It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine

It's Psychedelic Baby is an independent music magazine. We are covering alternative, underground, non-commercial and non-mainstream artists in variety of shapes and genres. Exclusive interviews, reviews and articles. A place where musicians can express themselves. We serve an international readership.

It's Psychedelic Baby presents: A special Secret Saucer performance

Space Rock band Secret Saucer did an exclusive performance for It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine.

Suns of Thyme interview with Tim Hoppe, Jens Rosenkranz, Tobias Feltes and Jascha Kreft

© Arrow Mae

Dark, brooding and conceptual, Suns Of Thyme would sound as at home in the Joy Division scene in London during the 80’s as they do here and now.  One of my favorite things when I listen to Suns Of Thyme is the fact that they didn’t mix their vocals into oblivion.  There are clear and legible lyrics to almost all of their songs and in this day and age of the DIY, lo-fi movement it’s a refreshing change.  On the heels of their debut album Fortune, Shelter, Love and Cure I was curious what the band hand in store for the future.  Things aren’t always what they seem with Suns Of Thyme drifting between some serious 80s synth influence, shoegaze, middle-eastern and just out-and-out psychedelic rock.  When you listen to their music you get the feeling there might be a little more going on that what you hear on the surface as expertly demonstrated by the guitar solo at the end of The Years We Got Enough which is sang rather than played.  I don’t say it often but Suns Of Thyme really do help you just, turn on, tune in and drop out, so join me while do so why don’tcha?
Listen while you read at:

What’s the band’s lineup?  Is this your original lineup?

The lineup has been the same since our first show as Suns of Thyme: Tobias Feltes (Guitar, Vocals), Tim Hoppe (Guitar), Jens Rosenkranz (Bass), Jascha Kreft (Drums, Vocals).  We are also supported by our close friend Tammo Dehn, from Medusas Eco, who did percussions and synths on certain tracks.  He’s a producer with an incredible sense for music, which is very helpful.

Are any of you in any other bands?  Have you released any material with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about it?

Tim:  Foremost we have to name The Odd Couple, Jascha and Tammo’s two-piece band they started years ago.  They’re in the process of mixing their debut record right now with Frank Popp but you can already find a lot of demo stuff online.  I have to say they’ve blown me away every time I’ve seen them.  Tammo himself has his solo-project, Medusas Eco and they have an EP Ueberall they released on Bandcamp. 

Where are you originally from?

Jens:  Tobi and I met about fifteen years ago at our school in Southwestern Germany, close to the French border.  Jascha and Tammo are from a small town called Norden located on the Northwestern German Coast and they’ve been friends since Kindergarten.  Tim is from Dresden in East Germany, he’s the only one who didn‘t bring a friend. 

Where is the band located now?  How would you describe the local music scene there?

Tim:  The band is based in Berlin.  The city has a rich music scene with all different kinds of music but everybody knows that it’s the city for electronic music.  Even within the rock scene is widespread in that you meet artists on different occasions who play all sorts of music.  I think concerning us as a band, there were two major things we can talk about.  Our starting point was the scene around Mindpirates e.V., which is an alternative art gallery and a venue for all kinds of artistic happenings.  For example, we participated in a 24-hour jam on a lakeside somewhere in the German countryside they hosted called The Lovers.  Three-hundred people arrived at the Mindpirates e.V. collective building at which point they were asked to give up their telephone and jump on a bus that would take them to a secret location.  This event clearly depicted the wide variety of musical styles within the scene including Tibetan Chanting, Dubstep, Krautrock, Hardcore, a naked screaming woman, etcetera; it was a very interesting event.  In terms of Indie rock, Berlin’s 8MM Bar has built a community over the last ten years.  People really support all the projects and show up for each other.

Are you very involved with the local scene?

Tobi:  Jens, Tim and I were working at the bar at Mindpirates on some occasions and we became friends with a lot of people that are connected to the Mindpirates collective.  We met the Director, Christian Schmid Rincon there who made the video for our first single Soma (God for Gods), and we met the L.A. based artist and musician Lionel “Vinyl” Williams who allowed us to use his image “Space District” as our album cover.

Jens:  We also hung around a lot in a friends place called Mammut Bar where I have been working lately.  Through them we met a lot of guys from the stoner rock scene like Heat and Samsara Blues Experiment who got us in touch with our label Electric Magic.  On the 8MM side, we knew some people here and there from Kadavar, Camera and The Blue Angel Lounge but we weren't really involved until a couple of months ago when we were approached by Christoph Lindemann from Kadavar and asked if we wanted to contribute a song to the 8MM 10th Anniversary record.

Has it played a large role in the history or evolution of Suns of Thyme?

Tobi:  Mindpirates definitely played a huge role.  I think we all agree that we wouldn’t be at the point we are now without them; a lot of love to Easton West, Kevin Klein, Owen Roberts, Stefanie and Christian Schmid Rincon, and all the others at this point!

Tim:  And 8MM is the reason we are able to see bands play in Berlin we wouldn’t have seen otherwise, like Dead Meadow, Spindrift, Psychic Ills and Indian Jewelry.  We met Jascha at one of those concerts so I guess we have to thank 8MM for giving us a great drummer.

When and how did you all meet?

Jens:  Tobi and I were planning to start a new band after we left our former band.  We were looking for a second guitarist and a drummer.  In 2010 I met Tim at university.  I think Tim was the first person I spoke to at university and he was exactly the kind of guy we were looking for, a friend and a music lover.  After that we started writing our first songs.  Since it‘s frustrating playing without drum, we were desperately looking for a drummer, but that proved quite a challenge.  It seems drummers are rare in Berlin.  If you find one, he‘s already in five different bands!  Just before we gave up searching, after three month of Craigslist listings, flyers and approaching random people on the street, we went to a Spindrift and Dead Meadow concert at Bassy Club.  Tobi and Tim were checking out the bands equipment before the show and a tall blond guy asked them if they played in a band.  Tobi answered that they indeed played in a band but they needed a drummer, fortunately Jascha was a drummer and just the one we needed.  The next day we rehearsed and started the band.  Tammo moved to Berlin a few months later and joined in shortly after that.

