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Negative Space interview with Rob Russen

Negative Space
                             Lou Nunziata     Rob Russen          Bob Rittner        Jim Moy


Interview:

How did it all started? 

I started taking guitar lessons at age 13 and joined my first band when I was 14.  We played for local school dances and developed a nice following.

Before Negative Space, were you and your other members (Jimmy Moy, Bob Rittner and Lou Nunziatta) in any other bands. Any releases (45,tape..) with those bands? 

Before Negative Space I was in many bands but none with the musicians that made up Negative Space.  Among the bands I was in was the Soul Providers, The Ellingtons, The Banished, The Turfers.  My father and his best friend had formed a record lable (Castle Records) to support my music career and help other local artists.  Amont those groups were Great Pride, Dirty Martha, Plynth, the Cellar Wall, and r&b vocal groups The Millionaires, The Ebonies and the Omystics.  I wrote and produced songs for all of those groups and most have videos on YouTube now.


Blue eyed soul group from Camden, NJ featuring Bobby Aceto, Sonny Aceto, Nick Criaris, Rob Russen and Rudy Wilson. This is the only released single by the group and was produced by Rob Russen for Castle Records. It features the Mike Douglas Orchestra providing the music tracks.


Written during his days as a Theta Chi fraternity brother at Rider College, this is one of the early and most popular songs in Rob Russen's library of work., This unreleased single was recorded at MSI Studio in Camden, NJ with Tony Papa as engineer and features Rob Russen as producer, lead singer and on lead guitar with Bobby Aceto on guitar, Bruce Chamberlin on bass and Sherwood Silphies III on drums.

How did you first get interested in music? 

When I was young rock & roll did not yet exist.  I was bored to death with the music my parents played on the radio.  Around the age of 10 rock & roll was introduced with Bill Haley & the Comets, Elvis and many others and that REALLY caught my attention.  I became a very good dancer at school dancers and went on to dance on American Bandstand several times.  So music was thoroughly engrained into every bone in my body.  So it was only natural that I would want to make my own music as a natural progression.   


Which bands did you like to listen in those times? I guess The Doors was very influential for you, right? 

Bear in mind rock & roll was invented in the mid 50s ... so I listened to mostly singing groups and individuals from those times until the Beach Boys, Beatles and the entire British Invasion introduced self-contained bands who wrote and performed their own music and performed concerts came about.  I was born on the same day as Jimi Hendrix so, of course, he was a major influence on my life and my music.  I was in my prime musically during the Woodstock era and had the great pleasure of having my band perform in concert with  great acts that I had as influences and contemporaries like Santana, Steppenwolf, Nazz, Vanilla Fudge, 3 Dog Night, Rare Earth, Eric Burdon & War and Grand Funk Railroad.


In 1969 you released single Light My Fire / The Long Hair. Can you tell me more information about this release? Where it was recorded etc.

This single and all the music I recorded (except one Dirty Martha single) at MSI Studio in Camden, NJ with Tony Papa as engineer.  Tony went on to work for Scotti Brothers Records and was engineer on all the hits by Survivor.  The Dirty Martha single ("Sunday Morning Feeling" b/w "Stop & Look Around") was recorded at Virtue Studio in Philly ... yes that Frank Virtue from the 50s instrumental group The Virtues.


In 1970 you released Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil. I love the title. It's  very unusual album name for that time. Where and how did you record it? If you can tell the whole story behind the album. 

