ASTRID YOUNG
One Night At Giant Rock
(War Of The Gargantuas Omnimedia)

 

They 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 Astrid’s 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 Neil’s 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. Astrid’s music has been called “psychedelic acid folk” and that’s 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. There’s some very cool playing by a range of musicians here including former Go-Go’s 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 Giant Rock, 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 I’d seen them a bunch of times… we were on a trajectory to work together, there’s 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 isn’t that much, some midi stuff and of course that gorgeous piano track on “Amy’s 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. www.AstridYoung.net



 

mwe3.com presents an interview with
Astrid Young



mwe3
: 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: I’ve been back in Canada now for – wow! Twelve and a half years! Didn’t intend to stay this long, but it’s 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 20’s and 30’s there. And the weather doesn’t suck either. I love where I’m at now though. I’m in Prince Edward County, which is a wine region a couple of hours east of Toronto. It’s 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. What’s 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 didn’t do much of anything for a long time. But… as far as the concept goes, it was originally called Integratron, named after that silo-looking thing. I couldn’t name it that because apparently it’s trademarked and they make music CDs… so I opted for One Night At Giant Rock because… the Giant Rock is really only a couple of miles down a sand road from the Integratron, and also it’s a line from the song “Integratron”, so it made sense. We’re 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… lots of UFO sightings, X-files type urban legends, and then there’s the Integratron, which has a very mysterious and interesting history, all to do with time travel, human cell rejuvenation and aliens.

I 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 the artwork… that’s 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, we’ve still not met in person, but we are forever connected.

mwe3: Who did you work with on the One Night At Giant Rock album? I saw Victor DeLorenzo’s name on the CD cover. How did you produce the album together? Who’s playing the guitar parts, acoustic and electric? How about drums and keyboards? There’s definitely some cool effects and treatments on the tracks so clearly you put a lot into the recording.

Astrid Young: Yes, it was amazing. As I’d 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 I’d 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 Wiedlin’s 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 it’s the first time I’ve truly been ‘produced’ by somebody… it’s 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… which was not easy, but I think it worked out pretty well!

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 I’d seen them a bunch of times… we were on a trajectory to work together, there’s 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 isn’t that much, some midi stuff and of course that gorgeous piano track on “Amy’s 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 it’s actually Joe. He’s a force of nature, that guy. He designs guitar effects for Seymour Duncan, and he’s got this arsenal of sounds that would blow your mind. He also played resonator and some bass on a couple of tracks as well.

All the 12 string is me, and there’s lots of that. It’s 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”… we managed to catch her just as she was leaving town to work on a film. The strings are played by this guy Luca D’Alberto from Italy. I met him through MySpace. He’s 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, he’s awesome. Another guy I’ve never met in person… anyway, there’s probably more… I hope I didn’t 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 can’t believe their own good fortune when it happens to them these days.

Astrid Young: I know, right? It’s funny, because I couldn’t pick a single if I tried. This seems like a good choice, but honestly the fans lean towards “Patchouli Boy”, and you can’t 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. It’s one song that had a complete musical arrangement before it even had a melody. It’s 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. Who’s 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? Didn’t 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! Here’s 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, we’re 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 things!

mwe3: 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/d’s 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’ I guess… live it’s 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: I’ve released four solo albums, although the first one, Brainflower, didn’t 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 brother’s studio. It’s a very hi-fi album, and very organic. And then comes the Giant Rock… lots of years in between, but well worth the wait, I’d say.

mwe3: 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 it’s pretty passé. Contrast the wine business with the cannabis gold rush of 2014?

Astrid Young: Yeah, really. I don’t really know much about the cannabis culture… it seems to be changing all the time. If governments didn’t have such a stick up their asses about it, they’d see that it’s a potential gold mine of tax revenue. Especially California, which is far more conservative than you might think. They’ll wake up and smell the bong water one of these days. The wine biz is no better… I think it’s 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 I’ve been lucky that way.

mwe3: 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 don’t know any of those cats. Well, maybe the one guy, but that I can’t 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 1970’s disco and funk… oh yeah, and the Violent Femmes! In more recent years, Queens Of The Stone Age, Fu Manchu, the Raconteurs… anything that’s good. I don’t discriminate. Classical still moves me. It’s the one thing I would do differently I think, if I had a do-over… I wouldn’t give up serious music for rock and roll. Nothing against rock and roll, but I still have a deep passion for classical. There’s a much broader palate of sonic textures and dynamics.

mwe3: “Amy’s 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!

Astrid 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. It’s 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, we’d 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… it’s about my friend. Still makes me puddle up sometimes. I have a version of that song that is just the piano and vocal track… I’m 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. I’ll 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 album’s worth of tracks to finish up for the follow up, which will be called Spaceship Calling. We also hope to release an extended double-vinyl version of One Night At Giant Rock this year… It’ll have a couple of bonus tracks on it. Next record though might just be a covers album… 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. It’s 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!

 

Thanks To Peter Holmstedt and to Astrid Young @ www.AstridYoung.net

 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2015
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved