“How is any band supposed to fucking follow that!?”, bemoaned one of the members of the band unlucky enough to have to take the stage after The Schizophonics on a Saturday night in Los Angeles. I laughed and shrugged in response- I mean, the guy asked a very valid question.
I heard about The Schizophonics long before I ever saw them take the stage. I was on tour with The Reverberations for their west coast tour last November, and they shared a bill with the notorious San Diego trio in both Oceanside and Los Angeles. While The Reverberations were setting up their gear on the first night, I listened as they discussed Pat Beers, frontman of The Schizophonics, in the same way that a group of kids might discuss an urban legend at a sleepover. After The Schizophonics finished their set that night, I fully understood why- the band not only lived up to all of the hype; they blew my fucking mind. I am 100% convinced that Pat must have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his unbelievable guitar talent and dance moves so smooth they’d make James Brown jealous. For the entirety of The Schizophonics’ set, Pat was in nonstop motion: flinging himself across the stage, jumping off amps, doing backrolls and splits while simultaneously playing Hendrix-level guitar. He’s so good that multiple people questioned whether there may be another guitarist hidden backstage, or possibly a backing track. I’ve now seen The Schizophonics live multiple times, and I can assure any doubters that there’s absolutely no gimmick- they’re just that much better than everyone else.
It would be impossible to capture the pure, unbridled power of a Schizophonics live performance on a recording. However, their latest release, Land of The Living, comes pretty damn close. The LP, released in August 2017 on Sympathy For The Record Industry, is the band’s first full-length album, and an immediate classic. A word to the wise: this is an album best enjoyed LOUD, on a proper stereo. This is not the sort of music you casually listen to through earbuds while at work, or while enjoying a quiet evening- Land of The Living must be thrown on the turntable and turned up loud enough to make your neighbors complain (when they do, just tell ‘em Sheena made you do it).
Land of The Living’s 10 tracks embody the power and energy of the MC5, the soul of Little Richard, and the pure raw rock n roll of The Sonics. From the opening bassline of “Streets of Heaven and Hell” to the closing dance party freakout of “Put Your Weight On It”, there’s an intensity and a fervor that’s simply inescapable. As a 3-piece band The Schizophonics do an incredible job of creating a full-bodied wall of sound- Lety on drums, along with “whichever great friend fills in on bass” provide the solid, steady rhythm that allows Pat to show off his searing fretwork and soulful vocal chops on every track.
And don’t get me wrong- while Land of The Living IS a full fledged freak-out, full of wild and frantic rock n roll, there’s real quality songwriting here too. Beers has a knack for writing tunes that’ll have you dancing and singing along, even on the first listen (“In Mono”, “Red Planet”). And, like all good rock n roll, there’s a heavy sexuality that runs throughout the album (“The Train”, “Move”).
Look, if you consider yourself a fan of rock n roll, you need this album. When it comes to pure, raw, MC5 style rock n roll, The Schizophonics are doing it better than any other band out there. I’m not at all worthy of the friendship I have with this band, or of having slept on their sofa or cuddled their adorable dog. That guy in LA was right- there’s just no way to top The Schizophonics.
Buy Land of The Living here: https://schizophonicssd.bandcamp.com/album/land-of-the-living
Written By Sheena Salazar for POW Magazine