lauren stern interviews Circa Survive’s Colin Frangicetto about his new project, Psychic Babble …
Almost a year ago, I sat down with Circa Survive guitarist Colin Frangicetto for a brief interview for my radio show on the Rutgers University station 90.3 The Core about a new side project he was concocting called Psychic Babble. In the short conversation we had, Frangicetto described Psychic Babble to me as “part real band, part electronics,” but that was all I really knew of the project. That and it was “amazing,” according to Circa Survive singer, Anthony Green, who I also interviewed that night.
A few months later, Frangicetto released his first album under the name Psychic Babble called My Brother’s Ears/My Sister’s Eyes. Ever since my first listen, I have been recommending Psychic Babble to mostly everyone who I have come across that loves music, and now I get to pass the torch on to the readers of Pop-Break. I encourage everyone to check out Psychic Babble, regardless if you like Circa Survive or not. Believe me when I say that this is completely different from any Circa Survive track.
Colin was cool enough to take the time out to talk more in depth about Psychic Babble and his 2012 plans for the project.
Pop-Break: How would you describe Psychic Babble’s sound?
Colin Frangicetto: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I’m not good at that. I feel like a lot of musicians are not good at describing their sound. Is a hard thing to describe. I think it’s inspired by old classic rock, like The Beach Boys and Peter Gabriel. I like old classic songwriting. So I would say older stuff from the ’60s mixed in with the newer indie/experimental sound.
PB: I’ve heard before that Psychic Babble is described as “chillwave.” Would you put yourself into that genre?
CF: I’m definitely influenced by “chillwave.” I like Washed Out, Toro y Moi, and Panda Bear so I would say that you can definitely find that bedroom stuff mixed in with old stuff like The Beach Boys.
PB: What makes Psychic Babble different from Circa Survive?
CF: There are a lot of reasons why Psychic Babble is different from Circa. For one, it’s just me. I’m playing everything and writing every part. So, that in itself changes it a whole lot. Circa is a very different band. It is a group dynamic. The most prominent thing people notice about Circa is how we work together. But this project is a solitary effort. I also think Circa is far more aggressive and much more dynamic than Psychic Babble. The stuff I write on my own is more slow burning, atmospheric, drone-y, and repetitive. A lot of it feels more like background music. Psychic Babble is more passive and lyrically much more simple.
PB: How did you come up with the name Psychic Babble?
CF: I just thought of it one day. I just thought of a bunch of ideas and wrote them down on a piece of paper. Psychic Babble stood out to me. I’ve heard of the phrase psychobabble before, but I wanted to pair psychic and babble to make it more confusing and a little a less familiar.
PB: I didn’t see many tour plans for Psychic Babble since the release of My Brother’s Ears/My Sister’s Eyes. Are there any touring plans or shows in the works for this year?
CF: Hopefully. The goal right now is to focus on Circa. and then after we make the new record and do some editing, in the middle of that I’ll be writing and recording the new Psychic Babble record. My goal is to do a new record before touring. Hopefully I’ll play some small venues after the new material is finished.
PB: One of my favorite tracks off the album, “Five Fold Kiss (Don’t Sleep),” was recently tuned into a music video. Did you have any involvement with it?
CF: Yeah, I was involved in the beginning of it. I talked to the director, and he’s a good friend of mine, and he’s really creative, and he agreed to do a video for me. He just did me a really big favor and agreed to do it for practically nothing, which is good because I was funding Psychic Babble on my own. He has a lot of strong visions, and in the middle of that, I noticed he had his own thing going on. I always hated traditional music videos. I always felt like it was really awkward to be a part of a music video. I took advantage of not being a part of it now that I’m on my own.
PB: My absolute favorite track off the new album is “Nothing Familiar.” Is there any back story on the track?
CF: I basically wrote it in 2008 while we were writing Blue Sky Noise. At the time, I was moving in an apartment with my now wife and basically, I wrote that song with the memory of being on tour and feeling like everything around you is unfamiliar and you’re separated from everything in your life. It definitely has a sad somber feel in the verses, and I wanted to have that sadness but also hope. It’s just about feeling lost and being okay with it and trying to let a difficult time pass and to kind of find your way back. It was kind of like asking my friends and family for hope and help in trying to find my way back.
PB: Will you be releasing more music under the name Psychic Babble in the future?
CF: Yeah, I sure hope so. I’ve been slowly working on cover albums that I’ll release for free on the internet. That’ll see the light of day more than anything else. There are also some mix tape kind of ideas I was thinking about. Right now, Circa is priority, and I’m doing a lot of visual art right now, so it’s kind of a break. Last year was very hectic/ I spent a lot of energy on My Brother’s Ears/My Sister’s Eyes so it’s kind of nice to take a break from it to focus on Circa, being a husband, painting, and hanging out.
PB: I loved the remixes you did for Anthony Green’s first album Avalon. Will there be remixes for Beautiful Things?
CF: I did one song so far that you are probably going to hear at some point. It just comes down to time. I just got all the spins for the rest of the songs, so I’m going to mess around with them. My life now is just so different than when I did the Avalon remixes. I had a lot of free time when I did the Avalon remixes because Circa was on a break and Anthony was on tour, and now I’m married and have a lot of things going on.
PB: What are some of your inspirations both musically and non-musically?
CF: Anything that moves me emotionally. Often times, it’s everyday life, things that happen, or something that someone close to me goes through. Sometimes it’s a movie, a piece of art, a book, or a dream. I think nine out of 10 times, it’s everyday life and the stuff you think about when you’re alone.
PB: What are some artists you are currently digging?
CF: The new St. Vincent record is really, really good. The newest M83 album is really good. Youth Lagoon, the new Lost Panda Bear album, and the newest Portugal. The Man album are all great. O’brother’s new album is really cool. Basically, it’s a lot of the music that came out between the middle and the end of last year.
PB: Is there anyone you would like to work with in the future?
CF: For me personally, I think about [that] more in terms of producers. Someone I always think about is Danger Mouse. I love every record he’s ever recorded, and that would be the coolest shit ever. There would be a lot of people that would be cool, but I don’t have the confidence to think I would work with any of these people. I would love to meet/talk shop with anyone in U2 or Pearl Jam because they are my two top favorite rock bands. Talking to them for an hour would change my whole outlook on things.
PB: Lastly, I want to mention your art. Any new prints fans out for purchase? Where can fans look at your pieces and purchase them?
CF: I have a Facebook art page. The link is: www.facebook.com/colinfrangicettoart. I have a web store on Big Cartel which is theunconsciouscollective.bigcartel.com. I sell prints and originals through my e-mail, which is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I put up new work for viewing on my facebook art page, my twitter, and my tumblr.