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Interview: All Them Witches’ Michael Parks

Within the last two years, Nashville based band All Them Witches have seemed to rocket to fame both in the UK and Europe – from their first ever UK shows and playing London’s intimate The Lexington just over two years ago, they sold out iconic Koko last October and are now embarking on yet another UK tour next spring, most likely filling and selling out bigger venues this time around. As the times have changed, so have All Them Witches, with the current political situation in the States feeding and affecting their songwriting and sound. We spoke to frontman, singer and bassist Michael Parks to find out a bit more about him, the band and what keeps them going.

Let’s start at the beginning here, can you tell us a bit about your own musical background and how you got into playing?
I grew up in a city called Shreveport, Louisiana in the Northwest corner of the state. Shreveport at one point in time was one of the most prominent music cities in America, Producing artists such as Johnny Horton and Huddie Leadbetter, later known as the blues legend Leadbelly. A radio show turned t.v. Show called The Louisiana Hayride started in the late 1940’s would see and push a very young Elvis Presley at the beginning of his career, though he was born outside of Tupelo, Mississippi, his long time guitarist, James Burton, was and still is a Shreveport native. The Ark-la-Tex area was a major hub for music at that time, acting as a crossroads between New Orleans, Northern Louisiana, Dallas, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and stayed that way up until Interstate 40 was built, essentially re-routing traffic to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up watching my dad play bass in blues and funk bands throughout the 90’s. I’ve always been into traditional Music from Louisiana, zydeco, early country music, old recordings. Pink Floyd, Little Feat, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, were always around and available. A little bit of everything, and then twice more when I moved to New Mexico and went to high school. Fresh by Sly and The Family Stone was my favorite record. I would go to the public library and check out cd’s that looked interesting, which introduced me to Tuvan, Qawwali, Indian, Russian, all of the international stuff,  all of the nations I had never dreamed of producing sounds I never thought could exist. I love all religious music, basically. I feel like my musical upbringing is random chance and open ended.

You’ve been together for 6 or so years now and have released four studio albums where your musical style’s developed a fair bit over time with your latest album “Sleeping through the war” being quite political, as well as venturing a bit away from the heavier side to more mellow and melodic – was that intentional or just natural progression?
Nothing will be the same moment to moment, so we don’t try to intentionally change, we just change and trust the process, essentially. Roll with the punches, keep touring, stay honest.

It’s always interesting to hear musicians take on their own songs, have you got any favourite in your All Them Witches catalogue? In which case, which ones are they, and why?
My favourite ATW songs in chronological order are, Family Song, Funeral, Swallowed by the Sea, Call me star, Mellowing, Blood and Sand,  Bulls, 357, Alabaster, Cowboy Kirk, Internet, new songs. Content is really important to me so I feel these songs contain my favourite lyrics.

After the release of 2015’s ‘Dying Surfer Meets his Maker’ you seemed to rocket to fame over here in the UK, with two sold out show at Lexington early 2016, before playing Scala twice the size later that year, and KOKO in late 2017, which again is nearly twice the size of Scala – how has the ride been, has it been all ups or have you had some downs along the way as well?
Ups and Downs are both essential to touring, we should be challenged, it helps with development I think.

How do you work as a band when it comes to writing, practice and recording? Do you work closely together or is it a case of sending recordings back and fourth and getting it all done in intense sessions?
We all live in separate places, so writing just happens when it happens, we don’t really email songs back and forth ever. The sessions are fun mostly, only slightly frustrating, intense definitely, again just trusting the process on leaning on your band mates and having them lean on you, become better people, have fun on stage, try not to take ourselves too seriously.

You seem to be on top with all things creative in-house, with Robby (drummer) creating your artwork as well as photos and videos – do you all get involved in this or do you leave it more to him and let him work his magic?
Robby is an interesting guy, he has a huge back catalogue of photos, he is always experimenting, painting and developing film and all kinds of things that I don’t do or aspire to do, and it’s fascinating and very foreign to me. We still have to approve or veto artwork, major things and sometimes shirts. We still have to smack him around and yell at him to get stuff done on time.

What is next for All Them Witches?
Tour, record, tour, record, tour, record, that’s the dream, right? Forever and ever until you get buried with your guitar.

What’s next is also a new album due out 28th of September – preorder and listen now via their Bandcamp site, here.

