By Chris Mastrovito 07/29/2010
The mind of a psycho
Punk rock has always had a special place in its heart for early rock and roll, and despite being a relatively “new” development in music, punk owes its existence to bands that looked backward rather than forward, playing bare bones rock and roll — only louder and with more attitude. Today, punk rock itself has drifted into mainstream pop territory (Green Day, Rise Against, etc.), and true punk, desperate to capture that original rock and roll spirit, looks back over its shoulder once more, realigning itself with its roots, but carrying with it the weight of more than 30 years of its evolution and cross-pollination with other genres. It’s rockabilly from a punk perspective, resulting in what has been termed psychobilly, and few do it better than Oxnard’s Deadbeat Sinners.
After his 7-year-long stint as the spiky-haired lead singer of Oxnard punk band Dysfunctional Chaos and guitarist for James and the Mexicans ended, Eddie Lee Saldana, needing an outlet to exorcise his musical demons, along with Dysfunctional Chaos guitarist Ben Hament, switched from the adolescence-induced rage of punk to a straightforward rockabilly project called Eddie and the Delcos. After a short period with no bass player, they recruited the upright bass talents of Ruben Serrano of Radio Threat, completing the three-piece that is now one of Ventura County’s most prominent, talented and certainly youngest, rockabilly/psychobilly bands. “I didn’t just wake up one day with a mohawk, and then wake up the next day with cuffed jeans,” says Saldana, 22, referring perhaps to the reactions of those who remember his checkered pants more vividly. “It’s always been a gradual transition.” Along with Saldana, his bandmates have been actively part of the punk scene in Oxnard for the last decade. Hament, 24, has various credits in an impressive 10 local bands, and he currently also plays guitar in Stop Breathing! with ex-Missing 23rd singer John Crerar.
Before learning the upright bass for Radio Threat, Serrarro started as the lead singer for Oxnard hardcore band Bite the Bullet, an influence he clearly brings directly to his gritty backing vocal style in Deadbeat Sinners. Now, with only two years of practice, Serrano’s upright bass already suffers the piston-fast abuse of an expert psychobilly player’s tattooed, slap-happy fingers. “People trip out on that,” says Serrano.
“People are really starting to dig us,” says Serrano, no doubt with a little help from friends. As they have learned, being in and around loads of different bands has its perks. They’ve scored sweet deals on equipment, free demo recordings and a ton of local exposure, thanks in large part to Stay Gold Promotions’ Nick Martinez, who books the band consistently, especially at the Dirty Vinyl in Ventura, where they have played, according to Hament, “probably, like, 100 times.” That exposure has earned them spots alongside headliners The Chop Tops, Dead-End Stiffs and Serrano’s favorite band, Michigan’s Goddamn Gallows. Deadbeat Sinner plans a full West Coast tour in December, with a number of local events already booked. Songs from its EP will be available on iTunes in early September, and interest from indie labels is building. “This is all still just in the making,” says Saldana. “2011 will be a pretty big year for us.”