“Our music can be described as ritualistic soundscapes for seekers, the sound of golden ashes from a dream,” says Keith Boyd of experimental space-rock duo High Mountain Tempel.
Partner Eric Nielsen (Maquiladora, Buzz or Howl) waxes equally esoteric. “I’d describe [our music] as the sound you hear under the ocean after jumping from the arches at Sunset Cliffs, bubbling, shocking, mysterious, and full of past-life memories.”
The band’s fifth studio full-length, Gnosis, which features players from Acid Mothers Temple, includes a song called “Once on a Golden Mountain,” recorded with sex-and-veggie-cult spokeswoman Isis Aquarian, whose way-out communal life with the late Father Yod’s Source Family was recently chronicled in both a documentary film and a comic-book one-shot.
“We sampled Father Yod for our third album,” says Nielsen of the unauthorized audio that led to collaborating with Aquarian. “Luckily, they liked it, and that led to recording her over the phone for album number four and an in-person session in L.A. on Mt. Washington, surrounding the premiere of the Source Family documentary.
“We weren’t sure what to expect, having read about her and studied the histories. It turned out to be an amazing afternoon recording.” The album, the 20th release by the band’s San Diego–based label Lotushouse, dropped June 21.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Boyd: “Terry Riley, Persian Surgery Dervishes. Healing music to get lost and found in.”
Nielsen: “Raagnagrok, Man Woman Birth Death Infinity. Sounds from another planet.”
Boyd: “In Japan, the guitar is played like a drum.”
EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM?
Nielsen: “Somebody keyed my truck once. They scratched ‘ass’ into the rear of it. I’ve been looking for a sticker to put right above it that says ‘bad’ ever since.”
SOMETHING YOU NEVER RUN OUT OF?
Nielsen: “Vitamin B.”
SONG THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE?
Boyd: “‘Scarlet Begonias,’ by the Grateful Dead: ‘Once in awhile you get shown the light/In the strangest of places if you look at it right.’”
WHO DO PEOPLE SAY YOU LOOK LIKE?
Boyd: “On occasion, I’ve heard Michael Stipe from R.E.M.”
Nielsen: “My friends like to roast that I look like a sloppy Kenny Loggins.”
Boyd: “I had amoebiasis while I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa. I was so dehydrated and feverish that I was hallucinating. It took days of hard travel in the Sahel to reach medical help...on the plus side, some of the hallucinations were lovely!”
Nielsen: “After a long day in Tijuana, I went with my friends to skate the Imperial Ditch...I caught a cement transition, face-planted on the wall, and landed teeth first. I spit them all out, then took my friends from SDSU for pitchers.”
BEST AND WORST THINGs ABOUT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
Boyd: “The best thing about Vista is that I have some room to breathe, raise chickens, and I have a few great neighbors. The worst thing about it is that, in general, it is a cultural wasteland.”
Nielsen: “The best thing about O.B. is that people love to express themselves, and for the most part people don’t judge. The worst part is often how crowded it is.”
Boyd: “I’d like to be like Edith Piaf and say, ‘Je ne regrette rien,’ but that wouldn’t really hit the mark.”
Nielsen: “Not taking a tour to China, so that I could keep a job.”
FAVORITE MOVIE BASED ON A BOOK?
Boyd: “I recently saw the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. I pretty much hated the David Lynch version of Dune; it’s too garish and cartoonish. But seeing this film about a film that was never made and now only exists in Jodorowsky’s mind, but was so wonderfully planned out with so much talent and love and visionary grace, I would say that his movie of Dune is my favorite.”
Nielsen: “Apocalypse Now. The story of the making of the film is as good as the movie.”
Boyd: “I was a groundskeeper at SDSU, having to go in at dawn after the graveyard shift for my KCR radio show.”
Nielsen: “Basketball referee. It was hard to watch my mouth as a kid, and refs are supposed to just take it.”
BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN?
Boyd: “The media-fueled and politically charged polarization of U.S. and world politics. Everything is so around-the-clock, biased, and given ‘hill to die for’ status that little gets done, and ugliness comes out from under the masks every day.”
Nielsen: “That the military-industrial complex and all the homeland security agencies are the actual people in control. The president has less power than the spies.”
SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
Boyd: “I collect tiki mugs.”
Nielsen: “My wife’s band, Chinchilla, just did a reunion tour of the West Coast.”