As artists, we have to find the antidote to this darkness right now, to how everything feels so compressed rather than expanded.
“I do like feedback. It’s good for people. It is!”
Dave Pearce is Flying Saucer Attack, one of the most furtive and sporadically surfacing—but also certainly one the most influential—home-recording, psychedelic auteurs to come out of the underground of the ‘90s. Across a series of signal releases cut between 1993 and 2000, Flying Saucer Attack minted what Pearce described as a form of “rural psychedelia,” a hazy, lo-fi amalgam of acoustic folk, underwater vocals and grainy, freely-improvised noise. Coming out of Richard King’s Bristol-based Planet Records—the label that fostered Movietone, Crescent, and Third Eye Foundation—FSA soon began to make connections with like-minded souls like Bruce Russell of The Dead C, who was responsible for releasing the most beautiful cacophony in the FSA catalogue, In Search Of Spaces, on his New Zealand imprint Corpus Hermeticum in 1996. After a series of albums that incorporated beats and a slightly glossier production, which culminated in the release of 2000’s Mirror, Pearce dropped off the radar altogether, eventually retreating to his father’s house to lick his wounds. In the meantime, like his hero Syd Barrett, rumors surfaced about his reasons for walking away and the likelihood of any new Flying Saucer Attack material.
As such, the release earlier this year of Instrumentals 2015, a new solo album by Pearce under the FSA banner, came out of nowhere. It was all the more startling in that it seemed to take up exactly where Pearce had left off fifteen years earlier—namely, with a series of beautiful, out-of-focus instrumentals that trade clarity for depth and extend Pearce’s concept of rural psychedelia into ever more personal vectors of lo-fi magic. I caught up with Pearce on the telephone just after Instrumentals 2015 came out. It was the first time we had spoken in eighteen years.
David Keenan What’s been going on?
David Pearce The record just came out, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve been keeping up a little bit with the online reviews over the past two or three days, which I know is a bit naughty. I just got a bit excited, went down to the pub at lunchtime with a friend and had all of a half of bitter. I don’t drink as a rule, because it reacts with this medicine I’m on. Anyway, I was all excited yesterday evening and couldn’t sleep particularly, because it’s really hot and windy down here—we’re in the valley with all this wind blowing. I’m like a jittery kid at the moment.
DK So, you’re back at your dad’s? How’s that? When I go to my parents’ house, I revert back to the relationship I had with them when I was a kid. Are you feeling that?
DP No kidding. He’s in charge, I’ll tell you. To be honest, when I was little it was appalling. But, it’s a bit better now. Between the two of us, we’ve found a way to muddle along at the moment.
DK It’s hard to get treated like a child all over again, isn’t it?
DP Well, I act like a child… I think you and I mustn’t have spoken on the phone for seventeen or eighteen years.
DK You think so?
DP Well, I remember speaking to you on the phone about a Skip Spence tribute CD, More Oar, and you were doing something for radio.
DK That’s right. It must have been about eighteen years ago—quite incredible.
DP I wish I knew where it’s gone.
DK I was about to ask exactly that. What happened?
DP Well, my head went a bit weird. I sort of lost me way a bit, to give you the brief version. But I’ve been doing better in the last two or three years. I’m just a little more at peace with myself, and a little bit wiser generally.
DK While you were away, were you making any music at all?
DP There was a big gap. But this instrumental record does kind of span that period of time—the oldest thing on it is from twelve years ago, and the most recent thing would be right when I was finally putting it together.
I definitely wasn’t picking up a guitar for years on end at a number of points, I’m afraid. I wasn’t really even listening to music; I was just so incarcerated, in a way—just a bit exasperated. I found that playing music wound me up.
DK Had you lost interest in contemporary music?
DP I got very confused, in the sense that obviously there were a lot of changes after 2000. There was all this business going on, and we had to overlay the government down here [England], and I believe up there. Had you got your own—well, it led to you [Scotland] getting your own parliament, right? But even in terms of this change of government, it didn’t seem to be Labour to me, or at least what I thought of as Labour. I’m old enough to remember what I thought Labour was meant to be, and this didn’t seem to be that. Then everything got wild with the Internet.
DK You make a good point, because in the early days of Flying Saucer Attack you were working without the context of the Internet, making it work through corresponding with each other, with people who searched each other out. I’m thinking about Bruce Russell of The Dead C in New Zealand and connections like that.
DP Well, of course. It was that way at that point, absolutely. I’m glad to say I’m still in some contact with Bruce. I think he’s brilliant.
