Charles Rowell (aka Dorian Wartime) and Hollie Cook (aka Sylvia Innocent) met in 2006 and “immediately fell insanely in love,” says Wartime. The couple settled into an apartment in San Diego a few years later and began making dark love-fi songs that are being released on Art Fag Recordings (the San Diego vinyl label that launched outfits such as Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles, and Best Coast) under the name Psychic Dancehall.
Behind the obvious pseudonyms are faces you may recognize from another well-received Art Fag act and the reformed line-up of a classic late-’70s British punk group, Charles Rowell (Crocodiles) and Hollie Cook Rowell (the Slits), daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook.
In fact, while Rowell and Cook were still engaged, and the Crocodiles were playing in London, the former Pistol gave the band a lengthy ride to their next gig. “We’re all panicking, and he’s like, ‘I’ll drive you guys up there,’” Rowell told Spinner magazine. “I was like, wow, this is crazy! Obviously, we were really grateful. He drove us to the van place, helped us rent the van, and then drove us three hours to Nottingham.”
Their debut two-song seven-inch was released in May 2011, limited to 500 copies and not planned for reissue. Their Dreamers full-length was released that September, though it had been recorded back in 2010, at their first shared San Diego apartment, using a cheap keyboard, a not-so-cheap laptop, and a 12-string guitar.
The release was followed by a tour of Wetherspoon pubs in northern England, recording sessions in Costa Rica and Hawaii, and “perhaps a live sex show at the Redwing Bar,” according to Rowell, who says the full-length might never have happened were it not for local Renaissance man Mario Orduno, of Art Fag Records.
“It never entered our collective mind until Art Fag asked to release an album,” says Rowell. “With that being said, we are both very proud of what came to be. We moved in together above an art-collective theater where a lot of avant-garde plays and spoken-word pieces were happening. It was the rainiest month ever for San Diego, so we spent all of our time indoors. A lot of the time was spent with the actresses and singers from the theater. Some of them even helped on the recordings. The biggest influence was definitely the theater we lived above because it gave us nightly inspiration.”
“Obviously we wouldn’t have put so much thought into the fabrication of it all had we not known it would be pressed,” writes Hollie. “It’s our homage to the time and place in which we recorded it. Bars like the Redwing and Eagle spring to mind...I feel that as an artist, whether you acknowledge it or not, fabricating the aesthetics that flow through your mind and proving to yourself that you are as crazy as your dreams are is the one true sign that you are living and not simply letting life live for you.”
In late 2011, the duo announced their plan to move to the Shepherd’s Bush section of London, to be close to Hollie’s family, including her famous father, Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook.