Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pheaturing Alumni David Melbye From Heavy Water Experiments

Hello, welcome to another entry of the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? “Shark Week” is was under way this week. Next week is, “Good Luck Getting Your Kids Back Into the Tub Week.” Despite many years of research, marine biologists know surprisingly little about sharks. Mostly because they keep getting eaten when they try to find out. I thought in honor of "Shark Week" I would show you a picture of my favorite shark.

They say sharks are more afraid of us than we are of them, which I find hard to believe. I don’t think they have nightmares after seeing movies about us. Well, the new season of “Jersey Shore” began this week, and so does our national shame. Happy belated birthday to President Obama, who turned 50, although Republicans in Congress are demanding he cut his age to 40. Today Michelle Obama urged her husband’s supporters to sign an e-card for his 50th birthday. Which explains why Joe Biden has magic marker all over his computer screen. It’s interesting to see the tea party go from a small group of people that everyone thinks is crazy to a large group of people that everyone thinks is crazy. Oprah Winfrey will receive an honorary Oscar this year. Do people just hand Oprah awards every time she shows up? So, is it hot where you live? It’s so hot here in Florida right now that the elderly are at an increased risk of heat-related death. Not everything is a joke. The stock market had its biggest one-day drop since 2008. Remember how the experts said we had to raise the debt ceiling or the market would crash? Well, they were half right. That’s why I don’t listen to experts. All my money is tied up in Skee ball tickets. So, did you see the new Boehner inspirational poster? I am not sure who put it out, the Democratic Party or the Republican's but here it is.

Right now Christopher Nolan is filming the newest Batman movie Dark Knight Rises and pictures of the film shoot have been popping up all over the internet. I thought why should the Phile be different so here is an exclusive picture from the new Batman film.

Okay, with he debt ceiling thing over, and a deal made I thought I would again invite an expert to the Phile to catch us up on everything. Please welcome back to the Phile the RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, in a pheature I like to call...

Me: Hello, Mr. Chairman, welcome back to the Phile.

Reince: Hello, Friend. Do you remember where America was just one year ago?

Me: Ummmm... I don't remember where I was yesterday let alone where America was one year ago. Why don't you tell us as I am sure you know.

Reince: The Pelosi-Reid-Obama agenda was doing a daily dose of damage to our American economy, destroying jobs with crippling regulations, oppressive spending and brand new taxes.

Me: Okay, but didn't the Democrats pass a government takeover of healthcare?

Reince: Spending record amounts of money we didn't have on a program we didn't want. And to top it off, they raised taxes on hardworking taxpayers to pay for an $800 billion dollar stimulus, claiming that they should have spent even more. Maybe they thought they could get away with it. For two years, they did.

Me: Okay. But I still don't get the point you're making.

Reince: On Election Day 2010, you stood up, millions strong, and said enough is enough.

Me: Wasn't me, Chairman, I cannot vote. I am an alien resident, and not American.

Reince: Millions of other Americans held them accountable. The Tea Party and millions of Conservatives led the charge from all 50 states right into the heart of Washington.

Me: But did the debates in Washington didn't change?

Reince: They didn't just change, the results changed.

Me: Okay, what does that have to do with the act that was passed last week?

Reince: The passage of the Budget Control Act shows the impact the American people already had... and how important it is to keep the pressure on Washington for the next 15 months. Without you, Nancy Pelosi would still be Speaker Pelosi. She would have delivered President Obama exactly what he demanded: a blank check for unlimited spending, new taxes on American families, new regulations on job creators, and a debt ceiling increase with no strings attached.

Me: So, what do you think the President wanted?

Reince: Make no mistake: President Obama wanted hardworking American taxpayers to bail him out once again. He wanted YOU to pay for his failed stimulus and Obamacare, borrowing more money on your back to pay for them. He wanted you to sacrifice so that Washington wouldn't have to. But because people keeping the heat on Washington, Republicans in the House and Senate had the backup they needed to stand up and say NO to the Obama Tax & Borrow Bailout.

Me: So, what do you think of the Budget Control Act, Chairman?

Reince: While the Budget Control Act is far from perfect, it is a step forward. The bottom line is that until we vote President Obama and his Democratic allies in the Senate out of power, we won't be able to truly change the culture in Washington and deliver the results Americans like you demand. But think about how far we've come. Rather than trampling on the taxpayers, as the Democrats did when they controlled the House, this bill showed real respect to hardworking taxpayers.

