by John Sinclair
The following interview
with ROBIN TYNER, the lead singer of the MC5, the major Detroit avant-rock
band, was recorded by JOHN SINCLAIR in the first week of May, 1967,
for THE SUN. The MC5 has been together for almost three years and has
developed into one of the most exciting bands to be heard anywhere.
The group comprises TYNER, lead singer, harmonica, autoharp, etc.; WAYNE
KRAMER , lead guitar; FRED SMITH, rhythm guitar; MICHAEL DAVIS, bass;
and DENNIS THOMPSON, drums.
Their first 45 single,
"I CAN ONLY GIVE
YOU EVERYTHING," has recently been released on the AMG label,
and an album is being planned now. Tyner himself is not only a brilliant
singer and leader but also draws, does cartoons, writes songs, and is
writing a book of exercises for lead singers which will be published
soon by the ARTISTS' WORKSHOP Press/Detroit -
THE S U N / S P R I N G 1 9 6 7
John Sinclair: Let's talk about the music....
Well, as I see it, the real music scene in Detroit is doing all right.
But the whole - the population of all the musicians - and there's an
awful lot of young musicians in town - the percentage of these people
who are really into it is so low that you never get to hear any of it.
I mean, if there is somebody in town who is really into it, you know,
in the straight teeny-bopper scene, we never get to hear them. I've
heard very few bands in this city that I can even listen to - like,
there's Billy C. and the Sunshine, I have to mention those cats - but
the whole thing is, like, very appalling. Because being a musician,
I've lost all my sense of being entertained. You know, I can't be entertained
at all, because I'm an entertainer. I know that this isn't like, AH!
A SHOW!, but just guys up there working a job like I work a job, and
I've lost my concept of that. But to see somebody get up there and actually
work, like work on a musical plane, to get onto these planes and just
drive and work like a motherfucker, you just don't see it. Except, of
course, when you're listening to the three or four good bands in town,
or in the area - the ones I've heard. And I hope to God there's more
people, you know. And there will be. Because the real people are getting
good, so the people who copy them will have to get good. So pretty soon
it'll be... well I have no worries about the scene, let me put it that
way. Because it's just going OVER THERE, you know, from all the contact.
Like, you go to the Grande Ballroom and what do you see? You see, like,
Billy C. and the Sunshine three times - there are bands who are Billy
C., or who are the SpikeDrivers or the Southbound Freeway, you know,
you find that even now there's a small amount of hero-worship going
on, and copping different numbers and things. It used to be that you'd
go to the Grande
and there'd be 4 or 5 MC5 bands, 2 or 3 Billy C. and the Sunshines,
the Back & Back Boo Funny Music band... and those people used to
be sort of a driving influence there, but it's gotten so far now that
we can't even play there any more. At any rate, the musicians who do
copy, who've got it down, you dig, and they'll be getting into it pretty
soon. Because every band comes, you know, you get five people together,
or four people, in a band, who have got it, and you'll just come. One
night you'll be up there on the stand and you'll just come, and the
people will flip out, and it will be together. I felt it in my group,
you know, like "unhhh, unnhhh, I'm cooking," and POW! - one
night we EXPLODED.
We didn't care if the people dug it
or not, and musically we just exploded. We used to do our "avant"
numbers as sort of unleashing a monster on the crowd - we didn't even
care if they liked it, we hoped they hated it, because we were killing
them, we were shooting them down with these monstrous amplifiers and
we just didn't care. We were obnoxious. We'd get up and do all of our
tunes, and then at the end, we'd COME.
John Sinclair: "Black To Comm," yes. That always
makes me think of William Burroughs, you know, "People of the earth
to come out..."
Robin Tyner: The
job is getting rougher every day, getting more and more demanding, on
the part of singers in general. There are people in the world who are
shooting the scene farther and farther, and it's going so fast that
you have to RUN to keep up with it. A year and a half ago, back in the
early days of Mick Jaggerdom, that's when a singer didn't have to DO
anything but be a singer and do his act - and he didn't even have to
sound good, because that was hip back then - sound a little raspy, sing
a little flat, and that was cool, because a little farther back it was
Sinatra, you know, and he didn't do anything either. But nowadays, singing...
I mean listen to Spencer Davis for a minute, and you can tell that he's
obviously IN IT. He took a left turn at Ray Charles and...
John Sinclair: Disappeared...
