Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TVD's Daily Wax

My freshman year of college I discovered a genre of music that I immediately took a shining too. Perhaps it was the fast pace. Perhaps it was the retro feeling. Perhaps it was how strong and awesome all of the women involved seemed. Something that took my love of early punk music and mashed it up with swinging sensations of rockabilly and giving me that guilty yet oh-so-good pleasure you get from watching B horror films. Psychobilly, the musical hybrid referred to as the "bastard genre of Rock n' Roll and the forgotten offspring of Punk," has a faster tempo and a much heavier sound than rockabilly and an upright base is usually substituted in lieu of a bass guitar.

The genesis of the term "psychobilly" seems to be in dispute as some attribute it to American band the Cramps (who have in the past denied actually being a psychobilly band, just a band that put the word on their flyers to get attention) and the English band the Meteors, though it seems the majority vote is for the Cramps, at least in terms of who coined the phrase first. Psychobilly's international growth occurred in three waves. The first wave started in Britain in the early 1980s and gave rise to the Meteors, whose fans invented slam dancing- what is now a major calling card of the genre- and other influential bands such as the Guana Batz. The second wave spread to Europe and gave rise to such psychobilly greats as Mad Sin and, one of my personal favorites, the Nekromantix. The third psychobilly wave reached the United States in the 1990s and really took off, especially popular amongst Southern California's Latin community.

Modern psychobilly is known for its experimental sounds, often expanding or moving away from the traditional sounds of its predecessors. At any psychobilly show one is likely to see circle pits filled with men with their hair shaved into quiffs or pompadours, wearing creepers. Women will often have big hair and wear hot rod influenced styles in bright neon patterns like leopard or tiger prints- picture a hipper, more colorful Elvira. If you go to a show expecting a low key rockabilly time, you're in for quite the surprise. As Tiger Army frontman Nick 13 would tell you, rockabilly and psychobilly are in the same family with rockabilly being the grandfather whose portrait you occasionally see hanging in the hallway of your parent's house.

The Meteors - Wreckin' Crew (Mp3)
The Cramps - Rock on the Moon (Mp3)
Nekromantix - Nekronauts (Mp3)
Tiger Army - Temptation (Mp3)
Horror Pops - Where They Wander (Mp3)

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