Nick Pulpman

Season One: Episode Nine

Frequent Global Garage contributor and French multi-instrumentalist, booker, sound tech, and all-around musical jack of all trades Nick Pulpman joins the podcast to talk about his song selection, “Moon Vomit” by Koonda Holaa.

📷: Marina Uzelac

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Ryan: My guest on today’s episode is French multi-instrumentalist, music booker, sound tech, arranger and all-around jack of all trades, Nick Pulpman. Active in the DIY rock and punk scene since 2009, Nick is based in Grenoble, France but his musical endeavors have taken him abroad as he is very plugged into the Balkan music scene. Some of my favorite bands from Slovenia and Croatia were recommendations from Nick when he previously guested on episodes of Global Garage.

Several of his previous bands include Taulard and Hold Station and also released a solo record, Shambles, in 2021. On today’s episode we’ll talk about his opening track selection as well as some of the newer projects he’s working on. Let’s make a mixtape.

[Intro theme by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: Nick, thank you so much for joining me here on Let’s Make a Mixtape and helping us put together this first mixtape. The reason I asked you to be a part of this season, other than the fact that I enjoy chatting with you and having you as a guest on my various audio productions, is that I knew that you were going to pick something like this.

Koonda Holaa, “Moon Vomit” from Apnea, released in 2015. Wild, wild track. Why did you pick “Moon Vomit?”

Nick: Well… Because, I really felt- first of all, Ryan, thank you for inviting me, great to see you again. And, I picked this track first because this guy has a really interesting soundscape universe and lots of different influences.

And I feel like this track really showcases them, you know, in a progressive way and interesting way of showcasing all those melodies and the layers and the very interesting and acidic lyrics and everything. I mean, it’s all there and it’s a great introduction for an even greater album.

Ryan: I was trying to do a little bit of research on Koonda Holaa before we started this recording, and I really couldn’t find a ton of information or reliable information other than, it seems like it’s a one man band and he’s been around in various different formats since the eighties.

Nick: That’s right. He’s been collaborating a lot. He was born in Czechoslovakia then. In ’69 and started, you know, having some, reprehensible political thoughts over there, playing in controversial art punk bands like this pretty famous experimental band from there, Už jsme doma. They toured all over Europe. And I think in the U.S. too, in the eighties and nineties.

And then, he immigrated to the U.S. and over there he met members of The Residents and he did a Czech tour with The Residents as well. And some people from the Stooges, so he became friends with Mike Watt, the sax player from the Stooges, what’s his name, Steve Mackay. Yeah, collaborating, touring with them as well.

And, you know, he’s been all over the place. He bought property in the Mojave Desert and, you know, was part of the original generator parties over there in that region. So, he’s been around for a long time and now he’s kind of settled in France. I mean, settled, but he keeps on touring all the time.

Ryan: Yeah I was browsing- it looks like he’s still like really, really keeping active and has a really kind of almost cult following, which is. I mean, that record, Apnea, is a wild ride. And I mean, as an opening song should, it really does set the expectations for what’s to come.

Nick: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a lot of texture in there. And then it’s interesting to see him perform live now because he, well, he sometimes plays tours with bands. I mean, he recently did a U.S. tour also with the former drummer from Jane’s Addiction, I think. But then that’s mostly in the U.S. because he has, you know, really reliable touring musicians over there and still a network of that.

But when he’s in Europe, he’s mostly solo. And then what he’s doing is layering a lot of guitar tracks. And that’s almost as massive as the records, even though there’s no like drums and stuff, but it’s really hypnotic and yeah, it’s a ride.

Ryan: That’s wild. And he’s playing in the- at Tam Tam, right? The festival that you’re also playing at.

Nick: The thing is, so I heard about him first in 2015 because my friends saw him in a festival in Northern France. Now he’s in France, living in France for a few years. And so we invited him to play at the release party for the first Hold Station, my psychedelic band, he came over and then we became friends.

And he came back several times to, to play in my city here. And then he came and produced the Nick Pulpman record and did some vocals and stuff. So then we really started, yeah, working together properly and trying to make more plans. So I hooked him up with the people at Tam Tam because I felt like they would really understand his music actually, and vibe with it.

It’s there, you know, the Slavic continuum kind of substrate culture or something that they might relate together with. And so, yeah, he hasn’t been in that region since ’96. Actually, last time he was there is during Bosnia with Už jsme doma in ’96, so right at the end of the war there. So it’s changed a lot, I think, and yeah, he’s excited to come with us and I’m excited to make that connection happen.

