The following interview was kindly contributed by Dave Gedge of Bad Acid Magazine and is also featured in his current issue, Tab #4, which out now! Info on how to purchase a copy can be found at the end of this interview, so once again we’ll hand you over to Dave…
Farflung have been altering peoples brain chemistry with their hugely psychedelic yet driving space rock for well over a decade now, and it’s gotta be around seven years since Bad Acid put out their classic third album “The Belief Module”. They started their album career with two warped discs on Flipside, showing half baked ‘space rock’ (ahem!) bands like Monster Magnet what being truly heavy and brained was all about. But instead of being thrust into the main pages of every leading rock mag out there as they should have, Farflung remained an underground cult band, frying the minds of those sideways enough to have their ears close enough to the ground to stumble across them.
Bizarrely, or perhaps more due to the faddish nature of the music industry Farflung entered a quiet period after The Belief Module, only releasing 9 Pin Body as a limited release and a bunch of compilation tracks.
I cornered old friend Tommy Grenas about the imminent re-emergence of the Flung, and what’s with this new recording they’ve been working on, rumoured to be the heaviest, freakingly psychedelic space punk album yet to be launched into earth’s orbit…. But first- what happened, where have they been?
Farflung seem to have had a bit of a hiatus, what was happening? Had you given up the ghost on the Flung for a while?
Farflung definitely needed the hiatus. The same went for Chrome [our dear friend Helios], and the Nik Turner/Hawkwind and projects. People just weren’t interested, and shows were dreadfully attended. It was impossible to do, especially when we had to take time with rob and midnight sun to ensure there was a great light show [which we sadly couldn’t afford to do last time in Euro]. There seemed to be no interest in spacerock in America for a while, but for a few die-hard fans of the genre. We had to re-group, re-think, and focus on other things for a while. It’s kinda why Suns Lungs, the new sister brother band of Farflung was born. Taking stony kraut grooves into another direction. It doesn’t “rock hard”, but its good fuel for the skull drift if you catch what I mean. Flung was just fermenting. We always had the passion and ideas. We just kinda kept it on the back burner for a while, knowing it would start cooking when the time felt right again.
You are currently working on a new album at Rancho De La Luna [Desert Sessions, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, etc.], You are recording this over several sessions, why the spread out plan? Are you finding each session has a different vibe? Does this make for a varied album? What’s the vibe of your new recordings?
Well at Rancho la Luna, we pretty much so caught the passion again. We had recorded some ideas at record outlet [our bud Casey’s old vinyl store] and felt great about the vibe. We were getting warmed up to the idea of letting some Spacerock loose, when Dave Catching [Eagles O D M, Queens, Earthlings etc] invited us up to do some recording. The vibe in the desert is always right and at Rancho the cosmos began to fall into place. We recorded a bunch of jams but the track silver shrimps hit the mark for us. That was the first one we truly completed in about 4 years. You can hear it on the MySpace page. When we got back to LA, we started doing more sessions using parts from the Rancho, and recording new stuff as well. We have about 5 or 6 tracks unfinished, but songs we’re really really happy bout. We will go back to rancho when Dave is free from his busy schedule, and all the guys can get together. We are taking this at a good pace. we don’t think there’s a rush, its just flowing outta us at the moment. We do believe we will have something completed by summer tho. The vibe is heavy punk spacerock with the usual cosmic freakouts and meltdowns.
You started off as a punk rooted space rock outfit on ‘25000 ft/sec’, and got even heavier on ‘The Raven…’ but adopted much more of a psychedelic edge for ‘The Belief Module’ and later releases. You seem to be returning to a heavier sound, why? Is the direction of your sound determined by who is in the band at the time or is a subconscious thing?
The core of Farflung me, Michael and Ryan is unchanged, we just have lost the unique drumming of Brandon Labelle, and we have had rotating bass players. We are happy that Paul Fox [Nik Turner, Pressurehed, The Brain, and early Flung bassist] has returned. Paul was always a ripper on the bass so that vibe is going to be obviously heavier in the rhythm section. We are working with many different drummers, but will probably settle down with one soon. We did a soundtrack LP a few years ago called “When Science Fails”. It was a very ambient and krauty track. We really enjoyed doing the record, and why not. Farflung encapsulates all elements of the high, and that was the right time and place to do it. its rather hard to find, like all flung LP’s I guess. Like I said before, the new LP is probably the heaviest sounding one yet, but is like a compendium of all the albums rolled into one. With the new technology we have now in our hands [not forgetting our analogue noodling homage] it sounds better than any before, which sometime suffered under time constraints and budgets.
