PUSSY

PUSSY are in no way a new band. They are actually pretty much as old as I am, if not older. That apart I had not even heard of them until I came upon them on MySpace. With a name like PUSSY I knew I had to interview them. Anders Ekdahl ©2012

To me Jerusalem and in the extension Pussy were completely unheard of. The only Jerusalem I knew of was the Swedish one. Give all of us infidels a brief run through?
-The Swedish Jerusalem appeared about 3 years after we disbanded and were basically a Christian Rock Band. Our Jerusalem, although in the midst of what was then Heavy Rock, was very different from the mainstream rock bands. What people say now is that we were years before out time, we were playing a form of Metal, Doom, Stoner etc., years before they became recognised/successful genres. We played throughout the UK and parts of Europe, mainly Germany and the large Rock Festivals in Europe. Most of the press and the public at the time did not really understand what we were doing, which is why to an extent we became more of a cult band with very little media exposure. The album did quite well on release even in areas we had never played e.g. Japan. It was simply a band that appeared before its time. It is only in the last few years that many people have now recognised what we were doing and that in a way we were one of the pathfinders for certain future genres. After Ray and I decided that Jerusalem had achieved what we wanted and that to continue would have meant compromise, we decided to stop. By then the music business was being taken over by lawyers and accountants, so to be different was no longer viable or acceptable. We then formed the 3 piece Pussy, which in a way was a poke in the eye at what was going on in the business, but it was still very much a serious band with a direction. I would describe it as a goodtime kickass dirty hard rock band. This obviously didn’t go down well with the industry, but we still achieved what we wanted to a point and once again it became more of a cult band than commercial. The single ‘Feline Woman’ was unofficially banned by the BBC and therefore no record company would touch the album. As you probably know, the Pussy album has now been released worldwide on Rockadrome Records for the first time ever. The amazing thing is that it seems to be appealing to people across all genres, not just rock.

With a name like Pussy and in the time the band operated must have stirred up some controversy. What kind of reactions did the name bring with it?
-Yes, it was a bit brave at the time and in fact is still quite controversial. At the end of the day the word Pussy has numerous connotations all over the World, so it can mean whatever you choose it too. In one way it helped because we were different, but once again made things difficult with the media and music business. Maybe our timing was a little out once again because very shortly the business and media were torn to pieces by the Punk explosion. Thank goodness. Anyway, the album is finally out after all these years, which is great.

What influenced you back in the days to write and play the music you did?
-Ray and I formed the original band at school when we discovered blues, which was triggered by seeing John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. To be honest, we had no real influences; we just wanted to get out there and play loud and raw. I did most of the writing for both Jerusalem and Pussy. If you listen to both bands I would say that it would be very difficult to pinpoint major influences, because Ray and I didn’t really have any, we just knew what we wanted to sound like and played it that way. We wanted to be different.

Having Ian Gillan producing your music must have been heavenly, but how good a producer was he in reality?
-Ian is a great guy and we were very close mates for many years. Jerusalem and Pussy were his first productions, which in a way, I believe also helped us to be different. We were all learning as we went along, it was very exciting for all of us. Probably the most important thing about Ian was he had the vision and courage to take us on and 40 years down the road his belief in us at the time has been confirmed worldwide.

What kind of reactions did you get from the hardrock audiences of the time of the albums releases?
-With regard to audiences they either loved us or hated us, there was no middle ground. We played with most of the top bands of the period and even some of them couldn’t work out what we were about. The first time Jerusalem played with Status Quo they initially took the piss, but by the end of the night we were all mates. Another example was when we played at 2 huge festivals in Vienna and Frankfurt with the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Rod Stewart etc., Being the only real unknown band on the bill, when we came on many people started to walk out to get drinks and use the toilet, but as soon as we started playing nearly everyone turned around and rushed back. Ian Hansford, Purples road manager said it was amazing to watch. We were even shown on the Austrian TV news. The reaction to Pussy was generally far more receptive overall as the music appealed to a far more varied audience and people were also getting more open minded to different sounds, so we were not such a shock as Jerusalem. When we played with Roy Wood’s Wizard (after ELO) he wanted us to be his support act on his World Tour, but unfortunately he got tied up in legal problems with his record company, so it never happened. Much of being successful in music and many other things in life is about timing. Being in the right place at the right time. C’est la vie.

What prompted the rereleases of the Jerusalem and Pussy albums?
-I had been living all over the World, Africa, S.America etc., for many years, so was a bit out of touch with the music scene. One day I came across a MySpace Jerusalem page run by a great guy from Finland, Aki Vettenranta . I then made contact with the site to say I was still alive and kicking. I also started checking around the Web and was shocked to see how much stuff there was about Jerusalem and how much pirate product there was around. I also found that the original album had been reissued on CD by Universal Japan in 2006. I had been totally unaware that Jerusalem had become a bit of a legend. I was then contacted by Dennis Bergeron at Rockadrome Records and a few others who suggested a remastered reissue (luckily I still had all the masters of Jerusalem & Pussy). Dennis was convinced there were thousands of people who would be interested in the album. He was right. After releasing the remastered CD and vinyl of Jerusalem, Dennis also wanted to issue the Pussy album for the first time, because he also thought there would be interest in it as well. So thanks to Aki and Dennis, Jerusalem and Pussy have both now hit the World again.

Where do they fit into today’s hardrock climate? What kind of audience do you think will appreciate them today?
-I think it’s basically a ‘roots’ thing. The people buying them are not only from our generation, but subsequent ones, who want to know where this kind of music originated from. Many people are shocked to find out that Metal, Doom, Stoner were around long before the genres were invented. The reaction to Pussy has been really strange, people from all ages and genres seem to be buying it. Maybe it’s because there is not too much new (different) music around now, plus a lot of reinvention, which is making them look further back in time.

I’ve noticed that you utilize the services of modern social networking in spreading the word of the bands today. How does that work for you?
-Great! It’s put the power back with the artists, which is where it should be. It’s been a good kick up the ass for the ‘music business’. Obviously, they are now trying to force their way into the Facebook’s, MySpace’s etc., but hopefully they have left it too late.

I know that you can’t compare then and now in terms of how it was to be a band but if you were to try and make any sort of comparison what would you say is the greatest difference? Was it better then?
-It was better then because artists were still coming up with totally new forms of music, there is now too much reinvention and quick buck syndrome. There was no discrimination between artists; you were all into music, so it didn’t matter what genre you were. Most bands had to ‘pay there dues’, there was no such thing as overnight success. There was a quality about it all that no longer seems to exist very much in today’s music. I think the proof is, that so many bands from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s are back out there filling concert halls and playing to people of all ages.

How much more stuff is there to release from the back catalogues?
-Sorry to say that everything has now been rereleased or released on Rockadrome except for some other bits and pieces I did individually and the Gillan/Dean album ‘Rocks On’, which I did with Ian’s sister and was released in ‘84’ (Thunderbolt Records)

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