Thursday, July 31, 2008

10 Questions

No time -nor need, dear readers, for dancing 'round the maypole with today's guest. No need for long cryptic intro's either. You've either heard of him or you're about to... MICK FARREN!

Here's Christopher True's bio', from AMG:

"To say that Mick Farren was a "jack of all trades" is putting it mildly. Starting out as a member of British pysch rockers the Deviants, Farren has traversed a long and winding career that has included such occupational descriptors as singer, journalist, novelist, non-fiction author, and — some might say — philosopher and social critic. The singer and founding member of the Deviants, he left that band in 1969 to pursue other musical goals in one of the bigger names in proto-punk, the Pink Fairies. He took a break from the musical side of things, beginning his journalistic career as a writer for the British musical weekly the New Musical Express. In 1970, Farren organized the Phun City Festival and, in the process, got on the good side of the Hell's Angels. In 1977, he returned to music on the Stiff Records solo release Vampires Stole My Lunch Money. Considered by some to be his "solo masterwork," Vampires featured the musical talents of Chrissie Hynde and Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson. Farren's writing endeavors — including what many call his classic work, the DNA Cowboys "sequence" — continued unabated, but his musical offerings were less frequent, but featured collaborations with some of the bigger names in the rock underground. Farren resurrected the Deviants moniker in 1984, when — after moving shop to New York City — he grouped up with former MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer and former Pink Fairies Larry Wallis and Duncan Sanderson to record and release a London show as the album Human Garbage. Farren continued to work with Kramer, and the two released the Don Was-produced Who Shot You, Dutch? EP in 1987, and 1991's Death Tongue. The next collaborator in the Farren universe would be New York's John Collins, who worked with Farren and Kramer on the pair's Death Tongue. The subsequent project, Mick Farren's Tijuana Bible, would release Gringo Madness in 1993. After relocating to California, Farren got together with Jack Lancaster and the two released The Deathray Tapes, a live set that featured guest appearances from actor Brad Dourif and Wayne Kramer. Farren continued to work on his musical ideals, albeit from time to time, and as the century turned, Kramer and the — at least in name — resurrected Deviants released Dr. Crow in 2002, and — working with a number of different Japanese musicians — released To the Masterlock Live in Japan 2004 in 2005. Who's Watching You?, released in 2007, was — approximately — his 23rd."

Of his first band, the Deviants, Richie Unterberger, (from AMG), says:

"In the late '60s, the Deviants were something like the British equivalent to the Fugs, with touches of the Mothers of Invention and the British R&B-based rock of the Yardbirds and the Pretty Things. Their roots were not so much in the British Invasion as the psychedelic underground that began to take shape in London in 1966-1967. Not much more than amateurs when they began playing, they squeezed every last ounce of skill and imagination out of their limited instrumental and compositional resources on their debut, Ptooff!, which combined savage social commentary, overheated sexual lust, psychedelic jamming, blues riffs, and pretty acoustic ballads — all in the space of seven songs. Their subsequent '60s albums had plenty of outrage, but not nearly as strong material as the debut. Lead singer Mick Farren recorded a solo album near the end of the decade, and went on to become a respected rock critic. He intermittently performed and recorded as a solo artist and with re-formed versions of the Deviants."

And, of their debut LP, from 1967, Ptooff!, AMG's Dave Thompson nails it:

"Talk today about Britain's psychedelic psyxties, and it's the light whimsy of Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd, the gentle introspection of the village green Kinks, Sgt. Pepper, and "My White Bicycle" which hog the headlines. People have forgotten there was an underbelly as well, a seething mass of discontent and rancor which would eventually produce the likes of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, and the Edgar Broughton Band. It was a damned sight more heartfelt, too, but the more some fete the lite-psych practitioners of the modern age (they know who they are), the further their reality will recede. Fronted by journalist/author/wild child Mick Farren, the Deviants spawned that reality. Over the years, three ex-members would become Pink Fairies; for subsequent reunions, sundry ex-Fairies would become honorary Deviants. And though only Russell Hunter is present on Ptooff!, still you can hear the groundwork being laid. The Pink Fairies might well have been the most perfect British band of the early '70s. The Deviants were their dysfunctional parents. In truth, Ptooff! sounds nowhere near as frightening today as it was the first (or even 21st) time out; too many reissues, most of them now as scarce as the original independently released disc, have dulled its effect, and besides, the group's own subsequent albums make this one look like a puppy dog. But the deranged psilocybic rewrite of "Gloria" which opens the album, "I'm Coming Home," still sets a frightening scene, a world in which Top 40 pop itself is horribly skewed, and the sound of the Deviants grinding out their misshapen R&B classics is the last sound you will hear. Move on to "Garbage," and though the Deviants' debt to both period Zappa and Fugs is unmistakable, still there's a purity to the paranoia. Ptoof! was conceived at a time when there genuinely was a generation gap, and hippies were a legitimate target for any right-wing bully boy with a policeman's hat and a truncheon. IT and Oz, the two underground magazines which did most to support the Deviants (Farren wrote for both), were both publicly busted during the band's lifespan, and that fear permeates this disc; fear, and vicious defiance. It would be two years, and two more albums, before the Deviants finally published their manifesto in all its lusty glory — "we are the people who pervert your children" — during their eponymous third album's "People Suite." But already, the intention was there."

