Comedy and metal aren't exactly the peanut butter and chocolate of the music world, but after 13 years, self-described humorcore band Psychostick has mastered the unusual art of combining funny lyrics with heavy riffs and wrapping up their crazy concoctions in energetic live shows and uproarious YouTube videos.
After all, we're talking about a band that recently scored a viral video hit with the head banger “Dogs Like Socks,” which is about exactly what the title indicates, and initially became cult favorites for tunefully booming about the virtues of “Beer.”
The Chicago-based comedy/metal quartet's philosophy is “It's perfectly OK to pit while laughing,” and along with a chance for moshing it up, their Friday night show at Oklahoma City's Chameleon Room likely will feature hilarious headgear and costumed devotees. Frontman Rob “Rawrb” Kersey said the band plans to brush the crowd's face with a giant toothbrush, and he may well bring along his rubber chicken and tennis racket just to make things even more interesting.
“Metal, there's a fun side to it, and we kind of try to emphasize that. 'Cause you go to a concert, you're not going to (be) miserable. You're going to have a good time, even if the band onstage is singing about, you know, blood and whatever. So, we just like to go right ahead and try to (say), ‘Hey, you're having fun and we're having fun. Go and jump in that pit. Hey, there's a guy dressed up like a banana. That's cool. Just run right into him. He's not gonna care,'” Kersey said last week by phone from “somewhere in Ohio” en route to the first show of the band's newly launched tour with industrial rockers American Head Charge.
‘Angry yet goofy'
In 2000, Kersey co-founded Psychostick in Phoenix with his longtime pal Joshua “The J” Key. When they first met while attending high school in Odessa, Texas, they were “angry yet very goofy kids” who were fans of Pantera and “The Simpsons.”
“We went and saw Pantera play, and then we went and saw Sevendust, and we saw Machine Head. And we suddenly wanted to do what they were doing, but we couldn't get away from our goofy side, you know. It just kind of stuck with us and it just kind of bled into the music. So it just made sense for us, personality-wise, to keep it funny.”
As they were starting their randomly named band, new terms for metal subgenres were cropping up all over, so they dubbed their unusual style humorcore.
Humorcore bands are rare, which Kersey finds surprising given how inherently hilarious metal music — and some of the hyper-serious people who make it — can be.
“It just made more sense for us. We actually do have a side project called Evacuate Chicago where we put our not-so-funny stuff into, but the comedy stuff, yeah, one of the advantages is that nobody really does it,” he said. “I'm really surprised nobody else is doing this, because you hear a heavy band live or you hear distorted guitars ... in a certain way, and you can hear it sounds kind of funny sometimes.”
Pros of humorcore
Make no mistake, Psychostick's music can get angry. Like many comedians, Kersey, 32, and his cohorts have discovered that the funniest bits are often the most relatable. A few weeks ago, they released the music video for “Sadface :(,” a song from their 2011 album “Space Vampires Vs. Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D” in which the singer rails against the whining and complaining he encounters on social media.
“It's therapeutic all the way. It definitely makes us feel better. You know, a lot of the best comedians write their jokes about little things that happen to them in their life, like going to the dentist or being stuck in a bank waiting to deposit whatever. Anything that we're going through is a potential song, especially if it's frustrating.”
Making people laugh through metal has other advantages: Along with donning costumes for the shows, their fans often bring them tasty treats, which probably doesn't happen quite as often for Gwar or Hatebreed.
“We have a lot of people who like to bring food for some reason — cookies and cakes and sometimes tacos,” he said, adding that the last menu item is a generous response to their song “Do You Want a Taco?”
“We have a lot of people who just bake us things, which is pretty awesome. We've had barbecue, we've had cheeseburgers, tacos. You name it, we've probably had it.”