It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine

It's Psychedelic Baby is an independent, music magazine. We are covering alternative, underground, non-commercial and non-mainstream artists in variety of shapes and genres. Exclusive interviews, reviews and articles. A place where musicians can express themselves. We serve an international readership.

Hoi' Polloi interview


HOI’ POLLOI recorded an amazing LP back in the ’70s, but like many other bands remained forgotten due the lack of exposure. There was a wonderful reissue done recently and we had opportunity to talk with guys about their LP, which remained pretty much forgotten. Here is an interview with engineer John Schuerman and with member of the band – Charlie Bleak.


You were all from Richmond, Indiana and you formed when you studied at Earlham College. Were you in any bands before forming Hoi' Polloi? Did those bands release anything?

Charlie Bleak: To keep the record straight, none of us were born and raised in Richmond, Indiana. We met there as students of Earham College. Speaking for myself, I was in a number of bands between age 12 and 18. One was the Cheerful  Earful. We appeared on the nationally syndicated TV show: The Upbeat Show.  We did a rock version of "Five Foot Two".

How was the scene in the college city? Any other bands you remember?

Charlie Bleak: I helped form two other bands while at Earlham College prior to the Hoi Polloi project. One was called Ralph, the other was called Waste. No recordings of those bands exist. There wasn't really a "scene" musically in Richmond that I was aware of.

So, how exactly did the idea to start a band come to realization in Earlham College?


Charlie Bleak: Hoi Polloi was basically a studio creation. Dan Mack and Bruce Wallace were living in a farm house with some other folks and they started to write together as well as writing songs on their own. We all knew each other, and we appreciated each other's music. I don't recall who said, "Hey, let's record all this and make an album", but one thing lead to another. The only person on the album who didn't attend Earlham was the bass guitar player, Jeff D'Angelo (AKA Sid Stoneman). I called him, and he agreed to participate.


What would you say were your most important influences? It's interesting the album has a very unique sound, and as Patrick Lundborg stated a few years ago, the only influences that we can hear are maybe late Beatles.

Charlie Bleak: The influences are very diverse. Who knows what sticks in your mind from the time you first start listening to music and when you start trying to write your own? For me, what I CAN tell you is that I got hooked on rock n roll from age 6 or 7, and I loved the same artists that I found out years later that the Beatles loved growing up as well. Like Elvis, Fats Domino, Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, The Everley Brothers et cetera. I was and still am a huge Beatles fan, but I was also into Traffic, Frank Zappa, Spirit, Lovin' Spoonful, The Youngbloods, The Young Rascals and many others.

Tell us about the early songwriting process and about those early basement jams, out of which the record was born.

Charlie Bleak: What I recall is that by the time we brought Jeff D'angelo in, the songs were pretty much set. We rehearsed the songs out at Dan and Bruce's farm prior to going into record them. We weren't jamming all that much; we were just learning the tunes to record them. As far as songs co-written by Dan Mack and Bruce Wallace, you need to talk to them. At that time, the songs I wrote were written and complete when I brought them to the others.


Where was the album recorded and what can you tell us about the recording and producing it?

Charlie Bleak: We had the GREAT good fortune to have a friend who was the Guru of all things audio and visual at Earlham College, Mr. John Schuerman, who is the unsung hero of this whole saga. He was also responsible for the in house radio station. Once we had the idea to record, we approached John and he immediately embraced the idea. Basically we recorded the album in a lecture space usually reserved for music and arts during Spring break. We had just so many days (7 to 10) to finish. Then the students would be back and we would be kicked out. I do recall that on one of the last sessions, it was the the day the students were back, and I kept trying to hurry things up before someone crashed through the doors and ruined a take. It was the final overdub with about 8 people on "Who's Gonna Help Me?"


When recording was complete, everyone pretty much scattered. We did one concert on campus to try and sell some albums and that was it.I heard recently that an original Hoi' Polloi album can sell for 500 to 600 dollars (US) in Europe! But between the end of recording and the concert we did, John Schuerman and I programmed and mastered the final album. I am responsible for the side 1 editing of various bits and pieces that get a little screwy and weird. Like Hoi' Polloi Peeks Out, Instead Boogie, which was a 4 AM in the morning spontaneous jam (when we were stoned and basically sleep walking) and would have been considered an out take. And the end of that, when it speeds up and then breaks down at the end, you can hear Jeff D'Angelo's voice saying, "Lost . . . lost" right before the big chord CRASH! (which I instigated specifically for the purpose of a segue, kind of like the big chord at the end "A Day in the Life") which cross fades into a fade IN of "Satisfaction Guaranteed". The scraping sound that persists when the chord dies out is John Schuerman swirling a marracca while he was manning the control board! The fade in of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" was in fact the fade OUT of the song when it was originally recorded. I took the fade out, put it at the front, and then let the song go on from there.

John Schuerman: The recording was made on the Earlham College Campus. The Hancock Room in which we recorded the album is a large classroom in the fine arts building (Runyan Center) used for large classes in all the fine arts. It is also a rehearsal room for the various school choirs and other musical groups. We also used the projection room in Lilly Library to record a few overdubs when the Handcock Room was no longer available to us. We did the recording over spring break. We did not finish before classes started so that is why we moved to the Library projection room. That room no longer exists due to renovations of the area some years ago.


