Spud Murphy

ARTICLE ABOUT Carl Palmer FROM SOUNDS, November 27, 1971

This “Cat” has been active since 1964 and is still going strong in 2018. He has played with a lot of acts – among them is The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia, 3, Qango and his own Carl Palmer Band.
Very influenced by jazz and eager to play riffs in 10/8, but not a stranger to playing more basic rock`n`roll, he is someone that many people would like to have in a band. One of the great drummers in modern rock music and prog, he is now a “household” name for many. Enjoy this great interview from way back.

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Emerson, Lake and Palmer were shortly to Jumbo jet across to North America for a nationwide tour, but drummer Carl Palmer was having problems closer to home. The GPO seemed reluctant to install a telephone in the new house he has just bought near London. Could his manager send a letter stressing how important it was for a rock star to have a telephone? He could. That pleased the drummer. Now he could relax to examine the character of the rock triangle of which he has been one side since the sneer days of a “second Nice” to their recent triumph in sweeping up awards in the SOUNDS poll.

Interview: Dick Meadows
Pictures: Spud Murphy

Can we talk first about your new cut-price album “Pictures At An Exhibition” which will be released here while the group is on tour in America. It was originally made in conjunction with a film, but there have been delays and problems I believe?

As you know, that was going to be released very cheaply. But the film and everything was so bad, and the soundtrack on the film was so bad that we just had to re-record it. That`s what held “Pictures” up, which was a shame. It was due to come out about two to three months ago. Anyway, we had to re-record it because the soundtrack was no good at all, and we did this in Newcastle City Hall which has an amazing atmosphere.
The album has a nice sleeve which is very interesting. The different pieces of music in “Pictures” have their own names and the different paintings on the sleeve refer to these movements. The sleeve opens up and on the inside the pictures are complete but on the outside the pictures aren`t quite finished. So it`s quite freaky, and they are actual paintings because I have bought one!

Why do you think the sound-track was so bad?

Well, we never had Eddy Offord, our engineer, there, and he is a great cat. For me it could have been much better than it was. I think there was something wrong with the organs too. It was recorded live at the Lyceum and didn`t come off anything like as well as the second time at Newcastle. So this is why there have been delays and why the price is not as cheap as we wanted it to be. We had hoped to get it out for about 99p instead of £1.49 which is what the price is now.
As far as the film of Emerson, Lake and Palmer is concerned, because a friend of ours is doing it, that is the only reason we have let him release it. The film, in my opinion, is shocking. It is a sort of 1959 rock and roll film, because the modern filming technique put into it was nil. There are lots of basic shots of the band; it is sort of nothing, as if someone has filmed a band live on stage and that`s it.
We had a lot of ideas about modern filming techniques which we wanted to see done, but instead the person who did it – who is a friend of mine anyway and I won`t mention his name – didn`t do it exactly how I wanted it done anyway. It was done as a straight film, it could have been like an early Beatles film, it was so straight you know.
I believe the film has been shown so far at the Lyceum and various other places. There`s not a lot we can do about it now. I mean, we will make money out of it but I don`t really like making money from a product that I`m not happy with. The original soundtrack has in fact gone out with the film; it could have been changed but the people didn`t want to spend any more money on doing it. So we said, “Okay, we can`t release an album like that, so we will spend more money, we`ll pay for it ourselves and we`ll get a unit up to Newcastle with all the tape recorders and things and our own engineer, and we`ll do it as best as we can.” And that is of course what we did. We got to Newcastle at 10 o`clock in the morning and ran through things for several hours. And I think we got a live recording that is worthy to go out as a “live” album. I think most “live” albums, even if people have been very careful, are really a glorified bootleg, do you know what I mean, just a professional bootleg.

Does the original soundtrack sound like a “professional bootleg” to you then?

No, no, but the general feel of the thing was done a lot better the second time. There was a lot of pressure put on us at the Lyceum that day because of the film, so the music didn`t hit it off. It wasn`t that bad, but it was bad to us in the group to release as a “live” album. That was why we held back, and we got a lot of letters and we were slagged for that but it was for the good of everyone you know. We wanted a good product on the market, and we thought that if we released the original soundtrack we would have been slagged on top of being slagged for keeping people waiting. I hope now that everyone is happy. We have done a good job on the album sleeve. But there you go, it`s just one of those things.

