Monday, November 18, 2013

TDATS 94: It's Psychedelic Baby (with Klemen Breznikar)

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Welcome to TDATS 94! For this edition I have chosen to interview Klemen Breznikar. He lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia and he's the editor-in-chief of a psych rock webzine called "It's Psychedelic Baby" [IPB]. In a similar way to the book review/interview I did with Ra'anan Chelled for Volume 85, I've also taken this opportunity to compile an hour's worth of favourite tracks from acts that appear in articles I read on IPB, all of which included interviews with one or more of the original members.

Those of you who frequently use the net to search out obscure rock may well have come across IPB already, as it has covered a wide range of related subjects since it started three years ago. During this time IPB has attracted contributions from around thirty voluntary writers, including some of the old-school artists themselves like folk musician Dave Bixby and Djin Aquarian of Ya Ho Wha 13. Amongst many things, IPB contains regular columns from writers, many first-time scoop interviews with artists from the last fifty years that Klemen has tracked down, and coverage of new bands in the psychedelic arena, via interviews, record reviews and live reviews.

IPB has conducted interviews with countless bands that have appeared in TDATS before and for this comp, apart from Finland's 'Charlies', all the artists are new to TDATS so it's been a great learning experience for me. Over half of the tracks appearing are from the '60s, and the rest are from the early '70s. There's a bit of everything here, Bakerloo and Corpus's blues rock, Charlies and Pluto's hard rock, Harvey Mandel's experimental jazz guitar, the Strawb's folk prog, White Lightning and Wildwood's hard garage rock, and plenty of psych like The Outsiders of course. One more mention, Thanks to Mick Mullin (guitarist in Zodiak) for improving the sound quality on the BOA track, good work again!

Following the interview with Klemen is a summary of each band in the comp with a link to their IPB article...take it away Klemen...

Klemen Breznikar
Klemen Breznikar
Q01. To begin, can you tell us some of the major events and influences in your life that lead you to start "It's Psychedelic Baby"?

"When I was just a little kid I found my dad's vinyl collection. At the time we didn't have turntable so I was just looking at the cover artwork and wondered to myself about how they sound.

Later I got a turntable and also at the times, there was this big »music blog« culture, where you could find really rare albums. One of the first albums, that influenced me to become obsessed with psychedelic is »Electric Music For Mind and Body« by Country Joe & The Fish. This was the foundation for me. Out of this I'd found bands like Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead, Ultimate Spinach and many others.

I think the main reason to start Psychedelic Baby was getting in contact with C.A. Quintet [vol85] and Ya Ho Wha 13 members, which led to an interview with them. After this I got an idea, that I should expand and do more interviews and articles."

Q02. Are you a musician yourself?

"I'm not in a band, but I like to play some acoustic guitar just for my soul. To relax and to have a little bit of fun."

Q03. You cover a wide range of styles in your webzine, TDATS is mainly about the heavier side of rock, but Psychedelic Baby equally features styles like symphonic prog, raga, folk and acoustic artists. Could you tell us about what your favourite styles are?

"People sometimes confuse, that It's Psychedelic Baby is only for psychedelic music, cos of the name, but that is not true. It all began mostly as a psychedelic-oriented mag, but we've covered like you said a lot of different music genres. I don't like putting music in framework. Anything, that is featured on the magazine is somehow interesting…

My favourite style? Uh, hard to say. I will tell you about what I listen the most, but I can't really say what's my favourite. I think, that my turntable get's a really high amount of late 60s psych and heavy psych and a lot of loner folk, but like I said I'm very open minded when it comes to music."

Q04. I think the transitional period between the mid/late '60s and early '70s was the most fascinating and fertile time in rock history. What are your opinions on why there was such a creative explosion during those times and what other periods interest you most up until the current day?

"The Period between the late 60s and early 70s was incredible, but sometimes we forget, that these days we also have a lot of great and interesting music, but the problem is, that back in the 70s you had amazing bands like Led Zeppelin on top of the charts, cos »Rock« music was the most popular one and you had thousands of bands, that never had the chance for exposure until now, I guess. These days the culture changed and »Rock« became kind of underground, which can produce quite a lot of amazing bands.

