Posted June 15, 2003



If you're a fan of Radio Birdman, any of the many outgrowths and spin-offs or just raw, focussed rock and roll, keep your ears and eyes open for Deep Reduction. Originally a mid-'90s studio collaboration between Birdman's Deniz Tek and a group of Pennsylvania musicians from garage band The Stump Wizards, the project yielded a single ("Black Tulip" b/w "Gotta Say No") and a full-blown album ("Deep Reduction"), both on Get Hip. A European tour and a second album followed, "2", also on Get Hip, this time involving the considerable vocal presence of Tek's Birdman partner-in-rock, Rob Younger.

"2" was an advance on its predecessor but notoriously hard to find, making it a real possibility that most Australian fans of The Right Stuff would never hear it. Cue Citadel Records who are now releasing it, with different artwork, in Australia. But wait, there's more. Deep Reduction are a live entity again and heading for Australian pubs in July 2003 to support "2". This will be the first time in 21 years that the old firm of Tek and Younger have worked together on a major project since the one-off tour and live album from New Race. Sounds like a reason to get out there.

We decided to collar one of the two visiting American members of Deep Reduction, bassist-now-guitarist Jonathan Sipes (pictured above in the middle of the second row), to see what the tour holds in store. The Barman posed the questions.

Take us back to the beginning, Jonathan. How did the Stump Wizards hook up with Deniz Tek? How aware were you about his musical past?

We were going to have Wayne Kramer produce an album for us. Time constraints made that impossible, so he hooked us up with Deniz. I'd say that worked out well in the long run. I met Jack about 15 years ago or so, when I was looking for Radio Birdman stuff at a record store he ended up owning. Funny how things work out.....

Most people wouldn't have heard of the Stump Wizards or their output prior to Deep Reduction materialising in the studio and on disc. Tell us a little about the band and its discography to date.

Been around since '85 or so. We did an EP "Six after Seven" on BonaFide, the "Smokestack" LP on Get Hip, "Rope" LP on Hippy Knight, "Waxy Yellow Buildup" on Sympathy for the Record Industry. "Contains Lead" and "Willis Bag" (unreleased albums) are lost in the mists of time. Dozens of singles and comps etc. etc. If the band were still around, we'd be drinking age in a couple of years.

What's the current line-up? Has Jack Chiara actually left the band or is he just unable to make it down to Australia?

To the best of my knowledge, Jack has no interest in playing music anymore. He is focussing on his family now. DR has evolved since day one. Currently, it's the line-up of the tour. We take these things event by event. I'ts Rob Younger on vocals, Clyde McGeary on drums, Jim Dickson on bass, Deniz Tek on guitar, and me on guitar

How long ago did the first album come out? What about the Black Tulip single?

DR I came out in '99. I believe the single was the prior year.

What else is in the can, Stump Wizards or Deep Reduction-wise? Where does the name Deep Reduction come from?

Stump Wizards have some unreleased material, but no one will agree on what to do with it. Deep Reduction has nothing extra in the can. Our can is empty. The name Deep Reduction comes from the truck diving term for a vastly lowered gearing. Like when your hauling waste up a hill. A steep hill.

Both the band and "2" have had an interesting evolution. Can you take us through that? Whose idea was it to involve Rob Younger on vocals?

Deep Reduction has constantly evolved. First it was Stump Wizards, including Bassist Mike Giblin, plus Deniz. Then Mike was out, and I was in as bass player and some singing. Then Rob was brought in, because we like Rob, and Rob liked the material. Then Jack left, I switched to guitar, and Jim is playing bass.

Most of the tracks were more or less instrumentally complete by the time he came over to do the vocals, weren't they? Was there much instrumental overdubbing involved and how did the vocal tracking sessions go?

Backing tracks were 99 percent complete on 90 percent of the songs before Rob was involved. There were vocal scratch takes, as well as some finished songs as well. We needed to go back to finish, and I think at about the same time, Rob agreed to sing. Rob tracked over a couple of days, some more guitar was added, "City Kids" and "I'm Gone" were recorded. Rob already heard the rough takes on the songs, and had to write vocals for the Jack Chiara songs. Deniz had his down already. We were stressed for time, but everything went fairly smoothly.

