"...I think there’s a car rental insurance conspiracy in the UK. You should look into it"
What was the first record you bought? When, where and why? Where was it the last time you saw it?
The first album I bought with my own money would probably be Three Dog Night’s 'Naturally' LP, when I was in 3rd Grade, to add to my stash of Jackson 5, Three Dog Night, and Disney LPs. I still have it.
What was the first gig you remember going to?
My Dad and Step-Mom took my Step Sisters and I to see Tony Orlando & Dawn at the Kalamazoo County Fair. Does that really count?
What was the first band/solo artist you obsessed about?
That was KISS. The first time I saw the cover of KISS Alive I was in 4th or 5th grade, and I had to have it. I remember taking it with me when my Mom and I went to visit my Grandparents, so I could listen to it over and over. I put it on their old stereo console at a really, really low volume and sat with my ear against the speaker. When my Grandmother asked me if I’d like to turn it up, so that I could sit comfortably on the couch and listen, I showed her the album cover and she kindly rescinded her offer.
What was the first gig you played? what was the name of the band and what kind of stuff did you play?
My first gig was playing a wedding. One of the guitarists in my first band had a sister that was getting married and asked us to play. We covered Aerosmith, REO Speedwagon, Lynyrd Skynyrd. I played drums and sang. We called ourselves Artemis. I’m sure it was stellar.
What was the name of the first song you wrote/recorded/released?
If you don’t count self released cassette tapes, that would be Hook, Line & Sinker, backed with Looking Glass on Limited Potential Records.
Your first time in a studio?
My very first studio experience was when my friend Doug Chamberlin asked me to play my Roto Toms on a track. That was in Chicago, probably the Summer of 1983.
If you were stranded on a desert island with a record-deck, which three albums would you want with you?
This is one of those impossible questions to answer. Hergest Ridge by Mike Oldfield, Foxtrot by Genesis, Harvest by Neil Young.
What is your favourite era/genre of music?
1970s Prog Rock.
...and your favourite band/artist/album of the last five years?
I really enjoyed White Denim and Tame Impala’s first record.
Best gig/worst gig you've ever been to?
Best gig(s) would be Mahavishnu Orchestra, Tin Machine, King Crimson. I honestly can’t think of a worst gig, unless you’re asking about my own shows, then I could write a page or two.
Who do you regret never seeing live?
Yes or Genesis in their heydays.
Have you ever met one of your musical heroes? did they live up to expectations?
I’ve been able to meet quite a few people, but Todd Rundgren and Steve Kilbey have been the kindest. Very nice people.
Which artists/labels have you collected over the years, if any?
I've collected Pink floyd, The Stones, The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
What is the most embarrassing record in your collection? why is it still there?
The Osmonds Live. It was a gift from my Step Sisters. Honest!
Is there anyone whose music is seriously 'out there' who you're into?
Mahavishnu Orchestra might fit into that realm. The first DEVO album was out there…
Which do you prefer - on-stage or in the studio? and why?
I like both for different reasons. The recording studio is a place where I can create hassle free, and I really enjoy playing different instruments. Playing live with the right combination of folks can be euphoric.
Tell us one of your 'life on the road' stories…
One usually recalls a nightmare, but the last couple of times I’ve toured the UK have been dreamy. Eating Welsh biscuits. Not having to be the road manager. I highly recommend it. I really don’t want to remember any of the nasty stuff. But I will say that I think there’s a car rental insurance conspiracy in the UK. You should look into it.
Describe your current/typical recording set-up (where and what)
I’m very, very fortunate to have my own little recording studio. I use ProTools on a PC and 5 microphones; Shure 57, Shure 58, Shure Beta 52A, and two Rode NT1As. My equipment includes a 5 piece Ludwig Drum Kit (1970) with Zildjian cymbals, Ludwig Snare (1956), Slingerland Snare (1980), Fender Showman Amp (1963), Fender Blues Junior Amp, Black Star Amp, Pig Nose Amp, Alvarez 12-String Acoustic, Ephiphone Arch Top Acoustic, Ovation 6 String Acoustic, Two Fender Stratocasters (1974 and 1977), Gibson Flying V (1990), Fender Squire Bass, Arp Odyssey (1972), Pro One (1980), Kimball Piano, Harmonium, 2 Sitars, and various other noise making devices.
If you could go back and re-record something, what would it be and why?
I generally like to just move on and not think about past works, but if I had to, I would rerecord and produce The Luck of Eden Hall’s Balladonna Marmalade. We ran out of money and didn’t get to take it where it should have gone.
Is there anything in the 'archives' that hasn't seen the light of day, but might one day?
Well there's a lot of stuff being held hostage on a frozen hard drive that might one day get fixed, but other than that….probably not.
What track, or album, that you've recorded are you most proud of?
The album I’m most proud of has to be TLoEH’s The Acceleration of Time, and my personal favorite track on there is Another High Speed Blowout, but I’m pretty pleased with my new project as well.
What are your recording/release/gig plans for the next six months?
I’m currently working on Custard Flux, which I’m calling my electricity free outlet, because I’ve limited myself to using only acoustic instruments. After acquiring and restoring a 100 year old Harmonium, I had a vision of being able to set up in a park and play prog-psych-pop without the use of electricity. I know rules are made to be broken, but for the most part I’m really trying to stick to it. I have broken down and recorded one electric guitar solo, because that’s what the song needed, but the acoustic sounds are very refreshing. I’ve started recording eight songs on an album of probably ten tracks, and hope to have the whole thing finished by the beginning of Summer. The album is called Harmonium Chrysanthemum and you can access three of the tracks right now on the Custard Flux Bandcamp page, or go to www.custardflux.com and click on the music link. I’ll be performing Custard Flux songs on my Harmonium in Detroit at the International Pop Overthrow Festival on April 12th.
Why are you working on a solo project?
My wife took a job in a different city, and after living in Chicago for 35 years, I’ve moved to Detroit. Since I’ve moved, The Luck of Eden Hall has played two shows. Both in Chicago, because that’s where the rest of the boys live. Chicago is over three hundred miles from Detroit, which makes it kind of difficult to rehearse, so I’ve decided to put together a local project with some local musicians. I haven’t found any folks yet, because I’m a busy little hermit, but I am trying.
Is TLoEH finished, then?
Nope. I believe there’s a track coming out later this year on FdM (it's true!- ed), and Mark and I have plans to record in the future. But for now, Custard Flux!