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Dead Rabbits interview with Thomas Hayes

A sonic tumbling cacophony of perfectly planned and executed psychedelia that skirts both shoegaze and drone while remaining firmly planted in their rock’n’roll roots, Dead Rabbits do not disappoint.  Yet another member of the growing roster of insanely talented musicians on Fuzz Club Records, Dead Rabbits debut album The Ticket That Exploded is quickly garnering attention amongst both listeners and the industry.  The album itself is a delightfully exploration into an area where the Jesus And Mary Chain would be as much as home as The Velvet Underground or The Brian Jonestown Massacre for that matter.  Which isn’t to call Dead Rabbits derivative in any sort, they have a well-honed sound that is undeniably all their own.  They’re gaining momentum, working on a follow up to the nearly sold out The Ticket That Exploded and prolifically writing new music.  I recently had a chance to catch up with one of the founding members, Thomas Hayes, and discuss all things Dead Rabbits with him.  Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re listening to the album when you read this, you deserve some good music today and I guarantee that this will fit the bill!
Listen while you read: 

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

Neil and I formed the band, since then we’ve had a few members come and go.  Just under two years ago the lineup we have now got together, Me (Tom), Neil, Suze and Paul.

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

Paul is in another band, apart from that there’s nothing else.

When and how did you all meet?

Paul, Neil and I have been friends for a long time, since before for the band.  We knew the same people, went to the same places and liked the same music.  Then we were looking for a drummer and Suze got in touch.

What led you to form Dead Rabbits and when was that?

Neil and I were both recording music individually, when we got the chance to play together it worked.  We started writing and recording together, then in 2011 the band was formed.

What does the name Dead Rabbits mean or refer to?  How did you go about choosing it?

Dead Rabbits is Neil’s name.  We were both making music individually, Neil was recording under the name Dead Rabbits and it ended up sticking with us.

Where are you originally from?

Southampton, England.  I’m not sure about everyone else.

Where is the band located at now?

We all live in Southampton except Suze who lives a few miles down the road.

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

There’s always a lot going on, plenty of good venues.  There’s no distinct sound though, a range of things.  Some of it’s good, some is just as bad.  Seems to be a lot of music coming out of the city but I’m not sure it’s to do with any scene.

Are you very involved with the local scene?

We play local shows.  We put together our own shows.  I put together one recently though I’m not really involved in the local scene that much, it’s more just friends who happen to play music as well.

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

I don’t think it matters where we are or what’s around us, we’d still be making the same music.

Can you tell us who some of your musical influences are?  There’s a lot of different stuff I can hear echoed in your music.  What about the band as a whole rather than as individually?

We share a lot of the same musical tastes, though we all listen to different things as well.  That’s probably one of the reasons you can hear so many different influences.  Influences on the band as a whole, Jesus And Mary Chain, Chocolate Watchband, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Velvet Underground, the list is endless.

Can you talk about Dead Rabbits songwriting process a little bit?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a somewhat finished product to work out with the rest of your or is there just a lot of exploratory jamming?

We don’t have any set method of songwriting.  It often involves Neil and I bringing in our own ideas, playing them together and seeing what works.  When we write like this I tend to take what we’ve come up with and bring it all together.  Sometimes when we all get together ideas come out of nowhere, we start playing whatever comes to mind and it works.  They’re usually the best ones.

Early on you released a lot of your music for free via digital mediums, specifically Soundcloud.  I know there are demo versions of “Vanilla Skies”, “All You Need”, “It’s All In Her Head”, “I Think I Know”, “Nothing Lasts Forever”, “Suicide, Severn”, “It’s Good” and “Just Like Me” still posted there but don’t seem to be downloadable anymore.  However I also know there was a nineteen song collection of recordings that was offered for free download in 2011, were any of those tracks used for The Ticket That Exploded your debut 12” released by Fuzz Club Records?  Are there any plans to make all of that material available digitally or via a physical release in the future?

All those songs were recorded as demos.  “Heavenly Way”, “M M B”, “When I’m Blue” and “It’s All In Her Head” were all recorded again for The Ticket That Exploded.  We’ve got a lot of new material recorded, including some re-workings of old material.  If we ever feel the need to look back again then we will, but for now the new material is our main focus.

You released an EP, Just To See You, in 2012 I believe.  Can you tell us about that EP?  What was the track listing, were a lot of those songs from the Soundcloud and YouTube channels utilized?  What format was it released on?  Who released it?  When was it originally released and how was it distributed?

It was a collection of songs Neil and I recorded together as demos in a very short space of time.  We ended up releasing it as download through Flower Power Records.  They were keen to put out some more of our music, so this EP is what we gave them to release.

You also had some music hosted on, along with The Underground Youth, who I just interviewed, and Black Karma Market who are the only ones who still have music hosted for free on the site.  Was that some of those early recordings that had been previously released or were there some original recordings hosted there?  How did the collaboration with Flower Power Records come about?

