Thomas Halagan is a musician coming from Phoenix, Arizona. There is absolutely nothing known about him, except for that he recorded interesting album in 1973 titled Conglomerations, which was featured in rare collective records catalogs. Anyone noticed, that these days so much rare artists have been found and reissued, that makes you think that everything is already on internet?! Well, Conglomerations is one of those albums, that rarely sees an entry on music blogs and it's also rarely named in "loner folk" references files. Deceased friend of ours Patrick "Lama" Lundborg mentioned Conglomerations in Acid Archive as great acoustic driver downer folk, which also includes a very rarely seen Donovan cover. We were lucky enough to locate Thomas Halagan for an interview about the story of his now rare album, which stands out as one of the more interesting DIY folk projects from the '70s, with very downer vibe and with some outstanding tunes like "Someone Whispered Goodbye" and a great Donovan cover. Originally out on 1000 copies, this became now a justified rare collective item.
You are coming from Phoenix. What were some influences, that made an impact on you as a teenager. Were you a part of any bands back in the '60s?
The earliest band I was in was called “The Broken Mirror”. This was in high school. We did original music and played a lot of shows doing battle of the bands. It could be defined as 60’s rock and roll. We had two drummers. One female and myself. My brother Jim was also in this band and played guitar. Debbie Flowers was the other drummer. Back then my primary influences were the bands Spirit, Golden Earring and Grand Funk Railroad. I went to a concert in California and GFR were in a tent just starting out. But all the famous bands were on stage playing.
How do you see '60s and the whole counterculture, that emerged back then?
It was absolutely the best time for everything. Music, people, atmosphere, everything. It was just the perfect world.
What's the story behind making "Conglomerations"?
One day I told my brother Jim, that we needed to go out and do a recording. That is the first recording project we’ve done together. We took a reel-to-reel recorder, then recorded vocals and two guitars. We then took the recording down to a place called “audio-recorders” and had it mastered and cut to vinyl. 1000 copies were pressed. We physically hand wrote the cover and inner sleeve and label on every copy.
Where did you record it? What gear did you use?
We recorded in the back bedroom of my first home. I borrowed a fender acoustic from a friend of mine, and Jim had his own acoustic. We used a couple of Shure 57’s. They were cheap back then but a lot of them broke when we played out at shows.
You made a record in real DIY spirit with hand writing on every cover and inner sleeve of 1000 pressed copies. Do you still own the master tapes?
Yes, 1000 pressed. People had told me that they recorded some cassettes. There are also some Mp3 files floating around that were recorded from the record. I still have the master tapes, and would like to get them transferred and archived, but that isn’t cheap.
What can you say about songwriting process? How did you approach it?
I’d have an idea of the structure and basics. Then I’d plays some chords on the guitar and structure the lyrics around the music.
What can you say about songs on your album?
The song “Someone whispered goodbye” really sticks out in my memory. It originally just came out as a poem with no real meaning for anyone specifically. But now, it kind of turned into being about my mother who passed away in 2006.
How about concerts? Did you do any?
Yes. We did state fairs and other local festivals around Arizona.
How did the distribution looked like, it must had been really hard to get rid of 1000 records, without proper distribution. This was always a common problem with self released music.
We sent them to different radio stations: KDKB and Krux were some stations that we had sent them to. We also handed some out when we did shows.
Does your songwriting on the album contains any conceptual vision or is the album just a mix of different songs, that each one reflects on their own?
A lot of people had judged us on this project at the time. Every time we practiced people would make remarks about it. Telling us it’s not going to work. But we kept continuing on. I was always motivated by just recording and putting out music. Even if no one was really listening to it.
What happened after the LP was out and what occupied your life later?
After releasing Conglomerations, Jim and I found a bass player Matt Christiano who lived in the neighborhood and we started the band “Scarred for Life”. We all sang, Jim on Guitar, Matt on Bass, and I played Drums. We did private shows and concerts for radio stations. We then went into the studio and recorded some material. During the 90’s we re-recorded some of those songs and put them on CD. Jim passed away from Cancer back in 2008 and Matt moved to Florida. We lost touch unfortunately.
What are you doing these days? I heard you're recording a new album... can you tell us more about that?
Currently we are working on a lot of Blues and Ballads. We are calling this album “The Soggy Mushroom”. We have some other good musicians working on it including my two sons.
Thank you very much for taking your time. Would you like to share anything else with us?
I am really grateful of your interest in my history of this recording. Thank you very much.
Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2014
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