Following a path blazed over four decades, Nebula melt the pedal to the metal retracing blues-rock's journey from the garage into the wildest expanses of inner space. Somewhere between garage-psych foundation-shaking rumble, unkempt panoramic acid-rock vistas and the benumbed throb of stoner-rock, the Los Angeles trio channel the galactic roar of bands like Blue Cheer, the Electric Prunes and Dinosaur Jr. But for Eddie Glass, the drummer-turned-guitarist and former member of stoner-rock pioneers Fu Manchu, labels are beside the point.
"When you write songs and play music, it doesn't really matter what you fucking call it," says Glass. He prefers the term "heavy psych," which is also the title of their latest album. "We have dipped into the acid many times before ... [but] the heavy psych stuff is more guitar-based with the fuzz and wah [pedals]. The other styles are more psychedelic."
Glass has been making music for more than 20 years since pounding the skins in sludgy San Diego grunge-punks Olivelawn. While transitioning from the traps to the six-string, Glass witnessed the wah-bossing din of Dino Jr. guitarist J. Mascis and was forever changed.
"Everyone was still playing their punk-rock crap with their trebly guitar," recalls Glass. "He came on with two Marshalls, wah pedals and Big Muffs. That shit influenced my use of pedals and that sound."
As Olivelawn collapsed after two records in 1993, Glass took over second-guitarist duties in Fu Manchu, leading the band in a jammier, more free-flowing direction. Glass recorded three seminal albums with fellow guitarist/songwriter Scott Hill before their diverging tastes split the band.
Even as the stoner-rock moniker was beginning to take form, and audiences began gravitating to the syrup-thick bottom-heavy thump, Glass was feeling an itch for something different. He was interested in psychedelic explorations, feeling moored and earthbound by the form's more ponderous aspects. He took Fu Manchu's drummer Ruben Romano and former bassist Mark Abshire with him, recording Nebula's 1997 debut EP, Let It Burn, using material originally destined for Fu Manchu's fourth album.
"At first, it got all complicated and shit, like breaking up with a girlfriend," says Glass. Since then, Nebula has recorded nearly a dozen albums and EPs. With Heavy Psych, things have come full circle. It showcases a rawer, more garage-oriented sound, more in keeping with the band's live shows. "We recorded most of it live — just bass, drums and guitar — because people say our live shows are a lot different than the records, so we tried to capture that shit," says Glass. "That's what we fucking went for — less overdubs, more space and more dynamics.
"[Usually] when you're in the studio you say, 'Let's try this.' And it's, 'That sounds good, keep it.' You might be a little high, and you're like, 'Man, that song's really good, let's put this on too. And that kitchen sink — can we record that too?' Next thing you know, you're like, 'Maybe we should've left out the kitchen sink on that one.'"
While Glass encourages people to get the album — which he thinks channels more of the primal sounds of heroes like the Stooges and the MC5 — he acknowledges that the live performance is still the thing. After almost 20 years on the road, how could it be any other way?
"It's just different live," he says. "For us, it's the true meaning of rock music, played without any idea of what the fuck we're trying to do. It's just happening the way we feel it."