Q&A: The Psychic Paramount's Jeff Conaway On Smoke Machines And Bright Lights, Not Digging Daytime Gigs And Being Really Loud

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"It's kind of a blast that comes out of nowhere," is how Jeff Conaway, drums- pulverizing overlord for New York City's brutally loud instro-mental skuzz beasts the Psychic Paramount describes the chaotic scene when the trio erupts into ear-bleeding crusher "Intro/Sp" live in concert. But being rip-face loud is only one piece of the PPs' M.O.

Guitarist Drew St. Ivany, bassist Ben Armstrong and Conaway converge to form a Branca-esque symphonic wall of cutthroat noise chime with a bludgeoning, coiled heaviosity of ear-bleeding magnitude as plumes of smoke billow from within and beaming lights pierce the eyeballs making it a hellish task to see the fuckin' hand in front of your face.

The threesome—who notoriously work at a snail's pace (these dudes managed not to release an album for six friggin' years)—is ready to inflict more damage to your eardrums, working on a follow-up to 2011's epic riff-fest II.

Sound of the City met with Conaway at his Astoria local to talk loudness, smoke machines and his love for The Dustdevils.

I saw you guys open for Trans Am. Was that the most recent show Psychic Paramount has played?

I think that was the last New York show.

Yeah, you don't play around that much.

Nah, no. [Laughing]

All three of you live here in New York, though, right?

We tend to go take breaks then we get active again and then we take more breaks. It always seems like we're busy doing something, though.

But you have a short tour coming up starting with the gig at (le) Poisson Rouge?

Yeah, a tiny, little U.S. tour—east coast tour—and then we're gonna go over to Paris to play Villette Sonique. We'll just go over there and come back. We got about five weeks here and then right now a U.S. tour is being set up. We should be making it out all the way to the west coast in July and August.

I saw you are playing the Pitchfork Music Festival also. How'd that come about?

I think they approached Mike Quinn, the guy who runs [label] No Quarter.

Playing that fest seems like a good publicity getter...

Yeah...

... I don't write for Pitchfork, but...

Yeah [Laughing]. That'll be cool [to play]. That was kind of the reason we thought we could do this tour around that. So yeah, we got a lot of stuff going on. We got that coming up, and then some studio dates for new material...

Are you doing this short tour to test out new tunes?

Yeeeeeah... we're gonna have some new stuff for the tour. I wouldn't say it's to totally to test it all out but with the Pitchfork thing it just seemed like going out to Chicago and keep going...

... and base a bunch of gigs around that.

Yeah.

This is a lot of activity for the Psychic Paramount considering the span in between your 2011 record II and Gamelan Into The Mink Supernatural, which came out way back in 2006.

Yeah, like six years [Laughing].

Did you break up or were you an active band during those years?

Yeah, yeah. We were [active]. We did tours, we'd be going to Europe, we did several U.S. tours. We just didn't record. We had one rough tour in Europe and we kinda took a big break after that but never disbanded and that was back in 2005. Basically, the story with that was we recorded basic track for a full record and ended up scrapping all of it. For a while, we were working on the tracks ourselves, doing overdubs and mixing it ourselves and then we just ended up scrapping the while thing and going an re-recording at the studio called Machine with Magnets up in Providence and that's what turned into II.

What happened in Europe that you said was a rough period for the band?

[Laughing] It was just one of those tours where a lot of the shows didn't seem to make sense. Tours could go that way sometimes. The subsequent ones—we have a different booking agent over there now—have been much better.

Are you delegated the official spokesman for the band?

No, I wouldn't say so. We all do interviews. It just ended up being me this time.


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