Alpha Omega interview
Australian space rockers Alpha Omega
Who’s in Alpha Omega and what do you all play? Have you all made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?
Alpha Omega is a four piece psychedelic space rock band formed in 1998 Brisbane Australia. Founding members Paul Power on vocals, guitar and synthesiser, Stuart Hodgson on drums and backing vocals and Max Wilcox on bass, guitar and vocals.
Original Line-up between 1998 and 2007
• Paul Power
• Stuart Hodgson
• Max Wilcox
There has been a number of bass players over the years
• Greg Baxter between 2007 and 2009
• Dave Smith 2010 to 2015
• Sam Power 2016
• Jack Mulroney 2017 to present
Synthesisers are normally done by Paul in the studio with a vast array as classic analogue synths. When playing live, a guitar synthesiser is often used. Live synth players have been Nic Gilbert, Ivan Anderson, Denise Hodgson, Rhonda Hodgson and currently Mic Cosmic.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
Paul was given a cassette of Hawkwind by his uncle when he was 12. Growing up in the early 80’s got into punk psychedelic rock with… Spacerock which became his favourite genre.
Stuart enjoyed many classic 70’s rock bands such Kiss, Alice Cooper, and got into Hawkwind in the early 80’s… Max introduced us to King Crimson and influenced by bands such Bob Calvert from Hawkwind.
We all mutually liked Hawkwind and Gong and science fiction so we knew what the next step you be.
When and how did you all originally meet?
Founding members Paul and Max met via an advert in the street press that Max published for people interested in Hawkwind. Paul and Max musically aligned and decided to form a space rock band and advertised in local street press for a lead singer and guitarist. The rehearsal room booked, musicians came and a pre-Alpha Omega band was formed with singer ex-Mythica. After a year the singer and drummer left and we really needed those drums. We called up one of the vocalists from the original audition who said he could play drums also. We gave Stuart a call and he was keen. “Can you play drums like Simon King?” Answer was “yes” “ok you’re in the band.” Alpha Omega was born late 1998.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?
All band members were solely interested in writing and recording original music. Covers were never an option. We always had been interested in doing it all ourselves, a true independent artist.
Early daze. Max Volume, Stuart Hodgson and Paul Power
Has the local scene played a large role in the sound, history or evolution of Alpha Omega? Australia had a lot of interesting bands already in the 1960s. Had that any impact on you or were you more interested in Hawkwind – Gong related material from the very beginning?
The music scene in Australia has many great artists, but not so much a community of like minded artists in a genre, and no festival scene. Our home town of Brisbane the pub scene was dying as the kids were lining up for DJs. We were all fans of Hawkwind and Gong and certainly has had the biggest influence. Paul also brought a bit of raw punk into the guitars, Max with his King Crimson and Lemmy, and Stu with 70’s rock influence.
What does the name “Alpha Omega” refer to in the context of the band name?
We bandied a few names about and Alien Elephant, String Theory were on the list. Max came up with Alpha Omega taking the meaning of Zero to Infinity or Beginning to the End. We all liked that name as musically it leaves everything open.
What’s the songwriting process like?
Our song writing often comes from a part-structured songs with open improvised sections. Much of the first album was more pre-written song based but The Psychedelometer started with 2 pre-writing song and the rest was all improved.
Can you share some further details how your latest album Dark Tales Of The Shroom was recorded and released?
Dark Tales Of The Shroom was recorded at Alpha Omega Studios, which is Paul’s recording studio. Most songs were written and recorded in the era with Dave Smith on bass.
The band first released the album digitally on Bandcamp but after the success of Down The Gravity Well and the issue of Electronic Mind Project on vinyl for the first time, Andreas from Clostridium Records (Germany) wanted to do another album of Alpha Omega on vinyl.
What kind of process do you have at mastering material for the release?
Alpha Omega’s studios uses Steinberg’s Cubase for recording and mixing with Ozone mastering software for Vinyl. The vinyl mastering sound quite different to a master for CD. We eagerly await the test pressing when it comes to vinyl.
What about your first album Electronic Mind Project? How would you compare it to Dark Tales Of The Shroom?
Both Album’s are strong with the songwriting but the recording process was different and different bass players involved. The first album was recorded, mixed and mastered in 3 days in OPM Studios with most of the songs prerehearsed. The latest album was recorded over many different live sessions with some tracks live and improvised and others recorded live as a whole then layers of overdubs recorded. This gives a much fuller sound. Plus the software has also come a long way in 20 years! We started on ADAT and when the computer technology first started.
Would you say that any of your albums has its own concept behind it?
Definitely so. The Psychedelometer was fully a concept album with linear notes for all songs forming the story behind the ISMB (Intergalactic Music Standards Board). This came about funnily enough at a party we playing at and did a version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, but changed the words to a title to “Bucket Man”, about chronic bong smoking. We then used the idea the there is a ISMB (Intergalactic Music Standards Board) that controls what species can listen to across the universe. Any weird frequencies were prohibited something which Alpha Omega was accused of on their home planet. Found guilty, musicians were sent to the Prison Planet.
Who is behind the artwork for your band?
There has been a number of contributions to the artwork. The first album came from a drawing from Stuart which shows a person being mind controlled as part of the Electronic Mind Project. The Psychedelometer was mainly done by Max our bassist including the ISMB booklet insert for the album. The band’s only ever vinyl single “The Rock” / “We Are the Parasites” came from another drawing from Stuart called “The Rock”. The Down the Gravity Well album front cover was an original oil canvas painting done specifically for the Band by artist and friend, Shawn Olive. The inner sleeve used a particle accelerator moving into the gravity well done by Chris Gillette The re-issue of Electronic Mind Project was done with all new digital graphics by Dale Simpson. The latest release Dark Tales Of The Shroom again saw another original painting for the band done by Shawn Olive.
