Portland Punks Era Bleak: “Our songs are generally inspired by the sense of urgency we feel… anxiety, frustration and confusion… the fucked up state of the world”

Original Photos taken in isolation by Candy, Justin, Fawn & Samantha. Handmade collage by B.

Era Bleak play wild, raucous punk rock with angular guitars, driving rhythm and raw gut-level vocals, they remind us of our favourite ‘80s hardcore punk bands but are firmly planted in the now making music reflective of our uncertain times. Their music is both bleak yet optimistic. Gimmie interviewed them to find out more.

How did you first discover punk rock?

ZACH: It was 1991 and I was a junior high nerd into some serious nerd shit. My favourite bands were Oingo Boingo, They Might Be Giants, The Dead Milkmen and The Ramones. I had no idea that any of those bands were punk (I’m still on the fence about Oingo Boingo). A couple years later, my older cousin played me the brand-new debut Rancid album, and that was that.

CANDY: I was lucky to have had an older brother and sister that were each teenage rockers in the 70’s and a mom that was always listening to “oldies” radio. SNL and American Bandstand were favourite TV show’s in our house, each of which had numerous punk bands as guests.  I think those things helped steer me in the right direction. My sister was into the Rocky Horror Picture Show movement when it first started and she would bring her friends over dressed up for a show. They looked dangerous and weird and tough and it was something I found myself drawn to as a kid. So naturally when I would see and hear weirdos on TV. I paid attention. My sister encouraged my interest over the years and it really came to a head when she gifted me records for my 11th or 12th birthday. DEVO-Freedom of Choice, Adam and the Ants-Kings of the Wild Frontier and Cheap Trick-One on One (not their greatest I now). Over the next 5 years my interest slowly progressed to bat cave, skate rock and anything I heard on the local college radio station in Boise Idaho. The show was called Mutant Pop KBSU/BSU Radio. It pretty much changed my life. I would record the show onto my boombox and the rest is history!

CHRIS: I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. No scene. A cultural shithole. No older siblings to turn me on to cool stuff. No internet back then. I was way into metal but would see all these rad weird shirts in Thrasher magazine and would try to find those bands tapes at the mall, after I heard the Ramones and Black Flag it was over, me and my friends were so isolated, whatever we could get our hands on was a big deal. Devo, Butthole Surfers, the Urinals, Misfits (duh)….all the SST stuff

Photo: Darren Plank.

What are the things that you really enjoy or don’t enjoy about the punk community?

ZACH: The answer to both is “punks”.

JUSTIN: Ha! Exactly. I like the creative comradery and DIY dedication in the punk “community” but not some of the single minded attitudes of some punks, particularly to other kinds of music styles.

CANDY: I don’t enjoy the overabundance of blinding phone screens at shows. It drives me bonkers. I like that new ideas and new sounds still occasionally come out of some of the scenes here, some more than others. People support each other and look out for each other it seems.

CHRIS: Damn, couldn’t agree with Zach more.

Who or what motivated you to make music yourself?

ZACH: It’s the logical chain of events when you’re a punk!* One minute, you’re a wide-eyed 15 year old at a show, the next, you’re 38 and sleeping on a filthy mattress in an unheated squat in Leipzig surrounded by a surly Polish post-punk band. *Post script, I want to recognize my male privilege (and teenage male ego) on this response. The scene I grew up in was not as sexist as others I have come across (lookin’ at you, Germany) but was typically under-represented and under-supportive. 

JUSTIN: I got into playing music before I knew punk was a thing, due to my parents being in a rock cover band in the ‘80s. I started playing drums at an early age, and was exposed to punk through being around their band, who were mainly hippies, but played songs by new wave bands like Devo, Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders. I found a cassette of the Repo Man soundtrack at one of their band rehearsals, and that kind of blew my mind into the right direction, punk-wise. I started playing in weirdo loser bands with my other weirdo loser friends right away in high school and never looked back.

CANDY: My motivation was having a basement, affordable equipment and a decent paying job that allowed me to buy what I was interested in trying. Bass, drums and years later “singing”. Friends that wanted to make noise for the first time and musician friends willing to teach me the ropes also helped.

CHRIS: Yeesh, where I grew up it was the only way to escape and keep some level of sanity, the need to connect with something bigger

What was your first introduction to D.I.Y.?

ZACH: Fortunately, my home town of Denver has one of the world’s greatest record stores, Wax Trax. I started going there religiously when I was 16, and was able to make the jump from shitty mainstream pop-punk to shitty local DIY pop-punk.

JUSTIN: I grew up in a small town near Seattle, Washington, and in the early 90’s the whole grunge thing was really everywhere. Me and my friends were already bummed on how mainstream alternative rock was really taking over and were looking for something of our own. Lollapalooza brought to you by Mt Dew and all that. The hardcore punk house show scene was where really the escape from all the bullshit for me. Going to gigs, networking, tape trading, and zine sharing introduced me to a whole way of operating autonomously from the mainstream, and how anyone can create their  own scene anywhere, even in a tiny town. This was pre internet, so you had to actually talk to people in person…but it was a good thing.

CANDY: I was dating the drummer of a band that would make all of their own merch. Stickers at Kinko’s, t-shirts in the garage, buttons at home. I helped in the t-shirt screen printing process a few times and it was fun and definitely made me realize that nothing is out of reach. Most things can be done by your own hand. In that same time period, the guitarist of the band Mikey (r.i.p) had crafted his own guitar with the neck off of an old guitar of his and a skate deck as the body. The thing was bad ass and smart as ever on his part.

Photo: Jeff Shwilk.

Era Bleak are from Portland, Oregon, we’ve been hearing/seeing the protests on the news over here in Australia; can you tell us a little about your experience of what’s happening where you are?

ZACH: It is pretty amazing. Tens of thousands of people have shown up to protest America’s racist policing practices. Not surprisingly, the police are not taking the criticism well, and ironically, seem intent to prove our point through egregious violence. It is worth noting that most of the violent police response has centred around a very small area near the “Justice Center” (aka court house) in a part of downtown that was already essentially shut down by the coronavirus. The media makes things look wild, but 99.9% of Portland still just looks like Portlandia. 

Members of Era Bleak are from bands Dark/Light and Piss Test; how did Era Bleak get together?

JUSTIN: We were all friends and fans of each other’s bands before we started. Candy and I had played in like five punk bands together, and thought of doing a side project to Dark/Light. We asked Chris and Zach to play, figured they’d both be too busy, but turned out you should never underestimate the hunger of punks to wanna punk out. Eventually the side project became more full time.

What inspired you to write your self-titled album? What influences your songs the most?

JUSTIN: I think most of our songs are generally inspired by the sense of urgency we feel all the time every day. That anxiety, frustration and confusion we feel from being on our phones all the time, and the fucked up state of the world. As far as the music goes, 90% of it is written together as a band, usually through spontaneous jamming. Zach likes to joke that we’re really a “jam band”…if only we smoked more weed.

Last month EB donated 100% of proceeds of your self-titled album sales to Black Resilience Fund and BLM Mutual Aid Resources; can you tell us a little bit about these funds/resources? Why was it important to you to support them?

ZACH: Black Resilience Fund is great because they funnel that money directly into the community. We also donated to the PDX Bail Fund to help get protesters out of jail.

JUSTIN: We felt like it’s very important for the BLM movement to continue to gain ground in the face of white supremacy and the rise of fascism in America. Especially living in a region (Oregon) with a shitty history of racism. Since we were not touring or playing live gigs, we were going to have to sell records online anyway, so why not generate some donations for a good cause? It was a no brainer for us.

On album opener Era Bleak the lyrics are: ‘Things get shittier every week / No hope for the future in this era bleak’; where are the places you do find hope when things seem rough?

JUSTIN: Well, I just deleted all my social media accounts, so that makes me feel a little better.

CANDY: I find hope in my backyard. It’s my safe place and I’m obsessive about observing the natural world. I guess I find hope in nature. I recently observed a small swarm of ants work together to move a dead bee about a foot away. They all had their individual jobs to do to make it work. It took an hour or more but it was fascinating to observe.

CHRIS: When I walk my dog with my headphones on drinking coffee.

What’s your favourite lyric on your LP?

ZACH: “Fire on the horizon” (though possibly because Oregon is literally on fire as I write this).

CANDY: My fave is from MRI: “they wanna see into my head, see what’s going on in there”. I think it’s witty, it flows and it’s the truth.

We really love the song “Struggle”; how did that song come together?

JUSTIN: That song makes my hand cramp up.

CANDY: Lyric wise the song is about my sister Sonia whom I mentioned earlier. If I remember correctly I had already written the lyrics before the music came together. Once the dudes started jamming on it I realized they would be a good fit and the feeling was there in the sound. It worked.

What was your favourite part of the recording process? Do you have a favourite moment on the album?

ZACH: The songs were very finalized before we got to the studio, so we were able to record the record in two days. We don’t fuck around! If I had to pick a favourite studio moment, it may be Justin doubling his vocals at the end of Mind Control Tower. It sounds cool and was hilarious to witness.

JUSTIN: What was hilarious was Zach’s keyboard part that we never used. Or when Chris wasn’t ready to start Tinderbox and you could actually hear during playback the sound of him picking up his sticks off the snare right as the song started without missing a beat!

CHRIS: We should’ve left that in! I worked nine hours that day and went straight to the studio and started playing, it was great.

What bands/albums/songs have you been listening to lately that you can’t get enough of?

ZACH: All Hits (new album on Iron Lung Records) and Francoise Hardy.

JUSTIN: Music is life.  Lately my favourite shit been Essential Logic, Norma Tanega, Delta 5, Subway Sect, Funkadelic, Can, (Hardcore) Devo, and new stuff like All Hits, Gimmick, Ben Von Wildenhaus III, Lavender Flu, Slaughterhouse, Sweeping Promises, Mr Wrong. Plus Greg Sage Straight Ahead and Wipers Land of the Lost is always in the stack this year.

CANDY: Tuxedomoon, Prince, Roky Erickson, Dead Moon, Nina Simone, DEVO (always).

CHRIS: Dead Moon , it’s fall, so lots of Dead Moon. I’ve also been rocking a lot of Zounds and Lilliput lately….and of course Husker Du.

What do you do outside of music?

ZACH: I am the Operations Director of a non-profit that provides Behavioural Health services and recovery housing, primarily for people involved in our (broken) criminal justice system.

JUSTIN: I lost my job as a restaurant manager due to the pandemic, and now I’m a full time Dungeon Master, basketball enthusiast and total slob.

CANDY: I grow stuff indoors and outside and do a lot of plant propagation. I observe birds and insects. I also talk to my cat Bessie all day, read and do crosswords. I’ve recently been getting into dot art designs. I got laid off from my job because of the pandemic so I have some time on my hands.

CHRIS: Warhammer 40k!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

JUSTIN: Australia rules and we wanna come tour there.

CANDY: I second what Justin said. Thanks for interviewing us!

Please check out ERA BLEAK; EB on Facebook; EB on Instagram. Era Bleak album out on Dirt Cult Records.

Patrick Flegel: “When I did the first Cindy Lee cassette my life was a wreck… Taking responsibility for myself and caring about myself, that’s leaning in a different way for me, to realise that I am worthy”

Handmade collage by B.

Canadian artist Patrick Flegel creates heart-wrenching, hauntingly devastating music with project Cindy Lee. Sounding akin to classic 60s Girl Groups but recast for now, with atmospherics and dreamy melody, the sheer beauty of these somber and at times wild songs that push and pull in many directions make for compelling listening.

Why is music important to you?

PATRICK FLEGEL: It makes me feel good. I’ve loved music since I was a kid. It’s a really uplifting thing, yeah?

Yeah! Why is recording music one of your favourite things to do?

PF: It’s just so engaging! It’s a certain kind of headspace where you’re not thinking about anything else. I guess it’s kind of an escapist thing… [pauses; a siren is sounding in the background]… sorry there’s just this crazy storm here, a full on downpour, lightening striking the trees!

It sounds pretty full on where you are! When you go to record, do you have a song that’s fully formed or do you create as you’re recording?

PF: Writing and recording are kind of the same thing to me but I’ll be rehashing and thinking of stuff constantly, pretty obsessively. It’s a pretty time demanding thing. I play guitar all the time and that’s usually where things will start or I’ll come up with something. A lot of the stuff I have released, people would say they’re “demo recordings” but I am usually just happier with it and over it by the time that’s done so I’m not going to go into some studio and redo it… sorry, I’m kind of thrown by the storm and everything happening here, I’m squatting in the street [laughs]. I just go until I can’t anymore, it’s definitely a bingeing, obsessive kind of thing.

I read that you’re actually working on a new record already called Diamond Jubilee?

PF: Yeah, I am. That’s the tentative name for the record but I actually moved to North Carolina, temporarily anyways, that put a wrench in things. I’m going to be moving into a house to set up a temporary studio and I’ll start on that. I wanted to have it out this summer but obviously circumstances has put a wrench in a lot of things. I also came down here. I think I’ll finish it by Halloween.

Nice! That’s exciting news. I can’t wait to hear it. What prompted your move to North Carolina?

PF: My partner! We wanted to be together so I came down here.

Aww that’s lovely, I love love! It’s my favourite thing besides creativity and nature. It’s really important.

PF: Yeah, it’s kind of the bottom-line [laughs].

You’ve already put out two albums this year – What’s Tonight to Eternity and Cat o’ Nine Tails – and with the one you’re working on that will make a third; did you expect to put out that many albums this year?

PF: Yeah, that’s just what I want to do. When you’re working with a label, it can take a year before your record comes out, even though it’s done. There’s a way things are normally done and then the way that I would like to do things. I just have so many ideas all of the time and it’s all that I want to do—it’s what I’m driven to do. I want to make more music more often, it’s that simple I guess.

Do you feel that there’s a connection through all three albums? Do they tell a complete story together or are they separate things?

PF: I have no idea of what I’m going to move into but I wanted to move into the more positive, I don’t know if that will be in terms of sounds or the lyrics—it’s just where I’m at. I feel like everything that I have done so far is really doom and gloom and taboo and the dark corners of things. Now that’s not what I want to put out into the world, not even because of what’s happening [the global pandemic], I think things have always been bad [laughs]. It’s just where I’m at personally, where I’m at as a person… you were saying that love is more important, I want more of that kind of feeling, something that makes people feel good. The kind of music I have been listening to more, over the last four or five years, has been basically easy listening, light music [laughs], that’s kind of pacifying, background music. I have no idea what it is going to sound like or whether it’s going to be doom or gloom again, let’s get real [laughs]. What I have in my head is a pleasant-sounding record that’s comforting and isn’t just some kind of hell ride!

I think you’ll surprise yourself!

PF: Yeah! You always set out to do something but you never know. By the time it’s wrapped up, for better or for worse, you’re in awe of what actually happens. It might be a bad thing, or a good thing [laughs].

I know you’re still working on the new record but to me in a way it sounds kind of like a rebirth, like everything you’ve gone through on your last two albums, all the doom and gloom, the heaviness and darkness, it’s almost like you faced all these different things and now it’s like a triumph over those things and a much deserved celebration.

PF: Yeah, I would like that. Of course things will still be a hot mess and complicated but more personally I’m leaning in a different new direction than I have, my head isn’t in the place it was… that’s where the title comes from too… just the mentality of self-victimisation and self-indulgence, this inward, often selfish state of mind you can get in when you’ve got some mental health shit going on. I just don’t want to hear it anymore, over time I’ve just wanted more pleasant sounds. I’m not listening to this hell ride, anguish kind of music, I want music to make me feel good or have it really take me somewhere… just spiritual music in general where I would think of gospel music or choral music. Where it is terrifying and confronting some dark things but ultimately it’s… oh, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Would you say that you’re a spiritual person?

PF: Oh, yeah, absolutely! It’s hard to talk about in short without sounding kind of woo-woo. For me it’s a more big picture perspective. If I think about universal consciousness, that’s where my head’s at. Part of it would be that I see things in the big picture, what I mean is, 300 years ago the clothes that people were wearing and the things they were saying and the big ideas they had, we look at it now… in the future people will look at us in the same way; I feel like there’s this perpetual oblivion that everyone’s in. In that context it seems like unnecessary human suffering, or it seems redundant. All this domination and exploitation, greed and whatever, it seems redundant to me in the big picture, whatever people are in competition for, in the bigger picture I don’t see the point in this competition that everyone’s got.

Do you set timelines for yourself making your Cindy Lee work?

PF: I just make the time to do, it takes a lot of time to do it. It sounds haphazard to a lot of people I think but it actually takes hundreds sometimes thousands of hours to make a record, from the conception of a part that turns into a song, to the actual mastered final version of twelve songs or whatever.

When you get lost in making music and time goes by and you’re not even noticing, is that in a way a meditation for you?

PF: It absolutely is! You don’t think about anything else and it’s a whole self-expression. It sounds ridiculous but it really is a transcendent state of mind; you’re not even there or something. It’s like any kind of physical activity like maybe chasing a ball or having sex or any visceral thing like that, I feel like music ties into that where you’re just fully engaged and you might just forget your own name [laughs].

I feel that way with interviewing. I just do it because I enjoy it and I like sharing music, art and stories with people. I’ve done it well over half my life. No one is paying me to do it.

PF: If you make that sacrifice for a while – I mean it’s a total crap shoot as well – if you actually do what you want and do it well, whatever that means, maybe the two will cross over at some point where you don’t have to do things you don’t want to. Or maybe you don’t want the money to intersect with what you’re doing ‘cause it takes the fun out of it. Thankfully there’s just enough people that like my stuff that I can keep my head above water and float. These days I feel you can do anything and people are pretty open-minded. You don’t even have to fit in. Someone will show something to me like Kendrick Lamar’s albums and I’ll be like, what the fuck? This is one of the most popular music in the world! This music is wild! It’s unique and jarring and strange.

I’ve often found with some of the artists I’ve interviewed over the years, when they get popular and get some money they change and it makes them more sad. They wanted those things for so long but when they got them they realised it wasn’t what they thought.

PF: Oh yeah, I experienced that in my own life on a very minor level. To play music and tour like I did when I was younger, we’d do an album cycle, I didn’t even really know what that was at the time… I didn’t enjoy it at all – I had some good times – but the lifestyle of playing 150 to 200 live shows in a year and not making anything new, doesn’t appeal to me at all [laughs].

When I found your Cindy Lee stuff I thought it was just so cool, I didn’t know anything about your past bands.

PF: I’m most excited about everything I’ve been doing lately, that’s pretty normal for a creative person I think. I feel alright about it. Speaking of doing things that you don’t’ necessarily want to do, if you want to sell units sometimes you have to do stuff… I got a publicist for the last record, but you watch the press and publicist (who’s a friend of mine) people stumbling around queer… branding you… the whole thing makes me squirm, the way people talk about… just branding myself as queer, which I do align with that in my values and beliefs and the way I see things as far as I understand that stuff, but it’s also a funny thing to be branded by that… does that make sense?

It does. How has Cindy Lee helped you grow?

PF: It was a personal thing with… being from Calgary, I noticed it when I lived in Vancouver, Montreal, these places that grew up with the values in their family were very liberal or more left-leaning and got fast tracked into a way of seeing things and certain values… there was absolutely no representation of where I’m at now in my life when I was growing up, like none! It was stunting. When I was twenty-five I had an epiphany, realisation or meltdown revolving around my identity, my sexuality and these kinds of things. I feel like that’s maybe something some people go through younger. It feels like something that should have happened to me as a teenager but didn’t. It was a kind of revelation about things… I kind of ended up turning on that as well, I could talk about that for a long time. You start wondering what’s really motivating you to counter your masculinity with this superficial aspects of femininity and then the aspects of your personality in your mind that are aligned with femininity and then over the years kind of realising that it’s just using the same framework… for me to counter masculinity with these sign posts of femininity, or particularly the way I dress… I ended up feeling that I don’t know how much that adds up… for example, I talk about the Devil a lot in my music and that’s the opposite of Jesus or God, but it’s a hilarious thing to use this ammunition to fight against something, and have it be from the same book. It’s a long, weird road the way that I look at myself and feel about myself and what that means. So that’s been lumped into this creative process and publicly being put out there, growing up in public.

I’m grateful for people that have paved the way so it’s permissible for me to cross-dress in public and not in my experience get any trouble for it. People are actually congratulatory about it and that makes me feel weird [laughs]. Sometimes people talk to you like you’re a hero for cross-dressing. That’s a funny aspect of it. I think my experiences with gender identity… that’s probably why the music has so many hardcore ups and downs, bi-polar [laughs].  

Talking to you now, you seems so happy.

PF: Oh yeah, I am. I had some pretty tumultuous periods, that are behind me; probably the last two or three years I got my feet on the ground. I had a pretty sloppy existence [laughs].

What helped get your feet on the ground?

PF: My relationship with alcohol definitely has been a huge thing, when I did the first Cindy Lee cassette [Tatlashea] my life was a wreck but when I did Act of Tenderness and Malenkost there was a period where I didn’t drink for three years, nothing. I’ll occasionally drink now, but it’s something I’m always considering; I would attribute it to that. Taking responsibility for myself and caring about myself, that’s leaning in a different way for me, to realise that I am worthy and not inferior, basic self-help things. When I stopped drinking it was amazing, that’s the most creative stretch that I’ve had to that point, when I went sober. That’s been a consistent thing since then. I live like I’m retired or something, I live very slow; I eat, shower, sleep and make music, just really basic things that appear to be easy for other people [laughs].

Do you have routine to your day?

PF: I just go with the flow. I have things set up so I don’t have a ton of obligations and I can do things at my own pace—I’m living very cautiously! [laughs].

I heard a [David] Bowie interview and he was saying like “art’s a car you can crash over and over and walk away from” which I appreciated. He talked about how chaotic his life was when he was younger and how he wanted to pour that insanity into his music… it may be obvious but I think that’s really the kind of person I would like to be, I’m taking care of myself and the people I care about and maintaining things in my life and then in my creative world I can just go straight to hell if I want to! [laughs].

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

PF: I guess I just wanted to mention a couple of things as a buffer to what I was saying about spirituality so it doesn’t sound dumb. When I was a teenager I took a lot of psychedelics and that ties into my overarching… I’ve seen it! I’ve seen what I think reality actually is—infinite and formless and beyond our description.  

Please check out CINDY LEE. Cindy Lee on bandcamp. Get vinyl edition of Cindy Lee via Superior Viaduct.

Melbourne Synthpunk Solo Project EUGH: “I’d always liked bands like Tubeway Army and The Units”

Original photo: Vincent. Handmade collage by B.

Vincent Buchanan-Simpson is the creative behind new solo synthpunk project EUGH, you may also know him from jangle poppers Terrible Signal, psych-punks Hideous Sun Demon and weirdo punks Kitchen People. EUGH is lo-fi, hyper, satirical and wildly fun! Gimmie interviewed Vincent to find out about new release the most brilliant man alive!

Where did you grow up? How did you discover music?

VINCENT: I grew up in Fremantle. My parents are big music lovers and I learned piano at a young age. I was about 11 when I started to really take an interest in it. My dad got me into a lot of good proto-punk and post-punk bands pretty early. I liked my fair share of trash though. Still do really.

Who or what inspired you to first write songs?

V: I don’t know. It’s the only thing that makes me feel productive and it’s been like that forever.

Can you tell us about the first time you ever performed live? How did you feel?

V: Mother’s Day 2006. I played bass in the Christian Brothers College Junior Jazz Band. We played “Tequila”. I felt dumb in the yellow vest they made us wear and we sucked.

You’re in bands Hideous Sun Demon, Terrible Signal and Kitchen People; what inspired you to do this new project EUGH by yourself?

V: I’ve been meaning to start a project like this for ages, it was just been hard finding a space to record since I moved to Melbourne. I write everything in Terrible Signal so I’m used to doing things by myself. Plus lockdown has pretty much made bands impossible here unfortunately.

Why did you decide to go with a synthpunk/egg-punk sound?

V: In 2012 I played in a band that covered “Are We Not Men” by DEVO in full. Learning those parts made me realise how much a like that style of writing. I’d always liked bands like Tubeway Army and The Units since I was young. I guess this project is also a continuation of Kitchen People in a way, same as Ghoulies.

In terms of egg-punk, I dunno. That was just a tag I added on Bandcamp in the hope some European Youtuber would find and upload it. Gotta know your target audience.

I read over at Marthouse Records that writing lyrics was different for you for this project compared to your other bands, usually you’d write about experiences happening around you this time you wrote about made up hilarious scenarios; was there anything you did to spark the process when writing? Was there a scenario you were thinking of using but didn’t?  

V: Not really, but that’s only because I kind of made up the stories as I wrote the lyrics. Like with “Junk Shop” for example, I started with the idea of a guy working in a pawn shop. But as I went along it turned into him being kidnapped by a guy and forced into eating at Hogs Breath Café, which I didn’t plan at the start. I think it was that sort of spontaneous approach that led to the song themes to be as stupid as they are.

“Galactic Terror” is one our favourite tracks on the EP it’s pretty hectic; how did this song materialize?

V: The music was really quick. Like maybe an hour to write and record it. All the songs were written like that. All the riffs in that song are the kind of thing I play when I’m fucking around on guitar or whatever, I just threw a few together in a way that made sense to me.

You recorded everything yourself; how did you keep yourself engaged and motivated throughout the process?

V: Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not. I just try and make sure when I am motivated that I’m productive as possible. It’s easier with this project coz I can do it all pretty quick.

What might we be surprised to know about your recording process?

V: The EP was recorded all digitally. I’m saving up for a reel-to-reel but I’m actually pretty inexperienced with analogue recording. The EP sounds like it does because after recording the song I would run the whole track back through a Korg MS20, the high and low pass filters round out the sound and the VCA makes it real squashed and nice. I think it worked pretty well.

Do you ever get nervous sharing your songs with people once they’re done?

V: Not so much now. It depends who I’m showing. But my songs are better than they used to be so I’m more confident now.

I peeped stacks of books a while back in one of your Insta vids; what was the last book you read that ruled? What’s it about?

V: The Border Trilogy by Cormac McCarthy. It’s challenging and at times pretty brutal and harrowing. But it’s a modern age epic, especially the second book The Crossing. All three books tell stories of young cowboys from south-west USA being drawn into Mexico for various reasons. All their journeys bring misfortune, but they all encounter characters whose stories bring some of most profoundly deep writing I’ve ever read. It’s about human condition and plight, and the relationships we all have with have with nature, time, society and faith. All set to this harsh yet beautiful backdrop of Northern Mexico in the 1940s.

Last year you were on tour in Europe with Hideous Sun Demon; what’s one of the coolest things you saw or experienced while there?

V:  All the venues and all the people were amazing!

We all liked Toulouse a lot. It isn’t a name you hear that much but it’s an amazing town, and Le Ravelin is a great venue. I walked around the morning after our gig and the place was just brimming with history and creativity. It’s not that small a town but it has very relaxed atmosphere.

Your Insta username is @reallygreatoutfit; what’s the greatest outfit you’ve ever worn?

V: Probably when I dressed as the guy who played Smeagol in Lord of the Rings for Halloween. Like the actual actor in his motion capture suit. It was a blue zoot suit that I stuck duct tape it on to make it look real. Remember when zoot suits were a thing? People suck.

I know you’ll be releasing another EUGH EP by the end of the year; have you started it yet? Are you setting yourself any creative challenge writing it?

V: I’ve written it all already. But then I upgraded my studio and I dunno if I wanna re-record it or put it up as is and then do something else. I have three releases going on with different bands as it is at the moment, so I’m gonna get those out and then focus on it. Plus getting out of bed is a challenge enough with curfew lol.

Please check out EUGH on bandcamp; EUGH on Instagram.

The Stooges’ James Williamson: “Originality is the important part… you gotta be creative and original in everything in life ‘cause every day presents an opportunity to screw things up or do ‘em right!”

Original Photo: Franklin Avery. Handmade collage by B.

James Williamson is an emotional guitar player, he plays how he feels. He’s essentially self-taught and writes from trusting his instinct. James co-wrote The Stooges cult-classic album Raw Power with Iggy Pop back in the early ‘70s after joining the band, crafting a pioneering guitar-style that is aggressive, powerful and influential—laying the foundations of the punk sound to come.

Gimmie spoke to James from his home in California about latest musical offering, album Two To One, released last week on Cleopatra Records. Created with good friend Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman), the 11-track record struts and commands your attention as it plays, reminding us of all the reasons why both of these artists are all-time. Rock n Roll is very much alive in 2020.

Why is music important to you?

JAMES WILLIAMSON: I don’t really know other than I’ve always been doing it, since I was a teenager. I found it to be a really good emotional outlet, it’s ingrained in me at this point as a way to express myself emotionally.

