Thursday, April 4, 2013

Interview: Radio Lucifer

[We live in a great big city, but our "culture" tends to get lumped into a fairly small part of it — the downtown bubble. But we can't all live downtown — and in fact, given prevailing trends, in a few years, if you don't work for a bank, you might not be able to afford to live there. Creative sparks depend on close proximity to really ignite, but they also need affordable places to live and explore. I sat down for a virtual roundtable with the members of the new Radio Lucifer, whose members just happen to be marking the trail of what might be an emerging decentralizing trend. The guys in Lorde Awesome live in the east end and have been slowly gathering together lovers of psych, drone and all kinds of other-worldly sounds, building up their own little DIY scene at The Only Café. Jakob Rehlinger, based on the west side, always has several projects on the go which see distribution on his Arachnidiscs label. A crosstown meeting of the minds has led to their new joint effort.]

Mechanical Forest Sound: In brief, how did Lorde Awesome come to be?

Avery Strok: Rich and I met in grade 2. The exact moment is a bit foggy in mind. Jump to the late 90’s and I began making my own version of Zoviet France-inspired music, using a microphone, a Casio Soundbank 100 and Cubase VST. Then in July 2008, Rich found a very lovely, 1978 Roland SH-2 on a lawn in The Beaches, while out shopping for tea. He got home, plugged it in and called me up. I went over the next day and we played Spacemen 3 songs with Rich on guitar. The rest is history.

MFS: What led to the start of your residence at The Only Cafe?

AS: I had just moved into the neighbourhood, but had frequented the bar for years before that. The Only had recently expanded into a second unit, which became the coffee shop. Word spread to my ears that they were looking for bands to play. Well, we were hardly a band in the traditional sense, but I knew that we could be musical enough to not get kicked off the stage. The Only is also known for its alternative-to-everything atmosphere, where most everything goes. So we tested that theory and played a couple times in about four months. Then our drummer at the time, Rich Baker, suggested that we start an ambient night and play with different local bands. Rich and I thought it was a great idea, but we wanted something more than just ambient. We wanted noise, jazz, and all corners of the experimental music spectrum. That’s how In-Between Sounds began.

MFS: Going about things in your own manner has let things build up in an organic way — and led to some interesting excursions, like an opening slot for Hans-Joachim Roedelius. How did that one come about?

AS: Ryan Clark (The Dead Are Those Who Have Died) was the guy who put on the Roedelius show. He spotted us playing at the Electric Eclectics 6 festival (after having never heard us) and really liked what we did. About two months later, Ryan gave me a call and asked if L.A. would open for Roedelius. Of course I had to check with Rich and told Ryan I’d have to call him back. Haha!

MFS: Jakob, Arachnidiscs has been busily building up an interesting catalog. How did that get started?

Jakob Rehlinger: The same way as with most indie labels, I suppose. I needed a label to put out my own music. Then tried to legitimize it by releasing music by some friends. Then I moved here and had no friends. So I had the obvious thought, "What would happen if I asked strangers if I could put their music out?" and then I did and and they let me and we usually become friends. Turns out you can’t really get past the putting out music by your friends phase.

MFS: One of the first things that struck me when I was looking at the Arachnidiscs releases was that defiant "Etobicoke" in the address. Was that a sort of deliberate choice, a little wink that your music is standing outside of the established byways?

JR: I actually just thought I had to put that in the mailing address to get my mail. I’m from the west coast originally, see? And when I moved to Etobicoke, I didn’t realize, as far as the post office is concerned, it’s part of Toronto. But I also didn’t realize how snobbish people get about that kind of thing. Ghettobicoke. So, yeah, now it’s badge of honour.

MFS: Rich, does being based in the east end, outside the usual boundaries of the "music scene", inform what you guys do?

Lorde Richard: The east end’s still a pretty underdeveloped place music-wise, a lot of bars with cover bands and karaoke... But there’s a lot of old school east Toronto people out this way... it’s like "screw you!" - "NO! SCREW YOU!!" then a big hug and let’s have a drink. That’s what we try to bring to the show.

