Psychotogen expected some praise and negative responses
PSYCHOTOGEN traces its origin to 1999, when ex-Pessimist member Chris Pernia (drums) and Mike Baron (guitar) joined forces to create a new Baltimore underground act. Vocalist Rob Kline, fresh off his own nine-year stint with Pessimist, joined shortly thereafter, and was followed by guitarist Jeremy Grande and bass player Tony Pernia. The line-up complete, the new band dubbed itself Excathedra. After one well-received demo and a performance at the 2000 Milwaukee Metal Fest, Baron departed and the remaining members vowed to explore a more technical and dark approach to songwriting. Thus, in the fall of 2000, PSYCHOTOGEN was born.
PSYCHOTOGEN's sound is nonetheless unique. Need a description? Try this: imagine putting Atheist, Cynic and Nevermore in a blender with Dillinger Escape Plan, Morbid Angel, Nile, and Death; then add some Haldol and pure grain alcohol. Inject that black, sludgy mix directly into your veins... THAT is some idea of what is waiting for you!
Meaning ’any agent that causes or induces psychosis’ the name PSYCHOTOGEN perfectly suits the style and subject matter of the band's lyrical content, which deals with issues such as psychotic process, criminal insanity, self-mutilation and delusions of grandeur. Additionally, the ominous implications of the name simultaneously reflect the diverse, frightening and unpredictable nature of the music itself. Retaining all the unique and positive aspects of their earlier projects, the members of PSYCHOTOGEN have decided to raise the bar for themselves - to push themselves to greater extremes in the pursuit of their ultimate goal: to create unique, intelligent, music that is both devastatingly heavy and completely original, while achieving a position of dominance in the death metal underground.
PSYCHOTOGEN integrates the best elements of technical death metal and traditional old-school brutality with an inexplicably fresh and unique approach to song writing, which never forgets to incorporate melody and musicianship. The result is a traumatizing assault of musical destruction that must be experienced if it is to be believed.
interview with Chris on 22-12-2000
Please give us a short introduction of yourself?
I'm Chris the drummer for Psychotogen. I've been playing in various extreme metal bands in the Baltimore area for about ten years now. Psychotogen has been around for a little under two years now, and consists of myself, my brother Tony on bass, Rob Kline on vocals, and Jeremy Grande on guitar. Rob, Tony and I used to jam in the death metal band Pessimist.
Why did you choose the name Psychotogen? Special message?
The word Psychotogen is defined as a chemical agent that induces a psychotic state. The name just seemed to fit because it relates to Rob's experiences and knowledge as a criminal psychologist.
Aren't you afraid that people see you as Pessimist under a new name?
No, not really. Both Psychotogen and Pessimist have gone in different directions since Blood for the Gods. Pessimist opted to go in a more speed-oriented direction like Krisiun or Angel Corpse, and Psychotogen has gone in more of an abstract direction, sorta like Believer or Atheist. Neither bands really play any material from the first two Pessimist albums, although we do pull out ’Drunk With The Blood’ every once in a while.
How is the metal scene in Baltimore? Still any contact with Kell?
It's kind of ironic that some of the best metal bands in the scene right now hail from Maryland but yet the scene is really poor here. Dying Fetus, Garden of Shadows, Misery Index and Pessimist all come from Maryland, but yet there are few places that allow metal to play and few people that attend the shows. Fetus probably have the strongest draw out of all the metal bands here.
We sometimes cross paths with Kelly and say hi, but that's about it.
How is it to have two brothers in one band? So they are the big bosses?
Having my brother in the band is really cool. We tend to musically read each others' mind sometimes and we can at times be brutally honest with each other. This can sometimes be a positive thing, and sometimes a negative. It just somehow seems easier to call your brother an asshole rather than someone who's not related!
Your description of sadistic death metal mind control?
Well, I personally think of it as turning your mind off and just becoming one with the music. Pierced From Within, And Then You'll Beg, Calculating Infinity, and Focus are just some of the albums that I listen to. When I mean 'listen to' I mean just stop thinking completely and just fucking listen. I allow myself to be captivated by the music. I think Classical music and jazz has the same effect.
Did they ever ask you to play Santa Claus?
No!! I am very anti-Christmas and I make it known, so I doubt that anyone would be foolish enough to ask me that! I'm not anti-Christian, just anti-Christmas. I find it to be a very commercial, fake holiday. They very person that would be a total dick to you on Dec. 23rd, will give you a fake smile on the 24th and 25th, and then go right back to being a dick again on the 26th. Maybe that's a very negative way at looking at it, but that's how I see it.
Any reaction on the ’Perverse..’ CD? Did you expect this?
