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Guru Guru interview with Ax Genrich


Thank you very much for doing this interview. It's really an honor to talk with you about your music. I would like to talk about your childhood. Where did you grew up and what were some of your early influences to become a guitarist?

I grew up in Berlin (West) and my first contact to live music was at school, when some classmates played guitar and sang songs between the lessons. It was in the late fifties and Skiffle music was the big craze. I wanted to join them so bad and I did, but first on tea chest bass, later on washboard and then on four string banjo. Lonnie Donegan was the biggest influence. But Skiffle didn´t last long and when 'The Shadows' took over, I played electric bass in our band named 'Rockin´Chairs'. 'The Rolling Stones' opened a new world in music to me and I started listening to Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin´Wolf and John Lee Hooker. That was when I wanted to play guitar and I changed position with our guitar player. After some scepticism from my mates at first it went well and we went professional for two years. Back in Berlin as a student I started going to as many concerts as I could afford. B.B. King, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, American Folk and Blues Festival, Gary Burton Quartet. But the biggest flash was seeing Jimi Hendrix in 1967 on his first European tour.

Your first band was 'Agitation Free'. You join them at the very beginning and stayed there for about what? 3 months? What do you remember from it? 

Agitation Free was not my first band. In the late sixties I played in many bands to expand my guitar playing. 'Sound Tracks', 'Light of Mingus', 'Gao Tai', 'East West', 'Music Transmission'. When I joined Agitation Free I hoped to get some gigs cause my aim was to record and play professional again.With them I went into a studio, sadly the tapes are lost, and had a big gig at the Sports Palace on 04.12.1970, where I saw Guru Guru for the first time.

After that you joined 'Guru Guru'. This was in 1970? How did you came together with Mani and Uli?

To join 'Guru Guru' was like magic. After the Sports Palace they had another gig in Berlin and I went to see them again. When I arrived, they had already started, but as a duo, no guitar. During the intermission I asked them, if I could join, which was OK but I had to bring a guitar. No driving license, but a friend took me home to fetch my guitar and than back to the event in a hurry. I plugged in and that was it. The next gig was in Fürth right before "Free" with Paul Kossoff. Uh lala!

Where do you think your improvisational skills came from? You must had been listening to a lot of jazz and Hendrix?

It was in the air. It started maybe listening to Paul Butterfields "East West" or Canned Heat's "Refried Boogie" or the Rolling Stones version of "Everybody needs somebody to love". My first break was in the 'Rockin´Chairs' when we played James Brown's "Papa´s got a brand new bag" in a extended version. That was my first improvised guitar solo. The biggest influence was Hendrix "3rd Stone from the sun" then not understanding what the title really meant. I went to see Jazz groups in Berlin, mostly free jazz, but seeing early 'Tangerine Dream' or 'Neue Musik Plus Minus' or even 'Agitation Free' before I joined them, was more important than listening to Coltrane or Miles Davis.

Do you think 'Guru Guru' was kind of more interesting or suitable band for you, than 'Agitation Free'?

Yes. They were much more exotic. I took a look at their painted van and I got this on the road feeling immediately. They were like musical nomads and they helped me to escape my boring student home.

You were part of the first five albums. I would like to talk about album per album. In 1970 your first album was called 'UFO'. It was released on legendary 'Ohr Records'. What are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this LP?

It took place at the well established 'Hansa Studio' in Berlin. Mani invited some friends, the "Umherschweifenden Haschrebellen" and they relaxed in the recording room to make good vibrations and turn us on. We played as though it was a concert in a marihuana clouded atmosphere and maybe that was the mystery. The sound engineer and the producer were short to fainting, but they did not cancel the session and Rolf Ulrich Kaiser, the 'Ohr' label Boss, did not show up.

This are the songs, that are featured on the first album. Would you like to comment each one a bit?

A1          Stone In

That´s my favourite. That´s my Les Paul sound with Marshall amp, echo chamber and wah wah pedal.                          

A2          Girl Call

A bit difficult in the beginning because of timing and then the guitar sound was dropped a bit too sudden, but in the end I liked the cut into Dalai Lama.

A3          Next Time See You at the Dalai Lhama                

I played guitar without effects straight into the Marshall at full volume. It sounded very close to the bass, which was distorted from sheer volume, I remember when Mani recorded the live sounds in the end with the female voice "Guru Guru" with his cassette recorder at the Tiergarten in Berlin.

B1          UFO

Uli used his cup bass, a Fender Precision played with a metal cup as a plectrum. Mani had a contact
pick up into an echo chamber, which he hammered on the cymbals. I used my echo chamber a lot with feed backs of my guitar. I still don't like Mani´s flutes, they are too shrill. But I like the sound of the paddles. That was the three of us in a boat on lake Zürich in Switzerland getting together and making plans for the future. A nice cross fade to the space sound introduction of LSD Marsch.