The main reason for such an explosion of sounds came from various of reasons. One of them were for sure Vietnam war and consequently all the protests and resistance by students also in France, Germany…

Then a lot of new music gear emerged and that gave an opportunity to produce new, interesting sounds…

People got tired and they wanted to start something new and in a way they managed to create something very unique.

Other periods? Maybe hardcore punk scene is interesting, cos of sociological background and these days I'm surprised how big the scene for psychedelic, doom and all kind of other alternative stuff has become, thanks to internet, which can connect people like never before."

Q05. How are the featured artists chosen for your magazine? Are they voluntary submissions from your writers or do you delegate the writing jobs after deciding what you would like to appear?

"I trust my writers' taste in music. If they found something interesting, they will start working on it, but most of the time we get submissions from labels and bands, that would like us to hear their music and out of that we decide what we will cover. Sometimes it can be really hard, cos of so many artists…

For instance there is a section called »Underground of the day«, which is made by Roman Rathert who is doing interviews with less known bands of today and there you can find tons of new stuff…

The other way around is a search for really obscure bands. We found members and then we do an article about their music and in that way we managed to add a small piece of the puzzle to underground rock music."

Q06. Could you comment on any Psychedelic Baby articles that are particular favourites of yours?

"Huh, that's a hard one. Nicholas Davis wrote a nice article about psychedelia which captured the essence of the word and there is another one called »Music as Medicine«, which is also highly interesting read, then Martin Okun made a series of interesting articles; especially an article called »Hippie Punk Fusion«!, which captures the details how the two genres shed together. Then there are columns by Djin Aquarian of Ya Ho Wha 13 and columns by Rich Haupt, who started Rockadelic label, which released tons of unreleased heavy psych material etc. So it's really hard to say what's my favourite. These days we have so many articles, interviews and columns. I think everyone can find something interesting while browsing through the magazine."

Q07. Do you have any interesting stories regarding how you got in contact with any of the artists for your exclusive interviews?

"Yes, tons of them, but to expose one or two. There was a band back in the early 70s called »Earthen Vessel« and they recorded an amazing Xian heavy psych LP. There was almost no information about them, but I somehow managed to get in contact with the guy who knew the guitarist. Later I managed to get the whole band together to answer questions about the album making. They are living in different parts of the world and to know, that you are the first that is interviewing them for the very first time is something special. There are many similar stories, that happened…

Matija and Klemen with Jura Havidič of Fire
My favourite is perhaps an interview with Jura Havidič of Fire, which was a band from Croatia, but didn't make any noise around here. They were recording an LP in Holland and they did a mini tour of Germany. Kraftwerk once opened for them, which was kind of funny. Me and my dear friend Matija Štumberger somehow located Jura and we went to Zagreb and did this long interview. Jura played some of his old songs for us in his little studio and gave a nice interview. So really great time doing this one."
[I used the fire song 'Could You Understand Me' back on Vol7]

Q08. What is the future for "It's Psychedelic Baby"? Do you have any further plans regarding your love of rock music; any other magazines/books or other types of project in mind?

"Yes, there is a plan to release a physical edition of Psychedelic Baby Magazine. It will be huge issue with 120 A4 pages and various of chapters dedicated to specific themes. But I'll let you know more in the following weeks. Those interested should stay in contact through Facebook fanpage. I think the physical issue will be something special, cos it will include interviews from specific genres but the complete issue will work as a whole.

Other plans? Well, we would like to organize some concerts or even a festival for this kind of music. We are in search of some sponsors, that can back us up. There is so many things in my mind right know and lot's of ideas and hopefully at least some of them will come true."

Q09. Can you tell us something about being a psychedelic rock fan in Slovenia? Do you get much opportunity to watch old bands live?

"Slovenia is a very small country, but we are lucky enough, that we have a very special place called Metelkova, which is alternative place for all kind of arts, but especially for alternative music. Here you can see tons of bands from the States or any other places in the world playing. From pretty well known bands to less known bands. I think it's great to have something like this in homeplace. Hopefully Metelkova will manage to work also in the near future.

You mean bands from the late 60s and 70s? [Yes] Well, there aren't a lot of that coming in our country."

