Introducing... Psychic Wheels
by Kevin J. Elliott
Original article can be found here.
In Columbus, Ohio, there is simply no lack of garage bands. In fact, there’s likely a higher quotient of bands mired in those waters per capita than anywhere else on the planet, save Memphis. We are, after all, the place the Cheater Slicks call home and are a populace of denizens who find the dive bar the most comfortable of locales. Squeaking in at second is pop, which, coupled with the usual gnarled and jangled varietals, is pretty much equivalent to the aforementioned garage-type stuff. Lately the girl-group bug has bitten quite a few, with Spector-ish echoes and femme harmonies beginning to take center stage. Nowhere though is there a convergence of all three, intermingling with each other to heighten moods and raise the flag for psychedelia in our burg. That’s where the Psychic Wheels come rolling in (pardon the pun). Out of the ashes of the little played Columbus band Burglar, Spencer Morgan and Skip Scoppa knew that there was a crossroads where all of those points met and formed Psychic Wheels as a medium to find that place. Soon recruiting Molly Davis on bass, the trio began to toil in the basement, crafting their own brand of “death pop,” which draws inspiration from the reverb drenched, slashing minimalism of The Jesus and Mary Chain and the dour naivete of Beat Happening, Morgan’s sub-bellow being extremely reminiscent of that of Calvin Johnson.
Their first release, the Sequined Mess EP just released on Spinning Records Records, shows that initial spark expanding into something more substantial and less reliant on those tropes of which they were religiously obsessed with and still are. Rounding out the now quintet are Morgan’s wife Kate and Ryan “Tito” Ida, who formerly played with the equally lysergic Main Street Gospel. “Magic Spells,” the true gem and heart of the record, shows that there is life beyond garage rock and that the genre has many more threads which can be pulled. It’s quite amazing that on this EP, there are so many shades of that distorted devotion. On “You’re Gonna Die (Before You Fall in Love)” and “No No,” the two songs in which Davis’ and Morgan’s vocals take center stage, they even start to divulge a love for the wooly alternative grooves of Throwing Muses and The Breeders. But with most bands of this ilk, the greatest arena in which to enjoy them is live, where the energy of this record spills over into a hypnotic euphoria. I recently caught up with Morgan to discuss how the Psychic Wheels came to be and to find out exactly where they are headed.
How did Psychic Wheels form? Was it something you were doing on your own before starting the band?
Spencer Morgan: Skip and I started coming up with a songwriting style and a few bizarre song ideas. We were too afraid of weirding out most of our friends by asking them to play with us, but Molly liked the same kind of music so she was a natural choice. It didn’t matter that she didn’t play bass. After a while, we got Kate and Neil, and then Tito, to fill out the sound.
Were you in any other bands before Psychic Wheels? How did those bands compare to what you are doing now?
SM: Skip and I were in Burglar together, Tito and Skip were in the Main Street Gospel, and Skip is now in the Regrettes. Those bands don’t seem to have much in common, but they all strove to be lush and layered in their own ways. Psychic Wheels is a different animal, a kind of experiment in playing with a different angle of pop songwriting.
There’s certainly a vintage psychedelic feel to the music, so I’m interested in what records informed the band when you started?
SM: Jangly ’60s psychedelic, surf, garage, and Spector-esque bubblegum pop all play a big part. The Velvet Underground encapsulated much of those sounds and beyond, so they’re an obvious touchstone. Punk bands from ’70s, particularly The Ramones, The Cramps and the Misfits, are a huge influence. Then we take a lot from late-80s bands like The Vaselines, Black Tambourine, The Pixies, and some post-punk and shoegaze sounds. The Magnetic Fields, Outrageous Cherry, and modern garage bands like Thee Oh Sees and The Black Lips inspire us too.
I’m hearing a lot of influence from The Jesus and Mary Chain and Beat Happening. What things do you like to add to your songwriting to differentiate yourself from those influences?
SM: We’d be bald-faced lying if we said The Jesus and Mary Chain sound wasn’t part of the goal from day one. We do want to emulate that to an extent, because we love that style of twisted, minimalist pop with distortion and reverb. There’s plenty to be done with a simple format like that, like rock & roll and punk. We want to bring our own style to it as much as we want pay homage to the bands we love. I think we have a dynamic and a variety of sounds ranging from fast to slow, soft to really loud, guy/girl vocals and other things.
Is there a particular aesthetic that you want to convey with Psychic Wheels?
SM: I don’t think we’ve figured out if we’re a psychedelic pop band or a punk band, and that’s part of the fun. I think the music reflects that in an interesting way. We want elements of both to come through and create songs that are ethereal, but short and simple. It’s also important to be as catchy as possible. And a little weird.
The 7-inch is a pretty solid representation of this aesthetic I think, so when you get to the point of making a full-length, how do you want to expand the sound of Psychic Wheels?
SM: We have a lot of songs, and next we want to present a more complete spectrum with more varied song styles, and a full-length record is the proper place to do that.
Fill in the blanks:
In 10th grade I was listening to _____ in the _____, doing _____ with _____ wishing I was _____.
