“Bright lights, big city — a cornucopia of sex, violence, glitter and rock ‘n’ roll.” —Ray “Sonic” Hanson
Ed. Note: Introducing a new revolving feature at BLURT, “The Story Behind the album.” Which is exactly what that name suggests—what went into the making of a particularly noteworthy recording, as seen through the eyes of its creator(s). It can be an acknowledged classic or an under-the-radar gem, but the basic parameters are the same: a title that stands out in an artist’s catalog, one which has stood the test of time and still commands the respect of fans. It could even have been a critical flop or a commercially under-performing record upon its initial release, but the years have steadily unveiled its extant genius. First up for your consideration: British outfit Thee Hypnotics, who emerged in the late ‘80s as as a hi-nrg, Motor City-inspired garage/psych antidote to the prevailing shoegaze movement and, though evolving and expanding its sound over the course of the next several years, would also serve as a respite from the ascendant Brit-poppers. Three albums and a handful of Eps and singles, and the band was done, but it still left behind a mighty attractive sonic corpse, in particular 1991’s epochal Soul Glitter & Sin. Our correspondent Jonathan Levitt, currently based in Beijing, China, takes a look at that album and interviews guitarist and co-lead songwriter Ray Hanson, who conspired with vocalist Jim Jones, bassist Will Pepper and drummer Phil Smith to paint Thee Hypnotics’ masterpiece with producer John Leckie.
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
A loud knock strikes the door. You slowly come to your senses. You rise from your bed still dressed in last night’s clothes. You open the door the chain still connected. The door is forced open the snap of the door chain ricochets against the wood paneling. Fade out. Fade in your in the back of an old Chrysler Imperial cruising down a side street bordering the Vegas strip. The lights from cut-rate casino signs warp across the metallic exterior of the car. You awaken to have an uncomfortable pain in your side, only to find Ray “Sonic” Hanson holding a gun jammed against your ribs. As you come to, from the drivers seat Jim Jones shoots you a glance from the rearview mirror. Where are you heading? You think to yourself, who are these guys, could I be on the way out of town to one of those holes in the desert where as Joe Pesci in Scorsese’s Casino mentions “a lot of problems are buried…”
Casting aside the ‘70s Stooges drenched howl of 1990 long-playing debut Come Down Heavy, Thee Hypnotics’ 1991 album Soul Glitter and Sin (Situation Two/Beggars Banquet) is an illusory trip in the seedy felonious world of American urban decay. The record was resolutely out of step with what was happening in the British music scene at the time. Back then, NME and Melody Maker were obsessed in crowning any new band with bad haircuts that spoke in a Mancunian growl as the new messiahs of spangle.
John Leckie of Stone Roses fame, the man with the so-called keys to the kingdom, was brought in to produce. The album has an icy impenetrable sheen to it. Under the hood is a band that seems blisteringly tight, firing on all cylinders. The narrative of this album takes the listener to the scene of the crime, and into the killer’s head and into the bed of one of the many hookers looking for their next trick on the dirty boulevard.
The album’s production seems decidedly more complex than Come Down Heavy’s stripped down snarl. Cinematic in scope and a decidedly broader sound, the band expanded their sonic palette, adding horns and a second guitarist.
The track “Soul Accelerator” has a unique moment that seems to capture some of the menacing tension pervasive throughout the album. Halfway through the song the music pauses for vocalist Jim Jones – at this point seething with a choleric vitriol – who lets it spew forth, spattering the sonic landscape in blood.
The beautiful “Cold Blooded Love” is filled with plangent gorgeous regretful fretwork. This is one of the many high points of the album. I visualize a helicopter shot circling the band as they cruise back from the desert and the light of the new day is just beginning to pierce the horizon. They need to get somewhere dark to sleep it off.
I own both the LP and CD of the album and think the additional tracks “Samedi’s Cookbook” and “Don’t let it get you down” on the CD actually help to bring the album to a much clearer conclusion. “Samedi’s Cookbook” adds a soulful bayou shuffle to the record that with its mantra like backwater Baptist singing giving you time to contemplate the sonic violence you’ve just experienced. The track also works well with “Black River Shuffle” and “Cold Blooded Love” as a key movement of the album.
