Ryley Walker

(((folkYEAH!))) Presents

Ryley Walker

Träd, Gräs Och Stenar, Endless Boogie

Fri · September 21, 2018

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm


This event is all ages

Ryley Walker
Ryley Walker
It’s a good record. But I can’t really listen to it anymore. It kind of broke my brain. It took a year, and there were a lot of times I thought it was going nowhere, a lot of botched sessions. It was all my fault, no one else’s. I was just totally unprepared. I went in with over-confidence, I went in there like ‘Yeah, I’m ready to go!’ but I was just kind of bullshitting. I went in expecting to make a fucking masterpiece, but I kept hitting a brick wall.

I was under a lot of stress because I was trying to make an anti-folk record and I was having trouble doing it. I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn’t want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore. I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart finally. I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination. And I think I succeeded in that way — it’s got some weird instrumentation on there, and some surreal far-out words.

And it’s more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That’s the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears. Everybody here’s always hustling. Everybody who talks to you on the street’s always got something they’re coming at you with. It’s the sound of strangers dodging one another. And landlords knocking on doors to get rent that people don’t have. But it’s eerily quiet at night. This record is the sound of walking home late at night through Chicago in the middle of winter and being half-creeped out, scared someone’s going to punch you in the back of the head, and half in the most tranquil state you’ve been in all day, enjoying the quiet and this faint wind, and buses going by on all-night routes. That’s the sound to tune in to. That’s the sound of Chicago to me.

Chicago. More than ever I’m just finding little details about it that I love. There’s so many weird twists about it: the way that street lights look here is really peculiar, and a really bleak sense when you walk around. It looks gray, there’s not a lot of color, and I find a lot of radiance in that. And oh man it smells like diesel. And garbage cans. And in the summer when it really heats up it’s extra garbage-canny. And everything here looks like it’s about to break. It looks like it’s derelict. But that’s what I’m used to, that’s what I like. The amount of imperfection in this city is really perfect.

So I’ve fallen in love with Chicago pretty hard over the past year, despite crippling depression. I’ve realized I can’t not be in a city. I appreciate nature, I appreciate driving through nature, but you put me in a campsite for more than two days and I’ll flip the fuck out. I need to hear people outside of my window trying to buy crack. I need to be able to buy a taco at two in the morning. I need to hear the neighbors yelling really fucking loud at each other in the middle of the night. I need people. I need people really fucking bad.

You have to find calm in the city. You actively search for it. It’s not a la carte like it is in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Which are beautiful, they’re one of God’s finest creations — I’m not talking shit about the Rocky Mountains. But in the city it’s like scoring drugs, you’ve got to score your tranquil situations. And that’s the sound of Chicago to me.

The songs don’t really deal with any political or personal or social issues at all. Mostly it just comes from being bummed out. And there’s not a lot of musical influences on the record. I wasn’t even listening to music when I made it. Last year was probably the least I’ve listened to music in my adult life. I mean I was listening to stuff in the van — I listened to a lot of Genesis records. I got really into Genesis. But there’s nothing else I could point to. Maybe I’d say it’s a record for coming up or coming down. It’s not an album for the middle of the day. It’s for the beginning or end of it.

I quit drugs and booze recently. I got sick of being a party animal — I don’t want to be 19-gin-and-tonics-Ryley anymore. My brain is working a little better now, but man I was just going at it pretty wildly, and then trying to make a record while I was drinking, it was kind of like torture.

We all had no idea what was going on, every song we’d be like ‘What is this record?’ Because every song sounded different. In a way this record was working with everybody that I’ve worked with for years, and it wasn’t like a Fleetwood Mac thing where everybody fell in love and divorced or anything, but a lot of times we were butting heads in the studio.

I hadn’t played any of the songs live ever, whereas with my earlier records I’d play the shit out of them live and then go into the studio when they were totally cooked up and ready to go. But these songs were all half ideas and riffs I had on my mind, so that held things up for a while.

Being meticulous and being deets-oriented is not my thing at all. I’ve never been like that. I’m kind of like go go go! Making a quick record is not hard, it’s the easiest thing the world, so working in this time frame, over a year, made me go kind of nuts and… oh, tortured artist bullshit, blah blah blah. But then last summer we started playing songs back to back and finally we started to hear a common thread running through the record.

I’m lucky enough to have some people who are playing on it who had a big part in shaping the songs and writing with me. Cooper Crain, the guy who engineered it, and played all the synthesizers. And when the flute guy, Nate Lepine came in, that was really something that made it special. The producer was this guy LeRoy Bach. I love LeRoy, he’s a really talented guy. He did the last record too.

