp page, “Desolation, global sterilization, reanimation. Into the depths of a black hole. Into the expanse of a new universe.” I asked them if this was some sort of prediction or perhaps a warning. Damon Miles of Mouse replied,

The album is more about what is not said than is. Certainly a warning told through a fantastical lens of space travel & galactic warfare. Within the context of the story & the concept behind it, humans must evacuate earth due to deteriorating living conditions and find something new for themselves, which is where the album picks up. Traversing the black hole brings with it the bizarre transformation to mice beings which then brings upon the unexpected in the expanse of a totally new universe where everything that was known is not and must be reestablished for the last of the human/mice population. An impoverished mice planet ruled by cruel cat-like creatures bent on universal domination in need of liberation. It is a call for action to make something of the new reality they find themselves in, to save what is left & rebuild. The album comments on the nature of human beings as greed for power and control dominates our beautiful yet impoverished planet. With knowledge of the state of today’s climate and the conditions set in motion by the human race, change is necessary. The damage to a certain degree is irreversible and we have been warned to operate from a higher state of being as a collective to build from our mistakes and to live in harmony with nature and our own existence for future generations that are deserving of this. Somethings coming, and we have to let it.

OZO – Lifeship [from Saturn]

OZO is one of Mike Vest’s many projects. I asked him how OZO came about.

TMODM: You’re incredibly prolific and I’m just wondering how you keep it all straight. Do you always have several projects going on at once or do you focus on one thing at a time?

Mike Vest: It depends really. Sometimes I’m recording a few albums back to back. I’m always recording by myself. I like messing around with different recording techniques, plugins and effects. I’m always cracking additional upgrades to logic etc. Think I’ve got 5/10 grands worth of stuff. I only use 20% of it. I’ve got 300 organ presets. Prob. Never use em. Haha. I do a lot of overdubs at my house/studio. Because 11Paranoias and Melting Hand all live in London and I live in Newcastle. I record down there but then work on extra guitar stuff at mine to save money. I can concentrate better at my place etc. I’m always recording Lush Worker, I’m trying to release an LP or do more shows. I’m playing at Chaos Theory’s 10 year celebration @The Dome London, end of this month. I really want to do more Lush Worker albums but I really want to do an LP but no one is interested in either really. Upsetting but it is what it is I guess.

TMODM: How did OZO come about? Now that you’ve recorded Saturn it seems like a natural collaboration, but was that the case? Whose idea was it?

Mike Vest: My idea, always wanted to do something with Karl [D’Silva, from Drunk In Hell] and Graham [Thompson, from Ballpeen]. Seemed like the perfect time. Just got sick of hearing loads of elevator jazz/psych music. I have to admit it was going to be just like a weird rock album that graham and I would do. But got Karl in. He improvised and it was just magic. Graham’s drumming was so good I thought I would have him lead the tracks. Generally on rock albums drums can be in the background. So I thought the best way to have them louder and up front. The answer was free jazz.

TMODM: Who are your main influences?

Mike Vest: Fushitsusha, Globe Unity and life.

Lenny Kaye and The Fleshtones – Lost on Xandu

Rough Trade sold this 7″ on Black Friday, 2019. They explained,

Garage rock connoisseurs may remember the instrumental ‘Lost on Xandu’ from The Fleshtones’ 2011 album Brooklyn Sound Solution for its distinctive guitar work from the hands of the legendary Lenny Kaye. Eight years later, Lenny went back to the instrumental tune and crafted some lyrics that paint the scenery of an outer space landscape, adding his own vocals to the song and turning the track into something completely new. This reimagined version of ‘Lost on Xandu’ with vocals will be available as a limited edition 45 single on cloudy orange vinyl for Black Friday 2019. The vocal version of ‘Lost on Xandu’ is found on the A-side, and the B-side features a dub-style rendition of the track (starring Peter Zaremba as Space Commander) titled ‘Lost on Xandu (Version).’ Neither the vocal version nor dub version of ‘Lost on Xandu’ have been previously available in any format.

