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As a few days have passed and the hangover had time to wear off, it’s time to reflect on yet another spectacular Desertfest London. We kickstarted the weekend at The Black Heart at 2pm on the Friday for Israel’s ‘The Great Machine’, who totally kicked ass, by the way, before venturing out in the rain heading towards Electric Ballroom where Old Empire had curated the stage for the day. We caught soothing Jaye Jayle who were a nice little ‘calm before the storm’, as we knew we were about to get our ears blown out over the course of the next 48 hours.

Ben McLeod, All Them Witches

After a Black Heart pit stop for a rum and coke, it was time to interview Swedish ‘Skraeckoedlan’ where our first questions were “HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHERE DOES IT COME FROM AND WHY DID YOU PICK IT?” We’d tell you the answers to all of the above, but we’d rather keep ya hanging so you’ll watch the interview we did with them once we release it in about four years time. We can tell you this though, they shared their thoughts on it perhaps not being the most beneficial name when it comes to world domination and reaching an international audience – no shit. Still, lovely guys and killer musicians, and totally cool with getting interviewed outside in the freezing rain, gotta love viking Scandis.

Over at the Underworld L.A record label Riding Easy was showcasing a selection of it’s bands, and we caught heavy rock band R.I.P which catered for those wanting fast and heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Later on in the evening saw OM headline Electric Ballroom, Electric Citizen the Underworld and Skraeckoedlan The Black Heart, before The Shrine played Electric Ballroom’s midnight afterparty, which was their first London show with bassist Corey Parks.

From previous year’s we’ve been pretty spoiled with sunshine and summer during Desertfest, something we had to pay for during the Saturday as we had thunderstorms, rain and hail all at once, which also called for yet another great outside interview with Savanna’s swamp metal band Black Tusk who were headlining the Black Heart later on in the evening. The Saturday consisted mostly of legging it between venues to catch as many bands as possible, all while not becoming a soaked mess while doing so.

Isaiah Mitchell, Earthless

Sunday was the grand finale, where we headed early to catch up with Earthless before their show, followed by Witch, All Them Witches and Fu Manchu. Once the Roundhouse headliner finishes everyone knows it’s do or die to get into the Black Heart, where we miraculously landed a table and spent the rest of the evening people watching and drinking until closing time at 3am, which then again calls for another half an hour (at least) lingering outside in the street hoping that somewhere else to party will somehow appear – it did. Fast forward two more hours to dehydration and a headache, and it was time to realise Desertfest London was over, for this time.

Charles Michael Parks, All Them Witches

Once again Desertfest London has gone and done it and put together yet another cracking lineup for this year’s festival featuring bands and artists such as OM, Fu Manchu, Earthless, All Them Witches, Kadavar, Electric Citizen, Witch and more. We might still be a while away, but we’re impatiently waiting as we count down for the festivities to begin.

The festival is held every so slightly later than usual this year as it’s taking place over the weekend 3rd to 5th of May, and as spring should have properly sprung by this point we’re hoping for even sunnier conditions than last year – there is just something beautiful about casually bumping into about 98% of the people you know drinking sunny pints at 3.45 on a Friday in the designated Desertfest area outside the Black Heart, browsing through records and merch while chatting along. 

Desertfest means madness to us at Orange, and we’d probably all clone ourselves if we could to stretch out between the different venues to catch all the bands as well as conducting all the interviews, shoots and unsuccessfully trying to upload Instagram stories while in our favourite but 4G-less basement at The Underworld. In many ways, it’s very much like a wedding, our wedding – lots of planning and excitement during the months leading up to it, until day one’s all of a sudden there and you’re jet launched into an overwhelming experience of people to talk to and a gallon of booze thrown into the mix. Not your average day in the office, and sometimes it’s hard to differ between working hard or hardly working – somehow the two go hand in hand delightfully during this weekend.

