Jess Lynch had the pleasure of talking to Jack Hally, the man behind Jeramesa, who recently featured in the resurrected feature series Hidden Gems and Forgotten Treasures. Jess gets into the deep web of neurones that make up Jack's conscious to find out a little more about this glorious thang...
Who are Jeramesa?
At first it was just myself, sitting on my bedroom floor, writing the songs that later became The Myriad and recording them into an iPod. I wasn't really planning on turning it into a band or long-term project, but about half way through recording it I gathered some people together to perform the material live. There were five of us (six if you include Bram, the Canadian flautist and Satanic narrator, seven if you include Dora, visual artist), and this lasted for about a year before recently fizzling out, but it was a lot of fun. Two members formed their own metal duo under the name A/M, and another simply wasn't feeling it any more. The bassist, Arthur, quit his job and is going travelling soon, so until then it's just the two of us working on the recording side of things. After that, it'll likely come full circle and just be a solo project again, for a while at least.
Where does the name Jeramesa come from?
When I was a young child I visited the Stonehenge gift shop, where I was given a mass-produced metal souvenir necklace with a rune symbol on it - "Jera Bounty" - which I believe means "Year of Harvest". For unknown reasons, I also had an obsession with the word "mesa", and so I simply combined the two. So I suppose the name - pronounced "yeh-rah-mey-sah" - means something like "Year of the Mountain" or "Tabletop Harvest"? I haven't really tried to figure it out yet.
I used to upload the music online under the name "Air Hockey Asthma Attack", but that's another story for another time...
What/who inspires your sound?
Having been raised on almost nothing but Oasis, I guess I'll always consider that my starting point, along with artists such as Curtis Mayfield and Primal Scream. The things we hear at an early age tend to stick around and make an impression, before we go out into the big wide world to discover new things branching from our starting points. I obsessively and repetitively listened to the album "One Hot Minute" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a unique blend of dark and heavy psychedelia and funk, so a lot of the guitar work shown there is a great inspiration for me. I often tend to be inspired by individual songs or minute parts of them rather than the entire works of an artist however - for example, Space Cadet by Kyuss, Head On/Pill by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and Green Sugar by Kikagaku Moyo.
If you could have written any song, what song would it be?
Within You Without You (The Beatles), without a doubt. The instrumental complexity, use of multiple time signatures, the floaty sound, the scales used. It couldn't be a more perfect song and knowing that it's almost impossible to create something more beautiful can often be quite daunting.
What's your process for writing music/lyrics?
I have quite a monotonous job which I'm thankful for, because it allows for a lot of time to think of new ideas and arrange existing ones, and write it all down. Sometimes I begin to hallucinate a flow of indistinct music while in a hypnagogic state, and so if I'm able to wake myself back up I'll record a rough outline of it and revisit it at a later time. As for lyrics, that tends to follow ideas or themes in the music. Sometimes it's completely meaningless, other times it's my deepest darkest secrets worded in an elaborately indecipherable way. The Myriad has a theme and a storyline though, involving an apocalyptic flood and a false prophecy. It's all very biblical and mythological, but nobody has cracked the code just yet.
Who are your favourite current bands/artists?
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are undoubtedly my favourite band, and a phase that I have no intention of growing out of. Their ridiculously prolific output and incredibly diverse musical style, all while maintaining a distinct and unique sound, is very impressive and not something that occurs often, and their live performances are nothing short of a religious experience. Sleep are being a mind-meltingly heavy doom band with a certain charm about them. Our own live performances drew a lot of influence from them too, as we played with more of an underlying sense of doomy fuzziness than the recordings would suggest.
If you could have a wild night out with any 3 people, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I'm not really into wild nights out, so I'd probably take a long walk on the beach with three Yoko Onos...
What are your opinions on the current psych scene?
In Oxford it isn't great on the surface but there's definitely a small but expanding tight-knit scene once you delve deeper than local pub gigs, including art forms other than music. The promoters don't really promote anything, no one's really interested in much, and a lot of bands take themselves far too seriously. Psychedelic bands are rare to come by locally too, I can only name two or three. There's a lot of tribute acts, indie cheese and metal. However, it seems that a lot of other places have quite a bit going on, such as in Melbourne, Australia, and the West Coast of America. It'd be nice to relocate elsewhere someday to try and get somewhere with it all.
What's next for Jeramesa? Gigs, releases?
The second album - named "The Mighty Conveyor Belt To The Eye Of The Sun" - is about half way complete. More time is being spent paying attention to details and recording methods, and arranging everything with more care than last time. It's a concept album in four separate parts, and contains more experimentation into unusual time signatures - one of the songs is in 11/8, something that caused some minor arguments in rehearsals. It's a bit more spaced out and instrumentally focused, and is heavily inspired by the film Koyaanisqatsi, both musically and thematically. It also seamlessly loops from the last song and back into the first (a concept borrowed from a certain Australian seven-piece). I'm feeling a lot more proud of it than The Myriad so far, and I hope that will show when it is complete.
A small run of colourful, homemade, and hand painted cassette tapes will be available soon too, these will have four or five songs on them - two from the new album on the A Side, and some live recordings on the B Side.
Other than that, without any band members, I don't think there'll be any gigs for a while. It's possible that we'll reform eventually, or find a whole new lineup, but I'm considering moving onto an entirely new band project once this album is complete - but I'll still be working on recordings on my own. I'm sure that'll all become clear eventually, and I'd rather not set myself a plan.