"Laced" is one of the best head-trip records in recent memory, and Matt Whitehurst is one of the best interviews in rock, so a single one-page feature on Psychedelic Horseshit will not suffice. With that in mind, here's the full text of our recent email exchange, wherein Whitehurst pumps the positivity on such subjects as the departure of original drummer Rich Johnston, partying with Best Coast, the renewed vigor of Columbus hip-hop and the good people at FatCat Records. Seems he was serious when he told me, "I'm pretty much done with my days of hate. I'm too full of happiness and good energy for any of that now."
The band has had lineup turnover again. What happened to Rich? How did you settle on keeping it just you and Ryan? rich decided to pursue a career in comedy and i think we were just a bit at the end of our rope together musically, i really love him though, miss the hell outta his personality and presence on tour especially. ryan was someone that i'd played with before and he just seemed like the right person to help advance the musical direction that i wanted to take. we also just added a part timer named nicole bland who is currently in the uk playing with me while ryan finishes moving and recording some solo stuff back home.
Who is Nicole? Is she from Columbus or elsewhere? How'd you meet? Is she involved with any other bands? nicole is a very old friend that i met on a very curious night in miami when i was 18, she had just finished hitchhiking her way across the usa and we spent like a whole week together making fun of people and helping each other score sex and drugs, shes basically like my long lost sister, who also happens to be quite beautiful and a fantastic musician. she currently resides in a cabin on 50 acres in upstate NY. shes not currently involved with any other bands, but she has hinted at some kinda black metal past. not sure where she comes from, shes a bit of an enigma, i feel like she might be french canadian though.
When were these “Laced” songs written? What was on your mind at the time? written and recorded over the course of 2010 with the exception of "beach" and "tropical vision" which were recorded mid to late 2008. not really sure what was going on in my head except that i maybe felt tied up and disconnected from myself in more ways than one. my dad passed in late 08 and it took me some time to get back on my feet creatively, took time to get ahold of what the f--- i was doing with myself and my music, theres definitely some ache in there that is maybe obscured by the abstract nature of the lyrics. and i'm not sure that it all directly relates to my dad but thats certainly something you carry with you that i can't ignore.
The album sounds really surreal. I notice a lot more imagery, much less direct than something like “New Wave Hippies” or “Bad Vibrations”. Is there still a statement being made? yeah, i'm glad you noticed that, that kinda goes back to the whole bound up and disconnected nature of my head during the writing process, i didn't really feel like i had a whole lot of pointed things to say that weren't a rehash or repeating of myself (and i think repeating yourself equals creative death, gotta keep moving), so the record took a bit of a turn towards abstraction and a fascination with dreams and escaping the reality of life and not recognizing the guy you see in the mirror when you wake. i was really in a strange place for a couple of years there and it wasn't all because of my dad, there was just a whole lotta shit going on that had completely changed the normalcy of the life i knew, which is where the fractured elements of both the music and the lyrics derive from.
Are you willing to mention any more of the circumstances that put your head in a weird place besides your father's passing? um, i dont really wanna elaborate too much, other than i put myself in a compromised situation where i couldn't really be myself.
Is "I Hate the Beach" about chillwave? Wavves? Washington Beach? Actual beach experiences? really about anything you want it to be, not a direct stab at anything but i think that it can really apply to everything. i guess maybe it was somewhat about the nyc scene politics from a couple of years ago when all the hipster labels were starting up, and how people would kiss yr ass and shit.
The shoegaze influence is a lot more evident on “Laced”. You’ve been dabbling with electronics at shows for a long time. What drew you in that direction and away from the traditional “rock” lineup? i really just got bored as shit with the normal rock setup, i don't enjoy it usually at shows and the music i was listening to was a far cry from the music i was making. really, i wanted to make music that i would put on, and lo-fi pop wasn't it. i still really enjoy rock music when its good, and actually rocks (CIRCLE PIT, SLUG GUTS), but alotta the stuff that pretends to be rock is actually just fey indie shit, and i just cant stand for that anymore, i dont care who the f--- you are.
as a side note, we just played with best coast last night and they were f---ing fantastic!! but it really comes across as honest-to-god pop, not trying to be something it isn't, like a lot of the bands in that realm. also, i totally jumped up onstage and played tambourine during a blink 182 cover they did, which was the best time i've had with another band onstage for awhile, those guys really rock and know how to party and have fun, which is refreshing for a change.
So Best Coast didn't care that you shit-talked her boyfriend's band (Wavves)? no way, we all know that that was all in good fun and water under the bridge at this point. we had such a blast in brighton the other night, i would party with those kids any day of the week, shit, i'd even party with wavves if the oppurtunity arose. i'm pretty much done with my days of hate, i'm too full of happiness and good energy for any of that now. taking shots and other unmentionables along the rocky beach with the bestcoasters was really a nice thing to start off the week.
Did the different instrumentation change the songwriting process? just a little, in the sense that different instruments do different things and open up new doors and ways of perceiving and accomplishing what you set out to do. the writing process is always different for me though and quite a subconscious process at times, so i'd have to say the it wasn't altered too much for this one, only really in the sense that i was implementing different sounds into my songs and adding longer psychedelic sections where it felt right.
You have been releasing a bunch of free songs with “Shitty Sundays”. Is there more material coming out after the album release? maybe.... i'm in a really productive, creative place right now, and releasing free stuff direct to the internet is so immediate and rewarding. i'd really like to start recording our next record though, its brewing in the back of my head and has been for a hot minute, so i'm really excited to see what direction it takes once i start at it, i think its gonna definitely connect with far more people than we ever have before, which is something that i've been wanting to do for awhile. just gotta do it without sacrificing my vision or indivi(duality).
How did you end up on FatCat? Did they approach you or did you approach them? dave howell, who was the guy who originally signed black dice, animal collective, and vashti bunyan back when, approched us a couple of years back about their split series and we kinda kept in touch where he'd occasionally ask to hear what we were up to, and one day it finally connected with him and he said "lets do this". which was cool, cause they seem to really care about what they put out, unlike some idiots who just see dollar signs or sign bands because they get hyped on pitchfork or some bullshit.
When we talked about this before, you mentioned FatCat was implementing quality control (e.g. rejecting your original album art). Has that been a positive or a negative in your mind? definitely positive. i'm just some f---ed up druggy kid from columbus, what the f--- do i know about the record business, right? honestly, its cool because at the end of the day, its up to me, and they totally respect my vision and aesthetic and would never do anything to get in the way of that at all. but they do tell you how they honestly feel about stuff as opposed to most labels who blow smoke up yr ass and tell you that everything you do is great, these guys really respect the art of music and understand that its easy to get caught up in some fantasy world, so its nice to have someone with a real opinion about things, i really respect everyone i've met at the label as well, they've been really supportive of us in alot of ways and i'm really appreciative of that.
What bands do you like in Columbus right now? What bands don’t you like in Columbus right now? i reckon columbus is a bit stale at the moment. i dont wanna name any names, cause at the end of the day i've gotta drink with these people and some of them are my friends but i dont really feel like theres a whole lot of progression going on and that kinda stagnation generally bothers me. on the flipside, i think that hip-hop in columbus is really approaching a good place and i'm quite excited about alot of the stuff going on outside of the usual "columbus" circles. plus, that BLUEPRINT album is f---ing sick as shit, best c-bus record i've heard in a really long time. i miss deathly fighter more and more each day too.