Psychostick Interview

1. Could you tell us more about the history of the band, how things started.

The band started with Rob Kersey and Josh Key who went to high school together in Odessa, TX. They started a band called "Asinine", but Rob soon moved and eventually landed in Phoenix, AZ for a well-paying web job. Josh moved to Phoenix to join Rob and so did the name "Asinine". Through an ad in the local musicians wanted section of the Phoenix New Times, we found our drummer Alex Preiss, whose ad stated that he was looking for "a band with a sense of humor". He fit right in. Alex hooked us up with a bassist named Hunter Alexander, who helped get Psychostick off the ground. But he didn't last because he wasn't totally into the comedy-metal thing. That's when we met Mike Kocian, who played bass on "We Couldn't Think of a Title" and "The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride". When we started tour, the stresses of the road got to him though, so we parted ways with him. Replacing Mike was Jimmy Grant who was in the band Indorphine from Florida. At the same time we added our second guitarist, Jake McReynold's from Phoenix, AZ. We figured while we were going through a lineup change we would do it all at once. That brought us to the current kickass lineup that recorded "Sandwich". We are now ready to take over the world.

2. What's your opinion on your second album "The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride," nowadays? Where did you record it? Are you still satisfied with the songs on it, the production, and the artwork? How were the reactions on this album?

Under the circumstances, the "Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride" turned out pretty well. Originally, it was supposed to be a split CD - half of the songs us and the other half by Indorphine. Indorphine ended up not having enough time to do it, and we didn't have time to write another half an album, which is why it's so short. We recorded it at Toxic Recording in Phoenix, which Josh tracked and mixed. The common comment we got was that our fans liked it because it was really heavy, but it wasn't as funny as the first album. We agreed. Production-wise, Rob pointed out that it didn't sound as "big" as our first album "We Couldn't Think of a Title". This was fixed on "Sandwich". I'm really glad we did "Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride", because we learned a few critical lessons that would be applied to "Sandwich" to make it truly great.

3. You've recently released your new album "Sandwich," where did you record it, who produced it, and are you still satisfied with the songs, production and artwork? Can you tell us more about the recording process? How are the reactions on this one so far?

We are VERY proud of Sandwich, and satisfied with it all-around. I would say "Sandwich" is the band Psychostick after mastering the art of being Psychostick. Like "The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride", it was recorded at Toxic Recording in Phoenix, AZ. Josh did the tracking and mixing. Like our other two albums, it was self-produced by Josh and the rest of the Psychostick band members. We're getting crazy feedback from our label, DJs, other national bands, managers, pretty much anyone who has been allowed to hear it. Nearly everyone who has heard "Sandwich" so far says that it blows away our other two albums. I can't WAIT for our fans to hear the whole album; their wait for the album will have been worth it. Our only regret is that we had several songs we wanted to put on the album that got the axe because we ran out of CD space. I guess they'll just have to go on the next CD.
Recording-wise, there's a couple of interesting things we did. First of all, in addition to using a regular AKG D112 mic on the kick drum, Jason (owner of the studio) built a mic using a 10-inch subwoofer. You put in front of the kick and it picks up MEGA LOWS that gate very cleanly with little bleed from anything else. The kick sound we ended up with was a very big, "live concert" kind of kick sound, which is exactly what we were going for. We are a live band, and we like to be imagined live when you hear our cd. A second thing we did was how we got our guitar tone. We employed a technique called "re-amping". Re-amping allows you to not have to worry about guitar tones until you are DONE tracking. This is a blessing when you are layering 6 tracks of guitar on each song. What you do is make sure you have a direct signal of the actual guitar itself (I used a VHT GP3 guitar preamp with a DI that is CRYSTAL clear). When you are done tracking, you play the clean guitar track back to a guitar amp, and the amp responds just as if you were actually playing through it right then and there. Just set up whatever combinations of amps, cabs, and mics you like, and hit play. What's great is that you will already have bass, drums, and maybe vocals tracked, so you can tweak based on what blends well with what you have, rather than "hoping" the tone you are capturing will mix well with the drums, bass, and vocals later on.

4. Who writes the lyrics, what are they about? Is there any concept in them? Are the lyrics an important aspect of the band or are they just there to guide the music?

In the past, Josh has written most of the lyrics, but on "Sandwich" all the band members have stepped up to the plate. Special recognition goes to Jimmy, whose sense of humor and lyric writing helped this album overflow with hilarity.

As for how we write, with each song, we try to paint its own little comical story and mood. What that mood is depends on what we're talking about. If "Sandwich" had a theme, we would say it is an ode to typical everyday life. Some examples of song subjects on "Sandwich" is working a crappy minimum wage job (Minimum Rage), dealing with bad roommates (Passive Vengence), being broke and wishing you had something better to eat than Ramen Noodles (The Hunger Within), the soul-cleansing ritual of taking a shower (Shower), and an addiction to caffeine just to make it through the day (Caffeine).