The last record was cool but I was still figuring out what I was good at. But I’m fucking 28 years old, I’ve got to figure out a sound, figure out something that I enjoy doing. So this record is a little bit more grown up. Ol’Ryley’s just workin’ on bein’ a better Ryley.

I think more than anything the thing to take away from this record is that I appreciate what improv and jamming and that outlook on music has done for me, but I wanted rigid structure for these songs. I don’t want to expand upon them live. There’s a looseness to some of the songs I guess, but I didn’t want to rely on just hanging out on one note. It’s so straight-forward that I can see a lot of people really not liking it to be honest. But I’m so happy, I’m happy that it’s completely different and unexpected.

But I know it’s divisive. It’s hard to talk about. It’s a weird record.

Ryley Walker was in conversation with Laura Barton.

As mentioned by Ryley above, Deafman Glance is the second Ryley Walker album produced by LeRoy Bach and Walker himself. It was largely recorded at the Minbal (now JAMDEK) Studios in Chicago. Some later sessions also took place at USA Studios and in LeRoy’s kitchen. Cooper Crain (Bitchin’ Bajas, Cave) recorded and mixed the album, as well as adding his shimmering synths all over it. Ryley plays electric & acoustic guitars and was joined by long-time 6-string sparring partners, Brian J Sulpizio and Bill Mackay, who both play electric. LeRoy Bach also plays some electric guitar, whilst adding all piano and other keys. Andrew Scott Young and Matt Lux play bass – Andrew supplying some double-bass, both of them played electric. Drums / percussion are handled by Mikel Avery and Quin Kirchner. Topping off this list of notorious Chi-Town players is Nate Lepine, who added a lot of flute and a little saxophone too.
Träd, Gräs Och Stenar
Träd, Gräs Och Stenar
It’s really pretty simple: Träd, Gräs och Stenar was – is, shall remain – the best band in the world. You can get with it and get on this train, or forever live in ignorance, up to you.

They were from Sweden, they were pioneers of DIY culture, they jammed with force and purpose for 40 minutes back when “legendary” SF groups or German kraut rock bands were still struggling to get out of the upper single digits with dignity; they traveled with organic food they grew themselves, and cooked for everyone they played to; they made their own instruments, amplifiers and PAs before there was such a thing as a PA; they released records themselves, y’know back when the Dead were still on a major label. Etc, as it were. Had this band been from the USA rather than some provincial northern European nation… never mind, it’s too depressing to finish this sentence.

There was the occasional complex ingredient like a (home-brewed, natch) tremolo or fuzz pedal, but the way this band worked was incredibly simple: they’d show up, set up on some floor, or field, start up the generators, instruments, then begin to collectively tune themselves into the sphere we now know as TRANSCENDENTAL PSYCHEDELIC ROCK MUSIC. After that first meditative or explosive – or both – lengthy jam, they’d again take off, starting from a cover of Mighty Quinn or perhaps Last Time, or one of their own compositions, often influenced by ancient Swedish folk songs, and leave the melody behind after a few verses and travel to places lazy music journalists today call ‘beyond time and place’. It was a little like Ornette Coleman’s or The Velvet Underground’s live formula: you know the beginning and the end, but what exists between those two points is what makes life worth living: the magical improvised unknown.

The band grew seamlessly from two previous groups; first Persson Sound, then International Harvester (later shortened to the less imperial-sounding Harvester). International Harvester/Harvester released two albums at the time, 1968/69, whereas we-who-weren’t-there had to wait until the 2000s for a published document of what Persson Sound was all about. Let’s take a quick and rough overview:

It begins and ends with Bo Anders Persson, who in ‘65 or so had been making electro-acoustic music in academic settings, for a time, having the pleasure of being tutored by Terry Riley (give it up for social democracy and its zany values: “you want Stockhausen and Riley to come hold some lectures at your free university for a month? No problem, we’ll fly them in for you, oh lovely students”). Then Bo Anders also fell in love with rock and roll, via the Dylans and Stoneses. He realized its communal, participatory potential. It was the beginning of the late 1960s after all, the world could still be changed for the better and everyone could take part. Community and Come Together seemed like possible solutions, not just empty slogans. Bo Anders understood quickly that rock music was less elitist and more democratic than the avant-garde. But you could play rock music in a different way, right? So long as there’s a steady eternal beat, anything should be possible.

Under the name Persson Sound, Bo Anders and cohorts created a few art-circuit musical “happenings”, involving innovative tape-manipulation and drones, but over time, with the addition of bass (Torbjörn Abelli), and drums (Thomas Mera Gartz), something revolutionary happened. This was ‘66/67, before “Dark Star” or “Sister Ray” existed, before Amon Düül, Can, Neu!, or Faust were ever heard from. Persson Sound created a new form of rock music. Persson Sound was not only first, but the best at this game, it’s only unfortunate for our joint musical heritage that this occurred in Scandinavia: we didn’t get to find out and reap the benefits until decades later. Insert all kinds of ‘what ifs’ here.

