Name: Psymon Spine
Members: Noah Prebish, Peter Spears, Brother Michael Rudinski, Sabine Holler
Occupations: Songwriters, instrumentalists
Current release: Psymon Spine's Charismatic Mutations, a collection of remixes of songs off their album Charismatic Megafauna is out via Northern Spy.
Recommendations: NP: Roberto Cacciapaglia - Sei Note in Logica (Six Notes) & Pixar’s Turning Red (I cried).
If you enjoyed this interview with Psymon Spine, visit them on Instagram, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Brother Michael: We all come from hilariously different music backgrounds. I (Brother Michae"l) am a product of being the younger brother of two very musically obsessed older brothers. I sort of fell into a path of wanting them to think I was cool so my earliest interests musically were bands like Metallica and Guns N Roses from my oldest brother who is 15 years older than me. Neither of my brothers are musicians but audio and music play a big role in their lives.
My first bond with music was in my oldest brother’s room, watching him set up his turntable and eyeing all the wires. To make myself feel cool I would unplug and plug back in my parents’ TV and our Sega, pretending I was my brother setting up stereo equipment. I’ve always been drawn to the more technical side of it from the beginning. None of my family members played instruments so the discovery and love of music came from the equipment required to experience it.
With loving music and wanting to impress my friends and crushes, I started fumbling with a guitar when I was 9. I didn’t know how to write a song or start a band so the first song I ever wrote was over a Gameboy game called “Batman: Return of the Joker”. Some games used to have what was called a sound test in the menu where you could listen to the music from the game without having to play the game. I remember it was a drum beat and like a bass line and I just was like “this fret works on this part and then if I slide down a few, this fret works over the second part”.
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
BM: For me it’s never colors or anything like that, it’s more sort of a scene setting effect on me. It feels as though as we’re writing music or if I’m mixing a record I use that “scene setting” as a compass to find a more cohesive sound.
If a sound is lacking it might just sound like a shitty drum kit but with a little adjustment it can sound like a breakup, a Burger King, or just like a walk down Broadway. If you know what the song is trying to achieve or say, that visual element is my best tool in navigating the songwriting or mixing process.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
BM: Psymon Spine started right as Peter and Noah had entered college. Our first record was written in a way that i imagine a lot of college freshmen band’s first records are like. Two kids get into a room and are like “hey I have these 10 songs from the last couple years” and then the other one says “yeah me too”. I didn’t go to normal college so if this isn’t accurate, forgive me.
When you have an idea for a song it spends some time in this moldable, exciting phase where things are open for debate and teamwork. But when songs sit for too long, you grow weirdly attached and its structure and sound get weirdly cemented in time. With Peter and Noah coming from really different musical interest backgrounds the record (while amazing IMO) often gets labeled as having an identity crisis. Which I get, but you can hear the building blocks for the next records within that first album.
We’ve had a long journey with finding what we sound like when we all join forces equally, think Psymon Spine Voltron. This album we’re working on now, I remember getting emotional one day listening to a demo because it finally felt like we were somewhere where the song was the sum of its parts - and then we wrote a whole album like that.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
BM: I’m sure every band member would have a wildly different answer to this.
Noah Prebish: Sup y’all. Michael is working today so I’m going to slowly take over answering the questions he didn’t have time to finish.
Yeah, we all have extremely different personalities and relationships to our creativity so it’s hard for just one of us to answer this. I’ll say this: Psymon Spine is a strange, floating thing that none of us truly understands and that can only shows up when we’ve all got our hands on the metaphorical Ouija board.
We write to serve this mysterious phantom that has its own identity separate from all of us. And no matter our individual intentions, Psymon Spine takes whatever form it sees fit.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
BM: It’s hard to say how it used to be for me because it all feels so long ago. The record we’re finishing now was started in the pandemic. It kind of felt like a time where everything was super high stress but also like nothing mattered at the same time. I think that energy set us up to enter this record with an “anything goes” kind of mindset.
It’s a hard system to follow at first but the key is really just trusting the process. Having faith in the band, our ears and knowing that we’re not going to say something is done unless it sounds cool.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
BM: I think for us we really cherish our influences throughout our whole musical journey and we draw a ton of influence from those sources. I think a lot of the journey of discovering how to be a band and writing music is through emulation. Not as in being a cover band, but more sort of like “how did they do that?”. You might set out to write a Back To The Egg level Wings song, but you’re not Paul, you’re not Linda, not even Denny. So it’s not going to sound quite right, but that’s kind of where the magic is.
NP: I used to be obsessed with making something no one had ever heard before, but it’s slowly dawned on me that starting from scratch is the least futuristic thing you could do.
Imagine if every scientist had to rediscover every scientific principle for themselves before they could make anything new. The human lifetime literally isn’t long enough, nothing would ever get done. Progress is about standing on the shoulders of giants.
What’s further - I don’t really give a shit about legacy or being a person who invented something. I just want to make songs that are new enough to be exciting but familiar enough to feel good.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
NP: Collaboration is the most important tool in my creative arsenal. Other people are way more exciting to me than instruments. Any instrument I know how to play or production trick I know how to do was at some point the result of me trying to connect with another person, either to help them achieve their idea or so that they could help me achieve mine.