By Melissa Fossum
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By New Times
By Amanda Savage
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You might not think that Tempe "humorcore" band Psychostick and Jill Sobule (a.k.a. that chick who sings the other "I Kissed a Girl" song) have much in common, but it turns out they both have some seriously loyal fans. Last year, with the country mired in a recession, Psychostick and Sobule both managed to convince fans they should dig into their pockets and fund the artists' latest albums. Sobule launched a donation Web site in January 2008 and raised more than $75,000 in just 53 days. Later in the year, Psychostick launched its own site (singer Rob "Rawrb" Kersey claims to have never heard of Sobule), which raised about $18,000 to record the band's latest release, Sandwich. In exchange for a $50 donation, Psychostick offered fans a signed copy of the album and a poster. They also thanked every donor by name in the song "373 Thank Yous."
Sandwich is a humor-laced slab of metal that expands on the sound of Psychostick's self-released debut, We Couldn't Think of a Title. Humor has always been an important facet of the band's sound, Kersey says.
"We always saw a very comedic side to metal," he says. "If I hear death metal, with a super-fast blastbeat and the Cookie Monster [vocals], I'll just start laughing, even though they're completely serious about sacrificing baby lambs to their evil dark lord. I think it's hilarious . . . These bands that take themselves so seriously, I honestly don't know why. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of negative emotion out there that you want to get out, but there's a lot of good stuff, too. Josh and I, when we formed Psychostick, we were just a couple of guys who weren't depressed and weren't upset all the time. Yeah, we had some hardships, but who doesn't, right? The whole comedy thing just happened because we're just goofy, nerdy, happy guys that just like heavy metal. It just felt natural."
The band's blend of serious musicianship and sophomoric lyrics seems to have struck a chord with fans. New Times e-mailed a few donors, and all seemed pleased with the final result.
"I had a little [money] to spare, and I wanted to help out a group of people who have brought joy to me and so many others," says Shayla Houser of Minneapolis. "They've been very good to me on a personal level and I wanted to pay it forward, figuratively and literally."
"They don't mind taking the time to sign albums, posters, or things like that after shows," she says. "They stop to take photos with people and they'll have a real conversation with their fans. They don't act superior to any of their fans or snub people. I think that's why so many people were willing to donate."
"I've always supported a lot of charity events and held fundraisers for many different causes," Gates says. "Let's face it — a band is a charity! They are always broke and in need of money . . . Those guys are really good-hearted, genuine people that work their asses off to do what they love."
For its part, Psychostick was awed by the fans' generosity.
"I was really surprised," Kersey says. "I was like, 'Wow, people really like us.' It was impressive to all of us. We were very, very flattered — very happy to have that kind of support from our fans. It was able to fund our record. We're really excited."