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Al Simones interview

Mainstream music is constantly playing on the radio but you want to experience something new, something that will have a profound effect on your mind. Come this way and listen to Simones' albums, which are all made in DIY spirit at his home studio in rural part of Ohio, where there is no coincident, that psilocybin mushrooms are growing strong on meadows around Al's home. His acid guitar tone trigger our nerve endings and make the whole journey way more interesting. Music without compromise. What he does is timeless and without a further hesitation should be ranked among the best "Acid Rock".

When and where were you born?

I was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (USA) in October of 1958. Cuyahoga Falls is located in NE Ohio near Akron, which is about 30 minutes south of Cleveland. I grew up in near by Perry Heights, Ohio.

How old were you when you began playing music and what was the first instrument you played?

My interest in playing music began when I was still in grade school.. probably 1967 ~ 68, when I was about 10 years old.  I wanted very much to play the drums at that point and had been urging my mom to buy a set at Christmas. While I did get some drums.. my mother knew nothing about instruments and simply bought toy drums. The toy drum heads were just made of thin plastic and soon had holes in them, making it impossible to practice. A bit later I found myself enjoying the bass guitar lines in music.. and soon aspired to play the bass guitar.
I met a kid on the school bus who said he played the bass guitar. Sharing a love for music, we became friends and I soon was visiting his home to check out that bass guitar he told me about. While there, he tried to sell me a Teisco 6-string guitar for $10. However, I only had eyes for the bass guitar and declined his offer. He wanted rid of the guitar.. and kept dropping the price in effort to convince me. After several price drops.. and some arm twisting on his part, I agreed to take it at $4.
Once I got the guitar home.. I started warming up to it a bit. Still, I didn't have a clue on how to play it. My parents were hard-core "Country & Western" music fans.. and my step-dad in particular had outright hostility toward Rock & Roll music (and the "long-hairs" who played it). In fact, I once made the mistake of leaving my stack of 45rpm records inside of the stereo console in the living room. I later found them all broke in half.. and thrown in the living room fireplace. In spite of that environment, my rock & roll spirit was not stifled. I continued on with the guitar, and managed to teach myself some riffs that could be played on one or two strings. I think the first one was "25 or 6 to 4" as recorded by the band "Chicago".
A friend of mine who lived just across the street was lucky enough to go to a private school where his dad was a teacher. Eventually he began getting free guitar lessons there as part of his studies in music class. It was there that he learned to play "The House of the Rising Sun". When I heard him playing that one.. I grabbed my handy dandy Tiesco guitar and convinced him to teach me how to play it. It was my first song using actual chords. From there.. I simply began re-arranging those chords to create other melodies.  It was my humble starting point.

What inspired you to start playing music?

I think by 6 ~ 7  years old I was already addicted to the radio and spent plenty of time listening. I would take the small transistor radio with me into the bed at night. Even when I was told by my mom to "go to sleep", I simply turned it down low and put it on the pillow near my ear.  I had a long list of favorite songs, and knew who performed them. I'd tell myself.. if the next song isn't one I liked.. I'd turn it off and go to sleep. But, sure enough it would be a good one, and I would repeat that until I was just too sleepy.
There was a school owned baseball field near our home where many of us neighbourhood kids would hang out, riding our bikes up and down the surrounding trails that had been created by the older kids hill climbing on their dirt-bikes. There was a small pond there as well.. so we would skip stones and catch tadpoles in the summer and ice-skate there in the winter. One summer afternoon a garage band set up on the paved basketball court that was also located in the baseball park. It was about 1966, so they had the cool haircuts.. and fuzz tone guitars. Having already been an avid music lover.. seeing that band was a very big deal for me and made a lasting impression.  I think that having that much passion for music at such a young age was a pretty good indicator that I was gravitating toward becoming a musician. 

Were you in any bands before recording your solo material?

The short answer is no. While I had an early start at the guitar, I guess I didn't have the discipline or confidence in myself in those early years to keep progressing. I wanted to be able to break out of chords and into soloing. I'd watched others doing it, and it just seemed beyond my abilities. It was hard to imagine how they could remember where all those notes were, while putting them together so nicely.. and at such speed. I felt at that time (the 1970s) that if I couldn't play a solo for the song, then I just wasn't good enough to be in a band. (I should mention that as an adult, I still love tasteful well placed guitar solos, however.. much of my favorite music has only brief solos, or no solos at all). Returning to the point.. by the late 1980s I decided to make a dedicated effort at improving with the guitar.  Once I finally learned some basic solo improvisation skills.. I went straight to recording as a solo artist.

When did you begin writing music? What was the first song you wrote? What inspired it and did you ever perform the song live or record it?

When rekindling my efforts to improve at the guitar during the late 1980's as I've just mentioned, I began practising improvised soloing over top of rhythm guitar tracks that I would create by recording myself on a standard cassette recorder. I should note that it sounds different listening back to your performance than it does when you're actually playing it (at least that's my experience). So I needed to find a way to hear and analyze what both of my parts (rhythm and lead) sounded like together. I didn't have the luxury of a multi-track recorder at that point, however I did have a Pioneer RT-909 stereo reel-to-reel tape recorder.

While I had previously only been using it for standard stereo recordings, I remembered that it had a "sound-on-sound" option, and decided to put it to use for the first time since having owned the unit. In brief, a stereo recorder is simply 2 tracks (L + R). This particular reel-to-reel allowed for recording one track at a time in mono. You can then move one track over to the other side.. while adding a new
track. You can keep going back and forth from left to right, then right to left, adding something new each time. It's a very primitive way of doing it, but it was what I had at my disposal.
So.. once I made the first two track instrumental recording and played it back.. I thought "Hmmm, maybe I could just throw a quick song together. There's nobody around to hear how bad this is likely going to sound.. so I don't have to feel self conscious, or embarrassed." While I'd never written a song before, I just put together some chords and arranged a few changes within the song. Then I quickly come up with some lyrics that could be phrased properly over the chords. The whole thing was done in a couple of hours. The song was called "Purple Frogs".
While it was certainly nothing that would spark a new trend in the music industry.. It wasn't the most terrible thing I'd heard either, and was indeed quite "trippy". I played it for a friend who had already played in a number of bands.. and I could tell that he was genuinely impressed. I felt that I could do better if I were to put more time and effort into making a song, so I went out and bought a 4-track portastudio soon after. 

The following recordings eventually became the first album entitled "Corridor of Dreams". The very first song "Purple Frogs" wasn't included on the album.  Since I've never played live.. the song was only heard by a few people. 

Your music is resting in the early '70s, and not in the time when you recorded it. What were some influences? You must have been a big fan of heavy psych. Where did you get all the long "forgotten" records?

Being an impressionable adolescent  during the late 1960s and early 1970s (when popular music was exploding with diversity and creativity) has certainly made an impression on my musical tastes, and by extension my own sound as a musician.  I don't intentionally try to make music that sounds like it's from the early 1970s.. it just comes out that way (and I'm glad for that). If I were to try to create something more contemporary sounding, I would have to make a conscious effort. I may be able to do so.. but quite honestly I have no interest in doing that. I just prefer to create music that comes from my heart. My goal isn't to make a hit song, or become famous. I value music as an art, rather than a product that needs to conform to a trendy market.

As for being a fan of heavy psych ... I am indeed. But my my taste in music is quite eclectic. I also enjoy very mellow music, vintage soul, as well as 50s, 60's and early 1970s pop rock.  Even as a kid you would find variety of styles in my record collection. A short list off the top of my head would be .. The Rascals, Steppenwolf, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, The Temptations, Alice Cooper, Tommy Roe, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Tommy James and the Shondells, Black Sabbath, Yes, Led Zeppelin, James Gang ... and of course my all-time favorites Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles.

