I don’t know why but for some reason I don’t think music and humour mix that well. Perhaps PSYCHOSTICK can prove me wrong. Answers by Josh and Alex. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
When you meet in school and form a band what is that makes you stick to it after school is out?
Alex: Playing in a band like our sure beats living in reality! It’s much more fun to do this than to get a grown up job.
Josh: Rob and I were always like brothers. We had the bond that only two geeks with a mutual love of video games, Monty Python, and Pantera could share.
What kind of ups and downs has helped you shape your sound?
Alex: We have witnessed quite a few bands over the years that have made poor choices with their music. I won’t name names, but far too many groups try to “play the game,” if you will, and end up giving away the only thing that matters: creative freedom! I think after seeing it happen again and again, we collectively chose to simply do what makes us happy. No producers, no bureaucracy, just music we enjoy writing and playing.
Josh: I wouldn’t say that ups and downs have shaped our sound, but the downs have definitely shaped our RAGE. And the RAGE makes for the best Psychostick songs… like “Two Ton Paperweight”, “It’s Just a Movie, Stupid”, “Throwin’ Down” . All inspired by true events. True events that filled us with RAGE. Then we make the rage funny. And HEAVY.
How do you balance humour with seriousness? How do you avoid your music ending up like some sort of joke?
Alex: Good question! On occasion, I hear that people first assume we are half-assing it, meaning we are simply a “joke band.” But really, ask any comedian in the world about how serious they are about their craft. We are serious…about being not serious! Also, the music is anything but an afterthought.
Josh: Very simple: Take the actual music side seriously… lyrics is where the humor mostly is. It’s very important for us to not suck musically. There’s lots of comedy garage bands out there that are terrible. We have to separate ourselves from those.
What band’s would you say you are closest to in spirit and music?
Alex: Personally, I like to think of us as being close to the bands that stick to whatever they choose to be. Don’t take this as arrogance, but perhaps Meshuggah. They push themselves to do something creative and original with every single release, and they never fail to amaze me. For the record, I can only play maybe 5% of the drum parts that Haake plays! So not arrogance, but rather, respect.
Josh: If you like Dethklok, Bloodhound Gang, Tenacious D, System of a Down, or Primus… there’s a good chance you’ll like Psychostick.
Are there any bands that in your opinion have managed to mix humour with metal/rock successfully?
Alex: Yes and no. There are a few bands that are funny that also write great music, but as far as I know, there are no other comedic bands that play heavy music quite like us. If there are, I would love to hear them! I suppose Dethklok sort of qualifies, but they are more cartoon than band. Austrian Death Machine too, but again, it’s not their main focus as musicians.
Josh: Green Jelly, Dethklok, Powerglove, and Austrian Death Machine are a few. But there are not many!
Where do you feel that your music works the best; on stage or on record? How different is record from stage?
Alex: That depends on the song! Some songs just don’t capture the same feel when we perform them live. Our more mellow songs are often like that, so they have become studio tracks. Although, the song My Clingy Girlfriend, (one of my favorites on Space Vampires), happens to work quite well as a live song! We debuted it recently in St. Louis, and it went over really well! I think that one will end up on the set list for a while.
Josh: That’s a hard question to answer. On record, funny lyrics are way easier to understand. Live, it’s harder to understand words (for ANY band because it’s so loud). Many people say that you “get” Psychostick better after seeing us live. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments that we sound just like our records live… so I would say the biggest difference is the crowd intera_ction and our visual performance. We make lots of stupid faces at you while we play… and we love to target people with their arms folded who don’t seem be having a good night. Don’t do that, YOU WILL HAVE FUN AT A PSYCHOSTICK SHOW GODDAMMIT!!!!.
From what I understand you are pretty DIY. What is it about DIY that is so great?
Alex: Control over your own career! Our label, Rock Ridge, has worked with us for six years now, and that is exactly what we need. Any other label would have brought in outsiders and morphed us into some terrible new entity, and we would have broken up years ago because of it. Trust me, we are too OCD to let suits have a say in this band. It would ruin the entire thing.
Josh: The music industry is full of shady bastards. Can I say bastards? Sorry, I meant fuck-faces. By being DIY, we built our own foundation, our own fanbase, and minimize our reliance on others. If we find someone solid, we can work with them. But if we work with someone who ends up being a rat, that person won’t be able to completely wreck our careers (which happens to bands all the time). Of course, we’ve been screwed plenty of times, but it was never crippling, and we were able to recover in no time..
What kind of DIY scene is there in your area? Do you feel that there is a greater artistic freedom to being DIY?
Alex: I’m not really sure, to be honest. We look at the US as a whole now, and we don’t really fit into any scenes. We aren’t really regional in the way that many bands are either. We want to play and meet people everywhere, so we don’t really get too rooted in any localized scenes. We played our first show in Canada recently, and I think we are all pretty obsessed with the idea of expanding even farther now! But yes, DIY bands have far more artistic freedom, without a doubt.
Josh: Absolutely. We were approached about major label deals in the beginning, and turned them down. The bigger a deal you sign with a label/manager/etc, the more leverage they have to to tell you what to do to make it sell. We knew that the first thing they would try to make us change is “Stop doing that funny thing, it won’t sell in metal.” SCREW YOU, WE DON’T WORK FOR THA’ MAN!
How far do you want to take the band? What would you consider a success for the band? What would be a failure?
Alex: My long-term goal is no longer defined in what we accomplish. I want to continue to have fun and play music with my friends. Of course I want to continue to grow and experience new things in new places, but it is less about that now, for me at least. We are already successful in our own way, and I just want to see how far we can take it. The only failure I can imagine would be if something made us stop enjoying what we do. If that happened, we would cease to exist!
Josh: We already consider this band a success… we went from being a whopping TEN-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DEBT after our first tour to supporting ourselves doing it, we have many awesome and loyal fans, we’ve toured the USA 21 times, we’ve played in front of many huge crowds, we just had our first international show in Canada and more are on the way. So few bands ever get anywhere even CLOSE to doing what we’ve done, and we are very greatful to be where we are. What would be a failure? If we decided one day to stop this, and end up at a career or job that’s not nearly as fun and rewarding. Psychostick has set the bar pretty high for me when it comes to expectations of life. I get paid to act like an idiot on stage!
What would you like an ideal future to bring to you?
Alex: My ideal future would be to continue to grow on our own terms, tour more of the world, meet all of the other musicians I look up to, and to continue to learn and grow as a person. Also, I would really like to hire strippers to be our roadies so we can make them move our gear in high heels. That was Rob’s idea, and I think it is pretty ingenious.
Josh: I want Psychostick to do well enough financially to own a nice house with a badass recording built in it as well as a video studio with our video director Murph. God help you all when this happens…. we will be a factory of ridiculous music and videos. Your eyes, ears, and brain cells will belong to us.