Do you have musical parameters with Farflung? I mean, would you write something and think ‘Oh that’s too heavy’ or ‘this isn’t psychedelic enough’? Is there a determined style you are aiming for? To what extent do you experiment and push the boat out?
There is definitely no parameters but for the cheese factor. We obviously cringe if we dip into the wacky metal area, and we try to avoid that, or something maybe that sounds to similar to something else, but we embrace the best mistakes and takes, and fantastic accidents with relish. The unit of Farflung is psychedelic spacerock as it stands, so there cannot really be any other outcome when we record for real. Lysergic interpretation and astral visions are the reality of our fingertips as we set into it., oh yea and lots o fun.” As far as record collecting goes, Farflung are as collectable as the best of them. They have tons of releases out on different obscure labels, limited ep’s, 7”’s, vinyls, compilation tracks, freebies, not to mention various ‘unreleased’ recordings. Then if you were to trace the Farfung family tree…. Well, you’d be here a year and a day. Farflung seems to be the melting pot of a number of seriously talented and well respected musicians, each involved in various side projects, sessioning and guesting in other bands, touring and working alongside some big name artists. But first, Farflung. All these different records, and different labels…
You’ve released records on a number of labels, Cleopatra, Flipside, Purple Pyramid, Brainticket, Brainsquid, Big Jesus, and of course Bad Acid….Why not settle for a label? Why not release them yourselves? Are there any advantages in label hopping? Isn’t the support of a more established label a positive thing, with budgets, tour booking, promotion, etc?
Shit, you should know Dave, ha ha. The labels [with the exception of Cleopatra] have either ceased to exist or became bankrupt. The label thing is our Achilles heel. We just aren’t that good with the business end of spacerock. I’m told things are very different now out there for this music. That remains to be seen but I’m optimistic that someone might pick this new one up. I’m hearing some fantastic head music again. It’s giving us a boost for sure. It’s really helping us produce in the studio again. Label hopping isn’t an intention, I wish there was someone who had time and dedication to invest in Farflung. We love doing this. We love getting it out there. I guess the MySpace and download world is another great blessing. We will definitely be taking full advantage of that. I have nothing against it, but i do like to hold product in my hand, no-matter how old school that may be. To end this question id like to say, that if you hadn’t of run into your rather unfortunate circumstances, we would of stuck it with Bad Acid. In the short time you released CD’s and made the tab-mags, the level of quality and dedication to the genre was beyond admirable. We are all so glad you are up and running with this again. We’d do another LP with you anytime…Now where’s me advance!
Some of your releases have become pretty collectable – Bad Acid’s “The Belief Module” is up on Amazon for $320 as we speak!! What about your Big Jesus 12” – are they so rare? Don’t you have some 7”s out too? Is any of your older material still available, or is it mostly deleted now?
No shit! I’ve been seeing that and The Raven That Ate The Moon go for some ridiculous figures over the past two years. I can’t say in too happy bout it as anyone should be able to own that stuff for a minimal cost. I’m going to try ASAP to get it up on mp3’s to download. An internet psych company has offered to put all the early records for a very decent deal between us. I will be right on that soon and ill post the link on both MySpace and the site as soon as its up. I had tinkered with the idea of a boxed set which id still love to do, but I must wait till something of Flung makes some money to put that thing into effect. That’s the deal I set with myself. One piece of music supports the other. The singles i see now and again. They go for about 20 bucks on the internet but I’ve also-seen them on store walls for wacky prices. I’m sure there’s none left anywhere other than what’s floating around, like all the Flipside stuff etc. 9 Pin Body and So Many Minds So Little Time are both still available on itunes and from the labels etc- ebay.
I have an untitled demo/ep with a silver cover and a chick (I think Lisa Papineau?) on vocals, tracks: Order Of The Flaming Sword/ These Clouds Sare Solid/ Silver Farm/ Guitar Army/ Fun With Your New Head… Was this ever released? Brandon told me at the time that he wasn’t sure you’d put it out…. Do you have much unreleased material? Do you sit on stuff and re-work it?
