After almost 2 days straight travel with only a couple of hours of dozing since I left JFK Airport in NYC yesterday, I’m not sure what time it is, much less what day it is. I arrived in Budapest in dire need of a nap but instead made my way over to the Amigo Pub in the City Centre where I met up with the 3 of the 4 members of the Budapest psychobilly band “Hellfreaks”, one of the few female fronted psychobilly bands I’ve come across during the last few years covering the scene.
According to Hellfreaks lead singer “Shakey Sue”, while Budapest’s psychobilly scene is not huge (in fact the Amigo Bar serves as the city’s only rockabilly bar and thus a default psychobilly bar… albeit with a very healthy Elvis fixation), Budapest has quiet a history of psychobilly going back to the Gorillas in the 1990s (whom we hope to cover along withthe Horribillies at the Killing-Billy concert here on Friday night) and more recently, a string of bands fronted by strong, dedicated and talented psycobilly females.
When I asked Sue why she thought females thrived in the Budapest psychobilly scene she answered rather quickly”I have no f’ing idea” but later admitted she thought Hungarian women were perhaps a bit more tough than their European counterparts and didn’t allow their men to just tell them what to do while they sat around looking pretty. Band mates “Sick Rick” (drums) and “Kevin Crime” (Stand up Bass) nodded their head eagerly in agreement and since we hope cover another fine female fronted psychobilly band “The Silvershine” I have no reason to doubt that Budapest is indeed a friendly domain for female fronted psychobilly bands.
She may be internally tough but on this night everyone was as nice as could be. And because she was so nice and it happened to be Sue’s birthday, I gifted her with one of my dwindling supplies of Punk Outlaw T’s which she graciously modeled for us afterwards.
Now before you scream favoritism or sexism or some other ‘ism that I don’t understand why this would offend anyone but I guess always does somehow, know that I’m down to my last few shirts and they are all smalls with the exception of one x-large… none of which would fit the other members of the band.. so they got stickers.. now calm down and breath, deeply.. that’s it. Tranquilo.. Now back to the story if I may.
They did tell me that Hungary is still a relatively conservative place, at least compared to Psychobilly hotbeds like Germany, where piercings, tattoos, crazy clothes and hairstyles don’t seem to get in the way much of a “normal” work life. But in Hungary, Sue says she has to be sure to have her tattoos in places easy to hid (like the back of her legs… see below) and she has to hide her colored hair or it might hurt her efforts to become an environmental researcher which she’s currently studying.
Sick Rick stated with a broad smile and a laugh that his mohawk haircut was causing friction for him at home, where he rarely spoke to his family now. It didn’t seem to bother him in the least however.
They all sense things were gradually changing in Hungary. I mean it is hard to believe that Budapest, not that long ago when you think about it, sat shut behind the iron curtain, cut off from the rest of the world. It’s now firmly in Capitalism’s grasp, with colorful commercial outdoor banners and ads gracing the sides of drab, grey and utalitarian communist era buildings and tourism being one of it’s hottest industries.
One place where capitalism has seemed to help out is the ability of bands like Hellfreaks to tour. They’ve toured all over Europe and (gasp) actually (gasp again!) got payed what they were promised. They have plans to tour the U.S. soon with LA based promoter and our Facebook buddy Von Badsville. I was amused to hear that Rich Vreede’s (Black Cat’s) reputation as a scumbag promoter who didn’t pay bands and investors had made it all the way to Hungary. I no sooner blurted out the name “Black Cat” and they were telling me stories how Black Cat had stiffed bands like the Frantic Flintstones back in February and then some. I just laughed and explained I knew all about it…very intimately.. and left it at that. No need to tell them what they already know.
Hopefully Von Badsville can arrange a tour of the band in the states and other regions and you’ll get to check these guys out for yourselves in person soon. But if you can’t wait that long well they also have a CD dropping next month (July 2012) titled “Circus of Shame” so be sure and support the guys and Hungarian psychobilly in the process (all their lyrics are in English BTW. Sue admits she write lyrics better in English than Hungarian).
We got more coming from Budapest and Southern Hungary on Punk, Psychobilly, Rockabilly and even a genre we’ve yet to cover before… Gypsy Punk.. so keep tuning in. As for me, I’m off to get some sleep, hopefully with sweet dreams of Hungarian psychobilly running through my head.
P.S. If I said something completelty stupid on here, blame it on my sleep or lack thereof. I’ll clean it up tomorrow.