Tonight: Psychostick brings their zany metal to the Hard Rock Cafe

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Josh and Rob were hanging out after high school in Tempe, Ariz., one day talking about the things they loved -- heavy metal music and zany comedy.

So they started a band.

That was 2000 and the band was Psychostick.

"We were like, 'Hey, let's just do this. It'll be fun,'" said Josh, who now goes by the single letter "J."

"'And wouldn't it be crazy if it actually went somewhere?' And then it did."

Tonight it comes to Pittsburgh's Hard Rock Cafe, the final date in Psychostick's two-month "Our Tour Can Beat Up Your Tour Tour."

Psychostick is a sublime mix of heavy metal and bizarre antics whose fans appreciate head-banging -- and a good joke.

"We often hear people say, 'I don't know whether to mosh or laugh,'" Mr. J said. "Like, we'll put a sombrero on some unsuspecting fan's head and then tell everybody to get it from that guy."

That bit is called "the shredded sombrero."

When they play "Dogs Like Socks," they engage in a sock-throwing-war with the audience.

Perhaps because the four-member group hails from Arizona, tacos are a big part of their act, showing up as a recurrent theme in their songs and merchandise.

"One night we were playing 'The Taco Song,' while we were getting fed tacos by fans on stage," Mr. J said. "Matt was playing his bass and had this giant duct-taped taco while being fed tacos. When it was over, we were like, 'Did that really just happen?' It seemed totally normal at the time, but later we looked back and it's actually really bizarre and awesome."

They've been bizarre and awesome since the beginning when they recorded "The Beer Song," and it was picked up on XM Radio. That led to touring and the recording of three CDs and an EP.

And, so far, there's been no reason to change, much less "mature."

"We're still going strong and we love it," Mr. J said. "And there are still places we have to get. We haven't been overseas. We have fans in the UK and Australia who have been asking us to come there for years. And there's still room for more growth here.

"We're still doing what we started out doing. It's just gotten more refined. We've gotten better at being ridiculous."

It isn't easy mixing metal with mirth. It can be confusing to fans, let alone promoters and other bands.

"One of the best things about it is we can get away with things that other metal bands cannot or they'll ruin their metal cred," Mr. J said. "Nothing is really off-limits with our band, and that's what's so great about it. As long as it is heavy and is funny, it's fair game.

"There's not really anyone else out there doing what we're doing, but at the same time, sometimes you have difficulty touring with other bands because they're different. Not a lot of metal bands want to take a chance and have us out front. They're like, 'These guys are having fun! I'm not sure if that's dark and evil enough for my tour.' But it is what it is. We're going to keep doing what we're doing."

But how do you keep "crazy" fresh?

"I would say that only about 20 percent of the show is scripted," Mr. J said. "But the scripting happens because we do things spontaneously, and then somebody will say, 'Hey dude, that was funny. Say that again tomorrow.' So, in that way, it kind of becomes scripted. But it all starts out spontaneous."

Like so many things in life, Psychostick's two-month tour has been a grueling treat. After tonight, the guys will be retreating to the studio for a spell.

"We intend to go out with a bang," Mr. J said. "I want to be just wiped. I want to be able to barely walk, dripping with sweat, barely able to coherently make words. I intend to give it everything we have and then, 'Yep, we're numb.' The last night of a tour is a special night."

Sharing this special night at 230 W. Station Square Drive will be opening acts Shrouded in Neglect and Cylearian. The show begins at 8 p.m. and there is a $10 cover.

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If you have a suggestion for something to do some evening, let us know about it and well see if we can get some of our friends to join you. Contact Dan Majors at or 412-263-1456.


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