B2          Der LSD-Marsch

On later live versions Mani had added some lyrics  to it, which he did not on the studio version. The title, "Der LSD Marsch" was very catchy.

It's really amazing what you did with your guitar playing. A three piece of band and such a magnificent force behind it. What gear did you use?

I played a´68 Gibson black Les Paul through wah wah and Echolette echo chamber into a Marshall 100 watts with two 4x12 cabinets.

'Hinten' is your second LP, that features some of the really legendary songs like 'Electric Junk', 'The Meaning of Meaning', 'Bo Diddley' and mind blowing 'Space Ship'. Would you like to talk about it?

The production of "Hinten" was very different to the first one. It took place in a small studio in Hamburg and we had the master soundman Conny Plank for the first time. He brought interesting sound effects to the mix and produced every title more careful. I used a Fender Stratocaster for the first time and was very happy with it. And I started doing guitar overdubs,which was new to me, but I had no problems, cause Conny gave me much room.

Your third album was on a new label. It was released by 'Brain Records'. 'Känguru' was again an outstanding album. What is the story behind making this album?

We did not get along with Rolf Ulrich Kaiser so well and we thought, it would be much better to be on the new 'Brain' label by 'Metronome' Records. In a way it was, but it was the last LP with Uli Trepte. Again with Conny Plank, but in a bigger studio in Hamburg, the 'Windrose' studio. My favourite is "Oxymoron" which has some nice guitar sounds to it. To call it "Känguru" was my idea during a brainstorm session. The idea for the cover, the artic kangaroo mother, was by Heinz Dofflein.

What impact had psychedelic drugs on 'Guru Guru' music or itself on your work? Any favourite acid trips you would like to talk about?

Well, when I joined them, they were already known as a "head" band. At first, taking drugs was new to me, but I took the chance to try it and when travelling in our Ford Fiesta, I could not resist, even if I wanted. Uli was a strong acid head and he wanted to turn me on, which he did. I was a bit afraid and felt manipulated, but I liked being with them and it was their way of life. I would not say, it changed the music, but it changed the people, who played it. I remember the day in Langenthal,when the whole crew was tripping and they wanted to start jamming with me. I had to go upstairs for my guitar and could not decide which one to take, the black Les Paul or the white Strat. I sat on the floor paralysed, thinking which one I liked best. In the end they looked for me and brought both guitars and we had a wonderful jam, which brought us more together.

Where all did you play in the early 70's with the band?

We played at festivals, town halls, underground clubs, university events, youth clubs and events like "Kunst Zone" in Munich or "Art Messe" in Kiel. I remember the Herzberg Festival, the British Rock Meeting in Germersheim with Pink Floyd as headliner, when we played just after them in the morning, the Rocking Island Festival with Tangerine Dream, the German Rock Meetings in Frankfurt, Berlin, Heidelberg and Krefeld.

Were there any concepts behind the albums?

No, just the tracks. No concept album as others did.

Later you recorded two more album 'Don't Call Us We Call You' and your last with them called just 'Guru Guru'. What happened next for you?

My last album was 'Don´t call us we call you',which was on 'WEA' Atlantic and after that a single 'More hot juice' with '20th century rock' on the flip side.

After 'Guru Guru' you recorded your solo album called 'Highdelberg'. It was released on 'Happy Bird Records'. What's the story behind this album?

After Guru Guru I lived with Sharon in Berlin. I made demo tapes with my Revox and put them to a cassette. We travelled to Conny Plank, who had his new studio near Cologne. He listened to the cassette and was interested to produce the songs. In his spare time I invited Mani, Helmut Hattler, Peter Wollbrandt, Jan Fride, Dieter Moebius and Achim Roedelius to Cologne, to record the songs. On three of them I played all instrument alone, like I did on the demo. At first we had difficulties to find a label, but then we found 'Happy Bird', which was on Bellaphon.

In the 70's there were two projects you were part of, but they never released anything. Perhaps recordings still exsist? One was 'Marktplätzchen' and the other one was called 'Odenwald Express'.

Those groups mainly existed to be on the record "Musik aus dem Odenwald, der grüne Zweig 50". It was acoustic folk music played by people who lived around Heidelberg. From that I started my group "RIF", were I played electric guitar again and sang German lyrics.

What were you doing in the 80's? In early 90s you released 'Psychedelic Guitar' and 'Wave Cut'. Then you Mani and Dave Schmidt came together and 'Psychedelic Monsterjam' and 'The Intergalactic Travel Agency' was recorded and released. What can you tell me about this albums?

