A Fistful Of Questions With Electric Octopus

     Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  Nope.  It’s just the improvisational trio known as Electric Octopus! 


What is your full name?


Tyrell: I have many


Guy: Guy Angus Hetherington


Do you have any aliases?


Tyrell: No Naime


Guy: Astrotree


Dale: Doc Scorch has some precedent


What bands are you actively involved with?


Tyrell: Electric Octopus - Sonic Temple


Guy: Electric Octopus, Leveland, Guy Hetherington Drums


Dale: Electric Octopus, Elder Druid, a few other projects that aren’t ready for outside consumption just yet!


What was the first instrument that you played?


Tyrell: Triangle


Guy: Recorder


Dale: First tune learned was on a bass


Tell me about one of your first musical memories?


Tyrell: Hmmm I can remember in music class in school, we were all given 1 keyboard between 2 and i’d never played one before. I remember just thinking of songs and melodies and just sitting figuring them out. A few dance classics got the less interested classmates intrigued.


Guy: The sound of my parents’ vinyl player


Dale: My dad blasted music when I was a kid, I remember the ambience and tonality of the sound more than I do the tunes themselves. Recently got those speakers back and it is a real hit from the past to hear music played on them


What was the name of the first band you were in?


Tyrell: Oohh waow! The first band was floating about nameless for like a year or more, we weren’t doing gigs or anything but playing twice a week. Before I joined, the band was named Twisted Rose but after the change of characters and the general vibe, the name went too


Guy: Bigger Than Average


Dale: The Hardjets. Was a great time, especially as it meant working with the great Mudd Wallace and Bap Kennedy, both now sadly gone but who were huge inspirations to me at the time. It helped me open up to how great things beyond your imagination can come from chance encounters.


Tell me about the genesis of Electric Octopus.  

Tyrell: I guess how we all got together, each of us will have a different journey leading up to it. I remember coming back to Ireland after being in Melbourne for 6 months or something. I had played in a band with Dale prior to going to Oz, so it wasn’t too long before we booked a space and played. We had one jam with a different drummer but that didn’t come to any more. Then Dale mentioned this guy Guy, and then that was that really. Although initially, I guess we had a few sort of “Songs” that we started to play with. Then I guess one night the songs dropped away and the jam took over! I remember like it was yesterday, we had recorded with maybe one or two room mics and when we finished, we went back to “the gaff” and sat and listened, it was great! There was one change in particular that blew our minds. Would love to hear that now!


Guy: I was studying with Dale when he introduced me to Ty. As Ty said, although we initially had a few songs, these dropped away when we became enthralled in the ever changing world of improvised music. The band soon became much more, focusing on recording, sound treatment, environment and production.


Dale: This is it, we just started jamming and the whole journey has really been about playing what we enjoy and exploring musical vibes. We’ve been jamming and recording since then!


What inspired the name Electric Octopus?


Tyrell: Sitting in a Pub or sorts in London, we had been offered our first gig back in Belfast in the coming weeks, and had been asked what our name is for advertising. Of course we didn’t have one so we just sat blasting out various names and words, and somehow, these two came together.


Dale: It isn’t a specific character or anything, but I think somehow you know a little bit what it’s going to be like to see us, from the name.


How long did it take you to write and record St. Patrick’s Cough?


Tyrell: Hmmm, it took no time to write, it’s all improvised, but as far as recording, we rented a cottage for a few days and just played and went for adventures, nice vibes all round. Then of course Dale had the large task of listening through and mixing etc


Guy: The majority was recorded in the one trip to fermanagh, but some bits were taken from other days of playing we had together. The big job was really afterwards, listening through to the raw recordings. Finding the hidden gems. Most of this was done together and then the majority of the polishing of the mixes was left to Dale.


Dale: The playing/recording took no time, a few sessions in Fermanagh and one in Belfast. The sifting through recordings, choosing parts to use, experimenting with different mixes, different track orders, different jams, took about a year. Usually our releases are less polished, but I wanted to give this one all I could on the production end and really got a bit obsessed with it.


If you could insert yourself into any one band what band would it be and why?


Tyrell:  Back in time, in the emergence of the drum kit, where people really began laying into the 4:4 and the 6:8. Some dusty, stinking hot, blues house somewhere. I'm not sure they would of had a name.


Dale: I’ll go the other way, skip forward 100 years and insert into whatever band is making waves then.


Have you ever heard a song and immediately wished you had written it?  If so… What was the song and artist?

Dale: Happens all the time! But you can't let that feeling take away your own originality!


Do you have any non-metal musical inspirations?


Tyrell: Do I have any metal musical inspirations? I’m inspired by so much music from all over the world, but there’s something for me about the music of India.


Guy: I'm not sure I understand the question. I only draw my inspiration directly from heavy mathematical metal.


Dale: I love metal and have seen a lot of great bands in that genre, but it makes up a small fraction of what I listen to day to day.


Is there a non-metal song that you'd like to do a cover of?


Guy:  No, I only listen to metal


What band have you played with that has really impressed you with their live show?


Tyrell: Ohh there’s a couple come to mind instantly, although I have no idea the names. One was at a show in Holland and the other was in Split, Croatia. Of course there’s so many bands we have played with that are great.