Right. He shot it right out there. You just can't be a "singer"
any more, you got to DO IT! You got to be so together musically... your
voice has got to be so good, man, because the people demand it. They
won't let you shuck any more. Listen... I'm no longer talking to John
Sinclair, I'm talking to the public: People of the world, the next time
you see a live band, and they go up there and do top ten material, or
shuck around material, you oughta turn on them and say PLAY THE MUSIC
- either play the music or GET OFF THE STAND. Tell them that...
The lead singer of
the future will have to be the most versatile cat in the band, because
he has to be THE solo instrument. The lead singer and the lead guitarist
are the ones who do actual note-run solos. The rhythm guitar player
*any more* does feedbacks and keeps the sound up. The rhythm guitar
is no longer just a-chink a-chink a-chink, it's an art all in itself.
Anybody can go the note-run route, you know, like lead singers and lead
guitar players - you can express yourself beautifully with note-runs,
you hear it all the time - Jeff Beck, Mike Bloomfield, they can run
it down with notes. But it takes more to play a different game - the
rhythm guitar has to carry the band's sound all by himself. He's got
the BE THERE. And I haven't heard too many of that kind of player yet...
John Sinclair: Well, I think you've found one...
(IN UNISON): Fred Smith...(sigh)
Yes...; I'd like to thank all the cats in my band for getting as far
as they have, and I wish them luck for the future. (Laughter) But as
far as being as lead singer goes, in another year and a half the lead
singer will have to be the most multi-instrumental person in the band.
Lead singers should be in there playing tenor saxophone, and alto, and
bassoon, oboe, everything else... harmonica, which is like a sanctioned
instrument for rock & roll. I got onto that the first time I hear
Mick Jagger, Grimshaw brought the record over and I knew the second
I heard it that I had to be a singer. So I had this harmonica I'd picked
up a couple weeks earlier, and I got right down in there with that.
I tried for months and months but couldn't do anything with it. Then
one night I was at a beer party and some cat told me that all blue notes
are 'in' notes - draw notes - and that did it. That straightened me
right out. Every lead singer should have a whole range of instruments,
like say, Joseph Jarman has... bells, wind chimes, gongs, and anything
else that makes music. I've been playing organ, autoharp, chromatic
harmonica, Japanese flute, recorder, and something else... I can't remember
what it is. (Laughter) That's why I began going into the realms of the
sonic... playing feedback off the microphone. Hey, singers! You've got
an instrument! Anyone who's got a sound system has got an instrument.
You can play the microphone.
John Sinclair: I've always wondered how you picked up
on that. Did you hear someone doing it, or did you just discover it?
We were playing at a party at Betty Conn's house one night, a wild beer
party, and we played "Hang On Sloopy" for 45 minutes, and
I said to myself, "there's got to be something else we can do,
" because my voice was gone, and I'd been playing harmonica until
my mouth bled, you know, and I felt that there was something else we
should be doing - because I had to keep the level up there, we were
using guitar, bass, and drums at that point and we just kept going and
kept going. That was when we were first getting into it, getting farther
than what comes out of the radio speaker, and it was a question of what
could we do to take it even farther. So I told everyone, in the course
of the song, to listen because something really spectacular was going
to happen. And they wanted something spectacular, you know, everybody
was just sweating and screaming, because if you take a tune like that
and drag it out, it gets so much power, it's like a mantra, you just
say it until it's got so much power that you can't hold it any more
and it explodes, and it HAPPENS. So I went over to my *line* speaker
and shoved my microphone into it, and some glorious and beautiful sounds
came out of the speakers and the amps. So I began doing that profusely.
John Sinclair: When was that? Who was in the band then?
Were they working on feedback by that time?
That was about two years ago, and we had just begun to break into it.
That was a few nights before we actually did it on stage. We did it
in Dearborn, and we just EXPLODED out there. The first night we did
"Black To Comm," we wrote it down in Kramer's basement, and
Fred Smith discovered that you could turn up the Super-Beatle amp until
it was unbearable, right, and started playing the opening chords to
"Comm" spontaneously and smashed a jar! At that time our group
- we had Pat Burroughs and Bob Gasper on bass and drums. Gasper now
had a really beautiful, very tight band - the Endless Chain - really
together. Gasper's a tight drummer anyway. Burroughs elected to go into
the Marine Corps.
John Sinclair: Is that when Michael Davis joined the
Right. And we picked up Dennis Thompson from Lincoln Park - he
played in a bar with us a couple nights, and I guess we just scared
him into being our drummer.
