Interview: Psychic Selves

Photos by Justin Filippone

Photos by Justin Filippone

Pepito Gomez is the core songwriter & frontperson for the Brooklyn-based dark pop band Psychic Selves. The band is still young in conception, but they’ve already undergone multiple lineup changes & tweaks to their sound. Recently they’ve started to hone in on what exactly they want to be, & on their latest release, a Cassingle for their song ‘Rosemary’, it’s apparent... Psychic Selves turn simple surf rock rhythms & a thick haze of dream pop hooks into their own candlelit examinations of melodic post-punk & goth rock of the late 80s. Gomez is his most confident here & it’s clear that their best work is ahead of them.

Over the telephone, we caught up with Pep, who was en route to a rehearsal in preparation of their Cassingle release-show at The Knitting Factory. Pep's stoked on everything. We talked for only a short amount of time, but he let us in on a bit of Psychic Selves' backstory + what they have in store for the future. 

 

hope: Who are Psychic Selves?

Pep: Psychic Selves are basically me & my friends. It started out as just a bunch of friends hanging out, jamming out, having a good time—probably too much of a good time. I didn’t really want to be in a band at the time because I was sort of worn out, but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up.

Luckily my good friend, Duane, runs a Cassette label out of his basement called Time Castle & he kind of just set us up with the first recordings. Those helped us get put on some cool shows & that’s really how we started taking things a bit more seriously.

hope: When was that?

Pep: This was in late 2015. Our first tape was 4 songs — It was kind of an unofficial first EP. After that I consciously started a new batch of songs & they ended up being our first official release, Lucid Night—which came out last year. It’s crazy how time flies.

When we released Lucid Night it was kind of a celebration in itself. We booked a show at a place called ‘The Gateway’ in Bed Stuy. Midway through the show around 30 cops came & raided the place. It was kind of scary. Apparently the owner was wanted. Everyone in the crowd was freaking out & confused. I thought the show was get completely shut down. But it ended up being really cool. The crowd was really into it & we ended up playing on time & it was one of our best shows ever, to be honest.

This was during the time where a lot of venues were getting shut down—I think it was the same week that Palisades got shut down. But luckily the people in DIY scene are hard workers, so if one place gets shut down another one will open up right after. It’s always going to be thriving here I think.

hope: How did the band meet?

Pep: David Tavares is the other main songwriter of the band & our rhythm guitarist. He's a really good riff writer & I’ve known him forever. We actually went to the same elementary school in Brooklyn—but it wasn’t until after high school that we connected.

We were at a party talking about music & how he wanted to learn guitar. I thought that was cool, so we started hanging out & jamming a little bit at my place. He got really good right in front of my eyes—it was kind of inspiring. Within a year he was shredding, so we started the band. 

I’ve also known our lead guitarist, Oliver, since high school. He tried out for the band not knowing that it was my band. I got a message through our Soundcloud page that was like “Hey guys are you looking for a guitarist?” & I just replied “Hey Oliver, it’s me! It’s Pep!” It was really funny & weird. Luckily, at the time I wanted to write more dynamic songs so it was a no brainer to add another guitarist. He also loves R.E.M as much as I do—which was an important thing. 

Our original bass player moved to Minneapolis & referred us to our current bass player because he played guitar in a Metal band that he liked. So we gave him a bass & ba-da-bing ba-da-boom: we have a full band.

At the time I was playing drums & singing because we couldn’t really find a drummer & we wanted to play shows right away. It was fun for a while, but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I was starting to get a little discouraged, then my cousin—who is a studio musician—took interest in Psychic Selves & joined the band.

hope: It seems like you have a strong network of people that’ve helped keep the band going.

Pep: It’s a blessing, really.

hope: How has the transition been from playing drums & singing to now playing guitar & singing?

Pep: It’s great. Hopefully this current lineup of the band lasts forever. It seems super comfortable, super natural. We’ve played like 3 low-key together to test ourselves out. Each show has felt better than the last. 

We’re releasing a cassette where Side A is two brand new songs & Side B is two bonus tracks. The new lineup is going to be *officially* debuted at our the release show [at The Knitting Factory on 8/22].

