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The Orions interview

Most surf bands sound the same.  But there’s something special about The Orions, something that prevents them from simply retreading ground and forces them in a sometimes experimental but always enjoyable creative space a million miles away from the competition.  Drawing inspiration from the surf revival lends a unique sound to the already original combination of instrumental surf and some serious noise-punk input!  Their debut EP cassette tape Fresh And Clean on Burger Records sold out almost instantly with little to no other state-side exposure prove The Orions a force to be reckoned with in their own right.  I recently had a chance to talk shop with them about new recordings, upcoming tours and just how The Orions got started and couldn’t pass it up…

Where is the band located?

The band is located in Tel Aviv, actually inside the same building on Zvulun Street.  David, Guy and Ezra are roommates and Itai lives downstairs from them.

What is the music scene like there?  Are you very involved with that local scene?  Has it played a large role in The Orions music?

We all come from the small and humble punk scene.  We all used to play, some of us still do, in punk rock/hardcore/grindcore-bands, and I think that's where we took our energy and attitude from.  The work hard and do it yourself approach of it all; the willingness to play a show ANYWHERE.  Besides that there's a growing surf/garage scene happening with new bands forming, each with their own unique take on its sound and songwriting, which makes everything more interesting.  The crowd is still small but hopefully people will get what we're about soon enough, come over to shows and shake it!  Also, David and Ezra own a venue which is dedicated to underground and independent music called Koro, where we all used to hang out together when it was under other names and managements.

What’s the band’s lineup?

David Miretski and Itai Alzaradel are playing as a guitar duo, Guy Offenbach is on drums and Idan Ezra is on Bass.

How did you all meet?  When and why did you start The Orions?

David and Itai have been best friends since they were kids growing up in a little town next to Haifa.  Naturally they found about out Punk Rock together and formed bands with their friends.  One of those bands was Gaz Mazgun.  A band very much influenced by what The Astroglides were doing for a while, combining hardcore punk/Crossover with surf music.  After about a year the band broke up and David had two songs which were shelved.  The Idea of forming a surf band had been in our minds for a long time but we both were busy with our hardcore band Brutal Assault, along with other projects.  It was only in late 2010 that we managed to gather our friend Guy Offenbach to play drums and Mondo Gecko's Alon Ziv to play bass.  We started with the two songs that David had already written and went from there.  In March 2012 Idan Ezra from grindcore sensation Dirk Diggler took over the bass position and here we are!

You released your debut EP, the Always Clean and Fresh cassette on Burger Records late in 2012.  How did you get involved with Burger Records?

Itai:  I have been following Burger Records since my friend came back from one of his trips to USA with a copy of Fever B's The Lonely Sailor Sessions 12'', which melted my heart.  Since then I found out they're responsible for releases from bands that I love along with tons of new exciting acts I’ve found through their website.  I actually sent Sean (Bohrman) an E-mail and he responded a few days late.  We were all psyched to have a release on this amazing label.  We still are.

Can you tell us a little about the recording of the EP?  What equipment was used and where it was recorded at?

Itai:  We recorded the album as a part of a friend's school project.  He studies sound engineering at one of the biggest studios in Israel and for his first project he wanted to record us.  It was a digital recording.  We used two combo guitar amps, a Tubeworks and Fender Deluxe and a Messa-Boogie bass amp.  The drums were recorded in a booth while the guitars were recorded in a large room that actually serves as the classroom as well.  The guitars used were a Dipinto Galaxy IX and a 1960's vintage Hagstrom II, the bass was a 1990's Japanese Fender Precision Lite.

Was recording a pleasurable experience for you guys?  It drives a lot of people up the wall when it comes time to get in the studio and lay some tracks down.

Studio time is one of our favorite times!  Being in a studio with your good friends and turning what you’ve written into recorded music is always exciting for us.  Although we're not too familiar with all the technical details we really enjoy the atmosphere and the satisfied feeling you get when you lock yourself in a studio to make an album.

Are there any plans for a follow up to the EP this year?  Why release the album on cassette tape and not CD or vinyl?  Cassettes seem to be making an inexplicable comeback in the music scene the last two years and I’m always curious to ask people why they choose to use various methods of musical distribution.

Well, that's what Burger Records offered and we just weren't in the mood to say no to Burger.  We do still intend to release the Always Fresh And Clean EP on 7'' through Itai's new label 'Kuskus Records' though.  We also have another upcoming 7” release, a split with another local band called Haxxan, and then we'll see what's next.
And cassettes are one of our personal favorite mediums.  They have their own unique sound and warmth, they even look better than a CD does on the shelf.

Where can our readers get a copy of the cassette tape from?

Apparently, the tape is SOLD OUT on Burger, so they will have to wait until the 7'' version comes out in the next few months.  In the meantime though, you can stream or purchase the entire EP on our Bandcamp page!

It seems like garage and surf music are making pretty big comebacks all across the globe.  Would you agree with that or do you think it’s just that they are receiving a little more exposure these days?

We think one thing leads to another.  Better surf/garage bands are forming so more people are taking actions like operating labels and acting as distributors so the music gets more exposure which leads to more people around the world getting exposed to and influenced by this music, resulting in even more bands forming.  When we started we were the only surf band around.  Now we are now cooperating with another surf band, RPS Surfers.  In the past year more and more bands have started playing in the underground scene and hopefully more and more will follow.  Another explanation could be the fact that there are a lot more people in the mainstream music industry that are using surf and garage elements in their sound which creates a kind of exposure for that genre and its sound.  A really good example would be Death Grips using a sample of Link Wray's 'Rumble' on first mixtape.

You guys are pretty dead ahead surf but you incorporate some really nice psychedelic and noise/punk influences, can you tell me who some of those musical influences are?

Itai:  I'm influenced much by OC area old school hardcore punk bands like Agent Orange, Adolescents, and D.I., along with 60's psychedelic garage acts such as the 13th Floor Elevators, Electric Prunes, The Seeds, Chocolate Watchband etc.  Surf wise I'm more into the surf revival of the nineties rather than classic traditional surf, mostly bands like Man or Astroman?, The Apemen, The Ghastly Ones etc.  Oh and Sabbath!!!

David:  I'm more into Classic 60's surf/garage acts, but when I actually write a song I try to imagine the vibe and sounds of a techno rave.  And Sabbath!!!

Ezra:  I come from a Grindcore/Stoner/Psychedelic background.  I'm really into that vintage, lo-fi sound equipment and production.  And Sabbath!!!

Guy:  I'm into Powerviolence and a little bit of doo-wop, which makes me want to blast my drum kit every fucking hit.  And The Bananas!!!

What do you have planned as far as touring goes this year so far?  Any chance we will see you in the US?

