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The Red Plastic Buddha interview with Tim Ferguson


1. Hi guys! How are you? Would you mind presenting yourself to our readers?

Hello Klemen – we’re The Red Plastic Buddha, a neo psychedelic band from Chicago. The band is: Timothy Ferguson, bass and lead vocals - Dav Kling, drums and percussion – Pamela Richardson, guitar and vocals – Dr. Eric Ahlgren, keyboards and vocals – Carter O’Brien, lead guitar. Currently, Dav is on the injured reserve list (broken wrist) and our friend Myron Katz is helping out on drums while we play shows.

2. When was The Red Plastic Buddha born?

We first came about in 2005, but we’ve been reborn several times. Rebirth happens every time someone leaves the group and a new member comes to take their place. We’re currently on the fourth incarnation of The Red Plastic Buddha.

3. What does inspire you the most?

Probably the same things that inspire other artists. Love. Beauty. Social injustice. The quest for understanding. The great mysteries of existence. Penguins. Especially penguins.

4. You have two albums out. The first one is called Sunflower Sessions. What can you tell us about your debut?

It seems that it happened a long time ago in another place and time. We were so young then and life has changed so much. The band was a dream and there were all the usual pressures. Listening to it now, I hear a rawer version of who we are today. More garagie, a dirtier psychedelic experience. I hear myself fumbling around in the dark, but I hear a band that is definitely pulling in the same direction. We did some good work, but I’ve learned a lot since then. Records are moments in time. This was the original Red Plastic Buddha.

5. You also have a brand new album out called All Out Revolution. I would like if you could present your new album?

All Out Revolution takes its name from an Anton Newcombe quote. He was talking about psychedelic music being a revolution, and it got me thinking about the meaning of the word.
People are always talking about political and social revolutions and there is this tendency to romanticize them. Revolutions tend to be driven by economic inequities and they usually lead to only exchange, not real change. One pack of assholes is exchanged for another. Eventually, power corrupts and the creeps rise to the top again. 
Political revolutions are messy. Lots of innocent people get killed. I prefer to quote Lennon over Lenin – ‘if you want money for people with minds that hate, all I can tell you brother is you’ll have to wait.’
In the end, the problem of revolution, ANY revolution, is that we keep replacing broken parts with broken parts. PEOPLE are the problem. We’re all a mess. We are motivated by our own selfish insecurities, wants, desires, prejudices, and a collective lack of understanding. Eventually, every revolution is doomed to fail because of that.
I think that the only way out is a spiritual evolution. We must put aside, collectively and individually, the tyranny of our own egos. But it’s not something you can legislate, nor impose upon others forcibly. It has to be done by individual conscious choice and requires a conscious daily effort. It’s the middle path.
All Out Revolution is about the quest for the middle path. We must break from the absolutism of dark and light, right and wrong, on and off. Certainty is the path of fools and is the result of a decision making process that is flawed by our limited ability to understand. Absolutism/ certainty, leads to superiority of ego that in turn allows us to judge others and justify any evil. The middle path embraces uncertainty and the moderation of ego; it stays the hand of action and leads to introspection and understanding.
There’s no devil that causes us to do evil. We CHOOSE to steal. To cheat. To lie. To kill. We can do any manner of moral gymnastics to justify our own personal evils, but in our hearts, we know we are doing wrong (at least, if we are worthy of the gift of free will). If we are to survive as a species, we’re going to have to put aside the moral transference called religion and take responsibility for our own actions and in so doing, our own salvation.
But I don’t see it happening. 

6. Are you doing any touring?

We tour in the region we’re from, the Midwest of the United States. Going beyond that right now is financially impractical. We don’t have a megalithic corporation behind us, and we run our own record label (Space Cat Records). It takes money to tour, and that’s not something we have a lot of. For now, money goes into recording and promoting. Perhaps we’ll get to the point where we can put our lives on hold and go on the road for longer periods, but for now we walk the path before us. 

7. What are some of your future plans?

With the new label, we have no shortage of things to do, projects, etc. We will be re-mixing and mastering our first record and releasing all our material on vinyl as a series of split 12” 45’s with bands we have relationships with. We hope to grow the awareness of the Chicago psych scene, because there are so many talented bands here now. A rising tide lifts all boats, you know?

We hope to get back in the studio by next spring. We’re working on new material now and the new band is sounding good. Pam’s taking on a slew of new effects and transforming herself as a guitarist. Eric and Brian are really fitting in and getting more and more comfortable. Dav and I are growing into the new lineup as well.

New opportunities seem to manifest all the time, festivals, etc. We’ve got a bunch of videos in the works. Technology is making promoting a very fun process. Lots of new people are listening to our music and I seem to be doing a lot of interviews these days.

I purposely try not to make too many long-term plans, as you never know how things are going to change from day to day. I take things as they come, and the band has adopted a similar tack. It works for us. We’re a very flexible unit.

8. Thank you for your time. Would you like to add something else, perhaps?

Just to please check out our music. If you like us, please let us know. Share us with your friends. Support our label and the artists we represent. Love each other and quit acting like an asshole. 

Thanks for having us, Klemen. Peace of the Buddha unto you. 

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011

© Copyright 2011

Orange Wedge interview with Joe Farace


1. Thank you very much for agreeing to the interview. You released two amazing heavy psych albums and I would like to now some details about them. Lets start with first question. What do you remember from your childhood, what did inspire you the most?

When I was 7 years old I was taking drum lessons. I switched to guitar as soon as I heard The Beatles. I didn’t have a decent guitar, but I would listen to various groups like The Stones, The Animals, The Byrds, The Yardbirds and try to play parts of the songs. I got a better guitar and began lessons.

2. Were you or other band members of Orange Wedge in any bands before forming this band? If so, does any material exist?

Orange Wedge actually started out as Greg and the Originals. Obviously Greg Coulson was in that group. I’m not real sure about the rest of the group. I was in a group called Cabbage and before that The Monarchs. There are no recordings available of these groups as far as I know.

3. If I'm correct, you formed in Baltimore around 1968? How was the scene there? What can you say about the very first days and sessions you had as Orange Wedge?

There were lots of groups around. I went to the Orange Wedge audition and we practically played the whole side of the Who album Live At Leeds. After the audition I joined immediately.

4. Why the name Orange Wedge?

It was the name of a popular LSD back in the day.

5. Did you release any 45's during your carrier?

 We did one remix/radio version of the song “People” it wasn’t really available to the public. It is included on the LongHair cd “No One Left But Me”

6. What can you tell me about touring...did you have many concerts? I would like if you could share some interesting experiences...Did you perhaps perform at any festival?

During my last 2 years in the group most gigs were in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Washington DC. Most were festivals and concerts. Typically 1-2 hour shows. We did some shows with some bigger acts and others we were the headliners.

