Monday, December 1, 2014

The Day After The Sabbath 110: Heavy Psychs, Man! [Mik Kay interview]


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Welcome to episode 110 of The Day After The Sabbath. This instalment has been made in collaboration with a guy who was an influence when I started this site, so it's about time he received some recognition from me! He lives in Sweden and his name is Mik Kay, he's been running a blog called Heavypsychman for over five years. 


heavypsychmanblog.blogspot.com
Many of you will have come across his blog before as he's made quite a name for himself among all the heavy-hunters out there. His mission is the same as mine, but whereas my interest developed from a pre-internet age love of '90s grunge and alternative rock, now covering a wide period of styles up to 1980, Mik comes from a early-black/death metal background and specialises mainly in the rawest, loudest and loosest heavy psych he can find, usually within the years of 1968 to 1973. The sweet spot where heavy psych was convergent with the newly emerging hard rock sound. He has kindly agreed to curate this compilation, which complements an interview I have done with him.

The resulting comp has instantly become one of the rawest, loudest and fuzziest sets you'll ever hear on TDATS, and you are gonna love it! All the tracks are new to TDATS, as are six of the artists: Bulbous CreationSmack, Jarvis Street Revue, Negative Space, Bent Wind and Smokin' Willie. The great thing is all 12 of these are album cuts, and they are backed-up equally by the quality of their respective albums, so if you look further into any of them you will most certainly be rewarded.

TRACKS (with Mik's description)
01. Dragonfly - Blue Monday (1968)
       from album 'Dragonfly' 
       "Garage rock with wild fuzz meets H U G E amps"
02. Smack - Sunshine Of Your Love (1968)
       from album 'Smack'
       "An underground Cream plugs into Blue Cheers amps"
03. Sainte Anthony's Fyre - Lone Soul Road (1970)
       from album 'Sainte Anthony's Fyre'
       "Crushing riff of crude raw Heavy distorted Fuzz"
04. Fire - Flames (1973)
       from album 'Could You Understand Me'
       "Monster raw Heavy Fuzz-gasm"
05. Stone Garden - Assembly Line (1969)
       from album 'Stone Garden'
       "Monster HEAVY dynamic crusher"
06. The Jarvis Street Revue - Mr. Oil Man (1970)
       from album 'Mr. Oil Man'
       "Megalithic meglo heavy fuzzsound with equal vocals"
07. Negative Space - Forbidden Fruit (1970)
       from album 'Hard, Heavy, Mean & Evil' 
       "Heavy raw mean and in your face crude blast"
08. Joshua - No Country (1969)
       from album 'Opens Your Mind'
       "Lead Sled of Heavinesss in your face with crude raw edge"
09. Bent Wind - Sacred Cows (1969)
       from album 'Sussex'
       "Heavy Earthquake-evoking rhythm with wasted leads galore"
10. Bulbous Creation - Let's Go to the Sea (1970)
       from album 'You Won't Remember Dying'
       "Heavy basement trip with eerie dark undercurrent"
11. Smokin' Willie - Get Ready (1970)
       from album 'Smokin' Willie'
       "pulverized Rare Earth cover with Most extreme FUZZ leads in existence"
12. Josefus - Dead Man (1970)
       from album 'Dead Man'
       "Monster Heavy doomed Blues based audioal freight train"



Mik's Heavypsychmanblog reveals vinyl rips of lost albums, re-issues of such things from labels like Rockadrome, and his own hand-picked comps, resulting from his searches. He has a great ear for it all. He succeeds in catching the mood and atmosphere of the late '60s/early '70s heavy underground which worshiped the fuzz box, beer and weed with reckless punk attitude. His honest, no-nonsense writing style gets you amped-up just by reading about what delights are in store and you can be confident to hear only the most fuzzy, heavy and wildest cuts conceivable. He's made two series' of comps so far, Heavy Psych Explosion 1-8, Monster Garage Rock, and the most recent, Stack Attack, which is up to Vol5.