What gear did you guys use and how much time did you spend in the studio?

John Schuerman: As far as the recording gear goes we were recording live to two-track on a Revox A-77 1/2-track recorder which was an incredible machine for the time. We had a tube Ampex 4 channel mixer and solid state electronics from a Crown tape recorder. It had 2 inputs to each channel. I ran the outputs of the Ampex mixer into one of the inputs of each channel and had the other two inputs available for  two more mic inputs giving us a total of six microphone inputs. The Ampex inputs had switchable left-right-center inputs (no pan-pots). The outputs on the Crown electronics were sent into an Advent Dolby B Noise Reduction Unit, in order to have clean, quiet tracks which was going to be needed for the overdubs. The overdubs were accomplished by playing back the first two tracks (decoding them with the Dolby unit}, and then encoding the next tracks, mixing live mics with the playback. The final Dolby-B two-track master was taken to Gilfoy Studios in Bloomington, IN for final channel and level balance and equalization of each song plus the use of an EMT plate-reverb to add some ambience. The microphones used were Sony ECM-22 condensers, an RCA 77-DX ribbon mic and an Electro-Voice 684 dynamic microphone.


Charlie Bleak: Basically, John Schuerman stripped out every available piece of equipment extant at Earlham College at that time and pieced together the rig that recorded what exists today. We got it done in about 10 days.

What does Hoi' Polloi stand for?

Charlie Bleak: The term Hoi Polloi is, I believe, Greek for "the common people". However in the 1920's and 1930's the term somehow got turned around and came to refer to the rich and famous. Like the "Jet Set" of the 1960's. I first became aware of the term from a song by The Lovin' Spoonful:  "Jug Band Music"

It's funny, that the band didn't play any gigs before recording the LP. Does this mean it was 100% DIY project?

Charlie Bleak: It was strictly a DIY studio project. 100 per cent.

You played just one gig after the record was out, right? Can you tell us about it and maybe explain how the promotion or should I say distribution looked like. Was it mostly available for the college students?

Charlie Bleak: We had no distribution or promotion scheme.

How about the cover artwork?


Charlie Bleak: A woman by the name of Marsha Osborne designed the Hoi' Polloi lettering. The little guy scratching his head below the lettering was drawn by Jeff D'Angelo. He would do these little drawings and just leave them laying around.


How do you feel about the fact, that after so many years label called Folk Evaluation Records reissued your LP and people these days find it more interesting, that in the past? Are you satisfied with the reissue?

John Schuerman: First of all, I was thoroughly amazed when, ten years ago, I was contacted by Patrick for information on the "Hoi' Polloi" album and its creators. He also urged me, and with the permission of Dan and Charlie, to issue a CD version of the album which I produced from the Gilfoy master. Since then I have sold thirty copies of the CD. And now, we have the LP re-release from Folk Evaluation Records. In comparison I think this pressing is better than the original. I knew that good music was being made back in 1972 but I guess I did not realize how good it was, at the time, and had no idea that it would have such interest 40 years later.


Charlie Bleak: I am thrilled by the renewed interest. I am very grateful for the hard work and dedication that Jason and Jordan at Folk Evaluation have brought to the re-issue process. Their attention to detail and quality control are second to none!

I know this will be a bit hard task, but can you comment each song.

Who's Gonna Help Me? 
Wrote about a lost love. Definitely influenced by Paul McCartney... like Martha My Dear.

Old Bootstrap 
By Dan and Bruce.

Seven Deviations 
Me stumbling on guitar with Jeff D'Angelo on harpsichord at about 3 AM one day.

Last Laugh
By Dan and Bruce.

Hoi' Polloi Peeks Out 
Again, a function of a very LONG night, smoking jazz cigarettes and a HUGE contribution by John Schuerman who did all kinds of crazy things with his recording rig     the manufacturers would NEVER approve of.

Instead Boogie
Based on a riff by Denny Murry (AKA Ace Correcto)

Satisfaction Guaranteed 
By Dan and Bruce.

It's a Nice Day
Written about the same lost love (see Who's Gonna Help Me?). My lost love actually plays cello on that song.

Devil Song 
By Dan and Bruce.

Sid Stoneman Gets Scale 
Written and arranged by Jeff D'Angelo (Sid Stoneman). One of my favorite cuts.

15 Miles to Mexico 
A masterful piece of writing by my friend Dan Mack! Tells a story which is like a 3 minute movie directed by     John Ford starring John Wayne. I wish I'd written that.

How about other members, Patrick Lundborg mentioned in his article a few other college LP's including "Attention Span", "Sequoiah Stream", "Shaggy Joe/Crucible 1" and "Crucible 2", which includes some Hoi' Polloi members. Can you tell us about related bands and maybe a bit more in details about Crucible 2?

John Schuerman: The Crucible was the student produced literary magazine. The editors at the time decided that they wanted do more than publish student literary works. So they planned a concert featuring students performing original music. They asked me, as the Director of Earlham College Audio-Visual Services, to record the concert and have records pressed for distribution to the student body. I had, as a student, recorded two folk music albums by the Earlham group the Clear Creek Singers, so they knew I had the equipment and the "expertise." So I recorded the "Shaggy Joe/Crucible 1" and "Crucible 2" albums.