7. In 1972 you released your debut album called Wedge. It's 500 limited edition LP. I would like to know where did you record it? In fact if you can share with us story about producing and recording this LP. Was it released as private press?

We recorded the album in Baltimore at Flite Three. We were broke and didn’t have the cash to do anything more than the 500 copies. We went in the studio twice to record and Greg and Gene Meros the engineer were more involved with mixing and producing later. The record needed a cover so we came up with the basic dark blue with the Wedge stamp. The record was available in some local stores and on gigs. We gathered a list of record companies and packaged  the album for them to review. The responses varied but no record deal.

8. What can you tell me about songwriting ? Opener on your first album called Love Me is a catchy folk rock song. The next track, Death Comes Slowly is an 11+ minute jam, which is absolute killer. Song three, The Comfort of You, is a very tender ballad. The next one is Keep on Livin, which is really rocking and after that bit of a darker One Night Lover. Meat House Shuffle is a boogie standard song and the last one, which is another killer is called Revenge. Can you share few words song per song?

We were a four piece group when we performed. Just the guitar, bass, drums and lead vocals. Greg asked me if I could write some original songs and my first ever was One Night Lover. I didn’t have a melody or words, I just played the chord changes and Greg came up with lyrics. The rest of the group just added their own interpretation. The rest of the songs just came out of my head mostly relating music that I listened to or things that were happening in my life at the time. One song that I do remember something about is “Revenge.” I was dating this chick that lived across the street from me and I looked out my window and saw her getting out of some other guys car. That pissed me off.  I even wrote about half of the lyrics to that one. It was inspired by my anger.    

9. No One Left But Me is your next album from 1974. Was it also a private press released, if so how many copies were made? I have again same question about recording & producing and also if you can share a bit about songwriting.

 I had continued to write new songs but some of the influences had changed. This time we had 1000 copies made. Half of the album was recorded at Flite Three studios and the rest at Sheffield Studios also in Maryland. The songs were put together in the same way. I would present the initial idea on guitar, than the lyrics and band followed. The song “Dream” was created in the studio. We just needed another song to complete the album. I began to play the chords and everyone else started adding things kind of in layers. We also sent this album out to record companies and no offers.

10. Who did cover artwork for your LP's?

 Because we had a very low budget, we  were very limited. We always had a crew of 4-5 guys that set up the stage, ran the lights and worked sound. They did all the artwork for the front and back cover of “No One Left But Me”. As I mentioned the Wedge album was just a dark blue textured cover with the white Wedge stamp.

11. What happened after the second LP?

We continued to perform until 1975 when some friends, who had a group that  needed a guitarist, contacted me. They were playing 6-7 nights a week and making very good money. So I decided to do it. I left the group and they continued for a couple more years and split up.

12. What did you do in the 80's and what in the 90's?

I played music professionally until I got married in 1979. I went to school for electronics and worked a regular day job. Music became something that I only did on the weekend.

13. I know you played in a band called Bottle of Blues. Would you like to share some words about that?

A friend and I formed “Bottle of Blues” about 10 years ago. We changed players several times until we ended up with the current configuration. We play 2-3 gigs a month because in Baltimore it’s hard to find places to play especially since we are a blues band, We have recorded songs for our website and demo but no original tunes. I have written other songs but never recorded any of  them with a group. .the website is if you want to hear the demos.                                                                                                                             

14. Any future plans?

I often get text messages from people who liked the albums so I recently got the idea to try to do a one time reunion. Greg and I have got together to see if we could perform the songs from the albums. It is in the works and hopefully it comes true.

15. Well, I would like to thank you again for you time and effort. I have been your fan for a long time and making this interview was really fun, to get to know some details about your music. Would you like to add something else?

Klemen, Thank you for this opportunity. It has been my pleasure. It’s great to know, several years later that people in many countries have listened and enjoyed the music of “Orange Wedge”.                                                                                

Rock on, Joe Farace

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011

© Copyright 2011

How I met Jimi Hendrix by Jenell Kesler

There is some music that doesn’t need to be commented on, less of course one just likes to hear themselves talk, or one is writing a historical journal and the records and its artist require the recognition.  And such is any material by Jimi Hendrix; so rather then give you my opinion of his work I would like to relate the story of the first time I saw the man live at the Fillmore, back in the 60’s ... and yes, I still have my ticket.

I’ll admit it, I was nerdy, loved music and loved hanging around with the guys who dug the music, and those who would later in life become surgeons and space scientists.  I was dating a guy who was doing a local radio show back in the day, which meant he was making enough money to starve, but he got free vinyl and had worked out a deal with Bill Graham, though Bill could never pronounce his last name, to allow him free access if he mentioned the shows being performed at the Fillmore and give each a good nod.  We’d been digging the music of Jimi Hendrix and when Bill Graham had the foresight to book Jimi into the Fillmore, Jeff asked if I wanted to go.  I deeply considered the offer for about a millionth of a second before I yelled ‘YA!’  Now the show was amazing, like nothing we’d expected, like nothing the world had ever seen, truly the beginning of a turning tide.  But I’m not writing about that here, here I’m going to give you the after show event that has haunted us for the rest of our lives.

Jeff’s dad owned a car dealership, which meant that he always had a new dealer’s car to tool around in, unfortunately it was never a cool car, usually big, but there was always a radio, and in those days a car was a car and the gas was free.  Shows began late at the Fillmore, and ended in the early morning hours, always heady events, so when we stepped from the club into the cool night, it was truly a breath of fresh air.  We’re standing there, Jeff’s digging in his pocket for his keys, finds them and we walk down the block.  There sitting on the steps is Jimi and Noel, we almost passed them by, but Jeff draws up short and tells them what a wonderful show it was, how impressed we both were, how we were hoping they’d make a point of coming back to San Francisco.  Jimi and Noel were very polite, and said "Thanks."  Then my boy asked them what they were doing, and Jimi said, "Waiting on the bus to take us back to the hotel.:  Can you imagine that, but that’s what the times were like.  Jeff said "Cool," thanked them again and we walked on down the block.  Once we were in the car, I said almost franticly, "Jeff, you should have offered them a ride!"

That was the first time I ever heard him swear.  He gunned the car down the block only to see the back windows of a bus, Jimi and Noel taking their seat ... and we, we were left with the memory that we could have given two thirds of the Jimi Hendrix Experience a ride back to their hotel.

*A Post Script:  When Jimi did come back to San Francisco, he was driving his own orange Corvette.

The Machine interview David Eering & Hans van Heemst


Thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview! Would you guys mind introducing yourselves?

[David] You’re welcome! My name is David, I play guitar and sing in The Machine. Besides that I also take care of our websites, recording/producing, making the artwork and the ‘business side’ of having a band.

