Interview - Philadelphia 10/21/96 Interview with Pat Briggs of Psychotica
by: Leilani Pfeiffer for Concert Connection/Rolling stone on-line
October 21, 1996 at the Pontiac Grille, Philadelphia, PA

For those who thought that glam-rock died when grunge emerged in the early 90's, you should talk to Pat Briggs of Psychotica. "In New York, that scene has always been there. Only periodically does it get noticed," he says.

Visually and musically, they are a great band. Their self-titled debut album wasn't even released until after they hit the road with Lollapalooza this past summer.

Concentrating more on the music and less on theatrics this time around, Psychotica's show was still as entertaining to see as it was to hear. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Pat when Psychotica stopped in Philadelphia during their headlining club tour with the Impotent Sea Snakes and the Elevator Drops.

LP: You've had a pretty rough past. Do you feel it's influences what you're doing today?
PB: Oh, 100%. You can't go on and not utilize your experience from the past in the future. It's molded me into what I am (laughs) good and bad.

LP: I came across an old picture of you (Pre-Psychotica days) When was it taken?
PB: It's gotta be around like '85, I think. Somewhere around there.

LP: Why the drastic change?
PB: It wasn't quite that drastic. I mean, it wasn't like one day I woke up like this. It was a metamorphosis. I just wasn't heavily featured in the press during the metamorphosis. So it looks like a drastic change, but it's not really. It was gradual, I think.

LP: Tell me about the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame exhibit.
PB: It's in the Fashion Hall of Fame and it's wax figures of all of us. The exhibit shows David Bowie and Iggy Pop flying over us, Marilyn Manson, L7 and Trent Reznor as sort of the next generation that was supposedly influenced by them. It sort of all ties together nicely. It's really a beautiful place.

LP: Have you seen the exhibit? Are you happy with it? PB: Yeah, I went opening day. It's really incredible to stand there in front of a mannequin of you. (laughs) It's really weird. It's the weirdest feeling. My tattoos are there, everything is there.

LP: Really detailed.
PB: Oh, yeah!

LP: Are you still involved with Squeezebox at Don Hill's?
PB: Yeah.

LP: How do you run it from the road?
PB: It runs itself pretty much now. Everyone else is still there. everyone knows the way things operate. After the first year and a half, it was so established and so concrete that, what I was gonna do at that point? I basically show up and I'm a figure head now, the Ronald Reagan of Squeezebox.

LP: When did you start Squeezebox?
PB: Two and a half years ago. It really is incredible. It's a phenomenon that's literally spread across the country from one little club that's no bigger than this really.

LP: Tell me about your experiences when you performed in "Rent."
PB: I've been doing theater stuff since I was eight years old; I started in theater. The director had heard about me and called me for an audition. I went in and he gave m e the part immediately. I originally had one of the co-leads, the character of Tom Collins. I did it. Then it came down to, well, we want you to come to Broadway, but I also had the record to do. It was not a question that I could do both, so I had to pick one or the other. Broadway is just not my thing. I do stuff like that if it's convenient, if I can, if I really like the part, if I can make it happen. But I would never jeopardize this (the band) for that.

LP: You also appear as Luke in the Film "All Over Me" due out this Spring. Was that your first film appearance?
PB: No, I've done quite a few, six or eight.

LP: Feature roles or small parts?
PB: Both, mostly small parts. This is probably the biggest part.

LP: Are there any similarities between you and your character?
PB: Yeah, I think there are definitely some. I don't really think the character was developed enough to where you really get a sense of who he is. he's sort of brief sometimes.

LP: Do you have any future plans with acting?
PB: Yeah, I'm actually up for another movie in January about the glitter scene in London in the 70's. I actually really want to do it because of the content of it and the director is incredible. It's Todd Haynes.

LP: Do you perform nude at all your shows?
PB: No, very few. Very few because it doesn't always strike me. To be naked on stage in front of a room full of people, you've got to be really confident in what you're doing and I don't everyday feel like that.

LP: So it's your call. Whatever you feel.
PB: yeah, I mean there's some days when I go, fuck them, I don't care what they think. And there's just some days where I just don't want to fucking deal with some fucking shady comment. (laughs) But, I don't know why I think that because I've never gotten one. It's just a subliminal fear or something.

