Browsing Tag Mike Stax

Masters – The Misunderstood

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Masters2

The Misunderstood are one of the great lost bands of the sixties. Formed in Riverside, California, in 1965, they started out as a tough R&B band modelled on Them and the Yardbirds. At the end of that year though, they began undergoing a dramatic transformation when they were joined by steel guitar player Glenn Campbell. Campbell approached his instrument in a completely new way, using a fuzz pedal and controlled feedback to coax screaming banshee sounds from his amp, or to make it sing like a celestial choir.

Future BBC legend John Peel was a DJ in nearby San Bernardino at the time and was blown away when he saw the band onstage. He encouraged them to move to England where their innovative music might find a more receptive audience. The Misunderstood arrived in London in June 1966 and proceeded to starve until Fontana Records signed them and prepared to launch them as “The New Sound of ’67” placing them firmly on the forefront of the merging new psychedelia. The stunning “I Can Take You to the Sun” single was released in December, but the group was shattered that same month when lead singer Rick Brown was snatched away by the US military draft.

However, although the original Misunderstood were short-lived, the tracks they recorded in London in 1966, including “Children of the Sun” and “I Unseen,” are now regarded as some of the greatest of the era.

Glenn went on to play with the Dirty Blues Band, and a later incarnation of the Misunderstood in 1969 before forming Juicy Lucy and storming the UK charts with their searing version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love”. In more recent years, Campbell has collaborated with San Diego-based freakbeat merchants the Loons, playing on two tracks on their Red Dissolving Rays of Light album, and teaming up with them to recreate the fiery psychedelic sound of the ’66 Misunderstood. Glenn and the Loons are excited to be bringing the Misunderstood’s music to London for the 2015 Le Beat Bespoke festival.

Here he talks to Mike Stax about his ‘60s adventures with the Misunderstood.

NUTs: How did you first meet John Peel?

GC: He heard us playing at the Riverside Mall. That’s how we met, at that shopping mall. It was sort of a Battle of the Bands. He’d just done his radio spot and then he was getting ready to leave and he saw us playing. And that was what he calls his “St Paul on the road to Damascus experience” (laughs) – a bit over the top, but that was the next stop in the Misunderstood saga. That was the extra little kick in the butt we needed to get to England, because we’d already thought about doing that before we met him, and of course when we met him we started probing him to see what it was really like there and how hard it would be and he only tended to encourage us. Of course, he could also show us what to expect by playing us records of more obscure bands that weren’t getting airplay in the States yet, like the Who and things like that.

NUTs: Did he help you get your tickets to London?

GC: Yeah, in a way, because he organized some Battle of the Bands, which we couldn’t have lost if we wanted to, y’know? (laughs) We would’ve won them anyway, because we were pretty popular. Mainly he organized them so there would be money there – like the bands would get x amount of money and so on – and of course we always won ‘em. That went a long way for paying for our fares. Everybody was kind of in on it anyway; all the bands knew what was going on. But then again, nobody else would’ve had the guts to leave. They all wanted to stick around at home. You’d be surprised. People look at success and they think, Oh gee, I’d like to have that. But they don’t really want it. They don’t want to do what they’ve got to do to get it, and that’s where the Misunderstood had the edge, I think, on everyone else. They had that energy and that courage to go ahead and instead of dreaming about something they’d go ahead and try to make it happen. And that’s the other thing: they weren’t afraid to fall flat on their face. If they did, they’d just take off in some other direction, y’know?

NUTs: You arrived in England in June 1966 and struggled for a while. Then your guitar player Greg Treadway returned home and you got Tony Hill to replace him. How did you find him?

GC: At a rehearsal room. We had been rehearsing, and Tony was with another band, I believe, and he heard us and just introduced himself. He goes, “What’s your story?” – obviously he’d heard our American accents and everything – and we told him and he goes, “Well, I’d like to audition for you guys.” I can’t remember if he sat in and played something right there and then or if we held a separate audition. I think he’d just come up to London. He had a real Geordie accent. We could hardly understand him when we first met him, but we liked him. He was very intense about his music. I think he was also studying classical guitar, which helped. It was all stuff we could use. Also, he totally changed the color of the band. Greg was a good rhythm guitar player but Tony could play lead so that just opened up a lot of stuff for us; a lot of interplay between me and him. There was quite a broad range of styles he could do.