What led you to start Suns of Thyme and when was that?

Jens:  Tobi and I had played in two bands before Suns of Thyme though we weren’t founding members of either of them.  In 2010 we realized that it was about time to have something we could call our own but we didn‘t want it to be just our band and some random musicians.  We wanted the band to be a collecting, with all members treated alike.  We wanted it to be a musical dialogue between the musicians.  It was important to have the freedom to experiment to all of us, not just to follow a certain style of music, but to do what feels right at that moment. 

What does Suns of Thyme mean or refer to?  How did you choose the name?

Tim:  We chose the name because of its aesthetics and the room it leaves for imagination.  We liked its sound and look, and it fits quite well with the music; and yes it’s a play on words.  There’s no particular reference but I think we can say that Alejandro Jodorowsky and Scarborough Fair played a part in the formation of the name...

You guys sound comfortably planted in classic garage and psych, can you talk about who some of your major musical influences are?  What about the band as a whole rather than as individuals?

Tobi:  There’s not just one influence on the band but rather a combination of different influences from each individual in the band, especially because every member is part of the creative process.  Every one of us has certain preferences and comes from different, but still relatable genres.  I grew up listening to Pink Floyd and I'd say it's still my favorite band.

Jens:  Well, there are bands I consider the home base of my musical interests, like Joy Division, Brian Jonestown Massacre and Arcade Fire.  But to this day, nothing is able to overshadow the experience of seeing Michael J. Fox playing Johnny Be Good in Back to the Future when I was five years old, that’s for sure.

Tim:  My interest in music started with classics like The Doors when I was thirteen.  For a very long time now I’ve been interested in Indie rock and new psych rock bands, recently I discovered dark wave and 80’s music.

Jascha:  When I started playing in bands at the age of fourteen, I was pretty obsessed with the early Nirvana stuff followed by punk, stoner, blues, kraut and garage rock.  Nowadays I’m more and more interested in pop music, but my band mates have the biggest influence on me.  There are also specific songs which have influenced me highly in the long run; check out White Denim´s Shake Shake Shake or Michael Rother´s Feuerland.

I absolutely hate to classify or label music.  Can you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you yet?

Tim:  We have discussions about labeling in regards to other bands and music we like.  But when it comes to our own stuff, we’re kind of at a loss for a genre that feels like home.  We can only hope that the listeners and reviewers find a way to place it in their musical genre of choice.

Tobi:  Spacy, sad and angry, but also repetitive, fun, and quirky.

Jens:  Friends of ours from Mindpirates e.V. one time labeled us as krautgaze, I liked that term.

Jascha:  Even though the album has a distinct touch of psychedelic and shoegaze we try not to get caught up with those labels.  These days it’s important to be versatile and combine different styles and sounds, otherwise you won’t get people to listen to a whole record.  A lot of bands get stuck in a loop of just doing one thing which can be repetitive.  I do not want to get looped.  Especially by my own music!

Can you tell us about Suns of Thyme’s songwriting process?  Is there just a lot of jamming or does someone approach the rest of the group with a more finished idea to flesh out with the rest of you?

Tim:  We are not a band that gets together, has a couple of beers and jams for three hours.  We simply do not believe in that, or maybe we are just not good enough.  There are some jams during rehearsal when we have the basic structure of an idea and we want to get a better feeling of it and give everybody a chance to try out some variations with it.  But basically we consciously write our songs step by step.  How we come up with songs on the other hand varies a lot depending on the initial idea.

© Linda Glas

Tobi:  There are several different approaches that work for me.  Sometimes I record a demo at home and we start working with that idea together in the rehearsal room, sometimes it's a synthesizer or guitar sound that I'm looking for or stumble upon that builds the basis of an idea for a song.  I’ve woke up with a vocal line in my mind.  Sometimes it's a beat, bass line or guitar riff that one of the others wrote that fits perfect to a piece of my writing.  I usually write a song while recording it and then listen to it over and over again adding things until a structure emerges that makes sense to me.  But that doesn't mean that everything won't be changed again as soon as we start playing around with it together.

You recorded your album Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure a while back and it is entering the final stages of release right now.  Can you tell us about the recording of that album?  When was it recorded?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was recorded?

 © Arrow Mae

Tobi:  The songs were recorded throughout 2012.  Tobias Schulz, a friend I met during my studies as an audio-engineer and I recorded the drums together at a studio in Berlin.  Everything else was recorded in my bedroom and our rehearsal room.  When you listen to the album you notice pretty quickly that we’re big fans of effect pedals.  My favorites are probably the EHX Cathedral Reverb and the Z.CAT Poly-Octaver 2.  Apart from the typical stuff like drums, bass and guitar I recorded some synth-sounds from a Korg Delta, some great iPad apps and some other digital synth programs.  For example I also used an electronic tanpura and an acoustic guitar played with a violin bow on Blue Phoenix Tree.  We had the pleasure of working with our good friend Owen Roberts who played clarinet on Asato Maa, Tammo who some of the percussions and Lisa Maul who did some backing vocals.

© Arrow Mae

What does the album title Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure mean?

Jens:  It's a line from our song Earth, Over and it felt fitting to the mood and the aspects of the entire album.  When I wrote the line my goal was to capture the basic roots of happiness all humans are searching for.  At the end of the day, those are the topics the entire album revolve around.

Tobi:  Four words that mean something completely different for everybody.  At the same time, everybody seeks some or all of these things at some stage in their life and it‘s always a struggle to attain any of them.  But one that‘s worth it.  That struggle influenced a lot of the songs on the record.

What’s the release date for that?  Who’s releasing it?

Jens:  We were lucky enough to find a very passionate guy who owns the label Electric Magic here in Berlin who believed in our music and gave us the chance to release the vinyl.  For both the digital and the physical copy the release date was the 12th of July 2013.  The first edition consists of 150 green and 350 black vinyl copies including a download code and lyrics sheet.