All photos via All Them Witches’ Facebook page.
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From the Archives: Dust

Not all of you will be familiar with US band Dust, and those of you who do, might not know who they are, or the stories behind the band. Formed in New York in 1969 by teenagers Marc Bell, Kenny Aaronson and Richie Wise. More than anything and anyone, Dust was inspired by British and pretty much nothing but British music, a scene that wasn’t necessarily massive in New York in those days. Still, they’d always find some other goofy bands to play with. Dust were one of the first NY bands being described as ‘Heavy Metal, and one of the first people to do so, was acclaimed and accomplished music journalist and author Lester Bangs.

Dust’s way of songwriting, was for the most time split between singer and guitarist Richie Wise, and his long term musical partner and former Dust manager Kenny Kerner. Richie would come up with the music and melody for the words, before playing it all to Kenny who’d put lyrics to the melodies. Dust released their self-titled debut album “Dust” in 1971 on Kama Sutra Records, and swiftly followed it up the following year with “Hard Attack”, which unfortunately became their last ever album. Despite having some material for a third record, the band dissolved due to lack of promotion, and Wise’s interest in the band.

It wasn’t until recent years “Dust” were dug back up, and re-released both albums under “Hard Attack / Dust”, after people gaining interest in drummer Marc Bell, famously known now as “Marky Ramone.” After Dust, Marc went onto joining Estus playing on their 1973 “Estus” album, before joining Richard Hell & The Voidoids and playing on their debut album “Blank Generation”. Following that, Marc replaced Thomas Erdelyi aka Tommy Ramone in The Ramones, and all of a sudden – Marky Ramone was born.

 

Meanwhile, having gained some experience from producing the Dust albums, guitarist and singer Richie Wise and bassist Kenny Aaronson had gone into production, producing KISS’ first ever two albums. Kenny Aaronson also joined New York pop rock band Stories, who famously covered Hot Chocolate’s “Louie”. He later toured and/or recored with the likes of Edgar Winter, brother of blues guitarist Johnny Winter, Bob Dylan, Mountain’s Leslie West, Hall and Oates, Blue Öyster Cult, Joe Cocker and The Yardbirds, before joining the New York Dolls, which he still is a member of today.

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Freddie For a Day

Tomorrow 5th of September would have been iconic singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury’s 72nd birthday. Sadly, he was taken too soon as he passed away from AIDS in 1991, leaving the world a bit more of a quiet and less colourful place. Known for his four octave vocal range and flamboyant stage performances and presence, Freddie marked himself as one of the most iconic singers and frontmen of all time, mixing elements of rock, funk, opera and theatre with his band Queen.

In honour of his birthday, The Mercury Phoenix trust formed by Brian May, Roger Taylor and their manager Jim Beach, are encouraging everyone to become a “Freddie for a day”, by dressing like the Queen himself: Sport a moustache (fake or real, anything goes), wear the white vest and jeans, wear something in Freddie’s favourite colour yellow, or go for the early 70s Freddie with the bell-sleeves and cape.

Find out more about The Mercury Phoenix Trust and how to donate on their website and join the fun and become a Freddie for a day!

Top photo by David Bronson, second via Getty images.
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Derelics: Catering for Assembly’s Psych Fanatics

For this year’s Assembly closing party we figured we’d go all out and get not just one, but two bands to keep us entertained as we drifted off into the darker hours and danced the night away. Kickstarting it all was Derelics, a 2 / 3 piece heavy 70s psych band based in London. During their time as a band they have seen a few line up changes over time, with the two constant core members being drummer Rich and singer and guitarist Reno, here with bassist Charlie for the night.

During their 45 minute set they catered for the psych fanatics of the crowd, mixing in elements of 70s rock, funk and hard rock, as well as paying homage to Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix. Derelics are due to record their debut album later this year, and are currently gigging in and around London.

Check them out on Spotify, and follow on them Facebook and Instagram for future updates. All photos by Sally Patti.

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Interview: Triggerfinger

During our latest TGF outing at Stone Free festival, we had a chat with the finest dressed gentlemen at the festival, Belgian band Triggerfinger. The band, formed in 1998, consists on Ruben Block on vocals and guitar, Paul Van Bruystegem on bass and Mario Goossens on drums, released their 5th studio album ‘Colossus’ late 2017, and have been touring pretty much non stop since doing so.

