Friday, July 9, 2010

Nekromantix, The Howlers, and Mutilators tour hits Austin this Sunday (July 11) & many other cities

This is a show you can’t miss. Any psychobilly fan already knows plenty about Nekromantix and knows why they should relish any chance to see Kim Nekroman slapping (and sometimes licking) his custom coffin bass as he drinks shot after shot of Jägermeister. However, most Texans haven’t yet had an opportunity to catch the new female drummer, Lux. Franc is still rockin’ away on guitar too.

But you might not know as much about Mutilators, a band from San Francisco that defies categorization. Nekroman has become a fan of this band’s sick sense of humor as well as their talent for writing and playing extremely catchy songs that reflect influences from Gene Vincent to Gene Simmons to Gene Krupa. Read more about them here: "The Mutilators: a great-sounding psychobilly band with a sense of humor."

I got a chance to ask the band a few questions about this tour with Nekromantix and The Howlers (a punk psychobilly band from the Los Angeles area):

Anything new you have planned for this tour?
There are plenty things: new songs, new merchandise, guest appearances by good friends, and much more that'll make this a rockin’ as all hell event to remember.

The band is known for having crazy outfits and dressing in odd and bizarre ways. I remember seeing you all covered in fake blood in Berkeley, and I hear you played a show or more dressed in drag. Will there be multiple costume changes throughout the tour?
Well, wouldn’t you like to know? We’re going to wear black and be psychobilly (yawn, wink wink).

Awhile back, a woman named Linda Lee posted a YouTube video asking the public to ban your band because of the song “Put the Baby in the Microwave.” Obviously she didn’t understand that it was a satirical piece based on real events. So did this have any effect on Mutilators or their fanbase? Have you noticed any repercussions at all?

There is no feeling on the matter. Any publicity is good publicity. We are all allowed to voice our opinions, just as we do.

What are you most excited about in terms of touring with Nekromantix and The Howlers?
The opportunity to be amongst peers and bring the music outside of California with live performances to fans who would never get the chance to see Mutilators.

Anything else you want to add about why people should come out to the show?
Just you wait, people. We will burn images in your head that you'll never get out. We will sing songs that you'll never stop singing. We will give you a taste that you'll never get out of your mouth. We will scar you.

And it’s true. You won’t be able to get their songs out of your head. My favorites include “I F***ked a Zombie,” “As You Die,” and “(If I Gotta) Kill Ya (To Keep Ya).” As long as you don’t take yourself too seriously, you’ll get a kick out of the way they self-consciously mock the scene with songs like “Gay Love Song for Nick 13” and “I’m SOOOO Psychobilly.” Their live performances are fantastic, so don’t miss this!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Promoter/DJ von Badsville: a walking music encyclopedia who throws great parties (interview part 1)

Most promoters have gotten into their business because of an honest-to-goodness love of the music. It’s great that they’re doing their part to help people enjoy and discover music. But some promoters are so devoted to the music they love that they’ve forgotten how to also have fun hanging out with folks of all types. Von Badsville is the best of both types of promoters: he can talk your ear off about everything from garage to psychobilly to surf and more, but he’s also a people-person who has befriended musicians and fans all across the spectrum of rockabilly, punk, psychobilly, garage, 80s, and surf.

You can see Von Badsville out nearly every night of the week: he organizes, hosts, and/or DJ’s Rhythm ‘N Booze (a 50s Record Hop on Mondays at Spike’s in Rosemead), The Breakfast Klub (80’s every Wednesday at Spike’s in Rosemead), ShakN’ Bones (at The Bamboo Bar in Whittier), and Rev It Up (punk/garage/billy/rock n roll at locations all over Southern California).

Don’t miss his upcoming event, a post-Hootenanny party and birthday celebration for himself and Tommy D, at Tropics Lounge (1842 W. Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton) on July 3rd featuring Gamblers Mark, The Black Tibetans, Legendary Swagger, the Embalmers, and more.
Doors at 7 pm; car and bike show in the parking lot. $8 cover / $5 with Hoot wristband. 21 and over.

I got a chance to catch up with Von Badsville.  CLICK HERE for part 1 of this interview, which focuses on how he started his career, why he finds his job so satisfying, and why he respects rockabilly legends like Johnny Powers. Further excerpts will be posted in the future about his favorite records, being Link Wray’s bodyguard, learning how to parallel park with Eddie Nichols of Royal Crown Revue, and other favorite memories over 10 years of promoting.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Black Cat Entertainment's 10 year anniversary show this Friday, May 28 with The Quakes and more

Don’t miss your one and only chance this year to catch The Quakes in SoCal. This Friday at The Music Box in Hollywood, they’ll headline Black Cat Entertainment’s 10 year anniversary show, rounding out a great night with The Grims (from Los Angeles), Human Flys (a Cramps tribute band), Evil Devil (from Italy), and a Coffin Case fashion show. Click here for more information on why you should see The Quakes this Friday.
Since this is the 10 year anniversary of Black Cat Entertainment, I got a chance to ask owner Rich Vreede about the ups and downs of promoting psychobilly and rockabilly events over the past decade. Black Cat also hosts the Hollywood Showdown Weekender, the Valentine’s Ball, and the Cinco de Mayo Fest, among other events.


Psychobilly legends The Quakes this Friday (May 28) at The Music Box

The Quakes are considered to be one of the first American psychobilly bands, having formed in New York in 1986. They first played modern rockabilly with a new wave twist à la Stray Cats and The Polecats, but soon added a faster and harder edge to their music and fashion style to cater to the Buffalo punk scene. Of course, there wasn’t much of a psychobilly scene here in the States in the late 1980s so they tried their luck in London, eventually landing a gig at the legendary psychobilly venue The Klubfoot and signing with Nervous Records.

The history of line-up changes and trips back and forth across the Atlantic will make your head spin, so let’s just say that this Friday you have your chance to catch The Quakes in their current line-up: Paul Roman is the original guitarist and vocalist who has remained with the band throughout its 24 years; Kenny Hill on bass was added in 2007; and drummer Juan Carlos has been with the band since 2008. If you want the complete history, click here.

Friday’s show in Hollywood will be the only SoCal appearance for the band this year as they support their seventh studio album Negative Charge (Orrexx Records).


Upcoming rockabilly/psychobilly events this weekend: The Quakes! The Rocketz! Moonlight Cruisers!

There’s plenty to choose from this Memorial Day Weekend.

Click here for the article with flyers for most of these shows.

