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The Peace & Freedom Magazine Gypsy Interview
Paul Rance interviews underground musician and owner of Rodent Tapes, Ralf 'Gypsy' Bevis. Originally appeared in Peace & Freedom, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1989.
You've been making music for a while - how many tapes/bands have you been involved in?
I presume you mean recently. Well, not so many, really. I'm doing something with Steve Williams in Wales, but his equipment is broken at the moment. Then I might be doing a tape with Jeff Centrall of ITN in America - still working on that one. Mostly, I prefer to work alone, though there is a lot of satisfaction working with other people. I've just finished a new tape, "Parts of the Whole" - for some reason, I seem to get into reggae types of stuff. Haven't got a clue how that happens... Trevor Hall has also got various pieces of mine - don't know what his plans are for them, but I'm sure it'll be good. He was the first person to release The Other Side of a Tear" - it's still available as well. I like that tape a lot. It was the first tape I'd done since '79 - you could say I've been on a long holiday.
You write poetry as well. Do you sometimes turn them into lyrics?
I do that all the time. Basically, I believe anything can be set to music. The poetry I write is, in a way, meant to be done to music. It's the way I write. I usually wait for some peace and quiet, then, if I feel like writing, I put a piece of music on and something comes out. Now and again I might even use a guitar, but it's hard to write and play - I get into it so much I forget to write down what I've been singing, 'n' my memory is really bad, so I've lost a lot of good lyrics that way.
We've had the odd argument about psychedelic music - what do you think your music is?
It has its moments, but I'm not sure if it's psychedelic - I've never listened to it on LSD. I also don't think it matters that much.
You started up Rodent Tapes - what do you hope that will achieve?
At first I only came up with the name and liked it so much that I thought it was too good not to use. So, then, I thought of what to do with it. I had been sent a fair amount of compilation tapes, so I took the tracks I liked and made up my first comp tape, which is now available. I'm doing the tapes as cheaply as possible so that I can sell them cheaply, as well. I'm sending free copies to the various independent radio stations that I know. I reckon it's just a sort of hobby inbetween my own releases, and hopefully it'll inform people of what else is out there. I'm now thinking about doing whole tape releases of bands, but I've got to work on that one a bit yet - see how this first compilation goes. Rodent Tapes is just there to spread the music out a bit more.
Any plans for putting on gigs?
I once rented out a club with a friend for £300 a night and had some band playing there. I can't even remember the name of the band now, but the club capacity was for hundreds of people. I think we had about twenty there, earnt about £15, lost £300. But we had a great night out. Finance-wise you could say the night was a flop, but as nights out go it was brilliant. I don't know if I'd do it again... Knowing me I will one day, though. I'm a sucker for a good night out - whatever the cost. It's only money, and this ain't no rehearsal, as they say.
What projects have you in mind for '89?
Paul, I really don't know - I never plan that far ahead.
Do you plan performing live, or are you just interested in recording?
I'm only interested in recording. I might have a go at video work at some stage, but I haven't really thought about that - lack of equipment. I'd like to get into filming things and put music to it.
What are your views on drugs - we tend to differ, I know?
I believe us to be a nation of scaremongers and busy-bodies. You don't think that this persecution of people doing something different has just started. It's straight people, not all, just the ones that don't understand - religious fanatics. I find it absurd that people get thrown in overcrowded jails for smoking dope. There was a man called Rodrigo de Jerez who, on his return to Spain, alarmed his countrymen by breathing smoke - they concluded that the devil had entered him. He was dragged off to the priest, who referred the matter to the Holy Inquisition. He spent a few years in prison; how do you think he felt, when, on his release, he found it was a national pastime? Then there are the bohemians, like the hippies. Drugs played an important part in their lifestyle, as did heavy drinking, but they also horrified the public by their enthusiasm for a particular stimulant, which they consumed in large quantities. A certain Sir T. Clifford Allbutt and a Dr. Humphrey Rolleston warned against the excessive use of this drug. It is written in a medical textbook of 1909, and that's not so long ago, "The sufferer is tremulous and loses his self-command; he is subject to fits of agitation and depression, he loses his colour and has a haggard appearance... As with other such agents, a renew dose of the poison gives temporary relief, but at a cost of future misery." Now all you anti-drug freaks will be shouting, "heroin", but in this case it was coffee.
You planned writing some German songs - how are they progressing?
I've written six - not sure when I'll be using them, but I will at some stage. Might send them to one of the German musicians that I'm in contact with.
Are you satisfied with your work to date?
In a way, then again, I'm not. I've had good and bad reactions, but so long as it creates a response, it's fine by me. I do hope to get better as time goes by. For now, I am satisfied, then again, I'm not.
Gypsy lives in London with his Scandinavian girlfriend, Gaba, two cats, Elsa and Charly (who don't surf, apparently), two finches, John and Mary, and whoever happens to drop in.
|Likes:||Alice Cooper, Atomic Rooster, Beau Brummel's Bradley's Barn, Syd Barrett, Peter Green, Allan Poe, Paganini, Faure - Requiem, Frank Sinatra in "The Man with the Golden Arm", cats, nature, hoping.|
|Dislikes:||Crowds, discos, reality, politics.|
|Ambition:||To live before I die.|
|Releases so far as Gypsy:||The Other Side of a Tear, Parts of the Whole.|
|On Rodent Tapes:||Rodent Tapes compilations 1,2 and 3, Parts of the Whole (2nd release on Rodent tapes).|