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Strange interview about Souvenir album

Tom Hackett, Robert Rensel, David Chamberlain, Rick Rackleff plus Mike Pitcher, Don Morris & Carl Dexter are members of the band called The Strange. These guys released one of the rarest private press albums. Deep in the 70s, when the disco became popular these fellows didn't care about that and decided to play what they liked the most – late '60s rock. They managed to record a now highly sought for collectors item titled "Souvenir" album. The album consist of various mix, some of the songs are really crude, but you can trust me; this is really a good album overall with an amazing feel to it. Here's the proof, that the hippie spirit was still alive in the disco era. The band was influenced by CSN & Y, Moody Blues and most definitely by Mother of Invention. When you flip from A side to B side you'll hear some difference, cos the material is getting better and better and then you are pissed, cos you would like to hear more of this. The original vinyl sound is really lo-fi, which kind of adds a special flavour to it, cos of the "poor" production. A few years ago our friend Thomas of Shadoks Music located Tom Hackett and asked him for doing a reissue. The reissue was remastered and sounds a lot better than original. 450 copies were made. Here's a short interview with Tom about making this "strange" album. You can find a nice history also in the liner notes of the Shadoks reissue. So turn on your vintage transistor amp and read the story of teenage boys, that had a lot of fun making this LP.

It's a great pleasure to talk about one of the most interesting private press albums of the '70s – Souvenir Album. You formed back in 1974, while still in high school. Were you schoolmates at Olympia high?

All of us besides Rick were from OHS.

Why the name "Strange" and were you in any other bands before forming “Strange”?

We chose "Strange", cos we thought of ourselves that way and other kids did too. Strange was my first band and I also learned to play there.

What's the story behind making your own album? It was released in 1978 and only 100 copies were pressed.

It was an after thought distilled from 5 years of "letting tape roll".

Was there any concept to the album and what can you say about recording and producing it? What gear did you use?

Everything from crappy battery powered cassette recorder to Ampex AG-440 with Quad 8 chan frontend, Sennheiser md-421au, EV RE-15 at first we built all our own gear like plastic people....but we had access to TESC.

At TESC they had a nice studio in the basement. We used TEAC stereo decks with MD421au. The 8 track studio had the 441 hyper-cardioid and EV re-20, Quad-8 mixer Ampex AG440 1" 8 track tape. With the exception of the 2 or 3 horrid cassette recordings we relied on Teac 1/4" reel to reel (maybe a-1230) and the usual SM-57/58  some AKG d-1000e.

At KAOS radio they had similar hardware RE-20, SM57… The college was a great resource for us. Our own PA was scrapped together JBL/EV homebrew SWTP amps. Tapco 6 channel mixer. We never made any $ so it was a labour of love building and maintaining this PA. A fender Rhodes, a Hammond organ, Guitar, Bass,  Drums etc...

Where all did you play gigs and with whom did you share stages? Are there any less known or should I say local bands you would like to mention?

Mostly local schools, skate rink and few pubs (we were under age).

Album artwork has its own story. How did you made it?

Robert and I did an "exquisite corpse" style surreal drawing.

It's really something special with all the private press releases back in the '70s. It must have been still pretty hard to pay for the pressing and then almost impossible to sell it via concerts.

The album was really DC's project and I think it ALL came out of his pocket. It was never for sale.

The "hippie" spirit was gone from mainstream, but you were still keeping your freak flag fly. Can you tell us what kind of scene was in your town and maybe what influenced you the most?

Yes, Moody Blues, Jefferson Airplane, Zappa., CSNY, ELP (locally very little interested me. Maybe the local jazz scene).

Also may I ask if you were ever experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs and did they have any impact on you as an artist?


Perhaps you heard about book called “Acid Archive”, well their author – Patrick Lundborg made a quiz about extremely obscure bands and the winner was a collector from Spain and he said your LP is his favourite of them all. How do you feel about the fact, that people know you these days and are still enjoying your music? A special thanks goes to Thomas Hartlage at Shadoks Music who did a really nice reissue…

No I didn't. That's very nice and yes Thomas was a great contact.

Can you comment each song from the LP?

Segment From BARAPP
Recorded live improve in TESC library basement.

DC and Carl. Not really "Strange" per se.

The Ballad of Hollis Spaceman
DC being a rock god. Live St.Martins college.

Live KAOS radio.

Segment From BARAPP
Part 2 TESC library.

Segment From 'On Winning the War' & A Faced Dream
Horrid recording of early recording @Skateland. My first guitar solo.

Rick's Song
Ricks first song (I think).

Segment From Mushroom Wednesday & Lies By Poetic License
Lies is one of my fav vocals by Robert. DC wrote it. Makes me cry.

Twelve Boats
One of my first songs w/ DC help totally botched recording. Crappy cassette in local church.

The Last Song
Another of DC's mighty tunes. His songs always demanded the most of my musical ability.
There was another release by you in 1979 packed in blue art work, but I don't know anything about it. Was this just another issue of your previous release?

Never heard of it!

What happened next? Were you in any other bands? Any releases?

I have been in a few bands (as have the others) Rick, DC and I were in the Grufs. I was in Blood Paradise and Human Skab etc.

Are you still in contact with other band members?

I am in contact with all but one.

What currently occupies your life?
I design and build audiophile hardware, some recording, teach guitar...

What's on your turntable and what are you reading?

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, the origin of Satan- Pagels.

Thank you for taking your time. Would you like to share anything else; perhaps a message to our readers?

I'm so happy the interest still exists. I'm trying to make Blood Paradise accessible. There is a DVD about Human Skab. I know DC and Rick have projects.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
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John Katsigiannis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Katsigiannis said...

Full Album in google+...........