This week brings us the sixth edition of the Austin Psych Fest and for the first time since 2009, we’re sad to say, this ape will not be in attendance. Real life has inconveniently intervened, as it often does.
Which is not to say that the Austin Psych Fest is not real life – it is. It’s so real that it changes every year – just like life. And just like life, it sometimes doesn’t change. And that mix of consistency and transformation is a big part of what makes Austin Psych Fest so great.
Of course, there’s also the massive amount of planning, pursuing, paying, calling, emailing, texting, spread-sheeting, confirming, configuring and loo-renting that goes in to assuring that those lucky enough to attend Austin Psych Fest have the time of their life. And for that, the mysterious organization known as The Reverberation Appreciation Society deserves a round of applause. Still can’t figure out why they pick some band called The Black Angels to play every year, though.
The sting of knowing that missing Austin Psych Fest also means missing good times with great people, sonic communion with friends old and new, is matched only by the sting of missing such an extraordinary line-up. The Moving Sidewalks? Ouch. Om? Ugh. Dead Skeletons? I can’t take it.
That inconveniently intervening party known as “real life” has also put a dent into the time we’ve devoted to asking ridiculous interview questions to the bands taking the stage at Austin Psych Fest this year, a situation we hope to rectify over the next several kalpas. After interviewing something like 37 bands in the lead-up to Austin Psych Fest this past year (not that we’re counting), this year we’re clocking in with a grand total of … one.
And we heard that one is the loneliest number.
But we don’t feel so lonely knowing that bands that have previously, graciously agreed to answer our ridiculous questions – bands like Ttotals, bands like The Saint James Society – will have a place on the Austin Psych Fest stage this year. And we don’t feel so lonely knowing that other bands to which we’ve previously applied the “Band of the Week” label – bands like The Holydrug Couple, bands like Chatham Rise, and bands like, yes, Goat – will have their place as well.
We feel less than lonely. We feel good. We feel like a part of … something.
We feel like we’re all one, dude.
“For as our sun, not by choosing or taking thought but by merely being, enlightens all things, so the Good by its mere existence sends forth upon all things the beams of its Goodness.”
So we can say little more than “SUN” is a really, really, really good album, and Dreamtime’s guitarist Zac Anderson was good enough to answer our ridiculous questions below. And all of those attending Austin Psych Fest this year should have a really, really, really good time. I’ll be there in spirit. Enjoy.
Does there exist in your mind a singular experience that, for you, most shed light on the connection between dreams and music? If so, what was it about that experience that made such a distinct impression on you? Do you find imagery from your dreams tend to stay buried in your mind – or are they nearly always at the forefront of your thoughts?
No, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard music in my dreams before – haha! I feel like I’m weird for not having heard music in my dreams. Have you? I used to put Air or Portishead on my headphones and go to sleep to it. And these days I usually hear songs as I go to sleep that I guess my unconscious mind is writing for my conscious mind to listen to while I drift off. Dreams can be very powerful though – I’ve had countless dreams where I fall in love with a girl and then feel sad the whole of the next day because I’ll never see that girl again. But I enjoy the mysticism of dreaming, and, yes, often times the imagery is absolutely epic and insane. I still have a vivid image of this witch with blue eyes that tried to suck my soul out of my mouth once in a dream and that was years ago. I do also astral travel sometimes, and recommend it to anyone – waking up inside your dream and experiencing the landscape of your mind is amazing and really quite elating.
How would you describe your general introduction to making music in your youth? Was it something that was encouraged within your family or peer group, or did you find it to be more of a solitary pursuit? What were the albums or artists that convinced you that making music is something that you can do and do well?
I was a massive Michael Jackson fan when everyone was a Nirvana fan. I was only nine when Kurt Cobain died and couldn’t figure out why my older brother kept playing this shitty, mopey song about rape and telling me how good it was. It had nothing on The Moonwalker, I thought. I also dabbled in listening to three-chord pop punk bands like Frenzal Rhomb (Australian). My parents gave me heaps of stuff to try out. They bought me a trumpet which I played for years until I did a solo trumpet piece in front of my whole grade in year eight and everyone laughed at me. That was the end of the trumpet and the end of music for me until I finished school and got into Led Zeppelin … massively. I bought a guitar and tried to learn “Stairway to Heaven” (idiot) for about a week and a half until I had some of it down, roughly. Then I got into 60’s garage psych and down the rabbit-hole through psych obscurities from there. By the way, I’m pretty sure Cat played in a three-piece in primary school called “Burnt Toast” – haha! Kid punk music.
What is the immediate appeal of creating music for you? What is something that you now find to be a key aspect to making music that you perhaps did not account for at your beginning stages? Can you think of an artist or albums that you initially did not connect with, but now consider to be a major influence or inspiration?
Initially, it’s the telling of a story that I love, often wordless or lyrically obscure stories, unconventional stories, stories trying to explain the unexplainable. After years of playing I’ve realized the more you control a song the more rebellious it becomes, so you have to go with the flow when you write and when you jam. I’ve also realized it’s a good thing to appropriate your favourite riffs from your favourite artists and slow it down or put a surf drum beat behind it and recreate the riff into something new while also subtly paying homage to your influences. In regard to your last question … yes, Kyuss. I hated Kyuss at first because of those gnarly vocals. But then a year later I got into their stoner doom grooves and so did Cat and Tara. We actually did a cover of “Molten Universe” for a while. “Molten Universe” is one of the best songs ever written. I bow down to it. Kyuss definitely had their own style, and Dreamtime wanted to get heavier after hearing them.
