The Pooterland Interviews:

Babylonian Tiles

11th September 2001

 

Babylonian Tiles from the West Coast of the USA are one of the countries best contemporary psych bands and produce highly original music with a very distinctive style, quite unlike anything else that you have heard.
In this interview we talk to Bryna Golden, vocalist and keyboard player for the Tiles

 

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: When did the Babylonian Tiles form and what is the story behind the somewhat 'mystical' name?
In need of a band name, I was inspired by a dream told to me by my Friend Barry, which involved him walking through a museum. I this dream, the docent points out an exhibit proclaiming, "And here we have authentic Babylonian Tiles from the year 6000 BC". Upon seeing the tiles Barry realizes they're not the genuine thing and starts wildly exclaiming "They're fake! They're fake!" at which point William S.
Burroughs' voice comes over the loud speaker and in his monotone manner and says, "Stop complaining". That whole scenario just struck me as so amusing and bizarre that it stuck with me and considering that the  sound I was after combined Middle Eastern accents along with many different musical elements, or "tiles", the name Babylonian Tiles just seemed to the right one.
I started putting the band together in '87 and gigged around for a couple of years under the name Babylonian Tiles with a changing cast of band members as I tried to find talented and like-minded musicians who were into both the dark and psychedelic side of things. Late that year I met up with guitarist Tim Thayer and we clicked immediately.
In the beginning I never imagined myself a singer and was just writing the songs and playing keyboards. In fact, I always wrote my songs with a male voice in mind, but Tim and I were becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to find the right vocalist to suit our sound and material. So, I started filling in on vocals at rehearsals and that's how I became our singer. In late '89  Brian Schreiber became our drummer, and the three of us have been the constant members of the band ever since. 

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Who are the current members of the band?
(Myself) Bryna--aka "The Hip Death Goddess"--Golden - vocals, keyboards, Brian Schreiber - drums, Tim Thayer - guitar

 

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pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Were any of you involved with other bands prior to the Babylonian Tiles?, if so who and what type of music did you play?
This is the first and only actual band that Tim has been in, although he'd been playing and experimenting with guitar for quite some time before we met up. Brian had been playing around in various bands, some of them 60's cover bands. When we met him he was in a local post-punk, Siouxsie/X influenced band which he left shortly before joining us. Before starting the Tiles, I had played keyboards for a couple of post-punk bands, as well as a deathrock/gloom band.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Where are you based?
Long Beach, California

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Is there still a good psychedelic scene in L.A?
Not one of which I'm aware. We have a hard time finding other psych bands to play with around here. I meet quite a few people around here that love psychedelia, but there just don't seem to be many L.A. bands doing it, and the ones I have seen are more of the "bubblegum" version or "hippie-pop rock" sort of sound.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: What are the best clubs there?
We really had a blast when we played the Hollywood House Of Blues with Magma and Porcupine Tree. The entire staff at the venue was wonderful to work with and the place has a really great sound and stage set-up. On a much more undergound level, there are a few promoters in the Goth scene here, running clubs like Release The Bats, Repent, and Wake, who are doing their best to use their clubs to expose people to live music and new bands.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Were there any particular bands that prompted you to form a group?
The last band situation I was in before forming the Tiles caused me to realize that I needed to put something together as an outlet for my songwriting. All the music I was listening to at the time was inspiring me to write songs, and I had pretty good instincts for creating musical arrangements, yet in that band my input wasn't being taken seriously, so finally I got fed up with it all and left and Babylonian Tiles eventually
came together.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Who would you list as your major influences?
I'd have to say that all the music I greatly enjoy has influenced my writing and playing in some way. Although I don't play or sing jazz, the music of my mother, jazz singer Shelley Moore, has had a huge influence on me. Studying classical piano throughout my childhood greatly affected my style of playing. I always gravitated towards Middle-Eastern and East-Indian music. As far as bands, just to name a few...Love, Pretty Things, early Pink Floyd, Wire, The Stranglers. Since I've been asked this question so many times and am always frustrated by lack of space, I
finally posted a list on my web site at hipdeathgoddess.net.
As for my bandmates, although they're not here to speak for themselves, some of
their major influences that I'm aware of are King Crimson, Pink Floyd, The Who, Frank Zappa, The Damned, Brian Eno..

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: There is obviously a Goth/Dark influence to you musically and visually. How do your feel about the Acid Goth tag?
Although we've never considered ourselves to be a Gothic band and we're Definitely not "Goths" per se, we've always had connections to the scene and have enjoyed a lot of support from the gothic community. At the same time, our true inspiration comes mostly from psychedelia and prog-rock.
A label or tag can work for and against a band...on the positive side, by seeing the term "Acid-Goth", an open-minded psychedelic, prog, or Goth fan might hit on the idea that although we might not have exactly the sound that they're used to, we're within the realm of something they might enjoy, try give it a chance. On the other hand, someone not so open, a psych fan seeing the term "Goth", or the Goth fan seeing the term "acid", might let that scare them off before even giving it a chance. And by being tagged to a specific genre there are any number of people who would enjoy our sound, but never find out about us because they don't usually explore those categories.

