Chilly, high-speed winds have battered Wisconsin the past few weeks, but they're nothing compared to the blast of gloomy, mysterious psychedelic rock that will hit Madison on Feb. 4, when the Black Angels and Roky Erickson bring their Winter Psych Storm Tour to the Majestic Theatre. The Black Angels have helped revitalize the genre with their dynamic style, especially at events like the 2008 Austin Psych Fest. There they played a mind-blowing showcase hosted by Erickson, singer of 1960s psych-rock band the 13th Floor Elevators, who has since become their tourmate and pal.
To gear up for the show, I asked Alex Maas, Black Angels' singer, to discuss their latest album, working with Erickson and visiting Madison.
What's the biggest lesson the Black Angels have learned from playing with Roky Erickson?
The biggest lesson we've learned from Roky is that music is truly therapy.
What was the first meeting with him like?
It was like meeting a saber-toothed tiger.
What was one takeaway from working with John Congleton on last year's album, Indigo Meadow? How did he help the band realize their vision?
He challenged us to do new things. He was able to translate [ideas] and achieve sounds that we were going for: alien glyph noises, potions of black goo smeared on the front end of a bass or vocal. He gets it.
What do you think about the state of psychedelic rock today? Psych fests are starting up around the country, including in the Midwest.
Psychedelic rock is infiltrating the pop world again. I'm seeing people in all genres embracing the concept, drinking the Kool-Aid, from Outkast to Neil Young all the way to North Korea.
What's one of your favorite memories from a past gig in Madison?
One time we ended up without a place to stay, so we went looking for a state park to sleep in, per usual. We woke up in the middle of a mobile-home park near a playground. It was the best sleep we had in that whole trip. I believe we even got breakfast from someone there.