SM: In the 10th grade, I was listening to Nirvana in the cafeteria, doing my homework for the next period with my friends wishing I was in art class.
Local Music: Psychic Wheels
By Chris DeVille
Published November 1, 2012
See the original article here.
During the dying days of the David Lynch lounge act known as Burglar, bassist Spencer Morgan began writing songs. Drummer Adam Scoppa, a record freak who later became one of DJs behind the Heatwave! dance party, immediately noticed the resemblance between Morgan’s songs and the skewed lovelorn pop of groups like The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Magnetic Fields. So he turned Morgan on to those bands and others like them, setting in motion a stylistic fetish that spawned an entirely new project.
“At one point I told him, ‘If you want to play some death pop, let me know,’” Morgan said.
Scoppa was game: “I figured we could be in a band that sounded like that, but louder and weirder.”
Psychic Wheels started out as a trio with Morgan’s childhood friend Molly Davis, who had a mutual interest in droning garage rock and baroque pop. Building around Morgan’s creeping baritone and Davis’ chiming coo, they worked in aspects of Pixies’ spastic, Spanish-fried post-punk and The Cramps’ seminal psychobilly.
Conceptually it was a wonderfully strange brew, but sonically it was a little thin. Their first and only show as a trio proved underwhelming, so they regrouped as a five-piece and reemerged eight months later as a force.
Now with Morgan’s wife Kate and Scoppa’s former Main Street Gospel bandmate Tito rounding out the lineup, they’re set to release their first record, a 7-inch EP called Sequined Mess Friday at Ace of Cups alongside Comrade Question and Detroit’s Deadbeat Beat.
The vinyl features six songs; the digital version, included with the physical purchase, comes with a bonus track. In grand shoegaze tradition, rudimentary love songs like “You’re Gonna Die (Before You Fall In Love)” and “Strawberry Sunshine” lumber beneath a raging wall of sound. As Scoppa explained, the effect is both woozy and cantankerous: “You ever have a dream that’s not really a nightmare, but it’s kind of unsettling anyway?”
***Translated by the author from French. See the original article here. ***
# 3 - Psychic Wheels
On April 19, 2012 - By Starsky
You know, or you don’t know but I’m about to tell you: when it comes to music, I live modestly, as would say a leftwing female singer [author's note-its a bad joke about Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, forget it!]. I like simple music. Not too well tuned guitars, drum sets made of one tom and one snare. I think Beat Happening and Daniel Johnston are some of the most beautiful things in the world and I hardly stand virtuosity. So, when I come across, from tag to tag, this Psychic Wheels EP, its repetitive rhythm one imagine is kicked up [« while standing up? ” Eew. Well by some one who is not on a chair, you know], its deep voice, a bit unsteady, and its two tracks that speak about love so well, I do not look for any clue. I shake my head slowly, I close my eyes and I do not let too much time after the last note to press the play button another time.
Certainly after that, a few days later, I will look for some information, see if they’re preparing an album, or just a 7” (actually I think I would prefer). See if one can dream about concerts in France. But, waiting for it, I will listen to Y-O-U for the thirty second time.
Sensory Overload: Psychic Wheels
Thursday, June 2, 2011 08:00 AM
By Chris DeVille
Last winter I arrived at a North Campus house to interview Burglar, only to hear a different band practicing inside. The sounds emanating from the basement were a far cry from Burglar's retro rock cabaret pastiche. This music was driving, droning, primitive.
I soon learned that Burglar bassist Spencer Morgan had strapped on a guitar and teamed with the band's drummer, Adam Scoppa, to form a new combo called Psychic Wheels. Four months later, they played their first official gig last Wednesday at Rumba Cafe.
Back in the basement, Psychic Wheels was a trio. They've since expanded to a five-piece that casts a striking appearance on stage. Morgan jacks his guitar up nearly to his pectorals, Tom Morello style. He's flanked by wife Kate Morgan on retro keys, Molly Davis on bass and "Neil Wheels" strumming a plugged-in acoustic off to stage left. Scoppa plays drums standing up with a minimal kit a la Mo Tucker.
They all perform with a detached simmer, channeling passion from somewhere deep but letting it waft casually through the tunes. Rather than shout it out, Scoppa delivers his frequent "1, 2, 3, 4" intros in measured monotone. In the art-damaged tradition of The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain, it's rock 'n' roll without much twisting and shouting.
There's a pinch of Pixies in the mix as well, from the boy-girl vocals to the dirty surf guitar that occasionally rides through on a wave of mutilation. Morgan usually sings with a burdened baritone in the vein of Calvin Johnson and Stephin Merritt, though his narration sometimes reaches into the higher registers when the band's shambolic jangle saunters into a cloud of smoke.
Music of this ilk doesn't demand perfection, so first-show jitters like off-key harmonies and a bass flub here and there didn't detract much from what was overall an impressive debut. Morgan's broken string with two songs to go did derail momentum, but you'll have that.
Plus, their last song wiped away any of my impatient irritation. "I don't want another pyromaniac lover!" was Morgan's mantra, building tension to unleash in big-bang chords that announced Psychic Wheels as garage rockers to be reckoned with.
See the original article here.