"This happened by accident. It sort of fell into our laps." Raymond Raye is on the phone and he's excited about plans to host a series of psychobilly/rockabilly shows in an old school neighborhood lounge set deep in the East County, on Greenfield, with the unlikely name of the Calypso.
"We got something handed to us," he says. "We played a couple of psychobilly shows there and the turnout was so successful they called us and offered us a slot once a month." Raye says he saw an opportunity to further the cause:
"I thought it'd be a hoot to come up with something really nasty." This, he explains, is the origin of the East County Murder Club.
Raye, based in Rancho Bernardo plays guitar and fronts a psychobilly outfit called Raymond Raye and the New Sideshow Roundup. "We're a trio," he says, "with a very long name." Their first public gig came last September when they opened for the Rev. Horton Heat in San Diego. They've since booked into Brick By Brick, the Soda Bar, the Office, and El Cajon's Good Guys Tavern. They've got songs on both MySpace and on ReverbNation.
With Henry Necochea on bass and drummer Sean Miller the Roundup are not purists. They offer instead a mix of psycho and rockabilly with AC/DC and Queens of the Stone Age covers. The occasional Johnny Cash.
"All three of us bring in our own little flavors. But the bass line," he assures, "is always psychobilly."
Rockabilly rules of musical engagement are set in the concrete of tradition and are rarely, if ever, up for discussion. Rockabilly, or hillbilly rock, is played in the manner in which it has has always been played: think Carl Perkins or Duane Eddy, '50s-'60s country rockers to whom Beatles for Sale owed a huge creative debt. Paul McCartney is said to have in fact auditioned for the Beatles with Eddie Cochran's "Twenty Flight Rock."
But in the world of psychobilly (a term that was in fact originally lifted from a Johnny Cash song) genre-blending is not only legal, but it is encouraged. Punk and rockabilly and pretty much anything else is on the table. Hence the wild array of sub-genres. Consider gothabilly, punkabilly, and thrashabilly, to name a few.
It may have started as a fad in England (what doesn’t?) in the 1980s but psychobilly really didn't get rolling stateside for another decade. Rancid, Devil's Brigade, the Misfits, and the aforementioned Rev. Heat were all a part of the leavening, along with countless lesser-known bands, of the hot-rod-and -motorcycle culture inspired music.
When Raymond Raye got the nod from Calypso management to go ahead with his psychobilly series he went to work putting shows together. "I put an ad on Craigslist," he says, "and I got over a dozen responses." The East County Murder Club kicks off on March 30 with a lineup that puts the New Sideshow Roundup on top with two openers: Space Milk from Carlsbad and Hot Coffee.
"We'll host Jason Lee and the Riptides next month."
Raye sees a life for his series beyond the East County, says ECMC shows are pretty much a portable entity. "No matter where we go -- the Shakedown, Brick By Brick, wherever -- we can take the East County Murder Club with us. It's got a life of its own."