Austin Psych Fest Preview: Interview with Elephant Stone

elephant_stoneElephant Stone has toured with Austin Psych Fest creators the Black Angels in recent months and frontman Rishi Dhir is a longtime friend of the band. Elephant Stone will perform at this year’s Austin Psych fest; you can catch them at 4:00 PM on Sunday on the Reverberation Stage. In advance of that performance, we were album to catch up with Dhir for a few questions via email. Below is that correspondence, which follows a stream of the band’s song “Heavy Moon,” taken from the group’s recently released eponymous LP.

Pop Press INTL.: How did you get to know the Black Angels?

Rishi Dhir: Back in 2004, my old band (the High Dials) was supporting the Brian Jonestown Massacre on a bunch of their SXSW dates. It just so happened that Alex and Christian were both at our gig at the Bayou Lounge on 6th street (Vietnam was also supporting that show). Anyhow, I think they were pretty blown away by the fact that I was playing sitar and felt compelled to let me know. We hit it off right away… I believe this just before they started the Angels… we stayed in touch over years… I truly consider them family.

PPI: What is one great experience you’ve had while on tour with them?

RD: Playing the Harvest Festival in Australia was pretty amazing. To top it off, through some bizarre cosmic loophole, I got to get on stage with Beck and play sitar on Loser and Soldier Jane. Pretty surreal…

PPI: What does the psychedelic descriptor mean to Elephant Stone?

RD: It means presenting music/ideas/art/images that you never thought existed. However, when you experience the music, you can still understand what it is and what you are looking for… It’s east meets west.

PPI: Is the psychedelic sound something you consciously explored or was that sound organic for the band?

RD: It’s pretty organic… Add sitar and stir…

PPI: What were some of your earliest experiences with psych music?

RD: I guess it would have to be the Beatles’ Revolver. Having an older brother is definitely a blessing in disguise (you have to see past the beatings a la Kevin/Wayne from the Wonder Years). I was lucky that he had good enough sense/taste to introduce me to the Beatles and the Who at such a young age (I remember being impressed that my grade 4 student teacher dug the Who). But, yeah, you don’t get more psych than Tomorrow Never Knows…

PPI: What bands are Elephant Stone most excited to play alongside at Psych Fest?

RD: Wow… where to begin? Clinic, BRMC, Goat, Tinariwen, The Black Angels, Deerhunter, King Khan, Spectrum… pretty much everybody in the lineup…

PPI: Your new album is getting quite a bit of praise. What aspect of the record are you most proud of?

RD: Thank you. I feel we managed to present a fresh-but-authentic take on pop music… First and foremost we serve the song… and I am proud to say these are pop songs and nothing more… there’s melody, harmonies, jangle… but also, there’s noise, tension, release, meditation, love, doubt…. I wanted this to be the record I give to the world to present what Elephant Stone is all about and for them to understand. And I believe we’ve managed to do just that.

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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