Sydney outfit Richard In Your Mind are growing a reputation as being the resident nonsensical fun-times party kids of the Australian indie music circuit. Embarking on a national tour in support of recent LP, My Volcano and kicking off Sydney’s Changing Lanes Festival, they’ve got a lot kickin’ around on their existential dinner plates. But can RIYM always bring the party? I caught the band during a thunderously dismal appearance in Brisbane…
“It was a faaaailure!” cries Richard Cartright, the unassuming front man of the psych-pop band in question (duh, who else?). Luckily he is not referring to their recent album release, or showcase set earlier that night, but a surprise stint as karaoke guest hosts at last week’s Big Sound Song Summit. “We felt a bit sorry for everyone but we didn’t know what to do. They’re like ‘here’s a machine, and we don’t know if it works, actually its kinda broken… but figure it out! …It woulda been so cool! But anyway…” he laments, with the sincere disappointment not unlike a child being stripped of a bubble-o-bill.
So perhaps orchestrating late night karaoke ain’t their strong point, but anyone who’s seen Richard and co in any sphere of performance can attest to the fact that they are a downright entertaining posse. “It’s hard to get attention sometimes at shows, people can get a bit complacent” admits Richard, before launching into a fervent spiel about the joys of live performance; “It’s just really cool if you’re doing something great on stage… and the crowd is really loving it, they give you energy which means that you do your job better… which means you perform better and then they think that’s great and its just this perfect circuit of love… or something” he trails off amusingly.
Having previously been known for dispensing instruments out to audience members and launching glitter cannons into the crowd, I wonder what tricks Richard has up his… errr… poncho for this weekend’s solo appearance at Sydney’s Changing Lanes Festival. “I think I’m gonna keep it stripped back and maybe use just a guitar and a harmonica and hope that my songs are okay…” he modestly reasons. “Sometimes when you’re stretching yourself to pretend like you sound like 4 people you can lose some of the power that can be just one person if they just do one thing and focus on that.” It seems as though honesty really is the best policy in the many minds of Richard, “I just love folk music and listening to good songs and people who ramble out tales.” But at the same time, the transition between performing as a live 5 piece sonic extravaganza to a minimal solo act can be daunting, acknowledges Richard, “it is really scary and a big challenge but its good to do scary, challenging things…on occasions.”
When they’re all together, the full line up includes electroclash tour de force Spod (aka Brent Griffin), who mixed the My Volcano record. “We’ve often struggled to get the four piece to sound as layered and textured as we’d like because we physically don’t have enough hands” explains Richard, “As we were mixing the record we just had a little chat about him playing and sussed out that he was into it and we said ‘cool, lets do it!” Spod also lends his talents to RIYM as the creative force behind the oh-so-trippy and positively mesmerising ‘Candelabra’ video. “It’s been very auspicious for him to come into our lives,” reflects Richard. For those who have seen it, the video bears distinct parallels to the surrealist flavours of Brit-psych comedy ‘The Mighty Boosh’, “(we’re) Reeeeally big fans” laughs Richard, “yeah, you can kind of tell, absolutely!” It seems as though the Boosh parallels are not completely unprecedented, “I met Noel Fielding once! He was just at the bar having like a soda water and I was like ‘hey! Great show!’ and he was like ‘thanks man’ and that was it. …It wasn’t life changing.” So is a guest Boosh appearance on the horizon for RIYM? “I would LOVE that!” he enthuses, before reality forces its ugly way back into that vivid mind, “Naw… I bet they must get so much fan mail, and albums sent from bands.”
The distant dream to one day appear on his favourite TV show does not seem too intangible upon hearing some of Richard’s other life pursuits. “When I as 16 I did get a sitar and went to India and all that…” he casually mentions, whilst discussing the peculiar sounds and instrumentation on My Volcano. “Its funny cause I used to busk a lot and have played the sitar for hundreds of hours in my life but it’s a weird song writing tool cause its sort of in a drone and it’s a bit more of an ambient kind of instrumental type thing.” The inclusion of sitar, amongst many other warped sonic tools utilised by the band definitely suits the psychedelic vibe RIYM have going on. They are probably one of few bands in Australia who are doing psychedelia and doing it well. As a genre, it’s very honest, blatant and hard to fake. “To be a good band you’ve gotta make sure you write the songs first and then focus on the way it sounds” counters Richard, “…and it works in scenes. I just don’t know if we fit into a scene, we’ve sort of always been not quite sure.” It’s a refreshing perspective from a band on the cusp of national notoriety, and highlights the modesty and lack of scenester attitude amongst Richard and his musical hombres.
When he’s not touring with the band and taking off on song prolific writing trips, you’ll find Richard repping it Op Shop style at the local Salvo’s “but I’ve got the day off today” he tells me, “because last night I celebrated my…boom boom boom… 30th birthday! We had the band and a bunch of friends around to our house and I cooked up a Spanish tapas feast and we just left mussel shell all around our house.” You know you’ve had a good party when you wake up to a loot of mussel shells, “I know! It’s like ‘did we go… underwater!?’” No Richard In Your Mind house party is complete without an out of body, realm-transcending journey through space and time, perhaps even with an appearance from Old Greg and his Bailey’s filled shoe… “I got a bottle of Hennessey, but we drank it quite conventionally, from a glass… how boring.”
My Volcano is out now through Rice Is Nice records.
Richard In Your Mind will be at Sydney’s Changing Lanes Festival this weekend (September 19), then touring nationally with Pikelet.
Saturday, 18 September – Curtin Bandroom, Melbourne
Sunday, 19 September – Changing Lanes, Sydney (SOLO)
Friday, 24 September – ANU Bar, Canberra
Saturday, 25 September – The Gaelic Club, Sydney
Sunday, 26 September – Gearins Hotel, Katoomba
Thursday, 30 September – Spotted Cow, Toowoomba
Friday, 1 October – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
Saturday, 2 October – The Clubhouse, Brisbane