Interview With Ken Williams
Electric Prunes Guitarist
(1965-1968; 1999-2002)

The following is an interview with Ken Williams conducted via email in November 2001.

1. What sparked your interest in music and why choose the guitar (what guitar make did you use back in the 60s and now)?

2. Do you recall your first public performance?

3. Before forming the Electric Prunes, you played with James Lowe and Mark Tulin in various groups - what names did you play under and did you cut any tracks pre-Electric Prunes? Also, how did you all meet up?

4. What were the band and your musical influences at that time?

5. What was your viewpoint when Barbara Harris said she knew a record producer and would introduce the band to him?

6. What was it like meeting Dave Hassinger and The Rolling Stones for the first time?

7. Were you and the band happy to play other songwriters' songs (primarily Mantz and Tucker) or were you pleased to take the barebones of their songs and add on the Prunes's style to the songs?

8. Dave Hassinger was producing the Rolling Stones at the same time as the Electric Prunes - did this have any influence in the sound and style adopted by the band?

9. Did you ever get involved with writing any songs and get involved with the production / engineering of the records?

10. Can you explain what hardware was used in the recording studio and during live performances?

11. Are you likely to do any further collaborations with the Prunes?

12. Can you explain about some of the recording techniques adopted?

13. Your guitar sound is on the Vox wah-wah pedal advert is amazing - what do you remember about the recording of the advert and when was it recorded?

14. The intro to 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' is mind-blowing - how was this achieved?

15. The instrumentation of 'Sold to the Highest Bidder' sounds like a balalika - was this instrument used during its recording?

16. You have been credited on the Edsel compilation 'Long Day's Flight' (1986) for special effects - can you explain what effects were used?

17. What influence did you think your guitar playing brought to the band?

18. What do you remember about the European tour at the end of 1967 and the recording of the Stockholm concert?

19. On meeting Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton during the European tour, did you benefit from hanging around with these guitar greats?

20. Did you enjoy the touring or the recording aspect of the band?

21. How involved were you with the 'Mass in F Minor' LP and do you remember the recording of this LP? The Collectors were used as session musicians - do you remember any of these guys?

22. Did you ever get involved in performing 'Mass in F Minor' live?

23. 'Everybody Knows You're Not In Love / You Never Had It Better' single seemed to take the band onto what was to become progressive rock - were you disappointed that the band never got to explore this avenue further?

24. What do you remember about working with Dave Hassinger, Richie Podolor, Bill Cooper and David Axelrod? Also, what do you remember of the band's manager Lenny Poncher?

25. Weasel's brother, Gary Spagnola, was involved with Meat Loaf and when the Prunes had breaks in their recording schedule, a young Meat Loaf recorded some tracks? Do you remember anything about this connection?

(Meat Loaf - extract from Meat Loaf - The History - In 1966/67, after two years at college in Buddy Holly's hometown of Lubbock, he became, of all things, an accountant. After his mother's death, and a violent falling-out with his alcoholic father, meat quit his job, quit Texas, and moved to LA. Meat's first tentative steps in to music came when he teamed up with Gary Spragnola in the Huntington Beach district of Los Angeles. Spragnola's brother, Weasel, was already living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle as guitarist in that archetypal garage-punk outfit, the Electric Prunes. And via this association, Meat found himself in the Prunes' studio with time on his hands during breaks in their recording schedule. He took his chance, and the results yielded three songs. All remain unreleased, and Meat now recalls only one title - the self-penned 'Deep River Blues'.)

We meet on Sunday to play a little and James and Mark did not remember anything about this. Where did you hear about this? When Weasel and I bought motorcycles I think his brother came along. But that's all I remember.

26. The band signed over the name to producer Dave Hassinger - did you think this was the right decision or a mistake at the time?

27. When did you leave the band? Were you with the band up to the end when Mark finished or had you bailed out before that point? Who was left in the band when you left?

28. Why did you decide to leave the time you did?

29. What are your thoughts on the band continuing after the "originals" had left and consequently the band's output i.e. 'Release of an Oath' and 'Just Good Old Rock and Roll'?

30. What did you do after leaving the band?

31. What are you currently doing?

32. How would you describe the band's music on the newly released 'Artifact' LP and how do you think it compares with the first 2 Electric Prunes LPs released in '67?

33. The band have played 2 concerts in 2001 - Voxfest and Cavestomp - what was it like back on stage playing the band's memorable songs from the '60s and also playing the new material live?

34. What is your favourite Electric Prunes track and why?

35. Finally, if you have any other information about the Prunes, I would love to hear about it.