Podcast 2020.17 Already Dead

These days it does seem like we’re teetering on the brink of some sort of catastrophe, but every day the world lurches on. Maybe, though, we’ve already gone over the edge and we’re just watching this shitshow play out. In any case the great music just keeps coming out. This episode of the Turn Me On, Dead Man podcast features great tracks from across the industrialized world. From the US are Herbcraft (Portland, Maine), Dark Fog (Chicago) Carlton Melton (San Francisco) and a farewell track from the Suzies (Grand Rapids, Michigan). Elsewhere in the Americas are The Suuns (Montreal) and Yajaira (Santiago, Chile), and from Australia comes Los Skallywags (New South Wales). From Europe are Causa Sui (Denmark), Flying Moon in Space (Leipzig, Germany), and coming from further east are Skuma (Chelyabinsk, Russia) and Pree Tone (Kyiv, Ukraine). Closing out the set is a collaboration primarily between Mike Vest (Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK) and Suzuki Junzo (Tokyo) called Mienakunaru.

00:00 TMODM – Intro
01:28 Dark Fog – In The Background Of Your Mind
03:23 Skuma (Скума) – Иза
09:46 Carlton Melton – Waylay
17:46 The Suzies – Bubble Driver
20:32 The Suuns – Death
23:24 Causa Sui – Sole Elettrico
29:00 Los Scallywags – Scattered
32:46 Yajaira – Se va la tómbola
38:00 Flying Moon In Space – The Observer (Radio Edit)
42:18 Herbcraft – III (pt. 2)
47:10 Pree Tone – Fifth O
52:21 Mienakunaru – (I) [excerpt]

Dark Fog – In The Background Of Your Mind [from THC Lovecraft, released October 31, 2020]

I corresponded with Ray Donato of Dark Fog.
TMODM: The liner notes explain, “recorded in a Chicago garage with two ribbon microphones and a 1970’s era Akai 4 Track Reel to Reel machine”. Have you recorded any other albums/tracks on reel-to-reel tape?
RD: We’ve done a couple records using tape, the ‘anatomy of a sell out’ record we used the same 70’s reel on a couple songs and bought an early 90’s 8 track reel machine and used that on the other songs and also for the ‘flow Machine’ and ‘Reach across time’ -we did hafta bounce everything down to digital after tho, so it wasn’t a complete analog path at the end technically, but the sound of tape is cool especially for drums and bass…unfortunately our 8 track machine broke and we’ve not really felt like we could afford to fix it…it’s tough to maintain these machines, even the 70’s reel can have occasional dropouts so we always tend to go back to using our digital machine (still not pro-tools style, everything else being analog…) -When we were able to get back together after quarantine my wife still felt uncomfortable with the band being in our studio in the house, so we moved playing into our garage which seemed to invite the use of an open mic, reel to reel old-school recording experience, along with the idea for the concept album which fit that perfectly…

Skuma (Скума) – Иза [from Солнечный, released October 23, 2020]
Carlton Melton – Waylay [from Where This Leads, released October 30, 2020]
The Suzies – Bubble Driver [from Miller Lightning, released October 30, 2020]

I corresponded with Luke Bonczyk of the Suzies.
TMODM: How’s everything going for you now? How have you and the band been affected by the pandemic?
LB: I’m actually an ICU nurse, so this year has been pretty crazy for me. I started travel nursing in August so I’ve been working and living in a few different places in the US. I just got to Austin TX this week, which is a place I’ve always wanted to check out.
TMODM: I noticed on your Facebook page that you referred to Miller Lightning as your “final album”. Are the Suzies no more?
LB: Yes, Suzies is over. We stopped playing music together shortly after recording “Miller Lightning”. We needed to take a break. We are still pretty much all really close friends to this day, but at the time we were sick of dealing with each other haha.
TMODM: What’s next for you?
LB: Most of us have new things going on. Adam (organ/vocals) is now a tattoo artist under the name Adam Lux. Andrew (bass) has been writing music virtually with one of his old bandmates from Heaters. They’re calling the project “March of Progress“.
Shane Tripp (guitar/vocals) has been releasing singles in preparation for a solo album. Here’s a new music video.
Casey Huizenga (drums/ vocals) is skating/ painting in Detroit and released a solo album earlier this year.
Besides nursing, I’ve been working on a project with my wife, Mara (also from The Omecs).

The Suuns – Death [from Fiction EP, released October 30, 2020]
Causa Sui – Sole Elettrico [from Szabodelico, released November 13, 2020]
Los Scallywags – Scattered [from We’re All Mad Here, released October 23, 2020]
Yajaira – Se va la tómbola [from Turbias Visiones, released October 19, 2020]

I corresponded with Don Gibson of Yajaira.
TMODM: What circumstances have had the biggest impact on your recent music, and Turbias Visiones in particular?
DG: Mostly the bigger influence on this EP were the circumstances happening in Chile
with the revolt since October 2019 against the government, with plenty of injustice and police violence against the people. We use our heavy music to express that feel.
TMODM: What’s next for you?
DG: We are working on a full length album for 2021, that should be released by Algo Records.
TMODM: I’m curious to know what you think is the biggest problem that Chile is facing now: inequality? the high cost of living? excessive force by police/security forces? Do you think these issues will be addressed in the new constitution?
DG: Exactly .. all that ..plus the expropriation of the indian lands in the south , selling the country’s natural resources to other countries , etc.. writing the new constitution will be the first step to start the changes… We hope!
TMODM: In the election held in the US last week, drug legalization/decriminalization was very successful. Oregon legalized medical use of psilocybin, Washington DC voted to decriminalize recreational use of magic mushrooms, and several states voted to move toward marijuana legalization. Psychedelic art and music seem to be everywhere, as well. Is anything similar going on in Chile?
DG: Well, not really as you guys are doing in the States… but now you can buy some ganja with prescription here, anyway it’s a step forward.
TMODM: Do you see yourselves as part of a “psychedelic renaissance”?
DG: Maybe… We´ve been doing psychedelics since we start the band in 1995 .. and the jams were always an important thing in our music , but we are just another part of the psychedelic chain that starts here at the end of the 60´s and early 70´s, we have great bands as Los Jaivas , Los Blobs or Tumulto, and then that music were mostly in shadows with the Pinochet dictatorship since 1973 until 1990.