Interview with Mik Kay


Mik Kay Heavypsychman
Mik Kay
aka Heavypsychman
We begin with Mik's personal viewpoint on the more recent music that shaped his tastes and led to his appreciation of older sounds. Take it away Mik!

Mik: Hello Rich, first thanks for the honour of being interviewed.

Q1. You are from Stockholm and you have spent some time living in Australia. Can you tell us some of the major events and influences in your life that lead you to start HeavyPsychMan blog? Did living in Australia have any influence in what you are in to, or the blog?

Yes I live in one of the shittest bluecollar suburbs of Stockholm and lived in a similar suburb in Sydney AUS so yes when you have a heavy environment it affects you. For my part the earliest Raw heavy sounds that attracted me were like pre-84 M O T Ö R H E A D, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, Venom and bands like Sodom, Hellhammer, Bathory. Those were the rawest n' heaviest bands of the time I knew about. Well in the early '90s that pseudo death metal thing started by disillusioned ex Metallica and Slayer fans and the objectionable (in my opinion) character of Öystein Arseth of Mayhem who invited all manner of people into the black death metal scene destroyed everything and I lost interest in that scene. The stuff after 91/92 is awful at best IMO.

Dave Chandler
of St Vitus
What was I going to listen to now? Well I loved doom metal like Candlemass, Mercy and Vitus and I think it was Dave Chandler who said he was influenced by Blue Cheer for his leads. Vitus V or five, was a major influence that got me interested in the Heavy '70s scene. It had the hippy bias thing going on BUT the music was HEAVY I mean Heavier than the stuff I had listened to previously. The easiest to find here in SWE was Purple, Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Mountain on LP. I got them and the CD reissue boom came around then also. I began to exclusively listen to '70s heavy music, but the raw edge of the stuff I'd previously liked lingered on and I discovered Blue Cheer and that was a major introduction into heavy psychedelic sounds with a heavier and wilder style than all the rest so I started to explore more and gradually discovered more and rarer bands.

To make a long story somewhat graspable, 1990s tape trading and the '70s music reissue boom in the '90s laid the musical foundation for Heavypsychman as the blog was originally called. I wanted to share this wealth of great raw HEAVY music with like-minded people and blogspot was a great medium and a super tape trading platform. Also that Sabbath is the only really heavy band talked-about pissed me off so I showed people MORE bands were heavy and even Heavier hehe.


Q2. Have you ever been a musician yourself? If so, what do you play and are you in a band?
I played guitar and in the early '90s and wanted to start a trio into demo-era Sodom/Hellhammer kind of music but guys here in Sweden didn't get it, (so much for a death metal boom here) so nothing happened, I still play but now raw southern Bluesy Kinks meets Zeppelin/Cheer stuff. Now I don't have time to play in a band but you never know...


Q3. You have used a lot of different bands and styles on your blog. Could you tell us what your favourite styles in old rock are, and why?
The rawer and the heavier the better, provided the music is good 1965 - 1975. I also love long jam psych from SWE and SF USA and AUS rock. The warm heavy tone of that era combined with super songwriting and talent is a winning combination. I use the term Heavy psych which I actually snatched from a comp called Heavydose of Heavypsych by Arf Arf records. I love fuzz psych and monster heavy bass/drums and raw sounds. Motörhead/Venom had that sound which originally influenced me and has never left me.

Mecki Mark Men poster
1969

Q4. Who are some of your favourite artists from those times, famous or not?
Rare bands: Stone GardenJosefusJoshua (Ca), Bulbous CreationSainte Anthony's FyreBolder Damn, Jarvis Street RevueBent WindSmackFirebirds (Crown band) and Mecki Mark Men. I also like original loner-folk and good original underground psychedelia.

Known bands; Zeppelin (specially 2 & 4, Levee Breaks kills) MountainBlue Cheer 1 & 2, Cream, Hendrix, The Who (Live stuff), Grand Funk Railroad 69-70, Sabbath 1 to 4, Cactus 1st, Purple 'In rock'.