We sure hope to get to the US soon but for now we're planning a Europe tour this coming September.  We'll see how that goes but yeah, the US is definitely on our minds.

I know you’ve played some great events and shows.  Who are some of your favorite people you’ve played with?

That's a tough one!  We’ve played with many excellent local acts.  Our personal favorites were Sigfried and Roid-Rage, Not On Tour, the RPS Surfers and Hot Summer. 

Do you have any funny stories about crazy stuff that’s happened at a live gig you’d like to share?

The funniest thing we can recall was playing at the central bus station in Tel Aviv, it was one of Ezra's first shows with us and his bass malfunctioned.  So instead of finding someone who would give him another one he tried to fix an electrical malfunction all by himself.  The three of us were just standing around with our instruments on, waiting anxiously as he opened up his bass’ electronics right there!  Other occasions probably mostly concern getting shitfaced and forgetting our guitars in a foreign city.  Actually, we played recently at a local garage/surf festival.  During our set some girl, who was probably tripping on something, asked Itai if she could get on the stage and dance beside Guy.  So Guy is playing while getting a personal go-go dance performance, she also kept touching his cymbals while he was playing so Guy did his best not to hit her by accident!

Digital music has allowed me access to music that I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to listen to, but it’s rapidly changing the face of music on a global scale.  How do you feel about digital music and distribution?

Itai: I think it changed our lives forever, especially as we live in a place culturally so far away from the center of attention, at least when it comes to alternative culture.  We have older friends who can proudly talk about getting catalogs and MRR copies via snail-mail and kind of finding out about punk rock from there, but yeah, with the rise of the internet, it's so much easier to get exposed to enormous amounts of new music from all over the world.  I remember David bringing me a Mp3 CD full of Surf albums on in 11th grade, where would I be without that???

I love having a digital copy to listen to, but there is something about having a physical product to hold in my hands and look at while I listen to the music that I love.  Do you have any sort of connection to physical releases?

We all are vinyl lovers.  Itai and Ezra are heavy vinyl consumers, mostly because of reasons you’ve already mentioned.  For us, music is a complete experience, getting the needle on the record, opening the sleeve, staring at the cover, we appreciate it all!

I ask everyone that I talk to this question so please be as long or short winded as you like.  Who should our readers be listening to from your area that they might not have heard of?

Itai:  Check out Not On Tour an excellent melodic hardcore band with female vocals.  Also Mondo Gecko which is in my opinion one of the best bands in the world, thrashcore/crossover at the speed of sound!  Also a big up for my band-mate David's band Uzbeks, they’re an incredible punk rock band, which sadly, are on hiatus right now.  But you should definitely check out their Goggles and Flipflops LP and the Snaps EP, they are electrifying!! !

David:  Check out The Energy Psychtronics, Rutzi Buba, and the RPS Surfers.

Ezra:  Check out Los Kykes one of the only bands that combine garage and rock'n'roll into a really sick and macabre mix of sludgy sound and heavily intoxicated atmosphere.  And also Sigfried and Roid-Rage which is a Punk Rock band that Guy drums for. 

Guy: Check out Ezra's Dirk Diggler an awesome grindcore band.  Also Itai's Sweatshop Boys which are a power-pop, lo-fi band.  

(2012)  The Orions - Always Clean and Fresh – Burger Records – Cassette Tape (Limited to 150 Copies OOP)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

The End Men interview with Matthew Hendershot & Livia Ranalli Hendershot

Canton OH @ Buzzbin - © Chris Jordan

Rather than drawing rash comparisons to a certain two-piece band or beguiling eccentric multi-instrumentalist I will let the name speak for itself, The End Men.  The intriguing New York City duo consisting of husband and wife Matthew Hendershot and Livia Ranalli Hendershot have been producing their unique brand of circus-centric blues based rock ‘n roll for almost three years now.  On a recommendation from a friend about “the wickedest drumming he’d heard since John Bonham” I decided to check them out.  It’s no exageration to say that Livia uses her drumset like few other musicians out there, utilizing techniques and producing sounds adding a layer to the two-piece that is usually sorely lacking in duos.  Comlimented by the bluesy, cruning rock stylings of Matthew on vocals and guitar, The End Men haven proven themselves a force to be reckoned with.  Blazing their own trail and taking little notice or instruction from anyone but themselves they’ve managed to create a unique and mysterious sound that burrows its way deep into your brain in a time when it’s hard to remember your cellphone’s ringtone. On the heels of the release of their debut full-length Play With Your Toys Matthew and Livia took some time out of their busy schedules to discuss all things The End Men with Psychedelic Baby!

Are either of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you been in any other bands that have released anything?

Matthew: Right now, no.  The End Men is our number one priority.  We have played shows with other acts though.  For instance Liv did a tour stint with Sea of Bees and later this year I'll be doing two shows with Matt King.  That stuff is mostly fill-in work though; creatively we are focused on The End Men.  When I met Livia she was drumming for Top Ten Lovers, and I was in The Dead River Company.  The D.R.C. put out two EPs and I think Top Ten Lovers had two albums worth of music that never came out.  Prior to the D.R.C. I was also part of an EP that was released for the band EVENEYE, which was a band full of Kansans all transplanted in Brooklyn.

Where are you originally from?

Matthew: I was born Western Kansas and went to school in central Kansas before moving to Phoenix, and then up here to New York.

Livia: I am from Milan, Italy.

How did you two meet?  How long have you known each other?  

Matthew: We met through an introduction from another NYC band, Hank and Cupcakes.  I was booking a monthly showcase at the time, and I was on the hunt for up and coming bands to play.  Her band was suggested and we booked them.  The band played a great set but it was mostly Livia that I was watching, as was everyone else!  I ended up organizing another show where our bands were able to share the bill and then she reached out to me for a letter of recommendation for her as an artist.  We talked a lot during that time period about music and about what kind of things we wanted to do with this musical project, sort of just brainstorming.  This would have been the end of 2009.  As the year came to a close things went south for both our bands, so it was an open door to start making music together.

Did your relationship or The End Men come first?  What led you to start The End Men? 

Livia: The reason why we ended up dating was we both were looking to build a new project as both of our past bands had felled thru, so the idea of The End Men did come before our relationship.  However, we only really started playing after getting married three months after our first meeting, hehehe!

Matthew: Yeah, we were already married by the time the first show happened for sure.  I knew from minute one of meeting Liv that I wanted to make music with her, seeing her drum has that kind of effect on people I think.  It’s really a sight.  Just getting to know her was another sort of motivation as well.  We just clicked.  I think there’s really only been a handful of days we’ve been apart since the first night we went out together.  Getting the boot from the D.R.C. was the event that triggered me to start thinking about fronting a band with these musical ideas I'd had for a while, but Livia was the catalyst for sure.  Working with her gave all these little bits and pieces of inanimate stuff life.  In a way I just sort of dumped a pile of puzzle pieces out in front of the both of us, and it was really her that figured out how they were all supposed to fit together.

