Neb­ula cranks out own brand of ‘psych’

> From ex­pe­ri­ence with Fu Manchu, band hones edge

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Music - By Mark Jor­dan

Spe­cial to The Com­mer­cial Ap­peal

When in the stu­dio ear­lier this year to fin­ish record­ing his band’s fifth al­bum release, Heavy Psych, Neb­ula front­man Ed­die Glass was in­trigued to hear loud, fast, shred­ding gui­tar com­ing from the stu­dio next door. Both bands were ag­gres­sive and heavy, but the sounds next door were much faster than Neb­ula’s own dark, chug­ging, psy­che­delic-tinged rock, cre­at­ing a sense of “two weird forms of rock hap­pen­ing at the same time.”

The band, Glass soon learned, was thrash metal gods Slayer, work­ing on their new record in the same stu­dio, a fact Glass learned in the most pedes­trian man­ner.

“We’d al­ways meet in be­tween in the lobby where the cof­fee and ev­ery­thing was,” says Glass, paint­ing a pic­ture right out of the 9-to-5-work­place world. “So you’d walk out and meet each other, and it’d be like, ‘Is there any su­gar? Is there any more cream left?’ It’s prob­a­bly not what the fans want to hear. They’d think like the most evil bands in the world clash­ing might­ily in the stu­dio, but it was more like an of­fice.”

It’s an apro­pos com­par­i­son. Since form­ing in 1997 out of the ashes of cel­e­brated al­ter­na­tive metal band Fu Manchu, Glass and Neb­ula have earned a rep­u­ta­tion for work­man­like con­sis­tency. You won’t find a harder tour­ing band, which is cur­rently com­prised of bassist Tom Davies and drum­mer Rob Oswald. They are in the mid­dle of 32-date Amer­i­can tour that gives them only one night off be­fore head­ing to Europe in early Septem­ber.

They play the Hi-Tone Satur­day with open­ers the En­trance Band and the Un­be­held.

“We have a new book­ing agent who booked us without any days off,” Glass says be­fore a re­cent show in Bal­ti­more, “That’s all right. We’re troupers. We can do any­thing.”

Neb­ula ap­plies the same work ethic to their record­ing ca­reer. In a dozen years, the band has cranked out more than a half dozen EPs in ad­di­tion to their full-length out­put and a hand­ful of com­pi­la­tions and live record­ings, like last year’s John Peel Ses­sions.

The record they were work­ing on along­side Slayer ear­lier this year, the just-re­leased Heavy Psych, ac­tu­ally started life as a self-re­leased EP last year. Ini­tially planned as a col­lec­tion of demos, the band ended up lik­ing the re­sult­ing record­ings and is­sued them last year on their own Salt of the Earth im­print. Ear­lier this year, New York-based Tee Pee Records picked up the record and got the band to add five more songs.

“We re-mas­tered the record and changed a few songs around and put some in­ter­lude parts in it,” says Glass. “You can prob­a­bly tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween the self-made EP that we put out and the Tee Pee ver­sion, which is on vinyl.”

Tee Pee, with bands like the War­locks, the En­trance Band, and the Brian Jon­estown Mas­sacre on their ros­ter, spe­cial­izes in the stoner rock genre and was Neb­ula’s first la­bel back in the late ’90s. At the time, Glass had just left the cel­e­brated Fu Manchu. Glass had joined the band as sec­ond gui­tarist in 1993 but left with drum­mer Ruben Ro­mano four years later.

“Things got taken out of hand by fans and such. It was al­most like the Black Sab­bath/Ozzy thing,” says Glass of the re­port­edly ac­ri­mo­nious split. “Me and Reuben were liv­ing to­gether, and we were con­stantly mess­ing around with songs that were com­ing out a lit­tle more psy­che­delic than what Fu Manchu was do­ing. … They wanted to keep the band straight-ahead. But we had all th­ese songs, so we de­cided to start our own band.”

Neb­ula has since pi­o­neered a whole wave of bands — Wolfmother, the Black Angels, the Brian Jon­estown Mas­sacre — that draw their in­spi­ra­tion from such ’60s-’70s hard rock­ers as Sab­bath, Blue Cheer, 13th Floor El­e­va­tors, and the Stooges, whose front­man Iggy Pop gave the new record its name.

“Iggy was at one of our shows,” re­calls Glass. “He’s a big fan, and he’s sit­ting there and he said, ‘Man that was great. That was great heavy psych mu­sic.’ I though that was a great term for what we did.”

Ed­die Glass (left) cut his mu­si­cal teeth with hard-rock­ing bands of the ’90s, but crafted his own style with Neb­ula band­mates Tom Davies (cen­ter) and Rob Oswald.

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