Q10. Are there any other bars, venues or record shops etc that would be good to check out for anyone who finds themselves in Ljubljana or wider Slovenia?

Like I said, Metelkova is a special place for alternative culture, then you have Factory Rog, which is another underground place, that held some cool concerts. For instance Embryo were here about a year ago. If you go to the centre of Ljubljana, which is a capital city you'll find some cool places like Bikofe and also a record store, super cool book store for mysticism and esoterica called Behemot."

Q11. Can you recommend and comment on any artists/bands from Slovenia or surrounding countries, old or new?

"Since Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia in the past there was quite a rock scene. You had bands from Slovenia like Buldožer (very Zappa influenced), Izvir (jazz rock), then there was a lot of good folkies including Tomaž Pengov and folk bands like Sedmina and "Kladivo, Konj in Voda".

Croatia and Serbia produced some amazing bands including Time, Igra Staklenih Perli, Pop Mašina and my favourite of them all – Fire!

These days there aren't a lot of bands from Slovenia, that I like that much. I like Crazed Farmers, which are Beefheart inspired avant-rock and maybe I missed a few bands, but I really can't remember anything else that would stand out at the moment."

Q12. Could you tell us about some of your favourite current or new artists from around the world?

"Oh yeah sure. Well lately just a couple of weeks ago I fall in love with two albums. First one is by Psicomagia, which are in my opinion the most amazing bands out there and the second one is the new one by Aqua Nebula Oscillator.

You should also check Montibus Communitas if you wish to travel across amazonian rainforrest in your mind."

Q13. What have you learnt from your experiences of editing/writing "It's Psychedelic Baby"? Do you have any useful advice for rock fanatics who are considering starting a blog or similar project themselves?

"It's an amazing feeling when you know people are grateful for your work and to help many artists to get exposed is really something special too. Sometimes it is really hard to find and select everything, that is interesting, but we are trying our best.

My advice is just to be open to various of music. Listen closely, spin it often and maybe you'll find something special, that you'll thought you'd never find."

Q14. Finally, on behalf of "It's Psychedelic Baby", do you have anything further to say to readers out there?

"Thank you Rich for your interest in It's Psychedelic Baby and thanks to all you guys for the support. Oh, and remember like Nik Turner of Hawkwind once said in my interview: »Keep taking the tablets, (LSD) and all the natural psychedelics, communicate with the Gods, help each other to get high in a positive way, help each other generally, raise your consciousness, don’t harm yourself or others, love one another, have funnnnnn!!?!"

Thanks Klemen!

Track list

01. Bakerloo [UK] - Once Upon a Time (1969)
       from album 'bakerloo'
02. Charlies [Finland] - Feeling That Feeling (1970)
       from album 'buttocks'
03. Wildwood [US] - Plastic People (1968)
       from album 'plastic people'
04. Corpus [US] - Cruising (1971)
       from album 'creation a child'
05. Wild Turkey [UK] - Twelve Streets of Cobbled Black (1971)
       from album 'battle hymn'
06. Axe [UK] - Peace of Mind (1969)
       from album 'axe'
07. Farm [US] - Jungle Song (1969)
       from album 'farm'
08. Devil's Kitchen [US] - (You've Got Your) Head On Right (1968)
       from album 'devil's kitchen'
09. Harvey Mandel [US] - Snake (1968)
       from album 'cristo redentor'
10. Trilogy [US] - I'm Beginning To Feel It (1970)
       from album 'i'm beginning to feel it'
11. The Outsiders [Nertherlands] - Doctor (1968)
       from album 'CQ (complete polydor tapes)'
12. Pluto [UK] - Down and Out (1971)
       from album 'pluto'
13. Strawbs [UK] - Tomorrow (1972)
       from album 'grave new world'
14. White Lightning [US] - Bogged Down (1968)
       from album 'strikes twice 1968-1969'
15. BOA [US] - A Restful Sleep (1971)
       from album 'wrong road'.

