Welcome to Neotomic Aliviac

•March 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hello, and welcome to the blog companion to the Neotomic Aliviac fanzine . Here you will find interviews with; Uriah Heep, ? and the Mysterians, Eric Burdon, Procol Harum, Gandalf, Electric Prunes, and many, many more. What does Neotomic Aliviac mean you might ask? Anything you want it to be.

(and comment)

If you have any questions email us at stripeyproductions@yahoo.com!!


Stevie Winwood Interview

•March 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

After a short layoff to take care of schoolwork and the huge amount of artist correspondence I’ve been getting, I am excited to return with my first Neotomic Aliviac interview of the new year featuring none other then singer-songwriter Steve Winwood. I know, wicked right? Because I am such a big fan of all of Steve’s musical incarcerations, I was really happy when he agreed to be put under the Neotomic microscope. Starting at age 15 with the Spencer Davis Group, Mr. Winwood has contribute some of the rock’s most eclectic and memorable performances with both his solo albums and iconic bands as diverse as Traffic and Blind Faith. He is currently preparing for a 14-city tour with Blind Faith pal Eric Clapton this summer and Neotomic Aliviac is so honored to be able to bring you this interview and would like to offer up tons of thank yous to Steve and his management for taking time from their busy schedules to accommodate one boy’s dream. And thanks to our Neotomic Aliviac fans who have been so encouraging in our mission to promote these awesome artists by continuing to support these great rock pioneers. Peace,  Cody

Neotomic Aliviac: You were very young when you started in music and your father seemed to be a big influence early on. Were you classically trained or did it just come naturally? 

Steve Winwood: It came naturally at first. I was also classically trained but forced to leave music college at age 15 because contemporary music wasn’t acceptable in those days at music college.

N.A. Still in your teens, you performed with some major American blues artists when they toured England. How did this effect your own writing and playing and were you at all nervous being on the same stage with legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at such a young age?  

S.W. No I wasn’t nervous and it was a great learning experience for me.
N.A. I’m a Man, which you co-wrote and recorded with The Spencer Davis Group has become a staple for Garage Band Musicians through the generations, and Gimme Some Lovin‘ is equally if not more recognizable. Do you still enjoy performing these classics as much as when you wrote them?


S.W. Yes but I enjoy performing different arrangements of them.
N.A. Can you tell us a little about the “Voodoo Chile” session at The Record Plant studios with Jimi? 

S.W. Jimi broke his strings on the first take and restrung his own guitar and this take is also available on bootleg. Take 3 was the one that was used.

N.A. It seems like Traffic was the perfect fit for your music. What is your favorite Traffic album and how well did the various members get along? 

S.W. It is like asking me to pick a favorite child which I’m unable to do however John Barleycorn is close to my heart as that was the essential core trio of the band.

N.A. “Can’t Find My Way Home“, another Winwood composition, is probably the most memorable song of your short-lived super group Blind Faith, and another classic. Is it true that you originally thought that Eric (Clapton) should sing it and any plans for an extended reunion, sans Ric Grech, after the success of the recent Winwood/Clapton shows? 

S.W. No, Eric Clapton was never asked to sing this and there are no plans at the moment for an extended reunion. 
N.A. Your solo albums of the 80’s and 90’s brought your music to a whole new audience and won you some hardware at the Grammies. Was this period in your career as fulfilling to you as a musician compared to your earlier and more recent work? 

S.W. Yes, although it had a very 80’s production style, it was fulfilling at the time. 


N.A. What importance do you place on the fact that you started out as a musician first as opposed to a frontman? 

S.W. It gives discipline and the art accompaniment is very important.

N.A. It seems your audiences have been treated to more and more guitar licks from Steve Win shows. Are you in fact playing more guitar in your shows and are there any instruments that you tried and just don’t feel comfortable playing? 

S.W. Yes I’m playing a bit more guitar although still enjoying the hammond and kicking the b. I don’t really play wind instruments.

N.A. Would a Steve Winwood  be able to make the same impact in music if you were born in 1988 given the state of today’s music scene? 

