As I write, it is late April and summer is just around the corner. As it nears, the dresses get shorter and the temperature warmer; a celebratory mood fills the air.
To kick-start the longer days and wilder nights that lie ahead, Shpongle will be bringing his Masquerade Tour to The Valarium on Wednesday, May 16th. This is always a sellout show and a wild adventure for those lucky enough to score a ticket. Today, I was blessed with the chance to speak with the man behind the music.
Simon Posford is a wily chap. He is quick-witted and enchanting. He speaks freely and about whatever is on his mind. Today, it’s his current Masquerade Tour, UFOs, wild fan requests and The Cure. There was never a dull moment during our conversation, although I did rouse him from a nap, only to promptly hang up on him, accidentally of course. He offers candid insights and amusing quips. A consummate gentleman, he regales me with stories from the road and unusual insights. The following is a glimpse into the mind that brings you Shpongle.
The overtly imaginative conceptual layout for The Masquerade aids the music on its journey through your mind. The team at Lucid Design and Technology build the sets for The Masquerade tour, with a man named Xen controlling the visuals.
“It’s like The Shpongletron on steroids,” Posford says. “The visuals are much better and I am a lot closer to the crowd, which I like. All the problems have been addressed. (The structure) is aesthetically more pleasing.”
As to Sphongle Live, the full band experience, “It was never meant to be a touring project,” he said. “We only did it for the challenge to see if we could do it. Raja is old and in a lot of pain, and is not taking any projects at the moment. When we last made music, he was lying on the massage bed with head phones on. He is 71 years old. He’s toured in the 60’s and played Albert Hall. If something truly different came up, and was interesting, then he’d do it. I think maybe Red Rocks, he could be persuaded into.”
On the subject of travel for someone who has played everywhere, there are a few stories that stick out.
“In the States, I always love to play Boulder. Asheville was really good the other night. Knoxville is always a great show as well. Andrea Kerns (Midnight Voyage Productions) is mad as a box of frogs; she is a great Shpongle supporter and believer, and really tries hard to make it a great show. I always enjoy Knoxville. It’s one of my favorite places.”
“Worldwide, (I love) India. Who would turn down a free trip to India? If they’re going to pay me to fly there, I’ll absolutely go at the drop of a hat. Also (I love to play) Japan, and both for very similar reasons. They’re both very mystical, magical places with fabulous food and a rich culture.”
The world is a big place, but often times there are several similarities between the electronica-seeking concert goers. “At Sphongle, I’ve seen people of all ages. It is, of course, a younger crowd mainly, but there are also people my age (41) and people Raja’s age. I would say, in countries other than the U.S., you definitely see less baseball caps, (that is) a peculiarly American thing. I think (the flat bill) is almost like a baseball cap on steroids. I don’t get the baseball cap thing.”
As a consummate traveler, there are many wild things to see on the road. When you least expect it, just around that sharp bend…that’s where the magic waits.
“I’ve seen a UFO in front of us that stopped our car. The RHV, which is like the services (for auto repair) in England came and said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the car. By the time the UFO shot off, it started. I used to live in Dorset (England). Around that area there are a lot of crop circles and a lot of UFO sightings. We don’t really know what happened, why the car stopped, nor did the guy who came to fix it.”
“The story I most like to tell, when sitting around with crews and staff, is the girl who asked me to pee into a bottle. This was in Japan. She wanted to collect what she called my magic water and handed me an Evian bottle. I went into the bathroom to pee into it. It was after a gig and had been a long night. You know I hadn’t drunk enough water and was dehydrated after (the) gig. I got stage fright and eventually sort of dribbled out this hot, brown, terribly dehydrated liquid. And I said, what the f#%@ are you going to do with it? Suddenly, I got sort of paranoid. Maybe she’s going to do some voodoo magic or something. And then, sort of put it on the mantel piece and start bowing to it, maybe one year. Two, three years, it will make a nice ornament. Maybe five or six years, it will make a nice wine. I’m thinking, you’re not going to want that thing hanging around for five or six minutes, never mind five or six years. And who knows, maybe she’s still got my magic water, but there’s certainly no magic in that liquid. It would be magic if she held onto it all this time.”
In the past month, the world lost a legend. Levon Helm, the drummer and main writer for the group, The Band, passed away after years of battling cancer. Having been a great influence on me and much of the world, especially in my formative years, Simon and I talked about his early rock and roll influences.
“The bands I was really into as a teenager was The Cure and The Smiths, both Johnny Marr on guitar and Robert Smith as a song writer. I was sort of moody and slightly gothic and depressed as a teenager. That was what I was really into. That was who I was obsessed with. You can tell exactly what kind of Cure fan a person is if you ask them what their favorite album is. If it’s Faith, Pornography, Seventeen Seconds, then we would get along very well. I would think you were cool. If it was the one with all the singles, I would think you are a try-hard and sort of robbing my favorite band of their coolness. You know what it’s like when you’re a teenager. The Cure have a massive, diverse sound. What I didn’t realize at the time, is actually, they wrote a very good pop song. And now that I’m older, I appreciate that. I don’t mind the pop songs. At the time, it was very uncool. I hated pop songs; I liked it when they were moody and atmospheric.”
The Masquerade Tour is going strong through the end of May, and will make stops at Camp Bisco and All Good Music Festival in July. If you haven’t yet experienced this one of a kind spectacle, the time is upon you. May 16th at The Valarium, Shpongle will play with Phutureprimative and Dialectic Sines. Tickets are available at http://www.thevalarium.com/tickets/.