[Hans] Hi, I'm Hans and I play bass guitar. I manage merchandise.

So, how did you guys get together to create The Machine? Why the name The Machine?

[David] We met each other while we were still at high school. We did a schoolball-gig, Hans went to university and thought he wouldn’t have the time for a band so we hired some other guys, a bassplayer and a singer. Davy and I were both raised on blues, (psychedelic) classic rock and we were into metal at the time (we sometimes still are) and we connected naturally in a musical way, call it chemistry. At one point we were playing songs that were too ‘radio-friendly’, which was caused by the singer. We got rid of him and later on got Hans back to replace our former bassplayer Ed(uard), because we needed a more bassheavy groove instead of Ed’s funky plucking. This was two or three months before the recordings of our first album Shadow of the Machine. We’re called the way we are for several reasons. First we needed a name with more balls to it, just like the new musical direction we were heading in after sacking our singer. It also pretty much sums up some of our important influences, Hendrix (Machine Gun), Pink Floyd (Welcome To The Machine) and Kyuss (Green Machine). We adapted the name to have something to work with and got stuck to it afterwards hahahaha.

[Hans] Time is always scarce, but when they asked me back in I thought what the hell... I'll give it a shot. It is not always easy combining the two, but totally worth it.

What are some of your influences?

[David] To me personally, of course the aforementioned bands. Besides that a lot of other bands such as Motorpsycho, Grand Funk Railroad, CCR, Stevie Ray Vaughan, King Crimson, Agitation Free, Miles Davis, Can, Sleep, Black Flag, Black Sabbath, Alice in Chains, The Doors plus a bunch of old blues guys (Muddy Waters!) and a lot of other 60’s/70’s psychedelic/rock bands.

[Hans] I have always been a big Floyd fan, but to answer what drove me to plays bass or what inspires me…
I have no idea. I just wanted to play bass one day. 

In 2007 you released you first EP, The Doors to Infinity, following Shadow of the Machine album. What can you tell me about producing this first album?

[David] Funny you are aware of The Doors to Infinity, it was intended as a demo! We recorded it with our previous bassplayer. But about Shadow of the Machine: it was basically recorded to check how our songs would sound like once they were recorded. We wanted to see if there were people interested in our stuff in an album-format. Really unexpected, it became quite successful. We’re still selling a lot of the cd’s, we released it without any record label, we even didn’t try to do so. I used to record some of my own ideas at home, using really basic techniques. So I thought I could try this with a complete band as well just to see how it would end up. Shadow of the Machine is really the start of it all, my first act as a producer (which is quite obvious listening to it) and the cooperation between the three of us as a band. Shadow is bit weird to me now, it was made by us but it doesn´t feel ´right´ anymore. That´s also why we basically never play any of those songs anymore during our shows.

[Hans] I was in the band for just a few months. Most of our gear was crappy. My amp, the microphones we used, Davy's drum kit, but I think we did a pretty decent job considering the resources we had. 

In 2009 you released your second album called Solar Corona. I think that the production is slightly better than on the debut. You did some really nice, long, trippy songs. Can you share a few words about this release. Why did you decided to make longer jams?

[David] The only thing we did during our rehearsals after Shadow, was jamming. This way we really connected more, become one organism (or machine?). We had some really cool jams we wanted to record, so we did. A funny thing is, that the majority of the album was written right before we hit ´record´. Moons of Neptune and Caterpillar´s Mushroom were already quite thought out, the main themes in those tunes were already there. So we weren´t like “hey man, we should make long jams and put those on an album”, it was just the phase the band was in at the time: improvising and jamming a lot. We not only grew as a band, but also my methods and ideas of recording/producing improved with Solar Corona. It’s not something I’m educated in, it’s all autodidactic and very DIY. It was and still is all about experimenting and reading a lot about it. To be honest, there were still a lot of things, both musically and production wise, to be improved at Solar Corona. With Drie, I think we made a big step in both disciplines.

[Hans] We wrote a lot of it in the studio. This was a bit stressful, but created some nice tunes like Solar Corona and Interstellar Medium. I'm really proud of Caterpillar's Mushroom. It's about a caterpillar on a mushroom (really?), I think everyone knows which caterpillar that is. 

Drie is your last album released in November 2010. One of the best psychedelic/stoner albums of the year in my opinion. What are some of your thoughts?

[David] Thanks for the compliment dude! Drie is a more balanced album, in a couple of ways. We’ve got long trippy songs and shorter more hardrocking songs. The album’s also more composed, we’ve actually set down a couple of times to ‘write’ transitions in songs etc.. I can imagine that Tsiolkovsky’s Budget and First Unique Prime for instance may be interpreted as jams by some listeners: long songs with repeating riffs and patterns.
Both tracks were actually written and composed (with some possibilities for improvisation when playing these songs live of course). I’m quite proud of Drie and it’s really cool that a lot of people seem to dig it too. The production is also an improvement compared to Solar Corona. I think it’s important to always keep improving yourself at all different kind of levels, also as a musician. Besides that, it´s important to have fun and not to take everything too seriously: the songs are what it’s all about, not the guys that happen to play them.

[Hans] You could say it represents our learning progress. 

How is touring going for you? Are you satisfied with it? Share an interesting experience you had from concerts...

[David] Actually we don’t really ‘tour’ that much. Touring at the moment exists of some small weekend-tours to mostly Germany, apart from the clubshows in Holland and Belgium. We had some offers for shows in other parts of Europe as well, but we’re really busy with our jobs (Davy and me) and study (Hans) that we unfortunately cannot accept every gig we get offered. Our booker Matte Vandeven (Sound of Liberation) worked out a European tour for upcoming fall (Up In Smoke III) which should become awesome. We’d like to play as much as we can, but our life besides the band keeps us from playing more than we do. But I’m quite OK with that, because we cannot make a living from the band right now. As long as we can play a lot of single or weekendgigs and at least one tour per year, I’m happy! An interesting experience to share… Well, interesting in terms of ‘that’s a bummer man’: we were invited to be special guests at a couple of shows for Up In Smoke I Tour (Colour Haze, Rotor & Sungrazer) in Germany. We were about to play in really nice venues with lots of people showing up, but Davy got really sick on our way to Germany. This eventually resulted in the fact that he really wasn’t able to do our shows, unfortunately. Apart from a couple of guest appearances I did and one The Machine show he couldn’t play, I’ve never played any show without the guy, so it’s also a bit weird for me to get on stage without him. But me and Hans did these two shows with guest drummer Hans Mulders (yes another Hans, well actually we call our Hans ‘Pirate’ and the other Hans just Hans whenever both Hans and Hans are present, otherwise it can be quite confusing when you say Hans) from our friends Sungrazer, another cool Dutch Elektrohasch band. We just got on stage and did a completely improvised set, fortunately the jams turned out quite cool. Both Tim and Milan from Rotor joined in from time to time on the other drumkit which was still on stage. We did the same thing the second night, which also resulted in Stefan Koglek (Colour Haze) joining us on stage playing 2nd guitar and Milan from Rotor taking over the drumkit from Hans (yes Hans, not Pirate) at one point.