S.W. There is no way of knowing but perhaps it is easier to launch oneself in music now with the internet.
Quick One Word Answers:
1. CDs or MP3s? MP3s
2. Coffee or tea? Tea
3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? I’m a UK citizen don’t vote in the USA
4. Acoustic or electric Neil Young? Like both
5. Favorite curse word?

The Neil Young Campaign

•November 6, 2008 • Leave a Comment
Welcome to The Neil Young Campaign. “What is it” you ask? Well, taking a page from the Obama people, I’m starting a grassroots movement to try to get one of my all-time favorites, Neil Young to do an interview for Neotomic Aliviac. The only way we can do it is if we get your help. There are a couple of ways for you to participate.
1. Most importantly, send an email to Neil’s publicist at bobmerlis@bobmerlis.com, and ask him to give Neotomic a chance to do an online interview with Neil. If you do this please put our email address stripeyproductions@yahoo.com, into your letter and a link to our website.
2. Reply to me by commenting on this post, and we will send your comments along.
Thanks for any help you give.

Leon Russell Interview

•June 1, 2008 • 1 Comment

Leon Russell is a Genius! ‘Nuff said. I first saw Leon when my dad played me his “Concert For Bangladesh” DVD, and I have listened to almost everything that he has released since then. It is a considerable body of work considering that he has been writing, recording, performing or producing music continually for the last fifty years. Originally known mostly as a session musician, Russell has played with artists as varied as Jerry Lee Lewis, Phil Spector, Joe Cocker, George Harrison, BB King, Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, The Band,The Rolling Stones and countless others.
He penned hits for Cocker, Rita Coolidge and the Carpenters, and released his own first solo effort with the album “Leon Russell” in 1970, which contained the popular “A Song for You”. Today he continues to inspire a legion of faithful fans and maintains a grueling tour schedule. I am so grateful that he and his management were kind enough to grant this rare interview. – Cody (Neotomic Aliviac)

Neotomic Aliviac: You started playing the piano at age 3. Do you remember at what age you realized that you wanted to pursue music as more than just a hobby?

Leon Russell: I had a job sacking groceries at the Safeway store when I was about 15. After one day, I decided that I would rather lay by the road and die than work that hard. I then set out to find a job that wasn’t so strenuous. It turned out to be playing piano and singing.

N.A. You wear so many different musical hats, producer, songwriter, arranger, studio musician, solo artist. Do you have a preference?

L.R. I always thought I went out on the road to raise money so I could work in the studio. I guess that’s an answer of sorts.

N.A. Are you more comfortable in the studio or on stage?

L.R. I’m very comfortable in the studio, mainly because I’m at home and always working in a Lane recliner.

N.A. Can you describe your songwriting process?

L.R. It’s a mystery to me.

N.A. Do you sit down purposefully to write or do you have to be inspired?

L.R. I used to sit in my studio literally for months at a time, waiting for inspiration. Consequently, I was guilty of writing one or two songs a year. I finally learned how to write without inspiration, and can write whenever I need to. It only took me about twenty years to figure that out.

N.A. You have performed with Jerry Lee Lewis, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, BB King, The Rolling Stones, and countless others. Do you have a favorite session or show?

L.R. I once was on a session with Sam Cooke that Don Costa was producing. It was very exciting for me.

N.A. In the early 70s you performed at the Concert for Bangladesh. What was that experience like, and do you think the concert achieved the goal of making people aware of the poverty there?

L.R. I think it ultimately raised about twenty million dollars. I’m not sure about the awareness.

N.A. Your music reflects so many different genres. Do you have a favorite?

L.R. I’m a blues hound by nature.

N.A. After more then 50 years, a whole new generation of appreciative fans are joining the LeonLifers at your shows. What do you attribute your continued success to?

L.R. I think I’m just lucky.

N.A. You’ve been quoted as saying that “Angel in Disguise” is your best album in the last 25 years. It has a great rock and roll groove much like “Carney.” Can you tell us a little about the making of “Angel?”

L.R. A friend of mine, Mike Lawler, called me and said that if I would bring him piano tracks with a vocal, that he would do all the rest of the instrumentation and the mixing and mastering. I couldn’t pass that up. I spent about 6 hours on that record and my friend spent 6 months. It was a very interesting experience.