In the eighties I concentrated on "RIF", which was quite successful. We had a cassette out on Transmitter "Realität,nix bla bla" but now, after so many years, it´s available on CD. Psychedelic Monsterjam and The Intergalactic Travel Agency were live recordings from Cafe Cairo and AKW in Würzburg and Jazzhaus Heidelberg. The band was called Neumeier, Genrich, Schmidt at first but "Psychedelic Monsterjam" stuck as a bandname. It was brought together by Horst Porkert, who really wanted to have Neumeier, Trepte, Genrich as the original Guru Guru, but Uli Trepte had no interest. My favourite track is "Intergalactic" from the second CD. It was recorded with DAT recorders and mastered by Dave Schmidt. Sorry there is no chance to record together again.

Your latest record I believe is 'Axymoron'. What is the concept behind it?

The concept behind 'Axymoron' was a "Werkschau" which I understood in showing all the different styles which I played during my career. It started with Skiffle music and ended with "Amber Suite", which I still play today. Tom Redecker gave me the chance to release it on his Sireena label. But it´s not my latest. At the same time I released "Spontaneous Combustion" and then I played on Gurumaniax "Psy Valley Hill" together with Mani and Guy Segers. In 2011, I released 'Live At The Finkenbach Festival', 'A Trip To Paradise' and in 2012 'Fretboard Jungle' on CD and on vinyl. The latest release is on vinyl "Ufo´s over Ellmendingen" together with "The Pancakes" and "Zone Six".

What currently occupies your life?

I´m looking for ward getting gigs to promote my new CD 'Fretboard Jungle', I´m writing down my lifestory and hope to find someone to release it as a book. I hope I´ll stay healthy to play many live gigs.

Future plans? Any new projects?

Right now we are waiting for a resonance to our new CD 'Fretboard Jungle'. After that we will start another one and we sit on a lot of ideas but don't know which are the most important. The band likes most, to take songs out of an improvisation, like we did with 'Zaragoza', 'A Trip To Paradise or Death is for Dying' but I have written material, which I wanted to try out. Then there is my solo project, "Ax Genrich Solo", and a duo with our drummer Steff Bollack which is called "Der Gebo Effect".

Thank you so much for taking your time, Ax. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby

Thanks a lot for your interest. Stay open minded, don't let others take decisions for you.


Our interview with Mani Neumeier

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright 2012

Bakerloo interview with Terry Poole


Hi Terry! Thanks for taking your time to tell us more about Bakerloo. What can you tell us about the time before Bakerloo. You were part of Rupert's People and you released three singles. Would you like to tell us more about this?

I didn’t meet Ruperts People until 1970. I must have answered an ad in the Melody Maker for a bass player. Ruperts People were managed by Miles Copeland and we rehearsed in the basement of his parent’s house in St John’s Wood London. We changed the name Ruperts People to Stone Feather and played at night clubs in Paris,  Hyres and St Tropez in the South of France in the summer of 1970. Stuart Copeland is Miles’s youngest brother and he used to “ hang around “ the basement studio after school at the American Academy. Ian Copeland was our “ roady “ who sadly passed way a couple of years ago. Stone Feather never recorded, but quite a few musicians auditioned for places in the band including Gordon Giltrap and Lez Nicholl.

How was the The Bakerloo Blues Line formed.
Bakerloo Blues Line was formed in 1967  originally called The Pinch in Tamworth Staffordshire. The original line up included John Hinch on drums who went on to form Judas Priest. There were a succession of drummers until the Bakerloo album of 1969.

When we started recording the Bakerloo album at Trident studios Soho London, we were still auditioning for drummers and used a session player on Drivin’ Bachwards as Keith Baker hadn’t yet joined us!

“Bakerloo the early days” you will find a long list of great drummers who played with us before we recorded the album, including Bill Ward (Black Sabbath).

Do you remember some of the early rehearsals?

The early rehearsals were mostly in spare rooms of pubs and youth clubs in and around Tamworth.

In 1969 you were signed up by Harvest Records. How did that happen?

We were signed up by EMI records and the Harvest Label became the brand for “underground progressive music“. Tony Hall Enterprises and Jim Simpson of Big Bear Records were the management. They were responsible for the recording contract with EMI.

Do you remember recording sessions for your LP?

The cost of the recording sessions at Trident Studios were £30 per hour. This was a large sum of money for us, and so, all the tracks on the Bakerloo album were first or second “ takes “. Clem and I had played our songs “live“ for two years and so we knew each others work intimately. Gus Dudgeon was the record producer and the whole album was finished in two to three weeks.

