Psychobilly group celebrates release of latest album



Montreal psychobilly act The Brains are in town for a gig at Kathedral tonight.


When a machete-brandishing rock ‘n’ roll zombie called Rene el Brain de la Muerte tells you to wear ghoulish makeup to his next gig, you don’t ask questions. You do it.


For sure, the singer/guitarist and his fellow “undead” bandmates Johnny Montreal (double bass) and Franck O’Brains (drums), forming Montreal psychobilly trio The Brains, will put on a fiendish appearance. Their black-white-and-blood visages will accompany their guttural stew of punk, rockabilly, meringue (you read that right), and very hard rock to the Kathedral tonight to celebrate the release of their new disc, Hell N’ Back.

“We mix a lot of stuff in our music,” Rene (real surname Garcia) says. “There are all the psychobilly elements in it, and we get called that because we have a slap bass (parts of which he says date back to the 1860s and was reconstructed to look like a coffin, incidentally) and fast drums. I’m from Chile, and I used to listen to a lot of meringue when I was a kid. It’s pretty fast. Another big difference is that I don’t really scream. I’m a crooner. Although you could say that is psychobilly now, the same way rock has changed.”

Despite the fusion of sound, The Brains put themselves in that category among bands like The Creepshow and The Matadors. Usually defined by demonic-looking musicians playing an amped-up, accelerated ’50s pop sound, Garcia says the genre is enjoying a growing popularity as its horizons broaden. Also a producer (The Gutter Demons and The Alley Dukes), he says the attention is due in part to better in-studio work.

“I’ve been working with this music for a long time. I was 19 when I started,” Garcia, now 33, says. “The records are getting better. A lot of bands who play it, particularly from Europe, don’t have good recordings, and never had. It was quickly done, you know? I always try to have a tight production. The Creepshow, The Matadors, they do, too. I want people to know this is good music. I want it to work.”

Could we be looking at the Brains’ front man as the Timbaland of psychobilly?

“Why not?” he laughs.