MEET: Matt Wicks of psych-rock band Grinding Eyes

Grinding Eyes, Melbourne, Music, Psych rock -

MEET: Matt Wicks of psych-rock band Grinding Eyes

The rise of psych rock music in Australia has been nothing short of revolutionary. Yep, we said it REVOLUTIONARY. 

With bands like Tame Impala, Pond, King Gizzard and ORB carving their way onto global airwaves, you have to admit, it's pretty damn impressive. And that's just skimming the surface.

There's a deeply rooted scene of kraut-rocking, shoe-gazing heavy hitters that are keeping the local scene flourished and boundaries pushed - and we're right in the thick of it. One of the bands that has found their place at the forefront is Sydney's Grinding Eyes - creating sickly sweet soundscapes of dark, chaotic garage rock that is strange and wonderful all at once. 

Singer Matt Wicks is a few days out from his mini festival, Can You Handle The Acid Test. Returning for its second year at Melbourne's Tote Hotel, Matt took some time out to chat to us about Australia's psych rock scene, being a festival organiser and the past 4 years with his band Grinding Eyes...

What exactly have we interrupted you doing today?

We’re trying to navigate some crazy Melbourne traffic to get to the airport on time.

Grinding Eyes are bloody cherished in Sydney’s psych music scene. What have been some of your best shows you’ve played over the years? 

There’s been lots...I guess the small run of shows with Jesus and Mary Chain stands out - they are amazing people and we got to watch them every night. I've have to mention Sydney and Melbourne Gizzfest too cos their always such a cool line-ups. And Uncle Acid - because it was Uncle Acid!  

What can Sydney do to create a more vibrant psych scene?

Open up more venues to accommodate the amount of bands into psych and also more airplay in general - electronica gets a fair shake.

What’s the story behind Can You Handle The Acid Test Mini Fest?

We wanted to combine a show with some visual artists to create a fucked up, sonic psychedelic show, not a performance piece, rather an atmospheric experimental vibe. The line-up took on a momentum of its own as acts approached us and seemed intrigued and interested to support the idea.

Is there a reason you chose to do the festival in Melbourne and not Sydney?

We seem to play a lot more in Melbourne, so when the legendary Tote (one of our all-time favourite venues to play) expressed interest to help build the show and accommodate our crazy idea, it was the natural destination!!

 When did Grinding Eyes first get together?

I think late 2015 we put out our first single, recorded by us in my basement, after some late night impromptu jams...

It was the love of fuzzed-out white noise mixed with heavy kraut-rock and maybe bits of garage punk that made us think “this works.”

Who out of the band is most represented in the music you produce?

Cec, our drummer. 

What does success look like for the band, what are your ultimate goals?

Really not sure what success looks like, maybe a flying pig on a magic carpet (laughs). Seriously though, in the most important sense, having the luxury for rehearsal and recording is success. We’re not that goal orientated, other than to create, experiment and enjoy the experience of making music you’re proud of. 

Is there anyone you’re dying to collaborate with?

I’d literally have to die to do it - like collaborate in the afterlife with Syd Barrett or Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith or Captain Beefheart or Miles Davis...

What is the first gig you ever went to?

In Melbourne, with my older sister, I was 6 or 7 and the band was KISS...

What is the last gig you went to?

The Ability Festival in Melbourne the other day!! 

When did you first get into psych rock music, was there a pivotal moment?

Probably when I started collecting analogue pedals. I became really interested in creating original guitar sounds, jamming along to the 13th Floor Elevators around the age of 14.

Are there any bands in Sydney we should have on our radar? 

Space Carbonara - cool band from the Central Coast who’s into psychedelic sounds and experimentation. Cool vibe and definitely have something going on

Moon - three girls from inner Sydney. Creating some amazing dark ambient indie pop.

What’s happening for the rest of the year?

We’re excited to be playing Boogie Festival in Victoria this weekend...

Playing with good friends BATPISS in Sydney at Crowbar on May 2nd.

We’re also heading to Hobart for the first time in June, to play Dark Mofo festival and hopefully a few side shows.

At the moment the band is halfway through recording our second album, due for release in October in Australia and Europe. We have an offer to tour Europe mid-November into December, just in time for the snow!! 

Catch Grinding Eyes at Can You Handle The Acid Test this Saturday, April 20. Tix available via The Tote Hotel.

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