Wednesday 28 December 2016

An Interview With Frank Attard from FROZEN PLANET 1969

Do you remember that beautiful story H.P. Lovecraft once wrote about meteorite which landed somewhere in the country side? “The Colour out of Space”, right? “It was just a colour out of space - a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns the brain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes”.

The new album of Sydney-based instrumental psycho space outfit Frozen Planet… 1969 strongly reminds me about that story with their absolutely out of this world improvisations on the brink of sanity. Are they from Earth? Who are they?! Due to modern methods of communication we got in touch with one of Frozen Planet’s inhabitants.

Hi Fred! How are you? What's going on on Frozen Planet?

Hi Aleksey, It’s Actually Frank here! Facebook sometimes calls me Fred. There’s quite a lot going on, on Frozen Planet right now! We’re about to release our fourth full length album titled ‘Electric Smokehouse’ This particular album is our first release with Headspin Records and will be available in black and clear/purple mix Vinyl.

I heard of course about your band Mother Mars, but Frozen Planet is something new for me. What's the story of the band?

The story could go back as far as 1999 as that was when me and my brother Paul (who is Frozen Planet….1969’s guitarist) first started jamming together. Paul also plays bass and guitar in Mother Mars. Me and Paul would have spontaneous improvised jams back in those early days, so we developed our skills in improvisation and learned how to listen to each other. Frozen Planet….1969 is an Instrumental completely improvised jam band so naturally playing in such a band with your brother that you jammed with growing up is quite a natural thing.

The Actual Frozen Planet….1969 band grew from some spontaneous jams with Lachlan Paine who plays bass in Canberra(Australia’s Capital City) band Looking Glass. Looking Glass are with out a doubt one of the best in the business when it comes to heavy fuzzy riff driven music. I would go on to play drums in Looking Glass for a little while when they were in need of a drummer. Me and Lachlan developed a strong musical bond, he is also a great listener who can lock into anything you do and go wherever you want to go with ease! So me Paul and Lachlan had our first Jam in 2012 in my studio, it was recorded and that is our first album!

What attracted you to the “space” aspect of the band? Is it only music? Or movies?! Or sci-fi books?!! Or astronomy?!!!

I think everyone in the band has a slight interest in all those things but I'd have to say its mostly the music. Paul uses a range of vintage analog guitar pedals including phasers, delays etc. Paul has mastered the use of his pedals and knows how to manipulate sound to get those otherworldly sounds.

And the name… How did you pick it up? Frozen Planer… 1969 – sounds complicated, isn’t it?

Paul came up with the name. I guess it kind of describes our sound as there’s that trippy Space Rock element with that Vintage feel. 1969 was a great year for music!

Who's on board besides you? How long do you know the other members of the crew?

So its Paul Attard on guitar, I’ve known him since my birth. Lachlan Paine on bass. I’ve probably known Lachlan since 2007 when Mother Mars and Looking Glass first started playing shows together.

You have 4 albums in your discography, how do you see your development till the point you're now?

Every album is better than the last in my opinion. We are all constantly growing as musicians and when we go into record the next album everyone has a few new tricks up their sleeve technically, sonically and in creativity. It’s a natural thing to want to do better than the last thing you did. But in this improvised jam business it really depends on the day. We just capture the energy of that one day!

And what’s about style? Do your first records sound the same trippy crazy space way as “Electric Smokehouse”?

Yes, Our earlier records do have that same craziness about them. They’re just as experimental, the only difference you’ll hear is a slightly tighter sound on ‘Electric Smokehouse’ We’ve built a stronger musical unity over the past few years.

Well, this new record “Electric Smokehouse”, how long was your way to this album?

The journey has been long! We had the material recorded from a jam in 2015. We had another album out in 2015 from a jam recorded in 2014 so we had some time. We were set to release ‘Electric Smokehouse’ in 2016 but then we had the interest from Headspin Records to release it on 12 inch Vinyl. To coincide with other releases on Headspin’s roster and with the usual pressing plant delay’s the album will finally be available January 2017. We definitely are not complaining about the delays though! We are very happy with the outcome and being able to work with HeadSpin.

What’s your criterion of album's completeness? How do you know when to stop and leave the material as it is?

The Album is complete once we are happy with the flow of the tracks in the context of an album. The 40 minutes of material on ‘Electric Smokehouse’ are taken from a 3 hour jam. We pick the most interesting and exciting bits that work as complete songs. So we might use the 15 minute till the 23rd minute mark of the jam as our first track. There are no overdubs at all and everything is miked up live in the studio so i just have to mix what i have, drums , bass and guitars.

How did you record it? Do you have real studio not far away from you? Or do you have equipment at home that is enough to satisfy your needs?

I built a home studio back in 2010 so all four FP69 albums were recorded there, as with any Mother Mars stuff since then. I’ve picked up better gear to record with over the years and my production knowledge has grown and you can hear that in my recordings as I've progressed.

Didn’t you think to record some vocals for Frozen Planet? Or vocals an unnecessary thing in your case?

Vocals would be unnecessary for us. It’s all about our instruments and expressing as much as possible through them. It’s cool when songs are written with vocals in mind and vocals act like another instrument . But with our Instrumental jams our instruments do all the talking!

What kind of energy do you put in Frozen Planet? What's it about for you?

The energy is all spontaneous. How we feel at the time. We listen and play. I’m conscious of dynamics and we literally play for hours without break so there’s always those mellow moments to catch your breath before we take off again. For me it’s about jamming and expressing all the musical ideas i have without any musical genre boundaries. The end result is exactly what it is without any preconceived idea of what we want to sound like.

For hours?! Well, I can believe that! And how does it feel? Do you get in contact with space entities during such meditations?

We may very well do! I personally enter another place after I’ve been jamming for an hour. It’s kind of like your arms and legs work automatically. You disconnect from thought and everything you play comes from somewhere else. I’m sure other musicians could relate.

What’s about gigs? Is Frozen Planet only studio project or do you eagerly play live whenever you’re able?

Frozen Planet…1969 started out as a studio project but since then we have done gigs. Lachlan our bass player lives in Canberra which is 2 hours from Sydney where me and Paul live so we have to be selective about which gigs we play. When we do play live the audience gets a completely unique experience as our set is completely improvised, you wont hear anything off our albums but you will hear Frozen Planet….1969

What's current status of Mother Mars? Is there any news about that wonderful but delayed split release with The Grand Astoria?

We (Mother Mars) are currently recording our fourth album. Unlike Frozen Planet….1969 all the Mother Mars material is written and often has multiple parts with multiple layers of instrumentation. The 7 inch Split with The Grand Astoria is now in the hands of Garden Of Dreams Records in Greece. We’re just waiting on a release date.

Okay, thanks for your time Frank! That was my last question for today, how would you like to sum up our interview?

Thanks to you Aleksey for taking the time to ask cool and detailed questions. Thanks to everyone that has supported us by purchasing our records and coming to shows and of coarse the online reviews, interviews etc. It’s quite a niche market for the kind of Instrumental, experimental space psych jam music that we make so we a very grateful that we have found an audience of people that appreciate this music. Also a big thanks to Headspin Records in The Netherlands for releasing ‘Electric Smokehouse’ on Vinyl and helping us reach an even greater audience!

Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Frank Attard