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Don Falcone: Daevid Allen’s Weird Quartet and Weird Biscuit Teatime

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Daevid’s parts were all improvised, sometimes just one or two takes. He was really amazing in how he could hear a piece, and then jump in with vocal or guitar parts. —Don Falcone
Don Falcone is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer who has been working with known psychedelic and space rock musicians since the 1990s with his band Spirits Burning as well as other projects. The late Daevid Allen, founder of Soft Machine and Gong, appeared on Spirits Burning's first album, 1999's New Worlds By Design, performing on much of the recording playing lead, rhythm and glissando guitars and singing. Falcone and Allen, with Michael Clare, later formed Weird Biscuit Teatime, releasing DJDDAY in 2005. They renamed the band the Daevid Allen Weird Quartet, and in 2016 released what would be one of Allen's final recordings before his passing, the superb Elevenses.

All About Jazz: How did the idea come about to form this band?

Don Falcone: On some early Spirits Burning albums, a couple of pieces featured Daevid Allen, bassist Michael Clare, and me, and came out quite well. The track "New Spell," for example, has a really cool blend of space, electronica, and rock, and still sounds original and interesting to me to this day. In late 2001, Daevid was visiting San Francisco, as he frequently did in the 2000s. He and Michael got to hear a slew of Spirits Burning pieces I had started, and Michael suggested we do an entire album as a new band.

I briefly called us ACF, for Allen, Clare, and Falcone, as I had to label tapes and files. I remember calling us Inner Demons for a bit, even have some CDRs labeled as such, and Daevid and Michael eternally ignored that. Then Daevid came up with Weird, followed by Weird Biscuit Teatime. To complete the band and bring in real drums, we asked Trey Sabatelli to be our drummer, and he accepted.

When it came time for Elevenses, we decided to aim towards a vinyl release, and found that with Cleopatra Records. To get the deal, which included promotion and an advance, neither that I take for granted, we agreed to get Daevid's name as the marquee part of the band name. We did some brainstorming and were able to highlight "Weird," which was obviously part of our past, and "Quartet," which we had always strived for during the writing, recording, and growth of each song. That's how we ended up as Daevid Allen Weird Quartet.

In retrospect, maybe we should have gone with Daevid Allen's Weird Biscuit Teatime, to simplify things, and to avoid certain wheels of confusion.

AAJ: How did the sessions for Elevenses differ from those for the Weird Biscuit Teatime album?

DF: Almost all of Weird Biscuit Teatime was started with keyboards, samples, and percussion, and then Daevid and Michael recorded their parts at my home studio, and Trey at his. Only about one third of Elevenses followed that path.

For Elevenses, we recorded another one third of the parts at a studio in November of 2006. I used to work for Digidesign, and you could reserve time at the in-house studio. It was a really nice size recording room for a full band with a big mixing board and direct to Pro Tools recording. There are some pictures from the event in the Elevenses booklet. You'll see that only Daevid, Michael, and Trey recorded, while Jay Radford and me dealt with the engineering side of things. For the heavier pieces, I ended up doing my organ and synth parts later at home. For other pieces, like "Yum Yum Tree," the band played to my pre-recorded keyboard parts.

With Weird Biscuit Teatime, Trey did all of the acoustic drum parts, and he did them all from his home studio with me in attendance. For Elevenses, he's on five tracks, and these were all done that night at Digidesign, where Trey also used to work.

The rest of the Elevenses sessions were kind of singular in nature. Daevid did parts at my home studio. Michael finished off many of his parts remotely, after moving from San Francisco. When Trey was unavailable, we brought in Paul Sears to do drums and percussion, and he recorded from his Arizona base.

In 2014, Michael and I decided to dedicate ourselves to finalizing the album, and we spent almost a year doing that. In January of 2015, Daevid gave a thumbs up to the updates we had done. Additionally, Daevid wanted to add vocals to two songs, and gliss to three. He made a couple of attempts to record with his home setup in Australia, but was too weak, or unable to concentrate to provide anything. Soon after, he left us.

AAJ: Can you describe the writing process for those two albums?

DF: Weird Biscuit Teatime DJDDAY started with my keys and electronic percussion. Plus, I threw in some samples here and there. I was still going through a period of mixing space rock, prog, and my experimental version of drum and bass, what I used to do with Spaceship Eyes.

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