September 2011 - BABY WOODROSE
Lorenzo Woodrose is firmly established in the world of 1960's influenced psychedelic/garage rock. His playing oozes sensitivity and he has an intuitive sense of musicianship which shines through the music like a beacon. This is evidenced by his main band BABY WOODROSE, but the same also apllies to his other bands Dragontears and Spids NÃ¸genhat. In short, everything that he does has style and class.
It is, therefore, even more gratifying that 2011 sees the re-release of BABY WOODROSE's third studio album 'Love Comes Down', not to forget 'Mindblowing Seeds & Disconnected Flowers' which has been released earlier this year. The time has therefore come for Cosmic Lava to do another interview with Lorenzo, because our last talk was quite some time ago. That was in August 2004 and if you're interested in it just click here. In the same way as we did then, we talked not only about BABY WOODROSE but also about a range of different topics. If I have piqued your interest then I absolutely recommend to read on. (All photos have been taken by Rob Zim @ Shooting Heads)
Hello Lorenzo, welcome back to Cosmic Lava. I get the impression that you've become a very diligent musician over the last few years. That is not to say that you've been lazy, but meanwhile Baby Woodrose have been on tour in Europe almost constantly and you've also played with Dragontears at this year's Roadburn festival. What is the reason for all these activities? Are you yearning to escape from your hometown?
Well, Klaus, to tell you the truth - life seems to be happening every day. And I take part in it. I like to make music with my friends and I like to tour, so that's how I fill my days. I've been working on different projects because it feels good not to do the same thing all the time. At the moment we're rehearsing with an old band of mine called Spids NÃ¸genhat, as we're playing a gig at this years Roskilde Festival. I'm also trying to gather enough cool ideas to record another Baby Woodrose album very soon.
That sounds very promising. But before we talk about, inter alia, Baby Woodrose as well as Spids NÃ¸genhat let's go back in time. When did you discover your passion for music and what were your earliest influences? What was the first instrument that you wanted to play?
I was completely swept away by music at an early age, I think about 10 or 11. I started out with stuff like Beatles, Devo, Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre and stuff like that. From there I got into the early eighties post-punk scene, mostly Joy Division, Bauhaus, Virgin Prunes. Then for a few years it was the then contemporary neo garage psych wave, Nomads, Fuzztones and from there I became very interested in the sixties originals, where I've really stayed ever since.
The first instrument that I wanted to master was the drums. I always used to stare at the drummer at the first shows I went to. Some friends of mine were talking about starting a band and discussing what to call it and I boldly claimed to be able to play drums, even though I had never tried it before, soon after that band became a reality and I was the drummer!
It's interesting that you mention The Beatles, because they were also my first favourite band. I think they introduced a lot of people to music, especially those who are older than 40 years now. But let's talk about the band, which you joined as a drummer. I can imagine that you're talking about On Trial.....am I right? If I am wrong, what was your first band?
No, actually it was a previous punk band of 12-13 year olds that evolved naturally into first a dark post-punk band called Morgan Le Fay, later The Morgue, then a rockabilly punk band called The Dogs, which pretty quickly became On Trial, but some of the same people were all involved at one point or other, so yeah...
That sounds as if there was a pretty creative community. For me, On Trial was one of the best psychedelic rock bands not only here in Europe and it's really sad that they broke up. What are your memories of this time like and why did you leave the band?
Yeah, it was like practizing at our school, freely using the musicroom every friday after 2 o clock. I was in On Trial from 1986 until 2003 and left the band because Baby Woodrose was really starting to take off and I thought I had to take a chance on it and give it all I had. I've known these people most of my life, so naturally there are lots of great memories. But also, the typical kind of melancholic feeling you get when growing older with a bunch of people for such a long time and the different changing paths of life start to infringe on friendships. All in all, though - I enjoyed most of it.
Is there any specific On Trial album that you're particularly proud of?
Yeah, 'Head Entrance' is a classic in my book.
It's a pity that it's almost impossible to find a copy of this album today. Have you ever thought about a re-release?
Yeah, but it's not really my call or my problem as I've left the band. But I guess there might also be some legal problems. The album was released by SPV in Europe, but I actually think the band owns the vinyl rights? Not sure, anyway, it really should be available, although I doubt how many copies it would sell?
Well ok, let's change the subject. Before we talk about Baby Woodrose I want to focus more on Dragontears. Apart of the music, I really like the cover artwork and the title of the last album 'Turn On Tune In Fuck Off!!'. There have been so many variations of Leary's slogan, but that's the best one. Please tell me more about how this all happened. Who came up with the idea of the artwork and the altered slogan?