I imagine there are some really cool things about being in a band with your wife.  I also suspect there’s some stuff that’s drives you nuts sometimes.  Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like to be in a band with your husband/wife respectively?  Some of the ups and downs?

Livia: It’s very easy to organize tours, band meetings, band practice and all of that stuff as you are always thinking and acting as one, you don’t have to argue about leaving for a while when you go on tour.  There are lots of benefits about being married in this deal.  I’d say the downside of it is that you don’t talk about anything else.  Seriously!  We are crazy one-track minded.  And also, if you have a music-related quarrel, that bleeds into the husband/wife relationship.  Luckily, we almost never have any of those; they’re trivial most of the time anyways.

Matthew: I think most of all it is that we share this dream as a team in a closer and more real sense than a lot of the bands out there.  There is a lot of juggling that goes into being in a band, and a lot of the time it is between the two relationships; your personal relationship and a band relationship.  Ours has the unique ability to grey those lines.  When we are working on our own relationship, it’s also helping the band and vice versa.  We have strong communication all the time and that helps with both the marriage and the band equally.

How long have you been in New York now?  How involved are you two with the New York music scene?  Has it played a large role in The End Men’s history?  How would you describe the local scene there?

Matthew: I moved up here in July of 2006, Liv in September 2007.  As far as our engagement in the scene, I mean I have had my hands in it in some way or another ever since I got up here; my first week in town I was auditioning for bands to play in.  EVENEYE and The D.R.C. came after that, and I always found myself sort of internally managing the bands I was in so I know tons of people and bookers and venues and the like.  But at the same time, it always seems like we find ourselves in one place when the 'scene' starts to bubble up in another.  There is a world of difference between what people think the scene is like here and the truth of the matter.  There are a ton of bands and a ton of venues, and just when a person, place, or thing starts to break through suddenly, everyone is already past it, onto the next thing; it feels like it’s almost by design.  Looking around you see a lot of people trying to capture lightning in a bottle a second time.  But, new stuff keeps coming all the time, and bands move up here all the time, and it just keeps feeding the mystique of it all.  But I don't see a solid scene in any of it.  Just a lot of people fighting to get what little attention they can.  It's actually something I'm very vocal about, trying to get at least small factions organized and working together.  Like, "hey let's all start booking this venue and make it cool" or "let's start sharing shows and get people interested in this group of bands" instead of always being just out for self.  I guess the good news is that as of late you hear a lot more talk like this, but all in all, it still kind of feels like crabs in a bucket sometimes.

Livia: Yeah, I don’t think there’s really a “New York Music Scene" anymore; if there’s ever been one.

I heard you discussing the meaning of your name, The End Men and was really impressed at the level of thought that you two had put into it.  Can you explain some of the different meanings behind the name, why and how you chose it?

Matthew: So, the name of course comes from Vaudeville.  From the get go I have advocated bringing back the “show” element to it all.  I mean not to be rude, but there are a lot of boring live bands.  I can love an album but seeing that same band live can be like exercise, a chore to watch!  I guess the idea of the show, the variety and the jokes and stories were going to be there even without the name.  That’s what led us to even be looking into that sort of source material to begin with.  It's funny though because we found the name and liked the idea, but then we were also able to snap up the website address and all the social media rights.  It was like this untouched thing that seemed too good to be true really.  Plus it sounds good.  It looks good written down and it’s easy to say and remember.  We are still training the populous.  Some folks like to combine End Men into one word or not include "The", that type of thing.  It has this great natural symmetry though, three words, three letters each.  Each one capitalized, The End Men.  We’re still working on a solid logo though hahaha.

Livia: In fact, if anybody reading this interview feels inspired to craft one please do so!

I know that there was a third member in the band initially who subsequently left the band after you recorded Build It Up.  However that was some time ago and at this point and you’ve played most of your shows as a two-piece.  How did the transition into a two-piece work?  Was it a difficult transition or did it just seem to kind of come naturally?

Livia: Jason is a good friend of ours and we had a great time collaborating with him but I think we all felt we had come to a point where we needed to take different paths.  After Build It Up came out Matthew and I started planning frequent trips out of town, we really wanted to play a lot more anywhere we could.  We also wanted to tour Europe and the U.S.  Jason was much more hesitant about investing all that time and sometimes money, into the band, as he also had a video production company he really wanted to focus on.  Our problem was that the music we had at that time was not meant for a two-piece band.  So we decided we would start working on new material that would make it possible for us to be independent, and eventually have people on board for some jams if they wanted, but without having to depend on them.  So we started writing as a two-piece and it really seemed to be the right direction to go.  We talked to Jason about it and he was really understanding about it.  I’d say it felt really natural.

Normally I don’t like using The White Stripes as an example of duos because I don’t think there are many other two-pieces out there like them.  They were very aware of the restrictions and limitations that arose from playing with two people, but they didn’t fight it.  Instead, like you, they seemed to embrace the fact it makes you “think outside of the box”.  What unique attributes do you think being a two-piece band brings to The End Men?  What are the major pros and cons of working as a duo?  

Livia: I really like how it motivates you to think of a much wider variety of sounds and how it sort of forces you to push yourself, nobody else is filling that blank for you.  I feel like I’ve started using the drums as a much more complete instrument since we started playing as a duo.  I also truly enjoy the silence that you can build.  Some bands fill every moment with sound out of fear of that silence; I think silence is a very important element in music.  Working in the studio is easy.  You can add all you want.  Sometimes though we wish we had somebody on stage play whatever it is on the record that we can’t play on stage because we’re too busy on our respective instruments!

Matthew: In the studio environment it's fine because you have the time to craft the sounds you want.  I think because it’s just the two of us.  We let each other go with a lot of slack and a lot of experimentation and that kind of stuff, which is great when you have the tracks to play along with and you can always add and sculpt.  I've never been keen on trying to play live to tracks, loops or samples, so we actually have to be able to do everything in the live show.  It’s a challenge, especially since the sound that we produce is very, very full sounding but that’s also part of the benefit.  People see a duo setting up and they get this idea of what they are about to get, then it drops in and immediately, we've got them.  I think it comes as a genuine surprise and that adds to the impact.  People want to expect the White Stripes because it is the easiest common denominator, and I think the White Stripes are great, so that works getting our foot in the door of their brains or whatever, but it doesn't take long if they are actually listening for them to say, "This isn't like the White Stripes at all, but I still like it"!  It actually leads to a lot of people saying a lot of really flattering things that I'm not sure they otherwise would!  But it is kind of great to get those ego cookies from time to time.

