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F.J. McMahon interview

January 13, 2014

F.J. McMahon interview

Santa Barbara, CA folker F.J. McMahon recorded his Spirit Of
The Golden Juice
way back in 1969. Outsider, lo-fi folk vibe with incredible lyrics. We recently
spoke with him and he shared some memories with us. The album has now reached a
cult status among “loner folk” collectors and has a reissue out on Rev-Ola.

It’s a great pleasure to talk with you. You released one of
the most interesting “loner folk”/psych folk LPs titled “Spirit
of the Golden Juice”, but before we get into that, I would like to ask you
where did you grow up and what were some influences on your guitar playing?
I grew up in Santa Barbara Calif.  Everyone I listened to that played guitar
made an impression.  There was very
little in instruction, a few books and what you heard on record.  A record called Guitar Boogie Shuffle by the
Ventures was the one that first got me. 
After that Scotty Moore, Duane Eddy, and Dick Dale.
You were originally a surf guitarist. In what bands around
Santa Barbara were you playing?
My first band was The Cordels 1961-1963.  Then The Golden Guitars for a few months and
finally The Checkmates.
In 1965 army called. What can you tell us about that
experience, which must have had quite an impact on your life. 
In 1969 your album was released, but let’s get a bit more
into details about it. It was released on Accent Records. What can you tell me
about the label and how many copies were made? I always thought this was a
private press…

Tigereye Productions paid for the recording and printing.  They were a couple of guys trying to break into the biz.  But the record went nowhere so they called it a day with me.
“Spirit of the Golden Juice” contains some of the most
powerful protest songs and it really captures the spirit of America in that
time. Would you like to tell us about song writing process?

Thank you, I really didn’t have a process. I would just write whenever I got pissed off
at what was going on, which was a lot and constant.  The war, all the social injustice the lies
from the government… I guess things haven’t changed that much.
Where was album recorded and what can you say about the
recording, producing process and what is the title “Spirit of the Golden
Juice” referring to and what can you say about the cover artwork?
The rhythm guitar drums and bass were recorded at PD sound
in Los Angeles. I layed on the lead
guitar and vocals at the Accent studio. 
Each song was two takes.  The
keyboard solo in Early Blue was Scott Seeley owner of Accent.
Was there any concept behind the album? I know this is quite
a hard task to ask, but would you like to comment each song from the LP?
Sister Brother
This happened so weird. I had submitted a reel to reel
tape to Scott Seeley with eight songs on it. 
He called me when he got it and said you need at least one more, the
album was too short.  I picked up my
guitar started playing and this song just came out in about ten minutes.  Funny because it’s the most played.
The Road Back Home
Just totally lost and alienated, no place to fit in.
Early Blue
It’s about not wanting to face the
world but knowing you should, and when
you finally do face it things usually turn out ok. But the next day, it’s still
hard.
Black Night Woman
This is about a woman who killed
herself after finding out her GI boyfriend was already married and was not
taking her back to the states.
One Alone Together
I can’t put this any better than
the lyrics.
Five Year Kansas Blues
The price for not being drafted was five years in prison.  So your choice was go to a war you don’t
believe in or go to Levenworth Kansas.
Enough It Is Done
Mankind should really clean up its
act.  Living and working just for money
and power and things I believe is missing the whole point.  Man creates his own worst problems.
The Learned Man
Again the lyrics say it all.
The Spirit of the Golden Juice
Reflecting on the
past realizing its both the good and the bad that give life it’s meaning.
What happened after the LP was out? Did you sell LPs at your
shows and where all did you play?
I spent the next two years playing anywhere I could,
sometimes just going into a place and passing the hat.  Sometimes hitching up with some folks for a
bar band gig.  Never sold any records at
those.  I would play Bars, hotels, bowling
allyes, dances with thrown together bands and so on.
Did you ever experiment with hallucinogens and did they have
any impact on your music?
More than Richard Nixon and less than Jerry Garcia.  And everything experienced affects
everything.
You LP was forgotten due the lack of exposure and small
amount of pressings, as many other incredible albums of your time, but these
days they reissued your LP and people all across the globe are enjoying your
songs. How do you feel about that?
Constantly blown away! 
And very very grateful.  I really
have to thank Tiffany Anders after the Rev-Ola CD came out it was like times
ten.  You never know what’s going to
happen tomorrow that’s a great thing about life.
Are you familiar with any other now so called “loner
folk” musicians? For instance, Perry Leopold, Dana Westover, David Bixby
etc… It’s interesting, that the style became quite popular these days out from the collector circles into the wider audience.
I didn’t know about these people until some blogs and music
mags started saying F J McMahon is in the vein of so an so. I would check out the music, read the stories
it’s kind of cool there were more of us out there then I thought.
What happened in the ’70s? Were you still playing music?
When the age of glitter/glam and disco happened I hung it
up. Bands were fewer and places would
rather hire one DJ than four or five people. 
At that point I decided I needed a trade so I joined the Navy, went to
avionics and electronics school and spent the next three years fixing radar and
electronic systems on Navy aircraft. 
That turned into a twenty five year career as a computer field engineer.
What currently occupies your life?
My wife, my two daughters enjoying retirement and trying not
to throw rocks at the TV.  My God will
man never learn?
May I ask what are you currently listening and what are you
reading?
I listen to everything from south American jazz to Willie
Nelson to Dishwalla.  I just reread Atlas
Shrugged and Colossus The Forbin Project.
Thank you once again for taking your time and effort. Would
you like to share anything else with us? Perhaps a message to Psychedelic Baby
readers and to your fans across the globe?

Thank you very much for the interest.  For all those who listened and spread the
word again thanks very much. One thing I have learned check out all sides of anything,
and then form your own opinion. Pax!
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
3 Comments
  1. Heavypsychmanblog

    Thanx Klem

    And Best to F,J McMahon thanks for your great music

  2. Amanda Pierce

    I just came across this artists and I am blown away by the lack of information on him. What an unearthed gem.

  3. FJ you're awesome!

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