Nothing Playing!
Loading...
00:00
/
00:00
 
 
Click to enable notifications

Musical Family Tree Store

Speading Indiana Music
 
Loading...
Feature: Q&A with Jerome Assad of Jerome & the Psychics
Posted February 10, 2015 by Seth Johnson
WRITTEN BY
Seth Johnson
ON
February 10, 2015

 

Since the release of his band’s debut album (The Nova Guarda), Jerome Assad has done a great deal of soul searching—both musically and personally. In hopes of finding some answers, the Jerome and The Psychics’ frontman decided to move to Rio de Janeiro about a year ago, returning to the country his family is from. Despite living a few thousand miles from Indiana, Assad has made his way back to the States a few times since. Most recently to he's returned to celebrate the release of The Psychics’ second full-length Money is Violence with a show at The Bishop back in December. Now back in Brazil, I spoke with the Bloomington-bred musician via Skype to discuss his psychedelic soul group’s latest album and more.

 

Listen to Money is Violence above via the MFT player.

 

Seth Johnson: In early 2013, MFT’s Rob Peoni interviewed you about the band, but could you give readers a little refresher as to how you got started?

 

Jerome Assad: I got a Tascam 424 freshman year of college, and I spent that whole year trying to join bands. I wasn’t very good at music and still wouldn’t say I’m good at being an actual musician, but I was still writing songs and recording by myself. Then when I got the tape machine, no one in the dorms had that. Everyone was getting into all of this retro garage stuff and thought it was interesting. So me and these kids who played in this band called The Motives [Triptides’ Josh Menashe’s band from San Diego that he kept going in Bloomington for a while] went to the basement of the Read dorm and just sat there jamming on these songs. We got really excited about playing with the tape machine and recording. We posted it online. Josh came up with the idea to just call the recordings “Jerome and The Psychics.” 

Then, I got even more excited. We planned to have a band practice, and I made the mistake of planning to have that band practice on 4/20. So half of those guys showed up to my friend Zech’s house to play, but they arrived at different intervals, saw that not everyone was going to be there, and left. Zech and his friends Devin and Jackson were all there. It was 4/20. We were all having fun, and he was just like, ‘Why don’t we jam on your songs?’ From that, the first incarnation of The Psychics came about, and we started playing shows with that setup.
    

SJ: What challenges initially came with fronting this project?

 

JA: For a long time, it was dudes who wanted to jam, but I was always very serious about wanting to make music. It’s funny. There are two indications of the band name Jerome and The Psychics. In the beginning, it represented the fact that I pretty much pushed the band. I was the complete drive behind it. I was all of the rhythm for it. Like, they didn’t follow the drums. They didn’t follow the bass. They always followed my guitar. I always wrote all the songs, and sang all the lyrics. That was a struggle because I wanted them to be more involved, and they just didn’t give that much of a shit about it. It was more about partying and getting to play house shows. 

 

SJ: So with the current version of The Psychics, are you still the primary songwriter? How were songs crafted for your latest Money is Violence release?

 

JA: I wouldn’t say so at all anymore. That’s why I was telling you there are two meanings of the band name. The second meaning is what this lineup is, and the second meaning is that there is no Jerome and The Psychics without The Psychics. They propel it all. They are all excellent and amazing musicians. They’re all very invested, and they all care a lot. It wouldn’t be anything if it were about what I do. I just lay a seed, and they completely build up around it. 

 

SJ: So can you tell me more about what all specifically went into the making of Money is Violence then?

 

JA: Some of these are very old songs that have just been updated a lot and toured for years, but just haven’t been on an album. A fourth of it is that. Half of it is songs that we wrote before our previous tour. We hammered those out and played them for a while. And then the last bit is actually songs we wrote in the studio and then included on the album. We recorded it all in Bloomington, with Kate [drummer] and Sven [trumpet player] mixing, producing and engineering everything. They’re recording arts kids. They definitely have their shit together. It’s great having people in the band that can do that sort of stuff.

