Today I am introducing you to one of The Fringe Factory’s favorite modern psychedelic bands: New Electric Ride. If you don’t know them you should! These Brits have a stunning debut LP called “Balloon Age” that came out this past year on Brooklyn’s Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records. The album, which they described as “Sickly-sweet and scarring-jarring psychedelic pop” immediately won me over with it’s excellent songwriting, melodies and vocal harmonies. From the opening tune “Here Comes the Bloom”; it is obvious that these guys are channeling 60s-era Byrds, The Pretty Things and Beatles psychedelia in a way that is also very current. Every song is golden.
I recently had the opportunity to interview band members Jack and Paul for 50thirdand3rd.com about their influences, the new record, songwriting, recording and their views on psychedelic music and the modern psychedelic scene in general.
So, I do hope you enjoy getting to know The New Electric Ride! And buy their album Balloon Age while you still can grab the vinyl, you won’t be disappointed!
The Fringe Factory
STREAM BALLOON AGE:
Jack, Adam, Paul & Craig
Where are you originally from?
3 from Sunderland and 1 from Liverpool (Paul).
Who plays what? (instruments, vocals etc)
PAUL: We all do a bit of everything really; but specifically, I have been playing organ/electric piano, acoustic/electric/12 string/bass guitars, zither, recorder, various percussion items and vocals/backing vocals on our recordings up to now. All of us are keen to experiment with new instruments and sounds, we use whatever is to hand really.
JACK: Yeah, we all play loads and loads of stuff on the LP, but live it’s Jack (me!) on guitar, organ and vocals, Adam on bass and vocals, Paul on organ, guitar and vocals and Craig on drums and vocals. On the record I also play all the strings, woodwind, sitar, flutes and piano. We’ve got a lot of stuff on there!
What were the first instruments you ever played?
PAUL: The first instrument I ever played was a 1980s Casiotone keyboard, the tiny one that was also a calculator. It had an amazing built in synth function, you could get some really wacky sounds. I also had access to my older brother’s electric guitar and wah-wah pedal, so I learned Hendrix riffing before I could even play chords!
JACK: The first real instrument I played was the clarinet at school. It’s been 20 years since I touched one but I’d actually really like one back, now! Only just to play along to ‘Honey Pie’ or pretend I’m Sidney Bechet for a bit! I can’t speak for the other lads, but I had a firm grounding in the tedious art of recorder before I bothered with loud, electric instruments.
So you knew we were going to be a Band when…
We realised how much we didn’t like waking up before noon.
Before starting the band we were employed as…
Music teachers, school teachers, students, unemployed, and a host of other ‘morning based’ jobs.
Were any of you in other bands before meeting to form New Electric Ride?
JACK: Me, Adam and Craig were in a 60’s/70’s covers band playing the pubs/clubs and weddings of northern England for a few years! Started out good because we chose all of our favourite songs to play, but after playing them 100000 times, we can’t bear to hear them anymore, which is a real shame! We actually met Paul at a wedding gig we played and he was a guest there! Strange how these things happen.
PAUL: My first band was called Claude Sword, back in Liverpool with my brother. We were a heavy late 60s style power trio, I was on bass. Then I was in a band called Whiskey Headshot, which was also a psychedelic outfit based in Liverpool.
So how do you get along? Any pet peeves/funny stories about each other? Habits, embarrassing tidbits etc?
JACK: Paul is an alcoholic. Just joking. Sort of. I’d say we get along pretty well. We all have the same intentions for the band and all share the same musical interests, so there’s rarely friction when it comes to the writing, recording or performing. No juicy gossip for you, I’m afraid! I can make some stuff up if you’d like? Adam is a huge Mike Love fan, Craig is Greek and Paul is an alcoholic.
PAUL: I think we generally get along very well as a band and remain pretty good pals! Rehearsing, recording and gigging is always a joy for me.
Who are some that have an influence on your sound today?
The Pretty Things, Jethro Tull, Dungen, Moby Grape, Cream, Captain Beefheart, Bobbie Gentry, Love, Tame Impala, Rain, Mountain, The Beatles, King Crimson, Small Faces, Peter Wyngarde, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Frank Zappa.
What kind of music did you listen to while growing up, before you were into what you are into now? Was there a pivotal moment in music or artist/album that opened your ears and mind to what you listen to and play today?
PAUL: I was exposed to Pink Floyd, Hendrix, Beatles, Love, The Byrds, Rolling Stones and all of the rest at a very early age, so ‘psychedelic’ music is the only sort that I have ever really been keen on. The first LP that I ever bought was The Doors debut album, aged 7. This continues to be one of my all-time favourites. There was never any coming back after that!
JACK: I owe a lot of thanks to my parents for my musical tastes. My first gig was the 70’s hard rock group Mountain which I went to with my dad. I had my heart set on playing guitar after that. After that, Mountain, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Cream and The Beatles (of course) were all very important to me as far as learning how to play guitar was concerned. I got into Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart when I was around 14 and from then on I was hooked on anything a little more experimental and adventurous.
