Tag Archives: Psychobilly

Interview: Vic Victor of the Koffin Kats

Punk / psychobilly rockers Koffin Kats currently are kicking ass overseas.  The band, who recently released an all new full length album called Our Way & The Highway on Sailor’s Grave Records, has been touring non-stop in support of the release.  With plans on touring the states in the Spring, Koffin Kats show no intentions of slowing down at all.

I reviewed Our Way & The Highway last month and was beyond impressed with what I had heard.  I am really looking forward to seeing these guys live again sometime very soon.  Their mix of punk rock and psychobilly keeps things entertaining and fun.  They are a hard working group and skip all the bells and whistles and go straight for the kill when it comes to performing live.  They are a punk rock band.  This is what they do.

I had the chance to chat with Vic Victor, the band’s vocalist / stand up bassist this week.  While in Spain, Victor was more than happy to answer a few questions about the band and their recent release:

BHP: Our Way & The Highway rules. This might by my favorite release by you guys. How happy are you and the band with how it came out?

VV: Thanks! We are rather proud of this one… I’m very happy with the way the mix came out. Damn close to how I had originally heard the songs in my head while we were writing them. If not better.

What did you do differently this time around?

We sent the raw tracks out to be mixed by Rene De La Muerte from the Canadian Psychobilly band The Brains. In the past we have always just mixed in the studio with the engineer we were recording with.

Any reason for the delay in dropping a new album?  I thought hit was supposed to drop last year.

Originally we were going to put it out in November 2011, but we realised that it wasn’t enough time to properly promote it. Besides we were in no real hurry. This being the 7th release in 8 years of the band, I think we are putting albums out at a good pace.

So how’s Tommy Koffin doing these days? Do you still talk to him at all? It really does not seem like the band had any difficulties with getting Ian to speed. Am I correct in saying that?

He’s doing fine. We all still hang out whenever we are home. We were practicing the day Ian arrived from New Mexico. Really havent taken any breaks since his joining, so he’s going through the intensive training program. haha.

After initially listening to the new album, I realized you shared your vocal duties with Ian. Whose idea was that?

We have never done that prior and i thought it would be a good change up. Plus it makes the song “Choke” flow more natural between the verse and chorus by going back and forth with the vocals.

“For The Good Times” has what sounds like an empty bottle solo, did you guys dispose of those drinks properly?

Ah studio drinks. Yes those are necessary. Its good to keep the vibe a bit loose when recording.

I can not help but compare “The Devil Asked” to a Butthole Surfers song, maybe it was from the deep mono tone intro, but still, this song strayed away from the others. Was that the idea of this track?

Actually I had no idea how i was going to sing the verse part until the day I had to record the vocals. The night before, I was sitting at the bar and it came to me to do it almost Tom Waits style.

Do you have a favorite track off of Our Way & The Highway? I dig “Locket Of Sin” and “For The Good Times” the most on the album.

“The Bottle Called” has stuck with me as one I’m more proud of. It was the first track written for the album. It was actually released on split we did with 12 Step Rebels earlier in 2011. But that song right was the model for writing a lot of the tracks on Our Way & The Highway.

You guys tour a ton. When you have downtime, what do you do to make ends meet?

There are two reasons we tour so much. One being because we feel it’s necessary to get out there and push as hard as we can promoting the band with live shows. The other being that because we are gone so much, no job would have us back for only a few weeks at a time, so we have to stay on the road to pay the bills too.

Touring overseas has got to be amazing, but how does your upright bass take those trips? Have you had any casualties with your standup or any other equipment for that matter?

We have fried a few pedals and tuners with the power difference haha. I shipped my first upright over for the first Euro tour and it lived there until a few tours ago when I sold it to a band after it was just too beat up to play anymore. Then my current upright was one left over there by The Quakes. Two days after I got it the neck broke due to it falling over. Not an easy quick fix, but I seem to have developed a talent for rough road fixes on uprights. Its still holding strong on this current tour.

So if you had your choose, what bands would you want to tour with alive or dead?

Alice Cooper for sure. He’s not dead yet so maybe that can happen haha. I’d also like to do a tour with Bad Religion.

That would be insane.  Who are some of your favorite bands you have toured with in the past?

We have been very lucky to hit the road with bands we have looked up to like Nekromantix, Long Tall Texans, The Meteors, & Mad Sin.

