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Schibbinz interview with Mike McNertney & Pat McNertney

Interview with Mike McNertney:

So how did Schibbinz get together in the first place?

It was pretty simple. As I recall, a few guys at a party some time in early 65 thought it would be neat to form a rock group.

As it happened, I was the only one who had an electric guitar: something my parents had reluctantly agreed to buying me for Christmas just before we departed the US for Argentina – on the firm understanding I would pursue guitar playing seriously.
They were skeptical of my intentions in light of my less than intense interest in the piano lessons they foisted on me when younger; but this time they didn’t need to worry – for this time it was my idea, not theirs.

Anyway, I guess that having that old Kent electric guitar guaranteed me some kind of a role in the new band…but the initial grouping (drummer Kelly Fero and our friend guitarist Bill Bromley) seemed happy to have me aboard their incipient enterprise.
We chose the name Schibbinz from the very outset: a nonsense word we may have seen in Mad Magazine or something.

Soon enough, the three of us approached an Argentine classmate from school, called Payo (Carlos) Giraudo, whom we could see had an exceptional gift for music. He was in fact already conducting the children’s choir of Cordoba.
 I think he was taken aback and even slightly ill at ease with these semi-rowdy yankee teenagers initially, but started coming around and fitting into the group soon enough. He loved and admired the Beatles as much as we did.

He was to become Schibbinz's mainstay and driving force.
We started out doing a few commercial hits of the time: “Doo Wah Diddy Diddy” and “Sha La La” by Manfred Mann; “I’m Into Something Good” by Herman’s Hermits; “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis; “Keep Searching” by Del Shannon and the Shakers out of Uruguay.
Our first appearance at our high school assembly was a disaster though: we totally lost our composure when we were confronted by so many people (versus playing by ourselves in our parents’ living rooms). We kind of screwed up at the outset but managed to awkwardly brass our way through the performance.

Luckily, that was the one and only time that ever happened: we learned to control our nerves and over time developed that fantastic organic group-mind where the music took us over as soon as we struck the very first note.

Bill Bromley, a good guy and an important contributor to the band’s early development, left us several months into the band’s life, as his father was transferred from Cordoba by Kaiser.
Payo also went on an extended musical scholarship to the US the summer after we started playing together, so was absent for several months.  When the following school year started, though, we began anew, with Kelly (drums and vocals), Payo (guitar and vocals), myself (guitar and vocals) and our friend Greg Johns (on bass and vocals). 

This was the time when the band began to consolidate, mature and find its voice. Of course, the fact that rock music itself was “maturing” and evolving helped us to do so.
I remember marveling at songs like “Norwegian Wood”, “For No One” (Beatles) and “Eight Miles High” (Byrds) and the amazing new perspectives they represented. The artistic depth and innovation was striking.  It was an interesting and even an electrifying time.

We started doing more sophisticated material, more complex harmonies and instrumentation, and also began to do original songs.  Other group’s songs we performed included “If I Needed Someone” (Beatles), “As Tears Go By” (Rolling Stones”), “Here Without You” (The Byrds). The latter involved replicating the intricate Gene Clark-David Crosby harmony.

Payo and I nailed it to the point where, once, when we were performing the song at Lincoln High School in Buenos Aires, they thought that we were lip synching to a Byrds record (– but it was really us!).

Decades later, we played the song in the garden of Payo’s house at a party he threw in my honor in 2001…and discovered we still had the magic!

The first original songs, with music by Payo and lyrics by Kelly started being developed and performed around this time (early 1966). There was never any question as to whose music (Payo’s) and lyrics (Kelly’s) we would use: we just started to work that way and all of us acknowledged this was the best and even the only way for us to go. The songs included our banner song “Living Free”, “It Ain’t So” and “Second to None”.  We did our first TV appearances, and began to be a name and a sound that meant something in Cordoba.

By the middle of 1966, we were solidly on our way.
When Greg Johns left to return to the states with his family, my brother Pat replaced him in the band. Pat was the talent we had needed to finally complete us as a band, and this was to be the final version of Schibbinz, when it reached its fullest flowering and recorded the “Livin’ Free” album. See Pat's perspectives below for more insights and reflections.

Before I end, however, I did want to provide some background on Cordoba Argentina and the music/youth culture of the sixties there to give you some more flavor of our influences and context.
Cordoba was the second largest city in Argentina - a university and industrial center both, which often made for volatile politics.  It gave rise to the important Cordoba university reforms of 1920 (which spread across the entire South American continent), the explosive labor revolt called the “Cordobazo”, and perhaps most famously, that iconic revolutionary Ernesto ”Che”  Guevara - who was raised there.  Many significant political movements in Argentina had their origins in Cordoba, it is said. 

There was an inherent tension to the city, a progressive and even radical political tendency, coupled with an insular and rigidly narrow minded local society. There was an edgy intellectual and artistic culture there...which I know influenced us greatly.

The place was also renowned for the scenic beauty of its surroundings.  The sierras and the small towns that nestle in them are quite lovely, with a unique and unforgettable charm.
All in all, the place had a wonderful air to it, an atmosphere that was enchanting: a mix of Italian Argentina, gothic Europe, medieval Spain, the colonial new world and much else.  It was surrounded by these beautiful cordilleras under dramatic sweeping skies – almost like a landscape in a painting by El Greco. Our years there were a time that was an Eden in many ways...but perhaps musically most of all.

And we were very lucky to be there when we were...before the Argentine "holacaust" of the seventies, when so many people (including classmates and acquaintances of ours) were "disappeared" by the military junta...but that is a whole other story.

As for the cultural climate then, the times they were a changin’…and this was most apparent to us in the music we listened to. What could you say about the Beatles, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Stones, the Mamas and the Papas, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Zombies and all the rest? It was a musical and cultural revolution in Cordoba no less than elsewhere and we were proud to be a part of it!