Add more people to Persson Sound, plus the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations of the day, multiply by folk music, and you get International Harvester, whose two albums are classics in a multitude of genres, (remember Freak Folk? – essentially a bland 30-years-later carbon copy of this). Within the two Harvester records lie several clues and hidden hints of what is to come when Träd, Gräs och Stenar is formed in 1969: stripped down riffs, minus tape manipulation, and with the barest boned drones, created not by oscillators, but by the most deadly musical combination known to our kind: guitars, bass and drums.

There were four proper TGS albums released at the time: a self-titled in 1970, Rock För Kropp Och Själ (Rock For Body And Soul) in 1971, then these two live albums, Djungelns Lag (The Law Of The Jungle) and Mors, Mors (hmmm, something like “Hiya” or, why not, “Hi, How Are You?”). These are the albums where you fully experience what the band was like live. They stiffened a little in a studio setting, needing an audience to feed off of, so these albums are much looser, freer, more rocking.

Both albums were released on the band’s own imprint, Tall (Fir). The band’s close friend Per Odeltorp traveled with them around Scandinavia in ‘71 and ’72, recording every minute of the shows they played, using two magical silver microphones and the latest state-of-the-art ½” reel-to-reel. Djungelns Lag was released in 1972, documenting the activities of 1971. Then, money always being scarce, Odeltorp taped over almost all the ‘71 tapes with ‘72 live recordings, the result being 1973’s Mors Mors. And then the band stopped playing. Mostly because some of the members preferred to live far from Stockholm at an organic farm, run by an old man named Anders Björnsson, who was a hippie decades before the invention of the term. But I digress.

Luckily for you, we recently invaded the home of Jakob Sjöholm, the youngest member of the original band (officially joining in ‘71, he was part of the Harvester collective too – see, that’s him and his girlfriend in the photo on the back of Sov Gott Rose-Marie). Going through his attic, we unearthed hours upon hours of unreleased live recordings from the time, from which we’ve selected a trove of truly unreal jams. And this is the material you will find on the third 2xLP, Kom Tillsammans (Come Together), an artifact only available in the deluxe 6LP boxed set, which is also chock full of choice ephemera no one has ever seen before.

Djungelns Lag and Mors, Mors were re-issued on CD back in 2002, but they’ve been out of print for years, were never available digitally, nor reissued on vinyl. The band toured the US briefly in 2004 and 2005. These were spellbinding concerts featuring the same classic line-up from the recordings you’re about to devour: Bo Anders, Jakob, Thomas and Torbjörn. Sadly, Torbjörn and Thomas have since passed away, but the band is actually still active today. And while Bo Anders isn’t part of it anymore, the singular force that is Reine Fiske from DUNGEN, is now a member.

You need to listen to this un-dogmatic and timelessly organic music, and then you need to spread the gospel. This is music that already exists within you, based on simple human truths and chords, grounded in the principle that instinct will always triumph over virtuosity; it is music devoid any of the soul-destroying concepts like ‘lifestyle’, ‘managers’, ‘marketing’ or ‘brand’. It is truly free and open and joyous music, as humble as it is ferocious. Träd, Gräs och Stenar simply is The Answer.
Endless Boogie
Endless Boogie
"Meet Endless Boogie, the best-kept secret in New York's rock scene. They have the best name (taken from John Lee Hooker's 1971 album), the best onstage vibe and the best head-nodding jams. In a sea of derivative and freshly outfitted young bands, Endless Boogie -- with a combined age of 169 and members who count Canned Heat as one of their influences -- doesn't have a big agenda. They just want to rock with you, preferably all night long. "We try boogie sometimes, but boogie's hard," says guitarist Jesper Eklow (aka "The Governor") self-effacingly. "Boogie takes skill and we haven't honed those skills yet." The band's sound is a meltdown of metal, psychedelic and classic rock with a heavy dose of riffage, a kick-ass beat and super-cryptic lyrics. It's thunderous and mellow at once. To put it another way, it goes well with beer.

Aside from Eklow, the band is made up of Paul Major (aka "Top Dollar," left) on guitar and vocals, Memories from Reno (right) on bass and Chris Gray (aka "Grease Control," second from right) on drums. Needless to say, their collective knowledge of music is so expansive it's a little scary. Endless Boogie played their first show in January of 2001 when their friend Steven Malkmus asked them to open for him at the Bowery Ballroom. Since then, they've been "working on improving." The band has two as-yet-untitled new albums coming out on Subliminal Sounds and No Quarter Records this summer."

Carol Lee, Papermag (2006)
Venue Information:
The Chapel
777 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA, 94110