N.A. After a short break in the 90’s, you went on to release a number of CDs in the last few years, including “Angel”. Is there a reason for this recent creative surge?

L.R. It has to do with figuring out how to write without inspiration.

N.A. Are there any artists that you would love to work with that you haven’t so far?

L.R. There are so many, it’s difficult to pick specific ones.

N.A. Who would you say was your greatest influence as a musician?

L.R. As a child, I was impressed by Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Harpo Marx.

N.A. How did you get your nickname “The Master of Space and Time?”

L.R. I once wrote a song that contained a reference to the space and time. My partner at that time, Denny Cordell, coined the nickname.


T.J. Tindall Interview

•April 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

One of the main reasons I started the Neotomic Aliviac Blog, was because of my interest and love of a short-lived sixties/ early seventies band called Edison Electric, and in particular their guitarist TJ Tindall. TJ joined the band during the recording of it’s only album, “Bless You Dr. Woodward” after original guitarist (Michael Ziegler) broke his arm in a motorcycle accident. The band dissolved shortly after the albums release but many of the members went on to diverse and interesting careers in music. Keyboardist Mark “Froggy” Jordan played on Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey; bassist Dan (Freebo) Friedberg played with Bonnie Raitt and currently enjoys a very successful solo career. (Neotomic has already secured an interview with Freebo). Guitarist T.J. Tindall toured with the Chambers Brothers and became a session man for top Philly producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and has played on a succession of hits for both M.S.F.B. and SalSoul Orchestra. TJ is respected by all who have worked with him and we at Neotomic Aliviac would like to thank him for his time and a great interview. Thanks; NA

“TJ Tindall, great guitarist, funky, listens, tasty, cool and a smart man. I saw him a few months ago and as always he has his life like his art, in time, enjoyable, clean, light, and together.” – Lon Van Eaton

“TJ’s main thing is finding the pocket or groove – when the rhythm section locks into something special that makes you wanna dance. He has phenomenal feel.” – Eddie Ciletti

Neotomic Aliviac: You started performing at a very early age and many recognized your talent as early as grade school. At what age did you pick up the guitar, and who were your early influences?

T.J. Tindall: My Grandmother bought me a snare drum when I was 5. then I switched to guitar at about 7 or 8. I was very impressed by Little Richard…I didn’t know you could actually behave like that.

N.A. Your first band was with some pals from Trenton, NJ. It seems a number of really good bands came out of that region of NJ with a distinctive funky-rock sound. How much did the fact that Trenton is between NYC and Philly have to do with your style of play and songwriting?

T.J. We were exposed to all types of music but some of us just gravitated towards R&B. For me, it’s the most fun to play…

N.A. You joined Edison Electric as they were recording their only LP “Bless You Dr. Woodward” which was released in 1970. How did you become involved with the band and what do you attribute the band’s demise to?

T.J. I was brought in because their regular guitar player (Michael Ziegler) had a motorcycle accident and couldn’t finish the record. They were living at a very exclusive farm in Hopewell for the summer and needed someone fast. I was introduced through a mutual friend and we hit it off. (the band sounded great-I couldn’t believe how lucky I was) There was no demise- we just all went our separate ways- Freebo went with Bonnie (Raitt) -Frog went with Van Morrison and I decided to stay in Philly and pursue R&B with Gamble and Huff.
N.A. Edison Electric had a huge local following and was performing nationally with many major acts, yet the music media seemed to ignore and even snub the band. Do you believe it was a regional bias or were there other factors involved?

There was no bias- we were a popular local Philadelphia act and we got great support from the local media and Electric Factory Concerts and Larry Magid and even WMMR.

N.A. After EE split you hooked up with Gamble and Huff. Your first session was with The Chamber’s Brothers. This started what would become a decade of continuous hits. How did a white hippie kid from the suburbs of NJ get involved with MFSB and become such a big part of what is now known as the Philadelphia soul sound?

