Turtle Skull, a band of the self-appointed ‘flower doom’ genre, are gearing up to play at Young Henrys Best Served Loud in January. With a catalogue of immersive psychedelic music behind them, Turtle Skull provide an all-in experience. We had a chat to the group about their album Monoliths and what’s ahead in the next 12 months.

Image supplied.

LIKE VELVET Music: Firstly, can you introduce us to Turtle Skull – where are you from, who’s in the band?

Turtle Skull: Hi! I’m Dean, I play guitar and along with Charlie the drummer we do double lead vocals together. We also have Julian on bass, Dan on synths and Tobia on percussion. We all met in and around Sydney while all playing in various different bands and musical projects. 

LVM: Before we go anywhere, how would you describe ‘Flower Doom’ as a genre to someone that’s never heard the term before?

TS: Well it wouldn’t surprise if there are people who haven’t heard the term – because we made it up haha. Flower Doom is our little tongue in cheek self appointed genre haha. It’s about blending heavy doom riffs with nice psychedelic harmonies and lyrics about nature. It started as a bit of a joke but I think it represents our music pretty well.

LVM: There is so much to unpack in your approach to music. There’s a bit of ‘60s psychedelia, ‘70s rock, ‘90s grunge and even something that borders on Gregorian chants – what’s your approach to playing with genre? Does blending these influences come naturally to you as a group?

TS: Yeah it’s a bit part of what we do and it was intended that way from the start. We wanted to have a project that could bring together seemingly disparate influences and see how cohesively they could mesh. Especially really nice heavy riffs with some psych pop harmonies and some good old fashioned song writing. We also have a pretty broad range of influences within different members of the band so it was inevitable!

LVM: We noticed that ‘Who Cares What You Think?’ has a real Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ vibe in the beginning – who are your biggest influences?

TS: Awesome comparison, thank you! Well for me personally, Beatles are definitely one. Some others for me are some of the old soul legends like Aretha Franklin and Curtis Mayfield, old psych bands like Pink Floyd of course, and some of the newer heavy psych / stoner bands like Black Mountain, Black Angels, Thee Oh Sees, OM, Sleepy Sun, King Gizz etc

LVM: The opening track of your last album Monoliths – ‘Leaves’ – is really dark and hypnotic. When you’re putting an album together, how do you map out the journey? What do you look for in an opening track?

TS: We thought really REALLY hard for the tracklist for Monoliths and had a lot of ways it go, but we always had Leaves at the start as I felt it really set the tone for the rest of it. From there, we wanted it to have a natural progression, a feeling of continuity, some ups and downs, drama and conflict, a climax and a resolution. I think of it a bit like a classic 3 act play. I feel like track listing is really important for an album that is intended to be listened to from start to finish. But then music is music and sometimes a collection of singles in any old order is fine too haha.

LVM: We were thinking about what Anita Miller says to her brother in the movie ‘Almost Famous’ – ‘listen to Tommy with a candle burning, and you’ll see your future’. If you could put together the perfect environment for someone to sit down and listen to ‘Monoliths’ cover-to-cover – what does it look like?

TS: Haha awesome, I haven’t watched that for years, I just went to youtube and checked that clip out, what an epic record collection haha. I glad you brought this up because yeah it’s so important for an ‘album experience’ to set the vibe and sit with it. Of course listen to music however and whenever you want, but when you intentionally sit down with undivided attention and listen back to back, that’s when it really comes alive and you can lean into all the details. 

Perfect environment would be: cozy room full of soft furnishings, nice couch and rugs and cushions, pastel pinks and browns, soft warm lighting from lamps and candles, space to flop around on the ground, a well rolled joint, a cold beer or a kombucha or whatever gets you going, no mobile phones and at least a couple hours on the clock to dedicate to the experience. Oh and a really nice loud sound system of course 🙂 

LVM: We’ve been lapping up the closing track of Monoliths as well. The way the song becomes this totally overwhelming wall of fuzz and distortion is almost orgasmic – if you were talking to an aspiring guitarist, what pedal or effect would you recommend to them to unlock their musical universe?

TS: Tone is all in the fingers mannnnnn haha but seriously, thanks a lot. I love that song. Like we were talking about track 1 before, the closing track is really important too. Not everyone will make it there, but the people that do are probably quite invested. It’s like a good book or movie, you want everything to wrap up in a meaningful or satisfying way!

For aspiring guitarists… Step 1 good amp, no questions. Step 2. wah + fuzz + delay. Classic heavy psych setup. Although that’s pretty specific to what I’m into. To unlock THEIR music universe? That’s trial and error I guess. Try anything you can get your hands on and don’t let anyone tell you what sounds good. If it sounds good and inspires you, then it IS good!

LVM: You’re soon to play in Young Henrys Best Served Loud – is there anyone on that line up that you’re particularly excited to meet or hear play? And what about your set? What is a Turtle Skull live show like for those who have never seen you play?

TS: Everyone haha! Really great lineup. I’ve never seen The Regime so I’m excited to see what they’ve got in store. Couple friends on the lineup in the Skeleton Horse and Velvet Trip and I know they are both gonna tear the place down. So keen 🙂 

As for Turtle Skull, it’ll be our first one in close to 2 years which is really weird! I’d like to think of a Turtle Skull show as a journey. It’s an ebb and flow of heavy and soft, dark and light, big riffs and soft ambient passages… I want to create a safe space for the audience to delve internally and have a powerful psychedelic experience. Or just have a boogie to some of the grooves and shake off some steam if that suits you better!

LVM: What’s on the cards over the next 12 months? Will there be any new music or upcoming tours?

TS: Record number 3 and some proper shows to make up for lost time 🙂

LVM: Final question – if you could create your dream band with any musicians, living or dead, who makes your final line up?

TS: Hmmm, a fun one hehe. Here’s my rnb super group.Aretha on vox, Curtis mayfield on lead guitar, Nile Rodgers on rhythm, Laura Lee on Bass, Mitch Mitchell on drums, Barry Gibbs and Max Martin on production!
Then I got greedy and started imagining a heavy psych super group hahaJim James on vocals, John Dwyer on guitar, Emil Amos on drums, Paul Mccartney on Bass and Jon Hopkins on synth…

Stream Monoliths below or check out our post for details on how you can see Turtle Skull at Young Henrys Best Served Loud in January 2022

Posted by Rebecca Costanzo