|THE ARCHIVE ORGAN INTERVIEW... SPIRAL TRIBE - AUTUMN 199? HOME|
IN 199? (THE EARLY 90’S) THE RAPIDLY EMERGING SPIRAL TRIBE WE’RE SAYING
A LOT OF THINGS TO MAINSTREAM MEDIA - THEY WERE RELEASING SINGLES, CLAIMING
TO REPRESENT A LOT OF PEOPLE - THEY WERE VIEWED BY THE UNDERGROUND WITH
AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF ADMIRATION AND SUSPICION...... We talked to them one
Since Castle Morton and the Canary Wharf rave SPIRAL TRIBE have occupied quite a space on/in mass media air time/publications. They suddenly seem to be regarded by the mainstream media as spokespeople for the multi-layered festival scene....
Spiral Tribe and their rave sound system are in fact quite a new addition to the ever evolving festival scene. We met three members of Spiral Tribe who, at the time, were lying low in London having had their buses/homes and sound systems Impounded by the authorities. After a number of phone calls we were told to go to a street, we were given no actual address, when we got there suddenly two people emegred from a van "Are you The Organs?" Yeah we answered and off we went to a 'borrowed' house for a chat. No names were mentioned, no identities, so we talked to number 1, 2 and 3:
ORGAN: Why did you hold that one event at Canary Wharf? What was so important about that site?
1: There it was, this empty, sprawling mass of concrete bollox - with all the money they spent on Canary Wharf they could have given every man, woman and child in Great Britain five million pounds each. You can check that, somebody showed me the total amount, check it - billions and billions they've spent on it and totally empty. There we were on this only bit of green on this island.... We knew it was going to come on top of us but it just had to be done, we were just drawn to it.
2: The other angle is that basically we've been taken away from Stonehenge and thrown out of countryside, so we'll do it in the city.... And we thought, where in the city is nearest to Stonehenge? If you check out that area, first you're on the Greenwich Mean line, there's heavy ley lines around the area... Canary Wharf itself has got a true pyramid topped by a strobe light and it's this massive pillar yuppiedom that never happened, totally empty - you've got Greenwich Observatory over the water, the Queen's House, and to top it all, in the middle of all this chaos, you've got this field, a massive open space of grass like out in the country and Mudchute Farm full of animals that would have been in the country, right next door to it. So basically, when we saw this, even though there's only two roads in we knew it had to be done, it was the place, the energy there was incredible.
ORGAN: So it was something you had to do because of the energy and not because of the attention it would grab
2: Purely because of that energy and it was so similar to the power that is out at Stonehenge that we feel...
ORGAN: For people coming in at the start - what basically are Spiral Tribe about?
1: One tribe, the spiral being like the beginning, the nurse of it all, spiralling out, bringing in everything to it at the same time..... We're a tribe of people, ever growing, who set out to put on parties, basically, free parties.
ORGAN: Some people seem to think that you're some sort of dodgy sect
1: Yeah, I know, its weird! people think all sorts of things....
ORGAN: So it just 'happens' then?
1: Yeah!, We just seriously get on the flow of things and just flow with it
ORGAN: How did it start - did somebody sit down and say, right, Spiral Tribe exists....
2: Well, we managed to get hold of a rig by persuading one of our friends to take out a loan (which I don't think was ever paid off!). At this point we were all living in squats, so we started doing squat parties and that grew on and developed until we did a party out in Amsterdam. After that we wound up coming back and found ourselves going to a free festival in Britain, near Stonehenge, Longstock, last year, where suddenly a lot of us recieved very spirtual sort of feeling, we all -
1: It felt so right to be there, the sun, the moon coming up, the garden, being outdoors - it was just....!
2: And one thing just lead to another until we started doing a lot of free festivals.... We've never really known where we're going, we never really planned for the future of anything, but every now and then maybe we'll see a bunch of 23s or something that signifies something's about to come up, and we see where we're going to go from that. We never predict where we're going to be, we just follow the vibe, we follow what feels right and go with it.
1: And usually there's a 23 in the area at that moment.....