John Sinclair: The Powerhouse....
You see, the thing is that Dennis amazes me... I don't want to say anything
about Dennis I'll just embarrass him... (Laughter)
John Sinclair: You have a lot of trouble with the technology,
right? I know I've talked with people about this, like Marion Brown, the
saxophonist, we were talking once about the artist pushing the technology
to make them come up with adequate tools...
Yes, soon there will be an amplifier that can take....
John Sinclair: The MC5....
That can take sustained feedbacks. Oh, incidentally, I have to mention....
if you singers want to play the microphone and the speaker, you're doing
it at your own risk. Because you can melt down your whole system that
way. It isn't a good thing for your speaker, but it sure is groovy.
And I don't want some cat coming up and telling me that I made him blow
his set up, you know, so make sure this part gets in, OK? That too is
an instrument. Like one night I dreamed I vomited on stage.... think
about that one! But I feel that it's the duty of every lead singer to
seek and find Joseph Jarman, and watch him! Because Joseph Jarman is
the best lead singer I've ever seen. Only he's a lead singer that took
the multi-instrumentalist route. In fact, most tenor players would make
good lead singers.
John Sinclair: Yeah, they do, like Archie Shepp
has said. Pharoah Sanders, Archie, Albert Ayler, Roscoe Mitchell.... Trane,
all those cats.
We saw Joseph Jarman out at Cranbrook last week, and it was one of the
most amazing things I've ever seen. Now, seemingly there's no connection
between rock-and-roll music and "avant-garde" jazz - they
seem to be totally unconnected - but they aren't.
John Sinclair: Right. These days most of the players
come out of rock & roll, or rhythm & blues, anyway, like Archie
Shepp says his biggest influence was Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and
all those old screaming cats. Or Albert Ayler used to play with Little Walter's
band. Like Pharoah Sanders, on MEDITATIONS, right in the middle of 'Consequences,"
playing way up on the fifth register of his horn, screaming his ass off,
and all of a sudden you hear him throw in "Hold On I'm Coming"
by Sam & Dave. Blows your mind.
What I really dig is the new resurgence of the Memphis sound - that's
beautiful, man. Carla Thomas and Otis Redding. Um um. Joe Tex and Aretha.
Yeah. Aretha Franklin, if you read this, I love you. I wonder if you
need a band to back you up. I'll just play harmonica for you if you
John Sinclair: Yeah, you know Aretha started out as a
Naturally. I started out as a jazz freak. So did you, so did... I mean
shit, you have to have your chops together before you can do it.
John Sinclair: That seems to be the difference,
actually, with the new rock & roll, and that's the thing that seems
to me to be the most exciting thing about the new rock, outside of the music
itself - that the rock players are becoming musicians now, not just plastic
guitar-strummers, bouncers up and downers....
Well, yeah, I mean, what else are you gonna do? I'm sure everybody who
digs rock & roll will thank the British cats very much, because
they're the ones who started the whole thing, they made us into musicians....
John Sinclair: Right. And the British got theirs
from the R&B people over here.
They just turned it around, they just gave it the emphasis... I think
they ought to be rewarded for that.
John Sinclair: Well, they have been.... (Laugher)
I think we oughta erect a shrine to them, to say "thank you very
much." Because if they wouldn't've taken rock & roll back to
where it started from, and take it on the right road... because, see,
rock & roll began, and then it was perverted immediately - because
of the American radio scene. Perversion. You know, it just became Connie
Francis, and Bobby Rydell, and Fabian and those cats....
John Sinclair: That's what drove me away from rock
& roll back in 1959. Like, I'd been a rock & roll freak in high
school, and then when those other cats came around I started listening to
jazz and just wasn't interested in what those people were doing at all.
After rock & roll became perverted, I watched it go down. And I
was glad to see it go. Because it started off so beautifully, man, and
it wound up so fucking malignantly corrupt, you know, that I was glad
it just sank. Because after it sank, man, I turned my face toward Cannonball
Adderley and all those cats. And then a young man by the name of John
Coltrane took over my heart and soul for a while. And just at the point
Coltrane was about to come, see, and I could have been there to see
it happen. But by then I was watching the Beatles, and Mick Jagger and
people, and getting my head tore up by cats who were doing the same
type of thing as the Adderleys were doing, only a little glossier. Because
for me jazz had remained a static thing... Cannonball and the people
of his genre, Herbie Hancock, the Jazz Crusaders - remember those cats,
"Young Rabbits" and all that shit.
