We Can’t Wait For The Next Dose Of Heaven’s Gateway Drugs

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags on February 9, 2016 by johnbuckley100


It’s February and the world has already been enriched by an incredible release by David Bowie, even as we eagerly await Iggy Pop’s new record. What year is this again?

Sure, The Aura’s Saturn Day E.P. just came out, so maybe it only sounds like it’s the ’70s.  But somewhere midway through the cabin-fever phase of winter, we jacked into a sonic jolt of ’60’s-sounding confection released since 2013 by the wonderfully named Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and damn if they have not made that morning commute through igloo tunnels and slush all the merrier.

Here’s the precise route we followed to our new discovery: Uncut steered us toward Heaters, the Grand Rapids-spawned Psychabilly band, and we liked their Holy Water Pool so much that we stuck our mitts deep into the guts o’ Google and began pulling up whatever we could find.  Sure enough, Heaters’ve played a few times with a band from Fort Wayne, Indiana going by the instantly alluring moniker of Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and once we listened to their 2015 single “Copper Hill,” we were ready to sell our possessions and hit the road.

Here’s what they say on their website:

“Heaven’s Gateway Drugs is a counterculture cult rock band hailing from Fort Wayne, Indiana, a rust belt city best known for its abundance of churches and strip clubs. Despite being born in a location that couldn’t be farther from a psychedelic epicenter, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs creates a unique combination of freakbeat, west coast psych, mod, and eastern drone to create a sound that is just at home today as it was in 1968.

This description only addresses part of the total experience that is Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. The group is led by Ben Carr, an enigmatic, psychedelic Pied Piper of sorts who entrances audiences with his movements and urges those in attendance to become one with the band. Remember always, ‘you are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.'”

With that in mind, we downloaded their first two albums, You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, self-released in 2013, and Apropos, which came out the next year.  Days later, when we stumbled out of the rec room here at Tulip Frenzy World HQ, we reached out to the band with some questions, principal among them finding out when their third rec would be released into the wild.  Here’s what they told us.

Q. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the “Copper Hill” single, and then to Apropos and You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. Is “Copper Hill” a glimpse of what we might expect on a third HGD album, or is it meant to stand on its own?

A. “Copper Hill” was chosen to be the lead single for the upcoming record because we definitely felt it stood on its own while also offering a preview of the rest of the album.

Q. Where do things stand with your third album? Tell us about what you’re going for, and how it expands upon what you’ve done before.

A. The album is finished, we are currently waiting on the artwork, and as soon as we have that everything will be sent to the press. So if all goes well we should have the vinyl in hand in a couple of months. After Apropos was recorded the band went through some line-up changes over the subsequent months. All the songs on this new album were written with the band’s new line-up and while there are some sonic differences, it feels very much like a Heaven’s Gateway Drugs record.

Q. Coming upon the band in sort of reverse order of your releases gives an interesting — maybe confusing! — glimpse into what’s going on, as “Copper Hill” to our ears sounds a little more like a follow up to You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs than Apropos. Where does that 2015 song fit in the band’s evolution?

A. That is an interesting observation. Both “Copper Hill” and You Are… were recorded to tape which always imparts some kind of magic in the tone of the recording. Also, the fact that we have some new members means we worked to find our sound as a new unit much like we did on the first record when the band had just formed.
Q. You Are Heaven’s Gateway Drugs has a really great sound, and when I hear it I can imagine you on the river stage at Levitation/Austin Psych Fest as the kids sway in the evening light; with the exception of “Fall Back Down Again,” Apropos seems a little more of a highly crafted pop album. The former album seems like it could have been recorded in LA circa 1968, the latter seems like London six months later. How do you guys think of the evolution between album #1 and #2?

A. That’s a huge compliment, thank you! We made the trip down to Austin for Psych Fest 2 years ago and the River Stage was amazing. Everything was new with the first record. When we first formed the group, no one brought songs to the band with them, we wrote everything together at rehearsals. I think the first album captures us feeling out where we wanted to go with the band. By the time we began working on the songs for the second album we had a better sense of who we were and what we wanted to go for sonically.

Q. Your sound is unique and original. Which actually makes us even more curious about what bands you consider influences — both the bands you guys have loved over time and whose records you love right now. To us you really are in your own category — not psych, not ’60s revivalists, not garage, but elements of all three. We think we hear echoes of bands like BJM and the Warlocks, but then you seem like you’re invoking, I dunno, the Kinks or some other mid-’60s British Invasion band after they had their first hit of weed. So the maybe question is: who plays at your dream festival?