2: A lot of people wondered why we went and signed this record deal, and the way I feel about it is that we had a series of free parties, one was at Chobham Common, one was at Acton Town and the other was Welwyn Garden City. Now, each of these parties, the police came down and pulled riot gear and trashed the rig; they beat lots of people up, Acton Town was probably the worst - 750 people recieved injuries from the police (apparently very severe, one person allegedly losing an eye) Now at that point, we didn't have a name, no one had heard of us in the media for sure; At that stage we realised that unless we got more of a public stance, we were going to get swept under the carpet by the police, it was as simple as that. We tried getting out to media, they wouldn't listen - We tried phoning up hospitals, the police, MPs, simply to get any word, and it was a closed door. So we figured next time this happens, we either want to be able to film it, or we want to be in a possition to go 'Well what the f**k was all THAT about!?' and our voice would be heard. This is the whole motive behind doing what we're.
ORGAN: So you've almost had to put a label on yourselves just so you can say something exists?
2: Exactly, and one of the problems was - how can you do this without getting your name known? The only way to do that is to use the Spiral Tribe name, no one takes personal profit, no one puts their name to it for personal promotion or ego or whatever.....
1: It's not about ego or the personality - everything is done in the name of Spiral Tribe and it covers any creative thing that you want. Putting it into a kitty sort of thing?
2: That's it, or blag it - we never have any money... The whole record deal is done on that basis, there's no names, it's Spiral Tribe, there's no credit to musicians.
ORGAN: So when you get played on the radio what does the PRS do with the royalty?
1: It just goes into Spiral Tribe, just goes into the cause and we get contracts to that effect. The first idea of the record company is: instead of making music to make money, make money to make music - Cash into noise. The ideal is a cross between the ideas of punk and the ideas of psychedelia: The psychedelic ideal that materialistic values and money were a load of bollocks, but its also the punk understanding of 'We don't need money to trash the system'. Basically what you have is a bunch of people who don't want to take personal profit, lay out for stupid cars or houses, but at the same time we use money to fund the underground scene, to put out white labels, pirate radio stations to set up a communication network so that we CAN communicate stuff like Acton Town
ORGAN: So, who controls all this then?
Well, its kind of like the Red Indian tribes where someone will walk in and they'll know what they feel called to immediately - one will be called to the music side, one wants to be a writer so he/she gets on the case.... it's all about thinking positive.
ORGAN: But what happens when somebody writes something that represents Spiral Tribe and you don't agree with it?
2: What... you talk about it, y'know what I mean?......
ORGAN: I mean, you've got no basic leaders or anything like that so who decides to put a record out?
2: It's very free flowing.....
1: You just follow your vibe, just sort of go with it - things just make themselves apparant.
2: I think the best way to answer that question is to say we've never had to face that problem because everything that's happened, it just happened so naturally that we haven't had to think about it.
ORGAN: How do you know that someone's not going to go and put a white lable this week and say 'this is Spiral Tribe? aren't you in great danger of loads of poeple just jumping in there?
1: Well to be honest if that happened they'd be right, it's what it's all about. So that could go on, you could eventually have a whole country that decides to be Spiral Tribe....
1: Yeah! whole world!
ORGAN: So you have a government saying they're Spiral Tribe and they're passing laws, or you have a market trader selling t-shirts with your logo so he's got enough money to go down the pub or hire a video and veg out...
2: No, it comes down to the vibe, your understanding of the vibe, people can say they're Spiral Tribe but think about karma a second - it they're gonna do it for money or their ego then it'll be karma that gets you in the end.
ORGAN: Are you going to be able to hold on to that?
1: As long as we can get the element of, no name, no face - you know, our photographs are skinheads, dark glasses - no features, no one you can recognise, no idol......
2: The thing we'd like to see is everybody putting out a white label - in this day and age the thing that's freed up this particular part of the underground scene, techno, whatever, is stuff like the sampler, the Atari computer, the DAT machine, video cameras - the point is that now technology is cheap and available and people are setting up their own bedroom studios. Now if your motive isn't money or ego and all want to do is put music out, you can do that without going to the record companies. The only reason we're going to a record company is because we were getting beaten up by the police and we realised that by sticking our necks out we had to protect ourselves in someway. But if you just happen to want to put some music out for music's sake there's no reason to got to a record company anymore - we found out that they just screw about all the time.
ORGAN: Can't you apply that to any sort of music?
2: Well, it can do, but the point being, to record a band is a lot harder and more expensive than to do it with computers and.....