Crushing Yellow Sun – The Bomber [from Throwback]

Crushing Yellow Sun describes their music as, “a one man heavy psychedelic sludge project whose influences vary slightly from album to album.” He’s released a steady stream of tracks over the last few months. I asked him what made them decide to release a full-length album. He explained,

My main reason for releasing a full length is that I just figured it was time. I had spent most of the past year releasing one single after another and with the completion of my band’s latest self titled Ep (Dead Panda- to be released March 1st) I found myself with some extra time to concentrate on my own project. “Throwback” collects a lot of singles and some of my favorite CYS tracks together, plus a few new ones. So as the name implies, it’s not all new material, but it’s stuff I thought was worth revisiting.

No Glitter – SUB

I asked Billy Martin about No Glitter, and he described it as “a solo project where I record the songs in my home studio. Chances are there will be a live band playing around Rochester NY this year. I will continually release new music as the year goes on too.”

Van Der Vous – Cuidad Del Sol

Vitor Matos, vocalist and lead guitarist for Van Der Vous, is from Salvador, Brazil, but went to Buenos Aires, Argentina to record “Cuidad del Sol”. I asked him why he went to Argentina.

I have arrived here in 2017, first to learn Spanish and to feel a different country and culture, to feel how it is to live abroad. It was cool initially, because everything was new for me, the culture, the language, the people, it is a different country.
So, still, here in Argentina I released the second album called “Espectro Solar” and another experimentation as a single called “Vanity Lies” that got well in United States because of Danger Mouse playlist, but it is not the kind of sound of the band, you know? It is sad and has strong lyrics, in a good way, it’s a cool song but now similar with the other songs I have.

In 2018 / 2019 we’ve recorded two singles, “Ciudad del Sol” and the unreleased single “Aquelarre” that will be part of our third album that I hope we will release this year.

I am going back soon to my home country Brazil to live for the first time in another state (San Pablo), and I hope to release in Brazil because almost all of the songs will be in Portuguese, and I need to connect again with my fans there and my culture, my country.

So, here in Argentina was a good experience but I can’t stay longer because I miss my cultural connection with my country and I feel that I need to do something with my music to go against the system, the extreme-right president that is putting the country down and I feel that my country is going to be in a really bad situation, so, I don’t want to only watch this but to stay there and use my music and art against the establishment, this president.

That’s one point that I feel that I have to do, the second, is to reconnect with my fans, live.

Lemurian Folk Songs – Logos [from Logos]

Lemurian Folk Songs describe their music as “Processive Rock”. The tracks from Logos were recorded live together with “Ima今” in one take, in the summer of 2019. They include this enigmatic quote from EA: On the General Doctrine of Mantras,

“In order to understand what a mantra is, it is necessary to adopt the perspective that considers all things in function of sound and movement. Everything in the universe is a vibration; this vibration has the living sense of speaking, of expressing the invisible world. It is movement as sounding word and revealing Logos.

Wolf Tape – Wreckage [from II]

This one has really stuck in my head. I love the way the guitar provides a counterpoint to the vocals on this track. I asked them about their influences and future plans for the band. They replied,

We all grew up in our teenage years together obsessing over Green Day, The Flatliners & many other Fat Wreck bands. We like to mix that punk sound with rock n roll like Neil Young & the Beatles but with a heavy, tasty riff like Black Sabbath & Motörhead, just to make a few. We all have professions and work for a living, we play shows when we can and would love to play more! Wolf tapes already working on new songs for a split with a band called Dark Tag.

Dead Sea Apes – Night Lands [from Night Lands]

Dead Sea Apes recorded Night Lands with Nik Rayne of the Myrrors. I asked them if they had any plans to record again with him. They replied,

We don’t have any specific plans to work with Nik again – to be honest there was no plan in the first place, he just happened to be in the UK for a few weeks so we got him to play on two tracks for The Free Territory, and then had a jam together which became the Night Lands album. I’m sure if our paths cross again we’ll have another jam and see what happens but there’s nothing planned at the moment. There’s more info about the album in this preview/interview. This is Nik’s current project.

