Nebula Interview & Full Album Stream Pt. 2: To the Center

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on February 13th, 2018 by JJ Koczan


[Click play above to stream the new reissue of Nebula’s To the Center in its entirety. Album is out Feb. 16 via Heavy Psych Sounds.]

Please note: This interview is part two in a series of three. Part one is here. Part three arrives Feb 27.

Recording with Jack Endino.Road-dogging it on tour so you don’t have to say home and pay rent. Signing to Sub Pop after running into label head Megan Jasper in the produce aisle at a grocery store and winding up signed to of the most influential undergoing imprints of all time as a result. Seeming to consume an entire interstellar mycelial network of mushrooms in the process. To hear original drummer Ruben Romano tell it, it was just all part of being in Nebula around the time of their 1999 debut LP, To the Center.

No wonder it’s one of the best stoner rock records of all time, with a band of laid back electric and acoustic guitars, a bevvy of languid desert grooves and some more driving fare for the punkers in the crowd. Nebula‘s proper debut EP, Let it Burn (discussed here). Still, as Nebula were living out this process of rock and roll daydreams, all was no exactly well in the band, and by the time they got around to releasing 2001’s Charged, their second and final offering for Sub Pop, it would prove to be the final outing for the original Nebula lineup of Romano, guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass and bassist Mark Abshire as well.

But at this point, with To the Center and its languid blend of more-laid-back-than-thou riffs and acoustic strums, psychedelic sitars and space rocking freakout jams, with its Randyo Holden and Stooges covers — “Between Time” and “I Need Somebody,” respectively — it was a goddamn party and it certainly sounds like one on the album. In the interview that follows, Romano tells a couple quick but choice stories about what it was like to be in Nebula at this time.

You’ll find the Q&A under the artwork for To the Center, which again, is out on Heavy Psych Sounds Feb. 16.

Please enjoy:

nebula to the center

To the Center Q&A with Ruben Romano

How did the band change coming off of Let it Burn and moving into To the Center? Was there anything specific you knew you wanted to do from one release to the other?

What changed was that we now were total road dogs. Touring was all we did and when we were not on the road we were always in the rehearsal room. The specific thing that we wanted to do from one release to the other was to keep on doing it! All we wanted was to keep Rolling our way to Freedom.

Tell me about writing the album. How did the songs come together and what was that period of time like for you as a band?

We toured so much that we became a super tight band and things happened naturally. Playing with Eddie and Mark came easy. While we were on the road we would be jamming a riff at soundcheck, those brief in between tour moments were spent in rehearsal rooms jamming. Eddie also had a back catalog of four-track demo songs that we pulled from, and one that he wrote with his friend Neil Blender was pulled as well. Then jamming on covers of songs that we all loved, liked The Stooges and Randy Holden started sounding and feeling good. So we included those as well and all of a sudden we had 12 songs that comprised To the Center. At that period of time the band was extremely busy. It kept us from having to pay rent, so the time off the road became shorter and shorter.

You’d already recorded with Jack Endino for Sun Creature and the Lowrider split. What was it about the experience that brought you back to him? What did he capture in Nebula’s sound?

Jack was a cool guy. We worked well with him the first time around and he really dug what we were doing. I think we really impressed him during those To the Center sessions with our knowledge of great obscure underground music, like The Groundhogs. He was the biggest fan of Tony McPhee and The Groundhogs and was stoked when we brought them up in giving him production ideas of what we wanted to achieve. After that he wore his Groundhogs shirt a few times during those sessions. The other thing that he captured for Nebula was clamping the Sub Pop deal. How did that happen? Well, before that session started, we finished a European tour and flew back to New York were we crashed for a good week. That’s when we entered LoHo Studios and recorded the other half of those two EPs. If I recall properly we also just finished a deal and got signed to a label called Zero Hour. So, going into record for them, that’s where the plan to return to Jack came about as we got into the van and toured back across the

US ending in Seattle. That’s where Jack was, so returning to recording with Jack fit perfect. A week after the session started is when Zero Hour just disappeared – no contact at all! The phone was dead. Jack was so cool that he goes, “Let’s finish this anyways and figure it out later.” Now, at the same time we took a food break and, with Jack, we went to a grocery store. In that grocery store we happened to bump into Megan Jasper in the produce department. Head of Sub Pop. Her and Jack spoke a bit and that’s where the spark happened, that’s how we got connected to Sub Pop: a random meeting at a grocery store in Ballard, Washington.

Anything else you’d like to say about it in particular?

I liked Ballard, Washington. What a great memory!