Marianne Faithful, Petula Clark, Donovan, Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, not to mention Bob Dylan and all he represented.  The poets were taking over from the hacks.
This was the cultural backdrop and the soundtrack to our lives.

Mike McNertney

(from top left, clockwise): Mike, Kelly, Pat, Payo...taken at Payo's family house in countryside outside Cordoba

Interview with Pat McNertney:

My older brother and I moved to Cordoba, Argentina in early 1965 when my diplomatic family transferred there. (We had lived extensively in East Asia and other parts of Latin America before then).

My brother Mike was a founding member of Schibbinz in April/May1965. Over the next couple of years several players moved on, the result of leaving the city with their families. The band demonstrated a cohesiveness in 1966 and it was evident that vocalization through harmonies was a strength. I recall seeing the group on a local TV show, and the moniker " The Cordoba Beatles" was applied to the group's style.

I joined the band in March 1967, when the bass guitarist left with his family. I had been playing in a two man acoustic guitar singing combo at that time. I was actually shooting free throws (playing basketball)when Payo, the rhythm guitarist approached me to tell me that I had been selected to play bass and become a bandmember.

I spent a month learning to play bass and learn harmony parts under the tutelage of Carlos Giraudo(Payo). At the time the band's style took a definte change toward more intricate 4 voice harmonies as evident in the songs  Ring of Bright Water, Beneath It to Be Warm, and If I belong Here.

The recordings done at the Phonexa studio in Cordoba were interesting and well done but, inmy opinion, lacked the spirit and fervor of ther many songs that were recorded in our living rooms on a reel to reel Akai recorder borowed from our father. These songs include We're All Here' Go Softly Now, December Winter, The Ring of Bright Water' It Ain't So. The home versions in many ways convey a truer and more accurate version of how the band sounded when playing live than the studio songs.

At the time, their was a great deal of  popular demand for instrumentals. Ghost Riders in the Sky, was an example of a very popular instrumental song, that was played at live performances.

Our sound amplification system was basic, uncomplicated, even primitive by today's standards. Our speakers were low wattage. Mike used a small amplifier for his lead guitar. Two microphones were used for singing. The photo " Schibbinz on stage, Cordoba, December, 1967" accurately shows the band, a typical stage positioning ', and, the amplication system can be seen in its totality.

I feel that Schibbinz was cohesive based on a strong work ethic (every free minute outside of school was spent practicing and rehearsing) and dedicated to producing and playing an excellent work product. Kelly, Payo and I were only 15 years old. Mike was 17. Needless to say, there was good chemistry among the players. There were no ego issues, only heartfelt love for the music and commitment to the band's betterment.

My brother and I left Argentina in January 1968 shortly after the album was recorded. We all continued to play music. and entered careers of our choosing. Mike went into International banking and I am an prosecuting attorney for the State of New Mexico. Kelly became a political consultant in the state of Texas and Payo, before he diedin 2002 became director of the Cordoba Symphony Orchestra.  Our days with Shibbinz were never forgotten. We all continued to pursue interests in music, playing in musical groups and writing songs in the best Schibbinz tradition.

Pat McNertney

(from left): Mike, Pat, Kelly, Payo...taken at concert in downtown Cordoba

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright 2011

NGC-4594 interview with David Bliss


1. Thanks for taking your time to talk about your band. First I would like to ask you about your childhood and teen years. Where did you grow up and what were some of the influences?

My pleasure - although you may find yourself crying " Stop! Enough!" before we are done!

I was born in small town USA in 1945. One of those semi-agricultural towns that happened to lie in the shadow of a capital city, whose essential nature would inevitably be consumed in the suburban sprawl that was to come. But that was later. My early recollections there remain quite benign - lots of time outdoors; exploring landscapes, football in the street, baseball in the local farmer's field; unlocked doors; secure family vibe, etc. - parents, and childhood itself obscuring the more sinister stuff going on in the adult world. The Macarthy Senate Hearings for instance.The bomb. The absurd 'cold war'. I'm guessing you are probably too young to remember when world leaders spent their time and energy creating fear and paranoia amongst their citizens - much as religious leaders today promote fear and suspicion amongst their parishioners. God, what bullshit!  Why do we grow up to be such assholes, I wonder?

Nevertheless, the generally relaxed atmosphere of my own youth clearly had a great influence on my life - greater than I would have guessed back then - as I remain fairly 'laid-back' to this day. Naturally I have since had the opportunity to see and consider how different life can be for other people. I know my good fortune. I could name other influences that you might also find silly coming from an old acid head, but you will only go 'Yeah,yeah, -  but what about the music?'

So of course, rock n roll sort of 'officially' started back then in the '50s too, and yes, I managed to buy a 78rpm version of Elvis Presley's 'Don't be Cruel', and later, various 45s of Fats Domino, The Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, The Platters, The Crickets etc, but I would have to say that my interest in music was not that great until an older friend and rock n roller somehow showed me how to visualise stuff I heard on the radio - simple stuff to be sure - on a piano keyboard, like in my mind's eye, which I could later try to locate on a real piano - enabling me within 48 hours to play things 'by ear' - as he himself did. True! More importantly, it enabled me later to visualise stuff I heard in my head onto the keyboard and I began composing, if not actually 'writing' the music down. God, what a gift! He died a few years later at 18. In a hospital from shock treatments of all things. Fucking bastards!

