I almost feel ashamed not knowing of SPINY NORMEN but that has all been changed now. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
How important is the band’s name in giving out the right kind of vibe?
STEVE We had such a hard time coming up with a name that once we all agreed on something, it stuck. Sometimes I wish we could have found something more psychedelic, but it was obscure and bizarre. Since then 2 other bands have taken the name as well.
GERRY Every musical group would like to have a name that perhaps has a thousand entendre and can transcend in a way that can attract an audience by name only. It was a short but lengthy ongoing task , throwing out meaningful names for our group.
The name we did come up with, was a consensus of the members of the band at our very first studio session, as a reaction to an absent drummer and a who will figure this one out enthusiasm. Who knew?
I wanted to start a band in the 80s but couldn’t find the right people to do so with What was it that made you want to do the band?
STEVE For me it was really because of the amazing feeling I got when we were playing together. It was really something that had to happen. I think when you want something that bad you will make it come together.
GERRY Spiny Normen started as schoolmates sharing a common musical adventure. We stepped up to the challenge and learned how to play our instruments, improvise, produce, write, record and perform our sonic ideas while still teenagers.
With so many genres and sub-genres out there today what is your definition of the music you play?
STEVE Played! We haven’t done this in almost 40 years remember! But progressive and psychedelic is what most people call it and I suppose I would agree. Psychedelics were definitely involved in the making of this music. I also think we could have even fit into a sort of film score or modern orchestral genre. I’ve always been involved in film so it makes sense.
GERRY 40 years ago I would have called it Psychedelic hard rock. Today I go WTF!? How many genres are there? Now, I give folks a “Its very Psychedelic.” warning before they listen or ask what flavor is our music.
How do you arrange the tracks? Is there a method to how you arrange the songs on a record?
STEVE The order of the tracks were arranged by RidingEasy, but originally I had wanted The Sound of Younger Timesto be first because I thought it represented our best and most mind warping track. I was a producer for a while and always preferred to put the best track first in case that’s all someone ever listened to. Arrowheadwas a good choice by the label though because it kind of represented both the psychedelic and the more straight forward hard rock stuff that seem to split the album. Ironically The Sound of Younger Times is the last track.
GERRY I usually like to have the first three quick to the point with the 4th slower introducing a new direction a breather if you may to listen and the the rest of the tracks can be a slow build up
to an epic song the defines the album.
I am fascinated by how people can still come up with things that hasn’t been done before, chord structures that hasn’t been written, sentences that hasn’t been constructed before. Where do you find your inspiration to create?
STEVE One of our main parameters was to make sure that what we wrote was always something as original as possible, especially later in our history. We had other members that wanted to do blues, standard, etc. based music but I think Gerry and I always rejected those ideas. Original is difficult, but original work that really hits a chord in the brain is even more hard and its also why we spent enormous amounts of time writing even one song. The parts just had to work and feel really powerful or it was rejected.
GERRY Always on the lookout for that new killer unrecognizable riff or progression that could be shared to inspire each other into writing a better riff or a parallel soundscape.
How important is the graphic side of the band? How much thought goes into art work etc.?>
STEVE I had designed the original art as our banner and for business cards and flyers back then and had always thought an album cover with the yellow background, black sun, horizon, pyramid and path would be really simple and effective. It conveyed a sense of psychedelia and mystery to me. When we saw what RidingEasy artist Jeri Yoshizu did based on an old flyer, we were completely blown away!
GERRY Graphics are important, another means to attract and relate to who is listening to your music. The artwork on some album covers have been the extra candy coating to the music inside, defining thoughts of the musicians through an illustration possibly or clarifying who is playing what instrument by way of liner notes. Sometimes a piece of artwork just jumps out and declares itself, like the artwork Steve made for the Spiny Normen cover.
I get the feeling that more and more music fans are just downloading single tracks. Is the album as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s? Is digital killing the album?
STEVE I love the return of the vinyl album, especially the colored ones, Riding Easy made a limited editions of yellow, pink and clear. Unfortunately im just an old fart now and don’t have a record player so I’m one of those digital music soul suckers! Lol. I suppose as long as people are able to get the music they want in one form or another that counts more than the medium. But albums really are nice, its hard to say goodbye to the art of a nice big cover and the fact that you have that music in your hands… and if the sun blows out a big magnetic burst tomorrow destroying the digital world, you wont loose your whole album collection!
GERRY In the late 60’s one of my peeps worked at a burger drive in with a jukebox. When the jukebox guy would change the new hit 45 singles, the 45’s taken out would wind up at my house.
I buy 45’s to this day. So single tracks for me have always been a factor in my listening scope.
With that being said there is nothing better than having the time to listen to a great full length album of finely crafted songs and better yet concept album.
Are we killing our beloved scene by supporting digital downloading or can anything positive come from supporting single tracks and not albums? Will the fan as we know him/her be gone soon?
STEVE Evolution can be tough… From a positive perspective it might encourage better writing? I think a lot of artists back in the day filled albums with easy to write fluff because they knew you had to buy the whole album to get the gems anyhow. But If all the songs on an album are amazing, then why not buy the whole album at a discount, if your talking about legal downloading anyway. Fans will adapt and change, guaranteed.
GERRY I think if the music is honest there can be an audience.
Is there a scene to speak of for a band like yours? Where do you fit in?
STEVE Ha! Well, I think the last 10 years in music have been a huge leap forward because now virtually anything goes. A 20 year old today will likely have metal, pop, rap, rock, jazz, Elvis , The Beatles and Sinatra along with their Corrosion of Conformity in the collection. Where we fit in is right here, because we didn’t fit in until now. We were too late for the psychedelic era. Right now is a perfect time when people are looking for something new. I don’t think theres much like it out there. Lets start a new scene eh?
GERRY Yes I think there is a scene for a band like ours because I’ve heard recent music that reminds me of what we were writing and trying to achieve musically.
Like Steve has said I think we fit in the future, present and past.
What does the future hold?
STEVE The ultimate question. Gerry and I are already talking about digging deep for more Spiny Normen. The second studio tape that we thought was lost forever unearthed a few weeks ago!!! So we may talk to RidingEasy about that and the possibility of cleaning up some of the rougher tracks on this album in a better studio and doing the full length version of To Meet The Mad Hatter….Possibly remix some of the cassette demos and other recordings we have. Well see…
GERRY There are many songs written back then we could revisit and record as well as recently found older recordings. It would be great if we can make those available to the listening.