- Meet and greet pre-event for Black Cat Entertainment’s 10 year anniversary show: Meet Italy’s own Evil Devil. Dr. Bizarro's Victims and The Grims will be playing. Win anniversary tickets, or buy them if you don’t win!
Thursday 5/27/2010, 6:00 PM to close
Red Zone, Panorama Mall, (818) 891-1446
8401 Van Nuys Blvd.
Panorama City, CA 91402
Click here for more information on the anniversary show

- Psychotonic: meet and greet with Evil Devil from Italy. With special guest DJ Dog Paw (Modern Kicks) and DJ Satoki spinning the best trashy rock 'n roll, rockabilly, psychobilly, rhythm & blues, soul, garage, girl groups, doo-wop, surf, punk, stomp, and more!
Thursday 5/27/2010
Big Foot Lodge
3172 Los Feliz Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90039
10 PM, 21 and over, no cover
Click here for more information on the anniversary show

* Black Cat Entertainment’s 10 Year Anniversary Show, featuring The Quakes (only 2010 US appearance), Evil Devil (from Italy), Human Flys (a Cramps tribute band), The Grims (Los Angeles psychobilly), and a Coffin Case fashion show
Friday 5/28/2010, 7:00 PM
The Music Box
6126 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
All Ages!
Early arrival suggested. Limited ticket availability at the door (cash only).
Click here for more information from Black Cat Entertainment…
or here for my most recent interview with Black Cat’s owner/concert promoter
or here to find out why you can’t miss this rare Quakes appearance.

- Rev It Up with Angel City Outcasts, The Royal Highness, Bastard Winos, The Warlords; hosted by resident DJ Von Badsville
Friday 5/28/2010, 9:00 PM
Spike’s Bar and Billiards
7813 Garvey Ave.
Rosemead, CA
21 and over, $5

* Orange County Marketplace Rockabilly Showdown: Blue Collar Combo, Becky and the Blacktones, The 454s
Saturday 5/29/2010, 12:00 noon to 3:00 PM
Orange County Market Place
88 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Swap meet admission free with a canned food donation for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County
Click here for an interview with Becky & The Blacktones.

- Shakn' Bones featuring The Rocketz, The Black Rose Phantoms, The Faraway Boys, The Devils Advocats, Coffin 83 and a secret band TBA
Saturday 5/29/2010, 9:00 PM
Bamboo Club
14304 Telegraph Rd.
Whittier, CA 90604
21 and over, $10

* Brando von Badsville Presents Memorial Day Weekend BBQ featuring Moonlight Cruisers, The Faraway Boys, Rudy G y Los Hi-Tones, Pachuco Jose’s Jubilee Train, and The Riff Raffs
Sunday 5/30/2010, 7:00 PM
Spike’s Bar and Billiards
7813 Garvey Ave.
Rosemead, CA
21 and over, $12

- Bowl-a-Rama featuring 7 rockabilly-influenced bands, including Becky & The Blacktones, The Rip Em Ups, Badluck Bandits, Phil Friendly Trio, The Sidewynders, The 454s, Blue Collar Combo
Sunday 5/30/2010, 8 PM.
All Star Lanes
4459 Eagle Rock Boulevard North
Los Angeles California 90041
All Ages.
$15 in advance, $20 at the door, free bowling, full bar with id, burlesque show, and record hops.
Click here for an interview with Becky & The Blacktones.

Are there other Rockabilly or Psychobilly shows you know of this weekend? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Did you go to any of these shows? Please come back and leave a comment about your experience.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Becky & The Blacktones: fusing billy music with blues, jazz, and swing

I got a chance to sit down and talk to one of my favorite So-Cal bands, Becky & the Blacktones – a quintet with members inspired by diverse genres including rockabilly, psychobilly, jazz, blues, punk, country, big band swing, cumbia, and norteño.

It’s impossible to categorize them. In fact, that’s exactly what makes them so unique and interesting. Just take a look at the wide spectrum of tunes they cover, both older and more recent: Imelda May’s “Johnny Got A Boom Boom,” Rosie and the Originals’ 1960 doo-wop single “Angel Baby,” Roy Orbison’s “Ooby Dooby,” the rockabilly classic “Fool I Am” by Pat Ferguson, the jazz-pop hit “Turn Me On” (originally penned by country singer-songwriter John D. Loudermilk but famously covered by both Nina Simone and Norah Jones), Morrissey’s “The Loop,” and the R&B/pop standard "Fever."

Brad Paisley, Tiger Army, Django Reinhardt, Mike Ness, and Billie Holiday all came up in the conversation. They even convinced me to start listening to 105.1. CLICK HERE TO READ ON and find out why it's hard to play music when you're dressed up like a zombie, or the difficulties associated with playing gigs when you’re under 21.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Upcoming rockabilly and psychobilly events this weekend - May 14-15

Top picks for this weekend:

* Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
Friday 5/14/2010, 9:00 PM
Tropics Lounge
1842 W Commonwealth
Fullerton, CA
21 and over

- Come see some awesome hearses at the Phantom Coaches Hearse Club Car Show, featuring appropriately named bands The Ghastly Ones, The Embalmers, and Thee Swank Bastards, brought to you by D.J. Von Badsville and Baron Von Shivers.
Saturday 5/15/2010, 9:00 PM
Spike’s Bar and Billiards
7813 Garvey Ave.
Rosemead, CA
21 and over, $10

- Cold Blue Rebels
Saturday 5/15/2010, 8:00 PM
Bar Sinister
1652 N. Cherokee Avenue
Hollywood, CA

Are there other Rockabilly or Psychobilly shows you know of this weekend? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Did you go to any of these shows? Please come back and leave a comment about your experience.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Upcoming rockabilly and psychobilly events this weekend - May 7-8

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I know you’ve already taken your mid-week tequila shot or a Tecate or two, but don't let that stop you from getting out this weekend. There are so many great shows Friday and Saturday... Below is my top pick for each night, but there are plenty more options.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE WHOLE LIST.

* The Chop Tops, Cold Blue Rebels, The Loner Troubadour, The Barstool Saints
Friday 5/7/2010, 7:00 PM
The Dome
2201 V Street
Bakersfield, CA
All ages, $12 at the door
Read an interview with Cold Blue Rebels here or check out a CD review here.

* “Rev It Up” with The Chop Tops, Gamblers Mark, Los Duggans, The Southerners, Craic Haus, Johnny Dahmer
Saturday 5/8/2010, 8:00 PM
276 E. First St
Pomona, CA 91766
21 and over, $10
The Chop Tops opened for Chuck Berry at Viva Las Vegas and are known for killer live shows.
Read about Gamblers Mark here. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cold Blue Rebels: bringing blood, guts, zombie make-up, and harmonica to SoCal psychobilly

If you’re anything like me, you’re starting to suffer from Halloween withdrawal about this time of year. But I’ve got the cure for you - a band that is morbid and macabre enough to help you last until October. Cold Blue Rebels offers good old-fashioned rock’n’roll with a coffin on stage, sexy zombie rebel dancers, and songs about devils, an undead hooker, and a pumpkin king.

Cold Blue Rebels support their crazy live stage antics and shocking lyrics with impressive musicianship. In fact, every member hails from previous or concurrent punk, rock, glam and/or metal bands: Mickey Finn on lead vocals and harmonica from Jetboy, guitarist Joe Normal and upright bass player Danny Dangerous from the purple-haired band The Zeros, and drummer Spazz Draztik from Glamour Punks.