John Sinclair: You talked about the American radio
system, which was responsible for all that shit being popular, and it wouldn't
let people know what was really going on in jazz at that time - Cecil Taylor,
Ornette, Eric Dolphy, and all that beautiful music....
Right! Radio stations ought to be bombed, right off the face of the
earth. They're a malignancy on our growth. Phew. I mean there are some
parts of this cancerous corruption, man, that are OK. But then... then
there's radio stations. Any part of a cancer is still a malignancy,
and you can't sacrifice for just one part that isn't so corrupt. But
the AM radio scene is just ridiculous.
John Sinclair: It'll change, though....
Oh, sure it'll change. It's got to change. If it doesn't, then nobody'll
believe it. We just won't stand for it.
John Sinclair: Like what you were telling the people
at the Love-In Sunday, when the Seventh Seal and Billy C. were playing,
that the people would have to demand to hear this music on the radio...because
they don't even know that the music exists, unless they hear it on the radio.
Right, right....Anything that comes out of the box - any air disturbance
or turbulence that comes out of the speaker - has to be made by somebody.
And it can always be made better. Always. Any sound you hear can be
made better. Remember that, man, because this depth and range of human
musical ability is endless. Totally endless, man. You can do anything
- ANYTHING - you can make the most fantastically gorgeous, soul-stirring,
beautiful, phantasmagorical music, or you can make bullshit. You know!
John Sinclair: All the bullshitters must be prosecuted!
Semark had a beautiful story about that - did you see that? "The Judgment
of Edmund Zwingy," it was in CHANGE/2 I think.
Yeah, I saw that! It burned in to my skin! In fact, that was what turned
my eyeballs to the malignancy, that story did. Read it, people - lead
singer musicians, pick it up and take a good look at it. Also, for your
convenience, the quotation at the top of this interview - you can clip
it out and carry it in your wallet and look at it every time before
you go on. Because John Tchicai wouldn't steer you wrong. That's it!
That's the rules to the game.
John Sinclair: What about material? Like some of
the things you've been doing lately that've been blowing my mind, making
up lyrics as you go along that come out of the specific situation. Like
at the Guerrilla Lovefare happening this winter, with all those beautiful
vibrations flowing and throbbing in the room, and in the middle of "comm"
you started singing, "here we are people, / Look what we can do"....Amazing....
Tyner: That's because the situation was
amazing. It has to do with the situation, that's all. Don't forget -
people listening to live music jump into a game situation and it becomes
magic - and it's beautiful, man, because while the vibrations are flowing
all around you and it's magic, you're still living in the real world.
So during the magic, if somebody tells you where you are in the real
world, it burns home. It hits you outside of the magic of the music...it
burns tight through the magic of the music and hits you in the real
world. The real world is terribly important - don't get hung up in the
amphetamine-mouthed rapping, the real world is beautiful, and the music
John Sinclair: Singers and musicians were always,
in ancient cultures, and in our own Western culture it's especially true,
before "literature," in the oral culture all learning was passed
on through the poets and the musicians.
John Sinclair: Poets were magicians.
Of course. Poets are magicians, everybody's a magician, man.
John Sinclair: And all learning was passed on that
way. And now we're talking about a return to an oral culture, less and less
people read, and people are getting what they know off the radio, off the
records...you can hear it, and that makes it more immediately REAL.
The thing is, people live inside the game structure, and they're just
not involved. They can't be involved, man, because they get the world
in a little picture tube. Everything happens in there. So if you haven't
been in there, or if you haven't come out of a speaker box on the radio,
then you don't exist. You dig. That's a pity, it's a sickening pity
that it is, because musicians and artists, man, sometimes they die,
people, sometimes they actually DIE. I mean, have a little compassion,
Have you ever dug
the radio on 6 o'clock Sunday morning, man, all those religious shows?
Or 8 o'clock Sunday night, on some of the smaller stations? That time
is being used by those people, turning out some little religious shows.