What gear did you guys use?

The amplification was all by Laney. I played a Fender Jazz base and Clem played a Gibson Les Paul…Keith Baker’s drum kit was made by Premier.

The cover artwork is connected with your name. Why did you choose this name?

I had and aunt and uncle who lived in central London and from a boy I stayed with them and my cousins very near Marble Arch.

I knew London quite well and so when the “underground music “ movement stared in the mid sixties I felt that the name of and underground railway station would be a good name for our band as most people would have known the name Bakerloo.

So Bakerloo Blues Line became our name.

I was attending Nottingham Art School whilst playing in Bakerloo, so I also had the idea of including the Bakerloo tube logo on our album sleeve. 

Please comment each song from your legendary LP.

A1          Big Bear Ffolly 

Big Bear Folly a chance for us to show that we were in tune with jazz.

A2          Bring It on Home       

We loved the Blues and so we paid tribute to our Blues hero’s.
A3          Driving Bachwards       

Clem’s great talent on show as a classical musician.

A4          Last Blues        
More tributes to our Blues Heros.

A5          Gang Bang             

Jazz Jazz Jazz

B1          The Worried Feeling    

I enjoyed writing these lyrics and Clem was really soulful on this track. Fabulous blues guitar playing, we were both only 19 year old! Probably my favourite track. Aamazing.

B2          Son of Moonshine

This was our grand finale live festival track. Progressive blues rock at its best. One take only in the studio. Hard to believe isn’t it!! One upon a time.. I completely forgot this one, only when Repertoire Records released this as a “ bonus“ track on the Bakerloo CD did it come back to me. Quite interesting, and not too bad for a single of “The day“.

Where all did Bakerloo played and with who?

The Bakerloo gig list is on my web site

Marquee Club, Wardour, St Soho London, The Round House, Chalk Farm London...

Some of the bands that were on the same bill as us at different venues were Free, Pink Fairies, Pink Floyd, Elma Gantry’s Velvet Opera, Earth (Black Sabbath)Rory Galager, Status Quo, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, King Crimson, Love Sculpture, Jethro Tull, Canned Heat and Led Zepelin.

Any particular stories you would like to share with us?

Opening the first ever Led Zepplin gig at the Marquee Club. Bakerloo appeared countless times at the Marquee Club, so being the opening support act for Led Zepplin seemed like just another gig. We didn’t think anything of it, as Robert Plant and John Bonham were from the Midlands like us, and often jammed at Henry’s Blues House Birmingham were we were also the resident band.

What happened next? I know you played bass for awhile for May Blitz, but you are not on the recording, right?

After Bakerloo disbanded in the summer of 1969 I moved to London and worked and recorded with many musicians and artists including Robert Palmer, Elkie Brooks, Graham Bond, Ray Russell and Colin Blunstone (the Zombies) until 1974.

(left to right) Terry Poole, Paul Varley, Speedy Aquay(front), Keith Bleasby(back), Peter Illingworth.

Sample tracks of this including my own songs recorded with Clive Johnson are on my website

What were you doing in the 70's and 80's?

I was working in the Casino Industry in the Bahamas Paradise Island 1977-1985. I then worked in casinos on Cruise Ships including the QE2’s last ever World cruise in 2001. Some members of the QE2 Orchestra discovered my former career in rock music and invited me to play with them on the Crew Deck when we were in the Port of Bali Indonesia.

An outstanding concert for the crew (1000) under the stars playing songs from the Blues Brothers Movie Soundtrack!!!

What occupies your life these days?

I am still working in the entertainment industry my other web site still play guitar with my mentor Tony Wille. I have written some “ brand new “ songs ready to record and place on my Terry Poole retro site…

Thanks for stopping by. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?

I was so very fortunate to have worked with outstanding musicians and truly wonderfully appreciative audiences.

Psychedelic Baby and it’s Readers are keeping music “ live “ great!!

Terry Poole

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright 2012

The Cigarettes interview with Stephen Taylor & Rob Smith


'The Cigarettes' were born in 1978. You were from Lincoln, UK and you actually had quite good local success right?

Stephen: We were a ‘local band’ in the most accurate definition of the phrase. We were teenagers at the time. Adam the drummer was still at school, I was at the local Art College and still living at home and Rob was at that time trying to figure out how he could earn a living without working. I can only remember doing two shows outside of Lincoln and one of them was for John Peel from which we got the offer of a recording a session for his national radio show. John Peel was highly regarded as a champion of whatever new music was emerging throughout his long career. He had been playing our record on his show, he asked us to play at one of his Roadshow gigs at which we got the offer of a session.

