Fresh Stream

Crazy for Providence’s Nes Tarot’s Psycho Tropics


Coming in from Providence, Rhode Island, Nes Tarot’s Psycho Tropics released “Song in Mono” and “Nectaris Mare,” this past October. These singles are a conglomerate of genres spanning from indie with funk to psychedelia. The layers of guitars, vocals, and base drums over synth/keyboard tracks create a music-induced euphoria. Boston Hassle had the chance to catch up with them for a few questions. 

Name Game

BH: When I first came across the band I was captivated by the name. What does it mean in terms of your sound?

So Nes Tarot is literally just a redux of Nesta Rot, my previous pseudonym. I wanted to make my old name– which is literally Bob Marley’s middle name Nesta and “Rot” gave it a darker industrial feel– a little more pretty. 

We thought it’d be cool if there was like a “backing band” name, like how all those old jazz bands were “blank and the blank blanks” or more modernly like Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. 

Our sounds are definitely psychedelia influenced and meant to simulate feelings one might feel while tripping, so naturally we wanted something along those lines. A contender was Psycho Nauts but we liked how Psycho Tropics (like a psychotropic drug) sounded and we could say we had a “psychotic” and “tropical” sound. We debated on “Nes Tarot and the Psycho Tropics” but felt that was a little too much of a mouthful so we just shortened it to “Nes Tarot’s Psycho Tropics” which we think has a nice flow and is unique in itself. 

Roll Call

BH: Tell us about yourselves!

TEAGAN: My name is Teagan and I frontman the band with guitar/vocals. I also do the recording and mixing of our music in my basement studio. Aside from music I have two cats, Bonnibel and Pistachio, whom I baby and cuddle more than they probably like. I’m also super into nature, painting, digital media, hikes, video games, (shitty) horror movies and trippy weird cartoons!

NICK: My name is Nick, I play drums for this wonderful band. I first started playing drums when Teagan bought an electronic drum set and I was very intrigued with learning how to play. I was self taught for about the first year, learning how to play my favorite songs by ear. I then decided it was time to level up and since then have been taking some lessons. My favorite hobbies are collecting vinyl, watching old classic movies, and finding new bands to listen to. 

TRIS: My name is Triston and I am the bass player for the band. I started playing bass when I was 16. I self taught myself how to play random songs that I liked at the time. Since I have joined the band I have been picking up music theory to better my skills. 

The Method Behind the Madness

BH: How do you guys get started on writing/recording new material?

NICK: Usually Teagan comes to us with a guitar riff and we base a lot of our playing around the energy of that.

TEAGAN: I’ve fallen down rabbit holes of music theory and am always trying to incorporate weird chords and licks in an otherwise poppy riff. From there I bring it to the boys and we jam it out. 

TRIS: For the tracks that are out now and some that are coming out soon, the core song was made by Teagan as a rough demo. We took those songs and added or refined them with our creative brains. Songs that are currently being made from scratch usually come naturally through random jams that we have. We record them and refine them to our liking. 

TEAGAN: Sometimes I have a rough idea on a bass-line or record a demo to a very simple programmed beat but once the boys add their own special sauce it all tends to come together. We find moments to slow down or step back and let someone else’s part shine a little more. But there’s also a ton of raw jamming.

NICK: Yeah, other times we will totally come up with stuff on the spot. Sometimes our best stuff comes from that. 

Conscious Altering: Inspiration and Creation

BH: Your lyrical compositions are wildly vivid and strike on all the senses which leaves a lot to be felt and interpreted.  Can you tell us a little more about what goes into your writing? 

TEAGAN: Lyrics are usually the last thing done to finalize the song. I have tons of notebooks/phone memos filled with years of poetry, thoughts, imagery and just words I find interesting– to fall back on if need be. I find etymology incredibly cool and I like to use some literary devices here and there such as assonance, alliteration, oxymorons and personification.

I really like break up or broken heart songs. Which is funny because Nectaris isn’t either, it was intended to be a very gushy bedroom pop duet between me and my partner at the time. They didn’t want to sing on it and broke up with me shortly thereafter so I had Nick sing on it with me instead. Even when I’ve been in the happiest stages of my past relationships I tend to resort to that theme of heartbreak. 

Besides that, other themes that fascinate me are alienation, social isolation, drugs, nature, space and mythology. Nectaris actually tells the story between a couple on their first date, and the second verse (told from the girl’s perspective) reveals the girl to be a vampire.

