When The Laughter Muffles the Screams: An Interview with Pyschotica Frontman Patrick Briggs

When The Laughter Muffles the Screams: An Interview with Pyschotica Frontman Patrick Briggs
July 2, 2014 | By More

Patrick (Pat) Briggs is best known as the lead singer and creative mastermind of Psychotica. Formed in New York City twenty years ago, the band was ahead of its time, musically and visually. Psychotica still records and tours occasionally but 2014 sees lead singer channeling his artistic talents into his first ever solo EP, due later this year, entitled “Pervert”. He recently released his debut solo single, “You Can’t Scrub Your Soul Clean”, along with a music video directed by Devin Mohr and a follow-up single “Functioning Junky”. I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick in May and just this past week, here are both conversations.- Crash Crafton

(Lead Photo Courtesy of Devin Mohr)

LRI (Crash Crafton): For those who are not familiar with your career, can you give them a brief history of who you are and what you do?

Patrick Briggs: I’m Patrick Briggs and I was formerly the singer of Psychotica. Well, actually, I still am. I don’t know why I’m referring to myself as formerly. I’m now launching my first solo record. I’ve been in the music business, this is my 30th year!

LRI: Wow!

PB: Isn’t that crazy?

LRI: That is definitely crazy! You’ve been doing this almost as long as I have been alive.

PB: (Laughs) You didn’t have to put it that way! (Laughs)

LRI: Sorry, well, I turned 36 today so….

PB: Happy Birthday!

LRI: Thank you!

LRI: As a child you began in theatre at 8 years old. What drew you to theatre & what memories of your first role do you have?

PB: I was eight when I wandered into a little theater in Burbank that was in our local recreation park. I had no idea that I had wandered into an audition for “The Seven Year Itch” but I had and being that I was the only kid there I won the role of Little Ricky. I remember being like a deer in the headlights and I’m sure I was terrible by all industry standards but I also knew this would get me out of the house that I hated being in so I was totally down with it.

LRI: When did you start playing in bands, it has been rumored that your first band included Tracii Guns of Guns N’ Roses & L.A. Guns fame, any truth to that?

PB: My first band, I was actually the backup singer for and that was this 90 something year old former Penthouse Pet who had been fucking Tommy Lee. So she put together a glam rock band to do a showcase at the Limelight in New York and the band consisted of Tracii Guns, Johnny B. Frank from Kingdom Come and Rikki Rockett on drums, and then me as the backup. I had never sang in a band before that. After the show, their management pulled me aside and asked if they could represent me, and that they were dumping the Penthouse Pet and because of it she never spoke to me again…..oh well!

LRI: What bands or musicians were an influence to you as a vocalist and performer?

PB: Boston’s first album & Parliament Funkadelic’s The Mothership Connection. Parliament was and is highly underrated as one of the leaders of the then glam rock movement but because they were black they were called a funk band. I learned how to do harmonies from George Clinton.

LRI: In the 80’s you moved to New York City and was working at the Cat Club when you were discovered by former KISS Manager, the legendary Bill Aucoin. What year was that and how long did he manage your career? Are there any memories of working with Mr. Aucoin you care to share?

PB: Actually my best friend, Raven-O & I were go-go dancers at the Limelight when Bill and Geoff Grayson approached me and asked if I’d like to join a band. We recently lost Bill unfortunately but he was an amazing human being. As charismatic as any of his acts were. Unfortunately by the time I got him as a manager he was on the decline and I’m not going to divulge in print any specifics but let’s just say he taught the rockstars how to party!

LRI: In 1994, you were managing Don Hill’s in New York City that hosted the legendary Squeezebox. You formed Psychotica to function as the house band of the Squeezebox but things went haywire & the band got signed to a major label after their first rehearsal, were invited to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside David Bowie and Iggy Pop in a exhibit celebrating fashion in music at your first gig and asked to play Lollapalooza at your second gig. What was that time like in your life? Is that exhibit with your costumed mannequin still on display at the R&RHOF?

PB: At that time of my life I would venture to say that I had my head so far up my own ass that I wasn’t even able to enjoy what little success that I had…..unfortunate!

