Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An interview with Mike Yannich (Psyched To Die)

(originally from May 21, 2009)

Mike Yannich (formerly Mikey Erg) is the current singer/guitarist of Psyched To Die, and has also played in numerous other bands, most notably The Ergs. He took the time to answer some questions, which will additionally appear in this year’s Insubordination Fest Zine.

David: First off let me say your music has brought me much enjoyment. I was sad to see The Ergs breakup but at the same time I love the direction that you've taken with this new band. Psyched To Die is an obvious departure from The Ergs. I mean The Ergs had some fast hardcore influenced songs, but nothing like this. Why did you decide to start a band like this instead of following a similar sound to the other bands you play in?

Mike: I was working with Brian one night and he turned to me and said, "let's start a fast punk band". It's basically that simple. At this point the Ergs were still together and I thought it would be cool to do a band that was just Snotty and Punk Rock.

David: When exactly did you guys form Psyched To Die?

Mike: Our first practice was the first week of December 2007. We didn't add Frump and start playing out until summer of 2008 though.

David: Where did Frump come from, what band was he in before Psyched To Die?

Mike: Frump was in a band called Fast Times, which was one of the first local punk bands I ever saw. I didn't really know him then. I first met him a couple years ago because he started taking pictures at shows and he handed me a disc with a bunch of Ergs photos on it. Around the time we recorded the demo and decided we were ready to start playing out, we asked him to play second guitar to fill out the sound of the band.

David: Has their been any sort of backlash amongst Ergs fans for your new music, or has everyone found the tradition to hardcore punk easy?

Mike: People have been pretty open to it actually. People do tell me that I should do another poppy band at some point and I'm sure I will, but the reaction to PTD has been very positive so far.

David: What types of crowds have been showing up for Psyched To Die shows? Is it some sort of a mix of people who know you from The Ergs or The Unlovables, and then at the same time hardcore kids who never followed your other stuff but saw the band open for say the Cro-Mags or whomever else you've played with?
Mike: I've noticed that it's a lot of the same people that would come to Ergs shows. On tour, the best nights were the cities that the Ergs did really well in. We're still fairly new so I'm sure once we play out some more it will start to become a mix of both.

David: So you're playing Insubordination Fest with Psyched To Die, as well as a bunch of other bands you're in (how many?), anyone at this years fest that you're particularly psyched to see play?

Mike: I think I'm doing 6 sets this year. Crazy. As for bands I'm totally stoked for, I'm really excited to see Boris the Sprinkler, Egghead, Spodie, Dead Milkmen, D4, Toys That Kill... I'm pretty much into every band playing so it will be an exhausting weekend for me.

David: You got Brian Gorsegner formerly of For Science as the drummer for Psyched To Die. His old band broke up around the same time as The Ergs, but under some much odder circumstances, with the singer breaking down on drugs and moving to Hawaii. Have you or Brian talked to him since? Do you know if he's doing okay?

Mike: Yeah, He's doing fine. He apparently got really sick while he was in New Orleans but he's all better now. He's working on some solo stuff that I'm sure will blow minds.

David: And concerning your bassist am I correct in assuming J Nixon is an homage to Greg Ginn's alter ego Dale Nixon?

Mike: Actually, as far as I know J Nixon is his real name.

David: Speaking of Greg Ginn, Psyched To Die is clearly influenced by early Black Flag and other SST stuff. If the band continues will the music start to mix in other styles outside of hardcore like Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, Husker Du, and the likes eventually did? You could say The Ergs were pretty well known for doing this.

Mike: Our Newest 7" Scatter Brained is a bit different. On the title track there's some more singing and its a bit longer than most of our other stuff. The b-side of the record is closer to the songs from the demo. The Ergs kind of made it a point to throw every style under the sun into our music. PTD started as more of a "let's do this one thing" kind of band and then morphed into "Let's do whatever we think sounds good." I'm sure we'll evolve even more on our next few releases.

David: Do you expect the band to grow lyrically as well as musically? Will the focus stay on pessimistic,nihilistic, death themed songs?

Mike: That's one thing that I think will stay the same. The music will evolve
however it does but I think the constant will be the dark lyrics. I think that's what makes Psyched to Die Psyched To Die.

David: You have a very diverse taste in music, what got you into all these different subsets?

Mike: I've just always been into all kinds of music since I was very young. If it sounds good to me, I'll listen to it. No matter what genre it is.

David: So how did you get into punk and hardcore?

Mike: Of course, Green Day and Rancid played a huge part. The thing that got me into the underground was the first Punk O Rama comp. That got me into NOFX and Down By Law. Then I started reading MRR. I would just randomly order 7"s and stuff that looked interesting from ads. It all kinda snowballed from there. I just went to a ton of shows and got involved.

David: How long will Psyched To Die last? Is this just a one off side project so that you can play a different type of music, or are you in this for the long haul?

Mike: It started as a side project. All of us were in more serious other bands when we first got together. By the time we started playing out all of our other bands broke up. At that point we made the decision to take Psyched To Die more seriously. You can never tell how long a band will last but I’m pretty sure we're all in it for the long haul.

David: Would you classify Psyched To Die as your "main band"?

Mike: I suppose I would. It's definitely the one I'm most creatively involved in at this point.
David: I'll end with some quick questions concerning the 80s hardcore sound the band is based on, Decline Of Western Civilization or American Hardcore?

Mike: Decline. No Contest. My favorite thing about Decline is the musical performances. I'm just glad there's a visual document of the Chavo-era Black Flag.

David: What about Keith Morris or Henry Rollins?

Mike: Keith.

David: Did Rollins ever hear Pray For Rain? Did you have to pay him for using a sample from his audio book?

Mike: I don't think he has. When the Ergs were on tour supporting dorkrock, we played a club that Henry was going to be playing a couple weeks after we were. I gave a CD to the club owner and asked her to give it to him. Moments later I realized "fuck, there's that unauthorized sample on there!!" I ran back to the club owner and told her to keep the cd for herself. Hopefully she did.

David: DOA, DRI, DYS, JFA, MDC, SOA, or SSD?

Mike: SOA, definitely.

David: The punk episode of CHIPS or the punk episode of Quincy?

Mike: Quincy All the way.

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