A. All of the bands you listed and most of the bands playing Austin Psych Fest this year. That line-up is insane.  (Editors note: Levitation/Austin Psych Fest this year features Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels, Black Mountain, Courtney Barnett, woods, Super Furry Animals, and more!)

Q. What are your plans for world domination, because clearly as great as Fort Wayne may be, it’s time you were knocking ’em down in LA and NY, too. Touring in 2016? CJM? East Coast? West Coast?

A. Being based out of the midwest we can get to a ton of cities in 3-4 hours so we tend to do lots of weekend warrior runs. Once the record is out there will be some longer jaunts. CMJ would be great and hitting some other places out east while we’re there. We have a ton of friends in Austin so we’d love to get down there for a visit as well.

So there you have it. 2016 will be notable for new PJ Harvey, new Woods, and that Iggy collaboration with Josh Homme sounds amazing.  For us, though? We can’t wait for the new album by Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, who have lit up our winter with an amber and pulsating glow.

Here’s the gateway to Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.

Pedestrian At Best

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 27, 2016 by johnbuckley100

We love Cartier-Bresson’s “Behind The Gare St. Lazare” so much, we have it up on our wall.  Could we have had it somewhere in mind — the repeated form of the dancer and the puddle jumper — when we caught this during the snowstorm?  Or just a lucky shot?

Pedestrian At Best

New Music — The Auras, P.J. Harvey, Iggy — With Which To Survive A Blizzard

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 27, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Snowzilla, as it was dubbed, has kept us mostly cooped up, but are we suffering from cabin fever?  Well, sure, yeah. But it would have been so much worse if we hadn’t had new music to listen to:

  • The Auras released their Saturn Day e.p. two weeks ago, and it merely confirms Tulip Frenzy was correct in giving them 2015 Psych Band of The Year honors. The six songs here continue the young Toronto band’s winning streak of Spaceman 3-inflected, Nuggets-inspired garageband excellence.
  • P.J. Harvey has given us a teaser from The Hope Six Demolition Project, which is to be released in April. “The Wheel” sounds like it could have been on 2011’s Let England Shake, if that album had been recorded with a horn section and been a narrative about Southeast DC, not Albion in WW I.  We have a calendar up on the wall with all the days marked between now and when Polly’s new one hits the world.  One fewer day after this one…
  • Iggy Pop has, as the world now knows, teamed up with Josh Homme and members of the Queens Of The Stone Age and the Arctic Monkeys to record a new album, Post Pop Depression.  We’d be excited enough by “Break Into Your Heart” — a far more welcome discovery after having been dropped onto our iPad in the middle of the night Sunday than was the two feet of snow dropped onto our streets Friday-Saturday.  But “Gardenia,” which is available both as a download and, should you be so inclined to seek it out, performed live on Colbert last week, is a revelation — Iggy’s best song since Naughty Little Doggy.  If like me, David Bowie’s death already sent you back to those great Iggy albums, well, let’s just say March can’t get here soon enough.
  • Eleanor Friedberger‘s New View is excellent , the best thing she’s done since her days with brother Matthew in the Fiery Furnaces.
  • Ty Segall‘s Emotional Mugger has not grown on us yet.  We keep trying to like it — and Lord knows we’re inclined to.  So far, it seems a muddle.
  • John Cale likewise has not stayed on the Victrola for long, even as we’ve tried grokking both M:FANS and the reissue of Music For A New Society on which it was based.  We stand second to none in our admiration of the great Welshman, but we’re getting a little concerned that we haven’t liked much that Cale has put out since blackAcetate in 2005.
  • Heaters became known to us via Uncut‘s review of their 2015 Holy Water Pool, which if you like the Cramps and can imagine how a psych band could make optimal use of  Poison Ivy’s infectious riffs, you will love.

Finally, we have to offer a preview of coming Tulip Frenzy mania: through diving into Heaters, pulling on threads until we discovered bands they play with in their midwest stomping grounds, we discovered Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.  Wow.  Go download their 2015 single “Copper Hill,” which sounds like the Warlocks cast a potion on The Auras in Olympic Studios circa 1967.  More on these guys, we promise — especially since a new album (their third) is in the cards for 2016.

And how can we honestly talk about the music we’ve listened to this past week without just declaring All Bowie, All The Time?


New Picnic Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Wth apologies to Pere Ubu.

New Picnic Time

Into The Wild

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2016 by johnbuckley100

Washington, D.C. Saturday morning.  Midway through Snowzilla.  Looking down toward the unplowed New Mexico Avenue. Leica Monochrom (top-246), 75mm APO.