Congrats on your latest record, it’s great! How’s life been since releasing it?
Ruben: Thank you! We did a club tour last year from September to December, and now it’s festival season. It’s cool to take these songs to various festivals, we released the album last August so they’re all still pretty new to us.

You mentioned Son House during your set earlier, and I’ve also seen you guys have covered bands and artists such as Lykke Li, Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan before – among others – which covers a lot of ground within various genres. What’s your musical background and influences?
Ruben: There is so much cool stuff out there, we play rock ‘n’ roll, but we also listen to stuff like pop and hip hop. We’ve been playing together for so long, so we’ve kinda gotten to the point where we can create stuff even without words being spoken, it happens naturally and organically, and it definitely is a lot of various genres that drives and inspires us all. The music is there, and we pick it up and act and interact on it. It’s nice to also explore different alleys, like you said, we’ve done a few cover songs which is quite interesting as you have to take something that’s already there, and it’s fantastic and make it your own, in a good way. Bringing them to your world teaches you a lot.

Mario: Yeah we’re into a lot of stuff – like we did a track with Method Man from Wu Tang Clan. It was an idea we had, so we spoke to our record company and got him on the phone, sent over some stuff and it all just came together. It was cool to do stuff like that, so we can now officially call him bro.

You guys always look pretty suave on stage in your suits, how did that come about?
Mario: We’ve just always been wearing them, we tried twice without them and it was the most horrible gigs we’ve ever done. It’s pretty warm but you know, if you just keep it on, it dries up again…Ruben: For some reason it just works, you know? A suit will always fit better than jeans and a t-shirt, it’s kind of a second skin in a way, and it supports you, in a way. A suit that fits you on the shoulders and the waist, but still allows you to move, cause you always gotta be able to move. It’s a serious thing to do, getting on stage in front of all these people, and the old blues cats like Howlin’ Wolf and all of that lot would always suit up, it’s a way of showing you respect the audience.

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“If you remember the 60s, you weren’t there.”

From left: Chris D’Avoine (Groundhogs) Ken Pustelnik (Groundhogs) Paterson Riley (The Great Frog founder)

Between battles at this year’s Assembly London, before load in and sound check, The Groundhogs took some time to mingle and roam around, and eventually ended up in the Green Room at House of Vans where they were given the chance to sit down, relax, and help themselves to the endless supply of cold beer. Already sat in the Green Room, was Great Frog founder Paterson Riley, so an introduction was in order. Back in the day, Groundhogs drummer Ken and Paterson were both acquaintances of Lemmy, although Paterson more so than Ken. “Our paths will most likely have crossed back then, but let’s all be honest, the 70s are a bit of a blur to all of us.” & “If you remember the 60s, you weren’t there.” That said, conversation got going and flowing, and Ken shared one of his Lemmy stories, from 1969:

“Lemmy was driving me home one night in this Mini Cooper, anxiously looking over at me – “Ken, I’m not going too fast, am I? You would tell me if I was going too fast…?” Lemmy’d dropped a tab of acid earlier on, so what he may have thought was driving at the speed of lightning, was actually just a mere 5 miles an hour.”

(Let us add in here – that although the majority of us knows that Lemmy was no stranger to drugs or alcohol, we still asked Ken permission to share this little moment in time, which he was happy to do, hoping that people close to Lemmy wouldn’t take offence. On our end, we feel confident that Lemmy, notorious speed freak and author of ‘White Line Fever’ wouldn’t mind this little secret coming out, some colourful moments of trippy psychedelia before rock ‘n’ roll, speed and Jack & Coke took over.)

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TGF Spotlight: Mike Frank

I’ll begin by saying this is totally new to me and the first time I’ve considered myself a singer or songwriter. There are many reason that brought me here but ultimately I credit this decision to having to deal with the failings of past band mates, I kept saying to myself for a while “If I do everything myself… then I have only myself to blame if it all fucks up.”
After playing SXSW with Arrows of Love and spending some time in Los Angeles, I quit the band and began feeling disillusioned by music but at the same time a huge sense of relief and excitement because I wasn’t tied down to a band or project for the first time in 12 years. In my free time I tried to do anything but music… I tried dressing differently and tried new hobbies, I guess I felt I had almost lost my identity by leaving the band. Eventually after a couple of months of boredom I went crawling back to music and wrote two very different albums; ‘This is going to get weird… I’m going to make this weird’, a collection of orchestral and experimental film music songs, and a still yet to be released album that features Rufus Miller, Lyndsey Lupe and Artur Dyjecinski  full of dark sounds and Middle Eastern instruments. At the time of doing this I also wrote a soundtrack to a silent movie, two computer games and other projects. In November 2015 I played drums on a European tour for A. Dyjecinski, with support from Nick Faraone of Barbarisms, both of whom I have a huge respect for. This was a pinnacle point for because I really enjoyed what they were doing and loved the fact that they were self sufficient musicians that could go on tour without the need of a band and still create the buzz and excitement that a full band could. It’s what essentially got me thinking about playing guitar and singing, but what I wanted to sing about or the character I wanted to create didn’t come to me until I went back to Los Angeles in early 2016 for two months…

