Psychobilly is a genre of music generally described as a mix between the British punk rock of
the 1970s and the American rockabilly of the 1950s. The genre is also characterized by lyrical
references to horror films, violence, exploitation films, lurid sexuality and other topics
generally considered taboo, sometimes presented in a comedic, tongue-in-cheek fashion.
Psychobilly music is generally played with an upright bass instead of an electric bass.
The term "psychobilly" was first used by Wayne Kemp when he penned the Johnny Cash song
"One Piece at a Time," a Top 10 hit in 1976, where he makes reference to a "psychobilly
Cadillac", although this song has nothing musically to do with Psychobilly. It came into
use as a genre a few years later, when the Cramps described their music as "psychobilly"
and "rockabilly voodoo" on flyers advertising their upcoming shows. Although the Cramps
rejected the idea of being a part of the psychobilly scene, they, along with artists such
as Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Stray Cats, are considered important precursors to psychobilly.
Musically speaking, there are also antecedents in the garage rock scene of the 1960s and the pub
rock scene of the 1970s.
The very first verifiable psychobilly band is considered to be The
Meteors in south London in 1980. With one member being part of the rockabilly subculture,
another being part of the punk subculture, and the last being a horror movie fan, their
musical ideas overlapped to begin psychobilly as it exists today. The Meteors also
invented the concept of psychobilly being a-political, by encouraging their shows to
be a "politics-free" zone in order to avoid disputes among fans, as was becoming common
in the punk rock scene of the time.
The Meteors' second LP, Wrecking Crew. It is considered a classic and influential
In 1982, a nightclub called Klubfoot opened in Hammersmith, west London, creating a home
for the UK psychobilly scene. The club was eventually demolished and replaced with offices
and a bus station. Because the psychobilly scene has never become very popular, psychobilly
fans often organize "Psychobilly Weekenders" where many bands are featured on one bill to
attract many attendees from all over. The first weekenders were organized in the UK in the
mid-80s. In the U.S., they happen with frequency in Texas, New York and California.
Psychobilly eventually spread throughout most of Europe, (particularly Germany, Italy, and Spain),
Canada, parts of the United States, and is gradually spreading to Asia, especially Japan.
While the psychobilly of the early 1980s (the Meteors, the Sharks, Batmobile) was similar
to punk or 1960s garage rock, with obvious rockabilly influences, the psychobilly of the
later 1980s and 1990s (the Nekromantix, Demented Are Go, the Klingonz, Mad Sin,
Asmodeus, Milwaukee Wildmen) had a different sound which was a bit harder.
The current psychobilly is closer to the American psychobilly sound (Tiger Army,
The Spectres, The Knuckle Draggers, the Koffin Kats, Los Gatos Locos, the
Barnyard Ballers, The Young Werewolves, The Beards and The Matadors).
courtesy: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia