Wednesday, November 30, 2011
If you think too much with your heart, here is a warning: you might end up dead. Fuckin' Dead!!! Grass, gas, or ass no one rides for free. Hit the road in an appropriate style, a foxy chick on the passenger side. Jon Wolff apparently is a highly musically educated person, but he has not let all that fancy book learnin’ get in the way of his Steppenwolf like ID. He needs to get out of city, kiss public transportation goodbye, stuck it to the working world. Let your body and mind unwind girl. Skinny-dipping, His guitar is on shore but he wants more, what he really wants now, you want it too.
Like a rocket from the velvet tin mine of rural, Pennsylvania. This self produced EP is Jon’s 8th mesmerizing release. He dabbles in just about every musical style known to the self-proclaimed free world, but most of his recordings are in the Joe Satriani (be forewarned) guitar instrumental vein. On Nook 'N Boots its glam damage sex rock.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
They want danger money and I want danger money. They make me get up in the morning, morning, morning. Millions are grasping at the branches of the tree of life, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard stab right at the root. You say god is on your side? I stumbled across this band because I’m always on the hunt for musical endeavors that involve wizards and witches, and yes, lizards. Some kind of Australian, Trans Love Energies / Fun House living situation paved the way to this amazingly catchy cluster fuck. They claim to be into pavement, and they didn’t let it crooked rain on everyone’s party. Amazing feat boys. Run don’t walk to bandcamp, and get yourself a copy the Willoughby’s Beach Ep. Only Three hundred something copies.
Rory Gallagher is one of the many guitar gods of the 60’s and 70’s, back when it mattered. It doesn’t matter very much now and it hasn’t mattered very much since at least the late 70’s. He is not very well known over here in the United States .
None of Rory Gallagher’s records blow me away, they are not bad, seeming on the surface to be straight blues, with lyrics about mean woman who mistreat, bullfrogs, hollow logs, and lonely roads. I’ve never been all that taken with the white man’s take on the blues unless they tweak it out a little and I’m sure Rory tweaks it, but I just don’t pick up on it, not on wax anyway.
But live is another story. Guitar gods are normally pretty boring. Seeing footage of this guy it’s clear something bedsides the blues is going on. Maybe it’s because he’s from Ireland, and Ireland in the 70’s was crazy. Watch ten minutes of the “The Beat Club Sessions 1971-72” , this man has total dominance over his guitar and plays somewhere between pilot like control and frenzied wolverine abandon. He never slacks or leans back or mellows out like some other noted “gods”. He’s always right up front nose to glass, slow or fast. Really fun to watch!
When Jimi Hendrix was asked in 1969 what it was like to be the world’s greatest guitarist he replied: “ I don’t know, ask Rory Gallagher”
You can Enjoy The Entire Beat Club Sessions Below. Also highly recommended is the Irish Tour: 1974 DVD.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Enjoy these very mellow station breaks from some of the very mellow, presumably stoned, Dj's of early progressive rock radio. KZAP in Sacramento and KSAN out of the San Fran.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Not sure how much of this head-spinning "Hollywood is fucked" doc from '67 is real (Swilson would know, he lives there), but there are some fairly insane bits here, most of them courtesy Valerie Porter, "Former B-actress" (one credit!) and sculptress, who bathes with underage girls and lives with an ex-silent film star with cake-y make-up. She's pretty amazing. Speaking of underage girls, there's also a fashion show featuring "topless" bathing suits for toddler girls (!). And speaking of topless, if this movie is any indication, every cocktail bar in Hollywood in the late 60's had an all-topless waitstaff. There's also movie stars (Jayne Mansfield! Ann Margret! Brigitte Bardot! Telly Savalas! Kate Jackson!), Hollywood weirdos (the seriously annoying Gypsy Boots, Rodney Bingenheimer, some guy who dresses up like Dracula all the time, former Manson/Kenneth Anger associate Bobby Beausoleil), group LSD trips,delusional cross-dressers, snotty hair-dressers, acid rockers, hippie death goddesses, satanic rituals, freaky poolside dance parties, strippers, gratuitous Zappa, The Mugwumps, a seizure-inducing light show, and goofy/weird/alarming bullshit galore. Pretty amazing. X-Rated. Banned in France! Check it out, there's some amazing footage to delight any vintage pop-culture/mondo/occult/demonology enthusiasts. Free to watch on Youtube and Hulu.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
She looked like Shelley Duvall, was married to one of the Turtles, and she made cosmic hippy Jesus freakfolk. She was like a nun with a predilection for nudism and weed.
And Crayon Angels is a soul-shattering masterpiece.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Sometimes Lantern sounds like James Williamson, Randy Holden and Darby Crash formed a Hasil Adkins cover band, to play a one off gig at a Delta Tau Chi fraternity party. Sometimes they sound Japanese. Sometimes they sound like the ‘65 Stones on lean. All advanced demonological street jive aside, what does it all mean?
Nothing. It just means that these new demons sound like a really sweaty, American (From Canada by way of Philadelphia), full tilt, rock ‘n roll band, out for a good god dam time. Don’t think. Drink! Kill!!!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Audio black mass, dragged up the mountain to be sacrificed, heart held high by high priest than thrown into a mouth of hell and ripped apart by demons and devil’s angles and people who did bad things while they were alive. Each Chamber a nightmare, than a stone fuckin’ groove, ‘Cause they can boogie down in hell.
It begins with the best opening scream on the east side of T.V. Eye or Number of the Beast, a sonic horror film, this record should be listened to and not heard. You can’t hang out, work on your car or clean the house. You need to prepare for the ceremony, light the incense and candles, close all the lights, put the tin foil on the windows and recite the banishing ritual of the lesser pentagram. Luckily it only lasts about 40 minutes. That's a little longer than a real nightmare and a lot less than a bad LSD trip.
Get a hold of it at the legandary Mutant Sounds.
- Ken McIntyre
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
"For your safety no drum machine was found." - Vincent Necrosadofucker, on Virus
"I hope these freaks are preparing another sick stuff like this, anyone who wants to get it don't will stay disappointed, I'm sure !!" - Andre Luiz, on Reinfection
"This band will change it's name for "Are You Shit?" I hope that not." - Jaime Amorim, on Are You God?
"The mixture is so well done that you will forget why you are alive." - Fernando Comacho, on Disavowed
"I have no doubt that Blackened Moon put his money on the right place releasing this CD, and Chicago's scene I think is also going insane to have these freaks playing around and making victims on their life performances." - FC, on Corpsevomit
"What a shit!" - JA, on Krueger
"Well, if you are into this stuff here's a great motive to have a headache." - AL, on Brutal Mastication
"They are from London- a tremendous trouble for the Queen, because they are insane." - Chacal, on Infected Dissaray
...and so on. Dunno if issues are still available, but check out their website.
- Ken McIntyre
Monday, November 14, 2011
Wow man, like the drummer can’t keep up cause he’s stoned on Mandrax and the guitar player can’t play a solo to save his life but he’s playing that thing like his life depended on it. The bass player is only in the band because he’s got a van and the singer is only the singer because he’s a loud-mouthed freak with wild hair and doesn’t get stage fright like the rest of us. I might be describing the Swilson band but I’m not, well not exactly, but a little.....
The grey sky, soot stained, post-Sabbath, pre-punk world of early 70’s England comes alive in this collection of acetates by heathen scum rockers that NOBODY has ever heard of until now, collected on the limited edition, vinyl only, hand painted cover: Do What Thou Wilt: The Satanic Rites Of British Rock: 1970-1974
Just when you think all “the van goghs” of rock ‘n roll have been exposed another petrified dinosaur turd is unearthed. Let your ears melt with wonder.
For fans of proto-punk, proto-metal, brain damage, polyester shirts, polyester pants, brown acid, boones farm, baked beans, the dole, the Irish Republican Army, cold water, no heat in the winter, unshaved beaver, and Grand Funk Railroad played on a fisher price record player just to annoy your Joan Baez loving older sister.
You can read all about it and get it on Fuzzywasabi
In Your Ear carried all – or at least plenty – of Jandek’s ugly ass records. They all had blurry black and white covers and they smelled weird, like old people, or rash ointment. I never once even considered buying one, but I figured must have had some kind of sizable following, since IYE carried so much of his junk. I also figured that every other record store in town probably sold his albums too, I just never checked, because what good J bands were there in the early 80’s, besides Priest, and maybe Joan Jett?