Flower Power Records is Black Market Karma’s record label, in 2011 they asked us to join the label.  We released six EPs containing a mixture of previously released and unreleased songs.

Can you tell us a little bit about the No Rights EP from 2012?  I know it was acoustic and I believe it consisted of some songs you had previously recorded electrically but I’d love to hear full details on the release.

The EP was recorded but never actually got released, maybe one day.  But for now you can probably find some of it on YouTube.

There was some talk of a split 12” with KVB in mid-2012 and songs were even posted from the upcoming release that was supposed to be on Mannequin Records.  Is that release still going to come out or have those tracks found their way elsewhere?

As with the No Rights EP we recorded five tracks but the release never actually happened.

You re-recorded the track “When I’m Blue” for the Reverb Conspiracy Theory Vol. 1 which was released by Reverberation Appreciation Society.  Why re-record the track?  Do you plan to re-record more of your old songs for future releases?

Like I said before we’ve already re-worked and re-recorded a few old songs.  With “When I’m Blue” I thought it would be fun to record a different version specifically for the Reverb Conspiracy.  The album version and the Reverb Conspiracy version were recorded around the same time.  It was fun to record the same song in two completely different ways.

Let’s talk a little bit about the recording of The Ticket That Exploded.  It was an amazing album and I’m really curious to hear how it was recorded!  Where was it recorded?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Half of the album was recorded live at a local studio and the other half was recorded at my home studio.  We wanted to capture as many aspects of the band as we could.  We recorded half the album live, so we could capture that sound specifically, bringing the stage to recording.  The setup for the whole record was our standard live setup, two guitars, a drum-kit, bass, keys and one vocal.  The half of the album recorded at my studio was completely in my hands.  Neil and I worked on ideas, he would record a few of the guitar parts and I’d take it from there.

It was originally released by Flower Power Records in January digitally and on CD, when did you decide to release the album on vinyl?  Is the CD version still in print?

The album was set for release on CD and digitally on Flower Power Records, then Fuzz Club came and asked if we’d like to release the album on vinyl via their label.  Splitting the release between the labels was the plan, but that fell through so we had to make a decision.  The music Fuzz Club was putting out was great so we jumped on board.  We’ve got a very limited amount of CDs, there’ll be some available via Fuzz Club soon.

Are there plans for a follow-up or any other releases coming up?

We’ve been writing and recording like crazy since before the release of the album, the next record is coming together.  Nothing is set in stone but we’ll definitely be releasing a single followed by an album in early 2014.

With the recent international postage increases where’s the best place for our US readers to buy copies of your music?  What about overseas and international readers?

Permanent Records are based in the U.S.  They’ve got some copies of The Ticket That Exploded on vinyl in stock, or if you just want to download the album go to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etcetera.

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

We’re busy recording at the moment, though we have a few dates booked here and there in December.  Taking a trip to Switzerland just before Christmas will be fun.

You have played with some really amazing bands, who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve shared a bill with?

The Warlocks were amazing, The Blue Angel Lounge as well, Band Of Skulls were good, that’s me personally though, I know the rest of the band liked Yuck.  It’s hard to pick a favourite.

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

Those who saw us play a couple of years ago may have witnessed some funny moments.  Playing music that didn’t sound like what I wanted, whiney managers, too much drink; it often resulted in my guitar taking a flying lesson.

Where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news from Dead Rabbits like upcoming shows and album releases?

Facebook and twitter are the two most up to date places to go.

There’s something irreplaceable, almost magical about physical releases for me.  Having something to hold in your hands, artwork to look at and liner notes to read all serve to make for a more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physical releases?

Physical releases are definitely preferred, a download is never going to be treated the same.  Downloads are practical, but there’s definitely something special about having some music that both looks and sounds special; art in its own right.

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

My digital and vinyl collections are always growing.  Financial restraint is the only thing slowing it down.  Neil has a far broader collection of music than me though he seems to have something new every week.

You’ve released music on CD as well as vinyl at this point.  Do you have a preferred release medium?

Not really, vinyl is great but not everyone has a record player.  Listening numbers are cut straight away.

I try to keep up with as much good music as is humanly possible, who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have hear before?

There aren’t any local bands that I love, though there are a few good bands.  Maths & The Moon and Spectral Park are friends, so I’ll mention those.

What about nationally and internationally?

I don’t know.  There’re loads.  I’ve got no hidden gems; the internet has taken care of that.  This year I’d say I’ve listened to Goat and Brian Jonestown Massacre’s last albums more than anything else.

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

We’ve covered a lot, all is well.  Thank you and goodbye.  