To your question regarding where I obtained my records. Initially I relied on the local department store "Topps" that was within walking distance of my home. Of course any opportunity I had to get to other record stores I would surely take advantage of. I was truly obsessed with music (Not a bad obsession I think).
I was adventurous with music even as a kid. I remember buying a copy of the UK LP by "Velvet Fogg" that I had found in Topps dept store, and later a copy of one of the "Guru Guru" albums that I had found at another local shop called "Strange Daze Music". I wasn't really knocked out by those albums at the time,  but was indeed experimental enough to spend what little bit of dough that I could muster as a kid.  I remember picking up a copy of the "Trapeze" ~ Medusa LP.. which I really loved (still do). My copy of the first album by "Montrose" was a staple for me as well. Of course we can't forget Robin Trower.. those first few albums of his were also standards for my friends and I.

As a young adult, I continued looking for interesting bands.. which brought me into albums by Three Man Army, Sir Lord Baltimore, Bang, and one of my all-time favorites "Bubble Puppy". By the 1980s I found other like minded folks whom I would exchange tapes with and do record trades via the mail. At that point I started finding some of the more exotic collectable stuff.  It was a great way to discover interesting music, and share that adventurous ear for music with others who were like minded. This of course all pre-dated the internet we all enjoy these days.

Did the local scene have any role in shaping you as a musician? Did any local bands have an impact on you?

I think so. Ohio was exploding with local bands at the time, and it seemed that every third person had a guitar or other instrument in their home (whether they could play well or not). Looking back, I think that sort environment certainly seemed to put musicianship within ones grasp psychologically. There were local garage bands that my friends and I would ride our bikes to watch (literally practicing in their garage's). Sometimes there would be a back yard party in the neighborhood featuring a live band. About a half mile away from our house there was a place called "Myers Lake Ballroom" who would have live rock shows on occasion. I once stood on the seat of my bike to see through a window to watch "Glass Harp" perform. It was certainly a musical milestone for me. "Glass Harp" were one of many great local bands from this area.. and I was always in awe of the brilliant Phil Keaggy's guitar playing.

There was a very heavy local band called "Left End" that I used to see often, and was a big fan. They did release a number of singles, and an album on Polydor. While the album is decent.. I think it fell quite short of capturing the power and energy of what they were live during the mid 1970s. I'm also quite a fan of the "Human Beinz" who were from this area. There really is such a long list of good bands from here in NE Ohio. I feel lucky to have grown up in this area.

Who were members of the band, when you started to record your first album Corridor of Dreams? I heard that most of the stuff is played by you?

Yes.. for the most part I recorded that album alone.. there was no band.  The song "Shot Down" was a finished track, but I thought it might do well with some drums. I called a guy that I had recently been introduced to (Doug Riley), and he agreed to add a drum track. While I had a sense that he wasn't much into the song.. he was kind enough to do it for me. I had only one open track left on the tape.. so the drums were recorded in mono using a single mic sitting on a pile of unfinished laundry there in his basement.. and then simply added at a low level in the mix. Some months later I invited him to a jam session with myself, and a bass player I knew (Chris Bell). It was a one-off session which I recorded. From that recording came the "Purple Jam" instrumental that was added to the "Corridor of Dreams" album. The rest of the album I performed alone.

You've been a big part of so called DIY culture, where you actually embody a complete process of recording and releasing music.

At the time of making the first couple of albums, I was unaware of such a scene. I was simply on my own time line and started recording once I thought that doing so was within my reach and ability. I had some records in my personal collection of obscure 60s and 70s bands that were pretty raw and primitive in their production and rather liked the honesty of them. I felt that my lack a studio equipment was not an obstacle.. and had no problem just making the best of what I did have. I simply wanted to realize my dream of making a record, and didn't mind if the recording quality was less than stellar.

Quite honestly, when I finally released the first album.. I expected to get plenty of negative review and was prepared for it. In reality however.. the scene welcomed the album with friendly positive review.. and even a bit of adulation. It was far beyond my hopeful expectations. I'm really very grateful to those folks who have supported those albums. I truly am.

What was the writing and arranging process within the band? Did anyone else in the band write?

Quite honestly, I never really had a "band" per se. At least not in the sense of writing songs in preparation for live performance.. or to become recognized as a band to the public. My primary goal was to keep recording solo material. However, I did like to have occasional jam sessions here in my home studio,
Initially I found it difficult to find musicians whom I could relate to musically.. and actually lost interest in jamming for a while. However, I would meet such a variety of folks at the record shop, and engaged most anybody in philosophical, or musical conversations. Over time, I made some very good friends who were also quite good musicians.. and whom with I shared similar musical values. Eventually we started having weekly jam session at my home. The goal was simply to enjoy ourselves, and to record the jam sessions with the understanding that some of the material may later find it's way to vinyl. That line up was .. Kevin Chatham (drums), Andy Conrad (bass & vocals), Rich Karlis (Rhythm guitar)  and myself (lead & rhythm guitar). As it turns out.. a few of those jams turned up on the fourth album "From the Electric Cornfield".

Where was the “Corridor of Dreams” LP recorded? How long did the sessions last? Would you share some recollections from the sessions? How pleased were you with the finished product?

Most of the "Corridor of Dreams" album was recorded in an apartment I was renting just outside of Columbiana, Ohio. Actually it was an old two-story house converted into two separate dwellings, both with their separate entrances. I lived in the upstairs half, with a good view of the back lawn and the nice rural wooded area out past the lawn. Just the sort of place a person could could have a small garden should they be inclined.
My former wife was working at a nearby ice cream shop. So while she was gone serving ice cream cones,  I would set up the gear in the living room and do my recordings there. It was really the only time I could do so without noises, and distractions. I would work about 4 to 6 hour sessions at a time. The time passed so quickly while immersed in making those recordings. Hearing each song come to life.. one, by one was quite a joy.

By 1991, we finally bought the house where I'm currently living. It's an old farm house that is even more rural than the apartment was. For me.. the ideal situation. I could never live in the city, or even in town where I would be side-by-side with many other houses. As it is now I can have a jam session into the late evening anytime I like.. and have done just that on many occasions. It's here were the last couple of songs were recorded for "Corridor of Dreams".. and where the jacket art was designed, and assembled individually by hand. 

You started your own little label to release all of your albums. How many copies of albums came out?

1992 Corridor of Dreams  (Purple Phrogg Records)   ~ 300 copies

1993 Corridor of Dreams  (Peyote Records)   ~ 1000 copies

1994 Enchanted Forest  (Purple Phrogg Records)   ~ 500 copies

1998 Balloon Ride  (Purple Phrogg Records)   ~ 500 copies

2009 From the Electric Cornfield (Purple Phrogg Records)  ~ 285 copies

How did the distribution looked like?

Largely they were sold wholesale to dealers in quantities of  10 ~ 15 at a time. A few of the larger distributors would buy 25, or more at time until the pressing sold out. I'd say maybe as much as 75% of these albums went to Europe.

What can you tell us about cover artwork?

The jackets were designed on my own here at home. For the first album I asked a friend "Scott Tammaro" to take photos of myself as you see on the "Corridor of Dreams". (A very good photographer challenged with the task of shooting a homely subject). I then designed, and hand drew the rest of the jacket.
For the "Enchanted Forest" album there were four slicks to design due the fact it was a gatefold jacket. I did all of the art and photography myself on that one. It was the most labor intensive of all the albums. The front of the jacket is actually a photograph of artwork I created using clay. The colors of the clay were chosen and placed in the art with the understanding that the finished work would be photographed in black & white.. then printed as a negative image. Once the image was printed as negative,  the darkest clay colors would be seen as the lightest colors. The final step was to put this artwork behind a green acetate widow which would really make the light colors pop..  Once completed.. it created a luminous ..almost 3-D effect.

