Energy Gown, “Free Dose”

Kerri O'Malley

I haven’t heard anyone worrying about keeping Chicago weird, and perhaps that’s because it’s home to Energy Gown, a three-sometimes-foursome of psychedelic weirdos that we first featured around the release of their I Watch the Sun EP last year. Then, the talk was about their improvisational live shows, including their participation in Chicago Psych Fest, self-serious discussions about absorbing music into the body like chemicals or drugs, and an intense focus on embracing the abyss.

Now, despite the darkened drone of the group’s “Free Dose,” AA Lam insists (with a heavy dose of snark) that Energy Gown’s no longer into bad trips. “We’re only into good trips now,” he recently told Impose in a short Q&A. “Don’t do LSD, eat your vegetables, even dirt, listen to NPR, don’t wank on the internet, pay your taxes, let the police take care of your problems, feel fine signing on the dotted line, accept the man’s game, remember money is real, never mind the dick behind the curtain, don’t drive up one-way streets, and maybe buy a TV, not a motorcycle.”

Judging by the band’s “Free Dose” video and their darkly titled Evening Molasses full-length, out today on Chicago’s Alona’s Dream Records, you can decide for yourself what trip Energy Gown is on–and let AA Lam lead you down his own.

How has your band evolved since I Watch the Sun?

I Watch the Sun is morning music to put on while you enjoy your toast. Evening Molasses gets a feel that is a more raw and grounded rock n’ roll vibe with a fog here and there. It is evening music to be listened to upon sunset when your eyes clock out. Since recording IWTS, we’ve reduced to a trio, added guitar, reduced again to a trio, added a drummer and guitar again and put Maze on keys, and released a square lathe-cut 7″. The new record is a product mostly of the trio era with a couple cuts from the expanded band. We’re into ‘good trips’ now.

When you made Evening Molasses, what were you inspired by?

This is always a tricky question, but I think that truthfully we’re inspired most by the desire to reinvent a psychedelic experience and simply to get free and wild with rock n’ roll. Inspiration comes from seeing others take risks and experiment and work to truly roll beyond normal behavior. Some snapshot inspiration items would be: wigs, snake mating balls, growing down, what is freedom shit?, Kentucky liquor laws, the atmos clock, death and dying, doppelgangers.

What do you think makes your music stand out from the psychedelic crowd?

Nothing. We’re exactly like our idols and our peers. We are transparent in every facet. Love, live, King Roky. We use crummy devices like fade outs because we don’t know how to end a song. Or put in a harp sound cuz we heard something like that on a Seeds record.

What’s the trippiest thing you’ve ever seen or experienced?

Since it is the heaviest and most powerful force, love holds the trippiest vibe. Love is polarized existence, a two-way mirror for terror and cheer. My trippiest moments have been in an unmovable state of love. Like when you’ve bopped a cap and found yourself running out of the shower and slipping on the wet floor in a desperate attempt to find the phone in order to call someone, to reach someone, someone that you love and let them know you’re alive and not dead.

Are you still happy in Chicago, or looking to move on?

Chicago is filthy, obvious, and oft depraved. It is where Energy Gown lives.

If it is also where you live, check out Energy Gown’s free record release show at The Owl.

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