Preview: Psych-rockers La Hell Gang sends the brain wandering on Thru Me Again

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

La Hell Gang might be based in modern Chile, but the South American trio’s music sounds as though it could have emerged from the 1960s U.S. psych-rock scene.

The band’s latest full-length, Thru Me Again, hits like an acid flashback, combining shuffling drums, buzzy, unrushed guitars, and deadened vocals that bleed together as lazily as liquids in a lava lamp. “I’ve never felt like this before,” slurs frontman Francisco Cabala, 24, on the tone-setting “Inside My Fall,” coming on like a man lost in the fog of his first psychotropic journey.

It’s purposeful, too. In a recent email interview, Cabala, who does not own a phone, said mind-expanding substances undoubtedly played a role in the recording process for Thru Me Again, which was laid to tape in a in 2013.

“We smoke[d] weed a lot at the time to record,” said the singer/guitarist, who joins his bandmates for a show at Café Bourbon St. on Thursday, Oct. 30, in the midst of the group’s first-ever stateside tour. “And in South America you can find some spiritual plants and cacti that help to keep you on the real way.”

Growing up in Santiago, Cabala, who was born into a musical family (his father played in a band, but never recorded any material), embraced those artists who sent his mind on similarly fantastic voyages. As a child, he worshipped Jimi Hendrix, teaching himself to play “Purple Haze” on a beat-up acoustic guitar. In his teenage years, he gravitated toward gauzy, psych-leaning English bands like Spaceman 3 and the Jesus & Mary Chain.

Interestingly, language never served as a hurdle for the native Spanish-speaker, who continues to embrace music as a means of obliterating barriers. “[It’s a way to] erase cultural difference,” he said. “The music is one, [and the] chords are the same. We like to trip out and feel the music.”

This is precisely what La Hell Gang does on album highlight “The Beginning Remains the End,” a loose desert jam that stretches on for eight glorious minutes.

“Music is like meditation, [and] when you are connected with your spirit something special will be born from you,” Cabala said of the music’s primal, instinctual pull. “So that’s a good job to do: playing music, jamming, trying to expand the mind.”

Photo: Music_Preview_LaHellGang_CreditLaHellGang_1030

Café Bourbon St.

9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30

2216 Summit St., Campus