NUTs: How many sessions were involved to do those six songs you recorded in England in 1966?

GC: I honestly can’t remember. My rough guess was that there was roughly three sessions, all told. I was pretty out of it. If you look at our photographs of those times, that glazed look we had was basically hunger. Seriously. I mean, we were so hungry you couldn’t believe it. We were just kind of in a daze. I don’t know why nobody ever fed us, but nobody did. I don’t ever remember eating a proper meal during that whole period.

NUTs: When you recorded those six songs, did they realize how unique that was?

GC: Yeah, I think so. There wasn’t anything like it and I think Fontana knew they had something, and since we were so easy to work with. Most of the companies, their biggest fear, was working with the band, and usually they wouldn’t, they’d just work with one person, usually the singer, and the rest of the band would be shuffled off and forgotten about. But you couldn’t do that with this band, because we weren’t just one person, and I think once they worked with us in the studio they thought, “We’ve got a goldmine here. These guys aren’t just gonna disappear overnight.” Because we had plenty of material, we had plenty of ideas, we were hard workers, we were sober, we were eager – we were totally different. And we seemed to catch on: people liked us. We weren’t ‘anger music’ or anything like that. Girls liked it as much as guys did. We seemed to have something to offer everybody. The head of Fontana Records, Jack Baverstock, was even knocked out by it.

NUTs: You must have been gutted when Rick was drafted and the band was ripped apart. What were your feelings when you returned to Riverside in ’67?

GC: A lot of it just got shoved down. You just sort of put it aside and got on with surviving. Actually that’s where (blues singer/harp player) Rod Piazza stepped in. He stopped me from falling down so hard because he always hired me for his bands and stuff. Really Rod sort of kept me going during that period because I was pretty depressed. I had nothing. Coming back was hard too because I think a lot of other musicians were really rooting for us, with the idea that if we could make it then maybe they had a chance too. Everyone was starving for any kind of break.

NUTs: How does it feel to be playing those Misunderstood songs again after all these years?

GC: It feels great! I’m amazed, to be honest, that people are still so obsessed with the Misunderstood, but it feels good to play all these songs again with the Loons. I thought I’d forgotten them, but once I plugged in my steel and started fooling around with them again it all came back to me. I’m really looking forward to being back in England for the first time in almost 40 years.

Many thanks to Mike Stax of the Loons.

See The Misunderstood – LIVE in LONDON – Easter 2015!

buy_tickets

drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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February 4, 2015 By : Category : Bands Front Page Fuzz Garage Interviews Music News USA Tags:, , ,
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Book & Mags Reviews – Nov 2014

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Pretend You’re In A War
– The Who And The Sixties

By Mark Blake

I must confess, there are times when I see new books about certain periods, genres or specific artists in music that make me wonder why?

Is there really any more unearthed information about The Beatles, Dylan, The Rolling Stones or Elvis for example? How much more can be said about a band or artist that hasn’t already been covered by numerous books before?

The Who are a band which fall into this category. So many books of varying quality have been written about them, is there anything left to say? Surely any avid Who fan will probably know all there is to know.

So, I began reading this latest tome by Mark Blake with a small degree of cynicism and suspicion. However, by the time I had finished the second chapter I was totally hooked.

Of course there is some familiar territory to go over, but that is unavoidable when writing about a band like The Who. Things have to be put into context.

What I particularly liked is Blake’s narrative writing style. Informative, concise, well-researched and written in such a way as to be a joy to read.

The early photos of the pre-Who days are great, but this is not a coffee table book.

Tracing the bands evolution from their humble beginnings and childhoods through to the end of the decade, this is by far one of the best books about The Who I have ever read.

Blake is much lauded for his seminal work on Pink Floyd. I think it’s fair to say this book deserves to be recognised in much the same terms.

With the festive season not too far off, this book would give a Who fan a very happy Christmas.

Published by Aurum Press
ISBN: 978-1-78131-187-5

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The Album Book

By Jacqueline McFall

It is fair to say 2014 has been a big year for books about mod. Some have been much advertised in print and social media and rightly so, but there are one or two that may have escaped your notice.

