The Pitchfork Music Festival frequently books forward-thinking acts, but at least one band on this weekend's bill has a sound firmly rooted in the past.
Performing Friday, Chicago's Outer Minds come across like a throwback to 1960s psychedelic rock, though anyone who likes their rock 'n' roll loud, fast and dirty will appreciate the band's raucous sound. Reached at home in Logan Square, singer/guitarist Zach Medearis, 32, opened up about the artist he'd like to collaborate with at Pitchfork, why you'll never see Outer Minds jamming with an orchestra and his (bloody) political aspirations.
Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Pitchfork this year?
I always like seeing Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, but I've seen them a bunch and I kind of want to see A$AP Rocky. I bartend in a place that plays a lot of hip-hop, so I hear him a lot and I read a couple interviews with him and he's a hilarious guy. He might say and do a couple strange things, so I'd like to see that firsthand.
If you could collaborate with one act at the fest who would it be?
Let's just go A$AP Rocky and have the two weirdos get together.
What song would you attempt?
I don't even know. Maybe we'd just try and do some freestyle. That's a hard question. Collaborations are weird just cause it would be very obvious for me to say a band that's in the same genre as us, but it's also tricky to say a band that's in an opposite genre. It's a tough thing to conceptualize in my brain.
Your bio notes you've "gone through more names and roster changes than most."
It's not that crazy. Me and the bass player are the very, very original members of this, and we kind of filtered through different people that had a varying interest in touring.
So you're not a difficult person to get along with then?
Oh, I'm sure I'm a difficult person to get along with, so I'm not saying that. When you have something you care a lot about and an idea you really want to see through, I don't think it's a bad thing to do what you have to do to make it happen.
You've also put out singles and albums on a variety of labels. Is it possible there's really just some kind of commitment issue?
No. Each record label has a very strong base that follows that particular label. We did HoZac, which is a friend of mine's label here in Chicago. Then Southpaw put out our LP and they're on the West Coast. Push My Buttons is out of Sweden. It's just putting records out in different geographies.
Kind of the way someone might diversify their stock portfolio.
You put your fingers in a lot of cookie jars and hope one of 'em has something you want.
I was surprised to read you have a master's degree in classical composition. Do you still listen to a lot of classical?
I do here and there. It's good background music for me. I don't sit and try and tear it apart as much as I used to.
Is there any chance you'd ever record alongside an orchestra with Outer Minds?
I think classical music should be left as it is. I think mixing rock 'n' roll and classical is kind of a boner move.
So you won't be pulling a Yngwie Malmsteen and performing alongside the Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra any time soon then?
No, let's get it straight, we're a psych-rock band and we like to play kind of hard and loose and loud. When it comes to classical you can't really play like that because you've got too many people you're affecting.
I've read you have an interest in politics. If you're elected mayor of Chicago, what's your first order of business?
The system is so broken we need to start the whole thing over again. Everyone that's in politics needs to be kicked out. It's almost guilt by association at this point.
So if you're in office it's likely the end result of a violent coup and not an election.
That's what I'd prefer.
If that's the case do you continue making music on the side?
I imagine being a strong-armed dictator probably takes up a lot of your time, but I'd still make music. I've been playing music since I was 4 years old, and I don't imagine I would stop.
When: 3:20 p.m. Friday
Where: Pitchfork Music Festival, Union Park; $45 per day
Zach Medearis personality test
What's the last album you bought? "The last album I bought was probably a Teenage Moods record. It's this band out of Minneapolis."
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? "Thee Oh Sees' new song, 'Lupine Dominus.'"
Song you never want to hear again? "Anything on the radio."
Best concert you've seen in the last year? "Roky Erickson at the Blackout Fest. Human Eye opened for him, and they just slayed it, too."
Favorite movie ever? "My favorite movie ever is probably 'Cabin Boy' with Chris Elliott."
Chicago's best music venue? "Empty Bottle by far."
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