Did you take “Pictures” as seriously as the album which you are recording now, or can it be classed as more of a fun album?

Well, we took the music seriously, but we didn`t take it seriously in terms of the direction which the band is going. It has been released because everyone wanted it. That`s why we are selling it cheap and slipping it out, and not making a big issue out of it. Who knows, it could still be a No. 1! We were in a strange predicament with “Pictures” because we didn`t want to rob people of having it.
Originally it was going to be a double album, with “Pictures” and the new album we have just started. But because we kept people waiting so long we just had to release it. There has been pressure as well from the record companies because they wanted it. It is only going to be released in England. The album we have just started to record should be released in this country in about February.

How much progress have you made with this album?

We have been recording now for about two or three weeks. We have two completed things – music and words – and one instrumental that we think we will have to do again. We have a lot of different stuff, you know. One number is like the music to a Hammer horror film, sort of very kind of frightening. Another is like a Western, we`ve got a gun-shot on it. The words are about this cat who doesn`t want to get shot, it`s quite a comedy number. The other one is just a funky thing, so we have three things done and that`s about all so far.
We will do the rest of the recording when we get back from America in January for a February release, according to how the recording goes. You see, we are trying not to push it at all, but just let it flow along. Not taking too much time but taking it easier. On the American tour we are going to try out the three numbers that we have already recorded, and if any changes occur within a number then we will record it again. We have found that numbers develop so much more on stage.

You talk about letting the recording “flow along”. But the band put the last album “Tarkus” down very quickly indeed. How did you manage to do that?

It took, like, two weeks that album. We were really in the studio every day. The thing is that “Tarkus” took  that amount of time, it didn`t take any longer because it was completely arranged and set out by Keith (Emerson). We didn`t rush the “Tarkus” album, it just took two weeks. But the album we are now recording – because it is going to be totally different – will take longer. A third album to any band is so important, and that is not including “Pictures” which you can`t count as a third album.

What do you mean by “totally different”?

Well, what we went into before were highly arranged things and we never really got to jam a lot on an album. On this album we are leaving room for that, but not too much, just enough so you get time to fill out. “Tarkus” was a set thing and it sounds pretty much the same every night but these new numbers, these three numbers I have mentioned, will vary so much. We have two other numbers and numerous ideas but whether they justify themselves to be used or not remains to be seen. We have a lot of ideas and we are being extra-cautious, being very careful, and that is why we are taking more time out to do it.
I do think that the third album of a band does set up the life of the band. The first one is the initial effort of a band, with the second one, people know what you are into, and with the third one you have got to be into what you are into! Do you know what I mean?
What we are trying to do with the new album is get the arrangement thing in there which we are known for, but never lose any of the basic funk which at times I think we did on “Tarkus”. On the actual recording I think it could have been funkier in places. But now we have been together that bit longer you would be surprised how much that has helped. We are a lot tighter now, and having had more time to think about it, I think this album will be the better one of the three.
I`m not dissatisfied with “Tarkus”. I just know that if we recorded it now it would be better, because the album has got an American and an English tour behind it, and things come together on stage so much more. At the time “Tarkus” was recorded I thought I was playing great and so did everyone else.
After the new album is released I think we shall start recording the next one in August or October. Oh yes, we have already planned that, planned when we should record and allowed two months off to record it. I don`t know about material yet, but after the present one is finished and we have played it on the road we shall have more idea about future recording.

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What is more important to ELP, gigging or recording?

They are equally important. You must never give up live appearances you know. We belong on stage, and we belong in the recording studio; it is basically a very hard-working band. I couldn`t just record, nor could Keith or Greg (Lake), but on the other hand I couldn`t just do gigs because I need the satisfaction of being in the studio and hearing your own sound played back.

You`ve just got a new drum kit. Will you be using it on the tour of the States?