2. Were you in any bands before forming NGC-4594? Any releases from then?

When I was about 15, I hung out with some guys a couple of years older than me. They were into all that beat stuff - Jack Kerouac and such, and the jazz that went with it, - all of which they turned me on to (as well as the occasional reefer that somehow found its way into our sleepy town). From that point on for the next few years I was listening almost exclusively to the likes of Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Gerry mulligan, Bill Evans, Coltrane, Adderly, Dizzy etc, and really, had little interest in mainstream pop anymore. I don't know why I took so strongly to this music, but even now, it is to these bands I turn when I need something uplifting. I even formed a sextet myself - a band with no name, which played only at wild private parties! I was in fact never really good enough myself to be a jazz pianist - and far too lazy to put the effort in to become one - but then I wrote the material for this band, so my limitations were never really exposed - and the horn players were dynamite! Though still a schoolboy, in some ways it was the most adventurous and authentic stuff I ever did. No, there were no recordings ever made, and perhaps for the sake of my delusions that is just as well!

3. What was the scene in your town?

It would be wrong I suppose, to say there was no 'scene' in my town. It is just that I was never completely a part of it. Have you ever seen that film 'American Grafitti'? That was something like the scene in my town in '60-'62. Lots of beer and hamburgers. Bubbly girls, and boys racing their cars out on the stretch of highway that ran past the town. Lots of teenage drama around who was or wasn't getting laid. You know. I guess - maybe because the jazz culture was kind of marginal - I saw myself as part of something more subversive and exotic than the usual high school stuff. Perhaps I was just more pretentious!

When I left in '63 to go to university, the whole scene changed completely. The whole place was buzzing. All young people, with no restraints for the first time in their lives. Everybody in your face and laying their rap on you, and you could just be what you wanted to be. Wow! What an eye-opener! And there was a lot of heady stuff happening around us too. Within a few months of being there President Kennedy had been assassinated for God sakes! The war in Vietnam was beginning to escalate and get very intense, especially because anyone aged between 19-26 was eligible for the 'draft'. Lots of protests against it.The struggle for racial equality was another big one going on at the time, with many opportunities to get involved. The 'pill' had arrived too, with an immediate flourish of unheard-of sexual freedoms - or so it seemed! Suddenly a running conflict appeared to open up between students and the 'establishment' over all sorts of things.  And all that was before LSD hit the scene - the biggest disruptive influence to ever enter my life. All this stuff plus the making of many new friends was just more interesting to me than making music in any serious way. Bob Dylan was getting big - and interesting, although he was not really in the mainstream. Apart from motown stuff, I thought the popular music scene generally was rather uninspiring and irrelevant. Then the Beatles came along in 1964, and as their work slowly unfolded more and more outrageously with each new album, I found myself listening to pop once again, feeling this wasn't as lame as I thought after all. Feeling that this was something that maybe I could do too. People will tell you about this band or that - and I have heard some fantastic popular artists over the years, Stevie Wonder, Dylan, Tom Waits, Steely Dan, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell - far too many to mention, but if I was hard pressed, I would have to say the The Beatles had the biggest impact on me prior to NGC4594. Maybe it was the sheer breadth of the writing or the excellence with which they performed it, or the acid times in which they worked, and the particular resonance it found in me, or perhaps just some unexplainable holistic thing - whatever, this shit was simply staggering to my sensibilities then. It still does. 

4. How did you guys came together?

Well Danny and I entered university in the same year, and one way or another other became good friends. We ran with the same crowd. He was from New York City and had been exposed to lots of music, and I suppose, art generally. Always a step ahead of everyone else. A blues man at heart he nevertheless had heard a lot of jazz, folk, and even early workshop electronic music, which was unusual, and of which I was a big fan. You know, those really spacey symphonic pieces created on early synths and computers which filled up whole rooms? God I'd like to hear some of that stuff today. Anyway there was a venue of some kind on campus that hosted a lot of jams and original acts, at which the two of us did a jazz/blues turn occasionally, with me on piano and him on guitar or harmonica. But that was just for fun. A Saturday night thrill with a couple of joints down the hatch.

I think a year or more had passed before I bumped into Chas and Steve at a party. Danny already knew them. Chas was playing a new song he had written called 'Colors' on an acoustic guitar. A lovely optimistic sort of song. Folk music, in all its variations, was very popular at this time, partially I suppose, because of Dylan, Joan Baez and such. But also because it was a great DIY medium, like poetry which was also very big back then - yeah, there were poets at these gigs too! Nowadays some Westerners think they are above that kind of thing(poetry), but there are many places in the world where it remains highly valued and powerful, as it should be; full of heart, written in blood, getting the message out in difficult circumstances etc.  Anyway, if you could play one of these instruments, a guitar, a banjo, a harmonica, a mandolin etc you could take it anywhere. You're on a march, you're at a party, you're at a coffee house, you're by yourself on the side of the road, you can just get the bloody thing out and start playing! Magic! Even better with singing! And if you have the wit and sensitivity to write good songs too, you have actually got all you need. That was Chas. He was just such a guy. I was not a big fan of folk music when I first went up to school, but then I met, heard and played with a number of these 'folkies' as they were called, and some of them were knock-out. What's more I liked the way these particular instruments sounded with my own.

Steve was keeping his own counsel. The Bear. Mr. Zen. He too was skilled on several instruments, and, unusually, was also well-versed in jazz, blues and folk - although these things didn't matter a great deal, because when we started to get together for occasional jams at the place where I was living, there was no real agenda except to make music - just to get the gear out, light up, and look for the groove. It was not even sorted out who would play what instruments. Danny and I were still full time students for Godsakes.

In the meantime the drugs scene had gone a bit mad. Everyone seemed to be smoking their heads off, and then LSD hit the campus with a bang. It was such an unexpected thing. The sheer power of it took me completely by surprise. It seemed like my life was being changed somehow on the inside, and that some new way of life outside was going to have to be found that was compatible with this. As my interest and use of this drug increased, so my grip on the demands of university and other more orthodox things decreased. I was aware of the same stuff happening up and down the country though, like a movement, and my main concern really became finding my way to, and discovering what I could do at the new frontier. Hahahaha! Yeah, man, it was that bad! Hahaha! Suddenly, the jams with Danny, Steve and Chas, which in fact had been taking up more and more time, took on a different light. And they were definitely getting more interesting!

