Sydney rockers Grinding Eyes are the hottest new act in the booming Aussie psych scene. They just released their sophomore album Taste the Monochrome and are set to embark on a massive tour to support the album, which will also include the third installment of their psychedelic spectacle, the 'Can You Handle The Acid Test' festival. We caught up with the trio about their new album, The Acid Test and some of their most memorable touring experiences.
You've toured alongside some pretty legendary bands, including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr., and The Drones, which act was your favourite or most memorable to share the stage with?
I would personally have to say The Jesus and Mary Chain. I grew up listening to them and have always been heavily influenced by the sheer amazing sonic feel of their sound. Getting to see them soundcheck and create a whirlwind of sonic energy every night was amazing.
Away from that I believe it was quite a tumultuous time within the band themselves, they had some wacky politics going on where the two brothers weren’t really communicating on the best level with each other, so it got a bit intense backstage at times - you could cut the air with a knife!
You’ve toured with Swervedriver on multiple occasions and even released a split single with them, what did you learn from spending time with such an influential and experienced group?
I suppose the number one thing we learnt from touring with Swervedriver is how amazing they sound live - they’re such a consistent sounding band, day in and day out, they sound killer. They somehow manage to create the sound of their records live seamlessly and effortlessly, not to mention they are just super sweet lovely people. I believe all of Grinding Eyes at some point on tour ended up on stage with them playing percussion!
How and when did you first come up with the idea for the Can You Handle the Acid Test festival?
The Acid Test was always something we toyed with the idea of, we know so many great bands, lots of amazing visual artists, DJs / poster artists and VJs. We wanted to bring everything together and do something just a little bit different, more vibe and atmosphere than just an ordinary three band bill. Bring a large multi band bill with no major focus on one headlining act, just the overall vibe - or more of an old school party - happening!
Some good friends from Melbourne band Buried Feather were doing a single launch we were playing and thought that would be a great time to start it up and get something going with a different vibe. I believe it was about three years ago!
This year will be the festival’s third instalment, how do you plan to expand Can You Handle the Acid Test next?
We plan to bring it to Brisbane and Sydney later on in the year (hopefully). We had plans for the Sydney leg last year, but unfortunately due to the pandemic lockdown / shutdown part two it was postponed.
You mentioned that your latest single ‘Until It Falls Apart’ was written while on tour of North America. How keen are you to get back to playing international shows?
We’re really looking forward to getting back to doing some international travelling, we all have the travel bug bad... We all have good friends and family in different parts of the world, it’s great being able to travel, catch up and play shows with people and experience new places and different vibes, not to mention the experience of bringing our music and blowing some minds along the way!
Was a lot of the writing for Taste the Monochrome done around the same touring period, or were you writing for the album in Australia during COVID times?
I would say half the album was written on the road, it’s amazing what comes out at soundcheck or in the back of the van. When you have hours to burn you can experiment. Some of the songs on this album date back to our first album and at the time were just a little bit too new and fresh to make it through the recording process!
To expand on that, how was your creative process affected by lockdown?
We were lucky enough to be pretty much finished up all the album tracking as the pandemic really kicked in. I recall finishing off some synth parts in my lounge room when Sydney was in lockdown. The biggest effect the pandemic had on the album was the mixing. The album was mixed by good friend Evan Foster at No-Count records in downtown Seattle. We were scheduled to be doing US dates and had planned to finish up in Seattle and mix the album. Our grand plans fell over and the mixing sessions turned into crazy bizarre long zoom meetings - phone calls and many many dropbox shared files all hours of the night. It was definitely another world and a totally different experimental creative process that we had to embrace and run with!
Who are your favourite acts in the Aussie psych scene at the moment?
There are so many amazing psych vibed bands out and about at the moment, Australia are really holding their own and it’s amazing to see the mind blowing music getting produced here! Off the top of my head I would say:
Ancient Channels from Brisbane - amazing crossover psych / dream pop band!
Black Heart Death Cult from Melbourne - great heavy psych drone rock ‘n’ roll, mind blowing live show and a great back catalogue to burn.
Flyying Colours from Melbourne - maybe more shoegaze then psych BUT an amazing sonic ambience and they have an excellent new album.
Peel from Sydney - absolute killer psych rock / dream pop feel, killer songs. They’re playing our album launch in Sydney and we’re looking forward to watching them play again.
Sacred Shrines from Brisbane - killer psych and garage infused sounds, killer catchy songs excellent vibes.
Bliss from Sydney - super amazing young psych / indie pop sounding band. Super catchy songs, amazing ambience, always enjoy their live shows.
Grinding Eyes 'Taste the Monochrome' Tour
Tickets on sale now
Friday April 30
Bearded Lady, Brisbane
Saturday May 1
Bearded Lady, Brisbane
Sunday May 2
The Sunday RNR BBQ, Brisbane
Monday May 3
No Dessert Clubhouse, Burleigh Heads
Friday May 7
La La La's, Wollongong
Saturday May 8
Narrabeen RSL, Narrabeen
Sunday May 9
Station Hotel, Newcastle
Friday May 14
Saturday May 15
Sunday May 16
Laneway - Visual Arts Warehouse Party, Sydney
Thursday May 20
Question Mark, Albury
Friday May 21
Cactus Room, Melbourne
Saturday May 22
The Tote, Melbourne
Sunday May 23
The Tote, Melbourne