Welcome to the cerebral
Obscured by Clouds
An interview with a lesson in Floyd
Obscured by Clouds may have some deep Pink Floyd roots, but they are also inspired by hundreds of other bands. William Weikart, lead singer for the group, drops a couple-dozen of those influences on Tim Wardyn, and proves that they are not some stoner band. Grab your thesaurus and get ready for a lesson in music, vocabulary, and what’s in a name.
When did you realize that you wanted to create a band and not just a solo offering with Obscured by Clouds?
When I saw Live at Pompeii. I knew that the sum of the parts or the needs of the many must integrate in the form of unity with the needs of the few — and all the band members count. You cannot privilege being over beings, which seems to be at a loss for people today. I need more amorphousness and formlessness in what I do musically and a band serves that purpose infinitely, whereas the solo concept is too narcissistic if done improperly. The anonymity and a larger symbolic gesture from all the players together is really necessary for the mysterious connection in music, from my taste.
Obviously Pink Floyd is a huge influence, but what other artists influenced the sound of your band?
Tangerine Dream, Syd Barrett, Nick Drake, David Gilmour’s solo work, Roger Waters, Zeppelin, Doors, Morphine, Soundgarden, Chris Cornell, Queens of the Stone Age, Audioslave, Robin Trower, The Beatles, Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, Alice in Chains, Ozric Tentacles, King Crimson, U2, Yes, Hendrix, I have a list of every band if you want. Corrosion of Conformity, Mark Knoppfler, Dire Straits, AC/DC, Baroque Music, Electronic Music… in no order here. More if I had more time. People have to understand that Pink Floyd toured some 200 days a year for three or four years just to break through. Their early music was hardly radio friendly and was ostensibly strange and unaccepted. The Pink Floyd of later years was more undeniable and less bizarre. But this is why people who love early Floyd, do indeed love it. Also, Pink Floyd, as you know, named themselves after Pink Anderson & Floyd Council in connecting their inspiration from their music in homage to their work — just as we extend the courtesy of homage, honor, legacy, and a highly quintessential historicity that people are seemingly unaware of that is now fading away in the modern mood of postmodernism pitted against the double-edged sword of heteronomy, for the record.
In the band bio you say that David Gilmour and Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson were trying to reach you and that it was a “threshold experience.” Was that when you knew that this band was really starting to take off?
Well, can you imagine living in a vacuum and saying one day, “Hey, let’s record a bunch of under-appreciated and virtually unknown early Floyd songs that are incredibly weird that everyone will say they have heard, but really have not, at least not more than once certainly.” And if they had heard the music, then by god they could appreciate it with us. It was out of our vast passion for early Floyd that we created this idea. There is no theft or hiding the fact we love this music. Oh, and the Zeppelin and Doors cover we did too. “Bleed” is my original song on the album. So when you spend a day in the studio and a couple days mixing, throw it up on the internet, and you get an email from a record label in England who has David Gilmour’s and Andy Jackson’s music on it, it was pretty leveling as far as disintegrating preconceptions. As far as taking off, as you know when you are in a band every performance is like building Rome all over again. We were excited people as we came from the same place as people who love the Floyd and homage trumps heteronomy as Pink Anderson & Floyd Council came to understand at least in legacy. So the continuum is not too far away from us all. Getting CD orders from Uzbekistan and Indonesia was shocking too. But yes, talking to Andy Jackson on the phone was way cool. I pretty much was grinning like an idiot wiping a tear from my eyes. I’m stupid like that.
Side note: Obscured By Clouds is named in honor of our roots, but it is also an amorphous name that is referenced in a Shakespearean Sonnet.
How do you translate all the layers of the album to your live show?
We translate the album’s overall strangeness with a gigabyte worth of memory space on our AKAI MPC Sequencer that is loaded up and triggered with all the weirdness in the form of album’s raw tracks, thunder, female giggles, backwards sitars, signature sounds from the album, the cinematic undertow necessary for the psychelecticism, and the essential eclectic psyche to witness the tree falling in the wilderness. Just wait until we connect it to the lights and computer-driven graphics! The songs all were originally written as acoustic pieces, and the acoustic guitar is, on every song, buried, except for a couple. We have added Mat Bradley, our backing guitarist, who covers my back when I jump into the guitar solo strangeness. Kevin Cozad is running five synthesizer/oscillators and keyboards, including finicky vintage gear, including Vintage Keys with Mellotron, Arps, Moogs, and everything else we can possibly layer in. “Zoe Zolofft” has about six separate keyboard parts, so Kevin is the mad and maniacal calliopist as he combines psychedelic rhodes, strings, xylophone, trombone/tuba, bizarre synths, a circus calliope, and the sequencer. Kevin also played all the wildly amazing James Angell synth parts for the live show. I am lucky to have him.
