Interviewed by G. W. Hill
|Interview with Don Falcone of Spirits Burning from 2016|
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?
In the 90’s, I was in a number of ambient projects on the Silent Records label: Thessalonians, Spice Barons, the original Astralfish - primarily as a synth player. I was also a founding member of Melting Euphoria and was on their first album, prior to them getting signed to Cleopatra Records. For that band, I played keys and handled poetry and vocals. A few years later, I had a solo project named "Spaceship Eyes," and signed with Cleopatra’s Hypnotic imprint. This was an experimental drum ‘n’ bass project. Live, I brought in other musicians and it was more of an ethno-ambient space rock band.
Deeper into the nineties, I relaunched Spirits Burning as a space rock collective, working with musicians in the San Francisco area, including visiting musicians like Daevid Allen, Graham Clarke, and, years later, Cyrille Verdeaux. I also started connecting with musicians from around the world, like Steven Wilson, and eventually members of Hawkwind and other space rock bands.
Over the last decade and a half, there have been 13 Spirits Burning studio albums, with over 230 musicians involved. Plus, I’ve continued doing other projects, like the second Astralfish (an instrumental project with Bridget Wishart, which showcases her EWI playing) and Grindlestone (a darker ambient project).
If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
|In terms of something artistic: Maybe poetry. Maybe fiction. Probably both.|
Who would you see as your musical influences?
|As a keyboardist, I’d start with Jon Lord, Vangelis, and
As a vocalist, Robert Calvert, Peter Gabriel, and… Kate Bush (although I can’t sing like her on any level).
As a songwriter, it gets complicated, as there are different styles at different times. Kate Bush, Michael Oldfield, a bit of The Stranglers, lots of hard rock roots, Ennio Morricone, so many others…
What's ahead for you?
|Spirits Burning and Michael Moorcock An Alien
Heat. This is a musical adaptation of Mike’s first Dancers at the End
of Time books, with a collection of songs started by Albert Bouchard, my
Grindlestone cohort Doug Erickson, or me. The plan is to do three albums to
cover the entire Dancers... trilogy.
So far, An Alien Heat includes Al, Doug, and me, bassists Adrian Shaw, Steve York, and Lux Vibratus, guitarists Andy Dalby, Richie Castellano, and Gregg McKella, keyboardists Cyrille Verdeaux and Harvey Bainbridge, violinists Jonathan Segel and Craig Fry, drummers Ken Pustelnik and Jack Gold-Molina, along with the Damned’s Monty Oxymoron on percussion. Jason Atoms does vocals on the opening tracks. Al sings one song and brought in Don Fleming for another. I really hope that I haven’t forgotten anyone. Otherwise, there are more invites in place, and I’m planning on doing a session with Mike early next year.
I’m also working on multiple instrumental Spirits Burning albums.
I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
|A musical adventure with mystery. If we’re talking about
Spirits Burning, I tend to alternate between instrumental and vocal albums. All
the albums have a bit of space rock, prog, tinges of jazz and folk, new wave,
and ambient. I’d like to think that there are still experimental elements within
this pluralistic construct. Plus, a surprise or two along the way, whether it’s
an unexpected grouping of musicians, or styles. I guess one surprise the last
few years is that I’ve started to add a bit of groove, or sense of 60s
I am also involved in a number of ambient and instrumental projects. These include Astralfish, Grindlestone, and Spice Barons.
Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Plenty. To name a few for Spirits Burning, I’ve always wanted to work with Arthur Brown on vocals, David Jackson on sax, Guy Evans on drums, and Paul Rudolph on guitar or bass.
Sometimes there are musicians that I don’t think about until a song expresses a need. This happened with The Roadmap in Your Head album, where I knew I needed a sax on the “Coffee for Coltrane” piece, and then Cyrille suggested adding more wind and reed players on other songs. That led me down a path to reach out and connect with Theo Travis for “Coffee,” and then Gong’s Ian East, Paul Booth (who Ian recommended), and David Newhouse (who played with Paul Sears in the Muffins, and was an old friend of my cousins).
Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
It’s a convoluted package. I’m in the process, or planning stages, of re-releasing the first decade of Spirits Burning albums on Noh Poetry Records as downloads, and streaming is something that I need to consider. Do I create a non-presence on places like YouTube, or do I make sure I’m there and can be noticed?
Free streaming of music (and if you stretch it, illegal downloads), can be a marketing tool if and when it leads to actual sales. Streaming does pay, albeit miniscule amounts. Help? Hindrance? I would say it’s a reality, and makes being a musician additionally challenging.
CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM GONZO
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