Are there any plans for any other releases this year besides Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure?

Tobi:  We are working on new ideas right now and will do some demo recordings soon.  There’s nothing planned so far but I think there is a high possibility that we will release something like a new single later this year.

With the recent US postal rate increases where is the best place for our US readers to purchase copies of your album?  What about international and overseas readers?

Tim:  As far as we know so far the album is only going to be released in Germany.  The best way would be contacting us directly via e-mail or Facebook.  We’re sending out some copies by ourselves but that includes the crazy international postage rate.  Digitally you can find it on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and all the known digital platforms after the 12th [of July 2013].

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?  Any chance of seeing you here in the United States?

Jens:  We’re working with a booking agency from Berlin called Magnificent Music who also works with Kadavar and The Flying Eyes.  They’re planning a small German tour for us at the end of the year.  Besides that we are looking for support slots and festivals to get people to listen to our music who don’t know we exist yet.  The first step is to get out of Berlin, and then it’s on to other countries.

 © Linus Ma
 © Linus Ma
 © Linus Ma
©  Stefanie Schmid Rincom

Jascha:  To go overseas is simply a question of money and having a market.  It's already hard enough for U.S. bands that aren’t well known here to tour Europe, Black Moth Super Rainbow still haven't played here because too few people know about them for example.  And it’s the same the other way around if not even harder.  If we had our way we would play Austin Psych Fest maybe next year and have some shows around it.  We’ll see what happens.

Who are some of your favorite acts that you’ve had the pleasure of sharing a bill with?

So far we’ve supported TOY at their Berlin show and shared the stage with The Sun and The Wolf and Camera at the 8MM 10th Anniversary Record release party.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

Tim:  I guess you mean physical records since everybody has access to almost everything nowadays.  Well, Jascha, Tobi and I have piled up some vinyl over time.  My Collection includes Black Angels, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Devendra Banhart, Deerhunter, Dandy Warhols, Entrance, Goat, Richard Swift, David Lynch, Blur, Blue Angel Lounge, Black Marble, My Bloody Valentine, Baïkonour, Grizzly Bear and more alongside classics like The Beatles, Kinks, Doors, Beach Boys, Vanilla Fudge, etcetera.

Jascha:  Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Pop Levi, Ty Segall, Mark Lanegan, John Frusciante, The Flaming Lips, Sol Seppy, White Denim, CAN, NEU!, etcetera.

Tobi:  Philip Glass, Rolling Stones, Ravi Shankar, Pink Floyd, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Love, Claude Debussy, Jeff Buckley, A Tribe Called Quest, etcetera.

I must admit that I do love digital music.  Having a copy of an album to take with me wherever I go, to listen to in the car of wherever, it’s still a new and novel concept to me. But having an album to hold in my hands, liner notes to read and cover-art to look at, it makes the listening experience more complete; at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Tim:  Of course!  That's why we waited so long for the album’s release even though it was done some time ago.  We wanted the vinyl digital versions released at the same time.  Nothing is better than holding your own record in your hands and we believe in physical records in general.  Not only because of any vintage hype or better sound quality, but because we see no other way to make sure that the artists are getting their money.  Digital music is great because it’s easy to handle.  But it’s also very quickly beyond the artist’s control and somehow you reduce the music to some letters on a screen.  Just another folder on the hard drive you might forget about over time because you’re getting more music than you can handle.  Music records are a whole art package, and a large part of our culture and people who take the music and artists seriously are willing to buy physical material for that reason.

I ask everyone I talk to this question in hopes of keeping up with all the killer music out there, who should I be listening to from your local area or scene that I might not have heard of before?

Tim:  There’s a Berlin based solo loop artist, HELMUT who’s really great and has a good feeling for songs that just get stuck in your head.  Camera, The Blue Angel Lounge and The Sun and The Wolf are quite well known already and they’re all great.

Jascha:  We played with Roof Top Runners and Brace/Choir who are both more international bands but based in Berlin and show how versatile the music scene is around here.

Jens:  And of course you should listen to The Odd Couple and Medusas Eco, Jascha and Tammo‘s other projects.

Tobi:  They’re not from our local area but are nonetheless worth a listen: Lionel Williams’ band Vinyl Williams.

What about nationally and internationally?

Jascha:  Right now we’re all very impressed by the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra Record.

Tobi:  I recently discovered Dumbo Gets Mad which is super quirky, but I like it.

Is there anything that I missed or that you’d just like to talk about?

Tobi:  I want to thank my parents for all their support.  Without them I couldn‘t do what I do the way I do it.

(2013)  Suns Of Thyme – Fortune, Shelter, Love And Cure – digital, 12” – Electric Magic Records

© Stefanie Schmid Rincon

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

Bloodbirds interview with Brooke Tuley, Mike Tuley and Anna St. Louis

© Michael Boles

While some people might know Mike Tuley from some of his other musical endeavors, even others including his wife Brooke, in my humble opinion Bloodbirds stands head and shoulders above the rest.  Coming from a diverse background the trio slathers feedback, fuzz, distortion and good old fashioned rock’n’roll with a disturbingly effective manic pop-like underbelly.  The result is a vibrant shimmering cloud of fuzzy chords, understated drums and pounding bass lines peering from a dark brooding psychedelic haze.  One thing that strikes you about the music right away is the stripped down nature of the music, it sounds like some of the tightest and most precise recordings I’ve heard from a garage band, especially one with such a head-strong DIY mentality, in just about forever.  Having self-released three previous tapes Bloodbirds’ debut LP Psychic Surgery is getting ready to sell out but had definitely piqued my interest.  I needed to find out what was going on.  Bloodbirds had kind of fallen out of the sky for me, not coming from any recommendation but rather a delightfully lucky internet find.  Was there going to be a new album any time soon?  Might there be a single or EP to hold me over while waiting for the afore mentioned, sure to be masterpiece, as it was being recorded?  I tracked down, Mike, Brooke and Anna and mercifully managed to get the answers I was looking for!  What you don’t think I’m going to tell you in the introduction do you?  If you’re half as interested as I am keep reading and have your special decoder rings ready to decipher these important messages!
Listen while you read at:

What’s the band’s lineup?  Is this your original lineup or have you gone through some changes since you first started?

