Preparing for a Slew of SXSW Showcases, BP Fallon 'Rambles On' with Me About This, That & the Other March 08 2014, 0 Comments
Yes. That BP Fallon.
Photo by Christopher Durst
If you know the man of which I speak, you've probably been to some amazing parties. If you don't know of him, here's as brief an introduction as I could manage...
BP began his star-studded, globe-trotting career as a young broadcaster in Ireland. Fast forward to a position with Apple Records (yes, that Apple Records) to acting as publicist for the likes of T Rex, Thin Lizzy and LED ZEPPELIN, he’s spent his life immersed in music.
Photo by Bob Gruen
He’s authored a few best-selling books, he’s DJ’d here and there, he’s managed & guru’d, he’s Wang Dang Doodled and Choogled about with the best of them.
Never one to sit idle, he recently launched his own musical career. A 2009 spoken-word, 3-sided single, TMR 022 ("Fame #9/ BP Fallon Interview by Jack White/ I Believe in ElvisPresley") released via Jack White and Third Man Records introduced Fallon in his new role of songster.
Photo by Jo McCaughey
It was followed by a crowd-funded 2012 LP release "Still Legal" with the Bandits- comprised of Aaron Lee Tasjan (guitar), Nigel Harrison (bass) and Clem Burke (drums).
Photo by Christopher Durst
Spanning the gamut of love/lust/sin to more universally cosmic issues, Fallon’s first full-length foray into song-writing proves thoughtful and considered while rocking your socks off to no end.
As one does.
Mr. Fallon has so kindly agreed to elaborate on some of his life experiences here with us...
It’s my understanding that you started recording music a few years ago... in fact, I've read that you say we should 'blame Jack White' for starting your recording career’. So I’m curious, how did this project with The Bandits and the ‘Still Legal’ album come about? Was it something you had previously had in mind, or did it organically evolve?
After recording the 45 with Jack White - his idea - I figured I had what most groups would sell their soul for ie a record produced by the coolest guy in rock'n'roll who also plays guitar on it, on one of the coolest record labels... so I thought, in a moment of madness, 'I should have a band'. Three phone calls to three friends later - to Clem Burke the drummer in Blondie in LA and Nigel Harrison who used to be the bass guitarist in Blondie and Aaron Lee Tasjan who played with The New York Dolls in South America, both of these cats in New York - I had a band. Then I sat there thinking 'My God, what have I done now?!' So we wrote some songs in New York and then met up in Austin - which has become something of a spiritual home - and rehearsed in Kathy Valentine's house and then played at SXSW 2010. Then I figured 'We should make an album' and we did, near Austin at Red Horse Ranch Studio. It was wonderful, we just moved in and my pal Ian McLagan from the Small Faces/Faces joined us to play Hammond organ. Thus, 'Still Legal'. I'm so lucky to have these exemplary musicians who are also my friends. Ian, he says 'I know BP from before he had a hat'. And he does.
How did the Pledge Music campaign factor in? Would you recommend it to artists as a fund-raising technique?
Pledge Music was brilliant. We couldn't have made 'Still Legal' off our own bat without Pledge. Pledge - like Kickstarter and all the crowd-funding schemes - is driven by the audience and it's the audience that decides whether the project will happen or not. And people were very kind, like Bob Gruen donating limited edition prints of Jimmy Page and I on Led Zeppelin's plane Starship a hundred years ago and his prints of The Bandits' very first gig. John Paul Jones gave us permission to use as a Pledge reward a track on which I'd made my recording debut in 1964 with me playing finger-cymbals and him playing everything else except the drums, which were played by Ian McGarry of Bluesville. Google 'You Turn Me On' by Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville. (Iggy & The Stooges guitarist) James Williamson saw on Facebook that we were doing the Pledge thing and offered his services to help. 'A Guitar Lesson By James Williamson' was sold boom! just like that and the guy who paid for it wrote and said it was the best day of his life ever. So Pledge allowed us to make the CDs with the great booklet designed by Steve Averill and - at United Record Pressing in Nashville which Jack White had hipped me to, they do all the Third Man Records pressings - make the LPs. When I had this 12" vinyl in my hands, that's when it hit home, 'Good Lord, we've made an album!' So, yes, Pledge is fabulous.