During the autumn of my last year in school, Minty came to live in the flat as a room became free. He brought a flute and some percussion stuff with him and became a regular fixture at the sessions. Minty was really into the music in a big way, and was the greatest advocate of dropping everything else and forming a proper band. I don't remember if at that point we were actually looking for either a drummer or a singer. I mean Steve could play the drums, and the rest of us could sing, but our weakness in those areas became more evident as the rest of the sound got better. However, a friend of mine knew a guy from his home town who could do both, and we decided to get together one afternoon. This was Bob. We must have been writing music by this time in order to have something to show for ourselves, and a good job too, as, unlike the rest of us fakers and scallywags, he was actually the real thing. Check out some of the snare work on 'Going Home' and other tracks. It is not your standard fare. His voice speaks for itself. Hey! Hahaha! Of course it does! Sorry! Yes, he was a musician's musician, with all the schooling and band experience that might be required already in place. His commitment to us however meant that we would have to commit to him, and by extension, to ourselves as a serious band, which we finally did, withdrawing from the university scene completely to get our shit together in a house by the sea that Minty's family owned.

5. Do you perhaps remember some of the early sessions you had?

 What followed was one long continuous session that lasted about 3 months, during which we got to know each other better, played music constantly, got high and partied hard, following the time-worn formula for enterprises such as this. Our equipment was set up round the clock in a room at the back of the house, and there was hardly ever a time when it was empty. Sometimes one of us, sometimes two, most times all, practising, jamming, writing, trying to get a couple of sets of stuff down tight for the next step. Lots of people came and went, and lots of drugs went down our necks for better or worse, and sometimes it was hard to tell what exactly was going on, but always, there was the music. We lived and breathed the stuff, until we were finished.

6. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but you officially released only 1 single called Skipping Through the Night / Going Home on Smash records, right?

Yes, that is true. It was a 'double A' side as they were called in those days, when the usual practice was to put any old tosh the 'B' side. 'Going Home' was in fact the more promoted track, but Danny's 'Skipping Through the Night' came out so strong, it just couldn't be considered a 'B'side. And over the years, during which this record seems to have enjoyed a robust afterlife on the net and on compilations, it has been 'Skipping through the Night' which has proved the most popular with listeners. It is not hard to see why. Terrific lead vocal from Bob, great flourishes from Minty on the flute, and some tasty little bits of back-up and instrumentation throughout the song from the rest of us to stitch it all together.

How did you get signed to Smash records?

But in reality, Chas' excellent and less controversial 'Colors' was originally the intended single. In fact it was this song, during a demo session for Mercury - the parent of Smash - which caught the imagination of the producer, and won us the record deal in the first place. Quite soon after signing with Smash, we went along to the studio to record it as our first single, but being a bit inexperienced in this format, we somehow managed to make a cock-up of it. Normally this was a 'bread and butter' song for us to play, but on this day we just could not do it justice, and the more we tried, the worse it got, until, after thrashing it to death, we had to go home with our tails between our legs. That's just the way it goes sometimes!

How many copies were made?

To be honest, I have no idea how many copies were made or how many were sold. I heard it sold reasonably well in the first instance, out on the West coast, and was even some San Francisco DJ's pick of the week, but we were stuck on the other side of the country, and therefore not in a position to promote it! Worse, it was getting no airplay at all on the East coast, and so had no chance there. All a bit silly I'm afraid. However I know of at least one guy who bought a copy in New York, because 40 years later he opened a channel on youtube (Play Them Again) on which 'Going Home' is featured! Which is rather nice. In fact everything good that has happened from a 'public' point of view, started happening 40 years down the road, when the band was barely a memory in our own minds! How weird is that?

How do you remember studio sessions?
I personally have never found studio work that easy or enjoyable through the years, and by the time the mixing is mercifully over, I am usually sick to death of the song. But when we did the 'Going Home/Skipping through the Night' session a couple of months later, it all seemed to flow like honey straight out of us. It was virtually a 'live' session, with very little overdub. Lovely!

7. Did you play any concerts? If so please share some crazy stories that happen! With who all did you play and of course where was your touring territory?

Do you mean by concerts, large venues, like auditoriums and such? Or just gigs? Most of our professional time was spent in New York, and so our gigs were mainly in Manhattan clubs, like the Cafe a Go Go, and Trudy Hellers, and to be honest, I think these smaller venues suited us better. We were never a band for jumping about all over the stage, and weren't normally that dramatic to see, although in the earliest days, we performed in front of a backdrop of light and painted panels, created and 'played' on a 'light piano' by a great friend and artist, Bud Swenson, which added an exciting visual dimension. A bit of that stuff can be seen on the cd (but not the album). We did play on the same bills as Jethro Tull, Blood Sweat and Tears, Frank Zappa's early group The Mothers of Invention, The Doors, but I have no great tales to tell there, and any acquaintantanceships usually took the form of chilling backstage and checking out each other's bands! We did do a couple of larger gigs right at the start before going to NYC, one backing a large soul revue, and another back at the university we had all attended, which was particularly good - like a massive party. Towards the end of our time in New York we did a free concert in a park with several bands including Country Joe and the Fish, Clear Light, Group Image etc. That too was a good gig and a good time - but I still think we were best suited by a more intimate setting.

8. These days we can find some compilation with your music....

 Yes, I heard rumours of a couple of psychedelic compilations from a long time ago - Japanese I think they were - on which both sides of the single appeared, although I have never seen or heard one. I suppose they were just copied from the record at some point, but who cared? Up until a few years ago, thoughts of the old band were fairly infrequent for me, although thoughts of the guys and the times still flashed enjoyably through my mind. Nevertheless, in some respects this is your most interesting question...