Columbus OH @ Scarlet and Grey - © Chris Jordan

You recorded your first album Build It Up before you had really begun playing out much.  Can you talk a little bit about why you went about things that way?

Livia: We arranged the songs during the recording sessions!  It was a little insane but I enjoyed working that way.  I like how recording pushes you to create, fast.  It just happened this way out of necessity.  We needed to have something recorded so we could get people to hear what we were doing in spite of the fact we hadn’t done anything yet!  You might call it impatience, we were just very eager to produce something.

Matthew: The songs we did out for the first gig were all tunes that had been kicking around for a while that I had done.  Again, sort of the puzzle pieces, but none of them were finished.  Having started and ran with two other bands already in NYC, I just couldn't see a point at all in putting in all the effort to gig and not having something that people could take with them.  It’s easy to love a band when you are drunk and at the show but even easier to wake up the next morning and not remember their name or something.  The album was a preventative measure.  I think we all knew this had serious potential, and I think the audiences at the first two shows saw it too.  That was the real motivation. It was like, “look, people like this stuff, let's make sure they are able to remember it, and talk about it and share it” and all of that.  So getting the EP out became a priority.

How have things changed as far as writing and recording goes since that first album?

Livia: The songs from the first album are mostly all Matthew’s idea, which we took and put together as a band, but the raw material was already drafted.  Play With Your Toys was really a co-writing experience for the two of us.  We pretty much wrote and arranged all the songs together, and we had played that material quite a lot before hitting the record button.  The only exceptions are the Play With Your Toys I and II tracks which we sort of improvised during recording.

Matthew: There is a lot more, 'production', I guess you could say on Play With Your Toys.  Build It Up was viewed as this sort of functional necessity.  I didn't want to be out there without the best business card a band can have, so we made the songs just as they were live, we just tried to capture it and make it sound as good as we could.  With Play With Your Toys we had and took a lot more time to really create and craft an album.  Writing since then has, as Liv said, been almost totally collaborative.  I'll still write lyrics on the train or whatever, but musically we hash all that stuff out jamming in the rehearsal studios.  All these little jams and riffs come out of goofing around and then when they start to take shape, I tend to look through what I've been jotting down and see if it will fit with the ideas and melody, or if we can manipulate the words to fit the music or whatever.  The songs are stories, so like all things there are a lot of ways to tell a story.  Maybe we cut a word or six or whatever to make it fit the idea of the melody, but that's all part of it.

You’ve self-released two albums at this point, 2011’s Build It Up and the recently released Play With Your Toys.  Can you tell me a little about the recording of each of those albums?  Who recorded them, the equipment that was used?

Matthew:  I went to school to be an audio engineer so I have, just by nature of that, amassed a fairly decent collection of microphones and recording equipment as well as a great deal of knowledge and philosophy.  It's a funny dichotomy though because half of the stuff is real legit, like a bank of Focusrite preamps and a stereo tube compressor, that kind of thing, some nice microphones.  Then the other half of it is stuff I've built, or stuff that’s in disrepair but under the right circumstances sounds great totally by accident!  More than the gear though, I think what pleases me most about the records is that we trusted our taste when it came to the sounds.  We did a lot of listening but not a lot of contrasting with popular music.  It was like having an idea for a sound and tweaking and tweaking to get it the way it sounded in our heads instead of trying to copy a sound we knew from something else.  Jason's leads on Build It Up are a great example of this I think.  It was this fantastic Sheraton but we played it thru this seventy-five dollar bass practice amp that is pretty much transparent sounding.  If you just peg everything at 10 all the sudden it starts to sing.  I used something like three different mics on it, and then had a tube pre in the chain.  After messing with and blending those sounds, it just turned out epic sounding.  All in all I think knowing that what we had was simply what we had and we had to make the best of it worked in our advantage.  Also with both records, we went for a very natural and very 'live' sound to convey the vibe and energy we wanted, Play With Your Toys is a great example of that.  I've had people tell me that it isn't a very loud record, and honesty they’re dead wrong.  Compared to something that has been slammed in mastering, like most modern releases, sure, it is going to seem that way.  I promise you though, reach for the volume knob and goose your system a bit and that album cooks.  The difference is of course that it moves up and down and so the loud can surprise you and add some depth, instead of just being compressed and loud from start to finish wearing you out.

Was the Play With Your Toys album easier to record?  You had experience with the first album and there were only two people playing this time around, did it make thing simpler or easier at all?

Livia: No!  I felt like an eight-month pregnant lady walking around wishing the thing inside of her were out already.  All jokes aside though, the album took forever to be launched.  There were more songs to work on than Build It Up and we had a much more specific idea of how we wanted the album to sound, which instead of making it easier made us more demanding of ourselves and each other.  We also struggled with the mixes for a while.  The fact that there was only two of us and we had only worked on one album before may actually be the only reasons why it is out now hahahaha!

Matthew: I think the open ended nature of it made it more difficult actually.  There was no rush to get it out, so we took our time.  Also time was a huge factor in the whole thing.  From start to finish it probably took us less than a month to record, mix and master the album.  The time issue being that we didn't have a month straight to work on it. It was a day here, two days there and so on over the course of nearly a year.  That and we didn't do it the same way.  We had a different approach to getting the drums, new gear and amps, new instruments, as well as a much larger scope that we wanted to bring to the finished product.  If you listen to Build It Up and then Play With Your Toys they are really from two different worlds.  I think that also makes it fun for us though.  If it was cut, copy, paste, we just wouldn't want to do it.  We are big advocates of, “Hey what if we try this?  Hey what about that”?  It was all about experimentation and exploration, finding ways to entertain ourselves in the process of trying to tell our story.

You have played several overseas tours at this point; do you particularly enjoy playing overseas?  Do you have any international tours planned for this year?

Livia: We have only toured Europe once so far, but I am happy to say that we will be going on our second European tour in mid-September.  We’ll play in Italy, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and maybe Switzerland.  I’m excited to be back on my good ole continent.  It’s a good way for me to get back and reconnect with family and friends and play shows and travel a lot all at the same time.  In general also, I think that touring is my favorite aspect of playing music.

Italy @Il Circolino - © Laura Pedrali

Matthew: I am an experience-junkie by nature, so I love doing all kinds of things and getting to travel and see new places and history and all of that while playing shows, it’s my perfect idea of a vacation.  That and I love food, and between Italian food and German food, yeah, count me in.  Also it is something not a lot of bands get to do, I mean, not a lot of bands get too tour for quite a while and here we are touring Europe for the second time in as many years.  It's like getting a scout badge or something, I kind of love that.  But I got that same feeling from our recent tour of the US as well.  I guess what it comes down to is new places, meeting new people, trying new things and to be afforded the opportunity to do that by way of touring with your music, that’s just beautiful to me.