So why was this album overlooked by the college music/alternative nation that labels were so relentless marketing to at the time? I think the answer is that it had difficult musical references that weren’t easily understood or considered cool by the era’s prevailing musical gentry. How many great albums have suffered similar fates? The time is ripe though for you to go and find this record and listen to it again — having had almost 24 intervening years to catch up to what they were referencing in these tracks.
A fan of the band since college, I decided to track down guitarist Ray Hanson for an email interview to shed some light on this overlooked album. Ray has been keeping busy with his Ray Hanson’s Sonic Whores of Babylon project and when I made contact with him he was more than happy to give us the straight dope on what made this record tick.
BLURT: What was the genesis of Soul Glitter & Sin?
RAY HANSON: I have to say, I personally am very proud of this album (“monster rock ‘n’ roll unit”) we created. So here goes…
The genesis of it comes through a few different reasons, but one major inspiration was simply using a change in amp, from the “blues, high energy, rock ‘n’ roll Marshall amp” sound of Come Down Heavy to a more “atmospheric, cinematic, film noir, Fender Twin Reverb amp” sound, tinged with a little bit more melancholic murder ballad style writing here and there. Also, after a pretty traumatic car crash in Minneapolis whilst touring the States, a kind of pause-and-breath of momentum occurred three quarters of the way through promoting Come Down Heavy. [This] allowed us, in recuperation — and myself, personally — to get excited, inspired and hungry to elaborate on writing and sounds (and show people the wide range of my interests) and to explore in more depth our love of other inspirations and influences, musically and thematically, that weren’t necessarily at the fore in our approximately 20 previous official tracks.
[Those influences would include] John Barry, (Bond themes etc., Lalo Schifrin (Bullitt, Dirty Harry etc.) Bernard Hermann (Taxi Driver theme etc.), Elmer Bernstein (The Man with the Golden Arm etc.), and Barry Adamson (ex-Magazine and Bad Seeds), effortlessly cool version Roy Budd (Get Carter), other ‘sexy, cool and dangerous, filmic/cinematic pieces such as music from Blue Velvet, Mean Streets, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, [along with film noir and early gangster movies and other Marty Scorsese and David Lynch works and so on.
I should also say the imagery, look, and feel of the whole concept, was just as inspired from these great films. And we did ask our publishers if it was possible to get this album to film directors – for soundtrack use – because, let’s face it! Soul Glitter & Sin is a soundtrack/film score to an imaginary movie as well as a good old rock ‘n’ roll record!
But again, more disappointment, and to no avail. We always have had, dark clouds following above us and ‘doom’ as a companion!
So anyway, just as influential in creating this album were the drunken, melancholic brilliance of Tom Waits, crime and murder ballads by dudes such as Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, Sinatra, Leonard Cohen – even Dylan. The dark crooning of those guys. ALSO: ‘70s Elvis, the Phil Spector reverb drenched ’50s, early ‘60s doo-wop and soul sounds, girl bands (such as The Shangri-Las, Crystals etc.), the voodoo beats, grooves and atmospheres of Dr Johns “Gris-Gris” and “Sun, Moon and Herbs”, the dynamic sick blues of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, even Ry Cooder, Johnny Thunders’ “Copy Cats” album with Patti Paladin, the Righteous Brothers, Link Wray, a lot of rare burlesque-style ‘bump ‘n’ grind’ sexy strip music from ‘50s/’60s albums.
All this got mixed and mashed with heavy, reverb-soaked, tremolo’d Stooges, MC5, Cramps, New York Dolls, Sonic Youth, super-fuzzed/Big Muff-driven monster riffs, along with a large spoonful of Neil Young, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Big Star, ‘heavy’ Beatles (a la ”Helter Skelter”), Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Gram Parsons, Rowland S. Howard, in a twisted, eclectic, kind of cinematic rock ’n’ roll stew — each song, being a portion of that R’n’R soup, dished out into individual bowls.