JR: Unlike Ghettobicoke where it’s like "Screw you!" then smoke meth, hit you on the head with a half-brick in a sock and take your wallet. I mean, everywhere that is not Placebo Space, which is like an oasis of civility and culture.

MFS: I happened to be on the scene when Moonwood headed out to play at The Only. What started as a collaborative set there now has a name, a recording, and looks like it’ll be happening again. What clicked there? Good chemistry?

JR: Good beer. The Only has an awesome selection on tap.

AS: True, the good beer helped Radio Lucifer. I once went to a place called the Devil’s Marbles, in Australia. I took at least 2 rolls of pictures. I was happy to find that a good 70% of them turned out great when developed. There are certain subjects that you just can’t take a bad picture of. Playing with Moonwood is pretty well like that. We’re like-minded enough, that things just click naturally.

JR: I think we have the same 80’s/early-90’s art-rock and proper (pre-NIN) industrial reference points. Nurse With Wound, Skullflower, Neubauten, (early) Tangerine Dream, what have you.

MFS: Where is Radio Lucifer heading? Is there the possibility of a physical release? More shows?

JR: Would the obvious answer be "Hell"? Or space. Space-hell. I think the plan is to go to space-hell.

LR: Top of the Pops, possibly.

JR: We’re willing to fill in for Morrissey at all those shows he cancelled.

AS: Radio Lucifer is a blink of an eye in the history of Lorde Awesome and Moonwood. We’re here now, by pure coincidence. We’re a supergroup of sorts, a rare, but great collaboration with a name.

A physical release, that’s easy. Our first 30 Minute EP is online, and will certainly exist in a physical form in short order. I also see a proper full length in our future, given the okay from Moonwood.

We’re looking to play more collaborative shows, maybe some festivals this summer. That would do Lucifer well.

MFS: How did the name Radio Lucifer come to pass?

AS: David Tibet came up with it. I’m not good with names (creating or remembering them), so I asked and he helped me out with a few suggestions. Radio Lucifer made me laugh.

JR: Of all the names Avery suggested to me, this was the only one I could live with. I rather like it now, actually. Just Hawkwind-y enough.

AS: When hearing the name, a friend of the Lorde figured the Radio Lucifer station would play a lot of Roky Erickson. Hawkwind, Roky, it’s all there.

MFS: This is where you should mention what you have coming up for your projects.

JR: Moonwood is recording an album. Perhaps something in between the krautrock stuff we do and the cosmic-folk thing we do. Can’t tell. Things are in continual flux. I’m also working on a solo punk-blues album for some reason. Not sure how that will see the light of day. And I’m about to release an EP of noise-guitar improvisations as my other project BABEL.

AS: BABEL’s great! Lorde Awesome is continually playing at the Only Cafe on the first Thursday of every month. We’re starting our third year at In-Between Sounds, actually this Thursday [April 4], with Black Walls as our guest.

We’ve recorded everything since our inception. Every jam, every show. There’s a backlog of tripped-out music to be released by us... and more "music videos" to come. I don’t know how many we’ve got now, must be close to 25. And they’re good, not just filler.

There’s a documentary coming out later this year, called "Nuclear Hope". It’ll feature some of my older solo works from a decade ago, along with some newer pieces recorded for the film. My music is the obvious soundtrack to nuclear waste. I’ll also continue to DJ at the Only Cafe, spinning records every Wednesday night.

MFS: And Moonwood, I should note, will be helping to re-launch the Crosswires series at Handlebar on April 14th, plus celebrating the release of their Trans Martian Express" tape (alongside Ben Boles and MFS faves Ostrich Tuning) at Smiling Buddha on April 26. Thanks for your time, gents.

[only a weird buzzing noise, like the background drone of the cosmos, can be heard.]

Photos by jamesoshaughnessy.

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