Interview with Patrick Campbell Lyons from legendary psychedelic band Nirvana

May 18, 2011

Interview with Patrick Campbell Lyons from legendary psychedelic band Nirvana

Thank you very much for agreeing to this interview, Patrick. I have been a huge fan of your band for a very long time. My first question is about your childhood. What was your first contact with music as a young boy?
I describe it in sweet flowing detail in the first chapter of the book Psychedelic Days. I was inside my mothers womb getting ready to pop out very soon … my parents were dancing (they loved it and did it all the time) and I could hear the songs they were dancing to, mostly songs from the USA pop charts of the time…
Were you in any other bands before forming Nirvana? I know Hat and Tie was a band you were in and you released two 45’s. 
The first band I had for 2 months only I might say was called the Teenbeats (took a lot of time to think of that name indeed! Then I had a really hot R&B band called the Second Thoughts, Speedy Keen who was later in Thunderclap Newman was the drummer, and he was one of my best mates at the time, Chris Thomas (later a top record producer) was the bass player… we were all living in ealing west London at the time….it was a jumpin and jivin place for sex, making music, and doing drugs, all told in great and surreal detail in two chapters of the book Psychedelic Days. You can buy it at www.psychedelicdays.com
Hat and Tie was never a band. It was just myself and Chris Thomas as a recording songwriting duo. It was well worth it though as the Everly Brothers not much later recorded one of the songs called “I’m Finding it Rough” we were lucky fuckers, how many songwriters can say the first song they ever wrote was recorded by one of the biggest acts in the world.
Formation of Nirvana.
It started in a cafe in Denmark street in Soho London on the day I met Alex Spyropoulos from Athens (but just moved from Paris to swap a career in law for one in film/music). Our first session was in regent sound in the same street a week later when we demo’d a version of the song Busy Man… We had 3 hours in there which we got for no payment other than to buy the engineer a few drinks in the “ship” pub the next time we were there together, the Rolling Stones came in later in the afternoon at about 4.00pm. Bill The Engineer said “fuck off guys the Stones are outside and they want to get their gear in”. So that’s what we did.
The Story of Simon Simopath is one of the first conceptual albums. A true masterpiece!
Well thank you for the accolades , and I don’t mind saying we deserve them, because we did work very hard at trying to make (as you say) a masterpiece, we spent a lot of time over the craft of the songwriting, the artwork and arrangements, and later with the help of the wonderful Syd Dale we got it ready for recording, where we had the best in production to work with us. None of it would have been possible if the unique presence, belief in us, and money also, of our label boss and founder Chris Blackwell (Island Records) was not there to manage and guide the project, that is why I devote a complete chapter in the book Psychedelic Days to him and his story in music. Simon Simopath is the first concept album, and we were the first band to use phasing, and we were the first band with the name Nirvana… and we are the only band to have performed live with Salvador Dali… that chapter in the is one of the reader’s/and reviewer’s favourite.
Who is behind the artwork?
David Browning of CCS advertising in London. It’s based on our ideas.
How about your second album?
I remember that time as being the most creative of my life, everything was buzzing, we were on a constant high, we were traveling to Germany/France, Holland and Scandinavia as our recordings were beginning to sell in those territories. We were at the top of our game and ideas were coming forth like champagne from a soda fountain.
The cover artwork of the second album is really interesting…
More than interesting some might say… maybe even disturbing to some, but we went with it after we found the picture in an old bookshop in Delmenhorst (near Hamburg) in Germany. It is a montage film still from a movie (Propaganda) made by Lenni Reifensthal for the Third Reich. What more can I say? As a contrast to the Simon Simopath cover (first LP release) it was a wonderful flash image, that’s what we liked about our ideas, they always worked as “flash” pop……pow!
How was touring going for you in that period?
If I give you everything in this interview no one will buy the book… So I will just say, two of my favourite chapters as the author and worth the price of the book alone are “fucking around in Belgium” and “into Morocco”…
Dedicated to Markos III is your third album from 1970. Absolutely stunning release. Mature and sophisticated songwriting.
Yes I agree with your observations, that’s what we thought too and still feel the same today… but unfortunately Chris and Island felt we ha become to “orchestral and lush” … his words! So the relationship with Island was over, and we moved on to pastures anew. cest la vie.
Local Anaesthetic is your next album released in 1971.
In thirteen words… hurt, confused, bad acid, drink, excess and selfishness, lost days, perception, sailing, the eleusinian mysteries.
Songs of Love & Praise was your last album. What happened?
New roads, new places, new faces, finding new ways to do things, and learning to be a better person.
If I’m not wrong you recorded your solo album called Me and My Friend in 1973. 
It is a work that is inspired by where I was at time of my life, which was the island of Majorca in Spain, the painter Liz Montgomery, and my beautiful daughter.
What did you do after that? I know you recorded two more albums in 1981 called Electric Plough and The Hero I Might Have Been in 1982. 
The Electric Plough and The Hero I Might Have Been are in fact the same album in 2 different covers, one for the USA market and the other for England, and the music is a trip back to my “roots” in the country of my birth… Ireland, a place full of wonder.
 In 90’s you released Orange & Blue as Nirvana and in 2010, The 13 Dali’s as a solo artist….
In fact I have never really stopped making music and to find people who want to put it on their labels and release it means a lot to me and my creative spirit. A person like Karl Anderson of The Global Recording label in San Francisco is a very good example of that spirit, passion and commitment to the music and the artist, that allows me to say, for myself and for some others I also have the pleasure to know… how beautiful it is that i can “swim with dolphins and not with sharks”.
What are you doing these days?
I have just finished a book reading/signing Tour of the USA (mostly on the west coast) which was a new and challenging experience. Psychedelic Days has found a new young audience over there of people who love the music that we made as Nirvana, (most of them have discovered us through the internet) and find my book to be a true story of the trip that I took at that time between 1961 and 1969. They also want to buy our music on vinyl which I find amazing and exciting and some of the radio interviews I did over there were fucking brilliant, because a lot of these people are also Dj’s and they let me be a guest DJ on their programmes. Check out a radio show out of Los Angeles called “Reverberations” on KXLU.
Psychedelic days (the book) is available from www.psychedelicdays.com
Also on kindle/amazon and order through bookstores, if you can find one! My new CD The 13 Dali’s is available from Global Recording Artists
Thank you very much for your time and effort. Would you like to add anything?
Yes, I would like to leave you with a “thought from my book” the past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift. that is why it is called…….the present. and thanks and slainte to you and your readers.
– Klemen Breznikar
  1. ge

    WOW good score--- This man is a genius!
    i may have been born the same day as K Cobain, but I worship Patrick's albums having discovered them pretty recently...
    "orchestral and lush" is not a problem, CB! ya ol' bastid

  2. Geoffrey Cervantes

    hi patrick,fantastic compilation of Nirvana imformation,colour and style...all the very best for you and everything you do,geoffrey cervantes.

  3. Tim Charlton

    Hi Patrick, we love all your records.My advice for new fans is start at the top and work your way down.There is something new and different to experience in each one, and the books great too with mention of Jimi Hendrix and Salvador Dali!

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