Philosophically I don’t find lyrics that important, but rather how they are said is what gives those words importance. My many years of collaborating with monotonous rappers taught me it doesn’t matter what’s said if the one saying it doesn’t believe/feel it. Music and the mood conveyed is a bit higher on my radar.

A lot of my writing is stream of consciousness and as such a lot of people have questioned what exactly I’m saying. Despite that I do try to paint very vivid pictures, even if some of those pictures are ones only I can properly enjoy and understand.

Also eyes. There’s a lot of eye/sight/seeing imagery I love to incorporate. The eye is the window to the soul and speaks a lot more than words ever could. 

NICK: We try to make each song take you on its own “trip” with heavy but lovely layers of guitar, smooth bass and energetic drums. And really in your face vocals to leave a mark on the listener.

BH: “Nectaris Mare,” and “Song in Mono (Set of Devil’s Horns),” especially have a distinctively unique sound that stands out against anything I’ve heard in a while. How would you describe the genre(s)? 

TEAGAN: It’s kind of dream pop but more punk. Dreampunk? (I just found out that’s an actual term, damn!) Dreamgarage! I pretty much slather psychedelic layers of guitar onto the funky, groovy bass lines and bursts of combustible percussion Tris and Nick output. Sometimes it’s pretty shoegaze–especially with all the pedals I’ve harvested from the internet garden this pandemic.

TRIS: I would describe our music as indie psychedelia with some punk elements sprinkled in. Some songs yet to see the light of day have really funky elements too. But those core themes are seen in the pedal driven guitar, groovy basslines, and punky drum fills.

TEAGAN: Early on there were definitely aspirations to be a cookie cut indie rock group. But I think our lack of musical experience and knowledge, on top of only having three members, led to a more garage rock/punk style. Also my deep ass voice. One of our good friends and dedicated fan Matt has described me as something of a “Mr. Vampire voice” over our noisy concoctions. 

BH: Top 3 time: what other bands have been a source of artistic inspiration?

TEAGAN: Pinning down just three inspirations is incredibly difficult as one knows. All three of us have incredibly vast and eclectic musical tastes, but if there was a three way venn diagram for all of us the most overlap would hands down be Inner Wave.

When Nick first sent me Eclipse by them wow did everything just hit in all the right ways. The words, how they were sung, the catchy little riffs, this almost Legend Of Zelda-esque synth that would weave in and out. It summed up perfectly how I felt about my ex right after we broke up. That entire album is an amazing concept from start to finish.

Another I think we can safely put on here is Red Hot Chili Peppers. Particularly John Frusciante for myself because that man is a melodic genius. They were childhood nostalgia music for all of us. As I got older I dove into their discography along with John’s solo stuff. I’d definitely put Blood Sugar Sex Magick and Niandra Lades as defining albums of my teenage years.

Lastly, and probably closest to our actual sound is this band Her’s. They were this incredible duo who unfortunately got taken from the world far far far too soon. They only have two albums but they’re absolute masterpieces. Stephen, the guitarist, plays the absolute craziest, dissonant chords– the ones that look like auto-generated passwords (you know, like G6b9#11) and making it sound so smooth. And the bassist, Auden. Just look up a video of them playing. The bassist is jumping up and down side to side while cranking out these groovy little riffs. The energy, the chemistry and harmony between the two of them is just… Just wow.

They all have their lasting impressions on all of us in their unique way. We definitely do not try to sound like any of them but we have learned a lot from covering some of each band’s songs.  

The Scene

BH: Tell us about your home turf!

TEAGAN: Providence is fucking awesome. I was born there and am quite proud of the local music scene. Everyone’s extremely accepting of one another and I’ve seen and heard fusions of genres I would never think up.

NICK: The Providence scene is amazing and probably one of the best cities around for artists to really express themselves. We try to go to as many local shows to show support. 

TEAGAN: Unfortunately due to COVID we have yet to perform as a full band. I’ve had the pleasure to perform at AS220 in Providence and quite a few open mics scattered throughout the Providence/Bristol County area. A few years back I even had a gig up at the DAP ! It was in my weird genre-transition-phase so I did an odd set list of half hip hop songs half rock songs. Maybe we can find ourselves there sometime soon ;]

The Next Episode 

BH:  What projects are on the horizon?

TEAGAN: Definitely an EP. We have a lot of work done for our debut and a lot of conceptual ideas and demo material for future releases. We literally just got our first batches of band shirts printed, so we’re pretty stoked about that as well. Once COVID cases are down we have our first show planned at Alchemy in Providence, and hoping to pick up more in due time.

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