DK I’m a huge fan.
DP I just thought he had this wonderful sense of humor. But, apart from him being Bruce Russell and having done all the things he’d done with his own music, he’d helped all these other people out and provided some kind of a platform for them at the label.
DK Were you listening to a lot of that early New Zealand stuff when Flying Saucer Attack was coming together? Was that important to you?
DP The thing was that I was living up in Bristol in about 1991, working in a record shop—Revolver. We had problems paying the bills—
DK (laughter) Every record shop does.
DP We were importing from the American distributor Cargo, I think, and so we got a lot of the beginnings of the American lo-fi scene, and customers were coming in and asking for it as well.
DK Like what sort of stuff do you mean by the American lo-fi? Who are you thinking of?
DP Well, you’d be talking about something like the Pavement singles on Drag City. One of the very first Drag City releases was the New Zealand 7-inch EP I Hear the Devil Calling Me (1990), with the lovely color cover. And then the early Grifters singles, and The Mummies. Then, of course, fairly soon, we were getting in Royal Trux, and Cargo was saying, “That label’s just put out a New Zealand album now. Well, the 7-inch is really good. Now we’ve got the full album in.” That was the Xpressway vinyl compilation.
Next thing you know there’s some Flying Nun stuff, and Dead C releases. So, it was peculiar for me—the fellow who owned the shop, Roger, had always been a big Tall Dwarfs fan, always been going on about the Tall Dwarfs since the mid ’80s. I don’t know quite how he picked up on them. I remember somebody did This Kind Of Punishment reissues on vinyl.
DK Ajax did some of them, didn’t they?
DP That’s right.
DK Just talking about that time is reminding me how exciting it was to track these things down, to try and piece together the discographies and history. Do you think some of that excitement has gone with the ease of being immediately able to Google something and the accessibility of music on the Internet? That sense of secret personal quest?
DP I think that experience was important to me and many other people—but I’m afraid I’m a bit older now, and actually getting to see some footage of people that I’d always wanted to see footage of was difficult. I only got to see footage of The Dead C because I asked Ben at Drag City to make me a copy of the Xpressway video. Whereas now, because of YouTube, there’s footage of people from New Zealand; there’s footage of American Music Club on there I was really amazed to see.
DK What, are you a fan of American Music Club?
DP Always was, and still am. Then there’s wonderful footage of The Electric Prunes and some Syd Barrett clips I never thought I was going to see. There are plusses to this new thing, and, I think, an awful lot of negatives, too.
DK When you’re saying there are negatives, what are you thinking of?
DP Well, just personally, I don’t feel happy around these laptops. Obviously, it’s turning into this total instrument of control, or it could turn into that, which it may not.
That’s the funny thing about computers—the speed doubles every two years or something. I’d prefer things not to be like that. Most of these things—the funny, silly phones and all the rest of it—they’re trinkets, but human behavior is remarkably consistent. The Internet is there instead of a library, and email is there instead of writing a letter or talking to someone on the phone. But they’re the same thing. The trouble is that with the other older forms, you might actually speak to someone face-to-face.
But I’ve found that these younger kids don’t really like reading on Kindles. They like to read books, and hold them.
DK Even working at a record shop as recently as I did, we would have a lot of young kids coming in looking for vinyl.
DP Personally, I do prefer playing stuff on vinyl, still. I’m aware that all the formats have their limitations. I don’t dislike some of the better-mastered CDs. I just prefer listening to vinyl. You can get kind of a 3D thing with vinyl.
DK Yeah, it can be quite tactile. In terms of that, one thing about the new recording is that you are definitely going back to this very soft, hissy, out-of-focus sound you were talking about earlier, this “lo-fi” sound. Now, I think lo-fi became a sort of generic description for what a whole host of different groups were doing, but it also became a sort of pejorative term, as if it was a form of slacking, or a making do in lieu of access to a “real” studio with “proper” sound.
DP Yes, and Googling reviews, I’ve had to endure being told off for that in a few.
DK That doesn’t make sense to me! Don’t these people realize that it’s a deliberate aesthetic, and that’s how it’s supposed to sound?
DP It also gives you the freedom of time.
DK You mean freedom to work on your own, when you want to?
DP Yes. I love that the older ’80s studio stuff was trying to sound noisy, but it kind of wasn’t quite, and then in the early ’90s you have a new generation of cassettes for 8-track, and the sound was so much better. They still have a slight thickness to their sound, which was what people couldn’t get in the studio. They couldn’t make their noise sound very noisy in the ’80s.
