San Diego

The Schizophonics Experience

Land right in the middle of the onstage action with the new video from the Schizophonics

“Pat Beers is, like, the second coming of Hendrix, man.”

I can’t remember who told me that but I distinctly remember where I was when I heard it. The place: Bar Pink. The band: The Schizophonics. The small, beloved North Park bar was packed, the drinks were stiff and it was sweaty as all get out in the middle of summer. Someone leaned over, shouted that into my ear above the din and I laughed with indignation. Second coming of Hendrix? Sure, buddy.

And then it happened. Pat and Lety Beers (the band's guitarist/vocalist and drummer, respectively), and whoever they had playing bass for them at the time, took the stage and unleashed a barrage of ‘60s-inspired garage rock anthems that had their frontman somehow channeling his inner James Brown while haphazardly flinging his monster-headed Strat guitar around, usually single-handedly.

Sure, there was a lot of wailing and flailing and a general sense that his guitar was going to fly across the bar -- but the lanky dude was actually playing stone-cold licks and legit chord progressions with one hand while singing and jumping around like a maniac. It was, in one word, incredible.

For such a locally celebrated band like the Schizos (who’ve also made a name for themselves touring Europe and the UK; coincidentally, they're over there now), it's strange to think that they've never actually released a proper full-length studio album. For years, we've gotten by with the occasional single or an EP here and there, but at long last, the band's Earthling Studios-recorded debut LP is here, it's titled “Land of the Living" (out now on Sympathy For the Record Industry; order it) -- and if it doesn't make you move, you're probably dead inside.

When it comes to professionally produced music videos though, you'll be hard-pressed to find much out there for the explosive trio, unless you're looking for grainy cellphone snippets with awful audio and bad lighting, and in that case, you'll find the motherlode over on YouTube. 

So while the new video for their new 7-inch A-side, “In Mono” (also out now; buy it here), filmed/edited by San Diego’s resident show-goer/band-knower and musician Otis "O." Barthoulameu, isn’t exactly a Hollywood-scale production, it's a welcome addition to the group's visual catalog and serves a purpose: It features official audio and shows the Schizophonics in their natural onstage habitat -- shaking, dancing, shimmying, spinning, convulsing, and above all else, rocking out.

There'll never be a substitution for witnessing the band live and in person, but at least the dizzying handheld video shot at the Casbah does a good job of making you feel like you're right smack in the middle of the action. In fact, it took me right back years ago to that mid-summer night when I saw them for the first time.

The second coming of Hendrix? More like the arrival of the Schizophonics.

The Schizophonics head out on a West Coast tour with the Wooly Bushmen this fall. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for info.

Dustin Lothspeich books The Merrow and runs the music equipment-worshipping blog Gear and Loathing in San Diego. Follow his updates on Twitter or contact him directly.

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