LP: Do you get compared to Marilyn Manson?
PB: Um, yeah, but always before people have seen us. Then when people see us, they go, they're nothing like Marilyn Manson. I don't do things for shock value, at all, ever. It's not what I'm about. And when I do come out naked on stage, it has to do with the content of the song. I did that because I put together a performance art piece, around the song, where I came out of a chrome egg, naked, very alien-looking. The song is about birth, sort of futuristic birth.

LP: What song is that?
PB: "New Man". So, it went with the song. It had nothing to do with being shocking. People saw it and were like, oh my God, this is so shocking.

LP: If they listened to the words of the song, they would have understood.
PB: Yeah. In my own mind I just thought, well, what's the best way to represent birth? And the answer was, naked. So, this whole shock-value thing just happened to be misplaced on us. I don't know why exactly. People only see the surface.

LP: Is this all an "act" for you. Can you separate those two parts of your life or have you become this character in Psychotica?
PB: There's a lot that's 100% me. It's not like I get ready for a show and go, well, I gotta get into character now because I'm in character all the time. Personality wise it's me. Make-up or no make-up, I'm the same performer I was without make-up. I just present it in a glitzy way now.

LP: How did the band come together?
PB: Out of Squeezebox.

LP: Where did you come up with the name Psychotica?
PB: Psychotica was originally a song that I had written in the past and I hated the song. It was a crappy song, but I liked the name. It came about because it was a cross between psychotic and erotica basically. So, I had sort of put them together. It sort of sums me up in a nutshell.

LP: Where did the idea come from for this type of a band?
PB: It wasn't like a pre-conceived thing. It wasn't like, oh, I want to start a futuristic glitter band. It's the way we were from the beginning. I don't know how often you get to New York, but in New York, there's always been that scene there. It's never gone away. I love this whole new resurgence of glam, supposedly. But it's always been there in New York. It's just that only periodically does it get noticed. There's bands like the Lunachicks, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black and D Generation. We all came out of the same scene.

LP: Why is there so much emphasis on Psychotica being sexually extreme?
PB: I don't think sexually extreme is the right word. My whole big problem with the late '80's hair bands was that unless you were a white, testosterone, head-banging male, you weren't included in the rock scene. It was incredibly uncomfortable for everybody. Women were only included if they were bimbos in rock videos. Freaks or experimental things were not allowed at all. The whole thing is that people never stopped to look at when grunge came in, how awful it really was and how many people's lives it destroyed. It really did because a lot of those bands that were hot then, and sold millions of records, can't get noticed now and are embarrassing supposedly. I think it's sort of the great climb that music got to, a place or where record companies let it get to, where people cannot practice their art now because they are embarrassed or people are embarrassed about them. It's awful. It totally fucked people's lives up. And nobody ever stopped to look at it, ever. The one thing that I vowed is that when I started my next project that it would be all-inclusive for everybody and I would not tolerate any kind of exclusion. I don't know how to explain it really very well but, I look at our audiences and everybody's there from every end of the spectrum and that's the way I want it.

LP:Do you basically find it's a 50/50 audience?
PB: It is 50/50, but you can even pick out the cultures in the audience, too, which is incredible. It's not like one type of audience member. In one corner there's Goth kids hanging out, in another corner there's heavy metal dudes and rockers, a nd really normal-looking people. There's every type of person there. There are even drag -queens. It doesn't matter, everybody's there.

LP: Since this is your headlining tour, are the opening bands similar to Psychotica? are they more glam-rock oriented bands?
PB: yes, we picked them specifically because they compliment what we do. In their own right, they're incredibly entertaining to watch. This is the best club package out right now. It's been said by every promoter that we've dealt with because the audiences have just walked out going , "I'm fucking exhausted. Goodbye." (laughs)

LP: Well, that's the way you want it, right?
PB: It should b e that way. Whether you're paying $5 or $45 for a ticket, you should walk out feeling like you had a great fucking time that night and maybe you like this band or maybe you like that band or maybe you like Psychotica, or whatever, it doesn't matter. My favorites are the unwitting people who come to the club all the time. the regulars, and don't even know or care what's in that night and stumble on this show and fucking freak out.

LP: You're going out with Tool shortly. When does that tour begin?
PB: It starts November 19th in Detroit.

LP: Is that something you wanted to do?
PB: Actually, Tool has the control over it.

LP: So they chose Psychotica?
PB: Yes, they're fans and friends and vice versa.

LP: How do you feel about that?
PB: I'm totally thrilled. I think it's going to be a great bill. It's raised a lot of eyebrows that we're touring with Tool because a lot of people are like, well, we don't get the combination. But it's not completely ridiculous. They're very out there and they're very eclectic guys and even their stage show with the films and stuff that they use is very eclectic. I think it's going to work really well.

