The Bevis Frond interview with Nick Saloman

February 26, 2015

The Bevis Frond interview with Nick Saloman

The Bevis Frond, the band name used by Nick Saloman for his
projects. Debut Miasma is a well regarded psychedelic album. A steady stream of LPs since then showcase Nick’s strengths of strong
songwriting, finely crafted lyrics, and a musical mixture from wig-out guitar
jams to sensitive folky numbers. They are still very active and we managed to
do an interview.
When did
Bevis Frond form? Could you tell us the story?
I’d been playing in bands since I was about 15 in the late
sixties with not very much success. I always had quite a lot of confidence in
my abilities as a guitarist and songwriter, but for various reasons (often of
my own making) I never really got anywhere. I left home at 18, and needed money
for rent etc, so I never had decent equipment. I think if I’d been a bit more
dedicated, I might have found ways to get a good guitar and amp. By the time I
was around 20, the prog scene was in full flight and I never really got my head
round that stuff, so that was when I started collecting old vinyl. I played in
a folk rock band while I was at college, and did some solo acoustic stuff. By
the time punk took hold, I was back in London, and I got a band together with
some old mates with the idea of doing a mix of punk and psych. We called this
band The Von Trap Family and we played loads of shows round London in the late
70s. We even got played on John Peel’s show. After that, the band sort of
morphed into Room 13, and then I had a bad motorbike accident, which kind of
finished the band. When I was okay again, I decided to do some solo recordings,
and I issued a self-financed album called Miasma. I called my project The Bevis
Frond as I’d been in a band called The Bevis Frond in the 60s, and I always
liked the name, which was thought up by an old school friend Julien Temple (now
a famous film maker). Much to my surprise, Miasma went down very well, so I
continued making albums, and eventually I was asked to do some shows, so I put
a live band together. This would be around 1989. We’ve had quite a few
personnel changes since then, but Adrian Shaw has been on bass since the
beginning, and is still an integral part of the band.
Who are
some of your favorite artists and LP’s?
Wow! How long have you got?? I started buying records when I
was about 5 years old. I really like Rock & Roll, Gene Vincent, Johnny Kidd
& The Pirates. The Shadows figured big, then of course it was The Beatles
and the British Beat thing. When psychedelia took off in 66, I was about 13. I
just went for it hook line & sinker. I guess my favourite bands from that
period would be Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe & The Fish, Mad River, HP
Lovecraft, Ultimate Spinach, Savage Resurrection, Clear Light, Spirit, Pretty
Things, Love, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller Band, that kind of thing.
I started going to gigs regularly in about 68. I lived in Central London, so it
was all virtually on my doorstep. Over the next few years I really got into
bands like Patto, Caravan, Blossom Toes, Taste, Cressida. I thought it was just
going to continue like that forever, but by about 72, it was over. You had
bands like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant etc etc doing things like ‘Return Of The
Space Goblins parts 1 -5’ in 17/8 time, and it did absolutely nothing for me. I
was delighted when punk kicked all that stuff out. I really liked The Damned,
but The Wipers for me were the key band of the late 70s/early 80s. For
songwriting you can’t beat David Ackles or Joni Mitchell, and Dave Crosby’s ‘If
I Could Only Remember My Name’ is an important record for me. I love my UK folk
too…Sandy Denny, Shirley Collins, Barry Dransfield, brilliant. More recently,
I’ve got a lot of time for Teenage Fanclub, and I really like The Wellwater
Conspiracy’s ‘Brotherhood Of Electrick’ album. I could go on (and on)….
What is
the audience reaction to your live shows?
It’s usually very good. We don’t gig very often, so when we
do, it’s a kind of minor event I guess, so people tend to travel a bit to see
us, and they’re always up for a good time. I suppose because we’re not that
young any more, there’s always a chance that we’ll die, and they’ll never be
able to see us again!
How does
the band work out the tracks on each record? Do you jam first?
There’s no set pattern. We do some jamming, but we also have
things rehearsed. Remember, when we go into the studio, I’m paying for it, and
I’m not rolling in money. It’s a bit like sitting in a taxi with the meter
running. I have to be a bit thrifty, so there’s not too much spare time for
working things out in the studio.
Why is
psychedelic music, or heavy-psych still so popular?
Personally, I reckon, it’s because it’s so artistically
free. Psych is pretty open-ended, it doesn’t really have rules or restrictions.
After all that’s the idea behind it isn’t it? So there’s a lot of room for
experimentation, and when the whole point of it is to ‘expand the mind’, it
gives the artist a lot of scope to do just that. And I don’t think it’s a
revelation to say that lots of people like to have their minds expanded.
Could you
tell us about any Bevis Frond side projects?
Well, at the moment there aren’t any. In the past I did the
Fred Bison V album, which was a little trip into garage psych. Then a few of us
did the Scorched Earth record, which was a kind of heavy, late 60s type of
Is the
band interested in occultism?
In a word, no.
Do any
occult writings inspire your music?
Again, no, not really. I really like writers like MR James
and HP Lovecraft, so I’ve incorporated a bit of that into some stuff. The name
Room 13 was taken from an MR James story called ‘Number 13’. But I don’t really
think they’re occult are they?
What lies
in the future for the band?
I’m planning a new album for 2015, and we’ve got some shows
lined up for the Summer, and a tour of Europe might happen in the Autumn. Other
than that, I don’t know. I tend not to make too many plans, as they have a
nasty habit of not happening. I usually just wait & see what comes along.
made by John Wisniewski/2015
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  1. Martin Butterworth

    What an excellent guy/band! Long may they continue .....and a fan of the late, great David Ackles! You don't get any better than that!!!!
    All the best,
    Martin - Cheshire Plane

  2. Craig Regala

    Great artist. I picked up on him through Forced Exposure magazine in the 80s, he distilled a buncha stuff I just missed out on from the 60s early 70s through the grit I got from the punk ethos. Awesome to hear him name check the Wipers, as it seems like Greg Sage of that band had a similar trajectory. Guessing Dinosaur Jr. First couple widened the palete US wise and opened a little space he could use. Fortunately saw him at a small college in Northern Ohio in the 90s, would like to get to again.

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