T.J. You’re right-1st session was some tracks for a Chambers Brothers album that I think never came out- A single called : “The Hair on my Chinny-Chin-Chin” did get released on Columbia but that was it. The 1st real release I had with Gamble and Huff was “Drownin’ in the Sea of Love” by Joe Simon followed by “Backstabbers” by the O’Jays. After that, it was one after another. There was a period of about 5 years that we had at least 1 record (many times several) in the top ten every week. Just like with the EE days, we played together and it felt great. They used to tease me and call me Duane Allman because of my rock and roll background and my long hair but we all got along great. I think they liked what I added to the sound so they kept me around.
N.A. Gamble and Huff were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You must be very proud of your contributions. Do you still do any work with either of them?

T.J. Pretty cool, huh? Certainly I’m proud. As far as working together, we haven’t lately but you never know what the future may hold. I do see them socially occasionally. Those were amazing years… John Jackson wrote a book about those years called “House on Fire- The rise and fall of Philadelphia soul” and Sony put out a CD box set with most of the trax so fortunately, that time is well documented.

N.A. How did you become involved with Salsoul Orchestra?

T.J. Disco sort of grew out of the Philly sound. When we would cut a lot of the trax, we would just keep playing the song beyond the 3 minutes we knew would be the radio version-just sort of jamming for our own amusement and Joe Tarsia the engineer at Sigma would just leave the tape running- sometimes we would go n for 6 or 7 minutes longer and actually these jams really rocked. Then some of the stations started playing the longer versions on the radio. This was the beginning of the dance record which eventually led to disco- It was totally by accident- All of us in the rythmn section started getting hired by other producers who wanted to emulate the sound and one of them was Salsoul Orchestra. After that, it just exploded and everybody was making dance records. At that point, I decided to move to NY and start a rock band. (totally different than the Philly thing- It was a new wave pop band called “Hurricane Jones” on MSI records. It was really fun and a welcome change.)

N.A. In 1973 you played on The Van Eaton’s record “Brother” recorded at Apple studios. Did you get a chance to meet any of the Beatles during those sessions?

T.J. We worked with George, Ringo and Klaus Voorman. Lon Eaton lives in Denver now and is witting and developing a very cool stage production called The Dance of Life.

N.A. You also played with Duke Williams of Duke Williams and the Extremes, who you are still friends with, as-well-as many others from your early Trenton days. What makes those bonds so strong after so many years?

T.J. In fact, we had dinner together last night- Duke and I have a very strong bond because of how we came up together. We both got into music together at a very early age and because he was my best friend when we were growing up we naturally got into music together- we would always go to the Trenton State Fair and see the “Coppertone Review” -which was an black dancing girl type of review. We were too young to get into the show, but the guys in the band and some of the girls would do a sort of preview out on the midway before the show and Duke and I would get right up front to watch the band play- These guys were funky- shark skin suites, processed hair,old dented saxes- I remember one guys guitar had the neck held on with tape wrapped around it. Amazing but boy could they play! Then we would always see “The Cavaliers” a black drum and bugle corp., in the Trenton parades. You could hear them coming down the street from 3 or 4 blocks away. All the normal marchers were doing this boring “um-pa” Phillip Souza stuff and all of a sudden off in the distance,you would start to hear off in the distance this funky cool sound of rythmn and little by little they would get closer and closer and eventually go right by you playing and dancing- I remember they were dressed in these pirate-looking outfits all in purple and black- They were very cool. Plus we would come home after school and watch Bandstand ( see if you can find any info on The Cavaliers or The Coppertone Review- very funky both ). And just a couple of blocks away, Lon and Derrik Van Eaton were having their own thing- then a block away in the other direction, we had Marty Meulhiesen who ended up with Jim Croche so there was a lot of talent in our neighborhood.

N.A. You recorded a song called “I Move Easy” which was slated for a solo project. The song had many TJ Tindall fans salivating and wanting more. Why was that project never released and are there any more gems like that lying around?

T.J. Actually, I wrote “I Move Easy” for Willie Chambers (of The Chambers Brothers) and he is the one doing the lead vocals on the demo version you can hear the rough mix at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chambers_Brothers) Doing background vocals on it is Earl Scooter with Willie and myself. Also, the rythnm section features Earl Young and Ronnie Baker and Larry Washington (MFSB, The Trammps and countless others) and Cotton Kent who played on many of the Philly hits and was also one of the founders of Elizabeth another Philly bands from the time of Edison Electric. Also Duke played Hammond organ – It was a great session. I was never interested in a solo career and yes, there are lots of great unpublished TJ Tunes just dyin to get out!