(2011)  Dead Rabbits - Just To See You - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2011)  Dead Rabbits - Heavenly Way - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2011)  Dead Rabbits - Self Destruct - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2011)  Dead Rabbits - I Love You - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2011)  Dead Rabbits - Look Inside - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2011)  Dead Rabbits - Better Things For You - Digital - Flower Power Records
(2013)  Dead Rabbits – The Ticket That Exploded – Digital, CD, 12” –  Fuzz Club Records

©Jeff Moh

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright

Ancient River interview with James Barreto

Ancient River is the brainchild of James Barreto, grown out of the swamplands of Gainesville, Florida. They have done extensive touring across the states and beyond, including two appearances at Austin Psych Fest and playing last year’s Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia, plus dates throughout London which was working with Bad Vibrations. They released a nice bag of albums and as James told us Neil Young is his major influence and we can really hear the tasty Young's riffs through their music. Ancient River are one of the most creative bands in their genre.

You were part of the band called The Ohm and out of this band Ancient River was born. Tell us more about the beginning of the band and maybe if there is any concept behind it?

Yeah, The Ohm was a band that came out of recordings my friend Steve Giacomelli and I were making at the time. We focused on psychedelic rock, noise, freaky sounds, repetition and we had a kick ass cover of Pink Floyd’s “Careful With That Ax Eugene”. We were kids, it was 1999/2000. Zach Veltheim played bass in The Ohm and a few years later Ancient River began. I wanted to establish early on the many sounds that I wanted to dive deeper into and create an ongoing body of work that could flow and all tie in together conceptually. I just knew that I did not want us to have one sound or style and beat that to hell. By establishing this early on I figured I could do anything from that point and not have to worry about the band changing sounds, because it had already been done. Just let it flow like a river. The name came from Neil Young’s song “Thrasher”.

Where the eagle glides ascending
There’s an ancient river bending
Down the timeless gorge of changes
Where sleeplessness awaits
I searched out my companions,
Who were lost in crystal canyons
When the aimless blade of science
Slashed the pearly gates.

Where are you all originally from?

I am so grateful to have worked with so many musicians in the USA and UK so there would be a huge list to go through, but the drummer Alex Cordova and I are American with Latino backgrounds. My family had residence in Chicago at the time of my birth, however I was born in Yemen. After that it was back to Chicago then I lived in Africa for bit before coming back to the USA. My Dad is Colombian and my mother was from Cuba. I’ve since resided in Florida and Texas. Alex's family is originally from Puerto Rico. His family has moved around a bit also and he has family in Detroit and Florida.

Were your households very musical growing up?  Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or very involved/interested in music?

There was always music going on in my house. My dad is a fan of stuff like James Brown, jazz and spanish guitar. My mom loved the Beatles and The Beach Boys along with classical music and Latin music. She was a professional ballerina and later started her own dance company,  teaching the lessons, doing the choreography, and designing the costumes for the performances.

Alex’s father is a lifelong musician and passed on many musical talents to him, his dad even played with Ray Barreto, whom I may or may not be related to, ha. Alex's grandfather and uncle are also musicians, so he comes from a very musical family. It shows because he is one of the if not the most talented musicians I have ever worked with, he's a natural.

In 2010 you released two albums. First one was "Under The Sun" and a bit later "O.D.D.S." Would you like to tell us a bit about recording and producing first two releases?

Those are the 2nd and 3rd recordings we did. The first recording never got released, its called “Before Dawn” and it was done in 2008/2009. Its dark spacey psych rock, but it got left behind because we felt the new songs were stronger, looking back I’m really proud of “Before Dawn” and its a lot like the sounds we have coming out now, so I’m thinking of making it available soon to go along with our upcoming release in 2014.

“Under The Sun” is the first installment of our Americana trilogy, it was effortless and was recorded at my studio in no time at all. “O.D.D.S.” is a collection of songs that kind of represents the many sounds Ancient River is capable of, everything from garage, psych, shoegaze and Americana. I now have a back catalog of unreleased tracks that could be put together in a similar fashion, so there could be an “O.D.D.S. Volume 2” in the near future. This was also recorded in my studio over time using all the different recording and mixing techniques I’ve learned along the way. I am a big fan of using what might be a lesser sounding take instead of a perfectly recorded take that doesn’t have the weird magic to it. I have used demo's in the past for the album cut because sometimes the first couple of times you ever play the song it has that initial magic to it, you can clearly hear the inspiration in the song before it gets overworked or thought about too much. However some songs do benefit from repeated plays and working them out a bit. The more we go into “pro” studios the more I realize I’m a fan of room mics, imperfection, happy accidents and mixing on home stereo speakers.

How would you describe your local music scene? Do you see yourself as part of the scene?

It weird, at times I feel like I’m part of the scene. At other times I feel like a total outsider. The thing is with a college town is that its very transient, so you’ll see a group of people coming to every show and then they graduate college and move away. Then that group of people gets replaced by a new group. This process repeats itself over and over. Before I moved to Gainesville it seemed like there was a pretty strong alternative rock scene. Then I showed up right when the Pop Punk thing took over in Gainesville. For the most part we just do our own thing and concentrate on playing out of town.

