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Illustrator and Cartoonist Ralph Steadman brings his thought provoking talents to the Vinyl Medium in an amazing partnership with Philthy Phonographic Records.
Article by Joseph Timmons, IndiePulse Music Magazine
Ralph Steadman is renowned for his political and social caricatures, cartoons and picture books. Awards that he has won for his work include the Francis Williams Book Illustration Award for Alice in Wonderland, the American Society of Illustrators’ Certificate of Merit, the W H Smith Illustration Award for I Leonardo, the Dutch Silver Paintbrush Award for Inspector Mouse, the Italian Critica in Erba Prize for That’s My Dad, the BBC Design Award for postage stamps, the Black Humor Award in France, and several Designers and Art Directors Association Awards.
Ralph Steadman was voted Illustrator of the Year by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1979. Steadman had a long partnership with the American journalist Hunter S. Thompson, drawing pictures for several of his articles and books. He accompanied Thompson to the Kentucky Derby for an article for the magazine Scanlan’s, to the Honolulu Marathon for the magazine Running, and illustrated both Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. Much of Steadman’s artwork revolves around Raoul Duke-style caricatures of Thompson: bucket hats, cigarette holder and aviator sunglasses. In his time, he has produced art with an imagery that moves from the fantastic to the horrific, often seeing the dark and the evil just lurking underneath the skin, exposing truth in that which others often ignore or fail to see out of ignorance or apathy.
Now, which for some would be the twilight of their lives, it would be that Ralph Steadman would take his words and prose to music, which he has found a partner that would not only deliver music that is , like Ralph Steadman’s art, haunting and phantasmal, visually stunning and mirrors the genius and historical artist legacy.
Philthy Phonographic Records is a “DIY” independent record label that is in whole a “one man operation run by “Philthy Phil” and he has created some very impressive, short run / limited quantity albums that are much sought after by fans of the label and the record collecting pubic as well. Recently, Sly Vinyl and The Vinyl Factory, as well as other well-known Record Collector and Audiophile enthusiast sites have been praising this single for it’s wonderful and talented composure, but the imagery in the Vinyl itself, each single is hand poured and hand pressed by the labels founder himself, each one becoming a work of art, ominously becoming and forming audio versions of the Ralph Steadman’s visual art.
“Philthy Phil” said “Gotta Groove Records invited me to come in and personally press some records. I got to work with Heather Gmucs by my side. She showed me some of the stuff they were doing with their custom vinyl pressing and I asked if I could try making a few of my own. She said yes, and we collaborated on what types of interesting things we could come up with. I learned a lot from her and she mentioned I had tried a few things she hadn’t thought of before. Approximately 20 records were done.”
“My brother first began collecting Ralph Steadman’s work when he was in high school, almost 20 years ago, and over that period of time he was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet him on a several occasions. They somehow were able to keep touch over the years and when I began Philthy Phonographic Records in 2012, the two of us thought how great it would be to have the opportunity to collaborate with Ralph on such a project. We both knew that he had participated and recorded various musical projects over the years, and sang and played the guitar and ukulele on occasion as well. So we decided to approach him about putting together and EP. An inquiry was sent and a response was not received for some time, and then a song just happened to arrive in my brother’s inbox with the note, “…sending you one of my songs, FYI…” At first it was just one song, but through email and further discussion, Ralph sent a few additional songs as a possible side B. The songs were records in 1984 to generate an interest in the musical based on the publication of the award winning book “I, Leonardo.”
“Ralph was very open-minded about through the entire project and basically gave us the freedom to run with it however we saw fit. He was enthused throughout the process and could not have been more pleased with the final result. As for the two of us, we were beyond thrilled to be able to collaborate with such an influential artist.”
In fact this was a very limited run, between the times the project started and not, most of the records created have been sold. Some of the most unique copies produced were issues that had torn up shreds of artwork by Ralph Steadman literally mixed into the vinyl, some are unplayable due to this, but as far as for the rabid collector in all of us, this is a treasure. The shredded art editions have an original silkscreen and are signed by Steadman himself.
The remaining was pressed in association with Wax Merge, which also works with Gotta Groove. Wax Mage Records specialize in hand poured, hand pressed, one of a kind records.
The single, Ralph Steadman – The Man Who Woke up in the Dark / Striped Paint was limited To 200 Red Opaque, 75 Red w/Black Splatter, And 24 Art Variants on 7″ Vinyl, so with most of that already sold, this is a very hot single to have.