What emotions were you expressing when playing the guitar as a younger person and what emotions do you express now? Has it changed?

JW: I think they are largely the same. I was simply able to emote that way, to get out my teenage angst and aggressive emotions, and maybe more tender emotions too. A lot of the style I developed as more or less a self-taught guitar player, that aggressive style. I think that’s what people hear in my music. When people hear this new album for example, people will be able to pick out the songs I wrote pretty much right away from the way the guitar sounds.

You’re still angst-y?

JW: [Laughs] I can still make some noise that way! There’s things that transcend age, this was the intent of this record, to go back to the straight-forward guitar record. I think we accomplished that. In doing so we brought up those original styles from ourselves as well.

There was a time when you weren’t playing guitar for a few decades; when you weren’t playing music, did you have another emotion outlet to express yourself in?

JW: Well, sure. I had decided that I was finished with music and I was moving into recording studio work, but I wasn’t really very well cut out for it because I didn’t really like the musicians that I was having to record [laughs]. It was not something I could do very well.

I ran across my first personal computer around that time and was captivated by that, they were very primitive compared to what they are today. I couldn’t even believe it! I decided I would dedicate myself to trying to learn how to make these things. It took me quite a while to get to that point but once I did, I got a front row seat for the whole deal: personal computers, the internet, networking and everything! I’ve been here in Silicon Valley since. I’m literally captivated by the technology, it’s been amazing!

On the flipside of that, I had the opportunity to come back and see what never happened for us [The Stooges] back in the day; when we came back we were fabulously popular. We played very, very large places, the first show back was 40,000 people! We went on to play in front of 350,000 people—just huge shows. I was able to see what it was like to be a big-time entertainer, it was an amazing run for me.

It sounds like both things you chose to do – music and tech – were at very exciting times in both fields.

JW: Yes. I was very lucky in that way.

Was it hard to pick up the guitar again? Was there a lot of feelings that came with doing that?

JW: Yes and no. When I first was approached to come back, I first said “no” because I didn’t know if I could do it. I had put the guitar down completely and not played it at all because it’s such a powerful thing for me! When I decided to do it, lucky for me we had many, many months before we were going to do our first show back. I had to work on it quite a bit, but it came. I was fortunate enough to have a local band that were thoughtful enough to let me play a show with them, just to get the hang of what it was to do a live show again. It all worked out but it was a lot of work for sure.

Have you ever had a really transcendent experience playing live?

JW: You could say that, any time we’ve played live it is an experience for sure. The type of music that we play in The Stooges is a type of music where the fur is flying and you don’t really have a chance to sit back and observe yourself onstage, you better be concentrating on what you’re doing because it’s moving so fast. If you lapse in concentration, you screw up! If you want to call that transcendent, it really is a deep concentration.

I saw some videos online where you were deconstructing songs “Search and Destroy” and “Shake Appeal” you mentioned that were in a way, respectively, derived from “The Bunny Hop” and The Lone Ranger theme.

JW: [Laughs] Yes. That was a couple of conferences where I was speaking and maybe it was a little bit stretched but I did feel it was not that big a stretch in some ways. I explained it to myself [laughs].

Were those things part of your childhood?

JW: Of course! I don’t know if I was conscious I was doing that though at the time. When you write music, you can’t explain where it comes from because there are so many ways to play the few chords that we have available to us and same few rhythms that are available, that they seem to be endless; surely there’ll be some overlap on things that are common to everyone.

There’s a lot to be said then for the attitude you play with then.

JW: For sure. I think that’s very much part of it.

On the record – Two To One – that you’ve just made with Deniz; what was one of the most fun moments that you had?

JW: The whole album was fun! First of all, Deniz and I are friends, we get along really well. We come from a very similar perspective, he grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I spent a great deal of time in Detroit and Ann Arbor—we have a very similar perspective on music, on ideas and so forth. I brought in the drummer I always use Michael Urbano and then I brought in a bass player I liked, so the people were compatible and everyone had the same objective. We recorded at a wonderful studio, it had a magical sound, and as we went through the project everyone was delighted. Everyone wanted to do it, there were no attitudes. From the beginning the album was charmed.

We recorded Deniz’s vocals in Hawaii and some of his overdubs. I brought it back and did mine in San Francisco, we mixed here too. Then unfortunately the shutdown came because of Covid-19. The album was finished but wasn’t mastered but fortunately Cleopatra Records had a mastering guy who had an operation out of his house. We just barely squeaked it in! [laughs].

It’s a great album! One of my favourite tracks is “Small Change”. I spoke to Deniz about it. I think that’s a lovely song too. I love the sentiment of the song of making positive changes in your life to have a better one.

JW: There’s a lot of nice subtlety in that song.

Is there a time in your life you made a small change that made a positive difference in your life?

JW: Of course! Even though I didn’t personally write the lyrics for that song, I think it’s true and that’s why people like you and I relate to that song. You have done things like that in your life and they did make the difference. I’m a big fan of that song.

You wrote the music for that one?

Yes, ah-ha.

Could you share with us a really life changing moment from your life?

JW: There’s been so many. Anything that’s important and long lasting in your life is something like that where you’ve had to make a decision and had to change in order to move in a direction that was best for everybody concerned. I’ve been alive to have made many changes [laughs]. Things like getting into technology. I’m married, I have children and a granddaughter, there’s many things you make adjustments for along the line that do make a difference, for better or for worse. It’s a universal theme really… and it’s just whether you make changes for the best or worst [laughs]—it’s your choice always!

What has fatherhood meant to you?

JW: It’s been really a godsend in my life. My children are not children any more of course, but they are wonderful people and I’ve been fortunate enough to know them their whole lives. It’s hard to beat!

Photo: Anne Tek.

Was there anything challenging writing and recording this album?

JW: There wasn’t, that’s one of the nice things about this record, there weren’t any attitude problems within the band, there weren’t any real big differences between Deniz and I. The Cleopatra [Records] people were wonderful to us. Out of all of the records that I made, this has been one of the smoothest ones!

Will you keep making more records?

JW: Well, we’ll just have to see. Right now I’m busy trying to wrap up this one [laughs].

Why did you call it Two To One?

JW: That seemed to describe what it was all about, two guitar players into one album—it sums up the album rather well.

Was there a particular mood you were trying to capture with the album?

JW: Not specifically, it was more that we were trying to make a good ol’ fashion guitar album. What you’re looking at here with the album is that there’s two guitar players and one of them can sing. We didn’t want to do something that wasn’t us, we wanted to do exactly us. If you don’t like guitar, it’s not your record! [laughs].

What did you learn from Deniz while making the album?

JW: He’s a good guitar player, he came up with such good stuff! What was really nice that on a lot of songs, if it was his song he’d play the rhythm and I’d play the lead and on my songs vice versa. It was a nice mix and variety of not only the song writing but also the playing. I think that blended really very nicely and makes it more interesting.

What’s also surprising to me, I’ve made a fair number of albums… I produced it as well. Writing it, mixing it, I’ve heard this album a million times and I still like listening to it!

What did it mean to you to get inducted in to the Engineering Hall Of Fame?

JW: It was really a very big honour for me. I got inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame, which was a huge honour as well but, to get into the Engineering Hall Of Fame as well was a total surprised. Sometimes you just get lucky, I guess [laughs].

Or you’re really great at what you do, have a genuine passion for it and have worked hard.

JW: Well, a little bit of that too! [laughs]. The other thing that’s really gratifying about this album is that you’re talking about a couple of really old guys making a rock n roll record, so the fact that people still like it, is a very big honour really. Part of what we set out to do was really do it right and not just phone it in—we did work hard on it. We really enjoyed it too and I think that comes through.

I know that you haven’t ever really been interested in writing music for commercial purposes; was that something you decided early on?

JW: Not really, the thing was that we were attracted to originally and we always thought that that’s what we wanted to do. When I joined The Stooges and we started doing Raw Power we were really stoked about how the record was coming out and we thought it was going to be a big success! Of course we were totally delusional [laughs]. Nobody wanted that album at all. It actually did become a success, it just took about thirty years! We were right, it just took a really long time.

You mentioned that in terms of your creativity you value originality; what are the other things you value?

JW: Originality is the important part, related to music, and in terms of other things, you gotta be creative and original in everything in life ‘cause every day presents an opportunity to screw things up or do ‘em right! I think you have to be creative to get along in this world really. It’s a very challenging thing sometimes.

At this point in your life; what does success mean to you?

JW: I think success is just to be able to spend a lot of time with my family and to be on good terms and to not try to reach too far with other people and just allow them to be who they are. To enjoy my life, that is success to me!

What’s something that makes you really, really happy?

JW: I’m really, really happy when I can get a big smile out of my granddaughter!

Read Gimmie’s Interview with DENIZ TEK here.

Please check straightjameswilliamson.com + JW & Deniz Tek on Instagram; JW & DT on Facebook; Two To One can be found HERE.

London Post-Punks Girls In Synthesis: “Elation, anxiety, energy, a closeness…”

Original photo: Bea Dewhurst. Handmade collage by B.

A perfect soundtrack for our time of upheaval, Girls In Synthesis, present a fresh approach to noise-punk, going well beyond, with their long-anticipated debut album Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future. Emotionally intense, urgent, relentlessly questioning, thoughtful, self-aware and highly conscious observers of the world around them, GIS put everything they’ve got into this quintessential album of 2020! Gimmie caught up with bassist-vocalist, John Linger.

Why is it important to you to make music?

JOHN LINGER: Partly because it is an outlet that enables us to direct our aggression and focus into our music and lyrics. Maybe it’s just our chosen form of self-expression…? On the surface of it, it isn’t important that we create music at all. For most, music is purely a form of entertainment, but when you connect with an audience who feel they identify with what you’re putting across, it validates your reasons for projecting your emotions and feelings through music.

