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Ed, live @ Sin City, Swansea October 2007

OZRIC TENTACLES INTERVIEW (July 2007)

Ed Wynne, the main man, gutarist and keyboardist

On June 21st 1984, so legend has it, the original line-up of Ozric Tentacles met at the Stonehenge Free Festival and had a stoned conversation about names for imaginary breakfast cereal brands, eventually coming up with the name Ozric Tentacles, (Malcolm Segments, Desmond Whisps, and Gordon Lumps are among the names that were considered and thankfully ditched.). Thus was born one of the most prolific and long lasting bands of the festival scene. Twenty-three years and twenty-nine albums later a slightly more sane and undoubtedly less memorable conversation is taking place at another festival. We are back stage at the Eastern Haze talking to an Ozrics that bares little resemblance to that original 1984 posse, Ed Wynne being the only constant member throughout the years.


Brandi and Vini, on stage @ Sin City, Swanesa October 2007


Merv Pepler, feeling blue, live @ Sin City, Swansea October 2007

Twenty-three years…. Did Ed think it would last this long? “I hoped we would last twenty, so twenty-three is fine by me, still plenty to be getting on with”. Something of an understatement really; album number thirty close to completion and a hectic tour schedule to contend with. Despite never signing to a major label they have sold over a million records and are in constant demand, they rarely need to look for work, especially on the festival scene. “Festivals have always come looking for us actually, right from the very early days when we started blagging our way on to stages. We can’t really do anymore than we are doing, we are doing two this weekend, this one (Eastern Haze) and one in Greece, and last week we played North Carolina in America and Quebec, Canada. We do a festival every weekend through the summer and we really physically can’t do any more than we do. The jet lag makes life interesting at festivals though”.

Joie Hinton, original keyboard guy, joins the band on stage for the Blow Out Festival, cardiff

A million albums is not bad for a band that in many circles are considered immensely unfashionable, just goes to show what fashion knows. Tribe of Cro and Omnia Opera have recently reformed, Hawkwind are now running their own festival, space rock spectaculars are being organised and of course there is Eastern Haze, a veritable smorgasbord of space rock delights. Are we seeing a resurgence in psychedelic space rock? Ed thinks we might be, “I sincerely hope so. I am starting to enjoy festivals again, I don’t go normally, lets hope the scene is back and we can meet up with all our friends”.

Talking of old friends, over the years members of the band have branched out in all sorts of directions, but on the whole they have kept in touch with the mother ship. Arguably the most famous of the ‘Children of the Ozrics’ is Eat Static, the techno/trance outfit formed by Joie Hinton (Veteran of that 1984 nucleus) and Merv Peplar, but we also have had over the years The Ululators, Nodens Ictus and Wooden Baby. Noden Ictus released space lines in 2000 and played at the 2006 Pongmasters Ball…. Are they alive again? “Yeah, we are doing the occasional gig, when Merv and Joie are around we do things, we do enjoy doing that, we will do a bit of recording and if anyone asks us to do a gig we will but we don’t get asked very often”. Oi Promoters! … ask em!

With members wandering in and out of the band, surely some of the new recruits find it difficult to get their heads around the complex rhythms that pulse out of the Ozrics. “Yes, it can be a problem actually, for instance some tracks have been written with a particular drummers technique in mind and sometimes another drummer will find they don’t have that as part of their ‘thing’ and find it very difficult to play certain tracks. But there are so many people involved we have got five different line-ups now, and they are all going to be here at Eastern Haze in some shape or form, which is nice”. The ability of the band to play songs is not the only live barrier they have to deal with, some studio tracks are simply too complicated to play live. “Yes, definitely. Sometimes for human reasons but normally for technological reasons, some tracks just cannot be reproduced live.”

Technology and skill are not the only problems they have to deal with live. When we interviewed the band back in 1996 Ed told us, “With all the music we have recorded, all instrumental and complex, we do sometimes lose track of what is going on, but the thing is, when you are in the sort of state where you forget what you are playing you are usually on autopilot anyway, so we always make it through to the end of the set in one piece.”

At this point our conversation is cut short, as we all have to rush outside to rescue our boots from old fashioned natural rain. Technology plays a big part in the Ozrics sound but some technology can be a double-edged sword. “Downloading and home recording doesn’t do us any favours, but then again if there was a gig that I particularly enjoyed and someone has taped it and years later they come up and tell me they have a recording of, it is handy”.


The stage is too far away, Eastern haze 2007

As we sit there, Ed’s other half and Ozric keyboard player, Brandi, gets excited. She has been fiddling about with the keyboard during the interview. All of a sudden she hits upon a new riff she is compelled to share with the rest of us. An honour indeed for us, not only are we interviewing them but we are witnessing the creation of a future track. Maybe.

The Ozrics have influenced many people over the last two decades, but others have also influenced them. Ed is a big admirer of Steve Hillage, who was making off the wall weirdness going back to the beginning of the 70’s. These days Hillage can be found performing with his latest project, System 7, sometimes supporting the Ozrics. “It’s quite ironic really, I always thought it would be the other way around. We were in Japan a year and a half ago on this little island and tropical storms prevented us from playing that particular day but the next day we did this gig and Steve Hillage played with us for the first time, which was great honour for me and great fun”.

