THE Blues-Rock-inspired Alternative rockers…
ARTWORK: Strange Brew Media
Psyence hail from Stoke-on-Trent but seem to imbue sounds from all around the country – spanning several decades in the process. They blur the lines of early-1970s Blues-Rock and tease that with some modern-day Psychedelia – influences of Pond and Temples. The boys offer face-melting riffs; bowel-moving percussion and some of the funkiest grooves this side of the Atlantic. If the boys are unconcerned with London kudos – happy to be locked in the north to foster and mature their sound – they are not going to remain northern for much longer. There is a big demand for the band here: NME, Q Magazine and Clash have lauded their music; The Quietus are all over them whilst The Guardian have not exactly been playing it cool and breezy. Given all the praise and attention; I was keen to quiz the boys about the band and their bond; what their new song, Falling in Love Once Again is all about and whether they have any U.K. dates coming up. The boys discuss Stoke-on-Trent music; the bands they are tipping for success and what it is like being asked to perform in Amsterdam.
Hi, guys. How are you? How have your weeks been?
Hey! We’re very well, thanks. We’ve had a mega-busy past couple of weeks what with getting all the prep. ready for our latest release, A New Dawn.
For those new to your music, can you introduce yourself, please?
We’re called Psyence and we’re an intense chemical reaction of churning riffs, spacious vocals and groove based rhythms.
Basically, the sound of putting a record into a George Foreman Grill and turning it to the hottest setting.
You might get sick of being asked this, but where does that band name come from?
Our name came from the depths of our bass player’s mind. I think he might have been under the influence of something – well, definitely under the influence of something – and, also, the album by UNKLE (is) titled Psyence Fiction.
Can you tell us how you all came together? Were you friends from way back or sort of came together by chance?
We’ve all been playing in bands around Stoke-on-Trent for years now: a few of us went to high school together and started playing there. We met the others along the way through different projects, we’re an amalgamation of previous failed bands all chucked into the wonderful melting -pot that is Psyence.
Falling in Love Once Again is the new track. What can you tell us about the story behind the song and influences?
Falling in Love’ doesn’t necessarily have to be about the obvious: there are hundreds of things what (sic.) people can ‘fall in love’ with. Its basically the listener’s interpretation through the lyrics; musically I’d say the song draws influence through The Stone Rose. It has a decent-sized jam section at the end of the track and I reckon you’ll be able to tell the influence once you’ve listened to it.
The sounds on Falling in Love Once Again suggest a tighter yet more ambitious style of music. Did you consciously make changes from your earliest material or is it a natural evolution?
We’re naturally evolving every practice and gig we play.
I think with this latest E.P., though, we made a conscious effort to push ourselves and maybe try something new.
We went back to the drawing board and ripped up our blueprint. We felt a lot of freedom recording the tracks and it was possibly some of the happiest times we’ve shared as a band.
A New Dawn is out on 1st March. Can you give us any insight into what’s included on the E.P. in terms of songs and sounds?
It’s quite a mixed bag of sounds. All the tracks are roughly four-minutes-long: we have two really rocking tracks on there and two quite laid-back tracks. We’ve done this on purpose as we wanted to show listeners the different sides of our music. They’re all fresh and brand –new: only people who saw us perform live last year may recognise a couple of the songs on the E.P.
You are releasing the E.P. on your own imprint, Beyond the Sun Records. Has that given you more freedom to record, create and craft on your own terms?
It most definitely has and it’s what the band was crying out for…freedom.
We had quite a rocky couple of years, in terms of our music and previous label, (and) we didn’t know which direction we were going – we were struggling to hold any kind of ‘genre’ down.
As soon as we decided to go out on our own it changed and gave us a new license to do what we wanted (and gave us a fresh start).
Psyence are a band from Stoke. Is there a big scene in the city and is it quite hard finding opportunities there?
In terms of the scene in Stoke; it’s bubbling away quite nicely. There’s loads of bands getting out there and doing it for themselves. We feel Stoke does get overlooked by the main music moguls for more musically-recognised cities, but that is bound to happen. We, as a city, just need to keep at it and we feel one day it’ll be thriving with musicians and festivals (and gain the recognition it deserves).
Saying that, your music has been picked up by the likes of NME and The Guardian. Is it quite daunting getting that kind of attention and has it spurred you on to keep creating music?
It’s daunting in the way you feel you have to live up to that expectation, then, you go from being a local act in your city to being ‘known’ across a wider audience. It’s great for the band getting that kind of attention: it means we can go and play venues all up and down the country which is what we love doing the most. It also puts a lot of strain and pressure on the band to keep producing songs at that level and better. We’ve had a mix-bag really: a couple of singles we released after our breakthrough track (Chemicals for Breakfast) didn’t live up to the expectations. We knew it ourselves and it hit us hard. Although, with this latest release, we feel it’s some of the best work we’ve done.
Who are the band and artists that have influenced each of you most?
Pond are the biggest influence on Psyence. We watched them perform in England at the Soup Kitchen in Manchester and got blown away.
They’re incredible and one of the bands we’d love to play with the most.
You guys have a tour of the U.K. coming up. Which dates are you most looking forward to and what is life on the road like with you guys?
Obviously looking forward to all of them. We thrive on tour as playing live is what we do best. Expect crazy light shows, mad soloing and (even) nudity from our keyboard player. He loves getting naked. Life on the road with Psyence used to be mental but we were very young and naive to it al; it spoilt it in a way because we won’t get those memories back as we’ve probably lost the mental capabilities to remember them. But, as we’ve got a little older and a little wiser, we’re far more reserved: it’s like a couple of cans before we go on ease the nerves then blast through our set. That gives us our high now: playing a tight show and seeing the crowds’ reaction. That’s what it’s about for us.
Amsterdam, and the Shine On cruise-tour, comes at the end of that run. Are you excited about touring Holland and will it be your first time in the country?
Excited is an understatement. It’ll be a lifelong goal ticked off the band’s bucket-list. As Ian Brown once said: “We’re International/We’re continental”. It means everything to be playing different countries with this band. We really hope the crowd gets us and enjoys what they see/hear. It’s the first time for the band to be heading to Holland – hopefully not our last.
Are there any new acts out there you’d recommend we check out?
What advice would you give to any new band/performer coming through?
Just keep at it; stay grounded.
Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Gig as much as possible and enjoy yourself.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each select a song (not one of yours as I’ll do that) and I’ll play it here.
Steve: Rival Sons – Electric Man
Jamie B.: Primal Scream – Kill All Hippies
Jamie C.: Tame Impala – Let It Happen
Ben: ABBA – The Winner Takes It All
Joe: Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again
PHOTO CREDIT: MarkVysePhotography