Here’s a playlist that inspired the album:

 

For me there’s no set formula to writing a song. Most of the ideas for this new album came during a house move last year where I moved from my flat in North London out to Hertfordshire. I spent nearly three months moving and renovating the new place whilst not having access to any of my music equipment or instruments and to fill that void I would come up with lyric and melody ideas and record them on my phone with my voice; I would do this in the car or whilst installing a kitchen or whatever I was doing and eventually I had hundreds of ideas and sometimes even full songs recorded with just my voice. Usually I’ll start with a lyrical idea which will most likely be something I’ve read, heard on TV or a lot of the time just a weird thought, then I’ll think of a melody or guitar riff to match which might then lead onto drum part ideas.

This record is all me, I don’t know any other way to work. I’m still clutching onto that punk DIY ethic. However for the next album I’d like to go into a studio with other musicians and an engineer because writing, performing and recording everything yourself gets fucking tiring after a while. I started out as a drummer playing in Punk and Grunge bands, I spent 4 years with Plastic Passion then another 5 years with Arrows of Love… and I played with many bands in between. Up until leaving Arrows of Love I was all about the drums but after I left I began experimenting with different styles of music and instruments. I now write music for visual media like games, adverts and different projects, which is great because I get to write a lot of orchestral and electronic music and really experiment with different sounds. I still play drums as much as I can, I recently played drums for Riddles and Aaron Keylock. Right now I’m working on a new band called ‘Magic Moss’ with three other guys who played in Riddles. We’re currently writing and recording but it looks like we’ll be playing some shows toward the end of this year.

One of my biggest (bad) influences is Charles Bukowski, and a lot of the lyrical ideas came from reading his novels throughout writing the album. The footage I used was taken from two documentaries I found on YouTube made about Bukowski, both from the 70’s and shot in black and white and look amazing. ‘All My Possessions’ isn’t necessarily about Bukowski but it is about feeling down and out, lonely or even desperate and all of which are themes in Bukowski’s writing… the footage of him really helps portray the character and vibe of the song.

“All my Possessions” is released independently on the 16th of July and available on all digital platforms.

Follow: Mike Frank on Facebook

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Earthless talking ‘Black Heaven’

For more than a decade, Earthless have been on the front of a San Diego psych revival, creating their own genre and making the way for bands such as Sacri Monti, Joy, Monarch, and Petyr, among others. The band, consisting of Isaiah Mitchell (Golden Void) on vocals and guitar, Mike Eginton on bass and Mario Rubalaca (Rocket from the Crypsformerly a professional skateboarder and member of ‘Team Alva’). Since the formation of Earthless in 2001, they have been known for their trademark instumental psychedelic jams, often reaching the 20 minute mark or more, so needless to say, it caught all of us at TGF by surprise when we finally got to listen to their latest release ‘Black Heaven’, an absolute gem of an album recorded at Rancho De La Luna with Dave Catching, and their first album via Nuclear Blast Records, their songs are a lot shorter, more structured, and, hold yer horses, with vocals. All of this, while still staying true to their sound. We had a chat with bassist Mike Eginton, who ran us through some of the ideas behind the album and gave us the lowdown on the San Diego music scene.

With Black Heaven, you’ve ventured away from what appear to have become the Earthless trademark – 20 minute long psychedelic guitar solos and instrumental jams, what made you change your direction?
Mike: We had talked a bit over the past few years about doing some vocal tracks. People seemed to enjoy it when we would do covers live with Isaiah singing. This is the first album where a good portion of the songs were written prior to us getting together to jam. It’s a little harder for us to get together with Isaiah living in Northern California now. I think that lended to the writing process, and the change to more structured shorter songs. And two of the songs Isaiah brought to the table had vocals. We figured, why not give it a try?