Yes, I fly out in a few days time before the other fellahs, just to get used to sitting behind the new drum kit! This is very important to me, because there is a whole scene behind it. I shall spend the first night just looking at it in my hotel room where I shall set it up, getting used to all the heights and sizes. It`s like a toy. After that the band will be rehearsing in the Fillmore East, New York.
The audiences in America, as far as taking solos within numbers are concerned, are beautiful. They just know when to clap, it`s as if you have rehearsed them in the afternoon and got all these cats together and said, “All right, clap now”. For that part, people are unbelieveable, but for the general living part in America – the food and the actual environment – doesn`t suit me personally. Some parts of the States are better than others, Detroit and Chicago I`m not too keen to walk about in. I just get in a cab as soon as I can. I would never live in America, I thought I would a few years ago, but not now. I would rather live in the country in England.
In America everyone hustles furiously and doesn`t get that much done, but in England everyone hustles but they are cool about it and get things done. It`s done slightly slower but slightly better and with more taste. If I was to record in America I wouldn`t feel as relaxed as I do here. I would pick up strange vibes the minute I walked into the studio – there`s that hustle there – and there would be an American engineer saying, “Okay you cats, what are you into” and all that kind of scene. That would put me really up-tight.
I don`t let America get on top of me on tour because I take about 12 drum books, my text books, my guitar, my cassette, so that if I have a night off I don`t get hung up. I can play, practise, listen to the cassette or even watch the television. There`s only New York City that you can ever do anything in. When we had nights off in other towns I tried to get a local paper and there was nothing on, just local bands. Probably the local bands are good, I`ve got nothing against them, but you really don`t want to go out to a rock club to hear them after you have just done ten clubs yourself.

At the moment the band is right at the top. You swept the board in the SOUNDS poll awards for instance. Where do you go from here?

That is hard to say. I think we will get into as many other things as we can, we might even try our record label, or a business venture together. We would also like to get into a proper film of ELP, a documentary film and a live thing joined together which we have always wanted but could never get. It`s very, very hard `cos once a band gets to a certain level you must keep the interest together within the band. I think we will probably all make solo albums but not giving any indication that there is a split because there would never be one.
We can all play together for long periods but we all must do that little thing of our own at some time. If you can combine the two without having to make a split then I think it is a sensible way to go. I would personally love to make my own album. What I would like to see is ELP do a big London gig somewhere, and everyone come on, me with my band, Keith with his and Greg with his. Then at the end it is ELP together, that to me would be one of the biggest musical outlets I could imagine. It would have to be really well worked out, that is one of the next musical steps we could try and do. I think we are big enough for the people to accept it.

You sound confident that ELP has a long life ahead of it, that the band won`t split up.

I think, now, that the band has got a long life. I had my doubts at the beginning, but now I think, yes, it has. For two reasons. One, we know now that individuals must do their own thing like solo albums. If you admit that then you are half-way there, because that`s why groups break up; they want to do different things but won`t talk about it. See, we talk about it. And two, as yet, as far as I`m concerned and I think I can speak for Greg and for Keith as well, there has never been any musical conflict at all. I think about these two things and they to me are the ingredients for a band that lasts a long while.

Why did you have doubts at the beginning?

I was worried at first about people calling ELP a supergroup. I wasn`t really known then and I thought if I am going to make a name for myself I want to start off without having any labels put on me at all. That was the only doubt I had. As it happened we came through all that shit quite well, about us being a second Nice, that sort of thing. I must confess that bugged me more than Keith or Greg `cos I just couldn`t take it. I was against doing “Rondo” you know, we do it, but I realised it was such a great number that I would want to do it anyway even if the Nice hadn`t made it famous. I really believe that. Yes, it was the deal with the Nice that bugged me at the beginning but we have all got over that.
At the beginning there were a few people putting us down, I could even name a reporter, but I won`t because it ain`t worth it, who said this, that and the other. And that doesn`t help a band trying to get something together. You really do need people, who although they are not totally in agreement with what you are doing, to say “Yes fellahs I really believe what you are into and I like it”. It just gives you that bit of encouragement, but instead we weren`t getting that. What we were getting was the supergroup thing and “Is it a second Nice?”
I didn`t want to be associated with Brian Davison because I don`t play anything like him. I just didn`t want to be labelled. At times I thought “Oh no”. But it never got to the stage where I thought the band definitely wouldn`t last because I managed to bale myself out of this frame of mind. I got over that period which lasted for about the first couple of months, and then when I picked up the music papers and read what people were saying and how they were slagging Keith I just laughed at it. If only they knew what a musician Keith was, they would never have said those things.