Well, I came up with that stuff. I always have a specific idea for artwork and album titles but always work with someone who can realize my ideas. Sometimes it works out really well, sometimes not. All three Dragontears titles are actually old ideas that I've always wanted to use. '2000 Micrograms From Home' was one of my suggestions for On Trial's 'Blinded By The Sun', 'Turn On Tune In Fuck Off' was what I wanted to call the 'Love Comes Down' album at one point (would have worked well with the artwork!) and 'Tambourine Freak Machine' (this cover did not turn out as psychedelic as I had hoped) was originally 'Amphetamine Freak Machine', a song I wrote back in 2005 or something.
'Amphetamine Freak Machine' would have been a great title. Just like Pandemonica, Dragontears is a trilogy which consists of three albums. Was it fully intended and if so, what is the charm?
I just have a thing for the number three I guess. Originally it was only intended as a one off sideproject, but then I felt it was more fun doing than Baby Woodrose stuff, so we did another one and figured we might as well do one more and end on three like the Pandemonica stuff.
I read an interview in which you told that all Dragontears use different concepts. Does it refer to the lyrical content or has it more to do with the working method?
Well, mostly the working methods. The first one was done in a way where we booked a weekend in the studio and then just jammed while recording, this was then turned into the songs 'Doubtstains', 'Microdot', 'Doors Of Prescription' and 'Heliodrone'. Most of these ideas didn't even exist pre entering the studio. On the second I did some work previous and had some basic recordings I had done in my homestudio that we built upon collectively. The third one was about entering with only very loose ideas and then just writing the songs as I went along. I recorded that one on my own mostly.
Which working method do you prefer and how would you describe your approach to the songs for Baby Woodrose? Are the songs completely finished when you a record a new Baby Woodrose album?
Well, it varies. For the early stuff like 'Money For Soul', 'Dropout' and 'Love Comes Down' we used to first rehearse the songs, then play them live a bit, then record them, but lately (since the first Dragontears and Baby Woodrose's 'Chasing Rainbows') I've liked much better to keep them fresh in the process by working on them in the studio. It just seems more satisfying and is a lot more fun, because you don't get tired of the songs by the mixing stage and then when you're taking the songs on the road everybody knows what the songs are really all about, you know?
Yes, I can understand that. Speaking of Baby Woodrose, October this year sees the re-release of 'Love Comes Down' via Bad Afro Records. I think this re-issue is long overdue because it's a wonderful album. Why didn't you choose Bad Afro from the start and where's the difference between the original vinyl album and the re-issue?
Well, at that point in time we felt it was the right time to try something else - we had built up a momentum with some mainstream success and we received a very good offer from a major label - so we jumped on it, but unfortunately it didn't work out and the record ended up selling much less than expected. 5 years later there is still a demand for the album and I had to buy the rights back to be able to hand them over to Bad Afro for free to be able to get it out there again. The reissue should end up looking and sounding exactly like the original, but the first press run has a bonus single with two unreleased songs from the same session.
Lucky you had the possibility to buy the rights back of 'Love Comes Down'. Other bands were less fortunate in the same situation. You mentioned the bonus 7" that will include two unreleased songs. One of them is called 'Cherry Bomb'. Is it a cover version of the great song from The Runaways?
No, it's an original - but if you study my work, you will notice I like to do that a lot - re-use titles of classic songs, so naturally it's a reference to the Runaways.
Let's find out if I had studied your work thoroughly. So do I assume rightly that 'Born To Lose' is a reference to Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers?
Of course! :)
Strike!! Ok, Lorenzo let's talk about another Baby Woodrose album that has been released this year, namely 'Mindblowing Seeds And Disconnected Flowers' (review). I think it was an ingenious idea to open your treasure chest and to provide an insight in the early stages of Baby Woodrose. With the exception of 'City Of People' , there are only self-penned songs which show that you're blessed with vivid songwriting skills from the start. When did the idea for 'Mindblowing Seeds' come and why did it took so long to release these songs? And while we're on the subject of the beginning of Baby Woodrose: Please tell me about this period. Am I right when I say that Baby Woodrose was intended right from the start to be your next full-time band?
Well, yeah - at that point I was a songwriting drummer and I really wanted to sing my own songs and play the guitar and On Trial seemed to be going nowhere, so yes. After 10 years of Woodrose we we're discussing doing some kind of release to celebrate it. There were several ideas, one of them was a best of greatest hits or something, but we decided to release these early demos because I felt they would be of more interest to the fans.
I think you had made the the absolute right decision. I also dig your bandcamp site, which is like a gold mine for each fan of your music. Why did you choose this way for all the unpublished songs instead of releasing a couple of proper albums? By the way, what's going on with your own label Pan Records?
Pan Records sadly is no more, there's just too much work involved with having a label. I'm just not very good at dealing with invoices, economy, going to the postoffice every day and mailing out stuff - but luckily with the internet there is a lot of possibilities making at least some of these rarities available. And with the bandcamp setup there's also a payment situation which is ideal for me, since the money I make on that will go right to my Paypal account and thereby making my record purchasing budget bigger. :)
Hahaha....I see! Which were the last three records you've bought?I am really curious.
Harper & Rowe on World Pacific from '67, I think, Terry Brooks & Strange: 'Translucent World' on Outer Galaxie from '73 and Morgan Mason Downs on Roulette from '69 or something like that.
These are all original pressings, but none of them are really that interesting I'm afraid, except for the Terry Brooks, which is a downright classic acidrock album in my opinion. I've known about it for 20 years, just never got myself together to buy one. One of the better LP's I discovered recently would be Jim Sullivans album called 'UFO' from around 1971. Amazing singer/songwriter LP, bordering on country rock, but with a bunch of really great melancholic songs and some psychedelic sounding strings. I dont mind sharing a glimpse of my collection if anyone would find it interesting. Just take a look here.
Wow!! Thanks for giving a little insight into your collection. We could make a seperate interview about it, because there are some real gems. Yes indeed, 'Translucent World' is definitely a classic. I like the strange atmosphere of that album. You just mentioned the melancholic songs from Jim Sullivans album 'UFO' and melancholy is also a central thread woven throughout your music. Where does it come from and what attracts you about it?
This is a harder question to answer. I've always been attracted to music that has minor chords. Sometimes I have to force myself to write a few with majors when I'm making an album. It just doesn't feel natural for me. I guess you could describe me as a thoughtful, melancholic person. It's a part of life.
I see what you mean. To be honest, I hate goofy music. Ok, we've talked about the re-release of 'Loves Comes Down' and 'Mindblowing Seeds', but what is the situation with a brandnew album? Are there any plans?
Yeah, we're recording right now! We have 20 days in the studio in the budget and we've spent 7 I think, and need 5 days to mix it in the end, so basically we're halfway through. I think it's gonna be a cool album. Very different from the last one!
This is great news!!! Will you play any of the new songs on the upcoming German tour in November and which label will release the new record? Bad Afro?
Bad Afro, of course, yes. I don't think we'll play new songs till the new album is out.
Is there any news about your other band Spids NÃ¸genhat? As far as I remember, the last album has been released 10 years ago. Please, give me an update about the last activities.
Yeah, this upcoming weekend we're playing three sold out reunion shows in Denmark. We're also working on finishing a live album from our Roskilde Festival show this year. This a kind of a hobby project for all of us - the members being a bunch of old friends since 25 years, amazingly there seems to be a huge interest, so it's a lot of fun playing those songs.
I am glad to hear that Spids NÃ¸genhat is doing well. Well, before we finish our interview I would like to talk with you about the brilliant Roky Erickson movie 'You're Gonna Miss Me'. For me this is the best music documentary I've ever seen, not only because I'm a huge fan of Roky and The 13th Floor Elevators. It's intense, very moving and unsparingly realistic - free of all false pathos. Since I know that your're a huge fan too, I would be interested to know what you think about 'You're Gonna Miss Me'.... By the way, did you see Roky on his last European tour at the end of 2010 and, if so, did you like it?
I saw the movie when it was originally aired in a small indie cinema in Copenhagen 6 years ago and I remember being moved very much, but I haven't really watched it since. I also saw him live in Copenhagen on the last tour as well as twice in 2008. The first two gigs (Roskilde Festival and MalmÃ¶, Sweden) were both huge experiences, his voice and presence being almost up to former glory, but I felt mildly dissapointed at the last show. I guess you have to see Roky live with low expectations. It's a very mixed experience because he seems to be only half there most of the time. There are glimpses though where you're transported back. I got to meet the man and had a short conversation backstage.
Yes, that's Roky. He lives in a world of his own. But it's good to know that he attracts more interest today as for example twenty years ago. Ok, that's it for now. I would like to thank you for your time.