As always, there’s always some acts that excite me to the point of explosion, last year it was Hawkwind who’s set timed perfectly with me finishing all interviews for the weekend, allowing embrace the space and go full Rainbow Rhythms in the crowd during their set. This year I’ve got my heart set on Earthless at The Roundhouse despite having seen them a whole bunch a times before, the last one being at Brighton’s The Haunt where I for a second thought I’d take off into hyperspace during the 20 minute long into. My heart sings for Earthless, the finest psych connoisseurs and masters of their instruments, and some of the kindest people in the industry. I spoke to guitarist Isaiah about his expectations towards the gig, and being one of the bands chosen to close the festival at Roundhouse on the Sunday;

Earthless at Islington Assembly Hall April 2018

“We’re stoked and honoured and excited to be playing with all these bands that we love, and to play a venue such as the Roundhouse makes the whole thing even sweeter! We can’t wait to get to London and let it all out.”
– Isaiah Mitchell, Earthless

Another band I’m genuinely stoked to see at the Roundhouse is All Them Witches – having first seen the band play London’s Lexington just three years ago it’s incredible to think how much they’ve grown during those years, from Lexington to Scala to Koko to the Roundhouse – almost sounds like a classic case of “dreams come true”. Having recently parted with their keyboard player the band is now performing as a three piece, so seeing how they’ve adapted their music to be performed one man down is pretty exciting. Everyone loves a power trio, and ATW might just be the next big one.

Day passes and weekend tickets are up for grabs via Desertfest London’s website, so get your hands on yours before it’s too late.

I’ve been a bit late to the record game – pretty damn late to be honest, but there’s a reason behind it all. My dad was a massive record collector in the 70s, 80’s and early 90s, and had an impressive collection showcasing everything from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slade, KISS, Ramones, Uriah Heep and Aerosmith, to pretty much every other great guitar based band released during those decades. Some records he’d even get two copies off, one for listening, and one for safe keeping. He’d play them to my mum and make her guess which band it was, which has led to her having a somewhat knowledge about music, but also making statements like ‘It’s like Woodstock upstairs every time you’re back home!’ when I listen to Sex Pistols in my room, and describing Jimi Hendrix like ‘the guy with the big hair.’ Sure mum, the guy with the big, uhm, hair…

Then, the 90s happened and CDs emerged – vinyls were taking up a lot of space, and let’s be honest, made it a b*tch to move house, so my dad, as oh-so many others, gave away his record collection. Early versions and first editions of pretty much all the bands I’ve been obsessing over since forever – gone. This is obviously something that’s been on my mind for a long time, which led  to me refusing to buy records, for the sole reason that I knew it would drive me insane that pretty much every record I’d ever want from the 70s or 80s, my dad had, and gave to someone else but me. A few years back he dug out the ones that he’d managed to keep, and gave them to me – the most precious ones of them all, his entire Ramones collection, all early editions. At this point, I still didn’t have a record player so I brought them home and kept them as some sort of shrine for my dad’s youth and his musical influence on me, and a constant reminder about my childhood and growing up listening to them. Also a reminder that they could have been accompanied by about 1500 more records or so, GOD DAMN IT.

Anyway, I spent quite a while tossing and turning regarding the whole record player issue, and after acquiring a few more records here and there from friends and touring bands staying at mine, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and just god damn go get one. After doing so, I spent my first evening and pretty much all of that first night listening through the records I did have, alphabetising them repeatedly for my own satisfaction, signed up and got a Discogs account and adding a bunch to my ‘Want’ list, all while slowly coming to terms with the fact that I had 100% f*cked myself over financially and that I’d never have any money ever again, cause if there’s one thing I’ve always managed to justify spending money on it’s music and gigs, and if buying records to put in alphabetical order before listening to them ceremonially isn’t an investment in my own happiness, then I don’t know what is – the ritual of flipping the record and dropping the needle while gently caressing the sleeve…  Ah, oh my god. Is this how crack feels like? Anyway, i’m gonna stop this 700-or-so word intro and get to the point before this turn into some semi erotic article about my love for my vinyls; Since acquiring a record player five months or so ago I’ve added a fair amount of records to my ever so growing collection (with the latest one being Rainbow’s ‘Rising’ for only £3 yesterday at Reckless Records in Soho, London – how?!), and in honour or this year’s record store day, which is today, I decided pick my current, and I cant emphasise this enough, current top 10 vinyls in my collection – all in completely random order as god knows it’d kill me to have to pick a favourite. So, without further ado, my thoroughly thought through, non chronological current top 10 vinyls in my collection:

Hällas – Excerpts From a Future Past
Year: 2017
Acquired: Crypt of the Wizard

I first heard Hällas three years or so ago, but it wasn’t until last year I really gave them the time a day after randomly coming across an article about their newly released debut album ‘Excerpts From a Future Past’ – I checked out the album online, and I was sold – two seconds later I scroll through Instagram because I’m a slave to social media like most people in this sad society, and saw that heavy metal record store ‘Crypt of the Wizard’ had a few first pressings in stock – I rushed over, and managed to get my hands on a copy. This album, which I absolutely love, will take you on a cosmic journey through the middle ages, floating through time and space surrounded by Thin Lizzy guitar harmonies, Uriah Heep organ and sometimes even 80s synth. An absolute banger, and almost guaranteed that your dad will love it – mine did.

 

Motorpsycho – Behind the Sun
Year: 2014
Acquired: Amazon

Aah, sweet, sweet Motorpsycho, fellow Norwegian countrymen and connoisseurs of psychedelic jams so intense it nearly crosses the border between pain and pleasure. Despite Motorpsycho being around since before I was even born, it wasn’t until later in life I managed to wrap my head around this band, which I dare say is one of Norway’s finest exports alongside Kvelertak, Turbonegro, oil and Black Metal, and I wouldn’t have discovered them without Shaman Elephant guitarist Eirik, who couldn’t bare the thought of me living my life without the pleasure Motorpsycho provides, so thank you, Eirik. As soon as I heard this album, I knew I needed it, and I needed it straight away, so when my local record stores failed me I turned to Amazon and their next day delivery, sat camp by the door and waited impatiently. This record really sweeps you off your feet, starting out sweet before all of a sudden emerging mellowed out tunes with explosive psychedelic jams, so intense you forget to breathe – my personal favourite on the record being closing track ‘Hell, Part 7: Victim of Rock’, which is very much the latter; a song that keeps building until you can’t take it anymore, before it drops into the most beautiful and chaotic organised mess you can even think of, leaving you gasping cause you haven’t exhaled for six minutes.

 

Robin Trower – Twice Removed from Yesterday
Released: 1973
Acquired: Sister Ray Records

‘We all thought this guy would be the next big thing after Hendrix died.’ My dad told me when he first played me Robin Trower, who after the 60’s Procol Harum heydays formed a three piece and started releasing and performing music under his own name, ‘Twice Removed from Yesterday’ being the debut. After buying the album and listening through it, it didn’t take long to get the Hendrix comparison, as the similarity in their sound and way of playing is uncanny. This album starts out slow but beautiful, with three incredibly strong ballads showcasing Trower’s phenomenal guitar playing, before it kicks off and gets funky in ‘Man of the world’, later followed by the sleaziest version of ‘Rock me baby’ I have ever heard – this record is timeless. I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Robin Trower a few months ago and it was astonishing, being able to watch one of the greatest guitarists from a time when giants walked the earth, someone along the lines of Hendrix himself, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton.

 

GNOB – Electric Dream Demon
Year: 2018
Acquired: Gifted by the band

Since first coming across GNOB at The Bird’s Nest in South London two years ago they have swiftly risen to become one of my favourite bands in the underground music scene in London, as well as all very good friends of mine. Their eastern inspired psychedelia is a breath of fresh air on the scene, which for a long time was fronted predominately by heavier stoner bands. This album ‘Electric Dream Demon’ is their debut and an absolute gem of an album – the perfect mix of heavy and melodic, all while at the same time incredibly mellow and trippy, with beautiful, eerie and fuzzy vocals as well as a bunch of instrumental jams, which I’m a sucker for.

 

Motörhead – Overkill
Released: 1979

Acquired: Gifted

1979, Lemmy had been kicked out of Hawkwind and his trippy space days were over – he had at this point successfully formed the loudest band in the world and managed to follow up their 1977 self titled debut album with what might just be the greatest Motörhead record to be ever made; Overkill. I wish I was there in 1979 when it was released, to be able to put it on my turntable not knowing what to expect, to then be hit with the most explosive opening track in the history of time. Rock ’n’ roll had come a long way from Elvis was for sure, and there you’ve got ‘Overkill’ coming at you at 150 miles per hour, fuelled by Jack Daniels and speed. In my eyes, this album is one hit after another, showcasing the very best of Motörhead. Picking a favourite track of the album ain’t easy, but let’s face it, ‘Stay Clean’ is pretty damn sweet, not often Lemmy would solo but when he did he did it spectacularly. An incredible album from beginning to end, play it loud as hell surrounded by friends and cheers to three of the finest hell raisers and rock ’n’ rollers the world ever saw – Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philty Animal’ Taylor.