They fit the psychobilly genre by combining their love of vintage rock & roll/rockabilly and classic punk with dark and dirty horror lyrics, but there are also significant doses of blues, honky tonk and cow punk. It’s as if they’ve got a Herman Munster-Bill Black hybrid monster on bass, Slim Jim Phantom on drums, a Chuck Berry-Brian Setzer lovechild on guitar, and Spike from Pickled Punks/Barnyard Ballers mixed with Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath on vocals.


Interview with Cold Blue Rebels: playing Bakersfield this Friday, Hollywood next weekend

I was so impressed with the Cold Blue Rebels album “Blood, Guts & Rock n Roll,” I had to ask guitarist Joe Normal some questions about the band’s influences, shows, and of course zombies.

How do you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you before?
Blood, Guts, n Rock & Roll!

Which song do you think best represents your sound?
Probably “Worm Hole Hooker.” It shows we can embrace the genre and has some good guitar solos. Also, the tongue in cheek lyrics are pretty classic!

Which song is most meaningful to you?
I’m partial to “Big Boss Man” because of the musicality of the arrangement. It goes beyond the conventional psychobilly song and offers the listener something we all relate to: wanting it ALL in life!

Which song on your most recent album are you the happiest with how it turned out?
All the songs are exact representations of what you get when you come to see us live. We actually captured the energy in our performances, so I'd have to say I am equally happy with them all.

What’s your favorite artist to cover, and why?
Johnny Cash... because he’s the MAN! We prefer to cover some of the older rockabilly dudes, but are considering covering “Tie Your Mother Down” by Queen because it rocks and nobody else has thought to do a Queen cover yet.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen happen at a show?
During “Worm Hole Hooker” our singer Mickey took one of the rebel dancers into the coffin and made it look like he ate her p*$$y, then spit out blood after! That was quite funny!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pre-Cinco de Mayo Fiesta May 1st with Latino rockabilly/punk bands; interview with the promoter

Black Cat Entertainment is one of the most solid rockabilly/psychobilly concert promoters around. In February, thousands of psychos attended Black Cat’s Valentines Ball, which featured the legendary European psychobilly band Frantic Flintstones along with several local groups (read about it here).

Owner Rich Vreede meticulously plans out every single detail of a Black Cat event to provide guests with a multi-dimensional concert experience – amazing bands, deejays, roaming photographers, vendors, food, drinks, different patios and bars with unique moods and soundtracks, and a great social atmosphere that hums with energy. Rich makes sure that his events “have a really fun, party-like atmosphere so fans can just have a great time.” (Click here to read an interview with Rich from just before the Valentine's Ball)

Black Cat is now gearing up for Saturday’s Tenth Annual Pre-Cinco de Mayo Fiesta which promises to be yet another extraordinary event for fans of rockabilly/psychobilly. I got a chance to ask Rich some questions about the upcoming event. All the information you need is at the end of the article. Don’t miss this show!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Koffin Kats interview, part 1: the band talks about the inspiration behind their music and lyrics

I got a chance to interview the members of Koffin Kats in October 2009, just as they released their latest album, Forever For Hire. In this first part of the interview, the members of Koffin Kats  talk about the influences behind their musical style and lyrics. FYI: Tommy Koffin (guitar) has since left the band for health reasons, but they're excited about their new guitarist, Ian. Check them out on tour NOW!!

Kim: Forever For Hire is your 5th album, and you’ve just switched to the Stomp record label (that The Creepshow is also on). How was the recording and the production?
Vic: It’s bigger than any of the previous albums, and Stomp is a very professional label. We’re happy with it, and the album sounds like us.

Kim: How would you describe this album as being different from the others?
Vic: You don’t ever want to write the same album twice. Some bands do that and they just burn out with their fans. You want to keep people interested, asking what the band is going to do next. What’s the next album going to sound like? This one sounds like us, but we made something new.

Kim: Do you describe your sound as psychobilly?
Vic: Oh yeah. When people who are not so educated in the sub-genres of rock and roll ask us what type of band we are, we tell them it’s punk. That way, if they go to our show they’ll at least know what to expect. But for the more educated people, we’re a punk band with some psychobilly flavor to it. We’ve got the upright bass, but we don’t use it as a gimmick. We won’t overdo the upright or make it the only thing you hear.

Kim: How’d you all meet each other?
Vic: We all grew up, like, literally, within 15 minutes of each other, near Detroit. Eric (E-Ball) and I went to high school together. And I knew Tommy from this little punk rock coffeeshop club called Pharaoh’s. It’s the place where you’d play your first show once you had put together a little band with your friends. Eric and I had pretty much been in each other’s bands all through school, so we started playing at Pharaoh’s and then we met Tommy’s band. They were this group of drunk kids. They could barely get up on stage because they were so hammered.
Tommy, laughing: One time I think I passed out on stage.

Kim: What are some of your musical influences?
Vic: There’s no punk band that can deny that they listen to the Misfits, but The Misfits aren’t the band that made us want to do Koffin Kats. It’s just one of the bands we like. Bad Religion is one of my favorite bands. If anything, I probably had more influence of wanting to be in a band from listening to Bad Religion. We’re also influenced by Nekromantix, The Quakes, Demented Are Go, and Mad Sin – psychobilly bands that actually have a persona about them.


Koffin Kats interview, part 2: the band talks about touring and performing

I got a chance to catch up with Koffin Kats back in October 2009 when they had just released Forever For Hire (click here to buy it). In this part of the interview, they talk about touring and performing. If you missed PART 1 of this interview, click here. FYI: Tommy Koffin (guitar) has since left the band for health reasons, but they're excited about their new guitarist, Ian.

Kim: Koffin Kats are known for non-stop touring. What keeps you going?
Vic: I love being on the road. You love seeing your family and friends at home, but when you tour like we do, you start to feel restless once you’ve been home a month or two. It’s like when it’s time to write a new CD, you feel restless thinking that people are starting to forget about you. You have to keep up the momentum. That’s why people know who we are. It’s because we keep shoving it in people’s faces. Just doing it.

Kim: How about the jobs you have at home, and how does that work out with touring?
Vic: We’re very, very fortunate. The reason why this band exists as it is now is because of our jobs. Tommy and I are carpet cleaners and Eric is a cook for a guy he’s worked for since high school.
E-Ball: They’re really good to us. It gives us a lot of flexibility.
Vic: When we’re working there, we’re like the scrapers. The jobs that no one else wants to do, they’ll kick our way and we do them.
Tommy: Like cleaning a strip club at like 3 in the morning.
Vic: Oh yeah (laughing). Fortunately the carpet was black so you couldn’t see too much!

Kim: What would you say is the most important aspect of performing? What do you get out of it? What do you like about it?
Tommy: Beer (he laughs)
Vic: I think the most important thing is giving the people a good show. You go to work all day, and you make money, then you pay this band to go watch them for your entertainment, but when you watch them just stand still, it’s like ‘Oh man, I could have just gone to a bar.’
Tommy: If we’re not into it, they’re not going to get into it.

