Published Jan 12, 2010Roky Erickson may not be a household name anymore, but his band ,the 13th Floor Elevators, are frequently cited as pioneers of the psychedelic rock movement. Since the group's breakup in 1969, however, Erickson has faced a variety of personal setbacks: he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and did time in a hospital for the criminally insane after being charged with marijuana possession.
On April 20, Erickson is set to return with True Love Cast Out All Evil, his first new album in 14 years. The collection, which will be released via Anti-, was produced by Will Sheff, whose group Okkervil River acted as Erickson's backing band on the disc. The band previously backed Erickson for his 2008 and 2009 appearances at SXSW.
The songs featured on the album were chosen by Sheff, who was given demos of 60 unreleased tracks from throughout Erickson's life. The songs that made the cut were written at various times over the past 40 years, including some that were penned during Erickson's time in the asylum.
In a statement, Sheff explained, "There were songs written during business setbacks, including the Elevators' painful breakup, songs written by Roky while he was incarcerated at Rusk, and a great deal of songs that reminded me of the sense of optimism and romanticism that I think sustained Roky through his worst years."
To help tie together the threads of Erickson's personal history, the album features found sound clips from home videos, as well as recordings made while the songwriter was in hospital. According to Sheff, "This is not a cynical comeback record, a lukewarm update on an established legacy - these are the best songs Roky has ever written, unreleased due to decades plagued by the kind of personal tragedies that would destroy someone less resilient."
For more on Erickson, see the film You're Gonna Miss Me by director Keven McAlester, who documented the songwriter's struggles.