ORGAN: I don't agree with that - (We then had a discussion regarding this and came to the conclusion that you could make 'conventional' music cheaply - the evidence is on many of the demo tapes available through the pages of Organ, check out the brilliant Anorak Lovechild demo tapes made with equipment far cheeper than a DAT machine and a computer. Check out the first Sabbat demo made on a second hand four track live in a garage and far far better than anything they did in a recording studio for a record company, check out anything - Oroonies, early Ozrics, Webcore tapes, check out the Wolfsbane demos widely acknowledged to be far better than any of their albums and all down to the DIY vibe and energy...... You DO NOT need DAT quality tapes, make a tape and sell it yourself you do not need a record company you need your own creative energy and everything else will follow.... ask Ozric Tentacles......back to the Spiral Tribe interview....)
2: Basically technology is easily available, it doesn't have to be techno music, you can use it for rock music, everything , doesn't matter what kind of music you're making with it provided you're making music for music's sake, not for your ego and not for money.....
1: The whole sort of motive is not to make money but to be creative -
ORGAN: So the basic word that encompasses it all is our favourite word Create -
1: Yeah! Organic, we describe the music as Terra - Technic, that's Terra as the earth
2: it maybe technology, advanced systems, whatever but its still deeply rooted on the grownd, its growing, it moves with nature, that force, energy - Don't just go, urgh, Acid House, Techno Music, turn it off.... now is the time for all of us to unite together - never mind whether you like the music or not, look at what the music's doing, its bringing a lot of people together. You look across the country, look into Russia, into America, Germany, all over the world..... Techno music, house music if you like, is this new music which hasn't been stopped, hasn't been broken, swept under the carpet, hasn't sold out - it's bringing a whole load of people together in a sort of psychic awareness if you like.
3: You look at Ireland; the rave culture, the techno culture, there's festivals going on over there, bringing Catholics and Protestants together and 200 years of politics haven't done that... at the end of the day its a form of music, and if that's doing it then, what do we need these people in suits for?
ORGAN: These things happen when people got together and communicate, the Stonehenge festivals of the early 80's. I (Sean) went to Stonehenge just to see Hawkwind, I didn't really know about these alternatives, energies, about communicating with people.... I got in to these ideas through rock music, these things have always gone on, music is the spark, it's about an attitude rather then a sound, it's about learning to communicate
1: There you go, and what did they stop and what are they stopping now? The festivals, outdoor festivals - OK, there's Stonehenge, but there's other festivals, once you've got the awareness...... People are coming out to these festivals, young kids who haven't even been outside their f**king tower blocks in London - they've just going to a party if you like and they're being brought outdoors to a festival, to see, in this time of global awareness.. How can you know what's going on, dancing down your local discotheque and buying your recycled toilet paper, until you're out there, in it, actually experiencing.... D'y know what I mean - actually seeing how beautiful your planet is.........
2: You are right in saying it's not just hardcore though, this is the underground.
ORGAN: The thing that a lot of people don't like is the recent invasion of techno sound systems at festivals and not allowing the bands to get a look in. I think also a lot of people are put off by the idea of techno because all they hear is the crap that comes to the top, the watered down commercial stuff.
2: Yeah, yeah, that's rave.
3: The whole rave scene exploded around '88 with the Acid House scene, then it went into 89 with the sort of ravey - ravey culture, and seeing this happening on such a large scale the large record companies start looking into this and manufacturing it even more - you've got Bizarre Inc., N-Joi etc. in the charts..... then there's now a lot of childish pap around but it's almost like the underground is taking a more grown-up attitude towards it - forcing it back down again making it harder, making it tougher, making warmer, getting the pure element out, because we look at the stuff thats sitting in the charts at the moment - there's nothing pure about it, there's nothing realistic about what it's doing, it really is just a load of commercial old trash poured out of a sampler - Now, you look at Techno stuff, acid music, the stuff coming up on the new Spiral Tribe EP - now.... that's pure as f**k, basically! You can't get any more so.
ORGAN; How would YOU describe your music to people who don't know then?
2: The way that I look at it is it goes back down to energy, stuff like that - you look at all ancient religions and most will talk of a primal tone where all energy comes from, all life comes from - energy is something that transforms from one form to another, it manifests itself in life force energy..... Now what you have is a situation where in Western Music they tilted the balance away from rhythm -all these other cultures use rhythm as the main element in their music, harmony dictated by rhythm, rather than harmony dictated by melody...if you go through Western history you get to the point where Stravinsky wrote 'The Rite of Spring', and for the first time for two, three hundred years the balance was tilted back to rhythm. It was first performed in 1913...a lot of powerful, respectable people went to the performance, and on hearing the rhythmic music they rioted and trashed the building. All the way through history you see rhythmic music called 'the devil's music' by the powers that be. But what appears to happen is that they take this music, tame it, commercialise it - once it makes money it becomes polluted - the point being, its not so much how the music sounds, its the attitude of the composer that counts: if its purely for music's sake, that music is pure, if its done for ego or money that music becomed polluted and the energy goes back round the cycle and pollutes the earth - hence the reason the planet's so fucked up.
