PSYCHOTIC REACTION: THE RISE AND FALL OF A PUNK BAND PART 2
The next step for PSYCHOTIC REACTION was for us to record some of the songs we (Dennis actually wrote all the songs up to this point) were playing and get our music out to people. We've played more than a few shows by this point and people were getting to know us. We were unhappy with most of the bills we ended up on at this point because to us they weren't "punk" oriented shows. Mixed bill with local bands that had generally poor turnouts was something that plaqued PSYCHOTIC REACTION from the start and throughout our history. Blame on poor booking or our anxiousness to play shows, any shows at this point. In May of 1998, PSYCHOTIC REACTION decided to go record their songs for the first time. We ended up deciding on recording an ep for our first outing to be able to get something out to our fans. So PSYCHOTIC REACTION went to White Elephant Studios in West Haven, CT and recorded our first ep, "The Adventures Of Sylvester And Tweety". It was recorded, mixed and engineered by Scott Massey and produced by the band. We had four songs on it written all by Dennis (aka Hugh M.I.). "I Hate You", which was our most popular song at the time. "Sylvester And Tweety", "Party" and "Revolution". Dennis,Rob,Ace and I played on this ep. Looking back, the recording was sub par in my opinion. But in PSYCHOTIC REACTION style we did it fast without thinking about quality. The songs i must admit were juvenile in their titles and lyrics but Dennis was only young and this was his first time at bat. I released the ep on my diy label PsychoBubblegum Records (PSY 004) and we got the ep pressed into cassettes (which were still the way to go back then believe or not). The artwork looking back was horrible and that was completely my fault. No one in the band had art experience and so i just threw something together on my computer to get it out fast (another mistake). I think "I Hate You" and that ep gave the impression to people that we were a "pop punk" band and maybe that's the way we came across but that was not our intention. We wanted to be known at that time as an old school style band but "I Hate You" made up many people's minds about us from the start and that looking back was unfortunate.
THE ADVENTURES OF SYLVESTER AND TWEETY EP, 1998
One interesting thing that i made happen early in our career (and ended up getting messed up) was getting PSYCHOTIC REACTION on the Yoohoo Warped Speed Compilation. Yoohoo, you know that yummy chocolate drink, was looking for "the top 10 punk bands in the U.S" at the time in Summer 1999. I submitted for the band "I Hate You" and knew it was a long short but what did we have to lose. Nothing. Turns out PSYCHOTIC REACTION and "I Hate You" was picked and we ended up on the compilation. It was really cool. Yoohoo pressed up cd's and we got some more notoriety as a result. The mistake was that when i sent the song into them to press the cd's i sent them the DAT tape from the THE ADVENTURES OF SYLVESTER AND TWEETY sessions. I was the only digital format that had our songs on it and that's what they wanted. Turns out they didn't probably even listen to the songs on it to find "I Hate You" and instead put "Sylvester And Tweety" on the compilation under the name "I Hate You". What a screw up! Funny in some respects but another misstep in the career of PSYCHOTIC REACTION.
YOOHOO WARPED SPEED COMPILATION, 1999
Since "I Hate You" turned out to be our most popular song at the time we ended up using it on another compilation, Mepos Melodies,put our by Out Of Yer Ass Records from New Jersey back in 1999. And we kept playing shows, all kinds of shows. Some were "punk rock" which made us happy but more were the dreaded mixed bills of which the "all six of them" phenomenon occured. One of the things about PSYCHOTIC REACTION that happened throughout our entire career was poor turnouts to our shows. We never really garnered the types of audiences that we would have liked and that other punk bands got in the scene back then till when we broke. The average turnout for us was six people and we made it into a joke but it definitely bothered us. We played Toad's Place, The Tune Inn, Hanover House and all over CT, eventually Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York and we never really developed a good following. I never understood why to this day and i may be subjective in saying this but our music was good and got better and better throughout the years but the following never came.
In 1999, PSYCHOTIC REACTION had enough to songs under their belts and decided to record their first album. Looking back it would have be nice (and i would have preferred)to have gone into a professional studio and record our debut album but we (except me) simply didn't have the money to fund recording in a professional studio. We settled on recording our first album in the little red shack in back of Dennis' house on my digital 8 track recorder with the equipment we had at the time. Our first album, PSYCHOTIC REACTION, was recorded in the spring of 1999 and released that summer. I recorded and engineered the album the best i could with the knowledge i had at the time. The recording sessions themselves were fun (for them i was frustrated and nervous most of the time). But we got it done and i released it again on PsychoBubblegum Records (PSY 005). The album featured 12 songs and one hidden track, "One Of These Days", which was a song i wrote but wasn't complete and it was a complete mess but we threw it in nonetheless. I wrote and sang on five of the tracks, "No Cable", "Escape", "Filling The Void", "Secret Sam", "What A Nice Life" and the forementioned "One Of These Days". Dennis wrote and sang on "Johnny Domino", "Like You", "Frustration", "I Hate You", "I Shot Bambi's Mom", "Run" and "Psychotic Reaction (And We Don't Care). This was the first time i got to sing and record my songs for the band and i was excited to have done it. I think the album was a good first album for us. It showed a mix of punk rock influences to us and it got good reviews. "Johnny Domino" and the re-recorded "I Hate You" got good responses from fans and i think made people think we were still leaning toward the "pop punk" genre (which we weren't intentionally looking to do). During the whole process, Ace remained the problem child of the band. His noncommittal attitude and costant complaining remained but we pressed on still putting up with his bullshit because we wanted so much for the band to move forward. One mistake we didn't make was album artwork. One of Dennis' friends did the artwork for the album which was great in my opinion. I pressed up the album on CD-R's (despite it poor mastering) and released it. And the shows continued...
PSYCHOTIC REACTION, 1999
A dream come true for the band was playing the famous CBGB's in 2000. It was magical in a sense and we scrounged up a cassette tape for the soundman to record the show off the board (which he did but it turns out the mix wasn't so great but decent). That was a benchmark for us. We thought that was an accomplishment for us at the time. Another achievement for the band was winning the New Haven Advocate's Grand Band Slam in 2000 for best punk band. That was cool and gave us a boost (all of us except for Ace of course). We played a show for it at Gotham Citi (a gay bar which was cool and weird all at the same time)while other bands got to play the Tune Inn. THE punk club of New Haven. Who the hell decided to have the best punk band not play at the only punk club in New Haven is beyond me and that was a disappointment to us at the time. We did start to get some better shows now opening up for the lengendary UK Subs, The Vibrators, local favorites Broken and others. Things were looking up for a change. "I Hate You",off our debut album appeared on the Asbestos Records compilation 18 More Reasons To Hate Asbestos Records. We thought it was funny at the time because they asked us to submit a track at the last minute so we did it despite the fact that we really didn't like Asbestos Records and most of the bands on their label. But it was more exposure for us so we did it. "Secret Sam" appeared on the Little Band Records compilation Got Spunk? in November 2001 which was neat (these compilations were a dime a dozen and i got us on most of them as promotional opportunities for the band).
18 More Reasons To Hate Asbestos Records compilation, 2000 (left) and Got Spunk? (Little Band Records), 2001
It was now 2001, a big year for PSYCHOTIC REACTION, and looking back probably the height of our 10 year career. But just like everything else in life once you reach the top (for us retrospectively speaking) there's only one place left to go and that is down...