I try to avoid the music scene that caters to the yuppies. I wanted a scene that caters to everyday people who appreciate and donate money to local bands. They sure do know how to rock, whether on a stage, or in a basement. I wanted to be part of a network that supports local artists with getting their voice out. I joined Boston Hassle this year; a team who wants people in the city of Boston to know about the music and gigs happening. As an ongoing community, we want the people to come out and see local acts. For my 2015 Boston Hassle recap, I chose to zoom my eye on the local psychedelic music scene. It was one of the first scenes I explored in the city. To certain enthusiasts, psych rock is what keeps us alive. It’s strange, eerie, happy, angry or all of the above. It’s a perfect chaos for the ears—it’s loud! Real psychedelic feeling and sound are a perfect balance between hyper and mellow. It’s malicious when it gets heavy. Through my discovery, I heard the Prefab Messiahs fable, a legendary psych rock band from Massachusetts. Kris Thompson shared his teachings with me, as well as his current Magic Shoppe tale. I learned that the superb young talent from the Televibes are moving to Austin to pursue their psychedelic passions. Their presence will surely be missed. The New Highway Hymnal, a talented and admired band who began experimenting with noise, converse about their experience with psychedelia. They had valuable input. It’s rad that I got to witness The Televibes and the New Highway Hymnal perform live. They’re a treat to listen to. Doug Tuttle introduces a new album, and can be witnessed, along with his jamming mates, Noah Bond and Jesse Gallagher, at a night called Head. It is hosted by Mythological Records; Jesse Gallagher’s personal imprint/label. The guys usually jam at Firebrand Saints. They play loopy sounds live. Jesse masters the loops and Doug builds the riffs. Noah is free-spirited with the drums. It’s more of a fast paced jam and can get mellow when it needs to. I think of it as an improvisational upbeat sonic jam, as I’ve seen them perform several times. If psych rock is your jam, check ‘em out. My eye also scanned an electronic project by WOODY. I listened to WOODY’s music. It’s hard not to notice WOODY, with her radiant energy and vibrant creations. Her music is distinctive, so is her style. Her style is flashy, but looks can be deceiving, she’s not all surface and has a lot of depth. While her music is not completely psychedelic, her vibe is. She brings a feminine charm to the psychedelic scene.
Without further adieu, here is the list for the 2015 psychedelic acts in Boston:
1. Kris Thompson:
photo by Teenage Riot TV
I shall give no introduction to this psychedelic master. I’d rather you read the Prefab Messiahs’ fable, given by none other than Sir. Thompson himself.
LB: First time you & I met, Magic Shoppe was opening for Moon Duo at Great Scott’s. That show was so rad.
K: Yeah, we’re also having Magic Shoppe EP release show there on February 6th.
LB: Next year? Awesome, Aquarius!
K: An Aquarius show, yeah! Actually that reminds me; it just popped in my head that the Prefab Messiahs played a basement show on February 6th, 1982 in Worcester. That was a lot of fun (laughs).
LB: Oh my Creation, you played in ‘82? That was the year I was born. What happened to the Prefab Messiahs?
K: Short story is, we were together for about 16 months while we’re all at Clark University together.
LB: Which years?
K: ‘81 to ‘83. Then I transferred to ULowell, which is now UMass Lowell. It was hard to keep the band at that point.
LB: What happened after that?
K: We got together years later, I think it was 1998 for like a… Wormtown is the nickname for Worcester, Massachusetts. So it was like the Wormtown 20th Anniversary bash in ‘98. For that show, we had a Cdr-27 tracks that I put together. That later got reissued by Burger Records just a couple of years ago. It’s like a cassette.
LB: Dope. Cassettes are da bomb. Time is weird. What happened in 2012?
K: It was coming up on 2012, you know, which is going to be most of our activities that were concentrated in ‘82 and a little bit in ‘83, but ‘82 was our big year of activities. So, I said to the guys, hey it’s been 30 yrs so why don’t we do a few shows to mark that kind of anniversary. We did four shows in Cambridge, North Hampton, Massachusetts, Brooklyn and Worcester. We marked that our date of resurrection.
LB: It is? My resurrection was in 2009. What got you and your bandmates into psychedelic rock?
K: I guess we each had our own individual epiphanies. We happened to find each other and decide we had something to share together. My own personal one was an article in Creem magazine, I think it was December of 1980. It had an article about psychedelic music with information about a lot of bands from the original era, the 60’s. Information all in the same place about obscure, and mind-altering music. I started collecting some of the records I saw there.
LB: Like what records?
K: Let’s see… I guess one of my first big scores was the 13th Floor Elevators, my first one. Back then, in the early 80’s, we had no cds. I traded my 70’s hard-rock LPs for the 13th Floor Elevators first one. It cost $35. I got the Yardbirds’ “Over Under Sideways Down” the same time. At that point, Eric Clapton had left the group and they were getting more experimental with Jeff Beck. I think around that time, Xeth, the singer from the Prefabs was doing a junior year abroad in Brighton, U.K. I met him when he came back. He and a friend of his put a signs around campus that was something like; talentless guitarist and vocalist looking for people to form post-new wave pseudo-psychedelic-pop. My friend Mike and I were walking and saw that. We answered the ad and ended up jamming a song from our anthology, the Virgin Mary, from our very first rehearsal.
LB: Are you planning another reunion?
K: Like I said, we consider ourselves reunited as of 2012. Xerox lives in New York, and Doc lives in Memphis. We got together here in Cambridge to record the new album with Doug Tuttle and Jesse Gallagher. Then we mixed it ourselves. We recorded a couple of songs by remote means too, and the results are encouraging.
LB: What’s the album?
K: “Keep your Stupid Dreams Alive,” that came out of March this year. We’re starting to collect new material. It will take us a few months. We’re also going to get together for a live show for the KLYM blog. They’re having a two day festival in late April.
LB: I didn’t see you play with the Prefab Messiahs, yet. I saw you perform with Magic Shoppe. What a trip! And the visuals were great too.
K: Yeah, the band has been together for a few years. I was a big fan of the group. When I heard both that they were getting back together and wanting me to play, that was like a really cool thing.
LB: What do you think about the psychedelic scene now and then?
K: To tell the truth, I wouldn’t say there was ever been a really large psychedelic movement. I think right now there is a few bands I would call psychedelic, like Doug Tuttle and his previous band MMOSS even more so and Ghost Box Orchestra. There is a lot of bands that are doing more garage, but it’s sort of you know, kind of fits with psychedelic. Some people call some of that psychedelic, I don’t always necessarily. There is a good scene where garage, neo-grunge and psychedelic are all sort of making a nice community to get together and support each other.
LB: How about back then?
K: We kind of fashioned our own thing; I mean we were all into 60’s music. Punk and new wave was neat the time. We were influenced and inspired by the energy, creativity and newness of all of that. I think between having 60’s and 80’s interests, and then like sort of learning our instruments on the fly, we were very much between genre. The community that we [Prefab Messiahs] eventually became a part of in Worcester was more of a punk and new wave one. We were the sort of the hippier fringe of that scene.
LB: What would you hope for psychedelia?
K: I guess I’d hope for both fans and musicians to be encouraged enough by where the music seems to be coming from, just to you know, get immersed in what I consider to be great psychedelic music every single year since 1966, essentially. You just have to look for it, and you have to want to look for it. It’s worthwhile finding out about the past, even though there’s great things happening right up to the very moment.
2. The New Highway Hymnal :
photo by Sam Stambaug
The New Highway Hymnal can be heavy and twisted. They take beautiful turns in the music itself. Sometimes you feel you’re walking on a shiny road, and at other times it’s a heavy path where you want to get your dark energy out. Hadden Stemp and Amelia Gormley, together, conversed.