If you had tried to find any information about NGC4594 on the net, at any time up until the last few years, you would have found virtually nothing, and you would have to wade through pages and pages of astronomical sites (because the band was named after a particular galaxy) to find any reference to us at all. Now, all kinds of stuff about the band comes up straightaway - info, the cd, the record, the youtube, etc etc - and none of it was generated by us, except that once upon a time, nearly half a century ago we made a rather insignificant single! The rest of the stuff that appears on the current cd/album was not even released, or even produced to be released at the time, and the band eventually crashed. Why would anyone think it worth their while to resuscitate it 43 years later? - Why would they even have heard of us for that matter? How on earth did we acquire fans enough to sell copies of the cd in 15 different countries around the world? Yet I have corresponded with people from Europe who couldn't possibly have known about us back in 1967, who have been fans for years - not just of the single, but sometimes the other stuff too! Bizarre! It just goes to show - in case anyone needs reminding - that not everything is under one's own control.

I can only think that the existence of the single on these unauthorised compilations over the years must have created a small but widespread fan base of the band. Also, an old friend had already leaked the rest of the stuff into cyberspace via the old Mercury recording, as a backing track to a short film he was putting together. Thirdly, and crucially, this same guy - Cove, as he was known - who would require another page of this interview to discuss properly, created a blog about the band for some reason about 6 years ago. It did not last long, but left as these things do, a contact point as it drifted around in space. And finally, a genuine fan Gray Newell, and a colleague in the trade, John Reed - neither of whom was known by us or even from the US - collaborated to assemble and release all of the stuff together in a new cd, as a project of their own. And following that, Antoni at Guersson records in Spain - himself an avowed fan of the band decided to release a vinyl version. To be honest, we were almost innocent bystanders!

9. What happened next and what are you doing these days?

Back then? Well when we hit the end of the road financially the band split up, and when the band split up, we really split up - not spiritually really, but certainly physically - as within a very few years we would be literally thousands of miles from each other. Yes, I'm sure there would be some tales to tell about how individual time has subsequently been spent, everbody's journey etc, but in truth, I don't even know what those tales might be, as incredibly, there has been very little contact between us all. Amazing how this shit happens with such nonchalance, and the years just roll by! One of the great side effects of the NGC reissue has been the renewal of these relationships - those that could be. I must mention here the untimely passing of Chas, our guitarist, and author of 'Colors'. He would have found all this current stuff most amusing. A good friend, and all-round excellent dude. Hasta la vista, mate.. For my own part, I still write and play music privately, and would even record it I could get my bloody head around the new recording technology, but in fact I paint houses for my crust of bread. So it goes.. The rest of us have all been involved with different bands at some time or other with varying aspirations and success, (Steve in fact made an album with a jazz band called Sunship) but all would probably regard this particular band, NGC4594, as being the one which - for reasons unknown - contained most of the disparate elements, including timing and plain dumb luck, to have been successful. That did not happen as things turned out in 1967, but then - again, for reasons unknown - the same elements combined again 43 years later to lay a little culty credibility on us, if not exactly rampant success. What a trip! Yes, the artist in me would have preferred the opportunity to have produced and recorded the 'missing' tracks properly on an album way back when, as was promised, but I'm cool with this. There is something both amusing, and karmically satisfying in the way things actually worked out, with the thing bursting out of the cosmos of its own accord. Hey man, we're global! Hahahaha!

10. Thank you very much for taking your time! Would you like to share anything else with the readers of It's Psychedelic Magazine?

It is therefore a misconception to think that what you say and do just falls out of you into the space nearby and just dies there; that it remains in one place and has no impact -whatever it is - although it usually takes a few years under the belt to realise that truth. So the message I would share with your readers is never to lose heart. If you have something to say or sing or show, get it out there in the best shape you can. And live long! Someone always sees!      

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright 2011

Rockadelic Records interview with Rich Haupt


Thanks for taking your time, Rich! Tell me for the beginning, where did you grow up and what were some of your influences?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY. The opening scene from the film "Dog Day Afternoon" is a pretty good representation of what it was like where I lived. Music was everywhere....transistor radios on every front stoop at night and kids singing doo-wop on the corners. AM radio was big in the early-mid 60's and that's what I grew up with. British Invasion, Motown and especially The Four Seasons who were popular in my mostly Italian neighborhood. On my 8th birthday I received a copy of Rubber Soul by the Beatles from the girl who lived upstairs and was President of the local Beatles Fan Club. I promptly returned it to the store in exchange for a Smothers Brothers LP. One big influence was my Step-Grandfather Guisseppe(Joe). Any time we visited his home I would sit for hours and play his records, mostly R&B like Sam Cooke, Hank Ballard and others. One day I also discovered his "dirty" comedy records like Redd Foxx, Skillet & Leroy, etc......there was a certain thrill about sneaking a listen of these verboten discs. I had a pretty good stack of 45's of my own as my folks would take me once a week to the record shop and let me purchase one disc. When I was 11 my grandmother took me to Red's Toy Store on Flatlands Ave. in NY and I purchased my first LP. It was "Vincebus Eruptum" by Blue Cheer and that album changed my life. I listened to it non-stop, everyday that summer and it opened my ears for what was to be a lifetime of wanting to hear new and great music.