Q5. Personally, I think the short period between the late '60s and early '70s was the best and most creatively interesting time in rock history. What are your opinions on why there was such a creative explosion during those times and what other periods and genres interest you most up until the current day?

The zeitgeist of that era was progressive optimism and everything was possible. The future was bright and the postwar era prosperity made a renaissance of the regular man's music which, rock and blues is. A unique time in history from which we now enjoy the fruits. Progressively since the 1973 oil crisis things in the west have gone down hill. In the 90's rock really died and lost it's momentum. There's still good stuff out there like Mount Carmel and Endless Boogie but not in the spotlight like in previous eras. Stoner rock is bland and boring. I liked Fu Manchu's 'In search of' but the other bands sucked IMO, Just no good songwriting anymore or noticeable talent, or even real effort. I saw Vitus live a year ago and the opening act was beyond awful, people walked out and waited for Vitus to take the stage instead, that kind of says it all.


Q6. How are the bands chosen or found for your blog? Do you chose them all yourself, do you get suggestions and recommendations?
I choose the stuff myself and it must fulfill the originality and musical quality demands I have. If an album has one killer tune I save that for a compilation instead of posting a whole bland album. I learnt my trade from record lists and labels like Rockadelic, The Void. Subliminal Sounds and great fanzine and tape-trading friends like Ray Dorsey etc etc in the 90's. Great folks I am greatly indebted to. Cheers to you all you unsung heroes of the underground.


Captain Foam's wall of amps
Q7. Could you tell us three Heavypsychman discoveries or comps that are particular favourites of yours, and why?
The music I share is known by hardcore collectors but they are not always willing to share it. Captain Foam is a killer discovery (we need live tapes). Ceptic Frog is another (the tape owner is 'difficult' I'm told). Mecki Mark Men Live, It took me years of asking before they got posted on Youtube. I like everything I post and actively listen to it all before sharing. If it seems iffy it's not posted.


Q8. Have you ever got in contact with any of the artists?
Our mutual friend Klem [Breznikar of It's Psychedelic Baby - See Vol94] is great at this and his webzine is a dream come true. I have met and talked with members of Mecki Mark Men and Träd Gräs Och Stenar, great folks. They don't understand the big deal with their modern day fame. I would like to hear from members of Bulbous Creation or The Firebirds (LA band) as would most of us.


Bolder Damn
Q9. What is the future for Heavypsychman blog? Do you have any further plans regarding your love of rock music?
I'm happy just to post stuff once a month and searching for rare Heavy raw psych n heavy rock music like you yourself, I must say you and your friends are great at finding new stuff, Big thanks for your efforts you guys. That's what the underground is about. I saw that Bolder Damn was reissued by Guerssen, I still remember when Rockadelic and The Void reissued it years back. My Heavypsych Explosion series was inspired by all those garage psych compilation LPs of the '80s and '90s, I have No LP/CD ambitions, there's too much money and plastic hoarding involved. I'm a music fan not a plastic & cardboard fan. I hate the mainstream labels for all the money sucking they did before the mp3 revolution. I burn a CDR or DVDr to archive my stuff. I dream that a Spotify for rare underground music would come along, so computer nerds, get cracking, we know the music you know the tech...


Q10. Can you tell us something about being a psychedelic rock fan in Stockholm? Do you get much opportunity to watch old bands live, or old-styled/retro bands? I know Sweden has a lot of great stoner/psych bands and it's a relatively big thing over there.
Hehe we have Träd Gräs och Stenar here, I actually prefer Gothenburg bands Centralstödet and Ett Rop på Hjälp över these Stockholm retro 70's bands. Not a fan of them, not authentic to my ears but surely nice guys, doing something they are passionate about.

