INTERVIEW: Psychostick

Hi Alex, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Great! Busy. Things have been pretty wild lately with recording songs, filming videos, writing a book, and teach psych classes at Franklin University.

From all the songs out there, why did you choose to cover Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”?

The song was a huge hit, so everyone knows it. The Matrix even had a remix in one of the scenes, and that is my favorite movie ever. But a couple of years ago, we were on the road and one of my guys started chuckling and singing a few lines about Christmas to the tune of Dragula. Everyone laughed. The song was born. That’s how Psychostick operates.

What made you want to redo this song into a Christmas theme?

The line, “Work em to the bone, whip em if they cry.” It’s just a great line that will likely make a lot of holiday lovers scowl enthusiastically. Maybe stop lying to children about flying fat people and we’ll stop making fun of it!

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

It was easy for me! As the drummer, the song is painfully simple. So I just played quarter notes to the beat for a while and made funny faces. Then I put on an ill-fitting tree costume made for kids and did a bunch of crazy stuff for our videographer, Murph. The whole elf part in which I’m smashing, drilling, and incinerating presents was the best.

How did you come up with the title “Zombie Claus”?

I think the idea was to trick people into thinking it was a song about George Romero-style zombies during Christmastime. Then the guitar comes in and there is a big, “Ooooooh, THAT Zombie,” moment. A huge part of humor is doing something unexpected. I thought the name worked beautifully!

How was the recording and re-writing process?

Oh man, recording it was so easy. It’s really not worth talking about. You can ask Josh, our audio engineer and guitarist for a far more interesting answer.

As for re-writing it, the music is virtually identical, except we added a lot of sleigh bells (which I love in a pseudo-scary metal song) and a bunch of “ho-ho-ho’s.” The lyrics were the primary element that was re-written and I didn’t participate much with this one. I think it was mostly Matty and Josh, but it’s been a while. I forget!

Does the new cover mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Well, sort of! We have many dozens of ideas at any given time. Nothing is imminent, but there are lots of ideas, so I’m sure we’ll record something soon. I actually just wrote a song the other day that might work well for Valentine’s Day (another entirely silly money-grab), which needs to be mocked mercilessly. I think you’ll enjoy it…

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The week before V-Day, perhaps. Nothing is concrete just yet.

Any plans to hit the road?

Not at the moment. We have performed 1,200+ shows in seven countries to date, so we’re trying something new these days. We are focusing more on streaming concerts on Thursdays via Twitch or YouTube. But we do still intend to play shows on weekends. This way no one can ever complain about us playing on Wednesdays again!

Speaking of which, I understand one of you guys have a book about touring – how did that come about?

Yes! I (Alex Dontre) wrote Dichotomies: Lessons from a College Life on Tour a couple of months ago and put it out. It documents my struggles and triumphs pursuing my education for 6 years up to a Master’s in Business Psychology in 2017, while performing over 500 concerts on 2 continents. The actual book came about after Tommy Drinnen from URIZEN told me one day, “Dude, you need to write a book about this.” He planted the seed in my brain, and I decided to go through with it unexpectedly one day. It’s a wild tale!

What was the recollection process like?

I assume you mean recollection of my touring/academic history. That was actually not too challenging because of two resources. First, Rob (Psychostick singer and Web designer) has a database of our entire tour history, so I consulted that heavily to get the story and timeline correct. I had also documented my educational journey in brief snippets along the way once people started asking about it. For the first year or so, I didn’t really explain much to anyone because I didn’t want to seem pretentious or anything. To my great surprise, people were eagerly awaiting details, details, and more details! Thus, the book was born.

Is this book meant for drummers or for a general audience?

The book is not about drumming, actually. Drumming is mentioned, of course, but it is about balancing education and touring. So it is meant to excite, intellectually challenge somewhat, and perhaps even inspire if I’m feeling bold. I invite anyone who is intimidated by the notion of juggling school and work to read my story to help them understand that their aspirations are entirely possible. You just need to be a little creative sometimes when coming up with solutions. Plus, it’s fun to challenge yourself and come out on top. Trust me, it’s doable, you just have to try.

What else is happening next in Psychostick’s world?

Matty is having a kid! Psychostick is working on some top-secret projects, as always. I’m teaching Neuropsychology and Social Psychology in the coming semester at Franklin University. As yes, we have great plans for the upcoming “tube season” in which we peddle our wares in tubular shapes.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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