Lyrically, it changed a bit from when I originally wrote the songs, especially because we used to perform mostly in Portuguese. Then when I actually first came to live here in Brazil, I was playing around for some people, and I would play songs in Portuguese and in English. Here, they hear a lot of songs in both languages. In the U.S., everyone just thought of it as this sort of kitschy thing, and they thought that was cool. In Brazil, they were like, ‘Your singing voice is definitely a lot better in English.’ Around the same time, I became a lot more concerned with the fact that I had put almost no effort into the meaning behind the lyrics, and I really wanted to make that a key point in this album. I wanted the message to get across.

 

SJ: Can you talk to me more about that message? 

 

JA: Money is violence, quite literally, but it’s a pastiche of some things. It’s really about beginning the process of awakening, and I think it’s something we’re going to explore more with more of our recordings in the future. 
There are some things that we talk about in there, like class struggle issues. 

 

SJ: What would you say are the primary differences between this album and your previous full-length, and what would you ultimately attribute to those differences?

 

JA: Jerome and The Psychics is a band that started when I first got a hold of the Nuggets compilation, and that always played a huge role for me. Part of this contemporary garage rock movement going on in America is based around ‘60s garage music, and we took from a lot of that. We were into garage-punk and ‘90s stuff like The Cynics. On the first album, we were almost playing to the standard ideal of what we thought ‘60s garage rock influences are. Since that time, I’ve realized those bands were all influenced by groups that were taking so many hints from Black music—that’s what they were seeking to emulate. 

In between those two albums, I realized that a lot of bands [today] that enjoy playing with these [garage] influences are only taking from the white bands of the era. That’s why it’s so thin sounding. No one ever dances to them. No one ever feels moved. Garage music reflects bourgeois youth rebellion, and soul music represents an oppressed people letting their soul really speak out.  

 

SJ: With you being back in Brazil now, what does the future hold for Jerome and The Psychics?

 

JA: This might be the first time I’ve publicly stated so, but I spent my year here as the manager of a small hotel. I did that because I had felt very frustrated with music. I had felt really frustrated with a lot of things in my personal life. I kind of wanted to just get away from it all. I thought I wanted to make a new beginning, but what I realized was what I really wanted and needed was just to get to know myself. I’ve spent this past year working a lot. Going from being a shit worker and thinking things are my fault to being a manager and realizing that being a manager in any sort of business in a capitalistic enterprise is bullshit. 

I’m going back to America in March because my life isn’t about making money. Money is violence. I love music, but before I use music to sort of glorify myself, I love playing music and I love connecting with people, and the only reason I would continue doing so is to get the message out there that we together can make things a lot better for each other. I’ll be doing that. I’ll be back in March. We’re going to tour. We’re going to record more. We’re going to work on getting this album out there. We’re basically just going to do what we love. We’re going to make music for people and with people, just sharing the love and having fun with it.

 

You can purchase Money is Violence via Bandcamp right now.

 

comments powered by Disqus

Welcome to MFT!

Supported By

With support from: Arts Council and the City of IndianapolisIndiana Arts CommissionNational Endowment for the Arts

Recent Blog Posts

8/22/20
by Grant McClintock
08/20/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
E & AJ, from ELE Fest, guest-hosted:https://www.elevatedfest.com/1. Among the Compromised - Elev...
8/15/20
by Grant McClintock
08/13/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
08/13/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FMChris Banta, from Romanus Records, guest-hosted:1. Sm wolf &ndas...
8/8/20
by Grant McClintock
08/06/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
08.06.2020 MFT radion show on WQRT: Jeff Nordyke guest-hosting:The Brothers Footman - BangO.D.D.I.T....

Donate to MFT

Help us spread Indiana music, and we'll give you special rewards as our way of saying "thanks!"

 

Recent Blog Posts

8/22/20
by Grant McClintock
08/20/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
E & AJ, from ELE Fest, guest-hosted:https://www.elevatedfest.com/1. Among the Compromised - Elev...
8/15/20
by Grant McClintock
08/13/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
08/13/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FMChris Banta, from Romanus Records, guest-hosted:1. Sm wolf &ndas...
8/8/20
by Grant McClintock
08/06/2020 MFT Radio Show on WQRT FM
08.06.2020 MFT radion show on WQRT: Jeff Nordyke guest-hosting:The Brothers Footman - BangO.D.D.I.T....