Me: And the legislation?

Reince: Stopped ALL of the tax increases Obama, Reid, and Pelosi demanded; Forced the Senate to pass its first budget in two years, delivering Harry Reid a dose of accountability; Held every politician accountable to vote yes or no on a balanced budget amendment; and Protected the economy while demonstrating a commitment to reducing the debt.

Me: So, is this the end of bringing spending discipline to Washington?

Reince: It's just the beginning - and it wouldn't have happened without the American people.

Me: So, what do you want the American people to do now?

Reince: Keep it up. Don't quiet down. Your voice cannot be ignored. Demand more from Washington. Demand more from those who represent you. At the RNC, we hear you - and we want to amplify your voice in Washington. Over the next 15 months, all conservatives need to come together and focus on the only way to really fix what's wrong with Washington: voting Obama out of office and taking back the Senate. We are ready for battle. Are you?

Me: Ummmm, no. Thank you once again, Chairman Priebus.

Reince: God Bless you.

Jake Lonergan doesn't remember who he is or where he came from, but he can be sure that the town of Absolution does not care for him. He has some fancy hardware on his wrist, and much like the time I wore vinyl to the debutante ball, he is completely out of place. When mysterious flying machines come from the sky and begin snatching residents and blowing things up, only the mysterious stranger and his shiny bracelet can save the day. If you were curious about this movie because you thought there might be more to it than the obvious, don’t overthink it, the title truly is all you're going to get. If you're a stickler for detail, the movie should have been called Cowboys and Aliens and a Weird Lady and Misunderstood Indians. This film, much like the gigantic action movies of the recent past, is heavy on cool computer animation and explosions, but not much else. Every cliche in the Western book is here... tight-lipped outsider, shrewd sheriff, villainous man in charge, rascally kid, uptight doctor, spirited woman, etc. The set and costumes looked great and really clashed against the technology of the advanced civilization. It's one of the most fun examples of genre-blending I have seen in a while. Oh, and FYI there is an abundance of (CG) horse violence in this movie. This is pretty much the worst place to live if you're of the equine persuasion. Usually the most disappointing part of a creature feature is actually seeing the monster. In this case, the aliens are really violent and disgusting and just keep getting worse. Every time I thought we had reached the Scary Ceiling, nope, we had farther to go. That made the movie much more watchable because again, it doesn't have much. At least they nailed the parts that they advertised in the title. From 1 to 10, it gets a 10, and yep, I will buy it when it comes out.

The forth artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Gunnar Gaylord, and this is one of his pieces of work.

Gunnar will be a guest on the Phile real soon.

Okay, today's guest last was on the Phile on October 16th, 2009 and since then his band Heavy Water Experiments had two albums which are available on iTunes. "Drops" and the latest "Get Drowned". Please welcome back to the Phile, the lead singer for Heavy Water Experiments... David Melbye.

Me: Hello, David, welcome back to the Phile. How have you been?

David: Hello, Jason! I have been reasonably well, thank you.

Me: The last time we talked the band was based in Los Angeles. I am guessing you guys are still based out there, right?

David: Yes, we are still somewhat frozen here in Los Angeles. I wish I could say otherwise. I have had the impression for so long now that people in LA are far less interested in underground music, since there are so many other sources of entertainment here, which are typically promoted more effectively. Also, because one must often drive a car a certain distance in LA to reach that entertainment, it is a choice that cannot be made too lightly.

Me: Does HWE have the same band members as before? Any new kids?

David: It's a fairly new line-up since our last chat. For a time, we were trying a female front singer on some songs, but she just didn't fit our sound. However, her aggressive approach inspired me to try a new approach to my own vocals, and then I envisioned a new heavier sound with an angelic female vocalist singing wordless melodies as well. We found a lovely soprano named Kathryn to answer this call. So far, it is going really well. (She also plays keyboards.) And, we just landed a more official bass player as opposed to what had long been friends with their own bands just filling in. I really like this guy, he fits our vibe more than any other bass player we've had since the start of this project in 2003.

Me: Have you guys done any of your own festivals lately? Is that something you are gonna do again in the future?

David: Not since our "2nd" Mojave Desert festival in 2007. That one didn't really work out for us because we sort of forced it to happen without having a reliable ensemble, not to mention all the problems we had with the Bureau of Land Management when they found out we had no permits! Even though we were able to finally put on our event for the crowd who took the trouble to make it out there, we just didn't sound the way we should have, since, for one, we were missing a keyboard player. I swore off of organizing festivals after that. However, we did play the main slot at an underground psychedelic festival in San Diego called Telemagica last year. I would describe the organizers as a new age enclave that lives in its own compound way out in the desert near the Mexican border. They really love us, and we're scheduled to play the same main slot this summer with a bunch of other interesting psych bands.

Me: I keep checking to see if you are playing Florida, but no luck yet, right?

David: Well, we are looking into doing a tour later, but it may only cover the Southwest. We haven't done any touring since 2006, so it's high time we did. I really want to perform our new heavier material for an array of audiences, instead of just continuing to languish in Los Angeles. But the truth is, we really need to get some proper booking and promotional forces behind us to make it all work, and our current funds are very limited.

Me: David, before we talk about your new albums which I purchased from iTunes I have a bone to pick with you. I was looking around your website and went to the press page and scrolled to October, 2009, the last time you were here, hoping to see a the Phile mentioned, and nothing. What's up with that, David?

David: I'm glad you checked, Jason! Actually, I post all interviews on our Updates page. I suppose interviews are also "press" but I had just decided to keep them separate. Actually, I think it's safe to say interviews would get lost among all our past international press, not a boast, just a fact! Anyway, I checked, and the Phile link needed repairing so, again, thanks for mentioning this! I also posted the Phile interview in our Myspace blog when it was first out, so, no sir, I didn’t fail to acknowledge your wonderful support!

Me: Don't I feel like an ass, man, and there's always this interview. Anyway, back to your albums. "Drops", where did the album title come from? I guess it makes sense with the water reference.

David: Actually, this album is the band's former debut release, around 2005, when HWE still had a different band name. The album was very well reviewed, and these articles are still posted on our website. I wanted to re-release the album under the HWE moniker because it was made within the same avant-psych vision and has a lot of good material on it. The title "Drops" is intended to suggest that HWE "has landed" or "has arrived" in the sense of the album being our actual debut release. I suppose the water reference obscures this meaning a bit. Oh well...

Me: Where and when was the album recorded?

David: I recall we began working on it in 2004, not long after I started the project. Most of the tracking was done in my parents' old house in South Pasadena, inside a large church-like living room, which was constructed to accommodate my father's pipe organ. It was a terrific space to play and record in. There are photos of it on the Myspace page for my older heavy psych band Fuzz Beloved. I did most of the instrumental tracking except for the drums, though there are a few parts from other members. This wasn't exactly my intention, but all my band mates at the time were pretty green as musicians, and I didn't want to end up with an amateurish product. Eventually for the re-release, I made some minor changes and had the album re-mastered.

Me: Did you do anything different with this album than you did on the first album?

David: Well, my approach of doing most of the tracking myself only became intentional later, since everything you hear on "HWE" except the drums is me. (The drums for “HWE” were recorded first—in an analog tape studio.) However, these albums are rather different in their vibe, I'd say. "Drops" has more of a pop sensibility over all. It is a combination of funky electric guitar songs and then heavier 8-string bass compositions. Many of these latter songs came from older projects. For example, "Happy Communing," "Daath," and "Quoth i" were all Fuzz Beloved songs at one time. And "Wasteoids" and "Not to Be" came from a demo I made for Epic Records in the period after Fuzz Beloved broke up. So "Drops" is sort of a grab bag of older and newer songs I bunched together to launch the project. The song that inspired me to pursue a band again, by the way, was "Wormwood Raindrops." I had sort of put music aside when I began a graduate film program, and developing this composition encouraged me to get back into music. The "HWE" album is mostly heavier and darker. These were all songs composed after the project had launched, played shows in LA, and even done some touring overseas. The band name change came later, but thankfully before these songs were finally ready for release.

Me: You mentioned a song on the album called "Daath". At first I thought it was a typo and you meant "Death". What is a Daath?

