Lock up your red cordial. The hyperactive Schizophonics are back
Pat and Lety Beers.
Combining elements of 60s garage, funk, soul and old time rock ‘n; roll showmanship, San Diego’s The Schizophonics are one of the "hardest working" bands you’ll see. And I mean "hard working" in reference to when they hit the stage.
Singer/guitarist Pat Beers comes across like a mix between Jerry Lee Lewis and an eight-year-old kid on too much red cordial; the man never stops. While some singers take five to get a breath, Pat keeps the party going with some amazing onstage moves that would score high in any Olympic gymnastics competition.
While the bass often switches, Pat and drummer/wife Lety Beers are the core and soul of the group. The two of them, along with their beautiful dog Beanie, spoke to me via the zoom machine on the eve of their return to Oz.
You guys are about to come down for your third Down Under tour. The first tour I saw you guys in a packed out room at The Tote in Melbourne, and the same show on the second tour was, for many people, their last before the pandemic.
Lety: That was crazy. We started in New Zealand, then we went to Australia. Then we were meant to go to Japan. As you know it was a day by day thing. And my friends back home, were saying “hey be careful”, as we didn’t know what was happening back home. The last week of the tour, before we came back home, one day of the week we said, “Well, let’s just go to Japan, we’ll be fine, and we’ll make everyone happy”, then when we woke up the next day and said, “We need to get the hell out”.
Pat: Yeah it was crazy how it was a day-to-day thing. We played in Melbourne at the Tote Hotel, and then we played the Old Bar the next night, and the drop in attendance was insane. And it was like, “dude this feels weird”. And going home it was dead except for all the Americans going home.
Then we got to LAX, we’re wearing masks and it felt creepy, man. It was like a movie. Then lockdown happened the next day, I think they shut the boarders the next day too. We had a friend who was coming from Spain to DJ our Japanese shows, and he got stuck in Japan.
Lety: Yeah he was stuck in Tokyo for weeks.
Well hopefully this tour is less stressful.
Lety: Yeah Covid’s Revenge, or what should we call it?
Pat: I don’t know we need a name. The Covid Redemption Tour? I’m not sure putting Covid in the name is a good move.
Lety: The Redemptions Tour sounds better.
I saw your tour dates and saw you’re playing Wollongong, and you played Newcastle on your last tour, in the states do you often do regional shows as well as the major cities?
Pat: At this point we’ve almost played all 52 (sic) states. There’s a few we haven’t, but we try to play a lot of places bands don’t typically do. Obviously we do better in the major cities. But sometimes you play those little towns, for example in the state of Washington there’s a lot of little towns that have great punk scenes.
At these shows, people are more appreciative you’re there. There’s also little pockets of rock n rollers and punk scenes and sometimes there the best shows
When it comes to touring the States do you spend months away from home or do you do month on month off?
Lety: The way we’ve been doing it is going out for a month then coming home. Month on moth off. We’ve been doing it by west coast, mid-west, New England and the south. We do it by those regions and we rotate those areas. The southern states - we do Texas, Florida, Atlanta, North Carolina.
Pat: Recently, we played Nashville and Memphis for the first time. We do a tour of a broad region, this and that section.
Lety: That’s easier then doing the whole place in once, that would take months.
Pat: We tried once, we did this one tour which was a loop of the States. We’re on this label Pig Baby Records, the guy that started it, our friend Jeff, he was gung ho about doing this tour, and he drove us around and sold the records himself at the tour. We started in Southern California, then we did Texas and went to Canada.
Lety: It took six weeks and our friend from the label had to go to physical therapy from driving too much.
Pat: it was a cool experience to do, to see how far we can push ourselves, how many shows we can do.
Lety: But we had to skip a lot of places just to make it work.
Pat: That was when we booked our own shows, and some were really DIY. Depended on where we were playing, but it was a fun, wacky experience.
So when you have the month off do you spend that time writing and recording?
Pat: That’s kind of what we’re doing now, trying to make a new record, making ends meet. And just getting ready for the next one. I always think I’m going to write songs on tour, but I never do.
Lety: I take books all the time, thinking I’m going to read all these books, I never crack them open. You turn into a zombie on the road.
Pat: We drive ourselves in the states, so it’s a 24 hour job. Drive, soundcheck, play, have dinner, sleep and move onto the next place.
