Leaf Hound’s 1971 release Growers of Mushrooms has over the years become a classic among fans and musicians and the band have influenced many. In 2012 the band appeared for the first time in Japan and have released a live album putting them back in the spotlight.
I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Peter French on a little history of the band and their future plans.
The cover art on your album Growers of Mushrooms is great, it is one of my favourite covers alongside Hawkwind’s Space Ritual. Tell me about the design of it.
I only found out recently that the cover design was a fabulous piece of artwork done by a now retired Album cover artist on Decca Records called David Dragon, Leaf Hound never met the guy, and he had never even heard the music on the album, in fact in a recent article I read that he still thought we weren’t even an English band, “Oh the joys of being in the music business” but he did none the less a fabulous Album cover design.
This was originally arranged by a couple of con artists called “Lynton Maitland associates” who we had regrettably signed a publishing contract with, however we did manage to get to do the recording and yes it was recorded in one eleven hour lock in session and mixed, both myself and my song-writing cousin Mick Halls were still writing an extra song to put on the Album while we were still in the studio; the atmosphere during the recording was just totally unique, being both exiting and raw, ironically the band was told by the pair of “low life’s” that we had signed with that Decca had no intention to release the Album, we were informed of this after Leaf Hound had just done a successful short tour of Germany to try to promote its release, consequently the band despaired and sadly broke up, it was over a year later to my complete amazement that I saw that Decca had just released it, it was a complete joke, but of course by then there was no band and I was singing with Cozy Powell in Big Bertha.
The album was re-released and is freely available to all which has in turn influenced a whole new generation of fans and musicians. It has been cited that you have been a huge influence on the stoner rock genre, how do you feel about influencing one of the biggest sub-genres of rock?
Well if this is true then this is such a compliment, and it is indeed most flattering, thanks guys.
On the subject of influences. What or who was it that made me you think – I want to be in a band?
I always liked singing along to early solo artists like Elvis, P.J. Proby, etc, then when later I heard Cream, Who, Spencer Davis with Stevie Winwood, Jimi Hendrix, and The Jeff Beck Group with Rod on vocals, well I knew then that’s exactly what I wanted to do.
Your live album is out now on Ripple Music, what prompted you to release this?
Quite simply I was asked if Leaf Hound would play in Tokyo Japan, I was knocked out at the invite and we recorded the live show in Tokyo, this originally was for a limited edition of 500 copies, only for Captain Trip Records in Japan, it was a package which consisted of a Translucent Green Vinyl Album / D, V, D, / & C, D. together with a hand printed poster, however as I held the rights to the recording and film, I was delighted to hear that Ripple Music who I found out were great fans of the band were keen to release it on their label so I signed it over to Ripple for release in the U.K. Europe and of course the States, and Ripple Music are now releasing the “Leaf Hound Live in Japan Album” on a Vinyl, and a D, V, D, and a C, D. with a new designed Album cover released on the 13th Jan 2014.
After all these years, what keeps you going as musicians? Some say they know nothing else, is this the case for you?
No, although I obviously hold very close to my heart being involved with the creative process of performing, writing and recording music which has been the love of my life, and if good providence allows me to I would love to be able to continue doing. But however to answer your question, I also intend to hopefully get published a book that I have just recently finished which I am really quite proud of, called “Hallows End” its a story of Evil goings on in a remote village, and I also plan to complete another novel simply called “The Mine” that I have been writing which was originally intended as a play about a fictional Mine tragedy, and then to eventually write an autobiography. I am also a very practical skilled trades person with several professional trades under my belt, which have proved useful to me over the in-between music years, and now with the release of the latest “Live in Japan Album” I intend hopefully to get busy once more doing what I love doing best, which is performing to new audiences with the band on the road.
What plans do you have for 2014 that you would like to share with our readers?
As John Lennon once said “life is what’s happening while people are busy making plans” I am now resolved to just do the best I can and then float like a cork on the rough seas of life, trying hopefully to get to where I want to go to both musically, and creatively, and along the way maybe get appreciated for what I have attempted to do, and ultimately of course to get to do some really great gigs with my band before my Zimmer frame arrives.
Thanks very much for the interview; it’s been a gas. Peter.