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bigelf interview INTERVIEW
Planet Stoner

Please, Damon, tell our readers a little about Bigelf's history. When the band was created?
The origin of Bigelf dates back to 1989, songs like "Change", "Closer To Doom", "Money Machine" and "Falling Bombs" were written then. Those songs were the blueprints for the band's songwriting style.

Do you know each other from other bands, were you friends before?
Froth and I had known each other for a few years before he joined the band, we had a common interest... the MELLOTRON. Duffy and Ace were also friends before Bigelf, they played in the same band for a while.

What are your musical influences? Music and lyricwise?
There are alot of bands that have had an influence on me, but here are some of the most important ones. The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, King Crimson, The Pretty Things, The Move, Badfinger, Gentle Giant and Van Der Graff Generator.

A lot of people think you are from Sweden. But you are actually from US. How did you get in touch with an European record label?
Last year the strangest thing happened…during a break in touring we recorded some new songs while we were in Sweden…they found there way into the offices of Warner Music Scandinavia…and we inked a deal.

How does that work for Bigelf?
Some people have given us alot shit for aligning ourselves with Warner but they don't know what there talking about. We picked the songs, recorded everything exactly the way we wanted, designed the artwork and then Warner released it…now what's wrong with that?

Talking about Sweden, you have a fan base there, right? The current opinion in rock journalism says that Sweden is the new rock center of the world. What do you think about the Sweden rock scene?
Yeah, there's a great scene there…I guess that's why Bigelf has managed to stay alive in this fucked up business we're in. I'm excited to be part of the scene in Sweden, I mean…at least they HAVE a scene. Look at the USA?

Any bands you like from there?
We have made alot of friends in Sweden…bands like The Hellacopters, Soundtrack Of Our Lives and The Ark. They are all very refreshing to me.

The first album "Closer To Doom" was recorded at the Grandmaster studios in LA. How was the environment and the aura of that place?
That place definitely has a unique vibe. In the 70's…Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson and Billy Preston used to record there and hang out all the time, we heard some great stories. When we recorded "CTD", the studio was leaking water something terrible, the whole experience/sound ended up being pretty dark and doomy. Describing it now sounds kinda cool, but it wasn't at the time…know what I mean?

Talking about recordings, how do you come up with the songs…in the studio? Do you record separately or together?
All of the songs are written before we record them. Though things do happen in the recording process…like on "Carry The Load", we just kept jamming the drone bit at the end and then I recorded some soaring Mellotron chords on top of it. We always record the basic tracks with all 4 of us...always.

How you guys deal with the new technology in studio? Do you use Pro-Tools and digital processors or just analog gear? What you think about these new tools for recording an album?
It's strictly analog for us, that's our sound and not to mention every band from the past as well. The whole Pro-Tools thing is out of control and destroying music. To use them as tools is one thing but pitching vocals that are out of tune is ridiculous. Cutting a drummer's kick drum and the bass player's notes tighter together? I've seen engineers mute all the background noise between the parts of song…I mean, you have to leave some noise or it's fucking sterile and non-human. I'm not saying that there isn't useful applications for it, but as I see it right now it's just making musicians/engineers lazy and made music dull, period.

How the songs are created? Through jams or specific ideas?
Definitely specific ideas, I write the basic song and then we learn it as a band and make it Bigelf.

One of the main points on Bigelf's vibe, in my opinion, is the complexity of the songs, even though is pretty clear to the listener to understand everything that is going on. How did you develop this unique sound? Besides, there's this great thing about your music crossing Beatles, Floyd, Zeppelin and Sabbath. You managed to create a new form of music, far away from all those labels that critics tend to pigeon-hole bands. You guys ROCK!!
Thanks. It wasn't easy…in the beginning we wanted to do something original and different yet still remain classic sounding without ending up like a tribute band. It's really a musical stew, like a witch's brew…we put a little of this…and a little of that and get the Bigelf sound.

Money Machine was your second album. It seems that you changed the "heavy side" of earlier songs like "Closer To Doom" and "Salvation" to more psychedelic experimentation sounds as in "Side Effects", "Neuropsychopathic Eye" and "Ironheel". Is that right to say? How do you feel about that album and where do you see Bigelf's music evolving?
Some of my favorite Bigelf songs are on "Money Machine". That album didn't get the attention it deserved but it pushed us through to where we are now so it was a very important record for us. I believe the sonic alchemy of Bigelf will keep pushing forward into new musical landscapes. I like to think we have a dark Sgt. Pepper in us and I'm sure down the road we will make a progressive opus of massive doom proportions.

