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Tripping Travis and The Psychedelic Mindblowers

by Jake Silverman
May 22, 2011

I must admit that after seeing Tripping Travis and The Psychedelic Mindblowers at Uncle Steve's the other day, a few compelling questions occurred to me, such as how the heck did a group of teenage boys -- ahem, young men -- living in the 21st century end up getting together to form a band that hearkens back to the glory days of the psychedelic era of the 1960s? And above all, will they be able to come back to Uncle Steve's in the future without any of their parents showing up to crash the party?

These burning queries needed responses. So, I resolved to interview the band at the earliest opportunity, but I was faced with the problem of not knowing where to find them. Lucky for me, our assistant cook, Catherine, came to the rescue, since she had gotten their bass player's phone number, and had even spent the night at his house once when his parents were out of town for the weekend.

So, I called the bass player, Cody Ferguson, who told me that he'd be glad to do an interview with me, but that he wouldn't know what to say. I told him that I'd ask him some questions. He said that he didn't like it when people asked him questions, especially when someone would be writing down what he said. He might be misinterpreted, and that could ruin his career forever, he pointed out. So, I asked him if another band mate could be interviewed instead.

CF: I don't know. Maybe, but maybe not -- so, maybe you could kind of let the whole thing drop, if you know what I mean, dude.

JS: What about the lead singer, Tripping Travis?

CF: Oh, definitely, most definitely.

JS: Great! Can you give me his phone number?

CF: No, can't do that.

JS: Why not?

CF: I don't know, man. It wouldn't be cool, I guess. I mean, he doesn't know you, you know? You might be an undercover cop and be trying to bust him or something.

JS: Well, that would be news to me.

CF: I'm telling you, man, it could happen. You just don't know who you can trust.

JS: Yeah, when I look in the mirror, I really wonder about that guy.

Realizing that Cody would provide no further assistance, and having no other leads to follow, I decided to forget the whole idea and head on out to the strip mall in nearby Duckworth for the $4.99 lunch special at Cheng Lee's China Super Takeout Express, which is run by Cheng and his wife, Mrs. Lee. She has a first name, but I'm not sure how to spell it properly, so I won't go there. Just so you know -- you have to pay cash, no personal checks or credit cards. Oh, they don't take debit cards, either. But it's worth it, because the shrimp fried rice is awesome. The moo goo gai pan isn't bad, either.

As I was approaching the strip mall on my newly-purchased used moped -- I went ahead and bought one on Craig's List and plan to use it until Pete Wilkinson of Nazi Sex Zombies shows up again one of these days with my car -- I saw this teenage guy standing next to the road with a large cardboard guitar that he pretended to strum in an effort to convince me to eat at Little Caesar's pizza. He looked like he was really getting into it in a big way, and was even doing the whole Pete Townshend thing with the windmill arm and everything. He looked kind of familiar.

As I was eating my lunch special at Cheng Lee's -- they have one chair next to the cash register, and I was sitting there with my Styrofoam plate in my lap -- I kept looking out the window at the guy pretending to play guitar. It occurred to me that he might be Tripping Travis himself, so after I finished my meal, I went out to the street to talk with him.

Sure enough, it was him. He told me that he was bored and would be glad to answer all of my questions. So, I pulled out my digital recorder and we commenced the interview right then and there.

JS: I spoke to your bass player earlier today and he refused to help me find you.

TT: The thing is -- Cody is totally looking out for me. He's like, Travis is my brother, you know, but not literally, and that's really heavy and far out. He's doing what he can to keep the fuzz and the pigs off my case so I can stay groovy all the time. So, don't take it personally, because it's all good karma overall.

JS: I see that you've read up quite a bit on the 1960s.

TT: Oh yeah? It's totally true, but how'd you know?

JS: Just a hunch. So, could you tell me about the history of your band?

TT: A very long time ago, like, maybe sometime two years ago, I think it was in the summer -- anyway, Cody and I were listening to my dad's old album collection. My dad's majorly old, so he was like fifty when I was born, and that means he was like in his twenties back in the 1960s when all the great music was coming out. He still has his turntable with stylus needle and everything, and that's the best sound there is, I mean vinyl records. So, anyhow, Cody and I started thinking, let's build a time machine so that we can go back to the 1960s and form a band and be a part of that totally groovy scene.

