Following his critically acclaimed debut album Things To Do And Make in 2010, which deserved fulsome comparisons the 1960s Canterbury Sound, Vivian Stanshall (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band), Chris Morris or Syd Barrett, Ergo Phizmiz manages to prove himself to be one of the most talented, ironic and histrionic composer in circulation in UK by his new addictive release Eleven Songs, where he wisely whisk literary and musical references in a very bizarre and funny way without any snotty or hoity-toity approach in spite of the flattering feedback he received (whereas The Times definied him “the musical-man-of-the-moment”, Tom Ravenscroft from BBC 6 MUSIC nominated him as “the Emperor of music”!). Ergo Phizmiz’s amazing ten songs and the instrumental “Space Dance”, a tribute to Sun Rain the manner of Lieder ohne Worte (a song without words), which have been included in Eleven Songs, are the most timely explanation to similar plaudits. Let’s know him better. Eleven Songs come out on Care In The Community Recordings.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi there. Howdy dowdy do?
Ergo Phizmiz: Fine and dandy, thank you. Slight toothache. Other than that, spiffing.
Chain D.L.K.: I’d like to ask you a plenty of things related to your amazing art…first of all how could you define it?
Ergo Phizmiz: Why thankyor. Well…I don’t define it. Project to project is very different, and surprises always turn up. I think the instant I try to define what I do, it’ll dry up. A state of perpetual motion. I’ve always liked Captain Beefheart’s quote about “playing” music or art, rather than “working” it.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you ever had a chat with Richard James about your “replay” of Aphex Twin?
Ergo Phizmiz: Yes, many years ago. We met at the Festival Hall and he saw a dreadful show I performed. Afterwards he revealed that he’d spent a fair amount of time recently trying to figure out which tracks of his were in my cover versions.
Chain D.L.K.: Was Fairy Chewbacca referred to some real person?
Ergo Phizmiz: My eldest daughter, Talulah. As a baby she used to make this strange, high pitched animal growl. Hence “Fairy Chewbacca”.
Chain D.L.K.:How’s wintertime in Grindia, your recording studio?
Ergo Phizmiz: Fucking freezing. I have barely been there over the last month or so. Oh and we changed the name to “Atelier Royale” now, so people up there can feel really hip-hop.
Chain D.L.K.: Some malicious friends tried to persuade if you take any drug to feed your creativity, but I won’t do that… let’s satisfy their curiosity just partially…what about your typical breakfast?
Ergo Phizmiz: Coffee and some kind of bread, usually with Marmite unless the jar is empty.
Chain D.L.K.: The first time I heard your promo I was with more or less snotty music little men…they got crazy for your music! You managed to melt their dry hearts! That’s a miracle, you know?
Ergo Phizmiz: In that case I can now add “heartmelter” to my job description.
Chain D.L.K.: That’s great! The differences about Eliot’s Alfred Prufrock and Ergo’s Pruflove in your own words…
Ergo Phizmiz: Prufrock is old, he is old, he will wear the bottom of his trousers rolled. Pruflove is an erotic adventurer in his early to mid 30s. What ties them together is a mutual admiration for mermaids.
Chain D.L.K.: While listening to your song “Ophelia”, I cannot but imagine the notorious Shakesperian character thinking about suicide after cheating Hamlet with Django…any suggestion to change the plot?
Ergo Phizmiz: Yes that’s a great idea. I think my Ophelia would be dreadfully agoraphobic too, and consequently would die in the bath rather than a river.
Chain D.L.K.: A propos of literary references, some occasional fans I mentioned above was asking if you quoted Ionesco on “The Devil In Belfry” when speaking about the devil in the cracks of the wall…
Ergo Phizmiz: I didn’t know Ionesco wrote about this, very nice! I have read only his “Rhinoceros”, a long time ago. Anyway, he was right, the devil is in the cracks of the wall.
Chain D.L.K.: …and other ones were asking about some possible quotes of Velvet Underground on “Celandine”…
Ergo Phizmiz: Not that I know. Certainly it has something of the feel of the 3rd Velvets album, but there’s nothing directly quoted. The guitar riff of “Celandine” I first played about with in 1998, probably whilst dreaming of being John Cale.
Chain D.L.K.: Can non-sense make sense? Make an example!
Ergo Phizmiz: Nonsense can and does make sense, it’s just a different way of explaining your perspective, or exploring ideas. Edward Lear’s works like “The Dong With a Luminous Nose” and “The Courtship of the Yonghy Bonghy Bo” are amazingly sad pieces, expressing the feeling of loneliness and isolation in a far more vivid way than any ‘serious’ writing can do. And certainly Lewis Carroll’s nonsense, simultaneously about the path to adulthood and problems of logic, makes sense in many ways.
Nonsense in a way is really a kind of collage, ideas and images tumbling at each other that eventually make a picture. We live in a completely nonsensical world. Everything is ridiculous. Nonsense, or un-realistic, writing is a more accurate reflection of reality than naturalism.
Chain D.L.K.: Another song I found particularly amazing “I don’t believe”…I like the way it seems you quip some (musical and not) cliches…do you remember the circumstances when you wrote down that song?
Ergo Phizmiz: Ha…erm…yes I do, but I can’t really say …. I was in a situation far away from home, surrounded by condescending “arty people” and snobs. So it started in a hotel room as an attack on those kind of people, then sort of deviated into a wider assault.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve been compared to many other great jesters such as Vivian Stanshall.. do you think some of them are guessed or not? If so, why?
Ergo Phizmiz: I didn’t discover Viv Stanshall’s work until after reviews starting making comparisons. As it happens I think some of his stuff, particularly Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, is beautiful.
Much of my work is influenced by comedians, and I have something of an obsessive interest in the history of English & American comedy (my DVD collection and books pay testament to this!), so it’s inevitable that there is some relation to comedians.
Chain D.L.K.: The only instrumental track “Space Dance” is a tribute to Sun Ra…how come?
Ergo Phizmiz: I admire his versatility, his humour, his constant change, his genre-hopping and technical dexterity, how he skipped from producing doo-wop groups, to long noisy chaos pieces, to moments of extreme elegance, straddling pop worlds, avant-garde, jazz, but never becoming really part of any of them. His collected singles is one of my favourite albums by anyone.
Chain D.L.K.: Any forthcoming tour? If so, which places are you going to visit (fanbase here is getting wider and wider!)?
Ergo Phizmiz: There is a small UK tour this March, Warwick (16/02), London (20/02), and Manchester (24/02). We are also touring my new stage / animation piece “Gargantua” across the UK this coming March. European tours for both my songwriting (with live band), and for “Gargantua” are both in the works.
Chain D.L.K.: Anything to declare before the end of this interview?
Ergo Phizmiz: Just this massive bottle of whisky and suitcase full of opium.
visit Ergo Phizmiz on the web at: www.ergophizmiz.net