“Retromania” is the rife of western society and it can be detected so effortlessly by local L.A. Psyche band MIND MELD. Their music has the aura of the era gone past when music was analog. It’s funny how modern technology tries to create something that sounds old. Even with all the music software that’s available MIND MELD opts to manipulate their sound via plugins so to make recordings sound like old tapes, broken tubes, crackling amps, old plate reverb and so on. This return to splendor is what makes Mind Meld so much more compelling. When listening to their new self-titled album they go beyond the “lazy catch-all” term of Psyche rock by not playing within the rule book and going deep inside their heads. MIND MELD is a mindset as much at it is a sound… its a transcendent state of mind. Their antecedents are Hawkwind, Blue Cheer,Velvet Underground and yes even Black Sabbath..We just love.. “The Viper” and “The Lonely”.
They emphasize the cryptic margins of “avant-rock” by incorporating evanescent textures over an immutable baseline. They produce a ‘heavy’ metallic ambiance that contradicts the sing-song filigree of most Los Angeles rock bands. In an increasingly atomized world MIND MELD is a passport, a kindred connection that you can have with people on the other side of the planet of sorts. Their music is less a conduit to the past and more of a thorough fare for the future.
The “trinity” of MIND MELD is made of Bert Hoover on guitar, Erik Lake on bass and Ms. Liz Tooley on drums. We were lucky enough to interview Ms. Tooley…
Rock Bands of L.A..com:
Are you a native of Los Angeles? Where are Bert and Eric from? I’ve listened to your newly released album and I think it’s really good. Was this a tough album to make? At times, you cross into a “heavy metal” sound but at the end of the day there’s a “pop” sensibility… How did the recording process work? Who produced it?
I was born in Arkansas and grew up in Missouri. Bert is from El Segundo and Erik is from Venice so they are basically L.A.. The album was a little tough to make. We recorded it at ABC Studios, which for the most part is a practice space. But this space owned by Andrew Schubert was built out to be a studio. I’d say for me, recording is always difficult because it’s hard because we record everything live to tape. It’s exciting that way and I love having the whole band capture that 1-2-3-go feeling, but it’s tough as a drummer to keep exact time in that type of situation. And the more takes you do the more you psyche yourself out. The room sounded good, Andrew was a great engineer and my band mates are amazing and patient so we were able to knock this recording out in only 3 days. As for producing, we did everything ourselves with a little help from my guy, Lance Barresi. It was tough squeezing it all into just a few days, but we were really happy with the results!
MIND MELD and Former President Obama showing love to Captain Beefheart
Rock Bands of L.A. com:
What was the songwriting process like? I believe that women in psyche have become very popular of late. Is being a women in a rock band make you feel more empowered? Do you feel you have something to prove because you are a woman?
Ms. Liz Tooley:
First off, I always bring it up (and maybe I shouldn’t), but MIND MELD is actually the way we spell the band name. The way it looks, in all capital letters, makes my brain happy. Secondly, I don’t sing ANY of the songs. It’s all Bert. Thirdly, I really dislike talking about gender when it comes to music. I dream of a day when someone just says, “Hey, I really enjoyed your set,” verses “Hey! Chick drummer, cool!” In the end it’s all a compliment I guess, I just don’t like to think about my vagina all the time. I just want to play the drums and have a good time with my bandmates.
Rock Bands of L.A.com:
It’s funny how we use modern technology to create something that sounds old. Even with music software you get options to manipulate your sound via plugins to make it sound like old tapes, broken tubes, crackling amps, old plate reverb and so on. This is really happening now and the Trinity of MIND MELD creates this sound so masterfully. You just might be making e leaps into the sonic unknown! What is your roadmap for the future? Touring?
We recorded everything analog and with vintage equipment. The sound is old because we use vintage gear and a pre-Pro Tools way of recording music. Every crackle or tape hiss you here is because that’s how it was made. Recording live to tape gives you warts and all and that feels more authentic to us. It’s actually becoming more and more common amongst our peers. Tons of bands record to analog tape and play vintage amps, etc. these days. It’s just what you do if you know what your doing. We all want the best sound possible and for many of us that’s the vintage way. We plan to continue making records for as long the tunes keep coming. Looking forward to writing and recording our next album very soon!
Do you get tired of people associating Psyche with drugs? I think the music has to stand on its own. Is “Psyche” becoming a pop-music genre to dance to like EDM?
I feel like the hardest drug ever mentioned these days is psychedelics which I’m totally fine with. Everyone can just do what they need do to make the most of their night. It’s not really our place to comment as to whether any genre should be drug free. All I would say is anything heavier and things can sometimes get dark, but luckily we don’t deal with that many issues due to drug use. We all like to party a bit and don’t seem the harm in a little controlled chaos. For your second question, I’d just say no. I really don’t see that at all. People might head bang a little or stage dive, but I would never compare the scene with EDM…
Tell me about Permanent Records? It’s a store and a record company???
Yes, it’s both. My boyfriend and I started our first shop in Chicago over 10 years ago. We later would move out to L.A. to start our second store in Highland Park and now have a third in Echo Park, right next to The Echo. The label happened a year after we opened the Chicago store. We had so many friends in great bands that weren’t getting records pressed and we saw a need in the community for a small DIY label. It’s still a really boutique label, but it’s something we take very seriously. It’s quite a things to help bring a record into the world! Or in some cases, reintroduce one that’s been away for a bit. We’re very happy to be doing what were doing at Permanent Records.
Clockwise L.A. Psyche Bands..The Seeds..The Leaves….The Standells.. The Electric Prunes
Los Angeles has been the vortex of Psyche rock dating back to the mid and late 60’s…The Seeds, The Leaves, The Electric Prunes and The Standells. The music seemed all so abrupt. It was L.A.’s answer to the British Invasion when the world went from monochrome to psychedelic. MIND MELD’s debut album creates a similar transcendent state of mind that is longing for an outwardly connection much like the 60’s when our world was complicated by war, politics, prejudice and the ignorance of not saving our planet.MIND MELD’s debut is worthy of a good listen..
I would like to thank Ms. Tooley for her thoughtful answers and patience….