N.A. College stations around the country are currently playing Edison Electric tracks in their rotations. Why do you think the album has resonated with a whole new generation and are there any plans for an Edison Electric reunion?

T.J. There are no plans at the moment but we did have a reunion in Hollywood about 10 years ago and the band still sounded great. It was a good combination of players and definitely on the intellectual side. All the guys except me were students at U of P so it was pretty “heady” stuff but still funky. You say it’s getting played- I think thats great- where’s my check?

N.A. Having played with artists as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer, The Ojay’s and so many others, any sessions that really stand out?

T.J. Too many to mention- I remember most of them like they were yesterday. Being accepted by so many different types of artists is truly a compliment. Very gratifying… the cool part is being able to communicate with so many different types of people- Shortly before he died a few years ago, I had the pleasure of jamming with Boozo Chavis of Saint Charles Louizianna, the undisputed king of Zydeco music (big hit called “Paper In My Shoe” from the 50’s) With his heavy Cajun accent, neither one of us could understand a single word the other one was saying but when we got on that stage and played together, we understood each other perfectly.

N.A. Name three artists, living or dead, that TJ Tindall would love to jam with.


Little Richard, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Tito Puente

Quick One Word Answers:
1. Cds or MP3s? – I love my iphone
2. Coffee or Tea? – coffee
3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? – Obama Lama Bamma Loo (Little Richard)
4. Acoustic Neil Young or Electric Neil Young? – neither
5. Favorite curse word? – FUCK!!

Recently T.J. sent us this video of him performing with the Chambers Brothers (he’s in the back playing the guitar):

One more example of his work. He did the guitar work in this famous song:

Tom Wilkes Interview

•April 7, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I wanted one of my first interviews to be artist Tom Wilkes, because he has worked with so many great rock artists in the past. If you own an album by Neil Young, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones, and many others, chances are you have some of Tom Wilkes art in your collection. In addition this Grammy award winning artist runs his own enviromental/human rights center called Project Interspeak. I want to personally thank Tom Wilkes for granting me this interview, and I’m sure you will find it as entertaining as I did. – Cody Conard

Neotomic Aliviac: What was your first job as an artist, and what age did you realize your talent?

Tom Wilkes: My first job as an artist was a mural. A classmate of mine had turned 16 and bought a used ‘50 Ford. He wanted me to paint something freaky on the dashboard. All my friends had seen me drawing weird cartoons in class and being sent to the Principal’s Office. They liked my sense of humor even though the teachers didn’t find it very funny. The mural idea I came up with, was a drunk parrot holding a can of beer and farting. The gang loved it. The concepts were quickly expanded into reptiles, rude cheerleaders and outer space, reptilian weirdness. In other words, a lot of fun in the warm Californian sun, for money. The car art expanded into flame jobs, scalloping and Candy Apple exteriors. The income put me through college and art school.

N.A. You have done the album covers for many artists including George Harrison, Neil Young,The Rolling Stones and many more. To you, what was your favorite moment making these covers?

T.W. My favorite moments in designing covers were hanging with the artists, listening to the music and creating unique images that related to the title or musical style of the album. Then I’d decide how to illustrate the concept, with photos, graphics or both.

N.A. You did the cover for the now infamous, unreleased album “Homegrown” by Neil Young. When he had you do the cover for him, did you ever get to hear the album, and if so what did it sound like? In keeping with the above question, did you prefer hearing the album before doing the artwork, and how much input would an artist have on their album covers?

T.W. Neil Young was my friend and neighbor in Topanga Canyon, California. He always liked to play me his new material when we worked together and sometimes just to let me listen to something new that he was proud of. Most of the artists have an idea about how the cover relates to the music. They enjoy playing the material for you as much as you enjoy listening to it. The creative energy seems to open up when that happens. I enjoy sharing their graphic ideas as well. Some work and some don’t. As I recall, I really liked the music on Homegrown and I think the cover is perfect for it.

N.A. For “Homegrown,” what was your thinking behind it and was it your first idea?

