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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).|
Gypsy Music Reviews
Stoned and Out of Bounds (Gypsy & Schulz)
Contains the best guitar playing I've heard on any indie tape, by Schulz. He roars on through on "Tears After Midnight", "Lovers of the Dance", "Life Is a Bitch", "Changes", "Oranges" and on "The Doctor Said" and "New Art". Impressive vox. and lyrics by Gypsy, who, by the way, is releasing "Force By Force" and "The Other Side of a Tear" on Obscure Delight.
- Paul Rance, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 5, No. 3, Spring/Summer 1988
The Other Side of a Tear (Cassette)
Gyppo at his most weird. However, the effex are not overdone, and some really good songs, playing and singing emerge, especially, on "New Art (Reprise)" and "Talking You Down". Good, fresh production.
- Paul Rance, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 5, No. 4, Autumn/Winter 1988
Parts of the Whole (Cassette)
Weird and whimsical. Good lyrics and wondrous keyboard noiz, notably on "Puppets and Puppeteers" and "Night and Day".
- Paul Rance, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring 1989
And Then the Leaves Fell (Cassette)
The tape opens with the melodic track 'Stepping Out of Time', which has some funky guitar rhythm in the background. A great bass and drum groove on all of the tracks. Has the same easy-going style as his other tapes, but this one has a lot of nice melodies, and less industrial sounds.
And Then The Leaves Fell free download
- Andy Bruce, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 1989
This Tape Is... Therefore I Am... (Cassette)
Laid-back music with an industrial sound. The bass is strongly featured, working well with the other instruments. Cryptic lyrics thoughtfully sung, in a relaxed style. Good use of sound with the synth entering always at the right moment. The echo effect throughout sets the scene.
This Tape Is Therefore I Am free download
- Andy Bruce, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 1989
Incredible sounds and mostly German lyrics. The pick are 'Shroud of Silence' - a poetical play, mesmerising stuff. Amazing version of Cohen's 'Suzanne'. Lord Litter's guitar cuts through the opening proceedings.
Viersen Track Listing
Sunglass Alimony (Cassette)
Soft industrial rock, with "The Need's Full" and "DIY" being the pick. "DIY" is particularly hypnotic, and the other is broodingly memorable.
Restrain Yourself (Gypsy, Lord Litter & Clive Richards)
"Lost In Space" fans will love it, as "Movement One" on side 2 is full of that episode when Smith goes hippy, with wondrous audio additions. "Movement One" side 1 is another groove, if same name. What is so good about Gypsy's stuff, is the swathe of sound, voices, etc. Some music is black and white, this is colour.
- Paul Rance, Peace & Freedom, Vol. 6, No. 3, Autumn/Winter 1989
Rodent Tapes Compilations
The Rodent Tapes Compilations were put together by Gypsy (Ralf Bevis) in the 80s, and featured many of the alternative and underground acts of that decade, which included Lord Litter, Rattus Rex, Heather Perkins and Don Campau. "The German Connection" was a compilation series that featured 1980's German underground music.
Rodent Tapes First Compilation
Useful experimental comp, put together by Gypsy's new label. Star turns are Gypsy/Williams, Yelloes, Steve Williams and Dancing Chromosomes. A must for keyboard/meaty guitar freaks.
Rodent Tapes Second Compilation
Another rat's tail of a comp. Lord Litter enhances his already enhanced reputation, and Heather Perkins, a name to swallow, puts together some synthy sounds. "I'm Not" is reminiscent of OMD's "Bunker Soldiers". I hope this lasss is an inspiration to other girlies, not enough in the indie scene. A truly international comp, and, again, useful.
This tape features eleven acts from around the world. A drunken version of "Singing in the Rain" by Sack. Rattus Rex are heavy water synthing, Cathedral keyboarding from Toshi, followed by some mean guitar..
Various artists - Appi, Ubuibu, PBK, Ix Ex Splue, Kein Mensch, Larry Ruhl, L Edapps A Moth, Gypsy.
Various Artists - Lord Litter, Don Campau, Heather Perkins, Chapter 69, Carmie, Entropy Guild, Adrian Cox, Opera Multi Steel, Didi.
The German Connection (Zone One)
Gypsy puts out a lot of variety in his tapes and this is another example. Mostly rocky stuff, proficiently put together. Artists include The Beautitudes, Sugar Puffs and Well, Well, Well.
The German Connection (Zone Two)
A great compilation tape featuring some excellent German music. Atmospheric and memorable sounds from The Vee Jays, Art & Decay, Blackout, Billion Bob & the Von Govias, Remain in Silence, and more. Nearly all have English lyrics like "Mexico" and "Space Cowboy".
Blackout Promotions Presents...
Bands from the current German music scene produced by Blackout Promotions. "Sign of the Pagan" by Scaffold races along with a heavy metal/thrash sound. Brilliant synth, bass and guitar work on "The Endless Way" by The Convent, with dramatic vocals. Basement play a real hot, driving groove on "One More Time". Highly addictive music!
- Paul Rance/Andy Bruce, Peace & Freedom, No. 6, Vol. 1, Spring 1989 & No. 6, Vol. 2, Summer 1989
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