The Best Tracks of 2013

Following up on my previous post where listed the best LPs, EPs & 7″ releases of 2013, here is a Mixcloud compilation of my favorite tracks released in 2013. As I said last year, there is an ever-growing wave of excellent garage and psychedelic releases. I would go so far as to say we are living in a golden age. Bandcamp in particular has made it easy for bands to release their own material in a way that is relatively easy for fans to find. I just hope this run of great material continues. The tracks are roughly in order of preference with the obvious #1 being “Cannonball” by the People’s Temple. Just a great, great track.
Continue reading

Interview with Wayne Larsen of the Laughing Soup Dish

“Acidland” by the Laughing Soup Dish will be the featured track on this week’s edition of “Echoes in Tyme”, which airs at 10:00 PM eastern time on Tuesdays on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio on Live365.com. The Laughing Soup Dish, long a favorite on Turn Me On, Dead Man, released only a single “Teenage Lima Bean”/”Rainy Day Sponge” (1985) and two LPs We Are The Dish (1987) and Underthrow the Overground (1990) before calling it a day. I came across a note on the Lost In Tyme blog written by Wayne Larsen of the Laughing Soup Dish in which he mentioned a bootleg cassette called Liquid Salad Dinner and other unreleased Laughing Soup Dish recordings. I contacted him and we’ve been corresponding for quite a while now.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: I love the Laughing Soup Dish and I always have a couple of your tracks in the rotation on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio. I’ve seen references to Liquid Salad Dinner in a few places (including your note on the Lost In Tyme blog) and I’ve been looking around for anything from it. Does Liquid Salad Dinner even exist?

Wayne Larsen: Yes, Liquid Salad Dinner. Here’s the story. When the first line up splintered with Marc [Saxton] and Elena [Papavero] forming the Watch Children I felt badly that that era of the band would remain unknown except to the people who might have been at those shows so I went through my tape collection (in ’86) and put together live and basement tracks and gave them to John McBain (later of Monster Magnet). He had a small underground tape only little thing going called Cool Beans Records. Perhaps a 100 cassettes were made with a cover, a few made it overseas. In 2006 I was contacted by George Markou in Greece (Peace Frog, Gew-Gaw) who wanted an interview. I sent him a copy of the tape and he made it into a CD (I have a free standing burner and could have done it myself). A couple of tracks were on his Nowhere Street release. There is an alternate version of “Acidland” on there, too (I like it better than the one I sent to Voxx). Some of the tracks are on the Laughing Soup Dish Myspace page (the basement versions of “Teenage Lima Bean” and “Rainy Day Sponge”). “Pink Stainless Tail” is on there too, as you might tell from the first LP’s segues we were into The Parable of Arable Land [by the Red Crayola] and wanted to string the songs together in places a la free form freak out.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Sorry to say I never saw the Laughing Soup Dish live. Did you tour very much?

Wayne Larsen: We never made it out of the tri-state area (NYC). We did a few shows in Delaware, in Newark.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: The bio on your Myspace page says you recorded a third LP but never released it. Where is all that?

Wayne Larsen: Most of the tracks from the Myspace page are from Liquid Salad Dinner (only “In Pieces” and “Grimble Wedge” are from the second LP). The track “Siamese Cat” and “Z-Man Is Watching” are from the unreleased third album which I finally burned to disc a bit over a year ago. You can see the return to the “house ambience” there. “Grim Finds” is a first LP outtake. Is Turn Me On, Dead Man a podcast or a radio broadcast? Either way, the airplay makes me happy. When I was in my 20’s and writing and recording this music I never would have thought that 30 years later there would still be interest.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Turn Me On, Dead Man is an Internet-only radio station. Recently I started thinking about the definition of psychedelia and that’s what led me to track you down. Most of the record guides and books about psychedelia and neo-psych take a stab at defining the term, but remain vague, perhaps intentionally so. Some time ago I ran across a book that took a different approach by discussing the characteristic features of psychedelic music in terms of how they replicate the effects of LSD. The book is called Sixties Rock: Garage, Psychedelic, and Other Satisfactions by Michael Hicks, and he breaks it down to the three Ds: dechronization, depersonalization, and dynamization. Basically he’s saying that psych generally slows down and stretches out the music (dechronization), cranks up the volume and makes heavy use of reverb to make the music seem closer and further away at the same time (depersonalization), and also includes, among other things, the bending, distorting and reversing of sounds that mimics the way objects become fluid while tripping (dynamization). When I read that, I immediately thought of your music, particularly “Acidland,” which is one of my all-time favorite tracks, by the way. The eerie sound effects are great and I love the way the ticking of the clocks gets out of sync, allowing the music pull down the tempo in such a fluid way. I’d like to know what your influences were and how you see the development of your music over time.

Wayne Larsen: I find this information tantalizing to say the least. If I explore a piece like “Acidland” (my creation), I will be open about it. It’s obviously me describing my own experience with LSD. Time, it starts with the element of time, the ticking clocks, layered so that 3 or 4 clocks are going at once (out of sync as they layer in), then spatial sounds come in that sound almost like a demented horns (as on the only We Are The Dish outtake “Grim Finds”) horns (but is really effected guitar very loud, open tuned, through tape echo and turn backwards with varying of pitch), then backwards talking which is how voices sound sometimes in that state, garbled, a disconnect, then the actual lyrics which encourage us to step into this “other place” with talking animals and we can wear a new “open” face. It also trails off with this same sound wash of other worldly sounds (which take us up to heaven). The big influences here are “The Parable of Arable Land” by the Red Crayola (especially the free form freak outs between tracks). The Golden Dawn Power Plant LP (found at a yard sale for a dime in 1980) was another big influence at this time, so those Texas International Artists records had an effect. I made “Acidland” in my house on a couple of 4 track machines and funny but people like it more than the one we went into the studio to do. Less time to experiment, layer etc. I see how the 3 D’s apply to a song like “Acidland”. Heavy reverb, the bending of sounds by varispeeding the tapes. No one else in my little seaside town were doing anything as weird as that. I hope I’ve answered a question if there was one there. Of course I was also loving the [13th Floor] Elevators at this time.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: You mentioned that “Acidland” was your song. How many of the songs were yours? Who were the other songwriters and which songs were theirs? Did you do many songs collaboratively or did you tend to write alone? Also, I was just wondering why your two LPs and single have never had a digital reissue. Laughing Soup Dish has to be the trippiest music ever recorded! I love the trippiness, of course, but the songwriting is consistently strong, as well. My favorites are “Acidland” “No One Home” and “Sunrise”, “Weathering Strangely” and “Underthrow the Overground”, and “Teenage Lima Bean”. By the way, were you aware that comic book character goes by the name of “Lima Bean,” and since she’s a 14-year-old girl, the website is called “Confessions of a Teenage Lima Bean“?

Wayne Larsen: Huh, yeah, the Cure had a bootleg live LP called Laughing Soup Dish and a song that sounds like “Sunrise” written after the dish track, and there was a band called Grimble Wedge. I like that Confessions of a Teenage Lima Bean, time is catching up. As to who wrote what. uh, Marc Saxton and Chris Schnieder wrote BEAN [“Teenage Lima Bean”], Marc wrote Sponge [“Rainy Day Sponge”] the flip side as well. I am playing lead and playing drums as well on that track. The first 45 was a bit of a hit in the N.Y. underground but in the norse countries it was a hit. The first LP was written by me with the exception of “Princess”, which is music Danny Mintz, lyric me. I wrote the rest. had to. so I did. The second LP, I wrote with the exception of “Grimble Wedge” and “Blood Sucking Creatures”, both duets with me and Jon Davies, former lead Secret Syde-r. So mostly I wrote alone but there are a number of songs by me and Jon Davies. Oh yeah, Chris Schnieder’s brother is Fred from the B-52’s, that didn’t hurt the Bean…. Marc wrote few good tunes for LSD that exist only on old tapes, live and basement. “Piece of You” “Entropical Fruit Punch” and a couple of others.