My memory tells me recording and mixing was done over two one-week sessions. We drank a lot of Schlitz.

As far as Schlitz goes, thats sort of an inside joke for the rest of the guys. The studio (Studio 213, run by Al Cox) has a small refrigerator for the bands to stash their beer and soda or whatever. We brought Schlitz the first time. A year later when we returned, the Schlitz was still there. I think that a year's worth of musicians passing it up says something about Schlitz. It gets the job done, but its not a pretty sight. I quite enjoy it. We drank it. However, I was instructed later to not buy Schlitz when beer shoppping for the band. I think I ended up buying Yuengling Lager, which is brewed in Pennsylvania, and is a local favourite.

How happy were you with the finished product and what are your fave tracks? Is it fair to say "2" was a bit more coherent in sound than the first album?

I think it's a good album. I've been listening to it lately, trying to gear up for the Australian dates. Its really hard to comment on something I am involved in. I am proud of it though. "Ruins" is my favourite track.

Take us through a few of the US band membersÕ influences.

Let's see....I like the Zombies, Pretty Things, Graham Bond, Artwoods, Zoot Money, B.O.C, Pink Fairies, Budgie. and on and on....Clyde likes the Scorpions, Alice Cooper, B.O.C, Pink Fairies, Budgie, early U.F.O. and on and on....

How about the decision to tour Australia? How did that come about and what sort of set will we see? Will there be any Birdman content in the set list?

Australia came about because the album is being released on Citadel. Did you know that Johnny Needham drinks and smokes.......? There will be Deep Reduction songs in the set. Maybe a few extra covers. Come to the shows and see what happens.

You guys - the line-up before Rob and Jim Dickson joined - did a European tour a few years ago. What was that like and how different do you expect touring in Australia to be, based on what Deniz and Rob have told you?

Europe was, for the most part, a lot of fun. Sitting in a van with four other guys can get a bit tense. I have fond memories, and those that are less than fond, and some that seem funny now. I don't know what to expect. Is Foster's really Australian for beer? God I hope not.

No, we only export that to gullible foreigners. This is the first time in more than 20 years that Deniz and Rob have worked live together outside the context of Radio Birdman, the last time being with New Race. Did you know about that one and what did you think of that album?

I love the New Race album. I've listened to it quite a bit throughout the years. Its held up well, as all good Rock and Roll does.

What about Clyde's musical and non-musical past? Deniz says he's had some interesting jobs, in the line of toxic wastesÉ

Clyde has hauled waste. Clyde has picked up road kill. Clyde has put out fires. Clyde lives in a small town in central PA, and lives more than most. Plus Clyde can tell you everything about any bridge on any road. Several times. Clyde is the centre of Deep Reduction.

What about your musical background? I heard you were in The Omega Men (pictured left) and build hot rods in your spare time.

Yeah, I was in the Omega Men. We did '60s inspired music. Trying to cop some Memphis soul. We failed at that, but had some success on other levels.

I run a rather large book store when when I'm not playing guitar and building my '64 Plymouth. Mopars are not the prettiest of cars, but it gets down the road plenty fast.

As an aside, what's the music scene currently like in your home town of Mechanicsburgh, Pennsylvania?

There is no music scene in my home town, that I know of. That's fine by me really. I tend to stay in.

So is this strictly a business trip or will you be doing any tourist stuff?

I will see the sights, meaning the inside of Needham's abode. Then I will visit Deniz in paradise. And play some music in between.

Since we're in a Bar, what are you drinking?

I'll have a Schlitz, from a can. Perhaps it was left in the fridge since the last time I was here. Cheers.

"2" by Deep reduction is out now on Citadel. Australian tour dates:

Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, June 20 + The Mysterons
The Tote Hotel, Melbourne, June 21 + The Specimens
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, June 22 + Ground Components + Double Agents
The Crest Hotel, Sylvania (Sydney), June 27 - tba
The Gaelic Club, Sydney, June 28 + Riffter + Roll Cage