Thursday, February 26, 2009
Welcome again to another installment of "10 Questions." We've a great guest for your enjoyment this week, the pride of Psychedelphia - Scott Vitt of The Asteroid #4!
(Photo: Marco Roldan Photography)
The band celebrated ten years together last year by putting out a classic of the genre, "These Flowers of Ours: A Treasury of Witchcraft & Devilry". (My #1 Album of 2008.) Let's hope their regression brings us more of the good stuff.
Scott has proved himself to be a student of the psychedelic genre, too, and has made it known in previous interviews a professed love for the 80s purveyors a la The Church, Rain Parade, Echo & The Bunnymen, etc. (I know they've covered a Church track on their An Amazing Dream LP, and last year's album gave us a helluva' version of "I Look Around" by the Rain Parade.) Here's a video of Scott- with bandmate Eric, on Brother JT's Trippin' Balls show:
So, on with the questions, right? Right!
1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."
when rock music rhythmically and melodically collides with color.
2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?
Its an obvious answer, but I'd have to say the sitar soley on the fact of its relationship to spirituality and inherit droning properties.
3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time? Why that one?
It has changed from time to time, but I would have to say The Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour". Why? Because its so fucking weird. First of all, its not even a proper album, but still flows like one. I believe it was only released in the States, the songs being released as singles everywhere else, but what a collection. It's the Beatles at their most adventurous in terms of their psychedelic offerings, essentially all being recorded before, during or directly after the Sgt. Pepper's sessions.
Honestly, its just really a odd collection of songs with "Blue Jay Way" and "I am the Walrus" being the highlights, but even Paul's songs are so strange(Your Mother Should Know) and of course, the movie, which was Paul's project. The artwork, the weird animal costumes....
But most of all, I once read an interview of John Lennon, maybe from his Playboy interview from the 70's, and the interviewer asked him what his favorite Beatles record was, his answer?....Magical Mystery Tour....Why? John replied, "because its the weirdest"....enough said.
4. What are your three favorite 1980s neo-psychedelic albums?
Man these questions are difficult....
Echo & the Bunnymen- Ocean Rain
The Church- Starfish
Spacemen 3- The Perfect Prescription
5. What song or album that wouldn't fall into the classic "psych" definition is, nevertheless, psychedelic to you?
Again, there's several ways to answer this question. I would like to say the Kinks "Village Green", because the Kinks are not really considered psychedelic, but that album is full of strange imagery and subject matter, but I'm going to go with...
The Byrds- "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" Why? Because the fundamental basis of psych music is experimentation and adventure and the Byrds went outward on that effort. It made me a lover of classic country music and there was nothing cooler than a bunch of long hairs playing that music stoned to the bone at the Grand Ole Opry....that's Psychedelic!
6. Is there an advantage in being the pioneers (60s psychedelic bands), or being the continuing explorers armed with the knowledge of those pioneers work (the modern psychedelic bands)? Why?
There was much more of an advantage to the early pioneers. They were still directly influenced by the founders of rock music, i.e. the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, etc....which made them still have focus of the song and how to integrate vocal harmonies. Today, psych music is very watered down and critics always claim to have heard it before...which in many cases they have. The Asteroid #4 have never claimed to be reinventing the wheel and any modern psych band that does is taking advantage of a new generation that hasn't dug deep enough yet...
If you think in terms of being an actual Pioneer...I would have much rather been in the stagecoach and seeing the land for the first time, rather than ride over the same trail that's been littered with crap for years and years. Dig?
Our only advantage today is having the available technologies for recording. I love it when I hear modern artists diss digital recording or artificial sounds. As if the Beatles, the Zombies, Floyd, Tomorrow or any other band that recorded at Abbey Road in '67 wouldn't have utilized it if they had it at the time. Whatever new technology they could get their hands on they salivated for. So why shouldn't we embrace it?
7. What about psychedelic music compels you to create it, as opposed to other genres?
It's just what comes naturally. The Asteroid #4 have obviously tried other things and we were never that comfortable doing anything else and I think many would be able to hear that in the music. I know I can. I squirm when I listen to a lot of our recordings...but whatever, it's made us better in the long run.
For us, Psych has so much more of a freedom about it in terms of integrating what we feel are the best elements of the genre, i.e. drones, effected vocals/instrumentation, lyrical imagery and so on...To me and I'm sure my mates would agree, that listening to music should have a similar effect as a good book or film. You want to be taken somewhere else, even if it's for three minutes and psych music has that quality more than any other form. Some music is strictly for dancing, some is for banging your fucking head against the wall, but for me...I want to Leave it All Behind!
8. What musician or album in psychedelia do you feel gets overlooked too much..?
Well these days, with the reissuing of every great unknown, its hard to be overlooked from the classic era. If you had asked me five years ago, I would have said something beyond the shores of the U.S. or U.K., such as the Turkish, South American or African psych that's finding it's way to the record shops, in many cases, for the first time. But it's all out there now...
I could say a number of things, but I'm sure someone would say, "Overlooked?! Dude, I've been listening to that record since I was 12!" So with that said...I'm going to say three bands that I'm personally close with, and they are the Asteroid #4, the December Sound and the Sounds of Kaleidoscope.
9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?
10. Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You- The BeeGees
9. Long, Long, Long- The Beatles
8. Porpoise Song- The Monkees
7. Starvation- The Golden Dawn
6. Exister- Serge Franklin
5. 2000 Light Years From Home- The Rolling Stones
4. Vaccuum Cleaner- Tintern Abbey
3. America- Traffic Sound
2. Even Stevens- The Vegetable Garden
1. No Silver Bird- The Hooterville Trolley
10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.
Scott: Ok Valis...What's your top 10 Psych Songs?
-valis: Well, this changes every hour but right at this slicing of the cone of time it could be:
1. The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
2. The Shamen - Velvet Box
3. The Persian Rugs - Cornered
4. The Worst - The DT's
5. Purple Overdose - Holes
6. The Higher State - Do You See Me?
7. The December Sound - Drone Refusenik
8. Tomorrow - Real Life Permanent Dream
9. Ross - Glass Onion World
10. The Asteroid #4 - My Love
....of course I've just thought of another ten! And another!
Thanks Scott! Good luck at Psych Fest #2 in two weeks!And the shows with Anton & Co.!
(( Bonus Question: besides yourselves, who's the best psychedelic band in your area; you'd pay to see? ))
The Sounds of Kaleidoscope!