Any local musicians you would like to recommend us?

Sure, over the years my favorite local artists to name a few have been Two Finger Suicide, Cygnet Committee, Dasi (Now known as Prince Rama), Driver, Feather and Hammer, Kathleen Kennedy and the very talented and prolific James Lantz aka MC Jimmy James. He does everything from folk to hip-hop and creates comic books. He’s been at it now for about 20 years and he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon. Also the nearby Jacksonville scene has been very good to us. Jimmy and Infintesmal Records and his band Memphibians always give us a good reason to get out of town and make the 1 hour trip up the Jacksonville.

How did you two guys meet?

I think the universe really helped me with this. We were looking for a new bass player and trying people out. I rang him up and then he researched the band a bit and listened to the recordings. He came in on an October evening and picked up the bass and didn't say much, all he said was that he was very "Intuitive". I was like "perfect!" I love playing with musicians that you don't have to sit around with and talk too much, just get on with it. The more telepathic the process is the better! Alex came in and clicked from the start, now he plays the drums, which was his first instrument growing up. 

Being very active you produced two more of your albums in 2011; "Polaroid" and "Songs from North America". The latter is an interesting mixture of dreamy psychedelia with americana music. What can you tell us about your songwriting process?  Is it more of a collaborative effort?

Yeah it can be very collaborative. Really I like to use all sorts of methods. Most of the time an idea starts on guitar and we take it from there. The past few years I’ve been getting better at approaching a song idea as a concept in my head. I gather all the rock tricks, hooks, and sounds I’ve ever heard and then put something together in my head that I would be into playing. At first I wasn’t as good at doing that without having a guitar in my hand, but now I’m getting to the point were I can close my eyes and see the song without having an instrument. I put it all together in my head and then by the time I get on the instrument its all there, even most of the words. All I have to do at that point is get on guitar and move my fingers around a little bit and its done. I like that process because its very convenient when I’m on the buses in London or on a long commute. Then theres this other process I’ve been into lately where we don’t play, we just have the amps warming up and humming and we sit outside on the porch and start talking about crazy things like the news or characters we’ve recently meet. I work myself into a manic hyper type state and throw in some jumps or push ups, something to get the blood really going, then when it feels just right we quickly go in the room and I press record and just make something up on the spot and what comes out is something that I wouldn’t have been able to plan ahead of time. It’s so much fun that way! Once the album is coming together I'll start to arrange the tracks running order at which time it can become apparent that there needs to be a certain song thrown in here or there to complete the album. I'm a huge fan of albums and the way the songs flow together. I do understand how we are currently in a time where a single and video is perhaps the way to go and the album is a lost art form, but I don't know who came up with that, I like albums.

Can you tell us about your major musical influences?

For me its always been Pink Floyd and Neil Young. I learned to play guitar along to Floyd records and I’m always trying to touch on that 1968/1969 Pink Floyd vibe. “The Man and the Journey” era Floyd. For the most part I’ve always loved the British rock bands, but influences most relevant to the band would be Spiritualized, Mercury Rev, My Bloody Valentine, The Soft Machine, Teenage Fanclub, The Stooges, Sonic Youth, grunge and brit pop I think in general we are fans of all types of music. We spin everything from jazz, funk, blues, hip hop. As far as more contemporary bands Dead Meadow hands down. Those guys are my heros! I also love The Brian Jonestown Massacre and really admire Anton Newcombe’s work ethic. Music needs more self-made mavericks like him out there. On the road we listen to almost everything we can. Jimi Hendrix is probably my favorite driving music. We also find ourselves reaching for comedy albums a lot. Louis CK, Hannibal Buress, Patton Oswald and Marc Maron always bring the laughs. Its healthy to laugh, the road can be tough and its good to never take yourself too seriously.

I heard you have your own little studio. Are all the albums recorded there? What equipment do you use? I heard you are still keen to 4-track tape recorder.

It’s a home studio with 4 track, reel to reel and Apple Logic.  I like to mix and match all the mediums according to what direction the song has. I did a stint in a studio a while back that was built by Mark Penski who worked with Frank Zappa. After that I started recording bands out of my own studio to help pay the bills, it was fun. Then when Ancient River started I backed off it a bit because spending 12 hours a day with a band and then trying to write and record your own project can be a bit much and I would never want to produce a band unless I’m rested and 100% into it. It’s not fair to the band or to myself. I love using a 4-track because with a couple of nicely placed condenser microphones one can get some great sounds, especially with drums. I love how you just sit back and the drums already sound compressed and mixed raw off the tape. I've always held strong to the idea that if the band sounds good and well balanced live in a room then the recordings need little help in post production. I much rather have great sounding gear and drums played well than spending time trying to make it sound great later. I also like to commit to effects during the recording process. For me the less options later the better when recording. I love simplicity.