Thematically [the album involved] loss of love, rage, cut-up lyric style “Tales of the Sonic Underworld, ” like verses and chapters in the bible. I should say I got the name of the album from watching the early ‘70s movie “Klute” where Donald Sutherland says to Jane Fonda, “She has the soul and sin of the city, and I just added ‘glitter’ into the mix. Incidentally, myself and the much missed and passed-on (later to be bassist) Craig “Little Boy Blue” Pike used to joke, that when a dangerous, scarred-up, drug-carrying junkie girl came into our dressing room, we’d say, “She’s got the eyes of the city”! The album portrays the darker side of city life, being on the road, our lives – amongst other things – seen through our eyes.
In the studio what was the set up, and how was the recording process different from the Come Down Heavy sessions?
It basically was a similar setup in that we recorded the bass, drums and guitar with a guide vocal, and then decorated the hell out of the best take, with more guitars, piano, Hammond, percussion, marimbas, harp and the real vocal – and horns or whatever had been decided for that relevant track.
What were the first songs that were recorded for the record? How long had they been floating around as ideas before the band decided to lay them down in the studio?
Well, a few of those ideas within the album, I had knockin’ around in my head, and on demos, about 5 years previously (such as the music for “Cold Blooded Love”), but mostly it would work when I would bring the riffs and ideas and sounds to the rehearsal, and start banging them out and then everyone was at liberty to jam them. Then we would arrange them, completely immersed in our own world. Jim’s main lyrics would come nearer the end of the process, after melodies and phrasing etc. was established. Sometimes I would suggest titles or the odd line that he would take on board, such as the album title Soul Glitter and Sin (Tales from the Sonic Underworld, “Kissed By the Flames,” and other bits, as did Phil (Smith, Thee Hypnotics drummer), who specifically came up with the “Samedi’s Cookbook” title, which was recorded as a B side to the earlier released 12-inch “Floating in my Hoodoo Dream” which we had recorded maybe 6 months [prior] to the SG&S sessions. We basically made that up on the spot, very Dr. John inspired 8 min, odyssey (opus) kind of thing, which I played some basic piano on, and Jim had this great, gospel melody hook, and Phil’s almost “second line” brush, new Orleans funeral-ish style rhythm, as a kind of reprise to the A side. [We did this with] a friend, producer Harvey Birrell, in the “House in The Woods” studio.
Friends of mine who heard SG&S were divided into two camps. Some felt the production drowned the album in an impenetrable cold sheen, while others, myself included, felt it had a gritty nocturnal roar. What were you guys shooting for with the sound on this album?
Well, I agree, it’s both a “gritty nocturnal roar” and laden with a kinda Phil Spector(ish) reverb-drenched [sound], but like I said, it originated from my Fender Twin sound, and John Leckie came to the rehearsals and magnified and basically exaggerated the sound he was hearing in his production of the disc. Which I think helped give it its uniqueness and timeless quality. With the assistance of hindsight it just improves with age, which I’m incredibly proud of. We did do a remix of “Coast to Coast,” for example, with the late, great Jimmy Miller, who just “dried it up a bit,” for want of a better word. And then Jimmy, proceeded to share a bottle of Jack Daniels, with myself and Jim, and told us great Stones stories into the night. But ours and Leckie’s mix was big, cavernous, epic almost. I think everyone in the band is more than pleased with Soul Glitter & Sin as a good little piece of “art”.
John Leckie as producer: besides his fabled early career working with the likes of John Lennon and Syd Barrett as a sound engineer, the late ‘80s and early ‘90s was the time of Madchester and a string of bands trying to replicate the success of the Stone Roses (Trash Can Sinatras are one example). What led you to work with him, given that his work at that time seemed much more centered on spangly British rock than heavy rock?
