As part of The Great Frog Music, we’re getting behind ‘The Jonesing Jams’, a new live music concept in London where individual musicians get hand picked as members of a one night only supergroup who’ll perform an improv jam in front of an audience. The first one, ‘Worlds Collide’ was held at London’s 93 Feet East, and featured singer and guitarist Matt Reynolds of HECK and HCBP, GNOB and Sonic Mass bassist Ben Kenobi-Marflar, Jonny Halifax of Honkeyfinger and The Howling Truth on lapsteel and harmonica, and Swedish Death Candy drummer Marco Ninni. Support came all the way from the land of ice and snow, in the form of Bergen based psych band Shaman Elephant.
Outtake from Simon Shoulders’ review for ‘Rock at Night‘: “The evening’s entertainment begins as Bergen’s Shaman Elephant take to the stage clad in a suite of Elephant shirts freshly acquired in the markets of Camden for this very gig. Their sound is firmly rooted in 60’s and 70’s prog and psychedelic rock with which the stylised representations of members of the order Proboscidea adorning the band’s clothes, the lead singer’s bandanna and the spiralling kaleidoscopic visuals lighting the band fit perfectly. The solid combination of Jard Hole’s drumming and Ole-Andreas Sæbø Jensen rolling and mesmeric bass guitar playing forms a rock-hard, groove-laden bastion from which the keys of Jonas Særsten and guitar of frontman and volcalist Eirik Sejersted Vognstølen sally forth through the haze with some truly blistering solos. There’s a freshness to Shaman Elephant’s sound that the performance is both compelling and a pleasure to watch.
Then we’re on to the main event, finding out whether there’ll be magic when four musicians from really quite different backgrounds come together to jam live. The smiles between guitarist and vocalist Matt Reynolds from the pure noise that is Heck and the rock’n’roll two piece HCBP and Jonny Halifax from the alt-blues bands Honkyfinger and Jonny Halifax and the Howling Truth on harmonica, lap steel and vocals hint at a palpable and growing chemistry that builds and really begins to spark as the jam continues. Marco Ninni, drummer from experimental psych rock band Swedish Death Candy drives the bands’s beat at ferocious pace which seems to be the perfect starting point for bassist Ben-“Kenobi”-Marflar from eastern inspired psych band GNOB, to lay down some suitable filthy and darkly funk-laden bass rhythms upon creating a cohesive and compelling foundation upon which Matt and Jonny could freestyle and explore each others sound.
This hand-picked supergroup works and you can’t help but be swept along with them. You can see the pure joy of creating something new the band experience from from every twist and turn of the jam. So, did The Jonesing Jams “Worlds Collide” deliver? As far as the crowd was concerned, the answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!”. This is partly a tribute to the quality and talent of the musicians themselves but perhaps more of a salute to the sprit they shared in being the first to rise to the challenge of jamming live in front of an audience creating a spectacular and ephemeral sound you’ll only ever have the chance to hear once…”
Since the formation of Graveyard in 2006, they have been at the front of a massive 70’s influenced rock revival. With four albums under their belt, they were rising for stardom, when they all of a sudden announced the disbanding of the band in late 2016, following their hugely successful record ‘Innocence & Decadence.’ Fans were left shocked and in disbelief, before they all of a sudden announced their return earlier this year, rising like a phoenix from the ashes. We spoke to bassist Truls Mörck about the reformation of the band, as well as his own solo projects and how he fell into 70’s rock as a 13 year old boy working in a record store in Gothenburg.
You recently announced the return of Graveyard, how has that been received?
It’s actually been quite overwhelming. We’ve gone through some tough times, so hearing from so many people how much it means to them for us to come back is amazing and incredibly motivating. It’s easy to lose touch with reality when you gig and tour as much as we’ve been doing over the last couple of years, but this has really been an eye opener and made us see things for what they really are. The sounds we make seem to resonate with a lot of peoples feelings and thoughts, and it feels important to keep making that happen, it’s a very positive and constructive thing. Was it always part of the plan to make a comeback? No, we went through some dark times, but as they say, «the darkest hour is right before the dawn.» That might not always be the case, but here I feel it’s pretty spot on. Wow, come to think of it, this past winter was probably one of the worst ones I’ve ever had, Graveyard means so fucking much to me. Even the years I didn’t play with them, they still did. I think it’s quite a unique band, even if we play classic rock and aren’t exactly known to develop and reinvent music history I feel like there’s something unusual and beautiful in what we do. And I can speak from both the bands and a member of the audiences perspective as I’ve been a part of both. Of course, that’s my personal opinion, but that’s just how I feel about it.
What were you up to when Graveyard was laying low? Did you focus on your solo work or did you get involved with other projects? Or did you take a well deserved break? I did a bit of everything, I recorded a fair bit of my upcoming solo record where I let my interest for vintage synthesizers blossom. I don’t know where it’ll end up, but at the moment it sounds very cosmic and electronic. I was quite sick and tired of touring last year, and I kind of had the sound of drums, bass and guitars up to my neck, which led me to being drawn to other instruments and traditions, other types of music. I think it did me really well, and it wasn’t long before new Graveyard songs or riffs started popping up in my head again, so I’ve ended up writing quite a few new Graveyard songs as well. Besides that, I did some stuff with a band I used to be in. My old friend Edvard Härnevik is releasing a record this autumn, so I played on that as well. He was the one that originally got me into playing guitar and listen to old rock, I’m excited to hear that record. I’ve also done some work with Graveyard’s old drummer Axel Sjöberg’s new band Big Kizz.