As far as local success goes, Lincoln is a small city; having our record being played on The Peel show and then recording the Peel Session made us slightly bigger fish in a tiny pond.  Probably by virtue of our puffed out chests and swollen heads.

How did you come together? Were you and other band members in any other bands?

Stephen: 'The Cigarettes' were our first band. Rob, the lead singer and guitarist and I were in the same class throughout our entire school life. From 4 years old to 16, and we were friends for most of that time. Adam turned up when I was getting rid of a nasty sounding drum kit. I fancied myself as a drummer and got an extremely cheap and hopeless drum kit. Within 5 minutes it was clear that I was a drummer only in my head. A friend of mine told me that he had a mate that was looking for a drum kit, so Adam shows up, he was 15 years old and I either gave him the kit or sold it for a pint of beer. I was so pleased to get it out of my room.

How would you describe your music? Mod, Punk…?

Stephen: We were a Punk band. It was the Sex Pistols that sparked us, and a lot of our friends to form bands. Prior to the Sex Pistols at that time there was nothing. I liked the Beatles and the Stones and Rob was listening to David Bowie and Bob Dylan. However great their records were, none of these artists were on the television or releasing regular singles that were on the radio. An album would come out when you were 14 and when the next release came out you were 16. It seemed like and age. Then mercifully The Sex Pistols turned up. I do remember the day after the Sex Pistols had been on national television for the first time, Rob and I had both seen it and were discussing them whilst we were fishing. On that morning we recognised them as being hilarious but it took a couple of weeks before they sounded like the greatest living band. If nothing else The Sex Pistols took us off the riverbanks and put us into dark smelly clubs, which was a step forward.

Rob: Somewhere in between I think. That’s if there is such thing as been somewhere in between Mod and Punk?!  I think, if anything, I was more punk, Stephen was more mod and Adam was more jazz rock. I do find it interesting that some people seem to be concerned as to what category to put music into. I always thought if I liked it, it is good (unless it is Country and Western music!). When punk first came out, the idea seemed to be to just get yourself a band together and play what you want, and wear what you want.  And then it all became more formalised, and categorised. We were going to the local charity shops (Oxfam) and picking up clothes for a few pence. Later, we used to see people who had gone down to London and bought expensive "punk clothing". I never got that.

What influenced you?
Stephen: The immediate influences on the band were the Pistols, The Clash, The Jam and the Buzzcocks, along with the hundreds of independent records that appeared on the scene almost instantly. Rob and I went on a tour selling the merchandise for the Buzzcocks. Joy Division as the support act. I think that the day to day exposure to these two bands further influenced Rob, who was the main songwriter. I just chipped in a couple of songs here and there.

Rob: It was an interesting time because you could go to an independent record shop and there would be so many singles from bands you just hadn't  heard of. Some good, some indifferent, and some downright rubbish. So some influences came from bands that I can't even remember the name of now. But the more obvious influences were bands like the Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, the Vibrators, The Damned, the Jam, The Adverts. And from the pre-punk era, the Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan.

Tell me about the local scene in Lincoln?

Stephen: In 1977 very rudimentary skills on instruments could sound thrilling. Punk enabled anyone that fancied being in a group to form one and have a go. We took advantage of this along with many others. Suddenly you would see oddly dressed, scruffy, spotty boys walking the streets carrying guitars and small synth keyboards. Dozens of bands were born overnight, many with their own records available. The Bodyguards, Sinking Ships and Stig and the Laceraters are three that we formed from our immediate friends. This phenomenon was taking place throughout all the towns and cities in Britain. It was a unique and exciting time to be in a group.

I was involved with a distribution company that bought records from local bands from around the country and sold them mail order in the New Musical Express magazine as well as to shops. Amongst the many records we bought were the first releases from the Human League and Def Leppard, both Sheffield bands and both would have number 1albums in America within a few years. It was an astonishing time looking back it. 

You received some airplay on the John Peel radio show in the UK and you also did some recordings for it.


Stephen: We got offered a prestigious John Peel Session and the first date for the session we couldn't make so the next time he played the 'They're back again' single on his show he said over the air that we had turned down a session because one of us was cleaning our car. This was untrue, but made us appear wittier than we were and slightly arrogant which was no bad thing. Unbelievably as I write this I am at the BBC Maida Vale Studios in London where that session took place. I just popped into Studio 4, which is the studio we recorded in. The studio wasn’t in use. I planned to photograph it but I couldn’t find the light switch. There are a lot of switches and knobs in a recording studio. We recorded 4 songs and mixed them in a day ‘Valium World’ was one that I remember. It was broadcast more that once and people seemed to like it.