What are some of the 1st songs you remember listening to that made you say, that’s what I want to do?
Mississippi Queen- Mountain, Inna-Gadda-da-Vida – Iron Butterfly, Starman – Bowie, Frankenstein – Edgar Winter, 21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson, Electricity -Captain Beefheart.
I definitely detected the Captain Beefheart influence when I first listened (of course one of his songs you named the band after). I also detected some of the later “proto-prog & prog” influences (like Jethro Tull, King Crimson) right away! I sometimes hear a late 60s Canterbury scene influence but it all still seems deeply rooted in a traditional British psychedelic sound; like what you can hear on The Pretty Things “SF Sorrow”, Tomorrow’s “White Bicycle” and The Blossom Toes “We Are Ever So Clean; which are some of my all time favorite psychedelic records. In addition, there is also the “toy-town” whimsy of some pop-sike bands I love like Simon Dupree, Orange Bicycle….and even the Electric Prunes. It seems like there is a “sticking-to-tradition” which isn’t as apparent in many of today’s “psychedelic” or rather “neo-psychedelic” bands; yet you do have a fresh, very modern sound…
JACK: Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) is my all time musical hero, so I’m pleased some of it comes over in our music! Yeah, Jethro Tull are a big band for us. Nobody really like Ian Anderson in terms of the sheer volume of amazing music he has written over the years. His lyrics are sensational – a real genius. Nice of you to say S.F. Sorrow – we got to support The Pretty Things last year and they were the loveliest bunch of fellas. Was a real honour to get to play before them.
PAUL: That sort of ‘Toy-town’ feel is one of my personal favourites. I love early Pink Floyd, Tomorrow, Soft Machine and others of this ilk, so personally speaking, that is the style of music that I tend to write – as it is more or less all I listen to! I can’t think of too many current bands doing this sort of thing, unfortunately. Most of the modern psych bands I’m aware of are just noise-merchants to my ears, bereft of quality song-craft.
Can you comment on what the word psychedelic and the term “psychedelic music” means to you and what your thoughts are on the new psychedelic scene and the re-branding of the word psychedelic to fit a wide variety of music… that may not necessarily be thought of as traditional psychedelic music in the 60s sense? For example, I do love a lot of modern “psych” bands but to me many are more like indie-shoegaze bands that using the term psychedelic because it’s the hip thing now…
PAUL: ‘Psychedelic’, music, for me, is something that is interesting, funny and slightly disquieting – either musically, lyrically or hopefully both. I like music that has a lot of strangeness (but not for the sake of it). Good psychedelic music should ‘blow your mind out’ in my opinion, with or without the aid of ‘stimulants’. Whilst I do enjoy some of the ‘Acid Rock’ freak-outs from the late 60s and a bit of Krautrock, I tend to favour bands that can incorporate elements of psychedelia into a well-crafted song. Psychedelic pop is my ‘thing’.
JACK: I agree with you – far too many bands are using the word ‘psychedelic’ as a trendy tag because it’s currently the ‘in’ thing. Lots of noise/shoegaze bands are out there representing this new wave of psychedelia, but I’m not really interested in that – I’m much more interested in writing songs than just jamming. Besides, psych hasn’t been away, there has ALWAYS been great psych bands, the only difference now is that for the first time since the 60’s it’s being aimed at a much younger audience and is actually making people money! I think modern psychedelic music has a tendency to be quite dark, intense and void of any humour.Far too many bands are taking themselves too seriously and are afraid to be funny/cheeky/rude. Bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and The Small Faces were all funny guys and it carried over to their music. I don’t see it so much these days, it’s all about pouting and looking annoyed. I’d like to see people lighten up a bit and not be afraid to be tongue-in-cheek every now and again.
What tunes are you currently jamming to…
Currently enjoying Worthless, Kikagaku Moyo, Jeffertitti’s Nile, GOAT, GOASTT, Peter Wyngarde, late Beefheart, early Zappa, plenty of Nilsson and the odd Chris Farlowe classic.
What is the music scene currently like in London and Europe and do you find it supportive? It seems like there are so many festivals with psychedelic and garage bands and DJs there now! Are there many garage/psychedelic clubs/nights to play or hang out at these days (of interest to Fringe Factory obviously!) Is it a small scene or growing?
PAUL: There are a few ‘scenes’ scattered about, but London is a big place. I’m friends with members of various bands and we do help each other as much as possible. It can be quite clique-y here as you can imagine. There are various club nights with 60s/psych things going on, the best by a long way being ‘Mousetrap’ (and the various other nights ran by the same team).
About the new album “Balloon Age”. How do you develop your songs? Does one person do most of the writing and instrumentation or do you all collective work on songs together?