Kim: Has the size of your audience fluctuated a lot?

Vic: Yeah, we’ve had from just jelly bean size to thousands. It’s cool because we’ve had the opportunity to play at festivals to big crowds. But our saying is ‘2 people, 200 people, we’re going to put on a show.’


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Koffin Kats play Los Angeles this Friday, April 16: don't miss this unique psychobilly band

Koffin Kats’ most recent album, Forever For Hire (2009), starts off with a dark organ melody that places you in the midst of a haunted mansion and then, suddenly, there’s a ferocious punk anthem that gets you singing “ooh-eh-oh-eh-oh-eh-oh-e-ah” (it reminds me of a super fast version of the “o-ee-o-eoh-ah” chant sung by the Wicked Witch’s Winkie soldiers in Wizard of Oz).

Wait a few more seconds and you’ll hear Vic Victor’s unique voice – a little Jello Biafra and a little Greg Graffin, but also something darker, deeper, sexier, à la Dave Vanian (The Damned), Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), or Robert Smith (The Cure). His baritone voice has an operatic quality – with full vibrato and a sound that comes from the depths of his guts - that I’ve rarely heard in psychobilly/punk bands, and it adds weight to their tone.

Koffin Kats utilize their strengths on this album. It’s chock full of vocal harmonies, anthemic bits that get the crowd moving at shows, and clear, tight melodic phrases. These are songs that wiggle into your memory banks quickly and you find yourself singing the catchy choruses in no time. Vic Victor’s bass adds that psychobilly percussive click that complements E-Ball Walls’ energetic skills on skins, and Tommy Koffin brings a So-Cal punk flavor to his guitar leads. FYI: Tommy Koffin left the band recently (for health reasons, on good terms), so Ian has stepped in as the guitarist for the current tour.

There’s also a fair amount of diversity on this album, and within the songs themselves, as well. “Nostrovia” weaves back and forth between a shouted punk chorus and Vic Victor’s chilled syncopated warble, while “Wild Ride” is a fiery, fast-paced head-bopping piece with a brilliant vocal melody. Other songs vary from slow and sultry (“Domination Final”) to hoppy ska (in “I Saw My Friend Explode Today”) to marches with vintage rock’n’roll guitar solos (the addicting “Heading Off to Battle”) to bouncy rockabilly (“Her Name Was Rock and Roll”) to the toe-tapping rawness and innovative harmonies of “Asylum.”


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Viva Las Vegas update #3: Chuck Berry, Deke Dickerson's Guitar Show, and Wanda Jackson

The 13th annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend provided a rare opportunity on Saturday, April 3, 2010 – the pleasure of seeing the 83-year-old Chuck Berry perform live. The crowd in front of the car show stage buzzed with anticipation for this once in a lifetime chance to see one of the Kings of Rock’n’Roll, and the audience greeted Berry with respectful applause when he appeared on stage, wearing his trademark skipper hat and a fancy red sequined shirt.

Not wasting any time, Berry ploughed through dozens of well-known numbers: “Roll Over Beethoven,” “School Day,” “My Ding-a-Ling” (the novelty #1 hit beloved for its double-entrendres), “Maybellene,” “You Never Can Tell” (which was re-popularized on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack), “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Little Queenie” (a B-side of which the crowd knew every word). Of course, he had to give the crowd what they wanted, so he did his famous one-legged hop, the “duck walk,” during “Johnny B. Goode.” He asked for the audience’s help with the chorus: “Come on, now, I’m getting tired. I’m almost 84. Help me out now!” and the crowd responded enthusiastically, singing along loudly.

It’s not a surprise that these live songs didn’t sound like the recordings from 50 years ago, but who really cares. It was amazing to see Chuck Berry in person, and it’s great that today’s young rockabilly crowd appreciates everything he did for music. As a pioneer of rock' n’ roll, he deserves our respect for introducing a now legendary guitar style. What an experience!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Viva Las Vegas Update #2: Chop Tops, Marti Brom, The Teenagers, and The King’s Ransom Elvis Exhibit

From the looks of it, this year’s sold-out Viva Las Vegas is more packed than last year. So it was a little odd that The Chop Tops – who had one of the biggest audiences last year – were scheduled to play in the cozily intimate Brendan’s Irish Pub. This resulted in entrance line waiting times of more than 45 minutes, but it was definitely worth the wait. The Chop Tops, a Santa Cruz-based band with a relentless touring schedule, played one of their most energetic shows ever for the packed-in Viva crowd.

Sinner, known for his stand-up drumming/singing, made the crowd laugh, as always: “Don’t forget everyone, we play weddings and bar mitzvahs.” He also reminded folks that their special brand of “revved up rockabilly” is truly based in the roots of the genre: “The people who say we don’t play rockabilly don’t know their musical history. Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash – those were the original punks.” Playing both covers from these “original punks” and their own original pieces, Shelby proved that he’s a master of Gretsch and Brett’s upright bass skills were amazing.

If you missed them yesterday, catch The Chop Tops today (Saturday April 3, 2010) at the Car Show at 4 pm before Chuck Berry, or tomorrow (Sunday April 4, 2010) at Brendan’s at 4 pm. Make sure you arrive early, though! While you’re there, don’t forget to pick up a copy of their brand-new album, Deadly Love, which was produced by Kim Nekroman (of Nekromantix and Horrorpops) and engineered by Niedermeier (of Horrorpops). Also take a moment to talk to the guys at the merch table – they really appreciate the support of their fans.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Viva Las Vegas update #1: The Rip’em Ups and Big Sandy

The Rip’em Ups did exactly what their name promises. Starting the Viva weekend off with a bang, the Los Angeles-based band got the party started in full force, delivering exactly the type of music that everyone came hear. This is just the type of band you actually would have heard in the late 1950s, offering a dirty and distorted mix of rock’n’roll and rhythm’n’blues.

The lead singer/guitarist Javier De La Rosa entertains the crowd with his energetic performance and falsetto shouts. Rick Coronado lays down the licks on lead guitar, Edgar Villareal slaps away at the upright, and Santos DeLeon holds it down on skins. Really adding to the R&B flavor of their sound and giving the band a Little Richard quality is Marco Palos on tenor sax.

The crowd jumped and jived during the set, revving everyone up for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chuck Berry & Wanda Jackson at Viva Las Vegas 13 this weekend, plus other events for rockabilly fans

It’s time for Viva Las Vegas! It's like South by Southwest, but just rockabilly. Now in its 13th year, Viva has become THE place to be if you’re a fan of anything and everything rockabilly. This year’s rockabilly weekend features a classic car show, a burlesque competition, a fashion show, jiving classes, plenty of vendors, a tiki pool party, DJs galore, and of course many great rockabilly bands. Don’t miss Chuck Berry (at the Car Show on Saturday, 6 PM) and Wanda Jackson (at the Ballroom on Saturday, 11 pm)!