Well we were completely disconnected to the fickle fashions that were going on. Like I said, we were ensconced in our utopian/dystopian, cinematic, psychedelic universe, oblivious to the ‘trends’ that ‘infected’ the majority (“the great ignorant unwashed”). We had a few choices that Beggars Banquet suggested, and after talking to John about wanting to mix that “high energy, blues/punk rock ‘n’ roll rage” that we were doing with a sense, feel and sound of the “cinematic” influence, he got it straightaway. I guess it was a lot different from the stuff you mentioned he had currently done — a challenge, a freshness, maybe, for the smart guy he is? And of course we were all impressed [with his] roles in making records with heroes of ours, like Syd Barrett and John Lennon. That certainly didn’t hurt!!
Was he the band’s first choice for the new record or was it something that was pushed upon you by the record company? Who were some of the other producers you guys wanted to work with for the record before Leckie was settled upon?
I think you got that answer in the last question, but I think it just had to be John. Although, seeing for the 1st time on MTV whilst in Rockfield recording SG&S, and subsequently touring with, The Black Crowes, talk of Chris Robinson producing, was an embryonic idea for ‘sometime in the future’ — but not for Soul Glitter And Sin. Later on, we would record 1994’s The Very Crystal Speed Machine with Chris in LA. So basically it was John, for us. But if my memory serves me well, I think I remember Steve Albini’s name being thrown around, which could have been interesting. He then went on to record Nirvana’s In Utero of course.
What were those initial sessions like? What do you remember about meeting John Leckie? Was he a fan of the bands musical output up to that point?
I certainly remember John being keen to work with us, although whilst recording in a residential well-known studio in Wales, Rockfield Studios, it might have appeared that John didn’t whole-heartedly approve of all of our antics, and myself and Jim can be a little demanding, now and again. Only in the fact that the devil’s in the details, and we always have had a clear vision of what we like and want. But everything was pretty cool, and John had the patience to let myself indulge in different instruments, such as piano, Hammond organ, marimbas, different percussion, vox, etc. that weren’t necessarily, at the time, my ‘forte, like the guitar and writing is. And there were the occasional parties that we invited a bunch of friends up from London, in the odd ‘downtime’ moments, that got a bit wild. But I really enjoyed working with John Leckie — would do it again, in a heartbeat!
You always hear stories of dictatorial producers who meddle with a band’s sound like a pharaoh of sorts. XTC and Todd Rundgren come especially to mind. That said, did you guys get on well with him and how much of the sound came from his executive decisions and how much was already in place before you walked into the studio?
Well, he made a few ‘executive decisions’ here and there, told myself and Jim to stop interfering, whilst he was trying to mix something. Because we would be saying, “Do you think the bass drum needs to be up a bit,” etc. and discussions like that. But essentially, no, we had a clear view of what we wanted, from the off and John was respectful of that. He added some great ideas and creativeness and experience into the whole production/mix, such as backward guitars, echoes and reverb, and engineer and production techniques — [techniques] I have used since at home recordings of my recent project Ray ‘Sonic’ Hanson’s Whores Of Babylon in the last 15 odd years. So John has been and still is an inspiration, in many ways, for me personally. You gotta learn from people like that. Everyone’s your teacher, right?
Where was the album recorded? Can you tell us about some of the recording techniques used? What guitar and type of amp and pedal set up were you using?
Yeh it was recorded in Rockfield [as well as] Mono Valley in Wales, using lots of psychedelic techniques: turning tapes over to achieve backwards Hammond organ, reverb, echo, drum fills, horns played by a great quartet called The Kick Horns (who had played with The Who), and other engineering and production techniques that John had experience of using. My guitar setup was pretty much the same as it is now: Fender Twin, Marshalls, Voxes, Big Muffs, Super Fuzzes, Wah-Wahs, Tremolo, Vibrato, Octave fuzz, Black Cat Echo units, Reverbs; and played with, Gibson SGs, Mosrites, Fender Tele, Thinlie, Epiphone Wilshire, Les Pauls, and some good acoustic guitars too.
Over what period of time was the album recorded? Did the sessions go smoothly? Any anecdotes you’d like to share?