Dale: Too many to mention, I’m blown away a lot by the bands we’ve shared stages with, definitely something wild happened in Croatia. I recently was really impressed by Conan and Grief Eater at some shows I played with them with my other band Elder Druid, genuinely blew me away and felt like I was experiencing some stuff anew.


Do you have a favorite venue to play at?


Tyrell: Haven't found it yet, I'm sure, but bearclaw was cool in Belgium. Clement Ferrond was great. Actually we really have played some amazing venues. But it's always the people that make a place.


Do you have a pre-show ritual?


Guy: Maybe a quick stretch and a smoke or two. I usually try not to drink alcohol before a show, although maybe I'd have a beer or two. The set up and soundcheck is usually ritual enough to get into the mindset of playing a show.


Dale: Not consciously, just depends on the day. My mindset while playing isn’t so different from where I’d be doing anything else I enjoy, so as long as I can be in a good head space that’s enough! Calm and focused is better than euphoric and sideways.


What is your favorite thing about touring?

Tyrell: It’s always nice to travel and get to see places that you might not have come to otherwise, and meeting all the interesting characters along the way. Very grateful to have had the experiences we’ve had so far.

Guy: It's beautiful meeting all the people along the road. I'm super grateful for all the hospitality we've been shown and it has made me more open and welcoming as an individual myself. Seeing the places and exploring, all while getting to play music, it's a blessing.


Dale: The sensation of traveling great distances over land to new places, seeing the landscape change over hundreds of miles and experiencing places on the way, even stopping to get a meal. For me there’s almost no more gratifying experience, than being able to arrive into the world of people who have set up a show, who are kindly looking after you and are excited for the event, and share that feeling of movement and adventure with an audience


What is your least favorite thing about touring?


Tyrell: Service station food.  Getting stopped by police


Dale: You’re quite far away from home and if something goes wrong, it can be difficult to sort out and you may be stranded for long periods of time. Not always a bad experience but I’d say the general possibility of a well oiled machine breaking down is always there.


Is there a city that you love to hit while on tour?


Tyrell: Really love visiting Freiburg, it’s a beautiful place with wonderful people. It is always special to get to spend some time with our dear friends from Sound of Smoke, it’s been too long!


Also absolutely anywhere in Portugal!


Guy: Porto, and Portugal in general, is a fantastic place to experience!


Dale: We’ve been lucky to have had brilliant experiences in so many places.  I have fond memories of just about everywhere we’ve been. I think Innsbruck, where there was an incredible gig with fantastic people, and an amazing setting, might have to be added to the other guys’ suggestions.


What’s the weirdest experience you’ve had on the road?


Tyrell: Finding a home made sex machine in one of the rooms of the squat communities we stayed in


Dale: So that's what that was


The year is 2009.  Where are you at and what are you listening to? 


Tyrell: Wow, that’s a lifetime ago! Hmmm I was living in Belfast I'm sure and most likely listening to Guns n Roses non stop.


Guy: I was just going into my GCSE year at school. I was drinking underage, smoking cigarettes and staying out way beyond my bedtime. Playing in a band. Trying it on with any girl who would give me more than a minute. I was also teaching drums, albeit beginner level.


Dale: 2009 was good, at school, just beginning to explore life, played some sports in those days, was a good time musically as I had just discovered both Kraftwerk and Black Sabbath. The bass would begin in earnest soon after.


What advice would you give young musicians that are just starting out in the music business?


Tyrell: There are no rules, do what you love, follow your gut. It's better done than perfect. Talking about getting stuff done will not get it done and will actually probably lead to it never coming through. Do it first, then talk about it.


Dale: People are far too conservative about what they play. There is so much room to adjust things, take advantage of randomness, take inspiration from all of life, that’s the space the best artists today are working in, and have been forever. Anyone can go there if they let themselves, as all the best have done. Take a chance in the moment, with your playing, and keep trying to find new ground 


What is an absolute band killer?


Tyrell: If handled badly, money.


Have you ever recorded a song that you really didn’t like, but somebody else in the band really did?


Tyrell: Oh yeah for sure. I remember the night we recorded what became vibe factory, I just wasn’t feeling it at all and Dale and Guy loved it. Now I think it’s great! I guess sometimes you’re just in a different headspace. Although I guess we all trust that if one of us likes something and hears something in it, then it’s worth exploring.


Dale: Yeah, it definitely happens. Maybe you weren’t in your comfort zone while you were playing, and when you hear the recording it takes you back to that, and it clouds your understanding of the music. You can have a moment a long time later when you hear it anew without the prejudice, and that can be quite a significant moment. My appreciation of some stuff we’ve done is still increasing years later.


What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Guy: I don't eat the skin of the kiwi


Do unicorns sleep standing up?


Tyrell: They do yes, but they balance on the tip of their horn.


You are writing a book about your life thus far.  What is the title of that book?


Guy: Post Event Storage


Doobies or Boobies (if you had to pick one)?


Guy: Put your hands together


Favorite band t-shirt you own?


Guy:  Mothers of the Land


Favorite meal?


Guy: Spagetti Bolognase


Favorite book?


Guy: Lord of the Rings



     Many, many thanks to the gents in Electric Octopus for taking the time to answer my questions.  I appreciate it.  Wrap your ears around the new album St. Patrick’s Cough immediately if not sooner.  You will be glad that you did. 



~El Pedo Caliente (Uncle Jameson from the Fistful of DOOM show)