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hope: Will any of those songs end up on the new album? 

Pep: I don’t think so, honestly. I’m still working on the next record. Hopefully we’ll have a full batch of songs that are ready to record in the beginning of December.

Duane [From Time Castle] will be working on this one again & we’ll probably shop around for labels a little bit. The goal is to definitely release it by next year. This fall I’m going on tour with my other band, Frankie Rose, & I really want to focus on honing in on these new songs.

hope: How has playing with Frankie Rose influenced your work with Psychic Selves?

Pep: It’s just been a really fun experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about playing bass as well, which is really helpful for writing Psychic Selves songs because they’re so bass-heavy. 

 

 

hope: How did you get involved with Frankie Rose?

Pep: I’ve been listening to her for years & I bought all of her records when I was growing up in Bushwick. I added her as a friend on Facebook years ago & I’m not entirely sure why she accepted my friend request.

But apparently her bass player dropped her tour last minute so she put a post up that said “Hey, are you cool? Do you like to tour? We’re looking for a bass player.” I casually replied “Hey. I’m down.” not expecting anything, but like 5 minutes later she DM’d me asking to meet up at noon the next day. 

I met up with her & I got to meet the band & play two songs with them. I already knew the songs because I was a huge fan, but I assume she was trying out a bunch of people because right after I played with them this guy walks in with this cool bass & this cool long hair & a leather jacket. I was like “Fuck! I’m fucked!” like “Oh well, that was fun. At least I got to jam out with Frankie Rose. Whatever.”

I left & then Frankie called me not too long after asking me to join the band. 

hope: You did it! You beat that really cool guy!

Pep: I got the gig! I was scared, man. I was really happy when I got the call. We played our first show together last October at the Le Poisson Rouge & since then we’ve played some really fun gigs. Most recently we played her album release show at Baby’s All Right & it sold out. It was my first ever sold out show. It was insane & really fun. 

hope: You’ve mentioned that you’re obsessed with The Cure. How’d you get into them?

When I heard Dinosaur Jr.'s cover of “Just Like Heaven” in high school I was really intrigued. I think that the first album I listened to was probably Disintegration. A lot of our songs are kind of haunting & I think it all stems from the fact that I’m obsessed with goth stuff. The Cure were definitely the first goth band that I got into & they’re definitely the blueprint for me when it comes to writing songs.

When Frankie & I were last on tour we  actually made a playlist of our favorite The Cure songs.. 

hope: Let’s talk about your song “Tasty”. It thrashes a bit more than the rest of the songs on Lucid Night.

Pep: It’s basically a love song. It was the song that made me realize that I wanted to take the band seriously. I really wanted to write a crazy heavy song with a sick bass line. At the time I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to go with the band, so I just went with what I was good at. I played in a bunch of punk bands growing up, so I always liked playing fast. As the band has continued, Ive become more comfortable playing slower. Right now I’m really into slow songs with slick bass lines. 

hope: That’s kind of the vibe that I got from the new songs you’re releasing: witchy, hazy, melodic psych.

Pep: Ooh I love all of those words. That’s exactly what we’re going for, but we do have a lot of friends & fans that love our faster stuff. Maybe we’ll make some B-Sides to cater to them in the future. “Tasty” is definitely one of our favorite songs still. It’s a staple of our live set.

hope: I love the music video for ‘Goodnight Luna’. Who did you work with on it?

Pep: That’s my friend Luke! He plays in a band called Wolf Diamond & he directs videos on the side. We played some shows together & have been friends ever since. He’s also directing two more music videos for the Cassingle release right now. 

The 'Goodnight Luna' video was shot in The Phizer building — which is a commercial building with rehearsal studios inside. It’s where we have band practice. It used to be a pharmaceutical building, but now it’s this spooky half-abandoned building. It seemed like the perfect setting for ‘Goodnight Luna’.

hope: Have you ever been to a psychic or a fortune teller?

I don’t think so. I wouldn’t want to know about my future to be honest. I like to be surprised.

 

Psychic Selves play Winooski, VT, on Saturday, August 26th with The Dream Eaters at The Monkey House. Entry to the event is $5-10. RSVP to the event here.

- hope all is well