Spotlight: Psychobabel


HAILS FROM: Melbourne, VIC
THE MEMBERS WE INTERVIEWED ARE: Lean Romero, Matt Forge and Stu Ferguson
SOUNDS LIKE: Punky and proggy, baroque-ish garage-rock
LATEST DROP: 'Grip' (single out now independently)

What’s your current go-to guitar?
A 1992 Japanese Fender Mustang. The short scale and super light feel makes it very comfortable to play live.

Forge: A Telecaster copy I built from scratch. I love it for its mahogany body, caddy green nitro finish and ‘70s Seymour Duncan P-90 Dog Ear on the neck.

Ferguson: A Japanese Rickenbacker knock-off from the ‘70s. Having only played short-scale basses, I love how it feels like a double bass and affects the way I play.

How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
My first guitar was a non-branded, nylon-string classical guitar that I got when I was eight years old. I started to play because I had no friends.

Forge: I grew up in a pretty isolated area without much to do, and my cousin started learning AC/DC songs. I simply wouldn’t allow him to know how to do something I couldn’t. My first axe was a handmade Japanese Yari nylon with Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and a warm cedar top from ‘65 that my Aunty had passed down to me in my early teens.

What inspires you as a player?
I’ve always loved the fluidity and otherwordly sounds that Hendrix paints, and the sophisticated, yet eerie note choices of the two-fingered, lightning fast Django Reinhardt. Not to mention Josh Homme’s raw desert-psych tones and songwriting style, and the general approach all three have to the guitar.

Are you much of a gear nerd?
I like having gear that I’m definitely going to use. Stu and I both play Death By Audio fuzz pedals (Apocalypse and Fuzz War), and I think that has become a big part of our sound.

Forge: I am the biggest gear nerd. Lately I’ve been enjoying my housemate’s ‘63 Fender Vibroverb amp. With only 600 ever made, it was the first Fender amp to feature a vibrato system (actually taken from a Hammond organ circuit at the time) and has such piercing clarity and breakup. I can now clearly see why it was the touring choice of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Do you have any ‘white whales’?
An ES-335 with PAFs is my personal vision of the perfect tone, but I love really weird, kooky vintage guitars from the ‘60s that make me question the designer’s abstinence from psychedelics at the time.

What would your signature model look like?
Matt is actually entertaining the ridiculous idea of making me a Dungeons And Dragons-themed guitar with armour on the body and D20s as pots.

Forge: I’ve worked as a luthier at Maton for years, and have always dreamt about us one day doing a reissue of the Firebird. As long as we would adhere to only the best quality components – as we always do – and maybe a baseball bat-like neck and hot-as-hell pickups, I’d be happy.

If you could jam with any guitarist, dead or alive...
Our music is pretty heavily influenced by the Arctic Monkeys, so I reckon writing a song with Alex Turner sounds like a fun time.

Forge: Hendrix would have to be my number one dream jam companion, as he would be for many other guitarists. I’d say just having Mitch Mitchell hold a groove and wail on endlessly to Neptune and back.

Ferguson: Given all these lockdowns, I think I’d just like to play with the guitarists of Psychobabel again whenever we can.

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Ellie Robinson
Editor-at-Large, Australian Guitar Magazine

Ellie Robinson is an Australian writer, editor and dog enthusiast with a keen ear for pop-rock and a keen tongue for actual Pop Rocks. Her bylines include music rag staples like NME, BLUNT, Mixdown and, of course, Australian Guitar (where she also serves as Editor-at-Large), but also less expected fare like TV Soap and Snowboarding Australia. Her go-to guitar is a Fender Player Tele, which, controversially, she only picked up after she'd joined the team at Australian Guitar. Before then, Ellie was a keyboardist – thankfully, the AG crew helped her see the light…