A chat with Gary Ramon – Sundial. Sometime during 1995.
by Pete Clemons
Gary Ramon has always been synonymous with Sundial (or Sun Dial). A band that, from the first moment I heard them during the early 1990s, just took my breath away and totally grabbed my attention.
For whatever reason this band, in my opinion, kind of flew under the radar when they were at their most productive. The music scene during the 1990s was very different to what Gary was offering. For want of better descriptions: Rave and acid house music being popular at the time. The Manchester scene was also prevalent. So maybe that had a bearing.
But each Sundial release was, I felt, a revelation. Yes they were 60s inspired; yes there was heavy presence of psychedelic fuzz guitar. But at the same time Sundial felt fresh.
Gary Ramon never seemed to rest on his laurels. With each new Sundial release he appeared to take the band on a different journey. But at the same time each album came across as very strong in its own way.
Through no fault of their own, circumstances dictated that live appearances were quite rare. But when they did venture out they were very good. The night I saw them in Hackney they had Pete Dunton, drummer from T2 standing in. Another T2 band member, Bernard Jinks, was also in attendance.
As I remember the gig, the support came from Quad, another of Gary’s projects. This instrumental/ambient band was hinted upon, as being a future idea, in the very last paragraph below.
Pre Sundial left hander Gary, along with school friend Anthony Clough, would produce music and cassette releases under the name of ADH. From there Gary created more music known as The Modern Art. It was after this point that Gary formed Sundial with Anthony Clough in the first of many line-ups.
In total, Sundial has released a dozen or so albums thus far over a twenty five year career. The latest album was released during 2016.
The chat with Gary, printed below, took place during 1995. Thanks once again to Deliverance who published this article late 1995 and also to Gary for his time in putting it all together.
The latest album ‘Acid Yantra’ sees yet another shift in the Sun Dial sound. It does not have the same hard edge to it as previous release ‘Libertine’. Are you pleased with it?
I’m really pleased with ‘Yantra’. The sound owes a lot to ‘Other Way Out’ but is also a new progression too. We recorded it just on 8 track which is the same as OWO, but is just better recorded, but I think has a character in a way that our first LP also has.
Do you feel that the acclaim given to ‘Other Way Out’ has become a mill stone?. Every release since then seems to be compared against it.
I think it would have been really easy to come up with OWO part 2 every time, but we’ve always tried to progress as we go along. Always an experiment with each record, but Yantra I think is a true definitive of our sound live and studio, because before this LP people would see us live and say, ‘that was fantastic, much better than the record’ and now I think it’s like us live, but in the studio. I think every bands first release is compared against the next, and often or not it is never as good as the first one, with a few exceptions. But I do feel that OWO stands up equally with ‘Acid Yantra’ and even perhaps ‘Return Journey’.
Do you prefer to do each album with a different band line up, or are these changes forced upon you?
The line-up changes on each LP are not planned at all. It just so happened that the line-up for OWO was not a live working band as such, more of a studio thing with friends helping out, and when we got a proper live band together it never worked properly live and studio. We have been a three piece since mid ’93 with Craig on drums and Jake on bass and myself on guitar and it’s a great line-up and it’s a great line-up with no reason to change it.
You hardly seem to play any live concerts, why is this?. Do you enjoy playing live?.
I like to do gigs, but were not just playing for the sake of it. We get offered a lot of gigs, but most are not always appropriate. I think if people could see Sundial all the time it would’nt be such an occasion.. I don’t know!. Instead I think it’s great that we concentrate just on burst of live activity, and people who come out really enjoy themselves. We’ve only done one UK tour so far, and in Europe three tours, some U.S. gigs and that’s all. Our last proper tour was the end of 93!. Our first gig in nearly two years was a one off in London and it looks like we are going to America for a tour this month.
What are your future plans for Sundial and in which direction will you go next?
We are taking our psychedelic rock and light show to places like Chicago and L.A. and there is a possibility of some gigs in South America and a live television broadcast on one of their MTV style channels. We are also looking at some live tapes from our gig in London earlier this year. We figured that if people couldn’t see us live in the UK this year then maybe a live record could be interesting………although we can’t create the light show on disc!!. I’ve also been working on an instrumental psychedelic ambient project for the past two years, on and off, maybe this’ll be issued one of these days.