 

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pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Are your audiences mainly made up of Goth/Darkwave fans or are there as many hippy/psych fans in the crowd?
In California, unless we're playing a specific prog or psych show, most of our gigs and fans are tied to the gothic community. When we tour the US we end up playing to a much more varied crowd and once we get outside of California there are a surprising number of people who are  not only into the Goth/Darkwave scene, but knowledgeable and appreciative of psychedelia as well.
We also have a growing audience of prog and psych enthusiasts who are looking for new music to enjoy.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Bauhaus have been cited as a major influence to the Babylonian Tiles, would you agree with this and do you rate them?
As I mentioned earlier, almost all music that I enjoy has had some influence on me and in particular I love Bauhaus' two albums, "The Skies Gone Out", and "Burning From the Inside". Although I don't know that they’ve influenced my actual songwriting, or our playing styles, I'm sure that the mood of their music has slipped somewhere into our sound.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: What is the story behind the Hip Death Goddess name? How did you meet up with Ian Bruce-Douglas from Ultimate Spinach?
When we were working on a photo shoot with one of our favourite photographers, Edward Colver, he mentioned that he knew of the perfect song for us to cover. It was "Ballad Of The Hip Death" originally recorded by Ultimate Spinach. We recorded the tune and were really happy with how it turned out so I made contact with the song's writer, Ian Bruce-Douglas, to ask if he was okay with us releasing it and to see if
he'd like us to send him a copy. Fortunately, and very flatteringly, he was very enthusiastic about our version of the song and after hearing it and seeing pictures of me, he said I am the embodiment of his vision and dubbed me the "Hip Death Goddess".

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Are their any other bands or artists that you would like to collaborate with?
I had the pleasure of performing with the extraordinary singer, Gitane
Demone, and would love to have the opportunity to work with her again.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: What other psych bands have you toured with or shared the bill with?
Steve Farmer, formerly of the Amboy Dukes recorded with us and joined us onstage during our '98 tour (and then ruined any fond memories of the experience by ripping us off: He stole our recordings and used them on his CD without giving us any credit!).

A few psych bands we've played with who come to mind... 
Blue Dot
Porcupine Tree
Quarkspace
Chivalrous Dogs
Xtian Zombie Dub Experience
...

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: What other bands do you rate on the current psychedelic scene?
In addition to the bands named above, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, Damien Youth, Olivia Tremor Control, Stereolab, Legendary Pink Dots, Gong, Robert Wyatt. Although I haven't heard much, Sloterdijk is doing some interesting music.
Also, I saw the Pretty Things when they finally came around on tour and it was a dream come true. They were amazing! 

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: What is the Blue Moon Festival all about?
It's something we've put together three times now and plan to keep doing each year. We took the name from the Brian Eno song, as it's actually the "Blue August Moon" Festival. We have a few bands play and other types of performances and we made a slew of different blue foods.
If the food substance isn't naturally blue, then we dye it until it is! It's an opportunity for us to get together a diverse group of people from different scenes to perform together, meet each other, watch the bands, and eat lots of food and experience the "teknicolour aftermath" of blue dye! 

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Do you ever play in San Francisco and how different are the audience from the Los Angeles crowd?
We've played there several times and enjoyed the support of very enthusiastic audiences. It's hard to compare audiences because it seems that whenever we play outside our home area it's a totally different vibe and we enjoy the special treatment of being a touring band.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Do your records sell well overseas?
The labels we've been with have never supplied us with any specific sales figures, but judging by the playlists, mail, and email that we receive, people over there are familiar with us and are buying our music. And by the way, we love hearing from our fans and/or anyone wanting more information about Babylonian Tiles!

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Are there any plans to tour overseas at all?
It's something we've been wanting to do for a while now, and it keeps getting postponed in order for us to keep touring the US in support of our releases and US fan-base. We really would love to be over there in the next year or two.

 

pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: Are there any plans for a follow up album to Tecknicolour Aftermath or are you taking a well earned rest after your recent tour?
We have been taking it a bit easy lately, but have also been working out new material, some of which we sharpened up while on this last tour.
We don't like to record anything before we've had the chance to play it live for a while. It's very possible that we could find ourselves in the studio later this year to begin work on our 4th CD.

 

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pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK: If there is anything else that you would like too include, feel free to include it?
Pooter, thank you very much for all the support you've given us and for featuring this interview. Also, we'd really enjoy hearing from other psychedelic bands that are out there!
If you'd like to join our e-mailing list you can do so from our web site at
www.babylonian-tiles.com
Please also check out our MP3s at http://www.mp3.com/BabylonianTiles and visit hipdeathgoddess.net (my site) and http://www.angelfire.com/ca4/spuzcor (Brian's site and the location of many of our tour photos).

 

Read the pOoTers pSycheDelic shAcK review of Tecknicolour Aftermath

 

 

 

 

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Last modified

Sunday, August 18, 2002