“I can’t imagine not playing music,” admits Tres Warren.
As the frontman of Psychic Ills, he and Elizabeth Hart have been doing just that for over a decade.
“We met in art class and just had things in common,” he remembers of meeting the group’s bassist at university. “We were a couple, we were together for a long time and started a band. Now we’re like family and we’re still playing music together,” he explains.
“Generally the material starts with me, but I like the collaborative aspect of having somebody come in along the way and record together – I think it’s just fun to have a group.”
Their earliest work was exploratory and improvisational.
“We started out home recording, programming drum machines, playing guitar, and writing songs. I learned to record as I learned how to write songs,” he recalls.
“I still like some of them,” the Texas-born singer-guitarist admits of those first recordings. “I can definitely see things I’d like to change, but I think most people can and it’s important to get past that at a certain point and give it to the world and see what they think about it.
“Some people take 20 years to make a record and that’s cool too, but it’s also about how other people react to it. They’re not thinking about it exactly the way you’re thinking about it – they don’t see the same faults you do.”
The soft-spoken Warren continues to see faults in his work, even accomplished new album ‘Inner Journey Out’.
“Maybe there’s too many songs on this record, I don’t know,” he muses at one point, “but I wanted to make a long record. I don’t want to make it an endurance test but I like when you put something on and you can get lost in the feeling of it.
“I know that people generally listen to singles or download a song but I definitely still like listening to a whole record and if there are some singles that pop up throughout that, that’s great.”
‘Inner Journey Out’ certainly delivers on that front – in particular the song ‘I Don’t Mind’, which features the vocals of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval.
“She’s got an amazing voice,” marvels Warren, whose band supported Mazzy Star on a 2013 US tour. So once he’d recorded the song, envisioned as a duet in the style of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s 1968 album ‘Nancy & Lee’, he sent it to her.
“She really liked it and sang on it,” he offers, simply. “It worked out the best way that it could have – I had this idea that it would be this ‘Nancy & Lee’ type thing and it didn’t turn out exactly like that. But I like how it did – like an old country duet, but not quite.”
Warren has long excelled at delivering such unexpected twists in his music, but now the element of surprise even extends to the artwork of ‘Inner Journey Out’, which resembles a brown paper bag.
“I wanted something that was very plain and didn’t say too much on the outside, but when you got inside of it there was a lot going on,” he concludes with typical understatement.