On March 20 we lost Tres Warren of Psychic Ills. One of the lead vocalists to the psychedelic group, Tres and his cohort Elizabeth Hart released five albums spanning 15 years.
The band was preparing to record new material and has a new 7″ single on their longtime label Sacred Bones Records:
At the time of his death, Warren was overflowing with creativity, actively writing new songs, and excited about the next phase of the band.
No cause of death has yet been released.
Cease to Exist
When Tres passed, Psychic Ills was less than two weeks from releasing a new single, Never Learn Not to Love / Cease to Exist.
The former was originally released in 1969 by The Beach Boys. While the song was credited to Dennis Wilson, it was actually written as the latter by the infamous Charles Manson.
Lyrics were rearranged, music altered and edited, but it’s a Manson original through and through.
For those not familiar with the topic, see the film The Beach Boys and the Satan (Note: that review is 12 years old, so be gentle). Here’s a quote on the Dennis Wilson and Charles Manson from The Brag:
Figuring he had perhaps gotten a little too involved when Manson left a bullet and a thinly veiled threat with Wilson’s housekeeper one evening, Dennis did what all responsible men do when faced with a volatile situation, and abandoned ship, leaving a hapless landlord to deal with the pesky matter of a live-in cult at one of their properties – and possibly cigarette burns on the curtains. Wilson’s rental history was never quite the same after that.
For any Psychic Ills fan, Never Learn Not to Love / Cease to Exist is a more than worthy addition to your collection, and not because it’s most likely the final new work we’ll hear from the band.
But the legend of Wilson and Manson is not necessarily what intrigued Warren, who stated about both songs:
The soulfulness is what has always spoken to me in those songs. I gravitate towards that(soul) in music, and both of these songs have it in spades. I almost shed a tear every time I hear Dennis Wilson sing.
Here’s his take on “Never Learn Not to Love”:
A Look Back at Early Psychic Ills
The only Psychic Ills full-length I’m missing is their 2008 LP Mirror Eye, having snagged their debut Dins on vinyl earlier this year during a trip up to Vancouver, BC.
Dins–released on The Social Registry in 2005–delves into a deeper psychedelic drone than Psychic Ills’ Sacred Bones era. The early work was more reminiscent of space rock and shoegaze than the hazy psychedelic folk-rock of more recent years.
Here’s “January Rain” off Dins:
Three years later, Psychic Ills gave us Mirror Eye.
Of note was their near-eleven-minute opener, “Mantis”, which received a totally psychedelic video. To add to the strangeness, you don’t even see footage until 15 seconds in:
Listening to some early Psychic Ills is almost indicative of slapping an early Moon Duo LP on the turntable. It bleeds in colorful psychedelic experimentation.
Joining the Sacred Bones Family
In around 2011, the band hooked up with Sacred Bones Records. The change was more than just a label hop. Their sound morphed and progressed into something new as well.
Psychic Ills dropped much of the experimentation, lost a lot of the drone in favor of a more cohesive folk-rock psychedelic swagger.
Check out “I’ll Follow You Through The Floor” off the band’s Sacred Bones debut Hazed Dream:
The band came to my attention with their 2013 album One Track Mind. By then, they had cemented the laid-back, almost country-tinged psychedelic folk rock.
My favorite song off the album, both then and now, is FBI:
The band’s unintended final LP came in 2016. Inner Journey Out was packed with 14 song and included a collaboration with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval:
Throughout his career with Psychic Ills, the music Tres Warren created was alluring and seductive, from the earliest days in Dins to the final single ending in “Cease to Exist”.
“I’ll See You There” off One Track Mind is one of the more haunting and emotive tracks from a band that spent a decade and a half crafting such tunes.
Seems fitting to end with the lyrics from that song:
If you come down the road, I’ll see you there
If you come all the way back home, I’ll see you there
And if you go all the way, all the way back home
If you go somewhere all alone
If you want me to meet you, I’ll see you there
If you’re going down
If you’re going down
I’ll see you there