Interview with Psychic Teens!

Psychic Teens is a philadelphia-based group that plays something in between indie rock, noise and post-punk. With crunchy and deep baselines, lo-fi sounding wailing voice and a hint of humor. Since 2011 they’ve released “TEEN” and “YUNG/CbbK“, but despite their originality, they’re not really that known. So I took the time to interview them about their music, how they first started out, their weird song-titles, new splitalbum and much more. The guitar-player and singer Larry decided to answer my foolish questions.

Hello Psychic Teens! Tell me more about yourselves?

– HI – I’m Larry, I play guitar and sing in Psychic Teens. Dave plays drums and Joe plays bass. We practice and write songs in Dave’s basement in New Jersey once a week.

Why did you name your band “Psychic Teens”, and when did you first start out?

– Our name is great isn’t it!? We started playing together in October 2010. By the end of the year we had three songs finished. In late March 2011, we had five songs and started playing shows. In July, we recorded the seven songs we had and that became our TEEN LP. As of now (February 2012) we are working on our fourteenth song and tonight we are playing our 25th  show.

Have you gained any die-hard fans since you’ve started playing?

– Yeah definitely. Our first shows – only our friends came to see what this was all about and it was a mess. I relied on HUGE volume to make up for my lack of confidence in my voice and playing. After the songs got more polished and we were more comfortable, people started staying in the room to watch us.  We have steadily gained a following in our area as well as in different parts of the world with the help of the internet. I am impressed and thankful to see new people getting into our music but I also recognize and am always dumbfounded by our “superfans” that spread the word about us or come to every show. Its pretty rad!

Do your songs follow any specific theme, or what is the general thought behind them?

– Lyrically? Depends on my mood. The songs on the LP, although written sporadically throughout 8 months, came together lyrically at the same time. A lot of the themes are depression, guilt, anger – typical angry teenager stuff. In the future, I think I will try to write on a more grandiose scale and link songs together and build on characters do some other wild shit. If Green Day can do it, so can I.

Your song-titles are rather short, like “YUNG”, “KIRA”, “ROSE”. Is it anything subliminal, or are they just references to something specific?

– Psychic Teens Rule #1: All of our songs will consist of capital letters and will be no more than 4 characters.

The aesthetics of your site and album reminds me a lot of manga, are you influenced by that artform?

– Yes, although I think I am the only one in the band that reads manga / watches anime, we are all inspired by visual art. The visual aesthetic of the band is as important as the aural aesthetic.  NOTE: KIRA may or may not be full of references to a certain 1988 anime classic. I’ll let your readers decide…

It seems like some of your songs show a bit of humor, like in the song ARM beginning with a slow and drooping “…what… the… f…u..uck”. What do you have to say about it?

– As a person –  I don’t take a lot of things too seriously so I try to throw a little tongue and cheek humor in there on occasion. A lot of time at band practice is spent laughing and talking about how silly or over-the-top some of the sounds and parts are. There are lot of goth and post punk songs from the 80s that have some pretty funny lyrics if you can decipher them.

Feels refreshing to hear a new approach to a long forgotten post-punk/goth-sound, I’m thinking mainly about the vocals and the crunchy bass. What bands would you say have inspired your band, within those two genres?

– I listen to a lot of Sisters of Mercy and basically everything put out on 4AD in the early 80s. Last week I listened to the song “Time” by Play Dead about 30 times. The three of us listen to so much different music its insane. It’s very enjoyable being in a band with people that surprise you with their musical tastes on a weekly basis.

I laughed when I first read the description of your band, “sound like that time you spotted your creepy metalhead brother at 80s night”. Care to elaborate?

– Hahaha. Well it’s a pretty vivid description.  Imagine being a girl out with her friends at the club on 80s night and as she’s walking to the bar to get a red drink she runs into her little creepy brother (who she wouldn’t expect to see) wearing a master of puppets back patch on his denim vest nodding his head to “Karma Chameleon” or “Rage Hard” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Now if that made a sound….

In what way do you feel that you’ve evolved since you first started touring?

– Well we haven’t really officially toured yet – we played only a few one-off shows out of the area while waiting for our record to come out. We plan on doing some more extensive touring in April and through the summer.

You will be touring the US a lot, but when will you come overseas?

– Hopefully soon! We would love to and I think Europe would be very receptive to our music, given that our influences are mostly European.

Are you releasing any new material this year?

– Yes. We have a limited split CDR coming out with a 2piece outfit that calls themselves HULK SMASH. We recorded 5 Nine Inch Nails covers for that and will be sold only at shows. It will likely be released digitally as well. We are also planning on releasing more original music in one form or another and preparing the all important “second album” eventually.

What are your last words of wisdom?

– We don’t have any words of wisdom, we stink.

Here’s Psychic Teens musicvideo of the song “DOSE”:

You can find the Psychic Teens in these dark and shady places: