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Interview: Oakland’s Psychic Hit honor their Rock n’ Roll intuitions.

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 12:30 PM (PST)

Psychic Hit will redesign your life for a negotiable fee.

Ariana: ‘I had a secret wish to start a band with Andrea when we started dating. We were busy with other bands at the time. She gave me this amazing mix with Captain Beyond, Hightide, Aphrodite’s Child… That’s how I knew she “got me.” Our brain/lovechild, Psychic Hit, was born when we skipped Folsom Street Fair to stay home and roll on molly.

The searing classic rock and heavy metal infused sounds on Psychic Hit’s crucial and unfuckwithable demo from last year knocked me on my ass and made me more stoked for anything I’d heard with throwback influences since Amulet or maybe even the glammier Spiders. This is a top notch act that I cannot believe are so potent right out of the gate. I sort of stumbled across them online and had my mind completely blown by their songwriting skills and also an unabashed Heart influence here and there, so fucking cool. I feel like they could blast the door off any venue with the fire of their energy, for real.

Honestly I think this band could be very powerful within the scene if they keep their goals focused, make connections, get a good PR person and gig as much as they can. I don’t include write good songs because I am 100 percent confident anything they do is gonna kick ass. THAT’S how impressed I was by them. I would fucking die to somehow see them live with, like, my beloved Blood Ceremony or Earthless or really any band. Along with some amazing acts like Electric Children or the East Coast’s The Advertisers, Psychic Hit have made me feel really stoked about some of the energy percolating in underground rock in 2019 already! I cannot rave about them enough so please just fuckin’ read the interview I had with most of this amazing group (their first EVER interview) BELOW!

Psychic Hit! I love the band. Was so stoked to randomly discover you on Twitter (also where I met my girlfriend Globelamp, so it really isn’t always just a hell site!). I feel like there are a lot of bands with proto metal or classic hard rock influence but they often pay more attention to aesthetic than the tunes. Your band is amazing! You can super hear in the playing the chemistry is there. That is the same thing I think separates bands with retro influences like Spiders, Graveyard, Tower or Horisant from other bands. How’d you learn you all had the chemistry? There is a really good flow between sections where the vocals soar or are front and center and instrumental parts that let things expand. Would you say you’ve all become good friends?

Ariana: I had a secret wish to start a band with Andrea when we started dating. We were busy with other bands at the time. She gave me this amazing mix with Captain Beyond, Hightide, Aphrodite’s Child… That’s how I knew she “got me.” Our brain/lovechild, Psychic Hit, was born when we skipped Folsom Street Fair to stay home and roll on molly. We started writing songs together, some of which are unreleased (and may be on the full-length.) Andrea and I used candle magick to set intentions for the project and attract bandmates. The first arrival was Melanie, well-known bass ripper and, I daresay, midwife of Psychic Hit. Within this trifecta, we did more magick until we were fortunate enough to welcome Justin and Jake — both very good friends of ours! It was a very intentional process, and we’re all stoked to be working together!

Melanie: For some time different people told me that Andrea and I should connect and play music. I kind of shrugged it off and continued about my business until I was ready to be in a band again. So I reached out to her finally and met up with her and Ari, and things just kind of fell into place over time after that!

Andrea: From the beginning, Melanie, Ari and I all bonded pretty hard on the same music, aesthetics, and most importantly vision. It was really powerful. Ari had been friends with Justin for years and we were pretty intent on getting him to be our drummer. Once his band schedule freed up a little, he made the decision to officially join us. We were stoked. After the demo was completed we started searching for a second guitarist. I do a bunch of guitar harmonies on the demo and we always were intent on being a two guitar band. Jake caught wind of our search, tried out, and the rest was history! We’re definitely all great friends and getting closer all the time.

“Plateau” is such a epic song on your demo. It reminds me of some of the really Zep influenced Heart stuff on Dreamboat Annie (particularly “Soul of the Sea”) that totally smokes most bands vision-scope today. How did you find so much confidence to attempt a pretty ambitious song like that? I was super impressed. A lot of “newer” bands would just include hard hitting faster stuff but your song is like just shy of 6 minutes number that feels like a powerful grandiose B side on a classic rock double album. Love that huge bridge.

Andrea: Thanks! I’m glad you mentioned that. Yeah, a lot of the best heavy bands from the 70s wrote albums that were really sonically diverse. Like, as ripping as “Sad Wings of Destiny” is, there are a lot of poetic, melodic moments on that album too. I don’t know why more heavy bands these days don’t ever soften the edges once in a while. Right now, the formula for modern bands is to be hard, fast, and loud all the dang time. That’s cool, but Psychic Hit – we resonate more with bands of yore in that department. We have lots of things we want to say and sometimes chuggy power chords just won’t do.

Ariana: Plateau is very special to us. We focused (and are still focused) on making music that comes from our spirits. I think making great music requires vulnerability, and we had to trust each other to get through that process. It was hard! I had a rough time sharing really personal lyrics that came straight from my journals. We were talking a lot about shadow work at that time; I think this song reflects a spiritual process we were each involved in; an “overcoming” and a “rebirth”, if you will. The composition of the song does justice to that moment — it’s kind of an abstract reflection of exactly what was going on in our minds at the time. That’s what art is supposed to be, right? A depiction of a moment in time, a memory, a feeling? I wuv Plateau.

Melanie: Thank you! I love this song because it literally comes from the heart. I get a little choked up playing and listening to it still. There’s a deep message and powerful emotions behind it, driving the song from one plane to the next, a semblance of human psyche and emotions. We are trying to stay authentic and connected and this song is very vulnerable like that.

