say talent sometimes travels in family circles. There are some exceptions
to that rule but Astrid Young is not one of them. The half
sister of rock legend Neil Young, Astrid strikes rock gold on her
own with One Night At Giant Rock. Rock is just
one of the elements in play on Astrids eleven cut masterpiece.
Her discography goes back all the way to the early 1980s and you can
always see and hear her contributions to some of Neils albums
as well as other contributions to albums from Ben Keith, Dramarama,
Nancy Wilson and Lee Harvey Osmond. You can blame Neil for this as
he bought Astrid her first amp in the 1970s. Astrids music has
been called psychedelic acid folk and thats a pretty
good description but after all she is a Young and the tell tale signs
of greatness can be heard all over One Night At Giant Rock. Theres
some very cool playing by a range of musicians here including former
Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin but the songs are the real
stars on this CD, which was superbly co-produced by Astrid and Victor
DeLorenzo. Speaking about working with the great musicians on
Astirid tells mwe3.com, "Victor and I both put our heads together
and came up with great ideas. I was such a huge Violent Femmes fan
early on, love the records, and Id seen them a bunch of times
we were on a trajectory to work together, theres no doubt about
it. I think we brought out stuff out in each other that was pretty
spectacular. I played all the keyboards
there really isnt
that much, some midi stuff and of course that gorgeous piano track
on Amys Song. I also played quite a bit of the guitar,
but between Eric McFadden and Joe Gore, they played all the solos
and tasty bits." A most memorable set of songs, One Night
At Giant Rock is one giant, fun-filled rock and roll adventure.
presents an interview with
Where are you living these days? I know you travel a lot between L.A.
and Toronto. Does L.A. still have the magic it used to?
Astrid Young: Ive been back in Canada now for
wow! Twelve and a half years! Didnt intend to stay this long,
but its funny what a close proximity to family and decades-long
friends can do to the decision making process. I was gone a long time.
Things happened. My dad passed away in 2005, as well as my mother.
Then I got married. Still here. Miss L.A. every day, and I still consider
it my hometown because I spent my 20s and 30s there. And
the weather doesnt suck either. I love where Im at now
though. Im in Prince Edward County, which is a wine region a
couple of hours east of Toronto. Its a small town community
I love it.
mwe3: When and where did you write and record your latest CD
One Night At Giant Rock and tell us about the title and the
cool artwork on the cover. Does the album have a concept? One Night
At Giant Rock has a kind of science fiction look, with that observatory
in the cover art. Whats the name of your record company?
Astrid Young: Okay. Long journey
I started making this
record in 2005, and then my father passed away, followed by my mother
six months later. Those events put a massive damper on my creativity.
I didnt do much of anything for a long time. But
as the concept goes, it was originally called Integratron,
named after that silo-looking thing. I couldnt name it that
because apparently its trademarked and they make music CDs
so I opted for One Night At Giant Rock because
Rock is really only a couple of miles down a sand road from the Integratron,
and also its a line from the song Integratron, so
it made sense. Were still in the same neighborhood!
As far as background, I managed a recording studio in L.A., and the
owners had a motel out in that area, north of Pioneertown. I moved
my horses out there and spent as much time there as I could manage.
The area is really magical, and funky, and very mysterious
of UFO sightings, X-files type urban legends, and then theres
the Integratron, which has a very mysterious and interesting history,
all to do with time travel, human cell rejuvenation and aliens.
have an intense connection with the place, the whole area, in fact.
So the record is very much a concept album about the desert! As for
thats another interesting story. I was looking
for great photos of the desert, and came across this guy Jim Metzger
who at the time lived in nearby Yucca Valley. He is a retired air
force military guy, and his hobby is photography, but immediately
I could see that he loved the desert as much as I did. His photos
were exactly what I was looking for! So I got in touch and he just
made it all available to me. It was so hard to choose photos, as of
course only a few can be chosen, so I will be releasing a photo book
with the lyrics, more photos and some desert stories
that will be this year sometime. Yeah, Jim is amazing. And very modest!
To this day, weve still not met in person, but we are forever
mwe3: Who did you work with on the One Night At Giant Rock
album? I saw Victor DeLorenzos name on the CD cover. How did
you produce the album together? Whos playing the guitar parts,
acoustic and electric? How about drums and keyboards? Theres
definitely some cool effects and treatments on the tracks so clearly
you put a lot into the recording.
