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.”


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