One of the things that we find incredibly appealing about the music of Dreamtime is your ability to merge a tremendously wide range of sounds and styles into a cohesive and compelling whole. How do you think the mentality and experiences of the members of Dreamtime combine to produce this effect? Can you point to any specific examples of the members introducing each other to sounds that you otherwise might not have incorporated? Or do you feel that you have largely been on the same page, sonically, since the very beginning – or perhaps even before you met?
We listen to everything, not just psych music. But psych is just the best platform to explore because it’s diverse in nature. I think some of the biggest influences we have shown each other would be (in chronological order of us listening to them) Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin, Sonic Youth, Link Wray, Kyuss, Bardo Pond, Warpaint, Ash Ra Tempel … a few years ago I got this record called “Distortions” by Blue Phantom, made by a bunch of Italian session musicians in 1971. I got this record at the start of our first shroom season ever and it seemed like the record was on repeat for the whole summer, so the album is eternally associated with the beautiful and gnarly experiences we had over that time. We ended up doing a cover of one of the songs off the album called “Equivalence,” which we have put on our new album, “Sun.” Tripped a lot of balls to that song, so want to pay homage to it. Our cover is a bit different, though.
The second song on your album “SUN” – “Baphomet” – is an intense collection of sounds, even among an album filled with a superb level of intensity. What can you tell us about the creation of this song? What does the image of the Baphomet – a symbol more often attached to death and black metal bands – represent to you? Was there a particular emotion or a summation of the album that you were looking to capture on “SUN“?
Well, that song’s meaning isn’t set in stone. It’s an exploration of a combination of mythologies. The song’s basically about the summoning of a demon or powerful spirit in the forest. The sounds of the forest and the chanting refer to nature and paganistic worship of the elements and overlaps into witchcraft – basically beliefs or practises that were deemed as satanic/anti-Christian by the Christian church. I believe the man who drew the image of Baphomet was influenced by historical documents regarding the church’s libelous slander of certain parties as satanic and worshipping the heads of beasts resembling that of a goat. The concept of the worship of a goat-headed beast fascinates me – it’s very powerful imagery, but a lot of information around satanists/pagans/the Baphomet image is very confusing. People believe what they want to believe – I’m merely interested in mythology. This song is a myth, as is the album!!!!
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that your next album will be a collection of covers by The Electric Prunes, entitled, “(I Had Too Much to) Dreamtime Last Night”?
No that’s not true, but we will be releasing a cover of “Dreamtime Weaver” by Gary Wright soon.
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Radio Birdman song of all time and why? Please show your work.
The Cosmic Dead – they’re really amazing, some of the deepest, darkest, most beautiful jam-holes I’ve ever heard … Radio Birdman are cool but I’m probably more of a 13th Floor Elevators fan though. Their cover of “Gloria” makes me wanna smoke a pack of Horizon Red 50’s and drink tequila shots and pull cones all night!!! I know they’re a psych band, but their cover of that song has balls and is such a fast version, especially back in those days – it’s way more fast-rock/jet-rock or whatever you call it than it is psych.
How did you first become aware of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any other bands on the line-up that you are particular excited to see for the first time? Is it far to assume this will be Dreamtime’s first visit to the States as a band? Is there anything in particular you are looking to explore or experience about this strange land during your time here?
I can’t even remember how we heard about Austin Psych Fest – they’ve been going for years now. I think it was through my interest in Roky Erickson, and Austin being the birth place of psych rock that caught my interest. But now to be playing at it will be amazing. So pumped to play alongside all those bands, it’s crazy. BRMC is massive in Australia. But Warpaint is a favourite of ours, too, and we just can’t believe we’re playing a bloody gig with Warpaint and Acid Mothers Temple and … the whole line up is amazing. Black Angels are rad. I know they started the whole Austin Psych Fest thing, and what a gift to the world it really is – praise ’em. Yeah, it’s the first time for us in the States and we’re going to make a little tour of it from the West Coast to Austin, Texas, then up East Coast to NY and play about 10 shows along the way. We have no record label or manager or anything – DIY, baby – but we’re making friends over there and we’ll hopefully fit in some chill time there and meet people, have a few beers and a bit of a chin-wag.
Carl Jung – a man who had a bit to say about dreams, and no doubt a Radio Birdman fan himself – says the following in “The Psychology of Individuation”:
“The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, a characteristic also of the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable. It is therefore short-sighted to treat fantasy, on account of its risky or unacceptable nature, as a thing of little worth.”
Well done Ryan, that’s a really good, and really appropriate question for the kind of music we play, as Dreamtime totally deals in fantasy and imagination. My dad used to always say that I was “off with the fairies” and my mum always said that I “come from a bloodline of the Faerie folk and I am part Faerie.” So I knew I had a very active imagination and I also felt like I was part of an actual mythology. Imagination is necessary for us to create, but I don’t know why we need to create. I suspect it’s some kind of cellular programming, like an animal instinct. It’s no coincidence that children have very active imaginations because their mental dictionaries aren’t full of words yet, they don’t think they know everything like adults who end up being able to receive only limited amounts of information as they become so narrow-minded. Take music, or fantasy novels or visualization meditations – so many people get so much out of all of these things. Why would someone sit and listen to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor??? There’s not even any lyrics to sing along to. It’s because it activates their imagination. There must be something important in there that people need. And Carl Jung says so, and he pretty much figured out how to predict the future, so can’t really argue with him can we?
What’s next for Dreamtime?
Taking it easy once we get the vinyl for the “Sun” and the US tour. We need a manager – we’re all run off our feet. But if something’s difficult to do, it’s usually because it’s worth doing. Except for killing yourself – haha! I don’t think it applies to that situation. Thanks Ryan – that’s a really thoughtful interview.