DK When people make that criticism it almost implies that there’s one ideal sound that everyone’s shooting for, and if it doesn’t meet that standard, then it’s some kind of failure. It seems like the lo-fi thing is such a key to the Flying Saucer Attack sound though—that sort of narcotic haze, the distant, slightly smeared, slightly out-of-focus atmosphere.
DP The funny thing is that some of the tracks from back in the day, especially when they credit “Rocker,” were, here and there, actually digitally recorded.
Like I was saying about this record, twelve years ago I was recording some tracks, then I stopped for a bit. Most of the tracks were songs, and some were a couple of instrumentals on the side, then I would pick up again and try to record some more stuff a few years later. But I could never get any words for the songs—they were never the best fit or particularly good as songs, but I was building up these instrumentals.
That was about the point when my equipment started breaking down, but you could still get a decent three-head cassette recorder. At that point, cassette 8-track had such a rich sound on it, brilliant. I couldn’t believe it when I got a cassette 8-track—how good the sound was on that lovely recorder. It was a Yamaha thing. So, when I started these, the equipment wasn’t totally out of date, and I didn’t feel too out of sorts by the time I finished the last track or two for this record, which was, let’s say, recently.
Three cassette players have died on me. I could only use the 8-track as a mixer because the cassette wouldn’t go round anymore, so the last couple of tracks for the record were recorded live to cassette, and then played back through the 8-track to add overdubs. Then I’d have to play and record that live to CD-R.
DK Wow. That is really crude, isn’t it?
DP Yeah, but the point was, I wanted to finish it how I had started it. You can’t do that stuff anymore. I can’t because my cassette player has died, the crappest of the crap one I still had, which I used for the last track or two, and which put this sort of rasp on everything. Even that’s gone now. I’ve still got the CD player cum CD-R player, and that will switch on five days out of seven now.
DK So does that mean the sound of Flying Saucer Attack is unreplicable at this point? Could you make another record like Instrumentals 2015?
DP The sound on Instrumentals was the beginnings of the equipment malfunctions, but the stuff would still work most of the time. I might back up the cassette—the best tracks say—onto CD-R somewhere along the line. Then I would probably end up finding the CD-R and taping it over to cassette. I recorded the last track on the album—the very last track, which is a single guitar, mono in the middle of the stereo—just live to CD-R. I then took a chance and taped that across to the tape player to get that clunky kind of sound you hear.
So that last track was live to CD-R, and then I had to do an edit on the tape player, but an old-style edit, with that drop in the sound. On the track “Two,” at one point there is that drop in the sound, like you used to get back in the day when you used the 4/3 head tape players.
It was so sad because the home recording equipment suddenly got really good in the ’90s, and the next thing you know, they’re not allowed. “Oh, none of that mate! Go buy digital stuff!” Which has that see-through sound.
DK That’s a good way of putting it.
DP So, the new album, for various reasons, is a sort of hybrid analog/digital sound. Some of the tracks were actually digitally recorded, but I’d go home with the cassette and use it as the master, giving it a bit of a roughing up. It’s illogical, such as I understand it, but at least it made me feel a bit happier. Which is a bit of a naive way of thinking of it, but I’m a rather naive sort of person. (laughter)
DK It’s also interesting that you mention you were working on songs that never really came together; there’s always been a sort of weird push and pull in Flying Saucer Attack, between the songs and the free-noise, as manifested on In Search of Spaces.
DP I never really thought they were quite good enough as songs. That’s just me. I’ve been cautious as to what to keep. They were not American Music Club, you know? Most songwriters, if one actually sits down and goes through it, use more than two or three chords, and they have more than about six lines of lyrics, and the words and melodies are actually more sophisticated. I’m not really a songwriter, basically. And obviously, I’ve never claimed to be much of a singer at all. I had to sing because no one else was there and willing. So the instrumental stuff, of course, was what I was always happiest with.
DK In a way, with your vocals and songs, it wasn’t as though there was a hierarchy, where there was a voice doing a song and this music as simply a backing. It was more about sonic experience than a traditionally hierarchical song performance that privileges delivery of vocals.
DP I think that’s true, consciously or unconsciously. Certainly early on, you have these songs, and you could mash them up and still be able to have people get a handle on some sort of melody, though it might not be the world’s best melody.
DK Well, some of them are quite memorable and certainly work as songs. I think of “The Season is Ours,” from the first album. That’s a very memorable song.
DP Note that it wasn’t covered in distortion.
