Christian Bland is the lead guitarist of Austin Tx psychedelic group, The Black Angels, as well as co-founder of the annual Austin Psych Fest which will be taking place for the 7th time in May 2014 (http://www.austinpsychfest.com/) Aside from these things, Christian also played guitar as part of the touring act for the legendary Roky Erickson’s (13th Floor Elevators) solo project. He also created and manages the Reverberation Appreciation Society, a record label based in Austin that puts out records by bands like Cosmonauts, Holy Wave, and Christian’s own solo group, which will be gracing McAllen Tx with their presence at the end of the month, on Friday August 30th.(http://www.austinpsychfest.com/)
We had the chance to ask him a few questions about his life, what it means to be psychedelic, and we found out about his past aspirations to be an Olympian and some of his favorite art, among other things.
Michael Flannagan: What does psychedelic mean to you?
Christan Bland: “to fathom hell or soar angelic, take a pinch of psychedelic.” -Osmond
MF: “Psychedelic music has been around since the dawn of man.” Could you please elaborate on that statement?
CB: humans have been making music and taking mind altering drugs since the dawn of man in order to commune with the spiritual world. Psychedelic rock n’ roll started with the 13th Floor Elevators in 1965.
MF: I’ve read an interview that claims you said the masses were not ready for psychedelic music, do you believe that? If you do, why, and how do you think we can get to a point where they are ready?
CB: people are afraid to open their mind and let everything come thru. it’s easier to do as one’s told and believe in what those in control say is the truth instead of exploring and searching for answers on your own. so,even though I wish the masses were ready for psychedelic rock n’ roll, they aren’t because they’re stuck being brainwashed by what they’re told is good music with the music played on mainstream radio, and what american idol and other similar types of shows says is ‘good’. Soulful music is easy to spot and vice versa. –
MF: You have a master’s degree, which takes a lot of time being in school to achieve. There is an anti-establishment message of “turn on, tune in, drop out” that has been connected to the psychedelic; I wonder how you personally reconcile these two seemingly conflicting aspects of your life.
CB: I got a scholarship to high jump at Florida State. So my main motivation for going to school was to pursue high jump with the hopes that one day I would compete in the Olympics and afterwards end up being a high jump coach at a university somewhere. I ended up studying advertising/graphic design while I was in school which seemed like an interesting way to use my creativity. It wasn’t until I had to get surgery on my knee and then broke my ankle high jumping that I started to figure out the guitar and fall in love with it. Because I broke my ankle, I was able to red shirt a season at FSU and transfer to University of Texas to high jump a season and extend my schooling to pursue getting my masters in advertising and at the same time try to start a band. Honestly, I felt lucky to get my masters because my parents were pressuring me to get a job after I graduated from Florida State and that’s the last thing I wanted to do. So under the guise of getting my masters in Austin, I was able to start looking for people to play music with. Everything in life happens for a reason and things fall into place. So, had I not broken my ankle high jumping, the black angels wouldn’t exist. I think that’s pretty psychedelic. Turn on, Tune in Drop out. –
MF: What does it mean to you to be a Black Angel?
CB: It means questioning preconceived notions and figuring out alternative methods for survival. –
MF: What role do you think things like marijuana and lsd played in the general vibe that was created worldwide during 1960’s, and how do you see that role evolving from then to now and into the future?
CB: humans have been using mind altering drugs since the dawn of man. in the grand scheme of things governments have just recently been cracking down on these drugs for financial reasons and for safety reasons, because sometimes people do stupid things on drugs. I think LSD and Marijuana can be tools for an artist like a hammer or a saw for a carpenter. They can open new doors that you didn’t know were even there, but if abused you might smash your finger or saw off your arm.
MF: I know you’re a big Beatles fan, I’m curious to know how you might relate too, or simply interpret, these lyrics from John Lennon’s song, Mother: “Children don’t do what I have done, I couldn’t walk and I tried to run”?
CB: Within a household that’s either too stifling or too relaxed, disciple wise, I think there’s ‘generational backlash’ in which each generation rebels against the previous one. I think John Lennon’s lyrics might’ve been playing into this idea, warning the next generation to take another path than the one he chose. –
MF: The lighter sides of psychedelia are very often focused on, the light heartedness and the general idea of being a free spirit, but much less discussed are the dark sides experienced by many of the pioneers of the psychedelic, such as addiction and mental instability. Being that you exist at the forefront of modern psychedelic music, have worked personally with some of its most important innovators, and seem to spend your time doing things that indicate a person of reason and sensibility, I feel your perspective on this dark side could be particularly useful. Would you mind indulging us to whatever degree you consider appropriate?
CB: we’ve learned from the pioneers of psychedelic rock n roll that the road of excess leads to the dark side in which losing touch with ones mind is a definite possibility. Mind altering drugs need to be viewed as sacred and not as forms of entertainment or daily abuse. Our minds and bodies are fragile.
MF: What new music have you been listening to lately that you really dig? How about an obscure classic or two that most people might not be aware of?
CB: new: 1. Apache Dropout 2. White Fence 3. Cosmonauts 4. Holy Wave 5. Night Beats old: 1. Billy Nicholls – Would You Believe 2. Del Shannon – Home & Away / The Further Adventures of Charles Westover 3. July – s/t
MF: Who are some of your favorite artists and works of art that are not musicians or albums?
CB: Bridget Riley – Uneasy Centre, 1963 Wes Wilson – Can You Pass the Acid Test & the Fillmore posters Julian Stanczak – Concurrent Colors, 1965 William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-1793 Stephen Crane – Red Badge of Courage, 1895 Milton Glaser – Dylan, 1966 Stanley Kubrick – Paths of Glory, 1957 –
MF: Could you please explain, as little or as much as you like, the meaning of these album titles: Passover: Indigo Meadow: Pig Boat Blues:
CB: Passover – Joy Division Indigo Meadow – the paintings by Porforio Salinas Pig Boat Blues – an underground protest newspaper by american GI’s during the Vietnam War –
MF: Anything you want to let people know about upcoming projects that you are involved in?
CB: the new Revelators album ‘The Unseen Green Obscene’ has been started and should be out sometime in 2014 –
MF: Thanks for your time!
CB: thanks man, looking forward to our first show in McAllen on the 30th!
Event details here! https://www.facebook.com/events/190416274462720/?ref=3