Brooke:  When we got started practicing Mike was on drums, I was on guitar and Anna on bass.  That lineup lasted about an hour.  See, we set the drums up in the living room and I started tapping around on them, Mike picked up the guitar, and Anna followed in.  We wrote our first song that day, called Revolver.

I know that Mike and Brooke are married.  Have you played in bands together previously? 

Brooke:  Yeah, we’ve always had a musical connection.  When I was still in High School my band Basement Disasters played with Mike’s band, The Short Bus Kids up in Lawrence, Kansas at the Pirate House.  But, the first time I met Mike was when my girlfriend and I went to see his band play a benefit concert at a Wal-Mart way out in Olathe.  We were part of the same scene, but wouldn’t know each other until several years later when he would come to see shows at the Rainbow House where I lived.  I was nineteen and he was twenty-three when he asked me to join his new band, Ad Astra Per Aspera.  We did that for seven years.  After the other Ad Astra Per Aspera members moved away we formed Hairy Belafonte with a bunch of our friends.  The Ad Astra Arkestra came next.

What’s the best and the worst thing about being in a band with your spouse?  Anna what’s it like being in a band with a married couple?

Mike:  It's positive for me.  We get to travel together and work on projects together.  I think when we squabble it's stressful to the band dynamic for sure because it's not always as simple as a normal band disagreement.  I'm sure that's a bummer for Anna.  But it's pretty rare.

Brooke:  The best is the struggle toward an ideological convergence.  When he plays guitar I get to know exactly what he’s up against.  I mean, it’s how we relate.  There’s a deep down synchronization to writing and performing together.

Anna:  I love it.  Individually, they’re two of my closest friends.  As a couple, they have a strong musical connection and are eager to create and communicate with one another.  I benefit from this connection!  They also are easy to hang out with because they’re usually already together.

I know Mike’s been in a lot of band’s before, are any of you in any other bands at this point?    Have you released any music with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about it?  It’s come pretty common place for people to be in several bands at one point these days and I love playing musical connect the dots!

Brooke:  I write and record songs at home and play them for my mom.  The most recent one became a Bloodbirds’ song called Old Believers.  Anna and I sing it together.  We played it once, at our record release show at Lovegarden a few months ago.

Anna:  I play in a band called Torben with two other close friends.  It’s loud and heavy.

Did you grow up in musical households?  Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely interested in music?

Mike:  Not really, my parents both sold most of their records in a garage sale when I was a kid.   What was left over was mostly comedy records and Christmas music.  I loved the turntable, so I listened to a lot of Christmas music, Bill Cosby records and recordings of the moon landing.

Brooke:  Quite the opposite.  My mom kept our apartment quiet.  I mean so quiet I would hide out in my closet with my bass plugged in, but the volume on less than one; the headphone jack never worked.  It’s not that she was discouraging me.  It’s just that noises bothered her, especially a teenage girl playing along to the Sex Pistols or to Crass.

Anna:  My step-dad had a pretty good music collection and I learned a lot from him.  He introduced me to lots of 60's/70's pop and rock music.  I have him to blame for my Neil Young obsession.  Actually, I guess I really only have Neil Young to blame for that.

How were you first introduced to music?  When did you decide that you wanted to start writing/making your own music?

Mike:  I saw the movie La Bamba when it came out.  I was about nine-years old.  I got really stoked and starting miming along to records in my room.  I also wrote weird little songs about the Terminator on my Casio keyboard as a kid.  I found a tape of that recently.  My band was also called The Terminators.

Brooke:  The first man I ever loved was John Lennon.  My mom had a record of his, the one where he’s sitting cross-legged in a black sweater.  I would lie on the floor for hours making connections between the man on the cover and songs like Imagine.  For me, the attraction was the ability to express ideas.  What got me hooked though was going to punk shows.  It was a way out, but really it was a way in.

Anna:  I started making my own music shortly after I started going to local punk shows.  All my friends were in bands and I wanted a part of the fun.  The older I got, the more serious it became for me.

Where are you originally from?

Mike:  Kansas City.

Anna:  Kansas City.

Where’s the band currently located?

Anna: Kansas City, Lawrence, Westwood, the pool…

How would you describe the local music scene where you are at now?

Mike:  For me, my favorite Kansas City bands have almost always been underground.  Right now, I'm working on a record for some buds in the band Nature Boys.  The Conquerors and Lazy are a couple others I'm into. 

Anna: Good.

Are you very involved in that scene?

Mike:  I'm mostly involved in recording local bands.  I don't book many shows anymore.

Has it played a large role in the history, sound or evolution of Bloodbirds?

Anna:  Not really.

Mike:  Not really.  Bloodbirds comes from mutual interests the three of us have.

There’s a lot of really interesting stuff hidden just underneath your prevailing sound, I’m curious who your musical influences are?  What about the band as a whole rather than individuals?

Anna:  There’s a lot of overlap in our musical interests.  I'd say the main bands that we listen to together and get inspired to play together, would be Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3 and Can.

Tell us about Bloodbirds’ songwriting process.  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with an idea, a riff or something, and then finishes it out with the rest of the band or is there a lot of jamming and exploring ideas with one another?

Mike:  All jammin' all the time.  We record it all, sift through it, and pick out the shit we want to form into songs.  Most of the time the songs are already formed by the jam vocal melody, any kind of verse or chorus situation, etcetera, is decided by the jam.

Anna: Lots of jamming at practice, recording it, and refining it later.  Sometimes it’s a couple of weeks before we take a good listen to practice recordings...  They are either met with total bewilderment/embarrassment, or at other times we’re quite impressed with our drunken selves.