Deep Purple – Machine Head
Released: 1972
Acquired: Christmas present from my dad

I’ve been a fan of Deep Purple for as long as I can remember, and I dare say the Ritchie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice and Roger Glover era was nothing but sensational – I mean have you heard their Made in Japan album from 1972?! It’s simply astonishing, both political, funky and sleazy. They were kings of their time, there’s no doubt about it. One of my personal favourites from that lineup is 1972’s Machine Head, another album that’s just filled with one banger after another – ‘Pictures of Home’ one of my personal favourites offers all the solos your heart may desire; bass, guitar and even keys. Ah, don’t even get me started on the keys on this album, Jon Lord’s got ya covered from A-Z. The key intro to ‘Lazy’? Holy shit, epic. Thank you Jon Lord for that sweet Hammond beat.

 

Earthless – Black Heaven
Released: 2018
Acquired: Gig in Islington Assembly Hall, London

Oh Earthless, where do I begin? Despite having created a whole wave of a new generation psych bands emerging from San Diego, there really is no other bands like Earthless. Musically they’re on a different level from any band I’ve ever seen, and they cease to amaze me with everything they do, whether it’s 20 minute long instrumental psych jams, or as on ‘Black Heaven’, structured songs with incredible vocals, where none of them crosses the nine minute mark. This album, despite being very different to former Earthless releases, is still very much an Earthless album, showcasing the skills of some of the best musicians of our generation. As far as seeing Earthless live goes, these guys are probably the closes you’ll ever get to see something along the lines of The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

 

Neil Merryweaher – Space Rangers
Released: 1974
Acquired: Discogs

Canadian bassist Neil Merryweather’s been around for decades playing with artists such as Steve Miller, Rick James and Wilson Pickett, but it’s his 1974 solo album ‘Space Rangers’ that stole my heart. My first encounter with Merryweather was through other people’s songs, covering The Byrds’ 1966 single ‘Eight Miles High’, and might I add, doing so spectacularly, and Donovan’s ‘Sunshine Superman’, also originally released in 1966, where he brings the funk like few Canadians dudes have done before him. With Merryweather being a bassist by heart, there is big focus on the bass for melody and not just rhythm, almost taking the place as a second guitar branching out onto solo-like territory. ‘Space Rangers’ touches base within a few different genres, with opening track ‘Hollywood Blvd’ bordering to a pop song, before venturing onto space rock, funk and psychedelia, and it has swiftly become a favourite in my record collection ever since I got my hands on it.

 

Truth & Janey – Topeka Jam
Released: 2018, recorded 1974
Acquired: Rockadrome


This explosive three piece took their name from Jeff Beck’s ‘Truth’ album and guitarist Billy Lee Janey, and they might just be one of 70’s Iowa’s best hidden treasures. Inspired by the great blues guitarists of the 60s, they were heavy like Pentagram, had the funk of Grand Funk, and the rawness of the stooges. Topeka Jam consists of a bunch of previously unreleased songs recorded over several nights in Topeka, Kansas in 1974, and sees the band venture on into endless fuzzy harmonies and jams, with the opening track (and might I add, only track on side one) ‘Midnight Horsemen’ (originally released as a 3 minute long single in 1972) being jammed out into the abyss for a whole psyched out 22 minutes. It’s a bold choice for an opening track indeed, but sets the bar high for the rest of the record, which only gets better and better.

 

Ramones – Ramones
Released: 1976
Acquired: From my dad’s old record collection

When my dad gave away most of his record collection, he did keep a few for himself, his most precious possessions that he kept safe until passing them onto me a few years ago; His Ramones records. I grew up listening to the Ramones religiously, loving the simplicity, energy, but also vulnerability. I loved Joey the most, he was the tall space case and I liked to think I could relate to that. Ramones broke so much ground with what they did, despite how ‘simple’ it was compared to a lot of the other bands of the time – they invented punk and created the whole CBGBs scene, and toured and gigged relentlessly until the very end. Their self titled debut is a perfect example of what the Ramones were about, fast, catchy and short songs, some about what they wanna do, some about what they don’t wanna do, and some, quite a few actually, about love.

