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Yezda Urfa

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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: March 05 2011 at 08:38


This US band does not really need any introduction. Their two albums was regarded as classics and very hard to find before released on CDs not so many years ago. Alongside Cathedral, this band is regarded as one of the lost US prog bands from the 1970s.  

Thankfully, they agreed to do an interview with PA and here is the answers from Mark and Marc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your band has always been mentioned alongside the likes of Cathedral as the great lost US band and the Boris album was once as mythological as the UFOs in Arizona, the assasination of president Kennedy and so forth. Please tell us where Yezda Urfa was created, your musical inspirations and why you choose that name.

Mark Tippins: I thought we were mentioned alongside a mosque.  The name was created in my bedroom with a dictionary.  I suppose eclectic music was the appeal.  I don't know why we chose that particular word combination...perhaps the end of the alphabet?

Marc Miller: You are probably referring to the UFOs in Roswell, New Mexico, but Arizona's close enough!  Yezda Urfa was created in a small town in Northwest Indiana, about an hour's drive from Chicago, where four of the five of us grew up and went to high school together. Musical inspirations were many. I became very engrossed by progressive rock, I honed my bass playing via Chris Squire (but he doesn't know that), mesmerized by King Crimson, etc. Really got into classical music. Contrary to what Mark says, I believe we came up with the name Yezda Urfa in Brad's parent's basement, but Mark's bedroom is close enough!

How was the music scene in your area when you started ?

Mark Tippins: We had a Hendrix clone, Black Sabbath tribute, bummer, pickup sock hop bands, brass influenced, and a 3 piece band with smoking coconuts.

Marc Miller: I dunno, we didn't get out much.



Let's go straight to the first album which is the great lost American record Boris, but now re-discovered again. Please tell us more about this album.

Mark Tippins: I recall it was done quickly and we tied up traffic on a busy Chicago street getting our equipment up to the studio. I was nervous as hell and could not play a classical piece I had been working on.  That sort of set the tone for me.  I should have done that last, if at all.

Marc Miller: It was a demo album, produced on a shoestring budget, paid out of our own pockets. We never, ever expected it to become such a sought-after record. I am always amazed by comments that Boris is a better album than Sacred Baboon. I always felt the opposite. It was our first time in a real recording studio. I wanted my bass to be recorded via microphone off my amplifier. The recording engineer kept telling me that won't work. Finally he had his assistant set up a mic on my amp but also put a direct box on my bass. I think they recorded the bass direct and never actually turned on the mic. BUt it made me happy. What did I know? Our manager drew the guy for the cover art. What is that thing anyway? I never did understand.




Please tell us more about Sacred Baboon too. Another lost and found album.

Mark Tippins: It has some real interesting passages.  I have to say in all my abundant years, I haven't heard anything quite like it.  I would love to hear Umphrees or Phish do a cover of "Doggie Head."

Marc Miller: Sacred Baboon was intended to be a self-produced album for sale (not a demo) with the intention of drawing attention from record companies if we could make enough sales. In other words, we couldn't get their attention directly, so we hoped that by selling the record ourselves we could demonstrate that we were worth their consideration. We financed and produced the recording ourselves, ran out of money, and shelved the recording. We started recording at the same studio as Boris but ran across a guy with a more modern studio (and probably better rates) (and not in downtown Chicago) and so we switched in the middle of recording. We went from a 16 track to a 24 track and that caused the engineer some headaches. To get the 16-track tape from the original studio, Phil told them Brad had died and we were ceasing the project and wanted the tape.

Both of them were recorded decades ago, released as demos, then hidden somewhere and entered the realms of mythology and then picked up by Greg Walker in Syn-Phonic Records. Please tell us the whole story and what the Yezda Urfa band members were up to in the break between 1981 and the Nearfest gig.

