Thursday, 4 October 2012

Interview with Bedemon!


Interview by Metantoine/Antoine Richard

AR : Thanks for answering these questions; I'm honored to be able to do that. Bedemon is legendary and should definitely get more recognition! 

Geof: I believe we all agree on that! Of course, since Bedemon isn't really a functioning band, it's not like we're out touring and keeping the name in the press, and while this is the second official Bedemon album — the first being the 2005 collection of 70s recordings, Child of Darkness: From the Original Master Tapes — it's taken ten years from recording to release.

AR : In the liner notes of the promo package, it's said that the songwriting was quite spontaneous, but in opinion it's definitely not a bad thing. The solos are well done and I like their feeling, is that an experience you would like to repeat or you'll like to do a more professional recording ? I would also like some thought about the song you wrote called "Exterminator," is there some chances that the fans could hear this song in the near future ?
Geof: Well, the songwriting wasn't necessarily spontaneous, except in the case of the song, "Son of Darkness," which Randy, Mike and myself did spontaneously write one day during the recording sessions in April 2002. However, the other eight tracks on the album, five by Randy, two by myself and one by Mike, were all written during 2001 as we prepared for the recording session.

As for the solos, with the exceptions of my two songs, "Saviour" and "Hopeless," on which I did do extensive work on years later, the solos were indeed as spontaneous as could be. Randy had worked out his melodic line solo in "D.E.D." but on his other songs, we had no idea who would be playing what or where. While Mike and I had recorded fairly complete demos of our compositions with drum machines, vocals, solos etc., Randy's demos were literally him playing one guitar into a cassette recorder. No vocals, no overdubs, no solos, just the riffs. This was all Mike and I had to listen to during the year leading up to the actual recording session.

This is how it would go: we would sit in my living room with three unplugged electric guitars and learn the song for that day, and then go down to my garage and record it, usually in 2–3 takes max. As we listened back to the track, Randy would then say, “Okay, the solo starts…here! It goes for eight lines. Geof, why don’t you try this one?” They would go upstairs to the house while I (or Mike, if he was doing a solo) would see what we could come up with given no advance prep to work anything out, and when we were satisfied, we’d go get the other members to come listen. That’s pretty spontaneous! Personally, I’d like to have had the time to have worked on them a bit longer as I did with my two tracks. I like a solo to be well-constructed but of course it’s a fun challenge to simply play by emotion.

Ahhhh, “Exterminator.” Kind of a sore subject which I discuss in the album’s liner notes. Randy had my demo of the song for a year and thought it was fine for the album . . . until the day we sat in the living room learning it right before we were supposed to record it. Suddenly he thought it wasn’t right and was too much like Judas Priest. It WAS Priest-influenced but I’m sure it would have taken on the Bedemon sound if we’d at least recorded it. This also suddenly left me with one less song on the album and no time for a back-up replacement. I wasn’t happy and an emotional scene ensued with me leaving the room as I told him to fuck off and retreating to my bedroom where I stayed until they coaxed me out. I would absolutely like to record it properly someday, but have no idea when that would be or for what project.

AR : I liked Craig's voice on the album. Can you tell me more about his choice ? Was he the only candidate outside of Bobby Liebling and did the famous Pentagram singer ever call or talk to you guys before or after Randy's death ?

Geof: When we recorded the basic tracks for this album in April of 2002, we didn't have a vocalist and didn't know who would be singing. We actually considered Mike or I trying to handle them, but neither of us has the killer chops to handle material of this nature properly.

Randy agonized for quite some time about working with Bobby again. He was the obvious choice but Randy had two concerns: first, he wasn’t crazy about Bobby’s vocal style on recent Pentagram albums at that time. He thought he’d gotten too far away from the Ozzy/Iggy early Pentagram sound. Secondly, Randy knew if he was spending time working with Bobby, he would be tempted to fall back into using the drugs Randy was trying to stay away from. Randy had a few other possibilities for singers in North Carolina where he was living but they didn't pan out.

Shawn Hafley, the engineer who worked on this project was working at a local indie record shop called Boo Boo's Records in San Luis Obispo. He knew I had been looking for a singer and mentioned that their other location in Grover Beach had a manager who was also a great singer and that I should check him out. I met Craig for the first time on June 14, 2002. He played me tapes of him with cover bands singing Sabbath, Priest and so on, and he was great. I sent the samples off to Randy and Mike. and we agreed Craig was the one. Sadly, Randy died before ever getting to even speak with him on the phone, much less ever meet him in person.

I was contacted by a third party after Randy’s death, relaying the message that Bobby really wanted to be the vocalist on the album as a tribute to his friend, but we couldn’t do that. Randy’s wishes had to be honored.