As far as current music goes, not many bands, most likely none, can compare to Earthless. Their musical craftsmanship is out of this world, and they’ve created an explosion of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego and the surrounding areas. But then again, when Isaiah Mitchell used to be the local Encinitas guitar teacher, what else can you expect? Having obsessed over Earthless since I first came across them years ago in my bedroom back at my mum’s in Norway, they’ve always seemed like these unattainable gods from sunny California, so when I recently was told Isaiah would be playing Orange during their next UK and European tour… Ahh, yes, I was so stoked. About freakin’ time, he’s only the Hendrix of our generation.

You’ve been pretty busy touring lately as well as just releasing your latest record ‘Black Heaven’ on Nuclear Blast Records, which is an amazing record, but also pretty different from your earlier stuff.
Isaiah: It’s super different, we didn’t expect it to be exactly the way it was when it came out, but we’re all happy with the end result. We knew we were gonna do at least one song with vocals, but we didn’t expect it to be four songs, that kind of just happened. Those were the strongest songs, so by natural selection they ended up on the album.

You’ve obviously been singing in Golden Void for years, and I also heard rumours about a band from way back called ‘Juan Peso’ where you also used to sing?
Isaiah: Oh wow, yeah that’s from when I was about 19, and you have to do a lot of digging to find any of that online. You might get lucky on youtube but that’ll be it. I’ve always sung in bands, but for Earthless we just didn’t want to do it, it wasn’t our thing. It’s been fun not doing it, but it’s also been fun throwing it in there, do something different.

Last time I saw you guys in California you were using an old Orange cab, and tonight you’ve got a full Orange backline! Care to run us through the two?
Isaiah: I got that 4×12 cab when I was 17 or 18 from a music shop in Encinitas called ‘Moonlight Music’, I used to work at this shop and my boss Russell had two brand new Orange 4×12, I think both early 90s, maybe even late 80s cabs in the garage of his house. We didn’t have any other 4×12’s in the shop, so he told me I should get one of them, and I was just shocked when I saw them, they were so – Orange! At that point in my life I’d never seen an Orange in the flesh before, I was just a kid and they weren’t very common in the US at the time, my only ever encounter at that point was this old Black Sabbath video with Paul Shaffer in the background, and Sabbath playing ‘Iron Man’. Sabbath were using Orange amps there instead of their usual Laney amps, and they just stuck right out due to the bright colour!

I ended up taking the cab of his hands, and putting it up against any other cabs like old Marshalls or whatever, my Orange would just always sound better. Maybe it’s because the walls on the Orange are so thick compared to others, especially Marshalls’ who’s really thin, I don’t know, but there’s just no competition in any other amps, the Orange would just always do it better. For this UK and European tour, I’ve also got two Orange heads, a Rockerverb MK II and a Rockerverb MK II and they’ve been treating me well. Our sound guy’s really into Orange as well so he’s happy – we’re all happy!

There’s a lot of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego at the moment with you guys being one of the first ones on the scene more than a decade ago, and Radio Moscow and Sacri Monti bassist Anthony Meier even described you as ‘the godfathers of San Diego’ last time I spoke to him, singing your praises, as most people do – it must be crazy though to have had that sort of effect on your hometown and the place you’re from, leading the way for all these other bands and artists. Obviously, they’ve all had Earthless to look up to, who was it that stood out to you when you guys first got together and formed Earthless?
Isaiah: First of all, I love Dukke (Anthony), he’s just great! We’ve toured with Radio Moscow and it’s always a good time with those guys. To answer your question; Definitely Jimi Hendrix, Cream and all the other great British blues guys who played loud amps. Blue Cheer, a bunch of German kraut bands as well as Japanese bands. When I was a kid growing up I didn’t know of any current bands that were doing that whole Cream style of playing where you’ve got half stacks or full stacks, I had never seen that before in my time. Then I met Mike and we started playing together in Lions of Judah which kinda made my dream come true as he was into all of those things as well. Then one day, someone sat me down and made me check out Nebula’s ‘To the Center’ album and I saw the picture on the back where they were just using all this old, rad gear, and I just had no idea that kinda stuff still existed. All that stuff was influential to me, and still is. I’m also really stoked about the whole emerging San Diego psych thing, it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, especially when you have all these rad bands citing us as influences, it’s an honour.


As I finish typing, I schedule this post for posting 19th of April at 2pm, knowing very well that mere two hours later I’ll be attending the first of three Earthless shows at this years Roadburn festival, and my endorphin level is through the roof just thinking about it.