There have also been accusations that Greg and yourself live under Keith`s shadow on stage.

I`ve heard this before. Musically we don`t and stage-wise I don`t think we do either. To me, if ever a musical policy was split three ways it is with ELP. Not only musically but visually as well; Keith still does the same few things that he did with the Nice because they`re good and they`re Keith Emerson. I`ve been taking my tee-shirt off for years on stage, it started when I was with Chris Farlowe, and I still do it because I dig doing it. Even though Ian Wallace from King Crimson does it now which is a bit annoying, but if that is what the cat wants to do then let him do it. I think Greg, truthfully speaking, has had more opportunity with ELP than with what he ever had with Crimson. With Crimson he never got to play his acoustic guitar which I think he plays beautifully, and he never got to sing as much as he does now. I also think that for the production of Crimson, Greg`s say in the matter wasn`t as big as it should have been. For us he is a quite amazing producer.

Do you consider you were getting sufficient credit in Atomic Rooster where you were doing a lot of arranging?

Well, Vincent (Crane) wrote the songs you see, and I got the bread for it but my name wasn`t put down. That didn`t really bug me because I was experimenting with arrangements like Vincent was, but because he wrote the words and the actual melody and I used to arrange it, even though the arrangement is as worthy as the song, he took the credit. It didn`t really matter to me though. Vincent was on a bit of an ego trip, which, if he wanted to, was okay with me. It didn`t bug me, I let it go, as long as I got the money for it which is what you want in the end. The fame and the extra fortune will always come, and I`ve got what I wanted in the end, recognition as a drummer.

What was your reaction when you were asked to join ELP?

When I was originally called up and asked if I would join, I said no. That was because Rooster was the first band I had ever formed – jointly with Vincent after we had left Arthur Brown – and I wanted to go a bit further with it. The band had a promising single which I thought would do something, but as it happened it didn`t. I realised that the first album was trash but I thought I must give it longer.
So I did, but a couple of weeks later Greg called up and suggested I had a blow with them. I did and they both thought it was great, I enjoyed it, and then Greg called me and asked me what I was going to do. I said, “I don`t know, I have got to think about it”. He said he would phone me up the next day and I must give him an answer. But then he called up the same night and suggested another blow tomorrow. So we had another blow and I went back home. He wanted an answer and was putting on the pressure. In the end I said no again but then he laid it on the line about what we thought the band was going to be and it clicked with me. I had been very worried about the Nice situation. Finally I said yes and we went straight into rehearsals. I was doing five gigs a week with Rooster and I was playing three afternoons a week with ELP, and I did that for about two months solid. I found Vincent a drummer and settled all the outstanding business matters. I helped Rooster as best I could and I spoke to Vincent the other day and we are the best of friends. Me leaving Rooster was the most mutual split ever, and who knows, I might even play with Vincent again.

Did you get fulfilment as a drummer before ELP with bands like Rooster, Arthur Brown and Chris Farlowe`s Thunderbirds?

I wasn`t doing as many things as I wanted to. But then the way I play now I never dreamt of playing like that then because the people I was playing with weren`t that way inclined. When I suggested anything a bit freaky then, people were a bit funny. I had a 10/8 riff when I was sixteen which people didn`t want to know about because they thought it was hard. And of course that 10/8 riff is applied to “Tarkus”. I was labelled as a rock and roll drummer and I couldn`t get out of it. With Rooster I got out of it a bit and with ELP I am fulfilled.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Redbone, Frank Zappa, Redwing, Elton John, B.B. King, Bill Williams, Alice Stuart, Fanny, Robbie Robertson, Lesley Duncan, Dave Burland.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Felix Pappalardi (Mountain) FROM SOUNDS, November 20, 1971