LP: Do you feel that you're getting the support you need from your record label?
PB: The publicity department has been incredible. Incredible! They are bar-none the best I've ever worked with. They really are. They're just awesome. And, it's been fun for them to have something to sink their teeth into and have fun with too. It's not like we're some boring band they have to make something up about to get somebody interested. It was, I think, relatively easy for them and fun for them to do it. We had a great time together.

LP: What about from your management?
PB: My management is incredible and awesome. I can't ever imagine being with anybody else.

LP: Have you written any material for a new album?
PB: Yeah, actually one song we're going to play tonight is not on the album. Also, there's an EP that we sell only at shows, and I think one song from that I want to put on the next record too.

LP: Now that Lollapalooza is over, are you glad that you did it?
PB: Oh, totally. It got us out there. Our fan base is enormous in one year.

LP: If you were asked to do it again next year, would you?
PB: No.

LP: How did you get to do the Lollapalooza shows?
PB: We appeared at one Lollapalooza show in New York last year. They were getting a lot of slack about the heavy metal line-up this year and they decided, well, let's throw them a curve ball. Let's put an unknown act in there that is completely off-the-wall, (laughs) just to fuck with them. And it worked. It fucked with a lot of people up there. It pissed some people of and some people loved it. But, the audience was incredible. The audience, every day, was amazing.

LP: There were even kids out there with your makeup on. How did you feel when you saw that?
PB:In the Ozarks of Tennessee. Literally, in the Ozarks. I'd look in the audience and you could see them with the day-glow makeup across their eyes. I didn't expect it at all. It was a shock. That's when I knew that this was going further than I ever thought it would go.

LP: What were the highlights of Lollapalooza for you?
PB: That! Looking out in the Ozarks and seeing kids with my makeup on was incredible.

LP: Any downside?
PB: My back injury. It was kind of fucked up. I wish I would have been able to have more fun.

LP: Did you spend any time with the other bands?
PB:Yeah, the Rancid guys and the Devo guys. We all hit it off and became really good friends..

LP: I heard that you helped organize this club tour.
PB: Yeah, just in the sense that I picked the bands that were coming out with us. That was basically the extent of my organization. I even make a decision to strip down the show because I really want people to concentrate more on the music on this tour. I think the band is very unique musically as well and I think people need to notice that.

LP: How do you think your fans are reacting now that you've been to Lollapalooza? Have you seen a difference between the audience at Lollapalooza and the audience on this tour?
PB: They're crazier. Now they're familiar with the songs and sing along throughout the entire show. The ones that are our fans are fanatical. They know every word to every single song. I can't figure it out. It's completely bizarre. As a kid, I never even listened to the words. I never cared. A lot of these kids know every word to every single song. I can't even remember the words most of the time.

LP: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
PB: Barcelona.

LP: Any reason?
PB: Just because it was really challenging. It was my attempt at sort of a rock-aria in a way. It's got a very Spanish feel to it.

LP: How did the recording process go for you?
PB: It was fun. I think we all wish the quality of the production came out better. We chose the wrong producer.

LP: So, it will be different next time? PB: Oh yeah, very much so.

LP: Do you think that you're album's distribution went well? Do you think it got out there where it needed to be?
PB: Oh, it's out there. It's all over the place. It's in malls; it's in supermarkets; it's everywhere.

LP: What do you feel like when you walk into a store and see it?
PB: It's weird. I'd expect to be in Philly, but you go to some places like Iowa City and it's there too.

LP: Do you ever hear any of your songs on the radio?
PB: Yeah, they were playing the first single but, it probably dropped-off already. They're getting ready to release the second single before the Tool tour.

LP: Which song is that?
PB: "Freedom of Choice" probably.

LP: What was your first single?
PB:"Ice Planet Hell".

LP: Didn't you do a video for "Ice Planet Hell"?
PB: No, it's not a video, it's like an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). It sort of introduces you to the band but, it's not like an MTV video/ It's almost like if somebody was at a live show and shot the band.

LP: More like a documentary?
PB: Yeah. It shows is getting ready and me having a temper tantrum. It shows all of it. They left it all in there. (laughs)

LP: Do you have any plans to make an MTV video?
PB: Yeah, the Devo guys are going to do it with us. It's their song, so how more appropriate is that?

Lani with Patt Briggs 10/21/96 (photo by Kathy Folk)