Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Interview: The Luck Of Eden Hall's Gregory Curvey
A couple of years ago I had the honour of interviewing Gregory Curvey from The Luck Of Eden Hall on the eve of a successfully crowdfunded UK tour. I'm pleased to say, following another crowdfund campaign, he's back and playing some dates here in Blighty and I caught up with him to talk psychedelia, crowdfunding, working with Sendelica and the upcoming Psychedelic Battles Vol 4 LP on Vincebus Eruptum (which, judging by TLoEH's track, 'Make Way For The Mighty Machines', is gonna be a stormer!)
The tour dates are:
July 29 @ Kozfest in Devon
Aug 4 @ The King Arthur in Glastonbury
Aug 6 @ The 15th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival in Cardigan
Aug 10 @ Half Moon in London
Obviously goes without saying, if you can catch any of the dates do so!
Hi Gregory, welcome back, how's life been treating you since we last spoke?
"Hi Andy. Life is good, with it’s usual ups and downs, and I thoroughly enjoy rollercoasters. It’s great to talk to you again."
It will be good to see you back over here in Blighty, do you enjoy playing over here?
"Absolutely! As a matter of fact, my wife was offered a job in Limerick, Ireland, a couple years ago and I really wanted her to take it because I’d move to Europe in a second, but she chose something else."
I've always thought TLoEH have quite an 'English' sound to them - is this a reflection of your musical influences?
"Yes, I suppose so. My first singles were my Aunt’s old Stones and Beatles 45s, and I had a real crush on ELO when I was in Junior High, plus the early Psychedelic Furs, XTC, The Church and U2 stuff blew me away, but I was also a huge KISS fan. Cheap Trick, The Raspberries and early Chicago. Motown as well as Alice Cooper. I also absolutely loved Todd Rundgren’s Utopia album with Icon and Freak Parade. This list could go on for days, but progressive pop and psychedelia have always been my favorite. Then again, one of my first bands was a pseudo Rock-a-billy band. Schizophrenia, or well rounded? You can choose."
You're playing with the lovely Cary Grace, a fellow American, whilst you are over. Have you worked with Cary before?
"Yes. Cary and Andy Budge from the Cary Grace Band backed me up last year at the 14th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival, along with Andy Thompson (Titan, Litmus) on his Mellotron. I’d met Cary the previous year at the festival in Cardigan and we stayed in contact. Bringing the entire TLoEH band to Europe for tours is my ideal and still a goal I’d like to achieve again, but unfortunately the expenses make it pretty difficult and presently it’s unsustainable, so I asked Cary and both Andys if they’d be up for joining me again and everyone happily agreed. This time Cary’s entire band, along with Andy Thompson, will be backing me up for a couple gigs, and I’m really looking forward to playing with them again."
and Kozfest......do you like playing festivals or prefer smaller, more intimate settings?"
"It’s all good. I just like to play. It’s a bonus when the venue is on top of everything, like promotion and gear, but that’s all part of the game, right? As long as the sound on stage is good. It’s rather difficult to play when you can’t hear everything you need to. It’s like painting in the dark."
Do you find there is a difference between UK and US audiences?
"Well the Europeans seem to be much more interested in what TLoEH is creating and I’m honestly not sure why. Perhaps it’s our moniker. The Mellotron. Hummable tunes. Your guess is as good as mine. I think the majority of jaded Americans prefer looks to quality, and I’m no looker, plus the market here is completely over saturated with crap. I guess it’s really a matter of finding the right audience to play for. When we opened for the Psychedelic Furs in Chicago, their fans sincerely loved us. When we opened for Jefferson Starship, not so much. Then again the sound at the Furs show was phenomenal and the Starship show was rife with technical problems."
You raised the funds to come over here via 'Go Fund Me'. More and more artists are using crowd funding and it has enabled them to record, tour etc. My question is - is this a reflection on the poor revenue streams for bands at the moment?...there seems to be constant quotes from artists who record, tour, record but have very little to show for it.
"Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The guarantees are too small to cover lodging, let alone car rental, gas, food and the ungodly cost of airfare. Merch sales are hit and miss, though usually good, but they don’t come close to covering the balance, so the only way to get out and gig in far away places is by asking folks to help pitch in, which I usually do by setting up a campaign to sell TLoEH merchandise, albums, and original artwork to raise money. I honestly don’t ask people to give me gifts, but I have a lot of really generous and loving friends who refuse to accept something in return, and their support has been paramount in keeping TLoEH dream alive. I really do work hard at this; writing, performing, recording, producing, manufacturing, promoting, and managing. It’s an obsession. But art is so easy to come by via our computers, printers and 3D printers these days, and our attention span is all of 30 seconds as well, so it’s just about impossible for a one man show to make it happen. I need help. I would love to get involved with a good manager or agent, to go along with the part time publicist that I hire. Currently I’m working with four different record labels; Headspin Records (Holland), Fruits de Mer Records (UK), Mega Dodo Records (UK), Vincebus Eruptum Records (Italy). All of which are fantastic and I’m sincerely proud to be associated with them. (You’ll note they’re all European labels.) When these labels release one of my albums I get a small amount of the records to sell, which is my payment. The bulk of my fans are in Europe and shipping from the U.S. has more than doubled in the past five years. It costs me $25 to send one LP to England, and that doesn’t include the packaging. It’s all pretty fruitless, really, but we can pretend. Digital media is both savior and destroyer."