What else do you have planned as far as touring this year?

Livia: We will play three to four day mini-tours almost every weekend.  Pretty much anywhere in a seven or eight hour radius from NYC.  It would be nice to schedule another proper tour before the end of the year, I guess we’ll see how things go.

Matthew: We are going to be heading out to Ohio again in July and doing a lot of stuff in upstate New York with friends there.  We try and make it up there every other month or so really. One thing, kind of like what Liv mentioned, we do a lot are these long musical weekends when we can string together three or four shows over a weekend somewhere.  We've done trips like that to Albany/Rochester that we will do again; also Boston/Worcester and Ohio.  We've made some awesome friends in some great areas.  So again, it's like vacation for us.  We get to go see some of our favorite people and it just so happens we’re also playing shows in the process.  That's how I know we will be at this kind of thing for the rest of our lives, because these trips are the trips that we would be taking for fun anyways.  Some people go rock-climbing, we go rock-making.

I hear the work “circus” thrown around a lot in reference to your music.  Why is it that people seem to keep making that comparison?  Do you agree with it?

Matthew:  I love it if people get that from the records!  I would really like to be able to convey that at the shows, and I think we do to some extent.  There is a lot of that ramshackle sound to a lot of it sure, and this sort of fun atmosphere and whimsy, but at the same time, there’s cracked paint, loose bolts, some dirt and maybe a few undesirable characters.  You know, all that stuff that makes circuses so great in the first place!  At the end of the day, a big priority for us is to make a performance an event, create a spectacle out of playing our songs live.  It’s where I think we have our most fun and we hope people are having fun along with us.  I've never been to a pristine circus.  They are always a little rough around the edges, and I kind of love that.  Moreover, I've never come across a circus, no matter how dodgy, and didn't want to go and do everything that could be done there.

I’ve already referenced The White Stripes and I’ve also seen strong comparisons drawn to Tom Waits from others.  I’m curious to hear who you would cite as your major musical influences though?

Livia: I think that it’s funny people keep comparing us to them.  I cannot see where the similarity is apart from the girl on drums and guy on guitar combo.  As for Tom Waits, I do admit he is an inspiration to us.  I like how percussive and earthy his music is.  I like a lot of different stuff.  My recent playlist is made of the most bizarre mix of artists. From Cab Calloway to Them Crooked Vultures…  I don’t know if I can mention any specific artist as major musical influence.  I would rather say that I think that our musical inspiration is a product of everything we listen to, from actual bands to the sounds surrounding us.

Matthew: We listen to all kinds of music all the time, one day Clutch, one day Gorillaz, the next Rolling Stones, but that isn't really what I think of when I think of actual influences.  My personal influences come from a few different sources and memories.  One of those of is fishing with my dad and mom when I was a kid and the radio was always on the classic rock and oldies stations.  Singing along to everything from, I don't know "This Diamond Ring" by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and that era of music, and then also Zeppelin, Stones and that whole rock thing.  We use to cover all those song in these brunch gigs we would do.  Playing songs like "Love Potion #9" and "The Weight", all this stuff that would come from that particular set of experiences.  Another was this place called The Watering Hole in my hometown that had this juke box I would play with all the time.  My parents would be in there with friends and us kids would get quarters from the bartender to keep us occupied or whatever, and it was all these great country tunes like "The Race is On", "If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets", again all over the board but all in that same vein.  Then of course I'm hanging out with my friends and we’re playing Metallica and rock and roll that was current to that time frame, I think I was like 7 or 8.  I remember tapes that my neighbor and I would make where we would fake our own radio show and just play songs off the Metallica tapes we had, talking in between them into the little onboard microphone.  It wasn't until I was eighteen or nineteen in college studying music history and appreciation that I was introduced to the deeper blues stuff, Robert Johnson up thru Howlin' Wolf, the origins of rock, and at the same time people who were really out there like Jaco Pastorious.  I was a bass player from the time I was fourteen years old, not guitar, so Jaco blew my mind.  Pat Metheny, guys like Michael Hedges, Bela' Fleck and the Wootens, all these kinds of folks who were just really pushing boundaries.  I think that’s why a guy like Tom Waits was very appealing to me.  Because there were no rules to that music, he was just doing whatever he wanted but basing it all in that bluesy kind of vein.  So yeah, when the Tom Waits comparison comes up, I understand that.  I mean I'm flattered by it.  That anyone would even put me in the same class as him, but I do get where it the comparisons come from because I think he was probably listening to Howlin' Wolf and Chuck Berry and Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin just like I was.

I don’t like classifying music, its art and I think it kind of defies logic in that respect.  Instead of labeling or classifying your music how would you describe The End Men?

Matthew: Its rock 'n roll, that's what I always say!  Rock 'n roll the way it should be.  I'll leave all the colorful descriptions to folks like you hahaha!  And there have been some great ones for sure.  One of my favorites was "a musical fall down a flight of stairs, laughing all the way".  That seems about right.  Hopefully though, people can describe it as a really fun couple of people having a really great time making music.

Livia: As a terrible twosome!

Nashville TN @FooBar - © Chris Jordan

Digital music has exposed me to a whole universe of music that I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to and it’s rapidly changing the face of the music industry.  What are your thoughts on digital music and distribution?

Matthew: I think the "rapidly changing" part of that question is an understatement.  With the democratization of music that has come about through the advent of technologies and what have you, the Industry with a capital I is long gone man.  This is the new world and no one knows what the hell we are doing yet.  Some folks are having success still going at it the old way, others are completely rethinking it and that’s working for some of them as well.  I think you will still see major labels staying fairly dominant for a while, but even that success isn’t near what it used to be.  The rest of us will just have to be content that the whole ‘gold plated diapers’ era is gone and we may never see anything like it again.  I think what we are all, well most of us anyway, need to wrap our heads around is a new definition of success.  For myself, I just want to see a situation where we can make our art and perform it and have that be a sustainable practice, and I think that is completely possible even without a major label record deal if need be.

Livia: Digital distribution has certainly opened a whole new world to all those musicians who aren’t part of a major label, it’s the blessing and, somehow, the curse of the current music non-industry.  It has offered an opportunity for unsigned and emerging bands to get their music out there, but it has also saturated the music industry with a lot of good, mediocre and bad stuff.  Sometimes I wonder if people are getting jaded by this constant, excessive flow of music.  Similarly, the spreading of digital music has allowed many broke artists to produce their own material, but it comes down to the same problem, some of it is just bad quality.  And it just doesn’t sound as honest as analog, sorry to say, but it’s true…

As much as I love digital copies of the albums I have so I can listen to them on the go, I am very much a physical release guy.  I like being able to look at album art and liner notes, feel something in my hands while I listen to the music.  Do you have any sort of connection to physically released music?