What is the response from folk who have never heard or seen you guys live before?

They are usually not sure what the hell just happened but they are usually happy hahah. The upright bass really grabs ones attention when they are not familiar with it and what can be done with it. Gained a good amount of following outside of the psychobilly world because we play all over the place for crowds who sometimes don’t know of anything related to psychobilly but dig that we are loud and fast.

How do you describe your sound to someone who has never heard of you?

Its easy. I always say punk rock with an upright bass. The hard part comes if you get asked what kind of punk rock? Then I say… you really should just listen to one of our records.

That’s the best way to check anyone out.  So, what made you all jump onto the Sailor Grave Records roster?

They have put out some great bands albums in the past and we were looking for a label that we thought could help promote us better. For the first time, we are very happy with the way a label has worked with us.

That’s great to hear.  Seeing that 2012 has just started, what plans do the Koffin Kats have before the world ends…?

If the world does end at any point this year… we will be on tour when it happens. We are pushing to hit the 250+ show mark this year. Last year was around 230.

That is impressive!  Anything you would like to say?

Just want to thank everyone who has been spreading the word of this new record and we will continue to tour and hope to see ya out at a show.

One last thing, when are you guys coming to Cleveland?

Well see ya in the spring and in the fall.

The Koffin Kats are currently on tour and will be hitting up the states in the Spring. Visit the Koffin Kats’ website for more tour information.

Album Review: Koffin Kats – Our Way & The Highway

Last week Detroit’s rockabilly act the Koffin Kats dropped an impressive release titled Our Way & The Highway.  Recently signing to Sailor’s Grave Records, a primarily Oi! / Punk label, the band continues to make great outlaw punk rockabilly music that strays away from the doom and gloom and focuses more on fast times and taking chances.  People usually consider the Kats to be “Horror-Punk” but their 6th release is straight up, fun and addictive psychobilly  punk rock.

Having toured the globe continually for the last 8 years, this band has earned their solid fan base the old fashioned way.  If you have not seen them live before, you can expect non-stop fun through their sets.  In fact, the band prides themselves on not-stop touring and making each night a party.  Bringing this kind of attitude to the venues on a regular basis ensures nothing but good times – trust me, I have seen them live before, it was great.

“Riding High” starts off the album full-forced with a sound very similar to something off The Damned’s Grave Disorder (I adore that album btw…).   Vic Victor has a voice that easily could rest along the lines of Elvis and even Chris Isaak and is showcased immediately as heard in the opening track.  “The Way Of The Road” rubbed off as a rock track for a moment and soon morphed into  schizophrenic variations of punk rock and rockabilly.  The song really kept my attention with thanks to the ridiculous bass playing.  Very cool song to check out if you have never heard the Koffin Kats before.

“Severing Ties” was straightforward and exactly what I expected to hear from the Kats.  “For The Good Times” talking about mass consumption and good times even has some drink ware used as instruments for a solo.  This song is by far my favorite track on the album.

I could not help but compare “The Devil Asked” to a Butthole Surfers song.  It was very off key from the rest of the tracks on the album, yet fun to rock out to. “Locket Of Sin” sounded way more personal and gloomier than other tracks on this release with the story revolving around a troubled connection between a man and his woman.

I must admit that I rarely get into rockabilly / psychobilly / any-billy these days, but I really enjoyed listening to Our Way & The Highway.  In fact, after listening to this album, I am going to be digging into the Kats’ catalog as it’s been a while since I have rocked out to them.

Full of catchy solos and rampant machine-gun bass playing aligned with great singing, Our Way & The Highway is easily likable regardless if you are a huge fan of psychobilly or not.  I really think that this is the album that will act as a stepping stone for the Kats to emerge from the underground scene and really hope these guys make their way back to Cleveland soon.

Devil’s Brigade – Devil’s Brigade – CD Review

Chances are if you have heard of Rancid you already know who Matt Freeman is.  Most notably known for his exceptional bass playing abilities he also is the man behind the gruff gritty vocals sometimes heard on Rancid tracks as well as being a founding member of Operation Ivy.

Not just limiting him solely as a member of Rancid, over the years Freeman has played with legendary X member Exene Cervenka in Auntie Christ, stepped in with Social Distortion, as well as started his own band behind the scenes called Devil’s Brigade.

