Australia Interview

Actually, at the time that I discovered Varèse I was living near an avocado orchard in southern California in a town called El Cajon, which is just outside of San Diego. And I was reading an article in a magazine called—it was either Look or the Saturday Evening Post—and the article was about a record store in New York City called Sam Goody's, whose expertise in merchandising things that other people couldn't sell. And as an example of things that were hard to sell elsewhere, they described an album called Ionisations. And as you know, that's not the name of the album. But you know how print media is; they always get it wrong. So it said Ionisations by Edgar Varèse, which was this horrible album full of noise and, you know, drums and smashing and sirens and all this crap, you know. And I said that sounds like exactly what I wanted to hear. So I went to a store and asked for it, and nobody'd ever heard of it. So I kept looking around and one day I went in to buy some rhythm and blues records at this little store and on my way out the door, I saw this funny-looking album sitting in the rack. It was a black & white cover with a man who looked like a mad scientist sitting on the front. And I said, "That's got to be the record." And it was. And I don't know why it was there. But it sure had my name on it. And the man had been using it as a demonstration record for hi-fi systems because it had such different kinds of sounds on it. And I spent all my allowance and bought the album, took it home, and that was it.

I liked it immediately, because I felt that what he was saying and the way it was being done was very direct. And my first instrument was the drum, so I was enthusiastic about the way he was writing for drums, because it was melodic. It wasn't just beats. The drums were playing the melody, which is the way I thought it ought to be.


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Original transcription by Charles Ulrich
This page updated: 2016-06-05