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Members include Cyke Bancroft (band member c. 1986-91), saxophone;Dominic Colletti (band member c. 1987-90), bass; MartinCrowley (band member c. 1986-1991), drums; Graham Cumming (bandmember c. 1987), organ; Ric Gunther (band member c. 1990-94); NickSaloman (born March 11, 1953, London, founder), son of Joanna(a teacher and author) and Walter Saloman (a banker and enlistee in the Royal Air Force), marriedJanet Saloman, has a daughter, Debbie; guitars, keyboards, vocals; AdrianShaw (joined band c. 1990), bass, vocals; Andy Ward (bornSeptember 28, 1952, London; band member c. 1994-98), drums;Bari Watts (bandmember c. 1990-94), guitar. Addresses: Record company-Flydaddy Records, P. O. Box 545, Newport, RI 02840.
The Bevis Frond have been playing their own distinctive style of rock music for over a decade.Its leader, Nick Saloman, began perforning thirty yrars ago as a guitarist in cover bands during themid-1960s in Swingin' London. In 1986, Saloman released a ninety minute cassette to a few friendsof himself playing original material under the alias The Bevis Frond. The Frond's music is at timesblisteringly psychedelic, other times pastoral and folk-influenced. His Woronzow label has becomea cottage industry of independently produced rock, releasing albums appreciated by an expandingfollowing.
Nick Saloman recalls his musical influences, "My earliest musical memories begin with myMum playing the piano to me - she is a fine pianist.... I got into The Shadows and started playingguitar when I was seven. [The first concert I saw] was Frankie Vaughan in 1958 - my Mum also tookme to see The Beatles for my tenth Christmas present! Then as I got into my teens I started gettingreally interested in the psychedelic rock scene. I started going to small clubs in 1968 and more orless saw all the bands of that time onwards. I got my first band together at this time and called it TheBevis Frond Museum, playing covers of Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Country Joe and The Fish."
For the next decade, Saloman was a member of numerous commercially unsuccessful bands. By1980, fed up with the lack of support his band's, The Von Trap Family, demo received, Salomanfounded the Woronzow label to release a single. Two years later, a motorcycle accident almostcrippled one of his arms; Nick purchased a home recording studio with the resulting insurancesettlement money.
While working as a record dealer, Saloman became close friends with writer Phil Mullen;the two frequently exchanged tapes of favorite obscurities. Mullen recalled in Magnet, "One ofthe tapes had this mystery track at the end, I couldn't guess who it was, and he said, 'Oh, that's me.'"Mullen and other friends who heard his demos urged Saloman to release an album. The resultingMiasma, released in 1987 under the resurrected name Bevis Frond, quickly sold out a pressing of500; it was followed by Inner Marshland, Triptych, and a collection of out takes entitled BevisThrough the Looking Glass.
Nick Saloman came upon the Bevis Frond's sound by accident. He explained to the BostonPhoenix, "When you're [as old as I was at the time] and you've never gotten anywhere, you kind ofthink that you've had it. So I just started doing self-indulgent stuff on my own without worryingabout things like getting a record deal. I honestly didn't think anyone would care. But lo and behold,people were interested, and it changed my life."
The Frond Became Concise
After several albums of extended, spacey jams, Bevis Frond's 1989 album Any Gas Fasterfeatured more concise songs and fewer guitar solos. "I've done a lot of albums with 20-minute guitarsolos, so I don't have anything to prove there.... I became interested in the idea that bands like TheStones, The Who, and The Move could be both chart and head bands, writing hit singles and goodmusic," he told Option about The Bevis Frond's new direction.
In 1989, Saloman and Phil Mullen founded a music magazine, The Ptolemaic Terrascope.Its focus was simple, according to Saloman in Magnet, "Most magazines seemed one-dimensional.It didn't matter if the people we wrote about were up-and-coming or past it. We just decided to writeabout what we liked."
The Bevis Frond released a watershed double album in 1991, New River Head. The albumcovered Bevis's musical terrain brilliantly, from the jazzy freakout "White Sun," to the folky"Waving." Other highlights include the straight ahead pop-rock of the title track, the garage-rockraveup "Undertaker," and the rollicking "Wild Jack Hammer," based loosely on Mick Jagger. Bythe mid 1990s, The Bevis Frond became too popular to remain a studio-only band, and a touringline-up solidified with former Hawkwind bassist Adrian Shaw and ex-Camel drummer Andy Ward.
Made American Debut
In 1997, the Ptolemaic Terrascope announced that it was in financial trouble. Dozens of artists,including The Bevis Frond, created two benefit CD collections, Succour and Alms. Several bandsthen offered the proceeds of a concert in Providence, Rhode Island to support the publication.According to Mullen, "It seemed like a good opportunity to bring The Bevis Frond over for anAmerican debut and perhaps turn the gig into more of an 'event.'" The Terrastock Festival featuredan eclectic lineup, from 1960s heroes to current cutting edge bands. The festival was such a successthat another was held in San Francisco in 1998. Between Terrastock events, The Bevis Frondreleased two excellent albums, Son of Walter and North Circular, and Saloman collaborated withMary Lou Lord on her Got No Shadow album.
Saloman recently commented about his involvement with various rock music since the 1960s,"The major difference between [the psychedelic] scene and now is that music has become ...compartmentalized. In 1969 you could see Black Sabbath supported by [folk rockers] FairportConvention and [psychedelic jazz band] The Soft Machine ... and it seemed really natural." Hecontinues, "I think the [1970s] progressive era was basically psychedelic musicians making lots ofmoney and getting all the drugs and equipment they could ... [and] show how brilliantly they couldplay.... Punk was a very welcome and necessary reaction to that, but ... I was dismayed that itbecame really unfashionable to play an instrument properly. I'm afraid that attitude prevails inEngland to this day."
With The Bevis Frond, Nick Saloman entertains fans worldwide while retaining full control ofhis music. He proudly asserts, "I will never sign a major label deal unless they give me hugeamounts of money ... everyone's a hypocrite if the price is right!"
by Jim Powers
Bevis Frond's Career
Formed c. 1985 in London, England; released debut album Miasma on own Woronzowlabel, 1987; signed American distribution deal with Reckless Records, 1988; headlined TerrastockFestival, Providence, RI, 1997; appeared on Mary Lou Lord, Got No Shadow, Work/Sony Records,1997; headlined Terrastock West Festival, San Francisco, 1998.
- Selected discography
- Miasma , Woronzow, 1987.
- Inner Marshland , Woronzow, 1987.
- Bevis Through The Looking Glass , Woronzow, 1987.
- Tryptych , Woronzow, 1988.
- The Auntie Winnie Album , Reckless, 1988.
- New River Head , Woronzow, 1991.
- A Gathering of Fronds , Reckless, 1991.
- London Stone , Woronzow, 1992.
- Sprawl , Woronzow, 1994.
- Superseeder , Woronzow, 1995.
- Son of Walter , Flydaddy, 1996.
- Boston Phoenix , April 18, 1997.
- Bucketfull of Brains , May/June, 1989; Winter, 1990.
- Guitar Player , February, 1997.
- Magnet , February/March, 1997.
- Option , January/February, 1990.
- Ptolemaic Terrascope Terrastock Special Edition , December, 1997.
- Additional information was obtained from an interview with Nick Saloman.
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