Devil’s Brigade is a psychobilly/punk rock side project started in 2000 with fellow band mate Tim Armstrong between Rancid tours.  The project yielded a couple of EPs and some of the songs were featured on Hellcat Records Give Em The Boot compilations but a formal album never was released.   After Rancid released Let The Dominos Fall in 2009 Freeman decided that it was time to head to the studio and make something of his project.

At first Freeman was hoping to record a musical about the “Half Way To Hell Club”, a name that was given to those who fell off the Golden Gate Bridge during its construction and fell into a safety net.  Although Freeman skipped the idea of the musical, he did take six of the songs he wrote for the musical along with original Devil’s Brigade songs and decided to put them together on an album.

Enlisting Armstrong as well as DJ Bonebrake, another member of X fame, they entered the studio earlier this year and recorded the self titled release.  With Freeman taking vocal duties he also decided to play stand up bass throughout while Armstrong played guitar and DJ Bonebrake on drums.  Dropping at the end of August, the album will mark yet another consecutive release by a member of Rancid on Hellcat Records proving that they have no intentions of quitting anytime soon.

“I’m Moving Through” opens the album full forced with Freeman’s indistinguishable singing backed by his bass playing immediately grabbing my attention.  “My Own Man Now” really did not sound anything outside of Rancid but nonetheless was still enjoyable and carried that Bay City punk sound I have been fond of half my life.  “Shake Down” followed with Freeman slapping his stand up bass singing about his “25 years of punk, rock, and roll”.

“Bridge Of Gold”, featuring Armstrong and Lars Frederickson, was a noteworthy song about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge and was one of my favorite cuts off the album.  I loved the old barroom jam sound with the piano in the background and just the reference itself to a 1930’s wonder of the world.

“Ride Harley Ride” was a mysterious biker tune with an almost Natural Born Killers feel to it.  “Vampire Girl” repeated “I want to get rid of you” throughout the twangy psychobilly tune.  “Gentleman Of The Road” was another track I really enjoyed with xylophone, a distinct bass line, and outlaw story to follow.  Closing the album was the working man’s “Half Way To Hell”, another track I really appreciated due to the guitar playing and history contained within.

It’s easy for someone to assume that this is just another Rancid release, but once you hear the album your opinion will be changed.  Of course it is going to sound like Rancid here and there, look who’s in it.  Once you actually sit back and listen you will understand that it is a Matt Freeman project full of what he enjoys to do.  He has branched in his own direction with his musical talent just like Lars Frederickson & the Bastards did as well as the Transplants.

The album is enjoyable all around without any lulls in between.  Freeman has no trouble displaying his musical abilities from slapping the bass to screaming in the mic.   I am glad he finally decided to do something with Devil’s Brigade finally.  What was just a spare time thing at one time has incorporated into something so much more.

Already touring in support of the release, Freeman has gathered up a touring band and will be joining fellow label mates the Street Dogs and Left Alone.

Devils Brigade Tour Dates:
Sept 7 – San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
Sept 9 – St. Petersburg, FL – State Theatre
Sept 10 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – Revolution
Sept 11 – Orlando, FL – Firestone Live
Sept 12 – Jacksonville Beach, FL – Freebird Café
Sept 13 – Charleston, SC – The Oasis
Sept 14 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade
Sept 16 – Washington, DC – Rock and Roll Hotel
Sept 17 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts
Sept 18 – New York City, NY – The Gramercy Theatre
Sept 19 – Pawtucket, RI – The Met Café
Sept 21 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
Sept 22 – Pittsburgh, PA – Diesel
Sept 23 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop
Sept 24 – Hamtramck, MI – Small’s
Sept 25 – Chicago, IL – Reggies Rock Club
Sept 26 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird
Sept 28 – Dallas, TX – The Loft
Sept 29 – Austin, TX – Red Seven
Oct 7 – Tempe, AZ – The Clubhouse
Oct 8 – Santa Ana, CA – Galaxy Theatre
Oct 9 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
Oct 16 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Oct 19 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Oct 20 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
Oct 21 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
Oct 22 – Salt Lake City, UT – Club Sound
Oct 23 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theatre
Oct 24 – Colorado Springs, CO – Black Sheep

Death: Frontman of The Cramps Lux Interior – 1946-2009

I found out about this the other day and finally had a chance to sit down and write something…

Lux Interior & Poison Ivy
Lux Interior & Poison Ivy

The Cramps lead man Lux Interior passed away on 02/04/09 from an existing heart condition.  This is a huge loss in the music world regardless if you know who the Cramps are or not.  This band has influenced many bands from the Horrorpops to the White Stripes and have been credited with staring a new genre of music.