As an author Mick has most recently assisted in co-authoring, with Suzy Shaw, (Who put the) Bomp! Saving the World One Record at a Time, well worth the coin to grab!

I got turned on to Mick's fiction by the wife of a great friend during a discussion of favorite books; when she got back home she sent me a rather large package and among the contents was the DNA Cowboys trilogy. Fantastic stuff. On my list also is Give The Anarchist A Cigarette. Of it the Amazon UK reviewer said:

"In some quarters, I was regarded as a highly suspect, self-publicising egomaniac." There is little in Give the Anarchist a Cigarette--a self-aggrandising but hugely entertaining memoir--that would lead you to form any other opinion of Mick Farren. His unabashed egotism is present on every (page). Farren, who ran the door at the now legendary psychedelic club UFO and worked on the underground paper International Times--even successfully defending it against an obscenity charge--was a key figure in London's 60s and 70s counter-culture scene. In an era not known for restraint, he imbibed extraordinary quantities of drink and drugs and generally indulged in the kind of sexual gymnastics that now carry severe health warnings. Former lovers included Germaine Greer and Julie Burchill. His band, The Deviants, were, as he rather tirelessly points out, punk years before the Sex Pistols. They played Hyde Park, toured with the Pretty Things and a fledgling Led Zeppelin and cut a series of influential albums. As flower power gave way to the three-day week Farren concentrated on writing, working for the New Musical Express and penning a series of fantasy novels--the latter he informs us are now regarded by one critic as the "definite forerunners" of cyberpunk fiction. Assessments of his own contribution to contemporary culture may be inflated but Farren's candid, amusing and intelligent book offers a vivid and insightful portrait of rock & roll's finest decades.(--Travis Elborough)

During Mick's IT (International Times) days he also successfully fought a celebrated court case over obscenity for the comic, Nasty Tales No.1.

He also wrote a fictional work, published in 1978, titled The Feelies. (It obviously made an impression on one group of people.)

Mick's busy, quite, these days writing in Los Angeles and has his own blog which you'll see a link for in the sidebar. (Eyes right.)

We're honored he took the time to respond! Shall we?

1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."

Music that slides sideways like your mind on acid.

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

The electric guitar. It was made for it at exactly the right time.

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?

Electric Ladyland

4. Who's your most underrated psychedelic guitarist? Overrated?

Mike Bloomfield! Eric fucking Clapton

5. What venue, when you hear or read the name again, means "psychedelic" to you?

UFO Club

6. What psychedelic album do you wish more people knew about?

Ogden's Nut Gone Flake -- Small Faces

7. What band, active today, most defines "psychedelic" to you?


8. What album do you consider psychedelic that most people don't; what is about that album for you?

Blonde On Blonde for the images in the lyrics and that I listened to it a lot on acid.

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?

Not in order...
"I Can See For Miles" --The Who
"Voodoo Child" -- Jimi Hendrix
"White Rabbit" -- Jefferson Airplane
"Interstellar Overdrive" -- Pink Floyd
"Lazy Sunday Afternoon" -- Small Faces
"Spanish Caravan -- The Doors
"2000 Lights Years From Home" -- The Rolling Stones
"River Deep Mountain High -- Tina Turner
"Rain" -- The Beatles
"Like A Rolling Stone" -- Bob Dylan

10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.

Mick: Why do we need to define these things?

valis: I think it's human nature to want and need definition; I'm going to quote the first thing which came to mind when I read this question, and I think the answer is still germane:
" You cannot go against nature-because if you do, well that's a part of nature, too..." - Love & Rockets
That being said, I think we're all finding out there's as many different definitions for this genre as there are people to ask. We're blind men feeling the elephant, Mick....and in the Land of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King. And the Cyclops gazed up at a night sky full of one star....



gomonkeygo said...

He picked "Rain" - nice choice. One of my all-time favorite songs regardless of category. Made my 13 year-old son listen to it recently. He was blown away.

The last three letters of the word verification are MDA. Coincidence?

sr-71 said...

I like Mick's music & his fiction, especially Necrom. Devilish good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Ogden Nut Gone Flakes, Blonde on Blonde......its difficult to explain (forgive this had to have been there).

gerryboy67 said...

another interesting guest from the golden age, Valis. Agree with almost everything Mick says, although I took umbrage with his definition of Eric Clapton as a (overrated) psychedelic guitarist. He was/is a superb blues guitar player, who (like the Stones and The Who)was never really a hippy, in the musical sense, but got sucked into the zeitgeist. That aside, another winner!

Cliff said...

Quite surprised at Mick's top 10 psych songs in that they're all kinda mainstream but gotta agree with him re EC.