Yeh, think it was done over approximately three weeks to a month, with the odd extra days to do horns and some vocals and odds and sods in London, and done with lots of enthusiasm, soul, passion, rage, energy — and some “chemical inspiration” of course! (Name a good album that isn’t.) Quite a luxury, for us really, good preparation leading into the next album, Crystal Speed Machine, which was smashed out in two weeks flat. It all went pretty smooth, generally, and the wind downtime was pretty good fun too. Better not go into too much detail, might get arrested!
Given the fact that at this point the band’s sound expanded with extra players on the record, did this translate to a much more complex situation in order to render these songs live in front of an audience? Or were they stripped down for a live setting?
Actually, it was mainly, the four of us, (myself Jim, Phil and Will). Rob’s (Robert Zyn, additional guitars and percussion) input was limited on that record, but helped us for live work, because I had put down sometimes 4/5 guitars on certain tracks, and we got some cool keys players to do the piano, Hammond Rhodes, Wurlitzer etc. One regret, really, was to not get a quartet of horns [for the stage show], which I desperately wanted to do. Unfortunately to no avail – financial and logistic reasons really. But there is still time to maybe do that, which I would love to do one day – you never know – with my new stuff (“Whores of Babylon”), which I have put quite a bit of horns on.
[Possibly even with] Thee Hypnotics once again? And do it the way it was, meant to be… unfinished business!
What are your personal favorite tracks on the album? Some of my favorites are “Point Blank Mystery” and “Samedi’s Cookbook.”
Yeh, I love those two. “Point blank Mystery”: punk, rock ‘n’ roll, lyrical attack, at certain parts of journalism, amongst other metaphors, that crashes and burns into a kinda psychedelic fallout. “Samedi’s Cookbook”: voodoo gospellish, in a trance hypnotic groove, if you can swim in it, it’s usually a good sign! I think they all came out pretty good, in their own way. [But] it’s too difficult to say favourites, you know, they’re all like, children, babies? You know the score?
And who decided the running order of the album? Because the first side has this aggressive almost criminal Mafioso vibe to it as opposed to the second side, which is more sedate and less in your face.
The whole idea/concept is as a whole thing; every detail was thought about, with much love. Every track is like a chapter in a novel, so you couldn’t pick a favourite chapter, could you? As always, some fulfill their potential a bit more than other. And, yeh, those details go down to the order of songs: side one is more aggressive, maybe for the beginning of the evening, and the other side, more late night listening, a bit more chilled out — a physical side and maybe a slightly more cerebral one. But I would hope that in its entirety, it has heart, soul, mind, and raw physical running all the way through it, beginning to end, and that people could have the attention span to listen to it as a whole thing. Although, these days I wonder if people have the attention span for an album, top to bottom?
Besides LP running time constraints, why were “Samedi’s Cookbook” and “Don’t let it get you down” left off the LP? (They were included on the American release of the CD.)
There was a CD with those two tracks included that was released, but some versions of the album didn’t include those two extra tracks. I would have preferred all of them on every version of the album, personally. This same predicament has occurred on our other albums too. I don’t see why all tracks recorded shouldn’t be on the albums. Record companies and producers sometimes have other plans, though.
Tell us about the Situation Two imprint of Beggars Banquet – was there any pressure to follow up Come Down Heavy? Were you hands-on with the original SG&S LP release?
No pressure, it was all our choice – they wouldn’t dare! Definitely ‘hands off’ [on the part of the label] and it isn’t such a radical departure from Come Down Heavy to Soul .Glitter & Sin, when you think about it. Certainly not in my mind.
Yeh, myself and Jim were always ‘hands on’ with every release, artwork etc., although timing of releases and proper distribution etc. have gone a bit “belly up” in the past. Which was down to record company logistics, and stuff like that.
Tell us a little about coming to the U.S. for SG&S shows – what was the audience’s reaction?