What/ how was your first live gig? Was it something you were nervous for or did you just feel that it was destined to be?
It felt amazing and equally it felt normal, same as when I cut 'I Believe In Elvis Presley' with Jack White. In other words, it didn't feel weird. Incredible buzz but very natural. And at our first gig it was a gas to look out and see Bob Gruen and Lenny Kaye grooving at the front. Lenny's since played with us a bunch of times, a great honor for me. Once we were playing at the post-SXSW party at Red Horse Ranch - we're playing there again this year - and I'm singing 'Van And Gloria' which namechecks Eric Burdon and The Animals playing at The Club A Go Go in Newcastle yonks ago and I look out and there's Eric Burdon bopping away. You do go 'This is far-out', which it is. Or I was doing a gig with The Ghost Wolves backing me - they're fantastic, cool to the max - and you see Jerry Hall grooving and later she tells you how she'd called her ex-husband to rave about the gig and he'd said 'Oh, I know him'. So you get into this zone where reality and unreality embrace and it's beautiful, very high. It's a gas to be making music and I give thanks.
You once described Johnny Thunders as 'self-obsessed like any artist'. In working on this album, with your band, have you noticed any of those traits emerging in yourself? How have you found songwriting? Had you ever tried it before? What became your process?
Ah, Johnny, God bless him. I love him, you know. No, not sexually (laughs) but because he was a lovely man - as well as being so talented as a guitar-player, as a songwriter, as a singer. Just brilliant. But... (long pause)... smack doesn't work and for Johnny it became a nightmare. Just Say Know.
Songwriting? It's magic, a form of divining. You go into a room with nothing and angels willing you came out with something you can share with the world. I always carry with me a little policeman's notebook and a pen and for years I'd be writing down these lines, ideas, what someone said. And I never knew why I was doing this. Now I know.
Following my first listen to 'Still Legal', I came away from it with a very cosmic vibe- a more large-scale commentary on 'flow' if you will… a message of personal metamorphosis and growth, not letting time sit idle because it’s fleeting, etc. Although the album and its contents obviously have other themes as well, I have to say this one that has stuck with me the most. Has this always been an important concept to you or is it one that you’ve awakened to more recently?
I've always been conscious that every moment that's a good vibe is to be treasured. The bad stuff... well, it's better to have it behind you than in front so in order for that to happen sometimes the crap has to be in the now. Healing hurts but it redeems too.
Along the same lines, from some of your material I read that it is important to you to 'be here now'. I think that's a struggle many people face on a daily basis. Do you struggle with that or do you find it's something that comes easily to you?
Well, there's nowhere else to be than the now. The past is gone and the future is hypothetical. Yes, the past shapes the now and the now shapes the future, the same way that the manner in which you flick the paint brush determines how it'll look on the canvas. So it's often a matter of sync or sink.
Your Green Series release (‘Fame #9/ I Believe in Elvis Presley) through Third Man Records is actually one of my favorites (next to Edgar Oliver’s ‘In the Park/ Light and Hunger’). Did you have notes going into it or did it all evolve in the studio?
Like I say, I'd been scribbling down things in my notebook without knowing why. So when Jack White invited me to collaborate on making a record, I already had 'I Believe In Elvis Presley', the lyrics and the tune- and Aaron Lee Tasjan came up with that catchy guitar riff which makes it truly special. The spoken word piece 'Fame #9' I wrote on the plane from New York to Nashville but by mistake I left it on the plane in Nashville so in Jack's studio I recited it as I remembered it in my head.
In it, especially ‘Fame #9’, you make some very accurate and honest observations of Fame. You’ve also seen a lot of Fame play out from more of a ‘working’ capacity. How did those experiences and observations prepare you for your own personal ‘15 minutes, especially following that release?
