As the Psychic Ills wrap up the recording of their fifth album, the NYC psychedelic rock band took an afternoon away from the studio to talk with So It Goes about what they’ve been up to and their forthcoming release. If you’re lucky enough, you may have seen their performance at the Desert Daze music festival in May or caught the more intimate set in the Ace Hotel’s basement, where they performed in collaboration with Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s Inherent Vice installation. In either setting, the band’s haunting melodies are played with an organic fluidity that entrances their audience. Here, vocalist/guitarist Tres Warren and bassist Elizabeth Hart let us in on some obscure films to watch, what they’re listening to, and how it all got started.
Where are you from? How did you meet?
Tres Warren: The band formed in New York, but Elizabeth and I are from Texas, we met in Austin. I was kind of a loner but she talked to me.
Elizabeth Hart: You still are. Tres was working at a record store at the time, and we got to talking about music.
Who were some of your early influences?
TW: My parents’ country and classic rock records, listening to music in church even though I didn’t like church, learning how to record myself with a 4 track, playing guitar to Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground records, learning to program drum machines, discovering labels like Drag City.
EH: Trading mix tapes, going to shows, learning bass lines from some of my early favorites like Simon Gallup from The Cure.
What would you say has been the most definitive moment as a band?
TW: I don’t know; making records, touring, going to jail in El Paso, finding an opium pipe at a flea market in Beijing.
Where’s your favorite place to play in New York?
EH: A lot of places have come and gone. We had some good shows at Glasslands; Bowery Ballroom is cool.
If you were given the opportunity to re-score five films what would they be?
TW: I don’t mean to dodge the question but most films that I remember the music from is because it’s already great. Off the top of my head; The Hired Hand, Out of the Blue, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, and Scorpio Rising come to mind.
EH: We performed a live score to a few early avant-garde films for a film program in New York called Cinema 16 a few years back. It would definitely be cool to explore film scoring further.
What was in your bag during your last trip to the record store?
EH: Ariel Pink, Pom Pom.
Are you recording or do you have plans to record any time soon?
TW: We’ve been recording since last fall, we’re hoping to tie it all together soon.
EH: Yeah, I’m trying to get this guy to get it together to finish this thing.
Your recent collaboration with Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe at the Ace Hotel was pretty surreal. You’ve worked with them before, how did that come about?
EH: We’ve worked on a few things together going back to their Hello Meth Lab in the Sun installation at Ballroom Marfa in 2009.
TW: They used some of our music in their film, The Floating Chain last year. It’s always cool to work with those guys; we like their art.
Who would you love to work with in the future?
TW: I haven’t been thinking about that lately, but we’ve already worked with some people that I like; Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers), Neil Hagerty (Royal Trux), Juan Atkins.
All images courtesy of Brendan Burdzinski.