[Hans] We fight a lot but it's getting better. I guess we find more ways to cope with each other's personalities. When you're constantly together for a weekend, you get on each other's nerves. Never for long however, cause guys will be guys and can easily solve an argument.

[David] ‘To cope with’ really might sound too negative. We all love each other: brothers tend to argue sometimes right? We´re a very tight band (no pun intended), we also have a lot of contact outside of our band-related activities. You know, we started the thing as friends and we still are. Hans and I already became really close friends before he rejoined and Davy and I became this through the years: he’s like my little brother from another mother (as he always likes to put it). Not that we have the same father though…

How about some future plans for the band? By that I mean do you have an idea for a new album in the future? Where will you go touring?

[David] Yeah we do have plans for a new album, it will probably be released somewhere later this year/early next year. We’ve got some cool tunes that we’re finalizing at the moment, call it pre-production/demoing the new record, we’re moving into the right direction. The recordings will probably start within a couple of weeks. We’re thinking about a song or 7 to 8, but we’re staying within the borders for putting it on one LP. So no 2LP with 60+ minutes this time, probably around 45 minutes. It will be another typical The Machine release, but yet again different (we do like clichés don’t we?!). Don’t know exactly how to put it, but I think you could call it ‘heavier’, looking at how the tunes are shaping up. I don’t like to call it more aggressive, because that has a negative vibe over it which I don’t like, but it could be interpreted that way. Doomier from time to time, maybe that’s a good one. But on the other side we’re not abandoning our spacing out!
As said, we´ll probably be touring Europe in the fall and I expect lots of other nice things to come on our path. We played Burg Herzberg Festival this summer for instance, I’m really happy with that!

[Hans] After Drie, we all thought that we had to come with something different. Otherwise we would start repeating ourselves. Also we want to explore other sides to it. Some will love it, some will hate it. We will love it.

Thank you very much for your time and effort. Do you have anything else to say about the band or yourself, that I didn't ask?

[David] The Machine abides.


Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2011
© Copyright

Interview with Bill Swortwood of Surf Guitar Villains

Setup:  This has to be one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever done.  I was picked up and shuttled by driver to a very dark, very refined restaurant from the late 30’s.  A place with no name out front, matter of fact, the entrance was out back, the kind of place famous people would take other famous people to when they just wanted to be left alone from prying eyes.  Each table was lit with several candles, deeply carpeted, one entire wall had actually been painted by Miro, and once served, the waiters leave you alone until you call for them.  A trio was playing smooth jazz from somewhere, and Billiam was sitting there like a cat in quiet repose, two cigars and a box of matches on the table ... they obviously didn’t mind patrons smoking.

Jenell: [sitting down, taking it all in]  Wow, this is amazing. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me.  How’d you ever find this place?

Billiam: [with a wry 'doggie smile']  It’s an amazing establishment, Peter Sellers used to come here all the time. Kind of place you have to check your ego at the door, cause the chef knows more than anyone anyway.

Jenell: First [laughing], why isn’t there a ‘The’ in front of the name Surf Guitar Villains?  And since you’re in Arizona, where do you find the waves?

Billiam: [shaking out a linen napkin] To answer your question, three less characters to type. Three less characters to fit on a graphic.  Also part of geek culture, less to type means less keystrokes to get things done. Besides, iTunes sorts and ignores the 'the'. Prince Charles would certainly not be happy with me.  As to 'waves' ... you either drive to San Diego or Mexico, or just dream of waves. The Villains just want to add to the backdrop of that dream.

Jenell: [soup instantly appears, and Billiam leans forward visually taking it all in]  Your musical tastes and recordings are all over the boards, but what drew me to SGV were your sonically charged washes.  Many of them are almost cinematic in nature, and I’m speaking of tunes like “Sea, Surf, Evening,” “2000 Miles From Nowhere,” and even “Captain Of The Desert Sea,” which has that tongue in cheek Syd Barrett acid drenched lyrical vision.  Would you agree that psychedelic inspired inclinations ride as an undercurrent?

Billiam: [pauses sipping his glass of red] That’s certainly one of them.  To me the perfect album is The Beatles’ "White Album," which is also all over the map. It takes you places and plays with you. A friend of mine in high school had his house burn down, and bequeathed to me his pile of smoke damaged albums, which included Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly, and Woodstock with some Beatles.  My sister was a big Jefferson Airplane buff, and my dad was a James Brown junkie.  San Jose AM radio in the late 60's and early 70's had a mass of psychedelic garage band one hit wonders playing in constant rotation for a while.  Hell, Ron Bushy [of Iron Butterfly] was giving drum lessons down the block, and members of the Count Five were trying to reboot their band with a friend of mine two blocks north of my parents. So I was inadvertently immersed in psychedelic garage music at a tender and impressionable age, which no doubt modified my DNA.

Jenell: I’m thinking of starting a new genre with SGV, let’s call it Psychedelic Surf.

Billiam: [laughing to himself, then pauses] The only problem with that is that I always try to break the mold. There are times I want to change the name to just "The Villains,"  so folks don't just assume its just surf music.  It’s really retro garage music, in the best sense. But people already make assumptions with any name, so I am keeping SGV for the time being. Maybe we are closer to the Beach Boys, but less pretty vocals. [He gazes at me while rubbing the corners of his mouth with his thumb and forefinger like he’s checking the ether for  something he forgot to say, realizes he hasn’t and returns to reality.]

Jenell: There are songs such as “Lap Of Luxury” from your Desert Sea [Demos], which almost sounds like early Marc Bolan, but with that 60’s hippy vibe going on.  Do you draw much from your musical heros?

Billiam: Lap of Luxury seems a bit more Bowie, but that I get where you are coming from.  Lap of Luxury is more early King Crimson, or Fripp, even Bowie inspired. But, yeah. Bolan was a master of simple but effective power pop in the early 70's.  I do love the "Slider" album ... very primal. [Distracted by the waitress] Telegram Sam ... now there’s some boogie there. I want to try a cover of "Hot Love" one of these days. Basic and to the point. Yeah, there is some Bolan in my DNA as well.

Jenell: I've always hesitated asking others, as it seems prying, but you're very open ... when you play a gig, a club or a bar, how do you get paid?  A flat fee, all or part of the door?

