Jesus Acedo Interview
"Diabolus In Musica" Interview with Jesus Acedo By Sergio Vilar What are the origins of the band and what are the biggest influences on the musicians? The origin of the band goes back to when me and Michael Glidiwell had a guitar class together in High School. Although we were in guitar class, we never learned to read music. The guitar teacher would put us apart from the class in a rehearsal room and grade us on the compositions we would write. Everyone else in the class got to learn to read music, but I guess it worked out because Michael and I got to spend time together and write. After we graduated from high school we stayed in touch and in 1984 we formed Black Sun Ensemble with myself on guitar, Michael on bass and John Brett on drums. John Brett was a friend of ours that was a couple of years older than us. We rehearsed for six months and then recorded the first Black Sun Ensemble album on Pyknotic Records. As far as influences, my influences include John McLaughlin, George Harrison, Jimi Paige and Jimi Hendrix- but I have to say there were a lot of other guitar players like Johnny Winter, Rick Derringer, Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Roy Buchanan and Albert King that inspired me to play guitar but not necessarily in their style- Jimmy Nolan from James Brown’s band was another, example. They all played music I liked but gave me more inspiration then direct influence. Where did you come up with the name Black Sun Ensemble? I came up with the name Black Sun Ensemble in my freshman year of High School. I used to read a lot of weird books when I was a kid- Devils Triangle, Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Ghosts, Paranormal, ESP. I also used to read Black Magic books and books on witchcraft. I read in a Black Magic book that the Black Sun symbolizes Apollo as Appolian the destroyer, Prince of the bottomless pit when he is the Black Sun. I liked that concept and got the name Black Sun Ensemble from a Black Magic book. You didn’t get the name from the Bible in Revelations? No, I didn’t, even though it’s related to that. How would you describe your music? There have been different descriptions of Black Sun Ensemble’s music over the years, but I would describe our best music as Middle Eastern influenced psychedelic rock. We always try an incorporate Middle Eastern instruments and sounds into our pieces- but that is all I can say. How do you write your lyrics and develop themes for them and how does that translate to a concept for the entire record? I started writing lyrics for the “Hymn of the Master” project, and the lyrics came to me as poems first. They just come out of nowhere, once I get an idea I just start writing and it starts snowballing and it turns into a song. I know you wrote a few songs for “Lambent Flame” and can you talk a little bit about how the concept came together for that record. That record was put together at Odin’s house. The music was rehearsed for three months, bass drums guitar and basic tracks. Then Odin and I took the rough mixes of what was recorded the first night of the lambent flame session and stayed up for three consecutive nights writing lyrics for the record. We wrote lambent flame at Odin’s house by ourselves- Odin’s family was not there- we just focused on writing. I wrote the lyrics for “Beneath the Sapphire Sky” which I had a rough draft of and revised in the studio when we recorded. I also wrote the lyrics for “Staying Power” in 1992 that came to me magically and then I wrote music for them. I’ve also written several songs for our upcoming record “Bolt of Apollo”. How do you write your compositions- do you develop them from the bass lines and build up? What instrument to you typically write on? I write my songs on the guitar, and they just come to me. I can write a whole song, structured with chorus, verse and bridge within a half hour- I just magically start working. Once the main riff comes to me, I start working around chords and then start structuring it- and as far as the solos- I just record them live in the studio, press the distortion box and take a solo. The songs typically come magically and I tend to write them quickly. Can you talk about the evolution of the music and the band from the beginning until Starlight? The first line up of the band was just a three piece- Me, Michael Glidiwell and John Brett on drums. Then it became a four piece with John Brett’s brother Robert playing tabla drums. I invited Bridgette Keating to play violin and she recorded on the song “XYZ”. The band was essentially a studio band until 1988 when we started playing live. When I was able to secure a recording contract with Reckless Records, I recruited Odin Helgison and Duane Norman from the Host, and the line up was with John Brett and Michael Glidiwell to round it out to record “Lambent Flame” in the winter of 1988. In 1989 “Lambent Flame” was released, John Brett left the band and moved to Phoenix, and he was replaced by Tony Edlebrock on drums, who was Odin’s brother in law. This line up recorded “Tragic Magic”. After the “Lambent Flame” tour, which included the opening dates for “Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie” tour, Duane Norman and Odin Helgison left the band. They were replaced by Eddie Edlebrock and John Macarchick, Eddie was Tony’s brother who played bass and guitar and John was Odin’s good friend from the Tucson punk rock band LoMax, they were from Scranton PA. We recorded “Elemental Forces”, but due to personal issues in the band, the band broke up. I was diagnosed with mental illness in 1991 and spent the next two years in recovery. I recorded “Psycho Master El” during that period with Odin on guitar and vocals, Ratshit on drums, Michael on bass and me on vocals. I was very sick and the album was only half released because I heard voices telling me to burn them- it was a very difficult period for me. After that I stopped playing music for the next five years until I received news from Rich Hopkins that he was looking for me to revisit the tracks form “Psycho Master El”. We remixed the tracks in 1999 and released it as “Sky Pilot”. At the time I formed an acoustic band with Joseph Graves on bass, Manny Peters on Tabla, Duane Norman on flute & clarinet and me on twelve string guitars. We rehearsed and played out for about six months in 1999. In the year 2000, Michael Glidiwell rejoined on bass and Bryan Kohl joined on drums. After a bit, Michael decided to leave and I approached Sun Zoom Spark, the band that Bryan was in to work with me. I’m proud to say that I was able to work with the original line up of Bryan Kohl on drums, Young Arnold on bass and Eric Johnson on guitar for the “Hymn of the Master” album. Brian Maloney joined the band from Spectro and Photon, and he has been with us for “Hymn of the Master”, “Live at KXCI” and “Starlight”. In the early stages on “Hymn of the Master”, Young Arnold left and was replaced by Eric Johnson on the bass- Eric also took on the roll of producer, engineer and recorded “Hymn of the Mater” and “Starlight” at Slowburn Studios. During “Starlight”, Duane Norman returned and played a variety of instruments during the recording sessions and guitar and clarinet during the live sets. And those are the different line ups I have had over the twenty years that I’ve been playing. I’m proud to say that I have played with some of the best Musicians here in town. What can we expect from the new material? The next disc is going to be called “Bolt of Apollo”, its in production already, it features me on electric sitar and guitar, Ernie Mendoza on drums, Eric Johnson on bass, Brian Maloney on saxophone and John Paul Merchand on percussion- and I’ve convinced Howe Gelb to sing vocals on this project when he returns from his tour of Denmark. I have a strong influence on this project as I was going through a renaissance of song writing, all of the songs are mine except for two which Eric wrote and one which Brian wrote. The songs are rocking and have some great guitar work- the whole project was inspired by a song Odin Helgison wrote in his band the Host called “Bolt of Apollo”- it was a beautiful song and I have very fond memories of him so decided to call the album “Bolt of Apollo”. What does the term progressive rock mean to you? I see progressive rock as having tight bass and drums, excellent guitar work, songs not simply structured but involving more changes- and quite technical in approach. What would you say to potential fans t make them more interested in Black Sun Ensemble? Black Sun Ensemble comes from the southern desert, where there is organ pipe cactus, prickly pair, coyote, rabbits, wolves, tarantula spiders crawling on the floor. That’s the country I come from and I would say it show in our music- I would like to say that it is pretty mystical, magical- the music was also inspired by beautiful musicians- Hendrix, George Harrison and Santana- and it really shows. Our music is not like everyone else’s, it is unique and I think your readers would really enjoy it. Our music is pretty weird, pretty profane, pretty spooky, ghostly- I just find it spooked.