JS: Well, evidently, you couldn't build a time machine.

TT: Not so, my man. We really actually did build a totally functional time machine. It wasn't all that hard to put together -- you'd be surprised.

JS: Can you explain?

TT: Sure, no problem. What you do is paint your bedroom totally black, which is what I did to mine. Then, you put up lots of glow-in-the-dark plastic stars, so it looks like the universe and all. Then, you put in a black light, sit cross-legged on the floor, burn a stick of incense, and read from the Tibetan Book of the Dead for a couple of hours.

JS: So, that's what you and Cody did?

TT: That's right. And we also ingested a couple of psilocybin mushrooms and 1,000 micrograms of acid each. Plus, we smoked --

JS: That's alright -- I think I get the idea.

TT: Hey, Dad and Mom, if you're reading this interview on the Internet, I really want you to know that I'm just making all of this up. Hey Jake, are you going to put what I just said in there, too?

JS: Yeah, why not.

TT: Thanks, man. I don't want my folks to get all bent out of shape. What they don't know won't hurt them.

JS: No problem. So, tell me, did your time machine take you back to the 1960s?

TT: Well, yes and no. It's like, a portal opened up in time and space, and Cody and I, we were like right on the edge, we were like totally ready to jump in and hang out with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and everything, but just before we were about to do it, Cody said to me, hey Travis, what if you like meet some chick from the 1960s and fall in love and marry her, and she turns out later on to be your elementary school teacher? Wouldn't that be too freaky to handle?

JS: I'm not sure I follow you. How could she be your elementary school teacher?

TT: I mean -- I was born in 1994, so, if I go in the time machine back to 1968 and meet some twenty-year-old chick, she'll be like in her fifties in 2001 when I'm in the second grade.

JS: But if you are seventeen now and go back to 1968, you'll be exactly fifty years old in 2001.

TT: No, man, you've got it all wrong. I was in second grade back in 2001. Honestly, I can show you my class picture from that year. I was in Mrs. Williams' class at Fortner Elementary.

JS: Why don't we let that one go?

TT: Sure, dude. I mean, I don't like to argue. It's not a big deal. Peace and love.

JS: So, you and Cody decided not to travel back in time.

TT: Totally. We stepped back from the brink and came back to the here and now. And the whole experience gave us an idea. We thought: Let's put together that band that we were planning to travel back in time with. That way, we can create a time vortex when we play our music, so that everyone in the audience can like be transported back to the 1960s with us, at least as long as we're onstage.

JS: Now on that point I completely agree with you. I think you guys have been pretty fairly successful as far as that goes.

TT: So, Cody and I, we got a drummer and keyboard player, and we set up in the basement at my house, and my folks are like totally cool about it, but Kyle, he's the keyboard player, his dad is like a mega Christian kind of Evangelical dude who speaks in tongues and handles cobra snakes and that kind of stuff, which to me is even more trippy than what we do, but the Satan stuff is kind of freaky and medieval if you know what I mean, plus he came in to our practice one night and kicked a hole in the bass drum and it cost some money to fix that, and when we asked him to pay for it he said, how much will you pay to ransom your soul, or something preachy or whatever. That guy is a trip, but in a bad way, you know -- total strychnine.

JS: So, he didn't pay to fix the bass drum?

TT: No way, dude. Not in a gazillion years.

At that point, the manager for Little Caesar's motioned for Travis to come in and start prepping dough for the evening shift, so the interview ended.

As you can all see, Travis is a nice young man. If you've seen him and his band at Uncle Steve's, you've got to admit that they put on a pretty entertaining show. There are some rough edges, of course, but I think that those guys have some real potential for the long term.

Catherine has even started the Cody Ferguson fan club, of which she is the president and treasurer. Membership is $50 annually, payable directly to Catherine. Norm, our bartender, has joined the club, but I think that this is just an excuse to spend more time with Catherine and stare at her during their club meetings. I wish that Catherine would consider expanding the focus of her fan club to include the entire band, but hey, it's her organization, she can run it however she likes.

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...