Your latest two albums are "Let It Live" and "On The Other Side", which is personally my favorite. I really like the sound and we can hear Neil Young was a major influence on you. Would you like to tell us more about "On The Other Side"?

Sure, thats when Alex joined the band and I was looking to do something to follow up ‘Under The Sun’ and “Songs from North America” you know in that Americana style. We had a new member and it’s a great way to bring everything back home before heading back into outer space where things get darker, louder and unpredictable. Those types of rock n' roll albums help keep me grounded and they are less about effects and gear and more about trying to do solid writing. The track "On The Other Side" is one that I feel very strongly about. We had lost a few along the way at that point and sadly there was a bit of death and darkness surrounding the band at that time. I just wanted to say what I wanted to say without being too direct and naming names. Talking about it right now makes my heart feel heavy. However the music itself is not very dark or depressing, its not meant to be. I remember tracking that album up till about 6 in the morning then jumping straight onto a plane at 7. It was mixed and mastered it London. I think it would be cool to do another one down the road maybe in 2015. Get back to the roots with fender amps and acoustic guitars and record it somewhere like California or Tennessee.

Where did you released your music? Do you have your own label, or?

Everything we have done has been self-released with the exception of the Polaroid EP which was put out by Mark Mckenzie and Music Excavation. We were playing a pub in Gainesville and they called him up to check us out. He put us in a studio and put out our Ep. I’m forever grateful for that. With the other albums our long time friend Jeffery Lancaster has helped put them out and on iTunes and all that. I would not have been able to do any of these records if it weren't for him. He has always believed in me and wants others to hear the music. Jeff also does our live visuals at the gigs, so I really think of him as an extended member of the band. I've always thought we have been a very lucky band in many ways, just been lucky to have good people around us. Longtime driver/roadie Warren Graham even helped us put out "Let It Live". It's nice to have the freedom to do the records the way we want to, I suppose if a label came along and offered to work with us in a similar fashion without wanting to change our sound or slow our output we would be keen to do that.

Do Ancient River have any music that we haven’t talked about?

Ha, yes. I hold songs back for all sorts of reasons. I have a playlist on my computer of unreleased music, last I checked it was somewhere around 10 hours of unreleased material.

You played at Austin Psych Festival and you were also in London. How did you like the Austin Psych Festival? Where else have you been and maybe what are some future plans as far as touring goes?

We love the Austin Psych Fest. Its always a great time, we’ve played it twice and its been amazing watching it grow from clubs to festival grounds. I met my fiancé there and we’ve made lifelong friends there, always good vibes.
Liverpool Psych Fest was amazing! We can’t wait to play it again. On the horizon we have more U.S. dates including our first venture to the west coast along with more UK dates and our first European tour. We are also gearing up to do Australia in 2015, but Australia is going to be really special for a certain reason I can’t unveil yet.

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

Ha, actually a lot of the adventures and stories come from getting to and from the gigs. We are really fortunate to play gigs were the audience is attentive, engaged and polite. Really cool people to share our music with in a nice atmosphere. One story that our drummer Alex likes to talk about is a gig we were doing and in the middle of a song we went into this improvised bit about the George Zimmerman/Trevon Martin case. I guess it was something we were really feeling at the time and its such a polarizing issue in the states regarding guns and the self-defense/stand your ground law. Alex really liked that moment as did I. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but it included some of Zimmerman's statements incorporated into the song on the spot. That kind of stuff is fun because its relevant and in the moment. That guy should be in prison for shooting that unarmed kid and that’s all I’m really going to say about that.

You must pay a lot of attention to your cover artwork, which is really interesting. Do you have someone to do all the covers and logo's for T-shirts or do you do it by yourself?

It's become very collaborative. I used to do all the artwork, but in the last year White Vintage Vinyl has been doing the artwork, videos, website and photography, this is actually my fiancé' Nakia Matthewson's design company. She is very talented and her artwork really fits the vibe of what we are doing. It's nice to work with her and see how she expresses herself in the artwork. I love having someone inspired by the music to create images for it.

What are your future plans? Are you working on something new?

Yes we have been working on the new album, which is dark and very psychedelic. We've been taking our time on this one and I feel its going to be the greatest thing we've done up to this point. I feel like the music and total presentation on this album is going to be very tight and it will be a relief when its all done just in time for our tour dates.

Well, thank you very much for taking your time. Is there anything I missed and you would like to share? Perhaps a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers and to your fans worldwide?

