The Horrorpops at the Kathedral (651 Queen West), Wednesday (May 11). $10 (all ages). 416-504-6699. Rating: NNNNN
The Horrorpops hail from Denmark, where there seems to be a penchant for band names melding cutesy foodstuffs and sentimentality with violence and the macabre.
So it was that Danes Peanut Butter Pump Gun, Strawberry Slaughterhouse and the Nekromantix met in Cologne, Germany, at the 1996 POPKOM festival.
"Within 15 minutes we knew we wanted to start a band together," HorrorPops frontwoman and stand-up bassist Patricia (former singer/guitarist of Peanut Butter Pump Gun) says of her now husband and bandmate (former Nekromantix singer and bassist), Kim Nekroman.
"And we knew we wanted to write music in a different way. The easiest way to do that was to switch instruments, because we wouldn't know how to play and it would be like starting all over again."
So Patricia took up bass and Nekroman took up guitar. Drummer and second guitarist Niedermeier and Caz the Clash joined in from Strawberry Slaughterhouse, and the HorrorPops were born.
Whatever you do, don't call them psychobilly. They hate that. Despite the sleeve tattoos, upright bass, eyeliner, frenetic go-go dancers and Bettie Page-meets-Bride of Frankenstein frontwoman, the HorrorPops insist they're just a rock and roll band.
"We don't want to be part of one genre," says Patricia, who gets pretty passionately pissed about people's propensity to break rock 'n' roll music down into teeny little subgenres.
"There's a lot of 'If you listen to this music you can't listen to that music. ' It all came in the 90s, this fuckin' need for subgenre-ing everything. All of a sudden we had grunge and emo and all these categories, and why? There are so few people playing rock and roll now. Hiphop's taking over the world. What the fuck is the need for making all these little rules for each little genre when it's all rock and roll anyway?"
Their debut record, Hell Yeah, is a collection of demos made over six years, some of which were recorded in Christiania, "the last free town in the world."
"It's an old military ground, part of Copenhagen that was taken by hippies in the 70s and has been occupied ever since," Patricia explains. "The state has no control over the place. It has its own rules. It's not a part of the EC. It's a bit like Amsterdam. You can buy hash there, but you can't buy any hard drugs at all. They have pretty cool rules. It's a place where all the freaks go to be accepted, a really nice place."
Hell Yeah sparked the interest of Tim Armstrong, who signed the HorrorPops to his Hellcat records (how fitting), and they decided to move to the U.S. of A. "There's 5 million people in Denmark and three rock and roll venues. We really wanted to move out of there, so when Tim Armstrong offered to sign us we were like, 'Fuck, yeah! We can get the fuck out of Denmark,' so we did."
Now they live in L.A. She says she likes the weather.
Live, the HorrorPops are all about the craziness, you know, like a punk 'n' roll circus of sorts. "There's always so much going on. That's what I always hear people say. We play wireless, so Kim might be running down to the bar getting shots and [go-go dancers] Kamilla and Naomi will be somewhere in the crowd doing weird things to poor innocent boys. It's total chaos, and we thrive on that."