Formed in Phoenix, AZ, in late 2000, the members of Psychostick combined their love of metal and hardcore with a brand of humor. Claiming influence from Machine Head, Bloodhound Gang, Sevendust, countless video games, and really bad movies, they dubbed their sound “humorcore.” The band released their latest, Sandwich, on Rock Ridge this year. We caught up with drummer Alex “Shmalex” Preiss to discuss the new album and the band’s comic nature.
How’s reaction been to the new record?
It’s been really good so far, when it first came out like a lot of people were kind of confused by it. But it caught on really, really quick. We’re getting a lot of really good feedback now. Especially at the shows, people are starting to come out more. And they know the songs now, and they’re starting to sing along a little bit, it’s really cool. It just confused [people] all at first. Nobody knew what to think.
Now that you’ve released two albums, are you finding that metal fans are giving you more recognition?
It’s catching on a lot quicker now, because we sort of broke the ice. As far as I know, there hasn’t been too much “comedy metal”, if you will, floating around. So it just confused people, and [they] didn’t really know what to do at shows. But now, when we have a show almost everywhere in the country, there will be a few people just watching and a lot of people moshing. Kind of normal show stuff, but number one, everybody is having a good time. So that’s the most important thing for us, for sure.
Now what are you guys more influenced by: comedy or metal?
Personally, I’m more musically influenced, but some of the other guys will probably be more of a comedy influence. It really depends on the member you ask. But as far as our music, it has to be both, you know. It can’t be one or the other.
Are there any other musical comedy acts you look up to, like Weird Al Yankovic or Scatterbrain?
Not really those bands quite so much. I haven’t really heard too much by them. But I’m really, really heavily influenced by bands like Machine Head, Meshuggah and Dillinger Escape Plan, and stuff like that as far as the heavier stuff goes.
Well, you call yourselves a humorcore band. Do you think you’ll write serious songs anywhere down the line, or is this kind of basically what Psychostick is?
That’s kind of a two part answer. We’ve decided Psychostick is always going to be what it is. Like comedy and metal and that’s it. As far as writing serious music, we do have a side project with myself, Rob and Josh, my singer and guitarist. It’s called Evacuate Chicago. It sounds very similar to Psychostick, but it’s just a pissed-off metal record. So that will be out probably in January on the same label, Rock Ridge.
Do you look at it as a side project or something that might take over?
Definitely a side project. We actually wrote all these songs years ago. It’s kind of my project in a lot of ways. I started writing them in 2004, and then we just finished up the record two years ago. It’s just been sitting on the shelf for all this time because we’ve been on tour. Psychostick’s been the priority for a while now. We’ve been touring, we did the new record, I mean we’ve had it sitting there for awhile and finally we’re getting a chance to put it out.
Your album is called Sandwich. You wrote about beer. What’s next? Is there a concept for the next record yet?
Well, we are considering doing some sort of a parody album, if you will. It will be covers done in the style of other bands. It’s really hard to explain, but ah, if we were to do, “Milkshake,” that horrible pop song in the style of Static X. You know, just really, really ridiculous. We’re considering doing that, but it’s all in the initial phases at this point, like nothings written down at all. We haven’t really done any demos or recording or anything like that.
Horse the Band has an album called Pizza. How does that compare to Sandwich?
I love that group, dude! They are definitely a really bizarre band (laughs). The story behind that album was that they dropped off of Warped Tour because they wanted to figure out their lives because they had such good pizza. The first thing we did was look up the pizza place that they went to and loved so much. It’s called Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. Honestly, it really is the best pizza I’ve ever had. So since then we’ve been back like four or five times, like every time we’re in Chicago. So if you’re ever in the area, it’s the best deep dish Chicago pizza I’ve ever had.
If I go to Chicago to eat, the first place I’m going is Kuma’s Corner for a burger. All their burgers are named after metal bands.
Really? We’ve been joking about starting our own burger place for a while, and call it Metal Burger. We’d have all these different names like the double-bass burger. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but if we were to start a burger place, and if we actually had the time to do it, that’s probably what it would be.
Tell me a little bit about the last song on the album where you basically funded some of the recording of it.
The entire album is actually funded by the fans, literally. We had a donation type thing. We put up a video that explained the whole thing. You donate fifty bucks and we put your name in the song. We didn’t tell them what the song would be or what type of song, anything like that. All we did was tell them give us fifty bucks to record this album and we will put an album together and get you a pre-order for the CD. So you’re basically getting our CD with your name on it for fifty dollars. And we got 373 people to donate for that thing, and it funded the entire album. [It paid for] living expenses, got Josh the new amp that he wanted… it got all kinds of stuff. Literally everything that we needed to record and live for several months.
Then Jimmy, our bass player, and I sat down with these hundreds of names and organized them by syllable. So one column would be first name, one syllable, second name two syllables, and then two syllables and two syllables for the next column. It took almost a whole day just doing that alone. Then we took a couple more days and put this song together. What we did was take six of our previous songs from other albums and changed all the lyrics with the same exact syllable scheme, if you could call it that, and just put names to what the lyrics used to be and re-recorded all the music and just added the names to it. Everybody seemed to like it, and that’s why the album exists.
Are you ever going to play it live?
No, that would be so hard to do. Musically we could pull it off, but I can’t even imagine Rob trying to remember all those names in order (laughter).