Psychobilly is one of those genres that has become increasingly pigeonholed. When thinking of psychobilly, most people would probably think of fast-paced music about demons and ghouls. However, The Koffin Kats, who hail from Detroit, Michigan, have been finding ways to bend the genre. Vic Victor took some time out of their recent tour in support of their latest album, "Our Way And The Highway," to discuss band changes, label changes, and writing music.
Your new album marks the first album you've done with EZ Ian on guitar, and also your first for Sailor's Grave records. Were these transitions easy or difficult for Koffin Kats?
Vic: It was smooth... The writing of new material came easy and its not like our songs are incredibly hard to play haha so it was easy for him to get the past material down. Really the work came with getting the new onstage chemistry and timing down which came just fine after getting into the first tour with him.
What prompted the switch from Stomp records to Sailor's Grave?
Vic: Stomp are good people and did fine by the record we did with them but we wanted to try a new route with "Our Way" and that was something SGR could offer with wider North American distribution as well as European distro. Which is something we really needed considering we have been touring over there for some time now but have no label representation.
How have you enjoyed your time with Sailor's Grave so far?
Vic: Its been great.. they have helped this new album become the biggest release we have done yet.
Did the changes in lineup and record label affect the way you approached writing material for "Our Way And The Highway?"
Vic: Not at all... had the majority of the album recorded by the time we thought about approaching SGR. Even with Tommy gone it didn't change the way I write songs... well maybe with having Ian, I focused on adding a little more vocal harmonies and guitar work Tommy would not have done.
How do you go about writing material for a new album?
Vic: I compiled lyric notes and guitar riffs throughout the year before we decided to write the new album. Then one week we went into the basement..hammered out 12 songs... went in to do demo work the next week... soaked them in for over a month while on a Euro tour and then came home and went straight into the studio to record the actual tracks.
The past couple of Koffin Kats releases have been moving away from the supernatural psychobilly conventions and leaning more towards personal demons, such as drinking. What caused this shift?
Vic- I just want to bring something different to the table other then ghouls and graveyards. Real life can kill you... fantasy cant. Plus having a band name such as Koffin Kats gives the impression of what our songs' subject matter should be like. Then if ya pay attention it goes beyond that.
Koffin Kats have a sound that is much more diverse than straight-up psychobilly. What are some of your musical influences?
Vic: My first favorite band was Bad Religion, and I got into the SoCal punk sound. Then I found out about the upright bass sound from Reverend Horton Heat. From there got into more rockabilly and psychobilly bands. At the same time I was getting into everything from Tom Waits to Type O Negative. I've always tried to keep an open mind listening to music.
I found it interesting that there was't a "Graveyard Tree IV" on your latest album. Will there be one in the future, or is this a theme that you have abandoned?
Vic: One song was enough... but I gave it a more intricate story with 4 parts. I wrote the first part 11 years ago when i thought nobody would even hear the song... I just dont write like that anymore I guess haha.
You guys are on the road for large parts of the year. How do you cope with constant touring and living in a van with each other?
Vic: Ya just have to dive into it head first and not be a spazz about little bull that can come with having roomates. Even better ya have Van mates haha and you all smell equally as bad. This is something we all wanted and we have based our lives around it so its easy for us to have a gung ho attitude towards being on the road. It's better then punching the time clock.
What is in the cards for Koffin Kats in the near future?
Vic: Last year we did around 230 shows between North America and Europe. This year we are pushing for 250. Next year will be our tenth year and will be putting out another full length and the touring will remain constant.