I didn't have the luxury of having a die-cut machine, so I had to cut the window opening of the front of jackets one at a time by hand with a utility knife. It took quite some time, and I think it truly put me at risk of developing carpal tunnel. Of course, I did complete the project and fortunately my hand is ok. Afterward I glued in the green acetate windows, and then the clay art image print behind it. Gluing in the other three slicks was a breeze by comparison.
It was indeed a labor of love project.
The "Balloon Ride" LP was also a gatefold jacket. Two of the images I sourced from antique drawings that are over 200 years old that I was quite fond of. The back of the jacket is a photo I did myself,  featuring a 1958 Stratocaster, a 1960s Vox wah wah pedal,  and early 1970s "Camco" drums. The photo was taken here in the studio were these  records are recorded.

The "From the Electric Cornfield" album jacket art features a pencil drawing I did specifically for that release, as well as a relative photo montage I put together for the back of the jacket.
Yes, it's a lot of work doing jackets this way.. but I prefer the personalized vibe of the finished product. The music is indeed personal and genuine.. so I think the jackets should be as well.

What can you say about the material on it?

I'm not sure were to even begin an answer for this question.

However, to make an effort I'll address it this way. As a youth I discovered that some of the music that I valued the most, didn't really sound very appealing to me at first listen. It seemed that I had to give it a chance to come into focus before it would reveal it's beauty. To offer an analogy.. if you've ever seen those art prints that look like nothing more than a page of random dots,  but you continue to look through them as if you're daydreaming, or allowing your eyes to go out of focus.. suddenly you see that in fact there is an interesting 3-D image that was previously invisible to you. I think that some music is the same.. and while I can't know how others perceive my own music, I imagine the material on my own records as the sort that must be allowed to come into focus before it's true nature is revealed.

Would you suggest Corridor of Dreams is a conceptual album?

I haven't used that term to describe it previously, but I would agree with such an assessment. My previous answer is pretty much in line with that view as well. In fact think that many of the insights, and perceptions brought on during a psychedelic experience could be described as conceptual if an attempt to describe, or understand them was made in the usual state of consciousness. It's my view that the album isn't really something you find yourself whistling the melodies from.. while you're at your job making toothpicks out of logs. It certainly hasn't conformed to a standard formula. I think a professional music producer would think of it as a train wreck. I understand that the unusual structure and lack of hooks, or choruses would likely alienate the average music listener.. but then I guess this music isn't intended for the average listener. While I do very much like nicely arranged catchy rock songs.. I think that spiritually it keeps the listener earthbound, which is just fine. When recording this music however, I hoped to allow the listener to escape, and explore other dimensions.

Would  you share your insight on the albums’ tracks? 

Among friends I'd known in the 1970s here in Ohio.."peakin" was the word used to describe the "apex" of the psilocybin mushroom experience. I thought if one could capture that feeling in sound.. it might sound like this track.

A virgin mind about to embark on a psychedelic maiden voyage. 

"Look at Life"
Thoughts and considerations in regards to our human existence.

"Purple Jam"
This was an out-take of one of the early jam sessions held in my first house after moving out of an apartment. Quite flawed.. but it has a few moments.

"Shot Down"
Every once in a while we find ourselves at a point when things are going pretty good in life. Sadly, there are those.. for whatever reason, who want bring you down. In some cases it was somebody whom you had mistaken for a friend.

"Wizard of Time"
A sonic adventure through time and space.. via by chance meeting with a supernatural being who has great wisdom and insight to offer for a more than willing adventurous apprentice.

"Sinsemilla Morning"
With fresh seedless bud on hand, and the place to myself on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning.. the proper state of mind was achieved. With guitar in hand and fresh tape on the recorder, this was the spontaneous result.  It was conceived, recorded and mixed the same day.. and of course appropriately titled.

"Fantasy Girl"
An expression of the joy of being in love,  and appreciating one's good fortune. 

Enchanted Forest is your second album, which came a couple of years later. What took so long to record this one? It's a bit different then your first one. How do you like it compared to the first album? Enchanted Forest seems to have more conceptual material on it. What's the story behind it?

I would absolutely love to be able to move song writing, and recording into my primary focus, but have so many other things to attend to. There are stretches of time when I could work on writing and recording nightly.. then other things would come up that would demand my time, so I would be away from it for a while. During the early 1990s when "Enchanted Forest" was recorded, I had far more free time than I do even these days. However, writing the songs, and usually playing all the instruments, while also being the recording engineer makes an already very time consuming process even longer. But I really love it just the same, and will continue to do it that way as time allows.
Even so, I thought two years was fairly reasonable. Consider successful artists who have no worries regarding paying the bills due their success, and who's primary responsibility is to create music. It's common even with them that years pass between albums.
In my view "Enchanted Forest" is a continuation, progression and expansion of the first album. On "Corridor of Dreams" I did this, that.. and the other thing.. until I had enough material for an album. Once a new album was started.. I had room for more ideas to experiment with. Additionally, I think my abilities in playing, and recording improved a little as well.. which would come into play. However, there was no preconceived differences between the two albums. There are things on both albums that I would do differently if I were to do them now, but there are other things on the albums that I'm quite pleased with. I couldn't favor one over the other.

Your guitar work is what I would call a guitar heaven for a fuzz psych head like I am. What gear did you use and maybe what guitarists you enjoy listening to?

That's very kind, thank you for that. Well, for the first album I had very little gear to work with. I used a 70's Gibson SG, and a 60's Gretsch Corvette (which I had found as a basket case fixer-upper at a local flea market, and restored myself). As well I had an off-brand acoustic 12-string which I would also use a 6-string.
During the time I was working on the second album "Enchanted Forest", The collection began to grow. I was bitten by the gear-bug.. and started buying and selling used guitars, amps, and effects at the record shop.
Eventually I was attending trade shows as a dealer with this vintage gear at the Columbus, Cleveland and Pittsburgh guitar shows. Getting in early to set up as a dealer allowed for early shopping & swapping. My collection of vintage guitars, amps and interesting vintage obscure effect pedals continued to grow.. and added a new dimension to the pleasure to recording these albums.

My "gear-head" focus at the time was more for guitars, amps.. and vintage effects. I hadn't put much money into the recording equipment itself. As well, I hadn't invested much time into the technical aspects of recording. I simply did my best to get tones that I liked onto tape. While I make it a point to avoid a slick shiny modern type of  production.. I would like to improve on the production of future projects. While I've been silent in the past years, I have been researching and tracking down particular pieces of vintage analog gear for my home studio.. and I really enjoy that as well. I think the future productions will be improved, but will still be raw, and honest. I have no intentions of making modern sounding sparkly slick records.

As for guitarists that I enjoy.. it's really such a long list, and it's sure many will be left out. However, I think it's no secret that I'm a very big Jimi Hendrix fan. I also grew up seeing Glass Harp & Phil Keaggy.. and have always had great admiration and respect for his guitar playing as well. I've also had great respect and admiration for Robin Trower ever since picking up his first album when it was new. I love his tone, the moody atmospheres he creates, and the soulful vocals of his bassist James Dewar.
A few others that I can think of at the moment that are more contemporary would be.. Audley Freed, Michael Gurley, Ty Tabor, Joe Bonamassa and Eric Gales.

Two more albums followed, Balloon Ride and your latest From the Electric Cornfield, which came out about six years ago. Would you like to share story behind making them?