DK It’s still hazy though—not aquatic, but it’s still raw.
DP It’s one of the better ones; we knew that at the time. That was about as good as I could get! (laughter) And yes, some of the other songs were skeletons to mess with really.
DK But then as Flying Saucer Attack went along there was an increasing clarity, especially to the later recordings. You were using drum machines and the production became a lot clearer.
DP Less people were involved and sonic clarity went up from 4-track. Rocker got his equipment upgrade, then I got a cassette 8-track, but there were less people involved, and our records got worse. My favorite stuff from back then are the live recordings. It might upset you, but the stuff on In Search of Spaces and P.A. Blues, that wasn’t between-song improvisations—those were complete recordings of gigs.
DP Oh really! What a fine thing! So you didn’t play songs at gigs, then? It was all improvisation?
DK The first year we tried to play gigs would have been 1994. That was after the first album had come out. We borrowed some people from Crescent, and Matt from Third Eye Foundation played at most of our gigs that year. The last track on P.A. Blues, the rehearsal instrumental, was an important moment, the cusp—that was a run-through of a song, early on. There was a Planet Records gig in Bristol, some time in ’94, that we were meant to play, and we were trying to rehearse up some songs, but nobody really wanted to do them. I didn’t want to have to sing, quite frankly. At the end of a particularly desultory version of something, we started playing that instrumental, and then we did it live, improvised, though with that underlying riff, at least at the start. So it’s not completely improvised, but it’s not a song anymore either. It was like the middle of “Interstellar Overdrive” cum strange-raga-rock cum noise cum not-listening-to-each-other.
DK So In Search of Spaces is a good representation of the live shows?
DP The live sets were about half an hour long, up or down, and they were like that all the way through.
DK I love it! (laughter)
DP Trying to sing in front of people, which is what happened in 1995, was unpleasant and nerve-wracking in another way. But the idea of going onstage and doing the middle of “Interstellar Overdrive”—I’d wanted to do that for years.
I always thought of the Reid brothers from The Jesus & Mary Chain, when they were younger, saying that they had this idea for years—of what their favorite band would be. They would look like this, sounds like this, etc. I had this idea myself—this sort of ideal band, and well, it was effectively Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, of course. So they would have these wonderful songs on record, but then go on stage and improvise the middle of “Interstellar Overdrive.” Which, let’s be honest, is a description of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. That was my ideal idea of band.
DK You were in love with feedback.
DP I was.
DK Your email handle is feedbackdave.
DP Yes. I was just being childish, but I do like feedback. It’s good for people. It is! I’m convinced one day some scientist will work out that feedback, especially that stuff that seems right at the limit of human high-frequency hearing, is actually your own nervous system. That kind of feedback, I think it’s good for people. A dose of that, the stuff you can barely hear. You get those frequencies in all sounds anyway.
DK Noise can become so complex that you get to a sort of complete gridlock, a kind of stasis; it’s almost meditative at its most extreme. I always remember Lester Bangs saying he had a friend who took acid once a year to blow all the shit out of his system. Bangs responded by saying that he, instead of taking acid once a year, played Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. I thought that was great.
DP I read that a few years back, going “Hooray!” (laughter) Also, there’s that wonderful thing where Bangs knew people were giving him shit for liking Funhouse by The Stooges, and they were saying, “You have to have tin ears to listen to that!” And he turned around and said, “No, you have to have really good hearing to listen to the Stooges.” Because it’s there, but it’s not as clear as with other records, so you do have to have really good hearing to appreciate them.
DK Yeah, there is a certain sort of connoisseurship when you get into rock music and ways of listening associated with it that are different from how you listen to other music. I always think of that quote from Masami Akita, aka Merzbow, who said he would listen to the music of Jimi Hendrix and King Crimson and The Who, waiting for what he called “the guitar smashing part.” Then he thought: Why not make music that just consisted of that guitar smashing part. In other words, you don’t need the build-up of a song, you just jump straight to this exciting, explosive, high energy zone—this pure sonic realm. That’s what I started chasing.
DP Those are the best bits, exactly! This wonderful energy that comes from those moments. It’s still considered a bit naughty, even now, isn’t it?
DK This brings us back to people talking about quality and the lo-fi sound. Again, it’s as if it’s a little naughty and imperfect, but what I’ve always been trying to search out are the broken sounds, the rough sounds, the sounds, as you said, that are not see-through, that have a body and quality to them.