This interview can be difficult to read because of the lack of punctuation. But it is still an important article that I wanted to share because of Mr. Pappalardi`s early demise. Killed by his wife, Gail, in 1983, with a derringer he had given her as a gift a few months previously.
In later years, Pappalardi became known for his non-musical proclivities, which included the usual chemical experiments as well as an open marriage with Collins. Her jealousy of one particular mistress reportedly led to the argument that ended in his death, although Collins maintained that she’d shot Pappalardi accidentally while taking a firearms training session. The fact that it happened at 6:00AM didn’t dissuade jurors from handing in a surprising verdict, convicting her of criminally negligent homicide rather than murder.
Pappalardi was an American music producer, songwriter, vocalist, and bassist. He is best known to the public as the bassist and vocalist of the band Mountain, but he also produced several well-known artists, among them were Cream.
An important figure in the early rock music history, this article deserves to be found on the internet.
Have a good read.

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In the talk-in

Along with guitarist Leslie West, Felix founded Mountain back in 1969. Best known for his work with Cream, bass player / producer / arranger Pappalardi has been involved with Tim Hardin, Tom Paxton, John Sebastian, Youngbloods, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tom Rush and many more artists, but is now totally committed to Mountain and its welfare. He lives, with his wife Gail Collins, on the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, which was once the centre of America`s whaling industry. The island and it`s traditions play a great part in his life and inspired the band`s last album “Nantucket Sleighride”. Mountain`s new album, released this week, is titled “Flower Of Evil”.

Interview: Billy Walker Picture: Spud Murphy

When did you first start producing?

In `63/4, I started as a studio musician arranging for people like Richie Havens, Ian and Sylvia, Tim Hardin – I spent a lot of time with Tim – Sebastian, Cass Elliott. Then in the fall of 1966 Jessie Colin Young asked me if I would produce the Youngbloods and I said sure. The very first thing we did was “Get Together” which three years later was a top five single. I finished that album and then I went to Atlantic and sort of became Armet Ertegun`s protege, he “found me” you know? We were doing projects and then he put me in the studio with Cream.

How did you initially get into session work?

I went down to the Village and began playing with all those cats down there. Paul Rothchild was a producer at the time for Elektra and was drawing from down there. John Sebastian and I became virtually a studio team and began doing that kind of work until he evolved finally and got his own band and then I was with Ian and Sylvia for a while.
Actually the thing that got me into production was that I would do an arrangement like “Morning Morning” for Richie Havens or something for Buffy Sainte Marie and when I`d be writing the arrangement I`d be hearing one thing in my head, a certain lushness, and when I`d hear the final mix it wouldn`t be there.

Mountain and Cream apart what has been your most satisfying production job?

I was pleased with the Youngbloods project as far as it went and I was pleased with my association with Tim Hardin because Hardin was very important to us all. I played bass on “If I Were A Carpenter” but Tim and I go back a couple of years before that, he was innovative and very, very influential and very important to me.

At what point did you meet up with Leslie West?

`67 right after I finished “Disraeli Gears”. I did two sides with a band called the Vagrants which Leslie was in and dug him. Our association grew throughout this time until Cream was finished and after. I did the “Goodbye” album which was Cream but it was also Cream and myself, and George Harrison in one case on “Badge”, and I got the job done somehow that`s what happened. I figured if I hadn`t have shoved for “Goodbye” to happen it never would have happened, those three studio tracks would never exist.
The live album that came out after that although it says “produced by Felix Pappalardi” I didn`t have anything to do with that. I did sanction the release of those tapes, I wasn`t in the position to sanction or not sanction them. At that time Cream was over and it was up to Stigwood.

I don`t want to dwell on Cream, but…

I don`t mind man, it`s a real part of what I`ve done and I`m naturally proud of it. From the American Press I have always been resented from my association with Cream. They`re stupid to start with, they`re as dumb as anybody could be, they don`t have the education to cope with a lot of the music that is going down they`re just dumb. They believe that music started and ended in the Delta and you and I know that`s not the story, but you can`t tell them that.
They feel that I meddled with Cream, they wanted an advanced Mayall`s Blues Breakers but I didn`t give a flying f–k what they wanted. I had a band in the studio and Jack Bruce was extremely important to that band, in fact if not the driving force musically in that band and as a producer I had to cope with what was happening there and not what I thought Rolling Stone magazine wanted. And it`s that level of education that I`m talking about that I believe exists here (in Britain) but does not exist there and never will.