Another big influence were 70’s Krautrockers Kraan. They reformed in 2000, and have been gigging once more. “I have never seen Kraan and I really wish I had seen them in a certain era, but I would love to play with them now” At this point Vini, organiser of the Eastern Haze and occasional bass player with the Ozrics (not to mention member of Grooveweird), jumps in to say Kraan are booked for Eastern Haze in 2008, which creates much excitement and a promise that the Ozrics will be on the same bill at last. Once Ed has calmed down he continues, “I Phoned up Hellmut Hattler (Kraan Bass Player) when we were in Germany once, he suggested I call round for a coffee by e-mail, but for one reason or another it did not happen”. Looks like a meeting is on the cards though!


Ozrics attack all five senses, and your brain, live eastern haze 2007

The Ozrics are more than just a festival band though, indulging in mammoth touring schedules. “I like festivals and gigs, they both have a different appeal. I like festivals when it is not raining and I really like the sound of playing outdoors. Sometimes a badly built gig venue can be so boomy it is not much fun to play and it hurts my ears… I have only got two and I want to keep them both!”

As the interview draws to a close the band have to start thinking about going on stage. Vini, who has been sat quietly in the corner during most of the interview, starts chatting with Ed about tonight’s set. As we mentioned, he is not a full time member, so as we climb out of the caravan, having successfully missed the only rain shower of the weekend, Ed and Vini embark on a surreal a cappella version of a track that Vini is not sure of, and it actually sounds quite good. Maybe all the techno wizardry is not needed after all, Ozric Tentacles unplugged anyone?

BACK TO TOP

Discography
One day if we have a few weeks to spare we might get around to doing a discography, but in the mean time check out Mike's fan page which has the (almost) definitve discography
Links
Official Site
Recently back on line after long absence, a bit sparse but developing slowly
Mike's Fan Page
Carlsberg don't do Ozric Tentacles fan sites. if they did, this is what it would look like
OzricSpace
There are dozens of Ozric My Space sites, we THINK this is the official one, let us know if you know better
EdSpace
Mr Wynne's place, but he aint around much
Eat Static
Accept no substitues, still original and best
MervSpace
Even drummers need love
JoieSpace
The keybord man that hates computers
And a couple of people that helped get this interview off the ground....
Eastern Haze Festival
Our hosts for this little chat
Pulse promotions
Thanks to Craig for 'greasing the wheels' to get us all in the same caravan

Eat Static, Live @ Sick Note 'Phone In Sick' party, Cardiff, 2007


Nodens Ictus live @ Pongmasters Ball, London 2006

Ozric offshoots
They are all over the shop, bands featuring ex-members of the Ozrics and current members doing a bit of extra curricular. Here are a few of them...
Well-respected techno outfit featuring Joie Hinton and Merv Peplar. Fundementally a trance outfit but have dabbled in drum ‘n bass, dub, breakbeat, salsa and even invented original styles of their own over the years. Famous for 3 hour mind bending performances that some how manage to keep the crowd enthralled, no easy feat for two blokes with a pile of samplers, keyboards and computers.
Ululators
Originating in 1985, The Ullulators embarked on an active career as a 'Space rock' band on the then thriving free festival scene in the UK. Formed by Gavin Griffiths, a founder member of Ozric Tentacles, and Joie Hinton of similar fame. The aim of the band was to explore musical territory more diverse and groundbreaking in its exploration of the fusion of world influences and rock styles than its predecessors.
Nodens Ictus

Nodens Ictus was an Ozric Tentacles side project started in the late 80's by Ed and Joie with some input from Merv, who played ambient chill-out tunes for the Club Dog and other clubs. They were recently revived and do occasionally gig and record, but not very often.

Wooden Baby

Wooden Baby were a little-known 1980s band which featured, among other members, Merv Pepler and Joie Hinton of Ozric Tentacles and Eat Static. Little is known about the early days of the band, but it apparently evolved from a prior project in which Pepler had played called The Funeral Party.

Initially, Wooden Baby was a fairly conventional band influenced by the Goth and Punk sounds of the era. However in 1987 it changed direction somewhat as Pepler joined Ozric Tentacles and met Joie Hinton, who like Pepler was fascinated by the emerging acid house and techno genres. Hinton was soon part of Wooden Baby and they began recording material along with a third main member named Charlie Daniel and a bassist (known only as Nick).

 

OZRICS... OLD MONEY?


We could not help ourselves from ending the interview with the question that by now must get on Ed’s nerves. Is it true that his had appears on the back of the old 50p coin? “No, but my elder brother is on there, and my sister and my mother. My dad designed it, he just got the family to put their hands in a circle and drew it.” So although the Ozrics may not be mega stars, Ed’s family certainly know how to make money, literally.

THE THROW AWAY QUESTION FROM OUR 1996 INTERVIEW: If Ozric Tentacles really were a breakfast cereal, what free gifts would be given away with it? “A little plastic telescope for looking into other dimensions (Possibly one of the best interview replies we have ever had ;))