The original line up of Bakerloo included John Hinch on drums who went on to form Judas Priest. Bill Ward of Black Sabbath also drummed for them briefly. They played with Earth (pre-Black Sabbath) on a UK tour called 'Big Bear Ffolly' and they were the support act for Led Zeppelin's début show at London's Marquee Club on 18th October 1968. Various Bakerloo members went on play in Colosseum, Humble Pie, May Blitz, Graham Bond, Vinegar Joe and Uriah Heep. The track I have chosen here, 'Once Upon a Time', was not originally on their s/t 1969 album, it was a b-side to their 'Driving Backwards' single. It starts the comp in an awesome way with that warm, welcoming steel-string acoustic sound that Zep often used. Bakerloo interview with bassist Terry Poole

Charlies were from Lahti southern Finland. The members were Wellu Lehtine (vocals, harmonica, Moroccan clay drums, cowbell), Eero Ravi (guitar), Pitkä Lehtine (bass, tambourine), Kusti Ahlgren (drums, Moroccan clay drums, kettles) and Igor Sidorow (flute, saxophone, piano). There are a couple of re-issues available, of two albums, and 'Feeling That Feeling' is from their second and final album called 'Buttocks' (1970). Charlies interview with guitarist Eero Ravi

Stockton, CA's Wildwood struck me very hard when I first heard the 2012 archival release 'Plastic People' on Frantic Records, I immediately thought "now here's a band with a unique, intense sound that really should have been successful". They worked hard, laying on and promoting gigs for bigger names and acting as their support. They were billed with Grateful Dead, Steve Miller, Elvin Bishop, The Doobie Brothers, Ike & Tina Turner and Cold Blood amoungst others. Rather tragically I think, label disinterest more or less killed them and they only released two singles in their lifespan. I found a review of Plastic People here, which some members of the band have added comments to. Wildwood interview with Mark Stephen Ross & Frank John Colli

Corpus, from Corpus Christi, Texas, made one privately-pressed album of 1001 copies. They played around Texas; Austin, San Antonio, and in the lower south. Achieving local success, according to the IPB interview they disbanded due to difficult circumstances like heavy drug use, which was a shame as their LP is solid and amazingly professional-sounding for a private press, as 'Cruising' will attest. Corpus interview with Gilbert Pena & Rick De Leon

Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey was formed by bassist Glen Cornick after his dismissal from Jethro Tull. The first of their two albums, 'Battle Hymns' (1971), is of main interest to TDATS, as it has a few great heavy prog cuts like Butterfly. In it's life the band toured the UK and US with Black Sabbath, and included members past and present of Babe Ruth, Eyes of Blue, Man, Ancient Grease, Gentle Giant and Cozy Powell's Hammer, amoungst many others. The second album was far less exciting, and I see them as something of a wasted opportunity as LP # 1 had some great proto-metallic prog which was very ahead of it's time, they could have been at the forefront of metal with Sabbath, Judas Priest et al with a bit more development, had they so desired... Glenn Cornick interview about Jethro Tull, Wild Turkey

Guerssen Records issued the acetate 'Axe Music' by Northampton, UK's 'Axe' (aka 'Crystalline') in 2012. A fascinating listen it is too, with a clear line from dreamy, heavy psych into heavy metal, all embellished with the ethereal and delicate vocals of Vivienne Jones. Axe supported the likes of Free, Wishbone Ash & The Who. The vocals were one of the things that John Peel didn't like, so he rejected their demo for radio exposure. Things could have been very different if that had not been the case, they had an unusual sound, similar to that which is popular now with female-fronted 'occult' acts like Purson and Blood Ceremony. Axe/Crystalline interview with Tony Barford

Gary Gordon - Farm
'Farm' was from Southern Illinois. It's Psychedelic Baby comments that they sounded similar to The Allman Brothers. They made only one privately-pressed LP in 1971, which Shadoks issued on CD this year, most of the members were just out of high school which makes this a very impressive effort! There is some great rural US rock on here, including another awesome track 'Cottonfield Woman' which I hope to use later. The Jungle Song, which I used here, is a cool instrumental indeed. Farm interview with Gary Gordon & George Leemon. Farm website here:

Devil's Kitchen
Halfway now and out of the farm, into the 'The Devil's Kitchen'. They were from Illinois but moved to San Francisco and the archival album that had a 2011 release on Lysergic Sound Distributors (LSD) was taken from master tapes that laid forgotten for over 40 years. "They played all the major venues in The Bay Area and Los Angeles during this time period, opening for many very well-known bands, including The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Allman Brothers, Big Brother And The Holding Company with Janis, The Charlatans and others".  '(You've Got Your) Head On Right' is a funky, groovy slice of fuzz. Devil's Kitchen interview with Robbie Stokes