I was involved in a dying marriage at that time with a very jealous and insecure wife ... not a good thing to have when you are a rock musician.  My wife used to say that I was mean and evil because I put my music above my marriage.  This "Mean" and "Evil" and, at that same time, radio stations were calling the new music they were playing "Heavy Metal" . .The band had a reputation for coming out hard and heavy with strong initial impact.  . So I combined those into "Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil".   Many of the songs on the album reflect the turmoil of my personal life at that time.  Much of it was fantacy because I felt I was trapped so I wrote about imaginary relief.  For example "Forbidden Fruit" was a song about having an affair with one of my wife's sisters who was a very creative girl who originally told me about the artistic concept that is "Negative Space" and I adopted the name for the band at that time.  But there never really was an affair between us ... we just got a long very well because we were both creative people. In retrospect, I definitely married the wrong sister!  The phase of my musical career where I was writing, producing and recording my own original material was around 1966 and I had much longer hair that the Beatles or Rolling Stones during that time.  I experienced much prejeduce and rejection from family and friends because of that and was disowned by my father when I was 17 because of it.  So my song "The Long Hair" is about that experience and was among the most popular songs that we performed in concert.   We (the band) were big Santana fans and one day I suggested we take the Doors classis "Light My Fire"  and re-arrange it the way that Santana might do it at the time.  Thus I came up with that arrangement and had a lot of fun playing the lead guitar licks on it. Our version was very popular in our concerts.

 How many pressings were made?

Just 500.


Do you own a copy yourself?

I have one copy left in storage in Tampa, FL.


How far was the band's touring territory?

Mostly the Northeast section of the US and once we went into Canada.


When the LP was out in 1970 (which month) what did you do after that and why did you disbanded? I am also interested if there is any unreleased material?

The album was released in May of 1970 and we gigged hot and heavy that summer to promote it.  Jim Moy had gotten married and his wife wanted him to settle down and not travel as much. Last year I met with Jim here in Florida for lunch one day and asked him "How did we end up in the band together?"  He told me that we had gone to the same high school together.  I was a senior when he was a sophomore so we didn't have any contact during that time.  But I was an outstanding athlete in school and had a reputation for that plus playing in bands.  He said that one day he heard that I was looking for a percussionist to join my band and it was like a dream of his to play in a band with the 'famous" Rob Russen.   I couldn't help but laugh at his story because I didn't remember it at all. Jim was replaced with a guy named Gordon and then Bob Rittner left because he had a day job and they decided they didn't want him taking off time to play music as much as he had been doing.  He was replaced by a blonde female named Barbara who was excellent.  After a few months of gigging with the new lineup I decided to change the name of the group to Snow and we recorded "Johnny B Good" b/w "Sunflower".  The material that was recorded for Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil that was not used on the album was later included on the two CDs released by Monster Records. 




"Unreleased single from my solo album called "Changing Courses In Mid-Stream" as I transitioned from my heavy metal music of "Hard. Heavy, Mean & Evil" with my band Negative Space to a more mellow, accoustic musical journey. This track was recorded at the same MSI studio with Tony Papa as engineer where I recorded the heavy metal material and it features members of both my bands Negative Space and Snow. Photos by Joe Evangelista."

Are you still in contact with other members of the band? 

Yes I am with two of the other three. Within the last 4 years I have re-established contact with Jim and Lou Nunziata.  It has been great.  None of us have any idea what happened to Bob Rittner but I am still trying to find him.


In 2000 Label called Monster released The Living Dead Years. How much do you like it? 

In 1999 Dennis, the owner of Monster Records got in touch with one of my sons some how and asked if he would give him my number.  One day I was in my office and got the call from Dennis and he said "Is this Rob Russen?  The Rob Russen was was leader of the rock band Negative Space?" I said "yes".  Then he told me who he was and said he had been looking for me for three years.  I said "why ... do I owe you money? hahahaha".  He went on to say that my album had been bootlegged throughout Europe for years.  He told me that I was one of the founding fathers of heavy metal music and that he would like to re-issue my album.  I said "Are you serious?  Am I on candid camera?  I made that music 30 years ago,  I had no idea anyone would still have interest in it". So we made a deal but only after I insisted that he include my accoustic material in it as well from my unreleased solo album "Changing Courses in Mid Stream" and the material by Snow as well.  He agreed.  I did not know he was going to call the re-release "The Living Dead Years" and was not real happy about that.  I also wasn't happy that he left off our version of "Summertime Blues".  His excuse was that too many other bands had covered it.  To this date that song is still the one that gets the most hits on YouTube,   The limited edition of the re-release sold out and he contacted me for permission to make another pressing and I insisted that it be called by it's original name and he agreed.  I was happy with the digital re-mastering of the material and somewhat confused by the art work on the CDs.  But all in all, it's great to know that my music is still being enjoyed by new fans 40 years now after it was made.  That's a trip.