LB: Dude & dudette, I saw you perform at the Middle-East and it was a blast! It was packed too, but it didn’t bother me.
H: That was probably our release show back in April.
LB: Which record?
H: Reverb Room.
LB: What are you guys up to?
A: We’ve been writing.
H: A lot of demos and stuff.
LB: Is it psychedelic influenced too?
H: A lot of psychedelic bands have influenced us. It’s definitely got more styles incorporated into it.
A: Definitely some hip hop influences, we listen to a lot of rap and hip hop.
H: I listen to a lot of Dr.Dre.
A: But then also a lot of like classic 50’s soul, like Sam Cooke, has gone into it as well. It’s a little bit mellower, I would say than Hymnal.
H: Not as aggressive and loud, maybe a little more song based.
LB: How was Reverb Room formulated? Can you tell me more about the process?
H: There was a period of time when I was taking a bit of acid. I wanted to make music that’ll be good to listen to on acid. I still kind of like some of the results like the things with space and reverb on them. I like interesting sounding sounds that aren’t necessarily traditional music. It translated into sonic quality. I wanted it to have more bass for you to feel it.
LB: How many albums did you make for Hymnal?
H: We have two. We did a better job with the second one. That one was a little scarier, I feel it’s a piece of bad vibes.
LB: Were you on a bad trip when you made it? (laughs)
A: The first one was a little bit more noise based, you know, a bit more aggressive in the energy. But then, the second one [Reverb Room], we kind of toned it down, and kind sunk more into the songs themselves, trying to give them a little room to breathe. There is still a lot of noise on there. It was still us, but we just kind of went somewhere else with it.
H: Refined it. I think it’s a bit more refined.
LB: How’s the experience of recording psych music?
A: I think with psychedelic music, there is a lot of room for experimentation in the recording process. We both these albums we got very experimental when it came down to actually recording them and being in the studio. Hadden came up with a lot of ideas, we collectively did, in terms of how we recorded.
H: There was some experimentation with that. We would run the vocals through guitar amps or run them through a delayed pedal we’d use for a guitar into an amp. We recorded in one track. We took 5 different takes. We had a part where they were all recorded on their own track on the mixing board. We experimented with each track.
A: Fading them in & out.
H: Changing the different effects that they’ve be assigned. It was almost like an additional performance to the actual playing of the song. I got some weird effects and sounds. I’ve always been interested in experimenting with sound and doing things that are a bit different. That’s the case in all music, to a certain extent. It’s very overt and psychedelic music. It’s there in your face.
LB: You’re keeping a certain genre alive, and performing to a younger generation, I appreciate that.
A: Thanks, that era has definitely influenced all of us. I’ve been listening to the Beatles since I was a little kid. They were a big influence in the psychedelic genre. I think it would a lot different if it weren’t for them. They broke a lot of ground. We all listen to the Grateful Dead a lot. That’s just something we kind of wanted to continue on. It’s definitely a genre that’s alive and well. We’re happy to be part of it.
H: Yeah, and like in our future music that will still be kind of continued in a way. We’re kind of expanding.
LB: I’m sure whatever you guys will keep doing would sound experimental. Your Isolation video is so rad.
A: That was a fun music video to make. It was our friends at Red Hot Box studios in Cambridge that directed it. We went to their studio and Petey [Peter Colpack’s Lysergic Factory Lightshow] did lights for it and projections.
H: That’s all Petey [Peter Colpack].
A: It was live projections, there were live video projections going on as well as Petey’s lights. Petey’s been with us for most of the history of the band. We wanted to incorporate in the video because it’s part of our lives shows.
LB: Yeah, I saw him with that old-school projector at one of your shows.
A: We always love having him there.
LB: I can relate.
The New Highway Hymnal’s members’ high-spirited presence is valued. Super talented and approachable: they are the kind of young generation liberals you want to have around in society. Make sure you listen Reverb Room or their 2012 album Whispers for a darker jam. Only Creation knows what they will come up with next.