AR : Are you and the rest of the band gonna continue ? Like Riot will after Mark Reale's death, life continues and maybe that's something Randy would want. You wouldn't have the emotional contraints that you had during the recording of Symphony of Shadows. Speaking for myself, I want to hear more of what you guys can do and there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of when we listen to Pentagram or Saint Vitus' recent offerings compared to yours.
Geof: Thank-you for those thoughts and interest. Obviously, the big issue is that Bedemon was, first and foremost, Randy’s project, and he’s gone. Having said and accepted that for the past decade, we have been discussing the possibility of continuing in some form. One really interesting possibility is that after returning home from recording the Symphony of Shadows album back in May of 2002, Randy began writing tons of new songs, and I have the tapes of those song ideas. In some cases, it’s just a riff; in others, it’s a complete song. Again, no overdubs, no lyrics, but some amazing riffs and song ideas, and we could take these and build songs around them. We’ve been discussing this, as Mike and I could play all the instruments and Craig do the vocals, and therefore it would be very much in the style and sound of Symphony of Shadows. It really depends on the level of interest in this new album and how well it does.

AR : The artwork for the album is dark and fits the mysterious and occult feel of the album, can you elaborate on its choice ?
Geof: We were originally going to work with Wes Benscoter, who had done the amazing cover for the Child of Darkness release but things fell through when, after expressing interest in doing the new cover, he suddenly vanished and wouldn’t respond to e-mails for month after month. We were back at square one.

When Mike was visiting Randy’s fiancée Taryn and looking through some of Randy’s music-related stuff, he came across a rough drawing of potential cover art for what was going to at the time be called Kaleidoscope of Shadows, showing a face peering out of a doorway with one hand on the door. Good friend and Pentagram fanatic Sean "Pellet" Pelletier saw Eric “Rot” Engelmann's My Space page and examples of his work and suggested we check him out. On Eric's site was this artwork of his showing a partially lit face peering out from behind a tree with one hand on the tree. It was eerily similar to Randy's sketch concept, and so we contacted Eric and arranged to use his art for the cover

AR : Can you tell me what were your influences for the album outside of the obvious ones ? What are you listening these days and what's some of your all time favorites ? Secondly, do you like discovering new artists and do what's your opinion on the actual metal and scene ?

 Geof: It’s no secret that Randy’s favorite band was Black Sabbath, so that’s a given. When I was working with Shawn mixing the album, I’d bring in 70s releases like Uriah Heep, Mountain, Sir Lord Baltimore, Captain Beyond, Deep Purple, Montrose, Stray Dog and Three Man Army to show him the bands we were listening to and tell him that was the overall sound we were going for.

As for what I personally listen to, it’s really all over the musical map. I love so many different types of music, many quite removed from what you might expect. I’ve always loved progressive rock like Gentle Giant, Camel, Focus, Curved Air, Renaissance, Yes and bands of that ilk and also a huge jazz fusion fan into Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, Jean-Luc Ponty and so on. I have so many CDs and records, it is a hard question, but other artists that come to mind are Todd Rundgren, Kate Bush, Neil Young, Jethro Tull, Wishbone Ash, 60s pop like The Association, The Beatles, The Zombies, The Hollies etc.

I am really out of touch with new metal. Randy was more into discovering new artists, but when he would send me some samplers of bands he liked, they really didn’t do anything for me. The main thing I find lacking is strong material. It doesn’t matter how well it’s played or recorded. If the song doesn’t grab me, it’s not happening. Another problem I have are vocalists: I really can’t stand the growling non-singing singers, otherwise nick-named “cookie monster” vocalists. I need an Ian Gillan, a Dio, a Rob Halford…a singer with a voice who can sing a melody with power and emotion, not sound like he’s being strangled. I’m sure there are new artists out there I would love if I was exposed to them, but really, there’s only so many hours in the day and I have a gazillion CDs I haven’t even listened to yet sitting in boxes.

AR : Do you plan to play some live shows in the future ? I know a festival like Roadburn would be honored to have you. Maybe a Pentagram/Bedemon show !!

Geof: It would be a thrill to play some of the old and new songs in honor of Randy, but the obstacles we face are having to find a guitarist or two and then deal with the physical logistics of Mike living in Montana and Craig and I living here in California. Bedemon, old or new, has never played a single gig since it was never really a band to begin with. Yes, the idea of doing some Pentagram/Bedemon shows is very interesting…

AR : If there was one little known fact about Bedemon, what would it be?  

Geof: Well, the most common misconception about Bedemon is that it was an actual band! It never was. We didn’t rehearse and there was never any talk of playing gigs. It literally was Randy’s recording project for fun. Bobby and I were friends of his and he’d ask us to record some songs every now and then, so we’d meet at the warehouse where Pentagram rehearsed, record the new 2-3 songs and that would be it for months until he came up with some more songs. We did fifteen tracks between 1973 and 1979, and then recorded five more in 1986 with Greg Mayne of Pentagram on bass, as Mike had moved to Seattle. These five had no vocals and have never been released except on bootlegs.

AR : Thanks for the interview and good luck in all of your future endeavors ! You have the final word, of course !
Geof: Thanks from Mike, Craig and myself for your kind words and interest regarding Bedemon, and a huge thank-you to the fans who have patiently waited for this project to be completed and now are telling us how much they enjoy it. More to come? Stay tuned!
twitter: @bedemon