April 17, 2012

At last a proper interview with CAROLYN LOOKER, Glen Sweeney missus and TEB former!!!

I know Carolyn from the half of the Eighties and I've tried to interview her many times but with scarce results.
She's a very kind woman and she cooperated very well to my book on the band in 1995-1996, writing a two-pages of memories for a projected but never realised tribute CD and helping me to clear some obscure  things (the original name of the band, the cultural sources...) for this archive... but I couldn't ever have a proper interview with her.
In the Summer 2010 at her home in London Hammersmith I recorded around one hour of questions & answers, but when I went back to Italy I discovered the tape couldn't work, thus no interview...
So, because she has no computers/e-mails, some months ago I've sent her some questions by letter and now we've got her answers through our common friend Steve Pank. 
Another chance to know some old facts on the Thirds...

Carolyn Looker, London 2010.

When/where you met Glen for the first time?
"Both Glen and I was working at Liberty's in Regent Street. Glen was doing modern furniture display. He had his drumkit in the storeroom where he would hide and practice his drumming (!) which at the time was modern jazz...".

Where Glen was from?
"Glen's family lived in Croydon, about ten miles south of the Thames".

Which was your interests at that time?
"Sartre, Kerouack and the Beat Generation, Zen Buddhism, Jazz, Occult".

Had you involved in the cultural scene of those days?
"Yes, I was reading beat poetry to avantgarde jazz to a very small audience in pub gigs".

Have you some memories of the beginning with the Giant Sun Trolley?
"Many happenings at UFO with Sun Trolley! A dog howling to Dave's sax. Total 15 minutes of silence from the two, then a spaced out kid tried to bang on Glen's drum. Glen hit him with D stick - said it was Zen - kid remained  far from that".

How Glen met Dave?
"Dave was advertising for drummer. Glen (auditioned) in Free School that was a cellar where Dave was squatting with a poet called Macavity. Glen was told to take the drum sound from here to there. Dave said making directions. Glen being good with fantasy managed to do so and got the gig!".

Which was the mood at UFO?
"Memories but not clear. It was all like a scene from a Fellini movie".

And what's about the music Sun Trolley played?
"Very avantgarde: used happenings on stage, i.e. electric scissors cutting clothes off a dancer (at the 14th Technicolor Dream)...".

How TEB started to play at the Drury Lane's Arts Lab? 
"Jim Haynes loved TEB, said they gave him orgasms. They play Arts Lab on a regular basis. A room painted black, incense burning and audience on floor cushions".

What's about the legendary levitation of St. Pancras' station? Is it all true?
"Yes, us and John Peel sat outside ohming... Hard work but it lifted a few inches (we were on acid)...".

What kind of music the first electric TEB line-up played? Do you remember some particular tunes played?
"I remember Clive [Kingsley]'s "Ronson Riff", a marvelous thing he did sliding his ciggy lighter along his guitar".

Do you remember something about the instruments stolen after a concert that induced the new TEB acoustic line-up?
"Instruments were left in van overnight, gone in the morning. Never found out who took them. Of course they weren't insured!".

Carolyn with her cat Leonardo (London 2010).

How John Peel was involved at the "Alchemy"'s recording sessions?
"A friend of Glen's took us around to Peel's flat. I remember us all discussing the existence of fairies".

Can you tell me something about that wonderful album cover?
"Glen was very much into Alchemy, the illustration was in a book he had".

Any memories on the second album recording sessions?
"Sorry, we were all stoned. Glen would suggest a feel or a vision for each track and the guys played it".

Is it true EMI engineers left the studio during the sessions?
"I don't think the engineers liked or understood the music, so mixing they weren't into".

And what do you think about EMI? Why they gave up the band?
"EMI were fine. I think the contract ran out".

Do you remember the gig TEB played with Bernard Parmegiani in London? Can you tell me something about it?
"Parmegiani concert was at Festival Hall. It didn't work too well in my opinion. TEB's music was organic, the French were music concrete, it didn't got".

How did it go with Polanski?
"Lots of memories of Polanski. He and Glen were the same height, so got on really well. Recordings were made improvising the pieces of the film which were projected in the recording studio".

Which is your opinion about Blackhill? Do you think the agency was really involved into the TEB music?
"Blackhill never really understood the music, if they had been more supportive made more of film music. I.e. Polanski and Kubrick admiring TEB and involved them more in the arts as in Pink Floyd. Steered the right way the band could have been big".

One of the most obscure period of your (Glen and you) life is when you lived on a boat in a river during the Seventies...
"We had an idyllic Summer on the boat. Glen was writing poetry, I was painting. Hard work because the mooring wasn't residential we had to collect our water and calor gas about 1/2 mile away. We retired to a friend's flat in the Winter as the river flooded all the time. Infact one huge flood, the Ark, our boat, flooded over into the field and settled there when the floods ended. We lived that way chocked up in the middle of a field for an year. The council complained and at great expense we hired a crane to put us back in the water".

Which was the feelings of Glen about music just before I met him in your Sheperd's Bush flat? Why at the beginning he was so suspicious of me?
"Before meeting you I think Glen had decided to retire from the music scene.  I was envolved in managing a prop hire company and we figured it Glen's turn to take a rest. Glen suspicious of you? I think he was suspicious of most people's intentions till proved otherwise!".

Some TEB fans are interested to know if Glen was involved in black magic...
"Glen was very interested in esoteric, also in black magic, but did not practice it".

And what's about TEB's relation with Druids?
"Steve Pank can tell you more about the Druid meetings and the Glastonbury Tor concert. As he is now a fully fledged Druid and Dave Loxley the Head Druid who created the celtic border of "Alchemy"".

no©2012 Luca Ferrari (unless you intend to make a profit. In which case, ask first) 


  1. Hey, Carolyn, it's me! Brian Meredith! The fourth founding member of TEB. The guy who played cello and first met you and Glen when all three of us had jobs at Liberty's in Regent Street. Yeah, there I was in 'Luggage and Leather Goods' and, bravely withstanding so many of my admiring stares, there you were in Cosmetics. Glen and I would talk music below stairs at the store. He was drumming with an R & B band one or two nights a week, he told me, and I was playing cello in an amateur free jazz quartet on weekends. The three of us bumped into each other at parties around town from time to time over the next few years -- your sister was dating a pal of mine -- and then Glen and Paul Minns (whom I'd known as a fellow Miles and Mingus fan from our days as pupils at City of London School) stopped me on the street in Notting Hill one day. Glen outlined his idea for a group. Later, I was introduced to Clive, I auditioned, things clicked, and it started there! Carolyn, I think I must have said enough here already to jog your memory. Or should I add that it was your dear self who introduced me to Valerie Cocklin? I'll wait to see if you see and respond to this before I go on.

    1. Hi Brian...l didn't see your letter till last year ! I wrote a reply but having not heard from you am now wondering if you received it !!!