Richard Cartwright of Richard In Your Mind: “If you want to have a spliff in the morning, you can”

richard in your mind

BLUE MOUNTAINS psychedelic/pop quintet Richard In Your Mind have returned with Ponderosa, their most accomplished album to date.

Band leader Richard Cartwright explains how it came together and why marching to the beat of your own drum is a good thing, ahead of their Sydney shows.

“People seem to get it,” he says. I think it’s kind of a weird album I guess, although that’s for other people to decide. There are songs on there that stick out like a sore thumb, but we decided we’d keep them on there anyway because that’s what we like and what we wanted to do, and it seems that other people are like ‘it’s great that you did that’ instead of ‘you really messed up the whole thing by doing that’. So, we’ve been pleasantly surprised that people get it, and that’s cool.”

A 14-track collection of psychedelic pop gems mixed and produced by regular cohort SPOD, Ponderosa features woozy instrumentals, waves of percussion and a few surprises.

“There’s one called ‘Good Morning’ and even a little of ‘My Volcano’; they’re kind of synthy and groovy,” Cartwright says. “’Good Morning’ especially has a pitch-shifted and distorted vocal. It’s kind of noisy. We wrote heaps more songs than we put on the album. We basically kind of just chose the best. In making the list, we played around a lot before deciding. There are still heaps of songs we really like that didn’t make it on, but we tried to balance the instrumental tracks in between the songy-songs to make sure people weren’t getting too lost in an instrumental before giving them another kind of stronger-feeling anchored to a proper song. In the long run, there’s an argument for not having too much coherence. I feel like there’s always more work to be done leading up to releasing it, but we’ve had it ready for a little while now, and now it’s not just in our heads, it’s in the world. We wanted to make sure we got it right. It took as long as it did, and once it was finished it was decided we were putting it out in five months, which seemed like ages, but time is on a slope and it goes fast and here we are now. It feels good.”

The singer explains how the off-kilter album found its title after a discussion about the Cartwright family on the American TV Western Bonanza.

“Well, I’m a Cartwright,” he says. “Not that I really grew up watching a lot of Bonanza, but my parents and people in the generation above did grow up with it would talk about Bonanza and start singing the tune to me. It was only recently when my mother came to visit and we were talking about Bonanza that she mentioned that the ranch was called Ponderosa out of the blue, and I thought it was a kick-arse name for something. The whole album is a diverse album; it goes to different places, but in a way this idea of home and trying to describe the different things that stand for a unified whole or the quest for home or something; it’s not specific but it’s a vibe.”

While the influences and variety of sounds on Ponderosa are as eclectic as they come, single ‘Hammered’ is a frolicking ray of sunny pop that pays tribute to daytime indulgence, although Cartwright admits it’s not necessarily about alcohol.

“It depends on what you’re getting hammered on, really,” he says. “With booze you should wait a little bit, until you’ve done something, but if you’ve got the day off, the sun is shining and you want to have a spliff in the morning, you can.”

When he’s not getting loaded in the daytime, Cartwright can probably be found collecting ingredients for dinner, as described on ‘Four Leaf Clover Salad’. But how many four leaf clovers constitute a salad?

“I think it’s the same rule as ‘a few’, so three,” he laughs. “Two is only a couple of four leaf clovers, so obviously you’ll want more, so I’d say three is enough for a little salad. My wife is really good at finding four leaf clovers – she finds them constantly, and the way you get luck is by eating them, or so she tells me. I was walking the dog one day and that concept occurred to me, as I think I did eat a few.”

Expect upcoming Richard In Your Mind shows along the east coast to be heavy with new material.

“To start with, it’s a small eastern tour; Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, Byron Bay, Brisbane and stuff. Then, hopefully we’ll play a bunch more shows. We’ve played a couple of shows, mainly focussing on the new songs. We want to make sure a couple of the new songs are more up-to-scratch, but at the moment our set is probably 50 percent new stuff. We’ll try to get it up to about 75 percent new stuff, while keeping songs we’ve always enjoyed playing live as well.”

RICHARD IN YOUR MIND PLAY THE LANDSDOWNE FRIDAY OCTOBER 17 AND NEWTOWN FESTIVAL SUNDAY NOVEMBER 9. PONDEROSA IS OUT NOW.

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