Rob: John Peel played the first single (EP) quite a number of times and we were asked to go and do a gig for his roadshow. At the gig he asked us to come and do one of his sessions, which we did in 1980. We recorded four songs for the session at the BBC Maida Vale studios. "Can't sleep at night," "Valium world", "It’s the Only Way to Live (die)", "Frivolous Disguises". I remember the day before going down from Peel session, Stephen’s bass had developed a problem and we had to drive 35 miles to the music shop to get it fixed. While we were waiting for the repair, about 6 inches of snow came down and as we drove home we got into an accident and the car was spinning round.  I remember thinking, damn, we’re just about to die just as we’re about to take the first step to being famous. Needless to say we didn't die, then again we never became really famous.


In your time you released only one single and an EP. I would like if you could share a story about these recordings?

Stephen: We heard that there was a recording studio just out of town which seemed unbelievable to us. We never knew that it existed. We went to have a look at it and it looked like a proper recording studio with a drum booth and padded walls, it was very 70’s, and tiny. It had a 4 track tape machine and we recorded 6 songs, all finished in a couple of days. Out of this came the first ep, ‘They’re back again’, ‘I’ve forgot your number’, ‘All we want is your money’. ‘Miranda’ and ‘Media Mania’ were amongst the songs. It was all live performances, and the recordings captured what we were about and the times we were in very well I think.

We went in a couple of more times and spent a little longer, not much, on each song, but perhaps the results were less successful. I do think that those first recordings benefit from our naivety and definitely the excitement of being in a recording studio from the first time. They still sound fresh to me.

What were songs mostly about?

Stephen: Whatever young men forming their first opinions of the world in which they find themselves find relevant. A bit of politics, money, the media, prescription drugs, girlfriends. The usual. I don’t remember much sex working it’s way into the songs though. Some early songs were purely for the fun of being a little shocking. ‘Damage your Health’ was an early one that was done for amusement. An American Punk band did cover that song. I got no credit though. It was a straight cover of us too.

Rob: Some songs of personal stuff, some political stuff and some just fun. "They're Back Again Here They Come" was about the rise of right-wing movements in Britain that time. "All They Want Is Your Money", was about music industry, and people writing songs about change, the kids, about making money out of rebellion. I want people to understand that we were just the same.

"Will Damage Your Health" is the name of a compilation that features most of your unreleased stuff. It's released on "Detour Records". There is so many great stuff on it. 

Stephen: I think that that record consists of everything that we ever recorded, including the Peel Session, one of our first rehearsals and some stuff that Rob did after I’d gone. So the very beginning in the rehearsal room is captured with ‘Re-arrange your brain’ The couple of singles and their flip sides. Some songs included on a local compilation album called ‘East’. The riff to one of those, ‘Frivolous disguises’, still pops into my head from time to time. The Peel session is on there and a handful that never found their way onto a record. It’s everything that we did in the 3 or 4 recording sessions that we had in what was a two year life span.

Rob: Some stuff comes from a seven track cassette tape that we put out before we released the first single. Other stuff came from recordings that we did later on. Some of the tracks had been recorded for a third single which never got put out.  And some was for the "East" album, that was a collection of tracks from local bands. We had a good relationship with the local recording studio and would often get a little bit of free time to record.

There is one song I really love called "You were so young". What is it about?

Rob: In reality, I guess this song should have been called "Yesterday's News". I was reading a newspaper one day and some stories stuck in my mind. Later in the day I was talking to some people about those stories but nobody knew what I was talking about.  It turned out I had being reading last week’s newspaper, hence yesterday's news. It interested me how things that have been so tragic a week before we had now forgotten. It's also about media representations and how people become fascinated with people in the media. It wasn't as prevalent as is now - fascination with celebrities has increased even more. It seems to be one my favourite themes for songs, "Media Mania", "Rhythm and Curves" and "Frivolous Disguises" have elements of these ideas within them. Perhaps I'm obsessed with people who are obsessed with the media.

Were you political active as a punk band or was it pure fun?

Stephen: There are some political references. The seventies had a lot of political strife, Britain was crumbling a little and of course the Cold War was still going on. I saw the ‘Rude Boy’ film that features the Clash a few years ago and was shocked at how old fashioned the seventies were. Some of the vehicles on the road looked like were from the fifties. All over that film you can witness the state that Britain was in so it’s not surprising that some political references feature but it was balanced with the trivial.


Where did you do shows?
Stephen: We performed In the local Colleges and Pubs. There were a couple of grotty nightclubs in the town too where we played. We did the ‘John Peel Roadshow’ gig in Northampton which was immortalized on video tape and a show at a Pub in Sheffield to an audience of so few we could have introduced ourselves.