What about the recording process?  Do you do a lot of preparatory work before heading into the studio or do you try and play it more off the cuff?

Anna:  Recording is good for us because it forces us to give structure to our material.  We have the tendency to over-do it without time restraints.

Do you enjoy recording?  Some people love it other people would rather leap out of a tall building than go into a studio ha-ha!

Anna:  It can be tedious and frustrating, but I kind of like the torture.  I would rather record than leap out of a tall building.

Mike:  I love recording.  Always have.  I think it's a really creative process and I like to indulge in a lot of sonic experiments.  Most of which don't make it to the final record.

Let’s talk about Night Recordings your first demo tape.  When was that recorded?  Where was it recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Mike:  We recorded that in November 2011 at our old practice cabin.  We miss that place.  I set up and ran the recording equipment.  We used 8 microphones and tracked it on a computer.

Was that release limited?  Who released it and when was that?

Mike:  We've self-released everything thus far.  I don't think we'd turn anyone down, but we definitely like to do things our way, including the number of tapes duplicated or records pressed.  I think we made one-hundred copies of Night Recordings on cassette.  I dubbed them myself, one at a time to make sure they sounded as good as possible.  I hate the sound of most tape duplicating machines.  They sound like shit.  If you're going to all the trouble to record and mix some music and get it just how you want it, why fuck it up by cutting corners in the dubbing process?  That's just fucking lazy.

The second demo tape DUKH came out in February of 2012, was the recording of that album much different than the session(s) for Night Recordings?  Was that release limited and who released it?

Mike:  DUKH was recorded at our new practice space, which we initially dubbed the "worst place in the world" because it lacked all the charm of our practice cabin.  It's a place that used to be a retirement home and we were put off at first.  It's has an abandoned-hospital vibe.  It was recorded in January during a really cold spell, and our gear kept fucking up.  Listening to it now, I can definitely hear the frustration.  We ditched a couple songs from that session and brought in Revolver from the practice cabin sessions.  We thought it helped balance it out more.

Demo III was released on cassette in April of this year (2013).  What about the recording of that album?  When was it recorded?  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Mike:  Demo III was recorded at the Worst Place in the World in late March.  I recorded it.  We booked a lot of shows at the beginning of this year, so we were practicing and jamming a lot.  We wanted to get a few of the newer songs out quickly, so we made another cassette / digital EP.

Was Demo III a limited release?  Is that album still in print?

Mike:  Yeah, I think we only made fifty copies of Demo III, it's mostly gone.  It's available on Bandcamp as a digital download still.

Why all cassette releases up until that point?  There are a lot of release mediums out there available to musicians today and I’m always curious to hear why musicians choose the particular ones that they do.

Mike:  I grew up putting out tapes in the early 90's.  I remember being stoked in High School when my band finally got our music on CD.  As tedious as it can be, I really do like the process of dubbing tapes.  When I dub the tapes, I saturate the sound a bit, which makes it sound crunchier than it would if I just burned a bunch of CDs from iTunes.  The way a band records, the way their releases sound and the way people interact with your music are almost as important as the music itself.  Bands that understand this and unify their aesthetic with their sound usually present a more cohesive release that translates better and helps listeners identify with the band and the band's intentions.  I think the ease of iPods and Mp3’s makes music more disposable.  It degrades the ritual of listening to music and it becomes more of a soundtrack than a focus; background music.

You posted several cover songs and jams from practices on your Bandcamp page some of which are still up and others which are gone.  Are there any plans for that material?  Is it perhaps going to be used in an upcoming release or made available via a digital source like iTunes or Bandcamp again?

Mike:  I dunno.  We've covered a bunch of songs.  We record some because we like our version or because sometimes we get stuck during the recording process and doing a cover can jump-start you or reinvigorate you.  

Psychic Surgery, released in January of 2013, was your first vinyl release.  Where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  When was it recorded?  What kind of equipment?

Mike:  We recorded Psychic Surgery in June 2012 at Junior's Motel in Otho, Iowa.  It's a studio out on a farm run by Kirk Kaufmann who's been making records there since the 1970's.  He has a couple of 2" 24-track tape-machines, a MCI 24-channel mixer, plus sweet old compressors and mics.  I love working with Kirk, I've been recording stuff there since I was sixteen, so for about seventeen-years.  We dumped the tracks off tape to computer and did the rest of the overdubs and mixing back in Kansas City.  I mixed the record last fall at home. 

Let’s talk a little bit about the release of that album.  Was Psychic Surgery self-released or who put it out?  Is that release limited?  If so how limited?

Mike:  Psychic Surgery was self-released.  We're getting pretty close to selling out of the first pressing.  We don't really have any intentions of repressing it ourselves, but if someone was interested we might be receptive.  We're mostly interested in making another full-length recording right now.

Was the recording of Psychic Surgery much different than those early demos?

Mike:  We went to a studio and tracked to tape.  We wanted that sound.  We recorded seventeen songs at Junior's and used nine of those for the record.  The others might be put out sometime as an EP or something.  Some we finished, others still need some overdubs and mixing.

Has the recording process changed a lot for you over the last few years?  You seem to spend a fair amount of time recording and have amassed a fairly hefty back catalog at this point.  What about the songwriting?  Has it changed much at this point?

Mike:  Songwriting has always been open and loose.  You know the expression, "fast and loose"?  Well we like to say that we keep it "slow and loose" when we're writing songs.  Recording is something I do as a part-time job, so I record in all kinds of situations with all kinds of bands.  Junior's Motel is a familiar and comfortable place for me, so tracking the record there was really fun. 

©  Ailecia Ruscin

Are there any plans for a follow-up to Psychic Surgery, maybe a follow-up LP, an EP or even a single?  Any morsels for the hungry masses like me?

Mike:  Yeah, all of the above.  We've been working on new songs since the moment we finished that record.  Right now we're trying to get organized and pick out the songs for another full-length record, and we're planning on releasing a cassette EP on Rainy Road Records out of Omaha sometime later this summer or in early fall.

