Psychobillies are used to being misunderstood. After all, when you’re part of a scene that throws punk, rockabilly and Goth culture together in a blender, things are bound to get complicated. It’s a sub-subgenre that pulls influence from all directions, which can often make defining its parameters a confusing task, even for the fans that love it the most. In OC, where the genre only gets exposure when big bands like Tiger Army come to town, it’s rare to find local events that allow the psychobilly scene to truly shine.
That’s where Remy Casillas and Tawney Estrella come in. For the last several years, the couple and have made it their mission to promote quality ska, punk and psychobilly events featuring local acts from SoCal and beyond. Their biggest event of the year is Camp Psycho on June 11, an annual day at Knott’s Berry Farm promotes togetherness as one big happy, psychobilly family.
“I think that’s one of the key things that keeps people coming back,” says Casillas, sitting next to Estrella, both dressed in mostly black on this warm summer evening during a recent interview at Big Slice Pizza in Fullerton, an apt location given the name of their promotion company, Pizza Beat Entertainment. “I mean, seriously, what’s wrong with meeting people who like Psychobilly, winning free prizes, good food, roller coasters, you could bring your kid if you want to,” he explains.
The event, which started as an offshoot of Casillas’ other event It’s a Ska World After All which took place at Disneyland, includes a two-day party that starts with an evening psychobilly bands at Pepz Pizza in La Habra on June 10 and continues the next day at Knotts.
When it comes to organizing the Camp Psycho pre-party, the emphasis is always on picking an eclectic group of the hardest working psychobilly bands. From the pulsing, high octane power of The Quaranteds and Cigaratz, to the punk-flavored antics of The Sindicates, the rapid fire lyrical assault of Erazerhead (which at times even borders on rapping), to the Sci-Fi influenced songs of the Radarmen, all of the bands represent segment of the psychobilly spectrum.
“I’m so fucking happy with this lineup,” Estrella says. “They’re local bands but I would pay money to go see them somewhere else.I feel a sense of pride because these all our hometown bands and they’re killing it.”
As you might expect, the main event at Knott’s is basically an entire day of the day riding rides, group photos, eating funnel cakes and winning psychobilly-style prizes like pins, records and patches donated from sponsors and bands from OC to Europe.
“We have a whole list of bands from all over the world and we ask them to donate stuff that’s collectable,” Casillas says.
For Casillas and Estrella, who were cautious about approaching the park for their event due to past experiences contending with the wholesome image of Disneyland, Knotts turned out to be a much better fit for their event.
“It’s not that it’s not wholesome, but it’s a little more rugged,” Estrella says. “So for us it was the outlaw feel that we liked. After a couple years at Disneyland we decided we had to move on to somewhere else.”
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Because of the way psychobillies dress, Camp Psycho is often mischaracterized as an anti-Dapper Day. But all-black attire covered in patches of horror-inspired band logos, thick soled creepers, and sleeves of tattoos is basically just comfort wear for your average psychobilly out on the town. Estrella says even if you come to party in jeans and a t-shirt, you won’t be shunned.
“It’s all about coming as you are, being comfortable and leaving your ego at the gate. We’re just trying to make friends and bring people together,” Estrella says. “If you support the music, we welcome you.”
Camp Psycho at Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 220-5200, www.facebook.com/PizzaBeatEntertainment, 12 p.m.-10 p.m.The event is free, but attendees must still pay for admission to the park, see www.knotts.com for details. All ages. Camp Psycho pre-party, featuring The Quaranteds, Radarmen, Cigaratz, The Sindicates, and Erazerhead is at Pepz Pizza, 165 S. Harbor Blvd., La Habra, (562) 501-2222.$10, 6 p.m. All ages.