Well, mostly it was toured in Europe with the Cult in 10,000 seat type venues, The Black Crowes in the UK, and us on our own in Europe and the UK, although some of the songs from that album were played in the States and Canada. It seemed as though, with my sketchy memory, that songs from all three albums and touring the UK, Europe and the States kind of bled into each other, as we were back and forth between those territories quite a bit. But the audience reaction was always good, mostly. Naturally, some more memorable than others. I mean we played every nook and cranny! In Europe, and the States!
What were the hardest tracks to perform live?
Maybe the more textural ones, but then again the energy level should never be a walk in the park. Like I say, it would be good to do it really well one day with all the instrumentation etc. It’s kinda still unfinished business in my eyes to play it live with the horns and all the frills and details.
Did you guys ever make it to Japan, where some of your records were released?
Unfortunately no, we wanted to play there and Australia, but we never made it. The records did, though. Someone told me Thee Hypnotics were on a jukebox in the middle of the outback!
Let’s now talk about the artwork, and the photo inside the sleeve. Where was this photo shot? The album cover looks like the devil’s cape with a bit of Vegas thrown in for good measure. Is that seedy glitz what you guys were going for? What were the covers you were thinking about before settling on this one?
The photo was taken at Phil Staines’ nee Smith’s, local pub, in Peckham, S.E. London. [For the cover] we did want the gold lettering embossed, but you know, record companies’ budget cutting corners, need I say more? And the inside sleeve, photo and lettering, done like an old cinema/film titles poster style, to capture the feel and look we were after. The “Shakedown” single sleeve too, where I’m holding the .38 special. [It was] planned in a ‘30s/’40s’/50s jazz/beatnik, burlesque/ gangster style. Very much about the seedy, glitz, soul, glitter and sin of the urban American inner city nightmare — crime, drugs, prostitution, gangsters, corruption, sex, etc. etc. bright lights, big city! Sin city! A cornucopia of sex, violence, glitter and rock ‘n’ roll.
Frank Kozik has come up with some pretty incredible gig posters – how did the band come to work with him?
I think he did regular posters for bands that played at the Bottom Line club in San Francisco, and a couple for us when we occasionally played there. Very cool stuff. I would like to talk and meet him, maybe with “The Whores Of Babylon”, one day soon. I like where he’s coming from.
Was the label behind the promotion of this record? You hear horror stories about bands that are put into pretty compromising situations in order to jump through the promotional hoops. Any situation that you remember that to this day that sticks in your craw, or conversely, that you were super excited to be a part of?
Yeh, they were behind it, but there was always room for improvement — distribution, plugging, so on and so forth. No regrets. To put it bluntly, nothing I’m not proud of really, and yeh, conversely, lots to be excited about: places I’ve been, people I’ve met, experiences I’ve had, too many to mention. You might trip over the pile of names I could drop and the stuff that’s gone down over the years.
How was the reception for the record in Europe, the UK and the US? Will there ever be an expanded reissue of the album, demos, and live tracks?
People seem to put things out, and not even tell the band, which is a bit annoying. You know the official things. They did reissue a remastered Come Down Heavy on Cherry Red Records, in 2010, I think, and apparently were gonna do the same with Soul Glitter and Sin, but for some reason, it didn’t happen. Typical.
But I got shitloads right in front of me now, all on cassettes, so to transfer and make it happen, I would need someone who knows their stuff to collaborate in order to get all this unheard stuff out.
Online there seems to be little if any bootlegs of the band. Did the band have a lot of unreleased material? Any plans for it to ever see the light of day?
Yeh, like I say, I got it all, I’m somewhat of an archivist, with Thee Hypnotics unreleased, unheard, demos, outtakes, new songs, etc. that I’m pretty sure even the rest of the band don’t realize or have forgotten. At least a triple album of stuff, but you know, someone come up and see me sometime and we can talk about it, maybe.
Musically what have you been working on these days?
The “Ray ‘Sonic’ Hanson’s Whores Of Babylon” — I never stopped being creative, writing, recording, etc. since (and before) we split in ‘98, just stopped going out, that’s all. And I wish I could share it, but it’s all on analogue and cassette, and slight complications to transfer to the digital medium that everyone seems to be hung up on. Glad to hear vinyl’s back, hope it stays around!