The gap between the first albums was almost four years. Why it took so long to release "Money Machine"?
We recorded "MM" in August of 1997 and "CTD" in March 95'. It may not seem like it now, but back then music was very different, "MM" was almost alien-like to most people. The plain truth is no one wanted to touch it.

Is it easy to recreate the songs live?
Not always. Some songs like "Disappear" happen almost naturally and others want to stick to there recorded settings, so it makes it a challenge to bring them in to the live setting.

How would you describe a Bigelf concert?
Black Sabbath and King Crimson doing LSD backstage at a Pink Floyd show.

"Live At Goatbridge Palace" was released after "Money Machine". Do you intend to release a live album in the future? I think that would be great! The experience of seeing and hearing you guys live must be something!

What bands have you toured with?

We just opened for Dio, which was a trip. We met him backstage… he was very cool. Man, for being over 60 years old…that guy can really sing, he's unbelievable!

Is there any band you would like to share the stage with?
Of course, Black Sabbath. Perhaps…a Zep reunion? Though, time is running out…

Nowadays people are creating a real war on mp3s and file sharing programs. A lot of people here in Brazil took knowledge of great bands like Bigelf only through these programs. What is Bigelfs position? Were you affected in any way by piracy or "kazaas"?
No, it's cool…the internet is a great tool to discover new music and hopefully when people hear something they like, they will then buy it to get the whole package. Also, people are download happy right now because cds are too expensive, who wants to pay $18.99 for a cd? Too bad the music industry didn't lower the prices of cds 15 years ago when they said they were going to…now it's too late, people are fed up and the technology is there to support it.

If you have to pick one Bigelf song that represents the band, which one you'd choose? Why?
Money Machine. Why?…cause it says it all. It's what we're made of.

"Madhatter" is the new EP. The title song, I have to say, I think is one of the heaviest tunes you made so far. The other songs on this EP are more in the vein of "Closer To Doom". What can we expect from your new songs?
The best explanation is probably a combination between the first two albums. The heaviness of "CTD" and the complexity of "MM". I think this album is our most focused yet.

We downloaded the "Madhatter" video on your official website. And all I can say is that is great, man! (Don't know if its me, but when the Orange Amps "blossom" in the solo was inspired on "Matrix", is that right?
Yeah, I guess it's a little bit of that…though I always thought the Oranges looked like Star Wars "Attack Of The Clones". I'm a huge Star Wars & ESB fan.

Anyway, pretty cool! In the video, you alternate between the organ and the guitar. How you deal with this in concert? Does the band have other musicians for live performances?
No, just the four of us. That's one thing we won't be copying from Pink Floyd, if you've seen them play live recently. As far as alternating instruments? I play mostly C3 and Mellotron live.

The musician's question: What is your gear? Do you use the same equipment live as in studio?
We use the same gear live and in the studio. Of course, we can have much more to choose from when we record.
Keyboards: Hammond C3 & Leslie 122, Mellotron MKII & M400, EMS Synthi AKS, Chamberlin M-1D, Moog 3C & 2P Modulars, Minimoog, Memorymoog, Korg MS-20 & MS-50, Arp 2600, Freeman String Machine, Baldwin Electric Harpsichord, Hohner Pianet.
Guitars: 1961 Gibson Les Paul/SG, 1965 Gibson SG Custom, 1973 Gibson Flying V 1971 Orange 120 & Orange 4x12 cabinets, 1972 Laney Klipp 100w & 4x12 Laney cabinet, 1969 Laney Supergroup 100w head
Bass: 1971 Fender Precision, 1968 Gibson EB-3, 1969 Acoustic 360 amp
Drums: 1972 Hayman drums, 26/13/16. 70's Ludwig Green Vistalites, 26/15/18/20

What albums would you recommend to our readers to buy? Which bands are you hearing nowadays?
There is a very obscure english band from the late 60's called Gracious! I actually purchased the Mellotron Music Console (MKII) that's was used on their progressive classic "Super Nova". I read the other day that their keyboardist/songwriter Martin Kitcat died recently, very sad…I spent the day with him once, he was a gentleman and a brilliant musician. This band has had a big influence on Bigelf and they are completely underrated. If you like 1969/70 psych/prog, find this band. There is an excellent double cd that contains both of their classic releases.

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