At IndiePulse Music, we love reporting stories like this, the big record label industry as a whole commercially is faltering, unable to really produce great music as it once did and has little or no interest in the artists out there that have true talent, often choosing what can be quickly packaged for sale and inspire the teeny boppers and boy band lovers. But from the muck of the self-centered music biz has come the indie label, small run, mostly home based labels run by people that want music to truly live again and support the musicians that really live and breathe their stories and songs, the music they create is drenched with their blood and sweat and is a work of love for their talents.
I encourage you to visit Philthy Phonographic Records and see for yourself the records they have produced and get your copy of Ralph Steadman’s single, I am sure you will enjoy the master’s work!
I’m going to be writing more, adding posts, articles, essays, random stuff… my music and book reviews.. I will do my best not to bore you.
what would you like to see, read, hear… let me know, I may set it up 🙂
There is always a time where as a writer and journalist, you may not get the big scoop, or be the first on the scene for a band that is breaking news and reaching new heights, but being among the many that have been lucky enough to get a moment to talk with a group of artists that have the potential to make a big splash in a music arena that already seems too small for them.
Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing the album Creatures by ACIDIC, I wrote the following “Creatures is a fantastic romp through the energy of youth, something that can be forgotten and is only experienced by the young in body, spirit and mind. These are four very talented and exuberant young men that have some serious potential to make some big noise on the stage.” Truth is, they have only just started to take over the festival and indie scene. Since that review, they have received even more acclaim and notoriety, as well as a media storm that is sweeping up the band in waves of new fans daily.
A recent interview with Rock at Night Correspondent Chyrisse Tabone in Tampa, an audio podcast and written article available at http://rockatnight.com/podcast/chatting-with-mike-gossard-of-rock-band-acidic is an example of the positive and universal appreciation for a group that is only really just starting and is destine for fabulous heights in the future of music.
I had an opportunity to converse with ACIDIC bad member Michael Gossard, I learned quite a bit about the band, who they are and what is their motivations, loves and triumphs, hope you enjoy the moment!
Who, is ACIDIC, not just the names of the members, but their personalities, so often interview articles not establish the individual, I feel our readers want to know the artist for the real person, not a made up persona or stage presence. Who are you?
ACIDIC is a collection of four guys.
Michael Gossard – I am a lifelong musician; the lead singer of ACIDIC. I love music more than just about anything. I also love cooking and am learning to fly airplanes. Travel is definitely a passion.
Matt Whitaker – He is our drummer. He is outgoing and intelligent. He is a survivor of childhood Leukemia and doesn’t let anything stop him from getting where he wants to go. He is always the one to call for a chill day at the beach or a game of Call of Duty.
Josh Bennett – He is our guitar player and is the master of tasty solos and chicly rhythm. He is also a walking sketch book for his tattoo artist and is always coming up with new ideas for a piece. Josh is very dedicated to his comic books and is always the one to call for a good conversation.
Max Myrick – He is our bass player and is an avid surfer and partier. He can be found doing videography work or down on the beach enjoying the sun. He is definitely the one to call for a good time.
What were your influences that drove you to pursue music, and how would you say they influence your sound?
We have had many influences over the years, and all the classics definitely fit into the category of bands who have influenced us. Although lately I have noticed that we are more influenced by the bands we tour and play shows with than anything. We see the intensity and the drive to succeed that only us underground rock acts seem to possess and it really drives our sound. There is a tense energy in our music that comes from our desire to succeed that I have not heard anywhere else but in the underground rock scene.
In your own words, how would you describe your sound? In reviews, including our review of your latest album “Creatures”, almost every catch phrase could be used to describe your music and your sound, but I believe words fail to really grasp how high energy and powerful your music is, can you, as the artists tell us what we should be hearing?
In our music, there is a lot of tension and release. I believe that the listener should hear a lot of building up to a good chorus. We try to build a multidimensional platform filled with nuance. But at the heart of it, it is really just a simple expression of emotion. We try to not give ourselves too much credit, we just arrange chords the way we like to hear them and most things have been done before.
You have shared the stage with a lot of artists, would you say you have been well received? Have there been any shows where you performed beyond expectation? And who are some of the acts you have performed with that things just seemed to “Gel” with, who really rocked the stage with you that you would perform with again?
We have been very well received all over the United States and parts of Europe. We leave our hearts up there and try not to worry so much about what a few people might be thinking. We try to focus on expressing our music as efficiently as we can and let the audience interpret it as they will. Almost without exception, people have been very gracious. We have really gelled with most of the acts we have played with in the past. Some particularly good matches have been Hinder, and Royal Bliss. We have very much struck a chord with these bands and are very excited about possibly working with them in the future. The Hinder guys pranked us on the last show of one of our tours. The works! Baby powder on the drums that made this huge cloud in the air when Matt started playing, Ben Gay on the microphones, they even wrapped our bass player’s chest and arms with saran wrap while he was onstage playing! It was hilarious! We also played with Alien Ant Farm and they’re great guys, too. They did a lot of that same stuff, pranking us in the last show on the tour. Too funny! We loved it! In both those cases! Felt like we’d successfully pledged the best fraternity on campus! There was also the great Rusty Anderson, Paul McCartney’s guitarist. We played a show with him where he had us join him onstage for several songs. I sang co-lead with him on a couple of them, which was pretty thrilling! He was generous and incredibly easy to work with. We actually can’t think of many people we have not enjoyed playing with.
The album “Creatures” is great, well thought out, produced and made with the intention of presenting you in the best way possible. Was there any material that did not make the cut, and if so, would we hear it at a show or on the next release?
First of all, thank you! Yes there was a lot of material that didn’t make it past the cutting room floor. We try to make decisions on songs based on what’s best for the album, not what’s best for any one particular person’s opinion. There have been occasions when we have added songs after production has been finished and that has always been a good decision. One was even a request by fans – who posted asking if that song they’d heard at live shows was going to be on the album. That one was “Rad (Standing In the Rain)” which is a high-intensity rocker that we launch our live shows with. Most of the songs we have written, we have played live. Although, if a particular piece of music hasn’t made it on a particular album that it was meant for, the probability of us continuing to play said piece is much lower. Having said that, there have been songs we have done on multiple albums and songs which were meant for one album, that have ended up on another. There is always room for good music.
You have been touring this new album and playing for some great venues, but recently you had to cut some shows due to an injury to a band member. Is everything going to be ok and will you start touring again soon?
Injuries occur regardless of the profession. I am not happy that we have had to cut shows, but I would rather have people healing at home near their usual doctor, than on the road in random urgent cares around the country. Our drummer Matt recently received some 2nd degree burns to his left hand. I made the executive decision to end the tour due to the advice of the doctor at the hospital I took him to. I would rather place my bet on the future value of good shows to come, than to permanently injure a band member to play a few shows now. Luckily, he has healed and is very excited to return to the stage and we will be back in action over Labor Day. And I do want to take a moment to thank the promoters who we had to call right away to notify them about Matt’s accident. They were amazingly understanding.
With your popularity growing at such a fantastic rate, where do you see yourself in 5 to 6 years, I ask this because so often, and not that I think or hope this happens, but often bands get to a point where they start to lose interest in the sound they have, experiment with new things or loose that spark that makes them great. What is your goal in music and where do you want to be?
I cannot tell you with competence where ACIDIC will be in 5 years, but what I can tell you is that we are all ardent music enthusiasts and we love playing live. These are the types of things that rarely change. Nothing is as satisfying as jumping in front of 1000 screaming people. I have to stick to thinking about today and leave tomorrow to more qualified forces. I can say also, that as long as we continue to love playing for people and dig the music we write, which we all currently do, very much, ACIDIC will continue indefinitely.
What is the best “From the Tour Bus” story do you have that you could share with our readers and what would be the worst where if one more things went wrong you would try to leave town under cover of darkness?
From the tour bus, there have definitely been some crazy things. Most of which I am sworn to secrecy on. We have seen all sorts of body parts, functions and dis-functions. We have also had the good fortune to have not encountered any major incidence where we have had to leave town under the cover of darkness…yet. I will let you know if that changes.
Only because I want a pat on the back, did you get to read our review, and did you think it captured what you were expressing in the album Creatures, or did I miss the mark? Be honest, I won’t cry or fail to love your work.
First of all, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to review our album, we have been astounded by all the love we have been getting, the reactions have been universally positive. I think you guys were spot on. I also think that regardless of what anyone writes, that person, for that moment in time, under those particular circumstances is, unto themselves, spot on. Basically I want to pat you on the back and give you my wink of appreciation.
And now, the most common of questions …. What’s next for ACIDIC, will you be going into the studio when this tour is complete, any great shows planned or surprises for your fans you want to share?
I am asked this question quite a bit and I am happy to write that the answer rarely changes. We are going to continue to play, to write, and to work towards the next level. We are currently en route to a large music festival in Madison, WI. So for the moment, the name of the game is play, play, play. In winter, I imagine we will pull back and begin the process of writing new material. I am very excited to say that the new material is already being written to some extent and it is fantastic.
I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for this opportunity to share with you a little bit of lore and laughter about ACIDIC. We are just a bunch of crazy dudes who love to play music and I hope we get to speak again soon.
In this interview, we met the men and the minds behind the music, I would seriously advise you al to be part of the new music revolution, one where standing in lines to see bands with mediocre fluff and generic boy band character is swiftly becoming a thing of a hopefully soon forgotten blip in musical history, and the surge of real music comes back to enchant a new generation, led by ACIDIC, and others with their vision.
Learn more about ACIDIC at http://www.acidicband.com and Follow them on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ACIDICband
The Independent Music labels of America are breathing and thriving due to the need for real and honest love of Music.
I would like to start this article by saying that I do not think I am an expert on the music industry, in fat anyone that does think they know everything and have the “winning formula” most likely do not and should exit the room right now. Back when I was young, one of my fondest memories was going to the local record store on Fridays after I got my allowance, the record store was, for me, a place of wonder. I would take my few dollars and browse the 45s or if I was lucky that week, the LP sections and make that painful decision of what record I would bring home and what would have to wait till the following week.
There was a certain philosophy in my mind that the record I hose would be a step forward in my path to greatness, the bands I liked were for me a way to connect with those that thought like me, that said what I was thinking and more, a bond of music connecting me to something greater than myself. Listening to bands that inspired me to think and feel, lead me to becoming a drummer, the first time I heard Vanilla Fudge, Cream, King Crimson and others that spoke to me and me alone helped develop who I was and am. Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, The B52’s and Talking Heads… Legends in Wax.
Somewhere around the late 80’s and early 90’s the record industry failed us, the pursuit of glamorous money and the departure from substance to profit made the joy of music stale, the advance of technology made the music too easy to produce and the concept of digital music streaming, once thought of as a way to get music to the masses faster, became the place of illegal downloads and the loss of worth, so it seemed, music was becoming dull and tasteless.
For those of us that held music to a higher standard, it became a pain rather than a pleasure and the rule of the Boy Bands and Autotune was drowning out the call to worship, and the record Collector was without options.
Thank the gods of Vinyl that today we have the independent record producers today!
Due to the advance of technology and the industrial nature of man and the music lover, the indie label scene is thriving and more record labels are opening shop on the internet daily. Labels like Hidden Volume, Philthy Phonographic Records, Fat Elvis Records, Say-10 Records and more are bringing to the light of day artists that we would never hear of if the present record industry giants would still reign supreme. Internet sites such as Bandcamp give us ways to hear, sample and purchase albums from all over the world and hear music that means something to us on whatever level our mind is at, simply splendid really.
The limited runs of the smaller labels does have its downfall if you don’t buy a title the day it comes out you may “miss” an opportunity to hold a rarity in your collection, but many of the small labels have banded together to do distribution between them, so the spirit of mutual support and fair competition is holding to a philosophy of mutual and supportive existence, the labels are producing Zines and keeping with the early Rolling Stone theory of the power of music is the path to intelligence, the sharing of wisdom and the key to nirvana is in the vibe and the tone arm of the turntable is the wand of power. I know, I hold a very glamorous view of music and I wax poetic of the Record, but in life you have to have something to believe in.
Now, don’t get me wrong, making records in not an inexpensive prospect, and for as many labels succeed, many fail, there is still a place for CD’s, Digital copies of music, Music Streaming services and even the Cassette tape is on the way back into our hearts, Radio manufacturers are coming out with the boom box, ghetto blaster styles again and even some bands are doing 8-Tracks as the rare one off (Whaaaaaaaaaa?), but Vinyl, that is my medium of choice.
In the coming months, I will be doing several articles, stories interviews, and for those that like the sound of my voice, podcasts about the Indie Record Label Scene, interviews with artists, producers and managers as well as with label operators, with luck, possibly some video interviews as well.
My suggestion to you, get to the thrift store or get online, find a turntable, hell, get to the local box store and pick up a Crosley record player for less than 100 bucks and then get on Bandcamp, search out the unique sounds out there, or get on Facebook and search “Record Labels” you will find an infinite number of resources, come back and check out our blog again, or http://www.xombiewoof.com, we will have a list of Indie Labels you can choose from to make your moments magical again, as for me, I’m dusting off the shelves for some more albums that just showed up via UPS yesterday, good thing my wife does not mind my love for records, but I do need to build an extension on my home, the record room is getting a bit crowded.