The "Balloon Ride" album was rich with many of the vintage instruments that I had managed to pull into my collection. The opening track"Majic Ship" featured a 1967 Rickenbacker 12-string electric that I was quite pleased with. (Sadly, I ended up selling that guitar.. as the neck on those are quite small and I have rather large hands). "Majic Ship" also included my first attempt at the drums. In fact the "Balloon Ride" album.. unlike the previous albums had a number of tracks with drums.. largely played by my very good buddy "Kevin Chatham". (whom I think is an exceptional drummer). Not all of "Balloon Ride" included drums however.. as some of the songs sound better without them (in my humble opinion).
Of course it must clear that I very much like drifty, dreamy psychedelic music as reflected on the first two albums.. but I also wanted to record some heavier psychedelic tracks to be part of the third album. The addition of drums on "Balloon Ride" allowed for me to do that. This continued even more so on the fourth album "From the Electric Cornfield". About half of that album album was recorded live here in the studio.. where most of our jams were pretty heavy. I can remember when moving into this old farm house years ago, thinking that this place has never heard sounds like it's going to. A few years later we did shake the sturdy sandstone foundation with some rather unusual music. If there were any ghosts hanging around this old place, I think we likely frightened them away.

Our friends at Headspin Records made a really nice Simones 20th Anniversary 4 LP Box-Set Edition 1992-2012…

Yes, Johan over at Headspin was very kind to make an offer several years prior to do some sort of re-issue on vinyl. His was one of a number of offers I'd received over the years. I had embraced a mindset since the beginning to stay completely independent.. free of third party involvement. I had no preconceived expectations of ever becoming famous by recording this kind of music, so I quite honestly didn't see the point in doing it. My intentions were simply to make this music that I personally found interesting,  then press up a few hundred copies and move on to the next one.
Completely by chance, Johan and I crossed paths once again in 2012. During that communication he told me that he really thought that more people should hear this music. He went on to suggest doing a box-set, and tempted me further by offering creative control of how it would be presented. Not having that option would have surely been a deal breaker for me. Feeling a bit nostalgic having realized it had been 20 years since the first album. The idea was quite tempting, and I decided to go with it.
Johan was really great to work with,  and he truly kept his word every step of the way regarding my "very particular" visions of how it should look.
I've received so many compliments on that box-set, and of course I'm quite proud of it myself.  If not for Johan's vision, and his tugging on my shirt-tail about it.. this important milestone in my life would not exist. While I've expressed my appreciation to him privately, I'm happy to have this platform to do so publicly. Thanks again Johan.

Would you discuss some of your most memorable moments in your music carrier?

Having not had a band for live performance, I don't have stories of meeting my bandmates while being a roadie for "Bubble Puppy".. or having jammed with "The James Gang". No stories of having missed our gig opening for "Three Man Army" because our drummer was trippin' too hard on shrooms back stage. My musical carrier moments are a bit more humble.
Holding a finished copy of "Corridor of Dreams" in my hands for the first time back in 1992 was quite a big deal for me. While the same is true for each subsequent album (including the box-set) .. the feeling with the first one was quite special as you might imagine.
To my surprise .. soon after the release of "Corridor of Dreams" I began getting a lot of positive feedback. There was quite a bit of fan mail from many countries, and even folks who were asking for autographs. That seemed a bit surrealistic for me. I never figured there would come a time when people would ask for my autograph. I remember a guy in particular who had driven about 5 hours to the record shop just meet with me in person and get an autograph. During our conversation I learned he was an attorney. It's hard to imagine that with his profession he would have the time.. let alone such interest.
Being asked to participate in radio interview for Stony Brook Collage (New York) after the first album was released was quite flattering as well. While not as high profile as a guest spot on the Jay Leno show,  it's was still rather complementary. Certainly more than I ever expected.

How about gigs?

I've never played live. Had I applied more effort to the guitar earlier in life.. I surely would have been doing live shows. However, being a late bloomer.. my values had changed. I prefer the privacy and freedom of creating music with a tape recorder. I think live shows would have been fun.. but the good side of doing it this way is I have no pressure of judgemental eyes, worrying about a good live mix, worrying about having only 12 people showing up to the show, or having beer bottles hurled at the stage by a guy yelling "play Freebird"! 

Would you mind answering question about psychoactive substances? Did in your opinion psychoactive or hallucinogenic drugs played a large role in the song writing, recording or performance processes?

Yes, I would say it has. I should first point out that I'm a family man these days, and no longer partake.
However, when I first tried psychedelics in 1977, I found that it was different than I thought it would be, and that it had even surpassed what I had heard and expected of it. While I hadn't become an instant philosopher with only the first experience, I quickly realized it was certainly something for those of us who are thinkers and explorers. I soon understood that the experience was very much subject to environment, and when applied while in the right environment.. offered fantastic benefit without negative side effects as the stigma would have us believe.

During the experiences, I had the overwhelming feeling that psychedelic substances are not accidental, or coincidental in the way that they effect us.. and that my personal experience was meant to be. Without hesitation, I would say it has been an important milestone in my life. While many teens did it just as another way to party with their friends.. it was not the case with me. I was genuinely a "seeker" and found it to be a bridge to see a more truthful look at the natural world, and at my own self. I took to it like a fish to water.
Taking it a step further, I believe that through history it has been one of the important ingredients contributing to the evolution of many of the higher species of life on earth.. due to it's ability to raise consciousness. Consider for instance that something as simple as the ability to understand that it's your own reflection you see in the water is a level of consciousness that was not possessed at an earlier point of evolution. It's sure that there are many more "awakenings" to come for us as a species ... if we can ever let go of the "memes" that hold us back.

For me personally, appropriate music is mandatory when taking such a journey. I hope that the music I've produced would be a worthy soundtrack for any kindred like minded spirits out there. These productions are truly a celebration of, influenced by, and meant to be a soundtrack for such journeys. I feel that it embraces only good karma, is genuine in spirit.. and takes the listener on a ride to places commercial music will not.

**Disclaimer:  I am not suggesting that anybody break applicable laws in their country. This music has the potential to take a willing listener on mental journeys without the aid of any substances. Please be smart, be careful... and be safe.

What currently occupies your life?

My lovely wife and I have a little girl who is currently 7 years old. They are my primary focus. Girls need lots of attention, as I'm sure many of your readers can relate to. I find it to be quite a joy. Being a home owner with some land.. there's constantly a back-log of tasks that need attending to. The days just seem to zip by, and it's a good life. I'm living here in a peaceful quiet rural area, and very much enjoy it. 

Are you still musically active?

I haven't been writing and recording for a while. However I do play the guitar almost daily. For me it's not a task or discipline to do so... it's an urge. While being attentive as father, husband and home owner as I've just mentioned.. it's difficult to lock myself in the studio for hours on end to work on new material.
However, I do have every intention in getting back to recording. In anticipation.. I've completely rebuilt my home studio. It's been a pleasurable hobby of researching, and locating cool vintage pieces of pro-audio analog gear that suite my tastes and needs. In some instances the gear needed repairs.. which brought them into my hands at a good price. I've enjoyed teaching myself how to do many of the repairs myself.  I'm very much looking forward to bringing the newly acquired vintage recording equipment into use.

Thank you very much. Last word is yours.

I'm quite honored to be invited for an interview with your magazine.. thank you. While you asked me for in depth answers.. I hope I was able to respond in an entertaining and informative way. 
I would also like to extend a thank you to those who have bought the "Simones" records over the years, and who have been so kind to recommend this music to others. I'm truly humbled and very appreciative. Please stay tuned ... there is more to come.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2015
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The Smoking Trees - TST (2015) review

With TST, The Smoking Trees have delivered a laid back breezy bit of relaxed sunshine pop, all laced with with bits of baroque effects that create a hazy psych atmosphere of shimmering delight.  There are many who will want to compare this outing with The Association, and other groups from the mid 60’s such as The Merry Go Round ... and then there are others who are gonna try and convince you that The Smoking Trees should be placed in the same box as MGMT, Temples, or even Tame Impala.  Let me assure you, that have been there then, and here now, The Smoking Trees are in a league all their own, creating a pleasant hypnotic adventure of daytime dreams that belong to them and them alone.