Centralstödet are raw long jam-psych from Gothenburg (album out on Cassette!) and Ett Rop på Hjälp are heavy rock from Gothenburg. There's a lot of pop bands here with psych influences but that's not my bag.
[Mik reviewed Ett Rop på Hjälp's 2012 album here]


Q11. Are there any bars, venues or record shops etc that would be good to check out for anyone who finds themselves in Stockholm or near-by?
One shop that I can recommend in Stockholm is Got To Hurry records (they had Rockadelics in their boxes when I was there last, Stone Garden!) Subliminal sounds is a must and the Guru as we call him (Stefan Kery) is a psych specialist and great super wired dude. His shop was legendary but Stockholm didn't get it (I did!).


Q12. Could you tell us about some of your favourite current or new artists from anywhere around the world?
Mount Carmel and Endless Boogie are great and underexposed as f**k, Hear them or be square! 

[Mount Carmel's label: link. Endless Boogie's label: link.]

I agree, wholeheartedly about Mount Carmel, I loved their 2012 album 'Real Women'. I will check out Endless Boogie too!


Q13. Is it correct you were editor of Golden Void Fanzine? If so, can you tell us a little about that?
Yes, it was a simple xeroxed zine typed/handwritten and used even computers for reviews. It had hand-drawn psych art by myself. It featured basically the same bands as in my blog, which is a kinda continuation of it. I have no copies left or even originals, but if ya like the blog, you'd have liked the zine. I did it 98 - 99 with 4 issues.


Q14. What have you learnt from your experiences of making the HeavyPsychMan blog? Do you have any useful advice for rock fanatics who are considering starting a blog or similar project themselves?
Be YOURSELF and share YOUR passion, Have quality control in mind because YOU influence the scene, YOU make it or destroy it. Don't post like a manic fool, take your time. For me once a month is good. I remember that dude "Chris Goes Rock" who posted 4 - 6 albums a day? Did he ever hear the music he posted? That's crazy. Get to know your underground friends and link each other. I wish you the best. Yes avoid major label artists or you get deleted links and "friendly" lawyer emails... Yes that's why I don't post Led Zeppelin 4 despite me loving it. Don't post new reissues until the small labels have a chance to sell their copies. I usually wait a year.

Yes, I remember Chris Goes Rock, he is still around in the blogosphere - I used to get a lot of music from him in the days before blogs, when his uploads where listed on torrent sites like Suprnova. He is how I first heard a lot of the music that helped me start TDATS. I do think he is genuinely knowledgeable and had been listening to this stuff for a long time before the internet enabled him to push it all...


Q15. Finally, do you have anything further to say to TDATS and Heavypsychman blog readers out there?
Rich, T H A N K Y O U and the rest of the guys in our scene for finding and sharing Great rare Heavy music. Your Biker rock compilation [Vol 109] was a Blast, Keep that level up n' you will rule. Special Thanks also to everyone who has visited and heard music from Heavypsychmanblog, hope you had a blast. It's great to see how many of the featured bands now actually are known by folks who can appreciate them. Great 2015 to everyone Rock On! Mik.

And thanks to you too Mik!


The Bands



Here's a more in-depth rundown of all the bands appearing on this volume. I must say many thanks to Klemen Breznikar and It's Psychedelic Baby for some of the images I used here, collected by Klemen for the many exclusive interviews he has made with members of these bands.

references

Dragonfly (1970) & The Legend (1968)
Dragonfly (1970) & The Legend (1968)
Durango, Colorado's Dragonfly made on album in 1970. They were actually the band The Legend without Ernie McElwaine. [tymeshifter at RYM: "Note that this is actually the band The Legend without Ernie McElwaine. The group never performed under the name Dragonfly, supposedly just the album title here only. Somehow, well after the band had broken up and on subsequent reissues, Dragonfly has stuck as an alias for the band."] The rest of the band was Jack Duncan (bass), Barry Davis (drums, backing vocals), Gerry Jimerfield (guitar, lead vocals) and Randy Russ [Randy Russell] (guitar, backing vocals). The album has been reissued by labels including SunbeamGuerssenGear Fab, Progressive Line and Eva.

