San Diego Punk sat down with Willie Psycho, frontman/bass player/booking agent. We talked about playing music, and the local punk scene. Don’t read it if you are a pussy.
SDPUNK: Let’s start at the beginning. What is the name of the band.
WILLIE: It’s Willie Psycho.
SDPUNK: And who is Willie?
SDPUNK: And who else is in the band?
WILLIE: I’m Willie Psycho. I play bass and sing. Moosedick, formerly of The Mentors, is our Drummer. And Skilz. He is the greatest guitar player on the planet. And also DJ Nasty. He DJs for us.
SDPUNK: What genre or genres do you guys play?
WILLIE: When we started off, we were just punk. Now we play rock, fusion, hip hop, a little bit of punk, and a little bit of metal. Everything mixed in to everything.
SDPUNK: Who are some of your influences?
WILLIE: My influences range from Body Count to Slayer to Bob Marley to Eek A Mouse to Inner Circle. We mix everything into one big genre. It is stuff that I have always wanted to play.
SDPUNK: What other musicians are you into?
WILLIE: I’m into Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, Mack 10. Ozzy. I absolutely love Ozzy. And I love The Misfits.
SDPUNK: What is your take on working with the local Hip Hop scene?
WILLIE: What I have seen, working with my booking agency, because I am a booking agent as well as a musician, is that in the local hip hop scene, they get it. They understand what the business it. The business of playing music. They work harder than the people who play in the rock bands. They get it. They understand. They don’t cry to their moms about anything. If they have to sell tickets, then they sell tickets. If they have to get a venue going, then they will get it going.
SDPUNK: What do you mean they get it going?
WILLIE: If there is a problem with the venue. Like a problem with a crowd not showing up, they all band together instantly to get a crowd together. Whatever the venue needs, too keep the music going. To keep demand up for that type of music at that particular venue. That’s what I have noticed, at least here in San Diego. And the same in Las Vegas.
SDPUNK: So it sounds like performers work together, and try to get their crowds to go to other shows, for the sake of the music scene.
SDPUNK: I know some rock and punk bands who have good friends in other bands, and they try to help each other. But I haven’t seen an all out movement of rock musicians to band together to help the scene. There is just as much competitiveness as there is teamwork.
WILLIE: From what I have seen, punk bands don’t have that camaraderie. There are always going to be buddy bands, that play with everybody they know. But punk bands don’t band together. It just a big dramatic thing… it’s like high school.
SDPUNK: What does it mean to be punk?
WILLIE: My opinion, from what I grew up on, from what I lived, punk isn’t “Fuck everyone”. “Fuck Authority”. Being punk is about being an individual and being yourself. Playing your music in a way to appease yourself, and not trying to make everyone else happy. That’s what being punk means to me. It means going against the grain. Like, take a black person playing punk like I have done for 10 years. That’s punk to me. It isn’t about pissing people off or being a jerk. Burning clubs up and making everybody hate you so bad that they don’t want your music there.
SDPUNK: What’s it like being a black man playing punk and metal?
WILLIE: Without making it a big racial deal, it’s a little more difficult. This is what I grew up on, listening to this type of music. Not because I thought that I should pick a particular genre. It’s just what I liked. And in San Diego, I run into a few people who just don’t like me. They don’t know me, don’t know anything about me or what I am about. And there are a few people who don’t like me, it doesn’t have anything to do with me as a person. It’s about my race. It has to do with me being French and African-American. And the fact that I speak my mind, and I don’t give a fuck. And it has always been that way.
SDPUNK: Do you want to talk more about your upbringing and childhood?
WILLIE: I was born in New Orleans. My grandparents came over from France. When I was a kid, we moved to San Diego. My upbringing was good. My father was a police officer.
SDPUNK: Huh, cool. Is that part of your personality? Rebelling against that. I never thought of you as a bad guy, but in your songs, you definitely aren’t preaching to follow the straight and narrow path.
WILLIE: I’m not preaching the straight and narrow. I’m not preaching anything. I’m not trying to be a role model. I’m not saying you should be a law abiding citizen. I’m not saying you should be a criminal. I am saying, you should be yourself, whatever that is. Treat people with respect. And try to do something good.
We sing songs about the devil. We sing songs about gangs, and killing. But we don’t do it. It’s entertainment. Like Stephen King writing a book. We are here to entertain people, and some people take that so seriously. We show up for rehearsal, and we write songs and drink beer. And then we go on tour. And some people take that so seriously.
WILLIE: One of the misconceptions about me is that Willie Psycho does a lot of drugs. I don’t do drugs. I don’t even smoke weed. I sing about drugs, but the last time I smoked weed was around 8 years ago. I drink way way way too much. But I don’t do any drugs at all.
SDPUNK: What does that mean to you, not doing any drugs?