Harvey Mandel (with Eric Clapton)
Harvey Mandel was briefly in Canned Heat in the late '60s, and is again now. He's a had a long and involved career working with many notable names including Bob Dylan, and has also made many solo albums. 'Snake' is taken from his 1968 debut, 'Cristo Redentor'. He displays a unique mixture of jazz, blues and psych here which sounds so fresh it could have been recorded yesterday. Harvey "The Snake" Mandel interview

Trilogy LP (1970)
Trilogy has connection with another band here, as they both included drummer Bernie Pershey. Trilogy was a spin-off from White Lightning that didn't last long but recorded one LP, on which the title track 'I'm Beginning To Feel It' is by far the stand out track. Bernie Pershey interview (White Lightning, Trilogy)

The Outsiders
The Outsiders were a great garage psych band from Amsterdam, Netherlands. They made many singles and two albums before splitting in 1969. The albums were going into uncharted territory, especially for a band in the conservative pop habitat of 1960s Holland, and fans were no longer interested as they left the pop music way behind. You can see where they were going with the dark track I used here, 'Doctor'. The Outsiders interview with Ronnie Splinter

Pluto was formed in early 1970. Guitarist Alan Warner had been in The Foundations, quite a successful soul / rock band from London that toured internationally for four years, supporting the likes of The Byrds, Tim Buckley, and had some chart hits. He also once auditioned for Thin Lizzy when they were still called The Black Eagles. Pluto supported Lindisfarne at the Marquee Club, and tour partners included Genesis, Caravan and Fairport Convention. They split not long after their 1971 s/t album from which 'Down and Out' is taken. Pluto interview with Paul Gardner & Alan Warner

Grave New World LP (1972)
Originally known as the Strawberry Hill Boys (from St Mary's Teacher Training College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham, London), The Strawbs were mainly known for being a progressive folk rock band. For a short time they had Rick Wakeman on keyboards and one of the first things they ever made was a 1968 recording with Sandy Denny called 'All Our Own Work' which wasn't released until the '70s after the band had changed considerably. I have chosen a great track from 1972's Grave New World album, 'Tomorrow' which contains less of their usual folk sound and goes in a heavier, epic prog direction. Here is an interview with guitarist Dave Lambert who joined shortly after and was part of the band's incarnation that made it big in America: Fire, King Earl Boogie Band, Strawbs interview with Dave Lambert

White Lightning
Nearing the end, and we reach the afore-mentioned White Lightning, from Minneapolis. It was started by guitarist Tom "Zippy" Caplan after leaving The Litter in 1968, and only released one single under that name before recording an album with the name shortened to Lightning. Since then many White Lightning recordings have been released in archival releases by labels like Arf Arf. Lightning supported the likes of Jethro Tull and The Amboy Dukes. They were quite heavily promoted but it was not be and broke up soon after the name change. In this interview Tom states that he is not happy with the production of the Lightning album: The Litter, White Lightning & Lightning interview with Tom "Zippy" Caplan

BOA - Wrong Road LP (1971)
The concluding track of this TDATS is from an extreme rarity that as been re-issued by archival labels such as Arf Arf. BOA made one privately-pressed LP in 1971 called 'Wrong Road'. It was a very amateurish affair, recorded in a "tupperware warehouse" according to drummer Richard Allen. Each song was recorded live in one take, with minimal mics set up and no production or mixing at all. The band started as 'Anvil' and only played locally at parties etc. The music is a mixture of garage rock and early hard rock and 'A Restful Sleep' is the longest and most adventurous song on the album, of which only 200 were pressed. BOA Interview with Richard Allen & Ted Burris

Phew! If you've got this far....thanks for listening.....also thanks to Klemen and It's Psychedelic Baby; keep up the good work of revealing the forgotten and fading history of rock, Rich.

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  1. have to recommend some more finish stuff: Kummitus, Sarcofagus, Jig Saw and Haikara !