Turns out that In Your Ear was probably one of the only record stores in the whole country that carried his nightmarish releases, and the reason they were always fully stocked is because nobody ever bought them. By Jandek’s own admission, he’d only sold 150 albums, TOTAL, 7 releases and ten years into his ‘career’. And that ain’t much, even in the weirdo-slacker-punk-rock loserdom world of Lisa Suckdog and Eugene Chadbourne and whatever other loonies that snagged hipster ink in the 80’s.
But I digress. For the uninitiated, Jandek is a reclusive, possibly insane creature from Texas who, since 1978, has been releasing a cuppla albums a year that are filled with what sounds like a guy with iron claws for hands trying to kill an acoustic guitar while he bemoans his pitiable plight in a ‘singing’ voice that brings to mind a mental patient in the throes of violent hallucinations. Like, 20-30 album’s worth. Now, I realize that when anyone describes Jandek’s music, it sounds fun, like a hearty laugh at some fool’s expense, but it is not fun, it is SICK and AWFUL, and will only make you feel like crying. And if all you had to go on was how Jandek’s trainwreck musick sounded, then we would not be speaking of him at all. He would have been forced to melt all those awful records down and go back to muttering to himself on the bus. But because he so shrewdly marketed his music as the strange and mysterious ramblings of an otherworldly loner from Nowhere, USA, a cult of awe and reverence formed over the years, made up of over-educated rock scribes and desperate-to-be-cool college radio programmers and (presumably) hardcore masochists.
And so, a documentary, artfully shot by first time director Chad Freidrichs. Only one problem, though – the subject is nowhere to be found. About the closest Freidrich gets is a close-up of Jandek’s post office box, an audio interview from 1985, and an anecdote from writer Katy Vine (Texas Monthly), about the time she drank beer with Jandek, but was not allowed to ask him about his music. Compelling and puzzling evidence, to be sure, but the rest of the 89 minute doc is filled with talking heads like Richie Unterberger (Unknown Legends of Rock n’ Roll) and Dr Demento, who pontificate on who this bizarre anti-musician really is, and what, if anything, could this nonsense really be about?
And of course, nobody knows, not even Jandek. The tape of John Trubee’s ’85 Spin interview with J closes out the film, and it’s something of an anti-climax, because he sounds relatively normal, if not a little aloof and…well, kinda boring. Just another hopeless, tone-deaf rocker trying to move units. No wonder he refused to do interviews after that one, he would have blown the whole suicidal weirdo shut-in aura completely. Since the doc's release in '05. Jandek even made a few appearances in public, played a few awkward gigs,and basically admitted, yeah, I'm real. Weird, but real. And the world shrugged and went back to work.
So, it's a Use Your Illusion situation, really. You can walk away from Jandek on Corwood (Corwood is his one-man record label, by the way) fully convinced that Jandek is some sort of high priest in the church of the gonzo freakvibe sent here from Planet Thorazine to enlighten us all in the pleasures of sticking our heads in the oven, or you can take the more cynical approach, and just assume he’s a slightly imbecilic prankster with too much time and money on his hands, who doesn’t know when to quit. Either way, there remains a man named Jandek making miserable, scary puke-folk in Texas, and a whole buncha graying smart-asses in the rock-crit world that think he’s some sort of demented, reclusive genius, and this documentary will tell you all about it. Unless you like the sound of small things being eaten alive by bigger things, then there is very little chance that it will convert you to the cult of Jandek, but it will creep you out for days, and I can’t imagine the strange, elusive man behind it all would want it any other way.
- Ken McIntyre
Friday, November 11, 2011
In Cauda Semper Stat Venrnum (1969)
Hellhammer was the (very) early 80's proto-extreme metal band that eventually became Celtic Frost. They were known mostly for a disgusting guitar tone that sounded literally diseased, like it was stricken with some horrible tumorous malady and was angrily snapping away at the guy playing it, like a vicious, cancer-stricken attack dog.
But see, that guitar sound already existed. It was actually invented in 1969, by an Italian teenager named Antonius Rex. He had a band called Jacula with two other nerdy Italian boys, one on the church organ (!) and a singer/keyboards guy. They mixed heavy occult rock with classical flourishes and, apparently, had a strong ecology/anti-war message. That part I never got. They just souned like Satanists to me. Anyway, you've gotta hear Antonius's guitar on their In Cauda Semper Stat Venrnum album from 1969 (same year I was hatched, incidentally). It's intense. The whole record is nuts, it's like Celtic Frost wrestling with Vincent Price in a burning church. In Italian!
Holy smokes (ahem), is it good.
Plus, their name rhymes with Dracula. Not many things do. Also, if this picture is accurate, hot chicks, fur coats, and what looks like Oliver Reed with a bowl haircut, were involved.
Check out Cauda Semper Stat Venrnum at Oldish Psych and Prog or just listen below. Also below, a little Hellhammer, for comparison.
Black candles optional, but encouraged.
- Ken McIntyre
The band dissolved for reasons unknown around 1986. They were supposed to reunite for some Euro-metalfest in the early 90’s, but it never came together. It would be interesting to find out what became of Kate and her hairy, scary, devil-dudes, but that would probably involve talking, at length, to aging ‘true metal’ freaks, and that kind of abuse is just not in my contract. So, much like we do with Bettie Page, let’s pretend they never got old or went soft.
All three albums are well worth hunting down, although they will cost you, like most Satanic drug things do. There’s CD versions of all three out there somewhere, but I think they’re just ripped from vinyl copies, and the OG wax is going for, like, $20 and more a pop. But hey, they last longer than actual acid, so why not?
Oh yeah, Acid’s last record was called “Engine Beast”, and whenever anybody tells me that they’re forming a new band and need a cool name, I always say “Engine Beast”. Nobody ever takes me up on it, but seriously, that would be an awesome band name. I would TOTALLY go to see a band called Engine Beast.
Oh, and Acid were black metal way before the corpespaint kids. In fact, Kate's probably some corpespaint kid's mother.
Here’s two tracks from their first, self-titled album, chosen for the demonic-ness. If you listen to them backwards, your head will explode.
- Ken McIntyre
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Although they are known mostly as an 80’s metal band, the mighty Cirith Ungol actually formed a decade earlier, kicking out the skeleton warrior jams in a pre-punk world, with only ancient fuzz-pilots like the Stooges and Blue Cheer as their guides. They were shock rockers and head bangers way before either phrase even made sense. Ultimately, the 1980’s rolled around, and Cirith’s hard rock crunch had developed into a thunderous screech of demonsweat metal, punctuated by the unforgettable banshee wail of Tim Baker. They got signed to fledgling indie label Metal Blade, and released a trio of earth-shaking albums, all of them featuring memorable fantasy themed paintings on the cover and equally memorable doses of super-heavy in the grooves. Unfortunately, Cirith hit their stride at the same time glam-metal did, and they often found themselves playing second cucumber to the latest spandex sensations, a frustrating situation for these seasoned head choppers. But Cirith Enduros, at least until the 90’s, when they disbanded, without fanfare. Meanwhile, their reputation as elder gods of the true metal movement grew in Europe, a continent preoccupied with all things metal, cementing their legacy now and forever as one of the wildest, weirdest ‘cult metal’ bands of all time.
I recently had the rare opportunity to ask Cirith drummer Robert Garven about the history and enduring legend of this mythical, magical heavy metal band.
First of all, pronounce "Cirith Ungol" for us. Because who knows, maybe we've had it wrong all these years. Like "Keltic Frost" instead of "Seltic Frost".
The correct way is to pronounce it like a “K”; this is from the “Lord of the Rings”. However, we always pronounce it with a soft “C” like an “S” like Searith, which is of course wrong, but hey, we all read the books. We should have read all the appendixes too, I guess!
When you first heard Tim's voice screeching and roaring like some mad beast, did you think the band was blessed or cursed?
I really liked Tim’s voice from the first. He was a roadie of ours when we were an instrumental band after the departure of our first singer, Neal Beattie. I am not sure how it started, but we let him try out on some of our songs and it seemed to fit our music perfectly. I encouraged him, and during recording I was his best cheerleader always trying to get him to screech higher! Tim was a smoker and I think that his voice deteriorated as the albums went by. If you listen to “Frost and Fire” many said that he was screaming but he is actually singing. I feel that his voice was the sharpest and best on this album. As a matter of fact he reaches some pretty amazingly high pitches! I always liked singers with high voices like “Pavlov’s Dog” & “Granicus”.