Ryan: That’s awesome. I didn’t realize that you had worked with him too. That’s, that’s fantastic. And that was on Shambles?

Nick: Yeah. The title track to the album is precisely the one I wrote- the last one I wrote before we recorded. And I already knew that I was going to work with him.

So I kind of tailored it to work with this production. You know, this track really had that in mind. I’m happy about this record.

Ryan: Any further plans for collaboration?

Nick: Well, as you might have known these last few months or since since COVID, basically I got into Turkish music a lot and I have this project that tries to kind of pay tribute to the production of old Turkish records from the ’60s/’70s that have this really punkish bluesy, you know, really grippy kind of feeling to them in the production and stuff.

So I actually asked him recently if he’d be into producing an EP for this project and giving it also this kind of, you know, gritty feeling. So that’s gonna be in the pipes for the next month.

Ryan: Ooh, that’s really exciting. I love that sound and I’m very curious to hear it in your hands. Anywhere people can look for it or get a taste of it?

Nick: I only have a few demos now that I use mainly for, you know, trying to find people to collaborate with. With the intent of releasing something proper, but then there’s a few YouTube videos there, you know, but this it’s not really launched yet, so I’m not spreading the word too much. It’s going to stay underground for a while.

Ryan: All right, well, we’ll keep it locked down. So what, what all have you been listening to that brought up that inspiration?

Nick: Well, there’s a very vivid rock scene in the sixties and seventies that is now being kind of unearthed by a lot of bands, and paid tribute to, but there’s also a lesser known side to it. Like those songwriters like Neşet Ertaş, I think is my favorite. He’s a- was releasing from the sixties to I think his death in ’94, maybe or something like this, early nineties. He’s got acoustic poetry of saz, of this instrument, but also his saz has a double microphones, like electric guitar microphones on it, so it’s also kind of really amplified in production, as you know, early recording techniques and stuff. So dark poetry is really powerful and I’ll send you some links here.

Ryan: Oh yeah. That’d be great. I’ll include some in the, in the show notes too.

Nick: It’s not too rock, but it’s just got this punk-ish blues-ish kind of raw feeling to it that is really great, man.

Ryan: I know the main sound, that kind of disco-clubby. It’s like Turkish psych they came out of that. I think you’re talking about those bands that are like Altın Gün. They’ve all dug into, but this, this sounds a little bit different?

Nick: Well, Altın Gün is all covers. You know that, right? So it’s those songs they’re paying tribute to, but this guy, Neşet Ertaş, is less- it’s not like club music, you know, it’s really like a full- like a Bob Dylan of Turkey, if you will, more like poetic and more, you know, introspective than all out dance, but it’s got, you know, almost wedding like qualities sometimes with the faster songs, a bit more rhythmic, more danceable and, and entrancing. I mean, there’s a bit of everything, I guess.

Ryan: I can’t wait to hear that.

[Segue music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: I absolutely loved diving into Apnea and I really want to check out some more of what what he’s done. It’s a little bit harder to find.

Nick: There’s not a much of it online. There’s, you know, a lot of vinyl records in circulation, but now he’s preparing a live album as well.

’cause when he tours in Europe, he basically lives out of his van. He has a bedroom and a studio in there, and he can actually set up a platform in the back, for live shows to perform there and record it straight into multitrack in the studio there. So he’s preparing something in these settings.

Ryan: That’s wild. I love the idea of, you know, living in this van that’s also your recording studio and tour transport.

Nick: That’s mostly- but also has a place with a wife and a daughter. So sometimes it gets packed, you know.

Ryan: That’s so cool. And yeah, so he lives like half of his time in the U.S. and half in France, or he’s mostly in France now?

Nick: Mostly in France, between France and Czech Republic, actually. He still has a house and family there and stuff. So they kind of go back and forth. He also plays more shows in the Czech Republic, but then, when he goes back to the U.S., because he’s married to an African American woman, and so she sometimes goes back with him to visit family and stuff and he still tours there with his connections from there.

Ryan: I saw that he did a U.S. tour recently. I think it was mostly on the West Coast, but hopefully he comes to-

Nick: With the drummer from Jane’s Addiction, yeah.

Ryan: Yeah. I’d love to see him live from the bit of research that I’ve done and chatting with you about it.

Nick: Oh yeah, if I hear that he’s going back, I’ll let you know.

Ryan: Please, please give me a heads up.

Nick: Maybe once a year, when he can, but the last few years was obviously more difficult.

Ryan: Yeah, I don’t really know what it was that happened that, you know, shut everything down. It is wild though. Seeing in the last couple of years, well, more like the last year, some amazing tours have been coming-

Nick: between the pandemic and, and the time we were on out of gas completely, right?

Ryan: Yeah, for real, for real. Yeah. How are things in France right now? I know there was-

Nick: Well, there’s been some social uproar for new labor laws that they’re trying to pass and actually passed without a vote in the parliament thanks to a loophole in the constitution, you know.

So that’s making people angry for the lack of democracy and now seeing that the far right is really rising a lot, people are calling to modify, like to edit the constitution so that Macron could potentially get reelected for a third term. So, you know, things are changing in the political landscape.

He’s kind of turning into Putin or something. It’s frightening. We’re not there yet, but yeah, they’re like dissolving green ecological collectives that are defending against building of massive, you know, gigantic fucking water reserves. Sorry for swearing. I won’t do that again.

Ryan: No, that’s fine. It’s a podcast. We can swear all we want, which is great.

Nick: Yes, I mean, it’s just yeah, no one trusts him anymore. Everyone’s against his laws, but he’s going to try and get reelected because he can.

Ryan: Is that typical? Is three terms unheard of?

Nick: It’s unconstitutional now. We’re at two maximum consecutive, but then he could also have someone from his party elected and become prime minister and then go back to president.

Like Putin did actually, that’s the Putin method. Yeah, so, you know, it’s kind of bleak, and if not him, there’s always more racists and bigoted candidates. And private television now is showing more and more signs of extreme religious discourse.

Ryan: Y’all gotta stop taking cues from the United States. We’re a bad influence.

Nick: Yeah, I guess there’s a lot of places, but I wasn’t expecting France, and everyone’s blindfolded because, you know, everyone’s thinking, but “no, it can’t happen we’re like the country of human rights and liberty and ever and, and democracy” and yeah, so everyone’s kind of blind to the idea, but I can really see it coming, you know?

Ryan: That’s tough. It feels like it’s just everywhere. Around the world these days. It’s just-

Nick: Yeah, it’s closing down, but yeah, we’ve got a bunch of music to listen to.

Ryan: Exactly. We’ll just keep singing songs about the end of the world either until it happens or until someone takes notice.

Nick: That’s another song I got to send you. Turkish folk on this one, actually. The title goes, “In the Ruined Garden, can the Nightingale Sing?” That’s a pretty good metaphor for nowadays, you know? Garden of devastation and the poor nightingale in the middle. It’s mostly dark and beautiful at the same time. That’s what I love about Turkish poetry.

Ryan: I have a feeling once you send some links my way, I’m going to go into a wormhole and basically just immerse myself in it for a week.

[Segue music by Scotty Sandwich]

Ryan: So, Tam Tam, coming up. It’s not a festival that I feel like is on a ton of people’s radars at least in the States.

Nick: Oh, in the States? Not yet, but…

Ryan: I know you’re very passionate about this festival and I intend to make a trip out to attend it and absorb all of its glory. But tell us a little bit about Tam Tam and the- I mean, it sounds idyllic. I mean, it’s on a beautiful island in Croatia.

Nick: That’s it. I mean, the people over there that know it like to refer to it as “The Best Small Festival in the World,” which I don’t know if they’ve seen them all, but for me, from all the festivals I’ve attended, it’s clearly the one I had the most intense connection with somehow and so yeah, as you said, so south of Croatia, a little paradise island, small fisherman’s village, 500 tickets at most, I think.

Until now, almost exclusively the best bands from the indie scene in the whole former Yugoslavia, so Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia. Now they’re starting to get some more international bands, but basically it started 10 years ago as a friends party, like one of the locals is organizing the festival.

And was just starting out inviting some friends and groups and having just a week of wild camping and some dance playing just like that. And then the year after they did it again and invited more people. And then, you know, it grew, it grew kind of like that organically.

Ryan: Wow. Yeah. I saw Daikaiju is playing this year.

