before you poke fun at the name of this group, lets take a look
at an intriguing slice of neglected prog-rock history. Arising out
of the ashes of the U.K. group Odin, the group known as BunChakeze
featured Gary Derrick (bass), Colin Tench (guitars),
Cliff Deighton (drums) joined by L.A. based singer Joey
Lugassy. As retold by Colin Tench in the CD liner notes, the group
recorded Whose Dream? in London in 1985. Remixed in 1992, after
18 years, the Whose Dream? album finally sees the light of
day with a 2010 CD release of the album. This release is truly the
result of musicians coming back to life and reaching out to untold
generations of progressive rock fans through the magic of the internet.
How else could a dynamite band like BunChakeze breakthrough the mists
of time and obscurity to inform a discerning group of music lovers,
now more than ever interested in hearing rare and unheard music such
as this welcome discovery. Plus, what a great job Colin Tench has
done in this first ever CD release of the one and only BunChakeze
album. While listening to the CD, you can pick up on influences of
classic mid 70s proggers like Gentle Giant and Van Der Graf
Generator among others as musical touchstones. After all it was the
era and this album takes you back to the late '70s while still coming
up with something new. The album was superbly recorded to begin with
so after 25 years, it literally comes across as a fully formed classic
of the genre. Two dazzling instrumentals bookend the CD while the
music in between is quite a complex "bunch of keys" made
accessible while you read along with the lyrics in the well designed
packaging. As pointed out in the booklet, the new interest in BunChakeze
created by this historic release will hopefully inspire the original
members to regroup and plan new adventures. www.BunChakeze.com
MWE3.com presents an interview with
COLIN TENCH of BunChakeze
The history of the BunChakeze Whose Dream? album is that the album
was recorded in 1985 and remixed in 1992. Why was there such a long
time span in between recording, remixing and finally releasing the
CD in 2010? Looking back, do you have any reflections on making the
album, the remixing and now finally the long awaited CD release?
CT: Even before we started working on it, we knew that it would never
get released, however good it was. Remember that in the 80s
recording an album cost a huge amount of money. Nobody would finance
it, so we had to really want to do it. We were offered studio time
if we helped to build a home based studio for a guy who we had become
friends with. It took months and we often recorded during gaps in
the building work. We learnt a huge amount and even recorded without
a studio engineer some of the time. We had the key to the studio!
Clearly we never took this to a live audience because we never recruited
a second guitarist or keyboard player. I guess we treated it as a
personal recording to be enjoyed by friends. We never tried to make
it commercial. Nevertheless, the more we did, the more we felt we
really had something that could sell. We had a big problem finding
a good singer who didn't demand stardom. The album has a very instrumental
sound because we wrote and recorded before we finally found Joey.
Joey was a real piece of luck. We had rough mixes of everything already
when Joey arrived. I remember that it was very difficult to imagine
vocals until he joined, therefore it sounded like a totally instrumental
album. I think the success of the whole recording is that we had no
set predetermined plan for the final sound. Joey was able to be himself
and become fully involved in the album and not an addition to it.
We didn't want it to sound like instrumentals with singing on top.
We finished with a good mix but we had no more studio time to perfect
it. We tried knocking on doors of record companies but they wouldn't
even listen. Therefore we never went back and mixed it properly. We
were happy and I went off traveling and moved to Sydney for a year.
Joey went back to L.A. and Cliff and Gary joined local London bands
for fun. It was in 1992 that we decided we'd never sell it so we would
spend a little money, add a couple of missing guitar and drum parts
and mix it for our own satisfaction. We didn't want it to be unfinished
forever. The good thing about that was that seven years on, we knew
what was wrong with it. The main thing was the mix. The result is
that the guitars were pushed back and gave it a more open sound. You
can hear everything. We also got the album cover together. We tried
the record companies again and the UK friday rock show guys but still
pretty much stopped playing and Gary and Cliff dabbled in bands but
never worried about making a career out of it. Joey was in L.A. and
making a music career for himself. At least Joey was still trying
and he was getting better all the time! BunChakeze had no chance of
ever coming together really and we forgot about it.
Four months ago I decided to test the waters one more time. With the
new possibilities of the internet, we could find out if anyone liked
the music. I was astonished at the reaction. Almost one hundred percent
success. Everyone seemed to like it, even the album artwork. I need
a good reason to put my all into music and I suddenly had one. It
is possible to release an album without asking permission now. Ha!
After much debating, it was decided to not go back into a studio again
and just master it as it is. I have a very good friend who is an expert
at mastering so he did it and we released it.
MWE3: How about the name of the band, BunChakeze...how did you come
up with the band name?
CT: We started rehearsing under the name DDT, our surnames. A practice
piece had a few key changes in it, so we called it bunch of keys.
We converted that to Bun Chakeze and later BunChakeze and named the
band after it. Always aware of the problem of naming a band and finding
there are three others in the world, like Odin! Nobody ever called
themselves BunChakeze, so we got that right.
