Q&A with British ‘60s Psychedelic Legends Nirvana, Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Alex Spyropoulos

"It’s always the People who decide on the shock music has in our everyday lifestyle. Today it’s impact is with rap and dance: “let’s get loose man…tomorrow may not be there again”. The music is much more physical than cerebral. The body is rolling loose. Sex is the epicenter. I would like to hear a fairer repartition of both."

Nirvana: The Music Bliss of Mind & Soul

First time appearance of all 6 Nirvana albums together in one deluxe vinyl box set including the never before released 1972 LP ‘Secrets’. Madfish Music released Nirvana ‘Songlife’ 1967-72, a 6 LP vinyl Deluxe Box Set housing all 5 of the band’s pioneering studio albums – ‘The Story Of Simon Simopath’, ‘All Of Us’, ‘Dedicated To Markos III aka Black Flower’, ‘Local Anaesthetic’, ‘Songs Of Love And Praise’ – alongside the never before released 1972 LP ‘Secrets’. Nirvana were essentially the duo of Irishman Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek Alex Spyropoulos – who, following a chance meeting in London during the summer of 1966, took a long, strange trip together. It’s the first time the band’s recorded output has ever been collated together on one release and is an engrossing body of work to explore. These albums sit comfortably with some of the other great works of the time – the Zombies, The Kinks and the Pretty Things included. And whilst Nirvana are most famous for their British psychedelic classic ‘Rainbow Chaser’, as the music contained here displays, there was so much more to them than just that celebrated single, for they reached far and wide into the musical strato-sphere with a technicolour vision.              (Nirvana / Photo by Gered Mankowitz)

Four of the original albums have been remastered from their original ¼ inch tapes and the box itself comes with a 52-page booklet featuring liner notes from renowned author Peter Doggett, interviews with Patrick & Alex from Nirvana, full discography, rare newspaper clippings, previously unseen pho-tos, posters and sleeves, and an exclusive Gered Mankowitz print signed in-dividually by the band. Of key interest to fans will be the ‘Secrets’ album which was only recently unearthed in its entirety, its origins began as a musical score that Nirvana had planned on bringing to London’s Theatres and stages in the early Seventies. Nirvana’s story remains a wonderful tale of artistic ambition and entwined within it lies a roll call of supporting cast heroes that includes The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Traffic, Chris Blackwell, Salvador Dali, Francoise Hardy, Tony Visconti, and many more. The enduring beauty of Nirvana is that over 5 decades since their paths crossed, Patrick and Alex remain good friends to this day with both of them residing in Greece.

Interview by Michael Limnios        Special Thanks: Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has the 1960s Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Alex: I think I’ve always been counterculture-oriented – being a musician – and still am. Finding myself in London in the Mid-Sixties was like landing on the moon. New experiences, new thinking, new openings of consciousness, new freedom of the mind and of the body! What I had left behind me was a strident military junta in Greece.

Patrick: I was never a hippie….never went on marches or protests I saw the free press around,  remember I had come from a country that had given me different values, I was not political, what I found in London England, was that I was a foreigner on my own journey… the Vietnam war was happening but the angle I had on that was playing gigs with my first band the second thoughts at us air force bases in Oxfordshire to their forces who were halfway to Saigon, and in Sweden when I did a load of gigs in Stockholm there were so many American black bongo players “draft dodgers” jamming with the bands, amazing atmosphere I became very close friends to a couple of them and kept contact for a few years ….back in UK once I signed to Island Records I was too busy writing and recording songs and putting the nirvana concept together with Alex … I was totally in that world focused on that existence and the journey I was on…that journey is still happening today.

How do you describe Nirvana’s music and philosophy? What do you hope is the message of your music?

Patrick: Be true to your feelings… let fantasy and fate be your wings, nirvana’s mantra will do the rest…  and eat a banana every day.

Where does the band’s creative Drive come from?

Alex: Nirvana’s creative drive flew from the unpredictable combination of two different cultures, backgrounds and memories: the Greek and the Irish, both rich and pulsating… As for the name Nirvana, that was my idea. The name is as well known today as Coca Cola, but with two opposite stances: the bliss of the mind and soul, and the bliss of the violent creative energy.

"In my mind it was really a London thing that was mushrooming… beautiful people many of them from other countries like France, Germany, Holland, Island Records… the art schools of south and west London… skiffle music, fashion designers, black and white photography, beat clubs, folk cellars, coffee bars, juke boxes, amphetamines, free love, and no inhibition to express oneself…  an amazing energy to get positive things done often in harmony with others…  everyone with some empathy could have a “purple patch.” (Nirvana: Patrick Campbell-Lyons & Alex Spyropoulos / Photo by Gered Mankowitz)

Why do you think that the Nirvana music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Patrick: Because it is quality of a high order, has many interiors and the songs are like dreams…our people connect to our originality.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with with us?

Alex: As for my memories of musicians, gigs and studios, I’d say we were a recording duo really, working close with very imaginative arrangers and musicians. Best example: the Beatles with George Martin in the studio.

Patrick: In my book “Psychedelic Days” I document a “happening” performance show with Salvador Dali on French TV in Paris 1969, a real trip! Also performing with Jimmy Cliff in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) the Nirvana song waterfall for their international song festival was a real buzz... and the most recent song I recorded a few days ago…  a great feeling more so as we are in curfew lockdown here … writing songs “the gift that keeps on giving.”

What were the reasons that made the UK in 60s to be the center of Psychedelic Folk/Rock research and experiments?

Alex: Folk/Rock Psychedelia in the UK came like the sunshine in the summer. London became a magnet. A need for a change, the Beatles, new fashion designers and that typical eccentricity of the British people, laid out a fertile ground for the psychedelic virus to infect us irreversibly all at once... London was THE Capital of the world!

Patrick: In my mind it was really a London thing that was mushrooming… beautiful people many of them from other countries like France, Germany, Holland, Island Records… the art schools of south and west London… skiffle music, fashion designers, black and white photography, beat clubs, folk cellars, coffee bars, juke boxes, amphetamines, free love, and no inhibition to express oneself…  an amazing energy to get positive things done often in harmony with others…  everyone with some empathy could have a “purple patch.”

"Nirvana’s creative drive flew from the unpredictable combination of two different cultures, backgrounds and memories: the Greek and the Irish, both rich and pulsating… As for the name Nirvana, that was my idea. The name is as well known today as Coca Cola, but with two opposite stances: the bliss of the mind and soul, and the bliss of the violent creative energy." (Nirvana / Photo by Gered Mankowitz)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Alex: Nowadays I miss the genuine creative relationship between the artist and the record companies and publishers. The music itself is evolving unpredictably and cannot stay still forever. From folk to rock to electronics and finally production audacities with computers, it satisfies the masses of each generation for different reasons. What I fear mostly today is that it becomes a background commodity like adverts and fast food – though I don’t think that this could ever happen!

Patrick: I miss nothing from the music of the past….  and the future is, “que sera sera”!

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Alex: Well, during my forty years in England working in the music business I learned one thing: be yourself! There are two kinds of people in the world: Innovators and Imitators. With our Nirvana we were of the first kind.

Patrick: Don’t let money be your master or your mistress, always have the courage of your convictions, and in the business of the music …never accept no from somebody who cannot say yes.

What is the impact of music on the social-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Alex: It’s always the People who decide on the shock music has in our everyday lifestyle. Today it’s impact is with rap and dance: “let’s get loose man…tomorrow may not be there again”. The music is much more physical than cerebral. The body is rolling loose. Sex is the epicenter. I would like to hear a fairer repartition of both.

Patrick: I haven’t got a fucking clue!

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