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Amorphous Androgynous interview: Psychedelic Dreams

Author: Guido Farnell
Friday, November 18, 2005
Former Future Sound of London frontman, Garry Cobain, suffered a nervous breakdown in the late '90s. But after a trip to India, he's come back stronger than ever with a new outfit, Amorpheus Androgynous.

Lost in the exquisitely lush psychedelic haze of Amorphous Androgynous' new album 'Alice in Ultraland', I found myself climbing to the top of a giant mushroom. When I got there I met Garry Cobain reclining on a Persian carpet. We took turns smoking a hookah and as I watched little fluffy clouds pass by, Cobain talked about his band Amorphous Androgynous who are coming down to Australia to play a bunch of gigs for Earthcore.

"I don't really know what the live show is going to be like as we have a bit of trial and error going on at the moment. Essentially it is about me continuing this Amorphous Androgynous experiment, which is basically about fusing musicianship and technology into a funkoid band format. It is about a dream that revolves around combining rock, funk, ambient music and a whole range of other stuff to come up with something that sounds really fresh. This has come about because Brian [Dougans] and myself made friends with and abused the talents of many fantastic musicians when we were producing all those Future Sound Of London (FSOL) records. We really wanted to create a new type of sound and so we created Amorphous Androgynous as a separate entity. Although we are more focused on writing songs these days, I see Amorphous Androgynous as delivering a more cosmic psychedelic experience which is of course just a little retro. We will be playing material that we have released over the last five years but the shows won't feature any Future Sound of London material."

"At the moment we are working with some fantastic musicians. Garry Lucas is just a brilliant guitarist and worked with Captain Beefheart in the '70s and more recently Jeff Buckley in the '90s. Then there's the revered Indian sitarist Baluji Shrivastav. Mikey Roe who plays Hammond and some keys is perhaps best know for his work in Oasis' touring band a couple of years ago. I think he is currently working with Sheryl Crow. We are privileged to be working with such musicians but the Amorphous Androgynous is essentially the FSOL controlling a bunch of musician's egos," laughs Cobain.

"Usually we get the musicians to play around with something we have started. We then take that recording away and work on it in order to make it more sonically challenging. Sometimes this can take months to complete. When we are done, we play it back to the musicians to see if they can actually play it. Usually they can't so we end up compromising and use samples. The result is a kind of a hybrid - an electronic band with live musicians. We have not played live that much so I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen but this approach is something that I am keen to explore more and more in my work."

Abandoning the futurism of FSOL after reportedly becoming quite sick Cobain travelled to the mystic east. It was in India that he studied Eastern and Ayurvedic medicine as well as yoga and Taoism. "After Dead Cities was released, I had a melt down of sorts at the end of the '90s. I got confused by how technological everything was becoming, I felt that we had all been hypnotised into participating in some kind of future lust. I realised that my band was being used to sell software and predict the future. I think the music we made was very beautiful and groundbreaking at that time but I needed to look around me and slow down. I needed to discover what the present meant and not worry too much about what the future might hold. So I slowed down and travelled. It was a healing process; I began to fast, meditate and do yoga. I started to feel positive, happy, pure and clean. Not to say that I had been particularly dirty but my life had gotten out of balance. Whether it was the drugs, the air, food, money, greed or even simply too much sex something in my life had got out of<