Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pheaturing Alumni David Melbye From Heavy Water Experiments

You’re all clear, kid! Now let’s blow this thing and go home! Hello, welcome to the Phile on a Saturday. Man, I haven't posted on a Saturday in awhile. The reason I am posting today is because tomorrow I will be at Star Wars Weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios, which is where I have been for the last two days, but there I have been working. Tomorrow I am gonna have fun. As much fun as I can have with packed crowds and hot weather. Speaking of Star Wars, as you know all this month it's Star Wars Month on the Phile. But before we get into that, let's see what else is going on.  So, Betty White endorsed Barack Obama. I think I'm going to wait and here what Angela Lansbury has to say. As I mentioned in the last entry JPMorgan lost $2 billion in bad trades. They made bad investments... for example, those gay wedding chapels in North Carolina. What were they thinking? Mitt Romney once lost $2 billion. Then he found it in another pair of pants.  Speaking of Mitt, now they are starting to dig up stuff on him. One time he was arrested for disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance. It was when he was a kid. He had one of his hairs out of place.  President Obama raised $1 million at a fundraiser hosted by Ricky Martin. Obama thanked Martin for his contribution to the campaign, while Joe Biden thanked him for his contribution to Menudo.  Are you excited about the Olympics this Summer? Officials in London plan to use high-pitched and painful sounds to disperse large crowds at the Olympics this summer. Or as the cast of "The View" put it, "Looks like we're going to the Olympics!"  A man was arrested at the JFK airport with cocaine hidden inside bottles of nail polish and sticks of deodorant. The man might have gotten away with it if he hadn't hidden the drugs inside two other things you can't bring through airport security.  Police in California just burned 34,000 marijuana plants that were growing in a state park. The police were very angry about finding all that weed until the wind changed direction.  Well, this is sad... Ron Paul has announced he's no longer campaigning. He's dropped out of the race. Can you tell the difference? Ron Paul announced to supporters that he was discontinuing his campaign by email. There were two emails he sent out. The first one was blank and then he had to send out the other one. This was his third race for president. He ran in 2008 against John McCain and against Lincoln in 1860.  Virgin Atlantic announced that on a select number of flights, passengers will be able to use their cellphones to make calls. I think I would honestly rather they filled the plane with killer bees than allow this. Only six passengers will be allowed to make calls at one time, which seems like too many. But Virgin said it will only be used for important calls, like calling to say, "Guess where I'm calling from. Yeah, the plane. I'm calling from the plane."  Herman Cain endorsed Mitt Romney. This is possibly very important because as goes Herman Cain, so go the other two black Republicans in America.  Did you see the Newsweek cover I think it was when they called Obama the first gay President or something like that? Myself I prefer Obama as the first Jedi President.

Well, it's Star Wars Weekends at Disney like I said, and they are selling some odd products this year. Check out these two action figures they are selling.

You know, if I wrote Star Wars things would be a little different. It would have scenes like this...

Hey, it's so hot right now, I would love some ice cream. I am so happy Ben & Jerry's came out with a Star Wars themed ice cream.

Alright, so I just showed you two fake products... yes, the ice cream and action figures are not real. But all through the month of May I am showing you actual Star Wars products that are real. If you're looking to make lunch a little more force-friendly, then make yourself some Darth Vader toast, whip up some tuna salad and enjoy a darkside tuna melt. Finally your breakfast, lunch and dinner can all belong in a galaxy far, far away.

There's actually a "Watchmen" toaster coming out that I want real bad.  Okay, so, there's a lot of other blogs talking about Star Wars out there. Not all are updated three times a week, or are almost at 500 entries, or as entertaining as the Phile, but there's quite a few of them. So, I thought I would pheature one. So, please enjoy, once again...

The blog that gets the award is...

