By Samuel Smith
“Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!” These are the revelatory exclamations of dear Allen Ginsberg in the first sentence of his footnote to Howl. That’s right Al.
When laying eyes and ears upon a Holy Wave show, you might find yourself dribbling rapturous sacraments (everything is holy) at the beauty of it all. The entire spectacle intricately decorated, brimming with warmth and colour and floating you to some cosmic isle, a transmuting labyrinthine mandala come spacecraft, surfing off and up in to wild infinity. It's nice. Every member can and does play every instrument upon the stage, and each song will see somebody playing something new. Julian's the only member who rarely moves from his stall behind the drums, providing rigid back bone with a oddly wild-eyed and manic focus, as if little Mary Jane finally came to a show and if he misses a beat, she'll never let him take her to the dance. Soothing melodies sung under tremolo oceans and all-absorbing nebulous grooves, if Holy Wave don’t win your beating heart, it’s possible that you’re evil.
We discuss maniac shaman turned charlatans, the transcendent, mother Austin (Tx) and the wild spread of it's psych offspring, with some other weird shit...
Kyle, in another interview I saw you describe Holy Wave as meaning “the vibration of the ever-humming universe”. I fell in love a little when I read that. Can you explain in more depth what you meant?
Kyle: Err Julian came up with the name…
Ryan: Everything vibrates with different frequencies, which is a different sound. But if you could potentially hear it all at the exact same time. That’s the Holy Wave…
Many of your song titles reference spiritual ideas and altered states of consciousness or things closely related? Shamania, Change your head/Ecstatic moment, Golden Truth, Brahman. Who comes up with the track names? Who or what has influenced you to explore these mystical themes, and in what way have they impacted your creative method?
In unison: We all kinda come up with names.
Ryan: I’ll take Shamania. We have buddy called David Molina*, who kind of opened our minds to all these ideas. This strange guy who at an early age kinda got in to paganism and animism, and so we met him in high school and Shamania specifically is about him going so deep in to these ideas that he ended up just like, kind of going overboard, not totally Syd Barrett but, he just took too much. And a beautiful idea became ugly. But he’s the one who bought all these ideas in to our minds of, transcendence you might say. Transcendence through music specifically. The ability to touch somebody, to change somebody, to give somebody an epiphany through sound. Through waves.
Joey: So to paraphrase, it’s about a really wise person who suddenly can’t practice what they preach.
Ryan: Like a fallen angel kinda.
Joey: Like someone who’s really wise, but can’t take their own advice. A shaman who’s lost his mind. All the people who believe him to be wise are being led astray.
Ryan: Kinda reminds me of that song Sexy Sadie, John Lennon wrote about what’s his face, the guy George Harrison was all about, the guru.
Kyle: The Maharishi?
Ryan: Yea the Maharishi, how John Lennon was talking about this guy he kind of sees through, “I think you’re taking advantage of everyone.” Not to say you’re doing that David Molina!
Kyle: Change your head we did that after, “Be Here Now” Ram Dass. Have you read that? You should check it out. He was like a professor at Harvard, with Timothy Leary, and ended up ditching it and moving to india. I kinda wrote it to the band, like “we’re doing alright, everything’s cool…”
Ryan (sings a perfect imitation of old brother Wilson): “Don’t worry babyyy…”
What about Golden truth?
Kyle: Golden Truth err, Andy wrote that one.
Ryan: That’s almost an ironic one though. That’s about a microphone that sounds the best. That made our voices sound better than they already sound. So that was the Golden Truth.
What do you think is the most important thing to achieve when making music, apart from maybe not making people want to cut their ears off?
Kyle: I’d say making ourselves happy. Making music that we like.
Joey: Yea, making music that you would wanna listen to.
Ryan: I also say, I’m still in to the idea of making music that is changing, but specifically a bit up lifting. I mean that’s just my nature, I think like, there’s just so much shit in the world, if you can listen to a song, I’m not saying it’s gonna make you have the best day, but just something that can pick you up, and make you feel better about your situation.
Joey: Or if it’s a song that makes someone feel anything. Then we’re doing our job I guess.
Isn’t that the duty of the artist though, to uplift, fundamentally?
Joey: But even when you write a depressing song it can still be up lifting.
Ryan: As long as it’s not whiny like, “Ah my life fucking sucks kill me.” It can have a sad tone but be uplifting at the same time.
Austin (Tx) has become an insane hub of musical creativity over the past 10 or so years. Psych Fests have spread all over the world, from Tokyo to South Africa, and throughout Europe because of it. What’s it like to live in Austin at this moment in time and is the artistic output still as potent? Which other places would you like to one day call home?
Ryan: I think Austin is fuckin awesome, but like you said it’s spread out so much. The actual Austin is the eye of the storm kinda. And so, it’s quiet there, it really is kinda quiet there. We still feel isolated.
Joey: Yea you know psych fest, it’s kinda on it’s own. You could live there for years and not find out about it. 1000s of bands there, probably 1000s of good bands I’ve never heard that are not playing shows with bands like us.
