From AXCESS October/November 1996


BETWEEN EXTREMES

Psychotica's Pat Briggs leads the way for 90s glam



by Brian F. McCaughey

"I'm a product of the early eighties, definitely," explains Psychotica's frontman Pat Briggs. "That was probably my most impressionable time. I was very into the whole scene when like Devo and Bow Wow Wow and Visage and all these sort of incredible, highly stylized bands were around. The great thing about the early eighties was that there were like four million bands going on and each one was like totally different from the next. They all had a great sort of strange identity. I love that period and I hope that in some ways it comes back to that."

If there was ever a new wave campaign convincing enough to bring back the era of Missing Persons and A Flock of Seagulls, it is the one lead by Psychotica. Sporting mascara, unnaturally blonde hair and a white rubber skintight suit, Briggs is leading a full-fledged assault on the safety and comfort of 90s modern rock.

It all started in New York two years ago. Briggs and his partner Michael Schmidt were very bored with the "testosterone" rock culture that was in fashion, so they decided to start a club that would cater to a different crowd. They dubbed their haven "Squeezebox."

"We wanted someplace cool for us and a bunch of our friends to just hang out," says Briggs. "So what we did was put all the local drag queens in front of a house band, that I built, doing old punk rock covers. We would have local or national glam (and) punk-oriented bands for the course of the night. We had a DJ and go-go dancers, all that stuff. What it did was it ended up breaking down all the invisible walls in New York, between all these subcultures. And it began to be a meeting place and still is because of all the various groups of different people. You have the gay community over here, you have the rock community over here, you have the art community over here. And they all ended up coming together. All of these hybrids started coming out of that, because of all of them sort of merged. It is the new glam scene. So Psychotica came out of that, because I had a shortage of bands in that vein to book. I just decided to put something together myself to have some fun."

But something unusual happened to Psychotica when they played their first show. Amanda Scheer-Demme of Ventrue Entertainment/American Recordings had been watching them in their rehearsal space before the show. After a stunning performance, she offered them a recording contract. Psychotica was signed! But that was just the beginning.

With their new record deal in the works, Psychotica went on to play show number two. This time the curators from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were in the audience. They were so impressed by what they saw and heard that they decided to put the band in the museum.

"They decided to take a chance, 'cause everything in the hall of fame was very... sort of safe." says Briggs. "And I think that at that point they had everything that they needed. They were pretty much done and they wanted something in there a little more cutting edge. Even if it was a very small section. I was surprised. I thought it would be really, really stupid. It's not. It's done really well. It's Bowie and Iggy Pop flying over Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, L7, Shannon Hoon and me. [The exhibit] is about how they influenced another generation of artists. It's a great honor to be in there. The mannequins are really insane. It's pretty incredible to see yourself immortalized in wax."

Psychotica on wax is a pretty incredible thing as well. Their eighteen-track self-titled debut album is like nothing else available today. On songs such as "Starfucker Love" and "Cybernation," Briggs' "Ziggy-ish" vocals clash beautifully with fellow bandmate Reeka's reggae/dancehall raps to produce hard-hitting glam-jams that render today's shoe gazing college scrunge-rock unlistenable. God help the narrow minded rock n' rollers who are bound to dismiss Psychotica at the first sight of lipstick and eyeshadow. They know not what they do. Brigg's music may be influenced by the age of Berlin and Talk Talk, but don't expect him to bring about the new advent of synthesizers. Psychotica is chock full of loud, heavy guitars, something which was very scarce during the new wave years.

"Don't get me wrong," explains Briggs, "I'm not opposed to electronics at all. We just don't have really have them in the band. We utilized a little bit on the record. But I, like most people, like raw bands. And that's what I want."

Apparently that's what the organizers of Lollapalooza wanted, as well. Before Psychotica had even released their first album or single, they were chosen to open the main stage on Lollapalooza 96. A bill that included Rancid, the Ramones, Soundgarden and Metallica.

"I had all these preconceived ideas about what Lollapalooxa would be like being with a Metallica kind of crowd," says Briggs. "And we certainly don't fit into that. But the kids were amazing. I didn't get one bad comment from anyone. any they're a pretty rough crowd to please. They could have very easily swung the ax, and they didn't choose to do so. I can't say some of the other bands on the bill had it so good. Is that a sign that middle America will love us? I don't know. I don't think it will be in between though. I'm the extreme. They'll either extremely love it or extremely hate it."