Who’s playing bass on this tour?
Lefty: Our buddy Tom from Montreal. He’s been a friend for a long time, played with us on our last Canada tour. He’s been a friend for a long time has the same vibe and energy as us.
Pat: We played with his band in Montreal a bunch of times, and he’s mainly a guitar player. I got a kick out of him because he could do all these cool moves like playing guitar through his legs, but he was never cocky or arrogant, he was always fun and entertaining, so we’d always get him on stage for a song. He played with us before and he’ll be a good fit.
Is it difficult writing songs when you have a rotating bass player?
Pat: The only thing is, you gotta know what the bass is going to sound like. I’ll demo and try a bunch of bass lines, so it’s not a weird way to collaborate. My demos are low fi, just trying to get the basic sound but that’s the way I do it.
I saw you guys on your first tour here. Was that 2018? Or 2019?
Lety: Which show?
The Tote. With the Breadmakers and Thee Cha Cha Chas.
Lety: Oh, awesome.
Pat: I really liked The Breadmakers.
Lety: I loved playing that club. It was a fun place. I liked the sticky floors.
A mate had said: ‘You gotta see this band”, and when I heard you guys it sounded like a mix of dirty blues, funk n soul, as well as garage rock that belonged on Crypt Records. I loved it
Lety: And that’s exactly what we listen to.
Pat: It’s funny the older generation, I’m talking from the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was, ‘I’m a punk rocker or I’m a rockabilly fan or ‘60s garage fan’. Whereas now, people seem to like all music that’s gritty. We like all that stuff and try and mix it all together into one big sound.
And I was totally amazed at your closer of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”. Jerry Lee Lewis is someone that’s hard to cover but you guys nailed it.
Pat: We starting doing that after he passed away. I love doing that song. It’s funny sometime we do a gig and there’s a lot of people that will just walk in off the streets, and they have no idea who we are. And we play to this crowd of Gen Z people, and I would think most people would know Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, but people don’t - which is crazy. We always get people to sing along for the ‘shake baby shake’, and it’s weird I’ll be like everybody, and in the first two words people will sing along, I guess they’re just stuck in peoples brains.
Lety: Maybe that’s why they were hits in the first place. Theyr’e such catchy hooks to them.
Pat you really went in hard when I saw you ate the Tote, jumping all over the place, ever hurt yourself badly?
Pat: Oh yeah.
Lety: That show, at The Tote?
Pat: That show before Covid, I tore my groin muscle on stage. And we did two shows the next day, no sleep flew to Tasmania. It hurt to walk, I was icing myself in the van. I was in a lot of pain and I just had to get through it. I thought thank god there’s a pandemic so I can get over this (laughs) so I can stop playing. I don’t get injured as people might assume, knock on wood.
I take it with your high energy shows acoustic gigs aren’t something you guys would be into?
Lety: No, and we’ve been asked, we got asked to open for, what was David Bowie’s producers name?
Pat: Tony Visconti,
Lety: Tony Visconti was in town doing a Bowie thing. They got us to open. The Ziggy Stardust drummer was going to be there. So we were going to do “The Man Who Sold the World” with him on drums. We get a call the day of the show saying they don’t want a rock band to open. His daughter was supporting and they didn’t want a loud rock band, which is fair enough.
Pat: So they asked if we could do it acoustically.
Lety: Our friend ran the club and called us, and asked us, ‘Can you guys even play acoustically?, and where like, ‘No’.
Pat: Our songs are just me barking and dancing with the guitar.
Lety: We want to do a country band, like what we do at home, just us. We got into really old country, one of our friends is a huge hillbilly, and we said send us the best, oldest direst country songs as a playlist, so now we got to do a country band.
Ok, let’s get personal. Pat is your last name really Beer?
Pat: Beers. And so is hers now. People think it’s a rock n roll name but it’s not
Lety: I don’t even drink beer, I like cocktails.
Lety: A big tour in May, we’re going to be traveling with The Courettes, this killer band from Denmark. That’s the big one when we’re home. Then write and get some new songs out for a new release. Pressing time takes so long so, hopefully, we will have that out in less than three years.
Tags: australian, australian tour, schizophonics, pat beers, lety beers, 2023
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