I wrote by myself late at night with a microcassette recorder. There are still many songs undeveloped on microcassette. “Wild Seed” was one. Sometimes I merge a few ideas. Often when it got time to do an album. someone was seeing someone else’s girlfriend and I wind up making the records mostly on my own. With continuous turmoil in the group, a lot was put on me and I guess I liked it that way anyway.

Why no reissues? Who knows, Suzy Shaw has the rights to them. Voxx didn’t re-ish them. Oh well, most of the LPs I hungered for as a kid were outta print, even the Velvets, so it doesn’t bother me. They are not expensive on ebay, they printed a LOT of them and they were available until the late 90s from Voxx. They kept the Lima Bean 45 in print until 2004, then it went around when Greg [Shaw] died. I still talk with Suzy now and then.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Your recordings have a distinctive atmosphere. What effects did you use to get that sound? How did you make those trippy sounds, particularly the ones heard in “Acidland”? How did things change between the first and second album as far as recording goes?

Wayne Larsen: Well, the first LP was recorded by me in a stairwell of an old plaster walled farm house, the Soup Dish house. I play drums on some tracks as well (like Sponge) you or I can tell my drumming from Kyle’s. So the sound of the stairwell and the tiled bathroom were used. The backing masking tracks for the first LP were a long process in itself. I would de-tune my Firebird Gibson to an open chord, through a tape echoplex a big Marshall amp, then slowed it way down and reversed it (backwards). All sorts of sounds were collaged together. The thing that sounds like a big machine is this de-tuned guitar slowed and backwards, then layered with 10 more of the same thing making a wall of sounds. I was able to make almost synth type sounds by using other this method. In the time from 1985 to 2000 we recorded quite a bit. The second LP was paid for by Greg [Shaw] and is a real studio so it sounds completely different.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: How far along did you get on the third album? At what point in the process was it shelved? Any plans to perform or record in the future?

Wayne Larsen: Well, see, by the time I recorded the third album material, grunge was coming in very strong. The trend was towards heavy heavy (not straight fuzz) but different music was coming to the fore. It left no room for the neo psych bands. I know the Ultra 5 went to Mexico and carried on but here it was a changing of the guard. There was a whole album’s worth of material recorded in a friend’s 8-track home studio. It was complete. I only have it on cassette (and a CD made from that cassette). The master might still be around somewhere. I never had it. I called Greg Shaw of Bomp and asked him if they might want to put it out. He had been so encouraging in the past, but at this time he was getting into some strange hybrid stuff and said he was no longer interested in putting out straight psych. After that I gave it up. With no label interest I drifted back into punk, my band the Straight Satans (any satanic reference being a joke) with Jon Davies of the Secret Syde and we carried on playing.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: It seems I’ve been reading a lot about LSD recently. The book Mary’s Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace was a strange one. The idea was that JFK was having an affair with Mary Pinchot Meyer, who was friends with Timothy Leary. The three of them dropped acid together and the experience made JFK reflect on world peace and that began to affect his foreign policy decisions. According to the book, the CIA assassinated JFK because they had their own agenda abroad and JFK’s actions were interfering with their priorities. Not sure how credible this account is, but the idea of LSD elevating JFK’s consciousness is interesting. Another book that brought up LSD is How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival. By the 1970s, Cold War priorities had pushed the discipline of physics away from any philosophical questions about the nature of matter toward functional matters that had defense applications. Rebelling against this atmosphere of “shut up and calculate,” a group of young physicists at Berkeley wanted to revive the more theoretical arguments that had driven the discoveries of relativity and quantum theory early in the twentieth century. They promoted the use of LSD in order to stimulate creative thought. As it turns out their unconventional approach led to important discoveries and they had a profound impact on the field. And then I ran across this quote by Steve Jobs in the recent biography of him by Walter Isaacson, “I came of age at a magical time,” he reflected later. “Our consciousness was raised by Zen, and also by LSD.” Even later in life he would credit psychedelic drugs for making him more enlightened. “Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important–creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.” And no one can deny that Steve Jobs has had a profound impact on how we live, work, play and communicate with one another.

