Interview – Headlights & Psychic Twin
Absinthe Blind. Headlights. Psychic Twin. Three very different bands, with a couple of members being transferred every time it undergoes a regeneration, Doctor Who style.
It was a chance meeting. A lone album, called Kill them with kindness, waiting to be bought in a discount bin in a record store in Mexico. Picked it up and got floored by it. No more albums available in Mexico meant I had to listen to it religiously. A couple of years after and several wads of cash after, got everything by them (including an addiction to Airheads candies) and finally mustered up enough courage to contact the band’s drummer, Brett Sanderson, who besides being an excellent drummer, it’s one heckuva approachable dude.
It’s a hard interview to make, not because of a lack of questions (had to cull quite a few – too fanboyish) but because it’s music that really hit hard to some situations life placed on my path.
But, hey, let’s celebrate the heritage of one great Indie Pop Rock band and their newest incarnation, because, fuck, it’s very honest, heart in sleeves and infectiously catchy.
1) Was The Enemies EP the transitional piece between the sounds of Absinthe Blind and Headlights?
Brett: Not intentionally so. The Enemies EP was the beginning of Erin and Tristan‘s foray into becoming primary songwriters and singers. When Adam Fein left Absinthe Blind, we all knew that it could no longer exist.
2) Kinda silly question but everytime I bought something from you from Polyvinyl, I got an Airheads candy. Why this one? (you’ve made me a fan, btw).
Brett: Polyvinyl always puts airheads candy in their mail order shipments. We can’t take credit, but we think it’s fucking awesome that they do.
3) This might be me overanalyzing as always, but I was wondering if there was an unifying theme or concept in your albums Kill them with kindness, Some racing, some stopping and Wildlife?
Erin: The only theme that existed in Headlights records was that Tristan and I were both writing based on things we were going through in our lives. That carried through all of the Headlights albums.
4) You probably get a lot of “your music saved my life/I really feel identified with ____”. What’s your usual response to these type of comments?
Brett: It’s hard to know how to react to statements like that. We always feel extremely flattered when people express that to us, and all you can really do in that situation is thank the person for caring so much about something you do.
5) Any chance of asking the meaning of the song ‘Put us back together’? Easily my fave from Headlights.
Erin: The specifics are pretty personal, but generally the song is about when things fall apart and the process of putting them back together again. It’s something we all go through while making our way through life and trying to learn from our mistakes.
6) Is ‘Songy Darko’ related to Donnie?
Brett: In Headlights, our songs often had temporary names while they were being worked on. ‘Songy Darko’ was vaguely related to Donnie Darko just in that it was one of our darker songs at the time. We had just watched the movie and it was probably in our minds a little. We referred to this song as ‘Songy Darko’ sort of jokingly initially, but when it came time to decide, we couldn’t let it go.
7) I fear making this question but it has to be done: Is Headlights over?
Brett: Sadly, yes.
Psychic Twin section
1) Tell us a bit about this new project, Psychic Twin. The usual, history the band, influences.
Brett: After we realized that Headlights was finished, Erin and I immediately started talking about whether we wanted to continue working on music together. It was obvious to both of us that we wanted to keep writing music. Years ago, before headlights and in between Absinthe Blind, Erin and I wrote some songs and performed under the name The Orphans. Once Headlights became very serious, we put this project aside. When Headlights came to a close, we both realized that The Orphans was an unfinished idea that we both still felt very attached too. We felt compelled to try and write and see what happened. Erin always wanted to write songs without anyone else co-writing, but had only briefly done so, in Orphans, this was a chance to see that through. Once we started working together, it was clear to both of us that a full length was being written and, since we’re both crazy and sadistic, we decided to stick around a little while longer.
2) From a very shoegazey band (Absinthe Blind) to an dreamy indie rock (Headlights) and now to some dreamy electronica band (Psychic Twin). What fueled these changes in sound?
Brett:The common thread here is dreamy/shoegazey. We love music that makes you feel like you’re immersed in it and has some kind of psychedelic element. Absinthe Blind was formed in the mid 90′s, Headlights was formed in 2004, and Psychic Twin is brand new. The changes in sound are just a reflection of who was writing the songs (each band had different song writers and band members), what inspired us and what currently inspires us.
3) How was your Daytrotter session? I’ve heard the previous ones and really enjoyed them. What are your thoughts on daytrotter.com?
Brett: Psychic Twin hasn’t done a Daytrotter session yet. We did play at a party they hosted several months ago, and it was a blast. I think Headlights did three DT sessions, and we really enjoyed every experience. Those guys care so much about music and art. It’s amazing what they’ve built.
4) Even if Psychic Twin is a change of direction on your previous sound, you still keep a dreamy, slightly shoegaze tinge to your signature sound. Gotta ask this one: which band got you into music and which band influenced you as a singer and as a drummer?
Brett: There are really too many to name. I grew up listening to Rap and R&B, but when I first started playing drums, I spent many hours playing along to Led Zeppelin records.
Erin: My early influences we’re Bjork, The Breeders, Tears for Fears, Madonna, The Cocteau Twins, Cindy Lauper, My Bloody Valentine.
5) Loved ‘Deepest Part’ and ‘I want to forget’. Any chance of knowing when more stuff is coming out? Is there an EP or album in the works?
Brett: We’re working on a full-length and talking to some people about putting the record out. We’d love to put it out in 2012. We want to tour again…play shows, drink whiskey, eat tacos.
6) Any chance of you dropping by Mexico or England?
Brett: We’d love to!
Best of luck to Psychic Twin, may 2012 be fruitful, we shall be waiting with open arms and very open ears.
Eternal thanks to Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson. Tune in next week for our Headlights/Absinthe Blind retrospective.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López