LRI: You’re still fronting Psychotica and starting your solo career….

PB: Yeah, this whole solo thing was an accident. Sort of.

LRI: How is that?

PB: A friend of mine, who is a guitarist and producer called me up and said “You want to write a couple of songs with me and record them?”. I said OK and we were just fucking around really. The thing got into the hands of a radio station which started spinning it like crazy apparently. So, it kind of spiraled from there.

LRI: The friend that you are talking about is Lonny Paul (ex-Adler), correct?

PB: Yeah, Lonny Paul, exactly.

LRI: Are you and Lonny Paul handling all the production & will there be any guest musicians on it?

PB: Yes we are and yes there will be guest stars on it but I am not going to tell you yet! (Laughs) Yes, there is actually quite a few guests on it.

LRI: You did an album with Psychotica back in 2011 that has been shelved. Will it ever come out?

PB: Yeah it did. I think you are talking about “Pandemic”.

LRI: No, I was referring to “Bareback & Badass”.

PB: Oh, no, it’s still in the making at the moment.

LRI: Oh, is it?

[Interviewer’s note: This interview was conducted over two sessions, a month apart & Pat had decided to use another name for his EP. I’ve decided to leave the original answers in due to his sense of humor over “ripping himself off”.]

PB: Yes but I am gonna steal the title for my EP. So, I’m ripping myself off!

LRI: (Laughs) Better pay yourself some royalties!

PB: (Laughs) Yeah, well, that’ll be a first!

LRI: Don’t want to end up getting sued by yourself!

PB: (Laughs) In my family, that could actually happen! (Laughs)

LRI: Will you also be using the cover art from “Bareback & Badass” that has you riding the pink unicorn?

PB: No. The cover art will be different. The cover art is the picture with the crown of thorns. The one with all the crazy thorns. It’s badass and pretty cool!

LRI: Will Devin be doing the photography and/or artwork for the EP?

PB: No, Lisa Reilly will. She did the shot of me underwater for the single. She is an amazingly talented photographer from Atlanta who lives in L.A. now. She’s an old friend of mine which is all I work with now. I know all the freaks in the country!

LRI: In the past month you changed the title of your upcoming EP to “Pervert” and released its cover art. What prompted the change?

PB: Probably the fact that I’m a Gemini and am prone to changing my mind on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

LRI: Can you divulge any new details of the EP like how many songs it will include and will it contain any re-mixes?

PB: The EP will have at least four new songs plus several remixes and a surprise! Stay tuned!

Photo Courtesy of Lisa Reilly

LRI: There had been a documentary made about Psychotica on their last tour that remains unreleased. Will it ever be released?

PB: I’m not a big fan of that documentary actually.

LRI: That is very understandable from what I’ve seen of it.

PB: It paints me in this light that I have this fatal disease or something. It’s crazy you know. It started out as his school project and he wanted to come out on the road with us. We were like “Ok, cool.” I guess I didn’t stop to think about it or really think it through. He was looking for a good grade. I probably should have paid more attention to it. I had just came off being out of mind at that point too! (Laughs)

LRI: It wasn’t a good time to have a camera shoved in your face 24/7?

PB: No, it was not a good time. It leads you to believe alot of things that aren’t true too.

LRI: I know there were alot of rumors floating around the internet at that time too.

PB: About what? Tell me. Anything good?

LRI: Someone had hacked your computer and done an interview & said you were HIV positive.

PB: Yeah, that was my ex actually.

LRI: Oh how nice of him!

PB: Mmmmhmmm, he was completely out of his mind so….

LRI: Karma is a bitch so hopefully it finds him.

PB: (Laughs) Well, it did! (Laughs)

LRI: Good deal!

PB: I didn’t have to do anything, it all took care of itself. I’d forgot about that actually. I’m so used to that kind of crap happening in my life. I take it with a grain of salt and forget about it. I’d actually forgot all about that. I’m really in a drama free zone these days. I like it alot!

LRI: It is always nice to be content and happy!

PB: Yeah! I’d kind of forgot what it was like actually.

LRI: You recently stated that you were going to release an autobiography soon. Back in 1998 there was news of you releasing an autobiography entitled “The Tom Sawyer Complex”. That never came out. Will this upcoming autobiography be that book plus all that has happened since that time?

PB: The thing about “The Tom Sawyer Complex” is that it got picked up for development by Ted Demme. He optioned it and I don’t know if you know anything about books but it locks it up for a certain amount of time. Then he died. During that time, all this really wild insane shit in my life started happening. I realized where I’d ended on “The Tom Sawyer Complex” that my life hadn’t really begun yet, really. It is all that stuff and a whole lot more.

LRI: When do you think that will be released?

PB: I’m hoping the whole thing will come out in the middle of 2015. I want to package it as a, I don’t know what the term would be but release it as a book, chapter by chapter, with a song and a video. Basically a CD-Rom for every chapter.

LRI: Interesting concept….

PB: That is my goal and I think I will do it. I’m well on my way on it so we will see.

LRI: Any chance of doing another night club like you did with SqueezeBox in NYC, Club Make-up in L.A. and Glitterdome in Atlanta?

PB: Nah, not so much. Problem is, I created those things like SqueezeBox with Michael [Schmidt, famous fashion designer] so that, well, they had a real purpose at the time which was to give a venue to people who normally might not have that. Like, that’s where Hedwig and stuff came out of it. Which is amazing, I can’t even believe they got seven Tony nominations! These are people I know and it is awesome! That was the purpose of the SqueezeBox. Most of the drag queens in New York were more talented than most of the rock stars I knew at the time and working alot harder. That’s why we created that venue. The problem with clubs is the morons it attracts. I can’t deal with those type of people anymore. However, I would do a Rock N’ Roll Drag Queen Roller Derby. As a Sunday matinee.

LRI: At a church!

PB: No, not at a church. A beer and hot dogs kind of scenario with bleachers. The halftime show would be drag queens doing creamed chipped beef wrestling! (Laughs)

LRI: Interesting! (Laughs)

PB: That’s something I’m down with!

LRI: What is your opinion of music artists today? For example, I see Lady Gaga and I’ve seen her doing stuff you did 18 years ago in Psychotica.

PB: Yeah, that is true. It is all good. Early on, I got pissed with people ripping me off. As I got more comfortable with myself as a performer I stopped worrying about people ripping me off because I realized I can create shit in my sleep. So, I will just create something else. I’m ok with it.

LRI: So you definitely see the similarities there?

PB: I’ve seen some similarities but I also don’t own the patent on coming out of a chrome egg either! (Laughs) I don’t know, if she did rip me off then I am flattered. It all comes back around.

LRI: It would be interesting to see what she’d say if anyone were to ask her if you are an influence.

PB: I don’t know. It is hard to say because there were surprising people in the audience back then that I had no idea who they were.

LRI: The video for “You Can’t Scrub Your Soul Clean” just premiered May 14th. How has the reaction been?

PB: The reaction was unbelievable!! I can’t even describe it to you, I should text you some of the comments because at one point it actually brought me to tears. It was soooo crazy! You would just have to read them. People say you helped them through puberty or bad times. For someone to tell you that you had that big of an impact on their life at some point is really…..I don’t know what to do with that sometimes. It is alot of responsibility!!!

LRI: I can relate with some of the people who have told you something like that because up until I saw Psychotica at the opening date of Lollapalooza 1996 I was the typical close-minded Metalhead/Hair Metal fan. I was blown away by what I heard and saw that day. I ended up joining the fan club, attending a few more shows in 1996 & got to sit and talk with you after one of those shows. I had never been around a group of fans as eclectic and diverse as Psychotica’s fans. It really opened my mind to alot of things, in essence it made me less judgmental. The whole topic of your sexuality was in the press plus I met several of your fans who were gay or lesbian so it helped me become accepting of people I hadn’t been accepting of before. Now I have many LGBT friends. One of my dearest friends is a lesbian. That wouldn’t have been possible 18 years ago so I have you and Psychotica fans to thank for opening my mind and heart!!!

