Despite his blood-soaked T-shirt and ghoulish colored contacts, there's a smirk on Eddie Suicide's face that lets you know he takes his band's mantra of gore and destruction only half-seriously.
"I think it's about 50-50," the lead singer/guitarist of Denver's Royal Dead says. "I don't believe I'm a zombie, but I do believe in myself. To me, most of the songs are about that."
In many ways, Suicide's words sum up the plight of the psychobilly genre. Its inhabitants want to be more than just fusers of punk and rockabilly but not at the cost of being seen as a gimmick. The Royal Dead's chops keep it from falling into the latter category and its accessible lyrics open up the band to mass appeal. "People might relate to the lyrics in different ways than I do," Suicide says. "I try my hardest to keep a broad spectrum so the words can mean something to everybody. We do have our goofy songs, too."
On "Zombie Stomp," Suicide takes on the persona of an undead cowpoke, describing a scenario in which zombies commingle with mortals for the sake of putting on one hell of a hoedown.
On the other side of Royal Dead's sonic spectrum, tracks like "Never Fall" drip with condensed, unflinching fury and ludicrous speed, without leaving the standup bass in a dust cloud. "The standup bass is a big part of our band," Suicide explains. "It adds a lot to the drums and it's just badass. Royal Dead wouldn't be Royal Dead without it."
Suicide wasn't always lucky enough to be flanked by talent. Before he settled on the current power-trio lineup, Suicide struggled to cope with psychobilly's relative obscurity in the Denver scene. "I started the band back in 2000 with a different lineup and different name," Suicide recalls. "It has been hard to keep a lineup since psychobilly has always been really underground and not a lot of people in Denver back then were into the sound I was going for."
Suicide's prayers were answered when he teamed up with Derek Beef (standup bass) and Steve Marauder (drums). Together, the group has released an EP and recorded songs for the Royal Dead's first full-length album, Enough Noise to Wake the Dead, due out later this year.
"This is the best lineup ever," Suicide says. "I think we're going to be heavier, faster and darker but not at the same time."