Livia: I agree with you.  It’s the whole sensory involvement that makes it worth it!  The listening experience combined with reading the notes, watching the album art and even just the smell of the record paper, I just love that smell!

Matthew: I absolutely agree.  CDs aren’t the experience that records are but having that booklet filled with art and messages makes for a great visual experience.  I would love to give people an amazing packaging experience, but I’d like to see us find a positive and good way to do it.  We dealt with that when we had our CDs manufactured.  The choice came up if we wanted them shrink-wrapped or not.  Now, first I thought to go without it, easier on the environment, which is a good thing.  But then I thought that people, whether they realize it or not, wouldn’t go for it.  Tearing that wrapper off makes it yours; no one has been there before you!  That said, I can’t wait to do vinyl releases instead of CDs and go with reusable sleeves, that way we can get the best of both worlds. 

In a time where most people are pushing vinyl product and many musicians are releasing cassette tapes why release the two albums on CD?  Is it a conscious or aesthetic decision in any way?

Livia: Nope, it was just what we could afford!  I would love to release music in vinyl format, as I enjoy the dirt in the sound of it, but it takes a little more money.  We are thinking of releasing a vinyl version of Play With Your Toys if the CD sales go well enough.

Matthew: Yeah, exactly what she said.  I am itching for a vinyl release too, just to have that experience of seeing it and knowing that your music is physically etched into that record, I can’t wait for that day.  Unfortunately it isn’t that easy and it costs more money than CDs do, so, audio quality wise you still get the best sounding format from the disks.  Maybe minus the character of vinyl, but it’s something you can have, a little something you made that people can take home with them to remember the experience, or perhaps have their own more personal one with.

Where can our readers get copies of the Build It Up EP and the new album Play With Your Toys?

Matthew: Well currently if you want to buy the physical product you need to find us.  Either at a show or contact us via email and we can ship them out.  Build It Up is nearly out of print though!  Digitally you can grab downloads from our Bandcamp page at   We found out that soon you will be able to tune in and hear us on Pandora, so that’s quite cool.  We did have a service that put us out on other streaming sites and also got us on iTunes, but they were taking a pretty big cut of the sales, so it just wasn’t making sense to keep it going.  If you are buying through Bandcamp though the money goes straight to us instantly and that’s pretty cool.

I’ve seen more and more female rock musicians, drummers especially, the last few years; in fact only one band I’ve interviewed so far hasn’t had any female members.  Rock definitely used to be a boy’s club though.  How do you feel about how women are treated in rock these days? Do you feel like gender is still an issue?  

Livia: I’ve honestly never cared whether girls are involved in bands of not, as long as the music is good.  I think that women can contribute a lot to the world of rock, as long as they don’t let their gender define what they do.  If you like what you hear regardless of who is playing, then gender is not an issue.  If you need to check the girl’s skirt or cleavage to make it interesting, then there is something missing in the music and that’s a problem.  I do believe there is still a stereotypical approach to this topic though.  Many people compliment me as a ‘girl drummer’.  It used to bother me; it felt like they put me in this sub-category in the main ‘drumming’ world.  I don’t mind anymore, I don’t care.  I just hope people can evaluate what they hear regardless of who it’s coming from.

Matthew: I also don't know that I would agree that it’s valid to say “more and more females” are in the game now than before.  I mean, we are talking about rock, which is maybe 60 years old in total.  There have been a lot of women rocking right along with everyone else the whole time I think.  Really the only reason gender is still an issue is because people think of it being an issue.  If we got over that initial hump though, I think everyone would find that they’ve been listening to women rock a lot more than even they realize.

I ask everyone I talk to this question so please list as many or as few as you’d like, who are some bands from your local area that our readers should be listening to that they might not have heard of?

Livia: Thanks for asking.  There are a bunch of really interesting bands in the NY area that are worth checking.  To mention a few: The Moho Collective from Rochester, they are really one of my favorite bands, and not just in the area.  Then The Slaughterhouse Chorus (Albany), Henry’s Rifle (Albany), The Skeletons In The Piano (Saratoga Springs), Ghost & Goblin (NYC), The Gypsy West (NYC).

Matthew: Ghost & Goblin is one of my favorite bands out there right now.  They just put out a new record that is really brave and I love hearing that out of such a young band.  The Moho Collective are also amazing, like mind-blowingly good stuff.  I can’t wait to hear the new album they are about to put out. Liv also mentioned Skeletons In The Piano whom we absolutely love.  Not only do they rock musically, they are some of the best folks.  We go to Albany a lot to play, but we would go just to hang out with them and Kane Grogan and the Slaughterhouse Chorus guys, they are all like, friends for life, even if we didn’t absolutely love what they are up to.  We’ll be playing Skeletons release part for their new record called Please Don’t Die in May.  I’ve already got the digital pre-release, but I’m also winning an eBay auction for one of the test pressings of their record. I could probably just ask for one, but it is much more fun this way!  We belong to two different music collectives also that are just great groups of people and friends who are also out there rocking.  One is Built 4 BBQ, based out of upstate New York.  Liv mentioned a few of the bands, The Slaughterhouse Chorus and Henry’s Rifle that are kind of the anchors in that group.  There’s also the Pistolwhips (a band to really look out for), Charmboy, Maggot Brain, and Linear North as well.  Here in Brooklyn we are part of something called Bear Republic, Republic of Bears, that includes the Ghost & Goblin guys along with Teen Girl Scientist Monthly, Boy Girl Party, MindTroll, Jackpot Tiger, and a few more.  That spans a really broad spectrum of music just in that little group.  We’ve also just moved into a new rehearsal space with some great friends that are making killer heavy music, Bröhammer and Godmaker.  The Mad Doctors which are this insane act here in Brooklyn, that we are really excited to do more shows with, they get nuts on stage and there is a dancing robot.  We have several Brooklyn bands that we consider great friends, Liv mentioned The Gypsy West.  Also Band Antenna who are in part responsible for getting us started doing shows.

How about nationally and internationally?

Matthew: The Misery Jackals out of Ohio, also Dave Hammer’s Power Supply and Black Betty who all helped us out on tour.  Skinny Jim and the #9 Blacktops from Illinois, Stuck Lucky in Nashville, The Latenight Callers out in Kansas where I’m from, they were all great.  Also out in Kansas there is a band called The Gypsy Sparrows that my old roommate, Jeff Perkins, plays every possible stringed instrument for.  He’s a true musical genius.  The guy builds his own Frankenstein-guitars and kills playing them, but also has the ability to just pick up any instrument with strings and murder it within minutes.  He’s one of my best friends and biggest motivators musically, just how great of a player he is.  I guess lastly, but not least we got hooked on a band from Chicago called Mutts that are doing some big things now which is great to see.

