Monday, 24 December 2007


Mark Mikel “It seems to be the most misunderstood genre in the history of rock and roll. I find it the most enjoyable because experimentation in (writing, sound and lyrics) is the first rule. What other genre can boast those qualities? I don't like that it's still associated with drugs. Virtually every music of any style has had its share of druggies. I find the music more of a substitute for drugs than a companion. It's also the most exciting genre (when virtually all genres bore me because of their lack of exploration)... even 40 years later. When was the last time you heard something really colourful, fresh, rocking, melodic and sonically daring released as a single? It's almost as if those qualities are outlawed. As if record companies are afraid of them.

******And it IS the record companies- not the lack of newer psychedelic groups. There's probably more psych bands than ever before now. Intelligence and their target audience are not seen as something that can intertwine.. Sometimes I wonder if the whole '67 psych season was closed early due to the whole misunderstanding. Kind of like "I can't do those drugs I'm not going to be doing that music anymore." Then people just distanced themselves. I sure as hell wouldn't want people to feel I was telling them to do LSD just because my music sounds like an aural hallucination. I believe that the rule has reversed in modern psych. I don't see LSD at all involved in the new psych scene. It just seems to be made up of people who still really like to listen. If you're going to sit and just listen-it's very fun and rewarding music- psychedelia is really the Disneyland of rock and roll.The 1960s fashion, image and idealism that accompanied psych ate it alive really. But all those great psychedelic albums and hits have aged better than almost any other music. We still seem to love Magical Mystery Tour, Are You Experienced, The Piper At The Gates... and all that wild music from the late 60s. True music lovers are amazed by that stuff- without tripping, being sedated or hit on the head.

I was 6 years old through most of 1967. I'm not really in a position of authority on the subject. But as a musician in a modern day psychedelic band, I can draw you a picture of how someone may have been affected by it enough to carry a torch against all odds.My earliest memory of becoming remotely aware of the word psychedelic was seeing Micky Dolenz say it at the end of the Daily Nightly clip. But the word meant nothing to me for the rest of the 60s. It meant as much as "far-out" or "out-a-site" or "sock it to me." It was just another word that was part of the crazy culture that was unfolding. Even at that young age I was aware that the world was a very different place than it was a few years prior.It wasn't until early 1974 (when things got a little tamed) that I started lamenting over the loss of the radical attitude and excitement that to me was extremely colourful or..."psychedelic." I felt robbed because as soon as I was old enough to go buy my own music- the good schtuff wasn't being made anymore. I was 12.So that's when I started digging into the music that was made before. I've kinda always been that guy ever since. I remember being teased in 8th grade for being a Beatles fan. There were other great bands around but nothing blew my mind like the rich sounds of well done psych. Strawberry Fields Forever, I am The Walrus, Eight Miles High etc... I've had many love affairs with different music over the years but songs like that always seem to haunt me the most...even to this very day.

So in my mind there has always been a big void of true listening music in the pop/rock arena. There was that one little beautiful moment so many years ago when it was alright to go where no band has gone before. I've mourned the death of that spirit for years. I still believe that love is the answer but that's not cool anymore either- what can you do? Country music, jazz, rap, metal, blues etc...have all been celebrated for years to the point where nobody's going to even point a finger at you. But with psychedelia, critics become holier than thou and fault you for your if you have no right to carry that torch. That attitude has created a great void in the world's musical catalog. I've been trying to do my part to fill that void- not to change the world, but mainly for personal reasons.
What is psychedelic? Is it sitars and backwards instruments? Possibly. Many people think of The Grateful Dead as psychedelic but they never really used that stuff much, did they?Is it singing about laughing gnomes, white rabbits and walruses (walri?)? That could do it for some too I suppose. Our method is to use songwriting, instruments, vocals and recording techniques as color and make lots of colors. Varied and unexpected. We re-invent ourselves with every song. You never know what the next song or album will be like. You can just count on the fact the "love" was put in. It will always be a result of musicians trying their very hardest to bring you a high-quality listening experience.Then we say on our website "The world's most psychedelic band," and I'm sure that gets interpreted in people's minds many different ways. It really means nothing and at the same time means everything. It's just our way of drawing attention to ourselves, isn't it? We say we are, so we are. When we started The Pillbugs in 1996 we were not aware of any other modern-day psychedelic groups. There might have been other underground psych bands but we knew nothing of them. We thought it might be a good idea to try and fill the gap. Nowadays it seems there is much less of a gap to fill. I'm aware of the underground psych bands. Psych/pop connoisseurs like Valis and Mick Dillingham (Bucketfull of Brains) have turned me on to so many psych bands it's inspiring and somewhat discomforting at the same time. We have much competition now. Try to observe and separate what's weak in modern psychedelic music from what's meaningful and timeless. Just like every other kind of music there's good and bad psychedelia too. I have no interest in bands that set up strict boundaries by what's already been done. These guys are just re-hashers and do little to contribute to the growth. The Beatles still cast a huge shadow on this particular community and when bands try to imitate them it just always ends up sounding contrived. Musical cliches (even ones created by The Beatles) have to pretty much be considered taboo. They can be used, but you must do it with a wink because everybody can see through you. The important thing is to think like the greats- not imitate their sound and arrangements. Although it's fun to do as a learning experience. Take it farther and every now and then back up and start again and take off in another direction. For me it is key to really make it a very likable song. I like to slightly challenge the listener but keep my arms around them at the same > time. I like catchy but clever lyrics and melodies and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I like everything to hit you hard and deep. I want people to smile at least once during every track. I want the songs to have a real strong purpose or motive. Don't want them just sitting there. The Pillbugs' psychedelia is the new and now of the genre. Along with all the now countless others, be it The Virgineers or The Squires of the Subterrain or whatever, we are all here defining or redefining what psych music is in our time. If we do it, it's authentic because it's us. We own it. We inherited it."

heres a link to a great british psych site

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