So I’m curious to get your thoughts on this. In what ways has LSD affected your life?

Wayne Larsen: Ok, welllllllll, I took it for the first time when I was 14, the last time I took it I was 21. I am 53 now so……. it’s been a while but. the effects were profound. The first LSD trip I took was a good one. real “orange sunshine” so it was a really vivid, a lot of hallucinations. It was a pretty profound trip but, I was young and so it was mostly silly until I was alone later on in the trip, then I sat outside and was just feeling the breathing trees and all the green. I went to a Grateful Dead Concert in ’73 and took about 10 hits. I saw everything go black and and then all I could see were wild geometric shapes and just colors flowing. having taken that much LSD at once, I was tripping for 3 days. At one point I had this vision. I was floating closer and closer to this sphere of white light and I was afraid but then as I got closer I could see that the sphere was really made up out of a trillion stars and I felt better. I thought that all of those star point lights blending into a sphere made me think that that’s what the after life is all about. We came back from the concert and in the morning I came back to where I could function. It was 24 hours later when I remember me and a friend of mine went out to the woods by a huge lake with a foot of mist on it and set up a tent. So it was summer and we went out into the water and I could just feel that the water was a direct connection with everything… and the trees and green of it all. I think LSD allowed me to see below the surface of things, of matter and into structure, right down to the atoms. it made me want to hear and listen to music that my friends didn’t really like, they were into Aerosmith and I was into Syd Barrett’s Floyd, Lothar and the Hand People, early Genesis, like Foxtrot and before, Silver Apples Of The Moon etc. so it had a profound effect on me all the way around but for me a special appreciation of music off the beaten path. It kind of gives you that third eye and if you do enough tripping it stays open. You see into a deep understanding of things. If I could handle it I think that a good LSD trip might be a good idea, blow out the cob webs as I used to think. I had mushrooms but I haven’t taken any LSD since around 1981. ‘Shrooms give you a bit of insight and a trippy edge but not that soul ego shaking out and up thing that good LSD will deliver. The book on the 13th Floor Elevators “Eye Mind” is a good read. They took LSD every time they played. I tried to play under acid one time and my mind just kept drifting off and I would just stop playing and stand there lost in thought with the rest of the guys yelling “Play, Play”. I named my band with the initials LSD in homage of what the drug can do, blow the top of the head and join thought with everything down to the last subatomic particle.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: What do you think about the Laughing Soup Dish when you look back on it now?

Wayne Larsen: For a long time I could barely stand to listen to it. Now with 20 or 30 years hindsight, I did ok. All I ever dreamed of was having a reel to reel 4 track and getting to release vinyl. I wished that in 1976. I can die knowing I have done what I set out to do. It was young and uninformed, it was making songs to make songs I had fun with rather than thinking “oh who will like this?” I was lucky to have good musicians to play shows with.

Turn Me On, Dead Man: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer all of my questions, Wayne. Here’s a Mixcloud compilation of all of the unreleased Laughing Soup Dish tracks I’ve been able to pull together.

