Recently Psychedelic Barbershop was released on vinyl. NICK CARLISI and MATT RENDON deliver a whole herd of incomparably beautiful Garage Pop songs.
Nick Carlisi talks about how that came about.
How did Psychedelic Barbershop come about?
I’d been wanting to record with Matt Rendon (The Resonars) at his Midtown Island Studio for years. When we finally made it happen, it was going to be just a few tunes, not an entire album. There was no real end goal. Just an excuse to finally record with Matt.
Usually by the time I go into the studio, I have all the songs pretty much completely worked out. In this case, we were having so much fun that we just kept adding tunes that weren’t totally finished yet. We just worked on them a bit and tried to turn them into fully fleshed-out songs. I like to think we succeeded. I’d say half the cuts on the record were fully formed when I showed up, and the other half, we finished in the studio.
The first song is called 123456789. It looks like you wanted to prove something?
Ha! That was kind of my attempt to write a “Sesame Street” or “Schoolhouse Rock” song. Those old animations were really cool, and the songs were usually great.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m being too silly with a song like this or “That Lucky Dog”, where we oink and bark throughout, but whatever. It’s better than taking yourself too seriously. Plus, it’s a good song to kick off a live show with. You start counting, and people think the song is going to kick in at 4, but you just keep going…
I can imagine that the Garage Pop sound is almost a lifestyle; it’s so convincing, so natural. Or am I exaggerating?
I don’t know. Yeah, I mean, I just love this kind of music. I love a catchy tune. I love vocal harmonies. I’ll listen to Beach Boys or Hollies isolated vocal tracks, and it just blows my mind. I definitely studied that stuff.
Breaking down harmonies. Listening to Beatles records and trying to figure out what John’s part was, then Paul’s and then George’s. That taught me how to do it myself. I still get a thrill when I record a three-part harmony, as I add each new part and listen back and hear it come together. It kind of gives me chills.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with Matt Rendon?
Matt’s amazing. He not only produced but played drums and sang backups on every track and played multiple instruments throughout. I always say, “if The Who was one guy, it would be Matt”.
He can pretty much do it all. If I was working out a harmony and I couldn’t find the third part, he’d be like, “this is it”, sing the part, and it was always right. If I was tired of playing bass after a long day, I’d be like, “Matt, can you just do it?” and he’d nail it.
Any time he had an idea for a tune, it was always spot on. Pardon the pun, but we’re very “in tune”, musically. Plus, he’s just an all-around good dude.
Real Eyes is so gorgeous. Was there a specific reason for writing it?
Thank you! It was kind of inspired by the psychedelic experience. When you’re able to see the world in a way that you just realize how beautiful everything is and really appreciate it all. Y’know, real hippy stuff!
Whenever I would have that experience, I would tell myself to not forget that realization once I come back to the real world, but it’s easier said than done.