Billiam: [Billiam steps up to the bar leaving me at the table, gets the house red, purses his lips to the side, then responds while walking back] Assuming you get paid, it is dependent on the venue and their revenue model. Corporate venues like the Fiesta Bowl block party or the Mesa Art center for small crowds tend to be OK, about $500 or so for a gig. Biker bars are about $100 per hour for the band. Other venues in the area that cater to the college kids have a cut of the sale of tickets, and yes, some bars give a cut of the bar. But the big bucks are in big venues, or venues that you promote yourself.  Right now my free time outweighs the desire to be my own promoter. For that matter, my current occupation [Billiam's very circumspect about his work, though I’ve learned from side sources that he’s some sort of computer wizard.  I can imagine him working for the CIA, NSA, or shadowy Banking Industries, after-all, the guy from Iron Maiden is a commercial airline pilot] pays too well to get too serious about the money aspect for the moment. But the guys in the band want to see something for the effort ... so some money is a good thing.

Jenell: Much of SGVs material is dynamically laced with reverb and echo, over which you’ve laid what I can only describe as spoken word ... an aspect you carried even further when you worked with the performance artist James Luna.

Billiam: [with a laugh that reminds me of the uncola-nut guy] The classic example of that was Return of Revenge. Sometime you don't know why you do something, you just do it. The original title of that was "The Return of the Revenge of the Surf Guitar Villains,” which is a nod to cheesy 50's horror movies. The vocals were one of the last things created for that. I wanted a doomy monster movie vibe, and just came up with the surf gods weirdness on the spot. The vocal thing was a combination of finding an odd but cool setting on an Alesis digital reverb that had ridiculously long sustain and dragged out the hard consonants; as well as finding the lowest possible register I could manage to have the "football voice of doom.”  A lot of the spoken word thing is not really having an idea of my vocal range or ability at that time, so I worked within perceived limitations.

With James [James Luna:] the effects were applied to the instruments as I saw fit, mostly the fiddle and mandolin, with a bit on the guitars. Reverb on James’ voice was actually the bounce in the studio itself, where the voice leaked to the drum mikes, or the drums leaked to the vocal mikes. I actually used that leakage to make the drums 'bloom'  and fade on “Tap It Down.”  That work was done in Logic 8.  The real trick is having the sense of when an effect is enough or too much, I think I am getting better at this.

Jenell:  A good number of your songs sound restrained, they sit there building like they’re going to break right out of the box, then you manage to reach in and calm things down, holding it all in check.

Billiam: [orders us buffalo burgers with jalapenos and blue cheese, which I’m told are to die for, and here are filet mignon on a fresh baked rolls with organic peppers stuffed with imported cheeses at almost $60 a piece] I’m not rightly sure why that is, except that I do try to keep within my limits  ... as in "a man has got to know his limits". I have a voice that does certain things well, and other things not at all.  I have no voice for contemporary pop. My guitar playing is simple and spare, and sometimes even a bit clumsy, so I keep to what I can do. Some songs, like "Life on a Napkin,” are intended to keep under a boil ... have a long simmer. I have been told by younger folks that we have a 'chill sound.’ 

Billiam: [To the Waiter] Yeah, that will work! [burgers, peppers, and fries are set down on an actual silver tray.  Billiam takes a bite …]

Jenell:  What frustrates [fanning my mouth after a bit of pepper] you most, recording or performing?

Billiam:  Those are wonderfully hot aren’t they, not overwhelming, but just a spark? What frustrates me the most is me!  Recording is actually pretty straight forward, and you can do over things that did not come off right, and the engineering part is somewhat tedious, but you get results that you want. Playing live, on the other hand, is a one shot deal. When you are schlepping the gear, doing set up, having failed sound checks, and amps going south, guitar strings popping, that all does get annoying. But getting things out of myself when I want is the main frustration.

Jenell:  These fries are obscenely good, how’d they do that?

Billiam:  I love this place, I try not to come here too often, I’d hate to become accustomed to the fare.  See the guy over there by the kitchen, that’s Anthony Bourdain.

[We go on about food for the next 15 minutes, and I’m thinking I may never be able to eat a burger from anywhere else again.]

Jenell: You’ve covered other people’s material, but your take on “Sweet Jane” by The Velvet Underground [And did you notice they have the word ‘The’ in their name?] simply knocked my socks off.  How did you decide to cover this, and are their other songs you’d like to leave your mark on?

Billiam: [list one eyebrow and spurts malt vinegar on his fries]  We’ve that much time? [laughs] There are a number of Neanderthal pieces I wanted to do just because ... Dire Straits "If I Had You,” The Troggs "Wild Thing,”  Lou Reed "White Light/White Heat," The Stones "Jumpin Jack Flash,”  Reed's " Waiting for the Man,” Bowie's "Jean Genie,” even T-Rex "Jeepster" or "Hot Love.”  I'd love to do a Bruce Cockburn, like "Child of the Wind,” or "Tokyo,” or T Bone Burnette's "Baby Fall Down" or "The 60's.”  And that’s just at the moment. We’re trying to get a version of "Little Wing" and "Sunshine of Your Love" ...  going for a show tune, not sure we will record them.  And yes, I have noticed that “the” in THE Velvet Underground, but don’tcha’ think it sounds better as just Velvet Underground, it’s so much more open ended.

Jenell:  “Surfin’ The Cane” from Return Of Revenge, hypnotically blisters with musical visions, and at 8 minutes and 10 seconds it delivers exactly what I want when I’m looking to kick back in an altered state.  From what hat did you manage to draw this?

Billiam: Oh yeah. There is a project that metastasized and morphed to something not originally intended. Originally I wanted to do a straight Neil Young cover. At the time my vocal chops were not even close to doing anything passable. I did an acoustic intro and an electric version off of a drum loop, which I hand-added drums to. Tried some lead. Not happy with the results. Asked Ken Drottar to see what he thought. Now Ken is a guitar chameleon. You want surf, SRV, Hendrix, Tool, industrial metal, cool jazz riffs, Reggae ... name it, Ken can pull it out his backside. Anyway, Ken came over with his '56 Strat ... the real deal, and his favored pedals ... a chained Expandora set and a few other items, and just went to town laying track after track down. I had a very ham-fisted set of assault leads, Ken buzzed between surf and Hendrix. What you here largely there is the greatness of Mr Drottar. He’s just screaming awesome. I added in a final lead guitar part, then ping-ponged between the various lead parts, spliced the acoustic and electric parts together, and let Ken shine. I mixed between my assault grade guitar work and Ken's stellar out of his mind  guitar riffing. So it was a failed experiment that went terribly right!  Some things happen because you see something emerging, and just let the moment give birth to something new.  A lot of times I don't intend to come up with something in particular, I just start playing and hear something in my head I want to get out.

