Psychotic Reaction: The Rise and Fall Of A Punk Rock Band



This is the story of PSYCHOTIC REACTION as told by me, J.J. Pernaselci (aka Dr.J), bass player/vocalist for the band from the beginning. This story is being told from my perspective only and may seem biased but hey it's my website so you can read on or move on (which is what i'm attempting to do by writing this story). An interesting and cautious tale that many people can probably relate to whether in a band or not. So without further bullshit here's the tale...

In 1997, I was in Strawberries Records (i actually worked there once and after this time never been back) and happened upon a flyer that was among the other flyers for bands announcing shows or looking for members. Since my memory isn't perfect (i'll freely admit) i can't tell you exactly what it said but something to the effect of BASS PlAYER WANTED FOR PUNK BAND. INFLUENCES:THE CLASH, THE MISFITS, SEX PISTOLS. And there was a phone number(s). I was 27 at the time and i've listened to punk rock casually since high school but just recently was getting into it more deeply than ever before. I was listening to the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Dead Kennedys and the Cramps. And i was starting to play punk songs on guitar and bass at home. The last band i was in was a cover band called CHANCES R when i was in college. We played covers of classic rock or modern rock songs of the time (around 1990-1991) and the number of gigs we played i can count on one hand. I played guitar and sang. Looking back now it was pretty lame to say the least but it was my first band experience so...i took down the number on the flyer (or the flyer itself, damn wish i still had it) and decided to give this Dennis or Rob a call.

The first time i entered the little red shack down in West Haven, i never realized or imagined that this would be my home away from home for the next 10 years of my life. It was tiny (12 ft by 12ft i think) and it had a concrete floor and unfinished walls that were covered with posters of The Misfits, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, pin-up girls, etc. There were 2 amplifiers, a Crate half-stack and a Marshall half-stack, a crappy PA (that did the job for a while) and a HUMONGOUS bass amplifier (more about that later). This was the first time i met Dennis Medina (aka Hugh M.I., aka Dennis Reaction) and Robert Galus (aka Rob B, aka Psychotic Robb). Since i wasn't totally into the punk scene back then i was pleasantly shocked by their appearances. They reminded of the punk rockers that i liked. Old School Punk Rock! Sex Pistols, Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Clash, Exploited, The Damned and the list can go on and on but it was great. Bondage pants, spiky hair, mohawks, studs, t-shirts, Doc Martens, the whole package. Even though i loved punk rock and had the attitude and such i really didn't dress punk rock or had the look of what is stereotypically the punk rock outfit (see above items/description). I would say i dressed looked more like someone who was into alternative i guess. At the time Dennis and Rob were in their late teens (not even old enough to buy beer) and i was almost a decade older BUT age never really mattered to me and still doesn't today.

Dennis Medina (aka Hugh M.I., aka Dennis Reaction) around 1998.

Dennis lived in West Haven and was the owner of the little red shack that would be our practice space/recording studio/hangout for the next 10 years. Prior to PSYCHOTIC REACTION, Dennis was in a band called MICROWAVABLE playing guitar. Dennis, at the time, was more of a rhythm guitar player having played guitar for a couple of years at time. Dennis and Rob went to West Haven High School together and started "hangin out" together in 1996-1997 sharing a common interest in music, guitar playing,etc.

Robert Galus (aka Rob B., aka Psychotic Robb) around 1998.

Rob lived in West Haven as well and was formerly in a band called COSMO VINYL. They played what can be called modern rock at the time and coincidentally who's drummer would later become the first drummer for PSYCHOTIC REACTION. Rob had been playing guitar for a while and was an excellent lead/rhythm guitarist who could play punk rock and a lot more technically challenging music.

