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torsdag den 19. august 2021

"Tripping Out On The New Psychedelia"

"David Roback, guitarist and singer for the Rain Parade, suddenly grew testy as he sat in a West Hollywood restaurant.

“We have got nothing to do with 1965, damn it”, he shouted, slapping his right hand on the table. Pausing, he added, “We’re 1971 all the way.”

 With that, he broke into laughter.

Picking up Roback’s cue, fellow Rain Parade member Matthew Piucci said, “Yeah we’ll be doing several Slade covers.”

The two musicians were making light in the line of questioning, but underneat the banter, they were also showing their impatience with the theme at hand: Is there a ‘60s revival going on in Los Angeles rock?

Like other young bands in Los Angeles, Rain Parade has been identified as part of a burgeoning “scene within a scene” here. The attention stems from the rise of a group of bands that draw upon the music (and, in a few cases, the fashions) of the middle and late ‘60s in honing their own post-punk styles.

Billboard magazine even speculated recently that this “new psychedelia” could be the next big thing after techno-pop runs its commercial course.

So you’d think the groups would be excited about all that talk that’s being generated.


“That revivalist label is belittling”, said the Bangles’ Vicki Peterson. “It implies that we are taking stuff that has already been done and just trying to bring it back and call it our own. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re writing songs that mean something to us now in the ‘80s”

Agreed Matthew Piucci: “Revivalism implies intent, and I think that’s extremely misconstrued. Songwriters reject the notion of an intent to bring back something that’s already happened. We’re not trying to bring back paisley shirts and Nehru jackets.”

Snapped Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn, “If you’re going to insist on repeating history, you’re going to be obsolete in a hurry.”

If what’s going on in Los Angeles isn’t a revival, then what is it?

The consensus among the musicians involved is that a small, tightly knit group of friends and associates - all roughly contemporary in age, all raised on ‘60s radio and records, and all developing songwriters - has evolved in the city.

The “paisley underground” or “psychedelic revival,” as it’s often termed, encompasses a variety of ‘60s styles. Echoes of the era can be heard on a number of new local albums and Eps: the Doorsy organ sound of Green on Red, the trippy “baroque pop” of the Three O’Clock, the Pink Floydian drones of the Rain Parade, the country rock of the Long Ryders and garage grunge of the Unclaimed (See Craig Lee’s commentary, Page 84). Dream Syndicate, whose sound hearkens back to the Velvet Underground and the rocking Bob Dylan, and the all-girl Bangles, whose pop harmonies spin off from the Mamas and the Papas and the Beatles, will have new albums out after the turn of the year.

If these individual projects aren’t enough to confirm the presence of a revival, there is also a new collaborative album, “Rainy Day”, that could be the best evidence of the phenomenon. Produced by Roback, the LP consists of acoustic versions of familiar and obscure songs by the leading lights of ‘60s rock - Dylan, Lou Reed, the who, the Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and others - performed by a who’s who og these “paisley punks”, including members of the Bangels, the Rain Parade, the Three O’Clock and Dream Syndicate.

On the evolution of the movement, the long Ryders’ Sid Griffin observed: “There was a social scene going before any of these people were in bands to speak of. When you’re palying this type of music in L.A., sooner or later your paths will cross.”

Indeed, only a couple of the musicians knew each other before they started playing in bands. Roback and Susanna Hoffs grew up together in Northern California, but they are the exception to the the rule.

Most of the musicians met by chance: Steve Wynn and the members of Green on Red and the Rain Parade found themselves together at the Rains Parade’s first show at the Cathay de Grande, and the Bangles and the Three O’Clock (then known as the Salvation Army) shared several club dates.

Musical collaborations naturally followed. Wynn and Griffin were partnered in an embryonic version of the Long Ryders, and Piucci joined Green on Red for four months during a Rain Parade hiatus. The most obvious byproduct of these extracurricular friendships was the “Rainy Day” project.

“The album is unrehearsed performances of the favorite songs of myself and some of my friends,” Roback said. “There’s no reason why anyone should be limited to working in their own band. I felt, ‘Why not work with other people for the pure fun og it?’ ”

The unpolished, campfire-singalong atmosphere of “Rainy Day” typifies these young performers’ affection for the songs of the’60s - the linchpin that bonds their stylistically diverse groups together. The Band members - almost all of whom are in their early to middle 20s - grew up on the radio of the decade, and those long-ago sounds have fueled their own songwriting.

“We were all like 10 years old or younger during the ‘60s”, said Dan Stuart, the 22-year-oldsinger-guitarist for Green on Red. “Am radio back then was fantastic - ‘Pushing Too Hard’, followed by the Kinks, followed by the Doors. What you hear subliminally as a kid comes out later, when you’re trying to write what’s in your heart and soul.”

Indeed, the scene’s emphasis is original writing - writing that, as evidenced by the new songs of Steve wynn, the Bangles and others, is becoming increasingly less dependent on imitation.

“Most of the bands will eventually do more than just paraphrase the ’Nuggets’ album,” Wynn said, referring to a seminal collection of ‘60s garage-punk songs. “Every local band has one or two good songwriters.”

Added Griffin, who at 28 is an elder on the scene: “Few bands come out of the chute with a readily identifiable style of their own. What we’re seeing now is people getting to know their instruments and their creative capacities - the equivalent of watching your child crawl and take the first steps.”

If there is anything that bonds the local band members together, it isn’t any stale ideas of revivalism, but mutual affection and respect - for both their contemporaries and their musical predecessors.

“What we have is relationship that’s based on the music that each of these groups is doing,” Peterson said. “We learn from these people, and they learn from the things we like to do, like singing harmonies. I think there’s nothing wrong with that - it’s been missing in this town.”

As the musicians are schooled by each other, they also develop their own nascent musical identities by studying the songs of the ‘60s.

“To grow in any discipline, you are invariably drawn to the greatness of those who have come before you,” Roback said. “There have been a number of great songwriters who have come befor our time that we have been profoundly influenced by.”

In other words, the past has its uses, a notion supported by Sid Griffin: “Rickenbacker 12-strings, Vox amps and fuzztones are the best way for us to express what we’re doing now. I can use these tools a lot better than I can a synthesixer. We didn’t invent or originate these things- we’re extending them, trying to use them in a new way. We’re not revivalists - we’re elementalists.”

- Chris Morris, L.A. Times, 8. december 1983.

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