The Smoking Trees are another of the ever popular duos who are locking themselves away, listening to brilliant music from the heady past, and creating their own take by lightly strumming acoustic guitars, almost invisible sitars, minimal drumming, jangling electric guitars with subtle effects, and vocals that sparkle like stars, morphing as they beam back from the outer regions of the galaxy, sounding like shifting light as the music ebbs from your speakers.

If I were to make any comparison at all, it would be to say that this is the music Major Tom was listening to somewhere out beyond the Rings of Saturn.

Review made by Jenell Kesler/2015
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Kraus interview

I want to help everyone to be happy and free

Ultra Eczema releases its first reissue, Kraus' 2004 outsider psych master piece 'I Could Destroy You With A Single Thought'. But how does Pat Kraus himself looks back at this record? 

Pat Kraus: I'm very proud of it. I think the compositions are all strong and there's no real fat on it. The songs are quite short, the whole album is only 30 minutes long and there's very little improvisation. At that time I was determined to make music that was focused like a lazer-beam, with obsessively repeated, simple melodic figures. Variation comes not from improvising but from the adding and subtracting of layers. Some songs have four or five guitar parts, doubling in octaves. I remember how hard I worked and how dogmatic I was about not allowing any self-indulgence. I continued working that way for several years but I would have gone insane eventually if I didn't change. The music I do now still has a core of simplicity but it includes the embracing of mistakes and incompetence, and looser structures including improvisation. Maybe it's a bit more human now.

Is that George Harrison on the cover of the album, or am I completely wrong here?

Yes it is George Harrison. The photo was taken by Linda McCartney during the Abbey Road sessions. I saw it in the book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, photocopied it and used it for the cover of the original CDR release. I thought it looked real funny and suited the music on the album. For a long time people assumed that's what I looked like, which I guess was my intention. In reality I look like a boring nerd. When Dennis (Tyfus, Ultra Eczema label head, jb) and I discussed the reissue we agreed that it would suck to get sued by the Linda McCartney estate, so Dennis mushed the image, gave it the Tyfus twist. I think it suits the oozing sounds of the record.

Dennis called 'I Could Destoy You' the best psychedelic record ever. That's promo talk, of course. So what would be your favourite psychedelic record ever?

I don't want to say one is the best but I will name some of my favourites: 'Bamboo for Two' by Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Inner City Guitar Perspectives by Crude, Hands On Future by Renegade Scanners, Half Machine Lip Moves by Chrome, and The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor.

What is your definition of "psychedelic" music?

A short answer would be: psychedelic music sounds freaky. When you hear it you go “Woah” and stop what you're doing and just stare at the floor. That's the effect that Chrome has on me. If I put on Half Machine Lip Moves and try to do anything else I just zone out and get completely lost. I get a similar effect from that Delia Derbyshire track Ziwzih Oo-oo-oo. I don't know if my album has that effect on people but I'm happy if it does. Good, powerful psychedelic music is also exciting and fun and stimulates my brain in a particular way: it's funny and scary and makes me feel like running around the room full of joy. It's transcendental in that it makes me feel strong and alive and really connected to existence and other people, and revolutionary meaning it makes me want to find ways to help everyone be happy and free.

Would you say that sound of an album is as important as the actual music on it?

Yes, I think I put at least as much effort and thought into how the recordings sound as I do in composing the music. It's very important for me to create an evocative, mysterious atmosphere, a world that you can step into and explore like it's an actual place. I generally record in mono, partly because I find it a lot easier to mix that way, so I don't have the left-and-right dimension to play with. This makes me pay a lot of attention to the background-to-foreground dimension, which you can manipulate by adding artificial reverb and echo, to place sound-objects at a certain distance from the listener. I'm also careful about the particular instrument sounds and how they combine. This requires a lot of trial and error to create a combination that makes an elegant and coherent whole. The trial is necessary because you can imagine sounds that work perfectly well in your head, but when you actually record them they sound bad. When I started recording in the early 2000's I had to try a lot of combinations to see what worked. Now I have more experience and can predict what will be successful and satisfactory to me, but I still need to experiment. It would be hard to explain exactly what I'm going for. My work is a little paradoxical, in that I rarely use room ambience or real world atmosphere. I usually record instruments dry and then place them in an artificial space with effects, but this unreal dreamworld still needs to be a convincing parallel reality. I am creating a sound-film. It's been suggested to me that my work would make good soundtrack music and I would be interested in working with film-makers in the future.

'I Could Destroy You With A Single Thought' is kind of an aggressive title. I don't feel the music itself is aggressive...

The title is a quote from an old episode of Star Trek, where a beautiful alien says to Kirk: “Do you dare defy one you should be on your knees worshipping? I could destroy you with a single thought!” That struck me as a hilarious and amazing sentence. I liked the idea that this album was created by someone so arrogant and megalomaniacal that they would say such a thing. It suited the music, which to me seemed powerful, rigid and accomplished in it's own brutal way. It was amusing to create this mythical persona of an artist who never emerges in public but thinks of himself as a superhuman overlord. This is one of the recurring themes in my titles, other examples would be the album titles The Facts and Supreme Commander.

Do you see yourself as part of a New Zealand scene? 

I think my scene is international. I used to be rather isolated and only had direct support from my close New Zealand friends, but now my world is expanding and I feel connected to, and inspired by, a peer-group of like-minded artists from Australia and Europe. It's hard to define the aesthetic of this group, but I recognise a connection with certain people right away. I'm thinking of people like Mad Nanna, Sweat Tongue, Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Avarus, Floris Vanhoof, as well as New Zealanders such as Ducklingmonster and Pumice. I think one shared characteristic is an interest in, and engagement with, both experimental and popular music traditions, tending towards the former but informed by the latter. Pumice is a great example. I see reviews of Pumice records where it's clear the reviewer is struggling because they don't know how to categorise the material: is it noise? Is it rock music? Folk?

© Hans Van Der Linden, Brussels 2015

Interview made by Joeri Bruyninckx/2015
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Minami Deutsch - Minami Deutsch (2015) review

This Japanese duo feature strong motorific beats a la Can and Neu! which propel their mostly instrumental psych into krautrock territory. Fuzzy, speaker-shredding guitars and bubbling electronics highlight opener ‘Vocalism Ali – Forever Takemitsu’, while a simple, Moe Tuckerish tap-tap-tap (on a dodgy drum kit, no less) and hypnotic, chanting vocals (in Japanese) drive ‘Futsu Ni Ikirenai’ into your skull – it’s like listening to Damo Suzuki fronting The Velvet Underground. And then they break out a blistering fuzz solo that’ll fry your brain like mosquitos hitting a bug zapper.
The album’s shortest track, ‘Terra Recipe’ is also its most accessible and least sonically challenging. There’s still a monotonic riff on a crap drumkit, but the guitar histrionics are kept to a minimum and the pleasant melody bears repeat listens. Whether you will survive several rounds with the two-part ‘Übergleich’ will depend on your tolerance for guitar pyrotechnics banging off the walls while a freight train drum beat and throbbing bass line ping pongs around the inside of your skull. If you’re prepared to turn yourself into a human bobblehead, by all means jump right in. Unfortunately, the band decided to insert the otherwise phenomenally tight as the proverbial monkey’s bum ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ in between parts 1 and 2, so the effect is lost unless you program your CD to splice the two tracks together. But ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ almost sounds like a completely different band: the drums are acceptably sedate, the crystalline guitar runs are hypnotic and inventive – somewhere between Michael Karoli and Robert Smith – and the tune doesn’t overstay its welcome. Clearly the album highlight, it’s too bad they didn’t properly sequence it before or after ‘Übergleich’ instead of in between.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2015
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Lewd Flesh interview with John Madsen, Casper Nilsson, Malene Pedersen, Nanna Braunschweig Hansen