Why did you disbanded?
Stephen: We had to earn a living. As I mentioned earlier we were a ‘local band’. We’d had a couple of years but now it was time to get a job. Adam had finished school and was going off to College. I had had a job for a couple of years before going to the Art College but I now wanted to be part of what was going on in the music business, if I could, so a move to London beckoned. We didn’t have a Manager or an Agent, we did everything ourselves. We put out our own records from our own homes, got our own gigs. We were a bunch of kids and the time had come to leave home.

Any regrets?
Stephen: The exact opposite. I found the mid-seventies to be very tedious. I really wanted to be in a band but the fashion was for overblown music that required huge drum kits, keyboards, stacks of amps and expensive guitars. You needed money and a beard and I didn’t have the former and was incapable of the latter. Being in a band in the seventies wasn’t possible for a teenager until Punk. Then our time came and it was probably the best time of all. The DIY mentality of that time enabled us to put out our own records. Having your own record to put on your own turntable was the dream, and we were able to achieve that and it was a great thrill.

What happened after you disbanded and what occupies your life these days?
Stephen: I, along with partners had an Independent Record Label and distribution company and out of that we released Soft Cells ‘Tainted Love’. This was while I was still in Lincoln. I then moved to London and during the 80’s I co-managed bands including The Screaming Blue Messiahs and for the last 20 years I’ve been Tour Manager to ‘Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra’. The Orchestra tours constantly in the UK and around the world. They record albums and perform on TV and Radio so music and musicians are still my world.

Thanks for your time. Anything else you would like to share? Perhaps a message for It's Psychedelic Baby readers?
Stephen: I was shocked when the request came through to do this interview and still can’t believe that the It’s Psychedelic Baby readers have heard a single note of The Cigarettes. I’ve enjoyed revisiting what now feels like a lost world. The recordings are a little time capsule for me and having listened back to some of the songs on YouTube I have to say that they do retain a freshness that can be enjoyed today and capture their time remarkably well. I’m now a fan and I hope that you may become one too.

Rob: I would just like to say thanks to anybody who still listening to the tracks. I went on YouTube a few years ago and was amazed to find that people had posted our tracks, and was pleasantly surprised to find how many hits they had. I never thought the songs would last as they seemed to be of a particular time. It's really nice to know that people are still listening to them. I've even listen to them myself and some of them aren't bad!

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright 2012

A Predestination In Time – The SRC with Katie Grace, Magic Bag, Ferndale 2012

While I may have entertained thoughts of ingesting more LSD during the ride up Woodward Avenue north to Ferndale, such impulses were soon quelled by four-dimensional pixies bouncing on the seats around me while whispering in jabberwocky. Even as my flashbacks intensified, I lit a cigarette as a celebratory tribute to my arrival, watching my exhaled smoke envelope the acrobatic creatures in various hues of colour.

“Enjoy the show,” my driver smiled as he open my door. I exited the Lincoln, and found myself exactly in front of my destination, the Magic Bag in Ferndale.

Lysergic manifestations pulsated to life as I looked about the street. Mesmerized by elaborate formations taking shape on the sidewalk, I watched the SRC's first album cover spring to life on the concrete in front of the building. As my driver pulled away from the curb, the breeze of traffic swirled the mini-universe around me with a refreshing misty coolness.

I was digging this! My time-tripping and transitory lysergic hallucinations were becoming alternative realities and the excitement this afforded was addicting. My flashbacks were the perfect sign, and even my intuition told me that this night at the SRC reunion would be stellar!

It was still a few hours til showtime and the venue was not yet open, yet I was drawn to the entrance by colourful visuals of sound spilling out from the crevasses in the glass doors. As I pressed my face close and peeked through, my vision wound its way through the lobby til it found a group of musicians on the stage. Excited, I recognized the guitar of Steve Lyman as I heard “Checkmate” blasting forth. This was it—the SRC at sound-check! Bless my good fortune! I quickly resolved to see more and wandered around the block towards the back of the club, letting the music be my guide.

Ever since I was a kid, I would hang out with my older sister near the backstage entrance of music venues. She had found that often this would guarantee not just meeting the band, but even getting free admission. As I turned the block and continued a short distance, I came to an alley of sorts. Looking to my left, I noticed the theatre door slightly ajar. I stepped closer, and as the sound grew in euphoric sensation I slipped past the door and into the club.

I selected a seat a few rows back from center stage, sat back, and let my senses enjoy a fairly private sound-check performance by one of the top five Detroit-area bands to ever grace the Grande Ballroom stage.