PB: Even as recently as back then, it was a completely different time. I was on stage with Metallica and on the cover of OUT! magazine at the same time & alot of people did not like that! Ironically it was always the other bands that gave me shit. It was never the fans. I find that ironic. It was always some dickhead from some fucking stupid band, you know, spouting his mouth off where it didn’t belong. Never ever the kids who came to the shows. Never had a problem with any of that plus I don’t come onstage and scream out “I’m a fag!”. It has nothing to do with what I do onstage. Bottom line is, can you rock or not rock? You know that is all the audience cares about!

Patrick Brigg’s “You Can’t Scrub Your Soul Clean” video, Directed by Devin Mohr.

Patrick Briggs – You can’t scrub your soul clean from Devin Mohr on Vimeo.

LRI: You collaborated with Devin Mohr on some photos and artwork for Psychotica and he directed the video for “You Can’t Scrub Your Soul Clean”. How did you come to start working with him?

PB: My family lives on the big island of Hawaii. I met Devin through my Mom several years ago. We hit it off immediately because he is like the only other freak in the jungle. (Laughs) It is like a jungle there with a rain forest in it. There is not alot to do there, in fact, there is nothing to do. So if you are a creative type like him and I, you have all the time in the world to just sit there and make shit!

LRI: Devin is definitely very creative! His photography and the video are vividly insane between the costumes, props and his color palette!

PB: He is amazing! We jell together so well. It is just a creative match, like instantly. It was a no brainer. I’m hoping we will do alot more things together too.

LRI: Any more videos planned in conjunction with the EP? Will Devin Mohr be directing your future videos?

PB: Yes! Devin & I are going to re-cut “You Can’t Scrub Your Soul Clean” for the record company and I’m working on a new one now.

Photo Courtesy of Devin Mohr

LRI: Will it be a digital only release or will there any physical product?

PB: It will be released on CD, too. I think I may do vinyl again. I’d like to do a picture disc!

LRI: That’d be awesome! I was just getting ready to ask about vinyl. Have you seen what innovative things that Jack White is doing with vinyl?

PB: No, I haven’t.

LRI: I will email you a couple articles that came out on the things he is doing with vinyl. He has hidden tracks under the label, multiple speeds on the same vinyl, reverse grooves and he was just on The Tonight Show with Neil Young who performed on the show while Jack recorded him and pressed the performance to vinyl on the show.

PB: Oh awesome! I’m into weird gimmicky shit! It is fun and is what sets you apart from the pack!

LRI: Will you be doing a tour in support of the EP?

PB: The Genitorturors have offered me a few dates. I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet. I have got alot of multimedia planned for my next tour. I’m not really ready yet. I may do some small scale thing to work the kinks out of my voice. It is like riding a bicycle and if I can’t figure out how to do it after 30 years than I should just hang it up! (Laughs)

LRI: Earlier this week you offered a free download of the song “Functioning Junky” that will be on the EP. You allowed fans to download it for free for 48 hours then pulled it until the EP’s release. How has the reaction been to the song? Have you experienced any backlash to the song by people who don’t understand its meaning and the fact it is autobiographical & not glamorizing the subject matter?

PB: The reaction has been incredible and it keeps rapidly building. No, there hasn’t been any weirdness at all, only support! Plus, people know that I don’t stand for that sort of thing anyhow. I’m lucky that way, my people treat me with the utmost respect and love. It’s awesome!

LRI: You announced that you had been signed to LTL Records. Is this a multi-album deal?

PB: I’m not going to divulge the details of my agreement with LTL Records but I will just say that we are all very excited about this new liaison but it is like any new relationship, we all have to prove ourselves and learn how to work together so we will see.

LRI: I think I have covered everything I wanted to cover. Is there anything I may have missed or that you’d like to cover? Any website or anything you’d like to plug?

PB: No, I think we covered it all. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I don’t have a dot com but I have an official page on Facebook.


Patrick Briggs Links:

Purchase MP3’s & Limited Edition Signed and Numbered “Pervert” Poster:

Patrick’s Official Facebook Page:

Patrick’s Worldwide Fan Club Page:

Patrick’s Official Facebook Music Page:

Devin Mohr’s Official Website:

Lisa Reilly’s Official Facebook Page

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Category: Interviews

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