"Lost" Cadence interview with Loplop

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#1 Sat, 2004-08-07 13:23
Joe Brenner
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"Lost" Cadence interview with Loplop

This seems to be making the rounds. I can't vouch for the province of it, but I thought you all might like to pick it over. I think it's pretty suspect, myself, for various reasons... e.g. the reference is to Cadence magazine sometime over the course of two decades? They couldn't narrow it down a little better than that?

By the way: John Szwed places the Arkestra in Montreal in the fall and winter of 1960. There's no mention of a "communal house" there. The name "Loplop" does not appear in the Szwed's index, nor does it appear in the musician's index for Campbell's "Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra".

Anyway, here's the "Long forgotten Cadence interview with Loplop":

From Cadence magazine in the 60's/70's:

Cadence Magazine: How did you come to play in Sun Ra's Arkestra?

Loplop: At the time, I was working in a music store in downtown Montreal, mostly selling electric guitars to teenagers. The Beatles and all that psychedelic rock music thing had broken big, so...But, at night I was wood-shedding tunes by Ellington and then Thelonious Monk, ya know? I'd sit in on weekends with some jazz cats at this little club called Rennie's. It was fun, and I was learning a lot about harmony. But, I started to get a little restless, ya know?

I had heard Ornette (Coleman) by this time, and I was hoping to learn a little more about his harmelodic theories and things along these lines. I had a few friends who shared my enthusiasm for the new music, and they heard there was this new cat in town who was some kind of genius who went beyond even what Ornette Coleman was doing. We kept our ears to the ground and eventually just wound up meeting him a few times at local gigs. We got ourselves invited over to his house, sat in on a few jam sessions, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Cadence: Did your friends play in the Arkestra at any point?

Loplop: Nah. They weren't REALLY into Ra's trip, musically speaking. They just wanted to meet him and check him out, to see if he was for real or something.

Cadence: What do you mean?

Loplop: Well, we heard all these rumours, ya know? Ra was a visionary, Ra was insane. He was some kind of mystic avatar, like Jesus or the Buddha. That he was some kind of revolutionary who had the keys to total liberation, that he was a cult-leader. We heard he was trying to build a spaceship big enough to take all the black people on Earth to Saturn or something. He thought human beings could breathe and eat music, ya know? Shit, he thought the music the Arkestra was going to play on Saturn would create a whole new reality, a utopia for black people in outer space through the power of music's influence on the mind. We heard all kinds of wiggy stuff, far-out stuff, ya know?

Cadence: So why did they ultimately leave?

Loplop: Oh, they just decided he was some kind of false messiah, or a nut. And, they thought his music was just noise...atonal bullshit.

Cadence: What made them decide Ra was nuts?

Loplop: Well, to be honest everything about the man was a little...off. And the commune house was a weird scene, too. It was all a little too much for them, I guess.

Cadence: Can you elaborate a bit, please?

Loplop: Well, not a lot of people realize this, but Ra was heavily into Crowley at this time, and...

Cadence: Aleister--the British mountain climber and occultist?

Loplop: Yeah. He was down with the Order of the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis and all that shit...like, big time. He was even thinking of changing the name of the Arkestra at one time to something that would reflect his interest in the occult sciences, as he called them. I can't remember what exactly because we were so messed up on drugs at the time. It was pretty crazy, the amount of drugs moving through the commune at the time. Pretty unreal...

Cadence: That's certainly news. Ra always gave the impression of being an abstainer from drugs and alcohol.

Loplop: Well, I'm here to telll you differently. (Laughs) Shit, he was a fiend! Used to wake up with a snort of coke before he had breakfast, ya know? And he LOVED psychedelics. We all did. Hash. Reefer. Acid. Maaaan...Personally, I think he was hooked on the coke. But, he had a special kind of love for LSD. (chuckles) The visions it gave him and all...

Cadence: What about the other Arkestra members?

Loplop: At this time there were really only six of us, not counting Ra. He was trying to build it up again because only a few hardcore disciples followed him here (to Montreal, Canada) from the states. The Apostles, ya know? (Laughs)

But, yeah, we were all pretty heavily into the drugs. Big time. We all had to work part-time gigs outside of music and the Arkestra just to foot the drug bills at the time. It was rough. It made the musical discipline hard to keep up with. I think that's why Ra eventually went back to the states. The Arkestra couldn't get enough work here in Canada to keep up with he bills of the communal house and all the extra-curricular stuff that was going down.

Cadence: The OTO were a Tantric cult or something along those lines, right? Are you telling me now that Ra was a ladies man now?? I mean, at the time he must've been in his 60's.

Loplop: Shit, we were all heavily into the sex-magick thing. And, I'm not talking about it being just about the ladies, either. It was a pretty experimental phase for all of us in the house, ya know? Ra made us all fuck each other. Men and women. Men and men. Women and women. Whatever. He believed there were magickal qualities in the love-juice, so we exchanged it as much as possible, Ra included. He even made us eat it. (laffs)

Cadence: He made you eat your each other's cum? Wasn't that a little authoritarian for someone who was talking about revolution and whatnot?

Loplop: Maybe. We didn't care, though. We weren't Marxists or anarchists; we were musicians. We just wanted to play and indulge in all the sex and drugs we could handle. And, yeah, we wanted to go to space, too. Create a whole new reality for ourselves...

Cadence: That's pretty revolutionary in its own way, I guess.

Loplop: It seemed that way to us at the time. (chuckles)

Cadence: Seeing as you are the only white person to ever play in the Arkestra, what was it about you that made Ra and the other cats accept you?

Loplop: They liked the way I played the guitar. It fit into the whole system of intervals that Ra said we needed to play to--what was the phrase he always used?--immanetize the eschaton, if I remember right.

Cadence: What?

Loplop: To actualize the apocalypse, man. Not in the way that you probably think, though. Ra felt that was a white, Christian thing, ya know? he felt that eventually, if we played the magical combination of intervals, it would bring about not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it. Dig?

Cadence: I understand.

Loplop: So, in those days I had pretty much given up playing on the fretboard, right? All the wrong intervals were up there, right? I used to lay a fishbowl on the pickups and just hammer away while moving it around like a slide on a pedal-steel guitar, you see? When the guitar was distorted properly...(rolls his eyes and whistles)

Cadence: Microintervals? Shards of sound??

Loplop: Yeah, kinda like Sonny Sharrock later on. That cat stole a LOT of my ideas, man, the same way Coltrane and Ayler ripped off Ra. I know those New York Greenwich Village cats heard what we were doing in Montreal. Sound travels on the astral-plane, ya know?

Cadence: Um, sure...