What are you doing these days? 

After an extensive career in managing and producing acts I also got into professional boxing and wrestling.  Three years ago I discovered a great female jazz trumpet player named Cindy Bradley and got her signed with Trippin' n Rhythm Records from the UK.  Last year they released her first CD callled Bloom and she was voted "New Artist of the Year" in the smooth jazz awards.  I have managed and promoter fighters that have fought for world champiionships.  I have produced acts that headlined in Las Vegas and I created my own professional wrestling organization called IWA Championship Wrestling.  I am retired now and living in Florida but soon will be returning to the Philiipines to begin the visa process for my fiancee who is from there.  



Thank you very much for this interview. I was looking for you for awhile now and I am really happy I found you. Do you wish to share anything else about the band or yourself that I didn't ask?

You're very welcome.  Feel free to contact me any time about any of the music I created.  I would like to think that I was a very angry young man when I was in Negative Space and the music shows the fire that was burning inside.  I have lived a very full life and accomplished or experienced everything I set out to do in a variety of fields.  Now I have mellowed and at age 64 soon will be marrying my beautiful 26 year old Filipina fiancee Joren.  It's been one hell of a ride.  I think I am a rather unique individual to have both a CD and a book I wrote about the boxing business (8...9...10...You're Out!) selling on Amazon.com currently at the same time. 

Take care.  Best wishes.

Rob























Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011

Paul Gurvitz interview


Interview:

Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview, Paul. You are making such an amazing music, that's why I'm really honored to be talking with you. Firstly I would like to ask you about your childhood. What were your main influences at that time, beside Buddy Holly and Elvis.

I used to listen to a lot of American artist's when I was growing up as there were only a few English ones that I found exciting, around the late 60's I would listen to Santana, Buffalo Springfield, Spirit, The Allman Brothers, Zappa.

Your first band was called The Londoners. You played gigs around London and you also went to Germany. I would really enjoy hearing a little story behind that event. Can you tell me who else was in the band?

Actually the Londoners never really played in London other than when we were the backing group for Gene Vincent, The Londoners played mostly in Germany and France.



From Germany you went back to London. You were no longer called The Londoners. Changing your name to The Knack, were there also any changes in lineup? You recorded few singles for Pye and for Decca. Your first release was Who'll Be The Next In Line / She Ain't No Good, right? Can you tell me more about The Knack. Where did you played etc.
  
The Knack was a continuation of The Londoners. There were a few different members, on bass was Gearie Kenworthy, on organ was Tim Mycroft (who is the first of the family tree to have passed away and on drums was Topper Clay, and I played rythm guitar. The Knack played mostly in London and around England. 

In early 1968 you started band called Gun. You released a debut album in same year, which I think it is a true masterpiece and one of the first more heavy albums from that era.
You also had a mega hit called Race With The Devil. Can you tell me how and where did you record album. How far was the band's touring territory? Who made the cover art? I just love it.

The Gun was a continuation of The Knack with different members. The first Gun was Tim Mycroft on organ, Gearie Kenworthy on bass, Louie Farrel on drums, and I played Rythm guitar and lead vocals and actually started playing as The Gun late 67. In early 68 there were more changes, Jon Anderson was the lead singer and my brother joined on guitar, then it changed again, Anderson left so did Tim mycroft, and the Gearie Kenworthy and that's when we became The Gun that made the albums. I was now playing bass and Adrian on guitar and Louie on drums.

Race With The Devil was our first hit and was recorded at CBS in London on an 8 track recorder. We were managed at that time by the famous jazz player Ronnie Scott and rehearsed in his club. During the time we were rehearsing there was a guy painting murals on the club walls and we asked him if he would like to do the artwork of the cover. His name was Roger Dean who later did all the Yes albums and many more but The Gun was his first, as far as touring we spent time in France, Germany, Italy and England.