ORGAN: Do you think you have the energy to keep those egos out of what your doing?
2: Well we're trying everything we can no one in our band puts their name to the music.....
ORGAN: But we've noticed in the last few weeks a few people putting their name next to Spiral Tribe's name.... a lot of people who have popped up from the sixties and seventies era have suddenly put their name on flyers.... what's happening there?
1: That's an album put out by Evolution.... they're people we like very much, if you know what I mean.... we trust them implicitly and we believe a lot in what they're doing and we basically donated a track to their album....
ORGAN: That's basically Fraser Clark?
1: Yep, that's the man....
ORGAN: We've been aware of Fraser Clark for some time now and basically we find some of his ego/guru trips and the things he jumps onto, quite...... um...:
We've known Fraser for a long time, and he hasn't come along and gone, oh yeah, Spiral Tribe.....
ORGAN: I've got nothing against him personally, I'm suspicious of some of the things he's said, I'm not sure of his motives. I don't trust old hippies from the sixties... I don't trust the elitist thing of the counter-culture, it seemed to be about being 'one of the few'.... personal experience has led me to stop trusting... It's good to see new blood and new energy feeding into the underground....
2: At first the rave scene was motivated by people who wanted to make money, all these parties were business, and when laws came in so you couldn't put on a party like that for money, lots of people went legal which showed their attitude, but the best thing that came out of the authorities trying to stamp things out was that suddenly there was a new breed of party organiser who comes out and does it, not for money or ego but purely for the sake that he/she loves it, following the vibe, and wants a bit of freedom. We wouldn't have gone thorugh this much shit just to make money out of it.
ORGAN: Back to your comment regarding ego, the problem is, once you first discover the vibe you can either take it in a very egotistical way and keep it all to yourself or you can think, "well, I'm sorted, how on earth can I sort everyone else out?"
This is one of the things that pisses me off when travellers resent, or people resent all the ravers coming on to the festival sites because they don't know the score, y'know.... The point is, how can you expect these people to ever find out what the score is unless they come out to the countryside? You've got to realise that you've got your vision of the future, you know when your time comes you'll be ok, but you've got to try your hardest to get everyone out of cities and show them the score.
1: And at the moment that's very very difficult... The people we'd really like to reach are the police: We have absoutely no problem with the police on festival sites on a one-to-one basis, they're standing there tapping their feet, nice bit of overtime, sit back and listen to the music, at Castlemorton they were playing baseball.... but the people who are actually telling the police what to do? What's the problem? I'd love someone to stand up and answer a few questions.
2: This is another reason for getting into a public position because then you can start asking questions - eventually someone's going to have to answer if you keep hammering.
Spiral Tribe have not come from a rock/festival culture which has years of holding free festivals behind it, years during which time a lot of mistakes have been made, a lot of strategies worked out and a lot of authorities have been stomping. They seem genuinely suprised at some people's hostility to them: when we pointed out that techno/rave P.As can ruin festivals by drowning out everybody elses sounds one of them said "well they should get bigger rigs themselves!" Attitudes (or answers, since that was just one particular person's opinion) like that could help divide...divide and rule... which is one of the weapons of those who seek to stop the gathering of people for free thought, free music, free communication ..... Festivals can provide the seeds of creativity. Spiral Tribe argue that the tribal rhythms of their PAs actually bring people together and focus the energies. It's good to see people from the house/rave/techno culture thinking about things, questioning things and opening doors for others. The three Spiral Tribespeople we spoke to were very genuine, enthusiastic, open people who responded to our viewpoints as much as we did to them. They sincerely believe in what they are doing. Other Tribespeople wandered in and out, the atmosphere was one of enthusiasm, people discovering things, throwing ideas around. Whether or not there is some master plan behind it all, there's some good people around...Question everything, Question us, question them, question the self appointed guru figures....... The starting point is COMMUNICATION AND CREATIVITY...That's where you start to find the answers and that where you start to find the questions.
And here in 2007 I guess the best place to find out more is www.myspace.com/spiraltribe