October 16, 2010

"Third Ear Band, an old- time alchemy" . A conversation with Glen Sweeney.

During the third Italian tour, the press met the band for some interviews. Just after a gig in Gorizia (November 24th, 1989), Glen Sweeney answered to some questions asked by journalist Piero Bielli. The interview was published in "Auditorium" issue 4 at the beginning of 1990.
Here's a translation (sorry again for my bad English!) of the interview:

Piero Bielli: Can you tell us something about the beginning of the Third Ear Band?
Glen Sweeney: "The Third Ear Band developed itself from some other bands. In the Sixties I had played with The Giant Sun Trolley and I used sound and music just to provoke the audience and force them to think. The Hydrogen Jukebox invented  the electric acid raga, that was played to reproduce the LSD trip effects. We played in  many events and happening at the UFO Club. After our electric instruments was stolen I formed the TEB as an acoustic group".

PB: Which are the things inspiring you now?
GS:  "Ravi Shankar, Sun Ra, Zen, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Aleister Crowley and Terry Riley".

TEB playing on stage at the Gorizia gig.
PB: Is your current musical philosophy the same of the past?
GS: "Yes, it's just the same".

PB: Your first record was published by Harvest, a major: how is it happenend?
GS: "With the help of Peter Jenner (from Blackhill Enterprises, our management) he gave us to Harvest as a group with hippy 'taste' in a package with other bands".

PB: I know you believe in reincarnation. Do you like to live in the present, or did you prefer to live in the past?
GS: "I like to live in the present day as I liked to live in the past. Life is as an alchemy, it consists in repetition, and repetition can turn slag of metals in gold, the spiritual material".

PB: What do you think about esoteric implications of some kind of music?
GS: "Music is the healthy power of the universe".

PB: "About the TEB works: after all these  years, what do you think about your first three records?
GS: "That records are a product of the past, but for myself they contain magic that produces a sensation of wonder. "Macbeth"  is just a soundtrack...".

PB: Do you like the film? How did you met Polanski? The music was composed watching the film or it was composed in a second time?
GS: "I liked the film. The music was improvised section by section while we watched to it. But the film clips was in black and white. When the film was realised it was in technicolor, and for myself it reduced the dramatic impact of it. So the thing has caused a dissociation in me about  the music parts and the visual ones. If you watch the film you can see the TEB plays in the minstrels' gallery. It was the fate that one day  took Roman Polanski at the telephone. How and why I don't know".

PB: Why the band split just after three records and why have you decided to reform it?
GS: "We split because punk-rock changed the scene and everything was become hostile with us. I was thinking to do some of different. Luca Ferrari has been able to reform the band and "Rockin' Umbria" was the crime scene".

PB: Do you think now music scene is changed? If you think so, it's better or worst?
GS: "Now we have thousand of groups playing rock, folk, Indian music, African music... And this is OK for the music".

PB: At the moment all your new recordings are just from live concerts... What can you tell us about your forthcoming new studio album?
GS: "I can tell you it'll be published on 1990 ["Magic Music", published by Materiali Sonori]. It will be a collection of magic sounds, coloured by an antique Indian patina, with the electronic games of Mick Carter's guitar, Neil Black's soprano sax and flute and Glen Sweeney's alchemical percussion. Take a walkman, tune in and drop out with the magic music".

no©2010 Luca Ferrari


  1. You got a bigger version of the Gorizia picture?


    Hey - I had a dream this morning in which we were playing at a festival in Norwich, and Mel Davis was there doing some solo cello improv in the cathedral. Aftwerwards, my wife cornered him in a cafe to ask him to play cello on one of the songs she was singing with another group whilst I stood around waiting to talk to him about TEB. Alas, before I could do so, the phone rang and woke me up. It was, of course, my wife...

    I did have the honour of playing with Mel Davis and Paul Jolly when The Evan's All-Weather Orchestra visited Newcastle around 1978 or so, but at the time I didn't realise he had played on Alchemy. We did an afternoon of free-improv and very fine it was too, though none of it got recorded in those days.


    Some new songs up on our Myspace page for the Autun - click my name above.

  2. No better photo of Gorizia, sorry. It is taken from the magazine, printed on bad paper, so...
    I'll go soon to your Myspace page to listen to the tracks... Thanks. Just yesterday evening I was listening to your old "Musica Fiuto" record. Do you know I know Francesco Paladino well? He's living near to my smalltown... We used to buy records in the Eighties, when I was involved in managing groups and on writing books...
    But, friend, what about your essay on TEB for the Archive?