Into The Wild

It’s Too Late To Be Grateful: Remembrance Of A Teenage Bowie Fan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 12, 2016 by johnbuckley100

No one will ever again need to strain for an example of genius, for who else but a genius can so astonish us from The Other Side? Bowie rendered the preparation for Death into a thrilling art project — Lazarus the play, “Lazarus” the song and video released days before his death, virtually every word of the glorious Blackstar… It is all literally amazing, and distracts us from our grief even as it intensifies it.

When Joe Strummer died suddenly, Streetcore, his final album with the Mescaleros, was released posthumously as a sort of final word.  It was fashioned out of accidental spare parts (snippets of his BBC radio shows, instrumentals, as well as full-on songs) into a beautiful elegy.  But there is nothing accidental about Blackstar, including the double entendre title of the final song which references Bowie’s mysterious methods: “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”

Those final 18 months will be studied as performance art, but let’s also give credit not to an artist but to a man who bravely finished up, without complaint or loss of dignity, in control, in a way,’til the end.

We have read much over the past 24 hours, some remembrances by those who knew and worked him, and a fair bit of earnest nonsense written by those who are, frankly, too young to have perspective.  If you are of a certain age, and “Ashes to Ashes” is where you picked up the thread, it’s hard to even know you need to reference, somewhere, Diamond Dogs.

We are old enough to remember: how Bowie, T. Rex, and Mott The Hoople seemed to arrive on these shores all on the same boat, a palate cleanser after the Stones’ ’72 tour, and how when we first heard the New York Dolls in 1973, far from being a shock or mystifying, it all made sense.  Likewise, how right Diamond Dogs seemed to be, as we played that dystopian masterpiece while reading daily about Richard Nixon’s impending resignation.   How Young Americans was both the perfect soundtrack to our senior year in high school, and pointed to something far, far different than what the other giants of that year, the Stones and Led Zeppelin, were purveying on It’s Only Rock’n’Roll and Physical Graffiti.

And then the ride began: the Golden Age, as Station To Station overlapped with the release of The Man Who Fell To Earth, followed by the Berlin Trilogy with Eno.  Low, Heroes, and the sublime Lodger — our favorite record, and we’re tempted to proclaim, his greatest work — arrived concurrently with the upheaval of punk, and alone among the establishment icons of rock’n’roll, Bowie strode above the landscape with little criticism or resentment, the one star who still produced awe, with no need to pander (as the Stones did with Some Girls) to what was happening in the streets.  While Station To Station seemed to brilliantly close the chapter on those early ’70s incarnations,  those next three albums rewrote the book even as Bowie, for perhaps the first time, seemed willing to be his own true self.

In most of the “10 Essential Songs By Bowie” lists made yesterday by 40-year olds trying to generate click bait, one eye on Wikipedia, the other on the clock, virtually no one referenced Bowie’s work with Fripp and Eno as the essential core.  It made us realize there are some gifts to age, to having been alive, and awake, through Bowie’s prime.  We didn’t have to pretend that Bowie was great on stage (he really wasn’t, he was no Mick Jagger…)  We could think back to a time when Bowie towered above the land… before that long, 30-year span of relative silence that ended, surprisingly, with the release in 2013 of “Where Are We Now,” which of course harkens to the Berlin of the late ’70s.

Star imagery is one of the constants in Bowie’s work, his punning self-referencing finally culminating in Blackstar — the star lit no more.  It is the most incredible thing that he left us yesterday grappling with new work, oddly refreshed, deeply saddened, reflecting on his life and ours, with joy and not nostalgia.  It’s too late to be grateful, sang the Thin White Duke.  But we are.

So Now We Know Bowie’s Blackstar Was Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 11, 2016 by johnbuckley100

What a consummate pro, staving off death until he could get his magnificent final work, Blackstar, out the door.

It is early, and we are just processing the sad news, but a few words are in order.

If David Bowie had died without having released, in 2013, The Next Day, and now an incredible final album, we would have been sad, because for a almost a decade — from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars up through Lodger — there was no more cherished artist in our lives.  But after the commercial success of Let’s Dance, Bowie was for us a figure of the past, like the Rolling Stones, always beloved but no longer relevant.

And then, from out of nowhere, two years ago came The Next Day, which was among the most thrilling music of the year, and a reminder of his greatness.  And beginning Thanksgiving weekend, we had begun listening, over and over, to “Blackstar” from the new album, and reveling in Bowie’s vibrancy, his relevance, that gorgeous voice.

We were just thinking this weekend, when we at last got to listen to the album as a whole, how brilliant Bowie’s marketing has been these last few years — not touring, not doing interviews, holding himself above the industry and stardom, and letting his music do the speaking for him.  And now we know.

That he finished with Blackstar is like the Beatles going out with Abbey Road: an amazing grace upon which to conclude one of the transcendent careers in contemporary music.



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