Rob hits the skins in an early Cirith shot.
Forming a rock n' roll band in 1972 must've been amazing. How many practices did it take before you started attracting teenage groupies?
I am quite disappointed to say this but we never had that many groupies, there were a few, but I always wonder why I missed out on that part of Rock & Roll. If there were any around Tim usually got them, as I was still carrying my drums around at 3 am after the gigs. Heather Locklear once wanted an album from me, but I was with a mean girlfriend at the time so I wouldn’t give her one, which seems like a mistake now since she ended up marrying TL, who abused her. She followed me around a Swap meet in Thousand Oaks where she lived, when I was handing out album covers. My girlfriend at the time that was pretty territorial ,so I remember not giving her one, which sounds silly now!
Since you were all still in high school at the time, did you play school dances?
Only a couple, as no one could really dance to our music. I remember once even yelling in the microphone for people to sit down and that we did not want “Any dancing fools”. I think we were so into our music we took it as an insult and expected our listeners to sit down as if they were at a classical concert. We did play at a few outdoor concerts, which were great fun. I always liked playing outside, as the sound is always great.
Talk about some of the bands you all listened to back then. The Cirith Ungol sound is so distinctive that it's difficult to peg what your original influences were.
Hell, we listened to allot of music. Greg [Lindstrom, original Cirith bassist and Garven's co-writer] used to scour record stores looking for heavy stuff. We sometimes would slit open the sleeve and slide out the LP. If you know what you are looking for, you could see how heavy the band was by reading the grooves. We bought allot of junk, also but some gems too. We were listening to Scorpions 10 years before they were even known in the US. I remember finding Deep Purple “In Rock” at the local Montgomery Wars and freaking out it was so cool. I was raised on Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Mountain, Hendrix, Cream, Captain Beyond, Iron Butterfly, Rush, and the list goes on and on. We also listened to quite a few bands that were great but never made much success, such as Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun, A Foot in Cold Water, Moxy, Alamo, and Demian.
Was it always the band's intention to write concept-y, fantasy-based songs, or is there a suitcase full of early Cirith Ungol odes to pussy, beer, and the road? Because that would be awesome, if there was.
There were a few of those. I wrote a great song called “Flesh Dart” which we never recorded except in our home studio. Here is the last verse:
He is the ruler of the deep,
Upon his hands and knees he creeps.
He is the ruler of the land,
For he wields a flesh dart in his hand.
The time has come for him to rule.
He strains himself to flex his tool.
You live in fear of his command,
For against the Flesh Dart none can stand!
“One Foot in Hell” was also different, but Tim revised it to be more “Sword & Sorcery”. It was originally about a Battle of the Bands where we had some equipment stolen, and even though we were the best, we lost as the promoter wanted bands that would be good for local “dances”. We started mainly on the S&S stuff after Neil Beattie, our original singer, left the band. We were all reading the S&S stuff like Conan, Elric, Kane the Barbarian, Faferd and the Grey Mouser etc. So it was natural for us to use these influences. Greg was the one that turned me on to these classics! The literature there is pretty awesome, and it had quite an effect on us. I still read it and horror like H.P. Lovecraft.
About what year did you start developing the action-packed stage show? Did you learn how to do pyro yourself? Were there any unfortunate accidents or near-misses? Oh, and for people who don't know, can you describe what went on during CU show?
We really did not do too much stage show stuff until near the last half of the band's life. We were pretty heavy from the start, and even when we went out and played we blew most other bands away. Somewhere I got a catalog that had some pyro-stuff in it and I had some really cool things on my cymbal that shot balls of fire into the air, sometimes up to 25 feet. It was very cool. By the way, we never killed anyone. We also had a coffin made, and the roadies would carry Tim out in it and tilt it up and open it and Tim would come out in a crown singing “King of the Dead”!
Rare shot of Tim in his coffin.
So, 1977 rolled along and you were really getting cooking. Did punk rock have any effect on you guys at all? Did you end up playing with any punk bands around that time?
We listened to anything that was not wimpy, and Iggy was one of the best. As for punk I also liked the Dead Boys and saw them in concert at the Starwood in LA. I like allot of punk and that’s why I guess we were so turned off by speed metal, because it seemed as if it was an unholy cross of punk and metal.
At the time you released your first album, heavy metal as a genre was just getting cooking. Did you guys even refer to yourselves as a metal band in 1980, or did that only become apparent later?
No, we were metal from the beginning. Greg and I would scour record stores looking for Heavy Metal bands, that is show we met Brian, We were one of if not the first of the independents that put out our first album out ourselves and went looking for an independent label. Brian Slagel worked at a record store, “Oz Records” in the valley, and he was the one that hooked us up with what turned out to be the company that helped us and screwed us the most.
They were called Greenworld at first and things were pretty cool. We were the first band they picked up and the next was Motley Crue. The Crue had some promoter that financed them with alot of his own money. The story is that when the got signed away to Electra that they dumped him. I figures, as I always thought of them as creeps. One of the guys at Greenworld, an English gent, wanted us to wear women’s clothing and make-up like Motley Crue and we said that we wouldn’t. I forget his name, but he went on to be Guns & Roses manager. After that Greenworld was not really that supportive of us. Brian was putting out his first album “Metal Massacre 1” and starting his own label, Metal Blade Records. We were one of the first bands he chose. It is funny, because if you look on his website history, it mentions nothing of Cirith Ungol. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but Brian developed a strong dislike for me personally, which continues to this day. It is sad, but he took it out on the band, which is a shame, as we were better than most of the groups on his label at the time, such as Armored Saint and Lizzy Borden. Anyway, we were written out of the history, which is weird. With the exception of printing a poster for “One Foot in Hell”, Metal Blade never did much to promote us at all either. They even discontinued all our re-released CD’s in the US. Metal Blade in Germany however, is run by a very cool guy, Michel Trengert. He has been a good friend to the band. We have never made much money from either group, but he was the guy that suggested that we put out our “Servants of Chaos” CD, which contained all our old and unreleased material, without him it never would have happened. Brian our old friend did not release it in America for whatever reason.
How much do you think the awesome covers of the albums helped your sales?
I would embarrass them both if I told you how little they got, but both believed in our music and both probably thought that someday we would make it big, and then they would get the monetary reward that they deserved. Unfortunately, that never happened, and to this day I feel that I still owe them.
Being on an independent label back then was pretty rare. Many bands tour without label support these days, but not so much in 1980. Did you find that being in an indie hampered your career at all, and were you ever courted by any major labels?
Never, we were never even able to get any professional management. We had several managers that ended up ripping us off, disappearing, or worse. Our dream was to get on a major label but no matter how we tried to contact them we never seemed to get past the secretaries. I wrote countless letters made endless phone calls and sent many tapes out but never had a response. We went to industry conventions, tried to crash entertainment events to no avail. We thought that the guys at Greenworld, Enigma or Brian would help us get our foot in the door so that they would make more money on the projects they had the rights for but that never happened either. Brian was even the guy that selected the music on the creepy film “The Rivers Edge”, almost every Metal Blade band was in the soundtrack except us. This was during the time “One Foot in Hell” was out, and we all were pretty disappointed.
The band really broke through in the 80's during the height of the glam-metal era. What was it like seeing bands ten years younger get snapped up by major labels within months? I would've wanted to kill those fuckers. Can you talk about what that era was like for you guys?
