At the beginning
of the nineties, a project from a Yahoo Group called Laughingmadcaps began.
Fans and collectors got together in order to compile any unreleased piece of
music of Pink Floyd’s founder member Syd Barrett. The man behind the curtain of
this Project was Kiloh Smith: “We wanted to leave the listener wanting less not
more”. Have You Got It Yet?, the name that was given to the collection, contains
songs in which Syd Barrett participated with and without Pink Floyd: Studio
outtakes, live recordings, homemade sound mixes, interviews, pictures,
articles, essays, TV documentaries, song covers recorded by fans, design covers
for the (so far) nineteen discs, all kinds of unreleased video material, songs
dedicated to Syd Barrett, and even tracks in which his participation was put
into question. No one earned a single penny; the fans traded bootlegs or just
sent blank CDs in exchange… and sometimes they received them as presents from
someone unknown from the other side of the world. The team who made this
possible was interviewed for this article.
Kiloh Smith and
1. In order to begin a Project like
this, you must love music. How was your first contact with Syd’s music?
Kiloh: My first contact was the live
part of the Ummagumma album. Then, A Nice Pair. I came of age during the
great progressive rock explosion of the seventies. Groups like Yes, ELP, UK,
Gentle Giant and King Crimson were popular. King Crimson was already like... a
legend because they had broken up and left all of this amazing music. However,
in my neck of the woods, the people who really had the prog thing together listened to Syd Barrett. My friend, Robert
Jewell, bought the double LP issued in the USA and I immediately fell in love.
As with all artists who I REALLY like, I began collecting bootlegs and trying
to learn about them as much as I could. Around 1985, I met Steve Czapla and we
began trading bootleg tapes in earnest. This went on for over fifteen years. I
still have all of my bootleg cassette tapes and recently purchased a Nakamichi
tape deck to continue to enjoy them on. Analog!
Pschnob: I got a copy of piper as a
teen and didn't care for it. I was more in a (hard) rock/alcohol phase and
didn't sync with gnomes and fairies etc… until after I'd started to use drugs.
Sometime in college (or late high school) I first heard Syd's solo work and
quite liked it as the madness of it synched with the madness of my drug
experiences :) I'm still a bit aberrant amongst Syd fans in that I prefer Syd
solo and Pink Floyd post-Syd (before The Dark
Side of the Moon), that said, of course I've come to love The Piper at the Gates of Dawn but it
wasn't my first love. On a visit to a friend in Harvard I found my first Syd
bootleg, the Vegetable Man LP in a Cambridge
MA record store. When Opel
came out it was my first CD purchase; I had to wait a few weeks until I could
afford a player to listen to it.
2. How and
when did the idea for Have You Got It Yet? started? How was the material
K: By the early nineties I had
accumulated thousands of hours of bootleg cassettes. By the way, we only traded
on metal particle, chrome dioxide, cassettes. Those were the best. Of that, I
had a few hundred hours of Pink Floyd. Almost all of the Syd Barrett was filler
on some tape or another. Filler was where the piece of music wasn't long enough
to warrant its own cassette tape and so was tacked on as filler at the end of
some other recording. All of my bootleg Syd Barrett was in my collection in
this manner. I thought: "Wouldn't it be nice to record all of this Syd
music onto its own tape(s) and then be able to enjoy it all at once?" And
that's exactly what I did. I ended up with like... 3.5, 90 minute cassette
tapes of Syd Barrett music in chronological order. I played the shit outta those tapes too.
After the Laughing
Madcaps group was started (around 1998), and I had all of the fans and Sydiots
under one roof, I began thinking back to those 3.5 cassettes of Syd. See...
this was the dawn of being able to burn CDs on your computer. The discs had
just gone to 80 minutes long and people were availing themselves of this
wonderful new technology. Torrents were still years away. So,
aaaaaaaanyway... the Roky CD Club was rolling along. That's where the original
Roky Yahoo Group (then: Texas Psych) took rare recordings on tape and converted
them to CD for free distribution. I thought: "Why not make a CD copy of my
tapes and we will get people to all send in their recordings and then pick out
the best quality?" I then pitched the idea on the group and... re-pitched
it. And... re-pitched it. And... re-pitched it until I got this guy named Rick,
with his own recording studio in Connecticut,
interested in the idea. See, Syd Barrett fans are, basically, really, really
lazy people unless it comes to fighting amongst themselves on some message
But anyway, I got
Rick on board and then we had a place to mail submissions to. That went on for
several months. And I even went to visit Rick in Connecticut. Rick is also Jefferson
Starship's Webmaster. After awhile, it became clear that Rick wasn't into going
through all the material and picking out the best quality. He had a different
vision for the project which involved just putting everything out and letting
the fans assemble their own collection. That wasn't going to work and so I
removed the project from Rick, which had grown to almost a hundred discs of
submissions. I took my toys and went home.
Then I began
lobbying my old friend, Steve Czapla to join the project. I was like:
"Dude! I have over a hundred discs of Syd Barrett material and we need to
percolate it down to the best shit! Also, I am running this Syd Barrett group full
of crazy motherfuckers! Join up and I will make you a Moderator!"
Steve didn't want to join anything that was being pitched to him as
owned by me and full of crazy motherfuckers. I had to really work on him to
join the group. I guilt tripped him, everything... Finally, he joined up.
So... the hundred
discs were sent to Steve who had a bootlegged copy of Sonic Solutions which was
like... a $5000.00 sound editing program back then. The idea came about that,
not only would we pick the best recordings, but we would run them through Sonic
Solutions. Then, Pinnacle Pschnob joined up and he had his own professional
recording studio in Massachusetts.
Then ChrisM joined up and some other guy named Swan Lee. These people: Steve,
Pschnob, ChrisM and Swan Lee were true Syd Barrett Experts. They made copies of
all the discs for each other and then began the long, hard, work of picking out
the best version of each piece of material. After awhile, Steve and Swan Lee
didn't see eye to eye anymore. Steve didn't like Swan Lee; said he was a
douche. Swan Lee told me that Steve had committed the unpardonable sin of
messing with his "work" on the project. Adios, Swan Lee.So we began to get
a running order of the discs and comfortable working together. Basically,
ChrisM and Steve slogged through the tracks and found other stuff. Then Steve
and Pschnob would process the results through Sonic Solutions. Then, we would
all listen to the various results to pick a “best" version of the processing.
Then we began
getting discs together to release to the fans. This was before torrents, so we
traded the discs via a tree and leaf network. I am the one that set all
that up and I ran the networks too. Basically, a trunk was given a lossless
version of the disc. He made lossless copies for the branches who made copies
for the leaves. I set this whole thing up by continents and I ran the
distributions too. This is where I invented the word Sydiot. This was for all
the people who signed up to be branches who should have just stayed home
sucking on their bong. They'd be like: "PICK ME! PICK ME! PICK ME!"
and I would and then I would hand them the ball and they would throw the thing
right into the dirt. Basically, the distributions, of hundreds of discs
by continent, were like running gun battles but everybody got their discs.
3. Why is
there still so much material unreleased?
K: I don't know what's still
unreleased. We put out everything that was floating around and shut down the
Syd Barrett Bootleg Industry.
P: That seems like a question
better directed to the record company. I can only presume if Syd's solo records
or Opel were big successes they'd have released much more… but we did
get a lot of extra takes on Fish Out of Water... and “Bob
Dylan Blues” and “Rhamadan”, so...there are trickles anyway...
volumes are being updated. Any plan on sight?
K: We are going to update
everything. Ever since we put out HYGIY? that established us as THE Syd
Barrett Audio People. So... we have gotten LOTS of upgrades and even some new
shit. Yes, I want to put it out. It's up to Steve Czapla and ChrisM because
they have the tapes and the track listings and all the upgrades. It's up to
them. I want it to come out. The fans want it to come out.
P: Steve has some long term
plans; I don't really; I've been working on Roky material for some time now but
getting very slow...approaching retirement...
5. Is there
an ultimate HYGIY goal?
K: To put the best stuff into
all the fan's hands.