‘The Myth of Solid Ground’ kinda became the Brainticket release ‘9 Pin Body’. There are a few songs that stayed. That ep was released as a special selection to be sold only at the Strange Daze Spacerock Fest in Cleveland Ohio think we pressed a hundred and they pretty much so all left our possession there. It would definitely be the rarest thing we have out there. I still see Lisa a lot. She has a band called Big Sur, and her solo career. She has the voice of disembodiment and trance. She is one of the most unique and talented vocalists I know. I hope to get her back on some recordings soon. She does the odd stint with the Anubian Lights here and there. We do have a huge source of unreleased and especially live stuff. I feel we pass over those areas to start fresh so the idea of re-working would be a bit pointless and boring to us. If we ever released a best of or etc we would put those out, or if it coincided with a re-release of the appropriate period. The live footage we gave to you at Bad Acid is by no means a polished gem, but I think it is a great example of the early Flung, jamming live, and coming up with ideas, and setting into shamanistic territory. It was shot in San Francisco live by Bambi Nonimus, of the Mudwimmen, and Frightwig. I think she shot it on pixel, and black and white video, mixing in footage taken earlier in the week of the trip up the coast and recording at Cal-Arts. I was really stoked when I unearthed it recently cos I thought it was a hazy glimpse back into the past and a good example of a portion of a live show, being recorded thru the mike of the camera no less. True reality trash. The ultra lo-fi look and sound of it sums up the Farflung experience as we remembered it. I would say that’s the only thing from that era seeing the light of day so far.
You have a core group of band members, but seem to have a pretty revolving peripheral membership. In fact you are about to add a fifth member again, can you introduce him? Why do members drift off, do you smell? What qualifies someone to join the Flung? Is it just the core members who contribute to song writing?
As I said before, the core is always me Michael and Ryan. Brandon left the States to start an experimental organisation “Errant Bodies”, and is very involved in experimental, writing, art, and soundscapes. He is married and lives in Denmark now. He was most definitely a core member of the band and still is. If we ever manage to catch him here we try to still get a session in with him. He is a dear friend. As far as drums-we also work with Alex, and Bryan-sounds from Fred Maher, our own hands and live with a new guy called Charlie Woodburn. When we play out again we will probably bring in another guitarist, as I want to focus on synths space vibes and vocals more. Farflung is a big network. We have never made money, are still rather unknown, and don’t play much. With that in mind, the drifting line-ups are an element of nature. No one ever is really let go, rather if someone’s in town they are always welcomed to come and lay something down. All the members stay active with other projects including us, as I’m sure you well know. The family tree of Flung is rather amazing if you look and see all the bands everyone has been involved with over the years, from the Cramps to Chrome. I would have to say the core keeps the ideas fresh, but on every LP there is a lot of communal jamming that makes the LP. Its unpredictable. like it should be.
You are involved individually in various other bands – you were in Nik Turner’s Space Ritual (who I’m sure we all know about!) also Pressurehed, Anubian Lights, Suns Lungs, can you give us a little low-down on some of these projects? I know you are very busy with Anubian Lights, and have several albums out but it’s very different from Farflung…. And Suns Lungs is a new project with an album and European tour in the pipeline – whats the vibe here?
Suns Lungs is the most current project. As I mentioned before, I think I would describe it as a very Californian version of krautrock. The emphasis is on a stony hypnotic repetitive groove, and everything whoozey about head music. We rarely get heavy, but the vibe can certainly get intense. There’s a lot of elements of Can, Neu, and Syd period Floyd-wire in there I guess, but its quite its own thing. The band has members of Farflung, Nels Kline Trio, and Bluebird in it. Its a big band. The LP self titled will be out on Crippled Dick Hotwax in Euro, and Valve Consume in Australia, in springtime. It will also be out in the states sometime, and we are talking to a few people. Live it will be improvisational, and some elements streamed from the album songs. We should be playing out a lot this year. There are definitely plans for Europe late spring. I think Flung fans will dig this project. Anubian Lights has just done a new LP with Lydia Lunch, and she is working on the vocals as we speak. I recently did some music in England with Mark Spybey of Dead Voices On Air. There’s a lot of things going on. I keep very busy. Helps my sanity. I speak to Nik and the Hawkfolk quite often. Nik is toying with the idea of coming to the States. Damo Suzuki will be out April, and we will do some shows with him, that’s always fun. I would love to get Helios and the Chrome thing out to Euro sometime.” Finally, it seems space rock is getting the recognition it deserves in the whole stoner/psychedelic rock scene. It had always seemed an unfashionable and perhaps out-dated and embarrassing outpost of the whole scene, relegated to frazzled, bearded hippies with dirty torn flares they hadn’t changed since their last fateful trip in 1979…. But people were not listening hard enough to the music. They let the industry fashion move their ears to this trend or that, and completely shut out the whole sonic wave of unadulterated punk vibed head warping Teutonic acid fried psychedelic muscle that made the whole stoner and garage psych scenes look like a bunch of wet college boys flopping around a light chord progression with obvious lyrics about smoking a joint or two. But space rock has landed. We are here!!