Yes, that was all very depressing. The other bands on our label all had more support from the companies or managers or backers, Ratt’s manager was Milton Berle’s cousin or something and since Milton Berle was the first guy on TV that was their 'in'. Motley Crue had the rich developer paying for them. We just never had anyone with big money or connections. We did get a few gigs as warm-up acts for the other bands on our labels, but without exception they were depressing experiences where we were always treated badly for little or no pay. We played with Ratt and Lita Ford at a very cool place, the Beverly Theater in Beverly Hills. Lita Ford was 4 hours late for her sound check, so we never got one, after that she got into a fight with her manger and never showed up for the show. Backstage Ratt and her had about 1000 square feet of dressing rooms and we were in a broom closet with ten guitars. I looked into Ratt’s dressing room and they were all putting on make-up, it was pretty pathetic. Motley Crue showed up that night and I remember them walking around dressed in Madonna-like outfits with women’s underwear on the outside and lipstick. It was pretty weird. Later they said Lita Ford got into some kind of car accident which we all new was bullshit, but we ended up having no sound check and having to rush our set, just so that the audience could sit for hours, waiting for the other acts to come on or not. We got a review in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, which said we were the best act that night. What is funny is that we had some very good reviews and influential media people that liked us, like the British magazine “Kerrang’s” editor, but good reviews don’t count for much, unless they are backed up by tour support and advertising. Metal Blade in Europe actually did quite a bit of press on the re-releases of our CD’s over there, and they sold quite a few. We still have the largest following of fans overseas, in countries like Italy, Greece and Germany. A funny side note a friend of mine was playing in Athens recently, and he told me when he came out of the club they were playing there was a large Cirith Ungol logo spray painted on the wall across the street. He said when you looked up you could see the Acropolis above it. He asked me what I thought about that. Well what could I say? It is all very depressing to me….
Greg Linsdtrom and Jerry Fogle
There was a five year gap between albums from '86-91. Was the band still together all that time, or was that a reunion? And why did the trail run cold from there?
We were still together and playing, however just like the break between 84 & 86 I was trying to get a record deal together for the music we had written. Of course our guitar player Jerry Fogle left the band as he did not want to play with Jimmy Barraza as he saw a 2nd guitarist as us trying to replace him, which was not true. We all thought that having a second guitar would enable us to play alot of the intricate leads that we were writing. Unfortunately, Jerry was determined to leave the band. I finally got a deal with Enigma again. It was like a battered wife going back to her husband, as she had no place else to go.
Anyway, Enigma was getting bought by Capitol Records, so they changed their name and morphed into Restless Records. We had to wait about 2 years for them to get their act together, by the time they did Flint had left the band and Tim, Jimmy and I had to get a new bass player. Here the story gets rather twisted and suffice to say we had some members who were not probably best for the band.
What were the last days of the band like? It must have been difficult to let go of it after 20+ years.
Lets say it was not the best of times for the band. We did, however, write the best music we ever did, only to be destroyed by the producer of our last record, Paradise Lost (1991)and by the the time it took to get the project off the ground.
Did everyone continue to play music after the band broke-up?
I sold my drum set the next month, and have never touched a stick since. Tim refuses to have anything to do with the band, or me. Our original bass player Greg Lindstrom is playing in a band called “Falcon” with a cool guy named Perry Grayson who used to be in a Metal Blade band called “Destiny’s End”. Flint is in Las Vegas, and I have not talked to him in years. Randy, our long time friend and the producer and backer of our first album, passed away recently. I saw Jimmy recently and he is doing OK. He has his own construction business and enjoys skydiving as a hobby. He just started playing again and wants to do something musically.
80's era Cirith
How did you personally feel about the break-up?
I don’t want to blow my own horn, but I was the guy that set up almost all our shows, got all our record deals, did most of the artwork and publicity, and got our records re-released. I was also the one that financed “King of the Dead” with money I personally borrowed. I also paid most of the bills. At one time Jerry and other band members did not have the resources and could not pay their band rent for a year, guess who covered them? All the music was a shared endeavor, but I would also fight to the end to get each riff and or composition just right if I thought it sounded wrong. Not to say that the others did not participate, but I was the mover and shaker. The problem is the tenacity, passion, drive and perseverance I exhibited, which helped motivate and promote the band, was also misunderstood and unfortunately alienated some people. For that I am truly sorry. It seems that without me there would have been no Cirith Ungol, but because of my personality, the band may not have reached our full potential. Since I believe the band meant the most to me, I am the one who was the most affected by our demise. When I look into the mirror and deep in my heart, possibly I am the one to blame for Cirith Ungol’s failure. This is the burden that I must carry the rest of my life, and is my greatest sorrow. All I ever wanted to do is play drums and I still dream at night about getting a new set, or the band getting back together. I am haunted and tortured by the ghost of Cirith Ungol, and I am not sure that I will ever find peace.
Were you involved in the 2001 retrospective CD? How did that all come about?
