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Bad Liquor Pond interview

Hey ... thanks for sitting down with me, this place reminds me of upstairs at Kung Fu Necktie, but then, so many Green Rooms have this look.

So, where has touring taken you lately?  And why can’t I get you to come to New Mexico?

We have been laying low this year, trying to focus on writing and recording new material.  Poridge has a young child now and our drummer, Elias had been touring in Europe and India with The Flying Eyes, so it has been hectic.

Anyone you’ve been playing with that’s rocked you back?  Any bands you’d like to be in the company of?

We’ve played with a bunch of great bands over the years. That’s been one of the best things about this whole thing; being able to perform among some of the bands that we admire the most. 

If Ween got back together, we’d like to play with them.

I understood that the band was basically a duo with some hired guns, have you taken on some full-time help yet?

Pordige Blackwell and myself are the only two original remaining members and we have cycled through a handful of musicians over the years and although it has been great, Blue Smoke Orange Sky will probably be the last Bad Liquor Pond album.  We do have a bunch of outtakes and left over recordings that may see the light of day at some point, but as musicians, we have begun to move in a new direction.

Currently, Poridge and I have been playing with Elias Schultzman (who also plays with the Flying Eyes) and Ryan McBride (former Warlocks guitarist).  The music is sounding great, but it is something different than what we were doing with BLP.  We plan on recording an album this year and we will see where it goes from there.  We are still writing and trying to settle on a suitable name for the project.  It would be great to take the new material out on the road and I hope that we have the chance, so stay tuned.

While your early material is splendid, Blue Smoke Orange Sky is a singular achievement, all the spaces are filled, and you’ve managed to incorporate a variety of sounds and unexpected instruments without letting things get muddy ... what brought you to this point?

We have always looked at recording as something separate from the live context.  Our songs are simple and we focus more on sound textures and mood.  By engineering and producing all of our own stuff, it allows us time to experiment and play around with sounds and layering.  This is our third full-length album, so we have just gradually refined the process a bit.

Do you miss the more simple productions?

Our stuff is still very basic in its production technique, we just layer the instruments a lot and have learned to mix the songs better. We record in our living rooms, attics and basements, so I would say that we are still keeping it pretty simple.

What makes for a good psych song for you?  And who’s on your turntable right now?

Depends on the mood I’m in. I bought the album by Goat this year. It’s great.

What are your thoughts on the current psych scene?

There are a lot of great bands popping up all the time.  The Austin PsychFest is great and it would be wonderful if more things like that were happening in more cities.

Your vocals don’t stand in juxtaposition to the music, but seem to be enveloped by it ... how did this concept come about?

Again, just overdubing layers and using certain treatments.  We just mix it how we think it will sound best in the tune.  We look at everything as an instrument that can be manipulated.

Your artwork for Blue Smoke Orange Sky is taken straight from the 60’s Acid Test posters, are you embracing 60’s and 70’s technologies as well?

That record was recorded digitally, but we use a variety of tube preamps and mics to capture specific sounds.

The DelMarVa area has a rich history for music going back to the late 50’s and early 60’s, not to mention the neo-psychedelic bands like yourselves, it’s spawned Asteroid #4, War On Drugs, and Music for Headphones, while bands like Spectrum sell out the small clubs every night ... do you see the area becoming recognized again for its hidden treasures?

I think Baltimore has certainly gotten mainstream recognition for great acts like Beach House or Dan Deacon who could both be considered “psychedelic.”  It would be great if more bands were celebrated, but if you also look at the music that Thrill Jockey has put out from Baltimore (Arboretum etc.) I think that people recognize the quality of local talent and that our area is doing pretty well.

Would you mind taking a few minutes and getting technical for the geeks, and talking about your electronics, effects, and what they allow you to achieve?

We use a variety of pedals.  Boss delays, Electroharmonix reverb, spring reverbs etc. Poridge plays a Eastwood hollow body bass through a Sunn 100S Cabinet.  I use a Fender Strat, and a Gretsch G5422 played through a 1979 Fender Twin Reverb.

Are you perfectionists, or do you let things happen?

We are not perfectionists when it comes to recording.  We try to keep things moving and fun because that’s when things sound good and we are able to stumble into new things.  If it starts getting frustrating then we will move to something else.

Is your material set in stone by the time you record it, or is it an evolving process?  And with that thought, are there any songs you’d like to revisit and perhaps change?

They are usually arranged ahead of time, but the way we will build the recording is done along the way.  As the mix builds we may add or subtract elements and will change things as needed.  We just follow the music.  In terms of past recording, you could always go back and make it better, but that’s not the point.  As I said, we’re not perfectionists.

Some bands delight in making the music, while you all seem to delight in playing it live ... do you discover new aspects of your songs in front of an audience?

Playing live music is fun for us.  We will often do variations of older songs to freshen them up for us. 

Aside from huge success and OD’s in a Porsche 911, what’s eluding you, something just out of reach resting in the ether, that you’d like to bring back to terra-firma?

We love making music.  When it isn’t fun anymore we will quit.

Is vinyl part of that wish-list, or are you embracing the digital age?

We have a 7” available right now.

You know, I’ve got to ask this question, what’s the secret behind the band’s name?  [at which point I was pummeled with assorted sauces] ...

It’s a name of a pond on a farm in our hometown outside of Baltimore.

Most people feel that psychedelic music is an extension of what they can ingest, and while that can certainly enhance the experience, would you suggest that psych music in and of itself can be the experience? 

We just try to make music that sounds good to us.  I think music can be therapeutic just like most art.

Do we discuss the influences of drugs at this point, or is that area off-topic?

We don’t use drugs to help us make our music. 

With that out of the way, let me ask you about stage presence, do you see the projections as an integral part of your show?

We like it.  We have played at spaces that don’t have much character.  This way, we can create the character that we want.  Our friend Chris Stone puts together most of our projection material for us.

How do you feel about covering material by other artists?

I think it’s fine.  We do it occasionally, and I always enjoy seeing a band put a twist on another band’s song.

What was the “Ah-Ha” moment that resonated for you, drawing you into the psychedelic web?  And how about a taste of your musical heroes.

I grew up listening to Ween and Jane’s Addiction and some of the stranger “alternative music” in the 90’s.  As we got into your 20’s we started discovering the common threads that were woven through the great music that we love all the way back to our parents’ record collections and it became a way to explore  songwriting and music in general.

I grew up with what we called Progressive Radio back in the 60’s ... do you find the lack of radio and other airwaves to be a hindrance, or have you found ways of working around that, [laughing] to bring light to the masses?

We do what we do.  The internet is a great tool, but it also has cheapened a lot of what people used to consider special.  An entire generation has grown up with free music.  Times change and what can you do?  I have faith that things will circle back around in some way.

I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me.  Is there anything that I’ve overlooked that you want to say, and where can folks find you on the worldwide web?

No problem, you can find our music at

Interview made by Jenell Kesler/2014
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