Flying Moon In Space – The Observer (Radio Edit) [from Flying Moon In Space, releases December 04, 2020]
Herbcraft – III (pt. 2) [from Robes, released October 23, 2020]

I continued my correspondence with Matt LaJoie of Herbcraft. I included another Herbcraft track (“Eon Rd”) on my last podcast.
TMODM: You describe Robes as a “long-lost tour tape” from 2013. Was this tape in the same mislabeled box where you found Trash Heap?
MJ: I actually don’t have a physical copy of the original Robes tape in my possession! We only made eight copies for a brief spring 2013 tour, and they were gone after a few shows. I also couldn’t find the master cassette, so I had to source the new edition from digitally archived files. Not having an original also made reproducing the cover art a bit more difficult, and in the end I had to use the scanned image from the Discogs listing to create the new cover!
TMODM: Did you just happen to come across these tapes or were you consciously looking for your older work?
MJ: The Trash Heap tape was a complete stumble-upon. It was stacked in between some mixtapes from years before, totally anonymous, caseless. That tape had the 4-track mixdown master of what wound up being the first four tracks on the album, and once I found that and digitized it I went searching for the rest of the material I had self-recorded around that same time. “Eon Rd” and the rhythm tape for “Docet Up” had been digitally archived back in 2013, so that was easy, but I really had to hunt down the rhythm tape for “Last Words” (it wound up being in a box of archived master tapes).
TMODM: Listening to these tapes now, how do you think your approach has changed over time?
MJ: My approach to the recording process is much more considered these days. Back then, when I was inspired to create I would pretty hastily set up microphones or plug in a guitar as quickly as possible–often not even bothering to tune it first–not wanting to miss the spark by dwelling too long on engineering or production. Robes was recorded with just a mono Panasonic portable cassette recorder on the floor in the middle of the living room, using its tiny built-in mic. There’s something beautiful about that carelessness, an unfakeable raw energy, but it seems my ears have adjusted to a new normal over the past few years. It was great having the chance to remaster and clean some of that stuff up a bit for the new editions.

Pree Tone – Fifth O [released July 31, 2020]
Mienakunaru – (I) [excerpt] [from Lost Bones of the Holy Butterfly, released October 19, 2020]

Mienakunaru is a collaboration between Mike Vest (bass, guitar and mix), Dave Sneddon (drums) and Junzo Suzuki (guitar). I corresponded with Junzo Suzuki.
TMODM: When did you meet Mike Vest? What made you decide to collaborate now?
JS: 2017 or 2018? Mike have supported my solo show in Newcastle. as Lush Worker? didn’t remember the exact period… of course I knew Mike’s work.
TMODM: According to Google translate (I don’t speak Japanese) Mienakunaru means “become invisible”. How did you choose the name Mienakunaru?
JS: yeah, Mienakunaru also means “go blind” “Gradually Out of sight”. My Image of great Psychedelic music is like “Mienakunaru” with listening Music. So I named this to the band.
TMODM: Were you together when you recorded or did you do this remotely? In what order did you do the recording?
JS: Completely remotely. Mike lives in Newcastle and I live in Tokyo. Mike did bass/Sned drum tracks and send me some files then I overdubbed my guitar and send it back, Mike mixed them.
TMODM: Did you know exactly what kind of sound you wanted at the outset or did you improvise and see where that took you?
JS: Mike is like main-man of this band. Thought he have some vision of the music. I just did what I can and what I wanted to do.
TMODM: What kinds of gear did you use? What sorts of effects did you use during recording? What effects were applied after recording?
JS: Fender Black panel twin reverb with Greco SG (early seventies) with Bigsby, 70’s Big Muff, early eighties Ratt, Mason Analog delay, some Pitch Shifter, Crybaby Wah Wahs, etc.
TMODM: Talk a little bit about the imagery you used for the cover art and for the video. First, how did you produce the visual effects in the video for Lost Bones of the Holy Butterfly? What meaning does the image of the lost bones of the holy butterfly hold for you?
JS: just an image. I thought Butterfly have no bones!
TMODM: In the election held in the US last week, drug legalization/decriminalization was very successful. Oregon legalized medical use of psilocybin, Washington DC voted to decriminalize recreational use of magic mushrooms, and several states voted to move toward marijuana legalization. In addition to that, psychedelic art and music seem to be everywhere. Do you see yourselves as part of this “psychedelic renaissance”?
JS: hahaha, in Japan, we still have strong law for drugs. And very hard/risky for all kinds. Very famous actors or musicians lose everything for arrested by weed!! This is JAPAN.
TMODM: Each of you have been in an impressive variety of bands and participated in a mindboggling number of collaborations. Do you see yourselves as part of a larger community? If so, how do you view your roles in that community?
JS: ah I have no idea. But if there’s a community it is good for human beings.

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