Jenell:  While “Surfin’ The Cane” takes one for the ride, you have other songs like “Eclipse” that are so delicate and airy they almost seem to shimmer and vanish right before my ears.

Billiam: “Eclipse” was another Bill and Drottar collaboration. The base of “Eclipse” is a riff taken from the three and a half hour jam with my drum machine that also produced “Return of Revenge.” It is an alternate tuning piece played on, you guessed it, a Hamer Eclipse. Ken actually took that recording home, had Jake add drums her recorded in his washroom, and added his lead guitar parts.  That original recording session produced three tunes for SGV.  I was just in a zone that day. The shimmer was my drift off and brilliant understated work by Ken.

Jenell:  Would you mind taking a few minutes to give us some SGV history, and your current gunslingers?

Billiam: Oh, a David Copperfield moment [Billiam stretches out his arm dancing his fingers on the edges of the table, then toys with a cigar] In 1999 I looked at my wall of guitars and recording equipment, and thought, "Either I am going to do something with all this stuff or I need to get rid of it". With a Tascam 4 channel Porta-Studio a cassette project called Maladjusted Universe was crafted in the home studio. Surf Guitar Villains came into existence. With some positive feedback on the EP/cassette, I snagged an 8 channel digital recorder, a mini-disk unit, and a Crown 10 inch reel to reel tape recorder. “Return Of Revenge” was tracked from the Porta-Studio and the Crown Reel to Reel. The concept then was to track a Surf/Hendrix styled lo-fi garage project. Ken Drottar, fellow engineer and pub band veteran, tracked lead guitar parts, with Jake and late but great Larry Huntley throwing in to fill out the base tracks. The collaboration advanced the project to a viable lo-fi release.

I started about 6 months later on “Cadillac Smile.” In the midst of the project I found himself out of work, and ended up moving to Austin Texas to remain  employed. I spent my spare time not working to flesh out the tracks while in Austin. Ken Drottar again threw in to fill out some of the classic tracks such as “Life On A Napkin.” About 18 months later I settled down in Arizona, and found the sandy and waterless universe of the Phoenix Valley. Bored again, new experiments with keyboards, and collaboration with Steve Carver on guitar created the “Desert Surf” album ... “Arizona Indigenous Surf Shop.” Largely this was recorded in the new garage-office, with Radio Wasteland capturing the musical dissatisfaction of the format driven radio and super-commercialization destroying the content.

A three year sojourn in Arizona was interrupted by a unique job offer back in Portland. The job turned out to be less than what met the eye, but with little else to do outside of work, I tracked most of “Retro Americana” again on the Tascam Porta-One 4 channel cassette, recording most in a rented bedroom in Hillsboro Oregon. Meeting up with Ken Drottar and Larry Huntley, a plan to go live with Surf Guitar Villains was proposed, and I was excited to get that off the ground. Then Billiam's employer collapsed. Back in Queen Creek Arizona, Glenn Ducusin added the guitar spark needed to give “Retro American” focus, and Glenn created "Geronimo's Last Wipeout" at Spudley sound with myself at the recording controls in an afternoon.

Recording on one's own got to be ingrown. I asked Henry Wong, friend and general good guy, to work on a live collaboration. Henry and Bill did a one-off coffee shop open mike with Mark Lanus that was educational and entertaining, but was not sustainable. In the new collaboration Henry provided both talent and stability to the music set. Glenn Ducusin also signed on with the experiment. After trying several drummers out, Bobby Prechtl signed on to man the 'skins.

After some false starts Bobby and I pulled in Paul Baker - Fiddle, Paul Aguilar - Bass and harmonica, David Van Druff on guitar, bass, vocals, mandolin. I learned a bit of mandolin himself at that time. The band started to jell towards the end of 2010 and had the opportunity to back James Luna at the Mesa Art Center that summer. The collaboration was so unique that the Villains recorded a repeat performance at SER Soundworks in Jan 2011, which is now released as Three Stories on CD Baby.

Don Martin join the SGV family towards the end of 2010 on vocals and lead guitar. The entire lineup played Woofstock 2010. We are right now working on two projects ... “Desert Sea” and a more rock metal experiment that Don and David from I am referring to as "Armed Bears.”

[At this point Anthony Bourdain who’s been eyeing Billiam’s cigars just sitting there, wanders over and shakes hands with Billiam, introduces me as having done some cover art for their albums, and written some fine words.  Anthony takes my card saying that if he ever decides to put out an album he’ll look me up ... but I doubt either would ever happen.  Billiam slides a cigar into Anthony’s pocket, and after a bit more banter, he wanders off.] 

Jenell:  Are you more conceptually minded, or structurally?  And are you willing to let things wonder, almost jazzing it out live?

Billiam: I think a bit of both.  Music is about form, improvisation is about freedom in the form, or bending the form.  Once you have the form of a genre down and have have some ideas of what you want to add, then throwing on top what seems at the moment to make sense is incredibly fun. When you have a new song you are struggling with owning the form, you are unlikely to improve much with that, or will tend to morph to something else.

Jenell:  There are songs like “Mr. Mystery Man” that you’ve recorded both rockin’ and psychedelically influenced.  What was tugging at your sleeve to do that?

Billiam: The truth be told, an irresistible urge to make fun of spy movies. The sound I wanted was very 60's, so I played the original piece on a Casio keyboard that went through a Sans-Amp that was jacked up to sound like Deep Purple organ. The guitar was a simple riff on my Telecaster, with the drum courtesy, in the original ... of a DR-660.  Later on Henry and Bobby re-envisioned it with the lounge lizard intro followed by the "kick to the head" break. Very satisfying to play it that way.  As we now do “Secret Agent Man,” we try to butt these up together.

Jenell:  Thanks for taking the time, by the way, what are you listening to right now?

Billiam: Well, what I am listening to these days. Right now Peter Adams, Jeff Buckley, the Polyphonic Spree ... 60's mass vocal sensibilities converted into 21st century sound cheese whiz ... love it!  Then there’s The Killers “Sam's Town” on endless loop,  and the Stone Coyotes which is a kick to the head followed by a second. Actually I was, my wife Laura has claimed community property rights on “My Turn,” and as it's on my iPod already, I really can't protest. Besides, she’ll have some good stuff to play when we are traveling together. Oh yeah, Mr. Luna turned me on to a new Arthur Lee CD that’s coming out end of this month. Awesome throwback music. Have some David Gilmour I need to give a listen to here. Not sure when we will play next, but want to get to playing again when things cool down some.

Jenell: Where can people find you on the net, and score your material?

Billiam: As far as finding us, iTunes and CDBaby are the main spots. We have an insider site at, and we are on both Facebook, MySpace and ReverbNation. Yep, we can be found .