The albums "Attention Span" and "Sequoiah Stream" were completely done by students including the recording. The producer had access to a studio in Cincinnat, Ohio and took the performers down there to record using multi-track recorders and all the "bells and whistles" of a recording studio.

Again, in 1980, I was contacted by the Crucible editor, Wendy Seligmann, my future spouse, to record the last album the magazine sponsored. That album was entitled "Tape's Rolling" and was recorded live to two-track in the Hancock Room.

Charlie Bleak: I don't remember. It was a long time ago.

Is there anything else, that came out of your college and we didn't mention?

Charlie Bleak: None that I can think of.

What are you currently up to and what are some future plans for you?

Charlie Bleak: Still writing and recording. Hope to have a website set up soon for people to sample and download my songs. I have hours of unreleased material. It will be charliebleak.com. Not up yet.

John Schuerman: For the past 23 years I worked in public access television in Richmond, IN which included the recording and airing of music performances of music groups appearing in the area.I retired two months ago and move to Asheville, NC where my wife is the Director of Career Development at Warren Wilson College. I have started and on-line service called Moments In Time (www.momentsintime.us). I create "electronic memories" from client supplied photographs, videos and music.

John Schuerman

I would like to thank to Jordan Burgis at Folk Evaluation, who got me in contact with you and who reissued your LP. Also thanks to Patrick Lundborg at Lysergia.com (interview from 2003 can be found at here), who interviewed you for the very first time and thanks to all the members for taking their time and effort. Would you like to share anything else with us?


Charlie Bleak: Thank you for your interest! Hope that I have given you something to work with.

Charlie, Sassy and Dan

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

Asimov - Overseas (2013) review


Asimov “Overseas” (Black Cat, 2013)

Sophomore effort from this Portuguese psychedelic outfit is full of fuzzy, wah-wah guitars, chunky drumming, and hallucinogenic, chanting vocals. Simple, minimalist rhythms pump through the opener, which seems to be two disparate songs strung together to form a cohesive whole: “Running Around In Circles/This City Is Dead”. The first song is a Hawkwind-inspired brainmelt while the latter is a pure punk adrenaline rush, a la Motörhead on speed (admittedly an oxymoron!).

Their improvisational skills are to the forefront on the incredibly hyperdriven (mostly) instrumental “Kingsize Mark”, nearly nine minutes of swirling fuzz fading softly into a crystalline guitar solo. Astute listeners may hear vestiges of the insane psychedelic excursions of Acid Mothers Temple in some of the remaining track, from the screaming punk bordering on heavy metal speedcore of “Stars Are But Wishes” to the epic 15-minute closer, “Grim Harvest/If Home Is Where The Heart Is Then I’ve Been Homeless For A Long Time.” Even that title is pure Makoto Kawabata! You get everything from Sabbathian sludgehammers [sic] [“Grim Harvest”] to Floydian atmospherics (the chirping birds are straight out of “Grantchester Meadows”!), a haunting, Morriconiesque female vocal perfectly suited for a Leone western, and a tender, ruminative coda based around a lazy guitar solo that’s a perfect background to your next siesta.

So to say this is all over the map stylistically is an understatement, but when was the last psychedelic album from Portugal that you heard? Asimov has set a new standard and I’m curious to hear where they go from here.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

Marshmallow Overcoat interview with Timothy Gassen


The Marshmallow Overcoat are one of the best bands, that emerged from so called paisley underground scene. Based in Tucson, Arizona they were just far enough from Los Angeles, that they made their own sound. They toured half of the world and released a nice catalog of LP’s and singles and even went through some changes and for some time played just as Overcoat before taking a break. Here is a brand new interview with their member - Timothy Gassen.  

Marshmallow Overcoat started in Tuscon, AZ back in 1986 and soon after a while of playing you recorded your debut titled The Inner Groove, which was out on Dionysus Records. What is the story behind your first release?

We recorded a demo in the Summer of 1986 and were surprised that Dionysus soon released it as our Groovy Little Trip debut 45. The response was so good that we immediately started to write and record our debut LP, The Inner Groove. It was recorded for $250 in a living room studio, and I did my vocals in the bathroom!



How did you get together? Were you in any other bands before forming Marshmallow Overcoat?

My first band was in the 1982-1984 minimal-wave Casiotone band Jacket Weather, with one EP out and just now in 2013 a vinyl LP on Rave Up Records in Italy. Then I formed Reptile House in 1984, in a punk-garage style that led to the pure 1966-style of The Marshmallow Overcoat in 1986. Later on two more releases followed; Alive EP (Dyonysus) and Try On (Get Hip)… 


Did you progress as a band? What are some memories from recording and producing this two releases?


We made a big jump up in sound and sophistication for our second album, I think. We had been playing shows, writing more originals and getting a better feel for our own distinctive garage-psych sound. We also added 12-string guitar and a wider range of instruments in the studio and on stage. We were growing up as a band!

What influenced you to produce such a 60s garage punk sound? These days it's very easy for bands to just "google" and find tons of unknown bands and consequently unknown sounds. How about you back in the days?