Young: Yes, it was amazing. As Id mentioned, the album production
kind of ground to a halt during my personal crisis, but a few years
later I was introduced to Victor DeLorenzo and we decided we had to
work together. Since Id already started working on the album,
it seemed logical that we pick up that thread, but we ended up tracking
a lot of new stuff. There are actually enough songs for a second album,
which we hope to get done at some point. Prior to that, I did some
writing with my good friend Eric McFadden, who subsequently played
in a band with Victor, before Vic and I met. There was a lot of synchronicity
around that association, it was meant to be for sure!
Anyway, when Victor and I were able to, we went to San Francisco to
finish the album at Jane Wiedlins studio in the Castro district.
Her partner, Travis Kasperbauer did all the engineering and mixing.
Originally I had planned to have a few different people have a go
at mixing, but this is just how it worked out. Travis has a pretty
remarkable talent. And its the first time Ive truly been
produced by somebody
its an experience that
changed my life. I have always had kind of a death grip on my own
music, but I have profound hearing loss, so it would have been impossible
for me to finish the record on my own. I had to trust
was not easy, but I think it worked out pretty well!
I both put our heads together and came up with great ideas. I was
such a huge Violent Femmes fan early on, love the records, and Id
seen them a bunch of times
we were on a trajectory to work together,
theres no doubt about it. I think we brought out stuff out in
each other that was pretty spectacular. I played all the keyboards
there really isnt that much, some midi stuff and of course that
gorgeous piano track on Amys Song. I also played
quite a bit of the guitar, but between Eric McFadden and Joe Gore,
they played all the solos and tasty bits. Actually, there are parts
that probably seem like keyboards, but its actually Joe. Hes
a force of nature, that guy. He designs guitar effects for Seymour
Duncan, and hes got this arsenal of sounds that would blow your
mind. He also played resonator and some bass on a couple of tracks
All the 12 string is me, and theres lots of that. Its
kind of my thing. There are three drummers on the album, Victor, my
husband Ray Farrugia, and my longtime band mate Dan Cornelius. Plus
a little guest drumming from Dawn Richardson, who Joe has a band with.
Eric, Joe and I played bass, but I have my good friend, Lou Castro
from L.A. on Your New Drug. Jane Wiedlin played some guitar
and sang backups on Why Run When You Can Hide
managed to catch her just as she was leaving town to work on a film.
The strings are played by this guy Luca DAlberto from Italy.
I met him through MySpace. Hes amazing, I remember the first
time I listened to his own music, it made me cry! I have subsequently
collaborated with him on a couple of things, hes awesome. Another
guy Ive never met in person
anyway, theres probably
I hope I didnt leave anybody out.
mwe3: Is there a single on the album? Why Run When You Can Hide
is a good choice. What can you say about that track? Seems like people
cant believe their own good fortune when it happens to them
Young: I know, right? Its funny, because I couldnt
pick a single if I tried. This seems like a good choice, but honestly
the fans lean towards Patchouli Boy, and you cant
fault them for that.
mwe3: Happy is classic. Is that the perfect song
where atmosphere and melody collide into sonic paradise? Basically,
is it a love song? I can hear the fans sighing, it really is
in the genes...
Astrid Young: Aw.. thanks! That song is interesting in the
sense that I think I wrote the lyrics/melody about 5 times before
it became what it is. For the longest time it seemed kind of piecemeal
to me, but I really love it. Its one song that had a complete
musical arrangement before it even had a melody. Its still a
crowd pleaser at live shows
mwe3: Your New Drug is quintessential sounding.
Are the lyrics pretty surreal in places or are they tongue in cheek?
The choruses sound like gospel but the bridge is pure rock. Whos
playing the guitar solo near the end of the track?
Astrid Young: Eric McFadden played the solos on that. We recorded
the song years before the album got finished in California. The irony
is that Eric is best friends with Travis. Weird, eh? Didnt know
that until we got into the studio! And yes, the lyrics are very tongue
in cheek, quite silly in fact. We had a laugh writing them! Heres
another irony: we had written that line in the night do you
dream in Russian and neither of us had been there. Four
years later, were in the studio listening to it for the first
time since we wrote it, and Eric had just returned from his first
ever tour of Russia. Yup. Another signpost in the greater scheme of
Tell us about I Wish. Any insights on that song? You get
a great guitar sound on that track. How many overdubs on that track?
Astrid Young: Really there are not too many guitar o/ds
on I Wish, just the 12 string track and one or maybe two
that Joe did with his crazy sounds! Joe also played bass on that one.
I wrote the song when I was touring Matinee in the Netherlands
back in 2002 and have been playing it ever since. The recording is
slightly different than how I play it live, a little more jazzy
live its a bit more of a rocker.
mwe3: How many albums have you released on CD? I was interested
in your Pokalolo Paniolo album. Is that another side to your
music? How has your musical style changed or grown over the years?