The Album is one such; a 180 page photographic book documenting the mod scene in Northern Ireland. I have often heard people like Eddie Piller and Anthony Meynell from Squire speak very highly of their experiences in the region going back to the early Eighties.

Thankfully in 1983, a seventeen year-old photographic student chose the mod scene to be her subject for one of her projects and she chose to take only black and white photographs.

30 years on, and Jacqueline McFall can still be seen at mod clubs and events snapping away and documenting the scene with her camera.

This book represents most of the photos from her original published project from 1985 entitled ‘Mod Is Mod, Not Fade Away’. The second half of the book contains shots taken more recently. It was quite fascinating to see just how many of those very young faces were still on the scene today.

Just in case you were wondering, there are recent photos of both Eddie Piller and Squire playing live in Northern Ireland.

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Quadrophenia – A Way Of Life

Inside The Making Of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film:

By Simon Wells

If nothing else, you can always guarantee that when Simon Wells takes on a project, no stone is left unturned. His particular field of expertise is film and British film from the Sixties and Seventies are his passion. Couple that with his life-long fascination with mod and you have a very capable candidate to write arguably the definitive work about a film that, over 30 years since its cinematic release, has retained the power to inspire and influence generation after generation and not just in the UK.

I’ll avoid the obvious and refrain from waffling on about the film itself. Heaven knows you should all be familiar with by now (sic). Neither will I go on about the continuity hiccups that are almost as famous (infamous?) as the film itself!

What is not in question though is Wells’ ability to wield both metaphoric microscope and shovel in his research.

Every key member of the cast and crew has input. The collection of unseen photos is quite extraordinary as are the selected script pages which highlight just how much improvisation and license both director Franc Roddam and the actors had with the storyline.

To give the film added kudos, Wells also interviews people for whom, the film and their involvement in mod has led to lifelong associations and therefore impacted on their lives.

This really is a fascinating, enjoyable and informative piece of work by Simon Wells. If you thought you knew all there was to know about Quadrophenia, read this, then you really can claim to know it all.

Published by Countdown Books
ISBN: 9 780992 830441

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Ugly Things Magazine

It’s been a while since I reviewed and edition of Ugly Things, the half-yearly publication from Mike Stax based in La Mesa, California.

The one thing that can always be guaranteed, is that every edition is packed with really good interviews and features.

Although the Fall/Winter edition is due out soon, this Spring/Summer 2014 version is a classic example. From the outset, the Pretty Things are a key feature with a thorough and interesting interview with Phil May. There follows an extract from Mr May’s forthcoming autobiography looking at the band’s experiences at the infamous Star Club in Hamburg.

For Small Faces fans, another equally absorbing interview with Ian McLagan followed by a reprint of Robert Haagsma’s interview with Steve Marriott a year before his death retains your attention with ease.

Other notable articles include Thursday’s Children, Carl Douglas and The Big Stampede, The Gears and the song-writing team of Carter and Gilbert.

With a whole host of music reviews as well, Ugly Things magazine is a mighty and very worth while publication.

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Soul Up North Fanzine

With the advent of social media, the era of the fanzine has been on the decline somewhat, so it was a welcome surprise to see ‘Soul Up North’ arrive at the NUTs office. It would be great to see some more fanzine’s!

Edited by Howard Earnshaw, this is one for the dyed-in-the-wool Northern fan.

Features include the Jessica Records Story (pt 1), The Trey J’s, an interview with Marvin Smith lead singer with the Artistics.

Martin Scragg continues his series of unveiling ‘cover-ups’ and loads of info and reviews of songs supplied by the likes of Steve Plumb, Wayne Hudson, Julie Molloy and Craig Butler to name a few.

Soul Up North fanzine is available by mail order only and at three quid per issue, it’s very good value.

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Manifesto Magazine

October 2014 Issue

Perhaps unsurprisingly, with all the hype over the film, Manifesto is loaded with Northern Soul references.

We have a great interview with writer and director of the film, Elaine Constantine and a nice feature about the film by Gareth Sweeney.

In addition, there are features on Ann Sexton and Leroy Hutson, a review of the Cleethorpes Weekender and the wonderful columns by Keith Rylett, Sean Chapman and Soul Sam (who is playing the NUTs NYE Northern Soul Celebration this year).