When I was still a schoolboy in Ireland, every Saturday I was on television talking about the new record releases, the show 'Pickin' The Pops', would the record be a hit or a miss, y'know? Television - black and white television - was in its infancy in Ireland and when I walked around people, um, noticed me. 'Ireland's most controversial television personality' was one newspaper headline - this is 1964 - because I had what people considered long hair and because I said what I thought. Then when I was working with Marc Bolan and with Led Zeppelin in England, the papers would write about me because they thought I was wild, that I was a colorful fellow. So folk noticing me... I'm used to it. It comes with the gig of being me.
Your life history and experiences are simply amazing. As far as writing goes, will we ever see a written account of some of your tales?
If you had one piece of advice to give your younger self, what would it be?
Very good question. I've never really panicked much but if I did it'd be "Don't Panic'.
I see that you’re on the 2014 SXSW schedule again, along with the Bandits. Can we expect to see any new material? Any chance you’ll sit in with The Ghost Wolves again?
Maximum namedrop moment: John Lennon, bless him, told me "The Plastic Ono Band is Everyone" and thus I too became a member, appearing in John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band twice on television, once banging a tambourine and another time pretending to play bass guitar. Now I wouldn't dream of comparing our combo to him but yes, everyone is in BP Fallon & The Bandits and also we don't believe in segregation between ourselves and the audience, we're all in this together. Like I mentioned, Lenny Kaye has been a Bandit in Austin and in New York and in Ireland. Sean Lennon has drummed with us, Cara Delevingne has sung backing vocals. And last year at SXSW, Clem and Nigel and Aaron and I, us Bandits, at our live gigs we were joined on stage by Scott Asheton the drummer from The Stooges and Barrie Cadogan who plays guitar in Primal Scream. This year at SXSW Clem will be playing with Blondie and their schedule is very tight - so BP Fallon & The Bandits will be BP Fallon & The Ghost Wolves who are Carley on guitar and Jonny on drums and they're incredible. Carley, well... she's incredibly sexy, almost feral, and Jonny's the coolest. Plus you never know who'll join us! I'm very very excited.
Photo by Brian Birzer, courtesy of KUTX
So much thanks & appreciation to BP for participating in this Q&A!
BP can be found this coming week in Austin, TX performing with the #SXSW14 version of the Bandits, otherwise known as The Ghost Wolves! (a sincerely rocking band in their own right)
Showcases are as follows:
Wed March 12th @ 10.15pm - Official SXSW Showcase at Red 7
Thurs March 13th @ 2:00pm - Official SXSW Panel: 'The Band Portrait - Marketing'Perception'
Fri March 14th @ 2:50pm - Dog & Duck
Fri March 14th 7.30pm-BP Fallon added to Richard Barone's SXSW Tribute Concert For Lou Reed at The Paramount Theater in Austin
Sat March 15th @ 5pm - Casinos South
Sat March 15th @ 6pm - Maria's Taco Xpress
Sun March 16th @ afternoon - Red Horse Ranch
Sun March 16th @ 6:30pm - The Continental (Alejandra Escovedo's show :)
And now BP responds to our Top Five WaxO’s Gotta Know questions:
1) First vinyl memory?
First record I ever owned was by Gene Vincent, the 'Crazy Times' LP. I didn't have a record player and I used to hold it, gaze at this magic thing. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I'd one day make an LP, it was never the plan. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Completely the opposite, actually.
2) What is an album you regularly spin for your own enjoyment?
Oh, tons of them! I love Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 'Psychedelic Pill' record, it takes me to new places unknown.
3) What was the last album you added to your collection?
My Bloody Valentine 'mbv', Primal Scream - 'More Light', The Strypes - 'Snapshot'.
4) What was your favorite album or new artist from last year?
5) What artists are you looking forward to hearing more of this coming year?
4 & 5- The Strypes. I love these guys, love their energy, love their attitude, love their work ethic. If they want it and if the angels allow, they can become the biggest group in the world. And then the floodgates for teen rock'n'roll will burst open again, fresh and refreshed and ready to shake it. Good morning! Long may we choogle...