How much a part do you feel you played on Cream`s final sound and direction?

Production, and the way I produce, that`s only a part of what I do. I arrange and the whole shot like “Eric play here, don`t play there” you know what I mean? He probably wouldn`t like to hear me say that but that`s where it`s at, that`s where it was at, that`s what I did and Jack and I a lot of times would work on the arrangement. For instance there was “Pressed Rat And Worthog”, Ginger`s thing, and Jack and worked on that and worked on it, and worked it into the amazing thing I thought it wound up being, the sort of thing that came out of it, like a huge orchestral sound.
That, I think, was basically resented in the States but it`s not by the people somehow it`s by these dudes that have got nothing else to do with their time but sit around and criticise, particularly Rolling Stone which I see as a local San Francisco newspaper. They give five pages on a band you`ve never heard of that`s rehearsing in their own county but Mountain comes over to Britain and does what it does and you don`t hear a word about it, they don`t like the idea.

At the time of Cream Felix Pappalardi was just a producer and the guy who played the cowbells, did you ever feel the need to get out of that and form your own band?

I knew it was inevitable, I knew it was coming. Gail and I knew it was coming for sure. I don`t like doing anything unless I feel I`m good and prepared for it. At the time I wasn`t ready to have my own band.

Do you feel that Cream`s break up speeded it along a little though?

Oh yes. I could have spent a lot more time producing Cream. I felt a certain responsibility towards them, I don`t know why. Yes, I do know why, they were a phenomenal band.

It`s been said that Mountain, and other bands including Grand Funk, were formed specifically to fill the enormous void left by Cream, how do you feel about these statements?

Well, there was a huge void left in my life. I was a substantial part of them and it was a band I wanted, I had to move on, playing with other people is all influence, it`s a constant cyclical so who knows what I brought from Cream to Mountain or what I brought to Mountain of me that I used in Cream and taken to its logical conclusion I don`t think there`s anybody who can sort all that out. But for my own self I don`t care, I`m interested primarily in improvisation, I`m interested in players as opposed to just people who play the same notes all the time.
Improvisors, players, are constantly working off, you start working off of a clichè, however else are you going to start? Every lick has been played one way or another so you start off in a time, working off a clichè until you get so far out on that limb that you work yourself into playing something you`ve never heard before which is innovation, which is new, which is the pressure and the beauty of improvisation which is really what Mountain is all about we`re a playing band. But different than Cream was a playing band because this is a band that is definitely under leadership. When Leslie`s taking a solo this band is taking care of business, behind Leslie. There`s nobody playing and saying “look at me I can play that lick better”. It`s “get behind Leslie” because he`s got to feel it.
With Cream, Eric would get into a feel and then perhaps the others would come in, he couldn`t get into a groove long enough. I think that was probably one of the huge problems, Eric was the lead horn, there was no other way to think about it, yet there was this fantastic bass player capable of lead, if it had been organised to the point where Eric would be taking care of business behind Jack, and then Jack and Ginger behind Eric, it might have worked.
On the other hand that was the result of it not being that way was part of the excitement also of Cream, this phenomenal counterpoint, constant, rhythmic and melodic. That`s all to say that Mountain is basically an improvisational unit, a playing band as much as a jazz band is a jazz band.

When you produced Leslie`s solo album “Leslie West, Mountain” did you know then that he was a musician you had to play with?

Not at the time, Mountain didn`t come together until `69, it was just after I had done Leslie`s album and then come to London to do Jack`s “Songs For A Tailor”. When I got back I decided to go on the road just to get Leslie started and then as I got out there in order to put a show together that I figured was right I began to sing, got sucked into that, fired the drummer that I originally hired to just go out and get Leslie going and then we got Corky, Steve Knight was already with the band but I knew he was right. He wasn`t a keyboard player he was a trombone player, tuba player, bass player but I needed a musician to play keyboard, I didn`t need a triple-flash on the organ. Now he`s developed, put his musicianship into the keyboard.
It was Gail`s idea that Corky joined us, we did ten days` rehearsing then September we did the Boston Tea Party and as far as I`m concerned that was the beginning of Mountain, that was when I made the commitment to them to stay with this band. Soon after we did “Climbing”, Mountain`s first album, and then a year later “Nantucket Sleighride” and up to “Flowers Of Evil” our latest album.

