Richard in Your Mind returns this year with their fourth genre-defying album Ponderosa through Rice is Nice from Sydney. Their mind-bending and wonderful psychedelic music is infused with sitar sounds, muffled reggae, radiant melodies and will fill your day with good karma. You can listen to their album Ponderosa for free via Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Lola Who did an interview with lead singer Richard Cartwright and tried to find out what was really going on in his mind
Lola Who: What influenced the sound of your latest album Ponderosa? Theres a lot of sitar sounds, especially on “Love Grows” and “Four Leaf Clover Salad”.
Richard: There are always lots of influences because there is so much good music to be inspired by! But apart from our usual gods of diverse music, The Beatles and Ween, this album has some extra Harry Nilsson and Cornershop. Nilsson on the more songy songs like Hammered with its driving piano, and Cornershop with their Indian and hip hop influences. Also, I moved to the Blue Mountains (in Australia) a few years ago, and though I listened to Ravi Shankar and sitar music before then, it is almost a ritual type thing that on my days off, as the morning opens up, to put on a sitar record. It feels like a rejuvenating beginning. So thats in there a bit.
Lola Who: Have you been travelling around lately? If so, has any place influenced that unique trippy sitar driven sound?
Richard: I havent really been travelling around lately, however, I spent a year in Nepal and India nearly 10 years ago and it was a big influence on my approach to music. I love those places, and I met a lot of really great people who I made music with. But even before then, I loved the sound of sitar. So, I went halves with my dad on a sitar one Christmas, and have been mucking around on it ever since. I had some lessons in India, but I certainly cant play Indian classical music. Even so, just playing simple things on that instrument is so evocative. It is a magical instrument from a magical place.
Lola Who: How did you come up with that band name?
Richard: It was actually my email address, because richardsmind was taken, and when I did my first ever solo show, the promoter, Levins, asked, Whats your stage name? And I replied, I didnt have one. As he had been writing to me by email, he suggested Richard In Your Mind. The next gig, Conrad and some other friends played with me, we became a band, and the name stuck.
Lola Who: How did the five of you meet (Conrad Richters, Pat Torres, Jordy Lane, Brent Griffin)?
Richard: Conrad and I knew each other in high school, though we went to different schools. But we had mutual friends, and we found out we both liked RUN DMC and so we became good music friends. We would talk about starting a band, which we eventually did. We both made music on our own, but we started a psychedelic folk duo called The Sex Doodles. Though the Doodles were amazing, we moved on to Richard In Your Mind. We were living in a shared house together, and Pat was our next door neighbor, so we started jamming with him. Brent as Spod was a musician we looked up to, and Conrad met him and showed him our demos. We loved the same music, so we started working on stuff together. Jordy was making his own beautiful music and we needed a guitarist, so after one of Jordys shows, Conrad asked if he was interested, and he was! So, we all became bongo brothers.
Can you tell me a bit more about your recording process and how you combine all those different musical genres?
Richard: We experiment a lot; we try lots of things and get rid of the bits that dont work. We record everything ourselves, so we dont feel too much time pressure. And we dont worry about how we are going to play something live; we just focus on making the recorded song sound right. So, we feel really free when writing and I guess we just wander around into all sorts of different musical places. As individuals and as a group, we are into all sorts of different music, so when theres a chance to go weird and heavy, or light and folky, or trippy dreamy or absurd spoken wordy, it seems natural to follow that idea to its natural conclusion. Plenty of times it doesnt quite work, but as long as we work long and hard enough, there are enough successes to call it an album! Ponderosa is different from some of our recent previous work in that we took more care in making the sure the songs were really ready and complemented each other. Also, I think we are sounding more like ourselves and less like us imitating Beck, for example.
Lola Who: What are the ingredients that go into a good Richard in Your Mind gig?
Richard: A drone intro with smoke machine that opens up into a flower of something energetic. Cool guitar parts exploding, great harmonies. Sitar! Mandolin! Analogue synths, heavy groove, strobe lights, fluctuating finely tuned precise songs and loose apocalypse noise eruptions. Occasionally, a headlight beast head costume helmet.
Lola Who: What is Ponderosa? Can you explain the title of your album?
Richard: I was walking the dog with my mum, when she was visiting me last year, and talking about the old TV show Bonanza. That show is all about the Cartwright family, and Im a Cartwright, so its a funny reference people make from time to time. I dont really know the show that well, but mum just suddenly said Ponderosa! and I asked her why she said that funny word? And she explained its the name of the ranch where the Cartwrights lived on the TV show Bonanza. Its obviously a cool word, since it has the word ponder in it. It sounds kind of like the Pixies album Surfer Rosa, and Jordy used to live on Ponderosa Avenue, so we thought, that is an auspicious name for our album.
Lola Who: What does it mean to have Richard in your mind, like if I was thinking about you, what would I be thinking about?
Richard: I think its like having an alien inside your brain, and theyre painting the walls of your skull all sorts of colours.
Lola Who: And now, how is it to be in your mind, Richard?
Richard: Its like, I assume, most minds kind of are, a big squished mixture of a million questions and ideas all colliding and crashing with no seeming pattern to their directions and destinations! So, to focus, I read a lot of science fiction, which probably does the opposite of focus and just adds other peoples’ crazy imagination into the mix. So, its a busy place but its the only mind I have (is it?) and it feels like home.
Lola Who: Any recommendation of psychedelic albums worth checking out?
Richard: The Orb Live 93. They are the ultimate psychedelic band for me. They were one of the bands I listened to on my first psychedelic journey, so I think they became my spirit animal. I love this live album because its a live electronic album which you would think could be kind of crap, but its not! Its incredible. I wish I was at this show, out of my mind. They are so much more than just an electronic music band. Theres so much Pink Floyd and dub reggae in there, but also all their atmospheric samples and pulsing rhythms make them into a band that will actually induce a psychedelic experience.