It was a real challenge to find sounds that were out of the mainstream in the 1980s, so we had to work to find 1960s compilation albums and albums of other garage legends. I had already gone through various punk and new wave sounds as a fan and musician, so I was looking for something new and different. Using the 1960s garage-psych sounds as a starting point was an exciting discovery for me!


Later another LP followed, but after that you kind of disappeared. What happened?

We had four more albums before taking a break: Three Chords and a Clouds of Dust in 1991, then A Touch of Evil after our European tour of 1992, then a live album Fuzz, Screams & Tambourines! and a self-titled LP in 1996. By then we had been playing, recording and touring for a full decade, and we needed to take a break. I focused on filmmaking until 2000 – when I got the itch again to make garage-psych sounds! So the band reformed up until our 25th anniversary on 2011, releasing another EP, 45, album and a 6-CD box set.



You announced, there will be a new release from the band, that will include all the classics from your repertoire plus some unreleased ones? Tell us a bit more about it...

All of our releases are now out-of-print, and most of our material has been unavailable on vinyl since the 1980s, so by January 2014 we will release a 2-LP gatefold-sleeve 30-song best of set! It will have colored marble vinyl and will include some new and unreleased tracks. Our entire catalog will also soon be available as digital downloads. Our hope is that our music will be available for another generation!

How was the scene in your town back in the '80s?

Tucson, Arizona is a very unique place. We are 500 miles from Los Angeles, so the isolation makes bands here develop their own sound. We were lucky to be in a very creative local music scene and that helped up try new ideas and keep developing.

Thank you for taking your time. Would you like to send a message to your fans?

We have been so lucky to meet and hear from great garage-psych fans from all over the world, and they are what inspire up to keep making music. We hope that anyone interested in truly independent sounds will give us a try and write to us – we love to hear from other bands and music fans alike. It is so hard for a band like ours to compete against the mainstream, but we won't quit our mission. Garage music is in our blood!




Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

Psychedelic Attic #6


The Young Sinclairs - You Know Where To Find Me (Planting Seeds Records, 2013)
Cheap Wine - Mystic Crow (Celebration Days, 2013)
High Speed And The Afflicted Man - Get Stoned Ezy (Guerssen Records, 2013)
Sven Libaek - Inner Space (Votary Records, 2013)
Mayflower Madame - Into The Haze (Stomp Records, 2013)
Charlies - Buttocks (Shadoks, 2013)
Jokers Wild - Jokers Wild (Shadoks, 2013)         
The Old Man & The Sea - Second (Shadoks, 2013)

Tandem Bridges (http://tandembridges.com/)
Frederic L'Epee (http://laspada.bandcamp.com/)
Simak Dialog (http://www.moonjune.com/)
The Selfish Cales (http://theselfishcales.com/)
V.A. Shrunken Head Music (http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/)

Triptides - Predictions (2013) review


Triptides "Predictions" (Stroll On Records, 2013)
               
              Listening to the 13 tracks on this pleasurable album is like taking a visit through three separate yet connected eras of pop/rock music. In Triptides’ sound I hear very early Love and The Leaves from the 60s, 80s Paisley Underground bands such as The Rain Parade and Plasticland, and current acts along the lines of both Tame Impala and The Allah-Las.  There’s jangle in what they do, there’s both soft pop and garage, there’s echo-laden psychedelia. And, even though the band’s from Bloomington, Indiana, the whole thing feels like a blissfully hazy day spent around the Pacific Ocean.  If you made a sandwich that was equal parts The Leaves’ “Dr. Stone,” The Rain Parade’s “This Can’t Be Today,” and The Allah-Las “Catamaran,” when you bit into that thing the taste you’d get is something like this album’s feel.  I can’t credit the band with originality, because I don’t hear anything in their stuff that they can claim as their own. But if you don’t mind a record that is a sum of its makers’ influences and if you like any or all of the bands mentioned above, you probably want to give this one a spin.

Review made by Brian Greene/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

Sky Picnic - Paint Me A Dream (2013) review


Sky Picnic "Paint Me A Dream" (Nasoni, 2013)

Third album from this Brooklyn trio brings a lysergic sheen to their 21st century psych pop, which recalls similar astral voyages from the Rainbow Quartz psychedelic stable such as The Gripweeds, High Dials, Asteroid #4, and Outrageous Cherry. Leah Cinnamon’s mesmerizing vocals soar hypnotically around Chris Sherman’s spacey, Floydian keyboards, pointing this spaceship directly into the heart of the sun. Funhouse whispers summon Eugene and his ill-fated axe on the stalking ‘Freak Out Ethel’ (complete with gnarly solo), while ‘Dream Yourself Away’ floats heavenward in a puff of purple haze like Stevie Nicks under Rihannon’s spell.