You mention having worked on songs for both your solo record as well as new Graveyard songs, have you started a follow up to Graveyard’s 2015 album ‘Innocence & Decadence’ ?Yeah, they’re both en route. I’m prioritizing Graveyard and focus my energy on our next record along side the other guys in the band, but yeah, I’m still working on a follow up to my solo record when I find the time. I get a bit bored if I only work on one project at a time, so it suits me well to have two records to write and record at the same time. Especially since they’re so different from each other and I have quite a lot of time on my hands these days. It’s never too much to wrap my head around as the two ways of expression complete each other and even each other out. I’ve got a feeling the next Graveyard record will be fucking amazing, it’s something about what we’ve gone through that’s made us more aware of what we’re doing and what we’re good at. And we’re all good at what we do.
You say yourself how different your solo stuff is from what you do with Graveyard, so what kind of music did you grow up listening to, and is that what you’re still into today?
When I was 13 I had a summer job at a record store in Gothenburg, a really good record store with tens of thousands of records, and instead of money they’d pay me in gift vouchers I could use in store. I remember rummaging through the stock room one day and found this re-print of a poster for ‘Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music’ from 1970, at the time I was really into old, American folk music. Anyway, for some reason which I cant quite remember, that poster just had something to it that I really loved. If you looked closer at it, you’d see all these faces and hidden characters, which I thought was absolutely amazing, so I decided to check out all the bands on there. I ended up coming home with records from bands such as Canned Heat, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Dr. John the Night Tripper. After that, I started buying records pretty much based on how the covers looked like. I guess I got the feeling of how good music was illustrated, and I’d end up getting all these different records from different genres without really any connection except for the fact that I was obsessed by when they were released, which would be ’65 to circa ’71, and that they all had great covers.
Later on, I got into Swedish music from that same era, Träd, Gräs och Stenar, Harvester, Kebnekasje and Bo Hansson all became huge sources of inspiration. My dad had quite a few records from San Francisco in the 60’s that he made me listen to as well, like Grateful Dead, Quicksilver, Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane. Stoner rock swiftly followed, and Sabbath, Captain Beyond and Sleep were the best soundtracks for smoking, but I’m not much of a pot head anymore.
Today I’m not so sure what I listen to, everything that’s got an honesty to it. I think of music as a universal language with different dialects, like in a book where the language can be more interesting than the story, or the story can be adequately interesting, but the language not good enough. Obviously the best way is when the story and the language works really well together and become one. I’m not too bothered about different genres, I look for something else, something that makes me want to keep playing and make my own music, but I’m still not quite sure what that is. But you just know when you hear it, you know? That’s the most important thing. The urge to play, and if any kind of music makes me feel that way, then I love it.
It’s clear that you spend most of your time making or listening to music, but on those rare occasions that you’re not, how do you spend your time?
I do try to make music every day, but I also like to travel, and I spend a fair amount of time traveling back and fourth between America and Sweden. Most of everything I love slacking off, and I spend a lot of time just staring out the window, letting my thoughts wander. I’m not a very social person, and I can go a long time without seeing other people. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but that’s how I live my life these days, how I write. If I don’t have an instrument in my hands, I can write songs from just looking out, or being outside in nature, staring at the trees, the skies or whatever. When I’m not with the one I love, I make, or attempt to make music, and that’s pretty much it. Tragic or magic? I don’t know.
You seem to have a lot on your plate at the moment, what’s next?
Graveyard’s got quite a few gigs this summer, so it will be quite a lot of traveling, but also time to stay at home, make music and unwind, that’s what it’s all about for me, make music, have someone to love, and be at one with nature. I hope to spend a lot of time under water, that’s where the best thoughts are thought. At the bottom of the ocean.
RIDDLES are a heavy space rock five piece based in London consisting of Jimi Riddle on vocals and guitar, Thom Carter on bass and back up vocals, Mike Frank on Drums David O’Sullivan on guitar and Alex Aspin on Organ and drones. Since the birth of RIDDLES at what appears to be the dawn of time, they’ve had some slight line up changes, and have recently returned onto the scene after a year of hibernating.
With organist Alex Aspin joining them late 2015 their sound changed from what seemed like a ‘Black Sabbath meets Motörhead on speed morph’ to more of an ‘early Deep Purple / Hawkwind in the Lemmy years / classic rock ’n’ roll, while still keeping their Black Sabbath meets Motörhead kinda vibe’. The latest addition to the band is guitarist David, who joined them after their former guitarist Rufus Barnes Miller, now Sting’s touring guitarist, left the band. As RIDDLES return, we’ll be following them around various venues in the UK where they’ll be raising hell and causing havoc, all while working towards their upcoming debut album. Below you’ll find a playlist put together by the band, featuring some of their favorite songs – play it now and play it loud, it’s a good one.