David: This is a term that comes from the Tarot and means "forbidden wisdom." As I said, it is an old Fuzz Beloved song. In the early period of that band, the guitar player and I (on bass) were writing partners. We actually traded off writing verse and chorus melodies within songs. For Daath, he came up with the chord changes on the verse, and then I wrote a vocal melody (and lyrics) over it. He wrote a melody over my chorus riff, but we dropped it later. Eventually, we just wrote our own songs and incorporated them into our joint repertoire. I actually cut out one of the choruses in the "Drops" version of this song, which I felt was redundant, but this is the only time a portion of an original recording has been edited out. I admit I did a lot of tinkering and second-guessing with this album, but, at this point, I feel pretty happy with it.

Me: David, for the readers that didn't read the first interview, explain what the band name means.

David: "Heavy Water Experiments" refers to historical nuclear experimentation with the heavier water molecule D2O, especially during WWII. It is mentioned by Spock in an old "Star Trek" episode about backwards time travel in reference to a situation where the life or death of a female social worker shall determine whether the U.S. staves off entering the war, allowing Germany to complete its "heavy water experiments" and capture the world. As a band name, it fits the post-apocalyptic, avant-psych vision of this project nicely.

Me: You mentioned "Star Trek" the last time we talked as well. Are you a Trekkie, David?

David: Um, no, I don't think I'm quite a Trekkie, as would describe the sort of folks you saw when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ventured down to that Star Wars opening. I admit that I've watched the old episodes too many times, as with "Twilight Zone", but I haven't participated in the subculture of the classic show, or its execrable latter-day permutations.

Me: David, I listened to some of your new material from your new album and really like it. I said before when you were here that your music was not my kinda thing, but when I played the first album, I really liked it. This stuff I love. It 's a lot more guitar influenced and rock and roll. What have you been listening to while you made this album?

David: I am so pleased to know that you like this new material more, Jason, since it is my intention to achieve a more aggressive and compelling sound here, and one that we are in a better position to recreate live. Many of the influences for this new material come from the same old classic bands I've loved for so long: Pink Floyd, Cream, Hendrix, Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer. But I've run into a few more great bands from that era in recent years, and, to be honest, I try not to listen to my old faves too much. (I don't want to get tired of them!) I have also been listening to a lot of older soundtrack music. I draw a lot of influence from this latter, seemingly inexhaustible well of imagination, melodic prowess, and production achievement.

Me: I bet this new music sounds great live. You guys need to make a live album next. How would you compare the first two albums?

David: It does! The few shows we've played so far with this new material have really brought in some wonderful compliments. Well, I already spoke a bit about our older sound, and I did compare "Drops" with the "HWE" album. This new material is heavier, darker, and more aggressive in terms of a psychedelic agenda. It's what I should have been pursuing from the start. Not to discount the older material, but it just feels like it has taken me a long time to figure out what I am capable of as a composer, producer, and live performer. That is, it has been a rather slow evolution for me. I think this project is on the right track now. We'll see what happens from here.

Me: "Get Drowned" is more of an acoustic album, is that right?

David: It is actually closer to an archive of older mellower songs I've written over the years, for which Roberto showed enough interest to work on with me and finally record. If it is accurate to call it an "HWE" release, then it will affirm our ability to be eclectic, rather than supporting one "heavy psychedelic" sound.

Me: So, what's next for the band, man? Any new projects? A live album would be fantastic.

David: I'll talk about the new material subsequently, but I can say this about the live show: I really feel we are now ready to deliver a live performance that is at least as good as the recordings. With the older material, it was too hard for me to have my mellow vocal approach heard over the loud, heavy instruments. (I also used to sing in a much deeper range.) It took me a long time to realize that our older sound just didn't translate well to live performance. I think we're in a much better position now.

Me: Thanks for coming back, David. Keep doing what you do. Maybe next time the other HWE members can come and join? Before you go, plug anything you wanna, like your websites and stuff.

David: Yes, let’s do that next time. I’d love it if they could answer some questions you might put to them. Here are YouTube links to our new dark/heavy demo songs:,, Here is a video for "Wormwood Raindrops" (on HWE “Drops”): .
Here is a homemade live video of "Octavian" (on “HWE”): Our official Myspace: Facebook:

Me: Take care, and you are welcomed back.


There you go, that's it or another entry of the Phile. Thanks to David for a great interview and to Reince Priebus again for being so negative... or positive, whatever way you look at it. The Phile will be back tomorrow with Travis Johnson from Grooms and then next Sunday with Alumni Alexis Babini and next Monday it's Gunnar Gaylord. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

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