Nebula cranks out own brand of ‘psych’
> From experience with Fu Manchu, band hones edge
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.