That was the brainchild of Metal Blade in Europe’s very cool and very smart Michael Trengert. He suggested the idea to me and Greg and I got all the material together that we could find in hopes of releasing allot of stuff that no one had heard before. There are some real gems in there, including some great instrumental work by Greg, and a version of “Fallen Idols” that showed what the album “Paradise Lost” would have sounded like if we would not have had a producer destroy the musical compositions and arrangements. All in all, I was very happy with it, even though Metal Blade saw fit not to release it in the US. Tim was opposed to it, as he thought there was going to be some questionable material on there, but since the tapes were deteriorating, it was then or never. I decided that since the tapes were legally either Greg’s or mine that I was going to go for it for our fans. Unfortunately, it seemed to have cost our friendship.
Are you surprised that after all these years, people are still interested in your band? Or did you figure all along that Cirith were gonna be 'classics'?
I am not. I thought that we were heads and shoulders above the Metallicas, Motley Crue’s etc. I considered us more in the league of bands like Rush, Judas Priest or Scorpions. Unfortunately, we never got the chance, support or money to prove it. I think we had a great pool of talent that was wasted, but there were so many other bands better than us, that only had one album that have fallen by the wayside so we were not alone. The music business is not about music, it is about business. I am not completely happy with the legacy we have left behind, but I am proud of “Frost & Fire” & “King of the Dead”, as they are the albums that we had complete control over, and if we could have remained in control of our music the rest would have been as good!
These days, Cirith Ungol are considered to be pioneers in the 'true metal' movement. Which as gotta be nice. Honestly, though, don't some of these European kids take this 'old gods' thing too seriously? I mean, at the end of the day, wasn't Cirith Ungol a rock n' roll band?
Sure it feels great to be appreciated, but it is also a bummer to think of what could have been. But life goes on and hopefully Karma, too. I think we weren’t just a rock band, we were very serious about what we were doing, and maybe that was our downfall. I’m not sure we were pioneers, those came before us, but we did try to raise the bar of what an unsigned and self-produced band could achieve.
Do you think you'll ever get together with the fellas again, if even for a one-off gig? And if not, what's the obstacle?
We have been offered large sums of money to regroup to play in Europe but Tim is not interested and Tim is the one that everyone wants to see, so that has not gone very far. I would be interested in a reunion, but I think that it would be best for our fans if we never played again. We were so good back then, and seeing a shell of what we once were on stage seems pretty depressing to me. Heavy Metal like Formula One racing is a young mans sport, over 30 and you lose your edge!
As a matter of fact, recently a Cirith Ungol tribute CD and album was just released in Europe, by two very good friends Bart Gabriel and Sven Sostak. It is on Solemnity Records, and has bands playing our songs and many are as good if not better than our versions. As of yet it is not available in the US, but if anyone is interested in getting a copy information can be found at our official website.
Finally, and most importantly…have you ever ridden the black machine?
Personally, no. I tried to climb aboard but was thrown off. However I drive a red machine on weekends. My other dream was to get a Ferrari. After the band broke up and I paid off all the bills I got married bought a garage with a small house attached, and realized my dream. Weekends find me in the garage listening to bands like ASKA, Fireball Ministry or Riot, taking apart my carburetors (it has 8), or taking something apart. Since my dream of music has died, this is my passion now, and it runs deep, very deep.
Right on. Thanks for taking the time, Rob.
It was good talking with you. I will end with our mission statement: The being called Ungol is dead, its resurrection is doubtful. But heed its teachings oh faithful, for these memoratic disks contain, the wisdom of the ages, and by your iron fists, the horror, of false metal be extinguished. As you now join the swelling ranks of the Legions of Chaos, together we will drive before us, the cringing herd of False Metal, crush their spineless lackeys, and purge the world of their mutant plague!
- Ken McIntyre
Friday, November 4, 2011
Friday night In Los Angeles the cars hiss by my window, drinking Guinness and listening to Robbie Basho. There is something incredibly western about Basho’s take on eastern music. Robbie Basho is to raga what Elvis Presley is to rhythm and blues. It’s an outsider’s stab at the inside of the exotic, transcending it in the process. Creating a new form of music?
There is something rock ‘n roll about Robbie Bashio along with Sandy Bull, Davy Grahm, and John Fahey's eastern take on the west. The same way Presley proved that sexuality was universal, Basho and heavy friends prove that the western man can levitate, just same as the swami.
Honky Blues Guitar Raga Forever.