How did you first discover music?

JL: My dad was very much into music, so I had that around me growing up. He’s not a musician, but he loves music, and took me to see lots of groups during the early-mid 1990s, despite only being about 12/13 years old. They were really important events for me, I remember them like they happened yesterday. The buzz of waiting for a gig to start was incredible.

Nirvana were probably the first band of my generation to speak to me in the early 1990s, then Blur, then a huge amount of obscure 1960s music and 1970s post-punk. It’s led on from there, really. I’ve never stopped discovering music. I think that’s the same for the three of us, it’s a never ending journey.

When you formed Girls In Synthesis I read that the band wanted the music to “be intense because life is intense” and that The Fall were a foundation in the formation of GIS – the attitude and work ethic more so than the sound; can you tell us a little bit more about these ideas?

JL: The Fall made it clear that a strong work ethic was important, and that dedication to the cause is paramount. The days of sitting around waiting for a record deal to drop through the letterbox are well over, and you can’t wait for other people to start the wheels in motion for you. We work fucking hard, if you can’t do that for yourself and think pissing about in rehearsal rooms and playing a show every 6 months is acceptable, then try another outlet.

The Fall were, alongside Swell Maps, Crass, disco, dub etc, a foundational pillar that spurred us on, but I don’t think we really sound like any of those groups. They’ve all been chewed up and spat out as part of the sound and identity that is GIS. That’s the key to having influences, you have to draw out what you like and absorb it into the fabric of your life. Otherwise, you’re just copying someone.

I know that you had a very strong vision for how you wanted GIS to be, an aspect of that was knowing you wanted a female drummer, which you found in Nicole Pinto; why did you specifically want a female drummer?

JL: I’m not sure, really. We didn’t question it, it was just something that felt right. It’s important to use your instinct and we do a lot, it’s rarely wrong. We also wanted to have a different input and to offset some of the masculine edge to the sort of music we play. All in all, I guess it wasn’t really as important as it seemed, as Nicole was the right drummer for us, the first that we tried out, so it fell in our laps.

We love your new album! What is the story behind the title, Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future? It’s a line from your song “They’re Not Listening”, right?

JL: It is, yeah. I think the phrase has a context in the song, which is about the government’s disregard for the general public and also the inability to learn from previous mistakes. In a wider term, and as a title for the album, I guess it could apply to our music which is informed by the past, but sounds nothing like anyone else, really. It’s also about our tendency to repeat the same mistakes in our lives, as people. Aside from that, it just scans amazingly.

How do you feel the album cover represents the title? Where was the photo taken?

JL: The photo was taken just after New Year in January by our photographer Bea Dewhurst. Jim [Cubitt] works on most of the photographic ideas with her, and we knew we wanted a wide shot that we could wrap around the front and back of the LP cover.

It pans across the whole of the Thames at Surrey Quays, so you see the both the North and South bank of London. The fact that its London doesn’t have any great significance, we just knew we wanted an external shot that was visually arresting, and not reliant on a bloody band photo or some abstract pattern.

Photo: Bea Dewhurst.

I think it links in with the title really well, but that was quite circumstantial. On the right of the shot, you’ve got ‘the future’, with the new office buildings and skyscrapers. On the left, you’ve got the older, 1970s/1980s housing and flats. So the bulldozers haven’t quite got to those yet. Most of central London is being decimated of any history and culture, and becoming another faceless city of glass and shops.

Overall, again, the photo is just amazing. There’s that to consider, too.

You wrote the songs for the album over the course of about three to four months; what was happening in your life or what were you observing happening in the world that inspired your writing? I feel like this album feels more introspective than your EPs.

JL: Yeah, I think it is more introspective. I think when you form a band, you’re full of the wrongs and rights of the world, and that energy that you’re an amorphous machine that can tackle anything head on. But when everything ramps up, and you’re playing live more, there’s more people coming to shows, there’s more expectation…. well, I think that can cause some internalisation.

I wouldn’t say our lives changed hugely over that period, not more than anyone else in the world, but I guess it’s us taking the task to hand a bit more seriously, maybe? Realising that the scope has to widen a little to stay fresh and appropriate. Having said that, there are still some songs that are tackling politics and external issues, so I’d say there’s a nice balance.

You released zines of your collected lyrics and poems called Beyond The Noise; how did this come into being? Why was it important for you to get your lyrics down on paper? Do you feel they sometimes get lost in the noise of the music?

JL: I think sometimes, yes. Also, I’ve got quite a slurred, Thames estury-esque accent at times, so maybe it’s tricky for people to latch on to? I think my diction is clear as a bell, though! Haha. I think the meld of mine and Jim’s voices work so well, so we tend to double up on choruses and parts where we want to hammer the point home. I quite like the lyrics being a bit hard to work out, though. It gets people’s brains working. Everything shouldn’t just be on a plate, you need to put some effort in to stick with it.

We started creating the books early on, though, as we just felt that the aesthetic of them is another part of the puzzle, and it also enabled us to maybe put lyrics and prose out there that didn’t make it into songs. People really seemed to enjoy them, in fact we’ve printed a compendium of them, including the full lyrics of the album, and they look amazing.

Who are the lyricists that you admire? What is it about their words, approach or technique that resonates?

JL: I think Mark E Smith is essentially an unparalleled lyricist, there’s a lot of absurdism and word play in the best of his lyrics, but also lightning-bolt clear realism at times. Lots of room for interpretation, I think, too. I really enjoy the sheer amount of words fit into Crass songs, if not always what they’re saying. Ian Dury’s humour, and again, word play…

On the whole, though, I can’t enjoy lyrics without enjoying the music, too. Probably why I can’t stand Dylan. They go hand in hand for me. I mean, the following is as fucking poetic and important as any cerebral, intellectual nonsense, and set to the music it’s hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck stuff:

When you feel lost and about to give up / ‘Cause your best just ain’t good enough / And you feel the world has grown cold / And you’re drifting out all on your own / And you need a hand to hold: Darling, reach out

The Four Tops – “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”

Could you talk a little of your own writing process?

JL: For me, I write at home and I complete demos up to about 80% of being finished, then we add our own elements in the rehearsal room. Ideas might stem from lyrics, or I’ll sit down and try to write music in some form or another. Jim works similarly, although more often he sparks off really exciting ideas which we then complete as a duo.

We don’t write very consistently, but I would say we write 25-30 songs a year, that then gets whittled down for releases. Sometimes the tunes that didn’t make it will be used for something, often not, though. We’re not precious, if something doesn’t work, we discard it. We’re not a ‘jamming’ band, we don’t wait for months and months for something to develop. If it’s not happening in the first 10-15 minutes, we get rid.

There’s a few surprises on your new album; which is your favourite? What influenced it?

JL: I love “Human Frailty” the most. It’s a really, really fucking strange song. And not even just by our standards. I mean by anyone at the moment. The horns on that are incredible, as are the strings (props to funkcutter and Stanley Bad, for those). I also really like “Tirades of Hate and Fear”, that’s a really menacing tune. It’s an amazing album closer, too.

I think broadening the scope of the album, but also making it concise and direct, was at the forefront of our minds when choosing material and getting the arrangements together. We wanted to push the envelope for ourselves a little, and also give some signposts of where we could go in future. We really achieved that, in my opinion. The horns and strings, plus the dub at the end of “Set Up To Fail” have been something nearly everyone who’s listened to the album has mentioned.

The album was recorded over four to five days; do you find it hard to capture the intensity you play the songs live in on recording? How do you capture that spirit? I know you record yourself.

JL: It is difficult. Your immediate thought would be to record live, warts and all, and thrash the living hell out of the songs. But that would kill them stone dead. Although the music is intense and quite confrontational, there’s actually a lot of subtle, but key, things going on UNDER the music. It’s getting that balance right of an aggressive performance but also leaving space for other things underneath.

We do record ourselves, up until now that’s been for time, financial and control reasons, but something will have to change soon. It’s getting too stressful now that the pressure is slightly higher, so it might mean we’ll have to add another outsider to our tiny, creative bubble… perish the thought!

You’ve described your live shows as “unique” and said that doing things the way you do – not playing on a stage and being set-up so you face each other rather than the audience – has “laid some important groundwork”; in what way? What interested you in playing this way?

JL: Really, it was to connect to an audience. We wanted to take the show to them, not drag their attention to us. There’s a good portion of old-fashioned performance and drama to it, too, but on the whole it breaks the barriers down a little and enables the audience to be part of the show. It literally has the opposite effect of the audience you’d think it would. They don’t feel uncomfortable, they loosen up and then THEY want to perform. It’s amazing, really.

What feeling do you get from playing in the crowd?

JL: Elation, anxiety, energy, a closeness I’ve never felt playing music live before… you get every feeling under the sun. There’s always a chance someone will take umbridge and thump you, but they haven’t. I think people know we’re not invading their space, we’re sharing ours with them.

Please check out GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS; GIS on Facebook; GIS on Instagram. Now Here’s An Echo From Your Future out now.

Berlin-based Musician and Artist Saba Lou Khan: “From the very beginning, from my birth on, I was surrounded by a lot of music”

Handmade collage by B.

Growing up in a music and art-filled household, creating is second nature to Saba Lou. If she’s not crafting garage-soul gems, she’s drawing, painting, collaging, sewing and just making the world in general a more interesting and bright place with her visual creations. Her latest work – Rat-Tribution Now – is a collaboration with her father, musician, producer, artist and label owner, King Khan. The project “deals with the nefarious origins of the goddess Kali, exposing the poverty stricken community of the Musahar people of Northern India and supernatural feminist empowerment. It is dedicated to the memory of the thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls of Canada.” We spoke to Saba Lou as they were working on the project, which recently debuted as part of the Pop Kultr Festival in Berlin.  