I love the band name because it reminds me of either an X-men power to transmit cool hit song ideas or a psychic force blow or of taking acid with someone and having weird ESP during that time period ( I haven’t in decades but this used to happen to me all the time, haha). I was wondering what it embodies to you?

Andrea: Haha. Yeah, I love the ambiguity of our name. Getting a “psychic hit” was just something we’d say. Basically it means that your intuition is going off like crazy about something and you need to listen to it. I do love the other interpretations though too. It can mean whatever you want really.

Melanie: Especially during the formation of the band there was a lot of “psychic hits” going on between us, saying the same thing at the same time or knowing what each other was thinking. Also in the songwriting process, using intuition, coupled with knowledge and discernment is kind of our process as a band.

Ariana: I love finding out about how our name “strikes” people 🙂 For me, a “psychic hit” is moment of crystal clear intuition. Andrea, Melanie, and I had a lot to figure out in those early days, and we relied on these moments of clarity. I also like the name because of the word “hit.” I wanted to throw a wish into the universe that we would create hits! It reminded me of the band Big Star; their name is so powerful and, to me, indicates they wouldn’t have called themselves that if they weren’t stoked on the power of their music.

Totally. So you did the demo last year and have been gigging on that for awhile? Any label interest yet or are you not so worried about it? You’ve all played in other bands before. I saw your bio listed Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Nik Turner’s Hawkwind and some others. Did those experiences make you want to take your time letting this one roll out a certain way? It’s gotta be songs first, I wager. I mean, y’all already have a cool look anyway, haha.

Andrea: Yeah we put out the demo in October 2018 and have been playing shows pretty consistently since then. We’re not quite shopping around for labels just yet. We prefer to do things with a lot of intention and don’t want to jump on a bandwagon if we don’t feel ready. Crafting our songwriting and getting our first album written is our priority for this year. We don’t want to rush anything. When our first album does hit though, it’s on!

Ariana: We are definitely ambitious and had had a clear vision from the start. I was a lonely bedroom musician until I randomly got an audition with Nik Turner’s Hawkwind and went on a 6-week tour with them two weeks later. It was like rock ‘n’ roll boot camp. I learned a ton playing with (who I consider) legends. Nicky Garratt (UK Subs, who was my band mate in Hawkwind and Hedersleben) sort of molded me into a professional musician. I learned how to work fast, practice hard, and roll with the punches. Andrea operates very efficiently, and everyone in the band is so hardworking and musical. We want to create as much awesome music as possible and see the world on tour. It’d be rad to find the right fit for a label after we record the full length.

Do you have a particular go to opening song when you play live? I feel like if I was at a bar and saw you onstage and the band started playing that Sabbathy opening riff to “The Whip” and the vocals kicked in I would freak out, haha. It works great last on the demo though, kind of anchors everything. The demo very much made me want to hear more, as I imagine seeing the band live would. Feels like you could get yelled at for encores by a lot of rockin’ out drunks, haha. Speaking of which, any venues or shows you have found particularly fun in your area?

Melanie: We switch the set up every few shows, and yes “The Whip” is a great opening song! We do get yelled at to play more songs at the end of the set. We like to kick everyone’s ass and then walk off the stage. It’s fun! Haha. We love to play Eli’s Mile High club in Oakland, recently played Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco and are very much looking forward to playing The Chapel in San Francisco as well!

Ariana: The energy in the room skyrockets when we play “The Whip”, so we’ve been trying to play it last in our live set. We like to end on a high note! Shows are always fun, and we love Eli’s, our neighborhood venue. I really enjoyed playing at The Ivy Room in Albany!

Andrea: I also love Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland. In San Francisco my favorite venue is SF Eagle, this awesome leather daddy bar. I’m also stoked to play The Chapel in San Francisco this May. It’ll be the biggest venue we’ve played so far. It’s an amazing room.

You seem to have a solid work ethic and vision as a band. Do you feel like there is a sort of myth that California bands are kind of burnouts or hipsters or not all the time? Y’all seem to be able to hold your own and put cool vibes out.

Melanie: We do work hard and put a lot of intention into our band, and the music. I feel like the stereotype of Californians isn’t always fair because we have to work really hard to get noticed amongst all the other great bands, and just to afford to live in this beautiful place in general. All the images of Californians running along the beach are just us enjoying the fruits of our labor!

Ariana: I totally agree with Melanie! Maybe there was a time in the 60s and 70s when musicians could work a little and jam a lot… But times have most certainly fucking changed. Californian bands and artists work so hard. It’s incredibly difficult to afford sky-high rent and stand out from all of the other awesome bands. It’s like dead-lifting cultural weights. I moved here from the East Coast specifically to become a part of the music scene in Oakland. This place is like a faucet of sick art and music.

Andrea: Gentrification and the inhuman cost of rent in the Bay Area has created a situation where artists and musicians absolutely have to hustle to survive here. You wanna grab the brass ring? Get ready to work your ass off! I think anyone hear who is a musician and works as hard as we do is particularly dedicated to their music. You can’t be lazy here. If you want that awesome life, you need to have a really good work ethic, a solid vision, and be really self-motivated.

How much material do you have in the works for a full length? It reminds me of Christian Mistress when I first got into that band and was like ‘wow, how are they gonna follow their killer “Agony & Opium” EP up with a full length?’… It is kind of hard when you make something awesome and then have to top it! Are you gonna try and pack in a lot of tunes or trust your guts and go with what feels right?

Andrea: Honestly, in terms of songwriting, I feel like we are just hitting our stride. As excited as I am on how our demo turned out, I think our new songs are even stronger. We’re evolving and it feels pretty damn good.

Melanie: Definitely going with our guts here but already writing some killer tunes to accumulate into a full length. Integrity is key here, as it’s important to have enough material, but the content of that material is equally important.

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