If you are a fan of all things soul-related (Northern or not) this is a must-have magazine. Its contributors are first-class and in Mike Ritson, it has a dedicated and highly knowledgable editor too.

Graham Lentz

AKA ‘The Baron’ - Like many of his generation, The Jam started Graham's love affair with all things mod back in 1977. He is the author of 'The Influential Factor - A History Of Mod' which was originally published in 2002. An extract from the book was re-printed in Paolo Hewitt's 'The Sharper Word - revised edition' in 2011. Being a self-confessed 'broad-church' mod, Graham's interests range from Modern Jazz to today's up-coming new bands and everything in between. Although he has a passion for mod history, he also has a passion for the new. Whether it's music, clubs, media of every kind, clothing, scooters or art and photography, Graham supports, promotes and encourages as much as he can, because that's how we keep going. 'Give it a chance' is his motto. If it's not for you, that's cool, at least you tried it.

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November 16, 2014 By : Category : Front Page Literature Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
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Mike Stax Interview

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Movers and Shakers

Mike Stax – San Diego, California – Editor of Ugly Things Magazine, Singer of the Loons

1. I know you were born in the UK, please tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to move to California?

I was born in Watford, but lived all over England, eventually winding up near Leeds. I became interested in ‘60s music as a kid, and by the time I was in my teens I was a rabid fan of bands like the Pretty Things, Yardbirds, Downliners Sect, Them, Stones et al. One night in late 1979 I heard the Crawdaddys on John Peel and was blown away that a new band from California could play ‘60s R&B with such authenticity. I’d been trying to form a band to play that kind of music but couldn’t find people. After getting all the Crawdaddys records I wrote them a fan letter c/o Bomp Records. A few weeks later I received a reply from their singer/guitarist Ron Silva asking if I’d be interested in coming to San Diego and being their bass player. I was 18 years old and had just got out of school. A couple of months later I was on a plane to the States. That was in November 1980.

2. Tell us about your current band the Loons and your future plans?

After playing bass for many years with the Crawdaddys, the Tell-Tale Hearts and the Hoods, I decided I wanted to be the singer and frontman for a change, so I formed the Loons in 1996. We released our first album in 1998, Love’s Dead Leaves, produced by Ebbot Lundborg of Soundtrack of our Lives. There were a few lineup changes after that, but for the last ten years or so it’s been me, Anja Dixson (bass), Marc Schroeder (guitar), Chris Marsteller (guitar) and Mike Kamoo (drums). Our most recent album, Red Dissolving Rays of Light, was released by Bomp in 2010. We have a new album about two-thirds completed and hope to get that released in early 2013, and maybe play in Europe again then.

3. When did Ugly Things magazine start and why?

In March of 2013 it’ll have been 30 years since the first issue. I started Ugly Things in 1983 because I wanted to spread the word about all the great ‘60s era bands that seemed to have been ignored by most of the world – bands like the Pretty Things, Q65, the Outsiders, the Seeds, the Monks and the Music Machine, to name just a few.

4. What was your favourite edition and why?

My favourite edition is always the one I’m working on, because that’s the one all my passion is wrapped up in. Plus it’s a case of always trying to make each issue better than last. But if I had to pick a personal favourite in might be Issue 13, which had a huge story on the Birds. I really enjoyed interviewing Kim Gardner, Tony Munroe and Ali McKenzie. They really opened up to me, as well as sharing many great photos and clippings from their scrapbooks. I was really proud with how the story turned out. Looking at this issue brings back some great memories for me—sad ones too as Kim is now gone. The last issue (#32) with my interview with Johnny Echols of Love is also one of my favourites.

5. It’s well documented that your favourite band is the Pretty Things, what is about the Pretty Things that make them your seminal band?

