Ozric Tentacles:
Taking the Hidden Step into the New Century

by Scott Heller

From Aural Innovations #12 (September 2000)

We missed interviewing the Ozrics when they came through the USA last year and were lucky enough to get some post-recording interview time with mainly Ed to ask him about the past, present and the future. The bands new CD, The Hidden Step will be released by Phoenix in the USA on Sept. 26th and in the rest of the world on Stretchy on Oct.2nd. Enjoy and hopefully, we can catch them when they come through the US to tour in late October as planned at this time.


SH: Where did the name the Bolshem People come from? Did you record any gigs under this name? (The Bolshem People was a name that was briefly used in 1982-83)

ED: The name Bolshem People doesn't mean anything...sorry , but there you go. We did one gig under that name... the lineup , as far as I remember , was Ed, Roly , Tig , Gavin , Ben Smith (On vocals ! and tambourine). It was in London at some college or other.

SH: Was the first appearance at Stonehenge in 1983 under this name or had you already started using the Ozric Tentacles?

ED: When we went to Stonehenge we didn't have a name. However, Ozric Tentacles was floating in the back of my mind at the time, so when asked for the band name I just said "Ozric Tentacles" for a laugh really... it seemed to stick!

SH: What kind of drum machine did ED use back on the early tapes?

ED: Drumatix mainly , but occasionally borrowed other ones from random friends.

SH: There are some tapes floating about in the circles of outtakes from the 1980's. Some of the stuff on these tapes is quite funny and there are some magical tidbits hidden amongst them. How did the tapes get in circulation and how did the titles come about (Cerebral Hemispheres, DMT 50, etc...)

ED: In those days people were always dropping in for spacejams. There seemed to be one going on the whole time... usually I would do a tape of whatever was going on at the time and these have been copied up over the years... the titles were nothing to do with us , good tho'.

SH: What were some of the most memorable gigs from the free form 80's days? I really enjoy the tape of this performance from Savernake Forest 1986.

ED: Well we were always off to play free festivals every week, so it is all a bit of a blur really... but it was all good, like one LLOONNGG gig lasting 5 years.

SH: How many of the tape releases do you estimate you sold in the 80's? Did you use to duplicate most of these yourself?

ED: No idea how many... loads if I remember correctly, and yes we copied them up, photocopied the covers, folded 'em up and sold them at the gigs.

SH: It seems that there are a lot of requests from the fans to hear different old songs from the 80's. Have you considered working up a few of these numbers?

ED: Yes.


SH: Ed, you did some music for an archeological program, what was it called and how can we hear this?

ED: There were a few different archeological tv programs that I did... I think the first one was called "Ancient Lives", then I did one called "Legacy". They were both done by "Central Television "in the UK... I think they still get shown on the Discovery Channel , and National Geographic and stuff.

SH: The Ozrics played at the Roskilde Festival here in Denmark back in 1993 I believe. Do you have any specific memories from this gig? Someone said that the drummer for the Levelers was sick and Merv played in their set as well as the Ozrics. Was it fun?

ED: Well that shows how the Chinese Whispers theory works indeed!!! The real story was that Merv ate some rotten fish on the ferry to Denmark and became really ill... too ill to play the drums even, so we panicked and ran around trying to sort out a substitute and eventually found the drummer from the "Blue Aeroplanes"... Zia was having to shout the beat to him during the songs so it was a bit of a jam really.

SH: Rad, did Damige ever record a full record? Did it ever get released?

RAD: Yes, Damidge recorded an album at Foel studio called the fax of life. We made a few tape copies and sold them at gig's along with an album t-shirt but it didn't get released through any record company/distribution network. Bit of a shame 'cause Roly plays the meanest bass guitar along with Seaweed on keyboards (of course) and Alex Pym on guitar (old mate of ours).I have a tape copy of this off the master for the archives.

SH: Seaweed, could you tell me about the Thunderdog releases? I had heard there was a live tape circulating of the band?

SW: The only commercial releases by Thunderdogs were "Thundermental" DDR L101 (vinyl, cd and cassette) and "Just after sunrise" on 12" EP. Both are obviously discontinued, but I've still got a few. There is a video of our "metal clown" Archaos tour with a stereo soundtrack, but I don't know where to get one! Still to come from the archives one day are a live compilation of pre and post Archaos (different line-ups) and a similar one of studio demos and out-takes, but I'm slow at these things.... oh yeah, that live tape might be a copy of "live at the ungdomshuset" video made by TVStop in Copenhagen in '93... it's great if you can find it - my copy is aging!

SH: Is is true you have friends here in Denmark?

SW: It is also indeed true that I have friends in Christiania from those days, though until Ozrics gets to Denmark again I'm not likely to see much of them... Big Respect to Kenny, Tania, Lars, Luna, all at the Banana house, and the old Moonfisher crowd (back when they still had raucous gigs!).

SH: Was Strangitude the bands best selling CD?

ED: No wide ear.


SH: How did the recording of the new CD differ from any in the past? Did you try anything new and/or different?

ED: Yes... well it's recorded on digital for a start... as for the music, that's for everyone else to decide.

SH: How many songs did you record for the new CD?

ED: The usual seven.

SH: Have you ever considered doing a nearly totally ethnic instrument based CD with tablas, weird string instruments, strange woodwinds and of course layers of samples from the rain forests of the world and some far out synthesizers? Perhaps you have already tried this?

ED: Er..... yes when there's the space to do it.

SH: Will the next release come out on vinyl? What about a vinyl release of Waterfall Cities?

ED: I doubt it, my views on this are that yes, the covers look great that size, but honestly, I think CD's are SO much better !!!Sorry about that all you vinyl heads, but I like the fact that CD's sound like we heard it in the studio. Also, you play a vinyl album once and then it cannot help but start to deteriorate.

SH: What are the current tour plans for the fall in Europe and the USA?

ED: Yes, hopefully...

SH: I was wondering if the band had ever considered trying to take on the road a bit smaller or a light show in order to make the price of hiring you to play a little bit less, so perhaps you could come to places like Sweden, Denmark, Germany, where perhaps you can't get 500 people to pay 10 or 15 pounds to see you guys play? It is just a thought.

ED: It can't get any smaller without losing many of the "Mind Colours" we like to use.

SH: Any plans for videos coming out?

ED: Possibly a compilation or three from all sorts of footage of varying quality, indoors, outdoors, studio, messing about etc...

SH: Any last words???

ED: Never!