I N T E R V I E W
Totally WILD! An Interview with Phil Grey about the ‘Retrospect '60s Garage Punk Show’
with Ian Duggan
‘Retrospect’ is a radio show and podcast that focusses on '60s garage rock, garage punk, proto-punk, freakbeat and psychedelia music. It is produced and presented by Hamilton local Phil Grey, with shows first broadcast on Free FM, then on other New Zealand community radio stations, as well as half a dozen North American stations, and has a global following via the podcasts. We talked to Phil about his interest in these ‘60s genres, his favourite songs, and all about the show itself!
HUP: As a co-host of HUP and The Hum 106.7FM’s Tekau Nga Waiata Pai Top 10 show, and as a frequent gig goer, we know you have a love of new music, and particularly that from New Zealand. How did your interest develop in garage punk/garage rock, freakbeat and psych from the ‘60s?
Phil: I grew up loving ‘60s music. Even in my teens I was all about the Beatles, then The Who, Stones, Kinks… and naturally dug deeper. I got stuck on the Velvet Underground for a good few years, then Beefheart. In a previous life I worked in libraries, and an old mate Terry Bishop was the music buyer for Hamilton’s libraries. We’d pore over catalogues, and he’d turn up with all sorts of cool stuff, as many of us around in the 90s will attest! One day Terry added an amazing compilation called ‘Everything You Always Wanted To Know About ´60s Expansive Punkadelic Garage Rock Instrumentals But were afraid To Ask’ to the collection, then a few more ‘60s garage and psych releases. They didn’t get borrowed much and ended up in my collection, to which I soon added the legendary Lenny Kaye-curated Nuggets box set, and then there was no looking back.
HUP: What are some of your favourite songs from this era?
Phil: Wow, hard question.
As actual songs, I’d list:
‘Gloria’, by the Van Morrison-fronted Them. The perfect song, and one that was widely covered by garage bands. At last count I have versions by well over fifty ‘60s garage bands; faves being Los Temperatios, Los Sharps, Los Young Beats, and Delfini from Zagreb.
The 13th Floor Elevators’ debut single ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ and ‘Slip Inside This House’.
The Who’s ‘My Generation’ – not so much the original, but weird covers such as Zlatni Akordi’s, an Italian freakbeat band called The Geordies, and Som Beat from Brazil. And Los Shakes’ Spanish version ‘el Mugroso’!
I’m also a big fan of material by Peruvian proto-punk band Los Saicos, Japanese ‘Group Sounds’ bands [the Japanese version of garage rock] The Mops, The Jaguars and The Spiders, and a crazy American band called The Driving Stupid.
And The Monks. Definitely The Monks!
This track has an almost Sonic Youth-like instrumental section!
HUP: How long has ‘Retrospect’ been going?
Phil: Somewhere around 7 years
HUP: How frequently do you make new shows? Are you still discovering plenty of new songs to play on the show? How often are you now having to repeat content?
Phil: Weekly. It’s produced and aired at Free FM before syndication across New Zealand, and via a handful of selected Canadian stations and one in California.
Yes, I am discovering new stuff all the time. It’s all about the hunt! Just this week I’ve scored new stuff from [old] bands The Bojax, The Muldoons, The Bucket City Distortion Racket, a bizarre LP by The Four Skins, which seems to be a bunch of medical students [?] singing about STDs, and one useful track called LSD, and global garage tracks from Hector et les Mediators [French freakbeat], Norwegian band Firebeats Inc., and a psychedelic Czech band Blue Effect.
I have somewhere around 15,000 tracks to play with, so I only repeat things I really want to. I still have a backlog of 100 or so full LPs to sort through, yet to be played.
HUP: What kind of following does the show have, and what sort of feedback have you received from your followers?
Phil: Social media makes all the difference – I share artist and song info there, and also the podcast links. That generates a heap of feedback from all over the world, and a bunch of stuff I can’t translate. Retrospect has over 7,000 Facebook followers and in a good month has over 10,000 podcast listens.
It’s cool having loyal listeners keep in touch. In fact, this month I invited one of the biggest fans to select all the tracks [episode 358] and co-host from North Carolina.
HUP: How much New Zealand and Hamilton content is there among the songs?
Phil: A fair bit, although a lot of the NZ ‘60s stuff is more soul or R&B rather than real garage punk. There’s a few good comps for sure [Wyld Things, A Day In The Mind’s Mind] and I do have a few faves including some early Ray Columbus material that is reallllly good, a super-obscure cover of The Who’s ‘I’m A Boy’ done by Wellington’s The Rising Sons featuring Denis O’Brien [owner of Slow Boat records and brother of RNZ’s Phil O’Brien], who doesn’t even have a copy. In fact, they hadn’t heard it for many years until I played it.
Not much Hamilton content. The few bands I do have are a bit ‘pop’ for my podcast, with one exception – the incredible ‘Belly Board Beat’ by local band The Music Convention! That’s totally WILD and someone should get the rights for their local government election campaign ads. LOL!