Photo by Jamie Heim, www.jheimphotography.com
The music of Philadelphia's Psychic Teens hangs its own 'heavy' frame. Somewhere between washes of white noise and shambolic, driven, percussion and guitar-work--work that retrains your brain....it's the remnant of a dream where we pick up the pieces as we go along; like a puzzle, or a weird maze. To listen to Psychic Teens is to dig deep, and to hold on tight. Their songs are more accessible than a Fall album, but darkly so--the music is a thunderous slow-burn… a wool blanket muffling a growl. The band has just returned from several dates on the East Coast and beyond which began with a few dates in Philadelphia and further venues outside of which were put together in support of their latest (new) album COME (on SRA Records).
Girl About Town: What's the best thing that comes out of playing a great live show for you guys and what makes a show extra-special for you either out of town, or in Philly?
Psychic Teens: An attentive crowd out of town is always nice, or hearing that people traveled a few hours to see us. That was pretty mind-blowing on our tour last year. But, more than anything, a great show is just one that feels great. When it feels like we all locked together and had a blast. It's hard to quantify but I know when it happens. Also, anytime our gear doesn't break and all of our equipment works through the end of the last song, thats usually a good set.
What's the "greatest" mistake that you've ever made in sound and how did it impact your music?
We tend to write through trial and error, so everything's got its place in the whole songwriting scheme. When I write and record the lyrics to our songs, it’s almost always done on the fly. So I feel that basically anything on the record vocally is as close to a “mistake” as it is to “how it’s supposed to be”.
Photos by Jamie Heim, www.facebook.com/jheimphotography
What are the band's favorite rock n' roll movies of all time?
Don’t Look Back, Airheads, Rock 'N' Roll High School Forever, Amadeus and Some Kind of Monster.
Who is your biggest fan?
We are lucky to have the people who like our music believe in us and support us. And definitely the two most supportive people have been our friends Adam and BJ. Adam liked what we were doing enough to start a label to release our first record, and is still at more shows than anyone else. He’s a great friend and I trust his opinion on our songs more than just about anyone. BJ recorded both of our albums and put out COME on his label. He has a real good grasp on the sounds we're trying to make and it definitely helps having someone who understands that recording your records.
The artwork for the new LP is fantastic. Did you commission the image from Aleksanda Waliszewska, did she create it for you, or was it something that you received permission to use?
I had been a fan of hers for about a year and sent her an email and she was very receptive. I felt like her artwork in general really meets the atmosphere we create sonically and I think she picked up on that as well. She had sent over some ideas but we ended up using a piece of hers that was already finished. I am really happy about how the whole package turned out and I know she feels the same.
You recorded in Clifton Heights at Red Planet Sound with Bruce Howze (later mastering the material with James Plotkin). Were there any decisions that changed the way that you looked at your material (past or present)?
COME was about half done at Permanent Hearing Damage with Brad Wallace and slightly more than half at Red Planet. We had a few extras we recorded at Red Planet that didn't make the final record. We wanted to try somewhere new with Permanent Hearing Damage, and the results were pretty great. BJ at Red Planet knows our sound really well, though, and when we decided to work with him for the record it really made sense to finish the recording process with him.
If you could get lost with two people (alive only) who would it be? And yes, you can choose your band mates. What would your safety plan be?
Hmm...I think we might have to keep this secret. What is your favorite song on the new LP and why? Either LESS or BUG. LESS is super fun to play, it's a little different for us and on the “poppier” side, and I'm really into pop songs deep down. BUG was a cool, fun noise song, and then the vocals took it to a whole new place. That was an awesome surprise in the studio, and now it's a favorite. We also like COME a lot.
What are your relationships like within the band and how do you support eachother when it comes to new material - what's the band dichotomy when it comes to a new song?
New songs usually come from a riff or two that someone brings in, and we just play it over and over until it turns into something. Structures and arrangements usually change a lot over time. We generally don't force anything, we just work on it until it feels like it's ready. We have really good chemistry together, and though we discuss parts and structure a lot, there's also a lot we come up with intuitively to play off of each others' parts and that all happens without talking about it. We've got a good ear for what the others will like and how to accent the parts to make the whole better. It works well for us, at least.
What has been the greatest compliment or advice that you've received yet, and who gave it to you?
Probably a tweet (....) that said, "Psychic Teens sounds like the music Ian Curtis would've made if having fun listening to 'The Idiot' instead of hanging himself." Don't know the guy, but I thought that was great.
To purchase the vinyl from Psychic Teens' new album COME, the band still has copies available on vinyl in Oxblood, just send payment via their Bandcamp page (below). Huge thanks Psychic Teens for writing in, and to photographer Jamie Heim for sharing photos of the band from their show at Siren Records in-store in Doylestown, PA earlier this month.