Psychobilly Freakout

Album: Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em (1990)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was released on the group's debut album, Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em, issued on the Sub Pop / Cargo label. Written by their frontman Jim Heath, this cut wastes no time jumping out of the gate highlighting his rapid work on the fretboard of his custom signature Gretsch Guitar. The song has become a cult classic by Reverend Horton's devoted following, which includes a sizable college crowd.
  • Jim Heath did not write this song in the normally definable song structure of verse, chord, bridge, verse; at least not in the way we become accustomed to listening to a song. Yet, if you close your eyes and drift back to the time Horton is so fond of, the late 1950s, you can hear a hint of influence of instrumental guitar sounds from The Surfaris' song, "Wipe Out," in what sets up as the bridge beginning at the 1:36 mark. In its entirety the song displays Horton's ample use of guitar effects ranging from the whammy bar to multiple levels of distortion.
  • The Reverend Horton Heat has been labeled a "Psychobilly" band by much of the music press, but their frontman disagrees with this characterization. In our interview with Reverend Horton Heat (Jim Heath), he explained: "We're not really Psychobilly."

    Elaborating on why, he said: "Back when I was first starting out, we were like a rockabilly band that was just a little bit more turned up and a little bit more aggressive, because we were writing our own songs. But I wrote a song about 1989 called 'Psychobilly Freakout.'

    And at that time a lot of the Punk Rock people and kids in America and a lot of the Alternative fans in America never heard of Psychobilly, they didn't know about all those bands: The Meteors, Guana Batz, and Batmobile. But they heard where I was doing heavy hitting Psychobilly, where I really hadn't, I just had a song called 'Psychobilly.'"

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