You have James Angell and Obscured by Clouds on Psycheclectic Records. Are there plans to bring other artists onto the label?
We are always open to hearing new music here. It is very costly and requires complete devotion of several years to release an indie record. People think they know how much work it takes, but it is probably about ten to twenty times harder and more expensive than people think. I am not sure who I will give two years of my life to next minimum, but I am open if the music is right for the label concept. I invest quite a lot for a band — more than your average indie label out there, respectfully. I have had a band that was on my label briefly get signed to Sub Pop, so I trust my taste even if people do not have the attention span. One day you’ll catch up to us. I just hope we are alive when it happens. You can trust us.
One of my favorite songs is “Zoe Zolofft.” What was the inspiration for that song?
Well, you are after my heart now, kind sire. That is so much a song inspired by the late great Syd Barrett from my humble inculcation. It probably came out of Mad Cap Laughs. I had to do it. Also, the dimensions are kind of highly personal, so there is that idiom too. It is an amalgam song of ex-girlfriends’ historicity in an indulgent and phantasmagoric [sic] soliloquy of sorts. I have met my share of crazy girlfriends and they all needed and wanted a song, so here you are. The power of Christ compelled me?!?! Or not. I don’t know, sometimes it is better not to over-analyze things, and instead to celebrate the artistic license of the indulgence of it all. It is in the style and form Syd might have used.
Are you planning on touring any time this year?
We are conducting our Magical Microcosmic Tour in 2009-2010, that is a city to city release of the CD. We played the beautiful Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR. The band Yes is playing there on Valentines Day. We are working our way south after Seattle. Obscuredbyclouds.net will have the details. We are working on dates in California, Washington, and Oregon at the moment, maybe British Columbia. We will come to your town, it just may take some time to get to you. We are ready and everyone in the band wants to tour, so no limitations there. We are deciding which booking agencies to use at the moment.
With the state of the economy and people suffering, it is a very difficult time for us all. So our show costs will reflect a comfortable price to encourage people to participate.
I know you just released Psycheclectic but do you have any plans to record the follow-up this year, or possibly some solo work?
Yes, when I wrote Psycheclectic there were over twenty songs. So, they all of course did not make it on the CD. But we are performing new songs, testing them on the audience sort of like Floyd did in their development of the hidden meanings only an audience can truly reveal to you. So if you want to hear new music, come to the show. We do already have enough for the next CD — but we have to focus on touring right now in support of this record. The next record will happen 100 times faster than this last one. It is almost ready. We have booked time to finish two more new songs.
What music, besides your own, are you listening to at the moment?
I am listening to King Crimson The Deception of The Thrush. Mind blowing. The band sat around in the studio and listened to James Angell’s Private Player and our new album Psycheclectic believe it or not. The Orb Orblivion. A little bit of Air. SOMA Internet Radio Secret Agent FM, and SOMA Internet Radio Drone Zone is one of my favorites. Otto’s Baroque Internet Radio, Magnatune Baroque. Syd Barrett Opel. Chris Cornell’s Euphoria Morning, so underrated. We are working on some cool covers too. I went skiing to Umma Gumma, love that. Jimi Hendrix, and Robin Trower, two geniuses. Oh, and I was listening to Neros Rome, whose members and contributors include: James Angell, Stewart Fritchman, Tod Morrisey (Man of the Year), Thee Slayer Hippy (Final Warning/Poison Idea), Phil Baker (Pink Martini, etc.), William (Me — I played a little piano on their CD), Courtney Taylor (Dandy Warhols), and Tony Lash (Elliot Smith/Heatmiser). Also, trading email and listening to Eric Matthews, who wants to potentially work together on my next CD. Eric thankfully really likes my CD.
The last question is for Thee Slayer Hippy: How did you get your name?
Well, Slayer says it comes from the hip, the old meaning of the hip! He is kind of Hippie but that is not why, he is more a lover of all music on planet Earth. He played in almost every kind of group you can imagine, from punk to speed metal to pop. He also played drums on James Angell’s Private Player. He has the vastest palate of musical taste of anyone I have ever met. He lives, breathes, and exudes music 24/7/365. I am pretty sure he likes Slayer too. He has had many names. He likes to swim in the deep end of the pool with a bottle of whiskey. He might make John Bonham blush, or is it the other way around?
Obscured by Clouds: www.obscuredbyclouds.net