This was already far above what I had anticipated, and my expectations for this evening were as high as I was! “Checkmate” wrapped up, followed by “Heatwave” and excerpts of “The Angel Song.” The band then flew in into a fuzzy version of “One Simple Task,” with “Black Sheep” weaving throughout the spaces of this utopian euphony.... This was freekin' far-out! It had been far too long since I had been digging on the SRC. They had represented of the Motor-City counter-culture since the sixties. I believed they had played a defining role in the evolution of the Detroit Music scene from black and white to glorious psychedelic colour.

When sound-check ended, I took my copy of the newest SRC poster over to the band members for them to sign. As I walked through the hall, the poster's colours and patterns kept spilling out and splattering onto the floor, no matter how steady I tried to hold it. Acid flashbacks—they're such a wonderful gift! However, I was still able to maintain, and presented the poster to the lead vocalist, Scott Richardson, to autograph. Upon his signing, we spoke of some past shows. Our conversation eventually drifted to that of time travel. I inquired as to the method he utilized, as mine was LSD. He smiled. “Moving forward or backward through the time stream is accomplished by meditative discipline, and the journey itself can be realized in less time than the blinking of a shaman's eye!”

“Oh, that's right. After all, we all are traveling through time and space to one degree or another.” I liked Scott. It had been quite a while since I had seen him at the Birmingham Palladium, when I was in my early teens. He had always had a way with people, and his warm personality was evident both on and off the stage. Snap, snap went my camera...

Scott called Steve Lyman over to where we were talking. “Steve, Mischa would like your signature on her poster.” This introduction made it easy for me to get the entire band to sign.

There was a lull prior to the show, offering me a chance to enjoy a cigarette. However, when I reentered the club, I noticed not a soul at the SRC merchandise counter, and concert-goers were asking around as to who was selling the merchandise. Spontaneously, I said “That's me!” I sat myself behind the table, arranged the items in proper display, and presto! An instant representative of SRC marketing, I began selling.

One thing about being at the merchandise table is that I was able to converse with and enjoy nearly all who came into the venue. It seemed that every soul who came in had a spirited story to tell of the Detroit music scene. Everything and everyone was covered, from the Grande days to Hastings Ballroom, Virgin Dawn and the whereabouts of Ray Gunn, to Frijid Pink and their unmatched ultra-sonic wall of fuzz-guitar. I finally met my pen-pal Kevin Fry, radio ace Doug Podell, and the ever vivacious Retro-Kimmer. This was way cool!

This was groovy. I spoke with Steve Farmer and Rick Lober of the original Amboy Dukes. According to Farmer, “The shows where we shared the bill with the SRC were always the best!” The SRC were one of the bands that represented the essence of the Grande Ballroom; they, along with their peers, were instrumental in defining the sound of the era.

Their legend had begun at the Hideout as the Fugitives, with the Gang as their rockin' collaborators. The Gang evolved into the Amboy Dukes and the Fugitives into the SRC. Both bands formed the core and spirit of the first golden age of Psychedelia. Their influences were to spread across the globe.

As I continued to converse with the people at the merchandise table, I barely noticed that the first act had begun playing. However, by her third song Katie Grace was rocking out an amazing performance that definitely had my attention, and by her final number the crowd was on their feet with a standing ovation. Her show was well above what I or others had possibly imagined. I had come tonight to see the SRC, and was now a converted fan of Katie Grace and her unique brand of folk rockin' music!

Martha (sister to the Quackenbush brothers) came up and introduced herself during intermission, and she and I became instant friends. The interlude between bands seemed to fly by, with everyone picking up items and exchanging rock stories talking about the glory of “What is Detroit!” when a shout went up and the SRC graced the stage amidst a fury of applause. This was the band that was here for us tonight, carrying on the spirit of the Grande Ballroom.

They opened their set with an anthem dedicated to all the rebels of society, “Black Sheep.” This was the sound of the counter-culture that had rebelled against the dehumanization of industry and establishment conformity. In perfect timing, Katie Grace showed up at the counter and offered to take over selling the merchandise of both bands. Martha and I then made our way to the front of the stage. I was now up close, front and center, enjoying the SRC, and was once again rocking out to the sound that had sealed their place in music history!

The audience resounded in a unison of shouts and cheers . The applause was near deafening, even as the final notes of Black Sheep faded into that nether-land of space-time eternity. This unquestionably had fired up the crowd, and the band made use of this energy to launch into....

End of Part 1 – (Stay tuned for Part 2)
Story is an excerpt from, The Incredible Adventures of Mischa

Read part 2

Column made by Michele Dawn Saint Thomas / 2012
© Copyright 2012