3. The TeleVibes:
photo by Kayla Savage
Scott Loring and Charlie Northern were playing pool at the Field on a rainy day. The boys performed at SXSW twice, and are moving to Austin, Texas. The band is centralized there. I talked to them while watching them play.
LB: How did the TeleVibes form?
C: The formation started after me and our original member Greg Connor finished high school. We decided to form a psychedelic rock band.
LB: Why psych rock?
C: It’s the music I most connected with when I was younger. I used to listen to the classics, like Hendrix and Pink Floyd. Like most 15 year olds, I didn’t think there was much else in music’s future because what I heard was pop music. It wasn’t really what I was fond of. But when I first heard bands like The 13th Floor Elevators and Black Angels, I immediately found signs that I connected with. I jumped on it and decided to do what they do.
LB: Right on.
C: We started when we were 19, and moved to Austin in 2012. Our old bass player Greg stayed out there to pursue his own project. I moved back and Scott joined us on bass, and we got back our original drummer Christian Hardy. We started playing and we decided we’re gonna try to get into the Boston scene because at the time, we knew of bands like The New Highway Hymnal, Quilt and MMOSS that were playing. We tried to break in into Boston.
LB: My memory is fuzzy, but I remember you guys being rad on stage.
S: We hope for that anyways.
LB: You have two EPs, Washed Up , the one with the ultra groovy sounds, and High or Die, which is more psych with the psychedelic interludes and all?
C: We have one with Pete [Peter Colpack] talking. There is a song in the middle, Piper at the Gates of Bong.
LB: In what state of mind are you in when you produce such sounds?
C: We’re lucky enough to have a producer. We have a great producer. Hadden Stemp produces all of our records. His main thing is recording and producing. We wanted there to be more time on the cassette. We’ve been messing around with just drums, keyboards, and more like psychedelic voiced instruments in my basement. He said you guys should do songs in between the songs, to have a totally different feel to them, just to like build the whole album. So that was upon his direction. We took to that right away, and we just experimented with different effects. We can all play just about every instrument. We sat around and we came up with it.
LB: It ended up being really artsy, and trippy. What’s the point of psychedelic music?
S: It was kind of this theory can we make people feel like they are on drugs just like by listening to it.
C: Spacemen 3 have an album, Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To, it sums it up.
LB: Psychedelic music is about getting a sense of elevation, and spiritual enlightenment. This is why I appreciate psych rock and I’m into the genre. This is why we’re good friends with Pete [Peter Colpack].
C: Peter is psychedelic by nature. He’s a lot of inspiration. That’s why we named a song after him. We thought, one day somebody’s going to name a song after Pete. He’s got so much going on. He’s such a colorful person. We wanted to be the first ones to write a song about Peter Colpack. It’s very much so about him in every way. I can’t say you can look up the lyrics and read them. There is probably too much effects on the vocals to understand them. But, if you can understand them, and you do know Pete, then it somewhat about him and his life.
LB: Pete is an enigma, he is a mystery.
C: There is a lot of mystery about him. He’s quite the character. I think he’s the soul and spirit of the Boston psychedelic music scene, if there is one. I don’t think there is a big psychedelic scene in Boston. I don’t think it’s what’s hip and upcoming. I think there is a few gems within all the other garage bands.
S: It’s garage and punk sort of stuff.
C: In Austin, there is a very profound psychedelic music scene. It’s growing with its musical members of the musical community.
LB: Is that why we’re losing you to Austin?
C: We’ve reached a point where we don’t want to do anything else. We’ve done fairly well in Boston; made a lot of friends and played with many good bands. But, we essentially want to make it a career. We want to go out there, work very minimally, tour and just produce albums.
LB: What do you consider yourself to be?
