'Still Hungry For Success!'
Psychostick is a national touring comedy/metal/hardcore act that formed in 2000 to bring the ridiculous ideas and antics of a few computer nerds and lovers of music.
Matter of fact, once "BEER!" hit radio waves Psychostick [Shmalex, Drummer - Joshy, Guitarist - Rawrb, Vocalist - Jimmychanga, Bassist - and Jakermeister, Guitarist] has released three (3) records nationwide (the third being the just-released Sandwich) and has toured many times across the USA.
Sounds insane, right? That's because it IS insane. And probably stupid!
Chatting one-on-one with The J (Joshy/Guitar Ninja), I first wondered what had been his musical influences growing up, and how many still factored into his music today? "My personal influences were Metallica, Pantera, and Dream Theater in the early days. Humor-wise, I loved absurd slapstick comedies like the Naked Gun series, Hot Shots, Spaceballs, etc. Musically, those bands were a jumping off point to looking for progressively heavier and more underground music. Humor-wise, I think it's pretty obvious what influences those type of movies have on our writing style."
To the best of your knowledge, is this the first time a band has ever taken the stage and performed metal/hardcore, all wrapped in the soft, cuddly blanket of comedy?! "I think it's been done before, but not in concentrated dose that Psychostick delivers. Obviously Gwar has a subtle, twisted sense of humor. Anthrax has some pretty funny songs, and Strapping Young Lad and Storm Troopers of Death have some funny lyrics if you listen closely. Plenty of bands have recorded "that one funny song". But I think Psychostick makes it more obvious in a shove-it-in-your-face kind of way, making a whole band concept out of it."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you, and was thinking of buying your new CD, 'Sandwich' how would you yourself describe your sound? "The best description I've heard of us is "a heavy version of Tenacious D, Bloodhound Gang, or Flight of the Conchords". The term "comedy metal" is often used, but I think it just confuses people."
With the lyrical theme surrounding the new CD 'Sandwich' the subject of, well, food, the obvious question is this: At the time of making this album, what was the favorite band food that was brought into the studio, more often than not? "There's an awesome taco shop nearby called Los Favoritos. They have amazing California carne asada burritos as well as breakfast burritos. I'm fairly certain there have been more burritos from there brought into the studio than any other kind of food from anywhere."
Indeed, tell us more about this CD, 'Sandwich' and the four (4) short skits that accompany it ... and, of course, the epic medley that names all those that donated $50.00 each for the album to be made in the first place! "Even though the theme of the album is food, I think the underlying theme of the record is being broke. Half of the record was written during a broke time living at home, and the other half written after living on the road and being broke for a couple of years. Many hungry nights were had."
"When discussing recording the new album, we realized that we couldn't afford to stop touring to record it. So we put the destiny of the new record in the fans hands. Our manager Anthony Caroto suggested having fans donate $50.00 a piece in exchange for the name in that song. We raised over $15,000 - enough to buy new pedals for Alex, new amps, etc. We worked our asses off and made sure we made a record worthy of their investment. We're proud of "Sandwich", and our fans love it."
How long was this album in the works ... and were there any speed bumps you had to overcome before you finally signed off on it? "Some of the songs on "Sandwich" have been around for years, they've just never been recorded. We started pre-production in August of last year (2008). We started tracking, and nearly finished but had to stop to go do "Holiday Hate Tour Season Two". We ended up getting our record to the label a month later than expected, simply because we didn't want to rush it. I was seriously busting my ass as an engineer those last couple of weeks though putting the final touches on it though, I'll tell you that. I lost a lot of sleep for a week, but it was worth it."
Indeed, how easy (or hard) is it to create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "I actually don't think it's that hard at all. But have to start with the music. Most bands start with, "How can we get big?" Then they look out there and look at what everybody else is doing and try to do it better. But there's always somebody better. Then the opposite end of the spectrum is bands who try so hard to be different that no one can even relate to it."
"Really, what you should be doing is creating something that you love, and that you are proud of. Something that works off of your strengths and personality as a band. You can't control whether people will like it or not. But if you truly love it, someone else out there probably will too. You gotta access that creative part of the brain, which is hindered by even asking the question, "What kindof music should we play?"
Er, was that acoustic song at the end, the one that gets cut off prematurely by the apparent limitation in CD space, honestly one that was cut off because of that reason, perhaps? "We could have finished it, there actually was a couple of minutes left. But we did that to emphasize that, "WE FILLED THIS CD UP. IT'S WORTH BUYING, DON'T JUST DOWNLOAD IT!" We do know how the song ends, though. And we'll never tell."
Most bands list real names as band members ... you don't ... so, whoever is answering these questions from the band, please tell us where your 'band name' originated from! "My real name is Josh Key. I go by "The J" or "Jarsh". My title is "Guitar Ninja". For a while I was "Special J". We all kindof end up with nicknames because our normal bands are boring and non-memorable. Then again, our names keep evolving, so people get confused. Oh well, a Psychostick band member by any other name is just as dumb. Call us individually whatever the hell you want to. Just spell our band name right, damnit! That's all we ask."
If someone close to you had to describe you in three (3) words, what would THEY use? And, subsequently, what would the three (3) words be that YOU would self-describe yourself as? "Someone else: funny-ass metal ... Us: Best band EVER!"
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "Well, lately we've been covering a totally metal version of Gloria Estefan's stuff live but we haven't recorded it. Why, is there a charity you know of that's totally dependent upon our covering of Gloria Estefan? We'd love to say we changed lives by making Gloria Estefan metal."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Who doesn't love penguins? Ya know, Alex used to have a stuffed penguin in his apartment named Flipper. He would sit on the TV and look all creepy. Turning the question around, do YOU have a stuffed penguin sitting on your desk at the office?"
Yes, in fact I have eight (8) stuffed penguins sitting right behind me now as I speak! No word of a lie, hence the question, my friend!
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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