And then the chimney spoke....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Interview: Crystalaugur's Howard Kukla

Hello again!! Proud to present another interview, with another favorite musical act (well, their venerable rhythm guitarist!), a record I only heard for the first time last year, but quickly grew into a favorite, a great piece of cosmic teenage hard rock from a bunch of American kids letting their hair grow long, geographically way far off the traditional Southern axis of fast and loose ripping guitar leads and stoned grins... hailing from Singapore of all places!! The record was once hyped as Vietnam Vets taking a break from the sweaty jungles to blast an inner city auditorium (oh the spin!!), in reality the boys in Crystalaugur were high school
students living abroad in Singapore. Nonetheless, its a lot of fun no matter what way you come at it, and I wouldn't be surprised if someone picked this up for reissue in the next few years. Without further ado, Howard Kukla!

"Cosmic Journey"

Ok, I guess we should start at the beginning. Your musical tastes and
history. What'd you grow up listening to? What were you doing in Asia?

My personal musical tastes are Southern Rock - Allman Bros, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc. I like anything with good guitar! My dad brought us to Singapore. He was civil service with the Air Force working on planes out of Vietnam.

The band got together in 1974 just like any other garage band. We were all high school students at Singapore American School. I lived there for 3 years. Most of the families were either in oil or electronics (TI, and such were just up and coming).
We did not have the best of band equipment, but we did it for the love of the music. We'd play anything from Led Zepplin to Grand Funk Railroad. We played at school dances and often just played and hoped people would show up to listen. The school operated on a semester calendar, so we had 2 weeks in January 1975 off. Actually, the school sponsored a number of events that students signed up for and participated in. Such as scuba diving trips to Thailand, excursions to Malaysia, cruise to Borneo and such in order to take in the culture all around us. The students had to do something constructive. So the band went to the administration with a proposal to make an album. We would write our own music, record it, have it pressed to vinyl and
distribute. The result was Terranaut. It is our own work. One of our classmates recorded it on a TEAC or AKAI 4 track reel-to-reel with over-dub of vocals and other sound effects. The artwork was done by the bass player's mother. We had the recording pressed by BMI Ltd in Singapore. Only about 200 copies were pressed. We gave them away to friends and family. It was never meant to be a money making venture. Just meant to get us through the 2 week semester break.

"You Got to Rap"

What is a Crystalaugur?
Where did Crystalaugur come from - it is a fancy term for clear light. Hey, it was the 70's! And a "Terranaut" is an earth man as opposed to an "Astronaut" - space man. He is supposed to be the last man on earth. You can understand my surprise when I start seeing copies of CD recordings for sale on various websites 30 years after the album was made. I feel quite humbled it was noticed and people actually like it. We had a blast making it. We recorded mostly in the school auditorium (horrible echo) and the teacher's lounge (muffled). And here we are now. The bass player lives in San Francisco, the lead singer is in Arlington, TX, I do not know where the drummer is any more and I am also in Texas. Our sound guy lives in Australia. And the girl "Pam's Song" is written for lives in Austin, TX.

"No. 4"

The sound effects were a great touch, and I love the "Cosmic Journey"
song. Did you authorize the CD copies?

I'm glad you like the record. We did not authorize any of the CD copies. But, then again, I never thought much about it. We are glad people still enjoy listening to this music after 33 years. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to see this album do what it has done. It's a reflection of the staying power of good old rock and roll. As for a reunion of the group, I am all for it. Perhaps Guy, Kim and Bryan will read this blog and the wheels put in motion to get us back in the same town for a while.

Thanks again Howard! All the best from the Chimney-dome!!