C: I don’t consider myself a musician at all. If anything, I consider myself a song writer. I don’t think there is any connotation to a song writer. If there is anything I can aspire to is to be a song writer. If you want to be a rock star, there is so many things that negatively come along with it. But, as a song writer, you’re not judged upon those values, you’re judged upon your musical principles.
S: Everyone is just gonna think you’re a bro with a taylor. He’s the one [Charlie] who pulled me towards psychedelic music.
C: Psychedelic music is something you have to show your friends. There is no outlet for it commercially. You would never just hear it on the radio. I’ve never even heard a Black Angels song on the radio. Maybe unless you’re lucky enough to hear it on a radio station, like old psych on college radio, like the Mamas and Papas, Donovan or Jefferson Airplane, you know. Psychedelic music is culture of sharing music all the time. I can get very bored with music. I think we all can listening to the same thing. Because there is only so many notes, and you can make so many songs, sing so many melodies, but you really gotta search deep.
LB: This is deep stuff.
C: I don’t mind getting into it right away. It’s nice to talk to somebody like-minded. We never get chosen for these lists usually. You know, like 2014 or 2015 recaps and albums of the year.
LB: Do you think it’s the genre?
C: I think it’s the genre, I do, I really do. I think that Boston is a very interesting music scene. But, I just think that sometimes some like genres slipped through the cracks, in some areas.
LB: Are you planning to release a third album?
C: We have a 3rd album almost finished. I’m going in tomorrow to finish our third album. It’s our first one that’s ever gonna be put out on vinyl through a record label; King Pizza records in Brooklyn. We’ve not been playing Boston for the last six months. We’ve been playing Brooklyn. We wanted to go play somewhere else, so we started playing in Brooklyn, and we met some fantastic people there.
LB: I’m getting your record, I’m psyched for you guys!
C: We’ve had Hadden Stemp produce all of our albums. And we have our own record label, called 456 Records, and we just put it out ourselves in cassette.
C: It’s like a way to win a dice game. We all play dice a lot. We like to fake gamble, so it was Hadden’s idea for our record label. We got in on it with him.
LB: What kind of place did you play in Brooklyn?
C: Shea Stadium, they record all the sets when you play.
LB: When you perform outside of Boston, is it different?
C: Sometimes Boston when we play, everybody kind of stands still, and kinda like slowly moves around. Because we’re not as upbeat, not like wicked fast. Psychedelic music: it grooves and it takes its time with you. It’s very repetitive. It’s easy for you.
LB: What’s you 3rd album called?
C: Major Drones; like major as in a military man.
LB: Where did you record album?
C: Recorded at Project Sound in Haverhill, MA. It’s an analog recording studio. We recorded it on a 2” tape. It’s important for us because if you want that vintage sound, you have to use analog tape. It was what we wanted. It’s going to sound great we hope. It should be out in the summer. It’s our first full album. We might play a string of secret shows in February in Boston.
Come see the Televibes perform live before they move to Austin, Texas, in April. It’s sad to see them leave. I wish them nothing but the best. They are truly talented, wise and genuine brethren radiating psychedelic vibrations. All it had to take is one performance in Brooklyn. They’ll always have their place in the Boston music community.
4. W00DY :
photo by Mona Maruyama / artwork by Alex Brizicky
RNBW is made out of bright, lo fi glitching rhythms with ethereal voices and psychedelic vibes. WOODY produces those vibes through her mystical aura and artistic endeavors. We had a lovely chat.
LB: You only have one album, correct?
W: Yeah, 11 songs.
LB:”Warm Spirit” is my favorite track. I call myself Lady Bedouin, so when I heard “Lady Love”, I was like, ah Creation! spread the love and cosmic vibrations~ I picked up the spiritual and psychedelic vibes in your music.
W: Yeah, I definitely have a psychedelic influence, I think. I listen to a lot of experimental music, and music that is like challenging and intertwining with all these different influences. Stuff that inspires me.
LB: What inspires you?
W: Definitely femininity.
LB: RNBW is so colorful, what’s behind the colors?
W: The idea behind RNBW is that all these different colors are a spectrum that we all are inside of pretty much. You have all these different personality traits, and parts inside you that correspond to certain colors and they all blend together into this spectrum, which is like infinity. The whole idea is to be yourself, who you really are, and your unique combination of colors that describes you.
LB: I’ve been picking up the color orange lately.
W: I feel that orange represents energy. Orange is very energetic, playful, and childlike almost. I can see how you gravitate towards that.
LB: Grand! How did you get to be so New Age? I feel like you’re ahead of your time.
W: Thank you. I definitely was like that from a young age. I definitely wanted to do my own thing. I did my own weird things; I was a weirdo growing up. I had a few select friends that were also weird.
LB: Unique my dear. I prefer describing you as unique, rather than weird.
W: I grew up in a Baltimore suburb. I was left to discover things on my own. I’m REALLY thankful that my parents are accepting and they kind of just let me blossom and discover who I was, without trying to influence too much of me. I always dressed with like really outrageous fashion. I wanted to go into fashion design.
LB: I’ve seen you a couple of times, and you attract attention to you. It’s not over or pretentious. Your album came out this summer. How long were you experimenting for till your produced your album?
W: Some of the songs are like 3 years old. Most of that album are songs I’ve been playing in the past 2 or 3 years. I just haven’t gotten around to record them till last year. It took me a whole year to record the album. I did everything myself. I released it myself and it got mastered by a good friend. I worked with Mona Maruyama on the artwork, which is really great.
LB: Your voice effects are mesmerizing, sometimes it’s more like chanting. I just want to close my eyes and meditate to it. How did you experiment?
W: I really like sampling from 80’s & 90’s pop cassettes. I like sampling things that I find kind of funny, like poorly recorded pop-world music. I have this specific tape, I think it’s Indian pop music. It’s just over the top. I’ve gotten so much out of it.
LB: How do you sample cassettes?
W: I have a cassette deck. I pretty much just play it and record it through Ableton and just make loops through it. Lots of times I would either speed it up or slow it down. It’s really fun.
LB: Siq experimentation, that’s creative. No wonder it sounds magical and mystical. Are you spiritual?
W: Yeah, I practice meditation and mildly into witchy Wicca stuff. I’m into Goddesses.
LB: Who is your favorite goddess?
W: Damara, she’s a celtic goddess. She’s kind of like an ice-queen. She’s very like crown chakra energy, like higher energy. I have this Goddess guidance tarot-cards deck. I have done a ton of readings with them. I think my first reading, I did a past-present-future, and my future, I pulled her. She’s priestess, higher-power, super mystical, super womanly and nurturing.
LB: What’s you favorite single on the album?
W: Probably, the 1st one, which is “Growing Smaller.” This is why I put first on the album, I think.
LB: You have the animus/anima or female/male symbol tats on both your arms, that I have on my chest. What’s your perspective?
W: When I was 18 and a little bit crazy, cooped up in my parent’s house, I was listening to Lady Gaga at that point. I was pro-feminism and femininity all the way. I got the female symbol tattoo on under my arm first. Then 2, 3 years later, when I was living in Boston, doing my music, realized I identify as female. But, there is a part of me that’s masculine. I perceive parts of myself as masculine, realizing that gender is a spectrum. We fall on the spectrum however we feel we fall on it. you have the two extremes of male and female, and then there is everything in between. So, I got the male symbol.
LB: You feel both energies running through you, on both sides.
W: Yeah, I don’t like to think of electronics and production as masculine. But, they’re interpreted as masculine in our society, and that’s a big part of me. I guess this part in me feels masculine and I’m interested. That’s very stigmatizing. It’s not actually masculine; it’s how our culture determines it.
Woody describes her performance as an organized improvisation. Her music is out-there. I recommend you check her out.