Over the decades, Roky Erickson has played in several bands, most notably the 13th Floor Elevators, widely viewed as a prime genetic force in American psychedelic and garage-rock music.
When talking to Erickson, it's easy to forget his legend. The 66-year-old's answers are as sincere as they are oblique. He has a tendency to ignore questions and answer with whatever is floating around in his head. A phone conversation with Erickson, from his Austin home, is much like listening to his recorded works: melodic, cerebral and surreal.
The Pitch: Your son plays in your backing band, the Hounds of Baskerville. What's it like playing with him?
Erickson: It just seems like they always have to draw out the set so long and everything. See, their music is real loud, you know. These people peeled up onstage when we were out there. And they jumped into the audience! It's really tough. Very strange brand of humor, you know what I mean?
What do you make of other people covering your songs?
Oh, I like to hear them. I really do. We have a computer here, and it gives us messages, like when somebody's going to be playing our song or something like that. There's one group, one of them goes "If You Have Ghosts, You Have Everything," you know? And that one is real nice. It's by some band out of some other country or something.
One classic song of yours, "You're Gonna Miss Me," was written about 50 years ago.
Boy, that's a good one! I don't know, I just wrote it. I'm glad you still think about it. As we move from house to house, we make sure that we carry this information with us. Not like AIDS or HIV, but something good, you know. [Laughs.]
Do you have any plans to slow down?
That's the thing when I tell you about some of the ideas I had when I didn't play and everything. Well, I did have faith in what's going on, in relying on people's judgment to handle what's going on for me. In other words, it's just kind of a thought in the air or something — I don't know what it is — but it's nothing bad! Nothing bad.