You are recording with Sendelica again this summer - can you tell us about this project?
"I really don’t know much about the project other than the demo tracks Pete has sent me, but they’re great, and I just hope I can keep up with their new drummer!"
You've recorded with them before [on the ace 'Zappa' single and also on the 'Lilacs Out Of The Deadlands' album] - how did you get hooked up with the guys?
"Pete Bingham is one of my heroes. He’s taken the bull by the horns and his perseverance is making Sendelica and his dream happen. We initially met on line and became good friends. Pete’s also helped me tremendously over the past four years with making connections and booking shows in the U.K.. The first time I worked with Sendelica was when I contributed a guitar track to The Pillars of Delhi on their Anima Mundi LP. The following year Keith Jones at Fruits de Mer suggested both TLoEH and Sendelica get together and cross pollinate for a project, which we did in the beautiful MWNCI Studios in Wales, and part of those sessions were released on the Lilacs Out of The Deadlands LP. Last year I was honored to join them live for an impromptu set at the 15th Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival, which was released on their 10th Anniversary Tour 2016 CD, and I also joined them in the studio to play drums on their Zappa rendition of Yellow Snow for an FdM 7”. And as you said, this Summer I’ll be working with them again playing drums on a few tracks."
Your latest single 'Make Way For The Mighty Machines' is a fantastically epic track, clocking in at 23 minutes - is the way forward for TLoEH - more longform tracks?
"Thanks for the compliment. That was written specifically for Vincebus Eruptum Record’s Psychedelic Battles Vol. 4 LP, which is due out later this year in October. Mighty Machines will be on one side battling against a different band’s track on the other side. I’m not sure who that band will be, but it’s a great opportunity. The only stipulation for the project was that the track had to be at least twenty minutes long, and I love working under someone else’s parameters, so I happily dove in. When we initially recorded the tracks for The Acceleration of Time it didn’t include the long progressive tracks, just the more pop structured songs, including a few that were scrapped. Mark and I had the entire album almost finished and I felt it was really lacking something, but couldn’t put my finger on what that was, so I took a week and just let myself create without any structure or care about whether it was going to be released or not. I’d pick up an instrument and play, recording as I went along, making the changes as they felt naturally. I really beat the hell out of the drums on those tracks. The end result was a collection of progressive music filled with all of the emotions I had been needing to release, which is the best kind of art. Once again, I didn’t intend to put those on The Acceleration of Time, but when I mixed them in with the existing tracks, the whole album seemed to make more sense. I’m not sure what’s up next for The Luck of Eden Hall. I already have an album’s worth of pop songs written, and Lofgren has some ready too, but whether or not those will be the next album is anybody’s guess."
What's next, after the sojourn in the UK? I believe you are instrumental in the setting up of a new festival in Chicago this September
"Yeah, a couple of my good friends, Tim Ferguson from The Red Plastic Buddha and Lee Klawans, a multi talented all round swell guy that takes wonderful photographs and filmed TLoEH’s Sassafras Overcoat video, contacted me about helping them with a new festival in Chicago. I told them I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the project, but I did create the logo. The two day festival is called the Kaleidoscope Eye Music Festival and is being held at Live Wire in Chicago on September 8th and 9th. The bill includes a slew of wonderful bands from across the Midwest, including Warhorses, Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor, my personal favorite Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, The Red Plastic Buddha and others. The Luck of Eden Hall will be headlining Friday evening, and I’ve been making the five hour trek to Chicago for rehearsals which are sounding fab. It will be our first show in two years and it’s really going to be an awesome event."
You've moved since we last spoke, from Chicago to Detroit I believe. Do you miss Chicago and the 'scene' there?
"Yes, I miss Chicago. It was my home for 35 years and I miss my friends tremendously. Great food. Great people. Lot’s of diversity. It’s a beautiful place. Detroit is the birth place of some of the most powerful music the world has known, and I’m ready to be a part of that history too."
How's the house coming along?
"It’s a work in progress, but it’s starting to feel like home. Last autumn I had to rebuild part of a brick wall that was failing. I had a bit of experience from tuck pointing part of my house in Chicago, but it was my first time laying bricks. It was messy work. One day I was in the middle of slapping down some mortar and my mobile phone rang. My hands were filthy and wet and I nearly decided to forgo answering the call, but I did, and much to my extreme delight, it was Nik Turner inviting me to come to his Hawkwind performance that evening at Echofest in Detroit! He really made my day, and when I think about it, it helps remind me that there are folks out there that really enjoy all of my hard work too. I suppose that’s the best payment."
Thanks for your time Gregory, enjoy the UK and best of luck.
"My pleasure, Andy. Thank you."