I’m not going to beat it into the ground and I normally don’t drag gender into the picture when it comes to art, but god damn is it nice to hear a female fronted Stoner Rock band!  From the moment the needle drops on Lewd Flesh’s debut 7-inch for Spaghetti Cassetti Records Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte things are hot and heavy.  Malene Pedersen’s vocals bellow and scream from the center of the entropic sludge of psychedelia and metal, pummeling distorted guitar and bass melodies washing corpses ashore intow as the drums trundle and smash their way to the surface of the bubbling concoction.  It’s not often that I hear a band who would be as much at home in the mid-90’s rock explosion around Seattle here in the US as they would be in the burgeoning metal scene which has finally managed to gain some much deserved traction again in the past few years especially in the EU, but Lewd Flesh draw from such a wide and varied array of sounds it’s hard to pinpoint just when and where they’re actually from.  The title of the single obviously does a little more than hint at the fact they’re not from here state side, but the music contained on the sickeningly addictive slab of sinister 7-inch wax is much more difficult to pin down.  There’s an undeniable almost grunge meets desert rock twinge to the distorted guitar feeding back and screeching throughout, at times suddenly turning on a dime and devolving into full on Sabbath worshipping Sleep comparison inducing state of transcendent riffage.  The bass humms and pops alongside for the entirety ride, drawing you deeper and deeper into the festering pit of sound with it’s siren’s song.  I also must say that it’s not often I notice drums on a recording either honestly.  But here though, the drums help pay homage to that same Sabbath proto-metal meets Motorhead or full on Badmotorfinger era Soundgarden sound that is such a destinctive and unique combination in Lewd Flesh.   Over the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to get exposed to some of the lesser known bands from across the EU who haven’t had a chance to break here in the US yet, and there have been some amazing finds, but Lewd Flesh is definitely at the top of the list for me.  It’s been months in coming but I managed to get the band to sit down with me and dish about all things Lewd and Fleshy for all you lucky folks.  They’ve just finished the recording phase on their upcoming debut album which should be out before too awfully long.  But before that happens though, I highly recommend you give this a read.  Make sure you click on the Bandcamp link below, check out some tunes, and prepare yourself for the oncoming onslaught because you will not want to miss out on anything that Lewd Flesh releases!  Did I mention they offer all of their stuff digitally for free?  I didn’t?  Well, now I did – so what are you waiting for!?!  Dig on in to a healthy helping of psychedelic stoner delight now and you can thank me later...
- Listen while you read:
- Or you can find us on Spotify:

What’s the lineup in Lewd Flesh right now? Is this the original lineup or have you all gone through any changes since you first started? 

John:  The original lineup was Malene on vocals, Nanna on guitar and Sabine Tørnqvist Føns Andersen on bass.  Additionally, Carl Johan Hanberg played the drums for a couple of years around the time the 7-inch was recorded.  Before Carl, there were a few different drummers.  The current lineup is Malene on vocals, Nanna on guitar, Casper on guitar, Jakob on drums, and myself on the bass.

Are any of you currently in any other bands or do you have any side projects going on right now? 

John:  Jakob and I were playing in other bands before joining Lewd Flesh and we’re still active in those bands.  Jakob is the drummer of a hardcore band called No Fealty and I am playing bass in an experimental black metal band called Molok.

Have you released any music with anyone other than Lewd Flesh in the past? If so, can you tell us a little bit about that here?

John:  I released an album with Molok, back in ‘09 I believe.  It was a little less experimenting back then, and it isn't much of an indication of what we currently do.  Most of our music, released and unreleased, can be found on SoundCloud or YouTube, if you don’t mind doing a little digging, that is!

How old are you and where are you originally from? 

John:  I'm pushing thirty one.  I was born in Sri Lanka and raised in the outskirts of Denmark, near the German border

Casper:  I’m twenty four born, born to a Danish mother and a Swedish father, and was raised in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Malene:  I just turned thirty.  I grew up in one of the richest cities in Denmark.  My father is a farmer and took care of a large rich man's farm, we had no money but we were surrounded by huge superficial assholes.  As a result as a child, I spent most of my time in the nature by myself.

Nanna:  I'm turning thirty in a few months, and grew up in a small town at the northern coast of Sjælland, surrounded by water, trees and family.

What was your home like when you were growing up?  Was there a lot of music around or anything like that?  Were either of your parents or any of you close relatives musicians or extremely interested/involved in music? 

John:  The short answer is no!  A couple of teachers at my school put in a lot of effort to get kids involved in music, and that’s where it began for me.

Nanna:  We had a piano in my home, where I improvised music to the atmospheres of my friend’s stories; a lot of fun.  I went to piano lessons from like four to the age of about eleven, and took guitar lessons one year after that.  But my sister, who is four years older than me, was certainly a big influence on my taste in music, and brought me along to a lot of metal concerts from the age of twelve and up.   

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you get very involved in that scene or see a lot of shows when you were younger?  Do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or the way you perform at this point? 

John:  A nearby town had a great music scene, with all sorts of genres.  I went to my first show there.  It was local thrash and death metal bands.  So yeah, that definitely played a role in both my tastes and the way I play.  Also, living close to the German border meant that the Wacken Open Air Festival wasn't too far away either.  I first went there at sixteen and that experience did its part as well.

Malene:  As a teenager, I dyed my hair black and wore black clothes that I made myself and hung out with a small group of boys who skated and listened to a lot of different gloomy and ‘fuck it all’ music.  We soon started drinking, smoking, and going to concerts, hanging out in rehearsal rooms, jamming, playing music for each other and fleeing from the norms around us.  But I never really fit into any group.  I’ve always preferred to keep to myself.  And I’ve also always been known to be an untamable, flowing energy force.

Nanna:  I've always gone to a lot of concerts in Copenhagen, both big and underground.  I seem to surround myself with metal and punk loving people, and the energy of such live concerts has always touched my heart; energy I hope to be able to give back when performing myself. 

What do you consider your first real exposure to music to be? 

John:  Playing my first concert at school or going to my first proper show, probably.

If you were to pick a moment, or a small series of moments, that seemed to opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that music presents and changed everything for you, what would it be? 

Malene:  When I was eighteen I joined my first band with some guys who were like ten years older than me.  I had black hair and braces at the time.  They played a lot of smooth heavy blues, soul and old psychedelic rock for me, which is a big part of my style today.  I was kicked out of the band because I was a young unstable wreck at the time though.

John:  Being introduced to jazz, wink…  On a serious note though, I still get that feeling whenever I'm being introduced to music that pushes boundaries in a creative way.  If I were to pinpoint specific moments I vividly remember the first time I listened to Cryptopsy, a Canadian death metal band.  The song is called “Cold Hate, Warm Blood” completely blew me away.  I just couldn't understand what had just hit me!  Also, hearing the Norwegian avant-garde black metal band Dødheimsgaard/DHG was a big one.  The first time I heard their music, it was a song called “Traces of Reality”, and it was an eye opener for me.  It genuinely felt like boundaries and rules being smashed to bits.

Nanna:  I've been surrounded by peoples who were playing music for a lot of years, without playing myself.  At one point I started spending a lot of time jamming with people for fun and I experienced the great feeling it gave me cooperating and making a musical universe together.  