This is a portion of

I've only just picked up an issue of this Sci-fi fan favorite magazine and can only say that it's brilliant! The quality is top notch in comparison with the slew of cheaper magazines put out at this time. As well as covering the upcoming Star Wars sequel, issue #18 of Starlog also has a feature on Battlestar Galactica which I also like mainly as it stylistically borrowed so much from Lucas (probably down to Dykstra's involvement). There's also an update on the Star Trek motion picture which was in development at the time and several articles on monsters and make-up that one might expect to find in Famous Monsters of Filmland. The article on 'the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker' is a very interesting read. I'm surprised that Empire had a name this early on (a good year and a half before the film's release), albeit a working title. Gary Kurtz is really hammering home the point that 'Star Wars II' is actually 'Episode IV' and it's interesting to see the discussions on how confusing this could get for fans in the future. We coped with it Gary! Although he keeps referring to a possible 12 installments... I'm kind of glad they left it at 6!

So, when you done reading this blog today go to and check it out. Tell them the Phile sent you. Okay, well, all month I had my friend Jeff Trelewicz on the Phile to talk out the Star Wars movies and we are up to Episode 3. So, please welcome back to the Phile Jeff in a pheature I call...

Me: Hello, Jeff, welcome back. So, let's talk about Revenge of the Sith. It's my least favorite Star Wars film. Did you like it?

Jeff: Why in the world is Episode 3 your least favorite episode?

Me: I don't know, maybe because I only saw it a few times unlike the others I saw a lot of times. Maybe it was because it was the last Star Wars film. Maybe it was because I feel it was rushed.

Jeff: It answered so many questions fans wanted to know! Of course I liked it!

Me: Okay, what was your favorite part in the film, Jeff?

Jeff: My favorite part was when we saw the Death Star under construction for the first time. My inner nerd spazzed out quite a bit. Oh yeah, and the Obi-Wan and Anakin duel was particularly awesome, too.

Me: What did you think when Vader made his appearance?

Jeff: It was epic seeing Darth Vader for the first time. Though something like that shouldn't have been spoiled in the trailer. It could have had such a great applause if we didn't all know what was about to happen.

Me: Yeah, who saw that coming? Anakin turning into Vader? LOL. And what did you think of Mace Windu's death?

Jeff: The rumor was when Samuel L. Jackson found out he was going to die he asked George Lucas to not let his character die "like a bitch". I think it's safe to say being thrown out into space and drifting forever is a pretty fitting way to go.

Me: Some people didn't like General Grievous. Did you?

Jeff:  I was indifferent about Grievous. He wasn't great, but not bad either. He was definitely a smoker though. Kinda cool to lightsaber duel with 6 arms though.

Me: Alright, Jeff. let's get deep... in the scene where Obi-wan is about to leave for Utupau, Anakin apologizes for bring arrogant. Why do you think he did this? And does Anakin truly believe that the Jedi were plotting to take over?

Jeff: I think Anakin was sorry. He wasn't trying to mislead him, or trying to gain his trust. Anakin doesn't believe the Jedi are trying to take over. I have a feeling if Palpatine told him that there was a whale in the sky eating pistachio ice cream he would believe him just because he wants to believe Palpatine can save Padme.

Me: That's funny, Jeff. Well, thanks so much for talking Star Wars. Are you going to Star Wars Weekends?

Jeff: I will be going to Star Wars Weekends next week, hoping to meet Ray Park again. He is there this week too but I know how crazy opening weekend is...

Me: Alright, Jeff, come back next week and we'll talk about Episode 4, the very first Star Wars film that came out. Will you?

Jeff: I most certainly will come back to talk more Star Wars. Later!

Donna Summer
Dec 31, 1948 - May 17, 2012
Last dance.

The 17th artist to be pheatured in the P.P.A.G. is Joey Spiotto, and this is one of his pieces...

Joey will be a guest on the Phile next weekend.

Okay, today's guest is a Phile Alumni who has been here twice already. He was last on the Phile on August 7th 2011. Since then his band Heavy Water Experiments has released a new album titled "Philosopher Queen" which is available on iTunes. Please welcome back to the Phile... David Melbye.

Me: Hello, David, welcome back to the Phile, for the third time. How are you?