T.W. As for the Homegrown package, I have hung out with Neil in Topanga, at his Ranch in Northern California, in the Clubs and at the Record Companies. I knew Neil very well. His tastes were the down home, honest and absolutely unaffected by his fame and success. I think the Homegrown cover reflects the real and funky essence of his unpretentious personality. What you see is what you get. In my humble opinion, I think that cover design is totally Neil Young.

N.A. In 1967 you were the art director for Monterey Pop. How were you chosen, and did you in fact go to Monterey Pop, and if so what was your experience there?

T.W. I was chosen by my friend David Wheeler and the original producer, Alan Pariser. At the time, I had an advertising agency and had done a couple of album covers for the Mamas And Papas, the Rolling Stones and a mixed bag of pop artists. They were interviewing people to art direct the worlds first, International Pop Music Festival in Monterey, California. I filled the bill when I came up with the logo design featuring the classic Pan wearing a psychedelic necktie and playing the pipes. It was a great gig. We got to fly back and forth to the Fair Grounds and the offices in Hollywood, hang with rock stars, groupies, music business hustlers, dope dealers and the press. Here’s the hype on the official press release. In other words folks, read it and weep!

The Monterey Pop Festival was the pivotal event of 1967’s Summer of Love and one of contemporary rock’s defining moments. This peaceful revolution was expressed through the universal language of music, poetry, the graphic arts and new lifestyles. The lyrics of popular songs reflected the feelings of the movement. Monterey was a gathering of the tribes to celebrate the dawn of a new age and bring about positive change in existing ideals and institutions. Can you dig it?

N.A. You did the album package of the Concert for Bangla Desh. Where did the pictures come from, and was it difficult making the cover?

T.W. The Concert for Bangla Desh was a project produced by George Harrison. He was very close to the Maharishi and created the benefit to aid the people of that country. At that time, I had a studio in the Hollywood hills with my partner, Barry Feinstein. George came by and asked us to donate the artwork and photographs for the event. We contacted UPI and were flooded with pictures of the horrible destruction raging in that part of the world. The package had a lot of integrity including a 12”x12” book featuring shots of the many famous artists who participated. It’s quite a piece of art.

N.A. In 1972 you did the amazing artwork for the orchestral version of Tommy. What did the experience of winning a grammy for it feel like?

T.W. “Holy Moley!” Seriously man, that Tommy package was a piece of fine art. I’m very proud of that one and also, it was great to have had a 12 inch format to work with, although the package still holds its own in the DVD size. The attention to detail with the embossing, separate book and even the custom labels is legendary. Woah!

N.A. Besides making memorable album covers, have you ever done any TV or radio?

T.W. I’ve done it all in my work as Designer, Illustrator, Art Director and Producer. This includes print, film and video, as well as, live action presentations and events.

N.A. Is it true that you are very involved with environmental causes, and if so, has that changed your approach to your art?

T.W. Yes, I have an Environmental/Human Rights organization called Project Interspeak that was created in ‘78 and over the years has produced books, posters, advertising, merchandise, productions and events. Project Interspeak has expanded my approach to my work and my life in general.

N.A. Having done so much work already, what are you working on now, or planning for the future?

T.W. I own the original of a classic piece of art that was created by the Beatles for an ad in the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival program book. I intend to sell it to help fund the agenda of Project Interspeak, my upcoming book and film called “Tommy Geeked a Chicken” and a line of products and restaurants. Global warming is also an issue that must be dealt with in the near future, if we are to survive as a species. There’s so much to do and so little time!

Quick One Word Answers:
1. CDs or Mp3s – CD’s
2. Coffee or Tea – Coffee
3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton – Barack Obama
4. Acoustic Neil Young or electric Neil Young – Both


The Electric Prunes

•March 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment
The Electric Prunes are an example of classic Psychedelica. We grabbed an interview with founders Mark Tulin, AND James Lowe. Find the interview below:

Neotomic Aliviac: You went through a few band names in the beginning such as The Sanctions and Jim and the Lords. It was David Hassinger,resident engineer at RCA studios, who threatened to lock you in a closet until you came up with a new name.. How long were you in the closet? How did you come up with the Electric Prunes, and do you remember any of the rejects?

