If you weren’t sure how psyched we are to be involved with Levitation, the psych fest taking place in Austin April 26-29, we named a pedal after it. That’s how much we love it! And just like our pedal, this year’s festival lineup is filled with reverb-drenched delights.
To get into the spirit, we chatted with some of our breakfast taco-loving artists who are appearing this year about who they’re most excited to play with, what pedals have earned precious spots on their boards, and what Austin foods they’re most excited to eat. Hint: we just told you. It’s breakfast tacos.
What two bands is your band the love child of?
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: We grew up on a commune with NIN, Townes Van Zandt, Cohen, Nick Cave, Tricky, PJ Harvey, Abner Jay, Philip Glass, Nerve Agents, and Portishead. We were never exactly sure who we belonged to.
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: The Beach Boys and The Velvet Underground.
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: The Supremes and Link Wray
Lena Simon, La Luz: The Zombies & T. Rex.
Joe Scott, Relaxer: I’d say Black Sabbath and Yes. Maybe a little Captain Beyond?
Sean Hur, Ruby the Hatchet: Ruby the Hatchet is the love child of Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac, though these days it’s a lil’ more Uriah Heep and Fleetwood Mac. We’re heavy but we love to sing, and we’re also not afraid of a little drama.
Ripley Johnson, Wooden Shjips: Moby Grape and Agitation Free.
Andrew Cashen, A Giant Dog: Somebody told me one time that we sounded like a cross between X and Thin Lizzy. I thought that was pretty accurate.
What’s your band’s best song lyric?
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: "I eat old meat"
Lena Simon, La Luz: I love that lyric! Shana and I agree. Best line, followed with "anything I get free."
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: That’s a better question for Alex. He does the singing! People sometimes think he’s singing dolphins in “Grab as Much”
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: It seems that since I joined the band, people have connected with the lyric: “We could be two straight lines in a crooked world."
Sean Hur, Ruby the Hatchet: That’s tough for me. Jillian writes her lyrics especially for how the words sound, which is why I’d have to go for her lyric in “Paralyzed” - “Now I ride the night sky while the weak ones twitch / Tell the one I love the most I’m pulling out the stitch” For me, when I hear that line she reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne at his best because of how she hits a few notes in those lines, but the lyric especially reminds me of her.
Ripley Johnson, Wooden Shjips: Here’s a new one: "Why be low? / All of us are sitting here / Feeling strange / Light a merry cigarillo"
What’s on your pedalboard?
Sean Hur, Ruby the Hatchet: Live, I usually keep a simple setup. I play a 1957 Lowrey SS Linconlwood, a Leslie 47, and I run an older Korg SD-400 Signal Delay. I’ve also recently added a Yamaha CS-10 synthesizer which is a game changer, and the Arpanoid is the first thing in the chain. For keys, I try not to go further than a few different things in any chain, ‘cause the sound is already amplified and complex and not a small electric guitar signal. For recording, I used the Arpanoid to make the first sounds that fade in on our newest album, Planetary Space Child. It made the horror / sci-fi soundscape I made for the intro happen.
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: My pedal board is always in flux. Right now as far as EQD, Chelsea uses Talons, Speaker Cranker, and Acapulco Gold, and I usually am running a Disaster Transport, Afterneath, and an Organizer. I also have been using the Levitation Reverb pedal a lot lately.
Lena Simon, La Luz: Currently on my board is the legacy version of the Disaster Transport modulated delay, Tech21 SansAmp Classic, and an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano (which I would actually like to swap out for an EQD Levitation reverb!
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: Always have my Hoof and Palisades. Hummingbird as well.
Which pedal would you be dead without?
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: The brake pedal. I use the tuner a lot too.
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: I’d be dead without an overdrive or some sort of a drive / distortion box unless the amp I’m using breaks up nicely....oh and spring reverb....and I’d be bummed if I didn’t have my Foxx Tone Machine I rehoused years ago. Its upper octave melts faces and peels paint. If I could only grab one to use it would be the Palisades. It’s basically three pedals in one so you can do a ton with just that pedal.
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: If I had to, I could get by without any pedals as long as I had good ol' Fender amp reverb.
Lena Simon, La Luz: I am in a long-term relationship with that Disaster Transport.
Andrew Cashen, A Giant Dog: A tuner pedal and overdrive.