What can you say about your teen years? I'm sure you have some interesting concert and record collecting stories to share…

About this time my family moved out to the suburbs of Long Island. I was into sports so my first friends were "jocks" but I also gravitated towards the local music freaks who were a few years older than I was. Many of them had older brothers and sisters with record collections that we would raid. This is where I learned about Frank Zappa & The Mothers, The Fugs and other more "underground" mainstream artists. Just about every Friday two friends and I would hit the local Head Shop/Record Store and buy a few LP's that we would go home and immerse ourselves in. There was a clerk at this store named "Ledge" who would always put stuff aside for us knowing that we were on that search for the lost chord. He turned us on to many great obscure major label bands. FM radio was big by the late 60's - early 70's and the "hip" stations played everything from Al Green to Mountain. As a result my record collection contained a wide variety of music, certainly not just rock. The first concert I ever went to was Led Zeppelin at MSG in ' was the first of 10 times seeing Zep, including all three nights of the Song Remains The Same film shooting in '73. I never get to see some of the icons like Jimi, Janis or The Doors but over the next 10 years we did get to see just about every other major and not so major bands. Hard to believe that for ten bucks you could see an arena show AND come home with a T-Shirt back then. By the time I was 16 we would either be at a concert every weekend or hanging out in local bars checking out the local bands. Mostly cover bands doing the rock hits of the day, nickel beer and girls, what else could young dudes want.  At 19 my life took an odd turn and I got a job as a bartender in a Saturday Night Fever-like Disco. My co-workers gave me the name Disco Rich as I had extra long hair and hated Disco music. I eventually also tended bar in a Rock club in Jamaica, Queens and I could write a book about the experiences I had at both of these places. I started to hang out in NYC and got to see the local "punk" scene up close...I was a big Ramones fan and saw them at every opportunity. Saw Bruce Springsteen pretty early in his career and even though I can't listen to the great majority of his music today, he was great back then.

At what point did you decide to start collecting more obscure psych records and what were some of the first you found when you started doing this?

In early 1980 I had an opportunity to move to Texas and took it. To my surprise Dallas had a punk scene that was better and ballsier than what was going on in NY and I started to seriously collect records for the first time in my life. Besides the punk scene I started to go to local Rockabilly shows. These were local 50's Rockabilly artists that were cashing in on the Stray Cats revival. Through that scene I met an older and quite serious record collector who took me under his wing. He turned me on to early blues, doo-wop, rockabilly and 60's garage. He was the first one to take me on serious record "digs" including an amazing trip to Memphis where we got to buy the collection of a long time employee of Sun Records.  He asked me to do a radio show with him on a local station and as a result I got to meet people like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and other 50's icons. At this point I became enamored with Texas Garage Punk and dove in head first buying up 45's and getting to hear all the classics that had been documented by folks like Doug Hanners and David Schutt in their "Journey To Tyme" publication. I also started to buy and sell records at the local Record Shows and by 1986 I had a little stall at a local Flea Market where I sold records. This is where I met Mark Migliore and we became good friends.....almost immediately.

When and how did Rockadelic start?

Mark was about 10 years younger than I and had been involved in the local punk scene. He came into my stall, talked me down on a garage record from $20 to $5 and then returned the next week to complain about its condition. Being a New Yorker I admired his nerve and we became friends at that moment. Mark had graduated from Punk to Garage & Psych and had a pretty good collection. Around this same time I was turned on to Paul Major's mail order list and began to search out the obscure titles he listed. Within a year I was one of Paul's "moles" and I would send boxes of LP's his way for which he always compensated me for very fairly. After discovering a record called Euphoria "Lost In Trance" Paul suggested that he could use as many copies as I could find. At this point I began "tracking" down bands. By '88 I had tracked down and spoken to just about every obscure band and/or artist listed in those Paul Major lists. Very few people were into this stuff and records didn't sell for nearly what they do today. I remember seeing Paul's list for the first time and couldn't believe someone would pay $50 for an LP...this was obviously the ground floor of the rare & private press record scene. As far as Rockadelic goes, Mark had started the label to release local late 80's bands who were influenced by psych. He had 3-4 forty-five releases under his belt when he invited me to be his partner. The idea of releasing older music really didn't occur to us until I tracked down the band Hickory Wind and the guitarist sent me a tape of a band he fronted post HW. His name was Mike McGuyer and his band was B.F. Trike. He sent the tape with a note saying "You probably won't like this" and after one listen mark & I knew we had to press it on vinyl. We had no clue what we were doing, who would buy it or how we would sell them. We pressed 300 copies only because that was the minimum quantity the pressing plant would do. I had access to a printing press and we designed the cover, printed them and glued them on white jackets by hand ourselves. We sent some out to some mail order dealers and the rest is history. The Trike LP sold out fast and we knew we were on to something. Thanks for opening that Pandora's Box Mr. McGuyer! We started to release LP's of friends bands like Burning Rain and Mark's band Fish Eyed Lens, but we knew that the real interest was in the vintage stuff and we began to search for more material to release.

I know you went on the car trip across the country in a search for obscure undiscovered gems. Would you like to share a story or two with us?

One of the ways to discover these unknown bands was to hit the road and search for unknown records, of which there were many. Mark and I both had pretty serious 9-5 gigs but we would still manage to squeeze in road trips around the country. At this time you could walk into any decent record shop and walk out with stacks of unknown private press LP's for a few bucks a piece. Looking back it was pretty mind boggling that we could hit a place like Ralph's Records in Lubbock and walk out with 100+ records that were unknown at the time but are Acid Archive staples today. Tracking down these bands and asking if they had unreleased tapes or were interested in re-releasing their LP was how Rockadelic got off the ground. I have many stories about these digging trips ranging from hitting a Mexican Distributor in East L.A. and finding boxes of great S.A. psych to digging through active chicken coops that contained piles of records. My brother John was going to school in Texas at this time and would accompany us on some of these trips. Today he is one of the worlds biggest Heavy Metal dealers and runs the O.P.M. record label.

Let's go through Rockadelic discography. You found and released some of the most amazing heavy psych stuff. I would appreciate if you could talk about each release a bit!

Wow Klem, that's a pretty big task......I'll do my best but before I do I must say that many of the releases we did were "discovered" by others and brought to us to release. On the top of that list is Clark Faville who is responsible for a big chunk of our releases. His time and efforts could never be properly compensated and he remains one of the true leaders in this hobby. His knowledge is astounding. Folks like Paul Major, Craig Green and Mark Prellberg were also big contributors to the label. Without all these folks there would be no Rockadelic.