6. Was it
easy to make fans cooperate?
K: No, they were a bunch of
idiots but I ended up assembling a good team.
everything follow the same path with the Roky Erickson material?
K: HYGIY? was more
organized than the Roky initiative. Also, the Syd fans don't think that I am
Satan for doing it.
decided the title Have You Got It Yet?
K: We had a contest on the
Laughing Madcaps Group and some woman thought it up. She won the big NO PRIZE.
9. What do
you think is EMI’s opinion about it?*
K: I think EMI put out more Syd
material because of HYGIY?
Reingold made a superb DVD with every visual Syd/Floyd material. Are you in
contact with him for future collaborations?
K: We were going to do a HYGIY?
video collection and assembled a LOT of video. Steve Czapla is a
perfectionist. Sometimes I think that he thinks that this Syd Barrett material
is like fine wine or something. Like... it needs to be aged more or something.
JUST PUT THE SHIT OUT!!! Anyway, Pinnacle Pschnob got tired of waiting around
for Steve to decide something so he gave copies of all of our video work to
this Weenie guy. He did a bit of his own work and then put it out as his
P: I sent Eugene a lot of that
material, the first version contained a lot of flv/mpg1 sourced material but
subsequent versions have been upgraded from more mpg2 sources; yes we
communicate. Due to a lack of motivation and unique material (no point in
duplicating releases others have already done) there are currently no plans to
release a HYGIY? DVD (as you know there were several VCDs); that
actually was what I was hoping Eugene
would do but Kiloh and he got into some dispute so…
11. What was the
biggest surprise among the material?
P: Yes, I suppose getting
uncirculated material like the “Vegetable Man” and “Beechwoods” sessions
recording with Nick [Mason], et.al.
About the finding of this particular
track, designer Jean-Luke Epstein has first-hand information. He saw a projected
tracklist for HYGIY, and noticed that he had something
Jean-Luke: I went to the French Lycée in South Kensington in London. As a big Floyd
fan, I'd often notice Nick driving around in his yellow Lotus Elan and Syd was
also occasionally spotted too because he lived in 3-4 locations nearby as well
... The interview came about when I approached Nick after a very strange
poorly-attended gig the Floyd did in February (1969). Suffice to say, that Nick
was very amenable - we had friends in common - and he was up to giving an
interview for my school magazine. He was living nearby in Sydney Street at the time. The meeting
was very agreeable: he's a very pleasant individual - I met him again 5 years
later, when he was living in Camden: he had no memory whatsoever of our '69
encounter but was still just agreeable to give you a sense of how fairly easy-going
he is. The only pressure we had was that Nick was going to have to start
recording that night - on what was to be the first of the recordings we now
know as the More soundtrack. Though
the film was still called The Last Drop
then. I had a Philips cassette recorder for the interview and brought a friend
called Nico Preston (who had first turned me onto Arnold Layne ...) So the
recorder was just running when we talked, during which Nick played us some of
his parts for Ummagumma which he'd
recorder with his girlfriend / fiancée, Lindy, whom he shared the flat with.
His recordings were played on an Akai 4-track he had. It was from that that he
also played the Vegetable Man backing track - which I recognised from John
Peel's broadcasts - and “Beechwoods” that little gem which it still amazes me
we haven't heard more examples of ... And it's something of a miracle that the
piece you know survived because: My original copy of that recording was stolen
- with a few other rarities of that period - a few weeks later. If Nico, who
was something of scientific whizz-kid, hadn't made a copy for himself, we
wouldn't have had that copy of a copy we're talking about today.
For my part,
it was in 1997 that I was working on my Syd tribute album (Dream Divers: In My Infant Air), and, on its release,
got to start exchanges with Steve Czapla and, in due course, Kiloh and their
Laughing Madcaps project. Shortly after, David Parker published his Random
Precision book. We got to exchanging too and, in the process; Steve produced a
lot of clever strokes in extracting remarkable audio, in the circumstances,
from the recording which Nico had, by now, digitized to preserve from his dub
The Making of the "Have You Got It Yet?" Series SOON!