The Rock City archives: 2015

Dog Fashion Disco + Psychostick, Rock City Basement

  • Wednesday 16th September 2015

The D.C. alt-metal band Dog Fashion Disco doesn't play into classy decor or the music mainstream. Their vigor cites the same intensity as Clutch, Tool, and Nothingface, taking shape for the new millennium punk revival. The band, which is composed of frontman Todd D. Smith, guitarist Greg Combs, keyboardist Jeff Siegel, bassist Steve Mears, and drummer John Ensminger, has toured with the likes of Methods of Mayhem, P.O.D., and Stone Temple Pilots. In early 2001, the band marked its debut with Anarchists of Good Taste on Spitfire Records. Committed to a Bright Future followed two years later, their final album for Spitfire. A deal with Artemis Records surfaced in November 2004 while the band prepared for its first live effort. Recorded at Fletcher's in Baltimore, Maryland, The City Is Alive Tonight: Live in Baltimore was released in January 2005.

Shortly after the release of their sixth album, Adultery, in 2006, Dog Fashion Disco announced they were breaking up. In the wake of the group's dissolution, Smith went on to form a number of side projects with former bandmembers, including Polkadot Cadaver, Knives Out!, and El-Creepo! Guitarist Combs would also go on to release new material with his band, Celebrity Sex Scandal. Although its members kept themselves busy with other projects, they would have a hard time staying away from Dog Fashion Disco, coming together for a handful of reunion shows before officially reuniting in 2013, when they announced the release of a new album, Sweet Nothings, which arrived in 2014.


Although the formation of Psychostick took place as the new millennium dawned, the story of this out of control, satirical and riff heavy metal act began a bit earlier, in the wilds of Odessa, Texas a short time earlier. Psychostick co-founder Joshua "Joshy" Key was originally part of an outfit dubbed Asinine, but that group's existence was cut short by the vocalists' departure from Texas to the drier climes of Arizona. With friend Rob "Rawrb" Kersey in tow, Joshua set about forming a new band, this time featuring the Asinine vocalist on guitars, and pushing Rawrb up into the frontman slot. The group was joined -- eventually -- by bassist Hunter Alexander and drummer Alex "Shmalex" Preiss, and the quartet recorded their first demo, entitled Don't Bitch, It's Free, in September of 2000. The following year, on Valentine's Day to be exact, Psychostick played their first show, and roughly six months later were releasing their second demo, Die... A Lot! The group ended their busiest year yet on a down note, as they lost the services of bassist Hunter Alexander, who would be replaced by Mike Kocian soon after. A flurry of shows big and small followed, and by 2003, Psychostick was ready to hit the streets with their debut album, that May's We Couldn't Think of A Title. Although momentum was ideally in their favor, the craziness had to take a back seat to more responsible activities, as bassist Mike went off to finish college. The band played the occasional show, and even took on a fifth member (guitarist Vince Johansen), and by 2005, Mike was finished with school, and Psychostick made a triumphant full-time return. A nationwide tour followed in 2006, which was also marked by the departure of guitarist Johansen (he was replaced by Jake "Jake-r-Meister.") Their popularity increased over time, and in 2007, the band released their second album, The Flesh Eating Roller Skate Holliday Joyride, which managed to break the top twenty on Billboard's holiday charts that year. But that year would also prove to be the end of the line for bassist Mike Kocian, who called it a day.