B.F. Trike - The perfect LP to launch the label with as it had been recorded by RCA and had never been heard by anyone outside the band. The song and recording quality was top notch and probably cost a fortune to record. It was handed to us on a platter and set the bar for future releases pretty high. I'm still close friends with two of the three members and that means more than anything.

Cold Sun - Mark had a friend that was a local photographer and always talked about the band he had been in called Cold Sun. He claimed to have an acetate and we pressed him to hear it but for almost a year it never happened. Then one Sunday Mark called me and said the dude was at his house with the acetate and I needed to get there ASAP. I dropped everything and got to his place in minutes. The acetate was not in great shape but played OK and as soon as the needle hit the first track our minds were blown. It was better than we could have ever imagined and quite frankly better than most anything we had ever heard before. We contacted Bill Miller, had a long and unusual negotiation and finally got to release 300 copies of this masterpiece even though Bill wasn't as excited about it as we were. I don't think there is any question that this was the best and most important record we were privileged to release.

Bolder Damn - There is no way any heavy rock fan could here their track "Dead Meat" and not recognize it as something amazingly special. Attempts to find the band failed other than the now Police Chief bass player who was not interested in reliving his past. Mark found someone from the studio and we released it with a cheesy re-done cover. Some years later I was put in contact with the band and we helped them release a CD with comprehensive liner notes. The real shame is that there are no photos or film footage of their outrageous stage show that included beheading and caskets. Singer John Anderson remains a friend and I hope you will be reading an interview with John here in the near future.

During this time we released many LP's of current bands like Bag "Midnight Juice", Burning Rain (3), Fish-Eyed Lens, The Double-Naught Spys and The Underneath. To my ears all of them still hold up pretty well for what they were intended to be.

The Stoned Circus, Bulbous Creation & Thump Theatre/Crank - All three of these titles came from Cavern Sound Studios in Kansas City. Mark Prellberg helped facilitate their release and they were the winners of literally 100's of reels of tapes that were owned by the studios. Bulbous Creation is my favorite of the bunch with it's heavy and evil vibe. The cover artwork unfortunately reflects the scene that was surrounding the label at this point. Rockadelic had become almost a communal family of people who would help design covers, paste on cover slicks and party in excess.

Kennelmus - This bizarre desert psych disc was the brainchild of Ken(nelums) Walker who worked at Wakefield Pressing Plant in Phoenix. He pressed these LP's as needed back in the day and some of the originals came in a plain white gate-fold cover. Amazingly he still had the original pressing plates and we used them for the re-issue. Our pressing plant here in Dallas, A&R did not have the press that used this kind of plate so we had it pressed at a plant in L.A. called Alberti. It was the only release not pressed here locally in Dallas.

Estes Brothers - Our earlier release of Dragonwyck opened the door to other Ohio/Cleveland bands. The Estes Brothers were from Northern Ohio and we fell in love with their LP after finding a copy. To my ears it has a real Traffic vibe which was unusual for U.S. private press LP's.

Jon Uzonyi's Peacepipe - Clark Faville brought this amazing project to us after finding a copy of their 45 on Accent. An unusual trio of guitar, keyboards and drums Peacepipe is as heavy as anything on the label. Jon's use of feedback and effects gives it a unique sound that is not for the faint of heart.

Sudden Death - We were contacted by a guy in NY who had a master tape and far-fetched story about this being a local Long Island band and Jimmy Page sitting in with them in the studio. We didn't believe that story and never claimed it upon release. Years later we found out the band was from the West Coast and spoke to them about the LP....the Page story was pure BS as we imagined.

Gold - Mark was from Northern California originally and during a visit with his folks he met legendary studio owner/producer Leo De Gar Kulka. They hit it off and Leo offered up the Gold LP as a release. I've never been a real big fan of the San Francisco scene and this is not one of my favorite LP's.

Sugar Cube Blues Band - Some years earlier I called my friend Billy Miller of Norton Records and told him about a guy I had met named Jack Starr after finding some insane psychobilly acetates by him. He released an LP with Jack and SCBB was his way of returning the favor. These were 50's musicians who were still around in the 60's and had recorded this Dylan influenced garage folk LP. This was a departure from the heavy rock sound for us but we both dug the music and that was all that mattered.

Brain Police - The centerpiece of the Clark Faville San Diego trilogy along with Framework and Glory. Like all of our covers up to this point this was hand made and we tried to create a wallet/badge look which worked out pretty well. The band was on the cusp of hitting the big time in the 60's and had pressed a few test pressings. Top notch teen garage psych.

Glory - This was Jerry Raney of Beat Farmers fame early band. For my money the tightest rhythm section on the label and a live recording that rocks hard from beginning to end. Not psych but straight ahead rock and roll at it's best.

Framework - A double LP that many have said would have worked better as a single. I think Clark correctly thought that the studio tracks, while great, didn't really capture how heavy the band was and included the live tracks to demonstrate just that. The extravagant cover was printed by Shadocks for us in Germany and when it was all said and done cost about $9.00 each. Lost a good amount of them in a house fire in 2005 and still have discs with nothing to put them in.

Mill Run Band - This is the only current band I'll include here with details. This was basically a one man effort recorded in a bedroom in rural Pennsylvania. The artist, Michael Golembesky sent out 20 copies of his tape to record labels that "had cool names". I was the only one to reply and quickly relalzed that Michael had not ever heard any classic psych music and that this tape represented something that was uniquely his vision. It's not heavy and won't appeal to many Rockadelic fans but it has a soft spot in my heart and gets plenty of listens here to this day. This was the first release on Rockadelic after Mark's untimely death.