MWE3: Who in BunChakeze had the biggest impact on the song-writing
process on the Whose Dream? album and can you say something
about the two instrumentals that bookend the album? Those are definite
highlights and a great way to begin and end the album. The closing
instrumental "Whose Dream" reprise) is a true classic!
CT: The writing process was varied in a true band fashion. I don't
write lyrics but Gary and Cliff do. Cliff doesn't play guitar, so
the music was all from me and Gary. Gary and I are very different.
That had a serious affect on the final sound of the music. I was listening
to Floyd and Al DiMeola, Gary was more Whitesnake and Rush. The combination
works really well. Flight Of The Phoenix is very Gary
and The Deal is very me. You can hear the effect that
Cliff has on drums. That's why we put it out front. I had a big input
to the sound because I played all the guitars and synthesizers, therefore
played things my way. The first instrumental was me really but it
was something that could actually be rehearsed even with just the
3 of us, so that was the one that got the band treatment. It evolved
and became Bun Chakeze. Whose Dream? was my
first real successful attempt to write the music around the lyrics.
It became the obvious choice for the title track and a demo for record
companies to listen to. The last part of that song is so fun to play,
we just had to use it as a reprise. I do tend to go for playing an
actual tune with the guitar, rather than solos. I think it's one of
those strokes of luck you hope to get. I love that track! It's catchy
in a very good way.
MWE3: The CD sound of the album is quite fantastic, it almost sounds
like it was recorded yesterday! How challenging and emotionally satisfying
was it going back to the original tapes and was anything done in the
CD remastering or remixing process to give the Whose Dream?
album such a cutting edge modern kind of sound?
I said, the long gaps between revisiting the music taught us what
we needed to know to get the sound we wanted. What band ever gets
that chance? When we remixed in 1992, we didn't use any effects offered
to us to get a bigger drum sound using triggered samples etc. We knew
where we wanted everything in the mix and the tapes sounded pretty
good. Studios can often follow trends, use the equipment of the day
and aim at creating a sound quality a bit like other music that is
around at that time. We had music totally out of touch with the time,
an engineer who had never worked with anything like our music before
and he allowed us to aim for the sound we wanted. He helped us and
never tried to change us. That was why it sounds like it does. We
rehearsed as a 3 piece and wanted that sound to exist in the final
mix, even though we are effectively a 6 piece. We are really pleased
with how the CD sounds today.
MWE3: How would you compare the sound of your first band Odin and
the BunChakeze sound? How about the one and only Odin album, can you
say something about making the Odin recording and its eventual release
CT: We have actually mastered the Odin album already and it has a
softer sound because it was never mastered onto digital tape. It still
sounds good though. In Odin, we were not progressive rock, more melodic
rock. We had two guitarists and John Culley (ex Black Widow and Cressida)
was the other guy. John is more blues and that was a good combination.
Cliff and I always sneaked a bit of prog into everything but never
overdid it. A lot of twin lead runs through much of the Odin material
but few actual lead breaks. You could say that both Odin and BunChakeze
always used the guitars and keyboards together as a musical piece
rather than as solo instruments.
It will be released digitally this month and I hope to follow that
with a CD too. John Culley has recorded a solo piece this year for
inclusion on the album and it is wonderful!
MWE3: I also noticed that in addition to you, Cliff, Gary and Joey
the band had a fifth member on the Whose Dream? album, Alex
Foulcer, how did Alex impact the studio sound?
CT: Alex is the guy who was building the studio. He was crucial to
us ever getting this album made. He liked the music and is a very
good keyboard player. I love the combination of acoustic and electric.
It's hard to beat. He was very happy to play on the album and we needed
a piano! He also was the main engineer during the recording.
mentioned BunChakeze was influenced by classic U.K. rock bands like
Gentle Giant and Van der Graf Generator. What was it about that classic
progressive rock era and the music that inspired you so much in the
CT: We all grew up in the 60s and 70s so that was the
most incredible time too take in influences. The main ones for me
would be The Beatles, Pink Floyd and the whole Genesis/Yes sound.
Throw in Focus, Alice Cooper, Uriah Heep and one hundred others and
you have anything goes! It was all on the radio and everyone got to
know all those bands. I'll bet that anyone who grew up then, can recognize
at least one song from any prog band of that era. If Deep Purple In
Rock, Split (Groundhogs), Tarkus or Court Of
The Crimson King had been released in the 80s or 90s,
they would have never been allowed on the radio. From that time you
could almost date available influences. Music became a fashion and
there was nothing for me at all. I started to listen to jazz rock,
Vai, Satriani and Zappa. Listening to these guys stopped me from playing
guitar because they are so good it's frightening. I forgot that most
people can't listen to that kind of music and would actually prefer
BunChakeze. I now know this!