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Nebula Announce Bonus Material for Let it Burn, To the Center and Dos EPs Reissues

Posted in Whathaveyou on December 26th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

I mean, don’t get me wrong, you had me at ‘Nebula reissues,’ but it looks like the impending Heavy Psych Sounds pressings for the Cali fuzz troupe’s early works — Let it Burn, To the Center and Dos EPs — will arrive with the added ceremony of some pretty cool bonus stuff. The thought of hearing the classic trio lineup playing the Let it Burn title-track at the 2000 Roskilde Festival is pretty rad, plus a home demo there, and a couple live cuts on To the Center from that era are cool too. No complaints. I think it’s Dos EPs that really comes out the winner though, with two brand new remixes by original producer Jack Endino done just this past Fall for “Anything from You” and “Rollin’ My Way to Freedom.” That’s what I’m talking about.

Again, I was already on board, but I’m especially eager to hear what Endino circa 2017 brings to the work of Endino circa ’99. What a great idea. Sign me up.

The PR wire has all the details:

nebula reissues

unveilng the previously unreleased bonus tracks of the upcoming 3 Nebula reissues !!!

We are really stoked to announce the previously unreleased bonus tracks of the upcoming NEBULA reissues: Let It Burn, To The Center and Dos EPs !!!

Let It Burn
Live at Roskilde Festival 30 June, 2000

Devil’s Liquid (Demo Version)
Recorded by Eddie Glass 1997, on 8 Track Portastudio

So Low
(Live at Knaack, Berlin, Germany May 17, 1999)

To The Center
(Live at The Empty Bottle, Chicago IL, June 9, 2000)

Anything From You
(Recorded October 20, 1999 by Jack Endino, Crocodile Seattle – Mixed November 11, 2017 By Jack Endino)

Rollin’ My Way To Freedom
(Recorded October 20, 1999 by Jack Endino, Crocodile Seattle – Mixed November 11, 2017 By Jack Endino)

LET IT BURN – 26.01.2018
TO THE CENTER – 16.02.2018
DOS EP’S – 02.03.2018

All the albums will be available in:

CD (3 Panels Digipack)
LP (Black Single Vinyl-Gatefold Sleeve)
LTD LP (Coloured Splatter Single Vinyl-Gatefold Sleeve)
(Digital available the release date of each title)

Grab your copy here:

Nebula, To the Center (1999)

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Nebula Announce Reissue Trilogy of Early Works for 2018 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 28th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

The flurry of news from the camp of Nebula continues today with word that Heavy Psych Sounds has decided to do the entire universe a favor and reissue three of their crucial early works: 1998’s Let it Burn, 1999’s To the Center (discussed here) and 2002’s Dos EPs, which includes the material originally released on 1999’s Sun Creature and the Nebula/Lowrider split (discussed here). In other words, Nebula at their most unfuckwithable. The reissues are being done to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band, and will be staggered as they come out in Jan., Feb. and March 2018, with presales for all three going live on Oct. 13.

You don’t need me to tell you how necessary these records are, though if you really want to talk about it, I’d be happy to — they’re a lot of fun to talk about — but since I wrote the press release that appears below, I’m kind of going to one way or the other anyhow.

Here’s how it all shakes out:

nebula reissues heavy psych sounds

Nebula to Reissue Let it Burn, To the Center & Dos EPs on Heavy Psych Sounds

Heavy Psych Sounds is proud to announce it will work with Californian fuzz/psych legends Nebula to reissue three of the band’s most landmark offerings. Originally released in 1998, 1999 and 2002, respectively, Let it BurnTo the Center and Dos EPs comprise an essential trilogy for worshipers of riffs and heavy desert rock, and will be made available early in 2018 as special editions to mark the 20th anniversary of the band.

When guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass joined forces with bassist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano — both previously of Fu Manchu — they found magic together and no one before and no other band since has been able to capture that sound in the same way, though plenty have tried. With Let it Burn, they established a place for themselves between druggy psych and forward-driving fuzz rock, and as they moved through the subsequent Sun Creature EP, their split with Sweden’s Lowrider and the To the Center full-length the next year, they only grew, progressed and refined this approach into something all the more their own.

The two short releases were later compiled as Dos EPs, and the flow contained there is no less pivotal than either Let it Burn or To the Center. Working exclusively in cooperation with the original members of Nebula, Heavy Psych Sounds will release Let it BurnTo the Center and Dos EPs in January, February and March, 2018 in vinyl, limited vinyl, CD and digital editions, each containing bonus material, extra songs and more.

Says Gabriele Fiori of Heavy Psych Sounds on working with Nebula: “It is an honor to have Eddie, Mark and Ruben come together to stand behind these three issues. These records are classics and have had a huge influence on me and an entire generation of artists and I can’t wait to get them back out there for people to dig into all over again!”