Most events take place at The Orleans Hotel (4500 W. Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89103), but I’ve also listed some non-official shows going on this weekend as well.

Tickets are sold out for the “official” shows, but don’t let that stop you from heading out to Vegas for the weekend. There will still be plenty to see, and you can still buy tickets for Saturday’s Car Show where Chuck berry will play.

I'll be posting daily updates from the event, so check back often!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Upcoming rockabilly and psychobilly events, March 25-27, including Rockabilly Fest and Pier Invasion

 It’s getting warmer now, so it’s definitely festival time. I’ll be soaking up the sun at the Rockabilly Festival in Claremont this Saturday and spending the night at Pier Invasion. Here are the details for those events and some other shows to check out:

- 13 Black Coffins: Check out this Houston-based band that’s currently on tour, featuring a dynamic female singer with a bluesy voice.
Thursday 3/25/2010, 8:00 PM
The Doll Hut
107 South Adams Street
Anaheim, CA 92802

- “Rev It Up” with Gamblers Mark, CellPhish, The Heart Rippers, Johnny Dahmer, and of course resident host and DJ Von Badsville
Friday 3/26/2010, 8:00 PM
Spike’s Bar and Billiards
7813 Garvey Avenue
Rosemead, CA 91770
$10, 21 and over
Read a review of Gamblers Mark here.

- Three Bad Jacks, Blazing Haley, Los Creepers, Fighting Chance
Friday 3/26/2010, 8:00 PM
The Troubadour
9081 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
All ages
Read about Three Bad Jacks here.

- Latino/a Student Union 3rd Annual Rockabilly Festival:
Bands start at 10 am: The Wiseguys, Moonlight Trio, Gamblers Mark, The Sugar Daddys, The Southerners, and Johnny Come Lately
Saturday 3/27/2010, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Pitzer College
1050 N. Mills Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
Free, all ages, vendors, cars, food...
What else is going on: “The 3rd Annual Latino Student Union Rockabilly Festival is a celebration of an aesthetic movement typically called “Kustom Kulture.” Kustom Kulture is a term encompassing artists who work with different mediums, including metal fabricators, tattooist, pinstripers, photographers, filmmakers and performance artists….Come see barrio art and the artists on March 27th on "The Mounds" at Pitzer College."

- Betty Elle presents Pier Invasion (benefiting A Place Called Home): Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Left Alone, Vicky Tafoya & the Big Beat, Vicky & the Vengents, The Rocketz, Stellar Corpses, Hot Rod Funeral, and DJ Von Badsville and DJ Tavi
Saturday 3/27/2010, 6:00 PM
Brixton South Bay (on Redondo Pier)
100 Torrance Blvd.
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
21 and over, $15 presale, $18 at the door
Raffled prizes include a pair of tickets to this year’s sold out Viva Las Vegas, a signed life-size cut out and DVD of Elvira, a tattoo session with LA Ink’s Amy Nicoletto, swing dancing lessons with world renowned dancer Rusty Frank, a photo session with JMV Photography, and more.
Hawleywood's Barbershop will be doing hot towel shaves.
Sponsored by Stop Staring clothing, Hawleywood's Barbershop, Stephanie Salon, and Ultra Lux Lounge and Salon.

Are there other Rockabilly or Psychobilly shows you know of this weekend? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Did you go to any of these shows? Please come back and leave a comment about your experience.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Mutilators: a great-sounding psychobilly band with a sense of humor

There was blood all over everything – the upright bass, the amps, the diaper the singer/guitarist wore. The most disturbing thing was the old-school Sesame Street “Happy Birthday” shirt that covered Johnny Anal’s torso: there was Elmo, and the Cookie Monster, and Big Bird, but they were dripping in blood. Apparently the Sesame Street gang had just gone on a killing spree.

This was all very fitting for a band that calls themselves “The Mutilators.” This group lives up to their name in every way. They’ve dressed up like a number of different “mutilating” characters – butchers, bloody doctors (in which case female fans are encouraged to stop by the merch booth for a free check-up), bloody nurses (I think they love every opportunity to dress in drag).

I'm Not Laughing At You, I'm Laughing With You:
The over-the-top blood and guts horror element of their performance is definitely entertaining, but what’s great about The Mutilators is that they show you what happens when psychobilly loosens up and laughs at itself. With songs like “I’m SOOOO Psychobilly” and “Gay Love Song for Nick 13,” The Mutilators bring the fun back into the scene and joke about psychobilly fans who take themselves too seriously.

Some critics haven’t appreciated the group’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but The Mutilators aren’t trying to make fun of the subculture. They’re clearly psychobilly fans themselves. And they’re great psychobilly musicians. But they do make a point about the strict guidelines and definitions that tend to limit the psychobilly world.

As Johnny Anal (vocals, guitar) points out: “We in no way mock psychobilly music. If anything the song “I’m SOOOO Psychobilly” mocks psychobilly elitist attitudes, i.e. the idea that you are not psychobilly if you have the wrong hair or shoes, or listen to the wrong bands, etc.”


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrate St. Patrick's with some rockabilly/psychobilly/surf music tonight and this weekend

It’s time to step out and drink a Guinness, so why not enjoy some psychobilly/rockabilly music while you drink it up for St. Patrick? Among this week/end’s highlights:

- Gamblers Mark and many more: Crazy St. Patty’s Show
Wednesday 3/17/2010, 8:00 PM
Old Town Pub
66 N. Fair Oaks (Entrance in alley on Holly St), Pasadena, CA 91103
21 and over, $5
Read more about Gamblers Mark here.

- “Rev It Up” with PLAN 9, Henchmen, Los Difuntos, Slash-O-Matic
Friday 3/219/2010, 8:00 PM
Spike’s Bar and Billiards
7813 Garvey Avenue, Rosemead, CA 91770
21 and over

- Rockabilly night with Hotrod Hillbillies, Badluck Bandits, The Southerners, The Bombers
Friday 3/19/2010, 8:00 PM
Old Town Pub
66 N. Fair Oaks (Entrance in alley on Holly St), Pasadena, CA 91103
21 and over, $6
Read more about Hotrod Hillbillies here.

- Moonlight Trio, Los Chilaqz, Johnny Dahmer
Friday 3/19/2010, 8:00 PM
276 E 1st Street, Pomona, CA 91766
No cover, Free Parking
21 and over
Read a review of Moonlight Trio here.

- Voodoo Glow Skulls, Hotrod Hillbillies, Cold Blue Rebels, Mentors, Hub City Stompers
Saturday 3/20/2010, 6:00 PM
The Dome
2201 V St., Bakersfield, CA 93301
$10 in advance, $12 at the door, all ages

- Cash’d Out, Ramblin’ James & The Billy Boppers, 50 Cent Haircut
Saturday 3/20/2010, 9:00 PM
The Juke Joint
735 N. Anaheim Blvd., CA 92805
$10, 21 and over

Are there other Rockabilly or Psychobilly shows you know of this weekend? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.