In our correspondence you mentioned that you’ve been busy; what have you been working on?

SABA LOU KHAN: Right now, I’m actually part of a large art project that is going to be shown at the Pop-Kultur festival, which was supposed to be an actual festival in late August in Berlin but, has now been reformatted to be a complete online experience. This means that our plan has changed a lot, when I say “our”, I mean my father [Arish Ahmad Khan a.k.a. King Khan] and myself. It was his idea, he wrote a story that is called The Tail of The Rat Eaters it has been changed to Rat-Tribution Now. I’m going to be illustrating it. It’s narrated by Joe Coleman, the painter. It’s a big load of work because it was supposed to be a big multi-media stop-motion animation playing in the background and paintings with the production. It was going to be a much larger production than anything we’ve ever done before. Now due to the global crisis, it’s very responsible and I’m happy we’ve changed it. That leaves me with a lot of work to do. I’m really happy to do it.

Where have you been finding creative inspiration lately?

SLK: For this specific project, it’s connected to the history of India and the lowest of the low caste, the “untouchables”, the so-called “Rat Eaters”—the Musahar people. The history of something to do with the culture that my family comes from has inspired me, just the plain facts and of course the imagery and photos of the Musahar people. I’ve been doing portraits, it’s not about specifically portraying real people; it’s a fictional story that my father wrote which is based upon several different stories, and to some extent dramatised. It’s still a personal cultural history situation, although we are not connected to this caste.

Otherwise I’m not working on any other creative things parallel to this, because it takes up a lot of time and brain space, and it’s important to me it’s done properly and with conviction.

You’ve told me that you’re an early riser; are there any rituals or things that you do in the morning to kick your day off right?

SLK: Yes, I do have very specific ways of organising my days, especially now in quarantine living with my parents. I was not planning on living here again, I sort of see myself as a guest. I was going to travel to Canada actually. My routine is that I get up really early, especially now in the summertime, between 4:00-4:30 in the morning. The first thing I do besides washing my face and brushing my teeth is to drink a lot of warm water, which is my favourite drink in general. I have endometriosis, a lot of things in my life go towards living without pain; it includes a very strict diet and very strict regulation in terms of exercise and all sorts of things concerning the body. Just drinking lots of water and taking care of bowel movement and these things, are a little bit more important in my case than someone who may not be painfully affected from skipping out on a routine like this. I do a lot of exercising and stretching. I practice Kung Fu.

There’s other things I do throughout my day that are not fixed to any time. I started playing the double bass, practising that every day. I’m still very, very beginner. I’m playing classically with a bow. At this point it’s about bow control and growing the muscle to even manoeuvre the creature.

There’s also things like, I eat at 1pm. I interval fast, I think some people call it intermittent fasting. Those kinds of things are poised throughout the day when I have something specific planned.

My sister and many of my friends have incredibly painful endometriosis, so I do understand how debilitating it can be and how important it is to find ways that work for you to manage it.

SLK: Absolutely. In my case I was so lucky to get diagnosed and get treatment so young. I didn’t have the classic endometriosis of twenty years of not being taken seriously and hospitalised-several-times experience. I don’t have a problem with sticking to these sorts of things, some would say I have insane self-discipline. Which I’m sure it has to do with not just my personality [laughs], but also growing up and encountering the very free and chaotic artist lifestyle and household I was raised in. Sometimes I have moments of realisation where I see that, wow, I am putting so much effort, subconsciously, into not having pain. It’s pretty intense sometimes to realise how much it defines your life.

What is it that interests you about making music?

SLK: From the very beginning, from my birth on, I was surrounded by a lot of music. It’s not the kind of thing that I had to discover on my own. Of course I discovered it from my family household but it was always just around; when I say always I mean in every way, not just playing in the background but also being the profession of my father, the profession of most family friends. My sister and I were always exposed to music all of the time. It is my father’s life and also my mother’s (my mother is also a seamstress and has always sewn my father’s stage costumes). My father taught me and my sister how to play instruments and sing and how to perceive music, just because it’s his trade. Of course our parents would want to pass on our family trade to us. In some other cases people grow against what their parents are doing, and they do something very different.

Music has changed a lot over our lifetime, my sister is seventeen and I’m nineteen. I enjoy classical music a lot, I’m not well-versed yet [laughs]. That’s something that was around when I was growing up, but I still learnt appreciation for melody and harmony in a non-classical sense from way before, so I can discover it with a deeply engrained education in terms of celebrating music in general and that’s really valuable.

Can you tell us a little bit about your evolution as a songwriter? I know you started really young and before writing songs you were writing poems, stories and doing creative writing.

SLK: I wouldn’t say it like that, I would say it’s the other way around. The songs that I wrote very, very early on were what I would say, outbursts of a very small child, and my father recorded it because it’s his trade. He had all the equipment around to just do it. Referring to the first album I wrote myself – everything before was co-written by my father, it was a hobby and activity of ours just to do together – I was fourteen when I first started writing those songs. It came out when I was seventeen. At the time I just had the urge – no pressure at all – to just write my own thing, to try out creating music in general on my own.

Creative writing has always been around and I’ve always written things but, it’s really become more dominant over the past few years. Although nothing is published, I’m working on a bunch of things that will eventually be published. I enjoy it very much. It’s obviously, a different way of telling stories.

What’s a song that you have written that you’re really proud of?

SLK: Those songs on the current album Novum Ovum. The last songs on the last two albums. The last song on Planet Enigma is completely different to all the other songs, I was starting to find a stranger niche. Now on the new album Novum Ovum I like the diversity of topics and the variation of vagueness in explaining these topics. “Humpback In Time” is very dear to me because it’s so far the only Star Trek song I’ve released; I have a bunch more waiting. I will eventually put out a whole Star Trek concept album! [laughs]. I love Star Trek so much.

I think Novum Ovum has a lot to do with maturing. The first album I wrote when I was thirteen or fourteen, of course it has a certain delicacy and youthfulness and innocence that you can’t create later on in life, it’s touching in that way. I don’t identify with it like that anymore and the current album is definitely more current in my state of development, of course I feel more connected to it. I am glad the first album happened though and that I have an artefact of that stage of my life.

You mentioned you’ve been working on visual art lately; I really love the daily collages you post.

SLK: I didn’t really make any collages before the first series I did, the Ballers and flowers. That came about because a friend of mine forgot a basketball magazine and left it at my house. I don’t really have anything to do with sports [laughs]. I was flipping through it and I thought the expressions of concentration and exasperation that athletes have and are captured in, are so easy to put into a different context and make it really funny also. I really enjoy making them because it’s such a different approach to creating composition as opposed to sketching and painting, stuff that I have experience in.

Is there anything that frustrates or challenges you about all the things you make?

SLK: I’ve always seen myself as an artist and I always enjoy making things but I don’t really see myself trying to make my career with art. I definitely want to go and study Botany and have a scientific career as the main focus of my future. Art is currently the main thing happening in my life but I don’t really want to shape the rest of my life around it. It could be said that it’s a challenge to define how much art takes up my life. Inspiration isn’t really a challenge because I don’t pressure myself in that way, because I’m not working as an artist, working for a living or support kids or a partner with a struggling art career. Creating the art isn’t really a challenge because I’m just free to have an idea and do it. The biggest thing is to weigh up how much time it takes up against other things and learning to be OK with that.

‘Third Wheel’ collage by Saba Lou.

Why do you want to study Botany?

SLK: I would describe myself as a person that wants to discover a million things. Botany is the number one thing, for reasons I will mention in a second… I want to say some other examples like Psychology, all sorts of History, Linguistics, and just classical music. Lots of things interest me but along my entire life, Botany is one that really stands out to me. To make a decision to dedicate your career and life to something you really have to be aware and confident, not just in a you enjoy it and it fulfils you way but; what does it do to benefit the entire Earth? How can you feel about your place in society with this career?

Another example of something I was interested in – because I like doing tiny little things with my fingers – is jewellery making. It has chemistry which I really love too. I noticed very quickly, before I did any study, was that I’m not comfortable with the idea of dedicating my life to learning a trade where advancing in your trade means advancing up a ladder of decadence and money, that is only available to a few people—that really bothered me.

After school, I worked in a bakery for ten months, which I had to stop early because of my endometriosis getting really bad at that time. I remember that I didn’t want to be a Baker for the rest of my life. It also has chemistry! It’s something I felt more comfortable spending my time learning.

Botany is something that has always followed me throughout my entire life. My German grandparents I saw here, much more frequently than my Indian grandmother in Canada, have a wonderful garden and live right next to a beautiful forest. I was exposed to nature with them although I was raised in the city. I manifested an appreciation of life and an attention to detail with them. I find it really beautiful to dedicate my life to the care and study of life. Botany connects a lot of things: my scientific urge, it’s art and beauty—it all comes together really nicely. I can feel myself spending my life in it in good conscience.

Please check out sabalouland.com and SLK on Instagram. Find Planet Enigma HERE and Novum Ovum HERE. Rat-Tribution Now on vinyl HERE.

Briggs: “There’s always challenges but once you learn and fail and fall down, you realise that failure is not the end and you get back up”

Original Photo: Tristan Edouard. Handmade collage by B.

Proud Yorta-Yorta man and creator Briggs does many, many things, he’s a comedy writer, best-selling children’s book author, actor and rapper. Latest project EP Always Was sees Briggs back in his wheelhouse and home, making music. He’s stepped out of the safety net of simply writing rhyme though, and taken a leap forward bringing us six joints, each unique, each representing different aspects of his personality, each speaking to the possibilities of where he’s on his way to with upcoming full-length Briggs For PM. Gimmie caught up with Briggs for a dose of inspiration and an insight into his process and passion.