Mark Tulin: So history can rest comfortably, the true fact is that we locked ourselves in a garage until we came up with a list of names. We made a long list of names consisting of virtually anything we could think of. If we heard an interesting word we’d write it down. Sorry, don’t remember what they were but if you think of something and it sounds kind of odd or stupid, it was probably on the list. Your name may have been on the freakin’ list. The truth is no band name sounds that cool until it’s a real band. That said, Electric Prunes name came from a type of absurdest humor popular for a minute or two back then that was centered around fruit. The joke was what’s purple and goes buzz buzz – an Electric Prune. Another version of the same joke gave a San Francisco band it’s name, what is purple and swims in the ocean – Moby Grape.

N.A. Your hit song “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night,” opens with an unforgettable backwards, fuzztone introduction from guitarist Ken Williams. Was that planned or a happy accident?

James Lowe: The opening sound came from a rehearsal recording session at Leon Russel’s home studio one Sunday afternoon. We were recording on 4 track tape and to save money we used to flip the tape over at the end of the reel and use it going the other way. The engineer didn’t hit record for about a minute when the tape was flipped and when it was played back the sound of Ken Williams testing his fuzz tone and tremolo settings came into the studio at earsplitting level. That is the sound you hear at the beginning of the song. We cut this piece of tape off and took it into the actual recording session a few weeks later not knowing exactly what we would use it for. So it was a happy accident turned into an intro.

N.A. In 1967 you released the album “Underground”. It had more of a darker sound then the first album. Was that the direction you wanted to go towards, and were you satisfied with the finished work?

M.T. Underground was most definitely a purposeful departure from our first album. It was truer to our inner core and marked a decided evolutionary step in the band. I think it gives an idea as to where we would have gone had we stuck around to go there. But those darker undertones you hear were always there, they were just masked by some of the fluff pieces on our first album. In fact, some of the songs on “Underground” were recorded along with tracks appearing on the first album, they were just outside the image our producer/label thought we needed to project. (An example is “Hideaway”, one of the first tracks we actually recorded for the 1st album). While all in all I am very satisfied with the result, as with any recording, there are some things I would do over and some things, due to outside restrictions and pressures, we were not “allowed” to do. Of the two. I truly regret what we didn’t get to do – we just didn’t think it would be our last chance for some thirty odd years.

N.A. After your album Underground you released an album titled Mass in F Minor, which was a very innovative album, because of mixing Gregorian music and psychedelic pop. What was your motivation for that type of sound, and do you feel it was a natural progression for your music?

J.L. The Mass in F minor was a side step for us. We did it at the suggestion of our manager who handled a composer named David Axelrod. David had written the Mass and was looking for someone to perform it. We were sort of an odd band so we thought it would be a challenge. The audience thought we had converted to some kind of religion or something so it confused the few fans we did have. Should we have done it? I think it is good to try different things, in hindsight it may not have been our best career move.

N.A. For a short time Kenny Loggins joined your band. How did he come to be in the group, and how did he fit in ?

M.T. James had just quit the band. With him went Mike Gannon, our oh so excellent rhythm guitar player, and our drummer Joe Dooley. Ken Williams and I were introduced to a very talented piano player/song writer – Jeremy Stuart. Jeremy brought Kenny into the fold. So fitting in wasn’t really a big deal as, for all intents and purposes. it was a new group. Kenny Loggins was, from the moment I met him, an obvious star. The difference between that Kenny and the one the world came to know was that he was much more of a wild rock and roller.

N.A. In 1968 the original Electric Prunes broke up. When did you notice the band begin to dissolve, and do think there was anything that could of saved the band?

J.L. My idea for the band was that we would be in the recording studio all the time and not go on the road. You can’t do this when you have a hit record. You have to go out and support it by playing live. When you are touring around living out of a suitcase a lot and don’t get much time off you can lose your perspective pretty easily. We were not being paid properly in a lot of cases and this creates pressure as well. The natural thing is to vent this pressure on each other since you are together every day. We went through a time of not speaking to each other for 3 weeks on the road. This silence prompted the end of my interest in the band and maybe it could have been reversed if someone had tried to straighten out the problems. As it was, I left the band in the middle of a tour at the Houston airport with them heading for La Vegas and I went to LA.