                Other favourites include ‘Kaleidoscopic Cadence’, with its melotronic, Crimsonesque vibrations a la ‘Talk To The Wind’, ‘Cadence & Cascade’, or the McDonald & Giles album, and the epic, somnambulistic trance-inducing finale, ‘Slumbers Gate/Aurora’, which feels like something the Floyd left off Meddle.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013

Slushy interview with Chris Kramer and Brent Zmrhal

© Bobby Hussy

Slushy are a band with one foot firmly planted in the present and another somewhere in the mid-60’s, amongst the discovery of fuzz and distortion, rebellion and its connection to harmony.  It’s not often you find a band that rocks as hard as Slushy does that seems to draw as much inspiration from The Beach Boys as they do The MC5 or New York Dolls.  It’s an interesting combination, add to the mix the fact that the material for the early releases were done in a one-man-band fashion turned foursome, turned two-piece and you have one of the most interesting combinations in music right now.  Reverb drenched vocal harmonies echo through the haze of tambourines and infectious guitar.  Slushy is not a band to hide their flaws but rather one that embraces them thereby turning them into some of their greatest assets.  While the two-man system would be a constraint to most people Chris and Brent “have [their] own special charm that [they] couldn’t replicate if [they] added more people into the mix”.  The fact that I thought Slushy was from somewhere in California when I originally heard them should probably speak to the fact that they do indeed sound markedly surfy but there’s a hidden aggression, a driving force behind the music that could only have been bread in the Windy City, perfected in the dingy basements and bars of Chicago’s concrete jungle.  After several years of self-releasing their own material their first cassette sold out almost instantly and has been followed by a hot new single on the Randy Records label.  With another cassette tape on the way any day I was lucky enough to track down both founding members of the band, Chris Kramer and Brent Zmrhal, and grill the hell out of them!  What follows should be everything that you need to know about Slushy, that awesome new band you were just talking to your friends about.  You know?  Your new favorite band!  Remember?
Listen while you read: http://slushy.bandcamp.com/

How did you two meet and when was that?

Chris:  We met the same way most people who end up playing music together do, at a show; this at The Mopery in the summer of 2010.  Brent was playing bass in Mickey and my old band Kramer Versus Kramer played, as did The Yolks and Lover.  Brent asked us to play a party in his backyard, and we started hanging out after that.

Brent:  Our friend Steve from the Catbuglars was surprised to hear that I didn’t know Chris and suggested I see his band.  I booked a show at Mopery and Chris e-mailed me about getting Slushy, then Kramer vs. Kramer, on the bill, like day of, and finagled his way on the show even though there was like four bands already; Lover, Mickey, Yolks and Church Of My Love.  The show went super late and the touring band played to like no one even though there had been four hundred people there.

 © Andrew Martin

Why a two-piece rather than a traditional trio or something?               

Chris:  We were kind of forced into the duo out of necessity.  We first started as a four-piece, evolving out of my old band Kramer Versus Kramer.  Like most bands just starting out, we had a hard time keeping a fixed line-up.  At one practice, our bass player Max quit and our drummer at the time was his buddy, so he was out too.  Brent told me he had a one-man-band setup he could do, which I was dubious of at first, but after a whole lot of practice, and a couple of bad shows, it worked.  Now we’ve gotten it to a place where we have our own special charm that we couldn’t replicate if we added more people into the mix.

Brent:  I’ve always been a fan of multi-tasking.  I wanted to do something new (play drums).

What’s the best thing about being a two-piece?  What about the worst?

Chris:  We only have to coordinate two schedules to practice and play shows and go out of town, which is great.  We have a decent amount of gear, but it packs up nicely and it’s easy to hit the road without being crammed in with four sweaty dudes.  The only downside is the non-music part of being in a band, schmoozing.  I’m an awkward dude so Brent has to do all of that.

Brent:  The fact that you only have to deal with one shithead instead of two plus, loading and setting up gear. 

Are either of you in any other bands?  Have you released any material with anyone else?  If so can you tell us about it?

Brent:  I played bass in the glitter punk band Mickey.  We had a full length on Hozac and a handful of singles.  I play lead guitar in Thing, we recorded but do not have any official releases yet, and I pal around with the Party Bat Dudes.  We recorded an LP that will be out on Tic Tac Totally soon. 

Chris:  I play guitar in The Lemons, which is like a local pop super-group.  We have a tape out on Tripp Tapes.

Was your household musical growing up?  Where either of your parents or any of your relatives professional musicians or extremely interested in music?

Brent:  My family doesn’t listen to music so I really sought out and found the music myself.  My Uncle had some Black Sabbath and Hendrix records on his farm.  I think one of my great grandparents played a harmonica but I didn’t know them.  All we had was the oldies station in the car.

Chris:  My dad would play guitar around the house, and still plays some today.  He has a 12-string acoustic and a giant handwritten songbook for stuff like Paul Simon, CSNY and The Beatles.

What was your first exposure to music?  When did you decide that you wanted to make your own music?

Brent:  I played Saxophone in middle school band, I wanted to play banjo but they wouldn’t let me.  My friend’s mom took us to our first concert at the Kane County Fairgrounds, it was a country band.  I ended up playing in a middle school band with him.  We listened to Q101 and they played a lot of terrible shit like Kid Rock and Linkin Park, but then they started playing The White Stripes and Strokes and that was cool; I still like that music. 

Chris:  I grew up listening to classic rock and oldies, and even though I have older siblings who listened to top-forty stuff, I dug the old stuff.  My brother was given a half-size Stella acoustic guitar, but he never learned how to play.  So I took it when I was maybe fourteen and taught myself barre chords and started coming up with really bad songs.

Who are some of your personal musical influences?  What about the band a whole rather than as individuals?

Brent:  Johnny Thunders, Nuggets, Timmy Vulgar, Thee Oh Sees, The Ponys.

Chris:  I started writing songs in my head because of The Beatles, I learned how to play guitar because of The Who and I wanted to be in a band because of Weezer.  Those three are still my favorites.  There’s also Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Tommy James, Tommy Roe and Jonathan Richman.  Influences on the band are mostly just our friends’ bands, Uh Bones, Magic Milk, Today’s Hits, The Sueves.  The little corner of the Chicago music scene we all cohabitate in is really supportive and enthusiastic, and all these dudes help us to make better music.

What led you to form Slushy and when was that?

Chris:  I moved to Chicago in 2009 and didn’t really know anyone here, so I started playing along with a sampler loaded with drum beats.  After a while I met some cool people and asked them to join the band, which is the band that played that Mopery show.  The next time I saw Brent he said he could get us gigs at this liquor-store-bar he booked at, but that we needed to change our name so we changed it to Slushy.  We didn’t really come into our own until Brent joined and the other guys quit and we were forced into doing the two-piece thing, which was the end of 2011.

What does the name Slushy mean or refer to?

Chris:  Slushy is a feeling you get inside when you’re nervous but excited at the same time, like when you’re trying to work up the courage to hold a girl’s hand for the first time.  It’s also the name of a Vaseline’s song.

Can you tell us about Slushy’s songwriting process?  Does one of you approach the other with a somewhat finished product to finish out or is there a lot of jamming?

Brent:  Chris usually does a demo of it and then we’ll fix it to make it our song.  Or I will come up with a song and Chris won’t like it, then we’ll change it.  I’ll give him some lyrics and he’ll finish the lyrics. 

Chris:  I’ll usually either come up with a chord progression or a lyric idea and try to build a skeleton of a song around that, and if it’s a good skeleton I’ll record a demo of it and send that over to Brent, or Brent will come up with a riff or some lyrics.  Then we’ll work on it until it turns into a real Slushy song.  Simple as that!

What about the typical recording process?  Do you do a lot of preparatory work before heading into the studio or prefer to play things more organically an off the cuff?

Brent:  Nothing has been consistent with recording.  The lyrics to Pocket weren’t even finished when we recorded it. 

Chris:  Nothing we’ve released has been recorded in a studio.  Our new single was recorded in Randy’s garage on a really hot summer day.  All The Rad Dudes actually ended up being a collection of demos that turned out sounding really cool, so we just ended up releasing them.  The songs were written and recorded over two days in my basement apartment in Logan Square where we practice.  We have another tape coming out soon that we recorded at our buddy Shimby’s house that’s more hi-fi which is a result of off-the-cuff experimentation.

© Joe Montanaro

Do you enjoy recording?  Some bands love it and others get cold shivers running down their spines and erupt in cold sweats at the mere mention of heading into a studio ha-ha!

Brent:  Sometimes more than others.  It usually takes place when you’re super hungover or not feeling well.  Chris gets really weird when we go to studios.  I think it’s better for him if we do it at home.

Chris:  I love recording but hate going into the studio.  I’m much more comfortable recording on my own or with a pal where there’s no pressure and we can mess around and get a good, goofy sound because you don’t know what you’re doing.  Recording studios just have a weird vibe for me.  You have to wake up at ten in the morning and haul all your stuff into a cold room, then wait three hours while a dude sets up all the mics and then all the takes sound bad because you’re bored and tired, but the creative act of recording is one of my favorite parts about making music.

Let’s talk a little bit about your back catalog a little bit.  You have self-released several albums at this point, which are all differentiated by colors, the first of which was Red from 2011, then Green and finally Yellow.  Can you tell us about the recording of that album?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Chris:  The three EPs are a mix of demos recorded over a few years, mostly on my laptop at my kitchen table in my old apartment in Logan Square.  There’s no real theme that binds them or sets them apart.  RED one is the one I would burn to give out at early shows, and it has what I thought at the time were the best songs.  After a while I wanted to have something new since the same people kept popping up at shows, so I made GREEN.  I actually drew a blue sea monster on those but used different art online.  YELLOW is basically the leftovers.


Brent:  Yeah, Chris originally gave me the Red one but when I joined he sent me like twenty-three tracks that were all super rad, lots of Beach Boys harmonies and such.  He has a bunch of different versions of songs too.  A quarter of them were instrumentals, and some he doesn’t like to play. 

Was there a lot of recording and or songwriting progression with the release of those albums in such rapid succession?  Was all of that material written around the same time?

Chris:  The songs were written over the course of a few years, mostly 2009 to 2010, and they aren’t sequenced in any order that makes any sense.  Most of the recordings are from when the band was just me and a sampler.

Why choose colors for titles rather than traditional titles?  Is there any significance to the colors assigned to the albums?  Several of my favorite bands have done the same thing and I’ve always wanted to ask them about it.

Chris:  To me, the drawings on the covers are the real album titles. I drew the monster that graces the RED album based on a dream I had and decided to use that as the artwork.  I slapped the name “SLUSHY” over the top in Photoshop in red to make it more fearsome.  For GREEN, I did a self-portrait and changed the name to GREEN.  For YELLOW, I drew my guitar, whose name is Ralph, which was the only other member of the band at the time.  I was planning on doing a fourth with the drum sampler on the cover, but ran out of demos.