Why the shift from tape to vinyl?  Having done both cassettes and vinyl at this point do you have a preferred medium of release?

Mike:  We like vinyl it just takes more money and time to create.  If we spend the time in the studio getting things just so, we'd rather put it out on vinyl.  We mostly use cassette releases as a way to get out newer songs or songs that are a bit strange.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to buy copies of Bloodbirds’ music?

Mike:  You can get it straight from us if you'd like, at: or you can get it through Permanent Records at:

With the recent international postage rate hikes what about our international and overseas readers?

Mike:  I'd say get it from Permanent Records, in that case they might have some other stuff you want so you can consolidate packages and save on shipping costs.

What are you trying to accomplish as a band in 2013?

Mike:  Well, we self-released our LP and went on a west coast tour in June.  So now we're coasting for awhile and working on the next record.  Our main goal at the beginning of the year was to work on our live show, so we booked a bunch and that helped us refine it a bit.

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

Mike:  Not sure yet.  Probably just some regional Midwest stuff, unless a good offer comes along.  We really dig playing in Little Rock at the White Water Tavern.  Hope to make it back down that way soon.

©  Lillian Wright Smith

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had the chance to share a bill with?

Mike:  Lorelle Meets the Obsolete.  We loved them, played with them in Los Angeles.  If you have a chance to see them live, do it!  They rule.  

© Christopher Good

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows that you’d like to share with our readers?

Mike:  We made tour like vacation.  That’s the way to do it.  We hung out in the desert, at the Grand Canyon, Big Sur, in the Redwoods, on the Columbia River, at Little Bighorn, and at the Bandlands.  In between we played some rad shows, especially in the Northwest. 

I have an addiction and I don’t always like to talk about it.  I am absolutely obsessed with physical music.  Having something to hold in your hands, artwork to look at and liner notes to read, it all serves for an interactive, and to me, much more complete listening experience.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Mike:  Yeah dude, for sure.  That's all part of the ritual of listening to music that I referenced earlier.  I think it's typical of people who are into underground music.  They want a physical connection with it.  Some people just don't get it or don't care, that's fine.  I do.  I have an iPod and I use it all the time.  I'm not anti-technology.  But the iPod, while a very practical way to transport large collections of music, completely lacks that charm.  It super-imposes its own character above everything else, which dilutes the connection to the music.  It devalues music because it's easy to skip, delete, or replace songs.  I know that's the idea, but I think it contributes to this sense that a person should always have what they want, when they want it.  It dissolves patience and favors the immediate.  I know there are some people who are super stoked about the design aesthetic of the iPod, and I can appreciate that, I just don't care about iPods like I care about records or books.  Growing up with tapes and records, or even the radio waiting for your favorite jam to come on is fun.  The anticipation of the opening chords, the drum beat, etcetera…  The reward was greater.  I think technology makes people finicky, flakey, impatient, and frustrated.  You can lose yourself.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

Mike:  Yeah, Brooke and I combined our record collections when we moved in together. I have a huge CD collection gathering dust at my parent’s house.  I've digitized most of those so I should just take them to a show and give them away. 

Right now there’s a pretty wide breadth of music mediums on the market, cassettes, CDs, digital and vinyl!  Do you have a preferred medium for music that you purchase?

Mike:  Vinyl.  I grew up playing my parents records, and it's always been my favorite. 

There are two general ways of viewing the digital music era.  One where people are rampantly downloading albums for free, destroying the music industry as we know it and turning music into a disposable commodity to be used, discarded and forgotten.  While the other argues that it’s simply leveling the playing field for the independent artists out there willing to put in the time to promote and keep up an online presence and really compete with the major labels.  As an artist in the reign of the digital era what is your take on digital music and distribution?

Mike:  If people wanna take my music for free, I'm fine with it.  I don't think it's so different from when people make mix-tapes for each other. I used to record songs off the radio on my cassette boombox. I'd listen to those over and over again.  I think it's just easier to get music for free now.  It's definitely led to people having a warped and cavalier attitude towards the music they consume.  I had a dude tell me once after a show, that he wouldn't buy our record.  That if our record was any good he'd be able to find a torrent of our music.  I think he thought he was coming across as a badass or savvy or something, but he just came across as a brat.  There are still a lot of folks out there who support DIY bands and buy records. 

As I said before I love music, as you might imagine with my job, and I try to keep up with as much good music as is humanely possible.  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of?

Mike:  If you haven't heard Drakkar Sauna from Lawrence, Kansas, give a listen to some of their albums.  I like 20009, Drakansassauna, and Jabraham Lincoln, I like the new Lazy record and the new Nature Boys record I'm working on has great songs.  Also our homies in Peace Warriors, and Torben!

What about nationally and internationally?

Mike:  I'm tellin' ya, check out Lorelle Meets the Obsolete from Guadalajara, Mexico; rad band.

(2011)  Bloodbirds – Night Recordings – digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released (Limited to 100 copies)
(2011)  Bloodbirds – DUKH – digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released (Limited Edition)
(2012)  Bloodbirds – Covers – digital – Self-Released (Bandcamp)
(2013)  Bloodbirds – Demo III – digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released (Limited to 50 copies)
(2013)  Bloodbirds - Psychic Surgery – digital, 12” – Self-Released (Limited to one pressing)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

Raven interview

Originally from Terre Haute Indiana, members of Raven played and toured with bands such as REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, Dan Fogelberg etc.. George Phelps who had joined The “Carnations” met up with “Goliath” members in a studio and through a myriad of circumstances, teaming up with drummer Robert Wolff (ex “Micah”) these musicians merged into “Raven” in Louisville KY in late 1972. From this moment on, the band toured extensively through 24 states non-stop for the next 4 years before recording this material in 1976, unreleased until today.