Yes, thanks guys! Thank you for bringing attention to the music that we all love so much, it really enriches our lives. To the readers and the listeners thanks for giving us a chance to take you to another place, wherever that may be. Keep believing and keep dreaming, the best is yet to come! Peace.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
© Copyright

Majic Ship - Majic Ship (1969) review

Majic Ship "Majic Ship" (Guerssen Records, (1969/2013) 

Originally released on the Bel-Ami label in 1970, "Majic Ship" is an album that gleaned lots more attention after its birth. That's all well and good, but such accolades would have duly benefited the Brooklyn band on a larger scale while they were active. Because the disc was pressed on a small imprint, distribution was limited, which of course amounted to restricted exposure. Had a wider audience been able to hear "Majic Ship," the band definitely would not have sunk into obscurity as they did. Some years ago, Gear Fab Records resurrected the album in digital format on a couple of occasions, with one of the packages containing bonus tracks. The disc being reviewed now, however, is available only on vinyl.

Surging full steam ahead with hard rocking psychedelic sounds, "Majic Ship" is further enriched by firm musicianship and competent songwriting. Comprised of lead singer Mike Garrigan, lead guitarist Phil Polimeni, rhythm guitarist Tommy Nikosey, drummer Rob Buckman and bassist and organist Gus Riozzi, the band boasted an impeccable rapport, and word has it they were quite the live attraction as well.

Plastered with choppy riffage and coiling tempos, the powered punch of "Nightmare" steps in as a great Who imitation, while "Cosmo's Theme" is a buzzing instrumental, "Sioux City Blues" screeches and sizzles with determination to the hissing tone of fuzz guitars, and the crackling electricity of "Life's Lonely Road" pulsates with penetrating acid rock grooves. A warm and relaxing feel charges the meditative mindset of both "Where Are We Going," and "Wednesday Morning Dew," "Too Much" slaves away to a solid and steady beat, and a medley of Neil Young's "Down By The River" and Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" is marked by crisp and crunchy jamming. Consumed by dashing hooks, raw energy and strutting vocals, splashed with a spot of soul, "Majic Ship" is bound to produce high-fives by fans of bands like Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Nazz and Spirit.

Majic Ship's existence came to a dreary end in 1971 when their equipment was claimed by a fire. 1999 saw the Mike Garrigan and Tommy Nikosey reunite, resulting in an album titled "Songwaves Project" that also included Cher, ex- Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Dave Amato from REO Speedwagon, and drummer Ron Wikso, who has played with everyone from Foreigner to David Lee Roth to Cher to Randy Meisner to Denny Laine. Although the disc is poppier than "Majic Ship," it's still strongly recommended and adds a nice touch to the band's legacy.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2013
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Basic Cable interview with Luca Cimarusti

With six minutes of recordings being the only real proof that they exist on the internet, Basic Cable might not be on many people’s radar. But when I stumbled upon their flexi-split with Endless Bummer on Notes + Bolts via Permanent Records Chicago, I managed to track down what few details are out there about the ever elusive Basic Cable.  I found a three track demo on Bandcamp that smoked nearly every single I’ve heard this year right out of the gate and promptly set about obsessively tracking these dudes down!  “Blonde Ambition” might be the best song of 2013 with it’s absolutely ridiculously blown out drums and guitars, echo and reverb drenched vocals, strangled through the imploding sound that encompasses the demo.  Not since The Mummies had I heard a band that so brutally swept me off my feet with devastatingly catchy hooks and guitar, choked through a pin hole of sound and viewed through the peephole of classic 60’s garage rock.  As much noise rock, punk and hardcore as they are classic garage and psychedelic, I don’t think that Basic Cable really gives a damn what I, or anyone else, thinks of them or their sound for that matter; and I think that’s a damn good thing!  Basic Cable’s their own band.  Forged from decades of combined experience inside the Chicago scene and perfected in the crucible that is live performance.  And don’t go thinking that I’m just whistling Dixie here either folks, there’s a link below to back up all of my clumsily made claims and make as many points of its own!  If you like music with more balls than brains and enough brawns to back up any beef that might arise from the resulting situation, Basic Cable is your band.  Click the link, listen to some good f***ing music and read an interview with bassist Luca Cimarusti, the only member of the band who owns a computer, so you know you’re not going to read much elsewhere; soak it up where you can find it and spread the good word!  Word on the street is they might have something coming up soon on the Permanent Records label, maybe…  You’ll just have to read on and find out.

What is Basic Cable’s current lineup?  Has this always been the lineup or have there been any changes made since the band’s inception?

The current lineup for Basic Cable is me, Luca Cimarusti on bass guitar, Michael John Grant on guitar, Joel Bednarz on guitar, Ryan Duggan on drums, and Matthew Hord on synthesizer.  Michael does most of the singing, but Matt and I do some too.  This has always been, and will always be the band’s lineup.

Are any of you in any other active bands at this point?  The more people I talk to the more I realize a lot of musicians these days have more than one thing going and I love playing musical connect the dots; nothing beats cheating though!  Have you released any music with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about it?

