Atomic Ritual (Liquor and Poker)
An Interview with guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass
by Craig Regala
Nebula have made their best record so far. Nothing different in what they actually do, they’ve just gotten better at writing tunes, structuring the parts for impact, and controlling tone and tempo in each song as well as the album’s overall flow. Atomic Ritual is hard, energetic, flowing psych-rock with a groove as the godfathers did it in the late ’60s pulled up through arena kick-ass, punk rock, and all sortsa garage rock logic/revival/roots destruction. So where does their muse come from and what do they call it ?
Last time we talked, I asked if you were gettin’ over with what I’d hope was a general “rock” audience, and sometimes the mere naming of what you do is important. So what’s up?
Between the last time I talked with you and now, we actually got to meet and hang out with Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer*. He said they called it “power rock.” We met him at a show in Cologne; he lives there. He came down to the show. I think we have him talked into recording.
As historical roots, those guys are certainly in your direct line. But how about the stuff that got you going in the ’80s as a kid?
Well, a buncha Southern California hardcore and the rock and roll parts of the New Wave stuff you could hear on the radio. You hear stuff you like and run it through what you’re like… Black Flag, Circle Jerks, even stuff like Devo, as well as the slightly older, bigger bands, stuff that actually came a little after much of what I really like. The acid rock/garage rock bands. The kind you find on the Nuggets** box. Guitar-heavy stuff that wasn’t metal or punk, like The Wipers or Dinosaur Jr.
So really, the difference between you guys and Mudhoney is slim.
Well, those guys are an inspiration… How many bands make one of their best records a fifteen years after they start? They’ve done a really good job. We’ve played with’m.
What’s the touring like now?
Better’n’better. Slowly, we’ve worked out a circuit, a fanbase. We can bring a couple guys with us to help with the gear, the sound. It makes it easier to do the music, to actually put your effort into playing instead of worrying about all the logistics of it.
I don’t wanna pigeonhole you guys as some garage rock offshoot… You’re pretty much a full-service rock band. I think you’ve come as close to the point where Hendrix*** was when he did funky proto-metal surfacing on what was to be the First Rays of the New Rising Sun album (posthumous), like “Dolly Dagger,” “Ez Rider,” or “Freedom.”
Thanks, man. Yeah, the warm-toned blues rock thing is definitely a big part of what we do. We just don’t jam on it as much as build off it, keep the energy flowing. Even if it’s with acoustic guitars, or keyboards setting up the riffs or focusing the song we use it to keep it moving along, even if it’s slow.
More creeping kingsnake than power ballad, eh?
Yeah, slow, melodic, or soft parts can help the overall impact and be really strong. Like the Amboy Dukes’**** “Journey to the Center of your Mind.”
One of terms you could use would be acid punk. You guys keep the rock push and the bite in place, but explore and explode bits and pieces out of it.
Yeah, acid punk… Like, you need to play something that’s expressive, with feeling, and sometimes you feel things that may seem to be out-of-focus of the original idea or structure, but as you work that stuff in, it gets interesting. I guess that’s the acid part of it. It opens it up, allows for things to happen, lets you use space and timing differently. Like the Randy Holden record Population II; all the sustain he used without losing the picture. Or the Yardbirds doing rave-ups that tilted off into a high-energy approach.
Is that part of the studio vs. live difference?
Yeah, you do things live differently. That helps the music grow and keeps it interesting, and like I said, you may feel something in a different way at that particular moment, so it comes out differently. So really, you just need to come see us – or any rock band that actually plays and records their own music – to see what happens, to catch a moment that can’t be replicated exactly ’cause life is like that.
Speaking of life, your line about the afterworld, “Everything is beautiful, and nothing hurts,” is one of the best descriptions of what heaven***** would be like.
Yeah (a grin in his voice), just like our shows…
Due to a phone snafu, that’s all I got. So go see’m, catch more info at www.liquorandpokermusic.com, and pick up Atomic Ritual.
* Blue Cheer’s first two LPs (’68-’69) were some of the opening salvos in the battle of loud, gritty guitar muck minus any tact, taste, or reverence to anything besides rockin’ out. They played a show with the Stooges at this time which signaled the beginning of an outburst “the man” (which included Rolling Stone) could not tolerate. So everyone who had a ticket was sent to the frontlines of ‘Nam, delaying punk rock by six years.
** Nuggets box set: A four-CD set working off the idea of Lenny Kaye’s 1972 collection of garage rock from the previous decade. At the time, this was viewed as an abberant “oldies” mentality “rock” was supposed to have “grown out of” and into, ya know, James Taylor on one side and “progessive rock” (Genesis, E.L.P., The Moody Blues) on the other.
*** Jimi Hendrix is often referred to as a guitar genius. Yeah, and people miss the point that that genius part was in composing music that fit the tune and never lost its r&b-rooted power, no matter how spacey it got.
**** Ted Nugent’s late ’60s-into-’70s band. It’s a good song. Honest.
***** Heaven. Don’t worry about it, you’re not going.