Jenell:  Before I let you go, I have to thank you for “Human Torch,” I can’t seem to listen to it just once.

Billiam: Well, thank you!  The late Larry Huntley did the organ for that ... actually took the master home and returned it with the big organ outro. That one I am particularly proud of ... the lyrics are a full circle of my days getting 12 cent Marvel comics at the 7-11 in San Jose when I was about 12 or 13, and how this evolved in my life to having my son Ian run around in his Spiderman UndreRoos. A silly thought for a light subject. The guitar and bass is all me, I love the bouncy rough lead I came up with on that. Yeah, that one is cool.

[At this point the waiter brings over some grapefruit sized lemons, they’re frozen, and filled with lemon sorbet ... the perfect ending for a delightful meal.]

Billiam:  If you don’t mind, I’m gonna head upstairs, I’m not big on Lemon Sorbet, and smoke this baby.  I’m hoping Anthony’s still around. The driver will take you anywhere you want to go. [And just like that he disappeared up the stairs, then I was home, shaking my head in disbelief, hoping that my Zoom recorder had captured it all.]

Interview made by Jenell Kesler / 2011
© Copyright 2011

Magic interview with Duane King


1. Thanks a lot for taking your time to do this interview about your band! Firstly I would like to ask you about your childhood and teens years. What were some of the influences that made an impact on you back then and where did you grow up?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan.  My influences were Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and of course all the Motown artists. One Christmas when I was about 14, I got a little radio for a present and I used to listen to it late at night under the covers so as not to be discovered by my parents.  (I think I was supposed to be sleeping)  I picked up an R&B station down south somewhere and I heard the Motown song "Money" by Barrett Strong and it had a profound effect on me.  Of course Elvis and Chuck Berry and others were also amazing to me, but there was something about the Motown sound that was different.

2. Before Magic, were you or others in any other bands? Any releases from then perhaps?

I formed my first band in 1964, the year when music changed forever.  The Beatles, Rolling Stones and all the British groups revolutionized music for me and I think just about everyone.  To capitalize on this new phenomenon we named our group "The Lloids of Lon Den".  We recorded a single on the now somewhat famous Fenton Records in Grand Rapids Michigan.  Side A was "You Will Go" and side B was "Girls Can Really Dance".  These were my first two original songs.
We played some great venues in Michigan and opened for "The Kingsmen", Roy Orbison, The Beach Boys and other groups from the early sixties.
And then like a dream come true, we got some interest from Motown Records on "You Will Go".  We went to the famous Motown Records studio and met and played for one of the staff producers there.  We were in a position to be the first white group to be signed to Motown.  But everything came to an end when a week or so later I was drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam.  

3. How did you guys come together to form Magic?

After two years in the Army (one year in Vietnam dodging bullets and rockets) I finally returned to Michigan.  This time I went to East Lansing Michigan, home of Michigan State University.  I slept in my car for a while and began looking for a band to join.
There was a vibrant music scene there because of the university and in a few weeks I found a band looking for a singer and guitar player.  They were called "The Next Exit".  As it turned out their bass payer was also leaving and they asked me if I new anyone that played bass.  As it turned out, my brother Nick was getting out of the army in a matter of weeks.  Nick played in the Lloids of Lon Den with me so he was able to walk into a new band right out of the Army.  A few months later the keyboard player left the group and then the lead guitar player because of conflicting day job responsibilities.  We didn't replace the keyboard player but we did get a great guitar player, who was a studio musician from Miami, Florida.  He was visiting his brother who lived in the area and saw our advertisement we placed in the paper.  He liked the group and joined.  So we had myself on rhythm guitar and lead vocal, my brother Nick on bass and vocals, Gary Harger (the only original remaining member of "The Next Exit")  on drums and Joey Murcia on lead guitar and vocals.  A friend and photographer who took our band photos convinced us to change our name to "Magic".  And like magic, we became a new band!

4. How do you remember some of the early sessions you had together?

We were the house band in the most exclusive club in Detroit at the time and doing quite well getting our sound together.  But one day, Joey our guitar player said he was sure he could get us signed to the label in Miami where he was once a studio musician.  Of course this got the immediate attention of myself and the other members.  Stay in Detroit where winter was in full swing, or go to Miami Florida where it's warm and sunny and we can record.  After thinking about it for a full six seconds, we all decided to go to Miami.

5. You recorded your legendary LP in 1969. How did you get a contract for it? It was released by Armadillo Records...(what can you say about this company?)

When we arrived in Miami, We were in Joey's territory.  Joey used to play with a well known band in Florida called, "The Birdwatchers".  He got us a gig at a club and then set up a meeting with Henry Stone, the owner of "Alston Records".  Henry came to the club and saw us play and signed us up on the spot.  As you can imagine we were quite excited.  I was the main songwriter in the group so I began writing and within a month or so we had a finished album. Now Alston Records, was mainly an R&B label, not unlike a Miami version of Motown. They had a few well known artists, Betty Wright (Clean Up Woman), Clarence Reid (Nobody But You Babe),  Benny Latimore and a few others.  Because our sound didn't really fall into that category, we thought a new label name might be a good idea so our producer, David Brown (who was also the studio bass player for Alston Records), thought up the name "Armadillo Records" and we all said, why not.  So the Armadillo label was born.

6. What are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this LP?

For me, being in a recording studio recording an album is what I would imagine heaven must be like.  It was a very happy time in my life.  Bobby Birdwatcher, member of the "Birdwatchers" and the keyboard studio musician for Alston Records, played keyboard on a few of the songs.  He and Clarence Reid also sang backup vocals on the song "You Must Believe She's Gone".  Everyone at Alston Records pitched in and helped with our record.  It was kind of a family atmosphere there.  Very nice.
One memory stands out during the recording process.  Joey was getting ready to lay down the lead guitar track for "I'll Just Play"
when he suddenly decided to play the solo while completely nude.  And so he did.  Was that too much information?

What can you say about the cover artwork?

The front cover was an idea I had, which was to put us all in little bubbles floating on a black surface.  Enclosed if you will within the bubble.  Thus the album title "Enclosed".
The photo's were taken on one of the Florida Keys.  We had a gig at a club in Miami Beach that was run by the Mafia.  The bouncer was an enforcer type.  But they treated us very well.  Anyway, on one of our days off, we got up in the morning and headed south to the Florida Keys and spent the day in the sun and surf taking photos and using illegal substances.

How many pressings were made?

I don't know how many pressings were made.  But we had a single on the charts in Florida, "Keep On Movin' On", and side two of the album, Who Am I To Say", "I,ll Just Play", were getting a lot of play on many FM stations. 

7. What did you do after the album?

After finishing the album we began to play all over Florida where most of the chart action was.