In 1969 you started to record second album, called Gunsight. There were a little lineup changes, right? Drummer Peter Dunton came from Bulldog Breed to join your band. Can you tell me more about that?

I don't remember much about that. I know Peter Dunton played on some tracks, but never really joined the band although there were some publicity pics with him. Most of the second album was Louie Farrell, later Goeff Britton played drums and toured with us. He later joined Wings.


What went wrong with Gun after second album? Your brother went to USA to record with Buddy Miles. After that he and Brian Parrish released one album called Parrish & Gurvitz. Slowly after that a new band was born. Three Man Army, which is one of my most belowed bands of all time. Paul, what can you tell me about this legendary trio with you Adrian and Tony Newman on drums? You released 3 albums from 1970 to 1974. I would appreciate to hear a short story how did you record, where did you tour. Perhaps any TV apperence, any unreleased material?

Actually I was in Parrish and Gurvitz not my brother, Brian was in The Londoners with me. I was recording a solo album for CBS and then decided to join up with Parrish.
Three Man Army was an extention of Gun but with a lot of different drummers such as Buddy Miles, Mike Kelly (Spooky Tooth) Carmin Appice (Vanilla Fudge). The band was just a recording band at the time as Adrian and I were playing in different bands but we intended to make Three Man Army a touring band later and when Adrian finished with Buddy Miles,  Parrish and Gurvitz after making 2 albums with George Martin (Beatles) decided to pack it in and that's when Tony Newman joined and Three Man Army was born. The second album Mahesha and Three Man Army Two were both with Tony Newman.
We recorded often at the Who's studio and toured the U.S. with The Doobie Brothers and The Beach Boys. We did some TV and there is an album of unreleased material called Three Man Army Three and can be purchased at http://wetworldmusic.com/



During that period you started another project with The Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge. Soon after that two albums were released. Please tell me more about that project.

The two albums with Graeme Edge were just studio albums. The Moody Blues were taking a break and doing thier individual projects. The artwork was by Joe Petagno (Motorhead sleeves etc.) also Three Man Army Two, the second album Paradise Ballroom was recorded in London and Memphis, they have both been reissued recently on The Acerteric label. 


Tony Newman left the Three Man Army and you started a new band called Baker Gurvitz Army. How did you meet with Ginger Baker? I am also interested if you can tell me about your touring album recordings etc.
  
Three Man Army was back from the U.S. and Tony Newman was offered a gig with David Bowie and we suggested he took it. Three Man Army had an album ready to record, but no drummer. We met Ginger in a club one night and he said he wanted to join the band and the rest is history. That album became the first BGA album. The band toured the U.K. and America and recorded somehow 2 more albums.
 There have been many live albums released since the demise of the band also on http://wetworldmusic.com/
You will find BGA "still alive" which includes a DVD.



In 1976 you released last Baker Gurvitz Army album, called Hearts on Fire. What happened next?

After the recording of Hearts On Fire our manager was killed in a plane crash and the band split. Adrian pursued solo projects and I produced them.  


Then came the 80's and you were involved with a lot of projects.

The 80's was a whole new era for me with my music. I went from playing and creating hard rock to writing pop r&b for many artist's which you will find on my website  http://www.paulgurvitz.com/ 

Same question goes for the 90's.

Same.

In 2002 you released album No Gun - No Army and in 2005 you released Rated PG album. What can you say about that?

No Gun No Army was just a release of demo's rated. PG was more a project than No Gun No Army. I make the albums more for other artist's to record the songs.


2010 was the year you released your last album called Sweetheart Land. How do you feel about it?

I liked Sweetheart Land. Gave me chance to switch my style a bit to more country / rock.


What are future plans for you, Paul?

I am still writing and producing. I have also started to write for film/tv and maybe another album and recently trying to put a band together to do some live shows.