Did you go to any of these shows? Please come back and leave a comment about your experience.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Pub of the Dead" follow-up: zombies in pop culture and psychobilly, or "Why Zombies Ate Her Brain"

As reported in my previous article (click here to read a review of the "Pub of the Dead" psychobilly night at Old Town Pub, Pasadena), there has been a general resurgence of zombies in pop culture, and zombies seem to be particularly popular among psychobilly fans.

Yes, I know zombies have been a part of pop culture for a long time. After all, as Professor Robert Maniquis (UCLA, 19th century literature expert) pointed out while analyzing the popularity of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the 2009 literary mash-up “co-authored” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith), the Jesus story represents perhaps the most enduring and famous tale of living dead resurrection ever. I’ve never really thought about Jesus as a zombie, but the professor has a point. And I'm also aware that the psychobilly love for zombies stems from a cult-like obsesstion with old sci fi and horror B-movies, many of which featured campy zombie gore.

While there is a long history of fascination with the undead, there has been a clear spike in zombie love the past few years, rivaling, if not trumping, the sexy and alluring vampire fetish… or maybe just catering to a very different audience. Some have attributed this resurgence of zombie interest to Max Brooks’ books such as The Zombie Survival Guide (2003) and World War Z (2006). Now there are zombie walks across the nation where people dress up and stumble along main thoroughfares with their arms outstretched, muttering “mbbbrrraaaaaiiinnsssss” at passersby. Last year I attended Oakland’s “Thriller” re-creation when zombies all over the world simultaneously performed Michael Jackson’s choreography. There was recently an art exhibit in Arcadia entitled “Zombies in Love.” I’m not even going to get into the scores of zombie movies and video games, and I’ll tell you all about the “Zombie Research Society” in a later article. These are just some of the recent manifestations of the zombie fetish in popular culture.

So why are zombies are so ubiquitous in the popular imagination lately? I’ve started to compile some of the different theories people have come up with. I’ll write in more detail about each of these soon, but for now, here is a brief run-down of what I’ve found:


Friday, February 26, 2010

Zombies moaned their approval for the bands at last week's "Pub of the Dead" psychobilly night

“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” – tagline from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978)

“When hell is full, the dead shall drink at Old Town Pub” – tagline for “Pub of the Dead”

And they sure did. Walking into “Pub of the Dead II” at Pasadena’s Old Town Pub, I found myself struggling to recognize the people I knew. Most of the guests had smeared their faces in white, grey, green, and black paint, and artfully dabbed fake blood around their mouths. Scabby bits of rotting flesh decayed off their cheeks and chins. But after my eyes adjusted to the scene, I was able to figure out who the zombies really were. Over there I saw a cowboy hat, so that had to be Xavier from the Texas-based band Hotrod Hillbillies. And that must be Tony, guitarist and singer of The Rocketz, dressed in a tattered suit, looking like a corporate zombie who fell victim to the disease on the way home from the office.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Psychobilly and rockabilly shows for any fan this weekend - Feb 26-27

There are shows for any and every type of rockabilly/psychobilly fan this weekend.
If you want to find out what metal music with a washtub bass and mandolin sounds like, check out Los Duggans at Spike’s on Friday.
Do you like a little bit of surf mixed with old-school rockabilly, space aliens, and ska? Then support Gamblers Mark at Tropics Lounge in Fullerton on Friday.
Or check out The Sugar Daddys – yet another incarnation of The Moonlight Trio musicians who play great old-fashioned rockabilly.
In the mood for some two-stepping country-western cowpunk psychobilly? Don’t miss the Hotrod Hillbillies at The Juke Joint this Friday.
Or see The Daisy Pushers who play darkly swinging rockabilly fitting of a burlesque show at a circus, on Saturday at the Surf City Saloon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Creepshow review – Canadian “hellbilly” band tours California with must-see performances

Talk about a polite band. Singer Sarah “Sin” Blackwood told the crowd: “You all better sing along with this song, or we’ll pick on you.” The bassist Sean “Sick Boy” McNab quickly added: “Yeah, but we’re Canadian, so we’ll apologize right after.” The fans who gathered at The Troubadour on Friday, February 12th needed no encouragement to participate – they sang along, whirled around in the pit, shouted call-and-response phrases with Sarah, and screamed their approval of every song. They even clapped along impressively in time with the beat when the band encouraged them to keep the rhythm going through an entire song.

But don’t let the band’s Canadian politeness fool you. Their songs – often about demonic subjects - are not for the faint of heart. Just take a look at these song titles: “Demon Lover,” “Run For Your Life,” “Buried Alive,” “Dearly Departed,” “You’ll Come Crawlin’” and “Long Way Down.” But what’s interesting about their song-writing style is that these songs delve deeper than typical psychobilly tracks influenced by horror movies. These songs of terror, monsters, and demons are often metaphors for personal experiences of adversity, heartbreak, friendship, and addiction – subjects that most people can identify with even if they haven’t watched Dawn of the Dead a hundred times.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine's Ball 2 weekender - Frantic Flintstones thrilled thousands of psychobilly fans

It felt like prom night. Psychobilly and rockabilly fans from all over the nation showed up in full force, dressed to the nines, eager to socialize with others who had traveled to Pomona’s newly renovated Fox Theatre for this big event. The second annual Valentine’s Ball is just one of the famous “weekenders” organized by Rich of Black Cat Entertainment, the other being Labor Day weekend’s Hollywood Showdown now on its eleventh year. The Valentine’s Ball, which took place February 13th (conveniently on the Saturday of a three-day weekend in honor of President’s Day), is quickly becoming one of the nation’s hottest annual destinations.

This year’s event attracted an estimated 2,000 fans, filling the luxurious Fox Theatre with vibrant energy. The venue was perfect. There was a side room with a bar and comfortable places to sit when you needed a moment to relax, away from the noise of the main room. The spiraling staircase ushered patrons up to the prom-like photo booth and to another bar on the smoking patio. The plush lobby offered fans a chance to meet with band members at the merch tables. And, of course, there was the huge auditorium with room for the lively wrecking pit and great views for those even further back who didn’t want to risk breaking a heel or mussing up their well-done hairdo’s.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zombies, pirates, and shakin' bones: psychobilly and rockabilly shows this weekend

Last weekend was a busy one for rockabilly and psychobilly fans, with The Creepshow at the Troubadour and the Valentine’s Ball featuring Frantic Flintstones in Pomona (check back for reviews coming soon).

But this weekend offers plenty of local shows. So get out your zombie costume and support your local bands!

“When Hell is full, the dead shall drink at Old Town Pub” – dress up and join them
- "Pub of the Dead II": The Rocketz, The Returners, Becky & the Blacktones, The Transers
Friday 2/19/2010, at 9:00 PM
Old Town Pub
66 N. Fair Oaks (Entrance in alley on Holly St), Pasadena, CA 91103
$3 if you’re dressed like a zombie, $7 if not
21 and over
Click here to read more about The Rocketz.

