Sunlight and cherry blossoms and t-shirts, oh my! This (slightly) warmer weather has us craving a musical accompaniment to our feast of vitamin D, and these new tunes from Sydney band Richard In Your Mind sure do fit the bill.
A little like the Beatles and Beck got together to jam on their sitars and create some sunshiney '60s psychedelia, their fourth album Ponderosa is oozing summery vibes that we're diggin in a big way. We grabbed frontman Richard Cartwright for a wee chat about their kooky sound and embarrassing fan encounters.
How would you describe your sound? We have a big mixture of styles and instruments and sounds. We've got a '60s influence, a singer/songwriter thing (but with sitars and lasers), we can be pretty chill with a steady groove, occasional spoken word and tribal percussion. It gets weird, heavy and dark in places too, but still cool. I think it's pretty fun.
What's the story behind the band name? I was riding my bike on a quiet, leafy street in Annandale when I thought I heard someone shout "I'm Richard", and I was like "woah", and turned my head to see who said it. My momentary lapse of concentration resulted in me riding into a wheelie bin and I crashed down, hit my head and passed out. While unconscious I kept hearing the words "I'm Richard, I'm Richard, I'm Richard". I remember not being able to tell what direction was up and where the voice was coming from. I yelled "where are you?" and the voice changed to "in your mind, in your mind, in your mind", and those are the only details I could recall after I came to. Seemed to me to be an obvious omen and I quickly started a band.
What has been your strangest fan experience? I work in a Vinnies shop and a customer came in and said "hey, aren't you in Richard In Your Mind?' I said "Oh, that's really cool you've heard us" and she said she really liked our song 'New Morning'. I said "Oh, do you mean 'New Sun'?" and she said "No no, 'New Morning', it's great". I felt a bit funny saying "Ah actually, I don't think we have a song called 'New Morning'..." but by that stage she had taken out her phone and played me the song 'New Morning' from our Sun album. So yeah, I seemed to have forgotten that one. It wasn't really a strange fan experience but it was embarrassing.
Describe a typical Richard In Your Mind gig. It starts with only a faint green light glow as I step on the smoke machine button, making the floating cloud stretch out across the stage and into the crowd. The sound of our Raagini drone machine rises as a gentle rain from the sitar starts to fall. The songs begin! There is nice singing! Harmonies and melodies! Acoustic and electric guitars, upbeat then chill. There is smiling going on. It gets noisy, there is electricity, guitars smash out feedback, crazy wild solos, reigned in at just at the right moment. Our Teisco analogue synth gives birth to quasars. The bass is deep, and I don't think groovy is a dirty word. The locomotive of drums is always on track, but the tracks lead up into the sky. Usually it ends frantically with dancing and crashing, the smiles you get to take home.
What's the hardest thing about your job? Well, the hardest thing about my day job at Vinnies is commuting from the Blue Mountains down to Dulwich Hill, but even then I get to write answers to interview questions on the train! But in the band, it's trying to remember what instruments in what tuning with what effects go in what order, while also remembering to operate the smoke machine and strobe lights with my feet.
Describe the ideal setting to listen to a Richard In Your Mind album. Somewhere you can lose yourself in the sounds. We put a lot of effort into creating a flow, so maybe movement is important. I think either driving in a car on a long trip, possibly on a highway, making sure it's loud enough. Or on headphones - maybe take the dogs for a walk, preferably somewhere with nature. But cities are cool too; it's the changing background that's important.
What's the weirdest place you've played a show? I played sitar solo at the opening of a hat shop. Twice. (They invited me back for the one-year anniversary of the opening.) I just sat on the floor playing while people drank champagne and tried on hats. Very odd. I remember looking out at a lot of knees.
Are there any musicians that you fan out over? Of course! Hundreds! Tjinder Singh of Cornershop is a great one though, his open approach to music and his 'just do everything' approach is really inspiring. He has thoughtful strange lyrics, influences from hip hop, Indian popular and traditional music, pop music, reggae, house, all sorts of around the world music. Anyway, he's really excited by music and it shows in his work. He makes me wanna do and play and experiment with all sorts of ideas too.
Tell us one thing we should know about Richard In Your Mind. We have a new album called Ponderosa and we think its our best one yet.
Ponderosa will be available from August 29th, but we've got five copies to give away in the meantime. Just shoot an email here with your name and address included to be in the draw. Good luck!