Glass Sun interview with Rick Roll
Was music a big part of your family life? Did the local music scene influence you or inspire you to play music?
I was born in Detroit, Michigan however I was raised up mostly in our town of Westland. When I was very young I would listen to my parents 78 rpm records, my favorite song back then was Johnnie Ray’s “The Little White Cloud” that cried. Later in my teen years I became a fan of Del Shannon, and began to write songs similar to his.
When did you begin playing music? What was your first instrument?
I learned about music in junior high school, I played the trumpet and tuba in the marching band.
What bands were you a member of prior to the formation of Glass Sun? How old were you when your first band formed? What was your role in these bands? When was the first gig you ever played? Do you recall the first song you performed before an audience?
Originally at the age of 16 a few of my friends and I formed a band I called Rick Roll and the Auroras. We recorded a couple of tunes, and played at the local WMCA before the band broke up. At that point I joined up with my brother Bruce Roll and our friend Danny Sills to form a new band. We originally called ourselves the Cyclones up until my brother and I came back from the Vietnam war service we then changed our name to the Glass Sun. We played several local venues over the years which included The Walled Lake Casino, and the Westland Army Navy Union Hall. In later years we played our own local jam session, at the VFW Halls and on our own properties.
Cyclones in 1965.
What was the first song you ever composed?
It was called “OH Sharon” only one recording studio sample copy was ever made, I still have it in my possession today.
When and where did The Glass Sun play their first gig? Do you remember the first song the band played? How was the band accepted by the audience?
We played at a political rally at the Local 182 hall in Livonia Michigan. I believe I sang Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” and my brother Bruce did the Beatles version of “Twist And Shout.” Then Danny did his version of the Ventures “Wipe Out” to a standing ovation.
Danny Sills, 1971.
What sort of venues did The Glass Sun play early on?
We played in a couple of Band Wars, and a lot of local teen dances back in 1964-1965.
How did you decide to use the name “The Glass Sun”?
We decided to adjust the name of the band to the Psychedelic heavy music times, like Led Zeppelin, and Iron Butterfly. So we came up with The Glass Sun, to symbolize our newer Bright Hot sound back then.
What was the writing and arranging process like?
My brother and I would come together to put in the lead guitar and then all of us would put the arrangement together.
Rick Roll, 1971.
You released your singles on Sound Patterns Record. What can you tell us about “Silence Of The Morning” / “Oh Sandy”?
“Oh Sandy” started out as a love song, but I changed the subject to reflect the concerns about our environment. “Silence Of The Morning”, first started as a fuzz guitar lick, but became a monster of song concerned personal loss. It’s put together to be a thought about any kind of a situation.
“Silence Of The Morning” is one of the fuzziest songs. What’s the story behind it?
Simply, my brother Bruce’s special guitar sound, with the extended notes, you can feel the guitar strokes and licks as he transfers his feelings upon the frets.
Bruce Roll, 1971.
Did the single garner any radio airplay?
Not back in the the 70’s or 80’s. Now later with the Internet and Garage band shows on the radio it is being played all over the world!
What influenced the band’s sound?
Once we reunited after the Vietnam war, I guess we had all these feelings pent up in us, and we had all learned so much more playing with other musicians during that time we were apart. We came back loud and strong, ready to play again, after listening to the great’s like Iron Butterfly, Led Zeppelin and Cream.
“Stick Over Me” / “I Can See the Light” was your next single.
“Stick Over Me” speaks for itself, a song against the Industrial Military complex in our country. “I Can See the Light” is about a love lost and the feelings that follow, also became another “monster of sound” song.
Can you tell us when were those singles recorded?
Yes, the information is in our “Glass Sun Story Book”. “Silence Of The Morning” and “Oh Sandy” were written in 1968 while I was stationed in Vietnam and Japan. They were recorded in 1971. The second single was recorded in 1972.
Did the size of audiences increase following the release of these singles?
With no radio play back in those days, we only played locally. Now with the Internet we have almost a half a million plays on YouTube.
Where did you record it? What kind of equipment did you use and who was the producer?
They were recorded at Dan Dallas’s recording studio and released 300 records on his local label, Sound Pattern Records. They were recorded on his 8 track Ampex tape machine. Record Collectors Magazine has valued our “Silence Of The Morning” record at $400 per copy these days. We have sold several remaining records in recent years for more then that. We only have less then 50 left. So, recently we re-mastered the recording with the help of Dan Dallas again and released our CD with CDBaby.
Were you inspired by psychoactive substances like LSD at the time?
No, we were inspired by the music of the times and our desire to play and record music.
Are the members of Glass Sun still in contact?
My Brother Bruce Roll, passed away in 2010, Danny Sills and I still meet and play music together today.
Thank you for taking your time. Last word is yours.
The story book was conceived after my brother Bruce Roll passed away, we gathered all the old pictures we could find and Danny and I took on this project together covering 50 years of the bands history. The whole project took two and a half years.We have combined the book with our re-mastered CD and have been selling them that way. We’ve had a lot of interest, I did a recent interview here at the University of Michigan radio station.
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