Or celebrate the weekend at an awesome pirate bar with great music
- “Bar That Sucks” presents Gamblers Mark, Mission Creeps, Cold Blue Rebels, The VooDuo
Friday 2/19/2010, at 8:00 PM
Redwood Bar
316 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
21 and over, $10
Click here to read a recent interview with Gamblers Mark.

- The Copy Cats – the greatest rockabilly cover band!
Friday 2/19/09, at 8:30 PM
The Other Place
316 S. Euclid St., Anaheim, CA 92802
Free, 18 and over, full bar, kitchen until 11 pm
Click here to read more about The Copy Cats.

- SHAKN’ BONES: Viernes 13, Henchmen, Los Creepers, The Triggers, The Riff Raffs resident DJ Von Badsville spinning rockabilly, psychobilly, punk, rock’n’roll, garage, & surf all night
Saturday 2/20/2010, 9:00 PM
Bamboo Bar
14304 Telegraph Rd., Whittier, CA 90604
21 and over, $10 cover

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Creepshow teams up with Miss Derringer at the Troubadour this Friday - a must-see concert

Ghouls, demon lovers, zombies, the devil – just some of the characters found in the horrifically fun songs of The Creepshow. The group boasts four talented musicians: the cute but tough bombshell Sarah “Sin” Blackwood rocks on guitar and lead vocals, Sean “Sick Boy” McNab slaps away on a stand-up bass topped with a skull, Kristian “The Reverend McGinty” Rowles delivers dark-sounding sermons and creepy organ sounds à la J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue, and Matt “Pomade” Gee keeps it all together with solid rhythms on drums.

To get the hard-driving hybrid sound that makes this Canadian band unique and exciting, take a little Johnny Cash, mix in some Dead Kennedys and the Damned, throw in the zombie love child of Wanda Jackson and Elvis Presley, and add a dash each of skate punk, haunted house organ, 1980s goth, and 1950s/1960s vocal group harmonies. So whether you want to call it “horrorbilly,” “psychobilly,” “horror punk,” “punk-a-billy,” “hellbilly” or whatever other term people have come up with to describe the general “rockabilly meets punk meets horror movie” style, the band prefers to simply call it “Rock n Roll.”

The Creepshow celebrated the release of their second album, Run For Your Life, with a very successful non-stop North American tour last fall. Now they’re back with a winter tour before heading off to Australia for the Soundwave Festival later this month and then Japan for Punkspring in April. If you haven’t seen The Creepshow hit the stage before, then you’re in for a wonderful treat. They are one of those rare bands that sounds just as great live as they do on their well-produced album, and totally entertaining to boot. There are so many different musical influences that go into their sound, it’s best to just go get a taste of it for yourself. You’re bound to find something you like in their eclectic mix of styles.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Interview with Black Cat Entertainment: Valentine’s Ball, Feb. 13, featuring Frantic Flintstones

The highly-anticipated Second Annual Valentine’s Ball event this upcoming Saturday, February 13, 2010 is organized by Black Cat Entertainment, the same promoter that presents a variety of 80s, punk, psychobilly, and rockabilly events throughout Southern California, most notably the annual Hollywood Showdown (which has been going strong for ten years now).

I got a chance to talk to Black Cat’s owner, Rich, and it’s clear that he loves providing fun and entertaining events for all types of music fans. Here are some clips from the interview:

What’s the best part of running these events?
Rich: Definitely the satisfaction of putting on the event and seeing the fans involved, happy, and excited to see and meet the bands. I take thousands of photos, and it’s great to see everyone having such a good time. I make it fun by adding all the pre-show events and I try to keep it feeling like a party, a fun thing.
[Check the end of this article for all details on the main event, as well as the pre-show activities on Thursday and Friday]

What’s the most challenging aspect?
Rich: These days it’s harder to get people to go to shows. Before, it was automatic, but with today’s financial situation, people have to pick and choose what they’re going to spend their money on. It was the worst when gas went up, because if you had $20, it went to filling your tank. But I think things are picking up, and I really appreciate all the shop owners who sell our Valentine’s Ball tickets in their store. We all really try to help each other out.


Valentine’s Ball on Saturday featuring Frantic Flintstones – psychobilly legends from UK - and more

 Fans have been looking forward to this event for months, and now it’s almost here. The Second Annual Valentine’s Ball takes place this weekend with a concert on Saturday February 13 featuring the legendary Frantic Flintstones (UK), The Swampy’s (Belgium), Mad Marge and the Stonecutters (Victorville), Stellar Corpses (Santa Cruz), and Dr. Bizarro’s Victims (San Fernando Valley).

There will also be a meet and greet with Frantic Flintstones and some of the other bands at Bigfoot Lodge in Los Feliz on Thursday February 11th at 10 PM, and an in-store at Red Zone in the Panorama City Mall on Friday February 12th at 6 PM (see the bottom of this article for details on all these related events).

Much of the anticipation is due to the headliner: Frantic Flintstones is one of those legendary UK 1980s psychobilly bands that appeals to fans who have been into this music for decades as well as people who are newer to the scene and just discovering the innovators of the genre. Members throughout the years have also played with The Meteors, Morrissey, and Guana Batz, among other famous rockabilly/psychobilly bands. Check out their MySpace page for an entertaining history of all the line-up changes – and drugs/booze – this band has gone through. Don’t miss this chance to see Frantic Flintstones, since you never know when they’ll make it back to LA again.
Click here to see which songs you recognize on their MySpace page.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Gamblers Mark - storytelling masters of psychobilly, ska, surf, and rockabilly. Tonight @ Spike's!

Now this is a psychobilly band that can really carry a tune. I got a chance to check out Gamblers Mark on January 23rd at The Surf City Saloon and January 24th at the “Veteranos del Underground” music festival at Self-Help Graphics in East Los Angeles.

Lead singer/guitarist Dave Gambler has one of the best voices I’ve heard in the billy scene in a long time – great tone and sustain with a crooner style that doesn’t overdo the vibrato. His brother Danny Exito (on upright bass) and Ricky Lobo (on drums) add sweet-sounding back-up harmonies that fully round out the awesome vocal skills of this band. Listen to “Rockahula FiveO” or “Down a Highway” for great examples of their clean, crisp, tuneful melodies and harmonies. Plus, there’s an honorary fourth member: Dave’s son, Jacob Dean (aka “Jake the Ripper”) earned his nickname by showing off his shredding skills at the Veteranos show while his dad threw merchandise to the screaming crowd.

Then there’s their unclassifiable mix of music genres – a little rockabilly here, a little psychobilly there, and a dash each of punk rock, ska, and surf music. Their influences range widely across the musical spectrum. Take, for instance, the first two concerts that Danny ever went to see - Dick Dale and Reverend Horton Heat - or the fact that they listened to early Jamaican ska on the way to the show. And sometimes Dave gets ready for a show by listening to industrial goth music, or surf, or 1940s jazz, or Spanish rockabilly, depending on his mood. Then Ricky brings more punk rock to the equation, which adds an extra edge to the basic rockabilly drum pattern. Put together, you get a band that can cater to any crowd.