Ripley Johnson, Wooden Shjips: I would adapt, but in a fire, I’d save the Klon first.
Jasamine White-Gluz, No Joy: Afterneath! It does everything I want from a pedal! The perfect balance of airy and noisy and creates such a mood. Without it I don't even know what I could do to try and recreate the crazy sounds I get from it. I also love using it to run vocals and synths through sometimes too. It’s the best!
Joe Scott, Relaxer: It changes periodically, but right now I’d say the Transmisser. It creates such a unique sense of space…I just love it.
Which artists at Levitation are you most excited to see?
Jasamine White-Gluz, No Joy: That is so hard! Ministry is a huge influence so definitely excited to finally see them.
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: I think Ty Segall, Ministry, and Panda Bear will all be rad shows to see.
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: That guy that plays drums on the rim of the city garbage can with a wire clothes hanger, and The Make-Up.
Lena Simon, La Luz: Hurray for the Riff Raff and Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: I want to see Boogarins again, and Ty [Segall].
Sean Hur, Ruby the Hatchet: I’d love to catch Brian Jonestown Massacre at Levitation. Anton and I are Françoise Hardy fans which makes me root for him.
Joe Scott, Relaxer: Imarhan, Ty Segall, and Ruby the Hatchet.
Ripley Johnson, Wooden Shjips: OM, Dallas Acid, Vive la Void.
Which Austin food are you most excited to eat?
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: Breakfast tacos!
Lena Simon, La Luz: I mean, yeah, breakfast tacos.
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: When it comes to food, my advice is breakfast tacos. But if you’re picky non-breakfast tacos are okay. Damn good BBQ around here as well. If you’re an early riser you can line up for Franklin’s BBQ. It’s Brisket heaven.
Ripley Johnson, Wooden Shjips: Queso dip, breakfast tacos — the usual.
Jasamine White-Gluz, No Joy: I always over-order the fried avocado tacos from Torchy's when we go because I am so excited to have those. I've pretty much always had the best food in Austin so hopefully I will find something new to try too!
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: I have to shout out Mr. Natural. I’ve been going there since the first time I came to Austin. It’s been serving vegetarian and vegan food since 1988.
Andrew Cashen, A Giant Dog: Micklethwait’s BBQ is always top on my list. I'm recently a fan of Kula sushi train - cheap good sushi that moves on a conveyor belt in front of your table. It tastes way better than it sounds.
Have you ever levitated?
Ben Chisholm, Chelsea Wolfe: Only when nobody was watching.
Jasamine White-Gluz, No Joy: Not that I know of. I am very afraid of heights.
Lena Simon, La Luz: When I was a kid, I would claim that I was the reincarnation of Buddha. I don't know where that idea came from, so maybe it's true and maybe I can levitate!
Shana Cleveland, La Luz: Sometimes if I lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling until my eyes un-focus the ceiling becomes fluid and I get the sense that my mouth is growing larger than my face and I can feel all my atoms vibrating, at that moment it seems everything is levitating. Try it sometime!
Joe Scott, Relaxer: Yes, but only after my 5th cup of coffee, when I can vibrate at the precise inverse frequency as the rest of the Earth.
Sean Hur, Ruby the Hatchet: Yes! When I play music, whenever it’s really good, I don’t remember anything during the performance. I’ve learned a long time ago as a musician when you can turn off that part of your consciousness of keeping space time, you’re talking to the cosmos at the most present moment. You stop keeping time and you start playing with it. The best musicians are the ones with the timing and feel; there’s only so many notes in music that sound good, and for most you don’t really need more than five to carry on. Music is one of the arts that only exists when it’s being made or heard at that moment. Getting as close to the present with music is as high as you can get inside your mind, and if you do it right, you won’t remember it happening.
Kyle Hunt, the Black Angels: Have I ever levitated. I think I try to levitate daily or at least meditate. I was actually thanking about the concept and I feel that touring on a bus is pretty close if you really think about it. We horizontally float thru the night going around 70 mph in our bunks.
Andrew Cashen, A Giant Dog: Is this a boner joke? Then yes.
Anna Blumenthal handles Sales and Artist Relations for EarthQuaker Devices. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, plays bass in Sit N Spin, DJs 60s soul and R&B at various Brooklyn bars, and has seen Cheap Trick over 30 times.