Scott Seward's "Filthy 50" list from our September 2007 issue remains one of my favorite reads in these pages, or any magazine for that matter. While the initial excitement of digging up some of those lost treasures may have passed, I still listen to some of them (Groundhogs, Captain Beyond and High Tide to name a few) on a somewhat regular basis. Fortunately, not only has my fascination with these "albums that had one supreme goal: to blow your little mind" been rekindled, but I've found a seemingly endless supply to discover. And it all happened by accident. In doing some "research" for last month's post on John Peel's record collection, I stumbled across The Day After the Sabbath after Google was kind enough to point out that the site had given a shout out to Aardvark. And given that the site specializes in "proto-metal and heavy prog/psych obscurities of the 60s and 70s," the nod makes perfect sense. But its proprietor, a good bloke by the name of Rich, doesn't just put together lists. He actually tracks down the tunes and pieces together hand-picked compilations, many themed, for everyone's listening enjoyment (he's up to Volume 70 at the moment).
I'm only at the beginning of making my way through each of them (yes, I have completist issues), but Volume 1, which includes Bloodrock's "Melvin Laid An Egg", is as good of a place to start as any if you're at all into this stuff. Fortunately, Rich—fresh off a weekend trip to Hellfest in France where he saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and Uriah Heep for the first time—was kind enough to answer some questions via email for us. In fact, his answers were so detailed that we've decided to present the interview in two parts, the second of which will include a mini-playlist of songs hand-picked by the man himself.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you're from, where you live, the first record you remember getting, your favorite band and anything else you think we should know). I live in North London, UK, which is where I come from originally. I also lived in New Zealand for a few years, which was a really special time. It’s an amazing, beautiful country and I made friends with a lot of bands and started a website to help promote their small but enthusiastic stoner rock scene. I can see myself ending up on that side of the world again one day!
I am not a musician, and other than being an avid music fan and completist, I wasn’t actively involved in music until my time in NZ. While there, I saw an obvious need for the kind of bands I like to be promoted and celebrated more, so I contacted bands and went to as many local gigs as I could, and produced a compilation of contemporary NZ stoner rock and associated styles, which I funded and put out on CD in 2008 by myself. It was a labour of love and a great way to be involved with a scene in a way that the bands appreciated, and was useful to them.
It’s impossible to choose an all-time "favourite" band, but a definitive one that rounds up almost all of what I dig would be Soundgarden, as they have a great mix of styles from classic rock, punk and doom, to metal. My knowledge and interests have expanded massively since then of course, but they were definitely a "gateway" when I was getting into heavier stuff in my teens.
The first record I ever expressed an interest in was Ray Parker Jr.'s title track to Ghostbusters! I liked it so much when the movie came out that my mum took me to a store to buy the 45 single when I was about seven years old. I still remember the instrumental b-side scaring the shit of me haha!
2. How did the idea come about for your blog and compilations? Did you ever think you'd be up to 70 of them? Will you ever hit the bottom of the well in terms of material? If I could pinpoint some kind of inspiration, it could be Metallica’s cover of “Breadfan”, originally recorded by Welsh rockers Budgie. I loved the track and I was fascinated by the idea that there could be excellent, heavy bands from the '60s and '70s that were just as metal as the classic ones we all remember, but were completely unknown, or maybe only well known and influential up to a certain point in their time. They have since fallen by the wayside and do not get mentioned much anymore. Budgie is probably one of the "obscure" bands that are likely to be known to many of your readers, but after delving into them, a whole world of forgotten proto-metal and proto-doom bands opened up to me and it went on from there.
That was about 12 years ago, and I have been searching and compiling tracks for personal consumption ever since. I’d been avidly preaching the finds to friends, making them CDs, tapes, etc., for a quite a while, so I guess my blog or something similar was inevitable. Oddly enough, the trigger was back in 2009 when I was laid up at home for a week after a dog bite of all things from some crazy dog that went for me in a local park while I was jogging, and got me on the back of my right leg. It wasn’t bad, but I was off work for a week while I was keeping weight off it, and suffering a bit of cabin fever at home so I thought of something to distract myself.
When I started the blog, I only knew enough bands of sufficient quality to fill about four CD compilations, and at the time that’s all I thought there was. I was wrong. I got such a good response from the first few and a lot of correspondence from people more knowledgeable than myself, so it’s grown exponentially from there. Now I am aware of so many more sources and I’m finding more all the time so I think there is a lot of life left in what I am doing, and slowly but surely more material is being dug up by rock archaeologists so I never know else what will come up, it’s exciting...
Stay tuned for Part 2, including Rich's picks, next week. In the meantime, be sure to check out The Day After The Sabbath and, while you're at it, enjoy my personal favorite from all of the volumes I've digested so far...