Click here to read the rest of the review on the Examiner website!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hotrod Hillbillies – bringing honky-tonk psychobilly from Texas to Southern California

Fast cars, fast women, whiskey, cocaine and Texas. That’s what Hotrod Hillbillies are all about. I tried to find a few songs about other topics, but other than a tune about a comfortable couch, most of their songs really do fit into those 5 categories.

The band originally hails from Austin, Texas, but the current touring line-up features two of So Cal’s very own - Tony Slash on upright bass (from The Rocketz) and David Cisneros on drums (from Badluck Bandits) – alongside lead singer/guitarist Xavier Ortiz. Putting these three together makes one hell of a band. I checked out this new line-up at the Old Town Pub in Pasadena last Friday, January 22, 2010.

Like other psychobilly groups, Hotrod Hillbillies definitely has fair doses of punk and rockabilly. But what makes them different is that there’s a good deal more alt-country/cowpunk, as you’d expect from a Texas-based band. So you can wreck for a few songs, but go ahead and indulge in some good old-fashioned two-stepping during the more country-flavored tunes. (If you don’t know how to two-step, find me at the next show!)

Accordingly, instead of the macabre cemetery-obsessed lyrics of a lot of the darker psychobilly bands, Hotrod Hillbillies will have you shuffling your way through rednecky, hillbilly topics that make you want to drink enough beer (or whiskey) to forget about your ex. Check out these song titles off their 2005 album Under the Texas Sky: ‘Let’s Alcholass,” ‘Spaghetti Western,’ ‘Redneck Girl,’ and ‘Pissed and Depressed.’


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Local psychobilly shows this weekend, Jan 29-30: "Rev It Up," Rockabilly vs 80s, and The Chop Tops

This month continues to be jam packed with rockabilly/psychobilly shows in the Los Angeles area. Last week, fans of the genre were treated to a host of excellent shows, including Hotrod Hillbillies (now with both Texas and So Cal members) at the Old Town Pub in Pasadena, Gamblers Mark at the Surf City Saloon in Huntington Beach, and tons of skacore, punk, and psychobilly bands (including The Chop Tops, The Rocketz, Gamblers Mark, and more) at the Veteranos del Underground festival in East LA.

But don’t stop getting out there. There are plenty more local bands playing this weekend:


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Large music festival this weekend where psychobilly, reggae, ska, punk, and rockabilly meet

A collaborative music festival with psychobilly, ska, punk, and reggae.
Check out something new this weekend at the "Veteranos del Underground" festival where psychobilly shares the stage with ska, punk, reggae, and rockabilly. Also among this weekend’s highlights: Hotrod Hillbillies from Texas on tour with local musicians from The Rocketz and Badluck Bandits, and Gamblers Mark takes on the Surf City Saloon in Huntington Beach with The Riff Raffs. See you there!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Stellar Corpses haunted the Gilman and will slay the Valentine's Ball Feb 13 at the Fox Theater

Ankh if you’re horny.” That was the best joke of the night, and I heard it from Dusty Grave from Stellar Corpses who was sporting his newly-purchased ankh earring as evidence of his fascination with Egyptology. Stellar Corpses brought their high-energy show to The Gilman in Berkeley last Saturday, January 9, 2010, with Plan 9 (a Misfits cover band) and The Remones (obviously, a Ramones cover band).

Hailing from Santa Cruz, where the legendary 1980s vampire flick The Lost Boys was filmed, Stellar Corpses offer a unclassifiable hybrid of punk, horror, psychobilly, roots rockabilly, surf, goth, death rock, and metal. Made up of Dusty Grave (vocals, guitar), Dan Lamothe (upright bass, back-up vox), Emilio Menze (guitar, back-up vox), and Kyle Moore (drums), the band brings a diverse range of influences: The Damned, Elvis, The Misfits, AFI, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, Good Riddance, Tiger Army, Demented Are Go, Danzig, and much more. Plus, they’ve toured with good friends Resurex, The Creepshow, Calabrese, Nimvind, and Blitzkid.

Combine those musical influences with a taste for horror fiction and movies, as well as personal interests in history, psychology, astronomy, and world religions, and life experiences of betrayal, love, loss, and death, and you get … well … not anything you can easily slap a label on, but rather a culmination that can only be called Stellar Corpses.


Interview with Stellar Corpses: Bringing diverse influences to Santa Cruz psychobilly

Just before they stormed the Gilman with their unique brand of psychobilly-horror-punk-surf-metal-rock n roll, I got a chance to catch up with Santa Cruz-based band Stellar Corpses featuring Dusty Grave (vocals, guitar), Dan Lamothe (upright bass, back-up vox), Emilio Menze (guitar, back-up vox), and Kyle Moore (drums).

Read the review of the show here.

Be sure to check out their upcoming LA show with Frantic Flintstones at the Valentines Ball at the Fox Theater in Pomona (click here for more info).

KK: How’d you come up with the name Stellar Corpses?
Dusty: It’s an astronomy term. It means dead stars. Dead stars can literally mean stars dying like supernovas and black holes. But there are also dead stars like Elvis Presley, whose birthday it was yesterday. [Elvis would have celebrated his 75th birthday on January 8.]
Emilio: There are a lot of dead people that we like and love and look up to.

KK: Who are some of the dead stars that you influenced you?
Dusty: Vampira, she died recently. She’s one, for sure. And I’ve been a fan of Elvis my whole life. I think that he’s very charismatic and really a good showman. He had a great voice and really pushed the envelope for his era.

KK: How come horror is a big part of your band’s image and theme?
Emilio: Many reasons. One reason is that people are afraid of it.
Dusty: It’s about the things that people are afraid to look at in themselves. I find that most people that are afraid of horror and think that it’s bad are people that just don’t really like to admit that evil and darkness are part of everybody.
Emilio: I think horror is a lot of fun, too. It’s not a real serious thing. Like when you go to see a horror movie, it’s not a movie where you want everyone to be quiet in the audience. I really like in a horror movie when the crowd yells and cheers and reacts to what’s going on. I think it’s kind of like a rollercoaster too. It takes you close to death and danger, but you’re totally safe. Nothing will ever happen to, but it definitely feels like something can. And at the same time, horror movies make you not take your life for granted. Because your life would be way worse if you’re being chased by some murderer with a weapon, or you’re being hunted.
Dusty: I think horror is the mirror of what’s going on in mainstream culture. And there’s all this death on tv and people say they’re not into death and horror yet they sit there watching the news about who died, who got blown up, who got raped, who killed who, who did all this stuff, and then they tell us that we can’t do your art like that because that’s bad. But it has to come out some way. You can’t get fed all these images and then just stuff it.