Mellotron Sounds

A highly specialized record guide is the wonderful Planet Mellotron, devoted to cataloging every appearance of the Mellotron in recorded music. The Mellotron, the forerunner of digital samplers, is a keyboard instrument where each key plays an eight-second tape loop of a pre-recorded sound, such as strings, cello, flute or an eight-voice choir. The idea for a musical instrument playing tapes by using a keyboard dates back to 1948 when Harry Chamberlin patented and began selling the Chamberlin. In the early 1960s a company in the UK began producing the Mellotron (melody + electronics = mellotron), an instrument that has been used widely in popular music. For a thoroughgoing history of the Mellotron, check out Streetly Electronics. To hear the individual sounds of a Mellotron, check out the Mellotron Listening Room at Mellotron.com.

Though expensive, the Mellotron became a popular instrument in psychedelic recordings in the late 1960s (most notably by the Beatles on “Strawberry Fields Forever”), and played a major role in the progressive rock genre in the 1970s. In fact, the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock calls the Mellotron “The quintessential prog rock keyboard instrument.” The Mellotron went out of favor in the 1980s with the advent of cheaper digital synthesizers, but it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years, including Mellofest and a documentary film about the Mellotron called Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie.

Planet Mellotron appears to be the labor of love of one person, Andy Thompson, whose ambition is to provide a comprehensive list of every appearance of a Mellotron in recorded music (Thompson acknowledges that his quest is “Madness. Utter Madness.”), and his website is loaded with fun-to-read reviews. Thompson rates albums on two scales: a five-star scale for the quality of the music and a five-T scale for the “Mellotronness” of the music. When I first discovered Planet Mellotron, I picked out some of my favorites and compiled the following Cloudcast:

Mellotron Sounds by Dead Man on Mixcloud

I have discovered one Mellotron track that doesn’t seem to be on Planet Mellotron, the wonderfully trippy “Fire! Fire!” by My Brother the Wind (2011). The Mellotron begins more than 10 minutes into the track.

The Best Tracks of 2012

As a companion to my previous post listing the best albums and EP/7″ releases that came out in 2012, I have put together a CD-length mix of some of the best tracks released last year. There seems to be an ever growing wave of excellent garage and psychedelic music being released and it was hard to make this collection of tracks come in under the 80-minute mark. Adding to this difficulty was my determination to close out this mix with the insanely great 23-minute track “Living in the Cosmic Nod (Improvisations)” by Earthless, who demonstrate superhuman psychedelic stamina. Other than the Earthless track (which defies ranking) the tracks are arranged roughly in order of preference, and I’d give the nod to Still Caves for “Dutch” as the Turn Me On, Dead Man track of the year.

Half-Remembered Dreams: The Best of 2012 by Dead Man on Mixcloud

1 “Still Caves”
by Dutch
2 “Raise Them Up”
by Brian Wilson Shock Treatment
3 “Mourning Light”
by The Flight Reaction
4 “Okay”
by Mmoss
5 “No Thanks”
6 “(The) Forest Speaks”
by Peoples Temple
7 “Sun”
by The Dalai Lama Rama Fa Fa Fa
8 “Green Balloon”
by White Fence
9 “Moonlight Mile”
by The Babies
10 “The City Sighs”
by Zebra Hunt
11 “Sri Sai Flora”
by The Sufis
12 “Stop What You’re Doin'”
by Seven Long Years
13 “Snow Blind”
by The Technicolor Teeth
14 “Cali in a Cup”
by Woods
15 “Sejchas”
by Sonic Death
16 “Midnight in the Garden of Evil”
by Magic Shoppe
17 “Kids Don’t Live Enough”
by The Modulated Tones
18 “Living in the Cosmic Nod (Improvisations)”
by Earthless

Electric Sitar

Some time back I went looking for a YouTube clip from an episode of Space: 1999. All I could remember about that episode was that one of the residents of Moonbase Alpha entertained the rest of the crew hurtling through space with a sitar. Turns out it wasn’t a sitar, but rather an electric sitar, or more precisely a Coral sitar. And it wasn’t just any old member of the crew, but sought-after British session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan. In the 1960s and 1970s. Jimmy Page, who was also in demand as a session guitarist during this time, was referred to as “Little Jim,” so as not to be confused with Big Jim Sullivan. Jimmy Page is well known for playing on any number of British pop recordings before his days with the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin. In a 1973 interview, Ritchie Blackmore doesn’t refute Jimmy Page’s claims to having played on many recordings, but he states that Jimmy Page played rhythm guitar in some instances. One specific example Blackmore cites is “The Crying Game,” in which Jimmy Page played rhythm guitar, while the lead guitar part was taken by Big Jim Sullivan. The lead guitar part was a “reading part,” a skill possessed by Big Jim Sullivan but not Jimmy Page, apparently.

