‘The Brown Acid Caveat’ marked the 7th album release of The Tear Garden, the psychedelic/experimental/ electronic band, formed by Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots and cEvin Key of Skinny Puppy in 1985. Last Day Deaf grabbed the opportunity to have a chat with Mr. Edward Ka-Spel. There you go!
I’d like to first say thank you so much for the opportunity. You recently released your new album, ‘The Brown Acid Caveat‘. Was there a specific goal this time around, or was it more about getting your heads together and doing what you love to do and have done for so many years?
Well we had waited 8 years to make this one…plus it marked The Tear Garden‘s 30th anniversary. We want them all to be special but somehow there was the unspoken feeling bouncing around that this one had to represent everything that The Tear Garden actually is. It was why we made the Pledge campaign so we could invest more into it, invite guests musicians , get the sound we wanted…
From what I understand, the origin of The Tear Garden began with a session of recording the self-titled EP, after cEvin Key engineered a few times for Edward Ka-Spel. You guys came back together to record ‘Tired Eyes Slowly Burning‘. How did you feel/what was the energy like for that at the time? Did the ideas just come together easily?
cEvin was a friend by mail and phone when I was invited to play a few solo shows in Vancouver back in ’86. He kindly operated the mixing desk for me in those shows and we entered the studio together to put voice on an existing Skinny Puppy instrumental (‘The Centre Bullet’).That was the launch pad…Working together just felt natural.
Looking back at that time, did you know that The Tear Garden was growing to be a long-standing project/band?
Impossible to know, but with such a strong start, the project deserved more.
I’d like to dive a bit into the music itself. Starting with ‘Tired Eyes Slowly Burning’– lyrically the words are a form of painting so to speak amidst the backdrop that is the music. These works bring to mind nothing but “abstract“. There seems to be that element, with the smash of genres- but then you listen to tracks like ‘Blobbo’, and ‘Sybil The Spider Consumes Himself‘, and there is no way to put a finger on anything. It’s pleasantly unpredictable, in other words. Was that something that drove you on those two albums in particular, or in general?
Lyrically my head can wander into some odd places which always gives the impression that every album revolves around a concept…and maybe that’s true but it isn’t intentional.
Moving along to ‘Bouquet Of Black Orchids‘, we hear more poetic lyrics on tracks like ‘Romulus And Venus’ and ‘Ophelia’. These seem to be more emotional, coming from a more human view in other words. Are we seeing a glimpse of a different style of writing and composing? Have you all changed the way you approach composition at any time in the life of The Tear Garden, and if so, how?
In fact ‘Bouquet Of Black Orchids‘ is a compilation of the first 3 records…’Ophelia’ was from our second ever session in 1986, while ‘Romulus And Venus’ came 5 years later/
There is also some interesting sound design on the tracks ‘My Thorny Thorny Crown’, and ‘3-D Technicolor Scrambled Egg Trip Down The Hell-Hole – with Canary’. That being said, there are noticeable intricacies on a lot of your tracks. How do you know when your layering and things to add all that depth are done on a song? Do you all agree on the finished product usually or are there a few different versions first?
There can be different interpretations and it’s possible to hear examples on the new ‘Eye Spy Volume 2‘ collection. But we’re both fascinated with exploring the potential of where a piece can go with layers under layers under layers…the small surprises that emerge after a few listens. It’s this kind of depth that sees an album survive the test of time.
I’d like to ask how the psychedelic elements and sound in your music came about. It seems definitely more apparent in the album ‘The Last Man To Fly‘ around 2009, but is sprinkled here and there over most of your songs. Does this just come from individual influences?
Just a love of colour, even the colours we haven’t seen yet…it’s kind of nice to sit on a cloud and aim the spray can.
Diving into the experience of Τhe Tear Garden, what stood out to me was how long you all have been working together. It’s remarkable. May I ask what is the force that keeps you solid for so long? A strong friendship?
Definitely a strong friendship…cEvin feels like a spiritual brother to me and that ain’t ever going to change…
On that same note, do you have any tidbits of wisdom that may help newly formed bands to stick together through their musical journey?
Just don’t compromise, even a bit…And be original…
Coming back to ‘The Brown Acid Caveat‘, what can fans expect from this album? Would you say it’s as diverse in content as all the previous works?
Simply the best TG album ever. Diverse and deep as you’d wish…and believe me, I’m no chest beater.
I’d like to thank you again for answering our questions. What’s in the future for The Tear Garden?
Eclipsing what we just achieved and playing live!