Mark Tippins: No good? I went to school, raised a kid, and got employment outside of music.  I pretty much made my living off of playing and teaching music up until 1990.  I still play around and record things

Marc Miller: The whole story is long. The short story is Boris was released to anyone who would take a copy (record companies didn't seem to want a copy. Such fools!). Sacred Baboon was shelved until it was made available to Greg Walker about 15 years later. After the band dissolved in the early 80's, I moved to New Mexico (that's part of the United States for those who think they need a passport to go there) and have worked for a national laboratory as a network engineer. Brad continues working as a millwright and plays drums in local bands. Phil moved to Los Angeles and writes film scores and computer software. Mark was abducted by a UFO in Arizona and hasn't been seen since (I'm not sure of the accuracy of that. Maybe it was New Mexico). Unfortunately Rick Rodenbaugh passed away two years ago and will be missed.



Both Boris and Sacred Baboon were eventually unleashed from the realms of mythology and onto CDs and Yezda Urfa came back together again with a homepage and a gig at Nearfest 2004. This gig was released as a live album last year. Please us more about this live album and the gig.

Mark Tippins: I wish we could have played some small venue before jumping to that after 25 or so years. It was a memorable experience that ushered me out of my 40"s.  

Marc Miller: We had tried for about 10 years to get the band back together to play at Greg Walker's Progfest, but Greg ended the festival series, and we gave up on the idea of a band reunion. Then in 2000, I was contacted by Chad Hutchinson of NEARfest, asking if Yezda Urfa would be interested in a reunion performance. I checked with the band members and we had one "no" so I told Chad we couldn't do it. Then I was contacted by a fan in 2003 after he returned from NEARfest 2003, suggesting that Yezda Urfa should perform at next year's festival. So I again contacted the band and again got one "no", but this time, rather than giving up, we decided to go on with a new member. The gig was a fantastic experience, a dream come true. I wish we could do another one. Or ten. The live album took six years to produce and release due to technical issues and other realities. Although the songs on the live album are the same as on Boris and Sacred Baboon (except for L.A.) they were arranged as hybrids of the two albums, making them somewhat unique. Please buy a copy!




So, do you have any plans to do anything under the Yezda Urfa name this year or in the future ?


Mark Tippins: You never know, but I think I am the biggest drag to the process.
I am making a living outside of music.  I am showing my youngest how to play guitar.  He is already a pretty good drummer. Music comes and goes for me now.

Marc Miller: No, nothing planned.

What is the Yezda Urfa members up to now ?

Mark Tippins: I am making a living outside of music.  I am showing my youngest how to play guitar.  He is already a pretty good drummer. Music comes and goes for me now.

Marc Miller: I have been musically busy over the past few years. I have taken up the guitar. I play bass in a progressive/alternative trio. Got offered to join a Bluegrass band today but I think I'll pass.

To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview ?

Marc Miller: Thanks to all our fans.



Thank you to Mark & Marc for this interview

Their PA profile is here and homepage's here

 

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harmonium.ro View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote harmonium.ro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 09:57
Excellent, thanks Torodd!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Finnforest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 10:05
Nice one Torodd.  Wish they had elaborated a bit more about their early days. Fans of this group should check out Surprise, another 70s Midwest prog band of high school friends with a "lost gem" album.


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Post Options Post Options   Quote topographicbroadways Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 10:13
wow i didn't know they were active so recently
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Post Options Post Options   Quote memowakeman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 10:39
Nice read!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote zravkapt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 12:29
That was a good interview, thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote progremist Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 12:54
Thank you very much! Wonderful band, I just discover those two records recently. Love them! Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Man With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 15:54

Nice interview. Thumbs Up

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Post Options Post Options   Quote avestin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2011 at 16:12
Originally posted by toroddfuglesteg

Marc Miller: It was a demo album, produced on a shoestring budget, paid out of our own pockets. We never, ever expected it to become such a sought-after record. 
I am always amazed by comments that Boris is a better album than Sacred Baboon. I always felt the opposite. It was our first time in a real recording studio. .
Well apparently there was magic in the air and it worked. I think their both very good albums but I certainly wouldn't underestimate Boris' excellence. Above all, it's a beautiful album.
Thanks for the interview
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