Smack LP (1968)
Smack LP (1968)
Smack's album was recorded in Aug, 1968, at the Midwestern Band and Art Camp, held in Lawrence, Kansas. The original issue was pressed in a quantity of 100~150 copies, and sold to other attendees at the camp. It contains nine fuzz-drenched covers; four Hendrix covers, three Cream covers, a Buffalo Springfield cover, and an interesting reinvention of a Kinks track. The band personel are listed on the cover as Phil Brown (vocals?), Alvin Haywood (bass), Jim Uhl (guitar) and Lee Overstreet (drums).

The LP has been re-issued by Shadoks, this is what they have to say: "Recorded in late July early August 1968 In Lawrence, Kansas USA. The four Smack members were all summer scholarship music and arts students attending Kansas University (KU) in Lawrence, Kansas. All music tracks were cut 'Live' - only over-dubed lead vocals and background vocals. That year there were some 2800 summer students attending a 6 week summer arts scholarship session - 1800 females and 900 males. Smack was born and played a gig several weeks later and the next thing you know they were all 'stars' of the campus. Someone from the university arranged for them to go in and record an album. An original Smack LP is rare as gold dust. We have only seen 2 copies for sale the past 15 years for massive money. The music is great cover versions played with extra heavy fuzz guitar, vocals, bass & drums. Those versions of Cream and Hendrix songs are killer. The whole album (very well produced) has a one of a kind Psychedelic feel. There are not many cover albums which give you another perspective on those known songs. This album does for sure."

Sainte Anthony's Fyre were a power-trio from Trenton, New Jersey who's rough recordings still convey their hard rocking intentions perfectly. There is an interview with their drummer Bob Sharples here at Psychedelic Baby webzine. The rest of the band was Gregory Onushko [Greg Ohm] (guitar, vocals) and Tomm Nardi (bass, vocals). They made one s/t album in 1970 which has been re-issued by labels such as Breeder, Void and Rockadrome.

Fire
Unusually, Fire was a Croatian band, made up of Jura Havidić (guitar, vocals), Miljenko Balić (bass) and Emil Vugrinec (drums, vocals). They made one album in 1973 which has been re-issued by labels like Estrella Rockera and Skyf Zol. A story goes that they were hand-picked by Captain Beefheart to be his opening band, but the drummer fell ill and was hospitalized for 3 months, so it never happened. Klemen Beznikar travelled all the way to interview Jura Havidič in person, which you can read here.

Stone Garden
Stone Garden
promo shot
Stone Garden hailed from Lewiston, Idaho. They only released a single at the time, and their mind-blowing other material made between '69 and '72 was first posthumously issued by Rockadelic in 1998. This music is well-written and damn heavy, you can't go wrong with this band, which could have been far more successful. There is an interview with guitarist Paul Speer here at Psychedelic Baby. Their material has since been re-issued by Gear FabShadow Kingdom and out·sider.

One band here which is new to me is The Jarvis Street Revue, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. They appear to have had a strongly pro-environmental, anti-big business stance in their songs.  They made one album in 1970 and it's a good one, with a strong concept, quality production and playing that you'd expect from a much bigger name. The track here, 'Mr. Oilman', is a progressive psych monster. The gatefold cover folds out to show a striking image of Christ holding the earth in outstretched arms, while it dies from a covering of toxic sludge. The band was Tom Cruickshank (drums), Wayne Faulconer (guitar), Tom "Tommy" Horricks (vocals) and George Stevenson (bass). Their only album has been re-issued by Pacemaker and Void.

The Jarvis Street Revue LP (1970) - Full Cover
The Jarvis Street Revue LP (1970) - Full Cover

Negative Space is another new entry to TDATS. Like Sainte Anthony's Fyre, they were from Trenton, New Jersey. They were built around the talents of guitarist Jimmy Moy, drummer Lou Nunziatta, bassist Bob Rittner and singer/rhythm guitarist Rob Russen. They only pressed a few hundred copies of their sole s/t album, for promotional purposes. The album has been re-issued by Monster and Rocakdrome. In 2000 Monster produced a re-issue with many extra tracks and unheard material called 'The Living Dead Years'.

