Rock 'n' roll is alive and well in San Diego, with the sound of The Schizophonics reverberating through speakers. The band, comprising Pat and Lety Beers, has been shaking up sound waves in San Diego with their time-warping, make-you-wanna-dance-and-yell, garage-based music.
DiscoverSD recently sat down with the couple at Panama 66 in Balboa Park to discuss who helped them rise to success in San Diego, their soon-to-be-released record and what it's been like to nail down their sound.
Q: How did you guys get started as The Schizophonics?
Pat: It's kind of funny -- we are both from Arizona, and we actually knew each other in high school.
Lety: I played in my high school Ramones cover band for, like, two weeks. I always knew Pat was the best guitar player ... I ran into him in the hall and I needed a bass player, so I'm like, "Wanna be in my band?" and he's like, "Yeah, um, OK." So, I got his number and called him and he was super quiet. He didn't really talk to me. So, we played for two weeks then never saw each other until seven years later. We ended up living in the same town, down the street from each other, and he was about to move to San Diego the next day. We hit it off so good we stayed in touch, dated long distance, and then I moved here, too. That was in 2008.
Q: How has it been for you two as a band since?
Pat: Yeah, she didn't even play drums. She used to play guitar when we played in high school. I had to get out of Arizona, so I came out here. I said, "I'm just going to start a band." I played with a few different people, and it just wasn't working. Finally, we were without a drummer and I was like, "Why don't you play drums, Lety?" Anytime we were rehearsing or just messing around, she would hop on the drums and it was like, "You can kind of play!" When we started, we learned how to do it on stage. We went to this dive bar called the Skybox in Clairemont that no one went to. We'd play there almost every week, and every week it would get more coherent. It took us a long time playing in San Diego before we sounded OK. Eventually, we got our live show down. We ended up playing with Robert Lopez.
Lety: That was the first time (Pat) had ever played with anyone like that, and it forced us to get better.
Q: Were you guys always into the '60s sound?
Lety: Oh, yes. Definitely. We always listened to old music. That's a big reason why we get along: We have the same taste in music.
Pat: John Reis from Jehu and Rocket from the Crypt, he used to have a show called the "Swamis Sound System." We would stay home on Saturday nights to listen to this radio show. You think you've heard all the Jimi Hendrix albums so you know all the music - or something like that. We'd listen to these shows and hear all this amazing music that we had never heard. We were like, "We need to make a band that sounds like this." It was a mixture of soul, punk, garage rock and all this, and we wanted to combine all of this stuff.
Lety: That's the main fuel for the sound of the band.
Q: The last few years things have really picked up for you guys. What has that been like?
Lety: A lot of that is you just meet more people and you make more friends ... It's a big community, and that is what I love about San Diego. Like, Creepy Creeps are the sweetest guys. That's really what it's about.
Q: What are you working on right now?
Lety: We have a December tour; we are playing in Spain. We are also playing a UK tour in December.
Pat: We finally just recorded a record, too.
Lety: We played with this band called Little Barrie because a friend of ours here saw us play at Casbah. She thought we would be a good fit to open for Barrie. He was the nicest guy, the whole band was super nice. They're a really cool, British rock 'n' roll band. Turns out, he has played for Morrissey and is really well known in the UK. The stars aligned this time that we got booked for the festival in Spain, and he had some tour dates he asked us to do. They fit perfectly around the dates. So we open for him in the UK.
Q: Is the album close to being released?
Pat: We want to finish it by December so we can sell copies while we're out touring. I'm really excited about it. Ever since we started the band, I have always been really like, you know, hate hearing my voice. I always wanted to put something out that I am really proud to hand out to people.
Lety: Or, it's like, "No, I'm not ready to record yet" or "These songs aren't ready yet," so it's a struggle.
Q: What are you liking about this one?
Pat: Mike Kamoo, from Earthling Studio in Santee, he acquired this old 8-track tape machine. It was the actual machine that they used in Sunset Sound, a recording studio in the '60s in L.A. It went to Portland, then Mike ended up getting it and fixing it.
Lety: The Doors recorded on it, Buffalo Springfield - all these classic albums.
Pat: Yeah, so we recorded on that. It just sounds like our own music, not necessarily super '60s, but it just sounds good. I really like how it sounds. Now that I'm listening to it, I hope I'm not ripping off Rob Tyner too much, but that's what it sounds like in terms of the band, the delivery and even the social commentary. It's weird how parallel the times are now to the late '60s. It's funny, it's sad, but it's interesting that the songwriting is the same as it was then. It sounds very gritty and blown-out sometimes, but to me, recording digitally just sounds like s***. It sounds rubbery and plastic. For certain types, reggae, pop -- it works. For rock 'n' roll, you need a certain amount of grit.
Q: What's it called?
Pat: I think I'm going to call it "The Land of the Living." There's a common thread throughout the album, which is escapism in the chaos of the world right now. It's about finding our own little world to be in.
Whistle Stop, Oct. 5
About the brew:
We grabbed beers with The Schizophonics at Panama 66, located in Balboa Park. The outdoor venue offers a view of the San Diego Museum of Art's May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden and is owned by the folks behind Blind Lady Ale House and Tiger! Tiger! Tavern.