From Aural Innovations #5 (January 1999)
Glenn Fletcher - "Out Of It" (ISO Publishing 1998, CD)
Those of you who troll the rec.music.progressive internet newsgroup should be acquainted with the famous (or infamous) Babymash. What I never guessed - until AI artist Christian Mumford turned me on to him - is that this fellow from New Zealand plays some remarkably creative music. This is not spacerock folks, but we've grown to like Glenn's music here at AI so we're spreading the good word. Though I get the impression that Glenn is a drummer first, he also plays guitar, bass, and keyboards, and handles all instrumentation on five of this disc's ten tracks. Supporting Glenn are T.I. Mckinon on bass, Anthony Roeven on bass, and Hamish Anderson on guitar, ude, and percussion.
The CD opens with "Fragmented Soul" which is a quietly busy instrumental piece that seems to cross an ELP style march with one of those old intro type pieces that Zappa used to do. The next track, "Skin Still Bleeds", begins as a continuation of the first track but then, almost as if it were a new song, goes into a bouncy percussive segment in which we are introduced to Glenn's manic vocals. How do I explain this...?
You'll either love or hate Glenn's vocals. I predict no in between opinions. They are manic, screaming, agonized, but with a passion that makes them key to the "Babymash sound". I won't go into something I don't know much about but the history on Glenn's web page, and a bit in the interview below, reveals some personal issues that might explain the vocals, the lyrics, and perhaps the music itself. But combining this singing style with creatively complex progressive rock produces a sound that the Masher can proudly call his own.
"Ghost" is more of an actual song than any other track on the CD. It has a catchy melody and tasteful guitar work, and I can't get the damn "At the end of the day it's all insane" line out of my head! The title track, "Out Of It", is an acid rocker, though there is nothing straightforward about it. Glenn covers a lot of ground though listening to this, and his previous "Void" CD, the various styles he explores are returned to enough that he can't be accused of lacking cohesiveness. The last tracks, "In The Bin" and "Release" are probably the most off the wall tunes on the disc. "In The Bin" seems to be everywhere at once. Howling vocals, maddening percussion and piano... #9... #9... #9... "Release" is similar but with a sort of demented lounge jazz feel to the music.
I have a CD-R Glenn sent me of his "Void" CD, but it isn't available except some tracks on a best of release we'll mention below. I will say that it's a perfect companion to "Out Of It", though it seems to rock harder in spots. AI artist Christian Mumford flung a few questions in Glenn's direction and the Mashman kindly responded. We've left Glenn's caps intact lest we incur the awesome terror of his wrath.
CM: You say going door to door selling your music has been successful, an approach so obvious it probably rarely is done. Maybe most artists assume they are so eclectic (and thus their potential fans are) they probably would never think of it. Have you gotten any interesting feedback from "unsuspecting door-to-door folks"?
GF: WELL IT'S IMPORTANT THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE INTENT OF THE MUSO IN THE WAY IN WHICH THE MUSIC IS PLAYED, IF YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT A MUSO IS TRYING TO CREATE SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT IN EVERY WAY THEN IT MAY WELL BE HEARD AS CHAOS BY THE PUBLIC. BY EXPLAINING I LOVE ALL FORMS OF MUSIC AND THEREFORE COVER MASSIVE STYLES AND EXPERIMENT THEN THEY KNOW WHAT CONTEXT THE MUSIC WAS WRITTEN IN. (GOD I'M STONED. HOPE THAT MAKES SENSE).
CM: You mention a learning disorder, and subsequent obsessions like washing hands etc. - how central has this been in your music/creativity? As driving force, and/or has music been a way to release such energy?
GF: OVER TIME THESE OBSESSIONS HAVE DEVELOPED INTO SEVERE BUT OFTEN WELL HIDDEN MOOD SWINGS WHICH I FIND A TORTUROUS EXPERIENCE. IF THEY COULD OPERATE AND SLICE IT ALL OUT OF MY HEAD I'D BE FIRST IN LINE FOR THE BASTARD. IT'S A FUCKEN MASSIVE TORMENT I COULD LIVE WITHOUT. IN MY YOUNG DAYS I PLAYED DRUMS AND LISTENED TO MUSIC VERY DEEPLY TO THE POINT OF IT BEING A FULL ON OBSESSION. I TAPPED THINGS INCLUDING CHATTERING MY TEETH TOGETHER ALMOST ALL THE TIME, SO IT WOULD HAVE MOLDED ME MUSICALLY. ON TOP OF THAT I HAD ELP, YES, KING CRIMSON THAT I BEGAN LISTENING TO AT AGE 12 TO ADD TO ALL THE CREATIVITY. THESE DAYS LIFE IS A DAILY STRUGGLE IN HELL EMOTIONALLY WITH FRIGHTENING MOOD SWINGS DEEP WITHIN. I HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO JEFF BUCKLEY'S ALBUM GRACE TO HELP ME SPIRITUALLY. THIS GUY ROCKED.