But wouldn't there be a better chance that a human person could get
a hold of that radio time and do something with it - get together a
real amazing together religious rock-and-roll music show? And TV time
- did you ever dig those Saturday morning cartoon shows? Some of them
are so bogue, man, some of them are so senseless. Why couldn't we get
some of that time and do something with it? I just wonder how possible
that would be. Why don't some of our people get into that end of it,
where we could see it and hear it on the media? I mean, our people are
getting into the music thing, and really doing it, but you can't hear
it on the radio. So we have to start taking over the mass media, because
that's where it's at - that's where the consensus of the people's thinking
comes from. It's part of their lives. We just have to show them that
there's more than what they already know. What you can understand is
John Sinclair: And you can't understand something
unless you are able to stand under it. Let it fall down on you, wash over
you. Everybody wants to "understand" what's going on without standing
under it, and that's the trouble. They want somebody to tell them everything,
without going through it themselves.
What we need is a sort of well-rounded home, man. Because like, calling
ourselves a community, that sort of thing, we need the mass media. Because
like you've mentioned to me in the past, man, we've just handed out
too many handbills. It's definitely not easy. But if we had some people
who were together enough to put together some radio shows, some hip
TV shows, I'm sure that since we've already taken over the newspapers,
we might as well hit them with all the barrels. We need people for the
radio stations, and the televisions, and all of that. If there's anybody
out there who's got a radio station they would like to lend out, or
give away, or if anybody would like to give a non-profit organization
some radio time, I'm sure we could arrange something very nice indeed.
John Sinclair: Well, you know you can get all of
that, but you know what you have to do to get it. The point in getting your
own thing is that you don't have to do all that shit and you can still get
what you want. Because the citizens seem to be looking to us for THE WORD,
you know, for what's happening, and they've just now discovered something
that we exist....
Like last week (Laugher). And now that they know that the beatniks have
got it....and the most beautiful thing about this is that it's happening
all over the country, man, all at the same time. The country is coming.
That's beautiful, man. Because like tow years ago I had absolutely no
faith in the people of Detroit, or the people of America - I wanted
the Russians to bomb them all right off the face of the earth, man,
I wanted the whole world to explode, because everybody was a drag and
I hated everything. All I loved was the music, man - the music of the
God. John Coltrane.
John Sinclair: "The music will see us through...."
And it will, man, because we've already won. The music has always been
the driving force behind everyone, man - the music, the music. Music
is such a big part of American life today. Do you realize how much music
there is to listen to? And it's all bullshit. It's too bad that it all
couldn't be beautiful, because then we'd all be beautiful people. Because
the people who hear the beauty of the music become softer. The people
who hear the music throw off a little bit of their armor - because they
know that the person who is singing the beautiful songs is without armor,
you dig, so you have to drop yours to listen to it. And the people who
listen to the music totally are the people who listen to good music
all the time, real music all the time, and they know that the world
is open, man, and that you don't have to wear armor. That's why I can't
conceive of the idea of any hippies that I know being violent at all,
because they listen to too much good music for that.
John Sinclair: Right. Just like at the Love-In,
you saw that the people who didn't have any trouble at all were the ones
who were right there where the music was. The music was so out-of-sight
a report of the DETROIT
BELLE ISLE LOVE-IN - [photo
/ Detroit News]
Because the music sustains and vitalizes them....
John Sinclair: Sets loose positive energy instead
of negative energy....
The only people that cause any trouble are the people who can't hear
you....just like you can't hear with a football helmet on...
John Sinclair: Or a banana in your ear....
Or whiskey in your head.
John Sinclair: All that stuff deadens your sensed....
And that's what the whole thing is all about - if your senses are deadened,
then your touch with outside reality is lessened, man. And the more
in tune with your senses you are, the more REAL you are. And you have
to be real to hear the music. And your senses have to be as sensitive
as the music in order to hear it all. And to hear like that, you have
to take the football helmet off, and your breastplate and armor and
swords and everything - throw it away! Because you have to be as free
as the music to hear it....
....If you elect to
hear the field of music, then that's all you can do - you can't do anything
else. You don't have anything else.
John Sinclair: You don't need anything else.
