By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Sometimes Egon has had to go to extreme lengths to convince the original musicians that a reissue of their music would be a good thing. "There's a moment with all these musicians where they give up," he says, "or they move on to something else, or they otherwise shelve whatever it was that they had put their heart and soul into. It's not like I can call up a guy or show up at his doorstep — although I've done that many times, too — and say, 'Hey, I love your music, let me reissue it.' Sometimes it takes years."
Somewhere along the line, Egon began feeling that there was a link between the hip-hop, soul and classic funk of that magical '68-'75 time and the obscure psychedelia of its garage bands and musicians. In the last couple months, Now-Again has come out with some amazing finds, including the multinational psychedelia of Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974; Black Man's Cry: The Inspiration of Fela Kuti; the Whitefield Brothers' extraordinary Earthology; and Oh No's Ethiopium (hip-hop tracks inspired by rare '60s and '70s Ethiopian funk, jazz and psychedelic rock). With each release, Egon seems to be drawing closer to cracking the funk code. It's a lifelong search, and he's only just begun.
"This last week," he says, "I had a license go to a '70s Zambian psychedelic-rock band, Witch. In the early '70s, they did a song called 'We Intend to Cause Havoc'; a license going to a guy in Vegas; a license going to a guy in Texas; finalizing a deal with Kourosh Yaghmaei in Iran; three or four licenses in Nigeria, and a couple of things going on in Indonesia."
Just what is he looking for? What is it that ties all these things together?
"I always had a focus on a certain era of music that I liked, which was this '68 through '75 or '76 thing, when funk first came in. James Brown was of course the godfather of it all — that shit just spread like wildfire and it hit everybody, and everybody did their own take on it. I just wanted to go in and figure out what happened when funk hit, and when funk hit psychedelic rock; what happened when funk hit jazz, what happened in Ethiopia?
"I wanted to find the answers to all that. And I wasn't limiting myself to the independent side of the spectrum. I was really interested in the major-label side, too. Like David Axelrod's shit out here, for instance, which is some of the pinnacle: A guy who loved funk, loved classical music, loved 'third-stream' music, loved jazz, was tripping out on William Blake and decided to do a couple of records based on his poetry. Masterpieces and iconic records for Los Angeles sprung, in a lot of ways, from funk music."