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Steve Knight`s organ playing, while an important part of Mountain`s sound, isn`t as prominent as many organists, will there be a time when he will be more to the front?

For instance, on “Roll Over Beethoven” his playing is fierce. His treatment of the keyboard in “Nantucket Sleighride” itself, “Animal Trainer And The Toad” and things like that is so broad and his musicianship so good that it can evolve any time, he really can. I trust it will, given time.

Did your writing partnership with Gail start before Mountain or was it brought about by the need for material for the band?

The best was to give you an example to answer that is on “Nantucket Sleighride”, “Travellin` In The Dark” was actually written in 1965 and first recorded in 1967. I thought it was right for “Nantucket Sleighride” so we did it. Gail and I had actually started writing in 1964 together, so we`ve been working on it for a long time now.

Gail also did the covers of Mountain`s three albums, were they specially designed for each album?

The actual oil painting on “Nantucket Sleighride” was also done in 1966, the original is, in fact, backwards of that shown on the album. She does all the designs and the major portion of the photography and the main portion of the visual presentation and has always done so.

In your songwriting does Gail provide the lyrics and you supply the music?

Most of the time that`s the way it is. She`s written some gorgeous melodies and I`d like to do a whole set of orchestrations for an album of them. For instance “Travellin` In The Dark” is mostly my lyric, and “Crossroader”, but without Gail I could never get it, the most important thing is being a songwriting team. Me and my old lady fight but never about that, that`s always straight ahead.

Leslie`s and Gail`s and your style are very evident in the band`s sound, his very raw and abrasive and yours more melodic, are Corky and Steve moving into writing very much, will it alter Mountain`s style?

Corky is in the process of arriving at a style. On the new album I knew what I wanted from it, I wanted a certain thing and style and knowing that I wanted what I wanted so definitely out of what was to become “Flowers Of Evil” that had it been something that Leslie didn`t dig the shit would have hit the fan. But it happened that what I was striving for, the only thing that I would accept, was something that knocked everybody out, and I think every album will be that kind of turning point for the band and if it isn`t I think it`s a waste of studio time.
It should be that important a task, it should be that much of a shake-up. “Nantucket” is different from “Climbing” and the next is going to be different from all of those and that`s what I mean by innovative so that even now when people say Mountain sound like something anybody that`s got half a brain is gonna say “either you haven`t listened to the band or you`re a fool.”

The album “Nantucket Sleighride” plainly shows your great interest in the history of whaling, were the majority of the songs written with this interest in mind?

“Travellin` In The Dark” for instance, when I`m out in Nantucket sometimes and the fog rolls in I think to myself that those dudes leaving their wives and families for three years to go around the Cape and not seeing anybody for that time, it`s a long and frightening break and all those references are there. “Nantucket Sleighride” is by no means over for me that was just the beginning of it for me, Nantucket`s my home and if I die, I`ll die there.

Mountain once played the Fillmore six times in a week, how does this sort of pressure tell on the band`s stamina?

A show now can go two hours, there was a time when Leslie would get physically sick after 55 minutes but now he`s used to it. Last Friday we did Milwaukee that went 1 hour 55 minutes. Sure we were tired and there wasn`t much happening after the show but we felt good. It`s hard, like being on an athletic team, I can`t stay up the night before and f–k around, I can`t do it because I know if I do I know I`m not going to be able to drive the band.
If Corky stays up all night with some broad and then lays back on stage and I`ve got to honk him, but if I`m not on top of him he`d run me into the ground, he`s a strong cat and only twenty-three years old. So I`ve got to take my black pill and go to sleep.

The sound you manage to achieve on bass is particularly powerful, how do you get this level of power?