How were those albums originally distributed and released?

Chris:  CD-Rs burned on my MacBook and distributed at shows and on Bandcamp.

All of those albums are available for purchase on your Bandcamp page digitally all day, any day but are there any plans to make them available via cassette, CD or vinyl?

Chris:  We thought about making a record with them for our first tour but it didn’t happen.  If someone really wants to put them out for us physically we can talk.  A lot of the songs have been re-recorded since then while others have been left to collect dust.

In 2012 you released the All The Rad Dudes cassette tape through Manic Static, one of the coolest labels out there in my humble opinion.  How did you guys originally get hooked up with Philip over at Manic Static and how did the release come about?

Brent:  Phillip and Jesse have always been super nice and cool to us.  So we asked them and they put it out in a heartbeat. 


Chris:  We had played with The Funs a couple of times and had a song on the Manic Static mix tape that came out earlier in the year.  We ended up playing a show with them the day after All The Rad Dudes was recorded, and so we asked him if they wanted to put out the tape.  They were excited, we were excited, so it all worked out.  It was a limited run of 100 copies which is now all sold out.

Can you tell us about the recording of All The Rad Dudes?  When was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was the session(s) much different than for your early self-released albums?

Chris:  All The Rad Dudes was recorded in my living room, which is where we practice, over the 4th of July weekend.  I had planned on recording it onto a Tascam 4-track, but the record head stopped working on it so I plugged the mic into the 4-track and used that as an interface into my computer and recorded in Garageband.  It was all done with one microphone with some overdubs.  The songs on the old EPs were recorded one at a time so they all had a different vibe.  We did All The Rad Dudes all over the course of two days, so it’s a much more cohesive sound.

Brent:  I don’t remember.  It was a very raw recording. 

All The Rad Dudes was your first album that wasn’t self-released, did you approach the release any differently than your previous recordings songwriting, composition or construction wise because of that?

Chris:  Nope, we had everything written and recorded before we talked to Manic Static, then handed Philip the final mixes and that was it.  He did the artwork for it as he does for all the Manic Static releases.

Brent:  We were sick of dwelling on the same old songs and getting pushed and pulled by labels that would never end up putting it out.  We were recording the same songs a billion times.

You’re getting ready to release your debut 7”.  Can you tell us about recording that?  When was the material recorded?  Who recorded it?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment did you use?  What tracks are featured on the single? 

Chris:  We recorded “Candy” and “Pocket” on a very hot day in Randy’s garage on an 8-track reel-to-reel and Joe Montanaro mixed them on a separate reel-to-reel, so they’re all gooey with analog vibrations.  “Candy” is the A-side and it’s a ballad, “Pocket” is the B-side and it’s a rocker.


Brent:  It was last summer, on an extremely hot day and I was very ill.

When is it scheduled for release and who is releasing that?

Chris:  The official release date of the “Candy”/”Pocket” single is September 17th, but they might be available sooner at www.randyrecords.blogspot.com.  Randy Records is secretly the best label in Chicago right now.  In the last year he’s put out 7 inches from Uh Bones, Dead Ghosts and Vacation Club, and there’s some really cool stuff coming later this year, so we’re in great company.  It’s limited to 300 copies and 50 of those are special edition colored vinyl with artwork by Goons.

Other than what we’ve discussed does Slushy have any other music available?

Chris:  There’s another version of “Candy” that we performed on Chica-Go-Go last year, which is an awesome public access music/kids show.  If you’re good at searching the internet there’s another dozen or so demos that we’ve made available online for curious listeners.

Do you have any other releases or a full-length follow-up planned?

Chris:  We have a new tape called Five Little Leaves being released by Tripp Tapes this fall but it’s streaming on our bandcamp page already.  We’re in the planning stages of releasing a LP with a new Chicago label called Grabbing Clouds.  Slushy will be their second release, the first will be a Moonhearts LP that reissues two of their cassettes on vinyl.  Look for it early 2014.  We’re also planning another 7” which will probably be out around the same time.


Where’s the best place for our U.S. readers to pick up your music?

Chris:  If you’re in Chicago, you can find our records at Bric-A-Brac records and Saki Records among other places.  If you can’t make it to Chicago, you’ll wanna hit up Randy himself at http://randyrecords.blogspot.com.

Brent:  Reckless still has copies of our sold out tape.

With the recent international postage rate increases where’s the best place for our international readers to get copies?

Chris:  Order from Randy, or petition us to do a tour through your country.

Brent:  Bachelor in Austria. 

You played with several other local Chicago musicians including members of Heavy Times and Magic Milk for the Chicago Sonic Coalition as Cabin Cruiser for a one-off show.  How did that come about?  Can you explain exactly what the Chicago Sonic Coalition is?  Was the set recorded, if so are there any plans for releasing that material?