The Cramps were a garage punk band that incorporated heavy doses of rockabilly into their style.  Their music had been credited with kick starting the psychobilly genre as well as garage punk.  Their lyrical content was not for the faint of hear with references revolved around sexy innuendos, horror movies, humor, and white trash America.  The live shows were erratic, raunchy, and mostly unforgettable.

Lux Interior (born in Stow, OH) started the band with his wife Poison Ivy in 1973 and were part of the CBGBs punk movement from the get go.  The two met during their young travels, got hitched, and do what every American married couple does…head to NYC and form a punk band.   Although Lux Interior and Poison Ivy were the only solid standing members, the band put out over a dozen releases in over twenty years.

I am saddened by the loss of one of the great pioneers of the punk rock movement and really feel left out that not once in my life did I have the opportunity to view them live.  Thankfully there are folk out there who have seen The Cramps like and I am sure will be posting their memories throughout the internet.

Here is the official press release from The Cramps’ media, Girlie Action:

Poison Ivy & Lux Interor
Poison Ivy & Lux Interor

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2009

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy’s contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

Lux Interior many have passed but his memories will last forever.  My heart goes out to his wife and friends during this period of time.

If you have never heard a Cramps song before check out the video:

It reminds me a lot of Elvis, Johnny Cash, and is damn well amazing.

RIP Lux, you will be missed.

Horrorpops – Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill – CD Review


One of the more unique acts out there in the music world, The Horrorpops, released their third studio album Kiss Kiss Kill Kill earlier this year.  The Danish act with original members (who are also married to one another) Patricia Day on stand up bass and Kim Nekroman on lead guitar have been rocking out since 1996, thanks to their unique mixture of rockabilly, surf, psychobilly, and punk rock music.  They were a huge success overseas but it was not until around 2003 that the band got their US break thanks to Tim Armstrong’s (Rancid) label Hellcat Records.

Recently finishing up their mini-set tour on the 2008 Van’s Warped Tour, the band just announced their headlining fall tour in support of Kiss Kiss Kill Kill.  With bombshell Patricia Day’s giant stand-up bass and smoky singing, layered with Kim Neckroman assaulting his guitar, and Niedermeier’s drumming, the band should have no problem entertaining the masses.

The CD seemed to have a rebel theme with the song titles and lyrics, with many in reference to many female films. The CD cover mimics a poster for a B-Movie.  The sound on their third release seems to keep the same as previous without going over any boundaries to make a significant change.

Opening track “Thelma & Louise” of course makes suggestion of driving just like Susan Sarandon and Gina Davis did in their girls gone wild of a film.  Patricia Day sings strongly in this track and the music backing her up is very catchy.   “Heading For The Disco?” already is played a lot over the airwaves, especially on Sirius Radio’s Faction.  The song is a bit poppy but still delivers the pop-rockabilly feel with bass plucking and drumming making you want to boogie down.

“Kiss Kiss Kill Kill” really sounded like the Cure at the beginning, that is until the harmonies began.  The song holds Patricia Day’s cries “Kiss kiss kiss me dantly, kill kill me quietly…” with a “whoa oh oh oh” in the wake.  The song is a little gloomy, but I really dig the guitar playing.  It is a simple riff but is the type that sticks out.

Starting with what sounded like a repeat of a bass line from another Horrorpops release was “Everything’s Everything”.  The track about not wanted to let go of a complicated relationship was a reminder that this band is not about sunshine and rainbows.  Nekroman strums away during “Private Hall Of Shame” with almost a southern rock feel to his playing.

By no means is this a traditional rockabilly/psychobilly band.  They stray away from the rest and incorporate their own style to make for a more unique feel.  On their third release, I say the Horrorpops still have it and I really enjoyed what I heard.  If you want real rockabilly this band may bestow you mixed feelings but if you are looking for something fun to listen to and have a good time, then this is the perfect release for you.