The sound you are about to hear is the Strawberry Alarm Clock, still ticking after 40-some years.
The psychedelic-era hitmakers (“Incense and Peppermints”) are back in the music media with the announcement that they’ll be recording for the new label from Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Keyboardist and singer Mark Weitz told Psychedelic Sight that the band is getting back to its 1960s roots, “trying to do what our fans like. … We’re picking up where we left off, but with a modern sound.”
The Strawberry Alarm Clock, which charted at least five singles in the 1960s, produced a more melodic strain of rock than the era’s similarly named acid rockers. But the group still retains a connection to the dazed days:
“We take listeners on trips in the form of songs — and gently let them down again,” Weitz said. “We create songs that put you in a different place.”
The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s new material is being recorded at Smashing Pumpkins producer Kerry Brown’s studio in L.A. and is in “the demo process.”
Weitz performed with Corgan at last summer’s L.A. tribute to the late Sky Saxon, and went on to tour with that nine-member band, called Spirits in the Sky. The Strawberry Alarm Clock is penciled in to perform “Mr. Farmer” on the upcoming Saxon tribute album.
Along with recording new music, the SAC is working on a project that combines material cooked up in recent years as well “revisited and rerecorded” versions of their 1960s songs.
Based on a sampling from Weitz’s stash CD, it’s impressive stuff, not easy to pin down stylistically. While the songs are all originals, you’ll hear passages that bring to mind the Who, the Beach Boys, XTC, the Beatles, prog rock and, yes, some old-school psychedelia.
“Everything we do we try to ‘Clock it up’ — our signature sound of catching the ear while doing something you wouldn’t expect,” Weitz said. “Our songs never sound the same — every one is its own entity.”
Original members remaining in the band are Weitz and George Bunnell (pictured above right) as well as Howie Anderson. They’re all writing new songs for the group, as is percussionist Randy Seol.
Steve Bartek (Oingo Boingo), who played on the first SAC album in 1967, had evolved into a longtime band member but recently pulled back due to his workload with Danny Elfman’s film music. “Steve will always be involved with the band on some level,” Weitz said. He anticipates a heavier keyboard sound for the SAC given its personnel shifts.
Other groups connected with the Corgan-Brown label are the the Electric Prunes, the Germs (fronted by the guy from the biopic) and Fancy Space People.
Brown said in introducing the label: “We are very excited to be collaborating with amazing artists that have made a huge impact on the underground music world. … From the psychedelic garage rock of the 60’s and the punk rock insanity of the 70’s and 80’s to the post-punk Pleiadian power-pop that is now.”
The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s catalog albums are handled by MCA. Psychedelic Sight’s own Glenn Abel created the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s new web site.