We’ve all been pretty active around town in the present and in the past, and mostly with each other.  Our synth player Matt currently plays bass and sings in the noise-punk band Running, whose last LP came out on Castle Face Records.  For a long time he and I were the rhythm section, him on bass, me on drums in Heavy Times (HoZac Records).  Before that, Ryan and I played together in a punk rock band called Loose Dudes where I was on bass and he was on drums.  I also currently play drums in the Disappears side-project E+.  Michael has played around a bunch, mostly as a solo project and sometimes in short-lived bands with the rest of us.  Joel and Matt played together in a weird hardcore band like a decade ago but he hasn’t done a whole lot since, which is too bad because he’s a really good guitarist.  We’ve been in a bunch of old bands over the years too like Catburglars, Alright Alreadies, Why Intercept?, Black Ladies and a bunch others, but that shit’s all ancient history.

Where are you originally from?

We all live in Chicago, Illinois, AKA Chiraq.

What was your first real exposure to music?  Was your home very musical growing up?  Were either your parents or your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?

My first musical memory is the opening synth line of “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen.

If you had to pick one defining moment of music in your life, a moment that changed everything and opened your eyes to new possibilities, what would it be?

I saw Juicy J over the summer and it was the best show I’ve ever seen.

Where is Basic Cable located at these days?


How would you describe the local music scene where you’re located currently?

There’s always tons of shit going on.

Are you very involved in the local scene?  Do you prefer playing in town or on the road?

We’re definitely involved in the scene here, and have been for a long time.  I used to be more so, like I’d go to four shows a week sort of thing.  I’m an old man now though.

Do you feel like the local music scene has had a large influence on Basic Cable?  Has it influenced the way you sound or played an integral part in your history?

We’ve got a ton of friends who are super involved in town.  Without those relationships we’d have nothing.

When and how did you meet?

We’ve all been friends for a very long time.  Most of us have known each other for about ten years.  Longer for me and Michael, we met each other in junior high.

How did Basic Cable become a band and when did that happen?

The five of us kind of had a weekly tradition of getting Sunday brunch.  We’d get pretty toasted on Bloody Marys and talk shit.  One day we realized that we could do the same thing with instruments in our hands.  After a brunch in January we went to the space and that day wrote the three songs that made up the demo.  Everything went pretty fast after that.  I’m pretty sure our first show was in April.

Basic Cable seems to be perfectly descriptive of the band’s sound but I can’t quite explain how or why ha-ha!  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?  What does it mean or refer to in the context of the band?

I don’t know what the band name means.  Someone just told me one day that we were going to call the band that.

While we’re talking so much about the band’s history can you tell us about your musical roots.  I love your sound and I’m curious to hear who you would site as your major musical influences?  What about the band as a whole rather than individually?

I listen to a lot of very ignorant hip-hop music like Juicy J, Migos and Nephew Texas Boy.  I think the other guys in the band might like more guitar-based music, so I’m sure that has something to do with where the sound comes from.

Can you describe Basic Cable’s sound to our readers who haven’t heard you yet?  I’m terrible at describing and labeling music!

High-volume punk rock 90’s Sub-Pop throwback outer space sci-fi bad vibes noisy rock and roll.

What about Basic Cable’s songwriting process?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band?  Or is there a lot of exchange of ideas and jamming in the practice space that is distilled into songs?

One person comes to the space with an idea and we try to turn it into a full song with as little effort or time, and as much beer as possible.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I think that most musicians, myself included, can really appreciate the end results of recording.  There’s not a lot out there that beats holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s yours and you made it.  Getting into the studio to actually record that material though, that’s a whole other matter.  How is it in the studio for you all?

This has been one of the first bands I’ve actually enjoyed recording with.  Most of my experiences in the past have brought me a lot of exhausting, drawn-out sessions rife with headaches.  Everything with this lineup has been super-fast and smooth.

Do you do a lot of prep work before you record getting arrangements just the way you want them and tightening stuff down or is it more of an organic experience with room for change and variation?

Just make sure it’s tight and jump into it I guess.

Let’s take some time and talk about your recordings.  I know you self-released a cassette tape of the four song Demo EP that’s up on your Bandcamp page.  When was that?  Who recorded that material?  Where was it recorded and what kind of equipment was used?

The demo was recorded by us in our practice space one night.  We just kind of used whatever equipment we had laying around.  I think we borrowed some mics from out buddy Adam Mohundro.  It actually came out on Priority Male Tapes, a label run by our synth player Matt, which is no longer exclusive to tapes.

How many copies was the Demo tape limited to?  Are there any plans to re-release that material on a physical format?

I think Matt only made about 25 of those tapes.  Not sure if he has any plans to re-release it, but he’s never repressed anything before so I doubt it.  He’s a big fan of making things difficult for consumers.  One of the tracks, “Blonde Ambition” wound up on the flexi split and everything else was re-recorded for the LP.

You also had a flexi 7” split with Endless Bummer on Notes and Bolts/Eye Vybe Records.  You contributed the track “Blonde Ambition” to the split which can also be found on your Demo tape.  Is there any difference between the versions that appear on the single and the tape?

