Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TVD First Date | ...with The Piano Creeps

Those readers with a keen eye on all things DC will recognize that we've been highlighting bands over the past few weeks from the roster of local label The Kora Records (upon whom BYT had a rather excellent feature this week.) A big thanks goes out to Mike Fink for putting the entire Kora/TVD mashup together--which actually continues today as we chat with Mary Lorson from The Piano Creeps:

"The Piano Creeps is a collaboration between Billy Coté, Kathy Ziegler, and myself. We started informally, just talking about it, a few years ago, but it was Billy and Kathy who really made the record happen. I was just beginning a new teaching job, in addition to dealing with some health problems, so I didn't have much free time, but Billy and Kathy would meet every Tuesday. They would construct tracks and play them for me and we'd confer and eventually the project became an album. They really did the spadework--I was just the lucky stiff who got to step in, bring a couple songs, and sing. But somehow this patchwork collection does represent all three of our rather divergent and personal zeitgeists, and I'm happy we made it."

"In our old band Madder Rose, Billy was the boss and main songwriter; after that, I put together Saint Low and was the one who made the big choices. Kathy makes her living as a session and road player, but has been in charge on all of her solo records. So I guess the interesting thing about this collaboration is that we're three opinionated people with our own styles who are rather used to creating situations where we get to be control freaks. But with this project we all really did a good job of letting go and being curious. I've made a bunch of records now, and this one developed the most organically, process-wise. It came together more the way Billy and I work on the film music, where we explore every valid idea until the piece shows itself as either work-able or not. The gigs have been a really fun extension of this ease and trust we have, so we're looking forward to getting together this month to play gigs around the Kora release of "Future Blues"."

The Piano Creeps - In Somerville (Mp3)
The Piano Creeps - Hey Love (Mp3)

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)