Joshua played a spritely and somewhat heavy set of California psych from the same scene as Blue Cheer. Another posthumous release from Rockadelic, the "Opens Your Mind" album liner notes say "Fronted by singer Mick Martin, Joshua were at the center of a scene that, for the most part, ignored the flower power shenanigans going on up north and worshipped at the altar of heavy Rock & Roll." The rest of the band was Wayne Smith (lead guitar, vocals), Ray Halverson (lead guitar), Larry Sherwood (bass, backing vocals) and Rick Yarrision (drums).

Bent Wind are the second Canadian band in this comp, from Toronto. The album "Sussex" is named after the street they used to jam on. Read some more here. Guitarist Marty Roth reformed the band two decades after the first album and made two more, in 1989 and 1996. 

I was sure that I had used Bulbous Creation on TDATS before, but looking back it seems I did not, so thanks Mik for the reminder about this brilliant album! Here is another find from the vaults of obscurity by Rockadelic. Nicely, the tapes were found at the same Cavern Sound studio in Missouri that Rockadelic found the Crank tapes, a favourite of mine. The whole album has a dark, almost gothic feel to it, but it is most certainly top, heavy fuzz-psych all the way. The track Mik has recommended here, 'Let's Go To The Sea', is a long and explorative piece with some truly trippy delay madness around the half-way mark, worthy of the best in prog and krautrock of the times.This band was not just another bunch of bonehead crunchers and it's a shame we will never get to see what they might have become if they hadn't disappeared...



Like Smack before, Smokin' Willie's album is made up entirely of heavy fuzz covers. The track that Mick wanted to use here is the Temptations cover "Get Ready", and it shows how well old R&B songs can be adapted to heavy psych. The entire album was recorded live, and the less than stella recording quality can be a little off-putting at first, but you soon realise that this gives it some extra ambiance that would be lacking in a studio. This was re-issued by Radioactive in 2004.


Unlike all the other bands in this volume, Houston's Josefus managed to hang around long enough in their first incarnation to record two albums' worth of material, but broke up not long after that. Their first album (pressed 3000 times) had good local success but they were rushed by the Mainstream label to produce the second. The pressure was increased by some internal friction in the band. They were not so happy with the resulting LP and the label dropped them soon after. Two members joined Stone Axe (Pete Bailey - vocals, Ray Turner - bass), who made a phenomenal single that I have used both sides of previously in TDATS (Slave of Fear / Snakebite). Incidentally, a special thanks must go to Robin Wills of Purepop blog for revealing that single a few years ago.

This closing Josefus track is a blues epic lasting over 17 minutes, at first you might think this is quite an ambitious prospect for a debut album from a band like this. They pull it off and even get a bit progressive along the way. The ambition of Joseufus's remaining members has been proved by the fact they have reunited many times over the years and released more material, old and new, the most recent being 'Not Dead Yet'.


That about wraps-up this volume of TDATS, Thanks to Mik for the time and inspiration, and thanks for reading. Cheers, Rich

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5 comments:

  1. Cool interview The band pic on Bulbous Creation is actually Mecki Mark Men Thanks once again Folks enjoy the music

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Photo fixed, I noticed that but didn't know which way around the problem was! How the hell did Mecki Mark Men get confused with Bulbous Creation on the CD?

      Delete
  2. If this comment already posted, I apologize. Just wanted to say thanks to both of you for your excellent work on this compilation. After hearing it, I went to Mik's blog and was sad to discover that most of his compilations have gone the way of dead links. Regardless, both of you are to be commended for the dedication you put into keeping this amazing music alive.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great, high quality stuff.
    Cheers from Seattle

    ReplyDelete