You’re a writer in many capacities – lyrics, scripts, a book – when did your love of words and writing first develop?

BRIGGS: The first thing was the love of entertainment, that’s where it all started for me because I was such a consumer of TV, comedy and music. I didn’t really put it all together until much later and realised that people have to actually write these jokes [laughs].

What is it that you love about the process of creating?

B: It’s a hard thing to wrap up succinctly. I’ve always just liked making things, ever since I was a kid, making stuff was always where I was happiest. Even later on in life, over the lockdown period, I was just making food with my mates. I just like creating and making stuff in general. Like with this EP, I made it and now I’m off making something else.

It’s a pretty cool feeling getting lost in the moment when you’re creating.

B: Yeah, it is.

When did you find the calling for hip-hop?

B: Hip-hop was always the music I had the most affinity for, it was something I was drawn to since I was a kid. It was just the coolest thing there was! [laughs]. It was the simple for me. As a young man I was drawn to the absurdity and audaciousness. Everything I was drawn to was audacious and the absurd. I loved professional wrestling, heavy metal and rap music and action movies; they were the things I enjoyed most. Everything was always over the top! I think Gangster Rap really gave me that fix.

You used to have a punk band in high school before you started rapping, right?

B: Yeah, I had a punk band in the sense that I was a kid that tried to play guitar [laughs]. I think that’s every kid from the country’s right of passage at some point, playing guitar. It really was, I just wanted to be involved in music somehow, whether it was going to be radio, behind the decks, or creating—I just wanted to be involved. There wasn’t a lot of opportunities to make rap music in Shepparton where I grew up for a long time, until I was like, nah, I can do this! I’ll do this! [laughs].

You created your own opportunity!

B: Yeah! You had to.

I’ve heard that setting goals and goal accomplishment is a really big thing for you; when did you first realise the power of setting goals and following through in your life?

B: It was probably around the time of my first EP, the Homemade Bombs EP. I realised that I was essentially starting my own business, I was like, OK, I’m going to get 1,000 CDs made and I’m going to sell 1,000; I’m going to do a video clip; I’m going to do all of these things. They were all really simple things. I started ticking off each one. I wanted to tour nationally, I wanted to sell 1,000 of my CDs, and I wanted to do a video clip. Eventually I did all of those things over the course of a year of having that EP put by myself. There were boxes of CDs and I was with my mates, when we were just able to have fun and could weather the storm and sleep on the floors and do all the hard things, I’m too soft now! [laughs].

I know the feeling of staring out and doing things for yourself, I came from both the punk and hip-hop communities. It’s all very do-it-yourself.

B: They’re very similar, super similar. The difference between punk rock, hardcore and hip-hop is just the jackets! [laughs]. Everyone had buzz cuts but just different jackets on. It’s still the same, at the core of all of the good stuff, the communities of punk rock, hip hop, hardcore, metal, they’re all parallel. I was lucky because I enjoyed all of the music, I was a big fan of all of it. They’re more in tune than they’re not, I don’t think a lot of people realise that.

Geometric patterns designed by Reko Rennie.

Same! I wanted to ask you about your philosophy of: good work is hard work; what do you mean by that?

B: It’s a mantra that I kind of spit to myself when things are tough or things are harder than normal. When you go to take the high road on some things, the high road is always the hardest road to take. Good work is hard work reminds me that you’re doing the right thing, that it’s tough now but it pays off. It works in a lot of different facets in my life, be it in the gym doing work and exercising, trying to be healthy—going the extra mile for yourself so it doesn’t suck so hard tomorrow! [laughs].

Previously you’ve mentioned self-esteem and how that’s a big issue you like to address; why is that important to you?

B: I think maybe because I don’t really remember feeling super confident as a kid. I was very performative – I was the class clown – but I was never very confident. There’s a difference there that people need to identify. You might have teachers identify how to better interact with their students; really anyone that interacts with a young person. Performative acts, being loud and boisterous, doesn’t always equal confidence, they might need a hand here or there or something. Self-esteem and tying it back to the Indigenous community because that’s where I grew up, it was extra hard to be yourself in what it felt like, a world that didn’t understand you or want you in it. Ya’know what I mean?

Yes, I really do. As an Indigenous kid, a Bla(c)k kid, growing up I didn’t think there was much different about me until I went to school and other kids, white kids, pointed out I was different. I’d get called all kinds of names.

B: It’s like, everything’s good until it’s not, right?! [laughs]. You don’t realise you’re different until people start telling you you’re different. It’s quantum physics, you change the outcome by measuring it [laughs].

What’s helped you with your confidence?

B: it’s a weird analogy but, I just got a puppy the other day. She’s great, she’s fantastic and she plays really well with me and anyone that comes around, but she was a little bit fearful in the beginning with other people and other dogs. I got her a treat ball, you keep her food in and she pushes it around and gets food out of it. When I first got it she was terrified of it, she stood there and barked at it and didn’t want to go near it. I rolled it near her, she didn’t know there were treats inside, until she did and then she went to work! She now breaks this thing open, even when it’s not meant to be broken open. When she figured out she was a problem solver, it changed her personality. She was suddenly interacting with other dogs much more openly. I feel like that was part of the thing for me, once I figured out that I could get over it and own a stage or speak my mind somewhere on stage and have a microphone and talk about my point of view, it was much easy to interact with people on a daily basis. Do you get what I mean?

Yes, I do. What’s your puppy’s name?

B: Carmella!

That’s a lovely name. I do get what you mean though, I started making my own zines, independent publications when I was 15, and once you start doing that and using your voice and you know that you can, you just keep going! I did a zine workshop once and a young boy said he didn’t know what to write and I told him he could write anything he wanted to. He replied “What I have to say doesn’t matter” and I told him it did matter; he said no one had ever told him that before and then he started writing.

B: Yeah! Once you get over that first hump, that first moment and you break the ice on it… there’s always challenges but once you learn and fail and fall down, you realise that failure is not the end and you get back up.

Your new EP is called Always Was and the image on the cover is a photo of the tattoo on your hand that says “Always Was” and I know the slogan “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land”; what does the EP title mean to you?

B: I didn’t want to call it Always Was, Always Will Be because it was only an EP [laughs]. I wanted people to understand that this wasn’t the whole story. “Always was, always will be” the slogan itself to me, was one of the very first things that I remember as a kid with protests and being present as Aboriginal People. Bringing it back to my music felt right. I didn’t want to do the whole thing because I wasn’t done yet! I thought it was a good title because it says there’s more to come because it’s only half the slogan. “Always was, always will be” is about longevity. It’s not just a thing to ring off—it is about longevity, it is about strength.

Absolutely! I feel like also with you putting out new music is that you’re back to the fundamentals of Briggs, the core of what you do.

B: Yeah, ‘cause I do a lot of different things. It’s good to be back in the house that I built, making tunes with my friends and doing the stuff that I love.

What’s your favourite lyric you’ve written on the EP?

B: [Pauses and thinks] There’s a few: nervous people make me nervous [laughs]. I like stuff like that.

Do you have a process for writing?

B: I just write to the beat that I get, especially lately, I’m trying to write more songs than just write raps. It’s mostly just write off the beat.

I’ve heard you mention that each song on the EP represents a different aspect of your personality…

B: Yeah! I should have done seven and you could have had them all! [laughs].

What’s the aspect we don’t have?

B: I don’t know, maybe gluttony isn’t on there [laughs]. You got wrath, that’s “Go To War”.

What about the song “Good Morning”?

B: That one might be pride [laughs].

I really love the lyrics of that one: When the sunshine says good morning / Good morning, I say what’s up.

B: That song is about not going to sleep. It’s like “good morning” because I haven’t been to bed. Everything I do is very tongue-in-cheek, more often than not.

I got something totally different from that song. I was thinking it’s more a positive, I’m waking up what can I do today.

B: Well that’s the beauty of music, people can interpret it any way they need it. Whatever that song means to you or whatever you take away from it it’s great! I read this thing about art: once it’s out there, it’s yours!

Yeah, it takes on a life of its own and it keeps evolving beyond the people who created it.

B: Yeah, for sure!

Recently, you were talking about the combination of singing and rapping on your joints and you said something of how it’s light and dark, yin and yang, it’s the balance and that you feel the universe is built on balance; how do you keep the balance in your life?

B: As much possible! That’s all I got [laughs]. That’s all I know.

Do you take time out to reset or do anything like meditation?

B: The closest thing I get to meditation is going to the gym. Anytime I put my phone down and I’m not working, that’s the closet thing I’ve got to meditation. I used to go to the theatre a lot and see movies. I’m terrible with that.

Last question,  you’ve supported Ice Cube on his Australian tour, I know hearing his song “Today Was A Good Day” as a youth was a big deal for you; did you learn anything from spending time with him?

B: I’ve learnt things from spending time with all of my heroes. You watch how they work and it’s all about focusing on caring about the art and longevity, whether it’s with Ice Cube or Ice-T, RZA or Matt  Groening.

Please check out BRIGGS. Briggs on Facebook. Briggs on Instagram. Always Was EP out via Island Records/Bad Apples Music.

Deniz Tek: “The creative process itself is extremely rewarding, it’s not a financial reward but, it’s more of a spiritual reward”

Original photo: Franklin Avery. Handmade collage by B.

Deniz Tek is best known as the guitarist and primary songwriter from pioneering, influential and rule-breaking Australian rock n roll band Radio Birdman. He’s packed a lot into his life thus far, not only has he lived many musical lives creating in various incarnations – TV Jones, The Visitors, Angie Pepper Band, New Race, Dodge Main, The Glass Insects, The Soul Movers and more – but he’s also saved lives as an ER doctor and ex-navy flight surgeon, and these days he’s also a coffee farmer living in Hawaii with his own blend of Kona coffee, Tekona.

