Cold? Today’s boozy, body-warming mid-December Drop comes from Portland’s Pseudosix. There are six players some of the time (from various PDX crews like Dolorean, Grails, Joggers, the Standard), but when the band started it was just Tim Perry by his lonesome: He invented the word “Pseudosix”; it has nothing to do with the number of folks lining up behind the banner. In fact, he told us things are still shifting. “In its biggest, balls out capacity, the band consists of six people. Other times, it’s four or five of us. And on some lonely occasions, it’s just myself.” Which is how Perry approached “Serious Alchemist,” a brittle, lightly percussive, oddly Oberstian folk-pop song about falling down drunk to chase the pain away. He recorded it especially for Stereogum, so we asked him for the lowdown.
Where was “Serious Alchemist” recorded? And how?
It was recorded in a dark and damp, cavernous basement here in Portland, Oregon. It’s the same basement that the band recorded a lot of our album in — and a very fitting place for this particular song. It was recorded with my friend Jesse manning the controls and myself playing and singing.
When you passed it along, you mentioned you used $1.72 for percussion. Any significance to that amount of money?
I felt strongly that this song should be recorded in the moment and without too much concern to detail. So we just threw a couple mics up and did the guitar and vocals together in one take. Then we took one of the mics and stuck it in front of the kick and did that real quick like too. I realized that what I really wanted was a tambourine. But we didn’t have one. So we put our change together (hence the $1.72) and used that instead. I just shook it in my hand close up to the mic.
What’s the story behind the title?
The song is called “Serious Alchemist” mainly because of the role that booze plays at the end of each verse. In this case, drink is the elixir that brings sleep, which in turn provides closure and cure from all the other bullshit that I make reference to in the song. When I wake up, all of those things will be history to me. Peace and order restored. Lesson learned. Moving on.
Pseudosix’s self-titled sophomore album is out now on Sonic Boom (the Seattle label, not the British guy).