How would you describe ‘Black Heaven’ as an album?
Mike: Not really sure how to describe it. I guess it’s a pretty hard hitting record sans the closing track which is a little mellower than normal for us. It’s still an “Earthless” record even with vocals and structure. In my opinion, at least. We’ve kept the sound. There’s plenty of guitar solos all over it.

There’s no secret that San Diego and Oceanside is a haven for psychedelic bands, something Roadburn Festival picked up on arranging a ‘San Diego takeover’ – why do you guys think that is? I’m guessing you were one of the first bands in that genre to emerge, with now a whole bunch of other bands following making their mark on the San Diego music scene – is there something in the water that makes that area a mekka for that kind of music? Is Jimi Hendrix played in delivery rooms during labour?
Mike: Haha! Not sure about Jimi in the delivery room, but, yes we were one of the first “psych” bands to come out of SD along with another group called Silver Sunshine, who would later become Astra. And I think we had a big influence on the younger bands in the San Diego/Oceanside scene. At least that’s what they tell us. There’s a large skate/surf scene where we’re from and I think a lot of the guys in that scene liked the intensity of the music and thought it fit well with skating. And a lot of those guys started bands and play in variations of a throwback, early 70s heavy guitar sound. And quite frankly, they’re all killer bands. Sacri Monti, Red Octopus, Joy, Monarch, Harsh Toke, Petyr, Volcano, Pharlee, Color, Arctic… the list goes on. I highly recommend checking all those bands out.

On the subject of Roadburn Festival – you guys will be playing a set with Can’s Damo Suzuki, what’s your expectations for that? Will that be loose jam set up, or a practiced set? Do you guys normally embark on musical adventures and experiment with other musicians and artists like that?
Mike: To my knowledge, the set with Damo will be a loose jam set up. It’s not typically normal for us to do collaborative sets. We’ve had friends come up and join us before on guitar or something. Done a few sets with J from Dinosaur Jr. But this one should be interesting. I have no idea what to expect.

You’ve recently changed to Nuclear Blast Records after having been with Tee Pee for quite some time, how are your expectations releasing and working with a new label?
Mike: Everything has been great with Nuclear Blast so far. Everyone we’ve dealt with has been very positive. They’ve exceeded my expectations!

Earthless will be gracing London with their presence on the 6th of April, as they take over Islington Assembly hall to blow minds. Needless to say, we’ll be there with bells on, and luckily – so can you! As long as there’s still tickets, that is. Get your hands on a pair here, and we’ll see you in the haze and daze! Tickets via Old Empire here.

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Interview & Playlist: Magic Moss Men

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A Walk down Memory Lane with Motörhead’s Phil Campbell

A couple of weeks ago we had the great pleasure and privilege of being visited by former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell, currently of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. At The Great Frog, we’ve always had a close relationship with Motörhead, and they have played an important part in our success, something we will always be incredibly thankful and grateful for. At the day of what was meant to be an interview but instead ended up more of walk down memory lane for Phil as well as an impromptu acoustic version of ‘Going to Brazil’.

As Phil arrived in the shop nearly drowned from the torrential rain outside, he instantly walked up to our ‘Hellraiser’ skull ring, a ring that owner Reino carved inspired by the late, great Lemmy;  ‘Jesus, it looks just like the fucker, I need to get this one.’

“We’re all here now, what do you guys wanna talk about? Playboy? Playgirl? Maybe play monkeys? Maybe I can tell you about the first time I ever met Lemmy, I was 12 years old and went to see Hawkwind at the Capitol Theatre in Cardiff, a venue which is no longer there. I loved the show and it freaked me out completely, it was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life, all strobe lights and ‘Do not panic!’. The music rocked! I hung around for a bit outside after, and Lem was the only one who came into the foyer after the show. I still have the programme somewhere in my house, and it’s got this messy doodle of ‘Lemmy’ autographed onto it, and that was the first time I ever met him.