David: Thank you, Jason! I am fine, thanks.

Me: I take it you are still based in Los Angeles, am I right?

David: Yep. I'm still here. (I'm ready for a change!)

Me: You have been pretty consistent releasing new music every year pretty much. You must do a lot of songwriting, am I right?

David: Well, it does take time to compose an album's worth of material. I say "compose" because I write and orchestrate all the vocal and instrumental parts... not just songwriting, per se. I'd love to say I get a new album out every year, though that hasn't been exactly true. There have been re-releases and older material recorded in conjunction with new material. I think I just distributed the releases across time so it would seem about one a year... in recent years at least.

Me: Your music changes though, your latest album "Philosopher Queen" is rather darker then the normal HWE stuff. What made you wanna record a darker album?

David: It's more than simply darker. I'd say it's "almost" a whole new sound. I am taking an entirely new approach to my own vocals for one, and then I've incorporated wordless female vocals as well. And, in general, the album is also much heavier and more over-the-top psychedelic than my past stuff. I am well aware that some of my past supporters may prefer my older approach, but this is simply the natural evolution of my artistic path. It certainly fits the band name better than the old stuff, ha ha.

Me: So, I have to ask, how did that song become album title?

David: It's not necessarily to announce that song as the title track. I just felt it would make a terrific album title as well. Perhaps I was just being too lazy to come up with a stand-alone album title, ha ha. 

Me: And who is the Philosopher Queen, David?

David: That's a little more open-ended, I guess. The album is a larger celebration of the night, and the Philosopher Queen could be the ruler of a society of night-worshipers. The lyrics develop this notion further. They are included in the vinyl and CD versions of the album on the European label Stone Stallion Rex (silly name for a record label, I know).

Me: Yeah, but a great name for a band. By the way, talking about who, who is that woman on the album cover?

David: That's the Philosopher Queen, my friend! It's actually taken from a sculpture I photographed, by Uruguayan artist Cecilia Miguez. For the vinyl release, you'll see more versions of her on the back cover art and on the album labels.

Me: Let's talk about the band Heavy Water Experiments...who is currently in the band?

David: As you know, I have had different players in my live ensemble over the years. Right now, I am working on new material with the same drummer who played in the early Imogene phase of this project. We've remained good friends all these years, though he's devoted himself mostly to his own band up to now. I'm very pleased with his playing so far. My former drummer and I had been working together for 5 years, and our relationship had become strained. By the end of 2001, it was clear to me that it was time to part ways. So far this year, I have been taking a break from playing local shows, but this could change as I've been invited to play some interesting events in the near future. So, at some point, when I feel the incentive is there, I'll bring in a bass player and a female singer back in to complete the 4-piece and we'll get back out there. Who knows, if the album picks up momentum in Europe, I might form a group over there and do some touring again. It's a little vague at this juncture.

Me: Are you doing a lot of the singing on the new album?

David: I'd say so. You hear my new vocal style on 9 out of the 10 tracks. You might also wonder why I took on this approach in the first place. It was simply this: my former sound was an attempt to marry a mellower "Floydy" vocal style with heavier music. This has proven to have an attractive quality on albums, but it was never so convincing live. My mellower vocals just couldn't cut through the heavy sound. At one point, I was even experimenting with passing the torch to a female singer completely. In emulating what I thought her voice would sound like singing my new melodies, I accidentally invented a new vocal style for myself. Ultimately, I've come to realize heavy music works best with an aggressive vocal... even if that feels like a "conventional" approach. Hopefully, my originality is still coming across... and I also counterbalance my new vocals with an ethereal female vocal. So that's also new.

Me: Did you do all the songwriting, David?

David: Indeed I did... everything you hear except the drum parts, which I also guided to various degrees.

Me: I have to ask, who is "Corbis and Cordelia"?

David: Because there are are female and male melodies interweaving in this one, almost like a conversation, I wanted to think up my own pair of "mythic lovers" akin to "Troilus and Cressida," "Tristan and Isolde" or "Pelleas and Mellisande." So I combined the names "Corbis" (from the film The Devil's Rain) and "Cordelia" (from King Lear), which flow together nicely.