We've gotten a lot of positive response on it. I think a lot of people are tired of hearing the same old shit over and over, and want something a little different. I think we offer that.
I personally expected some praise, but I also expected some more negative responses than we received. I thought people wouldn't dig it because it's not Blood for the Gods Pt. II, or that some of the songs may have been a little too weird for them, or not like it because there's a minimal amount of blast beats in it. But fortunately that hasn't been the case, with a large majority of the feedback being of the positive sort.
Where does Jeremy get the ideas for his guitar leads? Does he think of some people he doesn't like?
Sometimes Jeremy brings the four track to practice, records the song and writes a lead at home. However, a good majority of the leads on 'Perverse' Jeremy just came into the studio and ’winged it’. He'd sit in the studio for about an hour trying out different ideas and then just run tape. It's a very unorthodox way of doing leads, but it seemed to work for him.
I don't know what runs through his mind when he plays, but when you see his facial expressions in a live setting you would certainly think that he was pissed at something! He looks fuckin' angry!!
How does the ideas for the songs begin? Any kind of ritual to begin writing?
Our songs are written much like they were in Pessimist. Jeremy (and sometimes Tony) brings in a handful of riffs to practice, some of them in a certain sequence and some of them just random parts. We then piece them together as a group and write our respective parts to the completed sequence of riffs. Rob handles all the lyrics. The topics for lyrics usually deal with the human mind and come from Rob's experiences working with violent criminals on death row. Our only ritual would probably be to eat Taco Bell before practice. The creative process goes better on a full stomach.
What do you do when you have a writing block? Any fav games to relax?
If we find ourselves getting frustrated, we usually stop and go to Taco Bell. It's best not to force or rush a song as in the long run it will eventually show in the final product.
What is your fav action game? Do play PC games, Playstation etc?
Unfortunately, between my family, job, and band I never seem to have time to play any video games. The only time I even use the computer is if it's band related.
How do you spend a romantic evening? And how much do you spend?
A romantic evening to me is a nice dinner and then catch one of the local bands that are playing in the area. I'm not a real romantic sorta guy, so that's pretty much about it for me. How much I spend really depends on the show we go to see.
Why is playing live important and great fun?
It's important to play out in front of as many different people as possible to spread the music of Psychotogen. That's how CD's get sold, through word of mouth.
I love playing live, it's a great way to expend negative energy. There's no rush quite like the adrenaline rush from playing live.
How is your mental and physical state after a gig?
I'm usually really at peace with myself after a show. I'm really mellow and completely physically spent after a show. I always put 100% and then some into my performance. Sometimes I think I'm gonna have a damn heart attack from overexerting myself behind the kit!
How do you prepare for a gig? Any rituals to proceed before to get on stage?
There's no major preparation for gig, we just give each other a small pep talk and get up there and kick ass!
Do you iron your own clothes? Other fav householding tasks?
I don't think that I've ever ironed my own clothes! Most of my shirts are black concert tees, so why bother ironing them?
I do landscaping for a living, so I really like to work outdoors in my yard. I can't see myself working indoors doin' the whole 9 to 5 thing.
Can the band go more extreme? How will death metal develop into the next years?
We never really try to write with any particular direction in mind, but I can see the band getting more extreme in the future. Not extreme like Krisiun but more extreme in an abstract way. I can see us playing with more odd time signatures and incorporating more progressive elements into our music. Our only goal with writing is to not limit ourselves in any way. We don't want to paint ourselves into a corner or play the same song twice.
Every year I say that death metal could not possibly get any faster, and sure as hell it does!! I really can't tell you where I see death metal going, but I can tell you where I hope it goes. I hope more bands continue to incorporate more diverse styles of music into death, and I would like to see bands strive to obtain their own signature sound.
Do you follow other kind of music genres? What music is a pain to your ears?
I'm a huge fan of power/speed metal! I also dig stuff like doom and jazz. I think that if you limit yourself to one style of music that you are limiting your potential as a songwriter.
What pains my ears is anything you can hear on mainstream rock radio. I hate that shit. Fuck Nu metal!
Can you get emotional from some particular songs? Which songs and why?
Wretched of the Earth off of Blood for the Gods still sends a chill up my spine to this day! I dig the dark music and the even darker lyrics. Very seldom do I listen to Blood..., but when I do I always skip to 'Wretched...', which is the last track on the disk, and then listen to the rest.
I think it would be cool to remake it one day with a full orchestra!
Thanks for the interview! Fans of intense, creative death metal that challenges the listener check out our CD ’Perverse and Unnatural Practices’ or check out our website at www.psychotogen.com for MP3's of some of our music.