I think my wattage is dangerous, I`ve got so much of it and the bass is souped up. The amps were originally experimental Hendrix amps that he originally used but I don`t know how I ended up getting them. Our guys have done some work on them and I`ve got a very powerful instrument, the pick-up itself is very powerful and my basic sound is always wide open on the amp. My amp`s always on 10, bass is completely off and treble is always full, conture`s completely full. All the dynamics are being done from my bass, so I`m playing what I`d guess you`d call completely distorted all the time, but it`s distorted with tone.

There were rumours in Britain recently that Mountain had split, was there any truth of a break or were the band resting?

There wasn`t a rumour in the States but we heard about the rumour here that I had split to write and produce. As long as I can get the people that are booking the band and “managing” the band to understand that we cannot keep on going the way we are going now under any circumstances there`s going to be a choice, either it`s going to be done my way or I`m going to quit. It`s as simple as that, I`m not going to play this game any more of three-days-a-week working in the States, so if it`s not done my way there will be no more Mountain, however I can promise you there will be a Mountain because it`s going to be done my way.

If a split did come about could you see yourself playing with anyone but Leslie?

No, Leslie`s my man, it would be a joke. It`s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and we both know that. The problem is the people who are booking and managing the band, the philosophy has got to change. When the band goes out now, and it`s getting nearly three years old, it`s time to cut that crap out of two three-week periods off a year and the rest of it on the road. Three days out on the road and four days off to recuperate so you can get yourself together for the next three days it`s just got to stop.
In other words whenever the band goes out on the road it`s got to be an occasion, I`m sick of going to cities three times a year where somebody reads an ad and says “Mountain`s in town again, well I don`t think we`ll go this time because they`ll be back in three months.” We get a fantastic audience but we`re killing ourselves. It will change, it`s just a matter of me having enough time to formulate how it`s going to be and socking it to everybody.
The Who are very bright when it comes to this sort of thing. When you have something like a Who or a Mountain you don`t put their asses out on the road like they were a bunch of whores.

On “Flowers Of Evil” the title track has a very positive story line, could you expand on it?

What that`s commenting on is the boys in America that go to Vietnam to fight that bullshit thing over there and they get hooked on smack (heroin). They`re okay for fifty dollars over there, Private First Class pay, they can stay nice and mellow for a week. They come back after their tour of duty is over and it costs them a thousand dollars for the first nine days, so what`s been happening in America is these guys are home and are spending all the money they`ve saved so they go right back to the recruiting centres and sign up for another three years and put in for Saigon so they can get back and get high.
Nixon and the Government are aware of the problem but still they`re closing Methodon centres and here are these kids that are coming back with a Jones (habit) and a half. Anyway that`s the thing that`s probably going to save Mountain because all of us have a Mountain Jones, we`re all hung up on Mountain. Leslie would be a miserable dude without Mountain and so would I.

“Nantucket Sleighride” was dedicated to Owen Coffin, could you tell me a little more about the legend that surrounds him?

The Coffin family first of all was one of the great Nantucket families one of the original owners of the island and one of the great whaling families. Owen was seventeen when he went on his fateful first and last voyage on the Essex. The two biggest disasters in Nantucket`s whaling history were the Globe and the Essex, the Globe was a mutiny and the Essex was stoved by a whale. George Pollard was the captain of the Essex and he was only twenty-eight and was Coffin`s uncle.
They were into a school of whales and the longboats were out with the harpooners doing their number, then all of a sudden, about a hundred yards off the stern of the ship, a whale was noticed heading for the mother ship (the Essex) picking up speed and then stove in the front of the boat. It came underneath the ship and wallowed off to the side, knocked semi-conscious, the captain realised he was losing his ship and began making preparations for an emergency.
They were a long way from landable land (owing to cannibals) and as they were preparing to leave the ship the whale stove in the other side, they salvaged what they could and this was in August and it was February before the last survivors were picked up. In one of the longboats there were five men and they had to resort to cannibalism finally, to sacrifice one man so that the others might live and Owen Coffin drew the short straw. He was in the longboat with his uncle George Pollard who refused to partake of him but the others did and survived.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ray Charles, Marc Bolan, Bell & Arc, Ornette Coleman, Rory Gallagher, The Who, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Mr. Fox.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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