The material was recorded in Atlanta Georgia at a studio called “The Sound Pit” Memories of going into the studio at night and working until the sun came up and feeling like I was floating on a cloud because it sounded so good (Doug- Raven’s lead singer) Soon after the recording was completed, Raven got a record deal with Capricorn records. 2 weeks later, they went bankrupt. The tapes were subsequently destroyed in a fire.

With Disco sound moving in in the mid seventies and with the bankrupcy of Capicorn records, Raven was literalylike fish out of water, and slowly but steadily what had felt like the beginning of something unique, was lost.

First Raven would like to thank Klemen Breznikar, owner and editor of Psychedelic Baby Magazine for this interview. Thank you for getting the word out on so many great music projects that would be other wise lost. 
Raven Members:
G. Charlie Egy, Lead vocals and writer
George Phelps. Guitar, vocals and writer (Founder and Fearless Leader)
Doug (Funky) Mason, vocals and writer
Tim Allen, Bass, vocals
Robert Wolff, Drums (things to bang on) vocals

Raven was originally from Terre Haute Indiana. The band was formed under the name Raven in Louisville in late 1972. You toured for almost 4 years. How did it all began and who were the original members of the band? What was the scene in Terre Haute? Any good bands you would like to mention?

Raven was originally formed form Terre Haute Indiana musicians, George Phelps, G. Charlie Egy, Doug Mason, and Tim Allen,with the exception of Robert Wolff who came to Indiana to attend ISU, but was from Hudson NY.

Doug Mason: There were so many excellent musician's in Terre Haute, it was a great time to be musically involved and being in an agency in Champagne Ill. I got to play in shows with REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick and a band called The Guild who had as their singer Michael McDonald and Dan Fogelberg was also part of this....Not only did they come to play Terre Haute but being in the same agency we all hung out together....Looking back it was absolutely incredible....

Charlie Egy: The group formed under the direction of George Phelps, guitar player. He added Doug Mason keys, Tim Allen bass. They formed in Louisville KY, under the name The Carnations a well-known horn band in the area, in 1972. We auditioned for a booking agent from Atlanta, and we were off and running. We toured through 24 states non-stop for the next 4 years. In those days, in Terre Haute, was a hot bed of musical talent- goliath, America, Kicks, Massachusetts Assembly, Hurry, and many more bands had plenty of places to play- the town was good to musicians.

Robert Wolff: After the band Micah disbanded. I spoke with old friend George Phelps whom I had known while attending ISU in Terre Haute Indiana. George was adding musicians to a group he was part of in Louisville KY. I was in upstate NY at the time and decided to move and join the group.

George Phelps: A bit of history of the formation of Raven: 

Doug, I and Charlie were in a band in Terre Haute named Goliath. We were blessed with the opportunity to have as much recording time in Louisville KY as we desired. Great experience but to no avail. I took leave of absence from the band summer of 1971 to spend a month in Maine. I was replaced and when I returned looked for a new beginning. I went to Charlie and Doug and initiated getting back together and writing material to build a band with. We call on a local bass player we had known for years, Tim Allen, jammed once together and there was that piece to the puzzle. We started working on a piece of music that was titled the Suite, 25 minutes wonderfulness.
This is where it gets complicated.

I joined a horn band in Louisville KY, named the Carnations, they had a few hits in the 50's and 60's. Two of the founding members had opened the studio that we had the run of with Goliath and got me this job. Coincidence I think not. In Terre Haute Dog, Timmy, Charlie and I put a horn band together to work on our original music. Then fate took control: first the band in Louisville needed a bass player, enter Timmy. Then we needed a singer and keyboard player, enter Charlie and Doug. We played everything from Chicago to Edgar Winter's White trash..........and kicked but a bit different than the band was before. We would still play concerts with the band in Terre Haute and write, it was like an alter ego. We then had the opportunity to go into the studio, with both horn sections and the drummer from Louisville and did a demo of Fallacy and Myth, the Suite, which to me are the best piece of music we ever wrote. After this session it became apparent to us that we need a more skilled drummer, the one in Terre Haute was not interested in devoting fulltime to music, so I called Robert whom had moved back to upstate NY with his band. We had jammed with Robert a bit when he was in Terre Haute and we knew he was a fit. We talked him into packing up and heading to KY. Charlie, Timmy and I had moved to Louisville to devote all attention to music, when Robert got to town we started playing as a three piece with front during the week and the horn band on weekends. It took us a while to convince Doug to move down but we finally did and about that time the Carnations broke up and we became Raven the 5 piece band. I could go on and on but that is a brief explanation of the start.

We were a band of brothers that set out to conquer the music world. We all could sing and play like demons. Live we were a spectacle. Timing was not good.

Tell us about unreleased material?

Doug: There was a lot of material that didn't get recorded and quiet a lot was lost....

Charlie: In the archives, we have a few songs- Bathsheba, 40 days and 40 nights, sadomasochistic picnic- and I may have the long-lost demo of Onto Her Pillow.(should we mention the suite, jester 1 +2, and fallacy in myth- 1593?}  I was inspired by the late sixties- everything was wide open, the only thing that mattered was being in a band, and I was in the baddest band around. The heavy English bands were a favorite- we pushed ourselves to outdo everyone in our musicianship and stage show, and when we started writing, the sky was the limit- so much creativity from these guys.

Robert: Raven was totally open for anything and everything; no one was ever restricted we never over produced each other. I believe that is the reason many bands fail. If you hire someone let them be who they are. That is why you asked them to join in the first place. I developed my drum parts for the songs the band wrote and I gave my interpretation.

What inspired the band? I don’t mean just musical influences but more like the whole picture.

Doug: There was such closeness amongst us that we inspired each other....
Having written a few of the songs on this album they were personal and reflect situations that came up during our travels....I am so proud of every song and feel fortunate to have had the privilege of playing these songs with these guy's I call Brothers....

Charlie: George and Doug wrote much of the material, I just sat listened and began writing lyrics. Doug also added on some songs as he wrote lyrics as well. I play keys and bass so I would write some passages and work with George and Doug on completion.

