Psychedelic Psounds: Interviews from A to Z with 60s Psychedelic and Garage Bands

By Allan Vorda | Go to book overview

For my eclectic ensemble -- Marianne Thai, Shawn Vorda and Alana Vorda.


INTRODUCTION

I started interviewing rock groups almost by accident. I possessed a love for literature and had completed work on my masters degree in English, but the other great passion in my life was music. To be more precise, the music I grew up with which is often called 60s music. Sixties music to me, however, roughly covered the years from 1963-75 with the exception of a few bands who continued beyond this time frame. Of particular interest was a sub-genre of rock which was often referred to as psychedelic and garage rock. It was a genre which wasn't taken very seriously and didn't receive as much attention as it deserved. As years have gone by, however, the importance and popularity of "garage-psych" music has increased dramatically.

Undoubtedly, what probably inspired me to start conducting music interviews was an intense curiosity in the bands and their music. There were so many questions I had about the musicians themselves, the meaning of their lyrics, the liner notes on the albums, the use of drugs, explanations for their success and demise, and what happened to the individual band members.

I still remember the first two interviews. The first was conducted via phone with Roky Erickson of the legendary 13th Floor Elevators in 1981. I can't remember how I got his unlisted number, but I called and Roky agreed to answer my questions. I had no speaker phone and so I scribbled everything by hand. Roky was very pleasant to talk with although his answers seemed "off the wall" for the most part. We went on to do several more interviews over the next dozen years, but I'll never forget the excitement I experienced just talking to someone with whom I was so fascinated. I didn't know it at the time, but I was about to become a "literary groupie."

The second interview was also noteworthy. It was conducted in person with Eric Burdon in 1982 and I was far from being professional in my methods. I had heard the Eric Burdon Band was going to play at a local club so I went to the front door and said I was a writer for a local underground newspaper. I showed the manager my tape recorder as if this was sufficient proof. I had no I.D. or proof, but I was let in and escorted backstage. I saw Eric reviewing the material he was to play that evening with his bandmates. The club's manager then introduced to me Eric who told me to come back after the show when he would have more time. I said I had to leave before the concert was over and asked if we could do a short interview before he went onstage. I was shocked when Eric agreed. We went into a nondescript room with an old yellow couch and sat down. I was so nervous being with one of my musical heroes that I forgot how to turn on my cassette recorder. I kept hitting the "record" button, but I didn't realize on this particular machine that I had to hit both "play" and "record" at the same time. It was somewhat embarrassing, but I learned a valuable lesson.

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