Tyner: You don't want anything else. That's
why my people gave me a little static before I entered the music business,
you know, but just a trifle....And I explained to them that I felt the
music, and I had to have the music, and they realized that. They were
surprisingly understanding, after they dug that. They were trying to
keep me from evil influences, you know. They were as beautiful sincere
as all parents are. The thing is that they understood when I told them
that I had to have the music, when I showed them, they understood immediately,
just as every young musician's people will have to understand. The parents
are up tight because there's no economic security in the music business,
but that's what's groovy about it. It hips you to the variables. It
doesn't have to be the way they say it dies. You know, the security
change is very important to a lot of people. The thing is, if you know
you've got it, then there's your security. You try to tell your people
that. My people fortunately understood that. I told them, "I got
it, hey, you know, I've GOT IT, I don't care what it sounds like, I
just gotta do it." And that's your security right there. You know
you've got it, so you're secure. It's as simple as that. You just go
out there and do it. But you've got to DO IT to do it. And if you don't,
then you're slighting not only yourself but the universe too, because
the universe is telling you to do it. Every molecule of your body says
DO IT, man, and your body can't be wrong. If you don't do what your
body says, the you're just constricting and torturing yourself.
John Sinclair: When do you think your music will
be heard? Recording happenings, or things like that?
The single is being heard now....
John Sinclair: Yes - kids, call your radio station
and tell them to play the BIG record - "I Can Only Give You Everything,"
by the MC5....
A skin commercial for the MC5....
John Sinclair: Do you have another record coming
We'll shortly be recording again, I'm sure, because our managers have
decreed it. They've mentioned that we should do it again. So I guess
we'll do it.
John Sinclair: Are you thinking about an album?
I'm always thinking about an album. I want an album right now!
John Sinclair: So do I!
I want 4 or 5 of them.
John Sinclair: What about your management?
Tyner: Well, to clear that all up....There
is no hassle, anyway. The thing is, a lot of nasty articles were written,
but again, we were speaking from one side of the fence, and there's
more to it than that. We all got together and we talked it all over,
and we reached a beautiful agreement. As far as provisions go for the
music - which was all I was interested in anyway - we're totally and
beautifully free to do anything we want. It was very gracious of them
to do that, because very few would. Because a predominantly large amount
of the business people of the world are just poor, scared people, and
they're just scared of anything new and scared of anything that doesn't
sound like, you know, the Beach Boys or whatever, because they got to
GET THE MONEY, GET THE MONEY, GET THE MONEY, SUCCEED, SUCCEED, SUCCEED,
get up there and GET IT GET IT GET IT. But we've got some people who
have a little more respect for the music, and I think we're very fortunate
to have people who are sensible enough not to want to detract from the
John Sinclair: Now if you'll only get an album out.
Oh, we'll get that, that's no problem. I mean, from here on in, as far
as our own personal music goes, that's pretty much taken care of, and
I'm very happy with the way things are going to be going. You see, the
contract that we were going to sign, that was pretty much a standard
general contract, and if you read the provisions outside of this game,
you dig, it would sound a bit constricting. But they're talking about
the abstractions with vast sums of money....like, OK, I'll be willing
to take 10% of 3% split 5 ways from 17 billion dollars, you know, that's
a lot of bread. I don't care about that anyway - that doesn't faze me
a bit. It never has. That didn't stop me from getting into the music
business in the first place, and it won't keep me out of it now. You
know. The most important thing about the music is the music, not how
much it makes or whatever happens with it, but it's the music that counts,
and that will always be my firm resolution and it always has been. I
mean if I find myself shucking I'll just drop out completely.
John Sinclair: Which you won't have to do....
I hope not. Because I have some top secret plans that are going to take
singing out there....
John Sinclair: What about the symphonies you've
been writing lately?
I've been writing some strange symphonies, yes. We're hoping to put
on a series of concerts in the near future, and we've been writing some
symphonic pieces that we hope to perform in a quiet and dignified atmosphere.