N.A. In 1969 your record company took the Electric Prunes name and gave it to a completely different group, who recorded one album. Were you involved in the recordings at all, and did you even want to be a part of it?

M.T. No one from the original band played any part in any of those recordings nor, as far as I know, did anyone have any desire to do so. As far as I was concerned my prune days were over – little did I know.

N.A. After almost 30 years the original line up got back together, and recorded the 2002 album Artifact. What was it like to get back in the studio as a group after all those years, and did you feel it was overdue?

J.L. In 1999 Mark and I had remixed the original material for a compilation at the behest of David Katznelson from Warner Bros. We had not heard the old recordings since we had played together. It sounded pretty good and we decided it would be fun to play some music together again. I had a small guesthouse we converted into a little recording studio on my property, so why not? Mark and I started recording some songs together and were joined by Ken Williams and Quint. The album just sort of “appeared” after a number of these weekend sessions. The thing you find out is that people don’t change much, even after all that time. If a guy won’t tune up in ’67, he probably won’t tune up in 2002. Making a record is fun; but a lot of hard work too.
One of the real motivations for us was that we had read in some articles on the Internet that we did not actually play our instruments in ’67 and that we were a “manufactured” group. We felt we had to do our own album just to scotch these silly rumors. Artifact is still one of my favorite albums. We did not make too many copies so it is a hard one to find today.

N.A. Your latest work was in 2006, an album called “Feedback”. It seems like on that album you returned to your original Electric Prunes sound. Do you feel the same way, and if so did it come naturally?

M.T. Without attempting to create the past (we prefer to create a future) “Feedback” did end up not falling far from the original sonic Prune tree. For better or worse, it seems to be that no matter who or what we set out to sound like we end up sounding like us.

N.A. What are currently working on, or is there anything planned for the future?

J.L. We have been concentrating on live shows lately but will probably do one more album. Since reforming we have recorded Artifact, California and Feedback.This represents a good number of songs and some insights for people that are interested into the band. One more won’t hurt, I think.

N.A. Can you explain a little bit about your songwriting process, and how do you come up with new ideas?

M.T. James and I are the sole songwriters in the band. And while his overall process may be somewhat different, I think that with some slight curves and bends it is similar to mine. As the creative process is virtually impossible to explain, please stick with me, as I give it a shot anyway. It’s going to be long in the hopes that if I write enough you won’t discover I’m really not saying anything. So, hold on, here it comes –More often than not, I start with the music and most of the time it is kicked off by hearing something, a bit of dialog, a chord change or a part of a melody (in my head, at a club, on the radio or on a CD…); something that makes me pick up the guitar or sit down at the piano. Some ideas spring from personal life events and some just rise up if you’re paying attention to what is swirling, as George Harrison wrote, “in and around you.” I also get some decent ideas from mis-hearing what people say. People can be really clever when filtered through your own humor screen. Anyway, after I have something that sounds vaguely interesting I start by singing whatever the music brings into my mind; making sense is not required. Sometimes, in this way, I come up with something that serves as a key for the song. The again, sometimes it doesn’t. In either case, I have to come up with what the song is about in order to write the lyrics. I need to be writing about something– a concept, a thought, a relationship, a hope – anything that provides the fodder for a full lyric. I’m not real big on totally abstract lyrics or writing to see where it ends up. Works for some, not me. When I have it organized enough so that I don’t have to explain what is going on, I show it to James. He then processes and offers up his suggestions/changes. It is then a matter of massaging and kneading to form the final entity.
Quick One Word Answers
1. CDs or MP3s? – MP3’s
2. Coffee or Tea? – coffeeeeee
3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? – Obama
4. Acoustic Neil Young or Electric Neil Young? – ‘Lectric, of course
5. Favorite curse word? – Greek word: skata

1. CDs or MP3s? – CDs (actually vinyl)

2. Coffee or Tea? – Coffee

3. Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? – Obama

4. Acoustic Neil Young or Electric Neil Young? – Electric!

5. Favorite curse word? – Karl Rove

FOR MORE INFO GO TO: http://www.electricprunes.net/