The Pretty Things embody everything that is cool and exciting about the bands and the music of the ‘60s, and rock & roll in general. There was purity to everything they did—they never seemed to be motivated by ego or a hunger for fame, they just sort of let things happen and didn’t care about the consequences. They’re still the same way, and that’s inspiring to me. There’s no compromise at all in their music, be it the early raw R&B records, the psychedelic stuff, or the more progressive records that followed. There were few other bands that could master all of those forms so definitively. There’s something about their image, their lifestyle, their attitude and their whole approach to creating music that I can identify with absolutely,

6. When did the very useful 60’s compilation database start on the Ugly Things website and why?

The Searchin’ for Shakes database was started by Menachem Turchick in the late ‘90s and has been a part of the Ugly Things website ever since. It’s an amazing resource for ‘60s fans because you can cross-reference thousands of tracks, bands, and compilations, along with info about original release dates, labels, etc.

7. There is a phenomenal amount of record reviews in each issue for example along with a big team of authors, how long does it take to complete each issue?

We publish the mag twice a year, and it takes 5-6 months to complete each issue. As soon as I send an issue to the printer, I’m already starting work on the next one.

8. I enjoyed the Misunderstood story immensely anything similar in the pipeline?

I’m pleased you enjoyed the Misunderstood story so much. It was a huge undertaking. I spent about four or five years researching that one, interviewing all the band members along with dozens of other people who were associated with them. I was living and breathing the Misunderstood every day, logging hours of long distance phone interviews to New Zealand and the UK, and even traveling to Thailand to interview Rick Brown, as well as making numerous road trips to the Riverside area to meet with other band members. I don’t have anything else in the pipeline that involves that kind of legwork, but whenever I cover a band I try to do it as definitively as possible.

9. You have met many great musicians from legendary bands through Ugly Things magazine over the years any funny tales you can share with us?

Hanging out with Kim Gardner was always a blast. He’d have me in stitches. It was a bit like being an extra in that Dudley Moore movie, Arthur. It was hard to keep up with him. Any conversation with Sky Saxon was always memorable, too. He was perpetually stoned. He’d go into these long bizarre monologues about saving the dogs so we could save the planet.

10. Any further music related projects like the Philip Debarge & Pretty Things and The Misunderstood albums to follow on the record label in the near future?

Recently I’ve been focusing on seven-inch releases. Last year we did a reissue of the Sloths’ “Makin’ Love” single including a repro of the original sleeve. Next up is the Bees’ “Voices Green and Purple,” which should be out by the end of November 2012, with any luck!

11. Other than the Pretty Things what other old masters have impressed you in recent years?

A couple of years ago Anja and I took our then four-year-old son to see Roky Erickson play an ice cream social for a bunch of 3-7 year old kids. He played about eight songs, including “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and then took questions from the kids. That was one of the most fun and surreal shows ever.

12. What new bands have really grabbed your attention?

I’m really impressed with the Strypes. They’re playing exactly the kind of music that got me excited when I was their age and wound up making me move to the States. There are a lot of other really good bands out there these days though. I love the Frowning Clouds from Australia, the Higher State, of course, and also Paul Messis. There’s a new young band from LA that are really cool, too, called the Shag Rats.

13. You will find Ugly Things in the good London record shops but these are becoming few and far between now. How many issues of the magazine do you produce a year and what is the best way to order a copy?

Ugly Things comes out twice a year. If you can’t find it at your local hip record emporium, order it online at www.ugly-things.com

Links

Facebook: Ugly Things
Facebook: The Loons

Next Events:

Ugly Things #34 out November 2012 with the Bees, the Blue Aces, the Haunted, Cyril Jordan on the British Invasion, the Others, the Viletones, Milan the Leather Boy and more.

Cool Yule with your psychotic friends. The Loons at Bar Pink, 3829 30th Street – San Diego, CA 92104 – December 22, 2012.

drrobert

I run The New Untouchables organization and events like the Brighton Mod Weekender, Le Beat Bespoké Festival (and compilation series of the same name) and I co-organize Euro Ye Ye with the Trouble & Tea crew. I have run many clubs over the last 20 years in London, where I live and current nights include Timebox, Zoo Zoo, Crossfire, 100 Club and Mousetrap allnighter which has just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011. I have been lucky to DJ all over the globe including Japan, Canada, USA and Europe and met some great people on my journey. I run RnB Records to offset my vinyl addiction: newuntouchables.com/rnbrecords for rare vintage vinyl.

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November 26, 2012 By : Category : Bands Front Page Garage Interviews Music Scene USA Tags:, , ,
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