It seems space rock is becoming more popular recently, noticeably with the Roadburn festival, and a seemingly massive increase in related web-zines and of course bands.. Has this helped with your own popularity? Is this reflected in gig attendance and record sales? Do you feel there is a danger of the scene being over-saturated?
Hell we haven’t played in almost 5 years now, maybe-six? But I would have to say yes, there really does seem to be a resurgence of spacerock out there. Most of it seems pretty good too. Id love to make one of Walters Roadburn festivals sometime. He’s a martyr for keeping up the dedication for all these years, as are Rockshanne from Trainwreck, Jim Lasko at Strangedays, all the guys at Aural Innovation, Dead Earnest, Black Widow, Julian Cope to name a few. I don’t think this scene can ever be over saturated because it takes a certain type of listener to accept the mantle. With that said I couldn’t imagine space-rap, or space r&b whatever I’m trying to say. I dont know about popularity. I’m not sure if there’s many people who know who we are really. For instance I was on really cool website called Spacerock. There was a search engine, and when I entered our band, nothing came up. So I guess that answers that question. I have no idea of our popularity really. I guess that will be evident if someone wants to put the new album out and if it sells. We still keep in co with our old friends from Calif i.e.- Earthlings?, Acid King and Subarachnoid Space. There is a band from here that’s been goin on for some time called 10.0000 Volt Ghost. They used to be called Gravity Throttle. They’re really fantastic.
You last reached Europe moons ago in ’98, touring with Earthlings… what’s happened since, why haven’t we seen you? Is it a lack of funding, or interest? I guess you were on Flipside at the time and they financed it? Any plans now with this upsurge in the whole heavy psych thing?
Well Dave from the Earthlings is well busy with Eagles Of Death Metal now, and Pete still manages tours. I think he still does something with Goatsnake, oh yeah and he tour manages the great band “Sunn”. Molly has a band called the Spores, and Adam plays out with quite a few folk. The Euro tour all those yunks back was great, but poorly attended. We got a little help from Crippled Dick, and Brainticket, but not much as we really didn’t have anything new out. A fan of the projects kinda put that tour together. It’s financially impossible to venture as such without a proper tour label to help out, and we were really skint. If it wasn’t for Tosh and the Beaver folk, I dont know how we would of survived. I really really hope things are good enough to give it another shot soon. If things really are getting back to an interesting level with spacerock, nothing would stop us from playing live. Hopefully with Midnite Sun and Rob Jacobs lightshow in tow.
Where will Farflung be taking us now? After such a long break are we gonna see an all-out re-emergence? How serious is this new re-invigorated Farflung?!! Any word on labels and release dates for the new album?
Farflung is deadly serious. The new tracks so far are killer. This will definitely be the record. Nothing is going to stop us doing it and getting it out there somehow. If there is a label behind us to help, that will be even better. We want to play live, and give it all the mindnumbing assault of the senses we love to purvey so badly. We “will” be playing live this year, and we will get the music out there. It really has been too long.
Thanks Tommy for finding the time in your massively busy schedule to answer these questions, and all the best with your new album, we are all in desperate need of new Flung material!! Final words, requests, plugs or quotations?
I cant say how stoked I am that this is the new Bad Acid. Its always a pleasure and an honour Dave. I hope we all can see something out there to help us achieve or visions of just putting out good head music for us heads. Spacerock and psych is the only true people’s music. Everything else has been over commercialised and left to die the MTV death. We all need to support our cause and bring new eager young -and old blood into the fold.- we need the new eye shaking kings!
Check out the latest goings on with Farflung at: www.myspace.com/farflung
Interviewed by: Dave Gedge
Bad Acid Tab #4 featuring 100+ pages of interviews, reviews, general lysergy as well as cover DVD with 5+ hours of video interviews, live footage, promo videos and mp3’s from all bands covered within, get your copy now priced just £8.50 (incl p&p) online at www.myspace.com/badacidmagazine!