So...back to the first audition. I met Dennis and Rob and we bullshitted for a while and then started to jam on music. I told them i was pretty familiar with the SEX PISTOLS first album, NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, so we starting to jam on "God Save The Queen", "Seventeen", "Anarchy In The UK", "Holiday In The Sun" then on some Ramones song (probably Blitzkrieg Bop) and then we played and original song that Dennis wrote in MICROWAVABLE called "I Hate You". It was FUN. I felt excited about playing with other people again and playing punk rock music which i hadn't the opportunity to do until this moment. It felt right. Even though i just met these guys i felt pretty comfortable around them from the start. There was nothing that turned me off at the start and a connection or bond or whatever you want to call it was being born. Well i don't remember but i'm sure there was a second audition and there and then they offered me the position of bass player for the band. The as-of-yet unnamed band. One day, later on, Rob came to practice and said he had a name for the band. He was listening to the radio and heard the COUNT FIVE song "Psychotic Reaction". "Let's call the band PSYCHOTIC REACTION. It stuck and that's how the band got it's name - plain and simple when you think about it.

J. J. Pernaselci (aka Dr. J) around 1998

So i became the first and only bass player in PSYCHOTIC REACTION'S history (and also sang lead vocals but more on that later). So we we're three now. But we still needed a drummer to complete the band....

Fall/Winter 1997, We started practicing, as a trio, without a drummer learning songs/covers and getting used to playing music with each other. I didn't know any drummers at the time so we were in a bind because we wanted to play a show that a friend of Rob's offered us in late December. A Christmas/Birthday show at the Elks Club in West Haven. Like many bands before and after PSYCHOTIC REACTION we made some bad decisions that would catch up with us later on down the road. Blame it on impatience, ignorance, the immediancy of the times and the music, whatever. We decided to try to get James Connelly (aka Ace) to play drums for us....

James Connelly (aka Ace) around 1998.

Ace was a friend of Rob's and played drums in Rob's former band COSMO VINYL. Rob was the one who suggested Ace to play for the band and i unfortunately went along with the idea even though i never met him and we didn't try out any other drummers. I think in hindsight we (mostly Dennis and Rob) were so anxious to play shows that they would take anyone who had a heartbeat and could play a punk beat. They did warn me that Ace wasn't "right" in the head before i met him. Having a background in psychology (Bachelor'sdegree in Psychology, Master's degree in Pre-Doctorol Applied Psychology) i knew a little more than something about people who weren't "right in the head". From the get go, like the BEATLES song, I should have known better. Ace didn't own his own drumset! He didn't drive. No money. He lived at home with his mother and basically worked part-time at Staples and spent the rest of his time on the internet obsessing over GREEN DAY. To Ace's credit, he could play drums. He wasn't the best drummer i ever heard but he wasn't bad either. Dennis and Rob told me before i met Ace that he had Tourette's. I knew about the syndrome and it didn't bother me (i don't hold things like that against anyone especially since i've been a Diabetic since age 9). Ace used to grunt at times but nothing like what people think someone with Tourette's would do like curse inexplicably. At times i felt pity for him and at other times i was either frustrated, angry, homicidal you name it. Ace was a consummate complainer. This is someone who was given pretty much everything to play in PSYCHOTIC REACTION and still had the nerve to complain about petty things. We (Rob, Dennis and I) were looking for a commitment from Ace to play for PSYCHOTIC REACTION but in reality we never really got one. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign and moved on but we didn't. And for that was our first mistake. We took Ace as our first drummer under circumstances that no one else in their right mind would tolerate! And now i ask myself why? In the immediate circumstance of the time, we REALLY WANTED TO PLAY A SHOW. And even though i can be impatient and Rob and Dennis were definitely more anxious to play a show we SACRIFICED our sanity, putting up with Ace's bullshit (sorry to be crude but i can't think of any other way to say it). Since hindsight is always 20/20, i say to myself, what the hell were we thinking! So...

In December of 1997 (I don't remember the exact date but it was before Christmas), PSYCHOTIC REACTION (under the name ITCHY NIPPLES) played their first show as a band with Hugh M.I. on guitar, vocals., Rob B. on guitar,backing vocals.,Dr. J on bass, backing vocals and Ace on drums. We played with two of Rob's friends bands U KILL U and Dementia. It was fun, exciting and probably sounded horrible but ever first gig does. Right? Dennis had a beat up Dodge pick-up and we piled our equipment into the back and drove the couple of miles across West Haven to the Elks Club to play our first show.

This was the beginning of PSYCHOTIC REACTION.