Who are some of your personal favourite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
We have played a lot with Daevid Allen from Gong over the years and done many local gigs with Daevid with Alpha Omega backing sometimes performed under the name Trypswich, Sacred Geometry, and Electronic Mind Project.
We still haven’t covered the wide variety of material you released. Would you mind if we can go through your discography? Your first album was above mentioned Electronic Mind Project. Your next album was The Psychedelometer.
The Psychedometer saw the band venturing into improvisation and came from a collection of the best recordings from many improv sessions. The recording we done mainly at Tigereye Studios (Gong’s Australian Studio) and features Daevid Allen on 2 tracks. Bits of the album were recorded at Flyshakker Studios while Alpha Omega Studios was being built. The tracks were mastered by Novymir Productions and Alpha Omega Studios.
Later on you released two or three songs on Bandcamp, for instance “We Are The Parasites”, “Transdimensional Paradox”, “Reefer Madness”. Is that just some new material you wanted to share with your fans?
“Reefer Madness”was recorded to be released on the Daze Of The Underground (Tribute to Hawkwind) released by Godreah Records. The single “We are the Parasites” / “The Rock” was the band’s first vinyl release… something the band always wanted to do. “Transdimensional Paradox” was arranged by Alpha Omega from two Hawkwind song’s “Transdimensional Man” and “Paradox” featuring Leisha Underhill on vocals. This recording was specifically done to contribute to Fruits De Mer release Roquetting Through Space, an album based on Space Rock and Kraut Rock. As this Album was sold out during pre-release, the band decided to upload these tracks onto Bandcamp for free download.
Transdimensional Paradox. Paul Power, Greg Baxter, Stuart Hodgson and Leisha Underhill
I actually got first to know you via Down The Gravity Well album.
The word Gravity Well came up in conversation at a party and we thought that would be a cool album title. An instrumental jam then became the title track of the album. This was the band first full studio album recorded and produced at Alpha Omega Studios.
After long time founding bass member Max left the band in 2007, the band had a year off. In 2009 ex Arctic Circles bassist Greg Baxter joined the band and new material started to materialise of which nearly all ended up on the album. Greg with his P bass and Indie background, the sound changed significantly. Greg contributed 2 tracks “Excession” and “I Believe in UFOs”.
Dave Smith, Stuart Hodgson, Paul Power and Ivan Anderson
How about Live at Terra Australis?
Terra Australis was a mini-festival hosted by Alpha Omega in 2002 and brought bands together from Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast. As there we no festivals locally, we decided on having our own. The event was held at The Healer, a converted church into music venue – so great acoustics and natural reverb. We searched Australia for Space Rock bands and there weren’t many. We hooked up with Drunken Gunmen and Space Doctors and they were on the bill. We arranged full psychedelic lighting with oil projectors, lasers and smoke machines. The full show was being recorded to 24 track ADAT and some footage recorded which can be seen on Youtube.
You also appeared on Daze Of The Underground – A Tribute to Hawkwind and Fruits De Mer Records’ – Roqueting Through Space. How was to work on that songs?
Daze Of The Underground was released as a Hawkwind Tribute Album released by Godreah Records. Godreah approached the band to do a track. We decided to do “Reefer Madness” as we were keen to do a Robert Calvert track. Track was recorded and mastered at Vibrafeel Studios. This was done live to analog tape and for mixdown it was all band members on the volume faders. Stu noticed Fruits de Mer Records in the Record Collector magazine. They were doing a Space Rock / Kraut Rock double vinyl album. We approached Fruits De Mer to do a contribution. We decided to do a hybrid of a classic Hawkwind track with an obscure one. We thought it would be interesting to do with a female vocalists and got Leisha, a friend of the bass player to sing. The original version included the whole lyrics of “Paradox” but we had to cut due to time restrictions on the final release which had more “Transdimensional Man” with the solo and ending of “Paradox”.
Sonic Rock Solstice 2016. Sam Power, Stuart Hodgson, Paul Power and Mic Cosmic
What are some future plans?
To rock on until we die. We have just returned from our second time in the UK and have new bassist Jack Mulroney on board from another great psychedelic band The Purple Avengers & Delirium Seeds. It’s time to work a new album
Your music has an incredible – late ‘80s free festival/space rock feel to it.
We are all into sci-fi and bands that rock in space. Our sound is based on live free-form improv and the influence of drugs which is how they did it in the 70’s So with loud roaring amps and analog synths bleeping all frequencies our wall of sound is complete.
Beautiful Days 2018. Paul Power, Jack Mulroney, Mic Cosmic and Stuart Hodgson
What would be some less known psychedelic rock / space rock albums you would like to share with us?
Locally the psychedelic scene is becoming a popular genre as people are discovering that wall of sound and weirdness has its affects. The kids are getting into it! Paul’s son Sam is in a new band called Blue Savannah Underworld. There are now some great Australian Psychedelic Bands downunder including Dreamtime, Stonefield, The Purple Avengers, Delirium Seeds, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and Fight Ibis.
Let’s end this interview with some of your bands or favourite albums.
We all have quite diverse musical tastes but we collectively like Hawkwind, Gong, King Crimson
And Porcupine Tree.
Kozfest 2018. Mic Cosmic, Paul Power, Stuart Hodgson and Jack Mulroney
Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?
“There’s some great psychedelic music coming of Australia is a count of the fact you can grow your own dope” – Kozmic Ken
Well that’s not exactly true. Some great lives bands coming out of the woodworks such as Dreamtime, Zong, Stonefield, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and getting into it are the younger generation – check out Blue Savannah Underworld.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Thanks and see ya in space!
– Klemen Breznikar
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