Astrid Young: Ive released four solo albums, although
the first one, Brainflower, didnt get a commercial release.
I was signed to Warner Bros. at the time and we never really finished
the record. The short version of that story is that Lenny Waronker
left the label to start Dreamworks and I was left high and dry, but
they gave me my masters back so I own it all. Some of the songs have
been in movie trailers and things like that.
Next was Pokalolo Paniolo, which I made with my band IST. I
had been performing solo under that name for a while, and when I started
playing with these guys, they liked the name, so we kept it. That
was an awesome band, a power trio where I played bass and sang lead.
I still play with the drummer, Dan Cornelius. Matinee is an
acoustic album on which I played everything and made it in seven days
in my brothers studio. Its a very hi-fi album, and very
organic. And then comes the Giant Rock
lots of years
in between, but well worth the wait, Id say.
Tell the readers how you became involved in the wine business. What
do you think about all the cannabis business coming now? I guess in
California its pretty passé. Contrast the wine business
with the cannabis gold rush of 2014?
Astrid Young: Yeah, really. I dont really know much about
the cannabis culture
it seems to be changing all the time. If
governments didnt have such a stick up their asses about it,
theyd see that its a potential gold mine of tax revenue.
Especially California, which is far more conservative than you might
think. Theyll wake up and smell the bong water one of these
days. The wine biz is no better
I think its still a felony
to ship wine from California into Florida, what a crock.
Prohibition era laws will only fall when the old boys network grows
old and dies. I got into the wine biz through my sideline
work in restaurants throughout my music career
you never get
to play music all the time, so we all have a sideline. Anyway, the
more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, and it just snowballed
from there. I was lucky enough to be on some a-list tours throughout
that time, so I was able to actually visit a lot of important wine
regions and get some in person experiences that are not easily afforded
by most students of wine
and so Ive been lucky that way.
I hear some Neil Young, some Van Dyke Parks and some Gary Usher in
your songs, which is a great mix. Is that a safe assumption to make?
Who are some of your contemporaries these days?
Astrid Young: I dont know any of those cats. Well, maybe
the one guy, but that I cant really help. I was classically
trained, and my influences are very eclectic in that they range from
the great Russian composers such as, Rimsky-Korsikoff, Stravinsky,
Rachmaninoff... to Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, the Dead
Boys, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Kate Bush, and plenty of 1970s
disco and funk
oh yeah, and the Violent Femmes! In more recent
years, Queens Of The Stone Age, Fu Manchu, the Raconteurs
thats good. I dont discriminate. Classical still moves
me. Its the one thing I would do differently I think, if I had
I wouldnt give up serious music for rock and
roll. Nothing against rock and roll, but I still have a deep passion
for classical. Theres a much broader palate of sonic textures
mwe3: Amys Song closes out the CD. To my
ears it really sounds like the centerpiece of the album. Is it about
about global warming? Where is the San Fernando Shoreline and what
was involved in linking all the parts? The song is better than modern
day symphonic rock!
Young: Wow! Thanks! Amy was my best friend for many years. She
passed away after a horrible battle with cancer some years ago. I
wrote this song for her on the day she passed. Its about things
we used to talk about, laugh about. She and her husband, Jimmy, lived
in North Hollywood, and we would joke that if the big one
hit, wed lose Long Beach and the San Fernando Valley would fill
up with water and their house would be beach front. The Mexicans in
Panorama City would finally get their due! (lol) Anyway, yeah
its about my friend. Still makes me puddle up sometimes. I have
a version of that song that is just the piano and vocal track
Im going to release it as a single at some point. My original
thought was to donate all the proceeds from the song to cancer research
in her name, but that would amount to like $5 a year with the current
rates of downloads and streaming, so it seems a bit inconsequential.
Amy deserves a better tribute than that. Ill think of something.
mwe3: What other sonic mountains are there left to climb? How
can you further get the word out about your amazing album?
Astrid Young: Put the word out, man! This is a great record
and it deserves to be heard
A lot of heart, a lot of hard work
went into making this record sound so amazing. I have no doubt it
will stand the test of time! And
I still have an albums
worth of tracks to finish up for the follow up, which will be called
Calling. We also hope to release an extended double-vinyl version
of One Night At Giant Rock this year
a couple of bonus tracks on it. Next record though might just be a
me and my band mate/guitar player in my live band,
Matt King, are working on something fun. Acoustic versions of metal
songs we like, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, that sort of thing. Its
where we come from, and just for fun. Anyway, I would invite everybody
to stay in touch, via my web site or any of my social media sites
I share with relative frequency!
To Peter Holmstedt and to Astrid Young @ www.AstridYoung.net