Thursday, April 23, 2009

10 Questions

Hail Voyagers!

Psychedelic music is a "retinal circus" and today we've a guest who's played there.

The man who penned "Frustration"..! It's Will Hay of The Painted Ship!

"Vancouver’s Painted Ship first hit the water as the Wee Beasties when budding poet/vocalist William “The Captain” Hay teamed up with guitarist Rob Rowden out at the University of British Columbia in the summer of 1965. With Rowden’s brother Barry on drums and keyboardist Ken Wain rounding out the crew, the newly christened Painted Ship took their virile garage/punk to the clubs, making regular splashes at the seminal Retinal Circus on Davie Street. By late ’66 the band had delivered the stellar ‘Frustration’ to the execs over at London Records, but the suits were still unconvinced, insisting on something with more commercial potential. The result, the hard-hitting ‘Little White Lies’, with its hefty organ and strident sneer, would scale the regional charts into the summer of ’67. But the b-side is the true gem here. Dark and mysterious, ‘Frustration’ is a killer track that kicks off airy and ethereal, with a quirky farfisa riff and subtle hi-hat rhythms, before building to its potent finish. File this one right up there in the holy trinity of Canadian garage, alongside the Ugly Ducklings’ 'Nothin'.and the Haunted’s '1-2-5'."
(Michael Panontin)

From a 2005 interview:

" The inspiration for FRUSTRATION? I've always been interested in esoteric psychology.One of the themes I find fascinating is the push-pull between individuation and enculturation. Of course, we all have to understand our culture in order to fit in but, at the same time, its equally important that we remain authentic, be true to who we really are and who we want to be.Thinking about this conflict ,this essential and inevitable push-pull, was the wellspring for FRUSTRATION. "

As lucid & lit-up, cerebrally, as we've met, here he goes:

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

Human imagination defying the gravity of commercial bullshit

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

Keyboards: a)the actual mechanical act of playing keys doesn't present the same physical challenges as with other instruments. This allows a skillful player more energy to be as creative as possible.
b) There's just something about the sounds that can be mined from keys. Can you imagine The Doors without Phil's contributions?

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?

Only one? Tough.I'll go with something a little out of the ordinary:FLASH by THE MOVING SIDEWALKS

4. What legendary lost recording or unfindable bootleg would you most like to have?

Now, there's no conceit in this answer---only great sadness. A tape of a live concert we made to replace the studio recordings that had been lost by Polydor .It was one of those nights.The stars were aligned. Or, the women were especially playful. Or,the wine was red. Whatever the cause , this was the best music ever played by The Painted Ship.A cacophonous assault of inner and outer space.One of the guys borrowed the van the next morning to move his girl friend and wouldn't you know it? Some jackass broke into the van and, among other things, stole the tape.

5. What song or album that wouldn't fall into the classic "psych" definition is, nevertheless, psychedelic to you?

Interesting that you should ask this question. I was having a discussion -debate- with some musician-friends just the other night. CARLOS SANTANA. Am I the only one on the planet who hears QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE in his stuff?

6. Is there an advantage in being the pioneers (60s psychedelic bands), or being the continuing explorers armed with the knowledge of those pioneers work (the modern psychedelic bands)? Why?

Advantage goes to-------the continuing explorers. Audience ears have already been prepped for them and they've stopped throwing stones at the weirdos

7. What bands inspired the Painted Ship?

Actually, the music I wanted to make was a reaction AGAINST what I was hearing on the radio. I just couldn't stand %99 of it.So formula. So unimaginative. And sweet!!! To me, rock should be the sound of hard-toed boots slapping broken pavement. Not the over-produced , bloated,sweet, harmonic crap I was hearing.(Do I have an opinion on this?) The few bands I really like to listen to? The Sonics. The Wailers. The Northwest sound.

8. What was the Vancouver scene like at the time of The Painted Ship?

8)When we first started, Vancouver was an R&B town.If you didn't have a large horn section and you didn't play commercial R&B you didn't play Vancouver.Musicians warned me that no one wanted to hear what we were doing. Then the West coast wave swept Northward up from San Francisco and all that changed overnight.

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?

9)This list is influenced by the fact that we had the privilege to share stages with many of the following bands and I developed a fondness for particular songs that they played. In no particular order:

The Grateful Dead--Dark Star
Love--She Comes In Colors
13th Floor Elevators---I've Got Levitation
Quicksilver Messenger Service---Maiden of the cancer moon
The Pretty Things---Bracelets of Fingers
Jefferson Airplane(Starship)--Spare Chaynge
Hawkwind--Upside Down
Country Joe and The Fish--Bass Strings
The Chambers Brothers ---Time Has Come today
Red Crayola---The Parable of Arable lands

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

10)What? What kind of question is this? No,I don't want to ask you a question while you lounge naked on a turntable.What-the -hell.

-valis: Erm.., yeah. I got nothin'....except THANK YOU WILL ! (Gods bless The Painted Ship and all who sail with her!)


Cliff said...

An aural as well as, " Retinal Circus" and I'll have you as the Ring Leader of said performances too mon ami.

Have to admit Will Hay's Painted Ship is new to me thus before continuing with the interview I set sail on a voyage through t'internet but 'frustratingly' failed to find anywhere that I could hear 'Frustration.

I admire Will's attitude though and can't fault his top 10, I love that Pretty Things tune. Must check outThe Moving Sidewalks too.

The Gods preserve us, Valis naked on a turntable eh???

Chris said...

Will had me smiling and laughing right from the get go and right through to question 10.

Lovely interview!

sr-71 said...

I was in high school when I won the Chesterfield King's first vinyl from a local college radio station. Their cover of the Painted Ship's Little White Lies and the Mourning Reign's Satisfaction Guaranteed changed my life and made a garage rock believer outta me. Another primo catch, Mr. V.

gomonkeygo said...

I think this may be my favorite definition not of psych but of all the music I've ever loved, that's hit my brain and heart perfectly. Nice job!