Chris:  John Yingling is a brilliant documentarian who’s about to set off for China to film rock bands there as part of a project called The World Underground.  Last year he had the idea for The Sonic Coalition, which is a variation of something that other cities and scenes have done where you put a bunch of musicians’ names in a hat and then randomly put people together to write songs and play a show.  I got put together with Matt from Heavy Times and Maggie from Magic Milk.  Then we snuck Bo and Brent in.  We wrote six songs and covered a Jesus and Mary Chain song.  John recorded the whole thing and has plans for releasing it as part of The World Underground series.

© Alison Eden Copeland

Brent:  That was fun.  We spent a lot of time rehearsing to end up playing only one show.  We didn’t get paid and a fuzz pedal went missing. 

 © Gabbie Bam-Bam
© Kendra Keyes

What do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?

Chris:  Hopefully lots.  E-mail us and we’ll try to play your town/house/townhouse.

You have played with some totally killer bands including some of my absolute favorites, like White Mystery who were my very first interview!  Who are some of your personal favorites that you’ve had a chance to play with?

Chris:  The one I’m still most excited about is Question Mark And The Mysterians!  They played “96 Tears” twice.  I used to do that song at karaoke, so it was wild getting to see them do it.  It was most of the original lineup from 1966.  We also played one of our first shows opening up for Ty Segall which was great.  Woollen Kits, Colleen Green, Real Numbers, King Tuff and The Eeries are all good times and our local homies Twin Peaks, Today’shits, Uh Bones, Magic Milk, The Bingers, all of ‘em.

© TJ Superfan

If you could have your choice of anyone, like in your dreams, who would you be on tour with?

Chris:  The Modern Lovers or Weird Al.

Where’s the best place for our readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming album releases and shows at?

Chris:  Probably Facebook because it’s the one social media outlet we actually use regularly.

There’s something irresistible, magical, almost intoxicating and most definitely addictive about physically released music for me.  Having something to hold in your hands, artwork to look at, liner notes to read, they all serve for a more complete and comprehensive listening experience for me.  I love feeling like I’m getting a glimpse inside of the bands head with the little details that they pepper throughout their releases.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Chris:  Yes, totally. There’s a degree of synesthesia there.  I started buying records in high school, mostly from thrift stores, so they all had a musty aspect to them and I’d have some sort of connection with them and be able to remember where and when I got it every time I pulled it out.  Then a few years later I started discovering music through Mp3s and gained exposure to a ton of cool stuff but lost any sort of intimacy with it.  Then my hard drive crashed and I lost all the music too.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us about it?

Chris:  I probably have a few hundred records at this point.  Last year I went on a real bender picking up just about every early rock’n’roll, doo-wop, rhythm’n’blues and bubblegum compilation I could find.  Brent’s collection is bigger and cooler.

Brent: I have over 1,000 records. 

© Nathan Jerde

There are so many options out there as far as release mediums go for artists these days it’s fantastic!  From a consumer standpoint in can be a little bit confusing and arduous to decide which release to pick up sometimes though, especially when someone is releasing the same title in several different mediums separated by some time and done by different labels.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  Do you have a specific medium that you prefer when purchasing music?

Chris:  Tapes are cool because they’re pretty cheap even when you do a short run, and you can get a cheap boombox and start a block party with some good tapes.  Plus my car only has a tape player in it.  Records give you a little more cred and they look great.  I usually buy records first, but will pick up a tape if it’s something I couldn’t find otherwise.

No matter what anyone thinks it seems like music is becoming more and more inescapably linked to digital music.  What’s your personal opinion on digital music and distribution?

Chris:  There’s a real subset of music fans who like the artifacts of music that we call records.  Some people just enjoy the tunes and that’s cool too!  Online streaming definitely makes it easier for people to find you who wouldn’t have otherwise, and if you want to download our songs and listen to them on your Gameboy, go for it!

I try to keep up with as many good bands as is humanly possible!  Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of?

Chris:  Chicago rules!  There are so many, here are the ones I can type in sixty seconds: Soft Candy, Today’s Hits, THING, The New Originals, Hollow Mountain, Skymaul, Bleach Party, The Sueves, Son of a Gun, MTVGhost, Spike and the Sweet Spots, Ye-Yes, Negative Scanner, The Hecks, Nonnie Parry, any other band I already mentioned, and that’s time.

What about nationally and internationally?

Chris:  Whatever Burger, Gnar or Trouble in Mind puts out.  Raw McCartney, Faux Ferocious, Los Beets, Eric & The Happy Thoughts, LAZY, Jerome & The Psychics, Fire Retarded, The Bam Bams, Woollen Kits, Straight Arrows, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Is there anything that I missed or you’d just like to talk about?

Chris:  Be nice to everyone all the time, especially when you don’t feel like it.  If you are having a party, we will play it.















© Nathan Gregory

DISCOGRAPHY
(2011)  Slushy – Red – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2011)  Slushy – Green – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2011)  Slushy – Yellow – digital – Self-Released
(2012)  Slushy – All The Rad Dudes – Cassette Tape – Manic Static (Limited to 100 copies)
(2013)  Slushy – “Candy” b/w “Pocket” – 7” – Randy Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2013) Slushy – Five Little Leaves - Cassette Tape – Tripp Tapes (Limited to 100 copies)
(2014) Slushy – TBA – LP – Grabbing Clouds
(2014) Slushy – TBA – 7” – GloryHole Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013