New York’s Psychic Ills – well-known at this point, but comprised of Tres Warren (vocals/guitar) and Elizabeth Hart (vocals/bass) – have been killin’ it quite consistently for more than a decade. Their fifth album, Inner Journey Out – the first one since 2013’s One Track Mind -, was just released this summer, and the band played host to a myriad of talented artists this time around.
Along with this impressive collaboration comes an extensive worldwide tour, which is everything we have dreamed of and more. We got to speak with the band about this big moment in their lives, the inspiration behind it all, and what’s up next. Check out more below.
If you could introduce yourselves to our readers in any way, with money not being a factor, how would you do so?
Tres Warren: I tried to get Sacred Bones to skywrite ‘Inner Journey Out’ over New York the day the record came out, but there weren’t any takers on that…I can’t say I blame them…but it seemed like a good idea to me.
How old were you when you started getting into music? What is your musical background like?
Elizabeth Hart: My Dad had great taste in music, I remember driving to Houston with him and my brother for my grandfather’s funeral when I was 8 years old. We had two tapes in the car; Credence Clearwater Revival‘s Hot Stuff, a greatest hits comp and The Beatles‘ White Album. We listened to those two tapes over and over again for 5 hours straight – I couldn’t get enough.
TW: It’s not too different for me, I got into music through my folks as well. They had a lot of records…stuff that was popular when they were growing up; The Beatles, The Beach Boys, etc. and being from Texas, there was a good dose of country too; Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, the good stuff, not the stuff they call ‘country’ today… I got a guitar when I was pretty young but couldn’t stay focused enough to get anywhere with it until I was a teenager. In my late teenage years, I started playing all day and recording myself on a 4 track. I didn’t play with anybody else for quite a while, I just played and recorded myself for years, getting to know how to play, write and record, and getting to know myself. I had the idea of Psychic Ills in my head for a long time before it came to life in the world.
Is the writing process difficult to balance with so many strong, creative voices in the group? What’s it like?
TW: No I bring in the songs and we record them in the studio with talented players like Elizabeth, Brent(Cordero) and others who make them sound better than I could on my own. That’s why it’s a group because of the collaboration that comes out in the recording process. A record is only as good as who is playing on it and it was nice making ‘Inner Journey Out’ with the people involved.
You worked with a handful of really amazing people on this album. Any fun stories from when you were piecing it together?
EH: When we were in California mixing with Thom Monahan, we had our friend Derek James come by to lay down some percussion on ‘Back To You’, ‘Ra Wah Wah’ and ‘Confusion (I’m Alright)’. Tres had a demo of ‘Back To You’ that he’d written around a percussion loop that he’d made from a sample from a Beach Boys song. Derek came in a layered some percussion on it in a similar way. It was nice to see that become a reality. This happened a lot on this record with everyone contributing. It was exciting because that is when the record as a whole started to really reveal itself.
“Mixed Up Mind” is easily our favorite track on Inner Journey Out. What inspired that track, specifically?
TW: I can’t give it all away, I’d rather it mean whatever people want it to mean. I just had some things I was dealing with that made me feel mixed up. In my mind it’s sort of the same feeling as something like ‘I’ve Been Down for So Long (It Looks Like up to Me)’ by Lee Hazlewood.
Do you have a favorite track off the album?
TW: Lately it’s been ‘Ra Wah Wah’, ‘No Worry’, ‘Music In My Head’ and ‘Coca-Cola Blues’. I like the singles too but I like these deeper album cuts.
EH: I like the singles too but ‘Back To You’ and ‘Ra Wah Wah’ are my current favorites.
You are about to hit the road (very heavily) with an international tour. What are you most looking forward to with that?
TW: Europe and England-America doesn’t care about us as much…I’m half joking, New York is always great.
“New Mantra” makes us wonder… what would your life mantra be, if you had one?
EH: ‘Today’, the lyric that the gospel singers are singing in the song actually seems like a pretty good one. There’s a lot that single word can remind you to think about.
What is your opinion on the state of the music industry?
TW: I don’t know much about it, I just write songs, record them and play shows. I’ve been told the record is charting in the US and UK, but that’s all pretty abstract stuff to me. I’m happy to know that it’s resonating with some people.
EH: It seems to be constantly and rapidly evolving and less and less in favor of the musician, monetarily at least.
From what we understand, Inner Journey Out has been quite the process for you as a band. Now ten years in, what kind of knowledge can you drop on us?
TW: Nah, any knowledge I’ve come across I’ll just hold on to, and let people figure out what’s best for them.
Psychic Ills Tour Dates:
8/12 St. Malo, FR – La Route du Rock
8/13 Zwevegem, BE – Cosmic Nozems Motorshow
8/14 Rotterdam, NL – Rotown
8/15 Hamburg, DK – Hafenklang
8/16 Brussels, BE – DJ Set
8/17 Paris, FR – Point FMR
8/19 Paredes de Coura, PT – Vodafone Paredes de Coura
9/21 Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
9/22 Detroit, MI – El Club
9/23 Chicago, IL – Reggies
9/24 Champaign, IL – Pygmalion Festival
9/25 Toronto, ON – Double Double Land
10/26 Boston, MA – Great Scott
10/27 Montreal, QC – Bar Le Ritz
10/28 Providence, RI – Aurora
10/29 New York, NY – Le Poisson Rouge
10/30 Philadelphia, PA – Boots and Saddle
11/15 Goteborg, SE – Pustervik
11/16 Stockholm, SE – Obaren
11/17 Oslo, NO – Revolver
11/18 Copenhagen, DK – Musikcafeen
11/19 Helsinki, FI – Kuudes Aisti
11/20 Prague, CZ Zizkostel
11/21 Vienna, AT – Chelsea
11/26 Antwerp, BE – Het Bos
11/27 Charleroi, BE – Rockerill
11/28 Leeds, UK – Belgrave Music Hall
11/29 Liverpool, UK – The Magnet
11/30 Glasgow, UK – Broadcast
12/1 London, UK – MOTH
12/2 Athens, GR – Plissken Festival