Many thanks for you time and effort. Would you like to share anything else about the band or yourself that I didn't ask?

I think I have covered most.

Thanks, Paul.



Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011

Ed Askew interview


 I made an interview with Ed Askew. It's an audio interview.




 Thank you very much for you time and effort, Ed.


Thanks also to http://www.dragcity.com/


You can find many new stuff from Ed on http://edaskew.bandcamp.com/


This picture is taken from recent De Stijl 7" release. You can find it at http://www.destijlrecs.com/askew.html
Below is a video, where Ed comments on his new / old 7" release. Check it out!




Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011

Gary Higgins interview


Interview:

You made Red Hash in 1973. What was your main influence and inspiration at that time?

Influenced by most pop and folk music in those days. CS+N-The Byrds-The Band-Beatles for a few. Inspired by the time period itself in a way-lots of high energy and hope for the future was about.

What else beside music influenced and inspired you?

The Peace movement/Anti-war, Civil Rights and the newer sense of open mindedness and exercise of freedoms.

Can you tell me more about how it was all recorded? It was released by Nufusmoon. What can you tell me about  Nufusmoon?

All done on 4 track reel to reel in a pretty short space of time. The studio was called Odyesy-in Litchfield Ct. Nufusmoon was a company made up essentially of friends and family with little or no 'pro' experience in promotion and distribution. It was promoted from the heart, sheer energy and dedication to seeing it through.


I'm interested in how many copies were made? Do you own a copy yourself?

That's not really known-best estimates were around 2500-many not surviving the times. Yes I have several.

Can you tell me how was your life before making Red Hash? In late 60'syou were in a band called Random  Concept (any recording from that maybe?) ? Later you were in Wooden Wheel, again I'm wondering if there are any recordings from that?

Pretty much a "normal" teenager with a passion for Folk music and guitar esp in the early 60's. In the mid 60's greatly influenced by the Beatles and Stones and electric music. Helped form the RC where I played Bass first and later became the drummer. There are some recordings from late 60's and early 70's. Wooden Wheel was an offshoot of that and had Jake Bell in it from the RC as well. It allowed an acoustic outlet for a lot of songs I had written in that time period. Many ending up on the Red Hash album-there are a few low tech recordings around somewhere.


I would be really happy to hear a short story of your teen life before being in bands.

Very short version is it was pretty boring!

Are you still in contact with Jake Bell, Maureen Wells, Terry Fenton, Dave Beaujon, and Paul Tierney?

Yes-ESP Dave and Terry-we still play and record together often. Maureen also from 2005-2008 but she has since moved to Colorado. Jake lives in Russia and I have not seen him in many years but we do email and remain good friends. Paul lives in another nearby town and we see each other occasionally.


In 2004 Ben Chasny and Zach Cowiefinnaly found you. Cowie then signed you to Drag City. You re-release Red Hash in July 2005. Are you happy with re-release?

Very happy. Drag City pulled out all the stops there from promo to product. It revitalized my music career. Couldn't be happier with what has transpired because of it.

In 2009 you released Seconds on Drag city. I want to know how you feel about that?

I really wanted to put out some music from the present and to show that I was still writing and playing and I guess still relevant. I didn't want my musical past to be the only representation of my music . I had been writing and playing all along and I needed to express that. I also did not want to try and be 'Red Hash #2' from the music to the cover. I didn't want to try and compete or beat it. I think there were many inevitable comparisons, and that it would just be a natural extension. It essentially was in a way, but the 40+ years in between did happen and life and times make the focus change. I have no regrets there at all and it was a fun project.


What are your future plans? Touring? Will you make any new recordings...?

New EP and CD "A Dream A While Back" coming out March 22 2011. These are all the old original recordings- pre Red Hash. Hope to do some more touring and live shows very soon. Almost done with a pure Random Concept CD and continue writing and recording with several new songs already completed.

Do you want to share anything else about yourself, that I didn't ask?

Yes I want everyone to know I.......and pretty darn soon too.

  


















Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2011
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/ 2011