Dig the Now Sound (Thursdays at 10:00 pm eastern on Turn Me On, Dead Man Radio) plays standout recent garage/psych. The featured track this week is “Just Like Before” by the Drive-Thru Mystics from Sacramento. “Just Like Before” is on A Thousand Years of Oblivion, released earlier this year, and is available on Bandcamp.
Recently I corresponded with Aaron Hutto of Drive-Thru Mystics.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Let’s start off by talking about your influences. What are some of the strongest influences on your music?
Aaron: Hmmm… that is a big one. I would say music from various genres and movies. 60’s Psych Rock, 60’s Garage Punk and Surf, 70’s Proto-Punk/Metal, 70’s Glam, Late 70’s Punk, Early 80’s Post Punk, Early 80’s Psych Punk and Garage Rock, Late 80’s and Early Mid 90’s Indie Punk, and contemporary psych rock and garage punk mostly Burger Records bands. Pierced Arrows, Chesterfield Kings, Love, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett), Beatles, Stones, Sonics, Sloths, Spaceman 3, Jesus and Mary Chain, Velvet Underground, Stooges, MC5, Thin Lizzy, Wire, Echo and the Bunnymen, Guided By Voices, 13th Floor Elevators, Black Angels, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Guitar Wolf, Dirt Bombs, The Gories, Detroit Cobras and so on!! I love drone and feedback driven melodies as well as crunchy primitive beats.
I love 60’s B Movies like Wild Angels and Psych Out and The Trip. I also love Easy Rider and all the New Hollywood stuff from the 70’s. David Lynch and strange new wave stuff. Andy Warhol and Pop Art has always been an inspiration as well. My own experiences in life. Living and dealing with bi-polar disorder and drug addiction has also played a part in my song writing. I have been off drugs for 8 years and have been living that wild roller coaster ride that comes with it.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Hey, I’m really sorry to hear about the difficulties you’ve had. Sometimes I wonder why the cool people have to go through so much shit. Do you think there’s a connection between mental illness and creativity?
Aaron: Yes there is a connection but it’s not necessary to be creative. However, people who are mentally ill sometimes channel their illness into art, music, literature, and science/math. The mentally ill mind works differently than a normal mind. There are times when we simply have so much mental energy that if you are the creative type you create with abandon. Couple that with the frustration and pain one feels have little or no control over their mind and emotions and that can be a wellspring of creativity in itself.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Have you always been a fan of garage and psychedelic music? When did those influences come into your music?
Aaron: I have been a fan of Psych rock since I was in junior high. The Beatles were my first introduction. Songs like Strawberry Fields and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. From there on I have explored pretty much the entire genre of psych rock and all its sub-genres. As for Garage, it was probably 9 years ago I got into some local garage punk bands here in Sacramento. So I then started going backwards and exploring garage rock. I think it was when I first heard the Dirtbombs and Detroit Cobras that I really became super interested in garage. the Detroit Garage rock scene was one of the best. But it made me go back to the 60’s and start looking at all these bands that influenced them.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Do you use any vintage gear? Is playing Garage/psych about recreating the past or do you see garage/psych as changing?
Aaron: I say it’s about celebrating the past while looking into the future at least from where I am sitting. My music is what I like to call post-modern garage rock. It pulls from many different genres in an attempt to create something new. I have a friend who is a vinyl DJ and plays almost 100% vintage garage rock records on his show and he loves us because we are not too retro, as he puts it. He loves collecting vintage records but he likes his new bands to be more modern and he loves us.
I do use some vintage gear. I use a 1965 Sears Silvertone Bass Amp and cab and a 1970’s Fender Bassman Silverface to play through. But I also have a 65 Reissue Fender Twin as well. I use a lot of modern type pedals so my sound is part vintage part modern.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: So where do you see things going? I mean for Drive-Thru Mystics specifically, as well as for garage/psych generally? What are your plans for the coming months and for the longer term?
Aaron: Well as far as DTM is concerned we are touring at the end of Aug. Going up to play shows in Portland and Seattle. Eventually we plan on not only touring in So Cal but the SW to Texas and up to the Midweest back across the Rockies into Utah and Nevada then back home. We are also going to release either a cassette or a 7-inch in the next couple of months. I want to get us on a label as soon as possible, too. Preferably one that works with Burger Records.
I also want DTM to continue to grow and change. I would like to avoid repeating myself songwriting-wise and continue to cover new ground musically. I see Garage Psych Rock coming to a place of greatness here in the present. Bands are taking it to more sophisticated levels but it’s also becoming redundant. You have so many bands who use the same riffing with lots of reverb on the vocals and fuzz on the guitars and they are all starting to sound the same and it’s becoming formulaic. That is the fate I want to avoid and I feel I have successfully done so.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: Best of luck to you.