Dustin: There’s a lot of scenes too, and politics and it bubbles up in to these tiny little pockets where a lot of those bands, they don’t venture outside and sometimes you don’t get a lot of traffic between crowds, or venturing in to different spots.
Ryan: I think the Austin Psych Fest scene is actually a lot smaller in Austin than it is everywhere else. It’s a tight knit community within Austin.
Joey: I mean there are people in Austin who will go every year just because it happens there and are loyal because they’re able to go without travelling.
Kyle: When you live there, there’s like a festival every two weeks, so you kinda get numb to it you know.
Joey: But now I mean, psych fest has a way better lineup than any of the other festivals.
If you had to make love to any musician(s) based solely on their music (as a way of saying cheers), irrespective of gender or living status, who would you choose? What is it about this person(s) that turns you on?
Joey: Probably the girl from Broadcast. Trish Keenan.
Ryan: I’m gonna say… Chopin. His moves man. You know he was good. I’m gonna throw Cat Power in there too.
Joey: Na it’s not based on looks it’s based on their music man.
Ryan: Purely on music? Brian Eno.
Kyle: I was gonna say David Bowie. He’s so talented but he’s also very beautiful. So it’s kinda, he’s got that kind of androgynous thing going on. Like Vince Noir.
Joey: I’m just glad they didn’t say me.
If you could only ever listen to one record for the rest of your days, what would that record be?
Ryan: I’m gonna say The White Album.
Joey: That’s too easy.
Kyle: That’s a good choice!
Ryan: It’s a double album man, a lot of great songs on it. Either that or Pet Sounds.
Joey: I was thinking The White Album but it’s too easy. I mean I could easily listen to that everyday… Probably a Velvet Underground record. The self-titled one. I’d probably just listen to Candy Says over and over...
What’s the weirdest or most profound thing you ever saw or were told?
Joey: We saw a girl giving a guy a blow job in a bar in New Orleans.
Kyle: He was trying to get away from her.
At the bar, underneath a table?
Joey: Na like by the cigarette machine she was sitting down and just like holding his hips and pulling his hips towards her face. And he didn’t seem like he was in to it at all. Also a man told us once that he would kill himself for a dollar!
Joey: We almost gave him a dollar just to see. I don’t know man.
Ryan: The most profound. Man that’s a loaded question.
Joey: I saw a woman try to stab another guy in San Francisco on a street corner. That’s probably the craziest thing i’ve ever seen.
Ryan: Mike Tyson, “Everybody has a plan, until you get punched in the face.” Pretty profound.
Joey: Ah this one time when we were on acid, we pulled up to this stop light. We’re all talking about how good we all felt, and all of a sudden we look over and there’s a homeless man, he has his pants all the way down, leaning up against the wall and shitting.
But it was also kinda like, we liked it you know (laughs). It was like the craziest thing that could have happened.
So do you have any plans for a change in creative navigation in 2014?
Ryan: I think we’re working on a more down toned album.
Joey: I think we’d like to shed the psychedelic image and just be a rock and roll band. People who like psychedelic music will like it too. Not necessarily changing the sound of our music but, shedding that label of being just grouped in to that. It’s just kind of not accurate.
Kyle: If anything I think we’re trying to consistently progress to more of an understanding of pop sensibility. Something that’s catchy, but also beautiful and artistic but like your mum could listen to it.
Ryan: I don’t think I’m gonna agree with that completely, I don’t think that’s my intention (laughs). Mine’s the opposite of that.
Joey: I mean i think that’s a cool part is that he has that opinion which we all disagree, and we all have different opinions which we all probably disagree on, but what we all agree on our songs.
Ryan: One thing I would say about psychedelic music is like, psychedelic music to me is just music that can cause an epiphany in somebody. That’s not anything we want to change. We still want our music to have a certain message but, it’s just sonically, the idea that people have about what psychedelic music is.
Well literally psychedelic just means “Manifesting the mind”, so technically anything artistic is psychedelic...
Joey: So if your music was gonna go there, it kinda takes away from it if they already call it that. People expecting you to be psychedelic or whatever.
Kyle: Nobody’s gonna think you sound like Brian Eno if you say you’re psychedelic. They’re gonna think you sound like, Brian Jonestown or The Black Angels.
And finally, what’s your favourite place to trip in the whole wide world?
Joey: We have this island near our house. It’s on this lake in the middle of our town and nobody really knows about it, well nobody goes there. We can go there and just trip all day if we want to.
Ryan: Kyle and I and Dustin tripped on a beach in Oregon that was one of the most magical.
Dustin: We tripped on mushrooms a few nights before that in Yosemite and that was cool too.
Ryan: Nature. Nature’s the best. It’s the world’s biggest playground. You’re always entertained and amazed.
Dustin: Yea I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip outside. Every time I have a bad trip, I end up going outside, and then it goes away…