Me: Where and when was the album recorded, David?

David: The drum parts were recorded last summer in an abandoned silo way out in the California desert. This is one of my personal approaches, you might say. The rather dramatic roominess achieved may not always be ideal, but it gives my albums their own unique sound. The rest of the tracking was executed in a downtown rehearsal studio (for the louder bass parts) and in my own abode (vocals, keyboards, and other overdubs).

Me: One thing I never really talked to you about before is the instruments you play. You play more then just the guitar, right?

David: You are correct, sir.

Me: What instruments do you play and which one did you learn first?

David: I started with the electric bass (french horn for a period before that). Then I pursued guitar in college, and piano after that. I've taken lots of music lessons over the years from a variety of different vocal and instrumental teachers. There are some rock-and-roll purists who want to believe that music lessons take away the "soul" of being self-taught or intuitive, as many rock musicians are. I totally disagree. Lessons only open up possibilities... they don't diminish creativity. In other words, creativity is either there or it isn't. Lessons don't squelch your talent... they develop it. I just started up classical piano lessons again recently. (Hopefully, I won't get sidetracked this time.)

Me: What instrument do you play on stage mostly?

David: An 8-string bass. It's a rather unusual instrument, invented in the 60s, that never really caught on. (I have 4 of them, ha ha!) It's the same principal as a 12-string guitar... with a higher octave string for each of the 4 main strings. It is certainly not in the same camp as 5 and 6-string basses, typically associated with modern jazz or modern metal. I'm not into those at all.

Me: Also, your music is very psychedelic sounding. Who are your influences, David, and who did you listen to growing up?

David: I listened to a lot of Zeppelin when I was a kid, but also Black Sabbath and, later, Iron Maiden. For a time, I collected a lot of underground metal: bands like Venom and Manowar, the latter of which actually inspired me (despite their Viking outfits) to obtain my first 8-string bass in later years. I don't listen to metal at all anymore, but perhaps it was this impressionable period of my life that is finally speaking through me now. In any case, I didn't really start listening to 60's psychedelia till I was in college: Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Moody Blues, Donovan, and so many other classic rock artists. From that time on, I've collected that sort of music, especially the obscure stuff, with a passion. I also collect a lot of film soundtracks from that era, and those have had a lot of influence on my compositional approaches in recent times.

Me: So, David, what do you have planned next for HWE? A live album, perhaps?

David: I'm working on a new album in the same dark/heavy vein. No, it's not for everyone. (One guy even described the music as a "bad acid trip" ha ha.) But that's what I want. I want it to be aggressive... even abrasive. Totally over the top. Pull out all the stops. This larger disposition also coincides with my new vocal approach--again, not for everyone's tastes. Love it or hate it! For the moment, at least, I am interested in creating extremely dark and heavy music, but without all the juvenile "metal" trappings, if this makes sense. More like heavy art rock, I guess.

Me: You should do an an album of covers done your style.

David: Ha ha. Like the Pat Boone heavy metal album? Actually, HWE has typically included a cover song in our live sets. It is always a rare psych track, however, that very few people recognize. To some degree, I always feel a sense of loss when I pursue such covers because it only serves to demystify the pleasure I experience as a listener/collector. And then I imagine if I recorded any of these songs, I'd end up preferring the original anyway.

Me: Thanks so much for being back on the Phile, David. Please come back again. Go ahead and plug your websites and anything else. Take care.

David: Thank YOU, Jason, for having me back again! Let's do it again ASAP! New HWE album on iTunes: New HWE album on vinyl/CD: Official HWE website: Facebook:

Well, that about does it for another entry. Thanks to Jeff and of course David Melbye. The Phile will be back on Monday with singer Darius Lux and then on Wednesday Andy Richards from the band Uniform Motion, then next weekend it's artist Joey Spiotto. I say next weekend as I don't know if I will be working next Sunday or not yet. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. May the phorce be with you.

No comments: