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LSD and the Search for God continues

LSD and the Search for God
16 July 2013

LSD and the Search for God. Photo by Jaak Jensen, The Minnesota Daily.

LSD and the Search for God — in name, and sound — commands attention.

Led by six-stringers Andy Liszt and Chris Fifield, the San Franciscans’ washed-out guitarscapes and affectionate, blanket-warm melodies engage shoegaze experts and novices alike. The best moments of their self-titled 2007 debut resemble My Bloody Valentine jamming with Yo La Tengo.

That 12” EP, issued by Michigan’s Mind Expansion label, introduced the band’s core duo to some of its idols. Spacemen 3‘s Sonic Boom took them on the road, while Stephen Lawrie of Creation Records’ combustible Telescopes hired them as his U.S. backup band — a continuing partnership.

LSD hasn’t released anything new since, but this spring, the re-tooled group — which, besides Liszt, Fifield and returning singer-guitarist Sophia Campbell, has also been known to feature bassist Jeff Lee, drummer Sonya Trejo, vocalist Sandi Denton and multi-instrumentalists Ryan Lescure and Ricky Maymi — built a three-week North American tour around The Black Angels‘ seventh annual Austin Psych Fest.

Most nights, the band first played its own set, then erased minds as the Telescopes, precipitating violent noise that exposed shoegaze’s gnarlier side.

It certainly made an impression, but for the cult fanbase wondering what LSD’s been up to all this time, the group’s dreamy yet hard-hitting new originals stole the show.

Apparently a series of EPs are forthcoming — with a new single and video, “Heaven,” to drop in coming weeks — but Googling the elusive sextet yields little, so a few weeks after its marathon gig at Seattle’s Comet Tavern I got Liszt on the phone to discuss LSD’s past and future trips.

On the Telescopes…

ANDY LISZT: We’ve known Stephen for awhile, probably six years. The Telescopes never toured here in the late 1980s or early ’90s… the first time was actually with us in 2006. People were expecting the full band, playing the songs they knew and loved from the Creation days, but the noisier, more experimental stuff Stephen’s recorded in the last decade… I love that, too. I knew we’d know the material and could pull it off how he wanted, so we really hit it off on both a personal level and a higher level. I felt such a bond with his music, and was glad we could do him right. We were just in Los Angeles working on a new Telescopes record, and might record more.

On LSD’s origins…

AL: Chris and I met around 2005, and became fast friends… music friends. The first time we went out for a drink and talked, I knew we were going to get along and have a lot of similar ideas. I had a handful of songs I was ready to do something with, but didn’t see how there’d be room for another guitar… but when Chris and I started playing, I was blown away. By the third or fourth practice, it’d fallen into place. We got a singer six days before our first show. I wouldn’t have normally done that, but it felt right. For awhile, things kept falling into our lap. We did some recordings pretty quickly, and got in touch with Mind Expansion, a label we loved. Back in MySpace’s heyday, it was foolishly easy to contact almost anybody. What the hell happened? If I cared more — or was technologically inclined — I’d figure it out. Those were good days.

On the past few years…

AL: Sometimes everything happens at once, sometimes there’s a bit of a lull. Often I’ll write a song or some words that won’t quite make sense until years later. The more I think, the more things get fucked up… so I try to be aware of cycles and patterns. Back then, it just happened we were working on songs and making sounds… then it got kind of deep. The drummer we’d been playing with moved to Sweden, and while Chris and I kept writing, we didn’t actively search for a replacement. Recently, though, we’ve been playing shows. We have a new recording that’s being mastered, and should be out later this year. There’s a single coming out, with a video that’ll be done in the next few weeks. We’ll be doing an EP first, then another EP soon after. We’re still figuring out specifics, but Randall [Nieman, of Füxa] and Mind Expansion are going to be involved in some way, for sure.

On influences…

AL: Growing up, I loved Johnny Marr and the Smiths. Chris and I overlap there. In terms of my own musical progression, what changed it all was listening to Verve, before they added the “the” and went downhill. (laughs) Nick McCabe‘s guitar work on their first self-titled EP was just out-of-this-world. The Swirlies, Slowdive and Bailter Space all happened while I was about 20, living in New York and going to school. I went out most nights to see music, and went to class… or didn’t. (laughs) I liked Luna, and caught Dean [Wareham] every chance I could. I also got into experimental stuff like Flying Saucer Attack, who I was completely nuts about.

On effects pedals…

AL: Around then, I went to this place in Midtown Manhattan and spent everything I had at the time on a Cry Baby wah, a Boss distortion and an Alesis Quadraverb, then spent a lot of time exploring them. The author Eckhart Tolle wrote about how when you’re present and engaged with something, paying attention doesn’t take any effort. You might spend time with it, but it’s not hard work. When I think about the hours I’ve spent in a room with my guitar and pedals, it’s an incredible amount, but it was never a choice I made. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.

Andy Liszt. Photo by Jon Blaj.

On shoegaze…

AL: When I met Jason Pierce [of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized] in 1994 or ’95, he told me he considers his music to be — if anything — soul music. I’m not at all cynical about labeling — I understand it’s human nature — and a lot of music people call shoegaze inspires me, no question. Is My Bloody Valentine a band I adore? Absolutely. I’m not trying to ape them, though. Whatever the medium, what speaks to everybody is a connection to something deeper, and I think people are drawn to that feeling in our music. Consider it what you will — at its essence, it’s just some type of expression of what’s happening, right now, with us.

On My Bloody Valentine’s m b v

AL: I love it. With all the excitement, pressure and expectation, there can be a tendency to do something other than what you want, but I think they defied that. That it’s fantastic isn’t a surprise to me, and it seems obvious it’s an album they’re proud of.

On naming one’s band LSD and the Search for God…

AL: I thought of it a long time ago, and when I started this project, it seemed perfect. The psychology of perception with band names is hilarious. I hated the name My Bloody Valentine when I first heard it, and with the Grateful Dead I expected something more evil, but when something speaks to you in a different way, what the words mean isn’t important.

On being cryptic…

AL: It’s certainly not intentional. There have been times when we’ve been noncommunicative, but it’s not at all that we aren’t happy or appreciative. We love meeting people and talking at shows. The fact anyone is interested makes it easier for us to continue. We just think the best way to respect the people who’ve sought out our music is to ultimately not care what anyone thinks and do what feels real to us, because that’s what they liked about it in the first place.

On what’s next…

AL: We opened for Dead Meadow two-and-a-half weeks ago, but haven’t seen each other since. After this, I’m going to our practice space in the Mission to play for a few hours and make a bunch of noise. We have a show Thursday in Eureka, California with Kinski, so we’re heading that way tomorrow to rehearse and hang out. With the new stuff coming out, we’re hoping to do some traveling, maybe even overseas, but for now we’re sussing out how to get to the Midwest and East Coast sooner than later. We had our break, and we’re excited again… we plan to be busy.


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