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get that? 

John:  A Fender Telecaster.  I was probably around twelve.

Casper:  I bought a cheap ass acoustic guitar when I was around eleven or twelve at my local supermarket.  No idea where it is now... 

Malene:  I’ve always sung to myself in my room.  My mother hated it! She would come in and shout at me, telling me I had to turn down the music.

Nanna:  Besides an old acoustic guitar an uncle gave me and my sister as children, which was the reason I choose the guitar later on actually, I bought an old, cheap, soon to be broken electric guitar off a friend when we started Lewd Flesh.  Tape can fix a lot of things…

When did you decide to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about for you?  Or, was it more of just a natural reflex to being given a new outlet and opportunity to create something of your own and express yourself in a new way?

John:  I never cared too much for playing cover songs, so I guess it happened naturally.  That doesn't mean it was easy, though!  When I first started writing my own stuff, man, it was absolute shit!

Casper:  When I first started to play guitar, I was really into Jimi Hendrix and quickly tried to learn most of his songs and started off mostly playing Jimi Hendrix covers.  But at one point I started to write my own songs, which just came naturally to me.  Now I like to play my own songs, but I’m not afraid to play a cover song now and then either.

Malene:  I’ve always had a huge need to indulge myself creatively.  I depend on it to keep my mind balanced.  It’s like a refuge for one's frustrations and demons, a universe where you can let go of your thoughts and bestial nature.

How and when did the members of Lewd Flesh meet?

John:  I met Malene and Nanna at a party/concert for the bands sharing our rehearsal space some years back.  We were in four or five bands sharing the same place, and decided we should all meet and listen to each other’s music.  Us sharing the rehearsal room was also the reason I eventually joined the band when they needed a new bass player.

What led to the formation of Lewd Flesh and when would that have been?

Nanna:  The band started in early 2011 when a fresh and initiative girl collected a group of friends, who didn't know each other, but all had boyfriends who played music, and all wanted to have an excuse for meeting once a week to drink bears, eat cake, enjoy each other’s company and play some music together.  We had varied musical experience, but were all pretty inexperienced at our instruments.  I myself hadn't played in any band before or played guitar since I took a year of lessons at the age of around twelve, so it was like brand new to me.  Even though we didn't know each other at first, we really enjoyed each other’s company.  Luckily, we all had an agreeable idea of sound.  Slowly music was being made and the band began to evolve.

What does the name Lewd Flesh mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds you almost went with you can recall at this point? 

Malene:  Since we didn’t have a name to start with, our good friend thought that we should be called UP MY ASS DIE IN PAIN in Danish.  All of our friends thought it was really cool and called us this for a long time, hence the name of our 7-inch.  We searched for a name that expressed and embodied sensual freedom.  I saw a film on television by chance which took place in late 19th century.  It was about a priest who was in love with a young woman.  The young woman had a seductive, joyous, magical mind and the priest used the word 'lewd' to describe her many times.  I didn’t know the meaning of the word at the time, but I thought she and the word were so beautiful.  The priests’ frustrations with his own desires lead him to have her burned as a witch at the end of the film.  I often think that if I had lived back then I would definitely have been banished, admitted to a lunatic asylum, or burned at the stake as a witch.

Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or operates by, spoken or unspoken?

John:  Not that I'm aware of!  We’re all quite different, and I think that actually works in our favour.

Where’s Lewd Flesh located at currently?  What’s the local scene like where you’re at?

John:  We are located in and around Copenhagen.  The scene is actually quite vibrant; lots of bands and small venues and festivals, radio programs, blogs etcetera for a ton of different genres.  Much of it is kept alive by the passion of people who really care about music.

Are you very involved in your local music scene in your opinion? Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or anything like that?

John:  We’re not really involved in booking shows, but we all attend a lot of them.  But there’re so many shows, it's impossible to attend all of them though.
Has the local scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Lewd Flesh in your opinion or do you feel like you all would be doing what you’re doing and sound basically like you do regardless of where you were at or surrounded by?

Nanna:  As we all goes to concerts in Copenhagen and the surrounding area, I don't think anybody can reject being influenced by the feeling of a great musical experience.  But I don't think we use it directly or deliberately.  We’re all different people, with different influences, bringing different sounds and new ideas to the band.  Curiosity is a great thing.

Whenever I talk to bands for these interviews I inevitably have to describe how they sound to be a bunch of people who’ve never heard them before and it can be a little bit intimidating to say the least. How would you describe Lewd Flesh’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?

John:  Stoner/doom/psychedelic.  I know I'm just putting a label on it, but I always try not to be too descriptive about my music.  Ideally, I would like people to experience the music with a tabula rasa, and let them make up their own minds without being told what something sounds or feels like.

You all obviously have one foot firmly planted as far as influences go, but I feel like you pull from a bunch of different places as well to round out your sound. I’m curious who you’d cite as your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

John:  I think we touched on it earlier, but it’s a difficult one because I'm not so sure that we, as a whole, could name any influences.  As you yourself said, we’re influenced, at least individually, by very different things.

What’s the songwriting process like for Lewd Flesh? Is there someone who usually comes in to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out from there with the rest of you or do you all like to get together and just kind of jam and let things happen and evolve until you hit on an idea that you’re interested in working on and refining?

John:  We usually start of from a single riff and work it out together.  The funny thing about that is that you may have a feeling about a riff you made, where it’s going, what it will sound and feel like.  But when the others start doing their thing, it all changes and becomes something completely different from what you had in mind.

Casper:  Malene writes all the lyrics, usually one of us comes up with a riff or some chords, and we just jam on it together, but sometimes one of us has an idea for a whole song, and tries to play it to the others.  From there we slowly try to combine all the instrumentation to make it sound right.  Malene will try to come up with some words and sing along in the moment, while writing some lyrics down.

What about recording? I think that most musicians can appreciate all the time and effort that goes into recording when they’re finally holding the finished product in their hands. But getting to that point though, getting things recorded and sounding the way you want them to, even seemingly little things like getting the completed recordings mixed and mastered properly can prove to be excruciating tasks. What’s it like recording for Lewd Flesh?

John:  I’ve only recorded some demo songs with Lewd Flesh, but that was a nice experience.  It all went quite nicely, and the guy who did the recording was great as well.  Normally, though, I just want it to be done with!  As you said, there it’s a lot of work, especially the post-recording stuff.  The whole recording and post-production experience is probably my least favourite part of playing music, but it’s usually worth it once you get to listen to the finished product.

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly how a song’s going to sound when you record it, with all of the different parts of the arrangement and composition worked out and planned meticulously before you record? Or do you like to get a good skeletal idea of what something’s going to sound like while allowing for some change and evolution during the recording process where you feel necessary or prudent?

John:  We’ve only done some demo recordings together, but personally I feel that there should always be room for change and evolution in a song, even after it’s been recorded.  Not necessarily major stuff, but little tweaks here and there.  We do try to be at a point where we know how the complete structure of a song should be before we record it, but sometimes a person who hasn't heard it a million times can give you valuable input, and that shouldn't be dismissed.

Do you all like to take a more DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical aspects of things on your own so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound with anyone else, or do you like to head into a studio and let someone else worry about that headache so that you can concentrate on getting things to sound the way you want them to from the very start?

John:  We do have an idea of how we would like it to sound, but as I said above, outside input can prove very useful.  However, that being said, we do like to make sure that a sound guy has an understanding of the kind of music we play.

You all released you first material that I’m aware of this past year in 2014. The Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7-inch for Spaghetti Cassetti Records is ridiculously heavy and gnarly! Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of that first material? Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all, or more of a difficult nerve-racking proposition at that time? When and where was that material recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?

