A Quick Overview of the Time Traveling
Psychedelic Musician Nick Riff
Psychedelic punk, spacerock, and alternative can describe the music of Nick Riff. A veteran of the Cleveland Ohio music scene in the 80's and 90's Nick Riff virtually disappeared from the planet at the end of the century after his recordings for Delerium Records in the UK, and Sonic Swirl in the US established a strong cult following worldwide. Nick still appears in the Cleveland area performing selected solo, duo and complete Freak Element band concerts. Here is the story set forth by the Ancient Ones from across the Universe.
Nick Riff began his musical adventure in high school after borrowing his uncle's Harmony acoustic guitar to learn Tyrannosaurus Rex songs. Later, Nick bought a bass guitar and joined his first high school rock band.
After graduation he spent the next few years constantly playing in nightclubs and bars in the Eastern Kentucky - Southern Ohio region, eventually joining his first all original band. Serpent was a hard rock trio influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Sex Pistols, UFO and Cheap Trick. They released a 7" vinyl before dissolving in 1978.
Relocating to Lexington, Kentucky and switching to guitar, the lysergically soaked XY19 surfed the new wave creating a sound combining punk rock and synthesizer mindscapes as a sound track for their sociological and psychic experiments until they simply burned out of existence.
In 1980 Nick Riff moved to Columbus, Ohio to recuperate and concentrate on developing his song writing skills. He played bass in a few local bar bands, did studio session work, and played guitar for the punk band The Infamous Dragons.
Moving on to Cleveland, Ohio in 1982 to join Hungry Young Men as a bassist, Nick spent most of his time on the local club circuit. They played concerts for WMMS radio and did shows with REM, The Replacements, Brian Adams and Greg Khin, releasing a 3 song 7" vinyl before going their separate ways.
The Attitude was formed in 1984. Nick played guitar and shared lead vocals in this four piece power pop rock revival. They managed to get banned or fined for damages in numerous clubs throughout northeast Ohio. However, The Attitude kept a vigorous live schedule building a dedicated following, especially in the Kent State University clubs. Cleveland indie label Herb Jackson Records released a five song EP Time Stands Still in 1986. By the fall of that year it had made the top ten list on four area college radio stations. They shared concert billings with The Ramones, Faith No More, The Saints, and Chesterfield Kings, to name a few. Their last show was in 1988.
In 1989 Nick was in Zanesville, Ohio where he decided to pursue a solo career. After assembling a recording studio, his first release From the Heart of Oblivion was a six song cassette sold through magazines and used as a demo for record labels. The new UK psychedelic label Delerium records contacted Nick and released the tape in 1991. Nick continued recording new songs while commuting to and from Cleveland to play solo concerts, including a show with Daevid Allen of Gong. In 1992 Delerium released the full length CD/LP Freak Element to critical acclaim and solidified Nick's underground indie credentials. He was soon able to return to Cleveland and begin rehearsals with a studio group to record his second Delerium CD Cloak of Immortality, released in 1995.
In this time period Nick also appeared on numerous compilations in the U.S. and Europe. Cleveland based garage-punk label Sonic Swirl released two 7" records. The first in 1994 on blue vinyl was a solo recording. Due to the activity of his Delerium releases Nick formed a new band, Nick Riff's Freak Element. An early lineup was featured on the second Sonic Swirl release in 1996.
Nick Riff's Freak Element was/is always based on the availability of the musicians involved, this incarnation focused on outdoor festivals or indoor psychedelic events and shared appearances with YES, Moody Blues and Hawkwind. Nick was included in the 'Space Box' compilation on Cleopatra Records. The band released three songs on two area compilations and recorded a ten song CD at MetroSync in Cleveland. A four track promo CD was released in 1999 to a few select personalities. At the turn of the century previous commitments of the individuals involved made it impossible for the band to move further at that time.
Between bands Nicks' focus is on the psychedelic pop, singer-songwriter aspects of his music. Performing as a solo acoustic artist he translates songs from his cd releases and includes unreleased songs that are performed exclusively in a solo environment.
After a mysterious five year disappearance, the official website was launched in 2006 along with a new release, Nick Riff - Magick Museum, a collection of out-of-print and limited edition material that serves as a perfect introduction for those unfamiliar with this music. Nick played solo concerts opening for Kasim Sulton, with an encore performance in 2007 as well, while starting two new solo recording projects that same year.
In 2008 Nick Riff's Freak Element - The World's Alive CD became the 2nd release in the Riffdisc series. Nick also re-activated Freak Element for live appearances. The duo version, with synth-keyboardist Peter Platten, assisted Nick with his singer-songwriter from another dimension acoustic based music. They played taverns ,coffeeshops and concerts throughout the Cleveland Ohio area.
In 2009 the cosmic powered four piece space rock version of Freak Element has re-emerged to mutate yet another generation of hybrid psychedelic travelers and unsuspecting humans. The Freak Element duo frequently manifest through out the year, and Nick completed his 3rd release in the Riffdisc series, a solo CD " Photon Shift". This was accompanied by a free limited edition bonus disc of the Freak Element duo. Nick continues to record and is working on the next release in the Riffdisc series. Stay tuned...