Preorders begin Oct. 13, 2017. Distribution will be through Heavy Psych Sounds, Forced Exposure (US), Cargo Records (DE, UK), Clearspot (Benelux), Goodfellas (World), iTunes, Spotify, etc.

Nebula have announced 2018 live dates with the lineup of Eddie Glass, bassist Tom Davies and drummer Mike Amster (Blaak Heat, Abrams), including stops at Desertfest London and Berlin with more to follow.

Nebula, Dos EPs (2002)

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Friday Full-Length: Nebula, To the Center

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 25th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

Nebula, To the Center (1999)

Toward the end of what we’ll call their initial run, which found them unceremoniously calling it quits six years ago — then not calling it quits a month later — California’s Nebula dipped back toward a more psychedelic style, and one would have to imagine that the longer-term impact of their Jack Endino-produced 1999 debut, To the Center, was a large argument for doing so. Even that record’s name, Heavy Psych (review here), signaled its intent, and though the only remaining founder by the time 2009 came around was guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass, it seemed an awful lot like a conscious decision to bring the band full-circle, particularly as a genre boom was just getting underway. When To the Center was released, it played off desert rock ideals but had a spacier trajectory — at the time, you’d probably call it stoner and leave it at that — and the band who played on it, with Glass, bassist/vocalist Mark Abshire and drummer Ruben Romano (the latter two fresh off a stint in Fu Manchu), would go on to develop earthier fuzz on records like 2001’s Charged, 2003’s Atomic Ritual and 2006’s Apollo (by which time Abshire had left the band, replaced by Tom Davies), but the impression of what Nebula was all about would always be colored somewhat by the blend of laid back swagger and swirl that To the Center proffered. That’s not at all a negative.

In many ways, it let Nebula become a pivotal heavy rock act — distinguished in intent from the Kyusses and Fu Manchus and Monster Magnets of the world, but not entirely separate from them. With the first line of its opening title-track, “Taking off to the center of the universe,” To the Center tugged on cosmic threads and unraveled fluid, riff-driven vibe. The record offered plenty of punch in songs like “Whatcha Lookin’ For” and the attitude-dripping closer “You Mean Nothing,” but the acoustic/electric blend of “Clearlight,” “Freedom,” the Stooges cover “I Need Somebody” (sung by Mudhoney‘s Mark Arm), “So Low” and the sitar-topped “Fields of Psilocybin” assured that the molten spirit was always intact to some degree. I’d have to think if they were making it today, To the Center would be shorter — 47 minutes is on the longer side for an LP — but 1999 was arguably the peak of the CD era and the record holds its roll and atmosphere for its entire run while showcasing the tone, groove and trip that made Nebula such a special act to start with, so you won’t hear me argue. One more aspect of listening to it that lets you go, “They don’t make ’em like this anymore.”

Nebula don’t, anyway. There are all kinds of rumors around Nebula‘s Eddie Glass and what his and the band’s situation was and is, but it’s been a while since there was any kind of official word one way or another. In the meantime, the band’s influence has spread far and wide — look at Black Rainbows, if you don’t believe me — and I think To the Center might be even more relevant 17 years after the fact than it was when it was first released. If you don’t know it, their 1998 split with Lowrider (complete with badass Arik Roper art), is also essential.

I hope you enjoy.

Next week is the Quarterly Review. I almost can’t believe it myself. As I type this, I’m in the midst of laying out links and images to fill in the reviews later, and as ever it’s an organizational nightmare. But it’ll get done, the way things always get done. It’ll just take time. And effort. And more time.

I also need to get copy together for the Roadburn ‘zine over the next couple days, and I have a story due for the Desertfest London program on Trouble — who apparently don’t like to be asked what their former members are up to; okay guys — a bio to read and a bio to write, so yes, I’m feeling completely overwhelmed and I expect it will be two early mornings over the weekend so I can work on this stuff. Whatever. Shut up and talk about riffs, right? The hours of my day are my own problem.

If you missed the news or didn’t see it in the sidebar, my short story/poetry collection is available now to preorder through War Crime Recordings. You should buy five of them.

If you celebrate Easter, happy Easter.

Added onto the Quarterly Review, look out next week for track premieres from BoudainDesert SunsOryx and Conclave. There’s also news to come about Desertfest Athens (yup, that’s a thing) and an announcement from Psycho Las Vegas that’s bound to make heads spin — including mine, as I haven’t seen it yet.

I also have interviews in the can with Brant BjorkHoly GroveGreenleaf and Crypt Sermon that need to get posted. Not next week though. Sometime thereafter.

Buy my fucking book. It’s cheap and short.

Alright. I hope you have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum — which I’m appreciating all the more these days because of the nightmare that Thee Facebooks has become — and the radio stream.

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