Utica NY @ The Uptown Theatre - © Nicola Raggi

Is there anything that I missed that you’d like to talk about or anything else that you wish to mention?  

Matthew: I have to be honest, I think this is by far the most thorough and in-depth interview I’ve ever done!  You got it all and then some!

Livia: Really?  Are you asking that to Matthew?  My friend, I hope you took a day off…

© David Hannan

(2011) The End Men – Build It Up – CD? – Self-Released?
(2013) The End Men – Play With Your Toys – CD? – Self-Released?

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

Anonymous & J. Rider interview with Ron Matelic

There is a big hype surrounding "Inside the Shadow" LP. It all began with The Sir Winston the Commons in the 60s. One of the Indianapolis garage rock bands, that were not a typical band of the 60s with a single out called "Not the Spirit of India". Out of the Commons, a few years later there was another group formed – Anonymous, which is to this day probably the best private press record. It contains absolutely everything and its a late catcher of hippie spirit. This one is one of my favourite LP's in general. Here is the complete interview I did with Ron Matelic. We talked about all three bands and he also took his time to talk about his songwriting.

It's a great pleasure to finally talk to you, Ron. Let's start this interview with questions about your childhood and teen years. Where did you grow up and what are some memories from listening to your favourite music at the times?

I was born, raised and still reside in Indianapolis, Indiana. Having an older sister, I was exposed to 50s rock and roll when it was current. I liked Elvis, Everly Brothers,  Buddy Holly and doo wop. I have always been drawn to good harmony and melodic lines. But I was probably more attracted to electric guitar and combo instrumental type music. ‘Tequila’ by the Champs may have been my first 45 record purchase. Later on, I listened to the Ventures, and then a lot of ‘hot rod’ and surf instrumentals.

Your first band was called Sir Winston & The Commons and you released Come Back Again / We're Gonna Love and Not the Spirit of India / One Last Chance. The first single was from 1965 on Soma Records and the other one is from 1966 released on a label called Nauseating Butterfly. Am I correct?

Actually our first name was The Illusions and then it changed to The Suspicions. Sir Winston was our first booking agent’s idea because of the British invasion, and he even tried to say we were from England, but that was really short lived since we knew so many people that were at the shows.  After we had been together for a while, we booked a recording session in Chicago at Columbia records and recorded 5 or 6 songs. “We’re Gonna Love”, “Come Back Again” and “One Last Chance” are 3 of those.  I don’t remember where or when we did Not the Spirit of India, but there were probably other songs as well.

John Medvescek and you knew each other from the very early age and you decided to form the band. What was the local scene in your town? I mean which bands had an impact on you?

There weren’t many local dances or bands early on. Our favorite was a band called the Katalinas. They did mainly instrumentals with a few vocals like most of the bands. We sort of copied what they did in having the bass drum head painted in fluorescent paint and shining a black light on it. I still think that looks cool.

Later you were joined by Gary Crawford. Tell me about this very early beginning  You did a lot of covers, right?

We started with songs by the Ventures and sax instrumentals like Honky Tonk and Harlem Nocturne and progressively did more and more surf instrumentals as they were becoming more prevalent. I think one of our first vocal attempts was Buddy Holly’s ‘It’s So Easy’.

First you were into surf sound and then into British Invasion stuff...

Yes, Dick Dale was my first guitar hero; he’s still at it and still sounds great. I also liked the harmony of the early Beach Boy tunes, but when the Beatles hit, everything opened up. All of a sudden there was a world full of music and it was all good. The thing I liked most about the British groups was that they all sounded different from one another, so it was an exciting experience to enjoy all the diversity. Plus they were all so talented. I was always in awe of their musical expertise and vocal ability.

Can you tell me about your recordings. How did you get signed up and what can you tell me about song "Not the Spirit of India". What did you have in mind. The song is quite a progressive in terms of times. Very early Indian influences…

We were never signed by anyone. Our second agent at the time had SOMA press the first record, but there wasn’t any distribution or promotion. Herb Crawford, our other guitarist, handled the “Not the Sprit of India” record from the label to the pressings.  He and I co-wrote the song. I developed the music and he did the lyrics. There was an electric India vibe that was around at the time. The influence may have, in part, come from Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s “East-West”.

You went also to California and toured there. Would you like to share any memories from that?

We actually never did any real touring. We played a few one nighters and a concert or two and landed about a six week gig at the Galaxy Club which was two doors down from the Whiskey a Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. We played 5 hours a night, 6 nights a week. It was okay but not very interesting or profitable. I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm.

Do you know any other bands that were good from your area, perhaps?

As mentioned before The Katalinas were good and my favorite, but that was before and in the early days of our band. At the time of Sir Winston, there were several bands that shared the local scene. The Boys Next Door, The Dawn Five, Sounds Unlimited, and The Idle Few are some that I remember.

What happened next?

After California, we were reduced to a 3 piece group doing sort of a Cream/Hendrix type thing. It was fairly lucrative for a while, but became musically limiting in my mind.  We eventually decided to call it quits.

You were in a few bands before forming Anonymous like Cock Robin and Ghandharvis. Cock Robin recorded some material, but the recordings are lost. Are you sure and may I ask if you are still in contact with John Medvescek. You were both in these bands, right?

I saw a previous booking agent a few years ago who arranged for the Cock Robin recording, and he maintained that the tapes were lost after he went through a divorce.  John is still my best friend, although we don’t see much of each other. He is a captain at an Indianapolis fire house, and has always been the best and my favorite drummer.

How did Anonymous formed and who were the original members? Did this lineup last? Had you still lived at the same place when the band was formed?

I joined a band in 1972 called Madison Zane formed by Sir Winston keyboard and sax player Joe Stout. It was basically a cover band. Marsha Ervin, whose last name at that time was Bailey, was a friend that I used to sing with at get togethers. She was also in that band. Glenn Weaver was the bassist and we shared a lot of musical interests. I was familiar with Fleetwood Mac but he got me to listen to the Buckingham/Nicks album which is an exceptional LP.  He was a very melodic and aware bassist. After we both left that group we would have jam sessions on Sunday afternoons with John Medvescek and developed the material that ended up on Inside the Shadow.

What can you tell me about the material on the LP. Was this only your work? Did you have any concept in mind?

There was no intentional concept; just a list of songs. There is additional recorded material as J. Rider and Ron Matelic & Friends.  I also have a stockpile of yet to be recorded songs.

Where did you record this LP and what are perhaps some memories from it? What gear did you guys use?