Nick: And so, yeah, this year comes the connection with the U.S. because Daikaiju are very good friends of my friends from Zagreb whom they met on the show there. So, and actually they just spent two days at my house, as is now, they’re on tour in Europe, they just left yesterday. Yeah, I love those dudes.

And so they’re gonna show up for the first time over there. Brian, the bass player, actually came two years ago, I think, to the festival, because he was traveling around. And now, yeah, this connection is going to be made with Daikaiju, with Koonda Holaa, with all those different people that I’ve met, that I’ve really, you know, had an imprint on different times of my life, also those Croatian people there.

So, yeah, this is going to be a pretty intense for me, pretty intense one this year. And I’m also playing with the Nick Pulpman Project this year.

Ryan: Oh, is this the first time you’re playing Tam Tam?

Nick: On the official program, yes. I actually played bass keyboards with Seine, a band from Zagreb once. I was invited last year, by Noon Garden, the other project from the Flamingods guys. First time on the official program.

Ryan: Oh, that’s exciting.

Nick: Yeah, sure, I’m excited.

Ryan: Are you involved in organizing it at all? Or you’re just kind of setting up connections?

Nick: I’m kind of setting up connections with the program, of course. Sometimes, you know, making small suggestions that end up getting on the final bill is really awesome for me because I love, you know, that’s what I’m about, right Connecting people.

But then, yeah, sometimes I just- I help out. I guess this year I will mostly enjoy being an artist and being able to just be there and chill and enjoy all of the rest of the amazing program that’s going to happen because it’s not only shows, right? This year, they decided to have the- so one first intro kind of opening day where Koonda Holaa is going to perform.

And then two days of the main stage, which is on a soccer pitch, 500 meters a bit out of the village. So big main stage with video screens and stuff, that’s going to be the main part. And then shows in the camp every night for the rest of the week. So smaller shows, that’s where we play on the day after the main stage.

And then there’s going to be some, all of the other workshops, free diving and screen printing, and maybe tattoos and some folks singing and some archeological kind of hikes. It’s a very old, you know, inhabited since a long time, this island. So there’s like Roman and Neolithic remains or something.

So lots of things to do. If you don’t even want to watch a show, you don’t have to.

Ryan: And I love that it seems like the festival is really built on community first and has really, really embraced that. That’s really exciting.

Nick: Yeah, it’s a very warm environment. I mean, from the four times I’ve attended the festival, I’ve never had a single kind of bad interaction with anyone from there.

Ryan: So Tam Tam, I need to make it happen. Hold me to it.

Nick: Please let me know if you do. It’d be great to have you there.

Ryan: Well, thank you so much for joining. Anything else that you want to promote?

Nick: Well, I joined the new shoegaze band now. I’ll send you a link as well. So the name is Pills for Tomorrow.

We just recorded a new album. The first album together as a four piece; used to be a two piece. And, yeah, there’s a few live videos coming out now and we’re going to start touring this year. So keep your ears peeled. But yeah, I’m trying to book a tour for a shoegaze band from Slovenia as well, Haiku Garden.

You might’ve heard of them. I think they’re also playing Tam Tam this year, actually, so I’ll get to meet them there. That’s a pretty great band. They’re considered the first shoegaze band from Slovenia and they were produced by the guitar player from Laibach.

Yeah. It’s pretty good music. Sounding good. So hopping to make it work for next February then.

Ryan: Oh man. Yeah. You’re keeping busy.

Nick: Yeah. I’m trying to, I’m trying to make the most of it, but I’m still poor as hell, and so very busy, but you know. It’s not cutting it yet.

Ryan: I love, I love hearing new music from you, man. It’s always great to see you out there doing the damn thing. Well, thank you so much for joining always, again, always a pleasure to, to chat with you.

Nick: And yeah, thank you again, Ryan. Always a pleasure. Likewise. So hope to see you soon.

Ryan: Thanks to Nick once again for turning me on to a bunch of new music. Be sure to check out the show notes and transcript for links and videos of the bands and musicians we discussed today. Also be sure to subscribe to the season one playlist on Spotify or YouTube. To cap off the episode I’m going to leave you with the opening track on Nick’s album, Shambles, titled “Dream Within A Dream.”

Ryan: If you like what you hear, please rate and review the podcast. It helps with discoverability and such. Follow the show on social @letsmixtape. Show notes and transcript can be found at letsmixtape.com. Tune in next week as I chat with Amie Makris from the Greek band Godsleep.