Stone Garden - This band had released a 45 on the Angelus label and many collectors thought they were Fraction with a different name. Legendary record digger Craig Green discovered a press kit of this Idaho based band and sent me the info. Guitarist Paul Speer is still active and runs a studio in Memphis. One of my favorites of what was to be a string of really heavy releases.

Seompi - When Mark and I started doing this Seompi was in our sights. We had a copy of their "Summer's Comin' On Heavy" 45 and we knew that is there was an LP's worth of material we HAD to release it. Finding the band was not easy...the drummer was found first but told me that the main bassist/singer was in prison and the bass player was "institutionalized" in California. I did get the name of their sound-man who lived in Austin. I contacted him and found out he was Willie Nelson's sound-man and hard to pin down. After a 5 year quest I finally got him to bring me some tapes which wound up being hours of jamming with no song titles or other info. I had to go through the Texas Prison system to contact the main dude and after 2 years of work we finally put out the LP. The plastic jacket was hand silk-screened and the photos came from the lawyer who was representing the imprisoned member who had also been a member of the legendary Texas garage band The Headstones.

Whitewood - Another Craig Green discovery this was originally released as a song-poem LP in a plain white jacket. The story of this LP is crazy. An older gentleman who was a Big Band musician wrote these songs for his kids garage band. At some point they sent them off to NYC to one of those "We'll put your poems to music" companies and hated what they received back. The lyrics are dark and I think the studio band in NY did a good job of representing them...except for the Polka track.

San Francisco's Shiver - I had known drummer Don Peck for many years before this LP came out. I'd see Don once a month and he would tell me about this band he had been in and that he had tapes somewhere. Every time I pressed him to hear them he downplayed it and said they weren't very good. One day I was at his house and he got a call from his good friend Ed Cassidy of Spirit and I then realized his band must have been better than he was leading on. I finally got him to drag them out and the LP is the amazing result. Shiver had a singer with a hook for a hand that does not appear on these recordings. Today he is a street musician in San Francisco and can be seen on Youtube as "TT Fingers".

Pi Corp - Another Cleveland band with Woody Leffel of Granicus on vocals. Bass player Guy Bickel contacted me and sent me the tapes. The closest thing to Krautrock I had ever heard from a U.S. band. Finally getting some recognition but did not go over big with the "No Fuzz, No Buzz" crowd.

Born Again - Another Clark Faville discovery and I think it's better than what people have made it out to be. Great guitar work and some real good songs. Not everything can melt your brain.

Iota - I had always been interested in the El Paso Suemi label(pronounced Sue Me as in "Go ahead and sue me). The label had released the LP "I Love You Gorgo" back in the day along with a pile of 45's. Owner Kenny Smith and engineer Bill Taylor were hired by Hi Records and moved to Memphis to record rock acts for the mostly soul label. Iota released one 45 but had an LP's worth of material recorded in Memphis and this was the result.

Wailing Wall - Time for a confession....This may be my favorite LP on Rockadelic. Recorded by the Suemi boys before they moved to Memphis this LP has a vibe that I've never heard anywhere else. The Adams brothers moved to the west coast and released some middle eastern tinged new age LP's but this LP is pure El Paso desert madness. Heavy at times but mostly deep and dark basement garage tunes that strike chords seldom reached. My friend Patrick who does the Acid Archives agrees and sees the beauty in this record. Admittedly not for everyone but for the right folks....nirvana.

Pig Newton & The Wizards From Kansas - This is another tape from the Cavern Sounds archives. Recorded prior to their Mercury LP, it took years to get in touch with the band and release this. Some of the same material as the Mercury LP although these versions are cruder and harder. Two unreleased tunes round out this great and overlooked LP.

I know I've left out a few but the above is not bad for going off the top of my head. If you have any questions about these or other Rockadelic releases feel free to send them to this site and I'll be happy to answer. I already feel like I've bored most of you to tears.

What happened next and what are you doing these days, Rich?

Well....If the vibe that came from our releases was dark and drug addled it's because that's the atmosphere in which they were made. Quite a few of the local Dallas Rockadelic family have since moved on to the next world. Mark Migliore passed away in 1996 and I continued the label for another 10 years before deciding to hang it up. In 2005 my home burned down and I lost quite a few memories in that fire. And honestly, with the popularity of the internet and the loss of vinyl distributors in the marketplace the Rockadelic business model had run its course. We had no clue what were doing when we started but our goal was never to make money or do this for a living. Mark and I had a passion about finding new and unheard music and Rockadelic allowed us to do that at a pretty high level. I still go out and dig for records 3-4 times a week and I get just as excited today when I hear something new as I did back then. Luckily, with the wide range of genres that I enjoy listening to I can still find unknown gems from time to time. Personally I've been married 31 years to my childhood sweetheart, have two grown daughters who many of you know from the ARC Record Shows and I have had a pretty straight 9-5 gig for 30 years with the same company. I still keep up with what's being unearthed by other psych labels and there is still some killer stuff being released.

Thank you so much for being a part of It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine! Would you like to share something with our readers?

Klem, it was an honor to speak to your readers this way and I really dig Psychedelic Baby. I hope to contribute some more to the site in the coming year. What I'd like to share with your readers is this....I'm flattered that people still dig what we were trying to do.....we were just the vehicle for all these great bands to finally get heard and they deserve the credit more than us.....Music is an amazing part of life.....the more time you invest in it the more it gives back. Back when we started we had to go out and find these LP's on our own and then we spent many hours listening to each one to see what beauty and surprises lurked within. The LP's I wound up liking the most were usually ones that I thought "WTF" upon first listen. Today the internet provides you with any and every record imaginable and you can travel the road that took me 30 years in a week. Don't do it...take your time...enjoy the journey....don't try to cram every LP ever recorded into your ears all at once. This music is like fine needs to be tasted, appreciated and not gulped down in one shot.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011© Copyright 2011