Friday, July 23, 2010

10 Questions

Hail Voyagers! Hoping the posts over the last four weeks has helped sate your appetite for all things psychedelic. Back today with another installment of "10 Questions", and we've a fantastic participant. No doubt about it.

A founder member of one of my all-time favorite psychedelic bands- The Tadpoles, and lately seen as guitarist extraordinaire for Psychic TV (3), our guest has taken the plunge and released a solo album late last year. We're better for it, too.

From Basel, Switzerland, it's David Max!

Said solo LP, Simple Psychedelic Pleasures, is out on Mind Expansion Records. (As apt a label as I've ever seen for recordings of this nature.) The album just garnered the following review from the estimable Terrascope UK's Ian Fraser (Thanks Ian!):

" You never know quite what you’re going to get from solo projects emanating from the Psychic TV/PTV3 collective. Most often it’s bizarre or a bit scary, or sometimes difficult to fathom. Not so this time. Now based in Basel in Switzerland, New Yorker and ex-Tadpole (and surviving veteran of Terrastock 1) David Max, who has a new band called the Sons of the Void, has produced a psychedelic nugget that shows a considerable lightness of touch that places it well and truly in the sunshine. Drawing on a range influences, “Simple Psychedelic Pleasures” references UK psychedelia as much as it’s more garage or hippified US counterpart. “Everyone Is An Alien”, which kicks things off, is a pretty much the acme of catchy, melodic sunshine psych, and this is followed by the equally impressive “Was Will Be”, which Anton Newcombe could do well to note, as Max has trumped his Jonestown Joker. The dreamy “Here to Be Here” borrows from the introduction to Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” but is very much its own delightfully amporphous entity thereafter. And then cometh the first of three covers – Syd Barrett’s “Dark Globe” - underlining Max’s musical Anglophilia. It’s a laconic, narcotic take and is a fair enough stab. However you feel it is simply a vehicle for getting our man in Barrett-mode for the song Syd should have written and arguably the album highlight, “Three Moons in the Sky”, which is utterly, utterly beautiful. You sense Max might even go one better with “The Cosmic Dance”, which features a spot-on guitar hook and intelligent arrangement but somehow falls just short of achieving maximum potential (I’m getting picky now though). More catchy psychedelic guitar and harmonies ensures that the “The Deep End” maintains the insanely high quality of what’s on offer before the second of three covers, a loping version of Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song”. It’s not as good as the Max originals here and as such adds nothing to the album, but in no way is it a Christmas turkey either. Hereon in, “The Deep End” possesses a harder and more urgent edge, bordering on the hoedown in places, thanks maybe to Max’s sometimes employer Genesis P Orridge’s violin. The delicate “The History Man” ushers in the last cover, a surprisingly deft take on Peter Tosh’s reggae classic “’Till Your Well Runs Dry”. Penultimate track “They Will Land” is, quite simply, a modern-day psychedelic classic that any number of original 60s artists would have readily traded their supply of Owsley’s finest to have written, before the plodding “Daughter Cry” brings matters to a slightly anti-climactic ending. No matter, this is this month’s contender for “best thing I’ve heard all year”. “Simple Psychedelic Pleasures”, the title speaks for itself. "

Touchstones abound, in these ears, and this album certainly rewards repeated listens.(Mr. Atavist also writes a fine review.)

Let us begin:

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

Music designed to help expose consciousness.

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

drums. The original note was probably simply a percussive hit, the original primal repetition. A repetetive beat releases some ancient mojo in the brain. The primordial collective ecstatic release is still triggered that way, or some shit like that.

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?

Butthole Surfers - Hairway to Steven

4. What was the first song you remember listening to in an 'altered' state?

Bike - The Pink Floyd (at least that one is the one that made the impression)

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

Walking in the Sand - The Shangri Las

6. Through the miracle of fiction you can go back in time & watch any band in the studio; what band creating what album are you going back to watch?

Psychocandy - The Jesus and Mary Chain

7. Are there current bands within the genre you're paying attention to?

MGMT, Pink Mountaintops, Flaming Lips

8. Roky or Syd?

Oh fuck, must I? Syd has my heart. Roky was/is a huge inspiration for me, just as big an inspiration as Syd, but for different reasons. Syd's experimental playing and whimsical song writing invented genres, i.e. space rock, psych folk. Roky's voice, passion and songs invented genres, i.e. garage psych, punk, perhaps even goth. Both are equally important in my equation. But Syd has my heart.

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?

Blue Jay Way - Beatles
Sister Ray - V.U.
Johnny Smoke - Butthole Surfers
You Made Me Realize - My Bloody Valentine
Scream Thy Last Scream - Pink Floyd
Higher Than The Sun - Primal Scream
Strawberry Fields Forever - Beatles
Ecstacy Symphony - Spacemen 3
The End - The Doors
Roller Coaster - 13th Floor Elevators

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

David: If, atomically speaking, at the smallest level of magnification possible, a particle cannot be seen because it becomes a wave, and a wave cannot be seen because it becomes a particle, is it even possible to find a uniform theory of the universe? And if so, will music play a role in the equation?

-valis: Instanter I'm put in mind of the Schrodinger's Cat paradox, as well as infinite regressive loops. (Rather hard to get out of, too.) I'm of the camp which thinks we don't have enough information, at this point, to codfy a "uniform theory." Just as Schrodinger's paradox offers us a way out of this "Universal Duality" hegemony, (yes/no, on/off,right/wrong, etc.), so too does your own query. The universe does contain a maybe, and that's where we have to get comfortable. As uncomfortable as that may seemingly be. As to your second question: perhaps the Perceiver is wearing Sennheisers and listening to some Simple Psychedelic Pleasures...

THANK YOU DAVID, and sincere best wishes.


chris said...

Great fun as always Valis!

sr-71 said...

i woulda picked locust abortion technician over hairway to steven, but it's still nice to see some love for the surfers!

Terri said...

I love Tadpoles music, was just listening to them yesterday thanks to Nath, my Tadpole Music Supplier, ha. Question 10, instant classic, love it and its answer ;-)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic read, and some new 'things' to check out!!! Nice one, as always, Valis.

Nath said...

What a great interview! My good friend Terri knows I'm a huge Tadpoles fan so I was pretty excited when she told me to check out Valis's new entry and read what Dave was up to. Love the interview and I'm so thrilled to know he's got a solo album.

sr-71 said...

SR-71s operate at the extreme edge of the Earth's atmosphere, and their crews need to wear space suits to have a chance of surviving in the event of an emergency.

plasticstatic said...

Thanks for this; David is such an amazing guitarist. Some people are all about the songs, and some are all about the sound; David nails both.

Cliff said...

Just catching up on submissions made round these parts whilst I was on vacation. Great interview and a fine collection of tunes chosen by David.

Q10 was a blinder as was the response to it. Nice to see a few more deserved comments to the interview.

Todd said...

Great interview with David....Love the blog!

David is on a creative roll and makes a distinctly Tadpoles-ish appearance on 3 tracks of my new solo album, "Greetings From The Star Chamber"...just coming out this month.

You can hear it streaming in its entirety at:

And readers of this blog can email me at and I have a bunch of free download codes for you to obtain the album for free from that I'll email you back.

Like seeing the Tadpoles comments!

Todd Parker/Tadpoles

Ray said...

Great interview! However, you mention the album came out late last year - was it released on a different label initially because the Mind Expansion Records release was 2 Feb this year.