Thursday, September 3, 2009

Scott Morgan interview

The following interview with Scott Morgan was first published in glossy Spanish rockmagazine RUTA 66 and snagged from the I-94 bar in translated form for inclusion in the pages of SLUGTRAILS for it's archiving/educational/trivia nerd value. Plus the fact that I get a stiffy from seeing my own name in print somewhere on the interwebs.

The Hydromatics hardly need an introduction for patrons of the I-94 Bar. If you haven't tracked down their latest album "Powerglide" through some European mail order shop, you're not trying. Fronted by Scott Morgan, formerly of the Rationals and Sonic's Rendezvous Band as well as a solo performer in his own right, and crewed by Europeans Theo Brouwer (bass) and Tony Slug (guitar), their numbers included moonlighting Hellacopters frontman Nicke Royale on drums, before he gave up the stool to Michigan's Andy Frost. Imbued with the spirit of Sonic's Rendezvous band (whose songs pepper their set list) and an equal part of Detroit R 'n' B, they're one of rock and roll's best kept secrets. With two albums under their belt and a live release in the pipeline, our Italian correspondent ROBERTO CALABRO caught up with Scott in 2002. Here's the result.

How and when did The Hydromatics start?

In 1998 I met Nicke Royale when the Hellacopters first came to New York. I became friends with him and the rest of the band and travelled with them on their U.S. tour. After we played Chicago he called Tony "Slug" Leewenburgh of the Nitwitz in Amsterdam and suggested we all record together. Tony enlisted Theo Brouwer on bass and a recording session was scheduled with Evert Kaatee at Yland Studio in early 1999. We each contributed two new songs and also recorded songs by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, MC5 and Ricky Carter & the Weathervanes. Tony christened the album "Parts Unknown" and it was released by White Jazz Records later that year.

What have you done between your first and your second album?

After the recording in Amsterdam, I went to Los Angeles and played with my friends the Jones Brothers. We played at Spaceland with Wayne Kramer and did a recording session at the Beach Boys' old studio called Fourth Street now. It was Brothers studio when they owned it. We recorded Al Green’s "Full Of Fire" and my "Endless Summer". "Full Of Fire" is included in the Real-O-Mind release "Medium Rare". The vinyl version to be released on Munster has "Endless Summer" as a bonus track.'

In October '99 the Hydromatics toured Europe with the Hellacopters and Zen Guerrilla. Other than jamming with the Hellacopters in New York and Detroit, and playing a bit around Detroit, I didn't do much more than write new material in 2000. In 2001, I started by touring France and Italy with Deniz Tek and Sonic Assassin. Then I flew from Rome to Amsterdam to record "Powerglide". We did a Hydromatics European tour just before the release of "Powerglide" on Freakshow Records.

Why did Nick Royale leave the band?

Nick is pretty busy with the Hellacopters. He suggested we find someone else. I had been jamming with Andy Frost in Ann Arbor for about six months and now he was perfect for the job. I actually told him he was hired just before I left for the tour with Deniz.

Let’s talk about "Powerglide". It’s a great album perfectly balanced between a hard-rock side and a soul-oriented one. How did this kind of album come out?

I’ve always been a big soul music fan and I’ve been trying to blend it with the rock and roll. This time I decided to put in a heavier dose of soul and I think it worked out well. We even added a psychedelic soul bonus track "Starvin' ". That one reminds me of "Calling Lwa" on "Parts Unknown". It's a vodoo song to call up your patron spirit.

What are the main differences between "Parts Unknown" and "Powerglide" for you?

I think the extra soul influence is one difference. I wrote more of the material this time also. We added the background singers on this one too, and I think that added a lot.

Why on the new album did you decide again to play a bunch of Sonic’s Rendezvous Bands’ numbers?
On "Parts Unknown" Nick and Tony wanted to get studio versions of Sonic’s Rendezvous Bands songs that had only been recorded live. "Powerglide" continues in that tradition. This time we added two Fred "Sonic" Smith songs that we had done on "Getting’ There Is Half The Fun", the Rendezvous Band live in Detroit with Deniz Tek on Real-O-Mind Records.

Apart from the old SRB songs, are the other tracks new or do they come from different periods of inspiration and composition?

I wrote "Ready To Ball", "R.I.P. R & R", "Soulbone", "Tumblin Down", and "Green Eyed Soul" in the time I had off in 2000. Tony and I wrote "Powerglide" together.

What are your fave songs on the new album?

I’m very happy with the album as a whole. All the songs have their own merits. I think live and on record "Ready To Ball", "R.I.P. R & R", and "Soulbone" are naturals. As an album track "Tumblin’ Down" with the singers and horns arranged by Thijs Willemsen is undeniable.

Last year you released a great album titled "Medium Rare" that covers your career from 1970 to 2000. Can you tell me something about that release?

My friend Geoff Ginsberg at Real-O-Mind Records came up with the idea. He took all my unreleased tapes home with him and came up with a track listing that we edited slightly. It includes the last song the Rationals recorded in 1970 plus three songs from our reunion in 1991. It also included three of the recordings from the L.A. sessions. The rest are demos recorded over the years.

And what about the "Sonic Way Live", the last year European tour with Deniz Tek and (three members of) Sonic Assassin?

Deniz and I arrived at De Gaulle airport last March. We took a bus to the train station and had to run with all our gear to make the train. We arrived in Montpellier where we met Rauky (singer for Sonic Assassin, nda) who drove us to Sete. Then we went straight to rehearsal with the Pasquini brothers Romano (bass) and Pippo (drums) and Stefano Costantini (guitar and driver extraordinaire).

In France we played Toulouse, Theirs with the TV Men from Brittany and Puffball from Sweden and Niort where we recorded the gig. Then we head back to our base in Sete for one day of much needed rest before the overnight drive to Italy. In Italy we played Foligno with the Loose. Then we drive way down south to Calabria. When we finally arrived at Marzi, a small village near Cosenza, we entered town in the evening and the police pulled us over. It turns out they wanted to give us an escort into town. When we arrive at the outdoor concert site, we are greeted by the mayor.

The gig was great and it was also recorded for future release. Then we played Pescara and Rome where we recorded again but unfortunately the tape was stolen. All was not lost as Sonic Assassin knew a guy with a studio in the country where we transferred everything from Niort and Marzi to disc. We did some work on the tapes in Capena outside of Rome and Deniz did some more in Montana later. [ED: It will be issued in 2003 on Career Records.

After that, we hung out a few days with Romano and Pippo from Sonic Assassin, then I said goodbye to my friends and was off to Amsterdam to record "Powerglide" with the Hydromatics. I enjoyed my stay in Italy as I did France. I hope to return again with the Hydromatics. on Scott | Scott on last FM

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