8. What about touring?....where did you tour and with who? Did you play at any festivals?

We opened for "The Association" (Along Comes Mary, Cherish, etc.) at the Palm Beach Auditorium in Palm Beach Florida. We also did a music festival at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, (where Jim Morrison of the Doors got into trouble), A group you may remember called "Pacific, Gas, and Electric" was the headliner.  We also played in a club in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida sharing the stage with Bob Seger who in a couple years would become very successful.  One of the most interesting places we played was also in Ft. Lauderdale where the stage came down from the ceiling as we were playing our opening number.  It was very trippy as we would say back then. 

9. I would like to ask you about song writing. I will wrote down songs from your first LP and I would appreciate if you could comment each of the song in a few words.

A1       Keep On Movin' On:  A song I wrote about not giving up on your dreams and avoiding things that are detrimental to achieving your goals.  This song was also the single from the album.

A2       Indian Sadie:  This song was written by Joey our lead guitar player.  He wanted me to sing it though, so I did.
I believe it's a period piece love song.

A3       You Must Believe She's Gone:  A song I wrote about unrequited love.

A4       ETS Zero:  A song I wrote about my experiences in Vietnam.  ETS was army talk for "estimated time of separation", meaning when you get to leave the army and go home.

A5       Wake Up Girl: That's me trying to write a Beatle like song.  Didn't work out too well, but it was fun to record.

A6       One Minus Two:  A song I wrote about a broken hearted lover.  I still like this song.

B1       Who Am I To Say?:  Who am I to say what's wrong with the world, I just want to play my guitar and sing.  And so I do.

B2          I'll Just Play:  Welcome to my psychedelic world. Me and Joey wrote this to accompany you on any trip you would like to take.
                              Bon Voyage......

10. In 1971 you released another LP on Rare Earth Records. This time we have more country rock oriented album. Would you like to share a bit about it?

Yes, the Motown experience.  To quote a famous writer, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".
       After our first album had run its course.  We were starting to put together songs for a follow up album.  We got together with our producer, David Brown, and cut two songs.  "California" , written by Joey and sung by my brother Nick, and "The Sound of Tears is Silent", written and sung by me.  These songs later found their way onto the CD re-issue of the Magic Enclosed album from "Gear Fab Records".   But one day while we were in the studio working, David Brown got a phone call.  After the call he turned to us and said, that was Boz Scaggs on the phone and he wants me to come to San Francisco and play bass in his band.  Well of course that was a great opportunity for him so we wished him well and off he went.  Well we tried to find another producer but couldn't find one we liked so we decided maybe it was time to move on.  So it was back to East Lansing, Michigan.  We had an album under our belt and by now we had become a very tight band.  It wasn't long and we were the talk of the town.  We played outdoor festivals and clubs packed with college students as well as people of all ages.  One gig that was especially note worthy was when students from the astronomy department of Michigan State University came to us with an idea.
It seems every year they must come up with an idea to raise some money for the department.  So their idea was to have us play in the University Planetarium using the night sky effects of the planetarium plus augmenting it with a psychedelic light show.  Well, this was in 1970 and it had never been done before. ( A few years later planetariums would play Pink Floyd and use laser lights etc,.)
The response was overwhelming.  Originally scheduled for one week we had to add an additional week.  The demand for tickets was so great and the seating was limited so they began to allow people to stand in the back and  literally sit in the aisles. Both the planetarium and Magic made thousands of dollars on that gig.  The people told us that it was the most money raised for the planetarium in the history of the university.  We were all pleased.
It wasn't long after this that our manager brought the group to the attention of a well known and connected Detroit radio personality, Scott Regen.  Well, we made a tape for Scott and he took it to Motown Records.  Motown liked what they heard and signed us.  You can imagine how I felt.  Here it was over five years later since my last trip to Motown Records when I had to give it all up to go to war and now I was back!  My life had come full circle and through persistence, faith and hard work my dream had finally been realized.  We were recording again!  Happy days!  Another bonus was that Scott knew Stevie Wonder and persuaded him to come in and play piano on a few of our songs.  It was so great meeting Stevie.  He was such a nice person and he even played a new song for us that he was working on for his new album entitled "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life".  Brilliant!  After months of hard work we finished the album and it got a great review in Billboard and Cashbox magazines.  And soon some radio stations began adding songs from the album to their play list.  Things were looking great!
We were making plans to go to New York City for the press party release of our new album.  The budget had been approved and we were going to use the New York City Planetarium as our venue to try and re-create our previous success at Michigan State when the "worst of times" part of the story reared its ugly head.  Without a warning to anyone at Motown, Barry Gordy sent out a memo he was closing Motown Records.  All projects were canceled effective immediately. Hundreds of employees out of work.  A twenty story office building closed.  The dream was over.

11. What happened next?

Well, that was a hard thing to deal with.  We tried to pull ourselves back up and find another record label, but our spirits seemed broken beyond repair and as it turned out so was Magic.

After the break up, I moved to Los Angeles and continued pursuing music.  I even worked as an actor for ten years.  That was very enjoyable.  I had a small role with Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie "View From The Top" and played Johnny Depp's lawyer in "Blow", just to name a few.  Joey went on to do studio work again and played with Andy Gibb as well as The Bee Gees, Joe Walsh and others.  My brother Nick played in assorted bands and solo projects until he was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1998.  Gary, the drummer, got out of music and went into assorted business ventures.

The Magic Enclosed album became popular in Europe when someone began bootlegging it on assorted labels.  In 1997 I got a call from Roger Maglio, the President of Gear Fab Records.  He informed me about the bootlegging in Europe and offered Magic front money and future royalties to allow him to re-issue the album on CD.  We agreed to this and added a few bonus cuts and released the CD in 1998 and dedicated it to my brother Nick.

12. What are you doing these days?

Well, I left Los Angeles in 2007 and moved to Port Townsend, Washington; a small town about an hour and a half from Seattle.  I have a small studio that I record in.  I made a CD in 2009, "Welcome To My Dream", and another CD in 2011,"Searching For Nashville", of all original songs and this year I also recorded a cover version of the Bob Dylan classic "Subterranean Homesick Blues" with a different twist to it.  These are all available at iTunes and CD 

 I also have a You Tube site you can access by going to You Tube and entering: 123duane.  When my videos come up just click the 123duane again on any of the videos and it will take you to my site.  I'm also at My Space.  If you visit any of these sites don't forget to say hi and let me know how you're doing in this crazy world.  Until then, I'll say thanks to you Klemen and Psychedelic Baby Magazine for this trip down memory lane, and I'll leave you with an old Turkish proverb that goes like this:  One who sleeps on the floor, will never fall out of bed.  Au Revoir.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011

© Copyright 2011