They couldn't really be done at a record hop, not at this point, we
we're looking for a new way to present them. The forms of the music...we'll
keep on supplying the people with as much music as we can, you know,
I mean as much music as is artistically feasible for us, as far as having
people dance and get sweaty, because that's what they're supposed to
be going anyway. That's why we do numbers like "Can't Explain"
and "C.C.Rider" and "Tobacco Road" - we want the
people to dance, you know, that's an integral part of the music, to
get people's reactions to it, and if we see people doing beautiful movements
to our music, then we have no recourse but to think that our music is
beautiful. And sweating - sweating is very important, it lubricates
the body - that's why you see me standing up there in a pool of sweat,
I just sweat like crazy, because it makes me move so good. Just open
the floodgates and let your body evaporate. That's fantastic. That's
what it is - just let your body evaporate. That's the best tribute that
a person can give to a musician - just stand there in front of him and
sweat to his music. You know, the music burns you up - burns all the
fat off - just burns you lean. That's why we play the way we do, that's
why I stand there in the middle of "Can't Explain" and scream
"Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance!" Like when we play at places
like the Grande Ballroom - they have seats down in front where people
just sit and watch the bands, and that's how it should be, I mean people
should be at ease so that they don't have any body hang-ups, so they
can sit down and just let their bodies disintegrate and just be a mind
and an ear, you know, just listen to the music. Feel the music and watch
it. But any more, man, I....if the audience doesn't vibrate back, if
you don't play for an audience that vibrate strongly, then it'll either
do one of two things to us: it'll either turn us off completely, or
it'll shoot us to heights to try and make the audience vibrate back
- because we know they can vibrate, we've felt them vibrate before -
I mean I know all these people personally, I've walked up to them and
talked to them and, you know, said things to them and said "Hi"
to them and tried to get near them - because the people have to feel
the music, you have to get down to a personal level with the people,
make it a personal thing. Instead of being a radio-speaker-symbol for
music...I'm not just music, I'm a human being and I'm talking to you,
each and every one of you. I'm not just singing some abstraction, I'm
talking to you - making personal contact. You have to, in order to tune
your music to the people.
John Sinclair: You take it out of a dramatic mode,
which is what most "entertainment" is all about, and put it into
a personal mode. What the young bands don't seem to realize is that if you
get up there and sing somebody else's material, then you're just an actor,
and you throw out the reality human possibilities of music. You hear bands
do songs because they're hip, or on the charts, that's one thing...but like
you told me about a song like "Tobacco Road," how that relates
to specific concerns of yours, like your own concept of community and that
whole change...or the way the Jefferson Airplane does it, you can feel that
the song means something to them.
I think the Airplane has the best version of that song, because it's
got all the sadness in it. Now you take a lot of people, I don't think
they realize what they're creating. Take a tune like "C.C."
- think about "C.C.Rider" - when Mitch Ryder and the Detroit
Wheels do it, it's jumpin' and groovin' and drivin' hard and ballsy....But
you take that tune and write it down on a piece of paper, look at the
words, scan it, see what they look like, and it's amazing, the meanings
in there. But it's turned into such a horrendous thing - people just
kept chanting the words over and over and it became so profound...
John Sinclair: Magic....
Certainly - magic. Magic's very important. I had a dream about the long-haired
angels from outer space just as I wanted to get farther into the music.
I began dreaming about angels, dig it, and that's why I know the whole
thing is divine. See, the angels come to earth in a ship, and the ship
crashes and their instruments get smashed. The beautiful long-haired
angel people from another world, I don't know where, they're just beautiful
musical people. Their culture is based on music, just like ours is going
to be, and so their people sent the best and most sensitive and most
open of the musicians to show our people, to communicate with our people,
and their instruments get smashed, right? This all happened in my first
dream. And they found that they could play the musical instruments of
this world, because....
John Sinclair: Because they were musicians....
Tyner: Right. And ever since, I've known
that something strange is happening. The first tune I ever wrote was
called "Long-Haired Angels Screaming." We haven't ever done
it with the band. "On a thousand real stages / throughout the land
/ More than prophesied by the eyes of man / Long-haired angels screaming
in the night / their amplified carols / Try as you might / you can't
get them off your mind / don't ask me why / They have voices piercing
as the birds in the sky / and the beasts on the land and the fish of
the sea / and you and your brothers and your sisters and me...."
You dig? That was my first tune. And ever since then I've known that
that's my vocation. I have to do it. Because the angels are here, man,
they've entered human bodies. Maybe I'm not the same being I was - maybe
the dreams took over, and maybe I'm an alien. That's why the music happened,
that's where the music's coming from. Sun Ra tells you that, man, Sun
Ra...you ask him if that's what's happening, if that's what happened
to him, and he'll say "yes, possibly"....When he talks about
leaving the planet, he means when he goes from this planet to the others
as our ambassador. Right? As the ambassador who will state the mental
and physiological condition of the people of earth. I sincerely believe
that. And I want to play on the show with him.
NOTE: Robin Tyner and the MC5 will be playing on the
show with Sun Ra and his Myth-Science Arkestra when they come to Detroit
Saturday June 10, for a concert in Upper DeRoy Auditorium on the WSU
campus, brought to you by Trans-Love Energies Unlimited and The Sun.
Watch for more details. Magic lights by the Magic Veil Light Co.
by courtesy of John Sinclair ©1967
by John Sinclair