WILLIE: We run a booking agency, as well as touring. It’s a business, and you have to have a clear head. People think “oh rock and roll this and that, lets snort more coke than Motley Crue.” I have seen bands do that. And if you do that, then you aren’t going to have a clear head. And you aren’t going to be able to handle you business. I make a living doing this. And you have to have a clear head. You can play guitar or bass fucked up on drugs, but you cannot handle your business. And you are probably going to be on the losing end of a whole lot of things.
SDPUNK: What’s up with the Jugallo stuff?
WILLIE: [Laughs] Well, we have a lot of fans who are Jugallos. It’s a large movement. If you ask me, the whole thing is a lot bigger than the Insane Clown Posse.
SDPUNK: Wait, what? I thought that being a Juggalo just meant that you were a big fan of the Insane Clown Posse.
SDPUNK: Well, that’s how out of touch I am. So it means something else?
WILLIE: It is a huge huge huge family of music fans that like Horror-core, Rap-core, punk and metal. Some people call it a gang. It isn’t a gang. It’s a big family. If I go to a town, and there are Jugallos in that town and I need help with something, I can get a hold of them. And I have a hundred brothers and sisters who would help me at the drop of a hat. There are over a million Juggalos in the US. They are just really dedicated music fans.
SDPUNK: Are there any career highlights that you would like to reminisce upon?
WILLIE: Wow. We did a couple of shows with The Adicts. The Misfits, we played with them a couple of years ago in Scottsdale Arizona. That was the biggest show we did. The best show we did was with Ice T in Vegas a couple of years ago. Those are two of the highlights. Those were the bands that I always wanted to play with. I got to play with people who were my idols. I got to meet them, and they were nothing like what you would expect.
SDPUNK: What do you think about the San Diego punk scene?
WILLIE: Oh boy. I like this question. Don’t misquote me on this.
SDPUNK: I ask everyone this question. I will type out every mumble and stutter you give in this answer.
WILLIE: I grew up on punk rock. I grew up on this shit. What I get from the local scene is, if you are in a local punk band, you play in a few bars. You don’t really have much of a following. And you are doing the whole “Fuck Authority-Fuck Everybody” thing. Yadda yadda yadda. You have 20 fans who come out to every show. People in the scene thing you are great. The second you sign a record deal, the second you go on tour, the second you start making some money off of your art, all of a sudden there is a core of people in San Diego that instantly don’t like you. They just hate you.
I will never apologize for who I am or for making money off of my music. Which is a goal, I think, of most people. I’ll never apologize for that. But once you get to that point, people instantly don’t like you. Like you’re not punk rock. Or you are a sellout. The think about the San Diego punk scene, it used to piss me off, but I kind of think it is funny now. I have supported the scene, the mainstream scene and the underground scene, since I was 14 years old.
But the state of the scene, the San Diego punk scene as far as I am concerned, most of it is a joke. And it fucking really sucks. Most of the bands fall in the category of trying to appease all the scenesters. I don’t even know what they are called anymore. They try to get all their points. Their underground points. “We’re not in it for the money. We are doing it for free because this is what we’re about.” 99% of those bands are full of shit, and I’ll tell any of them to their face. They are absolutely lying. They are lying to the few fans that they have. They are lying to everybody else. Why wouldn’t you want to get paid to play music?
SDPUNK: I got not reason. I thought the ultimate goal was to be able to sustain yourself doing what you love doing.
WILLIE: Absolutely. If you think it is ok, that there are certain bands who do that. But I don’t do anything for free. Because I am working my ass off. Supporting the scene. I have been supporting the scene all this time. And I’m not going to say, “oh, I should do this for free”. When your rent comes due at the end of the month your landlord isn’t going to say “Hey, your punk rock, dude. I’ll just let you slide.” They want the rent, or get the fuck out. If you can get paid doing what you love and what you were bred to do, then that is success. If you can’t get paid, then you say how you aren’t doing it for the money. You don’t care about money. And blab bla bla.
It’s not all bout the money. We don’t do it for the money. But when someone starts making money, you start hating on them?
The underground punk scene absolutely fucking sucks. And it’s not the fans. The fans are awesome. It’s not even most of the bands. The bands are good. It’s some of the people… promoters; and I’m not going to mention any names because they know who they are. And they are running the shows, pretending like they don’t make any money. They have free shows. And they make 20 – 40% of the take from the bar. And if you don’t share it with the bands… well you can’t share it with the bands, because they aren’t in it for the money. And then again. If you’re in a punk band not doing it for the money, then don’t bitch when you don’t get paid.
WILLIE: Off the record – on the record, there are so many talented bands in San Diego. It’s disgusting how many really good bands there are. They just fall into this trap. I got out of it, because I am too old for that shit.
Willie Psycho (band) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Willie-Psycho-Fan-Club/105044369570935
Lilmamaevents Promotions: http://www.myspace.com/lilmamaevents