Some shit-talking

Pub date May 3, 2011

MUSIC Psychedelic Horseshit slinger Matt Horseshit has the gift of gab. He’s been credited with coining the genre label shitgaze, though he’s quick to dismiss it. “Genre names are pretty ridiculous at this point — a few kids in their room make up something and call it shoelace-gaze. A few people do something in their house and it’s now, ‘Which house?'”

Yet that talent, and flair for provocation, has also gotten the vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist into a world of pony dookie. Like when he spewed equine poo-poo all over Wavves, Vivian Girls, No Age, and TV on the Radio to the Washington Post in ’09, creating an indie-rock perfect shitstorm of heavily blogged proportions. Lo-fi, Horseshit opined in the article, has “exploded into this thing where Wavves is getting $30,000 to [expletive] crank out this [expletive] generic [expletive].” Call it the Horseshit side of the delightfully whacked, very wrong, and thoroughly shattered Psychedelic Horseshit equation talking.

Still, in a world of so much prepackaged pop/rock/hip-hop bowel movements and independents who’d rather play innocuous than call out crap as they hear it, you gotta love a guy who’s willing to say how he really feels, however impolitic, sensational, and naive it might be to do so. “There are too many positive vibes out there!” a friendly Horseshit (né Whitehurst), 27, protested last week by phone from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. “Sometimes you gotta cut the tree down to make it bigger.”

The problem was that people, like the Vivian Girls, whom Horseshit considers pals and “sweet people,” got hurt. “I was railing against stuff in a moment of confused passion,” he explains now. “Then I was getting e-mails from people that I partied with, ‘What the fuck, I thought we were friends … ?’ No one wants to listen to the guy from Psychedelic Horseshit talk about how they’re influenced by Pavement — we’re here to entertain people and sell records — some people got that out of that …”

The flurry also caused Horseshit to step back and think about what he was doing — and whether he wanted to continue doing it at all. After putting out a mini-avalanche of CD-Rs, EPs, and albums on Siltbreeze and Wavves’ label Woodsist, among others (and running through 17 bass players), Horseshit decided to jump the “lo-fi gutter,” as he puts it, and embrace clarity, texture, even lyrics that don’t harsh on rock’s absurdities (see “New Wave Hippies” on Magic Flowers Droned [Siltbreeze, 2007]), rendered all the more naggingly accusatory when delivered in his nasal, nyah-nyah-ish tones.

“I honestly wanted to make a leap to a bigger label,” he says. “But after all my shit-talking, nobody would touch us at all … I don’t want to be linked to shitgaze for the rest of my life and be a rock history footnote.”

So after “weeding out” some band members, Horseshit and percussionist-keyboardist Ryan Jewell decided to make an album, Laced, to please themselves. “This record was the first thing where we took all our influences and thought about the way it was being taped,” says Horseshit, who confesses that he’s now thoroughly sick of mixing his own band’s music. “It’s more textured and more about sonics than it is about being bratty punks, and the lyrics are more dreamlike. There’s not a lot of pointed ‘fuck this’ and ‘fuck that.’ I got sick of that stuff … I was a little too honest there for a while.”

FatCat has since signed them on and Laced — a hazy, hallucinatory miasma of beats and moods that evokes both the loudly buzzing atmospherics of Black Dice and the experimental art damage of a less poppy Ariel Pink — is set to come out May 10. Leading up to the blessed date: the “Shitty Sundays” series of larky yet intriguing free MP3s (some freshly recorded only a few days previous), which have been released weekly on the FatCat site. The MP3s hint at Laced‘s trippier, less aggro mood, clad in samples and sprinkled with sequencers and drum machines (“I started going to festivals and taking ecstasy and getting into blissed-out dance music,” explains Horseshit), although the fuck-it feeling that anything can happen remains, the same freewheeling, horse-caca churn of the first Psychedelic Horseshit show I ever saw, back in 2007. “It’s a stepping stone kind of record,” Horseshit offers. “It has one foot in our path and goes in a lot of different places and frees us up from what a lot of people think we are.”

A tempered, more mature Horseshit? Could be — he’s even willing to bide his time while Jewell is away on a meditation retreat. “He wouldn’t even tell me where it was!” he marvels, adding that keyboardist Nicole Bland is playing with the band in the U.K., “covering his ass when he’s figured this shit out.”

“I said, ‘The record’s coming out,’ and he said, ‘I can’t be in the band right now. I just need to be away and find out what’s going on.’ It’s bad timing, but I respect it. It’s like, you know, ‘Thanks.'”