DP It’s not being cheap, or small, or lacking in ambition in terms of the size of the audience you would hope for, nor lacking in musical ambition at all. All these things are tools. It’s like if you had a wah-wah pedal or a chorus pedal instead. It’s a decision. It immediately, now, seems to be considered an affectation.
DK That’s so crazy. To me, these people are squares. Rock was always messy and dirty, a bit fucked-up and overloaded. Noisy.
DP I agree. I understand your thoughts and exasperations. It’s not really an issue specific to this record, but when I realized I didn’t know if I was ever going to hear it, putting the record together, hanging in there, recording live to cassette and live to CDR, it was just a question of finishing what I started.
All the formats sound different from each other. There are different types of recording methods, equipment, different mics and different takes. All these things are different, with their pluses and minuses. With the so-called “lo-fi” sound, if you mastered it really well, you would get this kind of strong sound that actually would have been okay, it couldn’t be quite as flash and sparkly sounding, but you get some strength in there and an abrasiveness, if you wanted it, and many other things. You couldn’t have ever got that with studio recording, unless you took the mix home, put it on the cassette, and copied the cassette, and copied the cassette, and copied the cassette, and copied the cassette. No band ever seems to do that.
DK I was thinking of Bruce Russell who said that when people say The Dead C have really shitty recordings or really poor quality recordings, he gets furious, because it’s actually a really good recording of a really shitty sound. (laughter)
DP Well, he knew just what to say. The smear is “lack of ambition.”
DK That’s what’s implied, always.
DP If we want to broaden out, there’s this smearing thing in there that really comes through in this country in the last fifteen or twenty years. I’m talking about this happening in England, not Scotland. I’m one of those people who wish I could have voted for the SNP down here. Not to get rid of Scotland, but because I was hearing a point of view I had forgotten I needed to hear. That’s an awful thing to say.
DK Not really. Many of my friends say the exact same thing. Once we do get Scottish independence, you can all just move up here. We’ll have a mass cultural exodus from England. (laughter)
DP I remember the lead-in to the referendum you were conned in, if I may say so. I watched the debate on the telly, and what they seemed to be debating was: we want the country to be a bit more Socialist. They were talking about things like caring for people and compassion. When you come down here, those words disappear from the dictionary, apart from this decent fellow who was just talking about this smearing culture—Jeremy Corbyn. They nominated him so people could laugh at him, but of course he might win the Labour leadership [On September 12, 2015, some weeks after this interview, Corbyn did in fact win in a landslide victory]. The point is that, surely it’s better for a country to debate those kind of ideas and have other opinions, instead of just right-wing to center, with the rest chopped off the screen.
DK Which is why it’s a very exciting time to be in Scotland right now. But you were talking about the smearing culture and how it manifests in terms of music. How have you picked that up? Anything other than the attitude toward certain types of music or ways of recording?
DP I’m afraid I’m not going to answer that question. The music world in the last twenty years or so? I’m absolutely bemused by it. I will say there always was and always will be a lot of human beings on the planet making music in some shape or form, at least until the pollution comes for us. Back in the day, especially when humans started making music, there were two things, the rhythm and the dancing—unless you’re someone like me who cannot dance—andthere was the drone.
DK Flying Saucer Attack always had that banner of “rural psychedelia” that seems to suggest the process of amplifying the drone at the heart of folk music.
DP The rhythm and the drone—there’s something to do with our physiology that causes us to respond to both.
So there have always been loads of people making music, but it got a bit muddled with Myspace and god knows what else. It was too overwhelming for me. All of a sudden there was all this stuff, and I didn’t know where to turn. I’m still too befuddled, and I’m afraid to get to grips with it.
DK Are you listening to much contemporary music at the moment?
DP I’m trying to, but really, to be honest, that means listening to Radio Six in the evenings. I know that’s not ideal, but I am still so befuddled. (laughter) I’m sorry. It’s an awful thing to admit. But I got so bemused, and I was bemused anyway!
DK Bemused to start with! (laughter) So with this record, is Flying Saucer Attack back, can we expect more?
DP There is intention. There may be some live shows, but it’s really got to be sussed out. I’d like to do the middle of “Interstellar Overdrive,” but that’s me.
DK Well, I’d like to hear that.
DP (laughter) Well you have! It’s called In Search of Spaces. There’s no point in me and a couple of mates rehearsing a bit, then I’m the only one who remembers the songs, and it’s all going a bit wrong, and everyone’s looking at us and saying, “Oh dear…”
DP Soon there will be some effort to work this out. But in terms of doing another record, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the world doesn’t need to hear another one by me on my own. I would like to do another, but it may take awhile, as I’m very slow with everything.