CM: Is your current band strictly a studio outfit, or do you do gigs etc. under your (or any other) name?
GF: I HAVE DEVELOPED A WRIST PROBLEM FROM MY DRUMMING WHICH MAKES PLAYING LIVE SOMETHING I TRY TO AVOID TOO OFTEN. ONE DAY I WOULD LIKE TO PERHAPS MOVE FROM NEW ZEALAND AND GET A BAND TOGETHER OVERSEAS AND REALLY GO FOR IT WITH A LARGE GROUP OF VOCALISTS TO HELP SLAM OUT SOME LOUD DISTORTED POWER VOCALS OF MY SONGS SINCE TO RE-SING THEM ALONE WOULD BE NEAR IMPOSSIBLE SINCE MY BOLLOCKS NEARLY EXPLODED SINGING AT HIGH POWER PITCHES AT TIMES. TO DO THAT WOULD BE AMAZING AND CREATE A MASSIVE SOUND.
CM: Are you self-releasing your music as a long term idea, or are you looking more for good recording contracts and are just "starting out" that way?
GF: I WILL FOLLOW WHERE IT TAKES ME AS LONG AS IT ISN'T SOME SAD HIDEOUS POP BAND FROM HELL. BUT I LIE. I'D SELL OUT ANY DAY TO MAKE SOME CASH TO CARRY ON WITH MY TRUE EXPRESSION. WHY NOT I SAY, FUCK 'EM ALL.
CM: Why Babymash?
GF: AS IN MASHED BABIES :)
CM: Now, pour your heart out :)
GF: YOU FUCKING ASKED FOR IT BROTHER. FIRSTLY TO ALL THOSE THAT COMPLAIN ABOUT THE USE OF CAPS IN WRITING, GO AND SLAM YOUR BUMHOLES WITH THE FORESKIN HANGING OUT OF THE INVERTED CAVERN THAT YOU WANDER AROUND WITH.
Glenn Fletcher/Babymash Discography:
RIMATIVE BEST - Melter Skelter - Nowhere To Hide - Meltdown Records Compilation-1989.
FEAST OF STEVENS - CASSETTE - Blind Eel Records-1990.
FEAST OF STEVENS - CD Etch - Failsafe Records-1992.
FEAST OF STEVENS - CD Compilation, Dynamite Groove - Including two songs, Yellow Bike Records 1991.
FEAST OF STEVENS - CD Compilation, Failsafe. Good Things, NZ Music-1994.
FEAST OF STEVENS - Music Video - Friend, Failsafe Records-1993.
FEAST OF STEVENS - 7 inch, Amsterdam, Crawlspace Records-1993.
NEXT BIG THING - CASSETTE - For Today, Spotty Dog Records-1995.
SEROTONIN - CD Neurotransmitter, Pivot Recordings-1998.
SEROTONIN - CD Pivot Recordings-1998.
CANCER MAIDENS - CD - Insects Of Sound, Lizard Mull Records-1998.
CANCER MAIDENS - CD - Compilation - Intemperance, Celibate Monks Records-1998.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - Out Of It - Independent, ISO Publishing - Rupeke Record Label-1998.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - Void - Independant, ISO Publishing - Rupeke Record Label-1998.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - Welcome To Emotion - Independent, ISO Publishing - Rupeke Record Label-1998.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - SPIRIT OF AOTEAROA 1, Pryde Recordings Compilation Including Other Artists.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - SPIRIT OF AOTEAROA 2, Pryde Recordings Compilation Including Other Artists.
GLENN FLETCHER - CD - SPIRIT OF AOTEAROA 3, Pryde Compilation Including Other Artists.
You can visit Babymash at his web site.