Interview: The Black Angels’ Christian Bland Discusses Austin Psych Fest 2013

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The Black Angels performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012. Photo by Bryan Parker.

In a week’s time, Austin Psych Fest 2013 will get underway. At the center of the festival are the creators and psych music torchbearers The Black Angels, who recently released a new album, Indigo Meadow, earlier this month. Guitarist Christian Bland took the time to answer a few questions for us about psych music, its roots in Texas, and this year’s Austin Psych Fest. Below the interview you can hear a track from The Black Angels’ most recent effort.

Pop Press INTL.: There are literally decades of musical artists represented on this year’s Psych Fest bill. Was that a conscious effort? And assuming so, why is that important?

Christian Bland: We’ve always tried to represent the forefathers of psychedelic rock at the festival. We’ve had Roky Erickson, Sky Saxon of The Seeds, The Silver Apples, The Golden Dawn, and this year we’ve got The Moving Sidewalks. Every year we try to get acts from the 60’s to play because they started it all, and without them, there wouldn’t be an Austin Psych Fest.

PPI: What has changed with psych music since you began as a band or since you have begun curating this genre-specific festival?

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Alex Maas of The Black Angels performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012. Photo by Bryan Parker.

CB: It seems like every year since the early 2000’s there’s been more and more psychedelic rock bands popping up. I think there’s been a creative resurgence in reaction against the times we’re living in. With the creation of Austin Psych Fest in 2008, the psych bands seem to be popping up even more frequently around the globe. Hopefully the trend continues and the genre takes over and opens peoples minds.

PPI: What significant differences exist between a music festival and a festival devoted to a specific genre of music?

CB: Psychedelic music has several sub genres within the genre, so it’s perfect for a festival. You’ve got garage psych, surf psych, drone psych, heavy psych, spaghetti west psych, folk psych, desert psych, jangle psych, pop psych, bubblegum psych, shoegaze psych, noise psych, blues psych, tribal psych, it’s endless.

PPI: How does it feel to be part of the continuing tradition of Texas psychedelic music specifically both as a band and as a part of Austin Psych Fest?

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The Black Angels performing at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012. Photo by Bryan Parker.

CB: It’s an honor. The reason I moved to Austin in 2002 was partially due to the fact that the 13th Floor Elevators and psychedelic rock n roll started here. I wanted to start a band in that same style and continue the tradition. Through the Black Angels we were able to start the festival. And thru the festival we’ve been able to start The Reverberation Appreciation Society Records helping to spread the word about good music coming out of Texas, and Austin specifically.

PPI: What are some of your favorite Texas psychedelic moments or historical events over the years?

CB: The International Artists label out of Houston in the mid to late 60’s is a treasure trove of historical Texas psychedelia. They had the Red Crayola, 13th Floor Elevators, The Golden Dawn, The Lost & Found, Endle St. Cloud, and many others. Without IA there’d be no Black Angels or Austin Psych Fest. They helped start the legacy of Texas psychedelia.

PPI: Can psychedelic music help our mortal souls transcend to a higher state of being?

CB: Yes. That’s what it does for me, and that’s why I play music.

PPI: What is the singular, prime reason everyone should be at Austin Psych Fest this year?

CB: To help your mortal soul transcend to a higher state of being and to see & hear some of the best psychedelic bands playing today.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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