Psychedelic music is hard to do well. With the genre having been flooded with hordes of imitators ever since DiG! made Anton Newcombe the posterboy for frustrated genius and ego mania, psych bands are a dime a dozen. Not to say this has ruined the genre; there is still a lot of great psychedelic music being made today, it just means you might have to wade through a sea of well-dressed posers before getting down to the meat. Unperturbed by this, Melbourne’s The Kremlin Succession deliver sweet slices of psych to anyone with the appetite for it.
I can only go off the one song I’ve heard on their MySpace, Time (Won’t Take You Away), having never seen the band play before, but judging from that the band have a sound somewhat reminiscent of Anton and his cronies, carried off with a confidence that lends it a legitimacy that a lot of similar bands fail to bring to muster. Rich vocals, ethereal echo laden guitars and a few catchy hooks; the basic building blocks for a good psychedelia are all here, and they’re put together in a way that is, in the simplest terms, enjoyable. In a genre where great bands are usually put to shame by dodgy recordings, this one song and the professionalism it exhibits excites this jaded journo more than most albums to come across the desk.
Set to play Mum @ World Bar this coming Friday the 27th of August, this band are definitely worth checking out, if anything just to see if they can follow up the confidence of their recording live. My interest piqued, I set out to see if the band’s vocalist and guitarist Brendan West could satisfy my curiosity.
Music Feeds: You guys have obviously been quite influenced by blues and psychedelic music; what is it about these genres that attracted you guys?
Brendan West: I like the freedoms that psychedelic music can possess. It can be an explosion of noise, or the simplest spine tingling melody. Someone with a voice such as Lee Hazelwood can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, or the psychotic wailing of Hendrix’s guitar can take anybody on a journey if they let it. I guess it can be a kind of spiritual awakening in a way. As for the blues, that’s just something that I’ve been influenced by while learning the guitar. I think a lot of young guitarists lean towards that.
MF: There is such a vibrant scene in that genre at the moment, are there any other local bands that inspire you?
BW: Definitely. Recently I’ve been listening to, and we’re lucky enough to play with, Belles Will Ring from Sydney. I’m a fan of The Lovetones, The Laurels, The Black Ryder, and from Melbourne bands such as Boarders, Buried Feather, The Thod and Iowa are great too.
MF: The sort of psych sound has been done a lot before and not always well; what do you think it is that sets a good psych band aside from a bad one?
BW: I think people shouldn’t really go out of their way to sound like a specific genre, but just try to play what comes naturally. If you keep it honest, then the influences will come through. I wouldn’t label oneself as a particular genre either. People will soon get the vibe and tell you you’re a psych band or whatever. That’s what happened to us. I think with music, if it’s honest and not put on, then it’s usually good.
MF: You’re from Melbourne; have you played Sydney or World Bar before? If so, how have you found it/them? Compared to Melbourne?
BW: I love World Bar. I’ve played there once before with another band a couple of us are in called The Polites and had a really great time. The crowd response is great and the staff looks after the bands. Compared to Melbourne I think that, although there are less venues to play in Sydney, the people who do get out to see live music tend to really get a kick out of it. So it’s always fun making the trek up north. Also, the beer is sooooo much cheaper than in Melbourne!
MF: On the blurb on your MySpace you’ve written about the subconscious mind and the creativity in it’s chaos; has this always been something close to the band?
BW: Yeah, I like to think about things, especially when it comes to the universe. Things like time and space and the twin paradox really blow my mind and kind of give me a new perspective on reality. I think when you try to understand these kinds of things (and I’m by far no expert) it really does have an impact on the way you think. Creativity is a way to get across some of those inner thoughts you might have. It can be subtle and only meant to be fully understood by the writer, but that’s not to say that others can’t derive their own meanings from it. In fact, I’d hope that they do. The music I write is very personal so I’d say some of that would come through for sure.
MF: You also mention the use of certain enhancers; have you ever had any problem trying to play while “enhanced”?
BW: If you’re talking about drugs then that’s a no way man! I wouldn’t want that to get in the way of the music, but each to their own. I’m really talking about getting in touch with the inner psyche. Of course, psychedelics are a doorway, but have you ever tried lucid dreaming, or meditation, or even just closing your eyes and listening to a Stephen Hawking audio book? It will blow your mind dude!
MF: I think a lot of music can be described as art on the verge of dropping into chaos; is that how you see what you do, or are things more considered and calculated?
BW: I’d say a lot of music is like that. For us, though, it’s a bit more structured and considered. We go though a pretty strenuous song writing process before bringing it to the live show.
MF: Other than the upcoming World Bar show, what else do you guys have coming up?
BW: After World Bar I believe we have a show at Ding Dong in Melbourne on the 28th of August with Richard in you Mind, and also a Major Label showcase at the same venue on the 15th of September. You can find more info about our up coming shows on MySpace.
The Kremlin Succession play Mum @ Worldbar Kingscross this Friday 27th August