MWE3.com: How do the other members of BunChakeze feel about finally
having the album come out in 2010 and do you still keep in touch with
the other members of the band who recorded the album?
CT: I started the ball rolling and have slowly experienced each stage
of the process and have been amazed. The other three have been maybe
a little stunned because for them it happened very suddenly. Everyone
is over the moon with it.
We have been very much in touch for the whole time. Nobody has seen
me with a guitar though! Gary and I have been skiing many times in
Tahoe and Montana. Cliff has been skiing with us too. We have all
visited Joey in L.A. but I have spent many great holidays there with
Joey and his family. Apart form going to concerts together, we have
had no musical contact really and that is very odd. We are all very
MWE3: How about the guitars you featured on the BunChakeze CD? Are
you still actively playing guitar and what do you think about the
current state of rock music and progressive music in 2010?
Ibanez artist twin-neck, I bought in 1979 in Sydney. It was the first
"real" Ibanez as I remember. I think they made copies until
then. I used it in Odin and as you know, it's all over the Whose
Dream? album. I always loved the 12 string sound. Genesis again!
I used a Gibson SG and that was my main guitar at the time of Odin
and BunChakeze but I never liked it. Now I think I wish I still had
it! I found a Strat laying around in the studio and it got used a
lot. Midnight Skies came from the sound I got from that
guitar. In 1990 I bought a Heart electric from a friend who was always
buying and then getting bored with every guitar he could get his hands
on. I used it in 1992 on Whose Dream? reprise and it will be
the guitar I use most of the time. It's a rare guitar hand made by
a guy in the UK.
The current state of prog is wonderful. I think that Dream Theater
have almost single handedly driven rock and prog to where it is today.
Not because they are such virtuosos but because they have promoted
and helped almost every prog band out there. I don't remember bands
doing that for one another in the old days.
I can listen to Porcupine Tree, The Flower Kings and Pain Of Salvation
for hours. We have Arjen Lucassen, Neal Morse and Steven Wilson. Times
are good indeed! I am playing guitar again but all my time is used
up getting this album out there so that we can follow it up with live
performances at last.
MWE3: In the liner notes you mention a few of the people or early
BunChakeze allies, including Pasi Koivu, Sylvie Durette, Suzie Francis
and of course the graphic artist Andrew Skeoch. Can you say something
about how these people affected the longevity of the BunChakeze legacy?
Is there anyone else who can take some credit in keeping the band's
name moving in the right direction, then and now?
CT: Andrew auditioned me to join his band in Sydney in 1977. I got
the job! He instantly became a close friend and we traveled across
Asia together in 1980, so he goes way back. He records mixes and masters
nature sounds now and
it is very high quality. He became the guy who fixed up the sound
on early Genesis bootlegs to make them sound the way they do today.
He was perfect for mastering our album. He was visiting me in Sweden
in the spring, told me I should do something with the album.
Pasi Koivu, I found on the internet because he looks after the archives
for Black Widow. I was looking for John Culley, who I'd lost touch
with 25 years ago. I contacted Pasi to see if he knew where John was.
He did but he had no idea there was any music of John's in existence
after Black Widow folded. He insisted on hearing some. He told me
I should do something with the Odin and BunChakeze recordings. By
now I was convinced it was worth a try. He showed me how to use Facebook
and MySpace etc and did everything he could think of to help me. One
of those things was introducing me to Sylvie Durrette who is rather
closely connected to Black Widow and is a lyricist. Sylvie took us
under her wing and gave me advice, contacts and told everyone about
us. It was amazing. Pasi and Sylvie were absolutely crucial in getting
us off the ground.
Suzie Francis is a friend in Sweden and good with PCs. she and
her family seemed to drop everything in order to help spread the word
and give me advice when I needed it with technical issues. I can't
imagine how many hours Suzie put in for us. Sonia Mota in Mozambique,
we met on Facebook and she also worked at all hours of the night to
help us spread the word. So we don't have the help of a record company
or anyone in the music business at all. These 5 people have been those
things for us. Astonishing! Andrew, mastered the album, designed the
artwork for the CD and prepared it for the manufacturer. The CD cover
was already done in 1992 but it needed updating.
MWE3: What are your plans for the future? I know you mentioned a reissue
of the Odin CD. Finally, what would you like people to come away with
after listening to the BunChakeze CD?
CT: It's not easy living in 3 different countries, so we need the
sales in order to make it viable to reform, add the missing members
and play this stuff for real. We really do want this to happen. I
know how good that this music and new material could sound if we performed
it as a real 6 piece. Now we've come this far, it would be a terrible
shame not to do it.
I feel that the CD is very easy to get into. Every track has been
chosen as a favorite by somebody. It is progressive but catchy. Most
agree that it gets better the more you hear it and that pleases me
no end. I believe that people who like it will want the Odin album
too. I like them both. They haven't dated.