So anyway, after a little Googling I found the clip of Big Jim Sullivan playing the electric sitar on Space: 1999. In this episode, called “The Troubled Spirit,” a horribly disfigured figure is roaming the halls of Moonbase Alpha, and this is somehow related to a botanist using the hydroponics lab to conduct experiments on telepathic communication between humans and plants. Not a good idea, apparently, particularly when someone is playing a trippy solo on the electric sitar.

Seeing this clip again confirmed that Big Jim Sullivan’s performance on Space: 1999 was as good as I had remembered–ethereal and mesmerizing. I wanted to hear more electric sitar, so, of course, I next read the Wikipedia entry on the electric sitar, which was, of course, informative. A number of different manufacturers have tried to make electric guitars sound like sitars. In 1967 Vincent Bell invented the Coral Sitar, which is essentially an electric guitar with a couple of adaptations designed to replicate the sound of a sitar. The unique design of this guitar feaured a set of sympathetic strings mounted on the body of the guitar and a “buzz bridge.” You can zoom in for a close view of a Coral sitar used by Rory Gallagher on The Rory Gallagher Instrument Archive. Vincent Bell recorded an entire LP cover versions of hits of the day using the electric sitar to demonstrate that instrument’s capabilities.

Even though guitar-sitars may not sound exactly like sitars, the results never fail to be interesting, at least to my ears. The Wikipedia article helpfully listed several recordings that used an electric sitar. The electric sitar enjoyed great popularity in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and it was featured on several hit songs. The novelty of it wore off and tastes changed, but the electric sitar never really went away (I never would have guessed that Eddie Van Halen had used an electric sitar for the solo in “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”). It seems that the electric sitar has made a resurgence of sorts in recent years, and I found several tracks featuring the electric sitar from the last ten years or so.

So I put together a compilation of tracks using electric sitar and posted it on Mixcloud. I couldn’t leave out “Green Tambourine,” because Vincent Bell played on that track. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that all of thes tracks use an electric sitar (as opposed to a real sitar) but the sitar sounds add to the allure of these tracks.

Track list
1. The Lemon Pipers – Green Tambourine [Green Tambourine (1967)]
2. The Black Angels – Manipulation [Passover (2006)]
3. Miles Davis – Black Satin [On The Corner (1972)]
4. The High Dials – Our Time Is Coming Soon [War of the Wakening Phantoms (2005)]
5. Marshall Crenshaw – Terrifying Love [Downtown (1985)]
6. Richie Havens – Run, Shaker Life [Somethin’ Else Again (1968)]
7. My Brother the Wind – Pagan Moonbeam [I Wash My Soul in the Stream of Infinity (2011)]
8. The Higher State – The Electric Cowboy [Darker By The Day (2009)]
9. Redd Kross – Play My Song [Neurotica (1987)]
10. Rory Gallagher – Philby [Top Priority (1979)]
11. Steely Dan – Do It Again [Can’t Buy a Thrill (1972)]
12. Dinosaur Jr. – The Wagon [Green Mind (1991)]
13. The Delfonics – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) [The Delfonics (1970)]
14. The Clash – Armagideon Time [London Calling (B side) (1979)]
15. P – I Save Cigarette Butts [P (1995)]
16. Andy Partridge – Open A Can of Human Beans [Fuzzy Warbles Volume 7 ((2006, originally released 2003 on the MS benefit compilation Wish List))]
17. Van Halen – Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love [Van Halen (1978)]