Uploaded to Aural Innovations June 2006
Sundial are a UK band that started in the late 80's and has produced some classic psychedelic guitar driven rock records. A double CD reissue of their amazing first record has just been released and the band are working on a compilation as well and hope to get out and play live. Anyway, I caught up with Gary Ramon and here is what we talked about.
Scott Heller (SH): Hello Gary! It is really nice to see the double CD reissue of the classic first Sundial record put together with the outtakes from the same session, which was only out on vinyl before. This first record must sell quite well as it has been released on CD on like 4 different labels. Any comments?
Gary Ramon (GR): Since it was originally released it has sold steadily over the years. Incredibly with little or no press or promotion to back it up. So it was never hyped. I think it's been reissued on about 9 or 10 different occasions on different formats (LP/CD and cassette) in places like Germany, America, England and Japan. The additional sessions disc included with the reissue was pulled together from previously lost cassettes of mixes and suchlike. There's still a whole bunch of stuff from that early period unissued, but the material chosen I think seemed to fit the project.
SH: Sundial has never really toured much. Are there plans to come to Europe to support the double CD reissue?
GR: Sun dial haven't toured much at all. However, we would like to change that situation. We would like to come to Europe to play and along with a retrospective release, "Shards of God", that's coming out. Then we hope to play again in the autumn.
SH: Please tell us more about your collaboration with the Atomic Workers? Will this band do any touring to support the recently released Embryonic Suicide CD/LP?
GR: I'm working on and off with this band. I think there will be some gigs planned to promote this album.
SH: What is your current live rig like? Pedals, amp, guitars, etc?
GR: I'm currently using telecasters. Previously I was using Gibson Les Paul's, but found them just too heavy for live use. I started off with Fenders and have gone back to them. Being left-handed, my choice of guitars are fairly limited. As for amps, I started off with Marshalls, then moved on to Vox, but I just find it's a burden to be taking old amps on the road. So I'm currently checking some orange amps that I think will fit the bill. With pedals, I went through a phase of taking lots of pedals, but it's now down to a manageable few that seem to do the job.
SH: Do you often go out to see live music in the UK? The scene for the underground music seems to have deteriorated over the last many years.
GR: Occasionally I see the odd gig if it's something interesting, but I'm not a regular gig goer. Not just deteriorated but also there's a lack of venues in London. Maybe it all goes hand in hand.
SH: I am curious about your opinions on vinyl and CD. Your label, Acme, has been very good in supporting vinyl issues of most of the Sundial and other artists. Some would say this is wasted money as the market is so small but it gives great value to those to appreciate vinyl, I would say.
GR: When I started Acme, all the major shops were taking vinyl off the shelves and stocking up on their CDs. We just started issuing vinyl when the format was dead in the major's eyes. Funnily enough, vinyl has made a minor recovery, as those self same shops have a bit of space for vinyl once again. I like the format and we'll keep putting stuff out on vinyl as long as people want it. It's just a great format. Sounds good and you can appreciate the artwork/packaging. CDs? Just too much plastic going on. When we make Sundial albums we make them for vinyl, not for CD.
SH: Where do you think the music industry is headed these days? CD sales just keep going down and down as the digital age has come upon us and while the major labels blame their lack of income on digital piracy, I view it more that killed their own market with greed. Maintaining CD prices at such a huge markup for so many years, all the new kids entering into the music buying market could not afford this and suddenly MP3 was upon us and now, all these kids have no idea what it is is to buy music? Do you think the industry can save itself by lowering the prices of new CDs to say 7£? Would people start buying? They would still make a handy profit as the cost as we all know it for production is around a pound!
GR: Well its so easy to copy perfectly in digital. Its so easy to bootleg. You can't download vinyl. But its true, CD's are too expensive, and I'd like to see new CDs at £6 or £7 at the most. They cost under a £1 to manufacture so I don't understand this mark up. That would be a start. I feel the major companies started losing touch with reality many years ago. When big business started taking over from genuine interest in the music.
SH: Sundial released a great studio record 2 years ago and that was the first one for almost 10 years. Is the band currently working on a new record? What can the fans expect?
GR: At the moment we're completing work on a retrospective album, "Shards of God", that will be out in the summer. It's a compilation of hard to find singles, album tracks, previously unissued mixes and unissued tracks. So I think it will be a worthwhile item. In addition, we're getting together to work on new material and we hope to go in the studio during the summer to finish off a new album that we hope will be finished by the end of the year.
SH: Do you have any other projects you would like to promote?
GR: I can't think of anything.
SH: A lot of Sundial's material is quite hard to find. Where would you recommend new fans to go to try to find it?
GR: www.acmerecords.co.uk and for all details of forthcoming Sundial activities go to www.sundial.org.uk