PAUL: Up to now, we have all written our own songs individually. I would be happy to work with any of the others if there was time and we had a chance, but that hasn’t really happened as yet. We tend to present our completed demos and go from there. They are usually open to interpretation though, so people get to stamp their own identity on the songs. There are no autocrats in our band thankfully!
JACK: What Paul said. Infact, everyone sings lead on their own songs with the exemption of one (Adam sings lead on ‘In Chains’ which I wrote). It works well for us. Keeps 4 different styles of songwriting in the band, too. Nice and interesting!
What do you mainly like to write lyrics about? Who writes most of the lyrics?
JACK: We all write our own lyrics and to be honest, they can be about anything. We try not to take ourselves too seriously with lyrics. The LP has songs about love (naturally), lust, French perverts and submarines. I think we cover a fair amount of ground with our lyric writing.
PAUL: My lyrics tend to be quite silly more often than not. I can’t stand overly sincere pompous lyrics (unless done in jest). One of the main themes that I seem to keep revisiting is ‘personal freedom’ – do whatever you want to do and have fun, ‘life is too short’ – that kind of stuff. I mostly write ridiculous things to amuse myself. Most of my song ideas are written as I walk the streets.
The first song you wrote was…
We don’t write together, only individually. The first track that we worked on as a 4 piece was ‘Mr. Bumblebee’. Still enjoy playing it.
Our beautiful fuzzy, buzzy friends who are having a bloody hard time at the moment! Save the bees!
Who recorded and engineered Balloon Age and where was it recorded? Was the whole recording and engineering process fun? Was it difficult to get the sound you wanted? What kind of equipment was used?
PAUL: All of our recordings so far have been overseen by Adam from the band, who is something of a studio whiz, with lots of patience and a real talent for it, I think. We have recorded in various locations, such as a cottage in the English countryside and in rooms above various pubs. The process is always fun for me, I enjoy hearing it all come together. The LP was mastered by Fran Ashcroft, who did a great job.
JACK: The recording equipment is digital, no analogue recoding studios for us just yet, unfortunately! Gear wise, the majority of our stuff is 60’s and 70’s (mainly because it’s cheaper than buying new stuff!). We have some beautiful guitars, amps, keyboards so it’s not too difficult to get some good and interesting sounds from them. We try to be a bit adventurous with things like blending organ sounds with pianos, using leslie speakers with things you wouldn’t normally use them with, unusual microphone placement, etc, and we to be quite ambitious as far as instrumentation and arrangements are concerned. The vinyl has actually sold out over in the UK, but there are still some in the US. It’s getting repressed as we speak on 2-colour vinyl! We can’t wait to get our hands on em’.
What is it like working with Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records? They are based out of Brooklyn and seem to put out a lot of great music. How was it working with a label in the States and how did you get involved with each other?
PAUL: We haven’t yet met them in person – but they are a terrific bunch! They took a chance with us because they liked our music, so I respect them very much for that. They have a lot of good things going on generally and I think they are really going places. I am glad to be associated with them.
JACK:Totally agree. A wonderful bunch of people who just want to make excellent quality pressing of excellent quality music. They pour their heart and soul into putting our music that you wouldn’t just come across without digging really deep for it. Like Paul said, they took a real chance on us and I’ll always be thankful to them for it. Not many lads from the north of England get to have their songs on vinyl in record stores in New York City. Still blows my mind, haha. AS far as how we got involved with them, I don’t remember exactly how, I think it was through a blog called The Active Listener (they put one of our tracks on a samples they put out), or they may have been a target on one of the million emails I sent out to promote ourselves! Anyway, I got chatting to Mike (Newman – owner) on Twitter and it went from there!
What’s next for the band? Any new material doing out? Have any of you been to the States and are there any plans any plans to come out this way? Any tours coming up?
PAUL: We are currently planning a short tour of Europe, we are also keen to tour the US next year, but there will be a lot of planning to do first…I haven’t personally been to the USA, but would love to come both as a tourist and to play! As for new material, each band member is no doubt working on new ideas and songs/demos. I have a new ones in development which I am keen to record and play live too.
Lots of new material waiting to be finalised! Planning on putting out a single soon and maybe another EP. Unsure yet as we have rather a lot of new material and we’re trying to think of the best way to put it out. We’ve had a very famous English actor record a version of one of our songs and we’re hoping to get that out on 7″ soon. As far as the US is concerned – we’d love to. It’s just a question of funds!
Well we certainly hope that if you come to the States you all pay a visit to us at The Fringe Factory! Any words of encouragement,statements or philosophies in general any of you would like to leave our listeners and readers with?
PAUL: Disregard TV and gadgetry as much as possible. Become a scraggly old tramp. Have an open mind and live for today. That’s my philosophy!
JACK: Yeah, scrap the TV and go outside and do things! Don’t trust the reptilians, either. They’ve all got it in for us.
And the one thing to remember while we’re listening to you?…
Be kind to strangers and remember to walk the dog.