It was recorded in a garage-turned-studio in a residential area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
We had rehearsed well before going and did all the instrumental tracks on a Saturday. We went back a few weeks later and added the vocals. John used his Ludwig drums, Glenn Weaver had a Guild hollow body bass, but I don’t recall his amp. I used my Gibson SG,  Rickenbacker 370-12 string and Martin D-35 acoustic, and a borrowed Fender Twin Reverb amp. The effect used was an Electro-Harmonix Small Stone phase shifter.

I know this can be a bit odd question, but since I always ask musicians to comment each song I'm also asking you. It's always interesting to read musicians opinions on their songs, what was in their mind when they were made.

I also like how a song originates. Here is a transcription of thoughts I came up with when the album was being released for online download.

A1          Who's Been Foolin'?    
I at first thought that the melody of the verse was something I heard on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, but I never could pinpoint it so I kept writing the song with the help of Glenn Weaver. My favorite part of the song is the second “... who’s been foolin’...”  in the last verse. I always have liked subtle variations in a song’s arrangement or melody -- something I learned from the Beatles to whom I attribute most of my song writing interest.

A2          J Rider               
 I first came up with the opening guitar lick on my acoustic guitar, but I knew that it was meant for the Rickenbacker 12 string. I’m not sure how the rest of the song fell together but I always attribute it to some McGuinn vibes. It’s one of those fun songs to play. (Thanks, Roger! (Jim))

A3          Up to You                       
This is a song written to my wife. The “her” in the “I see her...” verse    refers to my daughter, Sarah, who at that time was our only child.

A4          Shadow Lay                    
This rendition was the second incarnation of this song. When I first wrote it, it had a Lennon,  “Glass Onion” groove. In a third version later on, it was changed to a smooth, mellow jazz arrangement. I like the way the instrumental accents vary at the start of each verse.  I think the “you” of the song is really me.

B1          Pick Up and Run            
Another song built totally around the 12 string, ala “So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star”.  I spent a lot of time listening to the Byrds, but I was also hung up on changing the time signatures in a song, like this song’s bridge.

B2          We Got More
B3          Sweet Lilac                     
I think this is the only time I took someone else’s words and put them to music. My friend, Becky, handed me these lyrics one day and these songs are the result. I did have to change a few of the words for the song’s meter, and I also came up with the reference to “Shadow Lay” in “Sweet Lilac”. The Yeah, Yeah, Yeah in “We Got More”  is sort of a theft from the Mamas & Papas.

B4          Baby Come Risin'
This is a conglomeration of ideas that have some origin in “Layla” and a couple of McCartney songs. The instrumental section in the middle came from  those Sunday afternoon practices, when we just let loose

This was released on A Major Label Records formed by Jim Spencer. You knew him, that's why he gave you this opportunity. Tell me about your friendship with Jim?

Jim lived a few blocks down the street from me in the early years and I’m not sure how we originally got together musically. He’d invite me over and he would play me his songs and I would play mine and we wrote a few together. He would come up with lyrics very quickly and I always admired that ability. He also had a great voice and sense of musicality. He eventually moved to Milwaukee and married; but he would stay in contact when he’d visit his mother in Indianapolis and we would again share our recent songs. He is the sole reason the Anonymous album exists.

Do you know how many copies were pressed?

I don’t remember the exact number of the original pressing—several hundred I guess; but there was also a second pressing where the back cover of the first pressing became the front cover of the second.  

Tell us the story of a short lived band called J. Rider, which had the same members with an addition of another guitarist, Justin Garriot. You played some local shows with them and recorded some material…

Yes, we played a few places, but this town has never been one for promoting original music to any extent. You have to be a real trooper to try and sustain your originality.
Only through our good friends Norm Welch who was able to sponsor the recordings and the engineer Mike Petrow were we able to record what we did.

Were this recordings recorded in the same studio as Anonymous LP?

No, it was recorded in a local Indianapolis studio that at time was called Neon Cornfield.

Again I have to ask you to comment each song a bit.

A1          One Sided Lover             
Built solely around the guitar lick, this was a fun “power” song to play live. I don’t know where the lyrics stem from but my lyrics are for another discussion.

A2          Kiss of Your Soul
I think I just mainly liked the irony of the title and Justin’s slide guitar is pretty cool. During this period, I also liked varying from standard 4/4 time which made it a little more fun and interesting to play
A3          We Got More   
This is what I thought would be a commercial song. I now wished I had done something else since this song was already on the Anonymous album, but Marsha sure sings it a lot better than I did.

B1          High Roller        
I could here the melody line to “She was a (boom boom) hi-igh roller”  in my head and wrote the whole song around that one line.  It then continued to evolve with more guitar parts and those great sounding drums. I think there are some Stephen Stills influences on this one. It’s one of my favorites.

B2          Pike River          
A nice flowing song that was inspired by McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre”. This is one of those songs that came together very quickly with seemingly little effort.  Only a few are like that. I especially like Greg’s bass part and John’s intricate cymbal work on this recording.

B3          Sunday's Hero
 This is an old song written in the late sixties without the fast instrumental intro or outro. I don’t remember too much about writing the original version which consisted of the entire vocal part.  At some point I came up with the guitar parts and matched them with this song.

Anonymous never played at any local gigs?

Not as Anonymous, but as J. Rider. We played for a short while and Glenn left the band and was replaced by Gregg Reynolds and we played for maybe a few months longer with five people. Marsh became pregnant and left and then Justin left, but John, Gregg and I continued to play for a while. We abandoned the original music and went commercial.

Why the name Anonymous and why J Rider?

“Anonymous” was just a name I came up for the album since we were not an official band at the time of the recordings. I always hated trying to think of band names that didn’t invoke some preconceived notion of what the band was like. J. Rider is like a person’s name with no connotations.

Who did the cover artwork for Anonymous and who for J Rider and what does it represent?

The front cover of Anonymous was a drawing by J. Heitzman, whose brother Tom was a drummer friend of Glenn Weaver. The picture hung in Tom’s apartment, I believe, and Glenn recommended it. The back cover art was by K. Gehrke, I assume a friend of Jim Spencer. The second pressing of Inside the Shadow used this back cover as the front cover. J. Rider art was by Greg Day, who was selected by Stan Denski. Stan put together that album on his OR Records label after he released the first re-release of Anonymous.

What happened in the 80s, 90s to this days?

Pretty much the normal life of marriage, working a day job and raising kids.

What currently occupies your life?

Job, marriage, kids, grandkids – trying to get to retirement.

Are you still in contact with other members?

I see or talk to John and Gregg from time to time. Marsha lives out of state and Justin lives in China as of the last time we conversed.

Any regrets if you look back?

I wish I would have been more ambitious in seeking to play my original music.

I would like to thank you for taking your time. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?

There is another vinyl release of Inside the Shadow scheduled to be released on the Machu Picchu label. 
I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has shown any interest in my music, and I hope to produce some additional material in the near future. Spread the word and stayed tuned.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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