Nanna:  We recorded the 7-inch with Rune Stilling Buck and Kim Møller Mikkelsen, who also made the masters at their Copenhagen bunker in the summer of 2013; some very hot days.  They were very cool, professional, and easy to work with.  Rune has a lot of patience, which I can personally attest to.  It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun! 

Does Lewd Flesh have any music besides the Op I Røven, DøI Smerte single that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a demo or a single that I don’t know about?

John:  We have been recording a two song demo with songs from the upcoming full-length debut.  The demo should be available for free download off our Bandcamp by the time this is published.

With the release of the Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte 7-inchthis past year in 2014, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Lewd Flesh that you can talk about at this point?

John:  Yes, we’re working on our full-length debut right now.  We’re aiming at getting that completely finished and then finding someone to put it out, hopefully sometime this upcoming summer.

With the completely insane international postage rates these days I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up your music?

John:  That would be through our Bandcamp.  Unfortunately, we don't know of any way to get it from within the US right now.  Hopefully that will change one day, because you’re absolutely right about the international postage rates!

What about our international and overseas readers?

John:  Again: our Bandcamp.  We want to keep prices as low as possible on our records and merch, which is about as much as we can do.  The other solution for everyone out there would be to download our music, which can be done for free.  That way you get a chance to hear it as often as you want, and you can decide if it’s worth your hard earned money for a physical copy.

And where would the best place for our interested readers to keep up on the latest news from Lewd Flesh like upcoming shows and album releases be at?

John:  We share all our news through our Facebook account.  It’s not ideal as some people aren’t going to get the updates in their feed, but it’s the easiest way for us at the moment.

Are there any major plans or goals that Lewd Flesh is looking to accomplish in 2015?

John:  It would be great to have the full-length released this year.  Apart from that, we will see what happens.  We would like to get a chance to play outside of Denmark, though, and are hoping for a tour in some European countries in late 2015.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  What’s life like on the road for Lewd Flesh? Do you enjoy being out on tour?

John:  We haven't been on a tour together yet, I'm afraid.

Nanna:  The old lineup of Lewd Flesh with Sabine and Carl went on a small festival tour to Thylejren and Kildemose in the Danish country in summer 2013, which was a lot of fun.

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes right now?

John:  We’re looking to make something happen in the Fall/Winter, when our individual schedules should be clearing up a bit.

Do you remember what the first song that Lewd Flesh ever played live was? When and where would that have been at?

Nanna:  The first time we played live was in early 2012 at our rehearsal room in Copenhagen, at a party for all the bands who rehearsed there.  Almost all of us knew each other in some way, and we still share rehearsal space with those bands.  It was actually at this party that our old drummer Carl decided to join Lewd Flesh.  We played our first two songs that evening, which were “Cage” and “Hangover Blues”.  And in case anyone is wondering, these songs aren't on our Bandcamp for download anymore.

Do you give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, and cover artwork? Is there any kind of meaning or message you’re attempting to convey with the visual side of Lewd Flesh? Do you have anyone that you usually turn in your times of need when it comes to the visual aspects of Lewd Flesh?

John:  I’m not sure if there’s a deeper meaning to the visuals as a whole.  We’ve been using different artist, and, as far as I know, they have just been free to interpret our music and lyrics in whatever way they wanted.  Of course we want it to represent what we do in one way or another - I can’t see us using an image of puppies playing in a field of flowers anytime soon.

Nanna:  At our release party we had our good friend Martin Bollerup decorate the room.  He also made the cover art for the 7-inch, and has decorated the Kildemose Festival the last two years, where we played at.  He has a fantastic creative mind, and makes some beautiful, adventurous and magical universes. 

With all of the various methods of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the mediums that they do. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music?

John:  Op i røven, dø i smerte was released on vinyl and I'm sure any future releases will be as well.  Also, I think we will continue to offer our music digitally for free, or a price of your own choosing.  I guess it depends somewhat on expenses, but I hope to make our music available through as many mediums as possible.

I grew up around a pretty massive collection of music and both of my parents really encouraged me to listen to anything that I wanted to from a pretty young age. My dad taking me out to the local shops on the weekends is what left the biggest impression though. I developed a whole system, a kind of ritual for listening to music that I’ve never abandoned and has led to a lifelong love, or obsession depending on who you talk to, with physically released music. I’ll rush home, snatch up a set of headphones, kick back with the liner notes, reading them over and over again while I staring at the cover art. There’s something about having a physical object to hold in my hand’s and experience along with what I’m hearing that seems like it offers a rare and brief glimpse into the minds of the artists who created it and makes for a much more complete listening experience for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

John:  Ha-ha!  That brings back fond memories, man.  I don't do it to the same extent these days though.  In fact I most often listen to music while doing something else.  I mostly listen to music digitally, but physical copies still leave me with a much deeper experience.

 Like it or not right now, digital music is here in a big way. I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg though, when you combine digital music with the internet, that’s when you have something really interesting on your hands! Together they’ve exposed people to a literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and it’s also allowed for an unparalleled level of communication between bands and their fans all over the globe thereby eradicating a lot of geographic boundaries and limitations that would have crippled bands even just a few years ago. On the other hand though, while people are being exposed to all this amazing new music, most of them aren’t really that interested in paying for it at this point. I think a lot of people have start to see music as a sort of disposable thing, to be used and then deleted as a result of digital files as well. I think a lot of what you make of a situation just depends on how you look at and deal with it. As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

John:  This is a huge question!  It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, and debated with other people.  I tend to look at music as having two dimensions: music as business and music as art.  These two, of course, are not completely separated, but on one hand you have an industry hell bent on making money, even if it means ridiculous lawsuits against kids downloading music off the internet, and on the other hand you have people playing music their whole life without ever making a living off of it, often actually spending lots of money doing so.  The industry, it seems, was exceptionally slow in understanding and accepting the internet, not to mention making use of it, often fighting it rather than adapting to it.  Individuals and small bands, on the other hand, seemed to embrace the opportunities it brought along, making their music available through various mediums.  I believe music as an art form benefits from it, but I’m biased here.  I have no intentions of 'making' it with my music, of having it become a full time job.  I want to do other things for a living and keep playing music as a hobby, something that I can enjoy.  As such, I love how easy it has become to experience new music from around the world, and how easy it is for people around the world to experience our music.  I understand your point about people not wanting to pay for music and thinking of it as something disposable, but is that really a problem?  Of course, if someone spends large amounts of money on producing something, they would at least hope for the costs to be covered, but there are, as always, other ways to do things. One of the best examples I know of, is a group called In Death it Ends.  What they do is to continually release digital singles for free download and then physical albums are released in a limited amount, which is based on how many express an interest in buying it through a preorder.  Each physical copy is of exceptional quality with a lot of care put into the details and there are little extras to make it worth it.  That seems to be a great way of making sure you don’t end up spending huge amounts on production without being able to cover it.  Now with regards to digital music being disposable, rather than something you keep and cherish: I simply do not believe we can talk of a right or wrong here.  I have a rather large collection of physically released music, and it‘s only going to grow, because I like it that way.  At the same time, there are records that no longer hold any value to me; some stand the test of time, some don’t.  If the process of getting and getting rid of music has sped up these days, then so be it, it doesn't necessarily have to be a negative.  What matters, I think, is how music affects the listener, not the length of time it does so.

Nanna:  I agree with you, John.

I try to keep up with as many good bands as I can but there’s just not enough time to listen to everything out there. Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

John:  We have been playing a lot of concerts with a band called Gaia, whom are definitely worth a listen.

(2014) Lewd Flesh – Op I Røven, Dø I Smerte –7” – Spaghetti Cassetti Records (Limited to 104 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2015
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