DK But what’s remarkable about Instrumentals 2015 is that it feels like you picked up where the earlier records left off. It feels like a seamless extension.
DP It does span pretty much all of the fifteen years.
DK That’s remarkable because it seems so coherent as well. I guess that shows us the monomania of your vision, Dave.
DP (laughter) Is that criticism or a compliment? Yes, well that is why the world doesn’t need to hear another record by me on my own.
I’ve had to hear the old records in the last few days because they are being re-cut to come out on vinyl.
DK How’d you feel about them?
DP I actually enjoyed Further for the first time ever. That album was recorded in a difficult time, under difficult circumstances, so I’ve always been wary of hearing it. Now I kind of see why people sort or rank that among the highest of the studio albums, because New Lands and Mirror didn’t work very well, and I always kind of knew that. So that left the four, including In Search of Spaces.
DK I love that album, and I love the first one.
DP Don’t worry, there are plans for In Search of Spaces. But the first albums, they’re all the same record really. I realize that because I had to listen to these test pressings of the second, third, and fourth in the last few days.
DK That’s interesting to me. I like artists who have a very strong thumbprint, who you can immediately recognize. What’s remarkable about Instrumentals 2015 is that it is, straight away, Dave again, completely formed.
DP It is in a way, because I’ve only got one idea. (laughter). I’m not trying to be silly; it’s true. This time, I kept to the kind of things I wanted to do. I never had to do words or any horrible singing on this one. I’m not good at verbalizing in any form, writing letters, lyrics, and all that stuff. I find it all it bit difficult. You’ve got the essence of the one idea on Instrumentals 2015.
DK But when a group comes back, the last thing you want to hear, and what you dread, is that they have somehow updated their sound. I don’t want to see necessarily an expansion; I want to see people go deeper into their idea rather than extending it somewhere else.
DP Well, I got to the essence of the one idea with this, if I may be bold. Because I got five stars in the Guardian! (laughter)
DK Did you really! Oh my God, I never thought that kind of music would ever get a review in the Guardian. I mean, the music coverage is appalling. That’s amazing.
DP If you look at the number of stars, that’s not a misprint. I was out earlier and had my one half of bitter and was wobbly on my feet walking home, and I did go to the news agent and looked in the Guardian. It had five stars printed there in the paper. A real five stars—five pink ones printed in the real newspaper.
I’m being a bit bold, in light of that, by saying there was really only ever one idea from the first single. The folksy thing was there, the droney thing and feedback thing, and the sounds, and the home recording, and the difficult singing, and the somewhat basic songwriting. It was all there really, it didn’t change when the acoustic guitar came in a bit, or with the introduction of some drum machines and so on. The music was still kind of the same, as you say, “monomaniacal” sound. I realized it listening to these test pressings. Distance I thought sounded very innocent. Further I thought sounded more solid and rather enjoyed, and I must admit I’ve still yet to listen to Chorus.
DK Are these all being reissued by Domino and Drag City then?
DP Well not repressed, but re-cut. The plates would have gone all rusty had they found them. Between the two of them I think they are doing Distance, Further, Chorus, and I think Drag City foolishly decided to do Mirror again too. So be it. But yeah, it’s always been one idea, and you get to the essence with the new album.
DK I would agree. But I want to ask you: have you ever seen a Flying Saucer?
DP (laughter) It’s a good question! I’ve never seen a silvery ship, but I know a couple of people who swear they have. I do remember once when I was younger and living here, I was driving back from Cheltenham to Bristol, which is not far, and there was a very low, heavy cloud. I don’t remember it being thundering, and it wasn’t raining. There was this bright light within the cloud, sort of, and it seemed to have a ball within it, moving from left to right in front of us, way up there. It seemed as though the base of the cloud was lit from above—a glowing ball that was skidding along just above the base of this very thick cloud. What the fuck was that? The end of a smallish meteor still reasonably intact, above the cloud level? I’m trying to act like I’ve seen a UFO, aren’t I? Trying to take credit, when obviously I haven’t seen one at all. It’s all a bit spurious, I’m afraid.
For more on Flying Saucer Attack and Instrumentals 2015, visit Drag City Records.
David Keenan is an author and critic based in Glasgow, Scotland. A new edition of his seminal history of the English esoteric underground, England’s Hidden Reverse, is forthcoming from Strange Attractor Press as is his debut novel, The Comfort Of Women.
As artists, we have to find the antidote to this darkness right now, to how everything feels so compressed rather than expanded.