It might be remixed but I’m honestly not sure anymore.  We had like four different mixes, so I’m not positive which one ended up on the flexi.

How many copies was that Endless Bummer flexi limited to?  Is that out of print?  How did the collaboration with Endless Bummer come about?

There should still be some around.  You’d have to holler at Kriss from Notes + Bolts or Karissa at Eye Vybe.  I only have one.  Liz and Lance from Permanent play in Endless Bummer, and they’re friends, so the match-up was obviously a good idea.  Kriss offered to do it.  We had the material recorded, so we all jumped at it.

You guys also have your first full-length album coming I’m Good To Drive out on Permanent Records, one of the absolutely best shops and labels out there, any time now!  Was the recording of the material for this new album much different than the session(s) for your Demo tape?  When and where was the material for I’m Good To Drive recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

We recorded the LP in a giant art gallery with Mike Lust.  The room had like twenty-foot-high ceilings and cement floors, so everything was reeeeeeally loud.  It was done almost entirely live and everything just seemed to click on that day.  We did it over the course of two nights, probably a collective, twelve or thirteen hours.  I think part of the reason it came together so easily is because we, for once, weren’t too drunk.  Mike didn’t use any post-production effects or anything, just wisely-placed room mics and excellent mixing skills.  He also drank a lot of our whiskey.

What can listeners expect from the new album?  Is I’m Good To Drive going to be a limited release?  Is there a scheduled release date for that yet?

We got test presses at the end of October so I’d imagine it’ll be out soon.  They can expect high-volume ignorance.

How was it working with Permanent Records?  They’re one of my favorite places in the whole world and their label kicks never ending ass as well so I was stoked to hear your album would be dropping on P-Rex!  How did you originally get hooked up with them?

We’ve been friends with Lance and Liz for a long time.  Ryan’s done a ton of art work for the shop and Running’s first LP was on the label too.  When we first put out the demo, they were immediately interested, and it was kind of a no-brainer to go with them.  Good people who we like a whole lot and can trust, the label just seemed like the perfect home for this LP.  They’ve put out stuff by a lot of peers who we love and respect like Obnox, Cave and Brain Idea AKA Brian Idea.

Does Basic Cable have any music that we haven’t talked about?

That’s everything at this point.

Other than the upcoming I’m Good To Drive 12”, are there any releases planned or in the works at this point?

Nothing officially planned, but we work pretty fast so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of new songs real soon.

Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to pick up a copies of your music?

Probably the Permanent Records mail-order site.

With these insane international postage rate hikes what about our poor international and overseas readers?

Order it from Permanent.  Money’s just paper anyway.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news lie upcoming shows and album releases at?

We don’t have a Facebook or anything.  We have a Bandcamp page.  I think that lists show we’re playing?  I don’t really know how to use computers, and I’m the only member of the band who owns one.

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year if any?  With the New Year quickly approaching what about touring plans in 2014?

We’re in the works for setting up a tour to SXSW with our friends in Radar Eyes.

You have played with some seriously killer bands!  Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

They’ve all been just peachy.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?


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

They’re all pretty childish.  Not sure how many other people would actually find them funny.

Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  With all of the options available to artists these days I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the certain methods that they do?  What about when you are listening to and or purchasing music?  If so why?

Nothing wrong with a good ole vinyl record.

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

I have a bunch of records and tapes.  I download a lot of stuff too because I’m kind of poor.  Matt has the most physical music out of all of us probably.  My collection is about half the size of his.  He’s rich.

I grew up around music and there’s something awesome about physical products to me.  Having artwork to look at and liner notes to read provide a glimpse into the artists’ minds that created it and makes for a more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yeah I feel the same way.  Permanence is important.

As much as I love my music collection I can’t take it with me on the go.  Even with my CDs and tapes I could never manage to get what I wanted to listen to in the car with me on the go and not manage to mess it up somehow.  Digital music has changed all of that and when you team it with the internet it has been even more of a game changer!  It’s exposed people from all over the world to music that they otherwise would never have the opportunity to listen to.  But with the good comes the bad and digital music is rapidly changing the face of the music industry as we know it.  As an artist during the reign of digital music what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

I just want people to hear it, I guess.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can, and I can spend hours wandering around online listening to random stuff all I want but I always make it a point to ask musicians such as yourself for their tips.  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of?

The best bands in Chicago right now are Disappears, Oozing Wound and Rectal Hygenics.

What about nationally and internationally?

Nationally: Spray Paint.  Internationally: Brainbombs.

(2012/2013?)  Basic Cable – Demo – digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released (Limited to ? copies)
(2013)  Basic Cable/Endless Bummer – Basic Cable/Endless Bummer split – 7” flexi – Notes + Bolts Records/Aye Aye Records (Limited to ? copies)
(2013)  Basic Cable – I’m Good To Drive – 12” – Permanent Records (Limited to ? copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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