5. How did you get in contact with "Rock Ridge Music?" Are you satisfied with their work? Why did you signed with them?

We were contacted by Scott Frazier (manager of Bobaflex). Knowing that very few labels would "get" what Psychostick was going for, we concluded it best to go for a simpler distribution deal so that we wouldn't end up in a position of owing a bunch of money to a label, obligated to do what they wanted. Scott introduced us to Rock Ridge Music, which ended up being exactly what we were looking for. Rock Ridge Music has totally respected our creativity and been a lot of fun to work with. They are very "up on the times", constantly learning and adapting to the changes going on in the music industry. Tom Derr (Rock Ridge Music owner) seriously knows the music business inside and out, and we have learned a tremendous amount thanks to him and his experience.

6. When it comes down to writing a new song or an album whats the process like?

It all starts with a song idea. Ideas usually randomly come to us while simply going about our daily business. Funny observations or jokes are made, then it's, "Dude, we should write a song about that!" and the idea goes into the mental song idea archive. We will usually have a library of 10-50 song ideas going at any given time. Sometimes they are forgotten. But a good idea goes on to become a song.

The transition from "idea" to an actual song with meat to it happens a lot of different ways. Alex and Josh can go write a full song alone out of a good idea. Jimmy can write alone, but seems to do better when he has someone to bounce ideas off of. Josh, Jake, and Jimmy write songs together. Jake and Josh write songs together sometimes, and Jimmy and Josh write together a lot too. Each combination yields its own flavor, which gives our songs variety while still staying within the ballpark of the Psychostick "feel". All songs eventually go to Josh to be nailed down in demo form. We listen to the demos, learn the songs, then change and tweak them from there. We will continue tweaking, changing, and adding all the way up to the point to where the song is completely mixed down. You know the songs done when you play it back and just feel in your gut that "This is it."

7. What tours have you done in the past? What tours are going to take place or are there plans for a tour as a support for a "bigger" band?

We have done 9 tours ranging in length from 4 weeks to 3 months since the summer of 2006. Starting May 5th when "Sandwich" hits the stores, we will be doing a self-headling 4 month tour hitting the entire country, playing our favorite spots, as well as doing multiple festival-type shows. After that, we're looking to open for some larger bands, preferably bands like Dethklok, Gwar, or Snot. Although we wouldn't mind at all opening for bands like Chimaira,

8. Tell some of your experiences playing live.

We had a living room crowd-surfer one time! Let me explain. We were playing a show at a venue in Heath, OH and right before we were to go on stage, the power went out in the building. It never came back on. We had a lot of fans at that show that were disappointed, until one of them suggested that we go play our set at their house. We agreed. We set drove to the house followed by about 25 people in their own cars, set up our gear in the main lobby of the house, and hit the first song at about midnight on a Sunday night. I don't know how the cops didn't get called on us. The fans were hardcore dancing in the living room, spilling beer EVERYWHERE, and then one dude actually started CROWD SURFING. I think some furniture got damaged, but the owner didn't even care. We played for about 30 minutes then finally decided it would be a good idea to stop, and everyone hung around to party.

Another time, we had over 30 people on stage with us for the last song at a sold-out show in Omaha, NE. You couldn't even see us behind everyone. "Crazy" is an understatement.

9. What are your expectations for "Psychostick" in the future?

Assuming that "Sandwich" really hits, we expect to be touring with as many other bigger national acts as we possibly can, as well as eventually do some touring overseas (we already have a lot of fans in the UK, Germany, and Australia).

10. What do you guys do when you're not out on the road? Do you guys work or school?

When we're not touring, Rob usually designs websites, Josh records bands at Toxic Recording, Alex works at an animal kennel, and Jake and Jimmy do whatever they can.

11. Are there any cool touring/recording experiences or other bizarre stories you would like to share with us?

It was Jake's first tour ever (the "Holy Crap, We're Touring!" tour). Being on the road is different than the common perception of what it is, and it's not uncommon for band members to decide they don't want to tour the rest of their life once they've actually experienced it. We were worried about this with Jake, so this tour was a "test" to see if he was touring material.

It was about 11pm on a cold night in Cheyenne, WY. Jake had pneumonia and pink eye in BOTH EYES all at the same time. He had a strange premonition that we shouldn't drive that night, but it was only a 45 minute drive from Cheyenne to Laramie (where Rob's dad lives), so we decided to make the drive anyway. Halfway through the drive, the roads were icy, and we slid and spun off the road. While waiting for help, we were nearly hit by another car that slid and hit the same icy patch, so we figured we'd be safer away from the road. We grabbed some blankets and trudged out into the snow about 40 feet from the road or so out of the danger zone. That's when we noticed Jake off by himself not saying much. For some reason, he had worn shorts that day. So there he was, standing in the snow in shorts freezing his ass off after a near-death experience he tried to warn us about, with pneumonia and pink eye in both eyes. It's hard to fit more "suck" into a situation than that. He never bitched or complained. That's when we decided he was a trooper that he had what it takes to tour in a van. He passed the touring test with flying colors.

12. Could you give me a top 5 of your favorite albums of all-time and a top 5 of your current favorite records?

1. Weird Al: Straight Outta Lynwood
2. Jewel: Pieces of You
3. Meshuggah: Destroy, Erase, Improve
4. Nsync: Celebrity
5. Madonna: Like a Virgin

1. Tegan and Sarah: The Con
2. Look What I Did: Minute Man for the Moment
3. Alkaline Trio: Agony & Irony
4. Sevendust: Hope and Sorrow
5. Reel Big Fish: Monkeys for Nothin

1. Pantera - "Vulgar Display of Power"
2. Sevendust - "Sevendust"
3. Nothingface - "Violence"
4. Glassjaw - "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence"
5. Dream Theater - "Images and Words"

1. Indorphine - "Glowsticks for Clubbing Baby Seals"
2. Thrice - "Vheissu"
3. Muse - "Absolution"
4. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - "Of Natural History"
5. Sikth - "Death of a Dead Day"

Pantera - "Vulgar display of Power"
Alice in Chains - "Dirt"
Tool - "Aenima"
Snot - "Get Some"
Meshuggah - "Catch 33"

Sevendust - "Animosity"
Thrice - "The Alchemy Index" all volumes
Indorphine - " Glowsticks...."
Opeth - "Water Shed"
A Perfect Circle - "Mer De Noms"

Blink 182 - "Enema of the State"
Brand New - "Deja Entendu"
Alkaline Trio - "From Here To Infirmary"
The Hope Conspiracy - "Endnote"
From Autumn To Ashes - "Holding A Wolf By The Ears"

Thursday - "Common Existence"
Spitfire - "Cult Fiction"
Fear Before - "Fear Before"
Warship - "Supply and Depend"
Spylacopa - "Spylacopa"

(Couldn't get ahold of Jimmy)

13. What's your opinion on the whole music industry scene right now? Like do you think they're trying their hardest to get albums out on shelves and not seek their way onto the net?

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, things are changing, and nobody has any idea where things are going to land, so it seems like everyone is waiting for somebody else to make a move. This means taking a risk, which scares labels who have made a killing looking at what's popular and then cranking out similar artists like McDonalds does hamburgers. Unless the majors embrace change and let go of their comfy way of doing things and try something different, they are doomed.

However, thanks to the internet, it all seems to be shifting in favor of the artist. We are definitely an example. If it wasn't for the internet, our songs would have never reached DJs at XM Radio or the Beer song cartoon would have never appeared on

14. How do you think the recession is affecting musicians like yourself? Is it at all?

In times of stress, a lot people turn to music. People will have less money to spend to buy CDs, but they will be looking for new music to help them through their days. So although people have less money, there are more people looking for music, so perhaps it sort of balances out in a weird sort of way. If there is a major increase in file sharing during this period, then this hypothesis was correct.

15. Going back to the music business, what do you think of everyone downloading music, possibly even your music?

Yes, downloading music technically IS stealing. But herein lies the conflict between art and business. Artists should value being heard over making money. Here's why:

Writing genuine, meaningful, or creative music is a right brain process. If you're thinking about how well the song will "hit" when you write it, then you are in left-brain dominance mode, and your song will probably suck because your focus is in the wrong place. To write a good song, you have to write music that affects people. You have to be genuine, and you can't fake that. Having written your masterpiece that will change people, getting it heard by others will always be the priority over making money.

16. What is currently playing on your iPod or CD Player right now?

Screaming Mechanical Brain - "In Defiance of Science"

17. What are the upcoming plans for the '09 year?

Lots of touring, including a tour in the fall/early winter with Beatallica.

18. What do you think about all these different sub cultures such as "emo kids, scene kids, metal-heads, punks, goths, etc?"

Groups such as these form out of a need to belong, but can actually PREVENT new original music from happening. Say you are starting a band. Already, you have bandmates saying, "What style are we going to be?" There's already a limitation right there. Then you have all the worries of what this group of people will think and what that group of people will think. Are we metal enough? Are we punk enough? That sounds too emo. That sounds too indie. Many bands form under unspoken rules of what they should sound like and shouldn't sound like. That's not creativity!

Those who do something difference first have to face criticism and not "fitting in". They will have trouble finding other bands to open for, and once they do, they end up being at the mercy of how open-minded the audience is.

It all comes down to the fact that music cannot be limited to categories, but we end doing that when we come up with subjective labels and then form groups to argue about which subjective label is the best one. Musical labels are helpful in describing a band's music, but they are NOT SET IN STONE.

19. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, any thoughts or comments?

Thanks for the interview! You ask really great questions. We have one final comment for anyone who plays to go to our shows in the future:

When we finally play your town, come to our show and DO SOMETHING RIDICULOUS and HAVE FUN! WEAR A STUPID OUTFIT, BRING PILLOWS AND HAVE A PILLOWFIGHT IN THE PIT, MAKE BALLOON ANIMALS, BRING FOAM SWORDS, WEAR DUMB HATS! A few of our fans get this, but not enough! Only when the whole audience adopts this attitude will a Psychostick show reach its full potential.

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