Years later while in a band called Persian Risk, I saw in a magazine, Kerrang or whatever it was, that Motörhead was looking for a new guitarist. The wife told me to go ahead and audition for it but I just brushed it a bit under the carpet. Eventually, I ended up sending over a cheap cassette with some crap I’d recorded and thought nothing of, until I came back home from work one day when she said; ‘Oh Phil’, and I remember this was on a Tuesday, ‘Phil, the Motörhead people have phoned up, can you learn 18 songs by Friday?’ ‘Fucking hell…’ So I turned up to audition and so did Wurzel, and it was quite weird because I knew that Phil Taylor wanted one of us, and Lemmy wanted the other, but we never knew who wanted who.

As we all know, we both ended up joining the band. I always thought Lemmy wanted Wurzel and Phil Taylor wanted me, but I recently found out it was the other way around. The cassette I sent was horrible as well, a bunch of crap I played back home in my bedroom, but it did get me into Motörhead, which is fantastic.

Later in life, Lemmy ended up moving to LA, a place where everyone drives. But no, not him, he never drove, so for about 15 years when we were recording in Los Angeles, I’d always pick him up. At some point, we found out they’d been gluing some cheap ashtrays into our rental cars, which we didn’t like at all. We were both big smokers, and didn’t like the idea of this shitty plastic cup glued to these fancy cars, so I ended up buying my own car for the sole reason it had a crystal ashtray. It was a real expensive one as well, a white Rolls Royce Clenet. Matt Sorum from Guns ’n’ Roses called me one day and said he’d seen this old Rolls Royce for sale on Santa Monica boulevard and he asked me to check it out for him as he was out of town, I said I would, and also promised I’d get it for him if it was any good.

I checked it out and as I was leaving, I saw this other car parked outside – ‘Candy Spelling’ it had on it, Aaron Spelling’s wife, apparently she was the previous owner. The salesman was giving me the lowdown on this car, who it had belonged to, how many miles it had on it, and most importantly, that it had a crystal ashtray mounted in it. That settled it for me, and I ended up getting it. It’s pretty rare, the Clenet, only 250 ever made. Stallone’s got two, Farrah Fawcett had one, so did Ringo Starr, Charlie Sheen and the wrestler guy Vince McMahon. I guess that may have been the world’s most expensive and extravagant ashtray, but it worked well for Lemmy and me.

It’s tragic to think that on a lot of our albums, like 1916, I’m the only one left of the four of us. I’m sure the boys wouldn’t want me to go morbid on the situation, they’d want me to carry on and keep making music. Being in Motörhead, we toured relentlessly for three decades, and despite it being an experience I never would have been without, it was exhausting and I missed out on a lot of other very important life events, like the birth of my second son, as well as his graduation.

It was tough on the road, my mum past away while I was on out there and I had to do five gigs straight after. I sacrificed a hell of a lot, and did what I had to do for my career. Luckily, I have an amazing wife I married before joining Motörhead and this madness, so she never married me for my money. Plus, Motörhead’s been very good to me, and I like to think I’ve been very good to Motörhead. I really am mega proud of everything we’ve achieved over the years. I’m not trying to impress everyone, but I write what I think is good, I always have and will be doing so with my new band The Bastard Sons as well, we’ve got a fucking killer album out 26th of January on Nuclear Blast Records, and I’m so excited for it to be released! I’ll be back on the road, and I’m hoping to see the lot of you out there!”
– Phil Campbell, December 2017

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons

So, needless to say, recapping through 30 years on the road with Motörhead, there will be a lot of stories not suited for the fainthearted or average reader, which must stay within the four walls of The Great Frog, so let’s leave it with this quote from the captain himself;

If you didn’t do anything that wasn’t good for you it would be a very dull life. What are you gonna do? Everything that is pleasant in life is dangerous.”
– Lemmy

See our Motörhead collaborations and archive photos.

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Interview: The Schizophonics

Let’s start at the beginning, the birth of The Schizophrenics – how did you two meet?
Lety: Pat and I met in high school, I had a Ramones cover band for a few weeks and asked him to play bass. After school we didn’t see each other for 7 years, then shortly after we ran into each other again The Schziophonics started. This band was always a three piece. The original drummer quit after s few months and I was always there so I ended up learning to drum because they didn’t know anyone else. After a few years we kept getting busier and busier to the point where we’ve had good friends come and go due to them wanting to focus on other projects, us being too busy and not being able to tour as much as we do. We are lucky we have such an amazing group of musicians that have been able to be a part of this with us.