I got five double gatefold sleeves, of “Whores Of Babylon” stuff, about 500 songs I’ve written and recorded that needs to be exposed to the world, a couple of box sets. [Stylistically], musically and otherwise they cover a lot of the same type of ground Thee Hypnotics covered, and some way too much to list or mention.
The band’s influences are pretty extensively documented. What are some of the bands that you discovered in the ensuing years since the end of Thee Hypnotics?
Well… quite a bit to mention I suppose I really dig, Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White and his many projects, BMRC, a cool band outta LA at the moment called the Death Valley Girls, Fu Manchu, Nebula, and all those guys. Also Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog, Beasts of Bourbon and Tex Perkins, Spencer P. Jones, Royal Blood” too, many others. Too many to mention really!
I do tend to return to older music though, generally, stuff I been into for decades. I love Black Merda, the Meters, Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, early to mid James Brown, etc. The Dap-Kings got it goin’ on, in a funky soul way too, you know, Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones — proper Funky stuff! There is a fair old dose of that funked-out heavy soul groove stuff in The Whores, with Blue Cheer, Grand Funk, MC5, Stooges added along with the rest.
Between SG&S and Come Down Heavy, which album seems to get the most attention from fans?
Kinda equally, really. I know we lost some ‘stoner rock type’ fans or ‘rock’ fans, when SG&S came out, after the sound and feel of the 1st album, but we kind of gained another audience with “soul and glitter”. Reviews and reception, for both records, were nearly always very favourable. But really, at the end of the day, the thread between the two albums always made sense to me, and the Crystal album too. For instance, “The Big Fix” on the second album could be the bastard cousin to “Resurrection Joe” [listen to it below] from the first, just with an edge, more reverb and vibrato. And in turn, “Heavy Liquid” could be the ‘evil twin/whore bitch/stepsister’ to our first 12-inch, “Justice In Freedom” (pictured above). The links are all there to see. That thread that runs through our whole career always was natural and instinctive in my mind. Always. People sometimes need to re-collect their thoughts, over time, to realize that. The eclecticism within my vision with Jim, we had a clear purpose and vision full of clarity and detail, a telepathic understanding, ever since we were young teens — we go back a long way, and I’m Jim Jones’ biggest fan. I love that dude, so in that way, we had a head start I guess.
What is your favorite record between the two?
Again, I can’t say that, because my blood, sweat, tears and passionate plans went into both, for slightly different reasons and perspectives. Both I’m really quite proud with, and yes, I could pick things to bits, in my supposed perfections, but, they are what they are, and individually good in their own rights.
Could Thee Hypnotics have existed in a world of Justin Bieber and Autotune?
No, that’s alien and shit ‘slave to the dollar’ crap, enough said! But maybe, we can come back, ‘phoenix from the flames’ style and smash the shit out of brats like that, and take what’s ours’ back.
Are you in touch with the other former members of the band?
Yeh I talk sometimes with Jim, and once we start, no one can stop us. Will, not so much, but I’d like to. A bit with Phil, who by the way, has made an interesting documentary on Thee Hypnotics that I hope will get some decent exposure soon. I’m not sure people are aware of this, but if Dave Grohl, the Dandy Warhols [and others] can have these docs, then surely our stories should be told. I rest my case!
What does Thee Hypnotics mean to you when you look back to those days?
Everything. Pride, yeh, not always perfect, but a damn good rock ‘n’ roll band that covered a few angles before a bunch of others did, ‘a whole lotta of rosie.’ Fun, wild, chaotic, unpredictable, creative, inspired, cataclysmic, romantic, loserdom (maybe?), but that’s okay. Literally dying to live, the whole nine yards, and a cool ‘legacy’, in its own li’l way, that will last longer than you and I. It may not be over yet. What do you think?
Will we ever see Thee Hypnotics reform?
You never know!
Below: Hanson today. More details on Hanson and his band at his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RayHanson4