Robert: I just played along with what they wrote. I had many influences, there were so many groups with great drummers. I was all over the map on who I listened to. Jazz, rock, funk, fusion. I loved it all. I remember driving and listening to Chick Corea, then ELP, Aerosmith, Billy Cobham, Hendrix…the time was great for music.

Where did you record material and what are some of the strongest memories from producing and recording this album?

Doug: The material was recorded in Atlanta Georgia at the studio called "The Sound Pit" Memories of going into the studio at night and working until the sun came up and feeling like I was floating on a cloud because it sounded so good....

Charlie: In 1976 after recording this album, we got a record deal with Capricorn records. 2 weeks later, they went bankrupt. The tapes were subsequently destroyed in a fire. I believe we recorded at the Sound Pit in Atlanta, GA

Robert: It was too perfect we had total support of our agents and manager. We were at the end of our journey. We had worked very hard and spent much time playing each song on tour for years. The songs had morphed to what you hear on the recording.

Did you play any shows or even go on a tour as 'Raven'? Did the name come from 'Edgar Allan Poe'? Why did the band split up?

Doug: Raven played many dates with national groups and also did some small headline performances as well.
The band split up because the Bass player fell in love and moved to North Carolina....The recording company wanted the original members and he said....No he wasn't coming back....everyone lost the spirit and one by one we drifted apart....

Charlie: 4 years was one long tour-I think we may have taken 3 or 4 weeks off the entire time- 7 actually, when Robert joined, we needed a name- White Raven was kicked around, and we finally settled on Raven. Later, we would take to the stage to the song by the Alan Parson’s Project, so I guess we did align ourselves with good old Edgar. After the disappointment with Capricorn, disco was surging. We hung on for awhile, but we were like fish out of water- rock appeared to be dead.

Robert: Capricorn produced many fine groups. We signed with Allen Walden one of the owners. We completed the record. Perfect. The IRS came and shut them down. We were stuck where we were and couldn’t do a thing. We had a record, our manager and agent met with us and told us to go back on the road and work up a different show with more DANCE. WHAT!!!! The record was never released and never had a master mix with the changes we would have like to make. It was recorded for the most part live in the studio, there were very few dubs of any kind.
We were built for come sit and listen, you don’t dance to ELP, Yes, Genesis, and groups like this. Our material was sit and listen. The music scene was changing; Disco was moving in, live venues were shrinking. It was becoming a bad time for live music. Disappointed we all struggled and this led to members leaving in frustration.

What gear did you use?

First we had a giant PA too much to remember with sound board out front and separate mix side stage and lighting system. We filled a 22 foot truck to the ceiling and could hardly close the door.

Doug: I played a Hammon B3 , Clavichord, Minimoog, with Two Leslie speakers a board and Amp.

Tim: Tim played a Fender Bass, with a Separate board and Amp, with two Ampeg cabinets one with 10’s the other with 12 inch speakers

Robert: All Ludwig eight toms single bass, 4 cowbells, chimes, woodblooks, anything I could hit.

George: My gear was two 100 watt Hiwatt custom heads with 3 Hiwatt 4x12 cabinets. A 1973 Stratocaster with Alembic preamp, 1961 Gibson 335 and a 1972 BC Rich Seagull. I use heavy gage strings with a wound G. For pedals: a crybaby wah, dynacomp compressor and a phase 90.

Do you have any regrets if you look back?

Doug: No, I haven’t any regrets. Just wish the timing wasn’t against us. I have continued to play. Three of us (the guitar player,drummer,and myself) got together and recorded 3 of my 9 songs on a CD called "Hello" which was released November of 2009 still available on CD Baby, Amazom, itunes and many others....I am currently working on new material with George Phelps and hope to release this some time in the future.

Charlie: My biggest regret is seeing Robert leave without convincing him to stay- {Timmy had just left}- there went the best rhythm section on the east coast. My second biggest regret is not returning when the band re-formed- I was gonna be a rock-n-roll star on my own. HA! I’m very pleased for this music to see the light of day- it deserves to be heard and enjoyed. Many thanks- Charlie

Robert: I should have considered staying, with Tim leaving the group I felt like the chemistry was lost. But, when you are young you just don’t think things out. I continued to play with various groups some good some bad. I finally said I have had it in 1990. I had a son and moved into another world. I decided after about a10 year lay off to set up the kit and start to play along with the radio. How fun, not really. I went out to sit in at open Mic events in the Atlanta area but no one knew me and I was ditched and would be put off. Who’s the old guy that wants to play. Very funny. Well because of my tracks with Raven and Micah on FB I made contact with some great musicians in Europe. I spoke with Colin Tench.  He invited me to record some tracks on a project with Corvus Stone. That has turned out to be a success. On November 3rd  2012, we had a debut of there new record on It was a total success. I only played on 5 tracks but will now play on their future projects as well. I also have completed a track for another group Murky Red also from Europe. The musicians in Raven, and Micah are also talking about doing other projects and recording new material. Rock seems to be gathering a new audience and live music considered composition rather than dance tunes seem to be resurging. Let’s hope, as I always have said music has many different flavors taste them all. I hope everyone will enjoy the soon to be released Raven recording, and look for more to come with my other projects. Raven was different and never boring, such great music should never be lost and thanks to the Internet will now take it’s place with many other great bands.

George: What was simple Disco and the fact that we were hard to harness. The last song we wrote was silver screen I think this was us starting to turn the corner for a new direction,that never came to pass.
Regrets; I do have. I have been a fairly successful business person for the past 30 years but it does not hold a candle to the feeling I would get when the 5 of us hit the stage. I should have held the band together and put a harness on us and controlled the beast. Because although I have played with many talented musicians over the years it was never even close to what the 5 of us could do. I just have to wonder what could have been, how good could we have gotten, did making money mean success or was success the magic.

Thanks to everyone who supported Raven and helped with this project and enjoys Raven music. RavenBand on Face Book.  Special thanks to old friend Don Wrege who helped us put this all together.


Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
© Copyright