How do you work and write with you two being the only permanent members of the band, do you get bassists in for the writing and recording process, or do you do write and record that yourself and only bring a third part in for shows and tours? What would you say are the perks and downsides of having various friends fill in on bass compared to having a full time bassist in the band?
Lety: Pat is the main song writer so he shows me the new songs and we get all the arrangements and kinks worked out together. For the recording process we have used whoever is filling in at the time and have had Pat do those parts too. Depends on the session. Perks of having a few friends know the set is if someone is unavailable we can call another friend to fill in. We’ve been able to do more tours and shows that way. Most of our bassists haven’t been just bass players either. They’re guitarists and front men in their own projects. That’s the biggest reason we have had so many and that’s ok. We love supporting our friends and we’ve been a part of other projects in town too if someone needs bandmates.

Can you tell us a bit more about your record ‘Land of the Living’?
Pat: We’ve been playing live for years, but we’ve only ever put out 45s. This is our first full lp, and it’s a mix of old and new songs. The common theme of songs is us trying to still have a good time and find simple joy in our crazy divided country. It’s basic rock and roll escapism.

You’re known for your energetic and intense live performances, how do you get ready for a show? Any pre-gig rituals, anthems or exercises?
Pat: I like to dance if there’s a DJ or opening band, or just warm up on guitar. It’s good to be in that weird headspace before we hit the stage. I try to take it as seriously as possible without worrying if it all goes off the rails, because that chaos is kind of part of the show too.
Lety: Eating light is big! You don’t want to have a heavy meal and then go play the show, it’s like going for a jog, makes me sluggish.

Although there’s clear 60s garage rock influences in your music, can you run us a bit through bands and artists that inspire you as musicians? What made you pick up your instrument in the first place when you were younger?
Pat: Definitely Jimi Hendrix, the MC5, the Stooges, Bo Diddley, James Brown… A cassette of “Are You Experienced?” made me pick up the guitar when I was 14.

You’re based in San Diego, which in recent years seems to have become the capital of 70’s inspired psychedelic rock – how would you describe the music scene there? Is there any hidden gems you want to share with us over in rainy London?
Pat: There’s a lot of cross pollination, with everyone playing in everyone else’s projects. I think what sets it apart is the live energy of a lot of the bands, like the Loons and the Creepy Creeps. It probably came from all these bands sharing bills and trying to top each other, but it never feels competitive.

I’m under the impression you guys tend to stay busy – how does life look like when you’re not on the road?
Lety: We love catching live music and supporting the scene in San Diego, but when we aren’t at an event we have a mini Dachshund, Beanie, that we love walking and hiking with. I also just got into sewing stage clothes like dresses and shirts.

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TGF Spotlight: The Schizophonics

In this day and age, it’s becoming harder and harder for bands to stand out and do something new, as most things have been done before and been done good. If you give The Schizophonics a listen, it wont take you long to hear they’re a 60’s garage rock ’n’ roll band. You can draw comparisons to bands and artists such as The Sonics and MC5, but there’s also something there you cant put your finger on, and that’s authenticity and originality. The Schizophonics is the kinda band you’d find in a dingy dive bar basement in New York in the late sixties, or the band that would take 60’s London by storm and set fire to Dingwalls – except for the fact that they’re not actually a hidden gem from the late sixties at all, but a current band based in San Diego. The dynamic duo consisting of Pat (vocals and guitar) and Lety Beers (drums) are known for their highly energetic and frantic live shows where they various friends join them on bass.

Now, it’s easy to leave it with that, that their shows are ‘energetic and frantic’, but they take it so much further than that. Frontman Pat takes his showmanship duties to the next level as he struts and dances around on stage, does the splits and occasional backwards roly poly, all while singing and playing guitar to Lety’s tight drumming – imagine all of MC5, Iggy Pop and James Brown morphed into one, and you’re getting there.

Since the formation of The Schizophonics in 2009, the band have toured relentlessly up and down the West Coast, as well as building up quite the reputation as one of the best live bands in San Diego. As we speak, the band is currently taking a break from the Californian sunshine and gracing the UK with their presence as they are touring and opening up for fellow San Diegans ‘Rocket From The Crypt’, leaving them quite big shoes to fill. This Friday, they’ll be playing London’s Electric Ballroom, and we cant wait to see them tear the place to pieces!

We’ll be having a chat to the two during their UK stay, so watch this space to hear what they’ve got to say!

All photos via The Schizophonics’ website.

The Schizophonics on: Facebook & Instagram