First thingʼs first, have you had a chance to check out the McDonaldʼs food truck?
I heard something about how they were trying to get people to play for free and that they didnʼt have a budget to pay anyone. Thatʼs insane.
Like the Taco Bell food truck wasnʼt insulting enough.
A lot of your recordings seem to have taken place in very isolated pristine and pure conditions like Colorado. How do you cope with that experience to the polar opposite conditions of playing to a hectic consumerist environment like SXSW?
Recording in places like home in Colorado or Portland gives us the mental space and time to hammer out ideas, youʼre not thinking about how youʼre going to get from point A to point B within a certain time frame. With touring you just have to get into the flip side mentality where you have very little control over circumstances. All manner of things can go awry but the nice thing about recording at home or coming home from tour is that you can embrace it.
Do you think of the new songs from Circles as components of an album concept or do they each stand alone as singles?
Thatʼs a good question actually because for a long time in the making of the record we struggled with how all the songs would fit together or if they even would fit together. Some of the relationships with songs are really obvious but we worked out the rest of them during mixing. Iʼm not sure how to put this but some of the songs were recorded in some high mental spaces and low dark spaces. But I think the variability is a reflection of the time.
Thereʼs a lot of corporate nonsense that goes into SXSW thatʼs virtually unrecognizable from what it started out as in the 80’s as something offered for the community and the musicians. Knowing that do you feel SXSW is a necessary evil to gain exposure or new listeners?
Right, well it depends on what your goals are. If youʼre coming down here all renegade style and playing in the streets or houses then more power to you but it’s risky if youʼre investing anything in trying to come here and get yourself noticed in a more formal way because it’s chaotic so it’s really hard to have your best show.
And do you feel that diminishes the integrity of how you would like to ideally perform?
Well I donʼt think weʼve ever had one of our best sets at SXSW but we donʼt expect to so it’s not a huge issue and it can still be fun if youʼre willing to roll with it.
You describe yourself as repeat-o-rock which I really like for bands like Suicide and yourselves. What, in your opinion, is attractive to you or your audience about that sound?
Well I like repetition in music and visual art and writing. I think its an interesting thing to play with because youʼre ostensibly playing or saying the same thing but by multiplying it, it starts to change and I like following that path. Itʼs kind of like a mantra or meditation. When you have one element staying consistent you start to recognize how all the things around are changing or your reaction to it.
Youʼve been cast into the psych genre and played events like Austin Psych Fest. How do you define psychedelia for today compared to its yester years?
For me it’s about discovering connections about things you didnʼt know, I think any kind of music can do that. You have the 60’s or 70’s classic interpretation like The Grateful Dead as well as tons of electronic interpretations but thereʼs a lot of jazz thatʼs incredibly psychedelic especially like Sun Ra.
Why do you think the psychedelia genre is re-emerging and why do you think itʼs relevant now?
I donʼt know but sometimes I wonder if it has anything to do with this renewed desire for communion. I know thatʼs one of the driving forces of the psychedelia community in the sixties and I think that now it’s really easy to feel disconnected from humanity with the prevalence of social media and everyone being lost on their own devices.
I can certainly get a sense of the theme of communion from your music but I do wonder if the rest of the audience feels it because SXSW is a distraction fest and so is every day life for that matter and no one is really taking part in an experience. Would you agree with that?
Um, yeah, I think so. I donʼt know if the current iteration of psychedelia is providing communion or community necessarily but maybe the interest around it is generated by some kind of ambient desire to feel enriched by community. But I donʼt know for sure, it’s just a guess.
I can see that. Iʼm gonna end this interview the same way I started it, with food. What is your favorite pizza topping?