Q&A with original Psi-Com bassist Rich Evac (Updated)

Those of you who frequent our forums may have noticed a wealth of new Psi-Com era scans that were provided to us by an awesome guy named Jay.   Well, Jay gave us an opportunity to do a Q&A with founding member and original bassist for Psi-Com, Rich Evac.  So we gathered together some questions and sent them onto Jay, who met with Rich this past weekend.  We’d like to again thank both Jay and Rich for taking the time to do this.   Here are Rich’s answers:

Update:  Rich provided a couple updates/corrections which I have added below:

Q: Around what time was Psi-Com formed and who were the founding members? The story we’ve heard about how Perry Farrell joined Psi-Com was that he responded to an ad in The Recycler about the band looking for a drummer, but quickly ended up becoming the band’s lead singer. Is this true, and if so how quickly did Perry end up as Psi-Com’s front man?

A: Psi-com original members were Rich (Evac), Mariska (Leyssius), and Vince (Duran) practicing in early ’83. They auditioned one other drummer before Aaron (Sherer).  Aaron was with the band when they tried out Margaret (Arana) who was a terrible singer and bitter about not being chosen. They ran an ad in The Recycler for a singer, something like “Silverlake area band seeks singer. Influences Bowie/The Cure” that is the ad Perry responded to. He brought a “demo” tape of his vocals and they thought he sounded a lot like Bowie so he got the job.

Update:  Just got the phone with Rich, after further thought he recalls that Aaron joined the band after Perry and they had practiced with a drum machine for a bit. I asked about the drummer ad and he insists they ran an ad for a singer and that’s what Perry responded to. They had practiced with another drummer whom Rich can’t recall his name but quit after they played him a record by “The Cure” and asked him to drum like that.

JA.org commentary:  This would mean the story about Perry starting out auditioning to be the band’s drummer, but ended up as their lead singer is false.

Q: According to an interview with Bruce Kalberg in the #12 issue of ‘No Mag’, Psi-Com originally existed under the names ‘F-Com’ and ‘The Sherpas’. When did the band settle on the name Psi-Com, and was it truly an abbreviation of “psychic communication”? Also, do you happen to recall when the ‘No Mag’ interview took place?

A: The No Mag interview happened right before the issue came out so I’m sure you guys can figure that out by issue #. They did consider the name “The Sherpas” but settled on Psi-Com from the Greek letter psi and com for communication.

Q: Did Psi-Com perform many gigs before Perry joined, and do you happen to remember the band’s first gig with him? The earliest Psi-Com gigs that we are aware of came from an ad in Scratch Magazine. It lists two gigs in May of 1983, one at the Co-Co Club, the other at Cathay de Grande, and then a second gig at the Co-Co Club in June of 1983. By any chance do you have any memory or record of when these shows actually took place?

A: Yes he remembers those venues but not sure of dates. Their first gig was a free show at their practice space Hully Gully Studios. Mariska made “shrimp chips” that they gave out to the crowd. Margaret (Arana) who latter played keyboards in Kommunity FK said bitterly “Ha, your first show and you didn’t even get paid!”

JA.org commentary: According to our tour archive, and supported by the flyer for the show, this would be the August 13, 1983 show. The flyer for that show states “Psi-Com Debut Party”. We also found that the Scratch gigs we found were actually from August and September of 1983.

Q: The figure that appears on the cover of Psi-Com’s self-titled album also appears along the border of the lyric sheet that comes with ‘Worktape 1’ that fans have affectionately referred to as “The Dancing Corpse”. What is the origin of this figure and who had the idea to incorporate it into the band’s artwork?

A: This was put on the Worktape at Perry’s insistence, he had found the image somewhere and thought it was fantastic. This was a point of contention as all the artwork had previously been done by Rich alone. Perry’s perception was being clouded by this time by junk.

Q: How many copies of ‘Worktape 1’ were produced, and what was included along with the tape. We have encountered a used version that includes a textile/patch and a different one that included a sticker of the logo that appears on the front of the box. Aside from being sold at shows, was this cassette sent to record labels as well?

A: 50-60 copies of worktape were made. They put different items in at first so the patch and the sticker are true to the package but different things were “thrown in” randomly. Sold only at shows.

Q: A trio of Psi Com demos, both lyrical and instrumental versions, found their way onto a Jane’s Addiction bootleg called “Skin & Bones”. They were originally known as ‘Fourteenth Floor’, ‘In The Holy Grove’ and ‘Finger Puppets’. The latter two were eventually identified with the titles ‘Cat’ and ‘Karuna’. Are those demos from when you were in the band, around when were they recorded and are those indeed the correct names?

A: Karuna is an original song from Rich’s tenure but it was an instrumental only. He doesn’t recognize the others.

JA.org commentary: Since there are both instrumental and vocal demos for all three songs, and the vocals for Karuna were not done until after Rich left the band, it could be that the other two songs were written/recorded before Rich left, but not named. Playing the actual songs for Rich might help answer that.

Q: Aside from the three songs on ‘Worktape 1’, the three previously mentioned demos, the songs released on Psi-Com’s self-titled album, the only other song by the band that we are aware of is known as ‘Greedy Was The Beggar’. Is that the correct name for that song, and did the band have any other songs during your time that you remember?

A: He does not recognize “Greedy was the Beggar” but they did cover “Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Status Quo. Psi-Com Theme was originally called Sherpa Theme.

Q: A compilation titled ‘Viva Los Angeles’ includes a nice write up about Psi-Com. In it, it mentions the band released a live cassette that also included some studio tracks from 1983/84. Did this really happen, and do you recall what show or shows the live tracks were taken from? Were the studio tracks the previously mentioned recordings of Fourteenth Floor, Cat and Karuna?

A: He knows of no live tapes.

Q: Do you have a favorite Psi-Com song, and if so why?

A: He enjoyed playing all the songs but especially liked playing Hopeful and Matchstick Men live.

Q: Of the shows that you played with Psi-Com, do any of them stand out as particularly memorable or special?

A: The show at Helen’s Place in Los Angeles (7/14/84), because they had become very tight and it went perfectly. Unfortunately it was the last show he and Mariska played.

Q: When and why did you leave Psi-Com? Was the band taking a different direction that you’d imagined, or did you just want to move onto a different project?

A: July 14th of 84 was the last show and when asked why did you leave Psi-Com Rich answered, “Perry wanted to take his pants off on stage.” he also suggested that Perry was more comfortable with “junkies” for bandmates.

Update: (Rich)  he wanted to be sure that in addition to Perry wanting to take off his pants the main reason he left was, and I quote “and also by then Perry had become a hardcore mainlining junkie” which I had paraphrased to read he preferred junkies for bandmates.

Q: What have you been up to in the 25 plus years since Psi-Com? Were you involved in any other bands?

A: After Psi-Com Rich played with “Shiva Burlesque” for a while. He retired from music in the late 80’s and pursued a successful career in the motion picture/ television industry.