England might not be the first place anyone would think of when conjuring sights and sounds of fuzzed out desert rock but that’s exactly what Psychlona offer up on full length, Mojo Rising. Their shared love of Fu Manchu, Kyuss, Hawkwind and Sabbath comes through in spades, which isn’t new territory, but it’s the way the band puts this amalgamation together that makes it sound so damn good. It’s a psychedelic ride across a heated desert in a chop top rat rod with a skull shifter, nitrous button and the devil in the passenger seat pushing the journey towards redline. It’s amazing how well Psychlona capture the energy and ethos of desert rock here but furthermore how they effortlessly slide in some well placed doom and fuzz for good measure. Alongside Mojo Rising’s release date, we had the chance to ask the band our set of Profile questions to get a look behind the scenes so head inside to see what they had to say.
How did each band member first get into playing music?
Dave Wainfor (guitar): I went down to the crossroads because a mate lived there and we’d recently discovered Kyuss, Fu Manchu, etc. I was about 17 and the aforementioned dude had just got a guitar so we used to mess about trying to play the licks and riffs whilst drinking beers and smoking spliffs. I’d actually had a guitar for years but could never quite figure out how to play the thing – basically because I was trying to play my parents’ widdly music – but I’d not long since unearthed The Stooges and The Ramones as well and sort of figured I’d found an entry point. Three chords, distortion, let’s go.
Phil Hey (guitar, vocals): I wanted to be in a band – simple. Aged about 13.
Martyn Birchall (bass): I remember watching Kerrang as a kid thinking I’d like to do that some day, so had a few guitar lessons at school and then self taught myself bass.
Scott Frankling (drums): Growing up on the doorstep of the Black Country, there are 3 bands you know – Sabbath, Zeppelin, Slade. But it wasn’t until I started listening to John Peel that I realized you didn’t need to be a) an amazingly gifted musician or b) good looking. I liked bands that sounded like they meant it and didn’t ponce about. And drummers were the ones that looked like they were giving most, so I started playing my brother’s kit. I just used to play along to Bleach-era Nirvana, Fudge Tunnel and, when I got a bit better, Mudhoney. I joined a band at school called Sod Off which was basically a Mudhoney covers band with some Mudhoney-sounding fuzz songs of our own.
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family and friends feel about it?
DW: I was listening to stuff like Faith No More, AC/DC, Maiden from the age of about 8 or 9 due to some poor influences in the family! Also coming home outrageously stoned late one night and finding the Paranoid album in my Dad’s collection was a bit of a revelation. I popped on the cans and suddenly I was circling the edge of the universe, where only Iommi can take you.
PH: I always loved punk rock but had a soft spot for the faster bands like Motörhead who sort of bridged the gap. My parents and friends all despised me. Probably still do.
MB: I was into metal from a young age listening to Metallica, Maiden, Black Sabbath – the usual – again probably from watching music channels on tv, most of my friends were into the same music as me so it was nice to go to the same gigs, family wasn’t bothered by what I listened to.
SF: My best friend’s brother was a couple of years older than us and he started playing us stuff from Earache like Bolt Thrower and early Sepultura as he knew we liked more punk stuff. I loved Carcass and Faith No More. I still do.
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
DW: I mean it’s fine when you’re a student because it makes you look good in front of girls and stuff. I have a lot of time for Reprieve who campaign against extreme human rights abuses.
We probably have some references to political, environmental, religious issues within the music but it’s not particularly overt.
PH: No interest at all in politics. I’m into animal charities and detest animal cruelty, hunting, etc.
MB: I just like to play bass, my passion is to be good at it! That is all.
SF: Personally, anything suffering is intolerable – mental health issues, poverty, human and animal abuse, all are utterly unacceptable when we live in a World where information has never been more accessible. If we act together, we can achieve whatever we want, no one excluded. No one needs to be poor, no one needs to be alone, no species needs to be treated cruelly. Some of this comes out in the music but we’d hate to be preachy.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Saving a continent, or maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Tell us what you’re aiming for with this band.
DW: We sort of just want to play some festivals overseas, meet some cool people along the way, and make a second album at some point.
PH: World domination would be cool but I’d settle for taking over a small island somewhere in the Caribbean. Preferably inhabited by very attractive nymphomaniacs. A cult might be cool but without the mass killings. I’d dress in (faux) cheetah skin clothing and wear brothel creepers.
MB: The aim is to get the music out to as many people as possible, hopefully play some festivals & promote the album.
SF: Play, get better, tour, play more, play festivals, record another album, play with more bands, get better, play more.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
DW: Jesus & Mary Chain – Damage & Sorrow
Elder – Dead Roots Stirring
The Meters – Rejuvenation
The Pretty Things – SF Sorrow
PH: London Calling by The Clash is the greatest album ever. Anything by Fu Manchu, Dozer, Kyuss has got to figure. Last album I bought (downloading sucks) was by a 70’s band called Bloodrock.
MB: Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats – Blood Lust
Red Fang – Red Fang
Baroness – The Red Album
Backyard Babies – Stockholm Syndrome
SF: Brant Bjork – Mankind Woman
Mudhoney – Digital Garbage
Dope, Guns and Fucking In the Streets Vols. 1-11 – Various
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
What’s the most you’ve ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, tell us any funny/embarrassing story about the band.)
DW: We’re now on our sixth drummer in about 3 years (do we beat Spinal Tap?). We’ve just about had every type of scoundrel there is through our door. The one we’ve got now is actually the worst but we can’t seem to get rid of him.
PH: We don’t kiss ass to get gigs or anything else in this band – a man’s gotta retain his dignity.
MB: We don’t really like ‘brown nosing’ to get a gig, if we get a gig it’s for the right reasons. Everything happens for a reason and if you’re going to bullshit your way onto decent gigs, magazines, etc you better have the music to back it up. The only embarrassment in the band is that we have 2 cans of skol in the beer fridge. Times are hard.
SF: As the 6th drummer, you might have asked “I wonder why they’ve had so many?.” Now I know. They are cruel people.
Day jobs or hobbies you want to share?
DW: Nope, well there is that thing with the box, and the bread, and the burning…toast, that’s it. Is eating toast a hobby?
PH: Job sucks so no thanks. Only hobby (if that’s the right word) is playing in the band. I’m also trying to get a synchronized wanking squad together.
MB: The day job? Well, it pays the bills and puts food on the table, and that’s good enough for me. As for hobbies, I like to drink beer – that’s a hobby right ?
SF: Coffee. Strong. A lot of it.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal right now? What are some of the worst?
DW: It’s obviously the bling – gauntlets especially. Worst – I was gonna say the lack of metal cookery programs but there seems to be loads on YouTube. Fuck.
PH: Worst thing in metal is the totally generic pretty boy cliched bollox churned out by the likes of Black Veil Brides, etc. Best thing is the upsurge of the underground scene with bands playing decent venues to decent crowds.
MB: I’d say the worst are the cliche bands that wear make up and are just in it for the money.
SF: One of the best things is the diversification of metal, so many influences. That’s the great thing about social media and even the streaming services – whereas you’d have to wait for your local record shop to get the latest albums in or, worse still, a special order to turn up, it’s all there, all the time now. The worst thing about metal, the same as a lot of music, is when the egos try to overshadow the band. A band is only good if it works together, and you can’t do that if you’re constantly pandering to, or battling with, part of it. And fingertapping. Fuck fingertapping.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
DW: It’s fine to be critical but we have your addresses hahahaha.
PH: I’m not qualified to hand out advice on anything but without sounding cheesy just stick to your guns and eventually things might happen
SF: Tell us what you like, tell us what you don’t, we’ll listen. But we probably won’t change to suit you. And that’s OK, we’re still glad you’re there.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
DW: Gigging, supporting our album Mojo Rising, festivals, new tunes. We support Dead Meadow locally on their 20th Anniversary tour – Leeds, 26th Oct – which we’re super hyped for. Next year we’re playing HRH Doom Vs HRH Stoner which should be incredible judging by the lineup.
MB: We’re promoting the album Mojo Rising with an album launch which is going to be ace!
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Psychlona for their time!