Gimmie caught up with Deniz recently to chat about his latest project, album Two To One, a collaboration with long-time friend and Stooges’ guitarist James Williamson.

How’s your morning been?

DENIZ TEK: Good. Very productive so far, I got a lot of work done this morning. It’s been a good day! How about yourself?

Very good too! I think every day is a good day though, your day is what you make it.

DT: Yeah. At our age every day you wake up should be a good day, time is limited and you have to make the most of every minute you’ve got.

You’re at The Tek Farm in Hawaii at the moment?

DT: Yeah, I am.

Is that a special place for you?

DT: Yeah, my parents started it about forty years ago, when my dad retired from his job at the University of Michigan. They moved out here to Hawaii and started this farm. My wife Ann and I are out here taking care of the place, we took over running the farm. After my dad died my mother needed the help so we moved out here about three and a half or four years ago, we had been living in Australia before that. She’s now gone into a nursing home for about the last year. We’re just going to stay here and take care of the place for the time being.

That’s lovely of you both. Do you enjoy working outside, outdoors in nature?

DT: Oh yeah! Absolutely. I enjoy it so much better than working inside.

What attitude and spirit do you approach playing the guitar in?

DT: It’s just part of my life. I’ve played guitar since I was twelve years old. I’ve been in bands since high school. I approach it as part of daily life. It’s like eating, drinking, breathing. I play most days, occasionally I don’t play but typically, I’ll play every day.

Does it give you a particular kind of feeling?

DT: Yeah, time disappears for one thing, you stop being aware of the passage of time—you’re totally in the process. Time goes by and it’s very involving, it’s something I can really focus on without any effort involved. When my attention is focused on that, I don’t have any outside distractions.

Is it like a meditation for you?

DT: I suppose you could say that. I’ve tried meditating and I’ve never been very good at that because I keep thinking of too many things but, when I play guitar that’s not an issue so, I guess it is my meditation in some ways. I’ve never really thought about it like that but I think you’ve right.

I understand that having commercial success from your music has never really been a big a motivating factor for you; what are the things that motivate you to create?

DT: The creative process itself is extremely rewarding, it’s not a financial reward but, it’s more of a spiritual reward you get from that. Especially if it’s something that you create that other people can relate to or if it resonates with other people and they like it and it makes their life better in anyway or happier, it helps people forget their problems for a short time—what better reward could you ever hope for.

When you’re creating, whether it’s writing a song or painting; where do you find the most magic in the process?

DT: Whenever there is something new happening that’s going really well its magical. That can be just sitting with a guitar at home or in the recording studio or it can be at a concert. When you’re playing live to people that are throwing energy at the stage and we’re recycling that energy and giving it back to people; also doing it between ourselves in the band, band members giving energy back and forth between each other, that’s real magic—that’s transformational. It works with some higher powers that I don’t’ understand. It’s pretty amazing!

Photo: Anne Tek.

On the new album – Two To One – that you made with James Williamson from The Stooges there’s songs like “Take A Look Around” and “Climate Change” that speak to environmental issues; are these things that are important to you?

DT: Oh yeah! Yeah. These songs are not necessarily meant to be protest songs or political propaganda but they are observational. These songs were holding up a mirror and saying, this is what we’re seeing and this is what you may be seeing as well; maybe to increase awareness in certain ways.

Previously you’ve said that The Stooges album Raw Power helped shape your path as a young guitar player; in what way? What resonated?

DT: That was in 1973 when it came out. I was living in Sydney, I was a student. I was in a band called TV Jones, about a year before [Radio] Birdman started. I already had great inspiration from many other guitar players that were well-known but, I think the guitar playing on Raw Power brought a new element to it. The tone was so brutal and the playing was so aggressive and hard and I hadn’t heard anything quite like it in some time. To me it was wonderful to hear that, it was an affirmation for me that rock n roll music that is very high energy and aggressive was still alive, that The Stooges were able to do that. It was inspirational!

You’re good friends with James now and you’ve worked together before; have you ever had a fan moment with him in any way? Like, this is the guy whose guitar playing resonated with me as a youth!

DT: Yeah, you can’t push that too hard but, I enjoy it when I can get him to tell Stooges stories [laughs]; when he tells me stories that nobody else knows, it’s good to hear that stuff. I love that! That’s being a fan, to want to hear that stuff. Of course I was very curious as to how he got that guitar sound. He’s very happy to tell me about it and show me how he got this or that guitar sound. A Gibson Les Paul through a Vox AC30, cranked up loud with no effects pedals. It’s a balance of being a fan and being a partner in the work we do together AND being a friend. We hang out a fair bit together too, we play tennis and us and our wives go out to dinner together and do things like that.

Nice! Why is writing songs important to you?

DT: I don’t know. I guess it important to me because I feel like I’m contributing something and I have an impulse to create, that satisfies that for me. I have a hope that the songs I write will also benefit others, that people will hear it, like it, dance to it or it will help their day go better. That’s what I hope.

You’ve mentioned before that you’re not quite sure where songs come, that they just arrive, that you have to be tuned into their frequency in a way to find them; is there anything you do to tap into that frequency?

DT: The best thing is to just have a guitar in your hand and be playing, you don’t have to be playing anything specific, you could just be tuning it up, and just have a clear mind, not being distracted. When songs come you grab them out of the air, they come out of you or through you, and then the challenge is to remember it when it happens. You have to try and get it down right away, you write it down or record it. That’s what’s nice about our modern phones, you can record straight away. When these ideas come, if you don’t save them somehow you never remember them the next day. I suppose they float off and someone else gets them [laughs].

Maybe! [Laughter]. I love the storytelling in all of the songs on your new record. One that really stood out to me was “Small Change”.

DT: The thing about “Small Change” was James presented the music for it and a friend of his, Frank Meyers, had written words for it as well. The story for “Small Change” was suggested by Frank’s lyrics but it didn’t quite gel with me, so I took his basic idea and re-wrote it. I turned it more into a story of a woman who decides to become free and leave the small-town single mother existence that she was stuck in, that she’d go off and do something else. The story of how it would take a lot of courage to do that. Sort of like a mini-episode of a movie.

I love the lyric from it: It takes a little bit of change and a great big heart. I think a lot of people can resonate with that. Has there been moments in your life where you’ve done that yourself?

DT: I suppose leaving home when I was sixteen or seventeen years old was sort of like that. Leaving the country at eighteen and just going off overseas with nothing but a backpack and a guitar.

Do you have favourite track on the album?

D: Not really. After it was mixed I didn’t really listen to it. You work so hard on these things and put so many hours into it and you hear it over and over and over again so many times when you’re finishing the production on it that you don’t want to hear it again for a while. I’ve actually put it aside and haven’t listened to it for about a month. When it comes out on vinyl and I have a copy of it I’ll listen to it again. I like all the songs, if I didn’t like them they wouldn’t be on there, I have a different favourite every day.

Why did you decided to call the album, Two To One?

DT: It was a big struggle to find a name for the album until we found one that we could agree on and that hadn’t been used. We’d decide on a name, look it up on allmusic.com and find out there were already thirty albums with that name so, finding something that hadn’t been used before was the challenge. My wife Anne came up with it. It’s an old blues expression and it’s a lyric in a Blind Boy Fuller song from the thirties. Two To One sounds good and it’s two guys doing one thing together.

For both you and James playing guitar is expressing your emotions; is it hard when you have to work with somebody else to get your vision through to fruition?

DT: It can be! It wasn’t in this case. We pretty much agreed on everything. When we first started writing for the album there were come ideas I presented that he didn’t like and likewise, there was a couple he presented that I didn’t like. We didn’t pursue those and we tossed them out early on and focused on the things we both agreed on and both felt were good. Once we had decided on that it was straightforward.

Are you working on new songs now yourself?

DT: Yeah, I am. I’m putting together songs for a new album now. It should have been recorded already but because of the coronavirus we couldn’t travel. Basically, I have another album written and arranged and ready to go. That will be a solo album.

You’ve been working on songs with your wife?

DT: She’ll play guitar on that album as well, when we finally get around to recording it.

Is it nice to have someone so close to you to bounce creative ideas off?

DT: It is! I’ve never had that in that way before. I’ve usually been the only guitar player in the family [laughs].

As well as your music I know you love to do art as well, you paint; is painting for you similar in any way to writing a song?

DT: It’s pretty similar. I’m a much more experienced song writer and guitar player than I am a painter. I’m just getting started with painting and figuring out how to do it. It’s just as much fun. It’s one of those things like I was saying, where time just disappears.

Over the years has there been any advice you’ve gotten I regards to creativity that’s really stuck with you?

DT: Not directly but, I read something that Keith Richards said when he was asked about creativity and he said that the thing he would like to have on his grave would be the words: he passed it on. In other words, you take from your influences in music and then you add something to it of your own and then you pass it on to the next generation. If you can form a link in that chain, that’s the greatest thing that you can do. I always took that it heart. I thought it was a really cool idea and that it was something that I would like to be able to say, I also did that—I formed a link in the chain and passed it on.

I think that you have done that, many times over!

DT: [Laughs] Thanks!

What makes you really, really happy?

DT: Not thinking about happiness but just being, existing in the world and being part of it—that’s what makes me happy. The minute you try to be happy, it just all goes away! [Laughs]. Just being makes me happy!

** Coming soon on Gimmie we also have a chat with The Stooges’ guitarist James Williamson**

Please check out deniztek.com; Deniz on Facebook; Deniz on Instagram; DT & James Williamson on Instagram. Two To One out September 18 on Cleopatra Records. Two To One via bandcamp.